#PoliticalCortadito: Gimenez lies about Miami-Dade to get Amazon HQ2

Political Cortadito:

Gimenez lies about Miami-Dade to get Amazon HQ2


As Amazon continues to look at Miami-Dade as a possible home for its second headquarters, our region got a B+ ranking last month among the 20 cities being considered and county Mayor Carlos Gimenez went on Bloomberg TV Wednesday to make our case.

Unfortunately, he had to lie.

“Well, I really think Miami-Dade is the city of the future. We are building it right before your eyes,” he said on Bloomberg Markets TV’s “Mini Moment” feature, sounding very much like a used car salesman.

Even though Miami-Dade is a county. Maybe he feels he is already the city of Miami mayor.
“Our technology sector here has grown by 40 percent in the last six years,” he said, and I don’t know what that base was because it doesn’t seem like we’ve gotten that much more techy. Can anyone confirm this?

“We are a top ten college town. We have great weather. We have, uh, a great infrastructure,” he continued, because, yes, it’s hard for even him to say with a straight face.

Sure, if you only count our airport and seaport, which have had billions of dollars of investments because they are proprietary funds, paid by user fees rather than tax dollars. But if you look at the county infrastructure paid for by taxpayers? Transit infrastructure? Woeful.

And aren’t we still under a federal consent decree or order to upgrade our wastewater collection and treatment system? Why, yes, we are mandated to make $13 billion in improvements by 2028 after the county was sued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for violations to the clean water act.

And what have we done to make us more resilient to sea level rise, besides talk about it an awful lot?

“And we have great talent. What better example of this than Mr. Bezos came from here and maybe that’s a little bit of a home court advantage but we have so much more to offer.”

Like what? The high cost of housing? Almost half of our residents pay 40% or more of their income toward their mortgage or rent. There is a dire need for affordable or workforce housing, but that’s not on the mayor’s agenda.

We also have a higher number of foreclosures than the national average, and they are still increasing, with 30% more foreclosures in July than the same month last year.

And while we have our first A-rating and no “F” schools for the second consecutive year, our public schools are suffering because our legislators keep siphoning funds from them to put into the charter school industry that contributes to their campaigns.

Oh, and the corruption. Not just in Miami-Dade, where the mayor has given jobs to his best friend and his daughter-in-law and no-bid contracts to his friends and contributors. Have you heard of Hialeah? Sweetwater? Opa-Locka? Google it.

Even Commission Chairman Esteban “Steve” Bovo agrees.
“It ain’t gonna happen. We’re not equipped for it,” he said at a commission meeting last year when Amazon first floated Miami as a possibility.  “We’re not equipped to draw 50,000 new jobs in here because we don’t have the ability to let those people move around in our community.”

And the B+ rating that CNBC gave us in August — based mostly on South Florida’s lack of technological workers — is pretty good, but not great. Austin and Dallas were both given an A.

A surprising part of the Bloomberg interview was that Gimenez doesn’t even know if or when Bezos has been back in town. You’d think he would have reached out for a meeting.
“Frankly if he comes back, and if he’s visited, he will notice that Miami and Miami Dade County is not the same place that he left some years ago,” Gimenez said.

Well, except MetroRail, Jeff. MetroRail is exactly the same. Not a single mile of rail has been added since it was built and opened in 1984, even though voters here approved a half penny tax in 2002 to expand the line. Gimenez has been using that money to balance the budget, paying for operations instead of improvements. That’s how he balances the budget.

Oh, and they don’t really listen to voters here. That’s typical. They steal the half penny tax that we approved specifically for expanded MetroRail and they also failed to initiate the Pets’ Trust program that voters approved by 65% in 2012.

But they didn’t mention that on the Bloomberg show. A reporter did ask Gimenez “What new debt are you taking on? New P3 projects to make sure Miami’s infrastructure is up to par?”

Rather than answer her questions, the mayor went into a state-of-the-county-like speech.
“We’ve already invested heavily into our airport. It is our leading economic generator so we’ve spent well over $3 billion over the last 10 years. We basically have a brand new airport there,” Gimenez said. “We invested over a billion in our seaport. We dredged it so it would be Panamax ready. That means we can accept the large cargo ships that are able to traverse the Panama Canal.”

Then came the hard part.

“W are investing millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars in our transportation infrastructure. We just uh,  improved, or we, oh, um, uh, approvedsome new highway projects to make our transit, uh, even better.”

Really? How is the Kendall Parkway, completed in four or five years if there are no delays, going to make our transit — which by then will be far worse — even better? The pressure valve will be at the very western end of the county, going south, after you’ve traveled more than an hour from downtown.

“We compare pretty favorably with our competitors in terms of commute times.”
That made Ladra laugh out loud.

“We are also really well connected to our neighbors. We just have a brand new rail line and passenger service to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach…all those things are infrastructure improvements that we are working on,” he said, but forgot to add “when I figure out how my kids and friends can get in on it.”

The mayor ended the interview thumping his chest when the reporter asked him about the last budget approved.

“We didn’t have to raise taxes. As a matter of fact, we lowered our taxes 11 years ago. I mean, when I became the mayor we had the biggest tax cut in Miami-Dade history. We’ve kept those tax rates flat during my administration. We haven’t had to raise any taxes.
Then the doozy: “We are providing the same or better services than we provided back in 2011 without raising taxes because we tightened our belts.”

You closed libraries — hours are still reduced at some branches — and had rolling blackouts at fire-rescue stations, remember? You are still cutting bus routes every year.

You’ve also balanced the budget with stolen half-penny sales tax funding from the People’s Transportation Plan for the past ten years, seven of them with you at the helm, Gimenez. Bet you haven’t told Jeff Bezos that!

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love for Amazon to make its second home here. Not just for the jobs and economic impact but for the cache que te da to have been chosen over Denver and Atlanta.

But I don’t want to reward Gimenez and his pals on the commission for their bad behavior. If Amazon comes, they’ll pat themselves on the back and tell us how right they were and how we were wrong to demand rail. Or, worse, that we don’t need it.

That would just be another lie.

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