Commissioner Jordan led Miami Gardens down the wrong track

Grant Miller

In 1968 the portable AM radios were all playing a young Mick Jagger singing, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might get what you need.” In 1968, Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan was three years out from getting her bachelor’s degree from Morris Brown College. She had to have heard this song.

It appears that she forgot the lyrics.

Commissioner Jordan failed in her efforts to block Formula 1 racing at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, setting off a firestorm last week.

Jordan had been pushing for legislation which would have required Miami Gardens’ approval to run the race in 2021. The failed vote came after Jordan pleaded with every other Commissioner to support her and oppose Mayor Gimenez, a staunch supporter of Formula 1. But this time around, Gimenez didn’t have to use his veto. Jordan’s fellow commissioners broke with her.

Late last year, Mayor Carlos Gimenez vetoed an earlier proposal by Jordan to kill the race. At the time, she came out swinging against the Mayor, claiming that he was speaking out of both sides of his mouth, supporting the race when speaking to one constituency while seeming to want to help the Miami Gardens it while talking to those in that community.
Jordan recognized from the dais that her rhetoric might have gone too far, but she also said Gimenez was out of line by continuing to push for Formula 1 when she opposed it. Jordan lashed out hard when she didn’t get her way.

“I may be out of line, but as far as I’m concerned, the Mayor is out of line because this is not his community,” she said.

And I, Grant Miller, resented that line. Barbara Jordan does represent a part of Miami-Dade County, but the Mayor also represents that same part of the County, as well as every other town and neighborhood.

Commissioner Jordan

We are ONE community. It doesn’t belong to her, like a feudal fiefdom, nor it the Mayor’s sole dominion. Jordan’s comments only served to divide us and stoke anger in the Miami Gardens community over an issue that doesn’t deserve it.

As an aside, Commissioner Jordon might be surprised to know that I was born in the late 1950s at Jackson Memorial Hospital. I grew up at 19541 NW 7th Court, right next to Miami Norland Senior High. The Hard Rock Stadium would be built later about a mile and a half from by boyhood home.

My belief is that we are one community with one goal. That goal is to make Miami-Dade County the best place to live, work, and play. The heated rhetoric coming from Commissioner Jordan and the officials of Miami Gardens and the responses from the advocates of Formula 1 has gotten under my skin.

Like every Commissioner, Jordan was elected to speak her mind and marshal forces that see eye-to-eye with her. Her job is to fight for what she believes in and try to stop what she believes is wrong for residents of the neighborhoods she represents, including Miami Gardens. She did all of that, but ultimately lost.

When it appeared she didn’t have the votes to block the race again, she could have and should have pivoted. She could have sought to get compromises and conditions that would have gotten some better protection and participation from the County and the event organizers. Commissioner Jordan didn’t do that. Simply put, she blew it. This became a case of either her way or the highway. Or in this case, a racetrack that will cause much less disruption to the surrounding neighborhoods and community than other events, like RollingLoud that are already held at the Stadium.

The racetrack won.

Although I have been critical of Carlos Gimenez from time-to time, he is right much of the time. And he’s right on Formula 1 racing.

The Mayor believes the economic benefits that Formula 1 racing will bring to all of Miami-Dade County as a whole should be embraced with open arms. As a gesture of goodwill, he requested all interested parties to sit at the same negotiating table to come up with solutions for the problems of noise, pollution and traffic. And Barbara Jordan and the opposition leader, former Commissioner, Betty Ferguson, shut the door in his face.
After the vote, Jordan and Ferguson even took it a step further and announced a new lawsuit would be filed to stop the race, the next salvo in the fight against Formula 1.
Now the courts will have their say, which is the way democracy works in America. The courts always have the final say, even if they say “Case dismissed”. The reflex of drafting a motion for an injunction may give a momentary sense of vindication, but will not likely yield anything productive for Miami Gardens.

The lawsuit Jordan spoke about will likely lose and even the possibility that she could get a temporary injunction to block the race is razor thin.

You can attract a certain amount of attention by setting your hair on fire. But when the fire is out and your scalp is sizzled, you don’t have a lot to show for your efforts. Democracy is about standing up for your principles. It’s also about recognizing that goodwill and compromise, which Jordan is usually know for, can lead to healthy outcomes.

It’s often said that the best deal overall outcome is one in which both parties leave the bargaining table less than completely satisfied. Barbara Jordan is rejecting the chance to take a seat at the table.

I would encourage Commissioner Jordan to think back on those words that were first expressed in 1968. You didn’t get what you wanted. Try sitting down and talking. You just might find, and the community might find, you can get what you need.

