Eye On Miami has been tracking the Bell dealings from city hall in Homestead to county hall.
There is, apparently, a backlash against Bell on the county commission -- even among the unreformable majority. The latest, last week, was the rejection of a resolution that would have set a miserable precedent of individual commissioners intervening to carve out exceptions to the law for individual citizens. As amazing as this sounds, the following resolution was actually offered: seeking to exempt certain people from enforcement actions.
What voters need to understand about the economic crisis is this: instead of a turn toward accountability, the entire apparatus of government shifted even further away from accountability.
The Bell resolution is a fine example. Bell -- and the unreformable majority -- have ignored decades of history in the western region of Miami-Dade County known as the 8.5 Square Mile Area. The area is susceptible to flooding. To enable the possibility of re-watering the east Everglades, including within the boundaries of the national park, in the 1980's, plans were crafted to protect the area from development. It didn't stop the worst anti-federal, anti-environmental jihad west of the Rockies from taking place, right in Miami-Dade's backyard.
Over the years, special interests -- mainly big farmers, big developers, and other components of the Growth Machine -- chipped away at every structure built from compromise, political dialogue, and negotiation. At the very end of the line you get exactly what appears: County Commissioner Lynda Bell.
Bell's first initiative, after being elected to office in 2010, was to attack the county environmental resources department. The department is still known as DERM, as if the simple act of articulating the phrase is defiance against the serial assaults against environmental budgets and agency mission. DERM had no defenders -- Mayor Carlos Gimenez gave the whittled down agency a broom closet to work in -- , despite the fact that Miami-Dade County borders some of the most sensitive environmental lands in the nation. That is what we have come to.
That is what we came to, until Lynda Bell.
Today Bell has tried to bully fellow commissioners, as if to channel the spirit and role of Natacha Seijas, the long-serving county commissioner from Hialeah who was recently recalled by voters. But the unreformable majority may not be so willing to simply roll over, the way it did in the boom years when the money, the champagne, the dinners out, the condos and platted subdivisions were flowing as fast as mortgages out of US Century Bank to insiders.
It is all in the record.
RESOLUTION DIRECTING THE MAYOR OR MAYOR’S DESIGNEE TO REFRAIN FROM FURTHER ENVIRONMENTAL ENFORCEMENT IN THE FEW REMAINING CASES AGAINST PROPERTY OWNERS FOR MULCHED HURRICANE DEBRIS DEPOSITED DURING THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE WILMA
WHEREAS, in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Miami-Dade County was in a state of emergency, there was a great deal of property destruction, and circumstances may have been chaotic; and (BOO HOO on that one, we all went through it we don't get laws sponsored on our behalf) WHEREAS, in this aftermath of Hurricane Wilma, some property owners in the 8.5 square mile area and in the C-9 basin accepted deposits of mulched or shredded hurricane debris onto their properties; and
WHEREAS, in 2012, the Miami-Dade County Wetlands Advisory Task Force recommended that Miami-Dade County provide a one-time resolution for property owners who accepted mulched hurricane debris associated with the 2005 Hurricane Wilma storm season; and (NOTE: THIS WAS A LYNDA BELL ORCHESTRATED TASK FORCE EXCLUDING REPRESENTATIVES FROM ANY ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP). WHEREAS, much of this mulched hurricane debris contained plastics and other trash, along with vegetative debris; and WHEREAS, some of these deposits of mulched hurricane debris constituted environmental violations of Chapter 24 of the Code of Miami-Dade County, including filling wetlands without a permit and improper disposal of solid waste onto properties, and some property owners may not have known that they were violating the law; and
WHEREAS, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office criminally prosecuted contractors who were directly linked to these deposits of mulched hurricane debris onto private property in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma, and those unscrupulous contractors were forced to pay to clean up the environmental violations linked to them; and WHEREAS, if the contractors who dumped mulched hurricane debris on particular properties could not be found, or if the property owners could not identify which contractor brought them the mulch, Miami-Dade County brought civil environmental enforcement actions in order to clean up those properties and bring them into compliance with Chapter 24 of the Code of Miami-Dade County; and
WHEREAS, now, more than seven years after Hurricane Wilma, there are less than 10 open civil enforcement cases involving property owners who accepted this mulched hurricane debris onto their properties in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma; and
WHEREAS, recognizing that these particular environmental violations arose during a unique time of emergency and crisis, and in the interest of efficiency, including limited enforcement resources, this Board may wish to direct the Mayor or Mayor’s designee to refrain from further enforcement against the property owners in the few remaining enforcement cases involving said mulched hurricane debris;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, that the Mayor or Mayor’s designee is hereby directed to refrain from further enforcement against the property owners in the few remaining environmental enforcement actions for deposits of mulched hurricane debris that took place in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma in 2005. The folio numbers for those nine remaining enforcement actions are listed as follows: 30-5821-000-0153; 30-5815-000-0140; 30-5815-000-1150; 30-5815-000-1610; 30-5828-000-3831; 30-5822-000-0050; 30-5822-000-0112; 30-2911-001-0301; and 30-2913-001-0490. This resolution, however, shall not relieve those property owners from otherwise complying with the Code of Miami-Dade County, including but not limited to the provisions of Chapter 24 and storm water retention regulations.
The Prime Sponsor of the foregoing resolution is Commissioner Lynda Bell.