Miami Beach voters who would like to live a quality life in a virtual paradise are naïve if they believe that quality-of-life laws legislated by their city commission will be strictly enforced by the city administration headed by Jorge Gonzalez, the city manager whom the part-time commission appointed ten years ago and has thus far been unable to muster enough commission votes to remove.
Actually, many commissioners do not care if those ordinances are enforced or not, at least not outside their own immediate neighborhoods, say, in South Beach, where many residents are part-time residents from other states, foreigners, and paperless workers who cannot vote. As long as the merchants make enough money to make political contributions, all will be well.
Enforcement of many quality-of-life ordinances is an exception in South Beach, which has been converted over the years from being a poor man’s paradise to a chic modeling center and gay sanctuary to a raucous party town where a reveler can listen to violent music, get publicly drunk and doped up, make all the noise he wants to make, rent a North American teenage prostitute if he does not like Russian whores, and run riot with other drunks along Ocean Drive, if he likes, frightening respectable tourists and restaurant employees along the way.
Car-towing is a lucrative business for the city, especially after the crowds descend on it. But never mind the dog waste piling up in Seventh Heaven – the old crack hood between 5th and 7th Streets with its wall-to-wall nightclubs on Washington Avenue. Seventh Heaven is populated largely by hard-working, underpaid paperless workers, a few hopeful yuppies, and a smattering of South American drug gang members.
Landlords - especially those who advertise that pets and big dogs are allowed and that no background checks will be made – should be fined for waste left on their properties, and liens should be placed thereon for same. But landlords must not be offended, for they pay exorbitant real property taxes to support the decadence as it is.
Dogs might be licensed, say, for $100 per year, in order to pay city sanitation workers to clean up the odorous piles of ordure, often placed right in the middle of the sidewalk instead of on the curb. But city workers should not have the disease-producing task. So DNA might be taken from each dog, and then the owner fined $500 for any waste it leaves behind, and arrested and sentenced to 30-days mandatory hard labor if the fine is not paid.
But that would not advance what South Beach is increasing famous for: the culture of disrespect, disrespect for each other, themselves, and therefore the laws. The laws seem to be made only to make people think their legislators are working for a living. And it is said that laws are, of course, made to be broken, and broken by so many people that it would be too expensive to enforce them, Wherefore they can be ignored, providing that there is some profit in the ignorance.
Notwithstanding the drunken cheering over nothing, most of the revelers in town for Super Bowl Week cared little for football – at least they were far more courteous, as drivers, than your average Miami driver, actually coming to a full stop and waving pedestrians by.
People complained about Spring Break because public nuisance laws were not enforced, as if that were something unique – at least the binge drinkers were relative innocent.
Black Week aka Urban Week is the horror most residents who do not profit by it abhor. Just before Black Week, City Attorney Jose Smith told the city manager that the traditional hotel sale of liquor on beaches is illegal, but Mr. Gonzalez stalled, demanding a written opinion, and of course it came too late. David Kelsey, president of the South Beach Hotel and Restaurant Association, was told by the administration that the city did not expect to crack down on the practice. Mr. Kelsey hoped the issue would go away. It probably will, along with any other complaints raised, until the Gonzalez Administration is dumped. Anyway, who cares about hotels selling liquor on the beach proper when every partier on the street is sporting a red cup full of beer? Tolerance of scofflaws paid off this year – there were fewer arrests hence the crime rate went down a little.
As for Mayor Bower, once known for helping poor people and for saying she wanted to clean up South Beach: she said she must “juggle” things, so now she does not want to crack down for fear of losing tourists, and is therefore depicted as The Juggler, keeping a bag of cocaine, a bottle of booze, a can of beer, and a bundle of campaign cash in the air.
