Lot going on today, but there always is isn’t there…

  • The Miami-Dade Office of Sustainability & the City of Miami are teaming up to get grant money from the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance by forming a “non-profit entity to deliver energy services to residents and businesses within County geographic boundaries that provide performance based energy audits, retrofits and renewable energy across building types.”
  • Cutting the fat: Miami Dade Transit is cutting bus lines and expenses. “Buses are to serve the Metromover system but are to end at the Omni station to encourage riders to use the mover to get around the city “to reduce our mileage and also traffic congestion in downtown,” Mr. Kapoor said. Officials based the changes on passenger counts and rider feedback.”
  • Plan B:  Now that the commission has voted not to fix the CITT, Commissioner Gimenez is going to try to organize a voter referendum. The CITT is answering with its own Plan B: “The trust and county continue to mull using light rail or bus rapid transit to serve the corridors that were promised heavy rail…Some trust members suggested also considering a sunset provision for the measure that mingles the surtax funds with the general transit budget, as there may be a financially healthier time in the future that could eliminate or lessen the need for what administrators call “unification.”
  • Tri-rail funding from Miami-Dade Counyt  is ok…for now. “Attempts to secure a dedicated state funding source for the cash-strapped South Florida commuter rail system failed during the legislative session, and Tri-Rail officials plan to nearly halve weekday service and eliminate weekend trains anticipating reduced funding from local governments.”
  • Miami 21…delayed again. The next earliest meeting is in June (barring some unknown/unannounced special meeting between now and June 11).

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16 Responses to Wednesday News Roundup

  1. DO YOU ALL SUPPORT THE REFERENDUM?

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  2. Tony Garcia says:

    Ugghh…I don’t yet. I’m torn. I understand the need for honesty and accountability, but I don’t know if this is the right move. It’s definitely the populist thing to do, but I think it creates more of a problem than what already exists. I would rather support a referendum on the rules of the CITT and an amended People’s Transportation Plan rather than simply repealing the tax. That way both the integrity and the benefit of the tax are maintained, while voter’s expectations of what it can deliver are realistic.

    The ballot has to stipulate that: a) the Trust shall have no ties to the Commission (other than the appointment of 3 members), b) the PTP, the guiding document of the Trust, must be updated yearly vis-a-vis community charrettes, c) the Commission is tied to set contribution from the General Fund (enough to cover maintenance and repairs of the system) and d) the Trust shall be revisited by referendum after five years.

    ?

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  3. Kevin says:

    I like the plans to cut bus service in Downtown for Metromover instead. Smart move.

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  4. I feel strongly that trust and truthfulness are important. I think that Michael Lewis really nailed it for me in his editorial. He showed the depth of the deceit, with the County Manager’s explanation of how - no matter what - matching Federal funds were off the table before we started:

    “Moreover, even had federal rail money been there, he admitted, we wouldn’t have gotten it. “Our community does not yet have the densities and congestion levels to ensure we are highly graded for receipt of federal funding,” he wrote.
    Beyond that, had the federal government ignored our low densities and given us the money anyway, Mr. Burgess reveals for the first time, the most we’d ever have built in 30 years would have been 24 to 36 miles of rail — far less than the 88.9 miles written into the transit tax sales package handed to voters.”

    The county commission has to see that we will not tolerate deception. If they would stop wasting our money with boondoggles (stadium) they would have money to target transit.

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  5. Tony g. says:

    I don’t disagree that the trust of the commission has been broken, but that is more a function of how the money has been wasted (maintenance and repairs), not that the plan ‘over promised’. It was always the thought to share the burden of funding with the feds and the state. I didn’t vote for the tax because I thought the tax would pay for everything, it was just a downpayment on that system. Are federal transit funding rules flawed? Absolutely, but all the more reason to fix the Trust rather than abolish it. FTA rules are being revised right now- hopefully to help make it easier for cities like Miami to qualify for federal dollars. Now is the time when the tax will actually be useful. In the meantime fix the structure of the CITT by referendum- and include the sunset provision. Or take it the commission to court to reimburse the Trust for expenditures not originally in the plan and to enforce the CITT’s independance.

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  6. Tony Garcia says:

    Kevin, I thought you would appreciate the quote about getting people to use the metro-mover and out of the bus. :)

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  7. Anyoneofus says:

    Cutting bus lines in favor of the Metro-Mover is a good idea except for Metro-mover ends at 12am.
    As for CITT municipalities should never have been given the money, and the county should be held accountable. You should remember these votes when election time comes around again.

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  8. The problem is, even if you get the League of Cities or any other entity to appoint members of the CITT you still get the same re-treads. Isn’t Linda Zilber (Former Mayor of Bay Harbor Islands) the head now and she pushed for moving the money to general funds. I know, lawyer Paul Schwiep (on the trust) was against it. You can restructure the choosing of the membership till you are blue in the face: You can’t fix what always come around to the same people on every friggin board.

    If they knew the funding was a farce when they started selling the tax to us…how can you support them now, having sold you a lie? What will it take for you to say enough?

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  9. James says:

    I can’t agree more Genius!! Absolutely correct on all fronts.. Tony, I know it may not seem like it to you, but I love mass transit. I visit New York and DC often, and love taking the subways and metro. I would love to have those options here as well. But, the longer we let the County get away with out right lying to us, the longer it will be before we have a truly functional mass transit system. We lost 8 years, but will lose many, many more if we allow the status quo to continue unchecked!

