PENSIONS AND FUTURE RETIREMENT PROGRAMS
Miami Beach has obligations to current pensioners and to current employees who serve us. These men and women relied on retirement benefit programs and these promises must be kept. However we cannot afford to go forward with these same programs. Plainly speaking, we just do not have enough money to keep the same plans. I propose that we work closely with the unions and carefully scrutinize our compensation plans to create sustainable retirement options that are commensurate with current business practices and economic realities.
It seems that we are a city that just does not learn from past mistakes. How many scandals does this city need to learn that there must be better oversight and accountability? Again, employees in departments charged with public safety and trust, code compliance and fire protection, have been besmirched by corruption. A very few years ago it was the building department. Investigations continue. We have a new city manager in whom many have placed their trust but he cannot act alone. The commission must be active and vigilant in oversight.
The good news is that we in Miami Beach have glorious weather, a magnificent ocean with inviting beaches and many people who want to live here. The bad news is that each of these assets brings challenges that we are just not yet prepared to meet and actually are not meeting now. Regularly, with even modest rainstorms we have flooding in our streets across the city. The pumps and storm water drainage systems are woefully inadequate. Rising tides create seasonal nightmares, especially for coastal properties and businesses, with thousands of dollars in damages and lost revenue.
A large number of parking garages have been added in the City, but unfortunately, few people are directed to those areas. Signs need to be posted in prominent areas.
We need to intensify educational activities such as brochures and signs at rental car agencies hotel lobbies, etc., and engage experts to evaluate the safety of exciting bicycle lanes and future lanes.
Miami Beach is an amazing place with only about 89,000 residents and up to a half of a million visitors at times. Our city and the quality of life of permanent residents thrive on tourism. The tourism and hospitality industries rely on residents for their work force and support services. I firmly believe that Miami Beach must have an updated and expanded convention center with a ballroom amid green space. Other cities are moving forward and we must regain our competitive edge in the tourism industry.
Creating legislation such as city ordinances is not ever easy. In a democracy there are opposing views and passion and we in Miami Beach are not immune from the tensions and conflicts that arise in this process. I believe that our elected officials have the good of Miami Beach at heart even though their visions and directions might be different. The Commission must arrive at common workable solutions and nobody wins if there is such personal animosity in the process that the residual of the conflict overshadows the effectiveness of the solution.