Saturday, February 10, 2018

Misuse of Transit 1/2 Penny Tax: Mayor has Concocted a Sophie's Choice for Residents. By Geniusofdespair

The Mayor is pitting neighbor against neighbor, bus transit users against rail transit users, because of squandered funds we can't have both. Or can we. Get the funds Mayor Gimenez, it is your job. Stop playing games with the transit union.

In today's Miami Herald (this is an excerpt read the whole article):

Commuters frustrated with Miami-Dade’s traffic woes and the diversion of money intended to pay for new mass transit routes may have a hero or a goat soon in their state government, depending on how things play out over the next few weeks.

Just past the midway point of Florida’s legislative session, a bill that seeks to shift nearly $100 million annually in voter-approved transit tax money out of transportation operations in order to fund new mass transit lines is moving through both chambers. The legislation would force the county to quickly honor a commitment made more than 15 years ago to use money from a “half-penny” sales tax to fund new commuter rail lines — which have mostly failed to materialize since the tax was approved.

Miami-Dade’s transportation department and some elected officials warn that the proposal would force drastic cuts and possibly the elimination of more than half of Miami-Dade’s bus routes. “It would have a devastating effect,” Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Thursday.

But the group of Miami lawmakers pushing the bill in the Florida House and Senate say that’s a worst-case scenario claim by a government that’s ignored the will of the voters for more than a decade and left the region with a worsening traffic problem.

“If Dade County was doing what they need to be doing, we wouldn’t be in this situation, having to correct a wrong,” Senate bill sponsor René García, R-Hialeah, said in an interview. “A bag was pulled over our heads.”


The men and women of Transport Workers Union Local 291 have worked without a contract for more than three years.

Mayor Gimenez, meanwhile, has tried to blame transit workers for the poor Metrorail and MetroBus service that Miami-Dade residents have been getting.

Today, TWU Local 291 is fighting back with a series of demands for the mayor, starting with the demand that he stop denigrating the blue-collar workforce.

“The mayor should stop trying to blame transit workers for the shabby service,” Local 291 President Clarence Washington said. “It’s quite clear that he is trying to distract people from the fact that he has failed to provide good management, adequate transit funding and reliable equipment. He has simply failed to improve mass transit, and that has caused more and more people to drive. A horrendous traffic situation has gotten even worse because Metrorail and MetroBus are not viable options for too many people.”

Local 291’s Five Demands for Mayor Gimenez:

Stop Blaming the Workers
Transit workers want to get Miami-Dade residents and workers to their destinations safely and as quickly as possible. But they have been saddled far too long with railcars and buses that are old and falling apart, and require constant repairs.

The Metrorail fleet, for example, is more than 33 years old. The mayor said the first new railcars would arrive in 2015 and the entire fleet would be replaced by 2017. The first cars were only recently placed into service and the entire fleet won’t be replaced until sometime next year.

The mayor has talked for years about buying 300 new buses but so far only a handful have arrived.

Resume Negotiations
Transit workers have been working without a contract since the fall of 2014. Wages have been frozen while the cost of living has increased. Agreements have been reached with nearly all the other county unions and the mayor should be able to strike a deal with Local 291 if he bargains in good faith.

Withdraw the Request for a $170,000 Raise
The mayor’s attempt to obtain a personal raise – from $154,000 to as much as $324,000 – is outrageous and obscene. The mayor, who is a former fire chief and Miami administrator, already is receiving a public pension of about $134,000 a year. If the mayor wants a raise, it should be much more modest, and it shouldn’t come before his blue-collar workforce receives one.

Stop the Privatization of Bus Service
Miami-Dade residents need good jobs with solid benefits on which they support their families. Creating bus operator jobs with poverty wages confines Miami-Dade residents to lifetimes of economic struggle and despair. Privatization only benefits the owners of for-profit corporations with the political connections everyday Miami-Dade residents don’t enjoy. Limousines of South Florida, which was awarded 14 bus routes last year, is part of a conglomerate that gave generously to the mayor’s political campaign in recent years.

Invest in Mass Transit Operations
Miami-Dade needs more bus and rail service, not less.

Ridership is declining and traffic has gotten worse in part because trains and buses run too infrequently. Slashing service has made mass transit an even less viable option for Miami-Dade residents and has caused more people to drive.

Contact: Pete Donohue, TWU Communications, 917-796-8176 and


Anonymous said...

This is something worth fighting for. Miami-Dade needs better mass transit, and politicians who will find ways to fund mass transit. Watch who comes to the rescue - and who doesn't, and vote accordingly when election day comes.

Unknown said...

Miami will reach its full potential with a vibrant transit system , both Rail and bus. In the middle of all this debate one thing has to be clear to everyone at this point . Mayor Giminez has handled Miami’s Transit needs with a high level of incompetence . Neglect, mismanagement ,
indifference - these are all elements of Giminez’ shortcomings. His legacy when he finally leaves here will be the guy who pushed Miami’s transit system and worse, it’s transit riding citizens , dangerously close to the edge of a cliff .

Anonymous said...

The transit system is the backbone of Miami and the County's failure to maintain and update it in accordance with the needs of riders is becoming increasingly apparent. Now is the time to invest in our infrastructure, our workers, and our citizens. Thank you for the article, Miami will be watching this closely.

Anonymous said...

It isn’t Sophie’s choice it is blackmail. Carlos Gimenez is becoming more and more vindictive every day. He is as dumb as can be. Steve Shiver is the perfect sleaze to bargain with him for the cops.

Anonymous said...

Go unions. I am glad the State is taking over our transit. Thank you thank you

Anonymous said...

Don’t ask Alice, she’s 10 on the iq scale.

Anonymous said...

Rene Garcia: full steam ahead. Don’t let Gimenez bully you, we are behind your idea.

Anonymous said...

For the last 7 years the people that is running this county have the college degrees and make the big bucks. They handle the budget and makes all of the decisions. The workers comes to work and work under the conditions and with the equipment that management provides for them but, their Mayor is blaming them and not his management team for the bad shape that Miami dade Transit is in. Everyone knows where the problem is.

Unknown said...

Transport Workers Union 291 is fighting for a better transit system - a system that is reliable and meets the needs of riders. Politicians have to find the funding or Miami-Dade is going to be one big parking lot.
Gridlock is bad for everyone - including big business and developers. Being on the top-ten list of regions with the worst traffic is not where the Miami area wants to be if it wants to prosper.

Anonymous said...

The General public that depend on mass transit need to become aware of what's happening with their transportation system, the half of penny was created to improve their way of commuting, but to no avail have drastically fail.

Anonymous said...

There is plenty of blame to spread around, including the County Commission and those who have voted for them or have not voted at all. We need to insist on more and better mass transit. Our current system is barely fit for a third world country, not even close to what should be expected from the "world class" city we so often hear our elected officials say they aspire to.

Anonymous said...

Public transportation will be competing with powerful lobbyists who float the bunk notion of autonomous ride-sharing. Miami-Dade also has the Brightline disaster which is going to need a massive subsidy. Good times coming up.

Anonymous said...

There is a common thread here between the traffic/ transportation tax blog entries and the PBA: Steve Shiver. Dig deep into your archives and find that he was County Manager when the referendum was passed. You will also find that the wife of his Chief of Staff, Tom David ended up with a very high paying and cushy county job paid for from the dollars generated from the tax increase.You might also find a couple of instances where he threatened to put bus stops in front of the homes of those who publicly opposed the tax increase.

Unknown said...

The Mayor needs to find a way to fund the transportation system now, the residents of Dade County expect to receive the service that they are paying for.