The readers’ forum

The real loss: Public trust

 

Mayor Carlos Gimenez recently revealed that Miami-Dade County faces a $50 million-plus budget shortfall, alerting commissioners and employee unions that the county will seek continuation of sizable benefit concessions. According to a memo sent by Gimenez, these cuts are necessary if the county wants to maintain current public services. In other words, if you want clean water from your faucet or your garbage picked up, then your middle-class county employee will have to make a significant financial sacrifice. This reported shortfall also includes $15 million in the county’s fire-rescue budget, so please try not to play with matches.

But hold up. This is the same mayor that just offered to subsidize billionaire Dolphins owner Steve Ross to the tune of $289 million with a loan that doesn’t have to be paid back for 30 years? With no public forums on the issue, a deal was cut in private negotiations in the dead of night, followed within 36 hours by a commission vote, setting a quickie special election. The county elections chief referred to it as the fastest referendum held in Miami-Dade.

Putting the financial merits of the stadium deal aside, the entire process seemed to overwhelm us with bad government. Elected officials should know that pushing through a proposed public project without giving the community appropriate time for real public analysis and participation is not a way to ensure a sound democratic process. Luckily, the issue died in the state House. In advocating for financial merits of this deal, the mayor was quoted as saying, “These events provide a big shot in the arm to our local economy and represent a clear return to our investment.”

“Return on investment,” or ROI, as the business community likes to say, is something everyone likes in theory. But our leaders, apparently willing to raise vacancy-increasing hotel taxes for a shiny stadium, were not as enthused to do the same to secure county jobs and health benefits? What is the ROI on potential lay-offs, or having fire-rescue arrive 15 minutes later because of shortfalls? Apparently, the message is, if you’re rich and connected, you can certainly be heard; but if you’re a working-class chump, well, it sucks to be you.

Watching elected officials behave this way, particularly designing a vote to avoid real debate, is unfortunate and potentially dangerous for all of us.

So whether you were for or against the stadium deal, the real loss is continued public distrust of the system and the leaders who allegedly serve them. What’s the ROI on that?

Stephen E. Herbits, Miami

Read more Letters to the Editor stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Natalie Altman

    The readers’ forum

    Aging gracefully? No way!

    I want to comment on Ms. Gina Barreca’s July 19 Other Views column on aging. She’s writing from the perspective of a 57-year-old woman; I’m 75. My perspective is living the process:

  • Keep Beckham

    What are mayors of Miami and Miami-Dade doing while Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief is getting a list of possible homes for the Beckham Group’s soccer franchise from all of that county’s 31 cities? After getting the thumbs-down on at least two port and downtown Miami possible venues, it would appear that wise government leaders in Broward are going into full-court press mode to lure the MLS star to make that county his home. It is time for the powers that be in both Miami and Miami-Dade to understand they don’t have a lock on this valuable sports venture. There’s still time left to take the Beckham Group more seriously.

  • Miami Shores vote

    Miami Shores residents Clark Reynolds and Dennis Leyva said in their July 24 letter to the editor that it took courage for Councilwoman Ivonne Ledesma and me to vote for a nonbinding resolution supporting marriage equality in Florida. While I appreciate the compliment, in 2008 when our state approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay folks from marrying, Miami Shores voters said “no” to this nonsense when 62 percent of our voters voted for marriage equality. Mayor Herta Holly, Councilmen Jim McCoy and Hunt Davis are the ones who should be singled out for voting against the interests of our wonderful village.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category