County Swine Stick It to Those Who Can Least Afford It

Why can't the Broward County Commission do anything that isn't just wrong but egregiously and outrageously wrong?

What has made this gang of nine (or eight since Wasserman-Rubin's arrest) so rotten?  

Photo illustration of last night's Broward County Commission budget meeting
Photo illustration of last night's Broward County Commission budget meeting

When they're not engaging in chicanery, self-promotion, and corruption, they're beating up on the poor. They need to cut the budget, so what do these scoundrels do? They stick it to the hardest-hit people in our county, the ones who rely on bus service. They decide to cut much-needed bus routes, leaving some people helpless, and to raise the rates by a quarter a ride, which is a lot for somebody who makes minimum wage.

From the Miami Herald on the county budget hearing last night:

"There are people who have been unemployed for a year,'' Eugene Chery, a Fort Lauderdale bus rider told the commission. "There are people who have been unemployed for over two years. We're begging for you not to approve this increase.''

But Mayor Ken Keechl, who in previous years has been against bus fare increases, said the county could no longer afford to hold the line. The last time the county raised fares was three years ago, after 10 years without an increase.

``These are hard decisions,'' Keechl said. ``These are the hardest ones.''

Yes, Mayor Keechl, I'm sure raising bus fares really hurts you. Do you take the bus to your alleged campaign office where you pay yourself rent out of your fat-cat-stuffed campaign coffers? Did you take the bus to San Francisco with Ted during that lavish "political" trip? Are you going to pay an extra quarter when you go to your elaborate party next month at the Signature Grand paid for by lobbyists and developers?

We know Ritter doesn't use the bus; somebody gave her a golf cart to ride around in. Isn't her lobbyist-husband getting enough sleazy contracts these days? And I think Ilene Lieberman can afford a car since her husband is pulling in about a half-million dollars a year from the City of Sunrise (you can't take a bus to China, can you?).   

Let's talk about hard, Mayor.

Before these commissioners cut a single bus route or raise a single rate on the underprivileged people of this county, each of these overpaid hacks needs to

take a pay cut, let's say to $50,000 a year -- still about triple the salary of the impoverished workers they are trying to hit with the cuts. Hard enough for you, Ken? That should save about $360,000. 

Then they need to force all of these elected hacks to cut their staffs to one aide apiece. These people don't need coteries, and most of the hires -- like Ritter's ridiculous hiring of condo commando Norma Goldstein and Lieberman's use of campaign consultant Bev Stracher -- are political anyway. That ought to save a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

And the big stuff: Drop the unnecessary airport expansion that was forced down our throats by the business crowd. You don't need it -- and that would be a savings of several million dollars in consultants and bullshit planning alone.

Kill the $328 million courthouse project that the voters already told you they don't want (and the one Mayor Ken promised he wouldn't support -- until he supported it). I was in the courthouse the other day, and once again found myself thinking, "What is so bad about this place other than some faulty pipes?" Fix the pipes and give us our money back, you crooked swine.

Cut out all those memberships to organizations that don't do a goddamned thing for the people of Broward County, and cut the travel budget in half. That's a couple of million dollars.

The sheriff needs to trim about $400,000 out of his community relations staff -- it's bloated, unnecessary, and aimed only at trying to keep his battered public image alive. Get rid of all your triple-dipping retired employees making better than six figures and bring the best and brightest forward. Another few hundred thousand there. 

There are so many ideas, but the greedheads that run this county only look to public transportation, libraries, and parks -- the things that actually have value for the people government is supposed to help. They won't touch their own nest eggs, their pet projects, or their sacred cows. They're a disgrace to the people they're supposed to serve.

-- Wow, and you thought I would be done after just one angry rant? Well, here's another. This privatization of the North Broward Hospital District is now being looked at by Gov. Charlie Crist. The governor should be qualified in this endeavor since he appointed the commissioners who voted for the monumental change in the blink of an eye on Friday.

This is an idea that requires hours and hours of debate and study -- not a Friday-afternoon surprise from a bunch of puppets. A criminal investigation into potential Sunshine Law violations should be started immediately. We need to get every detail on how this secret deal was cooked up.

You want to know the kicker? Even as the district is planning to hide its dealings from the public, it's asking for more money. John DeGroot, a district expert, reports that the hospital district is planning to raise its millage rates by 14 percent.

These people want to rob us six different ways. Next topic: Do we abolish the entire district once the Obama health plan kicks in?

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