With the Miami Dolphins Sun Life Stadium $350 million in upgrades, and about $280 million in tax concessions over 30 years going down in flames on Friday night in the Florida Legislature. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez may have dodged a political bullet in the future when it comes to his reelection cycle in 2016, even while countywide voting on the deal had proceeded the past week and some 60,000 people had voted at the polls or by absentee ballot. Gimenez said he had struck a much tougher deal than the one for the Miami Marlins stadium, much criticized by county residents and said he just wanted to give the professional football team its day in court, and let the voters decide if it should have gone forward.
However, that is all a moot point now and the Dolphins are evaluating their options as team owner Stephen Ross, worth $4.4 billion decides if he will do some of the renovations and upgrades himself, or will try again next year in the state legislative body. However, with this deal falling through and fails to meet the NFL deadline of May 22 when the sites for the 50th and 51st Super Bowls will be held is decided with San Francisco the likely choice now. Especially since the team’s new stadium there is also a public/private project. However, local voters have had a bad taste in they’re mouth since the Miami Marlins new stadium deal where the public feels they were “hosed” when one looks at the lopsided deal. Where the professional team gets almost all the benefits, and Gimenez fought the deal when he was a county commissioner, and had the public and local government getting only the monetary scarps critics say. And this current deal while better was getting mixed traction with county voters, and had the legislation been successful. Gimenez in the next reelection cycle could have felt some political blowback from the deal, a problem that he now will avoid.
Moreover, while the Dolphin deal was said to generate 4,000 new jobs over the next few years, had a host of community leaders as the front men and women for the effort. The team could not avoid the obstacles of a local legislative delegation who overall were against the deal that statewide also involved potential funding for five or six other stadium or racetrack facilities. And the legislation was seen as a major legislative policy decision that had not been sufficiently vetted by state legislative leaders. The two local legislators that pushed he deal, and had the most to politically lose were state Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens and delegation chair state Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah since ultimately their efforts were in vain.
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY MAYOR CARLOS A. GIMENEZ STATEMENT REGARDING DOLPHINS BILL OUTCOME
Press release: “The State Legislature did not take action on the bill to provide an additional 1% mainland tourist tax for the Dolphins’ stadium renovations. As a result, and in accordance with the resolution calling the special election, I have instructed our Elections Department to cancel the special election effective immediately. The two scheduled municipal elections will proceed according to plan. It is important to point out that the special election did not cost tax payers any money, as the Dolphins paid the County $4.7 million to cover election expenses – in fact, we estimate that there will be over one million dollars left over that can be used to meet other County needs. I would like to thank those voters who took advantage of early voting to express their opinion on the stadium issue. My priority from the beginning of this process has been to give our voters the final say.”
elative to the rankings I must point out as well that MAST’s AP course offerings and student performance are stronger as I write this than at any time in the school’s history. We have added courses in Human Geography and European History to an AP menu that already included two English courses, US History, Government, Economics, French Language, Spanish Language, Biology, Chemistry, Calculus, Statistics, Environmental Science, and Physics. Entering ninth graders are now required to take a minimum of four AP courses to earn the distinction of a MAST major by the time they graduate. In October 2012, we learned that the College Board named 95 of our students AP Scholars of Merit or Distinction—the highest number to be so recognized in the history of the school. MAST’s aggregate AP pass percentage of 65.4% places the school among the highest performing schools in Florida. It is important to note that there are schools ranked higher than MAST on the USNews list with pass percentages 50 points below ours. Perhaps the question comes down to this: Do we want to privilege the ranking over student success? As an educator, I think not.
Mr. Bax is concerned about a “lowering” of MAST’s admissions standards. Like the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs across Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS), we require a 2.5 GPA in academics and conduct, strong attendance in the current and previous years, honors course work in Algebra and Physical Science and a teacher recommendation. The fact is that MAST never had a required GPA until two years ago when the school’s admissions program was brought into alignment with IB magnets throughout the District.
Mr. Bax also addresses a decline in resources and investment. It is the case that in a bad economy, public education takes a hit. In this principal’s view, the leadership of M-DCPS is to be congratulated for the level of services to students and families it has been able to maintain. The recent voter-approved bond proposal will have a very positive impact on the entire system. I encourage Mr. Bax and other parents to remain involved in school life and decision-making. Their questions provide principals and teachers alike the opportunity to foreground the many good things schools undertake and accomplish on a daily basis,” wrote Jane Garraux, Principal, MAST Academy.
Legislative mandated report finds JHS has “zero” net worth, but public health system gives hundreds of millions in community benefit
A legislative mandate to catalog and determine the value of public hospitals assets and liabilities around the state and whether they should be spun off, or modified to increase there value to the community found the Jackson Health System had a zero net worth, but a immense amount of community benefit. The health trust has been struggling over the years and is slowly righting itself fiscally, but when around $750 million in charity, uncompensated care and a host of other costs is factored in. The Jackson Health System Report on House Bill 711, dated Apr. 29, and done by Public Financial Management Inc., and despite these fiscal adversities. The report details what a medical jewel the hospital system is to Miami-Dade County residents.
In the executive summary words describe JHS as “on the cutting edge of medical practice” and is a “unique model of taxpayer ownership” that seeks a high standard of care “for every resident of Miami-Dade County.” The report notes the “depth and breadth pf Jackson’s expertise is breathtaking,” and cites the numerous specialty units in the facilities including the Ryder Trauma Center and its award winning Jackson’s Miami Transplant program which has “performed more than half of all the world’s multi-organ transplants.” And is also pioneering the world’s most sophisticated techniques “for treating life-threatening conditions while babies are still in their mothers’ wombs,” wrote the report authors.
Further JHS scope and size makes it an “integral part of Florida’s overall healthcare landscape,” and is by far the state’s largest hospital that provides “indigent care” and is “the single largest operator of Medicaid programs statewide.” And when it comes to community benefit, the report state’s JHS spent $489.9 million in 2010, jumps to $519.2 million in 2011 and last year gave $565 million that includes not just charity care but a host of costs for other services for county residents, including “$24.9 million for corrections health services.”
And in a public notice and hearing concerning this report and with a summary run Saturday of the conclusions in the www.miamiherald.com . The Financial Recovery Board concluded Monday. “It is in the best interest of the affected community for the Public Health Trust to continue to own and operate the Jackson Health System hospital, individually and collectively, as a public not-for-profit entity, rather than consider the sale or lease to a third party,” states the Apr. 29 notice summary of the public hearing.
The last two items were provided by watchdog report.net