The inauguration of Barak Obama, now less than two weeks away, promises to be a momentous occasion, not only because of its historical significance, but in the opportunity our elected leaders have in Obama’s job creation plan. The plan seeks to create jobs tied to various infrastructure projects that are ready to move forward with an injection of federal money. According to Obama these projects are not to be more of the same pork-barrel spending projects of years prior, but projects that signal a paradigm shift – green jobs aimed at lowering our dependence on foreign oil and addressing the impacts of climate change, among other imperatives. Local and regional governments across the country have been working hard to assemble projects ready to be funded in categories as diverse as energy infrastructure, airports, Amtrak, and schools.
Locally, the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County have assembled a list of more than $4.7 billion in projects ranging from “Collection and processing of yellow grease for use as biodiesel to power (est. jobs created: 30; est. cost: $500,000)” to “Construction of a new 6 lane roadway and improvements on NW 138 Street (est. jobs created: 89; est. cost: $17.4 million)”. In studying the lists optimism quickly gives way to confusion in some places, delight in others. Unlike the idyllic New Deal era projects highlighted in this Herald article, some of the projects listed are nothing more than embarrassing, with the Miami-Dade‘s transit list leading the way. Reading more like an overdo ‘to-do’ list than a wish list, entries such as “Cooling Fan Fuse installation on transit busses (Est. jobs created: 3, est. cost: $33,000)” lead to one of two conclusions: our leaders either submitted the list with the hope that Obama would follow through with his pledge of help, and thus allow them to move forward with a more rosy fiscal projection for the Orange Line, or they are just out to lunch (once again).
The City of Miami transit wish list is a happy contrast to the county’s bloated and vision-less list. Funds for the SEC railway, the Streetcar, and Metro-mover extensions are all to be applauded. Even the halfhearted attempt at providing transit to the future Marlins Orange Bowl park in the form of a Metro-mover is to be commended (even though the best case scenario is for the East/West segment of the Orange Line to take that responsibility.)
Either way – green job or road-building job – the name of the game is spending money job creation. Let’s hope Obama can tell the difference between the lechon and the pork
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