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On House floor, Miami-Dade school board discussion gets heated

The Q-and-A on the Florida House floor got feisty over Rep. Ana Rivas Logan's contentious proposal to restructure the Miami-Dade School Board.

The fireworks between Logan, a Miami Republican, and Democratic members of the Miami-Dade delegation are not surprising. Debate over Logan’s bill got increasingly testy in several committees.

The bill’s companion is dormant in the state Senate, where Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said he had changed his mind on moving the measure forward.

But the House could vote -– as early as Friday -– to send the proposal to the Senate, keeping the legislation on life support for now.

Thursday morning, Miami-Dade and Broward Democrats held a news conference to denounce Logan’s bill as policy that would dilute minority representation on the school board. Logan wants to condense the number of single-member districts on the board from nine to seven and add two at-large, countywide seats that would serve as the body’s chair and vice-chair.

The latter part is the “most egregious” part of the bill, Sen. Nan Rich, a Weston Democrat and minority leader, told reporters. The Broward school board has seven single-districts and two at-large seats – but members rotate the chairmanship of the board each year.

Rich noted Broward doesn’t currently have a minority elected to a countywide seat. That is the fear in Miami-Dade: that an African-American would have a hard time being elected as a school district leader.

“In the history of Miami-Dade County to date, how many black people have been elected countywide?” Rep. Dwight Bullard, a South Miami-Dade Democrat, asked Logan in a particularly heated exchange.

Logan’s reply: President Barack Obama was elected “by more than 150,000 votes.”

Retorted Bullard: “Naming the president of the United States and saying he’s a county [official] is a fallacy.” The lawmaker presiding the discussion then cut him off.