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Front Page » Top Stories » Business Group May Drop Effort For Airport Authority

Business Group May Drop Effort For Airport Authority

Written by on November 11, 2004

By Samantha Joseph
The Miami Business Forum, once pushing for an independent authority to oversee Miami-Dade County’s five airports, says it might end its efforts in light of campaign promises by mayor-elect Carlos Alvarez.

The private group has lobbied for a separate authority to replace county commissioners in running the airports but now says Mr. Alvarez’s commitment to change procurement procedures plus a pending new aviation director could negate the need for an independent overseer.

"The awarding of contracts, we think, ought to be done by professionals and not the county commission," said Miami Business Forum Chairman Jorge Hernandez-Toraño.

The idea for an independent authority does not sit well with county commissioners, who since 1996 have blocked proposals for an independent authority.

Last week, Aviation Director Angela Gittens resigned under pressure. Her support of an independent aviation authority had added friction to her tenure.

In June, the Miami Business Forum circulated petitions to put its most recent proposal for an aviation authority on the Nov. 2 ballot. But the group withdrew the bid, citing concern that it would cloud other issues such as the complicated General Obligation Bond issue.

But the forum promised it would revive the issue after the elections.

"We are not abandoning reforms at the airport," Business Forum Executive Director Mario Artecona said at the time.

But Tuesday, Mr. Hernandez-Toraño said the mayor-elect’s promise to change the procurement process "would go a long way."

"Our objective is one of meaningful reform at the airport," he said. "It might not be an airport authority as long as the reforms are meaningful."