Saturday, October 18, 2014

On the FIU expansion, Guest Blog by Barry White

It was reported 9/3/14 that the Miami-Dade commission approves ballot questions for FIU expansion, new courthouse.

I don't think anyone has put the real cost figures to Youth Fair/FIU proposal.

A 1.92 acre commercial parcel across the street from the Youth Fair grounds at 2500 SW 107 Street is valued at $1,306,807 per acre by the Miami Dade County Property Appraiser. At that rate, the 64 acres which would be provided to FIU are worth $83,635,648. If you add that to the estimated cost of relocating the Youth Fair as stated in the Miami Herald on August 27, 2014 of "up to $80 million in construction and another $150 million in road and service improvements" we are looking at a subsidy to FIU of almost $394,000,000.

Thats about $131 for every man, woman and child in Miami Dade County. If I want to give charity to a non-profit corporation, I will choose it, thank you. And will get a tax deduction for it too.

While FIU is considered a public university, it is a private 501 (C) 3 corporation essentially answerable only to itself. They say they will spend $900 million to build out the 64 acres. Fine, then let them at least cough up to money to break the current lease and move the Youth Fair. Better idea. Let FIU find some other site for expansion within the UDB.

And do we really need to destroy another park facility for this move? We have little enough park land as it is. Has anyone checked lately to see if Miami Dade County and its municipalites are in concurence with FL Statute 163 regarding the required amount of park space to issue a building permit?; must be getting pretty close to or beneath the required amount.

Is anyone watching the store?

Barry J. White
President, Citizens Against Non-Concurrency Taskforce, Inc./CANT

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this Mr. White. I have a question. If you don't mind, could you please give some historical perspective on the Youth Fair land? Was this originally public land or was it acquired by FIU. The University was envisioned in 1965. What year did the Youth Fair begin on that property? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I think the cities count portions of the Atlantic ocean in their open space and recreation area requirements.

Anonymous said...


re anon -- the land was divided between the parks department and FIU when it was first turned over. The fair has a long-term agreement with the County for use during the fair period (short) and for use of the building for public recreation purposed during the off season. FIU has had its eyes on Tamiami Park (all of it) for along time and the sports stadium and a theater both infringe already. There are very few alternatives for the Fair and it will be costly to relocate it. It simply seems greedy for FIU to take this public property for FIU's exclusive use. It would make much more sense for them to seek another site - it could be close, an underutilized shopping center (there are plenty of those). I think this is a lost cause but everyone should be alert that this is only part of the land grab. They will be after more public land before too long, and neighbors of Tropical Park should be prepared.

Anonymous said...

FIU should go vertical. Voters should vote no for all these crazy schemes, especially the $393 Mil bond for a $60 Mil courthouse. Graft?

Anonymous said...

FIU=Banana Republic U. But then Miami Dade is really Banana Republic County, FL. Neo-fascism. Rampant corruption. There is no sign this will change. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

FIU=Banana Republic U. But then Miami Dade is really Banana Republic County, FL. Neo-fascism. Rampant corruption. There is no sign this will change. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Only a fool compares a university with the youth fair. One it's critical to the community's future while the other is a relic from its past.

Anonymous said...

Seems like FIU is a relic from the past if their vision of the future is a physical classroom, 30 students, and a teacher teaching knowledge generated in the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The technology now gives us less costly and more effective ways of teaching this knowledge and in educating people in general.

Philip Stoddard said...

Think "public purpose". How do we best put our land resources toward the public good? FIU could, should, and is going more vertical. It's done the sprawl thing, and new buildings are going in 4-6 story. FIU also hosts a public elementary school, county health dept building, and the National Hurricane Center. The idea at FIU has never been to engage in turf wars with the county, but to muster and share resources for the public good. The Youth Fair lasts 2 weeks every year, then the site hosts gun & knife shows, an orchid show, etc. I hosted Mr. White at my FIU lab all day on Friday, but when was the last time he rode the Crazy Mouse and ate a corn dog at the Youth Fair?

Anonymous said...

