[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: February 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Marlins Stadium Hanging By A Thread

So let me get this straight. Miami commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones wants the Florida Marlins, Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami to ensure that $500 million in Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) revenue be directed to her districts in Overtown and Liberty City. This comes after she agreed in principle in 2007 and 2008 on the stadium deal.

Spence-Jones supported the stadium in two votes, in 2007 and 2008. But she and others must approve the individual contracts before ground can be broken.

Since her absence two weeks ago, Spence-Jones has been publicly silent on how she would vote, until now.

Of course, the CRA revenues would in large part be generated by the new ballpark. So basically, Spence-Jones wants to hog up what appears to be a disproportinate chunk of money to help her district and her constutuents.

This wouldn't sound as bad as it does (although it would still stink to holy heaven), if the areas in question weren't already under a CRA and receiving revenue streams that would ordinarly be spread across the city and county.

From South Florida Times (make sure to read the entire piece):
The city of Miami’s Community Redevelopment Agency granted Jackson Soul Food nearly $800,000 to renovate the family-owned restaurant and $300,000 to Just Right Barber Shop a few blocks away. Ten other Overtown businesses have received a combined $179,000 from the CRA.
That's fine, but Spence-Jones' latest demand seems like double-dipping. Her area can be argued to be in disproportionate need relative to other areas. That would be accurate. But $500,000,000 worth? And now this after dealing in supposed good faith with the Marlins and the county the past 2 years?

This latest development to kill the current Marlins' stadium plan looks and smells like dirty Miami politics. Spence-Jones, who has been linked to scandals during her first term, is running for reelection later this year.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Catholics and Politics

It appears my sin post last night has led to a little more where that came from. Perhaps it's Lent.

Via Paul Ibrahim comes this article about the Denver archbishop advising against "adulation" toward our political leaders (i.e. Barack Obama).

Here are four reminders Archbishop Chaput lays out in the piece. In particular, the first point really hits hard and true:

Looking ahead to the coming months and years, Chaput offered four "simple things" to remember.

"First," he said, "all political leaders draw their authority from God. We owe no leader any submission or cooperation in the pursuit of grave evil.

"In fact, we have the duty to change bad laws and resist grave evil in our public life, both by our words and our non-violent actions. The truest respect we can show to civil authority is the witness of our Catholic faith and our moral convictions, without excuses or apologies."

In a reference to the messianic treatment the Barack Obama received from some Americans during the presidential primaries, Archbishop Chaput delivered his second point: "in democracies, we elect public servants, not messiahs."

Noting that Obama actually trailed in the weeks just before the election, the Denver archbishop said that this places some of today’s talk about a "new American mandate" in perspective.

"Americans, including many Catholics, elected a gifted man to fix an economic crisis. That’s the mandate. They gave nobody a mandate to retool American culture on the issues of marriage and the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion in public life and abortion. That retooling could easily happen, and it clearly will happen -- but only if Catholics and other religious believers allow it."

The third point to focus on when the beliefs of Catholics are challenged is that "it doesn’t matter what we claim to believe if we’re unwilling to act on our beliefs," Chaput counseled.

"The fourth and final thing to remember, and there’s no easy way to say it," remarked Archbishop Chaput, is that the "Church in the United States has done a poor job of forming the faith and conscience of Catholics for more than 40 years."

This excerpt is but the tip of the iceberg of an excellent speech that although focuses on Catholics and their roles in political life, its core message can be applied by people of any belief.

Please take some time to read the entire speech here.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lay Off Jindal!

I respect Rush Limbaugh and think he's a very smart man, but sometimes I have little use for his hot air. His on-air rant today about conservative criticism of Bobby Jindal's response speech last night was a classic example of me of agreeing with the message, but rolling my eyes a little at the histrionics.

Anyway, here's Rush sticking up for Gov. Jindal.

H/T: Melek

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What Is Sin?

I don't post much at all about religion as it's something I mostly prefer to keep to myself, but this post by Jorge over at 2 Think Good really touched me and made sense on several levels. A very good way to cap off Ash Wednesday.

BTW, if you're not familiar with 2 Think Good, check it out. Great and unique blog which smartly covers a wide range of topics.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An Opening For Reasonable Discourse?

