Last week, I focused the necessary action on the 10 main concerns of Miami-Dade that I first exposed 25 years ago. However, since 1996, 10 more huge problems have emerged. None will be a surprise.
BROKEN CITIZENSHIP: As the year began, I feared the division would permeate by 2021. After the Washington uprising, I’m sure of it. In a divided nation, discord is evident in Miami.
Just as national leaders must help close the gap that yawns between us, so we must build bridges locally for greater respect and understanding.
If we do not talk rationally with each other and actively seek common ground for cooperation, the disease that is ravaging our nation will move from Covid-19 to an era of mistrust and hatred. In that case, we will become not the United States but the Inflamed States.
CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT: Like disunity, the environment 25 years ago was not in front and the center, although here the seers still focused on the issue.
Today, we recognize climate change that raises sea levels. At the city level, Miami Beach and others are actively working to protect the country from that growing water. Many communities have appointed environmental officers to coordinate local responses to the global question.
What if all local teams used the same book? Think about how far we could go, because the rise of the sea does not stop on city lines. Then expand the answer to state and nation. National and global policies can affect climate change, but even responses to change must be more than local.
TRANSPORT: Improved mobility is more than better infrastructure. In the short term, the job is to persuade us to use the transportation we have most efficiently, whether we drive in transit that loses riders for years or drive together to reduce cars on the road or working hours scheduled to spread suburban cargo.
Now, as Miami-Dade changes transportation directors, it’s time to shift the focus from more infrastructure to influencing people to use what we have.
HOUSING: We can reduce the need to travel by grouping apartments in transit hubs and decentralizing jobs to more areas. This requires county policy. We already have such goals in housing care around transit that could be more precisely adjusted to be more efficient.
We definitely need flats – not luxury houses and flats that will grow with market demand, but flats for workers that are affordable and close to jobs. If we intertwine housing and transportation goals, we can better serve the working community.
Living in Miami-Dade costs a lot more than the U.S. as a whole. Left to its own devices, the market will continue to build luxury apartments for outsiders. We need to encourage housing at a cost to take care of employed county residents.
VISITORS INDUSTRY: Who would have thought 25 years ago that we would take care of visitors? Who would have said that even 14 months ago? But then, we never even heard of Covid-19.
Today, the world cruise capital is dead in the water. Tens of thousands of jobs have sunk. Visitors do not come. There are no more cruises. And our cruise companies are suffering greatly. Although the county has offered breaks in PortMiami, the cruise lines are not generating revenue. The ships went to waste. What will be on the surface when we control the virus and how can we help the industry?
Meanwhile, airlines carrying 96% of visitors to Miami bring in just over a third a year ago. Can I soar again and with what passenger loads?
The loss of travel by boat and plane singled out our hotels. Some will not get to the end of the virus, which will harm not only employees and owners, but also reduce the county’s capacity to accommodate future visitors. How can we make up for it?
SMALL BUSINESS: In the best of times, many small businesses fail. Yet in Miami-Dade, which has few corporate headquarters, small businesses create too much of both jobs and sales.
During Covid-19, an unscrupulous number of small businesses were closed or close to it. Loans and grants help others to endure, but for how long? Local governments need unity in addressing the consequences of small businesses to mitigate the impact. Every city has patchwork help, but we lack uniformity and coordination. We need to work together in a district where everyone wants to be a leader.
NON-PROFIT: Like small businesses, charities are often underfunded. Best-intentioned managers often have more heart than operational and financial skills.
Again, these organizations are particularly vulnerable in a pandemic. Many have amazing goals. Would it be better for them to group than to fight on their own as donations decline and needs multiply more than service opportunities?
LOCAL NEWS INVALID: News Miami has to function individually, make collective decisions, and follow the government as it dries up. If the media doesn’t tell you what’s going on, how do you know? And you will never know what you are missing.
The local media industry is eroding. The once dominant Miami Herald has fallen from 500,000 circulations per day and 750,000 on Sunday to far less than a tenth of that. The company now has no home. Miami Today is the last media observer to even try to tell you what the government is doing to you.
Without news, what connects more communities and people in Miami-Dade? The Internet puts people like us in the silos of each of us. What will it tell us about everything else around us? Without advertising, reader support, and perhaps nonprofit help, local media won’t last long.
ECONOMIC BALANCE SHEET: The population of Miami-Dade now looks like barbells. At one end, the rich and the super rich are grouped, both locals and flocks here from the nation and the world. We even work hard as a community to lure financial firms with a few very wealthy players to beat high local taxes in much of the US.
At the other end of the barbell is the lower end of the economic scale. Its numbers are growing, it is increasing by people who are slipping out of the middle class and we are becoming like poorer nations. The hopes of those at the lower end of the slowdown are eroding even when the rich flood has come.
Miami needs to create jobs, plus educational and social pathways to help get the barbell back on the wrong bell, where most of us are shrinking toward the center, like the economic expansion of 25 years ago when the differences weren’t that big .
We must close the rich and the poor bay – democratically, peacefully and fairly. This is a challenge for the present and the future.
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: All of these problems are approaching the need for a rapid local recovery. Together we can add work and income and improve the quality of life for all. It’s not a pie in heaven.
It is possible, but not easy. It requires payments from everyone, businesses, government and citizens. This indicates the need for leadership that we mentioned last week. A willingness to listen and act together is also needed.
The logical beginning is the county hall, the seat of today’s local leadership.
Just as President-elect Joe Biden must set common national goals and persuade Congress and states to join him, we also need district leadership to announce a unified platform and persuade cities, businesses, and others to join.
Waiting would not give us what we need. The results may take time, but a clear unified vision is now needed.