1st Anon: Both FIU and the Youth Fair occupy land that was once Tamiami Airport. The airport was established in the mid-1940s and occupied a section of land (640 acres) bounded by the Tamiami Trail on the north, Coral Way on the south, 117th avenue on the west and 107 avenue on the east. Here is a web site that has a lot of interesting information about the history of Tamiami Airport:

http://www.airfields-freeman.com/FL/Airfields_FL_Miami_C.htm

I imagine that the property was originally public land, but I don't know. Part of it was turned over to FIU and the remainder, south of the main runway, was given to the Youth Fair, which in earlier days had been based where the Dadeland shopping center is now located.

There is no reason that FIU can't build up instead of out. This ballot question is all about a land-grab by some powerful politicians in Miami-Dade County at the expense of the people who enjoy going to the Youth Fair.

Vote NO on all of the Charter amendments!

Anonymous said...

I voted NO for this piece of nonsense.

I wish these people would stop cluttering my ballot with all this constant begging for our money to use for their perennial scams?

I am more and more believing that, as may claim, South Florida is not a part of the United States.

Anonymous said...

If FIU hadn't built a ridiculous football stadium (at a HUGE expense to us the taxpayers) and given that clown, Pete Garcia, an increased fiefdom, they would have plenty of space. Vote NO!

Anonymous said...

Vote No for the billion dollar courthouse. No on #168.

Anonymous said...

I have a problem with the fact that FIU is sending the voters literature with lies about their vote. I got a flyer in the mail saying very clearly:

"Absolutely no increase in local property taxes."

Where will the money come from to pay the interest and principal on the bonds, the loan? Dropped from the sky? No, from the taxpayers pockets, taxes on their little homes. This lie alone is enough not to vote for it.

Ted Baker said...

The Youth Fair, which was originally located on the north side of Kendall Drive just east of SW 97th Avenue, was relocated to the old Tamiami Airport in the mid-60s. The argument that the Youth Fair only lasts a few weeks each year and thus should be relegated to the netherland is specious and ill-advised, as the Youth Fair is an integral aspect of the social fabric of this community. One must ask the obvious questions: what are all of the costs associated with closing the Youth Fair and relocating it; what is the value of the 90+ acres in question (owned, if you will, by the taxpayers of this community); what is FIU willing to pay for this 90+ acre parcel? There are for sure a host of questions. And, one might contemplate the parallels between - for example - the proposed land grab/usurpation manifest by the action of FIU, and the pollution of The Everglades by "Big Sugar (Fanjul) or the disrespect that FPL has manifest in proposing two new nuclear reactors in South Dade. The issues are similar: the conversion of functioning land serving a worthy public purpose, to select and privileged use.

Anonymous said...

Formers FIU student and invited NO for expantion

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the correction on the original location of the Youth Fair, Ted. I was just a kid in those days - I was close with my Dadeland location, though! :-)

Anonymous said...

Even if it weren't land occupied by the Fair, I have an aversion to voting to allow the University (my alma mater) to take park land.

Apparently everyone forgets that FIU is more than the main University Park campus. Just blocks from it is the small, yet under-developed engineering campus. Along Biscayne Bay is the nearly vacant North Campus, and the University occupies a big chunk of shiny glass high-rise in Brickell, and a sprawl-tastic campus in Pembroke Pines on the edge of I-75.

Any one of those spots can accomodate additional growth in the University without having to sacrifice park land.

Anonymous said...

FLORIDA INT' L UNIV FOUNDATION INC
Briefly describe the organization's mission or most significant activities
TO ENCOURAGE, SOLICIT, RECEIVE AND ADMINISTER GIFTS AND BEQUESTS OF PROPERTY AND FUNDS FOR SCIENTIFIC, EDUCATIONAL AND CHARITABLE PURPOSES, ALL FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF FIU AND ITS OBJECTIVES

Anonymous said...

Miami Dade County Fair & Exposition Inc
Briefly describe the organization's mission or most significant activities
DEDICATED TO ENRICHING OUR COMMUNITY BY PROMOTING EDUCATION AND SOUTH FLORIDA AGRICULTURE WHILE
SHOWCASING AND REWARDING THE YOUTH IN ITS 63 YEAR HISTORY, WE HAVE DONATED OVER $10 MILLION IN
SCHOLARSHIPS

Anonymous said...


