Can he do that? Florida judge orders results of Miami referendum be kept secret

Miami-Dade County voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to allow cities to create their own fire departments in the future -- but the results may stay secret for a while.

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Gerald D. Hubbart on Friday ruled that Supervisor of Elections Lester Sola would have to keep the tally under wraps, unless an appeals court overturns his decision or a pending lawsuit filed by the villages of Indian Creek and Pinecrest against the county is concluded.

In September, after months of negotiations, county commissioners created a ballot question that would stop the creation of new fire departments by cities throughout Miami-Dade. The ones that already exist -- in Key Biscayne, Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah and Coral Gables -- would remain.

The commission move came against the backdrop of several cities complaining of excessive costs to use Dade Fire Rescue and negotiating with other cities that have fire departments.

At the time, Indian Creek wanted to hire Miami Beach Fire Rescue, and Pinecrest was in discussion with Coral Gables.

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