[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Braman Wants Cars, Not Downtown Development

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Braman Wants Cars, Not Downtown Development

There HE goes again.

OK, so I don't really know what's behind luxury automobile dealer Norman Braman's latest drive to stop the massive downtown plan proposed last month by Manny Diaz and Co. But considering that the last time we heard from him, he was pumping money to sink Alex Penelas' 1% sales tax increase that would have eliminated those hideous tolls from county roads and added funding for mass transit, I can't help but wonder (neither can Transit Miami which posted on this back before Christmas).

The issue here isn't that Norman Braman isn't entitled to his opinion and to be loud and brash about it. He most certainly has that right. But Braman's attitude and approach strikes at one of my biggest pet peeves: complaining without offering alternative and viable solutions.

Braman is also deceiving the public when he makes statements such as this one:
'Dolphin Stadium was built without taxpayer dollars,'' (Braman's ad) says. ``The Marlins should do the same. These property taxes were intended for the poor. The Marlins are not poor.''
Please, Mr. Braman. You know the stadium money is coming mostly from hotel bed taxes most certainly NOT intended for the poor. Stop lying.

I hold deep respect for folks who put their money where their mouth is and stand up for what they believe in. Norman Braman starts in that direction, but then stops short when asked what HE would do to improve transit and quality of life in South Florida. It would be nice if Mr. Braman, who undoubtedly has profited nicely from South Florida's car culture, would actually tell us what he wants instead of shooting down projects such as these with deceptive comments. Nothing wrong with making money, as I'm an evil capitalist, but it's also fair to question motives based on someone's line of work.

Perhaps he doesn't have an answer because he likes what he now sees.

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Blogger Jonathan said...

It seems to me that Braman is a principled opponent of raising taxes.

The public money that will be used to finance these new boondoggles is money that will no longer be available for productive investment. There is no way that the Miami City Commission can invest money better than can the private citizens and businesses from which the money is being taxed. Socialism is a lousy business model.

If the Commissioners had any sense they would reduce taxes on hotel visits. These taxes kill local jobs and make Miami less attractive to visitors. For a city whose businesses rely as heavily on tourism as Miami's businesses do to increase taxes on tourists is crazy.

I think Braman is taking a reasonable position and need not provide an alternative. If a plan is bad, doing nothing may be the best alternative.

Braman has created a lot of jobs, and a lot of wealth for himself and other people, over the years. How many jobs and how much wealth has the Miami City Commission created?

2:15 PM, January 05, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...


In theory you're correct, but the problem is that no one in Miami, whether its private citizens or private businesses, wants to step up and offer something as an alternative that will not only make Miami a even more attractive destination but also improve the quality of life of its residents. If there's anyone out there who has, they've been very quiet.

Braman is well within his right to oppose this without any alternative, but what good does that really do for the community? I'm glad that he's been successful and provided jobs for people, but if you're going to get involved in public issues such as these, you need to have the larger picture in mind. A principled stance is fine, but to me it's hollow if there's no follow-up. Doing nothing in this case is not the best alternative, because these issues will continue to dog us for years to come if we don't do something about it now.

Quite frankly, and you already know my opinion on this, public apathy has mostly led us to where we're at today. I see the plan being proposed by the politicians as a good one that could bring plenty of benefits to our community. Is it perfect? No, and I never said it was. However, no one else is willing to take the ball and run with it, so I'm glad that the politicos are at least doing what they were elected to do, which is lead. There will be plenty of opportunities to discuss the pros and cons of the plan, but SOMEONE had to step forward and present it. How many years have we been wringing our hands over the Marlins stadium issue? Same with Museum Park, which voters approved as part of a bond package a few years ago and has stagnated since. The Port Tunnel? I'm sick of hearing about it. Maybe, maybe this is the kickstart needed to get real discussion going on what Miami needs to do as a city and region to improve its quality of life for residents and visitors.

Speaking of visitors, our region is not suffering from a lack of tourists despite the taxes. If anything, we haven't done enough to capitalize on the revenue from those taxes which can only be used for attractions and other tourism-related projects. There is where I criticize local politicians, because they've failed in that respect. Will they fail again with this plan? I guess it's possible, but it's up to us to make sure this gets carried through, or we get rid of them.

2:52 PM, January 05, 2008  
Blogger Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal said...

Robert, Nice post, glad to see we are on the same page. We'll be following up our post soon with some more thoughts, but there are many flaws in his arguments and it is quite evident that he does not have the community's best interests in mind (only his wallet.)

10:27 AM, January 07, 2008  

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