Florida Int Unv Academic Health Center Health Care Network Faculty Group Practice Inc
MODESTO A MAIDIQUE CAMPUS Suite MA
Briefly describe the organization's mission or most significant activities
THE CORPORATION WAS ESTABLISHED TO SUPPORT THE MISSION OF FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY AND TO
IMPROVE AND SUPPORT MEDICAL EDUCATION AT THE FIU HERBERT WERTHEIM COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

Anonymous said...

Ron Magill thinks there is a time and place for development in Miami Dade County but asks when does it stop?
Hear what he had to say at a commission meeting in the city of south miami.
http://vimeo.com/36506532

Anonymous said...

A very large use (1.2 million square feet) for the FIU expansion is slated for residential buildings for out of state residents and faculty. Yet, the ads would have us believe that the expansion is needed for education purposes for county residents. The Main FIU campus alone is already roughly 25% larger than the University of Miami. How big do they need to get at that location, when they have underutilized space at the north campus? And IF there were absolutely so cost for the expansion of FIU and relocation of the Youth Fair, when the purchaser is the state of Florida, where does the money come from? Miami-Dade County is the largest donor to the state coffers. We're going to pay for this one way or the other, if it passes. Just say NO.162

Anonymous said...

State Priorities 2014 State Legislative Priorities
Expanding FIU’s Footprint
Request: $10M
The Fair Relocation Since 2010, FIU has been working with Miami-Dade County and the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition to find a suitable location to relocate the Fair and gain access to the 86 acres adjacent to FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus. FIU is seeking state funds for this initiative and is requesting $10M for land acquisition and campus expansion as a starting point.
Currently serving almost 53,000 students, FIU has maximized use of its existing space and needs to expand its footprint in order to continue meeting the needs of the South Florida community, spur economic activity and serve a greater public purpose.

read more
http://government.fiu.edu/state/state-priorities/index.html

Anonymous said...

Alumni in Elected Office
Federal
United States Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Florida Legislature
State Senators Anitere Flores
Rene Garcia

State Representatives Jeanette Nuñez
Mark Pafford Katie A. Edwards

Maryland Legislature
Delegate Kirill Reznik, Maryland House of Delegates

Miami-Dade County
Commissioners
Esteban Bovo
Audrey Edmonson
Jean Monestime
Juan C. Zapata

The City of Coral Gables
Vice-Mayor William H. Kerdyk


The City of Hallandale Beach
Mayor Joy Cooper

The City of Hialeah
Council Member Luis Gonzalez

City of Hialeah Gardens
Mayor Yioset De la Cruz Council Member Rolando “Roly” Pina

Broward County
Mayor Barbara Sharief

Broward County School Board
District 9 Board Member Robin Bartleman

http://government.fiu.edu/about-us/index.html

Anonymous said...

County Commissioners 10/22/2013 11A10 Adopted P REPORT: County Attorney Robert Cuevas read the foregoing proposed resolution into the record. Commissioner Zapata acknowledged Florida International University (FIU) President Mark B. Rosenberg and members of their Board for their presence. He pointed out that the foregoing proposed resolution requested that the State of Florida fund the relocation of the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, Inc. (Youth Fair) in order to accommodate FIU’s expansion into Tamiami Park and discussed the economic impact this expansion bring to the community. It was moved by Commissioner Heyman that the foregoing proposed resolution be adopted as amended to remove the wording relating to it being a critical legislative priority. This motion was seconded by Commissioner Bell. Commissioner Zapata noted he believed that FIU’s expansion and finding a new home for the Youth Fair was critical. He said this was a $900 million proposed construction project with a one-half billion in economic activity for this community. Commissioner Zapata pointed out that every great city had great public universities and FIU was ours. He discussed that this proposal would have a recurring economic impact; that it was equivalent to investments made at our airport and seaport; and that FIU educated the future leaders of our local economy. Commissioner Zapata said it was important for FIU’s leadership to hear from this Board that we considered them to be a critical County priority. Commissioner Edmonson noted her support for the proposed resolution; however, noted that the Youth Fair had a lease with the County and any relocation needed to be acceptable to all parties. Commissioner Bovo concurred with Commissioner Zapata over the critical need when considering the impact of FIU’s expansion to our community and the local economy. He noted concern about the existing lease between the County and the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, Inc. which he would address at another time. Commissioner Bovo questioned the viability of using land owned by FIU located outside the Urban Development Boundary (UDB) solely for the purpose of the Youth Fair, considering the current limited us of that property. Mayor Gimenez noted his opposition to a land swap with FIU because the property was located outside the UDB. He said the site would require mitigation, water and sewer infrastructure improvements and additional construction. Commissioner Bovo pointed out that the potential impact for FIU warranted further conversation and needed to be pursued...

