You're not going to believe this, but a member of the Florida Legislature actually had a good idea.
Usually, of course, we do not expect our state legislators to have good ideas, any more than we would expect cows to write sonnets. No, we expect cows to produce cow poop; and we expect our state legislators to produce . . . well, cow poop.
But recently, for some reason - possibly global warming - a Florida legislator actually proposed a worthwhile law. He meant it as a joke, but that doesn't diminish its value.
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To understand how this happened, you need a little background:
Last spring there began a movement in the city of Hialeah to secede from Miami-Dade County. This makes some sense: Miami-Dade and Hialeah are quite different in certain respects. For example, Miami-Dade uses a system of government known as the ``Parade of Felons'' system, in which the voters periodically elect new leaders as the old ones get indicted; whereas Hialeah uses the ``Raul Martinez'' system, under which the voters elect Raul Martinez no matter what. Raul would continue to be re-elected mayor of Hialeah even if he went to the electric chair, not that I am saying he should.
So a bill was introduced in the Florida Legislature that would have allowed Hialeah to secede and become its own county (suggested name: ``Raul Martinez County''). As this bill was drifting around in the Legislature, a prankster legislator tacked on an amendment that would make Miami-Dade a state. The amendment stated:
``The Legislature recognizes the uniqueness of Miami-Dade County and its particular need to be a self-governing, independent and sovereign entity unto itself.... The Legislature recognizes that Miami-Dade County presently conducts its affairs as though it were an independent and sovereign state.''
This was intended as wacky legislative humor. It reflects the fact that Miami-Dade fits in with the rest of Florida about as well as Marilyn Manson fits in with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We are not popular elsewhere in the state, especially north Florida (also known as ``south Alabama''). Up there, the popular image of Miami-Dade is that it's a crowded, crime-infested hellhole filled with crazy drivers and rude, pushy, arrogant, money-obsessed, trend-enslaved people who make cell-phone calls during funerals. This image is accurate, but so what? I'd rather live in Miami-Rude than in some part of deep-rural North Florida where dentally impaired residents use junk cars as lawn ornaments, and the closest thing to gourmet food is the Bulk Snacks aisle at the Wal-Mart, and the cultural highlight of the year is the Miss Live Bait Pageant.
But I'm not trying to start a fight here. I'm just noting that there's a lot of tension between Miami-Dade and the rest of Florida. This is exactly why I think we SHOULD become a separate state. Just think of all the things we could do:
* We could legalize the recreational activities that we enjoy down here, but that always get voted down by the uptight upstate yokels, such as casino gambling, nudity, cockfighting, unlicensed driving, nude cockfighting, live human sacrifice, etc.
* To improve election turnouts, we could have a fleet of state-owned hearses to transport voters to the polls.
* We could start our own Miami-Dade State Lottery, wherein citizens would buy tickets until there was a huge jackpot, and then there would be a highly publicized public drawing, at which it would be announced that the money was missing.
* We could have our own governor, who would formally dedicate buildings, highways, bridges, etc., by firing a gun straight up into the air.
* We could also have our own state cabinet, with positions that reflected the special concerns of Miami-Dade government, such as Secretary Of Foreign Policy; Secretary Of Naming All The Streets For Important People That Nobody Ever Heard Of; Secretary Of Figuring Out What To Do With Used Arenas; and Secretary Of Checking All The Other Cabinet Members For Wiretaps.
* We could have traffic laws appropriate to Miami-Dade's drivers. For example, the speed-limit signs, rather than displaying some rigid, inflexible number such as ``55,'' would say: ``WHATEVER.'' Also we'd have special ``HOV'' lanes for drivers who have bodies in their trunks.
These are just a few of the things we could do if Miami-Dade were a state. I'm sure you can think of more. In fact, we here at The Herald (``The Official State Newspaper of Miami-Dade'') WANT you to think of more. And that's why today we're announcing:
THE MIAMI-DADE DESIGN-A-STATE CONTEST
Editor's note: This Dave Barry column was written in 1999. That's the previous millenium — er, millennia? Melaniaum? Whatever. Anyway, there is no contest, & more importantly, NO prizes. If you still want to share your ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments for everyone to
If Miami-Dade becomes a state, it's going to need a government, a flag, a motto, and all the official state things - state tree, state bird, state insect, state toad, etc.
To give you an idea of the kind of thing we're looking for, here are some possibilities for:
Official State Flag: Mosquito attacking the Coppertone girl
Official State Motto: The ``Stick 'em Up!'' State
Official State Language: Shouting
Official State Mineral: Cement
Official State Wetland: Pat Riley's hair
Official State Bird: The popular traffic gesture
Official State Reptile: Raul Martinez
State license plate: A cardboard ``Stolen Tag'' sign.
These ideas are just to get your brain started; we know you can do better. So come on! Help design our state! Let's put on our thinking caps and get to work. Let's design the coolest state in the union. Let's show the world that we're proud to be citizens of Miami-Dade! But first, let's take our thinking caps back off, because we look like dorks.
© 1999 Dave Barry
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