Tri-Rail, the commuter train that runs from Palm Beach County to Miami-Dade, wants to grab about $30 million meant to combat poverty and create jobs in Overtown and use it to build a new downtown connection and station. In exchange for getting the funds from Miami's Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency, Tri-Rail promises to give free rides to Overtown residents. The new station would be located at the Grand Central-style hub being developed by All Aboard Florida. Talk about a crappy deal.
Instead of creating jobs in Overtown for black residents, Tri-Rail, city, and county officials have found a way to drive them out of Miami. There's only one direction Overtown residents can go from the new depot: north. At the same time, this boondoggle improves the quality of life only for commuters in Palm Beach and Broward counties who work in downtown Miami.
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Whenever politicians and special-interest groups want voters to pass additional sales taxes or bond referendums, they rely on African-Americans to win at the polls. During the campaign in the early '80s to build Metrorail using property tax money, county leaders promised the black community the trains would run on NW 27th Avenue from downtown Miami to the county line. It never happened.
In 2002, the county asked voters to add a half-cent sales tax to fund a slew of transit projects, including the Metrorail extension to the county line along NW 27th Avenue. Again, black voters cast the ballots that pushed the measure through. Thirteen years later, the county has expanded Metrorail only to the airport. The funds collected from the half-cent sales tax are primarily used to subsidize the money-losing transit agency, build and maintain new and existing county roads, and pay for the free trolley buses in Miami, Doral, Coral Gables, and other cities that use them.
Tri-Rail and political supporters like Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff think Miami's black community is ignorant. They really believe we're going to fall for this free-rides bullshit. These politicians make promises that these projects will create jobs for black people and help create economic opportunities. At the end of the day, African-Americans get screwed.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.