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Dade commissioners warned to quell the infighting

Dade commissioners in DC to find out why money for a Metrorail extension is imperiled were told that they better lay off the ethnic bickering or put the federal dollars further at risk.

The project could fail, Federal Transit Administrator James Simpson said, "if the community doesn't come together and you don't put down your political differences. . . . But you have to work together; there has to be one message from any region to D.C. that 'We are a region, a county that's united over what we believe is an outstanding project."

"We read in Washington, D.C., some of the politics that get involved with projects and all it does is slow down the process,'' said Simpson, who noted that he holds the job the late Art Teele once held.

The commissioners assured Simpson that they got the message. Any differences of opinion were later set aside at a reception at the Rayburn Office Building where chairman Bruno Barreiro kept his remarks brief.

"Miami-Dade is growing and we're going to need your assistance," Barreiro said to the gathering of House members, staffers and lobbyists.

He introduced a few members in attendance, including Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Kendrick Meek's wife, Leslie, and then thanked the sponors of the event.

The biggest applause: for the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., which provided the beer and the rum and Coke. Other sponsors: the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and Zogby International, which is opening a Miami office.

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