Monday, June 01, 2009 - The Princes of Miami-Dade
"Once again, the Miami-Dade commissioners are in the limelight, reminding us that the system of county government should be restructured to amend the flaws in our municipal democracy."
By DANIEL SHOER ROTH - El Nuevo Herald
Miami-Dade County is governed by 13 commissioners. However, sometimes it seems that instead of being public servants, they are members of an absolutist monarchy.
It doesn’t matter how hungry the people are, in the royal house - the Commission – there is an unending flow of wealth to waste. (hit read more)
There is money to charity in order to get into the favor of interest groups, and to compensate overtime with armed sergeants to serve as drivers to the group of 13. All this at the expense of my sweat and yours.
Once again, the Miami-Dade commissioners are in the limelight, reminding us that the system of county government should be restructured to amend the flaws in our municipal democracy.
A few days ago, it came to light the way in which commissioners split a pie of $9.5 million for their philanthropic activities in the community, without conditions and with scant inspection.
I have no doubt that many of the organizations that benefit perform altruistic work. The problem is that these groups, located in the districts of the commissioners, are indebted to their benefactors. And what better way to pay with the vote.
With reason some are overwhelmingly re-elected, creating forces so powerful that they do not allow the advance of other applicants. Since 1994, no county commissioner was defeated at the polls.
For ethical reasons, these officials should not interfere in the business of charities.
The salary of $6,000 that a commissioner earns per year is a euphemism to disguise the torrent of money that enters on other fronts. Each of their offices operates with a $1 million annually. In addition, they have a plethora of budgets for discretionary spending, including a stipend of $9,600 for transportation.
If you want to have the pleasure of getting around the city with a chauffeur, why not hire someone with that money?
We have too many security problems to assign an officer as a personal chauffeur. That luxury costs us thousands of dollars that could be invested in improving the lives of 2,382 abandoned children in the county, for example.
The Miami-Dade Commission believes itself to be untouchable and all-powerful. Recently they rejected two proposals that would have reinvigorated the CITT, an independent panel that supposedly looks after the interests of taxpayers in the People's Transportation Plan, that of the “half cent sales tax”, but that hasn’t had a voice or vote in this failed project in this county in which the people cry out for an efficient transport system.
Nor have they listened to advice of state experts in zoning and environmental issues when they have approved, several times, the extension of the Urban Development Boundary.
The next time is coming soon, because a group of powerful businessmen and civic leaders plans to build a community for nearly 19,000 residents almost at the foot of the Everglades, and you already know which side the commissioners will take.
The housing crisis is linked, in a way, to the model of suburban growth toward agricultural land and swampy areas. For this reason, nobody wants to live so far away. Last week the Miami Herald published a report on deserted neighborhoods in southwest Miami-Dade, where the four cats that moved there are surrounded by garbage, weeds and stones. Further development is not missing, but there were promises of villas and castles.
What is needed is that the commissioners get down from these clouds and leave the glamour for better times.