The Herald called it a "small step" when the County Commission unanimously approved building the $1.2 billion Port of Miami tunnel this week. MVB sees it as a "giant step" to fleecing the public from traditional "unforeseen rising construction costs" to your run-of-the-mill kickbacks. Even the looming shadow of Boston's notoriously corrupt, over budget "Big Dig" and the county's own track records of the $200 million cost overrun for the Carnival Center and its horrific mismanagement of the staggeringly huge MIA project estimated to be $1 billion over budget couldn't persuade them to think before committing to a project some experts believe will only fail. If only as much thought were put into this by the commissioners as is being put by them into the Island Gardens project on Watson Island-- a private investment delayed numerous times, sometimes over the silliest things like whether or not it will suck up too much water from the mainland (see October 15th posting).
Still, there is a bright side. The county has to come up with their share of public dollars which is an eye-opening, heart-stopping $900 million. The county figures it can dig up $600 million by:
- Using $100 million set aside from a general obligation bond approved by voters in 2004,
- $114 million from local transportation fees (always an ambiguous place to find money),
- $47 million "in the form of right away donated by the port" (whatever that means since the port is owned by the county-- it sounds like a plan to pay for something we already own).
If the City of Miami, one of the poorest cities in the U.S., throws in $50 million, our local contribution will still be $300 million short. Not to worry, the brains behind this cockamamied idea figure they can get that money by:
- Charging tolls to drive into the port,
- Increasing user fees for cargo and cruise ships.
A little research showed that most containers coming into the Port of Miami are delivered only to Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties-- not the rest of the U.S. Although we don't pretend to be economists, we think common sense tells us that those increased tolls and operating fees will be passed on by the shipper to the manufacturer who will pass it to the consumer as more expensive goods. Usually, when something like that happens, the cost of living rises. The cost of living in Dade County alone has created a shortage of workforce housing. If it continues to rise unchecked, where will we find our teachers, tradesmen, cops and firemen, retail and wholesale workers? The only ones who will be able to live here are the lawyers, doctors, bankers, and real estate developers. But how will they continue to function without their paralegals, nurses, secretaries, and real estate agents who can't sell their projects?
Oh, but we digress which is our wont.
Condsidering how much it costs and how much can go wrong with this project-- hell, it's not even above ground for crise sakes and look what happened to those that were-- you'd hope our commissioners would have been more cautious before leaping into the money pit. For instance, as we have been harping on more than once, did anyone consider ramping up use of the rail line to the port? In the middle of the night when downtown Miami is "sleeping"? Wouldn't that relieve pressure on the port?
Despite what some people might think of Johnny Winton, the City of Miami commissioner was against the port tunnel project. We can only hope a majority of Miami commissioners feel as he did. Without their support, the port tunnel will only remain an underground pipe dream.
Because the stink is so staggering regarding the county commission's vote on the port tunnel, the traditional MVB Poopy Head hat just won't do in conveying our overwhelming disappointment. We asked our publisher, Verticus Erectus, to break down and actually draw something like a political cartoon instead of ripping off pictures from the Internet to Photoshop-illustrate previous postings. So, in homage to the work of Don Wright, the great political cartoonist of the Miami News whom Mr. Erectus has sorely missed since 1988 when the paper went under,* we offer up our first real political cartoon albeit with some Mr. E's Photoshop B.S.
* Why the Miami Herald didn't grab Wright when they had a chance will always be a puzzlement-- like the time they yanked the comic strip "Arnold," the junior high school kid with the really big nose. Wright had already won a Pulitzer for the News, the rival hometown paper just down the road. He was and is clearly the most influential political cartoonist of his generation. Both missteps will forever be the Herald's loss.
UpDate (12/13/08): Christmas comes early with the announcement that the tunnel project succumbs to a well-deserved death when the state and Bouygues Travaux Publics can't agree on terms. Hurray!