On the eighteenth of September, the Florida Marlins scored eight runs and won their eighth straight game, which marked their eightieth win of the season. In the game, Mike Jacobs drove in his eighty-eighth run and the win was pitcher Scott Olsen’s eighth of the season.
OK, I’m a little giddy — workin’ on only eight hours … — and it might all turn out very differently, but as of this morning;
- The prospects for a Little Havana-based MLB stadium have never been better after a positive Florida Supreme Court ruling on a matter related to the Braman lawsuit.
- Our team’s eight young pitchers are the envy of MLB: Chris Volstad (age 21) / Ryan Tucker (21) / Andrew Miller (23) / Josh Johnson (24) / Scott Olsen (24) / Anibal Sanchez (24) / Ricky Nolasco (25) / Reynel Pinto (26) – FYI — that totals one hundred and eighty-eight years.
- My namesake [or ‘tocayo’], Jorge Cantu has hit 5 home runs in his last eight [OK actually 7] games to push his total to twenty-eight for the year. When he hit #25, the Marlins infield became the first MLB infield ever to each hit at least 25 home runs in a season — Ramirez (32) / Uggla (30) / Jacobs (32). To push that mark to 30 [sports records rounding fetish], would be amazing. Any achievement in a sport with the history and tradition of MLB, which can be described as ‘first ever’ is something to relish.
- One of our future stars, Cameron Maybin, after a good 2nd half of the season in the minors, was called up and is hitting in the eight-hundredths after his first 2 games. That won’t last, but he should next year.
- While highly unlikely, the win streak gives the Marlins the opportunity to come within 2 games of the 1st place Phillies [who are looking to win their eighth game in a row], if they sweep this weekend, dependent on the Mets, of course. Bottom line, heading into the next to last weekend of the season, the Marlins have a shot. Even, if they come up short, we end the season against the Mets in NY. Which means that we may yet have another opportunity to rip the heart — weak and timid as it may be — from the chest of those chronic losers [see historic 2007 collapse] in NY for the 2nd consecutive season. Think of it! One more chance to watch the anguish that comes with historic collapses written on the face of Met fans as they say goodbye to Shea Stadium in true NY Met fashion, a Chokapalooza festival! Someone pinch-hit me eight times.
All articles linked or referenced are copied in full at end of post.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
Marlins might get financing
By Juan Ortega and Sarah Talalay
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
September 19, 2008
Local officials rejoiced at a Florida Supreme Court ruling Thursday that gives them the authority to OK bonds for public projects without voter approval.
Community redevelopment agencies across Florida had been struggling after last September’s high court ruling in Strand vs. Escambia County. The court required a public vote before a government could dispense property-tax money to purchase bonds of longer than a year’s duration.
The ruling even held up financing for a Florida Marlins ballpark because it was tied to other projects using redevelopment dollars.
Now the court says long-term financial plans that pay off debt with future property tax increases are legal, even without voter approval. Delaying the plans for votes “would cause serious disruption” to local governments’ plans for community improvements, Justice Charles T. Wells wrote for the 4-2 majority.
Thursday’s ruling, which effectively reverses the earlier one, gives community redevelopment agencies more flexibility to approve big-ticket bonds.
“What it means is a flood of new activity across the state for CRAs,” said Gary Rogers, director of Lauderdale Lakes’ Community Redevelopment Agency and president-elect of the Florida Redevelopment Association.
The initial, unanimous ruling in Strand cast doubt on construction projects across Florida. Among them is a plan for $3 billion in projects in Miami, including the Marlins stadium, a port tunnel and debt on a performing arts center. Other projects in limbo: a $100 million resort project in Hollywood, affordable townhomes in downtown Delray Beach, and a town square master plan in Boynton Beach.
“It’s been a bottleneck of nearly a year, with huge frustration in project delays all over the state,” Rogers said.
Thursday’s news was particularly welcome for the Florida Marlins, Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami. Their efforts to finance a $515 million ballpark at the site of the former Orange Bowl were held up by auto dealer Norman Braman’s lawsuit challenging how $3 billion in Miami projects were financed.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen was waiting for the Strand decision before ruling on the final count in Braman’s case: part of the financing requires a referendum because it relies on CRA dollars. Cohen has scheduled a hearing for Monday.
The team, city and county argue Strand does not require a public vote on the stadium. But they hope Thursday’s ruling clears up misconceptions about the ballpark and other projects.
“It’s not just about the stadium,” Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said. “It’s about building affordable housing and infrastructure and fixing up the parks in the area, building streets and sidewalks and flood mitigation, job creation-type projects.”
The ruling should also be a huge boost for the $100 million Marriott Ocean Village and Resort on Johnson Street in Hollywood beach. Hollywood officials had promised developers a city community redevelopment agency would secure bonds to pay for a 1,600-space parking garage.
Not everyone was cheering the ruling.
Attorney David Theriaque represented Gregory Strand, a Pensacola veterinarian who challenged an Escambia County road-widening project.
“We think it’s a very sad day for taxpayers,” Theriaque said. “This means local government can incur long-term debt without citizens being able to vote and decide whether that’s a good idea first.”
