county system will only be changed by us
Alvaro F. Fernandez
South Florida politicians possess a free pass come reelection time.
were just handed out in Miami-Dade County recently, in fact. County
commission and school board elections were held the last week of
August, a time when many are on vacation or just returning from them.
Others are worried about their children returning to school. And many
others don’t even know there was an election -- their focus on
November when we elect a president and members of Congress. The
results: the mayor and commissioners running were easily returned.
This in spite of the fact that Miami-Dade County has been mired in
its share of problems in the recent past.
recently a charter review commission met and suggested changes in the
way we run county government. One such proposal was to change the
date of elections to November. Reasons were hard to dispute: it would
save the county money (elections are expensive); more people would
vote in November (especially the presidential years).
never even considered it. Along with other very viable and valuable
suggestions (including term limits), they were brushed off without
even a discussion on the merits.
did not surprise me. Most of our county commissioners are there for
the long haul. They complain that they are not paid enough and the
hours too long, but I have yet to see one turn in his or her seat so
that a new community leader can take over.
is not the first time I write about this problem. In the past I have
mentioned the money factor -- incumbents are much better financed.
And financing is normally handled by lobbyists and others doing
business with the county. Results are the airport fiasco that
continues, a reduction in a public transportation system we are being
taxed to improve not to reduce and other such tragedies.
is a conversation the community needs to get involved in. Ours is a
system that leads to corruption and has shown to be ineffective.
Residents, voters, everyone living in Miami-Dade must resolve to not
accept status quo and therefore work to turn things around.
do we do it? Participation, voting, contributing, there are many
avenues. One sure way is to become involved and well-versed in what’s
happening. Find out when these stealth elections are held. Make your
votes count. And in the end, throw these bums out -- by voting.
They’ve had their turn. And the results have been pitiful.
of free passes…
looms more interesting with each passing week. In case you missed it,
the latest poll conducted in Congressional District 21 by a
non-partisan group not from Florida has former Hialeah Mayor Raul
Martinez two points ahead of incumbent Lincoln Diaz-Balart. The fact
is that it’s a statistical tie. But it’s the first time that any
public poll shows the mayor ahead of the incumbent. It has been close
all along, but Martinez always showed up on the negative side.
wonder Lincoln is fuming and nervous. But sources within the
Diaz-Balart camp (yes Lincoln, I do have friends in your camp) tell
me the congressman refuses to believe it. The always arrogant “Little
Sergeant” is convinced he will win. He feels insulted when
challenged. “Excuse me!” my young niece would probably counter
you will remember, at the beginning of this thing, in fact, even
before Martinez had declared his candidacy, I mentioned that the
former mayor had never lost an election. He is a tireless campaigner
and a master strategist. And beloved by many in this community.
Raul also has detractors. From the TV commercials being run by the
Diaz-Balart camp, they’re after these people.
I said last week, Lincoln has nothing to run on, nothing to boast
about. He’s done zilch during his 16 years in Washington. So he’s
trying to paint Raul Martinez as corrupt.
that, corruption… Lincoln’s one to talk. Maybe one day we can go
will be a rough and tumble race. Lincoln will rant and rave and Raul
should egg him on. Hopefully, down the line, community pressure will
push Lincoln to debate Raul. I want a balcony seat for that one.
In the end, I still believe Raul will win. Stay tuned.