Something interesting is going on in South Florida. It's related to the Herald's two new columnists who don't exactly fit the mold of most of the remainder of their stable. Jackie Bueno Sosa is supposed to be the conservative and Glenn Garvin the libertarian. Based on three columns (two by Garvin), this may very well be the case.

What's happening is that the South Florida blogosphere, which as a whole is left-leaning when it comes to politics and ideology, is starting to respond to the columnists and their pieces. It's no longer just local conservative hacks like me complaining about Leonard Pitts Jr., Carl Hiaasen, Fred Grimm and ex-columnist Ana Menendez anymore. It's my fellow South Florida bloggers starting to complain about Sousa and Garvin (and perhaps even Myriam Marquez). In other words, an arena for lively debate of important issues may be starting to shape up. At long last.

Unfortunately, a lot of the complaining from the left is not so much about the content of Sousa and Garvin columns. Instead it's about things such as Sousa possible plagiarism of a speech given by Kevin Costner's character in Bull Durham. Check here, here, here, and here. BTW, I agree with Rick that this is much ado about nothing.

When South Florida largest newspaper has coddled liberals for so long with their point of view and primarily their point of view, it's easy to understand this reaction to opposite points of view. Feel my pain. Maybe (more below).

Another strange thing is happening: the comments at the Herald site are becoming more, shall we say, reasonable. Both sides are actually making their points in a respectful manner (with a few outraged people stating that they're canceling their subscription because of the right-wing nature of these pieces).

Lest you're getting the idea that the Herald is becoming The Washington Times south, think again. They still have a left-leaning editorial board, Leonard Pitts who has two weekly columns, Fred Grimm, Carl Hiaasen on Sundays, not to mention syndicated columnists Ellen Goodman and Susan Estrich to counter conservatives George Will and Pat Buchanan. Sousa only has one column - on Mondays, and Garvin's column will only run every other Tuesday. Not exactly feature spots. The other metro columnist, Myriam Marquez, really doesn't fit neatly into a particular ideology (good). Overall, more balance which again is a good thing, but far from one side dominating over the other (another good thing).


Remembering Brothers To The Rescue

Certain events in one's life are significant as turning points, as mileposts, or as revelations that form a part of a change process. For me, when it comes to Cuba, February 24, 1996 is one of them.

I've always had a good dose of respect and admiration for my Cuban roots, even as a teenager and young adult, but my concerns in those years was much less about Cuban issues and politics and much more about where I was and where I was going.

My reaction to the February 24, 1996 shoot down of two Cessna aircraft in the Florida Straits by the Cuban government was one of sadness, but not in the way you would think. Yes, I was sad for the four people that died tragically that day, but my predominant feeling was that of anger toward Jose Basulto for what I believed was a certain lack of responsibility on his part for the safety of those young men. Basulto knew what he was doing, I reasoned, especially when he provoked a crazy and murderous regime by dropping leaflets over Havana a few weeks before. I'm not saying Basulto knew this was going to happen, but that he should have been more careful. I couldn't help but feel like "I told you so".

Those feelings lasted maybe a day or two. They were then replaced by bewilderment at the feelings of many in our community to the incident. Instead of a massive outpouring of sympathy for the families of the victims, most of them American citizens and Miami residents, the "I told you so" feelings lingered in certain sectors of the non-Cuban community. Where there wasn't this reaction, there was just a indifferent shrug of the shoulders, it seemed. We're not just talking about in the hours following the incident when emotions are raw, but days and weeks later a lot of people still felt as if those people got what they deserved. How could many in my community react so insensitively to the death of 4 Americans who did NOTHING wrong? It was then that my naiveté toward Cuban political issues began to be replaced by a greater awareness and involvement, and yes, a greater skepticism of certain people and agendas. It was the "End of the Innocence", as Don Henley would say.

This incident marked the beginning of this change inside of me, a transformation of sorts that would continue to mature in 2000 with the Elian Gonzalez fiasco, and culminated on 9/11.

As the years go by...as I drive by streets and parks named for the victims of that tragic day, I understand more and more what these people were set out to do. They were committed not to personal goals or other selfish motivations, but to help their Cuban brothers. They were even more committed to FREEDOM. A greater American cause or purpose can't be found anywhere.

