Politics: South of Fifth Redux

By Jeffrey Bradley

We weren’t there personally, but we understand things very nearly went off the rails. Our spies—they’re legion—came away from this bit of political theatre traumatized. One reason is, surprise!, that the commissioners punted (newsflash elected officials: tackling the problem du jour shows a distinct lack of vision and is more rightly wardheelism: promising to fix the pothole in front of Mickey Bitscoe’s house is very different from planning and carrying out streetscaping); another was the degree of tumult and outrage expressed. How so? Well, take Frank Del Vecchio’s hair, for instance. Oddly enough, his level of umbrage can often be gauged by how disheveled it is—and this time, it was reported to resemble a crazed professor from a B movie. (Hey, we only relate the facts!)

Anyway, officials got a two-hour earful from arm-waving, finger-pointing, angry-faced residents who jammed the commission chambers. And the upshot? Defer proposals to the city’s finance committee!

That’s right. No vote. No plan. No implementation. Just vague promises, delivered with an airy wave of the hand no doubt, of future improvement. Now, there’s leadership for you, and just what we needed: city bean counters telling us what and what isn’t possible. Puh-lease.

So how do they plan to control the rowdy behavior? Why, with littering (and maybe loitering) campaigns, publicity about public drinking, smoke-free beach zones, snoopy cameras and, Heavens to Betsy!, enforcing laws already on the books. Whew! This level of “just do it” makes us downright giddy!

Mr Del Vecchio, unofficial mayor of South Pointe, rightly summed up the situation by saying it all sounded like a bunch of political campaigns going on simultaneously (read “a lot of hooey”). And truly, some commissioners are already eyeing a run for mayor, or state office (last thing they want is this sort of thing they can’t hide from). Well, when they start trumpeting how they “stepped up” at crunch time and tout their accomplishments and flaunt their endorsements we’ll be sure to help set the record set.

Sure is nice to see our tax dollars hard at work!

Alternative Transportationists Rejoice!

It’s time to break out the old Baylink plans, blow the dust off and reactivate ‘em. Why wait for “cheap” gas to go through the roof, this time for keeps, before scrambling to play catch-up? And what’s with the reliance on outmoded 19th century technology? (The internal combustion engine was invented in 1866, even before the Franco-Prussian War!)

Personally, we’ll happily turn a spadeful of dirt over the last batch of dinosaur poop (where’d you think oil comes from?!?) drained from the sands of Araby. And there’s that galling proposition of enriching those people who already hate us. But hey… we gotta have our cars, right?

Um, no. But we will defend your right to pay 10 bucks a gallon or more for gas, if you insist. Just don’t try to stop us from using a modern technology that’ll get us from here to there quicker, cheaper and quieter than that gas-hoggin’, dumptruck-size, ridiculous SUV of yours. (We’d slap some surcharge for using that abomination on you if we could.)

But why this rant, at this time, you ask? Here’s why: our source is the US Military (argue with them if you’re looking for shock and awe), who recently weighed in with the news that the demand for oil is going to outstrip supply quicker’n you can say soccer mom. So be ready to trade in that behemoth for a “puppy” car or motorized skateboard sooner than later. Your days of cheap oil are about over, and forever. Where’s Mad Maxx when we need ‘im?

(And somebody tell FDOT to start spending their money on projects that don’t depend on cheap oil, OK?)

But think about it. Are you prepared to fight your neighbor for that last rusting can of gasoline like it was food from your child’s mouth? Here’s how dire it is. The U.S. Joint Forces command issued a Joint Operating Environment report stating that surplus oil production capacity could very well disappear within two years with serious shortages by 2015. Granted we had to use our calculator, but that’s less than 5 short years from now, Gertrude. “One should not forget that the Great Depression spawned a number of totalitarian regimes that sought economic prosperity for their nations by ruthless conquest,” the report intones. But look on the bright side: we’ll finally have to confront the fact that we live in the 21st, not the 19th, century. Everybody but the Amish, we mean.

Sounds like this time we just might find out what’s Beyond Thunderdome.

Enter Baylink. You want to talk big bang for your buck? For the same amount of gas to fill up your cement-mixer, er, SUV, you could endlessly power a couple of streetcars that would certainly carry a whole lot more than just one person around. Do you see where we’re going with this? Do you really need opposable thumbs to get it?

Funny thing is, we already could have it. The commission voted for it; the people approved it overwhelmingly via public referendum. But no. Ex-Mayor Dermer was dementedly determined to obstruct it and, fact is, he almost single-handed put the kibosh on it. We know this because the Alliance for Reliable Transport (ART) fought for it, when ART actually mattered. So now we’re back to square one, facing the same intractable problem that will cost us millions of dollars more to fix. Way to go, your Honor. That knuckle-dragging “progressivism” is shortsighted and expensive, you betcha.

Recently, the case to revivify the Baylink project or something like it, was discussed at the Transportation & Parking—or is the Parking & Transportation?—Committee. While we unfortunately missed it, we sure won’t make that mistake again. So stay tuned.

Personally, we can’t wait to see the demise of Dermerite Suburbanite autocentricity.

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