[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Our Money Down the Drain

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Our Money Down the Drain

For me, the debate about eliminating property taxes is centered around a simple theme: who do you trust with your hard-earned money: you or the government?

For those of you who may still be mulling over the choices, consider the recent uproar over the state of Downtown Miami. The "uproar" is over something that many lifelong Miamians have known for a very long time. Downtown Miami, despite it's slow improvements over the years, is still in pretty sad shape. It's no secret that the City of Miami has benefited and profited very nicely from the huge increases in property taxes the past several years. No wonder city leaders are more than eager to approve new high-rise developments everywhere you look downtown.

What about the promises from said city leaders to fix up downtown? Those new streetlights on Flagler Street look nice, don't they? What have city leaders done to significantly improve downtown?

Did I mention how nice those new streetlights on Flagler Street look?

I realize that there's enough blame to go around for the sad state of our downtown, including business owners not willing to work with their neighbors and the general population of South Florida that too often only cares just enough to do little more than whine, complain and point their fingers at others.

However, I'm here to point a big fat finger at the bayfront building on Bayshore Drive. You know, Miami City Hall. They bear the lion's share of the blame here. For a long time, Manny Diaz and his cohorts have promised to clean up downtown. Despite whatever they might say as justification for their efforts, the truth is as plain and simple as a trip to downtown. It needs a lot of work. Fast. With all the money the city has been able to receive in tax revenues, there's absolutely and positively no excuse whatsoever for the lack of progress to rejuvenate downtown.

When citizens cynically complain that all Manny Diaz cares about is more and more high-rise developments to fill up city coffers, it's hard to argue with them despite whatever good intentions Mayor Diaz expresses.

I am fully aware of the Miami Downtown Development Authority which has taken on the responsibility of coming up with answers and solutions to fixing up downtown. Despite their noble efforts, the results have fallen short of expectations. I'm far from an expert on this matter and thus my opinion may be flawed.

This is but one example of Miami government ineptitude. The Orange Bowl renovations are another. More on that topic in a future post.

The criticism of downtown leveled recently by Macy's Florida CEO was only newsworthy because it was said in front of a meeting of city business leaders. What Julie Greiner said was nothing new or earth-shattering. Yet, it took someone of stature to make the statement to get people's attention AND to motivate change. I'm not optimistic that government will suddenly respond, because they won't. What hopefully WILL happen is that the MDDA will start taking a more assertive role in making sure progress is made. In other words, pressuring politicians to help to provide changes, or else. Or else meaning: bye-bye downtown, we'll take our business somewhere else.

Better yet, it's going to take a dedicated grass-roots effort to make changes. South Beach didn't transform itself from a deteriorating retirement community as recent as the early 80s to the bustling world-class destination it is now because of government initiative. It was started by citizen activists who had vision and care for their community. Government later jumped on the bandwagon. This is the kind of thing that needs to happen downtown.

This fall, when the property tax issue comes up for vote, keep in mind what the government has been doing, or not doing, with your money.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Timothy said...

Finally, Rob. a post that I can agree with 100% (also agreed with the No Cubans Allowed below).

7:42 PM, June 19, 2007  
Blogger La Ventanita said...

I think you forgot to mention the light posts @ flagler

2:39 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

Tim,

I must not be doing a good job if you're starting to agree with my posts! ;0

Ventanita,

Guess I should have mentioned the street lamps and light posts!! ;)

8:27 AM, June 21, 2007  

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