Traditional sins, those that traditionally warranted execution by certain colonial prudes, are positively encouraged in South Beach. Actually, the more “bad news” that gets out about South Beach, the more crowded it gets with disrespectful people – ironically, many of the people actually arrested by the overworked and understaffed police force are from Miami and other Florida cities. If Miami Beach is to cultivate the culture of disrespect and promote South Beach as a sanctuary for sin, instead of being a nice place for old folks to retire and tourists to get some peace and quiet along with a tan and martini at their favorite Deco hotel, the city might as well go whole-hog with its doctrine of toleration.
Pornography and alcoholism is already legal. Why people cannot have a drink while they watch naked ladies wiggle at the Madonna Club defies our imagination. We learn from Christianity that sexual intercourse is so tempting, that people naturally burn with a desire for it, therefore it should be allowed of married couples although it is a sin – the original sin and necessary evil is to be born into individuality to begin with.
But we should not discriminate because of someone’s religion or the lack of it, just because Muslims or people who look like Middle Easterners including Israelis are sometimes discriminated against by South Beach officials. An objection might presently be responded to with a photo essay on mass protests against building a mosque on or near Ground Zero.
Public fornication might as well be tolerated in South Beach as well as those offenses already tolerated: public drunkenness, public urination, public cursing, loitering, vagrancy, noisemaking, and the like quality-of-life offenses. After all, who cares about the quality of life of the residents when this is just a party town? As Mr. Gonzalez has suggested to an associate, if people do not like where they are then they should move. Of course intercourse would have to be voluntarily consented to by adults, and bestiality should be ruled out because it is doubtful if animals have a will of their own, though they do the nasty in public without shame.
In fact, no less than Diogenes the great cynic (‘dog’) thought fornication was no sin at all because dogs openly engage in it. So why hide it at home? He enjoyed “rubbing” against boys outside the gymnasium. With that in mind, it makes no sense at all for cops to crack down on homosexual sex in Flamingo Park or for that matter any kind of sex anywhere at all.
As traditional binge drinking is encouraged in South Beach, so should traditional pot smoking. Marijuana has been enjoyed by human beings for over 10,000 years. Even laxer enforcement of the prohibition and fewer or no drugs screens will allow more and more people to walk around in a daze and even play tennis stoned, and will probably stimulate food and liquor sales by a certain correlative percent.
Furthermore, given the broadening market, Mexican drug cartels will have even better occasion to murder competitors and snitches, to buy more guns in the United States, and engage more paperless immigrants as mules. The Mexican ambassador will eventually show up and provide sufficient paper for the immigrants to open banking accounts and get drivers licenses. No matter the bank account or Mexico: the Italian traffickers will make sure they have work for Guatemalans in the kitchens of certain posh hotels, instructing them to claim 9 dependents, and their wages will be deposited into money card accounts and duly laundered. Thus shall they go from Guatemala to Guatepeor.
But it would be even better for Miami Beach to legalize the sale and use of marijuana within city limits and impose a tax on it. Opium smoking might be legalized as well instead of being secreted in the ever-popular hookahs on Lincoln Road,
We might even get David Kelsey to support decriminalization of marijuana so that more tax revenues can be generated. Of course a hotel and restaurant association president is inclined to support the legalization of gambling in Miami Beach. That would bring in plenty of taxes and support more employment of management staff, and hordes of paperless people to be lodged four to a room for $800 per month rent to be added to the $6,000 paid to the traffickers who got them into the country.
After all, Mr. Kelsey has said, gambling boats are allowed. Well, he’s got a point there. Regulated gambling is legal on Wall Street, although its supporters deny that stock trading and investing is really gambling. South Beach already supports habits that lead to the destruction of the proverbial nuclear family and the ruination of lives. Let’s have gambling to boot.
Now residents might be appalled by the culture of disrespect and tolerance advanced by the city, unless they personally profit by it; and even then, they would live in a better neighborhood, somewhere removed from South Beach.
In any event, the average Miami Beach resident should not be deceived into thinking that the Gonzalez Administration serves the city’s 90,000 residents. The fact of the matter is this, that not only is the non-voting electorate not deceived, they do not care – a mere 5,000 votes, tightly controlled by parochial political bosses, can get a candidate elected.
