Hey Marlins stadium supporters (that would be Dave Samson and….uh, Dave Samson), here’s how we do accountability in Miami-Dade County:
Miami-Dade County commissioners on Tuesday are expected to dramatically loosen the rules over the government’s use of the half-cent local sales tax for transportation.
Proponents inside County Hall say the government needs the additional flexibility as Mayor Carlos Alvarez’s administration continues ”right-sizing” Miami-Dade Transit with fewer workers and less bus and rail service.
But opponents say the changes represent the last chapter in a ”bait-and-switch” with voters who supported the sales tax expecting a massive expansion in rail and bus service, synchronized traffic lights, thousands of jobs and independent citizen oversight.
”It’s going to be viewed as a money grab and a bait-and-switch. There’s no way around it,” said Paul Schwiep, a Miami lawyer and appointee to the neutered oversight panel, the Citizens Independent Transportation Trust.
HAHAHAHA — oh boy that’s a knee-slapper, Paul Schwiep on a “neutered” oversight panel.Oh man.Hmm, now that I think of it, the laugh’s on us:
As a Miami Herald series pointed out last year, instead of ”New Money for New Projects,” the bulk of the $900 million that has been generated to date has been spent on routine transit agency operations, higher salaries and to repair the underfunded problems of yesteryear.
Proponents, including Commission Chairman Dennis Moss and Transit Committee chairwoman Barbara Jordan, say the county has tried for more than six years to fulfill all of the promises of the 2002 campaign.
Moss said the county admitted its missteps at a highly unusual daylong ”summit” in November and that now is the time to move forward with a more realistic set of expectations for future expansion.
The problem: The county still doesn’t have enough money to operate and maintain the current system without raising fares and billions of dollars in additional taxes over the next 30 years.
A handful of transportation advocates have protested the changes. They are holding out faint hopes that someone will organize a referendum to repeal the tax. But nothing formal has surfaced to date.
If the measure is approved on Tuesday, the county would:
• No longer be bound to complete the multibillion dollar list of rail, bus, road and public works projects in the People’s Transportation Plan that voters approved in 2002.
• No longer have to provide a painstaking accounting of how much sales-tax money is being used by the transit agency for everything from repair parts and bug-killing contracts to office rental payments.
• Give the government a lot more flexibility in determining how to blend sales-tax revenues into the budgets of the transit agency and other county departments like public works, the 311 call center and the General Services Administration.
Who needs public transit anyways — this is the 21st Century!! We can all fly around in jet cars, and jet packs, and — I don’t know — horse-drawn “jet” carts?
I love the future.