MIAMI – Viewers of Monday’s Miami-Dade County Commission meeting, in which a $644.5 million Marlins stadium was approved, had an opportunity to watch Chairman Dennis Moss in action.
Moss has led several commission meetings since taking over the role of chairman in January, but none has generated the same amount of public interest as this one.
Reflecting the seriousness of the vote, Moss set a no-nonsense tone at the beginning of the session.
“I want everybody seated. We’re not going to have a bunch of foolishness this afternoon,” Moss announced as audience members milled about the commission chambers.
When a group of protestors chanted, “Real jobs now, shut the stadium down,” the chairman had them removed.
“Escort them on out, they’re on the way out,” Moss instructed.
Tony Romano and Yvonne Stratford, activists with the Miami Workers Center, were arrested after their ejection from the meeting. Both were released on Tuesday.
Stratford was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence. Romano was charged with two counts of trespass and two counts of resisting arrest without violence.
Moss, a stickler for promptness, instructed the county clerk to call roll at 1:03 p.m., again at 1:10 p.m., and actually called the meeting to order several minutes later when a quorum was present.
Also, in a move that potentially shaved hours off of the more than nine-hour session, Moss authorized a modification in commission procedure by allowing Commissioner
Bruno Barreiro, the maker of the stadium motion, to decide on all amendments proffered by his colleagues.
The fifteen-year commissioner from district nine also diligently controlled the order of the meeting by insisting that all statements flow “through the chair,” a procedure that evoked humor and frustration throughout the marathon meeting.
STADIUM DEAL APPROVED
Moss held the gavel as commissioners voted to approve construction of a new baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins, soon to be renamed the Miami Marlins, by a vote of 9 to 4.
Miami-Dade County owns the land upon which the stadium will be built. The county will contribute more than $300 million to the ballpark’s construction.
The county’s vote on March 23 came just four days after Miami city commissioners approved the stadium by a vote of 3-2. The stadium will be constructed near Little Havana on the site of the demolished Orange Bowl.
The Marlins plan to break ground on the stadium in July and hope to begin playing ball there on Opening Day in 2012.
Voting in support of the stadium were Moss, Barreiro, Commissioners Audrey Edmonson, Natacha Seijas, Javier Souto, Barbara Jordan, Dorrin Rolle, Jose “Pepe” Diaz and Rebeca Sosa.
Opposing the stadium were Commissioners Carlos Gimenez, Sally Heyman, Katy Sorenson and Joe Martinez.
“Great communities have great facilities,” Moss said. “I view us as building this stadium for the community…We will own it. It will guarantee that some baseball team will be playing in the stadium.”
JORDAN LOOKS OUT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
While the chairman flexed his leadership muscles to help ensure an orderly meeting, Commissioner Jordan used her power for the good of small business owners throughout Miami-Dade County.
Jordan sought to ensure that small businesses in Miami-Dade County could avail themselves of opportunities the stadium project is expected to provide.
While the exact amount of general employment generated by the construction and operation of the stadium remained elusive, Jordan reminded small business owners that numerous opportunities to gain work will be available to them.
“I want the community to realize that with each of those bid packages…will go through the department of small business affairs so that they can identify the various…businesses that may be eligible in terms of bidding on these packages,” Jordan explained.
“You’ve done what you always do, you opened up your arms to the whole community and I commend you for that,” Commissioner Seijas said to Jordan.
After asking Marlins President David Samson to clarify on the record the number of stadium-related projects (65) on which small businesses would be able to bid, Jordan implored them to become prepared.
“If you’re not registered already, get registered, in terms of the small business program with the county,” Jordan said. “You will have an opportunity to bid on some of this work, and more than likely will be successful in getting selected on a number of them.”
Samson informed commissioners that small businesses will have an opportunity to learn how to become certified to do business with the stadium in the near future.
“Within the next 30 days, there will be 12 separate outreach programs, one in each of the 13 districts, to become certified as an SBE,” Samson explained, referring to Miami-Dade County’s Small Business Enterprise (CSBE).
One such outreach program has already occurred in Jordan’s district. Approximately 350 people attended two information sessions that Jordan hosted at Florida Memorial University in District 1 on March 12.
Samson and representatives from Hunt/Moss, construction manager for the stadium, addressed business owners already registered as well as companies interested in becoming certified on bidding opportunities.
At the session, which took place more than a week before the county vote, Jordan said “We need to give these companies a ‘heads up’ to take advantage of any job opportunities that may come their way,” should the deal be approved.
Photo: Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Dennis Moss
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Miami-Dade County’s Small Business Enterprise monthly forum.
WHEN: April 15 at 4 p.m. (meetings occur on the third Wednesday of every month).
WHERE: Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW 1st Street, 18th Floor, Miami.
CONTACT: www.miamidade.gov or call 305-375-3111.