Here are the names of the four who perished on that clear late February day in 1996:

Armando Alejandre, Jr.
Carlos Costa
Mario de la Peña
Pablo Morales

Don't ever forget those names. Even more so, don't forget what they did.

Babalu has details on a commemorative event today at FIU.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Que Bueno

Re the previous post below on the Herald's new columnists, today was Jackie Bueno Sousa's first weekly column. In short, I like it. Some highlights:
One day, as I played outdoors with some friends, we came across two middle-aged men as they walked toward (Hialeah Race Track), passionately discussing the merits of several horses.

One of them, a portly, bearded man, was holding a stack of papers with each hand, the fingers of the right hand curled around a pencil. He'd clearly been doing a lot of research on the horses. The other, cleanshaven with brown hair slickly combed to the side, was trying to convince him to leave the paperwork behind.

''This is about luck,'' he was saying. ``Just go with your gut.''

My friends and I hung around outdoors most of the day and, after some time, I saw the two men again walking past us. Mr. Paperwork displayed a satisfied smile, while his companion looked grim.

''Were you lucky?'' I asked.

''Lucky?'' Mr. Paperwork repeated. ``Yes, I'm often lucky when I use my brain.''

That belief in man's power to foresee outcomes eventually would serve as a guide in much of what I would do later in life, as a writer for The Wall Street Journal, as editor of The Daily Business Review and The Miami Herald's Business Monday section, and even as a business owner.


I believe that Main Street is as responsible for the current economic crisis as Wall Street. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone; that NFL play rules are beginning to coddle quarterbacks; and that all elected officials should be subject to term limits. I believe that man really did land on the moon; that history will redeem George W. Bush; that life begins after conception but before birth; and that nature will destroy us before we destroy it.

I can see our liberal friends' heads beginning to explode, especially with the Bush-redemption comment. After all, they've been fed the usual Bush = Evil garbage for so long so I understand their shock to hear another point of view.

Anyway, it's refreshing to see personal responsibility and accountability emphasized so clearly in a Herald column. Please read the rest of the article here.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Herald Adds Some Balance To Columist Roster

The Miami Herald has introduced two additions to columnist roles. The Herald, noting something me and other conservatives have complained about for years, realized that their roster of columnists wasn't exactly the most ideologically diverse. That's putting it nicely.

They are Jackie Bueno Sousa and Glenn Garvin. Garvin has already written one column, slamming the ACLU for their opposition to the removal of Vamos A Cuba. He brings a libertarian slant to many of his TV reviews, and this will no doubt be reflected in his opinion pieces. Good.

Sousa I'm not really familiar with. Based on the Herald article, she has a lot of experience and from what I was able to dig up online, she holds some strong opinions that may or may not always please conservatives (kind of like Myriam Marquez, whom I like). That's also good.

Here are some recent Sousa pieces:

- Abolish the N word
- School Board of Fools
- Miami Wish List

No doubt the Herald is responding to criticism about the lack of ideological balance. Give them credit for not just standing there and ignoring the obvious. Of course, they aren't exactly in a position where they can just do nothing and expect to survive much longer.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Quick Hits

A few stories which caught my attention this morning:

- Myriam Marquez hits another one out of the park as she reminds us to not forget about Cuba's true heroes and those that support them.

- President Obama urges mayors to spend stimulus wisely. Sure, Mr. President. If only your bill had shown some restraint, you wouldn't sound so hypocritical. "The American people are watching". Damn right we are.

- Miami-Dade and Broward get their piece of the pie pork. Some of the proposed projects may very well be beneficial for the community, but will it create permanent jobs and income? After all, real stimulus is about people spending, not government spending. We'll be watching.

- 28-year-old man dies after fall from Palmetto Expressway sign. He was apparently painting graffiti. Can't say I feel terrible about this (with an exception for his family).

- Molto Mario gets molto vulgar in front of dignitaries at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. And Gov. Stimulus breaks protocol. Check it out.

Cool: A Bald Eagle and her hatchlings nest on the western fringe of Pembroke Pines next to the Everglades.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cartoons, Chimps and Race

OK, I've followed the story of the controversial NY Post cartoon depicting two cops involved in the shooting of a chimpanzee, with one of the cops remarking in the caption, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

I've heard all sides weigh in on this, from those outraged at the possible racist parallels between the chimp and Barack Obama, to those who see the chimp as a representation of a clumsily written bill.

