On the Block
In an act of audacious short-sightedness, Miami is offering its finest bayfront property to the highest bidder
By Jose Luis Jiménez
Miami: Civic Slut
New Times has done a great public service by publishing Jose Luis Jiménez's article "On the Block" (March 16), which accurately portrays the City of Miami's short-term approach to a long-term problem: a total lack of any long-range vision and coordinated master plan for the city's publicly owned waterfront lands.
I believe the sincerity of Mayor Joe Carollo and the city commissioners in wishing to hit a home run by keeping the Marlins in Miami, but an impulsive use of Bicentennial Park for a baseball stadium will permanently erase what should be Miami's most memorable visual impression -- downtown's spectacular waterfront.
It has been said that low-hanging fruit in public places gets plucked very quickly. This has been the sorry state of affairs in Miami for more than twenty years with regard to the city's most precious assets, including moneymakers like the seaport and the airport, once owned by Miami.
The time has come for Miami to stop acting like a cheap whore, offering her charms to the highest bidder, whose sole motive is profit. It's time to stop subsidizing billionaires and large corporations. (Jiménez's article estimated that Micky Arison's American Airlines Arena will cost taxpayers $355 million over the next 30 years, $11.8 million annually.)
We can invest in our city's future by striking a balance between sustainable development and the public's right of free access to what could be the most beautiful waterfront in America. Among alternative sites more suitable for a baseball stadium are the Orange Bowl and the Miami River.
We can bring back to life our city fathers' original dream of a beautiful downtown bayfront. Contact Miami's mayor and commissioners and encourage them to embrace a master plan with a vision for our waterfront lands, developed with vigorous public debate and input. A master plan will enhance and revitalize downtown Miami, Park West, Overtown, and the Omni area.
Join Greg Bush at the Urban Environment League's "Walk of Renewal" in Bicentennial Park this Saturday, March 25, at 11:00 a.m. For further information leave a message at 305-579-9133. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miami: The Filthy-Rich Developer's Best Friend
Jose Luis Jiménez certainly read my mind with his excellent article "On the Block." The city and county governments' misguided priorities speak loud and clear to the public: "You don't need parks or any waterfront access. As a result of phony budget cuts, we're not going to do any maintenance, then we'll close these areas because they've deteriorated into dangerous eyesores. Then it'll be easier to give them away to our connected pals."
Don't forget Alex Penelas's 1996 television campaign ad: A kid stands in a dusty lot while the voice-over asks why we need a new basketball arena on public land when so many children have no parks in which to play. Immediately after being elected county mayor, he decided we actually did need the arena and that taxpayers should help pay for it! It would have been interesting to record multibillionaire Micky Arison's meeting with him.
Building the tennis stadium in Crandon Park for the Lipton tournament is another example. Merrett Stierheim's position at the time -- executive director of the Women's International Tennis Association -- was probably just a coincidence.
The Cleaning Up Our Government show is really cute. Just please look the other way while we deal away Homestead Air Force Base, Bicentennial Park, Virginia Key, Dinner Key, Watson Island, and other priceless public assets.
Miami: Strip Mall Heaven
I seriously question Jose Luis Jiménez's scenario that opens "On the Block," in which a tourist from Chicago arrives in Miami in 2015 and gets his first glimpse of Biscayne Bay only after checking into his hotel. Realistically no one is going to spend money to see the world's biggest waterfront strip mall. The Chicago tourist can see these chain stores at a mall closer to home.
If tourists don't come here now to experience the wonders of endless strip malls lining Bird Road, then our Chicago friend isn't going to come here at all in 2015.
Miami: A Laugh a Minute
Week after week New Times turns to the City of Miami for story fodder because, to us thinking folks at least, what the city does seems so crazy. For example we all chuckled when we read Jacob Bernstein's "Take Me Out to the ... Parking Lot?" (January 27), which revealed that the city counted parking lots and cemeteries as public open space. An outraged Jim Mullin wrote "Just Say No to John Henry" (September 30) and noted the "seeming lack of opposition" to placing a baseball stadium in a bayfront park. And now we have "On the Block," which shows how Miami tries to balance its books by bartering its public waterfront land to developers. So, dear New Times readers, week after week you have been amused by the folly of the City of Miami. What I don't understand is this: Why aren't any of you inspired to do anything about it? When are you going to say, "I'm not going to take it anymore!"?
I call upon fellow readers to take some civic responsibility. If you don't want to do it yourselves, support a group like the Urban Environment League, which trudges on, woefully understaffed, to fight these battles. If we all help fix the city, New Times can turn its attention to county issues, such as ramming through a major airport near our national treasure, the Everglades. (Do I hear Marjory Stoneman Douglas rustling in her grave?) Check out the Urban Environment League's Website at www.UEL.org.
