By Sylvia Gurinsky
It's 1996 all over again - sort of - in the City of Miami.
Now, as then, the city has a major budget shortfall - $45 million - and a federal investigation after many of its leaders and administrators have spent not too wisely or too well during the last few years.
In 1996, that shortfall hit $60 million, a city manager and finance director went to jail, a Florida oversight commission took over Miami's finances for a while and the situation got to the point where residents voted on a ballot measure that would have dissolved the Magic City.
Those who remember those events are holding their breath at what the federal investigation will reveal.
But Miami may be in a better situation this time to fix its own mess, with a commission now dominated by reform-minded types led by Mayor Tomas Regalado. Given the general economic crisis, the city is already being forced to tighten belts - and try to make compromises with unions.
That's a good sign, considering that Miami had to be pulled out of the 1996 mess by others. This time, the city needs to lead the cleanup - and make sure the mistakes are never repeated.