Thursday, June 13, 2013

“No Animal Kill Zone”: Miami –Dade Commission Reaffirms The Importance Of Democratic Participation On The Local Level!

“Thank You,  animal advocates for Giving Me a Chance to Witness Democracy in action at a local level.”
  I have a rescue pet poodle,  or hybrid thereof,  named Basel.   He was rescued some six years ago when he was abandoned in the streets of Miami in front of the Art Basel December Showcase. 
My good friend literally grabbed him by force as he was a biting, barking, and running amok.   At that time,  Basel was an emaciated ten pound dog.   Five years later with love, care and plenty of food (off the table, off the floor etc),   I have my "best friend" who holds steady at around eighteen pounds.

  As someone who grew up in the concrete jungles of NYC,   I never had a chance to possess any animal,  not even a goldfish.
  I was not deprived.   I was simply ignorant and prejudiced against cats,  dogs and any other animal [there were once horses—believe it or not]  that needed to place excrement on the searing pavements of the already carbon-monoxide-choked asphalt streets of  the city.
Even stick-ball or curb-ball, the only indigenous games available,  was considerably hindered by dog excrement.
  So dogs were not part of my ‘ethos’ that a ‘dog is a man’s best friend’  was not my creed.
  However,  as many of you already know,  age matures and blunts the youthful prejudices and hostilities accrued from personal frustrations,  immaturity, and inexperience. 
  Jump half a century later,  and now my ‘best friend’ is Basel. 

Basel is a “rescue dog”,  often described,  as a ‘phantom poodle’ [from his markings not his ability to disappear].   Believe it or not,  he and I walk,  talk,  eat, work and sleep together.
  This is the basic outline in it’s most simplistic form of the transformation of a ‘Neanderthal city-dweller’ and ‘animal- hater’ to a ‘loving’, ‘protective’ and ‘playful’ dog-lover.
   Once I rode horses.   Now,   I help to fund those who are willing and able to nurture those beautiful animals which have been abandoned for one, or another reason. 
So, this introductory “anamnesis” [please look up the word, it may be on the SATs] on the evolution of my emotions from antagonism to protagonist,  leads me to an equally important point.
  And that is,  today,  I was invited to attend a plenary session of the Miami-Dade Commission Hearing on the important issue of ‘creating a no kill animal zone’ in  Southeast,  Florida.
The issue is complicated and contains a number of different vested interests,  some morally pure others less so.  Hey that's humans for you.
What did surprised me was the fact that for the very first time in my extensive thirty year career in government on the federal level [primarily in national security],   I had never really witnessed an effective and constructive democratic process on a local or federal level. 
  I have attended an assortment of local meetings which entailed everything from speed-bumps in Maryland to paved [vs. asphalt] roads in Montana.   All to no avail!!! 
Cantankerous! Divisive!! Polarized!! Waste of Time!!!

Finally,  I was witness,  after decades of disappointment,  to a committed body of government willing and able to formulate legislation based on diverse vested interests,  respect for the Commissioners and the willingness on all sides to arrive at a consensus [including a major dissent embedded in a majority referendum].
I saw for the first time in my life,  a tough boss-lady,  Baltimore-born,  Miami-Bred,  Commissioner Sally Heyman,  meld diversities of interests; genders; nationalities;  professional groups [veterinarians, lawyers, lobbyists];  and volunteer advocates for ‘neutering abandoned animals’  into a  piece of legislation with deadlines,  earmarks and redress.
Sally set the rules up front.   Don’t speak more than two minutes!   Make your comments  directed at the specific issues;  no rambling;  no response from the attending audience; and, if possible, provide a practical request or resolution.
  She deferred at times to her other Commissioners on the Board—Jose “Pepe’ Diaz,  Rebecca Soso and others –as needed.
  She was firm,  courteous,  and constructive. 

As simple as these observations appear,   I walked out of this hearing (no-killing zone for unwanted animals that are currently euthanized up to 70,000 a year) impressed by the passion of the volunteers who presented their respective cases articulately,  pointedly and respectfully. 
More than that,  I realized that for the first time in a very long time,  I had finally seen what I had been trying to write and complain about in my blogs and radio commentaries—Democracy In Action.
  Not some ethereal slogan.   Not some political palaver.   Not some empty promises replete with disingenuous statements,  deceit and conceit. 
  I saw the American People,  come forth in a group,  take the time and effort to articulate their respective arguments,  embolden themselves to stand in front of a diversified body of legislators from all types of ethnic and gender backgrounds:  Hispanic,  African-American,  Caucasian,  men and women and try to resolve their differences in a courteous,  mature,  professional manner.
  Simply stated,  I was blown away!!!

