The Gridlock Candidate

The county mayor’s race is bumper-to-bumper with hopefuls, but a former traffic reporter thinks he has a shot.

In this opinion, the ethics commission — long seen as toothless compared to the Inspector General — merely found that the county’s ethics ordinance “does not prohibit [Moss] from voting on contracts managed by his wife. [Moss] will not be personally affected in a unique way by [his] votes on these contracts.” The ethics commission may not see a problem here, but anyone with an ounce of common sense would. Yes, Moss may not be reaping direct profits from the airport contracts his wife manages. But the perception remains that generous contributions to the commissioner’s re-election campaigns are a good way to ensure that his wife smiles favorably upon your contract bid.

Don’t expect Dennis Moss to admit to anything suspect, either. He opened a recent discussion on the merits of an independent airport authority by griping to the Herald: “If the BCC [board of county commissioners] is as corrupt as we’re made out to be, by now someone would have been indicted, someone would have gone to jail.”

Excuse me? Earth to Dennis Moss: Since he took his seat on the dais, no less than five of Moss’s fellow commissioners have been indicted and left office on charges ranging from bribery to money laundering. Just why, exactly, does Moss think Joe Gersten (1993), Bruce Kaplan (1998), James Burke (1998), Pedro Reboredo (2001), and Miriam Alonso (2002) all suddenly disappeared from their commission chairs adjoining his? Could they be trapped inside a broom closet at county hall? (Moss did not respond to calls for comment.)

Clearly Slater has an issue to run with here, and if he were mayor, it would be a hoot to watch him debate Moss over the merits of a given airport contract. (“Is that what your wife told you to say?”) But Slater’s campaign has yet to gain much traction — or even move.

Dave, José Cancela has raised $1.1 million. You’re awfully upbeat for a candidate who’s only raised $100 so far.

“I have pledges for a lot more.”

C’mon Dave, let’s be realistic here. When you ran for Miami-Dade mayor in 2000, you received only 4095 votes. What’s different about this year?

Slater remains unflappable. “We’ve got so many people running out there, it’s not going to take much to get into a runoff,” he chuckles assuredly. In that respect at least, Slater is correct. Recent countywide polls put the undecided vote at anywhere from 16 to 30 percent of the total, with six candidates considered viable. And even the most optimistic numbers show the race’s current front-runners — Miguel Diaz de la Portilla in his own campaign’s poll, Jimmy Morales in another well-financed candidate’s poll — pulling down a meager eighteen and twenty percent respectively. The campaign manager for one leading hopeful agrees: “This is a wide-open race. It’s frightening.”

With so many candidates fighting over the same slice of the ballot, it’s doubtful any one figure will receive 50 percent of the votes, and so a runoff election is almost assured. But for the first time in recent Miami history, this mayoral runoff will be held on November 4, as part of the Bush-Kerry presidential battle. Anglos and blacks, who traditionally vote in low numbers for mayoral contests on off-season dates such as August 31, ceding the electoral-kingmaker role to Cuban exiles, will instead be out in force. Slater is counting on it: “You never know in this crazy town. I could just get elected.”

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