Miami trashes Grand Prix attempt to drop city garbage service
By Susan Stabley
Downtown Miami streets should have been extra clean after last weekend's Grand Prix Americas. Promoters of the event ended up paying twice for cleanup, though they won a discount from the city.
The City of Miami will force Championship Auto Racing Teams of Indianapolis, the event's organizer, to pay for the services of the city's solid-waste department even though CART had hired a private cleaning firm for $31,000. City commissioners learned last week that their contract with CART - which the racing team inherited when it purchased former Grand Prix promoter Raceworks LLC - required it to use city waste services.
Grand Prix Americas President Chuck Martinez told city commissioners he had been given approval to drop the city's waste services by former chief of neighborhood services Victor Monzon-Aguirre, who was fired May 21. But City Manager/Chief Administrator Joe Arriola said his administration never gave the promoters his permission to drop the city's waste services.
"I did not agree to anything here," said Mr. Arriola. He said that when he learned that the city's waste employees would not be employed during the event, he "went through the roof."
"I'm not going to let them out of this deal," he said after hearing a request from Grand Prix Americas for a waiver.
Last year's inaugural race event showed a $5.5 million loss, Mr. Martinez told city commissioners.
"We are literally fighting for our financial life," he said.
Commissioners decided to force race organizers to pay for city services but agreed to reduce Grand Prix America's fee for waste services this year from $50,000 to $20,000. Promoters also negotiated a 10% cut in fees from the city to pay for fire department and police services.
The city could have faced legal action from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees had it let Grand Prix Americas out of its deal, said Joe Simmons Jr., president of the union's Local 871.
City employees had planned to work the event, and the city could have been accused of unfair labor practices, he said.
Mr. Simmons agreed that the city's solid-waste department could cut 10% of its fee, as did the city's fire and police departments.
But one city commissioner expressed his displeasure that the city waived $30,000 of the fees.
"The burden should not be held on the city," said Commissioner Joe Sanchez. "We've gone beyond to assist."