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The Sunshine Economy

The Sunshine Economy: Booze and Borrowing -- Election 2017

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Voters in Miami and Miami Beach will decide the fates of separate referenda this election cycle.

Early voting is underway in Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah and Homestead.

Voters in Miami and Miami Beach are deciding the fate of borrowing and booze. Miami wants to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars for the environment and other items. Miami Beach will decide if there should be an earlier last call for alcohol on a stretch of Ocean Drive for outdoor bars.

Both ballot referenda are economic questions that focus on two fundamental issues in South Florida: hospitality and flooding. One is targeted at reshaping business in a high-profile 10-block area that serves as an economic engine in Miami Beach. The other aims to use borrowed money to help protect one of the most flood-vulnerable cities in America.


In this episode, we talk with Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado about his push to have voters borrow $400 million to help pay for flood control, affordable housing and other items. He faces opposition from the city's police union. Miami Fraternal Order of Police President Edward Lugo thinks the city should hold off on any borrowing until it learns the price tag for back pay and pension contributions that were reduced during the Great Recession.

Credit Tom Hudson
Tom Hudson
A Tuesday morning in October on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach.

We also walk along Ocean Drive with Mike Palma of The Clevelander. The hotel and bar is the most at risk in a ballot question for Miami Beach voters. They are being asked if outdoor bars on Ocean Drive should stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m. instead of the current 5 a.m. The Clevelander is the top seller of booze on the beach. But Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola, who supports the earlier last call at outdoor clubs, thinks it will help recast the image of the neighborhood.

In a journalism career covering news from high global finance to neighborhood infrastructure, Tom Hudson is the Vice President of News and Special Correspondent for WLRN. He hosts and produces the Sunshine Economy and anchors the Florida Roundup in addition to leading the organization's news engagement strategy.