Miami-Dade: Marlins site jobs exceed local hiring aspirations
By Risa Polansky
Though Miami's mayor has cried foul over what he calls a lack of local hiring on the Marlins ballpark construction site, Miami-Dade tallies show that more than 63% of stadium workers are county residents, exceeding the local governments' 50% aspiration.
Of those county workers, 28% live in the City of Miami, county spokeswoman Victoria Mallette said Tuesday, citing November counts based on certified payrolls.
That number is also above the 20% aim lawmakers demanded in approving the deal for the new 37,000-capacity baseball stadium last year.
"We're keeping a very close eye on this," she said. "It's something that the mayor wanted, it's something the commissioners wanted, it's something the Marlins embraced."
Of 572 employees on the project site, 363 — more than 63% — are Miami-Dade residents, she said. And of those 363 county residents, more than 28%, 103, are Miamians.
Proponents pitched constructing a new, retractable-roof Marlins ballpark as a local jobs generator, touting what they predicted would be thousands of new construction jobs in a down economy, the bulk of them local — and lawmakers asked for hiring benchmarks.
"Miami-Dade has been vigilant in monitoring as best as we possibly can," Ms. Mallette said on behalf of the county's Department of Small Business Development, charged with tracking hiring practices on the stadium site.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado has done some monitoring of his own.
He last month sent a letter to Miami-Dade County's inspector general calling for "an investigation into the hiring practices of the developers of the New Marlins Ballpark," alleging that two subcontractors on the job, Sunshine Coast Management and Cove Construction, aren't meeting local jobs targets.
September payroll records show that 73 of the companies' 259 workers live in the county, he wrote — 28%, well below the target government officials set in approving the nearly $3 billion stadium deal.
Comparing Mr. Regalado's numbers to the county's, it seems that of the workers hired by contractors other than the two he pointed to, nearly 93% are local.
Because attorneys say requiring hiring percentages could lead to legal challenges, the numbers commissioners demanded are simply aspirations.
The local hiring goals don't apply to each subcontractor individually, Ms. Mallette said. Rather, the idea is that at least half of all the workers on the years-long job be county residents.
Mr. Regalado, who could not be reached this week, said last week that that "was never discussed or specified."
The fact that the percentages are in contracts as goals and not requirements also didn't deter him.
"My point wasn't about violation of the contract," he said. "My point was about what was promised to the people."
But the Marlins are keeping that promise, Ms. Mallette said.
Commissioners put in place oversight and protection measures such as hiring an outreach administrator to help achieve local and small business goals and to audit hiring records.
If reports showed the team was missing the mark, "we would speak up," she said. "But from what I can tell, these numbers indicate that we're exceeding the goals substantially."