Friday, October 05, 2012

Gimleteye: "Who could have predicted that the cool Miami Marlins stadium would look out of place so soon?"

I'd nearly missed Linda Robertson's question in a recent Miami Herald column, "Marlins' high hopes crumbling away." (Sept. 22, 2012) But I will answer it, anyway.

On the Marlins Stadium, the Performing Arsht Center, and other pending monuments to vanity, Eye on Miami feels like the smart kid who regularly raises his hand when the teacher asks, who has the answer? and then pays for it later in the school yard. In our case what that means is that the views we express on this blog, where there are no advertisers calling to complain to the publisher about "negative" stories, rarely make it to the Herald.

"Who could have predicted that the cool landmark (ie. baseball stadium) would look out of place so soon?" (Hand goes up.) We did.

I recall a conversation with Tom Fiedler long ago. Tom was the former managing editor of the Miami Herald. A great guy and, for the record, a much more talented writer on politics than newspaper manager. We bumped into each other in a bus on Key Biscayne, from the general parking lot out to the Lipton tennis tournament in the late 1990's. It was so long ago Roger Federer wasn't even famous yet.

Tom was an unabashed enthusiast for a downtown stadium, along with the rest of the Herald brass. The idea had been percolating and Tom had written in support. I told Tom, my view was that Miami had better things to spend its money on. Like reorganizing Bayside Market and the waterfront to create some kind of durable urban fabric, or, wastewater and water projects that were obvious, glaring black holes.

We know how that turned out. Is anyone surprised that Miami Dade has violated the terms of its 1990's era settlement agreement with EPA to clean our waters? (This would be a good place not to raise your hand.)

Now taxpayers owe Billions and are sitting with a cool billion in debt on various monuments that are poorly sited and scarcely deliver on the promise the harmonious civic life that the cement and steel Growth Machine demanded.

On the other hand, there is Miguel Cabrera, bless his soul: .330, 44 homers and 139 RBIs.

Cabrera has been the AL's best hitter since leaving the Marlins in a trade after the 2007 season. Now he is the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yaztremski. One of the points of view we regularly express at EOM is that what Florida does best is destroy value. But I'm not going to draw that analogy with the Cabrera trade.

I used to have a baseball card of Yaz and somewhere lost it along the way.

The same will be true of these bone-headed commitments of tax payer dollars. Behind them are a thousand controversies, protests, petition writing, and imploring by civic activists. These stories are largely unwritten and unpublished by the Herald and other mainstream media as they happen. The perpetrators (also called 'winners'), elected or lobbyists, will do their time in the public sector, pay bills and mortgages, perhaps for homes and houses they should not have bought and could not reasonably afford, piling hunger into the void. Robertson writes of the dismal scene unfolding in Little Havana, "The City of Miami made ham-handed attempts to recruit upscale restaurants and retail to its parking garage storefronts in a neighborhood where such businesses made no sense. They remain empty." Duh.

"Hindsight is 20-20", says Robertson, perhaps anticipating or nodding our way. But this where we get to raise our hands again: in the big picture, decision makers use the same excuse.

Having a critical view that draws an analogy between the Miami Marlins and our wider, community issues is not a case of backseat driving or Monday morning quarterbacking. It is also not strictly negativity. To know where you are going, you have to understand the past.

Of inconvenient truths, this one stands out. It may also account for the words left unsaid at the recent presidential debate on the economic crisis: "We could have seen it coming." Some of us, did.


Anonymous said...

Monuments to vanity might even be ok if the basics were taken care of. Like the sewer system. Cavalierly Passing a $5 billion bill to consumer via a 40 percent hike is outrageous, insulting. And the height of vanity because county commission is getting away with it without being held accountable. Meanwhile, raw sewage spews onto our streets and waterways.

Anonymous said...

The Herald news side provided cover for these white elephants by under reporting, reporting too late or ignoring altogether. But it would have helped to have an editorial board and columnists with the cojones to call it out. And they can start now.

Anonymous said...

The Herald gives pages and pages to Jorge Perez and the Related Group, not mentioning the millions of dollars he reneged on with so many lenders, than making profits on the back side of these deals.

Now he has a Museum named after him, publicly funded on publicly owned land, which no one in the actual Arts World will probably support. And I do know a lot of these people who have flat out said so.

One of Ted Arison's art charity's for the benefit of the entire community and our youth, buys the Bacardi building, vows to keep the exterior the same, all with PRIVATE funds, and it's a half page (or something like that) somewhere in the Herald.

One day we'll have a real newspaper. Or, perhaps like our elected officials in this banana republic, we won't!

This public funding of these private enterprises just makes me sick beyond belief. And, these people keep getting re elected.

The Straw Buyer said...

The retail space at the stadium is ideal for medicare clinics making it a fraud within a fraud. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that Perez' contribution to the art museum, for which he got naming rights, is the same amount as he extracted from a six month investment in property Genting needed adjacent to the Herald site, that Perez and partners bought, then flipped to Genting. "Fraud within Fraud"? Yes we make money the old fashioned way. Incredible. As for his magnus opus on the Miami River, for destroying downtown Perez got off scott free. Lots of people made millions behind him. The banks wouldn't close him out, because holding all those worthless condos as the market tanked would have brought them down, too. It looks like they held each other in a death grip, until the coast was clear. No consequences. Nada. Zip. Zero. Instead of being back at the planning department at the city of Miami, Perez is one of the Forbes Fortune 400. Here's an idea: put a plaque with his name on it in dead center field. Whoever hits it from home plate wins a grand prize. A toaster.

Anonymous said...

He'll probably be ambassador to somewhere.

Anonymous said...

It's not too late to not make more mistakes! Miami Marine stadium deal to give away (50- year lease) public waterfront land through sports and exhibition center and avoid public referendum is happening now. Herald supported that deal for commercial development of Virginia Key public waterfront as win-win. Another Bayside? Why?

Anonymous said...

It's the Manny Diaz "mega plan" that brought is the CRA calling Watson island and bayfront parks "blighted" so CRA money could pay port tunnel instead of going to revitalizing poor urban neighborhoods. And the beat goes on. With Miami Herald support.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Manny. We remember you in the glory days.