Yet, as the Gonzalez Administration grows ever more arrogant and contemptuous as its tenure extends, and as Miami Beach’s crown jewel, South Beach, grows more and more decadent and corrupt despite the so-called gentrification that sorely belabors the mostly paperless workers who serve the tourist industry, the cry, “Down with the Gonzalez Administration”, is often heard from South Beach stalwarts, some of whom have lived on the southern end of Miami Beach even before “South Beach” was coined.
At the inaugural gathering of the Civic Circle group, called together by its founder David Nemitz to honor his tutelary tutor Mr. Gonzalez, Mr. Gonzalez literally scoffed at the 90,000 residents for thinking that he answers to them. Mr. Nemitz, by the way, is a graduate of the city’s Leadership Academy figuratively headed by Mr. Gonzalez, where aspiring leaders are taught to be nice and uncomplaining. Accordingly, Mr. Nemitz set the “only rule” for the Civic Circle: Be Nice – Don’t Complain. Never mind that there would be no civilization without complaints, nor would there be a well developed mind nor morals without regular criticism.
Mr. Gonzalez also said he liked his ten-year job as city manager, and intimated that people who do not like Miami Beach might consider moving away. Instead, some are considering the alternative, of dumping his administration and getting another, so they might like Miami Beach better.
After the Civic Circle meeting, Mr. Gonzalez’ communications assistant Patrick Singer said Mr. Gonzalez had complained that people complain about one bad blade of grass in his great lawn. By way of example, Mr. Singer expressed their mutual contempt for the ruckus raised over the gross mismanagement of the Miami Beach’s once world famous tennis center at Flamingo Park. The main complaint there is maintenance. And there has not been an audit of the private management company’s records since the inception of the contract favored by Mr. Gonzalez nearly ten years ago, nor has there been background checks and drug screening since then, despite allegations of open drug use and criminal records made directly to the city attorney, Mr. Gonzalez and his bosom friend Mayor Matti Bower.
That is not the only bad blade of grass in the Great Lawn of the Gonzalez Administration. Several poisonous snakes preside over that lawn. They are wont to retaliate against complainers City officials are notorious for their vindictiveness. We are advised to beware of men bearing bats in the night and dressed in black garbage bags.
Highly paid city managers such as Jorge Gonzalez are appointed instead of elected, because they are expected to provide professional administration of a city according to the policies set by the city’s legislative body, the city council or commission. But Miami Beach, a city the FBI has listed as among the top ten most dangerous cities with a population under 100,000 in the country, does not work that way. Given the advantage of an apathetic and diffident electorate, a weak mayor, and the deference of part-time city commissioners to the special interests of their relatively well off neighborhoods, Mr. Gonzalez is not just the executive he is supposed to be.
He has the latitude to set more policy than the commission itself, including the power to unevenly and laxly enforce commission policies.
For instance, certain ordinances regulating law and order might be the rule in the commissioners’ own neighborhoods, but not on South Beach, the city’s sacred cow, which the ruling mob would have vie with Las Vegas for the title Sin City.
This is not an instance of a city manager permanently ensconced by a city’s powerful political boss, as Henry McElroy was by Boss Tom Pendergast in Kansas City. Rather, Jorge Gonzalez is virtually the city boss, and he might have been properly referred to in the old days as Boss Gonzalez, or perhaps El Capo.
That does not mean that Jorge Gonzalez serves entirely at his own will. Ultimately his tenure as well as that of the majority of the city commissioners depends not on the passive and diffident electorate but on the real powers-that-be; to wit, the Good Old Boys that run Miami Beach like their own country club.
Everybody who wants something knows very well who They are, and are afraid to offend them. When they overcome that fear, stop cringing and complaining behind backs, and speak up and out, they shall get their own city commission and city administration, and the quality of their lives shall improve along with the conditions they live in.
July 15, 2010