MIAMI (CBS4) – Nearly 60,000 people voted absentee or early on whether the Miami Dolphins should get tourist taxes for a major facelift of Sun Life Stadium.
But the legislature nixed the deal last Friday when the Speaker Will Weatherford, a Pasco County Republican, refused to allow it to be brought up. The election in Miami-Dade was called off as of the end of the day Friday.
So what would become of all those votes? Would they be counted, revealed, thrown out?
At Miami-Dade Elections headquarters there was confusion. No one could recall an election – already underway – being cancelled. Elections officials waffled. The ballots might be kept secret. They might be released. They might be destroyed.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez put an end to the confusion Tuesday in an interview with CBS4’s Gary Nelson.
“They are a public record,” the mayor said of the stadium ballots.
Which means can be tallied and disclosed.
“They can be counted and then whatever the election was up to that point is a public record and can be made public,” Gimenez said.
A short time later, Deputy Elections Supervisor Christina White announced the results of the absentee and early votes on the stadium issue will be released on May 15th, the day after municipal elections in North Miami and Sweetwater which also include the Dolphins referendum item.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz told CBS4 News the partial vote should not be made public, because it will not necessarily reflect the overall sentiment of voters.
“When you have a limited group of people who voted, and others who didn’t vote, at the end of the day there is no vote,” Diaz said. “So it would be an unfair judgment of a situation.”
Miami-Dade Commissioners met for the first time Tuesday since the Legislature quashed the possible stadium deal that they approved after it was crafted by Mayor Gimenez in negotiations with the team.
Gimenez shrugged off the legislature’s action killing the local vote.
“I feel fine,” the mayor said.
Gimenez said since the Dolphins wrote a check for more than $4 million to cover the election, the county may see a windfall of upwards of $2 million due to the voting process being cut short.
Commissioner Diaz was angry with the Florida House.
“What’s sad is they didn’t give the people the right that is so deserved, to be able to vote and express their opinions,” Diaz said. “It was just politics.”
Those in the business of selling South Florida said Super Bowls are fine, they bring folks to town, they sell hotel rooms, but they’re not the be all and end all.
“The Super Bowl is a major event. The BCS Championship is a major event. We love all of our children,” said William Talbert, President of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Talbert went on to say South Florida has many “children,” or major events that bring visitors who spend money and fill hotels: The Sony Open Tennis Championship, the Cadillac Golf Championship at Doral, Art Basel, The Ultra Music Fest, NASCAR championship racing at Homestead Motor Speedway – not to mention the everyday sun, sand and sea that draws millions of visitors every year.
County Commissioners Tuesday approved a resolution supporting South Florida’s bid for Super Bowl 50 or 51. The chances of the bid succeeding are viewed as diminished because of the failure to move on creating a more attractive venue at Sun Life.