Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Latest on Miami Sea Level Rise ... by gimleteye

Last week, Jim Murley was appointed to a new Miami-Dade position and a $190,000 salary by Mayor Carlos Gimenez. As described by the Miami Herald, Murley will be the county's Chief Resilience Officer, a new post created after citizens clamored at a recent budget hearing about the failure of Mayor Gimenez to take climate change issues seriously.

“The people’s voices were heard,” Gimenez spokesman Michael Hernández told the Miami Herald. He might have added the mayor also heard challengers promising to do a better job for people in the 2016 election cycle.

Mayor Gimenez noted Mr. Murley is a "veteran planner", a planner like Jack Osterholt, the deputy mayor who oversees the county’s climate-change and environmental functions.

Planners populate governmental task forces, commissions, and committees. They understand their roles to be assessing and analyzing information, but also to straddle the divide between stakeholders with competing interests; pro's and anti's, those for and those against any particular action being planned.

Anyone who has observed or participated in government commissions or committees understands how the end product of planning, studies and recommendations and planning documents, often diffuse, delay and soften the imperative to action. Moving roads, building new suburbs or extending old ones, the normal exchanges of planning -- one purpose against another -- is often designed to put people to sleep so what special interests want eventually gets done, one way or another.

Sea level rise is, as a middle school teacher of mine used to call a problem; "a horse of a different color".

Jim Murley is not going to be asked to "do" or to "act" or even to interpret the intent of Mayor Gimenez who may or may not be convinced there is anything for him to "do" about climate change. Why should the mayor, when there is the example of leaders like Florida Senator Marco Rubio whose response to pressure to act on global warming is to shrug; "we are not a planet".

In the context of climate change, the "we are not a planet" comment by Senator Rubio wraps up a couple of conservative ideas: 1) that the United States can act, but our actions will have no impact because India and China aren't keeping pace with necessary changes, 2) that the planet will do what it will, with or without us.

Mayor Gimenez' recent county budget proposal, pre- appointment of Jim Murley, more or less cozied up to Rubio's view, "Yeah we got lots of low-lying land, but what are we going to do about rising seas? If the seas go up, so what?"

It is not exactly a secret that big campaign contributors have the last word on policies implemented by government and how they are funded by taxpayers. For planners, whole careers are made from muddling through, otherwise called mastering "the art of the possible".

"While Mr. Murley’s credentials are impressive, it is his proven track record as a collaborative regional planner that makes him the perfect candidate for the job of CRO," Gimenez wrote in the memo. What a great success regional planning has been. (Not.) To our readers, it should go without saying that under Gov. Rick Scott, decades of purpose-driving state planning was thrown under the bus.

Maggie Fernandez, a Miami-Dade activist and president of Sustainable Miami told the Miami Herald that Gimenez’s pick was “disheartening” because of Murley’s planning background. "Is he the dynamic leader I was hoping for? I don’t think so,” she said. “I envisioned someone with fresh ideas."

In the scheme of politics, it doesn't matter if Citizen Maggie Fernandez is right, Mayor Carlos Gimenez has more right to be wrong. That's the privilege of high office in South Florida.

The problem for taxpayers is that planning processes end up acquiring a life and momentum of their own, and all participants become wholly vested in staking out positions that lead to no change or improvement or accountability for solving what they came together to plan in the first place.

If you've read this far, read what all the fuss about sea level rise, here:


Anonymous said...

When the "planners" stop the next luxury high rise from bring built on Brickell or Miami Brach, or deny a subdivision in wetlands in Honestead or nix an expressway expansion outside the UDB, I'll consider we have a chance to really address a sustainable and resilient city that is cognizant of the inevitable implications of a Climate Change sea level rise. Everything that is happening now is oblivious to the realities. Murley may be sincere but Gimenez is just using him as an election year tool.

Anonymous said...

The latest National Academies of Sciences report about coastal US cities had one overriding message: Prepare yourselves for the sea level rise already "baked-in" but we really need to stop carbon to avert doomsday. So until County Mayor Gimenez and SLR-action advocate Commissioner Sosa plus Commission Chair Monestime are willing to fly to Paris to loudly advocate for federal, state and global carbon reductions, and back the EPA clean power plan to curb carbon, they aren't doing enough. In fact, ALL of the Commissioners should hold a press conference saying they support Federal and state carbon reduction now. Anything less is irresponsible.

Anonymous said...

Murley serves at the will of the Mayor. Are the Republican Mayor of Miami-Dade Carolos Gimenez and chief commission SLR advocate Republican Rebeca Sosa willing to go out in front of Rubio and Bush on climate change?

Anonymous said...

In order to pay for all this Miami must overdevelop like Miami Beach. Government is counting on increasing property tax valuations to keep the system going. The county tax apprasier can never lower property valuations.

Read the report from Miami Beach.

Andrew M. Korge said...

We always knew there were are a lot of climate deniers in public office. But as time goes on, it is also clear that there are a lot of climate chickens in Tallahassee and Miami Dade. This is part of why I am running For state senate. We must take bold action on sea level rise and start rapidly adapting our home right now, or else our children may not have a future in south Florida.

Anonymous said...

Murley-Osterholdt: Team MO'. Expect nothing less, nothing MO'. The Mayor is paying $190K to a retired bureaucrat to make it look like he is moving on the issue of climate change. My bet is the seas will actually rise significantly before this team accomplishes sh*t.

Anonymous said...

I think these comments about Jim Murley are quite unfair. He is a respectable, honest person and I believe he will do his best, although the odds of success for anyone in this newly created position are daunting. Why don't we give him a chance instead of pre-judging him because he is a planner? I have had many occasions over the years to work alongside Mr. Murley. I didn't always agree with him, but I always found him worthy of respect.

Fran Bohnsack

Peachy Pie said...

To all fellow readers of EOM:
Please read Professor Harold Wanless's very well researched, in-depth, and up to date report on the realities of sea level rise for South Florida. We are all very fortunate to have Professor Wanless's work so readily available to us. Professor Wanless and I share the viewpoint that it is sheer insanity to continue to increase density in South Florida. If you, dear reader, avail yourself of his great and extensive work in this field, I believe that you must reach the same conclusion.
Mr. Murley is a city planner, and I will not judge him. I haven't researched his record and his own personal views on promoting sustainability versus increasing density in South Florida. You can't have it both ways. I know several city planners, and all of them, without exception, put their stamp of approval on increasing density in spite of the realities of sea level rise, the ongoing dire news about the death of Florida Bay, salt water intrusion, and so much more. City planners promote unlimited increased density in the Transit Oriented Development District (everything close by to the Metro Rail).Witness the atrocity that is the Dadeland area, and much more. The theory of "urban infill" to support their policy is well known and acknowledged to be a dismal failure. Residents in the west end of the county have no desire to move east into the high density and expensive Transit Oriented Development area.
Instead of urban infill, we have people moving here from places outside of Miami-Dade County,while infrastructure continues to deteriorate,and repairs and upgrades in certain areas do not address the fact that our outdated,and primitive sewage treatment system is not going to be replaced, and continues to pollute the environment.
Biscayne Bay suffers for it, with coral reefs dying, and acidification of the water out of control.
Why is it that city planners don't see the correlation between over population and a dying natural environment? Can't they make a living planning for sustainability rather than facilitating out of control over development and over population? If not, they should be addressing areas that are not already built out and overpopulated, with the natural environment over stressed and dying as a result.
Let's see if Mr. Murley is any different from the rest.