Here's the apology issued by the NY Post today:

Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy.

It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.

It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.


But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.

This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due.

Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.

I believe the NY Post was wise to apologize, not to the "opportunists" as they indicated (hello Al Sharpton), but because it's understandable how the whole thing could be construed as racist by many reasonable people.

I ALSO believe the NY Post when they assert that the chimp in the cartoon was in no way a representation of Barack Obama or the color of his skin. I believe it was an ill-timed and ill-conceived combination of the chimp attack in Connecticut and the cartoonist's attempt to draw that into the stimulus bill issue. As anyone who's followed the stimulus bill passage knows, the bill wasn't written by Obama, but by Congress - a body which could be argued to have the grace of a 200-pound chimpanzee in tight quarters. Or the intelligence of one. Remember the Bush or Chimp web site? What do you think the web site creators and their supporters had in mind when drawing those comparisons? Hmmm. Of course, Bush is white, Republican, dumb and evil so it's alright to bash him. No outrage allowed there.

One more thing, who in this day and age would intentionally draw a parallel between an ape and a black man, besides an uneducated and downright racist moron - in a New York daily no less? I think the vast majority of Americans have progressed on matters of race since the 1950s and 60s, despite what our Attorney General thinks.

Then again, the reaction of some to the cartoon makes me wonder whether Eric Holder actually has a point.

I "Heart" Hialeah

Anyone who's lived in South Florida for any length of time has heard all the jokes and negative stereotypes about Hialeah. It's ugly, dangerous, dirty, chusma, no one speaks English, etc. and ad nauseum.

Now, before I start throwing valentines at Hialeah, I have to say that some of these stereotypes are rooted in reality. Hialeah is far from the most scenic part of South Florida. Most of the city is gritty and blue-collar. It rains more there in the summer than in neighboring areas. Its drivers, even by South Florida standards, can be horrendous. The traffic-choked Palmetto Expressway is it's main north-south artery. It's schools aren't among the best in the area (but not as bad as some other areas), and quite frankly having been raised in the southwest sections of Miami, I can't find any good reason to want to live there.

Many of its residents don't speak English too well, but many DO speak it quite well. And, yes, Hialeah's blue-collar nature does give it a well-earned reputation as a place where its residents can be brash and bawdy.

Hialeah is also a city where its ordinary residents are refreshingly real and honest, with little concern for political correctness or giving off airs. If this is considered chusma, where can we get some more of it? I do a decent amount of work in Hialeah and with Hialeah officials, and I must say that I have always been treated with courtesy both in the city and in dealings with those folks. Hialeah residents are usually very willing to help out. Those who criticize Hialeah and have had bad experiences there to back it up may have some legitimate reasons, but I also think there's a culture gap and even an attitude problem. People from Hialeah can be very helpful, but only if you don't walk in to their neighborhood with an attitude of "this place sucks".

Far from being dangerous, Hialeah has a lower crime index than Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa. Look it up here. Drive due east from any part of Hialeah if you want to see what dangerous really is. It has a good park system, and it's inhabitants exhibit a sense of community pride that is unfortunately rare in most of South Florida. Folks are hard-working and family oriented, and Hialeah's top students frequently end up going to Ivy League schools (that is, if the abuelas don't have a fit over their niñito leaving home).

Imagine then my reaction a few weeks ago when Forbes released its list of Top 10 Boring Cities, and Hialeah made the list! Hialeah can be lots of things, but boring isn't one of them.

Daniel Shoer Roth of the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald must think the same way I do about the "City of Progress", because in a column last month, he highlights a lot of the same things mentioned here. Please make sure to check it out.

Que viva la ciudad de agua, fango y factoria!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Fairness Doctrine and South Florida Radio

As any typical conservative, I am vehemently against the Fairness Doctrine. I can spend the next several sentences describing why, but essentially it's a slap in the face to freedom of expression and free-market principles.

I've often thought about what impact a Fairness Doctrine would have on South Florida radio. I did a little research on local radio, particularly focusing on AM stations focusing on talk, and the end result is an interesting, if not unpredictable, example.

