'One of these days' is none of these days in Miami's city hall
By Michael Lewis
Thirty-five years after the last load was dumped into the Virginia Key landfill, the City of Miami again delayed action that could turn the contaminated site into a park.
In what its own clerk's office says is a record for delay, the city commission for a 12th time put off a resolution to solve affordable housing issues in its Olympia building and at the same time send a revenue stream to the cash-strapped Gusman Center for the Performing Arts.
In the same meeting, the city also put off for the eighth time discussing a policy on distributing the free event tickets that flow to commissioners and city officials.
Do we detect a pattern here?
Despite thousands of words hailing its progress sure to come, Miami's city hall seems to be mired in delay.
As Benjamin Franklin rightly observed, "You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again."
And so 35 years of park use became 35 years of waste land. Ten months of cash to help keep the Gusman's doors open never flowed. And a ticket policy to avoid ethics violation was kicked down the road again and again.
Miami isn't alone in delaying the obvious. Look at Washington on virtually any difficult decision — the fiscal cliff is the most visible, but not the worst. Congress never gets around to deciding anything tangible on the entitlements that will strangle the budget decades into the future if left untreated.
But we in South Florida have no real say over what goes on in Washington, the great "they" who do things "to us." We cast ballots for a few folks and then all that we can do is pray.
But it's harder to cast stones at the great Washington procrastination machine when we seem to have built a local model right in Miami's city hall, a far easier venue to wrap our arms around with some hope of success.
Mayor Tomás Regalado came into office in 2009 after 13 years as commissioner with a very modest agenda, the keystone of which was restoration of Miami Marine Stadium. Nothing has been done at the stadium site yet.
It's hard, in fact, to point to any accomplishment by the city other than continuing to operate.
In fairness, it's not easy to spend for capital improvements with a weakened economy. Money hasn't been flooding into the city as it did during the prior mayoral tenure of Manny Diaz, when city funds were poured into mushrooming employee expenses and committed to make a county-owned baseball stadium a reality for a team owner to control.
That said, how much would it cost the city to set a policy on who gets freebie tickets that flow into city hall? Not a penny is involved.
As for the landfill cleanup, the county has agreed to pay for the contamination assessment plan and site assessment report and to do all the work and absorb all the costs to clean up the land and make it fit for a park. So why in goodness' name is the city procrastinating?
As for the Gusman plan, Mr. Martinez says the commission needs a bit more time to understand the components. Yet this plan to help fund a unique and historic city-owned amenity has been on the commission's agenda since last April and has
been kicked down the road 12 times
How long does it take to get five commissioners to understand something? (Don't, please, say that the ten months leading up to February, the next chance to act, is too little time to get these five commissioners to understand anything.)
As the proverb says, "one of these days' is none of these days. What ever happened to the words "now" and "action" at city hall?
We can rightly criticize Congress from now till doomsday as we reel from national crisis to national crisis with no real hope of anything but patchwork solutions. But how about in our own backyard, where the city that is our region's emblematic heart can't get its act together enough to divvy up the freebie tickets?
Rather than put things off any longer, let's take action. Somebody, please, tack up a very visible poster in the city commission chambers with this appropriate phrase by writer Napoleon Hill:
"Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday."
On second thought, send more posters to Washington. Maybe someone there will read them.
And please, do it now.
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