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Watchdog wanted for $830 million in Jackson Health System bonds


Now comes the hard part.

One day after Miami-Dade voters approved $830 million in public funds for upgrades and new equipment and facilities for Jackson Health System, local elected officials and leaders of the county’s public hospital network vowed Wednesday to keep a campaign promise that the money will be spent as intended and monitored closely by a yet-to-be-established oversight board.

But one county commissioner who voted against the referendum said he remains skeptical that the taxpayer funds will be shielded from undue political influence, or that the significant public investment will ensure Jackson’s long-term success amid a changing healthcare environment.

Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, who represents Southwest Miami-Dade, said he is convinced that politics will poison the process — even with an oversight board.

“How these monies get spent, where the bids get opened up, that’s now subject to politics,’’ he said. “If politics drives how we spend that money, you can rest assured that easily a big chunk of that money is not going to be spent in a wise way.’’

Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, who championed the bond issue from the moment it was publicly announced in late June, promised supporters on election night that politics won’t get in the way. She said an independent panel will be appointed to oversee how the bond funds are spent and to ensure they are used for Jackson.

More here.