Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dear Mr. President

I decided to email President Obama about the proposed Florida Marlins stadium deal today. While its likely to fall on blind eyes, I figured it was worth a shot. Even if it brings the smallest amount of government intervention to investigate the crooked dealings of our local "leaders" its a win in my book.

Dear Mr. President,

Tell me what to do. I am writing to ask you how I should deal with a local government that is failing me and the rest of the citizens of Miami. You are also a known sports fan so I figured you would have an opinion on this issue.

The Florida Marlins are attempting to use our hard-earned taxpayer dollars for a city-funded, state-of-the-art stadium in the Little Havana area of Miami. This comes at a time where teachers salaries are being slashed, education is suffering, jobs for fire and police officers are dwindling, and many residents find themselves hurting from the economy and struggling to make ends meet. The team is asking for the City of Miami and its residents to pay upwards of $400 Million to finance a stadium with the hopes that it will turn around a sports franchise that is amongst the bottom of the barrel in terms of annual attendance, even though they have won 2 World Series Championships in the past 10 years. This is clearly an indicator that South Florida is not a baseball town. In areas like your "sweet home Chicago" you are lucky if you can get seats to a Cubs game. Same with Boston and New York. Not so in Miami.

Not only is this financially irresponsible on the part of the City of Miami, we have government officials basically telling the team that their vote in favor of the stadium can be bought if their demands are met. One City Commissioner in particular is saying she will vote in favor of the stadium provided that a small area of Miami receives Millions of dollars for improvements. Placing the entire City at risk for the improvements of one tiny area is completely absurd and I find it insulting that this Commissioner is able to "sell" her vote without any repercussions.

The deal includes little assistance to the surrounding community, currently a residential area with very few businesses that exist, let alone that would benefit from the construction of a baseball stadium. A community that also is not connected by any form of mass transit to shuttle would-be game goers to and from the area. So, basically what you have is a stadium out in the middle of an undesirable area where fans will spend money to eat/drink in their local area, then drive into the game and leave afterward. There is little difference between this new idea for a stadium and the current Dolphin Stadium where the team currently plays, with the exception being that the new stadium will be closer to the heart of Miami, thus alienating fans in the North Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas who used to have a reasonable commute to see a ballgame. The proposed site would be pillaged and plundered on game days, with nothing but traffic and garbage left to show for it.

Mr. President, the citizens of Miami have been taken advantage of for years. We hold the #1 spot for corrupt politicians in the country. Alternative ideas for the stadium have been presented, including an offer from the owner of the Miami Arena in downtown Miami (an area much more suited for a new stadium with mass transit, parking, hotels and restaurants) to finance the stadium privately and lease it to the team. Yet, for some reason, this is unacceptable. Maybe because there are certain government officials who stand to profit financially from kickbacks from construction costs? Its happened too many times in Miami and, like your predecessor said, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, er, you cant get fooled again." Anyways, enough is enough.

While I understand that it is nearly impossible for you to weigh in on this situation with the Florida Marlins proposed stadium, I do ask that my National government take a closer look at what is going on down here in the City of Miami. I moved to this City 8 years ago and saw a City with a ton of potential to become a top destination in the US, much like New York and Los Angeles. Poor leadership, however, has taken Miami two steps backward for each step forward. The citizens' voices are being ignored while a small group individuals makes decisions that largely affect day to day living in South Florida. I have one small shred of faith left in my local government and that will be dissolved should this stadium pass. Its a bad idea for the City of Miami, period. There are no long-term positive takeaways outside of the hope that this will expose our poor government leaders and their self interests.

Thank you for your attention and best of luck with your career as President of the United States.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cheating Death on I-95

Let me start by saying today is a beautiful day. Sun is shining, birds are chirping, temperature is a nice 72 degrees, and I couldnt be happier right now. Why so happy? Well, its not every day that you see your life flash before your eyes.

This morning I woke up at 7am, hopped in the shower, got dressed, and headed on my way to FLL airport. Destination: Newark, NJ for a buying conference. This is my least favorite work conference as Im holed up at a hotel outside the Meadowlands for about 60 hours straight, maybe leaving for an hour or 2 to have dinner somewhere. I also dislike this show because American Airlines doesnt have any late flights out of Newark on Sunday night so I have to drive to FLL to fly Continental Airlines. Not a big fan of Continental but I guess things could be worse.

I like to leave at least 3 hours early when I go to FLL because its about 30-45 minutes away on average but you really never know what youre gonna get on I-95. I left about 5 minutes later than I wanted to but figured Id be fine if traffic was smooth. It was. This allowed me to do anywhere between 70 and 80mph with the requisite lane switching to avoid the assholes who do 50 in the left lane and expect everyone to weave around them. With the windows down and the morning tunes going though, I didnt mind. It was a nice drive.

As I approached the 103rd Street exit, I looked down into my lap for a split second to grab my phone to make a call. That's when it happened. I heard tires screeching and looked up to see bright red lights from the car in front of me skidding to a stop. Instincts took over and I slammed on my own brakes and went into evasive manuvers. The car in front of me was approaching rapidly and I was gonna nail it. I glanced quickly to my right, saw a small hole, and cut the wheel while my tires screamed from the brakes clamping down on them. Thats when I saw the reason for the accident. A car mustve collided with another car or just lost control because it was now perpendicular to the lanes and I was about to broadside this guy. Again, I give a quick look and jerk the wheel right, narrowly avoiding the car by about 6 inches. This whole episode happened over the span of about 5-10 seconds. I was now completely stopped, looking at the car who had caused the accident as liquid dripped from its undercarriage and the smell of burnt rubber filled the air. "Holy shit, did I really just avoid that?", was the first thought that entered my mind.

Once I realized I was fine and hadnt been part of this accident, I hit the gas and resumed my trip to the airport. I was full of adrenaline and my hands were shaking for a good 5 minutes afterward but my soul was singing songs of relief. Ive encountered at least 5 people since that incident today who have asked me, "How are you today?", and my answer has been, "Happy to be alive today!" every time. I guess there's nothing like a good ol' fashion near death experience to get me to pop in a blog post after a long hiatus. Its a great day to be L-I-V-I-N.