MIAMI (CBS4) – The math for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez is stark. A recall effort aimed at him has certified nearly twice the number of voter petition signatures needed to force a countywide recall election by next spring. Alvarez said Wednesday, “I believe the voters have a right to vote on this issue. However I will not give up my right to challenge something that is wrong.”
He says his legal team has found discrepancies with notary stamps and signatures but concedes it is not likely enough to derail a recall election. At the heart of that effort, organized by auto tycoon Norman Braman, is anger over the property tax rate hike recommended by Alvarez, and approved by county commissioners three months ago.
Alvarez defended his position. He said Wednesday, “I have preserved the fire department, number one, the police department, number two, the parks department and social services. If people are upset because some of them got tax notices and their taxes went up slightly so be it. But at the end of the day I have to live with myself.”
On symbol and substance—big and small—Mayor Alvarez has been embattled. There was the cry over his county leased BMW, a lease arrangement other county executives and commissioners have too. Alvarez said, “If there are people out there who are going to recall me because I drive a certain kind of car…” He shook his head.
Then there is the ongoing cry over Alvarez’s push for the new Marlins stadium, a project that is financed with tourism tax dollars. Braman fought and lost a court bid to scuttle the deal—calling it a waste and a misuse of money. Alvarez and stadium supporters say state law designated tourism tax dollars for just such a project—and noted that the money cannot be used for other local needs.
The new Marlins stadium is set to open in 2012. Alvarez’s term of office ends in 2012 too, but a recall calendar could change all that. He told CBS4’s Michael Williams, “When I go to Opening Day either as mayor or a citizen and I see some of these elected officials who just badmouthed the hell out of the stadium and the deal, and I see them there, I will go right up to them and tell them what hypocrites they are.”
Until then Mayor Alvarez will fight, and wait to see if he strikes out with county voters in an anticipated recall election next spring.