A parking lot floods during Tropical Strom Eta, Oct. 31, 2020. The Village of Key Biscayne is moving to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a $100 million resiliency bond approved by voters in November (KBI/Tony Winton)
The Village of Key Biscayne is asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging the way officials proposed a $100 million resiliency bond overwhelmingly approved by voters on the barrier island Nov. 3.
Gustavo Tellez, a property owner, sued the village in September, claiming the wording of the ballot question violated the Village charter in that it improperly authorized borrowing and was confusing to voters.
In a motion to dismiss filed Monday, the Village says all of the Tellez claims should be set aside.
“The Village has not borrowed a penny as a result of the approval of the Bond Referendum, and cannot do so without subsequent action of the Village Council,” wrote attorney Joseph Serota.
The Village also rejected another of the Tellez claims, that the ballot wording used the phrases “For Bonds” and “Against Bonds,” when the Village Charter says ballot questions should use “Yes” or “No.”
Serota brushed that assertion aside as well, citing a 1956 Florida Supreme Court case that held the terms are interchangeable. “There can be no doubt that the Bond Referendum language affords voters an opportunity to express themselves fairly,” Serota wrote.
The referendum was the top issue in November’s elections, with six of ten candidates favoring adoption and four opposing it. The measure passed easily, with 3,465 or 57%, voting For Bonds and 2,662, or 43%, voting Against Bonds. None of the bond opponents were elected.
Tellez’ attorney, David Winker, said the Village’s opposition was expected and said he has already asked for a hearing date before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Veronica Diaz, who has been assigned to the case.
“The process was flawed. What it comes down to is, do the words of the Charter matter? Do we follow our own laws?” Winker said, acknowledging that his argument was “highly technical.”
“We’ll have our day in court. We will see what the judge says.”
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Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.