Columns

Hey, George! Who's on First?

In case you missed it, during the early hours of July 1, the Miami-Dade County Commission approved a revision to the financing plan for the Marlins baseball stadium that is going to end up costing us $2.4 billion -- a number that somehow eluded the intellectual prowess of financial guru and County Manager George Burgess.

It was one of those classic moments in county government that makes political wonks like me giggle with cynicism. Here was our six-figure-salaried top government executive, the guy who is staking his legacy on the ballpark, and he didn't know how much it was going to burn a hole in the county's piggy bank. 

Don't take my word for it. Check it out yourself by clicking on the webcast of the June 30 county commission meeting. Fast-forward to 12:55 a.m. July 1, when Commissioner Katy Sorenson, who voted against this craptastic deal, asked Burgess a simple question: "What is the final amount we will pay? What is that number?"

Well, for the next four minutes, Burgess is seen bumbling, fumbling, and stumbling to answer Sorenson's question. "I don't know the number off the top of my," Burgess stammered at one point. "I don't have it." 

Burgess, eyes bulged out and face all flustered, then began blathering about not having the amortization schedule in front of him and about interest rates "ticking north" and other bureaucratic financial legalese. Sorenson just gave up.

"Thank you, Mr. Manager," she said. "You are not answering my question, so I will move on."

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.