Reference: R-867-13 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: FIU'S DESIRED EXPANSION ONTO TAMIAMI PARK Introduced: 10/8/2013
Requester: NONE Cost:
Final Action: 10/22/2013
Agenda Date: 10/22/2013 Agenda Item Number: 11A10
Notes: Title: RESOLUTION URGING THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE TO COMMIT STATE FUNDING IN SUPPORT OF FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY’S (FIU) REQUEST FOR FUNDING FOR COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE RELOCATION OF THE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY FAIR AND EXPOSITION, INC. AND FIU’S DESIRED EXPANSION ONTO TAMIAMI PARK, SUBJECT TO A COUNTYWIDE REFERENDUM, AND TO IDENTIFY THIS LEGISLATIVE PRIORITY AS A CRITICAL COUNTY PRIORITY FOR THE 2014 SESSION
Indexes: FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY (FIU)
LEGISLATURE

Sponsors: Juan C. Zapata, Co-Prime Sponsor
Sen. Javier D. Souto, Co-Prime Sponsor
Bruno A. Barreiro, Co-Sponsor
Esteban L. Bovo, Jr., Co-Sponsor
Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Co-Sponsor
Jean Monestime, Co-Sponsor
Xavier L. Suarez, Co-Sponsor

Anonymous said...

County Commissioners 10/22/2013 11A10 Adopted P REPORT: County Attorney Robert Cuevas read the foregoing proposed resolution into the record. Commissioner Zapata acknowledged Florida International University (FIU) President Mark B. Rosenberg and members of their Board for their presence. He pointed out that the foregoing proposed resolution requested that the State of Florida fund the relocation of the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, Inc. (Youth Fair) in order to accommodate FIU’s expansion into Tamiami Park and discussed the economic impact this expansion bring to the community. It was moved by Commissioner Heyman that the foregoing proposed resolution be adopted as amended to remove the wording relating to it being a critical legislative priority. This motion was seconded by Commissioner Bell. Commissioner Zapata noted he believed that FIU’s expansion and finding a new home for the Youth Fair was critical. He said this was a $900 million proposed construction project with a one-half billion in economic activity for this community. Commissioner Zapata pointed out that every great city had great public universities and FIU was ours. He discussed that this proposal would have a recurring economic impact; that it was equivalent to investments made at our airport and seaport; and that FIU educated the future leaders of our local economy. Commissioner Zapata said it was important for FIU’s leadership to hear from this Board that we considered them to be a critical County priority. Commissioner Edmonson noted her support for the proposed resolution; however, noted that the Youth Fair had a lease with the County and any relocation needed to be acceptable to all parties. Commissioner Bovo concurred with Commissioner Zapata over the critical need when considering the impact of FIU’s expansion to our community and the local economy. He noted concern about the existing lease between the County and the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, Inc. which he would address at another time. Commissioner Bovo questioned the viability of using land owned by FIU located outside the Urban Development Boundary (UDB) solely for the purpose of the Youth Fair, considering the current limited us of that property. Mayor Gimenez noted his opposition to a land swap with FIU because the property was located outside the UDB. He said the site would require mitigation, water and sewer infrastructure improvements and additional construction. Commissioner Bovo pointed out that the potential impact for FIU warranted further conversation and needed to be pursued. Mayor Gimenez said he fully supported the foregoing proposed resolution asking the State to pay relocation costs. He noted agreement that FIU’s use of the Youth Fair site would serve a greater public purpose; however, noted concern that the County was obligated to provide the Youth Fair with an alternative site, but did not have the funds to pay the moving costs. Mayor Gimenez said that site development plans, mitigation, landfill, and environmental considerations needed to be explored along with associated costs before the Board could make a final decision on the feasibility of this location. Commissioner Bovo said he concurred with Mayor Gimenez that all options needed to be considered by both the County and FIU. He noted he supported the foregoing proposed resolution; that it was a critical item; and that he was opposed to the proposed amendment...

