The sun still shines. The beaches are still some of the best in the world. The weather, unfortunate for this time of year, is still the same as it ever was. All of those stereotypical things that draw people to call Florida home have gone more or less unchanged, so what's to blame for the first population decrease since World War II?
Granted, most local governments often have to raise taxes when they're staring at fiscal craters like the $427 million shortfall in Miami-Dade's proposed $7.83 billion budget. But the less than sunny mood in Miami-Dade is made darker by the feeling among most residents that their fiscal jam is not just a result of falling revenue, but also years of profligate mismanagement. The final determination on their property taxes will be made soon by the Miami-Dade County Commission - a feckless, corruption-tainted body, many of whose members ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in police overtime costs recently by using cops as their personal chauffeurs. (None of the commissioners face any sanctions for it.)
Residents were further outraged last week when the Miami Herald reported that Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, one of the few Miami politicians with a reputation for probity, had raised the salaries of his chief of staff and other top lieutenants this year as high as 15% while calling for a 5% pay cut for county workers. Alvarez spokesperson Victoria Mallette says the raises resulted from a 2007 referendum that gave Miami-Dade's mayor, until then a relatively weak post, broad new powers that in turn thrust heavier duties on his staff...The County Commission, for example, has a staff of more than 200 serving only 13 commissioners - and yet it still managed to screw up tasks like its oversight of Miami-Dade's scandal-plagued housing agency.
Feckless? Ouch. So are Natacha Seijas and the rest of the "corruption-tainted" body really to blame for the loss of a couple thousand citizen in Miami-Dade county? We're not entirely sure, but they sure aren't helping.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.