January 26, 2008

I Stand Against Braman; It's the PRINCIPLE.

Norman Braman once again stands against actual progress that would drastically improve the quality of life for residents of Miami and Miami-Dade County.
"Principle is the most important factor in our lives.''
Norman Braman, Miami Herald, January 26, 2008
And he starts wielding his principles by LYING. He claimed that the moneys being used to fund the "mega-project" would be using property tax money intended to help the poor. But the TRUTH is that not one dollar is coming from property tax proceeds.

Recent interviews don't mention his statements about the use of property tax; I guess he realized that such a whopping lie wouldn't slip by. Hey, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe he didn't initially know how the project was being funded.

But he knows now.

The Orange Bowl Principle

His next 'principled' argument? $50 million of the money comes from bonds that were originally earmarked to renovate the Orange Bowl to keep the University of Miami's Hurricanes playing there. But the Hurricanes chose not to renew their lease: the renovation wasn't going to bring the Orange Bowl up to the specifications they now require. So what's Braman's principle here? Renovate the Orange Bowl anyway? Waste the $50 million on a project that accomplishes nothing?

You'd think that some citizen's group would be monitoring that money, and you'd be right. A Citizens Advisory committee was created to oversee the distribution of these funds. So what do they say?
''Fifty million dollars is going to be used for basically the same purpose. I didn't see that as a bad thing. In my mind, I saw this as the voters getting what they approved.'' Robin Reiter, chairperson, Citizens Advisory Committee

With the loss of the Orange Bowl's client, renovating it would have been, in Reiter's words, ''throwing away your money.''

It's ironic, because Braman is responsible for the decay of the Orange Bowl. His campaign to prevent the use of public funds in 1982 to renovate the stadium, already in decay. His "principles" moved the Dolphins to the far end of the county, and left the OB a decaying ruin.

Thanks, Norman.

The Community Redevelopment Agency Principle

Braman is also complaining that Omni CRA money is being used to pay down the construction debt of the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. The Arsht Center IS in the center of that district; and similar projects such as the Broward Center and Palm Beach's Kravis Center absolutely reinvigorated their neighborhoods.

How shocking! The county is actually using community redevelopment money to redevelop the community!

Of course, that frees up hotel bed tax dollars that had been going into the Arsht Center to be used to fund parts of the mega-project such as the Marlins Stadium. And it's the use of public money for the stadium that's his real beef.

The Quality of Life Principle

And let's not forget the last time Braman screwed the people of Miami-Dade County; the half cent sales tax that would have:
  • funded the Expressway system and removed tolls, drastically improving traffic flow at rush hour
  • Funded expansion of MetroRail, bringing the train line farther south and farther west, and extended operational hours, allowing people to forgo driving their cars and reducing traffic.
  • Funded expansion of the bus fleet, which would have resulted in more routes, increased bus frequency, and extended operational hours.
And what quality of life issue is Braman screwing you out of this time? The Port Tunnel, which would remove hundreds of trucks a day from downtown streets. This would ease traffic congestions and noise pollution on downtown streets. It's a scary thing, walking on sidewalks just inches from endless overloaded trucks rushing to the port to deliver their cargo.

Not all of us can afford one of your luxury cars, Norman. I'm sure that I wouldn't hear the rumble or smell the diesel ensconced in one of your expensive toys.

The "Principled" Guy

But let's not paint Braman as a villain; he does give money to charities; he's co-hosted Art Basel, and funded a breast cancer center. He was a leader in the No To Discrimination Committee. He's not evil. He's not even deranged. He's just wrong.

He sees his actions as fighting "government corruption;" and yet where was he during the Urban Redevelopment Boundary fiasco? What was he doing while housing money was being flushed down the toilet? Where does he stand on the Thief of Police, who has violated all kinds of principles during his tenure?

I'm not saying that the plan is not without flaws; no plan ever came out of Miami without flaws. Braman and I even have concurrency on many issues: I don't want to spend public money on a baseball stadium, I don't want to put museums in the park.

But I just have to question anyone who claims to be standing on "principle" and yet starts off by lying to me.

What's that about, Norman?

The Democracy Principle

Braman's official position is that he's against the project because it wasn't put before the voters. He states that we, the voters, should have had a say in how this project is put together, and how it's being paid for.

What he glossed over is that we DID have a say, and that we DO; in the case of the Orange Bowl bond issue, we voted that we, the voters, were in favor of spending money on a sports facility in Miami. As Ms. Reiter, responsible for the disbursement of that money, points out, the money is being used in a manner wholly consonant with the voters' will. And who approved the rest of the project? Our elected officials, the people we voted for to make exactly these kind of decisions.

Braman's REAL beef is that he didn't have the opportunity to spend massive amounts of money to dissuade the mayor and the commissioners. He wants to do what he did in 1982 and 1999; he wants to persuade the voters to act against their best interests by selecting which facts to present to them while suppressing the core truths of the matter.

Braman supports Art Basel, but he also made sure that you have to stop to pay tolls during rush hour, wasting millions of gallons of fuel and costing you hours a week in commute time.

Braman built a cancer treatment center, but he also ensured that you need a car to get around Miami, at the same time guaranteeing you will sit in massive traffic while you attempt to do so.

Braman fights discrimination, but he also drove first the Dolphins and then the Hurricanes to the far end of the county, and allowed a hallowed sports complex to crumble before our eyes.

Remember this, and let YOUR principles lead you, not HIS.

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  1. Didn't the people vote specifically to renovate the Orange Bowl for the Hurricanes and not just to spend money on whatever stadium city officials decide to build?

    UM chose to leave the OB, but one of the reasons is that the city never took steps to renovate the OB.

  2. The bond money was to go to improvements on the site; and yes, the intention was to renovate the OB to keep the Hurricanes there. But the Hurricanes are gone, and there's no reason to renovate the OB.

    Since voters were willing to support that kind of activity on that site, the current plan is consonant with the original intentions of the bond issue.

    As for why the Hurricanes left the OB' the city DID try to take steps to fix it, though. They tried to renovate the OB back in 1982; it was already in a state of decay. Braman squashed that initiative.

    But the renovation would not have made the OB into a complex on the same level as Joe Robbie Stadium (or whatever they want us to call it now).