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Wednesday
Mar162011

Miami Mayor Gets the Boot

Miamidade[dot]gov/Mayor(MIAMI) -- Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez was booted from office in the largest recall of a local politician in US history. The result was never in question: in results out Wednesday morning, 88% of those who turned out voted for his ouster.

Voters gave the once-popular mayor increased authority four to clean up the graft-infested county government. But pay hikes to staffers, property tax hikes during a real estate bust, and the controversial stadium for the Florida Marlins outraged his constituents.

"The voters have spoken and a time of healing and reconciliation must now begin," Alvarez said in a statement Tuesday night.

More than 200,000 voted. Noel Sanz, of Kendall, echoed what many others  told reporters Tuesday: he wants new blood at County Hall.

"I think it's time to get some of these guys out of power and get someone else to do the job," Sanz said.

Over the past couple of years Alvarez, first elected in 2004, and reelected in 2008, has been skewered for showering favors and pay hikes to his staff, including an 11 percent pay raise to his chief of staff, who moonlit in Panama as a private consultant on taxpayer time. Another controversy involved one of his county police division chiefs who allegedly used a $5 million fund meant to crack down on polluters to buy flat screen TVs, SUVs, and assault rifles. The police official stepped down last year.

The largest recall of any politician in US history occurred in 2003, when Governor Gray Davis of California was ousted. The "Dump Davis" campaign was spearheaded by Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) who even used part of his personal fortune to topple the governor. In this case, Alvarez’ bête noir was billionaire Norman Braman, who began targeting Alvarez after the latter successfully pushed for a property tax-rate increase to balance the county budget.

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