N. A. Lee
Editor's note: Owing to reporting errors, "On the Block" misstated two facts. Jonathan Mariner's position with the Florida Marlins organization is executive vice president and chief financial officer. Also the Marlins' proposed tax on cruise-line passengers would be set at four dollars per person per day, not four dollars per excursion. New Times regrets the errors.
Cuba Ordinance 101
A New Times guide to busting the county's Cuba law
By Celeste Fraser Delgado and Jose Luis Jiménez
If You Don't Like the Law, Change It
In response to Celeste Fraser Delgado and Jose Luis Jiménez's "Cuba Ordinance 101" (March 16), there is a simple solution to getting this "Cuba ordinance" off the books. Just start a petition drive to put the ordinance on the ballot for a vote by the citizens of Miami-Dade County. With universities, businesses, and many other groups claiming the ordinance must go, there should be no problem gathering the signatures of four percent of registered voters in order to force the issue to the ballot.
It's time to put the county commission on the hot seat and let them know they represent all the citizens of Miami-Dade County, not just the politically powerful Cuban-exile community, which has not succeeded in unseating Castro in all the years they have been at this thing. What they have accomplished is the formation of a very wealthy and influential group that controls politicians here and in Washington.
If the citizens of Miami-Dade, including Cuban Americans, unite and dump this ordinance into the junk pile via the ballot box, a very powerful message will be sent to exile leaders: The only way to open Cuba to democracy is by exposing that island nation to the cultures of other democratic countries through free exchange of the arts, athletics, and business investments. Eastern Europe's communist Iron Curtain was brought down this way. This is how it should be done in Cuba, too.
If You Don't Like the Lawmakers, Change Them
Through the county's Cuba ordinance, a select group of individuals forces all taxpayers to suffer because of their lack of reasoning. For them Cuba is Castro and that is it. Cuba itself does not exist. Just Castro, Castro, Castro. Their lives are blinded by this hate.
What is really scary is that these people are representing us; we elected them. So it is up to us, the voters, to remove them. Miami is so far behind the rest of the nation, it's no wonder artists move to other cities. There is no culture here, because it can be censored and destroyed by this group. These people do not love or respect this country; they've learned nothing about democracy, freedom, and the rights of the individual. So you must ask yourself if you really want to be represented by such individuals. If not, remember to vote next time for commissioners who are really interested in this nation.
A Fine Mess
Georges William was fined $500 because his name was found in a pile of illegally dumped trash. Then New Times showed up.
By Kathy Glasgow
Man the Trash, Don't Trash the Man
As Kathy Glasgow reported in "A Fine Mess" (March 2), the fines leveled against Georges William manifest the unspoken but prevailing sentiment (this country's history of racial intolerance in a nutshell) that a black person's identity is worth more trashed and disjoined from its true identity than in its original state. Simply put, the prevailing attitude is part of a conspiracy on the part of the white elite, under the guise of "fiscal responsibility" or "accountability," to keep the black man down. (Miami should be at least as concerned about its black and Haitian populations as it is about its trash.)
Moreover I find it ironic that for centuries the European system had no trouble tearing apart black families while today it coerces unity (in trash piles, of all places!) among the same as a means of filling its coffers. The intimation is that when it comes to certain people, the content of one's trash, not character, makes the person. I recommend the city look into its own heart to find the real trash.
Stalin Would Be Proud
Georges William should be commended for standing up to the strong-arm tactics used by the Wynwood Neighborhood Enhancement Team (NET) office. Through his months of frustration, Mr. William has learned that common sense, along with common decency, seldom prevails in Miami's government.
NET centers owe their lineage to the communist philosophy of block houses -- bringing government "closer" to the people. No doubt there are City of Miami employees in NET offices who don't subscribe to the Stalinist tactics used by some, but for them to speak out is a career decision -- that is, a decision to end their career.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Slogging Toward Culture
I know that letter-writer Taffy Gould (March 2) is a great supporter of the arts, but "covered, connected parking" for the new Performing Arts Center? Poor, poor baby!
I remember years and years of trudging through the ice and snow and even subzero temperatures to go to Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York. That was after the one-hour ride on the New Haven Railroad. And Miami needs covered and connected parking? Give me a break!
There are plenty of parking lots and garages nearby, plus a major Miami-Dade Transit bus transfer hub and the billion-dollar Metromover. What more do we need?
via the Internet