0

« Obama sets immigration 'trap,' GOP get snared, irked | Main | Daniella Levine Cava taps commission veterans for two top posts »

Big Miami-Dade donor Wayne Rosen wants another shot at county money

@doug_hanks

[Updated at 8:57 a.m. with news of a delay in the re-vote plan.]

Wayne Rosen gave more money to Miami-Dade commissioners than almost anybody did, but the generosity failed to win him the vote he wanted three weeks ago. Now he's trying to reverse that unfavorable decision regarding a $5 million grant request for his Palmetto Bay charter-school complex. 

"I need two votes" to flip, Rosen said last week during a visit to the vacant lot that would house a school, shops, evening vocational center and condos. He's hoping to get a re-vote when commissioners convene Monday for a meeting that's supposed to be devoted to swearing-in the six commissioners who started their new four-year terms last week and electing a new chair for the 13-member panel. 

[Update: Rosen wrote Naked Politics Monday morning to say he won't try for a re-vote on Monday. Instead, he's going to wait to see if his candidates  win in Tuesday's Palmetto Bay election. He's backing former mayor Eugene Flinn over the incumbent, Shelley Stanczyk, a chief Rosen critic. "I will wait until the Palmetto Bay run-off [and] then  regroup," Rosen wrote.] 

Waynerosen

Facing Palmetto Bay's city hall, Rosen sees the Parkside at Palmetto Bay project reviving an area bereft of restaurants and foot traffic. The development effort has languished for more than a decade, and he sees the county help a good use of resources to boost hiring in a population center in need of a downtown.

"It's been 11 years," he said. "This is just a catalyst."

Rosen's critics in Palmetto Bay see him using his political standing to win a hand-out from taxpayers. Palmetto Bay's city council declined to back his grant application before Nov. 5 commission vote, which was part of the heated debate on a county economic-development fund. The most high-profile seeker of the money, the proposed SkyRise tower, also failed to win approval for a $9 million grant thanks to a 6-6 tie. A revote on the SkyRise project is expected next month. 

Rosen donated $60,000 to incumbent commissioners up for reelection this year, and his charter-school partner in Parkside, Academica, gave another $43,500. Combined, that would  make them the second-biggest contributor in the cycle, just behind Turnberry's $109,600. By himself, Rosen tied lobbyist Jorge Luis Lopez for the No. 3 slot, according to our latest analysis of campaign-finance data. 

Most of Rosen and Academica's money went to Lynda Bell's reelection effort; they were her two largest contributors and gave $62,000. Bell lost her District 8 seat to Daniella Levine Cava, making Rosen's revote quest even harder.  His grant application failed 6-7 on Nov. 5, and now only five of the yes votes remain on the dais.

The commissioners  voting  against Rosen were: Esteban "Steve" Bovo, Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Jean Monestime, Sally Heyman, Rebeca Sosa, Javier Souto, and Juan C. Zapata. Rosen contributed $15,000 to Diaz, $10,500 to Monestime, $2,500 to Heyman and $2,000 to Souto. Sosa reports showed no Rosen contributions; Bovo and Zapata don't face reelection until 2016.  

Rosen also supported  Gimenez in 2012, and he initially won the mayor's backing for Parkside. But in what Gimenez himself called a "12th hour" switch, the mayor recommended against Parkside and other grant applicants in favor of focusing on SkyRise and a planned theme park called Miami Wilds. 

"It was upsetting. It's still upsetting," Rosen said of the last-minute switch by Gimenez. But even without the  mayor, Rosen said he figured  he could win the grant vote on its own merits.

"I'm a big boy," he said, recalling his thinking at the time. "If he didn't want to supporter it,  I'll get the commission to support it." 

Comments