South Florida may be one of the few markets with separate AM stations dedicated to or focused on conservative and liberal talk. These stations are WIOD and WINZ, respectively. For those of you from outside South Florida and/or unfamiliar with our talk radio landscape, here's a listing of each station's weekday lineup:

WIOD's weekday schedule:

5-9 AM: First News with Jimmy Cefalo
9 AM-Noon: Glenn Beck
Noon-3 PM: Rush Limbaugh
3-6 PM: Schnitt Show
6-9 PM: Sean Hannity
9-11 PM: Mark Levin

WINZ's weekday schedule:

1-6 AM: Air America Radio (Mondays)
Midnight-3 AM: Alan Colmes (Tuesday-Friday)
3-6 AM: Thom Hartmann (Tuesday-Friday)
5-9 AM: Don Imus
9 AM-Noon: Stephanie Miller
Noon-3 PM: Thom Hartmann
3-6 PM: Randi Rhodes
6-9 PM: Lionel
9 PM-Midnight: Mike Malloy

Here are the 2008 Arbitron ratings for each station:

2008 Arbitron Ratings Miami/Fort Lauderdale

As you can see, WIOD (conservative news/talk) easily beat WINZ ("Progressive" Radio). In a diverse area such as South Florida, this is no easy task. Especially when you consider that this market includes Broward County, which is likely the most liberal county in Florida, and Miami-Dade County which isn't exactly a conservative haven once you get outside of the Cuban-American community.

There's one significant wrinkle I haven't yet mentioned, but the knowledgeable or astute reader may have already caught: both stations are owned by the same company, Clear Channel. In essence, Clear Channel is practicing the Fairness Doctrine, although entirely by choice (the way it should be). South Florida liberals have nothing to complain about when it comes to talk radio (there's actually a third station in the market, WFTL -owned by James Crystal Enterprises - which also leans conservative but whose signal doesn't penetrate too far into Miami-Dade County).

The Spanish-language radio market may be a different story, however. Three of the 4 main AM talk stations are dominated by Cuban-American personalities and, with some variance, traditional Cuban-American points of view. These are WAQI (the famous Radio Mambí), WQBA and WWFE (La Poderosa). The fourth station is WSUA Radio Caracol, which caters to a more diverse Latin American audience. Without doubt, most of these stations tilt toward the conservative side. The top 2 stations in the ratings, Mambí and WQBA, are owned by Univision.

It's probably safe to say that a Fairness Doctrine would impact the South Florida Spanish-language radio market to a large degree. Univision would probably have to significantly change or break up one of their 2 stations, giving Caracol and La Poderosa an advantage they currently don't enjoy.

Despite conservative-leaning WIOD's big advantage and Clear Channel's domination of the English market, it wouldn't be all roses for them either under a Fairness Doctrine. Clear Channel, despite its balance between conservative and liberal on their 2 stations, could be forced to air more local programming to provide further "balance". This doesn't necessary have to be a bad thing, but aside from Jimmy Cefalo's morning show, who's going to step up and give a station solid ratings? Remember the Footy Show experiment? Jim DeFede on WINZ? All locals. All losers in the ratings, unfortunately.

I would like to hear your comments on this.


Quest For The Un-loseable Remote (UPDATE)

For those of you who don't have young children, you may not be aware of a phenomenon that only seems to occur in homes with children under the age of about 6.

This phenomenon is known as lose/break the TV remote control on a regular basis. In my house, my 7 and 3 year-olds have a knack for this very thing. After each broken or lost one, my wife and I vowed to put an end to having to buy a new remote every other month. I would walk by the remote control section of any store and stare at those huge remotes - you know the ones that are the size of small books and about as heavy - and tell myself "I will never get one of those".

Well, guess what? My wife just bought one of those today. This one:

I know one thing: that monster won't get lost. It may break, but it won't get lost. Oh, wait a second. It glows in the dark too.

UPDATE 2/19 10 PM: The damned thing broke. No kidding.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What Would Henrietta Hughes Get?

Last week I posted over at Babalu about Henrietta Hughes, her plea to President Obama and the rent-free home that resulted from it.

Today, Paul Ibrahim makes some good points about what a conservative solution to the Henrietta Hughes situation would be.

