Honorable Judge William Thomas helped Miami-Dade County’s Home Rule Charter gain recognition and validation
2022 is already looking up for the Miami-Dade County’s Home Rule Charter, which has been questioned and undermined in a court battle for the past three years involving the Miami-Dade Expressway (MDX) Authority. The recent case is overseen by the Honorable Judge William Thomas of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida. His recent rulings included Miami-Dade County as an indispensable party in the MDX case…
The issue came up in 2019 when the Florida Legislature created the Greater Miami Expressway Agency in an attempt by the State of Florida to take back five local expressways that were purchased by the people of Miami-Dade County from the State of Florida in 1996 for $92 million dollars through the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX).
The expressways were 112/Airport Expressway, 836/Dolphin Expressway, 874/Don Shula Expressway, 924/Gratigny Parkway, and 878/Snapper Creek Expressway. Miami-Dade County purchased the expressways because the five expressways were in extremely poor condition and were already at gridlock. MDX and the Miami-Dade Customer toll payers invested 1.5 billon dollars to rebuild and widen these expressways which were first opened to traffic more than 55 years ago when the population of Miami-Dade County was less than 1 million residents.
This asset belonging to the people of Miami-Dade County is today worth more than 5 billion dollars. Why would our State of Florida representatives and senators try to take local control of these expressways and give the Florida Legislature control over road building contracts and the potential sale or privatization of these extremely valuable tolled expressways? Will that mean that our tolls will go up every year like in the State controlled Turnpike or will our toll go up indefinitely if the private sector buys them?
The bigger problem is that if the State Legislature can eliminate local control of MDX’s local expressways, they can also gain control of our Airport and Seaport. Miami-Dade citizens must be at high alert and ask serious questions to our local state legislators as to why do they want to give local control of all our economic engines to the state. This we cannot allow. Years ago this same thing happened at Jackson Memorial when the state tried to take control away from local government and it was defeated by Miami-Dade.
Why this is an important win
The actions by the Florida Legislature violated the Constitution of the State of Florida and Miami-Dade County’s own constitution, its Home Rule Charter, which is also contained within the Florida Constitution. Judge Thomas stated that the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners had every right to pass a law abolishing the illegally created GMX within the boundaries of Miami-Dade County and thwart its illegal attempt to steal the five expressways purchased by the residents of Miami-Dade County. Under its Home Rule Charter, as contained in the Florida Constitution, only Miami-Dade County can create an authority or government agency inside Miami-Dade County, as it did when it created MDX. Furthermore, only Miami-Dade County and not the State of Florida can abolish MDX, since it was created in 1996 by County law, not State law.
Judge Thomas ruling was an important win for defending and safeguarding the sovereignty granted under Miami-Dade County’s Home Rule Charter, which goes beyond MDX and expressways; it’s also about protecting our airport, seaport and our local ability to make local decisions. But the fight is not over as our State Legislators, the ones we have elected continue to attack Miami-Dade County and us the citizens who live here.
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