Reference: R-867-13 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: FIU'S DESIRED EXPANSION ONTO TAMIAMI PARK Introduced: 10/8/2013
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 10/22/2013
Agenda Date: 10/22/2013 Agenda Item Number: 11A10

Sponsors:Juan C. Zapata,
Co-Prime Sponsor Sen. Javier D. Souto, Co-Prime Sponsor Bruno A. Barreiro, Co-Sponsor Esteban L. Bovo, Jr., Co-Sponsor
Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Co-Sponsor
Jean Monestime, Co-Sponsor
Xavier L. Suarez, Co-Sponsor

Anonymous said...

Chairwoman Sosa noted that a land swap agreement to an area outside the UDB was not part of the proposed resolution and that she was opposed to moving the UDB. She said that the residents living in neighboring communities should be included in future discussions because of the increased traffic which the proposed expansion would have on the surrounding area. Chairwoman Sosa pointed out that the resolution was sending a message to the State that they needed to take care of FIU, and that it was not asking for a public vote on taxes. Commissioner Diaz pointed out that the Youth Fair property was used for other events throughout the year in addition to the Youth Fair. He said that this proposal was critical to FIU’s future growth; that he fully supported the proposed resolution as presented; and that a traffic study was needed. Commissioner Jordan concurred with Commissioner Bovo that alternative plans needed to be evaluated. She pointed out that Article 7 related to the rules and policies on other usages of park land, noting that those provisions could be bypassed, as was done in Crandon Park, as long as the process was completed respectfully and properly. Commissioner Jordan noted that a critical priority was warranted because FIU was an excellent educational institution needing to expand; that the Youth Fair was a premier community-wide fair; and that the County could not afford to relocate the Youth Fair, yet it was obligated to do so. She said she did not support removing the critical priority at this time, noting that the Board would formalize its final critical priority list at a later date. ....

Reference: R-867-13 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: FIU'S DESIRED EXPANSION ONTO TAMIAMI PARK Introduced: 10/8/2013
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 10/22/2013
Agenda Date: 10/22/2013 Agenda Item Number: 11A10


Sponsors: Juan C. Zapata, Co-Prime Sponsor
Sen. Javier D. Souto, Co-Prime Sponsor
Bruno A. Barreiro, Co-Sponsor
Esteban L. Bovo, Jr., Co-Sponsor
Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Co-Sponsor
Jean Monestime, Co-Sponsor
Xavier L. Suarez, Co-Sponsor

Anonymous said...

Commissioner Bell noted she supported the proposed resolution; however, this was inconsistent with today’s (10/22) previous decision on Agenda Item 11A8 Substitute, where the Board decided that all critical priorities would be decided when they established the State legislative priorities list. She pointed out that the County was always seeking State funding; however, she could not support the item as a critical priority at this time. Commissioner Souto spoke in support of the foregoing proposed resolution, noting it affected a large number of residents, the local economy, the County and our world presence. He said that caution was needed because of the location of the facility and the impact on the surrounding community. Commissioner Souto noted that the Youth Fair could not disappear and that it might reinvent itself. He said that a balance act was needed to help FIU maintain its mission while ensuring the Youth Fair’s survival. Commissioner Souto suggested proceeding carefully and those public meetings be held to engage the community and obtain input. Commissioner Moss said that although he supported this proposal, the Board needed to consider FIU, the Youth Fair, the neighborhood and traffic issues together. Upon further questioning, Chairwoman Sosa confirmed that the critical priority language would remain in the foregoing proposed resolution. Hearing no further questions or comments, the Commission proceeded to vote on the foregoing proposed resolution as presented. Following the vote, a representative from FIU expressed his appreciation to the County Commission for their favorable decision, noting FIU looked forward to working with this Board to make great things happen in this community. Chairwoman Sosa noted the importance for FIU to work together with the County Commissioners representing the area and the residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Reference: R-867-13 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: FIU'S DESIRED EXPANSION ONTO TAMIAMI PARK Introduced: 10/8/2013
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 10/22/2013
Agenda Date: 10/22/2013 Agenda Item Number: 11A10

