Miami New Times. This week, Luke -- who is a candidate for Miami-Dade mayor -- lays out his vision for kick-starting the local economy.
It's time for Miami-Dade to play to its greatest strengths -- beautiful people, beautiful beaches, and beautiful weather. Here's what I would do:
• Open casinos in Miami Beach hotels. Hey, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood is among the top-grossing gambling joints in the United States. So why not put more card games and slot machines in places that entertain our tourists?
• Allow medical marijuana dispensaries. We're missing out on a major growth industry. In March, Los Angeles voters approved a tax on pot distributors that is expected to generate $10 million a year to help pay for police, libraries, and street repairs.
• Create a water theme park near Miami Marine Stadium. I'd get Universal Studios or Disney to partner with the county to build one. And I'd make Virginia Key, which was once the only place black people were allowed to swim, a national landmark.
• Build movie studios. The Borscht Film Festival's success shows we have what it takes to compete with Atlanta to become the Hollywood of the South.
• Make Calle Ocho, Goombay, and other big ethnic festivals in Miami-Dade weeklong celebrations. I'd also redevelop Little Havana, Little Haiti, Overtown, Allapattah and all of our diverse neighborhoods to enhance their character so we have a Bourbon Street in every part of the county.
• Bring in the NBA All-Star Game, the NCAA Basketball Tournament, and traditional black college rivalry games.
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Each one of my ideas plays off having fun under the sun. Miami-Dade's unemployment rate dropped to 12 percent this past March because tourism is picking up. Gambling is a natural here. It's already bringing thousands of people to the old Flagler Dog Track, Gulfstream Park, and Calder. Back in the '20s, Miami was the American gambling mecca.
In fact, between the casinos, the theme park, the movie studios, and the dispensaries, we can create at least 20,000 jobs and $100 million in new tax revenue. Considering the hole that Carlos Alvarez and his friends dug for us, this is critical if we, the beautiful people of Miami-Dade, plan to keep using our beautiful beaches and enjoying our beautiful weather.
Follow Luke on Twitter at: @unclelukereal1.