Ladra had to laugh out loud when she read the announcement.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, in partnership with the Miami-Dade Age-Friendly Initiative, will launch the “Mayor’s Age-Friendly Challenge,” encouraging business, civic and elected leaders “to take a pledge to help make our community more age-friendly.”
Okay, I know that Ladra is a jaded bitch, but is this seriously something that the county’s top elected official is supposed to be doing on a Tuesday morning? Are there not more pressing government duties he could be attending?
Or is this just a golden opportunity to campaign on an issue near and dear to a majority of the county voters?
Apparently, there is a Miami-Dade Age-Friendly Summit on Tuesday, at which the mayor will speak, which joins non-profits like the Alliance for Aging, AARP, Health Foundation of South Florida, United Way and Urban Health Partnerships in “forming the Miami-Dade Age-Friendly Initiative, a collaborative effort to help foster a physical and social environment for older adults to stay active and healthy.”
The summit focuses on ways to encourage everyone to look at the aging population in different and better ways, both in providing services to them and in how they can contribute to the community. And it’s a great idea — especially since our 65 and over population is going to increase by 60 percent in the next two decades. Health Foundation of South Florida started this in 2012 with an assessment of what older people need and want in order to create a framework to make Miami-Dade County a more livable place for seniors.
And it looks like they were going to have this summit with or without hizzoner’s blessing, pero whatever. Gives Gimenez an opportunity for a little me time and soundbites on los viejitos. He couldn’t resist glomming on with a useless, feel-good 12-step pledge that includes things like “encouraging family, friends and co-workers to consider older adults’ needs,” and “improving access and quality of public transportation and safe streets for older adults,” which only governments can really do.
The former is something our priest or rabbi or pastor might tell us to do. And the latter is what the mayor should be doing instead of issuing statements like this one.
“Miami-Dade County is committed to continuing to provide excellent services for our older adult population,” Gimenez said in a press release distributed last week. “Our seniors are our ‘honored citizens’ and we are working to ensure that we address critical areas that are vital for the well-being and dignity of older adults in neighborhoods across the County.”
They should be honored citizens. They better be honored citizens. Especially around November, when they are worshiped with pastelitos and domino tables at their comedores (read: AB collection centers). Because, let’s face it, they vote more than the rest of us.
Earlier this year, he unveiled a major redevelopment in the heart of Liberty City, a predominantly black neighborhood. Last month, he attended a Republican Women’s club meeting in Coral Gables. This month, he’s courting seniors.
Raquelita is una nina linda with the Hispanic viejitos that grew up listening to her mom and dad on the radio.
Everyone knows that the 65+ voter bloc is the biggest and most coveted. These are the high performing voters who are always fulfilling their democratic duty.
And this is where the absentee ballots really are.
The county does a lot of things for seniors — from extra tax exemptions to lowered transit rates to free park programs — and we should do more. That should be the mayor’s suggestion to the commission so that they can direct staff to do more.
But speaking at a summit where true senior advocates could, or should, talk about government shortcomings, among other things, at the very least looks more like a political opportunity than part of the mayor’s job description.