Com. Esteban Bovo Jr. addresses M. Lakes Chamber of Commerce

Community By David Snelling, The Miami Laker staff Wednesday, May 28, 2014


The life of a Miami-Dade Commissioner is often depicted as immensely busy, meeting-hopping from one end of the county to the other.

Case in point, on Wednesday, May 7, Commissioner Esteban Bovo Jr.  attended two early morning meetings, and subsequently met with soccer legend David Beckham and his partners in the highly publicized issue of bringing a soccer franchise to Miami.

The heart of the discussion is the location for the soccer stadium; Beckham is eyeing the Port of Miami to build a soccer-specific stadium while Mayor Carlos Gimenez proposed a plan for another site, filling a vacant boat slip adjacent to American Airlines Arena.

But Bovo took time from his busy schedule to be the guest speaker at the Miami Lakes Chamber of Commerce’s monthly membership luncheon at Don Shula’s Hotel, where he discussed the soccer matter, upcoming budget issues and the need for reconstruction at Miami-Dade County.

“That’s the life of a county commissioner,” Bovo quipped.

The site selection for the proposed soccer stadium could be settled by next week. “No fault to Beckham to pick the best site for his stadium, but the Port of Miami may not be the best location,” Bovo said.

The former state representative said some people are debunking the idea of a soccer franchise even though a plan hasn’t been put on the table.

But he’s not surprised because Miami-Dade issues are often contentious.

“People are saying things and we are just talking,” Bovo said. “Whether it’s water and sewer and other infrastructure, every issue is important because time is money. And the longer the delay, the more money it will cost.”

Echoing Gimenez’s sentiments, Bovo said Miami-Dade is “dysfunctional” and needs a major overhaul to operate more effectively.

“Firefighters are acting like magicians and librarians are earning more money than the police,” he said. “Miami-Dade needs a reconstruction process because at the end of the day, it still costs money.”

After the county commission eradicated the employee healthcare concession in December, which stopped nearly 26,000 employees from contributing five percent of their base pay toward group healthcare costs, Bovo said Miami-Dade is staring at a $56 million budget shortfall for the next fiscal year.

 He indicated libraries and fire rescue services could be on the chopping block, but he’s optimistic the county can reduce the deficit and keep the services in tact.

Like the city of Hialeah, Bovo, a former Hialeah Councilman, said retrofitting  libraries in the county’s parks could be a solution.

“The challenge is why are we spending $5 million on a storefront for a library?” Hialeah has been doing this for years with libraries and E-libraries in the parks to save money.”

Bovo said among the three different government offices, a county commissioner has the most work to do.

He said a county commissioner is the mayor of his/her unincorporated areas.

“A county commissioner becomes mayor of those areas because building and zoning issues come through our offices,” he said.

Chamber of Commerce members praised Bovo and his staff for their work in his district compared  to the apathy from other county officials.

“I am upset over how the county treats its residents,” said Laura Espinosa. “The county has become a monster and we blame that on the past elected officials who have no empathy for us residents. But Bovo’s office got us of the loop. I hope there are more people at Miami-Dade like you.”