Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

Solutions — not gimmicks


OUR OPINION: Pets’ Trust advocates miss the mark by going after a county commissioner

Remember the man inside the cage? Michael Rosenberg spent a weekend in a cage at an animal shelter to make his case for more funding to ensure all animals are spayed and neutered in Miami-Dade County.

Mr. Rosenberg, co-founder of the Pets’ Trust, and his supporters are passionate advocates for spaying and neutering strays that roam South Florida. That passion was evident during the group’s campaign last year to press Miami-Dade County voters to approve a non-binding referendum to set up a trust, similar to the Children’s Trust, with dedicated taxpayer funding. It would be used to spay and neuter pets for those who can’t afford it and stop strays from proliferating.

Great idea, we support it, but the fiscal reality hit hard this summer when Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and a majority of commissioners looked at this region’s fragile economic recovery and decided to hold off on fully funding the trust. Mr. Gimenez first backed the plan, but upon seeing the public reaction, retreated. Instead, the mayor found $4 million more in the proposed budget to start building on the program — an effort to abide by voters’ wishes, albeit slowly, until tax revenues show substantial improvement.

Not good enough, the group maintains. So last week, at a gimmicky “pull a name out of the hat” — a red, white and blue one with stars and stripes, no less — event, Mr. Rosenberg and other supporters, including pro-union folks upset about budget cuts to county workers’ salaries, set off a campaign to recall a county commissioner. The lucky commish was Lynda Bell, who will be up for reelection next year.

We say “lucky” because if history is any guide, Ms. Bell won’t be recalled this year — at least not for keeping the budget flat and not raising taxes.

The fix seemed to be in on Ms. Bell, no darling of the labor unions. The hat purportedly contained the names of the eight county commissioners who voted for a flat budget and against raising the property-tax rate to pay for such things as the Pets’ Trust (and against increasing taxes for two special taxing districts for libraries and the fire department). Yet a printout handed to reporters before the name was pulled from Uncle Sam’s hat had only one name on it: Lynda Bell.

Mr. Rosenberg and the others say it was all a misunderstanding. There were printouts for each commissioner but just coincidentally it was the printout on Ms. Bell that happened to be handed to reporters first. Mr. Rosenberg says he likes Ms. Bell, who has “been very good to me” and she would not have been his choice.

Got that. These things happen all the time — maybe.

Before any more recall hats pop up, let’s consider that those who disagree with Ms. Bell or any commissioner can vote them out come re-election time.

As a community, let’s focus on how to attract more jobs to our economy, which will build up tax coffers. That’s the best solution for creating a Pets’ Trust.

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