    Now, lets get real, the County did “over promise” on the PTP. They knew full well how the process in DC and Tallahassee works. They know the formulas for matching funds. They had all the facts at their disposal during the process. They chose, however, to outright lie.

    By the way, and I really don’t get why more folks, including Gimenez, don’t talk about this aspect. At the time the PTP was presented to voters, Miami-Dade Transit was already running in the red, to the tune of $30 million dollars that fiscal year 2002. That doesn’t include the unreported deficits running six years before that date. As soon as the PTP came in, Danny Alvarez immediatly began utlizing those funds to improve his department’s bottom line. If you need to raise money for the existing system, the Commission already has a mechanism by which they can do so. It is called increasing the milage rate. Or, and this is really outside the box, maybe they could become just a bit more effecient across the board. Instead, they ursurped funds that we specifically mandated, through a referendum, go soley towards EXPANSION of the existing system.

    Again, I know why you think we need to hold our noses on this one. The point I am making is the longer we hold our nose, the longer the County will continue in its ways, and nothing that you clearly find so important to the future of this community, will be done.

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  10. Tony garcia says:

    I’m choosing between the lesser of two evils. A flawed plan that can be fixed over the hopes that any goodwill can be mustered to move forward with an entirely new plan. Genius - what’s the plan if/when the tax is repealed? If a truly independant board cannot be established then where can we expect to get our transit money from? James’ suggestion that the millage rate be increased is ok, except that raising property tax is just about the worst political move for to make given the history of this problem, and the climate surrounding high property tax.. James, you suggest that I should ‘get serious’ and be realistic, but I think it is more realistic to work within the existing framework, than to start from scratch.

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  11. James says:

    The existing framework is this administration and the current members of the County Commission. What makes you think anything will change? They have already rejected almost every single effort to bar PTP funs from general use, or make the CITT truly independent, as its name would suggest. If we keep the status quo, you are ensuring that this community will never have the mass transit system that you, and I, and I believe Genius see the need for. Why? Because there is no will to do what is right on the Commission. Maybe from a few members, but, you need to count to 7, and we aren’t close to that yet. So the PTP will be used up on general use, the citizens would never agree to another increase because of the bad blood this LIE created, and we will be no closer to a solution. Sometimes you wait for change, but, here, we need to force change for long term benefit, even if there is a short term effect that could easily be remedied if the County operated at servicable rate of efficiency.

    You need to understand something, you seem to be very well intentioned, and are passionate about transit, and I commend you for that, and have before. But you are not on the Commission. You are not on the CITT. They have done nothing but disappoint for the last 8 years. To think that they will change is giving them way too much credit, and unfortunately, we are at a point where we either need to fish or cut bait. We’ve been fishing for mass transit for the last 8 years, with nothing to show for it. That bait is getting old, and it is starting to smell!!

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  12. Felipe A says:

    The need for public transportation is much more apparent today then it was 8 years ago. I say we work within the existing framework. I would like to think that some of our commissioners may actually understand that public transportation is very much an issue which they need to address more seriously. They cannot ignore this issue much longer.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    I may be the only one to say this, keep the 1/2 cent that is there, and use it for general funds. Then levy and additional 1/2 cent only and only to be used for construction of transit projects. No new studies will be paid with this fund, no roadway reconstruction, or sidewalk improvements. This would only be for implementing the over studied projects and making them real.
    I’m not rich, but unless I’m spending a lot of money I never feel the tax. It is also not as offensive as raising the millage rate.
    So keep 1/2 cent and let it be used for whatever, new 1/2 cent only for rail projects.

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  14. You are off your rocker, I would rather put a gun to my head then give this dysfunctional commission any more money to waste. On my blog I keep a boondoggle file of all the stupid idiotic projects they waste our money on — and there are plenty including the $2,000,000 a year we spend to exercise a train in Japan that we purchased but we don’t have tracks for. If, they ran the county correctly without their personal fourth estate (the lobbyist layer) maybe we would get somewhere but we will not get anywhere the way they govern. Have you looked at this baseball stadium deal? We could have easily transferred that money to transit as transit helps tourists (tourist tax is restricted, but transit would have been a legitimate option). We just needed to be a little creative. But no, we waste millions and then throw up our hands and let the commission claim we have no funds. You all go ahead and hold your nose and keep this path, me… I am going where ever Gimenez wants to go with it….

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  15. Did you see the article today on tri-rail cuts? I am of the inclination we should just give up on rail altogether as they obviously aren’t committed to it in Miami (launching a bus service while they cut funds to tri rail).

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  16. Tony garcia says:

    I think making the CITT independent would make all the difference. New members (like me) would join if they thought the trust made real decisions. The win win is to go back to voters with a plan to fix the CITT. Set out certain benchmarks, and provide a mechanism to return to the voters in a couple years (as was done with the Children’s Trust). That additional half cent would be great, but will only happen when the Commission gets it’s sticky fingers out of the pot.

    Genius, Does’nt make much sense, I know, but getting rid of our only successful rail is silly. Anyway, if service is cut Tri-rail will have to reimburse the Feds a fair amount of money (for recent track upgrades). Tri-rail will probably get dedicated funding next year as long as it doesn’t get tied up with sun rail again. :)

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