Apple CEO Tim Cook — astride the world’s largest company by market valuation — made an extraordinary admission of failure last week. In its new iPhone 5 and operating system software, engineers delivered an unreliable maps application. Consumers were outraged. Cook gently steered the offended to competitors’ products as an alternative until Apple does better. Read the rest of this entry »
Mitt Romney decided on Paul Ryan as his VP selection to shake up his campaign that still can’t gain traction in the polls. Many Republicans from Florida had been praying for Romney to select Florida Senator Marco Rubio, but there are very good reasons — disclosed by polling — Romney decided against him.
When Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan visit Miami today, the smartest thing they could do to put Obama on his heels in Florida is to come out against the Cuba embargo; a position that Ryan has repeatedly endorsed. Read the rest of this entry »
In Miami-Dade County — Florida’s most populous and politically influential county– a billion dollars is needed immediately to replace just the most deteriorated and vulnerable sections of the wastewater system, according to a five month internal study. It is scarcely news. Miami Dade County government has been concealing its infrastructure deficits for years. County commissioners kept the crisis away from the sight of voters.
The purpose of the concealment was to make the region attractive to cheap development. The billion dollar infrastructure bill is the tip of the iceberg, and it is only emerging because a federal agency, the US EPA, had the guts to insist that Miami-Dade do something to prevent a catastrophic sewage break. At the height of the housing boom, cheap development and jobs servicing more cheap development ferried more than a thousand people a day to live in Florida, a state that boasted one of the highest growth rates in the nation. In 2010, Florida was home to one-third of all homeless families who have no shelter at all — people living in their cars, under bridges, in parks.
It is more than trickery to claim — as Florida’s Growth Machine does– that the ad valorem tax base has to be increased to cover infrastructure needs. The claim was spurious twenty five years ago,when I learned how local power brokers in the Florida Keys set their sights on development at any cost, enlisting the political class to its service. On face value, encouraging more development in order to fill in funding for infrastructure, like roadways, schools, prisons, and water infrastructure, is institutionalized fraud. Read the rest of this entry »
I admit, when Newt Gingrich last night took credit for creating a couple of million American jobs when he was Speaker of the House and looked down to see if his nose had grown six inches, I was in the minority who remember that Newt spent most of his time as the top dog in Congress tearing down President Bill Clinton’s economic agenda. The man still has a way with words, verbally keel-hauling President Obama for “class warfare and bureaucratic socialism”. He stakes his ground with the certainty of a labrador retriever. One almost wants to reach out affectionately while steering him away from the young ones. Read the rest of this entry »
I recall an American president, Bill Clinton, speaking at the Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami in the spring of 1995. Clinton was a fabulous campaigner. Even his adversaries– especially his adversaries — would agree. He looked over the crowd assembled and sang the virtues of place. He said along these lines, “In the future America is going to look more and more like Miami. Diverse and vibrant and filled with hope.” I marveled from the audience of adoring supporters.
At the time, I was a year into the struggle to stop the Homestead Air Force Base fiasco– triggered by the Miami-Dade county commission and powerful campaign contributors reconstituted as HABDI from the board of directors of the Latin Builders Association. (Their goal: to convert the destroyed military base into a privatized commercial airport with the aim of using their control of access, to control the re-supply of Cuba, after Castro. HABDI needed the quick blessing of the Clinton White House.) Some were big Clinton givers, too. Read the rest of this entry »
Marco Rubio has been in the US Senate nearly nine months. After a nine month gestation, last Sunday the junior senator from Florida emerged as tidy proof on “Face the Nation’.
Face The Nation host Bob Schaeffer led off with a question about the GOP stance on raising the debt ceiling. Rubio returned with spin: it is a problem of spending, not the debt ceiling. Spending cuts, spending cuts, spending cuts. Even rating agencies like Standard & Poors say so. Schaeffer asked the senator’s view of a compromise deal to allow the president to increase the debt ceiling without action by either party. Rubio stuck to his point: “it’s not about the debt ceiling, it’s about debt.”
Rubio used the phrase “credible solution” to the debt problem several times, including the rating agency’s emphasis on a credible solution in its recent report. When Schaeffer tried, twice– including a Rubio clip from a Fox News interview– to get the junior senator to acknowledge that not everything in the economy is President Obama’s fault, Rubio pushed back.
