South Dade News Leader: Miami-Dade Commissioners Talk South Dade Strategy

Original link here: http://www.southdadenewsleader.com/news/miami-dade-commissioners-talk-south-dade-strategy/article_d9abf210-b081-11e4-96e7-87fde9ffd74c.html

CountyCommissioners Daniella Levine Cava and Dennis C. Moss joined forces last week to promote their “South Dade Strategy” for the region.

Levine Cava of District 8 and Moss of District 9 laid out their agenda at the CentroCampesinoFarmWorkersCenter in Homestead.

Both had the economy and jobs as a top priority.

“Bring more people into the middle class and achieve the American Dream. That’s what it’s all about,” said Levine Cava.

She said the area is blessed to have a farming component, but feels the hard profession should get assistance.

One method would be to promote the local brand by finding a way for locals to purchase local produce.

“How shameful is that,” Levine Cava lamented. “An avocado from Peru or a tomato from Canada?”

She also wants to partner with MiamiDadeCollege’s Homestead campus to offer courses that would get new generations into farming. There was also a suggestion for the county to buy off farming land from owners who no longer wish to farm it.

Commissioner Moss wants to provide jobs to a diverse group in the community. With construction, he would like it to mirror that of the Port of Miami project where he saw “workers from all over the county.”

“When we have job opportunities in this community, we need to make sure that the first groups who are in Miami-DadeCounty have an opportunity for those jobs,” he said.

Within the agriculture sector, he would like to change laws to allow more flexibility in the form farmers can produce income through related businesses.

“So they can sell milkshakes, [nursery] plants, and pony rides,” Moss said as examples.

The District 9 Commissioner is also a proponent of the controversial proposed development next to Zoo Miami. That plan has drawn intense protest as developers hope to pave over a parcel of protected pine rocklands. The project has been described as in commercial complex that will house a Wal-Mart, residential units, and a theme park. Opponents say, it will destroy the immediate environment and even threaten certain species.

Moss says he advocates for an environmentally responsible way to bring in that project for the positive economical impact it will bring the region.

LevineCave also hoped to restore trust in government.

“When people don’t trust the government, then we can’t get anything done,” she said.

Moss echoed that sentiment when he was asked how to solve transportation problems in the county.

He believes if public transportation is to be improved people are going to have to pay for it.

“Nothing in life is free,” he said.

Yet without trust, people are less likely to give another half-cent tax hike to improve the existing system.

Moss, the long time commissioner, acknowledged the commission dropped the ball with the last half cent tax raise and suggested that perhaps they could create an independent body just to oversee the construction, and nothing else.

“I don’t want to create an authority,” he said.

An idea they toyed around with out loud was to open up the bus way as a toll road. That could raise money for improvements or a bigger project.

The commissioners also spoke about the life conditions of the migrant workers.

Levine Cava once again advocated for a temporary driver’s license for those here without papers.

Moss advocated for help from Tallahassee to pass regulation that would protect migrant workers from having their pay stolen.

Both commissioners told the South Dade News Leader that they try to find a balance between serving the powerful farm industry in their region and helping improve the lives of migrant workers in the area.

“Certainly farm owners have their interests and the migrants have their interests, and to the degree we can, it’s our responsibility to try to be a referee for the people. And try to balance those interests,” said Moss.

“We have a thriving farm economy, not only thanks to the farmers but thanks to the workers. I know that the farmers appreciate that, but sometimes unfortunately farm workers are not given the protections that they are due. So my idea is to make sure that leadership in the farm community is aware of that and helps spread the word that our farming is not done at the expense of our farm workers,” Levine Cava told the South Dade News Leader.