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Miami-Dade wants help on Elian bills

Local officials are seeking reimbursement from the federal government for more than $4-million spent as a result of the Elian Gonzalez seizure.

Miami-Dade County Manager Merrett Stierheim wants Florida and federal officials to declare that a state of emergency existed in the week following the April 22 raid that removed the 6-year-old Cuban refugee from the home of his Little Havana relatives and reunited him with his father.

Protesters took to the streets after the raid, uprooting concrete benches and setting hundreds of small fires. Police in riot gear used tear gas to disperse crowds and arrested more than 300.

County spokeswoman Rhonda Barnett said the county is seeking reimbursement for police enforcement, including overtime pay, and cleanup costs.

But approval is unlikely, said David Bishop, spokesman for the Florida Department of Community Affairs, the state agency that processes such requests.

"The county has to ask us to ask the federal government for an emergency declaration, and we're not going to do that because we don't think there's any type of precedent," Bishop said.

Bishop said the civil unrest after the federal raid was not a natural disaster.

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