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Miami-Dade candidates debate again, collegially

Carlos Gimenez and Julio Robaina played nice in their second debate Wednesday, where they disagreed on relatively little and tried to show off their experience and vision to become Miami-Dade's next mayor.

The most contentious moment came over gambling, where the two candidates wrangled over the legality of video-game slot machines known as maquinitas. Robaina stood behind a controversial law he put forth as mayor of Hialeah that Gimenez has criticized as too permissive.

"The machines themselves are illegal," Gimenez said as Robaina shook his head. "Are we going to sell our soul because of revenue? I don't think so."

That prompted robust applause from the more than 100 people at the debate, organized by The Miami Foundation and held at the Newman Alumni Center at the University of Miami. The event was sponsored by The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, WPBT-2, the Knight Foundation and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

Countered Robaina: "It's up to the state of Florida to change the statute." Robaina argues that some of the uses of the machines -- not necessarily the machines -- are illegal.

The rivals, however, agreed that casino-style gaming would be all right in some instances in the county.

"We have to limit it in, the areas that it exists," Robaina said.

"I'm OK with maybe one or two sites, but I'm not OK with having Las Vegas Two come down to Miami or Miami Beach," Gimenez said.

The debate was peppered with moments of levity and chuckles as the two men patted each other on the back and shook hands on the stage.

Robaina maintained the position he took Monday to balance the county's budget -- which faces a $400 million shortfall -- mostly by restructuring Miami-Dade government and not so much by rewriting the terms of employee-union contracts

"This community should not accept anything less," he said. Gimenez has said renegotiated contracts will be central to his plan, because employee salaries and benefits make up the bulk of the county's budget.

More specifically, Robaina said he would target duplicate procurement, human resources and information technology services spread out throughout the county and consolidate them into central departments.


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Lets look at the facts... PLEASE LOOK AT THE LARGEST CONTRIBUTORS TO ROBAINAS campaign.. All illegal gambling entities.. Abreu, Navaro, Cabrezio, Cordoves.. Better yet look at the bundled contributions from 3850 bird road.. I REST MY CASE... Julio cannot admit that he made a mistake and those are the people that have put him and kept him in office.. If there was no problems why did he return the latest moneys back to those contributors.. But dont worry.. Those same poeple just give to his PAC accounts now and not individual contributions. Amazing.. It just seems the illegal activities allways find a way around the law.. DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!

Luis Garcia

This whole video game issue does not make any sense to me at all. In fact no one I know understands it as well and more importantly do not care at all.

South Florida has the flagler dog track with casino (state licensed) machines, so does miccosukee , so does hard rock, so does gulf stream. All approved by the State of Florida. How is it wrong for the City of Hialeah which licensed them as well, and not wrong for the above mentioned. I am really confused on this issue. Roabina did nothing wrong but follow the State of Florida's lead for his city.

If contributors upset you. Pull down the contributors list that got Vegas style full blown casino gambling approved in Miami-Dade County. You will be utterly surprised who gave and who supported it. You should be mad at those characters for allowing it in the first place.

Robaina has lost touch with middle class

Robiana will destroy Miami Dade county with all the favors and 6 figure jobs he will supply. Over the course of his political time in office in Hialeah he has become a very wealthy man and can not understand the struggles of the average worker and taxpayer in this economy. He has no problem taking away from the average worker and giving away 6 figure jobs to friends. Watch out Miami Dade county or you will be in worst shape if Mr Robaina is elected Mayor. Vote "NO" to Robaina.

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