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  1. I am in agreement with commissioner Jordan. She is merely trying to protect the interests of the residents of Miami Gardens. Why don’t we build a formula 1 Racetrack in Your backyard Mr Miller!!! It’s time Miami and all other cities respect the rights of minority neighborhoods!! By the way I am a white educated middle class female babyboomet

  2. I don’t think that Commissioner Jordan’s constituents are complaining with no good reason. People have a right to expect the peaceful enjoyment of their own home. I don’t see any noise buffer around that racetrack. I’ll bet that the noise generated by those racing cars can be heard from a long distance away from the track. This is racial and socioeconomic discrimination. Sorry Grant, but we are not all one community. The wealthy can afford to insulate themselves from lots of discomfort that others are forced to endure.
    I live on a street that you have called “a raceway” in one of your articles and that raceway, along with endless construction noise, helicopters sometimes right overhead, a flight pattern directly overhead, and the loud screeching brakes of the Metro Rail do not make for a comfortable quality of life.
    I would consider it sheer torture to be subjected to the decibel level of a race track for hours and days on end.
    Commissioner Jordan can’t expect to get any adequate mitigation, and must represent the position of her constituents.
    P.S. Like Mary, I am also a white female boomer.

  3. I think this writer, while originally from our community, likely no longer lives there and seems pretty arrogant about what he believes is best for our community. That racetrack has been proposed for 2 other communities, each of whom said no to it being put there. Miami-Dade County has a history of bulldozing over the will of the residents in Miami Gardens, formally Carol City, pretty much since that area has been majority black. We didn’t favor the stadium being built (for similar reasons) and were pushed over. When Miami Gardens became a city, Miami-Dade County set up a renegade deal to continue collecting taxes from the stadium with minimal offerings over 7 years, after which tax revenue was supposed to switch to Miami Gardens. The renigged on the deal with the time line came. When the SuperBowl came to Miami, all related events sponsored by the NFL, negotiated by the County were held in other locations outside of Miami Gardens. Even their charitable donations went to other places (well-deserved areas, but still).

    To claim that somehow the residents and officials of Miami Gardens are supposed to approach Mayor Giminez, who has his own part in this history, to come in good faith over a new sporting venue that he doesn’t propose be built in his neighborhood, is laughable and arrogant to say the least. To claim we are one community to the community no one else seems to listen to is incredulous.

    To argue strategy, sure that’s a debate we can have. But to dismiss our claims and suspicions out of laziness around how we got here is to make this statement in bad faith. Shame on you.

  4. Thank you for your comments Antoinette. I don’t understand why more people are not outraged. This racetrack would be much too close to homes and businesses. Maybe we should seek the assistance of the fine folks of South West Broward county as their constituents will surely be impacted.

    This is not only a quality of life issue but a health issue. The decibel levels could be as high as 150 which is sufficient to burst the ear drum. As a comparison a jack hammer is 100 decibels, a chain saw is 120 decibels and a 22 rifle is 120 decibels. The impact on young people’s hearing could be devastating for their entire lifetime. Similarly to vision loss, hearing loss is almost completely irreversible. The impact to psychosocial behaviors due to sensory loss is well documented in childhood development. Like any child anywhere in the world don’t these children deserve better? Not to mention the impact of air pollution and consequences to wildlife and the environment.

    To make matters worse this community would reap very little economic advantage while shouldering the burden.

  5. I stand with the members of the Miami Gardens community. If there was no room to negotiate on what was best for the community then she did what was in place for the community. We’ve seen this madness all over our black communities. From highways to stadiums.. if they want it so bad.. go put it in those communities that support it so much. We must not allow this write up to paint Commissioner Jordon as the bad negotiator, rather point the finger at those who continue to line their pockets a the discomfort of black communities. Vote these people OUT who do not respect the voter’s (of that particular community) voice. As an advocate for Overtown, I stand with Miami Gardens and encourage everyone to stand with our brothers and sisters. It’s them today but we’ve seen how it could be us in less than 20mins. No means no… I don’t have to accept any parts of you or they when No means No!! Stop suggesting compromise on my peace and safety. Take that madness to Coral Way or Biscayne and see what the response is. If they don’t want it, why would you think I should be forced to deal with it.

  6. Lora and Mary, your points are well taken by me. A high powered attorney is needed to represent the needs and rights of the affected community. Potential health issues should be taken very seriously by County Government. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when negative impact on health is an issue.
    Please, is there an attorney out there who would be willing to work on a contingency basis to help these people who do not have deep pockets?
    Unfortunately, I have extensive first-hand experience as a citizen activist, and know that politicians who are wired into special interests will actually scoff at citizens who oppose an application, and treat us with extreme disrespect and disdain. An attorney is needed.


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