BY BUDDY NEVINS
When I read the comments of Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York City in today’s New York Times, I thought about Pembroke Pines.
It is the city with three gutless commissioners.
They bowed to an Internet barrage from a fevered home owners. They cancelled a contract to supply services to an immigration dentention center because these home owners didn’t want it built.
Oh, if Commissioners Angelo Castillo, Jay Schwartz and Iris Siple had one iota of the wisdom and nerve of Bloomberg.
Bloomberg’s comments were in a story headlined: “Mayor Warns Of The Pitfalls In Social Media.”
Here is what he said:
“We are basically having a referendum on every single thing that we do every day. And it’s very hard for people to stand up to that and say, ‘No, no, this is what we’re going to do,’ when there’s constant criticism, and an election process that you have to look forward to and face periodically.”
The article continues:
“Later, Mr. Bloomberg noted that long term urban planning ‘requires leadership, and standing up, and saying, ‘You know, you elected me, this is what we’re going to do,’ and not take a referendum on every single thing.’”
Leadership is what Pembroke Pines’ Gang of Three haven’t shown on this issue.
Pines Rebuffed By County
Just this week, Castillo and Siple were at the county commission on a similar but separate issue.
Castillo begged commissioners to forbid the construction of a jail on county-owned land long into the future.
The land was bought decades ago to set aside for a jail. The county purchased the land knowing there would be little land left in the future for jails.
This was long before there were any houses nearby.
Then houses were built, residents moved in and decided they don’t want a prison that close to them.
Not that it is close. But it is too close for these few homeowners, who should have asked what was slated to be built down the road.
Well, after the county staff reiterated that the land might be needed in the future to house prisoners, eight of the nine commissioners opposed letting the land lie fallow to please a few homeowners. County Commissioners were not afraid to be buffeted by the bits and bytes of the Internet.
“I don’t want to necessarily tie our hands,” said Commissioner Dale Holness.
The land is in the same industrial park where the immigration services wanted to build a detention center. There is already a state women’s prison nearby.
Three Pines commissioners have shown themselves to be spineless on this issue. But I am most upset with Castillo.
When he ran for county commission, I believed Castillo was a statesman who would rise above parochial concerns for the good of the whole community.
He has proven I was wrong…at least on this issue.
Castillo’s vote – essentially a swing vote – cost the city millions in lost revenue from serving the detention center. It left the city open to millions in liability from a law suit.
Castillo’s vote was not the vote of a leader.
Is it too much to ask for somebody like Bloomberg?