Michelle Spence-Jones– the apparent swing vote in the Marlins Stadium deal– says she’s back from maternity leave, and has concerns about the ballpark deal that must be met– “or the Marlins will strike out”.
The full text of her written statement is below (she’ll do interviews about it Monday morning).
The stadium deal, of course, failed on a 2-2 tie vote while Spence-Jones was absent two weeks ago. Since then, the NAACP and others in her district have been pressing the Marlins for concrete, written assurances that jobs will go to minority contractors and local residents. The Marlins haven’t signed any binding covenant to that effect, but one source in on the negotiations says that might happen early next week.
Spence-Jones is a protege of Mayor Manny Diaz, an ardent stadium backer, having served as a Diaz aide before winning her commission seat in 2005.
But she’s also up for re-election in the fall, and two political rivals I spoke with today say they’re against the stadium deal. David Chiverton, head of a Liberty City economic development group who will formally declare his candidacy in a couple of weeks, says he doesn’t like the deal as currently constituted. Former Opa-locka Asst. Police Chief Jeff Torain, who’s already filed to run, is even firmer. He says the stadium deal is a bad one, and can’t be amended to win his approval.
The City Commission’s due to take up the deal next Friday, March 6th. If it passes muster there, the Miami-Dade County Commission would take it up the next week. The Marlins still hope to break ground in July, and play ball on the old Orange Bowl site in 2012.
Now, as promised, the long-awaited Spence-Jones press release–
Commissioner Michelle Spence Jones Says Marlins
Must Hit a Home Run for Her District
– Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones returns to work after a brief maternity leave-
(Miami, FL) ─ Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, District 5 returns to work after a brief maternity leave. The first order of business is the Marlins Stadium. After reviewing the tape of the meeting and the accompanying documents provided to the commission, Commissioner Spence-Jones encourages the Marlins to step up to the plate and vastly improve the benefits to her community from the construction of the new baseball facility. In an economic environment where jobs are critical, small businesses are struggling, and construction work has slowed, the Commissioner says the deal must appeal to the needs of her district or the Marlins will strike
out on March 6.
According to the Commissioner, Overtown has waited long enough. The Commissioner supported the Global Agreement because of the benefits to her community. The Global Agreement bailed out the Performance Art Center from its funding crisis. It also contained $100 million in funding for the Port Tunnel. Additionally, the tunnel is included as part of the economic stimulus plan. The agreement also includes the new baseball stadium that is now being recommended at a cost of almost $600 plus million.
“ I am glad to see the areas around the Omni, Downtown, Little Havana and the Medical District reap the benefits of the Global Agreement and other City and County investments; however, Overtown, Allapattah, Little Haiti and Liberty City are left behind,” said Commissioner Spence-Jones, “Overtown must get its fair share.”
As such the commissioner strongly recommends that the City and the County take the following actions before she can make any decisions on funding a new baseball stadium or the Marlins will strike out :
1) Expedite the expansion of the boundaries and extension of the life of the Overtown CRA.
2) Amend the Global Agreement to prevent the City and the County and or the Marlins from taking any tax increment dollars generated in Overtown from the Overtown CRA.
3) Authorize a half billion dollar bond issuance to fund the redevelopment of the historic Overtown community.
“While I supported the Marlins deal as a part of the Global Agreement, the financial condition of the City and the County has changed dramatically since the first vote. Foreclosures are up, unemployment has doubled and bankruptcies are at record levels,” said Commissioner Spence-Jones “Therefore any agreement to support the construction of a new stadium must also include concrete job opportunities and use of small businesses in my district with participation during both the construction and operations phase of the baseball stadium.
Finally, the Marlins organization and major league baseball have not addressed the needs of our inner city youth. They must fund a mini-baseball youth academy located in the inner city. They must offer additional support to the local optimist organizations operating in Overtown and in Liberty City or the Marlins will strike out. And as everyone knows in baseball three strikes and you’re out.”
Commissioner Spence-Jones will cast her vote at the upcoming commission meeting on March 6, 2009, to decide the fate of the Marlins stadium. For more information or to schedule a press interview with Commissioner Spence-Jones, contact Jonelle Adderley at (305) 250-5390.
Jonelle Adderley, Assistant to Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones
Office of Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones
3500 Pan American Drive
P: (305) 250-5394
F: (305) 250-5399