Politics won out over reason Thursday night as City of Miami Commission Chairman Joe Sanchez pulled a political kamakazi with his ‘no’ vote on Miami 21. The vote was surprising because only moments before the vote he described the items that would have to be changed before second reading. Most observers have been scratching their head over this bizarre turn of events. The Chairman cited his concerns over potential property rights litigation, but he did not offer an alternative motion to consider the item without including the questionable properties (as chair of the commission we assume that he knows he can do that). I think the Commissioner has to think quick at this point if he is going to salvage any bit of his campaign.
Later he issued the following brief press release (I’ve added my comments in blue):
|Office of Chairman Joe Sanchez
3500 Pan American Drive
Miami, Florida 33133
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For Immediate Release
August 7, 2009
CHAIRMAN JOE SANCHEZ SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT
ON MIAMI 21 VOTE
(Miami, FL) – Chairman Joe Sanchez issued the following statement regarding his no vote on the version of Miami 21 considered by the Miami City Commission on Aug. 6:
- It was painful to vote against a concept I believe in.
Mr. Chairman, as Mayor you will be faced with a variety of tough decisions. Part of being Mayor is setting priorities and sticking to them. This was one of the initiatives you supported. What happened? Is this the sort of flimsy leadership you will display once elected? I might not agree with Commissioner Regalado, but he sticks to what he says.
- For more than a decade, I have supported smart growth principals such as pedestrian-friendly development, public transit, bicycle lanes, neighborhood preservation, shade trees, parkland, green space and sustainability.
What good is all that work and leadership if you are going to play politics with one of the most important pieces of legislation you have been confronted with? Should you really be at the helm of organizations such as the DDA and Green Commission considering their strong support for the plan, and your apparent disregard for their opinion?
- Tragically, the version of Miami 21 that came up for a vote yesterday was tainted by restrictions that placed our residents in harm’s way by exposing us to tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits from loss of property value.
If you were really concerned about the budget then why not defer this meeting from the get go? As Chairman, I’m sure that you know the advertisement alone cost $50,000 (the cost of 2 Bike Miami Days). As with the Miami River properties that were not being included in the vote because they are under litigation, you could have simply removed questionable properties from the vote and moved forward.
- We are in a budget crisis that threatens to bankrupt the City, so I could not uphold my fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers if I approved that version of Miami 21.
See my previous comment. $50k = 2 Bike Miami Days. I hope you don’t cut Bike Miami Days from the budget now as a result of the money you wasted on advertising this meeting.
- However, I am extremely hopeful that this is a temporary setback to a common goal that is within our reach. Miami 21 must be revisited immediately after we have cut the bloated salaries and pensions that threaten our current budget.
- We now have a golden opportunity to resolve key issues and craft a pure version of Miami 21 that truly protects our neighborhoods and our City revenues.
- With all five Commissioners on the dais, we must reconsider Miami 21. We must adopt a final version of Miami 21 that truly is the people’s plan.
All five Commissioners would have been great, but don’t use that as a copout. You should have voted to approve. You still have time to correct this misstep. Let’s be honest: your campaign is dead as a doornail. Any voting constituency that you were previously courting you lost, and you definitely didn’t pick up any Regalado voters. As soon as Tomasito is elected he is going to put Miami 21 on the agenda (not subsatntially different) and it will get approved. Your ‘no’ vote will have been in vain. I can’t vouch that it will make a lot of difference for your campaign, but at least you can leave public office knowing that you contributed in a positive way to the future of our city. You have a chance at redeeming yourself, I hope you take it. Don’t delay, put Miami 21 back on the agenda, and vote to approve.
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