In response to billionaire businessman Norman Braman’s petition to recall the Miami Dade Mayor, Carlos Alvarez has struck back by creating a political action committee to fund his defense and hired a high profile lawyer.
The newly formed committee – dubbed “Citizens for Truth” – allows the troubled mayor to receive unlimited financial donations from fundraisers to fund his fight. Alvarez has also sought the services of Bruce Rogow, a veteran legal expert and appellate attorney. This is the same litigator that aided Alvarez’s successful campaign to win strong-mayor powers in 2007.
These actions from Alvarez come as Braman moved forward in his recall efforts by formerly filing a notice with the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts. The mayor’s actions are giving citizens an early glimpse of the legal and political strategies the mayor hopes to use in order to defeat the strongest attempt to unseat him yet.
NBC 6 explains that Alvarez’s most likely legal move will be placing a legal bid that would keep the recall initiative to ever get on the ballot and reach voters. The mayor is also contending that Braman is precluded under the county charter from launching a recall drive now because another drive earlier this year was unsuccessful. The charter says that a recall position cannot be certified within one year of another recall against the mayor being defeated.
For a man who said on Monday that he would keep serving until the citizens of Miami Dade said otherwise, Alvarez sure is making it difficult for the citizens to voice their opinion.
In December, a recall campaign was launched by a Coral Gables retiree by the name of Lazaro Gonzalez. Unfortunately, the effort fizzled when he did not get enough signatures to get a recall initiative on the ballot.
Some legal experts believe that the previous effort was not defeated because the question never went out to voters. Alvarez begs to differ.
If Alvarez is successful then the petition drive could be delayed. Braman has already said that he plans on having petition gatherers posted across the country on November 2nd when voters are casting ballots for the midterm elections. Braman would need to collect 48,000 signatures in order to have a special election that would cost tax payers about $4.5 million.
In response to Alvarez’s legal actions, The Miami Herald reports that Braman is not surprised that the mayor’s would deprive voters of having their voices heard. “That is what he [the mayor] and the commission have done repeatedly,” explained Braman.
Braman launched this recall after Alvarez proposed a budget, which the majority of county commissioners approved, raising the tax rate by 13 percent in a time of economic struggles and double digit unemployment. Alvarez has also been in the center of many financial scandals surrounding the county.
The mayor’s urgency in creating a political action committee and hiring a lawyer shows that he is taking Braman’s threats seriously. Why wouldn’t he? The frustrations of Miami Dade citizens towards the mayor and his allies are nothing new and very well publicized.
County Clerk Harvey Ruin said the petition is under review to make sure it meets legal requirements before it is presented to voters. A decision will not be made until next week at the earliest.
Miami New Times