Staff Writers Linda Trischitta and Ihosvani Rodriguez contributed to this report.
Posted on Fri, Sep. 19, 2008
Florida high court ruling clears path for Miami megaplan
BY CHARLES RABIN AND MICHAEL VASQUEZ
Miami’s largest public works initiative in decades received a major legal boost Thursday, thanks to a Florida Supreme Court decision that likely green-lights financing for the $3 billion megaplan.
By extension, the Florida Marlins appear to have cleared the last legal hurdle blocking construction of a $515 million state-of-the-art facility the franchise has sought for nearly a decade.
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz cited the Depression-era New Deal in addressing what the court’s decision means for the growth of his city amid a chaotic and stumbling economy.
”I think if we all retrench and go home and put our money in a shoebox under our bed, then I think you make a bad situation — financially, economically — you make a bad situation much worse,” said the mayor.
The Supreme Court’s ruling dealt with a case in Escambia County, but the decision has resonance in Miami and across Florida. The court ruled that voter referendums are not required when government spends community-redevelopment money to pay off bond debt.
The decision reversed an earlier ruling that had appeared to cast a cloud over the Miami plan’s financing.
The development money, usually administered by community redevelopment agencies, or CRAs, is the glue that holds Miami’s megaplan together. Although not used to directly fund the stadium, CRA money would flow to other pieces of the public works blueprint — freeing up separate dollars to pay for the stadium.
The high court’s ruling had been holding up the final court decision in auto dealer Norman Braman’s lawsuit attempting to derail the stadium. Thursday’s decision could well pave the way for the end of Braman’s case.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen had already tossed six of Braman’s seven lawsuit counts. Last week, Cohen killed a big chunk of Braman’s argument, saying a publicly financed stadium serves the public good.
The final count — over the plan’s financial structure — was on hold as she awaited the Escambia ruling.
It is not clear when Cohen — presiding over an unrelated jury trial this week — will rule. But the Supreme Court’s decision is a strong indication she will toss Braman’s final count.
Braman, vowing an appeal, took little heart in Thursday’s 4-2 court decision, noting three justices who wrote in favor will soon be gone. Then he took a swipe at what he called a ”celebratory press conference” at Miami City Hall.
”With a Wall Street Journal headline this morning saying it’s the worst economy with no help in sight, how could anyone even think of spending these type of dollars for a for-profit business?” Braman asked.
Replied Diaz: “Everyone’s focused on baseball. But the reality here is, it is really about affordable housing and infrastructure, and parks and the homeless.”
Diaz said CRA money will be used for affordable housing and to aid in moving Camillus House to a new Civic Center location. Beyond the 37,000-seat stadium in Little Havana, the public works plan will help build a $1 billion port tunnel, a park at Bicentennial, a streetcar system, and pay a $484 million construction debt at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
County Mayor Carlos Alvarez said the projects will create much-needed employment for local residents.
”This is about making decisions that will move this community forward, and making sure Miami-Dade County prospers,” he said.
Braman sued Miami, Miami-Dade and the Florida Marlins in a bid to block the use of $499 million in public money to build the stadium and a parking garage. Braman also tried, but has failed, to halt construction on any of the other projects that use CRA money without voter approval.
The plan envisions some $800 million in CRA money for the projects, with only the ballpark to be built without use of anti-poverty funds. The stadium would be built mainly with tourist tax dollars collected through hotel rooms — and with the team covering about a quarter of the costs.
Marlins spokesman P.J. Loyello said the team will reserve comment until Judge Cohen rules.
Thursday’s ruling involved the case of Escambia County resident Dr. Gregory Strand, who challenged the use of property tax money to pay off a bond debt incurred for road work — without a public vote.
”We think the court’s decision makes it a very sad day for the taxpayers of Florida,” said Strand’s Tallahassee attorney, David Theriaque.
The 4-2 decision reversed an earlier ruling in Strand’s favor. The court agreed to rehear a motion after being inundated with similar cases from counties throughout the state that used CRA money after a precedent-setting ruling on a Miami Beach case dating to 1982.
In his order, Justice Charles T. Wells pointed to the Miami Beach case and said governments have relied on that ruling for 27 years in issuing “bond financing by local government authorities, including school boards, enabling the financing of many public works that have enhanced the quality of life in our state.”
Dissenting, Justice R. Fred Lewis made reference to a Bill Murray movie, saying an article in the state Constitution renders the Miami Beach case useless. ‘Like the hapless protagonist in Groundhog Day, this court will be forced to continuously relive this controversy until we `get it right,’ ” wrote Lewis.
The reversal is likely to have far-reaching implications throughout the state, where the spending of more than a billion dollars in CRA money hangs in the balance for dozens of projects, according to the state’s CRA association.
In Fort Lauderdale, CRA director Alfred Battle said the ruling provides the agency “greater flexibility to finance future projects designed to stimulate economic development in neighborhoods and business corridors.”
”This lessens the burden on taxpayers, and contributes to the long term viability of our urban areas,” said Carol Westmorland, executive director of the Florida Redevelopment Association.
Miami Herald staff writer Dan Christensen contributed to this report.