The answer has been tried and observed. Only conservative policies can improve the lives of the overwhelming majority of Americans in the short-run, and all Americans in the long run, pulling people like Henrietta up from the grip of poverty.

The most important action is the implementation of school choice in every county in America. It is quite astounding that Americans are currently forced to pay for, and if financially disadvantaged, forced to attend, schools handpicked by the government. School choice policies, which would be swiftly implemented once the selfish teachers unions are bypassed, would allow Americans to attend academically superior schools for a lower cost than that incurred currently through taxation. They would give us a generation of a more educated, internationally competitive workforce that is far less likely to have future Henriettas sleeping in their cars.

Another crucial, and more immediate action, is a commitment to cut all taxes, especially the popular ones. Current U.S. corporate taxes, which are among the highest in the world, are passed on to consumers through higher prices, and to employees through lower wages. This is not to mention that they encourage corporations to move abroad, and crucially, discourage foreign corporations from moving here. Cutting corporate taxes would benefit Henrietta through lower prices at the store, increased chances of employment in more U.S. and foreign corporations, and higher wages once she is employed. Further, cutting taxes for the “rich,” however that word is arbitrarily defined today, would also lead to increased investment in new and existing businesses, almost immediately reducing unemployment.

Aggressive and maximal expansion of free trade would give Henrietta access both to cheaper products and to greater opportunity for employment by U.S. firms selling more abroad. Cutting corporate welfare, such as agricultural subsidies, would not only reduce taxes for Henrietta and her employer, but would also reduce the arbitrarily inflated prices of food and other products. Removing obstacles for Americans wishing to purchase health insurance across state lines, and curtailing mandates for insurance companies, would give Henrietta and her employer significantly cheaper access to insurance.

Read Paul's entire column here.

A Re-Introduction

Well, it's been a while since I've blogged here on a fairly regular basis, but the recent posts hopefully are a sign that we're back and at least providing a few posts a week, instead of one or two every month or so.

In many ways I've felt guilty for not posting here, for not checking this blog's e-mail account, and definitely for not notifying my partner Jonathan of the hiatus. I'm not going to list all the reasons for this (quite frankly I'm not sure I can identify all of them), but simply stated, I guess I just needed some time off from blogging regularly. I'm not sure if I'll ever be a daily blogger since I just have too much on my plate, but a few interesting posts every once in a while shouldn't be too much to ask for.

I also didn't like the direction some of my posts and feelings were veering towards during the summer of 2008. I've always attempted to create an environment of tolerance and open discussion, and while I have never been shy about expressing my feelings on a host of controversial issues, I try to stay away from the hate-mongering even if I sometimes failed in this regard.

Fortunately, the past few months have enabled me to "reset" some and also to check out some recently-discovered blogs and sites. I have updated the blog roll on the right to show some of these places I frequent on a regular basis, and I hope you do so as well. Also note the new e-mail address (one that IS checked regularly).

Thanks for sticking around!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Miami Harbor at 5:00 AM

These photos are from Brickell Bay Drive. The air was calm and cool and there was fog/low cloud that diffused the artificial light in an attractive way.

From top to bottom: Brickell Key, the port, South Beach and Virginia Key (lights are from the sewage plant), Virginia Key and the Rickenbacker

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Change You Can Believe In

This article from the Rasmussen Reports file pretty much says everything you have to know about Congressional Democrats, President Barack Obama and the new spirit of "bipartisanship" that is blowing through Washington D.C.

Read it and pull your hairs out.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ballpark Decision Today (UPDATE)

After what seems to be eons (wait a second, it HAS been eons now), the big decision should come down today on whether the Florida Marlins will get their new ballpark. Plenty of pros and cons regarding the ballpark have been thrown around and bantered in the local media in the past few days, with pro-ballpark advocates pointing at a civic resource as the key reason, and anti-ballpark folks looking at things from a "it isn't worth it" point of view.

I've made it no secret in this blog that I support the ballpark. I do understand some of the cons, however. For example, it would be nice if the Marlins had a little more invested money-wise in this deal (they ARE covering cost-overruns, give them that). The Marlins' failure or unwillingness to make public their financial statements understandably makes people nervous. The initial plans and renderings should have been more specific regarding commercial and retail around the site.

Other cons, however, I don't get.

