[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: In Favor of Miami Megaplan

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In Favor of Miami Megaplan

There are many reasons to dislike the Miami Herald, especially when it comes to some of the columns and editorials that are published. Nevertheless, even a skeptic like me can acknowledge that the Herald at least "tries" to express a balanced view of issues. It may fail at times, but the attempt is there, in my personal view.

Anyway, I mention this because of today's outstanding column by sports columnist Greg Cote on why Miamians should support the Megaplan that will bring a baseball stadium, help fund Museum Park, build a tunnel to the port and bring streetcars to downtown.

I have expressed and explained my support of this plan in previous posts, so I won't break down Cote's column in detail. I do, however, want to single out a few things Cote mentioned:
Here is local government, for all of its history of scandal and inefficiency, trying at last to think big and be big, and finally haul Miami into the 21st Century in terms of urban revitalization and renewal.
Amen. We are right to be concerned about our local politicians' history of ineptitude and corruption. We are also right to see beyond that and consider plans such as these for their merits, of which there are plenty in this case. Most importantly, it is up to all Miamians to hold themselves and their elected officials personally accountable by making sure that the plan gets properly carried out. This is the part that many people struggle with. It's much easier to complain and point fingers than to be a part of the solution, especially in Miami. It's time for you and I to step up and be more accountable for what happens in our city, plain and simple. We need to demand that our politicos do the right thing. How? By taking part in the process and making smart choices at the voting booth, for starters. Sure, this may sound too idealistic and "pie-in-the-sky" to some, but I would rather think big and dream big than to constantly throw a pail of cold water on everything that even hints at progress in this town.

This is about our civic responsibility to see the larger picture and put the public good over individual wants.

A Marlins fan should support a new, 37,000-seat retractable dome stadium (even if not thrilled about the OB site in Little Havana), but even non-fans should appreciate the benefit of how a thriving big-league sports team can knit a community.

Similarly, you do not need to be a connoisseur of opera or ballet to see that a performing arts center improves our overall quality of life, just as you do not need to
be a parent to support better schools. This $3 billion initiative, now on trial, would rejuvenate Overtown and transform Bicentennial Park into a waterfront jewel, among many other projects.

Kind of goes hand-in-hand with the accountability aspect. I totally understand some people's reservations about the plan, especially considering our politicos' track records. Believe me, I do. Solid arguments can be made against the ethical reasons for expanding the CRAs, although I don't necessarily think the expanding CRAs will be a detriment. That's my view.

However, there are two things regarding people's opposition to the Megaplan that makes me shake my head in disbelief. One is the common perception that the most of the $$ involved in this project could and should be used for our schools and for the poor. Fact is, it can't. The money for the Marlins' stadium, for example, comes from the tourist bed tax which can only be used for these type of projects (see the Performing Arts Center). We already have systems and revenue sources in place (most of it which has been decided by voters, BTW) to help schools and the poor. Want to help teachers who deserve higher salaries? Get involved and demand that the tons of taxpayer money already allocated for schools be budgeted and managed properly. Don't mix apples and oranges because no one will come out ahead if we do so.

The other misperception is the argument that voters should decide whether the Megaplan should proceed. Voters approved bonds in 2001 and 2004 for the proposed Museum Park at Bicentennial Park, a big part of the current Megaplan. The rest of the plan squarely falls in the arena of politicians and bureaucrats doing what they are supposed to be doing, which is to lead and to come up with ideas and projects to move the community forward. Once again, that pesky accountability thing pops up. We can certainly disagree with politicians' projects, but if we want a true say, we have plenty of opportunities to do so, despite the imperfections of our system.

My personal view is that the Megaplan is a visionary concept rarely executed by politicians and community leaders in these parts. In other words, it's a partnership. The potential benefits far outweigh the negatives. As Greg Cote mentioned (as has Henry Gomez), it's time for Miami to think and act big. I'm not "in business" with any of the big players here. I'm just a concerned and involved citizen that wants the best for this community, for myself and for my family. I realize the potential that exists here. I'm fairly sure Norman Braman and those on his side feel the same way I do, but in this case they're on the wrong side.

Read Cote's entire column here.


Post a Comment

<< Home