Wednesday, March 21, 2007
MVB Exclusive Interview with Miami-Dade County Budget Director's Budget Boy
Many of you may be concerned with the recent escalating budget busting estimates coming from the county regarding a myriad of public building projects. With that in mind, MVB tracked down one of the experts who works for Jennifer Glazer-Moon, Miami-Dade County's budget director. Wishing to remain anonymous, we shall refer to him as "Budget Boy."
MVB: So, "Budget Boy," what gives? Today we read in the Miami Herald that since opening five months ago, the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts is $3 million in the red.
Budget Boy (BB): Blame it on Bach.
MVB: Why Bach?
BB: He ain't Pit Bull.
MVB: Pit Bull?
BB: Or Wyclef Jean. They sell tickets.
MVB: Well so does Bach.
BB: Not enough. His audience is older and won't put up with Carnival's Triple-P Curse.
MVB: "Triple-P Curse?"
BB: Parking, Panhandling, and Pricing.
MVB: Is this some kinda voodoo thing?
BB: Yeah, "voodoo economics." No, I think it had something to do with Nancy Liebman. Rumor has it she cursed the damn thing before she died.
MVB: Uh, Budget Boy, Nancy Liebman is still alive.
BB: Really? Okay, who started raising a fuss years ago everytime some Art Deco building bit the dust? She's the one who cursed the building.
MVB: I think you mean Barbara Capitman.
BB: Yeah, that's the one.
MVB: But why would she curse the Carnival Center. Hell, they saved the Art Deco Sears Tower-- over architect Cesar Pelli's objections-- and built everything around it.
BB: Because its...new?
MVB: Budget Boy, I think you're trying to give us the runaround.
BB: That's part of my job description.
MVB: Do you think Carnival will ever make a profit?
BB: Not in our lifetimes.
MVB: How 'bout our kids'?
BB: I don't see that happening either.
BB: Never. Like it or not, voters made them and their children's children theatrical impresarios when the county commission approved the construction of the center over twenty years ago when I estimated the whole thing would cost $170 million.
MVB: It came in close to half a billion dollars.
BB: So I was off a bit.
MVB: Are you involved with MIA?
BB: Of course.
MVB: That thing is estimated to cost $6.2 billion before completion in 2010.
BB: The key word is "estimate."
MVB: It's already a billion dollars over budget. Do you expect it to go higher?
BB: Does the sun rise in the east every morning?
MVB: What about MIA's Intermodal Center? The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates it will cost $2.25 billion.
BB: That's a good one. This is coming from federal experts, the same ones who figured how to finance the war in Iraq.
MVB: I'm afraid to ask but what about the Port of Miami tunnel? It's estimated to cost $1.2 billion.
BB (laughing): Sure it will and I get dates with super models.
MVB: It doesn't look like you're losing any sleep over this.
BB: When was the last time you saw anybody fired for under estimating a budget in the public sector?
MVB: Carnival was $200 million plus over budget and we must have allocated nearly $10 billion for these unfinished projects. I mean, with that much money the county could launch a Cuban to the moon.
BB (arching eyebrow): A Cuban?
MVB: It just sounds funny.
BB: Do you have anyone in mind?
MVB: I can think of one fat ass commissioner in a dress.
BB: A woman?
MVB: Not necessarily. Hey, Budget Boy, don't try to distract me. This budget stuff is serious. Aren't you the least bit worried about how we're going to pay for all of this?
BB: What, me worry? I live in Broward.
UpDate (5/22/07): Metro-Dade commissioners give MIA another $503 million to finish the North Terminal making the expansion project nearly $1 billion over budget.
UpDate (5/15/08): Today the Miami Dade County Commision will vote on whether or not to increase funding the North Terminal by another $64.3 million in order to finish the baggage handling system ($43.5 million) and the automated people mover ($20.8 million). How can they say no? And so it goes.
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!