|2005 Photo - From left to right: Sergio Pino (former Board Member of U.S. Century Bank), Alan Carsrud, FIU President Mitch Maidique, Eugenio Pino, Governor Jeb Bush, and Carlos Pino|
Madique writes, "we share common ground, including the desire to make our community a better place to live, work and raise our families. We don't have to accept this designation."
Well, we may not have to accept this designation but we do have to understand why what mainly passes for "engagement" in Miami is little more than barely legal thievery.
No one should know this better than Madique, whose board of directors and willingness to traffic with the likes of US Century Bank puts it squarely in the column of the abductors of the public interest. (Read about FIU's role, directly, in the 2012 effort to quietly swap out lands purchased for the public interest in the Bird Drive Basin in order to increase its own campus size. Search our archives.)
All the pro-business, Chamber of Commerce led summits in the world can't diminish how two industries in Miami thrive through civic apathy; the tourism-based businesses that over decades failed to protect the attributes of the Everglades and Biscayne Bay and migrated to enterprises that treat Miami mainly as a pass-through. The second industry is construction and development. In terms of benefits to Miami, this Growth Machine depends on slight-of-hand magic tricks, along the lines of "build first, worry about quality of life and infrastructure costs (like those intended to protect the environment) later."
There is no shortage of talented people who could lend their expertise to making Miami a better place. These are never accepted at the table, where summits generate grand plans. Why? Because those grand plans depend on masking the true costs of multi-billion dollar infrastructure deficits that ought to have been paid, as we went along. "Pay, as you go", a tenet of conservative ethos, was a common sense principle ground into dust by unreformable majorities in local legislures and their campaign backers.
As a result Miami is far from a world-class city. It is a place of narrow parochial interests defined by an almost tribal passion to impose separate orthodoxies within its orders in order to preserve illusions and political control. (What does it say, about the Knight Foundation whose origins and base is IN Miami, and yet identifies Miami as the least engaged of any of the dozens of communities served by its multi-billion dollar endowment?)
Miami is also a city that has no capacity for reflection or to absorb the lessons of the past. Like Bernie Madoff or R. Allen Stanford, there is almost a swindler's pathology in Miami to deny motives and to shift facts.
The best examples derive from the ones that benefited the FIU elite who profited first from the housing boom then crash; the worst economic reversal since the Great Depression. G.O.D. noted in a post yesterday, citing Florida's number 1 ranking for foreclosures in 2012. The point of that statistic: there has been no public reflection how Miami politics aligned with local business -- and leaders like those who put their name on the FIU sports stadium -- conceived and contributed to the greatest swindle of social wealth and capital in modern US history.
Mild platitudes and milk-toast encouragements for civic engagement are no substitute for studying history and putting names to its chapters. (That's something we actually do, as a civic contribution, at EOM. For free!)
It is only through an understanding of recent history and incorporating its lessons in new measures to protect the public interest -- instead of the revision that is now in vogue, through examples like former Mayor Manny Diaz redacting his role in the abyss of the housing market boom and bust -- that progress can be made. But progress won't be made, because Miami's narrow parochial interests are determined to rest in denial.
From my point of view, it will be to another generation to do ask Madique asks, "Volunteer, give, share, vote, learn more." By insisting that attention to be paid to history, we keep the flame alive.
(Along that line, I will start tomorrow by analyzing a recommendation by Miami unions to add former county commissioner Larry Hawkins to the board of the Jackson Hospital public trust. For anyone with a memory, that says it all ...)