Florida's status as a swing state means that every four years or so the world starts caring about every little political issue in Florida. However, there are some shenanigans that definitely deserve our attention, like when our Governor's agencies tell a 91 year-old decorated World War II veteran that he may be ineligible to vote because the state doesn't believe that he's a citizen. Then there is the recent decision by a Federal judge telling the State Legislature that he is blocking parts of our new, yet archaic, election law because he thinks it is "harsh and impractical" to charge a $1,000/day fine to people registering Floridians to vote because they turned in registration forms a little late.
On the other hand, some other news doesn't get quite enough attention, like the Miami Heat and the American Airlines Arena that... you guessed it... was built partly on taxpayer money. We are all happy that the Heat are doing great in the playoffs and that they're making record profits this year. But they promised they would give us, the taxpayers, a share of those profits in return. Last week, the Miami Dade County Inspector General issued an audit that found the Heat owe the people of Miami $3 million dollars for budget overruns that occurred while upgrading the stadium.
And what about those profits we should be getting now that the world watched the Heat put a stop to "Linsanity" and go toe to toe with the Celtics, raking in a bunch of dough? We should be getting a bunch of money put back into the city, right? Not so, according to the inspector general. He stated, "a number of questionable expenses were charged against arena revenues, thus lessening the county's prospects of receiving its proportional share of arena profits."
The part of the report that really kills me is where he basically says that no one at the county really knows how the agreement is supposed to work. But, it gets better! According to the Miami New Times, "no one has ever questioned the team's annual budgets and financial statements."
Which brings me back to the topic of elections. Nationally, while all eyes on Florida, Miami Dade's local elections, which take place in August, are going rarely noticed. This is more than a shame considering the impact these local elections will have on all of us. Aside from determining who some of our next commissioners will be, it will decide whether we will have leaders that try to sell us more "pipe dreams" like our nationally-recognized stadium fiascos, as our city starves, or leaders that will collect what is owed to us by the corporate welfare queens in the county.
While we can all agree that the rest of the country won't be paying any attention to our August elections, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be paying attention. Some of our local politicians that are up to no good are banking on low turnout. However if we prove them wrong and we all vote, we can make a stand and demand that our local government start working for us, not just the 1%.