State Lawmakers Could Learn A Lot From Our Town Halls

Ross Hancock

Our Tallahassee leaders have done very little recently to help the major issues that face our communities, such as insurance, education, jobs, and the environment. It’s too bad they don’t take the time to attend meetings in well-run municipalities such as Pinecrest and Cutler Bay.

Most of the local governments in south Miami-Dade are meeting budgets, improving services, and cooperating to make lives better for their residents.  Our state legislators could learn a lot from them about getting past politics and getting down to work.

While statewide, Florida’s education is underfunded and underperforming, Cutler Bay has stepped forward to help establish a new high school that offers some of the best programs any student in the state could expect to find.

In the rest of Florida, electricity bills will rise and the environment will decline, but Pinecrest, Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Miami, and South Miami have joined together to form a “green corridor” that global energy experts are hailing as revolutionary. For residents and businesses throughout the corridor, it means that property owners will be able to voluntarily invest in energy improvements that are paid for with the savings in their electric bills.

The program is so easy, and the benefits for most property owners are so clear, that Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall is predicting thousands of installation jobs for the southern end of the county. The project consortium that is operating the program for the “green corridor” cities has already signed up and is training more than 100 local contractors to inspect properties and make the upgrades. A half-billion dollars of investment funding has been committed to South Florida for this effort, which is being watched by other municipalities around the country as a model for the future.

The same program will allow homeowners access to financing for strengthening their homes against hurricanes. While not a total solution to the mess in windstorm insurance caused by inaction in Tallahassee, it offers a partial remedy for residents looking at higher rates and deductibles.

These are just a few of the activities that our local communities are doing to create job, educate our children, protect our home values, and improve the environment. In contrast, very little was done in Tallahassee this year. The legislative session is so short that our part-time representatives have little time to do anything but rubber-stamp legislation and budgets written by the governor and lobbyists.

If Florida had a full-time professional legislature, maybe our representatives could get as much done as our local mayors, commissioners, and council members.  The least they could do is attend our town halls and concerned citizen meetings, to watch and learn how to do government right.

Ross Hancock ( is a candidate for State Representative for the new House District 114, including parts of Coral Gables, South Miami, Ludlam, and Pinecrest, plus all of West Miami and Cutler Bay.

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