The Biscayne Times

May 26th
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Written by Frank Rollason -- BT Contributor   
January 2013

A survey of previous columns confirms it: The more things change in Miami, the more they stay the same

IPix_FrankRollason_1-13've never gone back to read over my old BT columns and, in fact, seldom read them when they’re published. I much more enjoy reading the other columns, and particularly like being taken to task in the Letters to the Editor by readers who disagree with my point of view.

The other day, however, I was doing a little research and found myself immersed in reading column after column I’d penned and, quite frankly, amazed myself at the breadth of topics on which I’ve shared my views with you, our readers.

I thought it might be interesting to highlight a few of these topics and bring everyone up to speed as to my current observations on the same.

Upper Eastside Crime: I’ve done several columns dealing with crime in our neighborhoods (September 2008; December 2010; October 2012), and surmise that we are about in the same position we’ve been in for several years now. Car break-ins and home burglaries seem to ebb and flow with the seasons or, more likely, with the periodic release of career criminals who return to their old haunts and habits.

We’re fortunate to have Miami Police Commander Manuel Morales, who has taken to heart the task of reducing crime in the Upper Eastside, and continually moves forward with a positive attitude despite very limited resources. We, the residents and businesses along the Boulevard, must remain ever vigilant and take reasonable security measures to slow down the thieves.

Government and Ethics: I see that I’ve done quite a few columns on this topic -- too many to list -- most likely owing to my 40 years working for the City of Miami. It’s really sad to report that it does not appear our municipal government is any more stable or ethical at this point in time.

Recently we’ve had two city commissioners cited by county ethics officials: Marc Sarnoff, for failure to report gifts as required for a trip abroad which included his wife; and Frank Carollo, for directly contacting the chief of police while he was being issued a traffic citation -- an apparent abuse of power and/or attempt to influence an officer in the performance of his duties.

Both are insignificant issues unto themselves, but symptoms of the pervasive problem of politicians believing their own press clippings and perceiving themselves above the very laws they took an oath to protect and defend. Then, to add insult to injury, we have Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones suing Mayor Tomás Regalado and State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle for basically conspiring to remove her from office. The lawsuit reads like a Miami telenovela.

Last and unfortunately -- but probably not for the last time -- we’re facing another scandal within our police force, that thin blue line we depend upon to protect and to serve us.

Biscayne Boulevard MiMo Historic Business District: I’ve written a few columns on this topic (December 2008; May 2009; January 2010). Here again, not much change over the past few years. The Boulevard roadway was rebuilt to FDOT standards, which do not include any amount of beautification or efforts to make the road pedestrian-friendly.

Residents fought among themselves as to what kind of trees to plant, with a few vocal citizens influencing the decision of our District 2 commissioner. As a result, we had a lot of palms planted in sidewalk cutouts with no irrigation. They basically provide no shade for pedestrian traffic and, as they die or are hit by vehicles, they are either not replaced or replaced with something small and scrawny.

The city’s current historic preservation department has taken the position that awnings to provide shade are not allowed in the historic district, yet many old photos show that awnings were quite common back in the day.

Crossing the Boulevard on foot is still a challenge, even though one flashing pedestrian walk signal has been installed in the MiMo District and two more a little farther north. These have helped to some degree, but I think all would agree that some on-street parking and some type of median would go a long way toward slowing traffic and providing some security to pedestrians who brave the asphalt river.

(I read with interest a recent Miami Herald article that our neighbor to the north, the City of Hollywood, is bringing forth plans to “make A1A more biker and pedestrian friendly.” Some of the quotes in the article from Hollywood residents easily could have come from MiMo business owners: “I see cars fly by all the time.” “Something has to be done.” “It’s dangerous -- people go way too fast!”

Climate Change: I’ve only written one column on this issue so far (August 2012), but see this as the proverbial elephant in the room for years to come. The rising water is already at our doorstep, and yet little action is taking place. To quote from a recent Herald article: “Hurricane Sandy brought home to South Florida the risks of rising sea levels and has added urgency for a regional plan to shore up coastal defenses.”

The Herald article, along with Erik Bojnansky’s earlier and excellent BT cover story “Lost in a Rising Sea” (September 2012), pointed out that draft projections for Southeast Florida sea levels call for a rise of 3 to 7 inches by 2030; 9 to 24 inches by 2060; and a four-foot rise by 2100. You and I won’t see it, but look around our neighborhood at the number of children populating our community. They, and their children, will see it for sure.

My Favorite Column: A recap (June 2009) of the Second Seminole War and the demise of Maj. Francis L. Dade, the namesake for our county, on that fateful morning of December 28, 1835. It’s an integral part of the history of Florida.

In 1997, however, an election was held to officially change the name our county from Dade to Miami-Dade because local politicians were tired of telling people from around the country that they were from Dade County, only to hear: “Dade County? Where’s that?”

So for nothing more than the sake of soothing political egos, a part of our history had to be changed. (And I suppose it also saved our politicians the trouble of saying, “Oh, we’re the county that the City of Miami is in.” We all know what a huge expenditure of energy that can be.)

I guess I’m just a dinosaur. I was born here and lived here all my life and believe you don’t rewrite history for the sake of a few people who will long be forgotten in the big scheme of things -- if they haven’t been already.


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