Miamians Protest $3 Billion Mega-Plan

<p>The City of Miami is pushing a new 'mega-plan' that rolls a stadium, tunnel, public park, trolley system, and bailout into one $3 billion dollar deal. Miamians, including local car dealer Norman Braman, are pushing back.</p>
July 17, 2008, 10am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Stadiums, tunnels, symphony halls – they're all in the arsenal of the modern city planner.

But with Americans increasingly suspicious of large-scale giveaways to corporations and sports teams – especially in a city like Miami, where one stadium built at taxpayer expense currently stands empty – civic leaders are looking for new mechanisms to get bulldozers moving. "Bundling" projects for political expediency is becoming more common for cities trying to build favorable buzz, experts say.

'Folks supportive of the park may not be supportive of the tunnel or the baseball stadium, but this is a way to sort of build consensus ... to get these kinds of large projects approved," says Frank Nero, president of the Beacon Council, a Miami business group. "The governmental entities that did this should be commended for being creative.'

For his part, Braman calls the joint city-county plan a 'shell game' that pits struggling blue-collar Miami against the city's wealthy subsets that make it the Monaco of Alligator Country. One online commentator ripped into the plan as a 'tyrannical monstrosity.'

Miamians have good reason to be suspicious, says Michael Lewis, editor of Miami Today.

'They threw everything they could think of into this thing to see what sticks,' says Mr. Lewis. 'Everyone holds their nose and votes for a package. It's a little like bundling bad mortgages together and selling them. Sound familiar?'"

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Published on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 in The Christian Science Monitor
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