April 24, 2014

Miami-Dade Government

Norman Braman is a Hard-headed Reformer

Dissatisfied with county government, businessman Braman proposed his own set of reforms.

Norman Braman
Norman Braman talks about his campaign to recall county Mayor Carlos Alvarez on a Univision radio program in Coral Gables. [Photo: Pedro Portal/Miami Herald ]

Over the years, businessman Norman Braman has campaigned — with mixed results — against various city and county tax and spending proposals.

Victor Diaz
Victor Diaz
When the county passed a budget last year that raised property tax rates and many county salaries, Braman directed his ire at Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, leading an effort that eventually led to Alvarez being recalled. But Braman also made clear during this effort that his end-game was charter reform.

"He's been voicing what a lot of other people in this community feel about dissatisfaction with county government," says attorney Victor M. Diaz Jr., who headed the county's charter review task force in 2008.

"Because of his financial resources, he's been able to take it to a level that so many others in the community have wanted but been unable to do on their own."

County commissioners seemed to get the message this last time around, proposing a variety of reforms for residents to vote on when they elect a replacement mayor. But Braman was unimpressed, writing to commissioners that the proposals "fail miserably to reflect the public's demand for reform of county government." Working with Diaz, he proposed his own set of reforms, which the commission has yet to act on.

Braman, who declined to be interviewed, has been mum about his next move and has not endorsed a mayoral candidate. His money will give him a loud voice: The owner of a group of car dealerships and, formerly, the Philadelphia Eagles football team, Braman is worth $1.5 billion, according to Forbes.

What motivates Braman? Even Democrats and allies of Alvarez are convinced Braman, a staunch Republican, is simply dissatisfied with county government. Maurice Ferre, a Democratic former county mayor and state legislator, calls him "an honorable man with honorable intentions who is also a doctrinaire, hard-headed, tough businessman."

Tags: Politics & Law, Miami-Dade, Government/Politics & Law

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