Politics

Miami Voters Fire Lousy Mayor

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No YOU'RE out of office!

In what the Miami Herald is billing as "the largest recall of a local politician in U.S. history," Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez was sent packing yesterday "by a stunning margin":

The spectacular fall from power comes after two years of missteps, ranging from granting top staffers big pay hikes to construction of a publicly funded stadium for the Florida Marlins to implementation of a property-tax rate increase that outraged an electorate struggling through an ugly recession.

Alvarez tried to fend off ouster by twice filing suit to block a recall vote. After the lawsuits went nowhere, he defended his record in speeches, radio and television appearances and paid advertisements, arguing that he made the tough calls to preserve vital services for residents.

But voters responded by handing the mayor a humiliating defeat: Nearly nine of every 10 voted to remove Alvarez from office.

More on the bill of particulars:

He's the crook on the right

In March 2009 Alvarez successfully pushed through a controversial deal to use hundreds of millions of dollars in public money to build a new ballpark for the Florida Marlins. Then in August 2009 The Miami Herald disclosed that as Alvarez was calling for shared sacrifice amid the searing economic downturn he handed large raises to close aides, including Chief of Staff Dennis Morales, whose 11 percent pay hike put his yearly salary at $206,783.

In December the newspaper reported that Morales was working in Panama as a private consultant on taxpayer time. Alvarez, demoted his longtime confidant but troubles continued. By spring 2010 Alvarez was tagged in a controversy involving longtime ally Frank Vecin, a county police division chief who used a $5 million fund meant to crack down on polluters to buy flat-screen TVs, SUVs and assault rifles. Vecin stepped down last year amid allegations of mixing private consulting with his government work.

In May, Alvarez came under fire for shopping for a new BMW 550i Grand Turismo sedan subsidized by an $800-a-month car allowance. He got the new car even as he already had two Chevy Suburbans to ferry him around on official business. Alvarez — earning a $233,123 salary and $92,187 in benefits — refused to get rid of the car allowance, saying he wasn't "going to do something that is symbolic." […]

Meanwhile, as election day approached, Alvarez's troubles deepened when it was discovered he had granted paid leave to 12 transit workers — whose union wrote a $25,000 check backing Alvarez's recall defense — and one of the workers was found campaigning on his behalf.

Much more like this, please. Reason has been all over Miami's stadium welfare for the past decade.