Miami's Five Best Ideas in 2019 | Miami New Times


Five Things Miami Can Easily Fix in 2019

New rail, no mall, and let 'em smoke pot.
City of Miami
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Miami-Dade County was seemingly designed to be ungovernable. The county of 2.7 million people should probably have just one big government and county commission. Instead, it has a weak county government and 34 tiny town governments. Some kind of function, but many parts of the county exist as feudal fiefdoms run by small-time clown-makeup salespeople and motor-tricycle-dealership owners.

Many of the knuckle-dragging fools who run Miami-Dade County's small towns may seem incapable of basic governance or public service. But we'd like to argue there are at least some ideas everyone can get behind. It doesn't matter whether you're a legitimately elected mayor or an Estonian Ponzi schemer who accidentally got voted onto the Sunny Isles Beach City Commission. Allow New Times to set the bar depressingly low in 2019. Here are some ideas that can 100 percent get accomplished in the next 12 months:

1. Stop making marijuana arrests already. Look, weed is either bad or it's not. Currently, Miami-Dade County has kinda-sorta, half-decriminalized cannabis. Cops have the "option" to give you a noncriminal ticket if they catch you with less than 20 grams. But they can still arrest you for that if they feel like it, and they also must arrest you for holding 20 grams or more. But why? If weed is harmless at 19 grams, what's bad about 22 grams? (Nothing.)

Moreover, Miami-Dade's pot laws are not being administered fairly. Black people are still getting arrested for low quantities of weed way more than whites are. Weed arrests actually increased after Miami-Dade decriminalized pot in 2015. Many local police departments didn't even bother issuing noncriminal weed tickets. Just stop this lunacy, then legalize weed fully.

2. Quit with the ICE cooperation. Imprisoning people on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement might seem like a complicated issue. But in practice, it's simple: From 2013 until 2017, Miami-Dade County did not hold immigration detainees in county jails. That was official government policy for five years and was mostly a nonissue.

Now that Donald Trump is America's mad, sweaty president, he's tweeted this into a controversy. If you fail to honor "ICE detainers" and refuse to hold immigrants in local prisons until ICE comes to pick them up, you're a "sanctuary city" and need to be invaded by the Anti-P.C. Trump Troops Who Say Merry Christmas, or whatever it is we're calling the military in 2019.

Miami-Dade County started honoring ICE detainers in January 2017. Since then, the county has been sued for accidentally holding American citizens behind bars and has faced tons of protests. Things were fine before the policy changed last year. Just change it back! Things will be fine once the Trump tweets subside.

3. Redesign the bad Little Havana flag. The Little Havana flag was the brainchild of Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo. The flag looks exactly like Carollo's brain, in that it appears to be a melting hodgepodge of competing ideas, clashing colors, nonsensical farm animals, and inexplicable catch phrases. The flag is hideous and violates the basic concept of flag design: Be as simple as possible. This flag looks like it should be airbrushed onto the hood of a 1986 Dodge Daytona.

Just make a different damned flag. A kindly Reddit user on r/Miami has done some legwork for people: User u/acevvvedo has designed a possible replacement! This is better already and took way less time to design:

click to enlarge
Reddit u/acevvvedo
4. Stop building malls. Did you know there is absolutely nowhere to shop in Miami? Those luxury boutiques in South Beach, high-end fashion retailers in the Design District, and random shops in Wynwood are figments of your imagination. And those nine major shopping complexes in the Miami area have been destroyed or are fakes. Dolphin Mall was hit by a very site-specific tornado. The Mall of the Americas was overtaken by a pack of wild geese. Anarchists stormed Aventura Mall and formed a commune dedicated to the ideals of Pyotr Kropotkin. Sawgrass Mills is in Broward County and therefore might as well be located in the Gobi Desert. Aliens beamed away the Shops at Sunset Place. Dadeland Mall is literally a mirage. The Shops at Merrick Park accidentally got turned into 35 identical Sharper Image outlets due to a planning error. Brickell City Centre is full of killer bees. Bayside Marketplace is stuck in a Groundhog Day-style time loop.

Miami needs a mall! We must have a mall! Thank heavens the county in 2019 is pushing forward with the American Dream Mall complex, which will become America's largest mall and give the famously shopping-starved residents of Miami a place to finally spend some money!

5. For the love of God, just put trains over the causeways; it's been nearly 100 years. The MacArthur Causeway opened in February 1920. This year marks the structure's 99th anniversary. It is absolutely, utterly, and completely inexcusable that there is no dedicated, rail-based form of public transportation crossing any of the bridges between the city of Miami and Miami Beach. This is an international embarrassment.

Sure, it's also a travesty that Miami-Dade County in general lacks useful public transit — but while it's easy to get bogged down debating various concepts (whether light-rail lines would work better than rapid-bus transit, where lines should go, etc.), one thing is painfully, stupidly, frustratingly clear: We should just build goddamn train tracks over a causeway. There's no reason for the Magic City to go another 12 months without a public transportation plan to span Biscayne Bay. We could even time the new transit lines for the 2020 anniversary!
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