Miami Herald: NEPOTISM: County mayor’s son wins approval for land sale. Commissioners won’t ban family deals

Miami Herald:

Things of Note:
  • Julio Gimenez, whose father is Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, is a partner in the venture
  • It was a no-bid $16.8 million sale...
  • "“My family deserves to make a living just like anybody else,” said Commissioner Barbara Jordan."
    • When that living is made on the taxpayers back via the influence of an elected official that's ethically messed up...
  • Nepotism: The practice of showing favoritism toward one's family members or friends in economic or employment terms.
  • Cronyism(b) A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official.

Miami-Dade commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a land deal for partners that include a son of Mayor Carlos Gimenez, and swatted back a suggestion that officeholders’ relatives should be banned from doing business with the county. 

The vote reserves 123 acres of county-owned land near Homestead for Julio Gimenez and partners. The partnership wants to spend nearly $300 million developing a mini steel mill that uses electric-powered machinery to convert scrap metal into rebar and other raw building materials. 

Most of the friction came from one commissioner’s proposal to ban a similar deal from going forward in the future. Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who is running for mayor in 2020, said the steel mill proposal was a good project that would still raise suspicions because an officeholder’s relative is a partner. She promised to introduce a bill to ban immediate family members of the county’s elected officials from conducting business with the county or from lobbying for legislative matters before the commission. 

“I feel this legislation is needed to fully regain the trust from our residents,” Levine Cava said. 
“Many in the county feel we have not done enough to tackle ethical reforms. I am committed to do so.” 

Her fellow commissioners gave a collective thumbs down to Levine Cava’s plan. “Many of our children are not millionaires,” Commissioner Rebeca Sosa said. “They have to work. Sometimes they become attorneys, and they represent companies in government.” 

“My family deserves to make a living just like anybody else,” said Commissioner Barbara Jordan. 

Julio Gimenez, a longtime construction executive, is a minority partner in Miami-Dade Steel, the entity formed to pursue the steel mill. The lead partner is Gustavo Lopez, who said he has built other micro mills in Latin America and China. The partnership asked to have the proposal skip the normal review process by a commission committee in order to make a May 15 deadline to register for an investment-visa program that the partners hope will raise $50 million for the project, the younger Gimenez said.

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