"The money should be used for schools, libraries, etc." No, it can't.

"The Miami Beach Convention Center deserves the funding more than the Marlins". Actually, Miami-Dade voters approved a $55 million loan for a banquet hall addition to the MBCC in 2004, and $250 million total has been approved for the Convention Center, according to this Herald report. Why the money hasn't arrived isn't the Marlins' fault.

"Relying on tourist taxes will ensure failure because the current economic climate won't generate enough money to pay the ballpark debt". South Florida has seen several ups and downs in tourism during the past 25-30 years. Hurricanes, skyrocketing crime, terrorist attacks, you name it. There have been mostly ups however, and there's no reason to believe the ups won't come back, and soon. County estimates of future tourist tax generation have been very conservative compared to historical trends.

"Studies show that ballparks do not lead to an increase in business and economic growth". Of course not. Ballparks by themselves don't. It's ballparks AND planning that do. As mentioned above, both the city and the county could do a much better job of ensuring us that they will concentrate on making the area around the ballpark a lively destination, but I believe it will happen anyway. I just do.

Frank Nero of the Beacon Council explained many of the pros well enough so I don't have to rehash them here.

As Henry Gomez has stated more than once, if we aspire to be a world-class community and have these kind of projects and buildings in our city, we need to act like one and get the deals done. It's not like other cities haven't been through this. Somehow, other cities find ways to support their sports teams. The ills our community face have nothing to do with the Florida Marlins and their quest for a ballpark. They have to do in large part with community apathy (just say NO all the time and see what happens) and bad choices at the polls which have led to some awful elected officials. For once, we can step up as a community and stand behind a facility and a ballpark that will serve as a place of entertainment and community pride for years to come.

UPDATE 440 PM: Quick update as I run out the door - Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has voted against the deal unless the Marlins makes certain concessions. This makes the vote 2-2 in the city, so no deal for now. The Sun-Sentinel has a live blog of the proceedings at City Hall.

One comment: if the deal is the same in principle now as it was when it last went through the city commission months ago, why all of a sudden the change in heart from Sarnoff? He's perfectly reasonable in wanting to look at this deal closely before casting a final decision, but he most certainly had plenty of time to do so. To all of a sudden stall this thing at the last second because he wants to take a closer look at the deal smells like bad and grossly dishonest politics to me.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hypocrite: Thy Name Is

Well, didn't think I'd get back to blogging here by posting on this, but sometimes you just have to speak out when someone is severely wronged.

South Florida Daily Blog put up a post earlier today which without doubt and unabashedly libeled my friends George Moneo and Mike Pancier of Babalu Blog. See, the author of said post thinks that George and Mike, through their postings, can be compared to the likes of Jim Adkisson who murdered 2 people in East Tennessee last year for being liberals.

Sound ludicrous? Hard to believe that the comparisons were drawn? Sure, until you consider the source.

Take a look.
You don't have to go too far in the South Florida blogosphere to find similar screeds written by individuals blinded by their political ideology. It would be absurd for me to suggest that these folks in our own communities are about to snap and go out there and start killing liberals, but, as Orcinus points out, I think there's an important connection to be made between wackos the likes of Jim Adkisson and those who are into belching hate and bigotry on a daily basis as something they apparently view as a kind of sport and a manifestation of their devotion to today's Republican Party and America.
Absurd? Then why the "but", Rick? Why then bother continuing to make your twisted point? What's truly absurd, and quite frankly disturbing, is that you made the connection without any regard whatsoever for the implications of comparing two law-abiding bloggers with a cold-blooded murderer.

I attempted to leave a couple of comments at the above mentioned blog, but they were bravely deleted by Rick because, you know, Babalu (where I spend most of my blog-time) banned him a while back. Awww. Poor Babeeeeeeee. Perhaps it's been so long since I've posted or even cared about this guy that he forgot that he was always welcome to post his comments on this blog - my blog - without deletion or censorship - despite how ridiculous or idiotic they were (and believe me - they were).

Rick - here's your chance to respond. I shouldn't give a crap about you, not because you've earned it, but because you contribute absolutely nothing to intelligent and honest discourse (and please, don't point the finger at Babalu, because this is about me and you here, OK?). But I'm in a generous mood, so don't be shy.