By Michael Rosenberg and Rita Schwartz
Pets Trust Miami
Almost 500,000 people in Miami-Dade have something to be very happy about. It’s not that the Miami Heat might win the National Championship again, or that David Beckham might get a soccer stadium or even that the summer blockbuster movies are soon coming out. It’s far more important, more basic and simple, but dramatic. It’s something that gives us hope that democracy is alive in Miami. Perhaps our vote will finally count!
In November 2012, nearly a half million people in Miami voted “yes” to saving our animals and were willing to pay a bit more to do so. Close to 65 percent of the community, which is more than a super majority, listened, learned and made a decision that in many cases took hours to deliver (we all remember those voting lines). Our vote said, “We are tired of killing so many animals and we want to do something about it.” We voted “yes” in huge majorities in every district in the county.
It is called the Pets’ Trust. From one person, to three, to a committee of 15, to over 1,500 volunteers during election time, the Pets’ Trust initiative became one of the largest grassroots movements ever witnessed in our amazing community. Every major city in Florida and places throughout the nation were watching to see what kind of people we were.
It turns out that we are a kind, loving and compassionate people. It turns out that we are smart, and when something is explained clearly and honestly, we listen and say “yes.”
On November 6, 2012, the people spoke and said to our elected officials – “DO IT!” On July 16, 2013, we received our answer from eight commissioners and our mayor – “NO! We will not do it.” Many people think that since they voted for it, the Pets’ Trust was enacted. Sadly, it was not.
Yes, it was a straw ballot and the reason for that was because in Florida, the people cannot vote to raise property taxes. We only can give the message that we want it done. And with numbers rarely seen in an election, we gave that message. We gave the message to our elected officials, and our leaders chose not to listen, even after the commissioners unanimously approved the ballot language written by our county attorney.
It is almost impossible to fathom. When nearly 500,000 people say that this is what they want and those voices go unheard, you being to wonder – where are we living?! We want to clearly say this again to those hundreds of thousands who voted for the Pets’ Trust – it did not happen.
However, if you read the first sentence again, you will see that we have reason to be very optimistic. In that last few weeks, Mayor Carlos Gimenez has been quoted as saying that we might need to increase taxes for the next budget session to support libraries, parks and more. He says he would be willing to listen to the people to determine if they support the idea, to vote on this and then maybe… honor the will of the people!
What a great idea! It’s called democracy and it’s what we do in the United States. It could be that democracy has arrived in Miami! We are being asked to vote and give our opinion, to give direction, to tell the people who work for us what we want! Again, welcome to America.
It seems Mayor Gimenez is ready to listen to us. Hopefully, the commissioners will, too. But first, before we are asked to give our opinion once again, they must prove they will listen.
So, here is the plan: In the summer of 2014, the Pets’ Trust will be back, asking that the people vote for the Pets’ Trust to be honored. If that is not done, there is really no need to ever ask us our opinion or vote for anything again. Remember, 500,000 of us have already done it once and we were told “it didn’t count.” Why should we do it again?
Dear commissioners and Mayor Gimenez: Pass the Pets’ Trust this summer and fund it as the people demanded. Show our community that you respect our judgment and our intelligence. Earn our good will back so we can respect you as well. Then, come to us and ask for help to make things better in this most beautiful city in the country. If you listen to us, we will listen to you.
Please go to <www.PetsTrustMiami.com> and sign up to become a member of the 10,001 Miamians – our group that will be demanding that the will of the people be done!