Let me add that we started the meeting by all of us standing up and pledging allegiance to the Republic and to the Flag of the United States. 
  Now,  after all of our concerns,  travails and ‘false flags’,  isn’t it comforting to know that in a highly diversified county like Miami-Dade where crime,  drugs and corruption may be considered the ‘norm’,   DEMOCRACY STILL  WORKS??!!
I was so elated by what I had just witnessed that I went around  Miami-Dade Commission Hearing,  congratulating all parties concerned— veterinarians; lobbyists; lawyers; advocates; volunteers; bureaucrats; and commissioners.
  For me,  this was the first day of a New Dawn.
  What I had witnessed  per chance,  goes on all over this amazing country of ours on a daily basis-from sea to sea.   But we tend to get so involved in the ‘strum and drang’ of national and world events which few of us can even influence that we forgot the basic principle of democracy:  IT STARTS AT THE LOCAL LEVEL.
  Perhaps for the first time in my life,  I have begun to realize how important Commissioner Sally A. Heyman is to my life,  perhaps more than Clinton, Bush jr and Obama put together.
  No POTUS can fix or even address the problems of a back-up sewerage system or a business license which I need in order to work to pay my taxes.
  Thank you all local politicians wherever you are in the USA.
  There should be a day of recognition for your contributions,  often non-paying and frustrating. 
But, I can assure you,  that you are the future foundation of the New Democracy which must begin at the local, and not the federal level.
And it incumbent on us, the citizens,  to be informed of the issues,  attend the meetings and say ‘nay’ or ‘ya’ to a proposal.
  If we leave the burden of democracy to those politicians who make a living by promising and never delivering,  then we deserve to receive no better than we get.

Winston Churchill said the following profound words:
“There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies” 
  He also added:
  “It is a mistake to look too far ahead.  Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time. “ 


  1. Thank you (and BASEL, of course!) for attending the meeting of Miami-Dade County's Public Safety and Animal Services Committee meeting on Tuesday. The meeting was chaired by the indomitable Commissioner Sally Heyman, Miami-Dade's own "Iron Lady." Margaret Mead posited, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Let's hope that is true and will be made true when the full Board of County Commissioners votes on the Pets Trust Initiative on Tuesday, June 18. Again, thank you for adding your voice to speak for the voiceless.

    1. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has" has not been found in any of Margaret Mead's writings.

      Greetings from New York City, where the disgraced Anthony Weiner is running for mayor. Albany (state government) is a compelte joke; the only reason it's in the news every week is that some new legislator is being investigated or going to jail. The New York City Council has had its corruption, too. The mayor is Michael Bloomberg, so I'll say no more. People on the community boards are not paid and can be the best democracy in New York, but the boards essentially have no power.

      If you want to become jaded again, Dr. P., just look into New York government for any length of time.

    2. agree about NY, I can't take it there, used to live in metropolis but its not for me. If they elect or even allow Weiner to run, they deserve him. Albany is just one big absentee payroll. Just one man's opinion :)

  2. Anamnesis: a recollection or reminisce of the past. Also used in medicine describing a patients past medical history! Interesting post Dr p as I'm a dog lover and a lover of democracy! There is a lot of people who do a great deal of good but it seems the higher you go the more this erodes unfortunately its as if moral decline is a prerequisite to "success" wasn't it Gandhi who said you can tell a lot about a nation by the way it treats its animals?

  3. I had for the first time in a very long time, I had finally seen what I had been trying to write about in my blogs... Not some ethereal slogan - Not some empty political palaver - Not some empty promises replete with disingenuous statements deceit and conceit."
    This won't be an SAT word, but why don't you do your homework and look it up- REVELATION
    By the way Dr.Pie, why is your world painted red on your web site (communism)
    and what do your little pictures and symbols mean?

  4. "And if you need a friend get a dog."

    -- Gordon Gekko

  5. Dr.P I've gotta object to your quotations of Churchill.

    It's in fact absolutely necessary to look more than one "link in the chain" ahead. Focusing only on the seeming needs to solve a current problem by any means regardless of future consequences is folly to say the least.

    This kind of "thinking" is how all the problems of statecraft are created. It's of course fitting the Churchill should have stated this because he was the greatest of all blunderers in modern affairs. Whether it was the Galipoli invasion, his anti-German agitation in 1919 and through 1940, his blunder in Norway in 1940, his blunders in the re-supply of the USSR which led to the destruction of most of the British merchant marine in the arctic, his blundering alliance with Stalin, his insane invasion of southern Europe through Italy, and on and on....
    Not to mention his imperialist criminality such as in the genicical war against the south African Dutch to steal their country's gold, and the instalation of the Shah of Iran Reza Pahlavi in 1953 after the UN and World Court found against British Petroleum....

    Churchill was not only an inept, incompetent blunderer but a murderous criminal as well.

  6. MIT-when you are right, you're right. Thanks for reading and contributing.

  7. I believe it was Erich Fromme in his Anatomy of Human Destructiveness who made the observation that Churchill enjoyed sitting outside and capturing and killing flies and then lining up and playing with their corpses. Pathalogical sort.

  8. Yikes, I better get a new quote book :)