Miami-Dade Leaders Can No Longer Afford to Ignore These Problems

Riptide is usually the first to defend the honor of Miami when the New York Times parachutes in to mock our culture or our "sophistication." But the reality is we have a hell of a lot of serious problems here.

Yet the hottest issue at last week's Miami-Dade County Commission meeting was whether to rename a tiny airport in Kendall. Local leaders have done an embarrassing job of addressing the city's most pressing issues, and it's time they paid attention to these problems:

Global Warming: Miami is seen as the American poster child for cities vulnerable to rising sea levels, so you'd think we'd be the poster child for trying to doing something about it. Yet Miami's reactions to a scientifically concluded threat has so far been, "Yeah, yeah, we'll figure it out sometime."

Income Inequality and Poverty: Miami has the third-highest income inequality in the nation, with levels that are higher than Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. By one measure, upward mobility is the worst in the nation. In a city with so many wanton displays of wealth, that's unconscionable. Nor is it good for long-term economic health.

Public Transportation: We didn't connect Metrorail to Miami International Airport until only a few years ago. In ten years, it'll seem absurd that Metromover doesn't extend to Wynwood, midtown, and the Design District. No one will actually try to do anything about it until ten years from then. Public transport has always been a game of playing catchup to development. It should be the other way around.

Rent Is Too Damn High: The golden rule is that a household should spend no more than 33 percent of its yearly income on housing. In Miami, the average household now pays 43 percent of its income on housing. With the current boom of high-end luxury housing, the problem is expected to only get worse. That makes it nearly impossible for potential young innovators to find places to live here.

Health Insurance: The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area has the highest rate of uninsured people in the nation. Obamacare might help bring that rate down, but did you notice many local leaders protesting Gov. Rick Scott's efforts to stymie its full implementation in Florida? No. No, you didn't.