Monday, June 6, 2011

Swearing-in is big ticket event

Their first official meeting is Tuesday, but two new Miami-Dade Commissioners -- elected in districts 7 and 13 last month in the recall wake -- tried out the dais Monday morning when they were sworn in at county hall before a bevy of elected officials and politicians, almost every single county department head, their extended families and benefactor Norman Braman.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman David Rivera (Rep., District 25) arrived late to support old friend and former State Rep. Esteban Bovo (Rep., District 110), who handily took the seat he would eventually inherit anyway, albeit early, after it was left vacant when longtime commissioner Natacha Seijas was recalled. "Steve Bovo is a very close, personal friend," Rubio said. "We all have high hopes for good government." Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez and State Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (Rep., District 113) were there to support Suarez's dad, Xavier Suarez, the former Miami mayor who took the seat vacated by Carlos Gimenez when the former commissioner resigned to run for mayor.

Also among the many electeds (and Ladra knows she will miss many but, unlike Chairman Joe Martinez, who didn't want to name any in case some might get their feelings hurt, I only care about using boldface type as much as possible): State Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla Rep., District 36), Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Miami commissioners Frank Carollo and Richard Dunn, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez and most of the city council, Miami Lakes Mayor "Muscles" Pizzi and most of his town council, South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard and at least a dozen or 20 or 30 more.

Joked Joe Martinez: "Is there anyone running governments around here?" The chairman likes to get the laughs. "There will be good times and there will be bad times," he warned the two new commissioners. "The good times end today."

The commissioners each chose the judges to swear them in. Bovo got Miami-Dade County Judge Ana M. Pando, his friend of more than 25 years. Suarez got U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno, who took his turn to entertain the crowd when someone was sent back to Suarez's office to get his bible to swear on. "I look at this crowd and it's like a blast from the past," said Moreno, who presided in 2001 over the criminal trial of former Miami manager Donald Warshaw, who was sentenced to a year and fined $30,000 for stealing $70,000 from a children's charity. "It looks like we're in the 1980s," Moreno said. "Some of you are a little grayer, some are a little bit heavier ... only the men." He apologized to Harvey Ruvin, who moderated the event, for taking more than his alloted time. "That's okay. You're covering very well," Ruvin said. Then Moreno invited the audience to the jury at the federal courthouse. "Don't expect me to excuse you. We don't excuse anybody. We'll hunt you down."

The candidates were not to be outdone with the laughs. In introducing his family, Suarez again mentioned he was "genetically predisposed" to get along with the other 12 commissioners since he is one of 14 siblings. (Yeah, and if he can't "predispose " of them at a meeting, he can always go knock on their doors in the middle of the night). He joked that his parents did not have a television set. When it was Bovo's turn to thank his family, his smallest boy made some noise. "And, no, that's not my grandson. That's my son," Bovo said. "We go through some power outages at my house from time to time and we have no TV or electricity."

Aside from all the laughs, the commissioners took some time to present their preliminary ideas. Suarez wants more intercirculating trolleys like the ones in Coral Gables, to build 1,000 units of affordable housing a year, to bring taxes down, protect public waterfront properties and he wants to look into selling the Miami Intermodel Center near the airport, which has really become a huge parking lot for rental cars. But what we think he means is privatize is or develop it as a mixed use project with a private partner. Suarez can work on this as the newest appointment to the transportation committee. He was also appointed to the parks and recreation committee (where he can continue his drive for a publicly-funded retractable roof at SunLife Stadium) and the financial accountabilty committee. And, for making all of that possible, he thanked Norman Braman for his endorsement and financial support.

Bovo -- who was appointed to the public safety, the economic development, and the financial accountability committees -- is a proponent of eliminating all the unincorporated areas through annexations into existing cities or the incorporation of new ones so that the county government can "get out of the business of potholes" and focus on regional issues and said he would protect services, but other than that spoke in more general, emotional terms, and even teared up. "This was a recall seat. And there was a lot of anger and a lot of uncertainty," Bovo said, and then directed his comments to the Miami Lakes council in attendance. "The era of holding residents hostage for disagreements in personality is over."

"The recall in district 13 is now over," he said.

Well, at least until he pissses Braman off.

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