Notes: Title: RESOLUTION URGING THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE TO COMMIT STATE FUNDING IN SUPPORT OF FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY’S (FIU) REQUEST FOR FUNDING FOR COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE RELOCATION OF THE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY FAIR AND EXPOSITION, INC. AND FIU’S DESIRED EXPANSION ONTO TAMIAMI PARK, SUBJECT TO A COUNTYWIDE REFERENDUM, AND TO IDENTIFY THIS LEGISLATIVE PRIORITY AS A CRITICAL COUNTY PRIORITY FOR THE 2014 SESSION
Indexes: FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY (FIU)
LEGISLATURE

Sponsors: Juan C. Zapata, Co-Prime Sponsor
Sen. Javier D. Souto, Co-Prime Sponsor
Bruno A. Barreiro, Co-Sponsor
Esteban L. Bovo, Jr., Co-Sponsor
Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Co-Sponsor
Jean Monestime, Co-Sponsor
Xavier L. Suarez, Co-Sponsor

Anonymous said...

2012 Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax
FLORIDA INT' L UNIV FOUNDATION INC
G Gross receipts $ 182,258,889

JEFFREY L HORSTMYER DIRECTOR
Average hrs per week 10hr and 40hr $73,188 + $4,236

HOWARD R LIPMAN CEO/PRESIDENT
Average hrs per week 40
$359,868 + $15,813

MILAGROS GARCIA-CHICA CONTROLLER
Average hrs per week 40
$132,286 + $7,680

For each "Yes" response to lines la through li below, provide in Part IV a detailed description of the lobbying activity
g Direct contact with legislators, their staffs, government officials, or a legislative body? Yes $253,483

(a)Current year
la Beginning of year balance $206,368,915
b Contributions $18,563,591
c Net investment earnings, gains, and losses $15,941,955
e Other expenditures for facilities
and programs $6,509,644
g End of year balance $234,364,817

Anonymous said...

2012 Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax
FLORIDA INT' L UNIV FOUNDATION INC

Officers, Directors, Trustees , Key Employees, and Highest Compensated Employees.
(1)KENNETH FURTON DIRECTOR
(i) Base compensation $295,515
(D) Nontaxable benefits $18,343
(E) Total of columns (B)(1)-(D)
$313,863

(2)HOWARD R LIPMAN CEO/PRESIDENT
(i) Base compensation $359,868
(D) Nontaxable benefits $15,813
(E) Total of columns (B)(1)-(D) $375,681

Anonymous said...

County Commissioner Juan Zapata withdrew his request for an ethics opinion in anemail (attached to this memo) to Executive Director Joseph Centorino on 10/9/13.
http://ethics.miamidade.gov/library/opinions/2013/rqo_13-10_zapata.pdf

MIAMI-DADE COMMISSION ON ETHICS MEMORANDUM
TO:Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics
FROM: Victoria Frigo, Senior Staff Attorney
SUBJECT:RQO 13-10 Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, District 11
Fundraising Activities by County Commissioners
County Ethics Code at Secs. 2-11.1 (d), (e), (g), (l), (n)
DATE:
Oct. 10, 2013

I. ISSUE
May a County Commissioner use his official position to engage in fundraising activities in the private sector in order to help finance various public projects in the district that he represents?
II. Brief Answer
GENERALLY, YES. The County Ethics Code at Sec. 2-11.1 (e)(2)(f) allows County Commissioners to solicit gifts on behalf of the County in the performance of their official duties for use solely by the County to conduct its official business. Additionally, Sec. 2-11.1 (e)(2)(g) allows County Commissioners and their staffs to solicit gifts on behalf of 501(c)(3) nonprofit entities.
Nevertheless, because these solicitations could create the perception of possible quid pro quo arrangements, the Board of County Commissioners should adopt several safeguards to avoid appearances of impropriety in the proposed solicitation and funding processes.
III. BACKGROUND
County Commissioner Juan Zapata represents District 11. District 11 is entirely unincorporated and depends on funding through the Unincorporated Municipal Service Area (UMSA) budget.
The Commissioner wishes to raise private-sector funds to finance public infrastructure projects and other programs in District 11 that serve a public purpose, such as sports and beautification activities.
The Commissioner would also like to solicit private-sector financing on behalf of the Florida International University (FIU) Foundation. Using funds solicited on behalf of the Foundation, Commissioner Zapata would direct FIU to develop a strategic master plan to address service and infrastructure deficiencies in District 11. The FIU Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity.