Somewhere amidst all the rhetoric being spewed over North Miami Beach’s budget crisis there is the truth. Reasonable people know this. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be enough reason to go around these days. Panic, however, is in abundant supply.
In response to the City Manager’s directive to cut $4 million from its budget, the NMB Police Department’s immediate reaction was to put out the now infamous “List of 24″ police officers that just had to be fired. The Police Department insisted this was the only way it could meet the City Manager’s “unreasonable” demand.
Not letting a good crisis go to waste, the union’s political machine quickly printed flyers, sent out emails and walked the streets on an unrelenting campaign to scare residents into believing that their lives were in serious danger from rampant and unchecked crime. The propaganda included pleas for the residents to contact their representatives at City Hall and tell them that they are outraged and want to keep the Police Department intact. The media, of course, was contacted and the press went into overdrive, reporters falling all over themselves to get the scoop. Sensationalized headlines such as “NMB may fire 20 percent of police force,” “North Miami Beach Police Jobs May Be on the Line,” “Chief Fired, Layoffs Looming in North Miami Beach,” were splashed across newspapers and television screens. In the tradition of Saul Alynsky’s Rules for Radicals, first create a crisis, then demonize the “perpetrator,” incite a class war, then benefit from the fallout. Yes, the spin was on.
Quite a few residents who were sucked in by the agitprop, sent emails to the mayor and council begging them to raise their taxes in order to stop the firing of the cops. How altruistic of them! Unfortunately, the ones who offered to be taxed were the ones who could obviously afford paying more. These are the people who earn a lot more money than the median income per capita in North Miami Beach of $18,080.00. Yes! Imagine that! There are actually people who live on EIGHTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR! And, that’s only the MEDIAN INCOME! “Median” means “average.” “Average” means that for every person in North Miami Beach making more than $18,080.00 there is someone making less. Some making much, much less. So, while the folks in the more affluent neighborhoods of North Miami Beach could easily pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more in property taxes, a vast majority of the residents in the rest of the ‘hood have to decide between buying milk or eggs because they can’t afford to buy both. Never mind bread! Have you seen the price of groceries lately? I’m sure this is probably shocking news to some of the residents, but as hard as it is to believe, some of the rich folks here don’t understand that not everyone has a Mercedes and a Beamer parked in a two car garage.
In addition, even if you raise everyone’s property taxes to the highest legal maximum rate, you won’t even raise enough revenue to cover probably half of the almost $8 million hole in the budget. This is simple economics.
Speaking of those of us who live in the ‘hood, some of the comments posted on one of the Miami Herald articles were complaints about the North Miami Beach cops not living in our city. Now, I couldn’t care less where someone lives as opposed to where they work. It’s a free country. I live here and work in Fort Lauderdale and I’d kick someone’s ass if they complained to me. But, then again, I work in the private sector and it’s a completely different mindset. I do understand the rationale that if city employees actually live in the city, they would have more of a sense of ownership of the community and pride in their work. That does make sense. It makes even more sense if you consider that the the cops can take their patrol cars home, which is the current policy (it may be changing). If “home” is 30 or 40 miles away, that’s a lot of gas, not to mention wear and tear on the vehicles. However, justified or not, much has been made about the fact that only two of our police officers live in our city. Whatever.
What is really, really disturbing is a response posted by someone called “supportyourpd.” This person made several other comments in the article and it was very clear by the content of them that this person is a North Miami Beach police officer. In reply to the question about why this cop doesn’t live in NMB, “supportyourpd” wrote:
“Because the only place we would want to be is E. Shores. The taxes there are high. The rest of the city is mostly unappealing to live in. Not to mention, we wouldn’t want to live in an area infested with the people we arrest. We have to be able to sleep at night too.”
OMIGOD THAT WAS SO NOT COOL! It wasn’t very smart, either.
When I read this comment, my first thought was, “Whoa, Dude! Ninety percent of the residents of our city would be unappealing to have as neighbors, but you have no problem taking our unappealing money!”
Never mind that we’re infested!
Yeah, that pissed me off.
Obviously, the agitprop is working.
Two other incidents happened yesterday that gave me a hint there’s a class war is brewing. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m anti-union. My feelings are pretty much summed up in a column entitled The SEUI Pigs Fly (http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/johnransom/2011/07/26/the_seiu_pigs_fly/page/full/), which is about the antics of the largest service union in the country. The columnist wrote, “So, the SEIU is hardly the right group to be out talking up job creation. They spent the last few years trying very hard to guarantee that SEIU members would have to be laid off in higher numbers by not making concessions on benefits to help ailing state budgets… Unions are, at their core, anti-job creation because they are always looking for bigger slice of the existing pie while jobs represent slicing the pie into more pieces.” That about sums up my feelings.
My husband, on the other hand, is a union man. He’s proud of it and he’ll tell you so. I’m always accusing him of being a closet Democrat, which he denies – but not too loudly. Carmen is the first one to stand up for workers’ rights, and he’s also one of the biggest supporters of law enforcement that I know. He never drives past a North Miami Beach police officer without honking and waving hello, even if he doesn’t personally know the cop. Which makes yesterday’s incidents even more distressing.
Carmen called me yesterday afternoon to tell me that he got his first ever traffic ticket right in North Miami Beach (and maybe the first in over thirty years anywhere). He told me he had actually pulled his car over to say hello to a cop that he’s casually known for a while, and all of a sudden the cop acted like they were complete strangers. According to my husband, the cop was extremely curt to him, almost to the point of being rude. Now, of course I wasn’t there. I only know that Carmen was pretty damn worked up about it. In fact, he was more angry about the treatment he received than getting the actual ticket. He met with interim Chief Larry Gomer and told him if the cops were pissed at his wife (that’d be me) then they should give the ticket to me and not him. Yeah, Carmen, just throw your wife under the bus. KIDDING! But, seriously, if they’re ticked off at me, they shouldn’t take it out on my husband!
The second incident happened during last night’s budget workshop when Carmen attempted to say hello to a certain officer who is extremely well known, liked and respected in North Miami Beach. I’m not going to name him here, but suffice it to say, this is a cop that almost everyone in NMB reveres. This officer at first refused to even acknowledge my husband, and when Carmen tried to talk to him, the cop angrily spat out, “I’m not talking to YOU!” My husband tried to find out why this cop was so angry and he wouldn’t even discuss it. Period. Needless to say, Carmen was completely perplexed. Again, he thought maybe it was because of me, but who knows?
Here’s the thing. I have no idea if my husband deserved the traffic ticket or not. I have no idea why this other cop is so pissed at him. I do know that Carmen has always supported the North Miami Beach police officers, and he’s been very vocal about his support.
I do know that I received “hate mail” from someone calling himself “nmbblue,” which I wrote about yesterday (http://www.votersopinion.com/?p=390).
I do know that someone calling himself “supportyourpd” thinks that the residents of North Miami Beach outside of Eastern Shores are nothing but riff raff, and that our city is “infested with the people [they] arrest.” Yeah, that’s real nice!
Aside from our budget problems, which are huge, I’d hate to think that the residents are now going to have to worry about whether or not their own Police Department is turning on them. I’d hate to think that it’s not just a few bad apples, but that a deep resentment fanned by political spin is spreading like an insidious virus throughout the department. I’d hate to think that this attitude will now be so “infested” among our officers that they will start treating us as the enemy instead of the public that they swore to protect and serve.
I really, really, really love the fact that we have our own Police Department. I would not want to disband the NMBPD and contract with the Miami-Dade Police Department. But, if the residents of North Miami Beach have to live in fear of the very cops that we look to for protection and safety, I’d just as soon let the County take over. I wouldn’t be happy about it, but we certainly don’t need this aggravation on top of the rest of our problems.
I certainly hope these are isolated and unrelated incidents. I certainly hope this is not the start of a trend. If it is, I hope that Chief Gomer will stop it before it goes any further.
“Spreading the Wealth”