I told you no one wants to try a case in July. It seems Judge Cohen is urging the parties to mediate and settle the Marlins stadium case, and is postponing the trial in order to get a deal done:
Instead, she ordered the parties to try to reach a settlement out of court.
”We will resume Monday morning,” Cohen said.
With those words, attorneys for Miami, Miami-Dade County and the Florida Marlins — and their courtroom foe, auto dealer Norman Braman — left the courthouse in a bid to resolve the impasse.
Hanging in the balance is the future of a plan to build a new baseball stadium in Little Havana and spur billions of dollars in other urban projects in Miami.
”If we can work something out for the community, that’s my goal,” said Braman, the 75-year-old billionaire who is fighting the plan to build the Marlins a $609 million baseball stadium and parking garage using mostly tourist tax dollars.
His contention: Government is planning to improperly use public dollars targeted for slum and blight. Officials counter that the so-called megaplan will spark a vital economic rebirth that will benefit Overtown as well as build a new stadium.
County Manager George Burgess had been expecting to take the stand Friday. Now, with a judicial nudge to settle, Burgess was asked whether he’s hopeful a deal will come.
”You always want to remain optimistic,” he said.
He said a settlement would save the community time and money, as local government and Marlins officials are racing to complete a new 37,000-seat stadium to open for the 2011 season. Braman’s lawsuit is the biggest roadblock remaining to that vision.
Cohen’s Thursday afternoon order may indicate an accord is in sight.
Some close to the mediation said items being discussed included the possibility of building a community center near the planned ballpark, or awarding more public access to the facility. Such moves may help satisfy Braman’s quest for more public benefit from the megaplan.
Others said the standoff — being mediated by former judge Bruce Greer — hangs on whether the Marlins will give back some of the concessions the team received in December’s Baseball Stadium Agreement engineered by Burgess.
Though the county would own the stadium, the Marlins would receive all monies from its naming rights, which to some teams is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
This is a smart move all around. Poor Judge Cohen got stuck with this summer turkey, thanks to an attenuated conflict issue, and surely does not want to deal with this if she doesn’t have to.Bruce is a great choice for mediator — a respected lawyer, businessman, developer etc. Is there any reason this man was not made a federal judge?The community owes a thanks to Braman and his attorneys. It’s just another example of how, in the absence of a motivated multimillionaire willing to put up huge amounts of cash (or where appropriate, the class action device), the government cuts deals that routinely go unexamined and business continues as usual in this corrupt, mismanaged town.
Dave, you’ll soon be back to your weekly crappy movie reviews, and all will be right with the world.