Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Were the good times a mirage? by gimleteye

"Were the good times a mirage?" is the front page, above the fold headline in today's New York Times. The article summarizes the point of view we buff to a shine in our blog ( that economic growth based on overdevelopment in Florida was grounded in greed and fraud stretching all the way from local zoning councils to the state legislature and Wall Street.

This blog has taken a strong position--partly in response--supporting the citizen's ballot referendum initiative that is struggling to gain enough qualified signatures to make the fall 2008 state-wide ballot: Florida Hometown Democracy.

Requiring public votes--giving the public the choice-- on changes to long-term development plans by cities and counties in Florida will require the Growth Machine to defend unsustainable development. That will cost the Growth Machine a lot of money. The greater loss than money is the formula through which unsustainable development has created a monopoly on politics in favor of the Growth Machine.

Florida Hometown Democracy is being sabotaged in the final days of qualifying petitions by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries and land speculators, who have invested in a variety of counter-tactics including flooding elections offices around the state with Trojan Horse petitions of their own, to gum up the verification process so that the February 1st deadline--disputed though it may be--will elapse and push the measure to the 2010 election.

Yesterday, through their own radical counter-movement, the Growth Machine announced it has enlisted three Miami-Dade lobbyists for builders, developers and land speculators: Stanley Price, Simon Ferro, and Neisen Kasdin. All of them have worked to move the Urban Development Boundary in Miami-Dade-- the kind of work that generates huge fees (some, on contingency) and is threatened by the Florida Hometown Democracy measure.

Kasdin is the Latin Builders Association lobbyist, and the LBA is the home-grown Miami political machine that depends on chewing up farmland for platted subdivisions edging to the Everglades. Eyeonmiami has argued (see archives, "housing crash") that the excesses of the Florida real estate bubble, grounded in Miami's political machinery, is ground zero for the world-wide credit crisis.

As to the question, were the good times a mirage? the best answer is the slow death of the Everglades: a mirror to the decay, decline, and disintegration of billions of dollars of securitized debt instruments that the clients of Price, Ferro, Kasdin depended on for political majorities.

Florida voters will wake up from the deep slumber induced by the good times mirage. And that makes the opponents of Florida Hometown Democracy nervous indeed, but not yet as nervous as the politician said to have chased after an angry Parisian mob during the French revolution, crying, "The people are leading, I must follow them!"

Type the rest of the post here


Anonymous said...

I hate that Kasdin. He is trouble.

Anonymous said...

There is a monopoly on Politics for the growth machine because our economy is based on growth. Or should I say what economy?

We are killing the tourist industry with our growth. We are killing agriculture with our growth. We aren't even attracting the rich retirees. They are going to the West Coast. What are we doing to South Floridai?

Anonymous said...

The growth machine owns the city government in Surfside, Florida and look what those guys are up to.

Anonymous said...

Only Paul Novack had the intelligence and courage to take on the "growth and greed" machine -and to win for the good of the public. He defended quality of life and opposed avarice and deceit. Who can now step up to that plate and work for the public interest instead of the special interests?