“People want to know when they will have a job. Until America has a credible solution to its debt problem, people will be afraid to invest in America.” Here, Schaeffer could have asked: name one investor who wouldn’t create a job in the US because of the national debt. Read the rest of this entry »
We have reached the nadir of the dumbing down of American politics. The path was cleared by ideologues: and why should the devastation not be delivered by the conservative right holding the Book of to their American flag lapels? I am half-tempted to go along with the Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party and let August 2nd come and go: just like Y2K right? (On Jan 1, 2000 apocalypse was predicted when computers would all shut down or short circuit because they had not been programmed to accept the millenium date. If you don’t know what happens on August 2nd, stop reading now.)
Republican brainiacs believe they can pin “this budget thing” on President Obama and the Democrats, but if there is no resolution to the budget and debt ceiling crisis, expect a stock market crash of at least 20 percent off the bat. No one thought home values could be worth only half of what they were, five years ago. Let the GOP masterminds like Karl Rove explain how it is the Democrats’ fault our savings turn out to be worth only half of what they were.
That the Republican Party turned into a party of unrecognizable extremists didn’t happen overnight. For those who thought Grover Norquist was just trying to shrink the size of government, look at the consequences of the decapitations that are working themselves out in slow motion. Turn, for example, to Florida’s GOP wrecking crew in the House of Representatives.
If you were too focused on Texas’ GOP initiative to save the incandescent light bulb, or the electric utilities’ decision to abandon investment to reduce man-made chemicals that cause global warming (because of regulatory uncertainty as a result of Republicans effort to kill environmental regulations), then you might have missed the Florida GOP delegations’ most recent tactic in the Holy War against the US EPA: to gut the Clean Water Act as revenge for the federal agency’s efforts (after decades of lawsuits and inaction) to clean up Florida’s filthy waters where the state refuses (thank you, Governor Barely Legal Rick Scott). Read the rest of this entry »
Drought, wildfires, floods. The first three minutes of network news is like a TV primer from the Book of Revelations. Al Gore, in Rolling Stone, was inventor of that line, but at some point in the not-so-distant future, destroyed drinking water wells in South Florida could be on Nightly News. And if Al Gore is still with us, the shot wells scattering chaos in the nation’s presidential bellweather state will not go unremarked. Florida’s threatened drinking water supply is a stark reminder of Gore’s 2000 loss in Florida. Fearing dissent in his own ranks on policies governing growth and the environment, Gore retreated. Today there is no doubt, none at all, that water management has put South Florida property owners into the path of fresh water at the price of gold or a modern Exodus. This is the dirtiest little secret in Florida and why the dying Everglades are a potent symbol of politics in America today.
For decades in Florida, elected officials supported more growth and development and agriculture than our aquifers could reasonably sustain. It is not conjecture. It is not smarmy, feel-good ethos. Within government agencies, scientists, policy makers and attorneys treaded on the subject like walking on egg shells. Early on, it was established that standing up to the destroyers on water supply or water quality issues was the fastest way to lose one’s job. Sugar billionaires, their lobbyists, builders and developers and trade associations like Miami’s Latin Builders Association had the inside track in the inside hallways of government: from the White House to the lowliest office of the county commission. It is still going on. Last week, Florida’s Jack-Ass-In-Chief Barney Bishop– the Associated Industries leader, a self-described “life-long Democrat” (who led the successful effort to dismantle Florida’s growth management agency), appeared on Fox News, calling out the U.S. EPA for “killing jobs faster than President Obama can create them”. Bishop, a carpetbagger if there ever was one, has prevailed on Florida Governor Rick Scott to push back against federal authority to regulate nutrient pollution where the state won’t: overwhelming Florida’s valuable rivers, estuaries and coastal real estate values. To round up the disaster, after so many decades, in a pithy “killing the goose that lays the golden egg” puts an unforgivable smiley face on abject corruption. Read the rest of this entry »
On the same day that Sergio Pino announced his resignation from the board of the bank he founded, US Century Bank in Miami had more bad news: the ratings agency, Fitch, withdrew its rating. In a public statement to South Florida Business Journal, Pino said his withdrawal had nothing to do with the severely deteriorating condition of the bank.
Pino, along with other bank directors, have been major Republican campaign contributors and lobbyists for suburban sprawl in Florida wetlands and farmland. They have strongly supported and pushed for the expansion of the Urban Development Boundary in Miami-Dade to include lands purchased as speculative investments for future platted subdivisions and sprawl. The bank they founded has been the recipient of the largest infusion of federal taxpayer moneys, through TARP, among all Florida banks. Read the rest of this entry »