Archive for March, 2009

Voters Fire Salesman
March 11, 2009

Fitzroy Salesman had hoped that pulling out a gun in a crowded grocery wouldn’t be much of an issue for Miramar voters. Apparently, it was.  Salesman finished fourth in a four-way race for the commission seat he used to occupy.

History gave him reason to hope.  After all, Hialeah put Raul Martinez back in the mayor’s chair in ’93, after he’d been suspended for Federal kickback charges he later beat.  Humberto Hernandez had regained his Miami commission seat while under indictment a decade ago, though Hernandez later served time for fraud.

Salesman’s crime– waving a gun at a couple of teens he claimed were threatening him– wasn’t related to his conduct in office like those earlier examples.  And his self-assessment was not modest: “I’m still one of the best commissioners this city’s ever had”, he boasted while waving to motorists, election eve.

90% of voters didn’t buy it.  Some called Salesman an embarrassment to the city.  Even former supporter John Stevens said he’d vote for someone else, concerned that the city might be stuck with a six-figure tab for a special election, were Salesman to win at the ballot box, but lose at trial, next month (a conviction would carry a three-year minimum sentence).

Stevens accurately predicted: “I don’t think he’ll be re-elected  because of the expense to the city.  I think it’s better to put somebody in there that you know is going to be in office, rather than take a chance.”

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The VP’s Stimulus Road Show
March 5, 2009

  Joe Biden came to Miami this afternoon, to trumpet an unlikely stimulus project in some ways– a $2.1 million chunk of stimulus cash, to finance construction of a bus terminal that will be linked to Miami’s airport.

  Why unlikely?  It’s not “shovel-ready”, producing instant jobs.  The ground where the project will stand won’t even be cleared until spring of next year.  Even then, it’ll only create about 50 construction jobs. 

  Moreover, the Greyhound bus facility is part of the giant Miami Intermodal Center, a project the Feds have already sunk more than $600-million into, over the years. So no one really thought coming up with another couple of million for the bus terminal was going to be a big problem.

  The project, though, is a winner on other grounds that the VP and local mayors, Miami-Dade’s Alvarez and Miami’s Diaz, are anxious to tout.  As Biden put it: “We’re not only rebuilding America, we’re laying down a platform– a competitive platform– for the 21st century.”

  The Intermodal Center aims to move tourists in and out of the airport more efficiently– critical in this tourism-dependent area.  It’s billed as eco-friendly, as well, because it will offer travellers more non-automotive options– links to Tri-Rail, Metrorail, and Amtrak trains, and to buses, as well.

  Neither Biden nor the new US Transportation Secretary, Ray Lahood, took media questions.  They certainly would have been asked about earmarks in the bill that have critics up in arms. I, for one, would have wanted to know Lahood’s opinion.  He’s a former Republican Congressman from Illinois.  Not one Republican Congressman from anywhere supported the stimulus package.  Would Lahood have been a lone GOP champion of stimulus, or does he really think– as his former Republican colleagues charge– that the stimulus bill passed by Democrats is a bloated pork-laden budget-buster?