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Herald article about Mayor Diaz & Marlins' stadium


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here's a piece by jim defede in today's herald:



Mayor often gone, except for photo ops


Two months ago, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz was the Florida Marlins' best friend.


Decked in teal, he went to every World Series game. When they won, he was right there in the clubhouse celebrating like he was a member of the team. And when the team came home for a pair of parades through Miami, Diaz was front and center again, eager to have his picture taken and share the spotlight with the players.




Who could forget Diaz on stage during that Marlins' rally, teasing fans with the promise of a new stadium?


''If we build it,'' Diaz shouted, ``will you come?''


Thousands screamed, ``Yes!''


Now comes the reality. The city of Miami won't contribute a penny to building a new stadium. Nor is the city willing to donate the land. For months, everyone assumed the city would at least offer the land. When city officials unexpectedly announced the Marlins would have to pay upwards of $100 million for the property, the Marlins felt blindsided.


I don't disagree with the city's stance. The poorest city in America shouldn't waste money on a ballpark.


But I do object to Diaz's behavior.




When the city announced its ''no money/no land'' policy, Diaz was nowhere to be found. He left the dirty work to City Manager Joe ''I don't work weekends'' Arriola, who declared plans for a new Marlins stadium ''dead'' as far as he was concerned.


Why didn't Diaz have the guts during the Marlins' big rally last October to admit the city wouldn't donate the land to the project? Instead of being a little park tease, asking the crowd, ''If we build it, will you come?'' Diaz should have asked, ``We in the city of Miami don't have the money to build it, and we won't donate the land for it, but if other people do those things, will you come?''


Though not very catchy, it's at least honest.


And therein lies one of the many problems of Manny Diaz. A lack of candor. In this case, he milked the team for everything he could get in terms of good publicity, and then skipped out on the club like some political gigolo.


Diaz has become the classic photo op mayor, in which the city is nothing more than a backdrop to promote himself.


From this point on, he is officially Mayor Photo Op.




For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a ''photo op'' is shorthand for photo opportunity, an event created for the media so that someone can have their picture taken. Every week, Diaz's press secretary sends out two, sometimes three, press releases inviting reporters and photographers to an event where the mayor's picture can be taken.


''PHOTO OPPORTUNITY,'' a recent press release announced, ``Mayor Diaz and his family pull LARGE lever to light City Hall Christmas tree.''


But in case the media misses the event, the mayor has his own photographer. In the last week, I've received pictures of Diaz riding in a firetruck with Santa and waving to children in wheelchairs. And on the city website, there are pictures of him signing a proclamation with his grandson and visiting a senior center with his mother.


But when we need to reach him about the Marlins deal falling apart or about why the police didn't catch the Shenandoah rapist sooner or when he is invited to hear directly from people who say they were abused by police, Diaz disappears. Perhaps he's off powdering his nose for his next photo shoot.


So in the future, when you see or write Diaz, feel free to use the new title, as in ''Hey look, Marta, there goes Manny Diaz, the photo op mayor,'' or ``Dear Mayor Photo Op, I write today to tell you how disappointed I am in you.''


If you ask nice, maybe he'll send you his autographed picture. He has lots of them.


accessible at http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/...ede/7553276.htm

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