Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April 30: UGH on commissioners' UDB decision

By Sylvia Gurinsky

The Miami-Dade County Commission needs some second thoughts on the environment.

Those second thoughts should be about nine commissioners' bad decision last week to approve building over the county's Urban Development Boundary. Just why does one draw a line if it's not going to be respected?

Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez does respect it, and he has vetoed their measure. A thumbs-up to him. However, the commission currently has enough votes for an override.

Rebeca Sosa, Joe Martinez, Bruno Barreiro, Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Audrey Edmonson, Barbara Jordan, Dorrin Rolle, Natacha Seijas and Javier Souto were the commissioners who unwisely gave this the ironically named green light. Actually, there was nothing green about their action, which opens the door to plenty more.

Any Miami-Dade resident who cares about the environment should flood these commissioners with phone calls and e-mails to change their minds. Here's the county page with more information, including phone numbers:

Only four commissioners - Carlos Gimenez, Katy Sorenson, Sally Heyman and Dennis Moss - said no - to their credit.

Last week, the South Florida Business Journal published an article about the vote:

Shame on the South Florida Water Management District, which cries "conservation" and then gives a warm welcome to Lowe's. Water managers, your two sides are showing......

Does talk about the environment mean nothing to the "non-green nine?" Perhaps they might want to go to the schools in their districts and talk to the students who are learning about what it takes to save the future. So far, those commissioners are flunking.

Monday, April 28, 2008

April 28: The November of No

By Sylvia Gurinsky

When in doubt, throw it out.

The number of questionable proposed amendments on the November ballot in Florida should leave no doubt: Many deserve a No vote.

Voters should say yes to proposals that would allow a small tax break to homeowners for energy efficiency and windstorm protection measures. They should say yes to a measure allowing local option sales taxes for community colleges.

There are a couple of measures that need to be chewed on: Tax exemptions and breaks for conservation lands and working waterfront businesses.

But voters should say an outright "NO" to a repeal of a state-required local school tax, a repeal of a ban on public funds to religious entities and a protection of school vouchers. All of those measures come courtesy of the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission.

Oh, yes, and there's that marriage amendment that's the result of a petition. More on that later.....

More on these measures later, as well....these measures that have the potential to do much financial, legal, political and other damage to Florida. For Florida's future, it looks like this will need to be the November of No.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April 16: Heading for a crisis

This is the first of what will be a few calls on my part for the public to vote against an amendment that will be disastrous for Florida.

This November, voters will consider whether to eliminate the current property tax system of paying for budget items in favor of an increase by a penny in the sales tax.

There were comments at today's Miami-Dade County School Board meeting about why it's a bad idea.

Property taxes are a relatively fixed source of income. Sales taxes are more subject to economic whims. The burden of sales taxes falls mostly on the poor. A second source is tourists - a source that would go out the window in the event of a hurricane, terrorist threat or other emergency.

Yes, there is a housing and subprime mortgage crisis, and the property tax level is a problem. But the state's mismanagement of funds is a bigger problem. Eliminating the intangibles tax and giving too many undeserved tax breaks is part of what got Florida into its current mess. The proposed amendment would make the mess far bigger.

More to come.....

Monday, April 14, 2008

April 14: Something to really be bitter about

I'm bitter.

I admit it.

I feel that way because the media is showing its true colors in what has to be the dumbest bit of overblown coverage in this presidential campaign. Actually, that should be the latest dumbest bit of overblown coverage.

Too many of my colleagues in the press have shown that their concern is not for the country, not for the voters, not for an honorable election, but for their version of a network reality show.

Given their back-and-forth on what Sen. Barack Obama said - in private, incidentally - and Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain's comments, that's the only conclusion that can be reached.

Oh, for a journalist who really is interested in covering the important issues of this presidential campaign - the economy, the war in Iraq and other serious foreign and domestic problems.

They exist. But they're drowned out by the peanut gallery that's more interested in imitating Simon Cowell than Walter Cronkite. And that's something to really be bitter about.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April 9: Gov. Crist, veto this bill

As expected, the full Florida Legislature caved in to the bullies at the National Rifle Association:

In doing so, they completely disregard public safety, business rights (who would have thought?), and the peace of mind of everybody in the workplace.

Job security issues are tough enough right now without worrying about whether someone who's ticked off is going to bring a gun to work. With the bad economy, more people are getting ticked off.

Gov. Charlie Crist, unfortunately, has said he will sign the bill. It's time for Floridians who believe in public safety, and who remember the recent shootings we've had in this state, to work to change his mind.

Governor, veto this bill.

Monday, April 7, 2008

April 7: Pulitzer thoughts

The Pulitzer Prize winners were announced today:

A couple of thoughts:

*Gene Weingarten's award - in fact, the whole concept of the article - still makes me squeamish: Setting up violinist Joshua Bell to see who notices. Sorry, but it still seems out of the reality TV show/TV news sweeps stunts makeup to me. If Bell had set it up himself and the Washington Post had covered it, that would be one thing, but this is not journalism to me. (Full disclosure: I worked for WPLG-Channel 10 in Miami, which is owned by The Washington Post Company, from 1990-2003. My job was eliminated.)

*The Post also won for its coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. I do believe that some recognition should have been given to the VT students who covered those shootings - in many cases, while the campus was still under fire. Even though they are college students, they left many pros in the dust.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

April 3: It's not an "Era," it's breaking the law

Mike Schmidt should know better.

Schmidt, one of the finest players of the 1970s and 80s, appearing on the sports radio program "Mike and Mike" yesterday:

He also said the Steroid Era has to be viewed in context.

I don't know. How, exactly, does one view the tacit, repeated breaking of federal law, endangerment of health and providing of a bad example to the nation's youth in context?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April 1: No foolin': Congress should say no to oil subsidies

Too bad it isn't some sort of April Fool's prank that oil barons testified in front of Congress today that the current energy crisis isn't their fault. No, and neither is the fact that they're lining their pockets with profits at the expense of most of their fellow Americans.

Members of Congress have suggested pulling the oil companies' $18 billion subsidy over the next 10 years. Do it. DO IT.

Somebody's got to do something, because the current president and vice president of the United States, both buddies with the oil barons, certainly won't. Americans can't wait until the next president takes over. They need relief now, as the truckers who protested today over the cost of diesel fuel showed.

So it's up to Congress to grow a spine - and make the oil barons pay for their greed.