The purpose of the concealment was to make the region attractive to cheap development. A billion dollar infrastructure bill is the tip of the iceberg, and it is only emerging because a federal agency, the US EPA, had the guts to insist that Miami-Dade do something.
Maintaining the illusion that tax base increase covers infrastructure needs is institutionalized fraud.
The fraud is perpetrated under the guise of fiscal conservatism. Here is what the fraudsters say: private enterprise does a better job of protecting the public than government. What they do is different: they hobble, neuter and eviscerate government so that it cannot protect people, neighbors, or the environment.
Whatever you want to call the outcome, it involves partisan politics ripping apart government capacity to protect. Those claiming to be "fiscal conservatives" perpetrate massive fraud against the very principles of conservatism. They are liars, and the public is as susceptible to those lies as they are to mercury in the Florida environment that government agencies are too timid to regulate.
The real culprits are the builders and developers, their lobbyists and trade associations that staked the future of Florida on the growth-at-any-cost model that is dead and busted. They called their product, "what the market wants", and it couldn't exist but for fraud.
The growth model depended on burying billions of infrastructure deficits -- like sewerage plunged down "safe" holes thousands of feet underground. It never served to protect quality of life or neighborhoods or the environment: it was meant to chew up and spit them out. The St. Pete Times put a neat bow around this stinky business of crippling government capacity to protect people, through an editorial board statement on Saturday, summarizing a week of investigations:
"Even as Florida was leading the nation in mortgage fraud, Tom Grady thought it wise to close half the state's regional offices charged with investigating the mortgage business. As head of the Office of Financial Regulation, Grady, a millionaire securities lawyer, took a bulldozer to the place, slashing office resources and personnel, including fraud investigators, and ousting a veteran administrator to put a crony of the governor's in his place. He also spent lavishly on his own travel. Though he's out of office now, Grady's poor management affected the state's ability to police wrongdoing in the financial sector, which may have been the point all along. Grady was handpicked by Gov. Rick Scott, a neighbor in Naples, to takeover as commissioner of OFR, the state agency that oversees and investigates mortgage brokers, banks and securities firms. He shares Scott's government-cutting, anti regulation ethos, and during his short tenure moved aggressively to pare back the office's physical presence throughout the state. Florida is known as a hotbed of mortgage and financial fraud. Fort Lauderdale is home to so many scammers it's known as "Fraud Lauderdale." But Grady, a former conservative Republican legislator, led the effort to chop more $3.5 million from the agency by eliminating 81 positions including investigators and closing regional offices in Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Pensacola and Fort Lauderdale."
In Miami-Dade, a billion dollars is needed immediately to replace just the most deteriorated and vulnerable sections of the wastewater system, according to a five month internal study. Eye on Miami is not surprised.
Don't expect reality to intrude any time soon on the county commission mind-set (we call it, the unreformable majority).
Then there is the issue of water supply and the irrational willingness of Miami-Dade to commit to 300 million gallons per day of re-use water for the new nuclear plants planned at Turkey Point. What is the cost of supplying that water under conditions of sea level rise, through which most if not all of Miami-Dade's wastewater infrastructure will need to be replaced? You won't get an answer until you have to pay for it.
Fraud fits South Florida like a second skin.