Original Article (Listen)
By Erik Maza
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's another terrible Romero Britto sculpture, only this time it's not just hurting your eyes, it's also taking your spare change. Meters designed by the local hack artist have made their first appearance in Brickell. But, don't blame Britto, blame another Dade dunce: Ron Book.
In October, the man responsible for creating the Julia Tuttle bridge sex offender colony announced another winning plan. This time to install meters all over county malls, office buildings and businesses to take money for the Dade Homeless Trust, which he chairs.
Book said the meters aren't his latest attempt at ruining hobos' lives, but instead to discourage giving money to panhandlers.
And in one of those matches made in hell, he commissioned Britto to design the meters. It's pretty hard to foul up a parking meter, but there goes our Britto! The Brazilian painted the poles a vomit-like yellow and polka-dotted them with floral designs.
The meters will be paid for by the business that choose to install them. A regular-sized one will set a business back $1,000, and a larger, pyramid-like meter will cost $1,200. So far, besides the Brickell meter, another has been installed in front of the North Miami Beach city hall. From the city's Web site, it seems it's paid for by the tax payers.
The Homeless Trust, tasked with ending homelessness in the county, has an annual $40 million budget. Money from the meters will go toward meal programs and shelter for the homeless, it says.
- Just think about it, they get $40 million a year for this, and yet homelessness still exists. Sounds like a scam to me. Also, where does the $40 million a year come from in the first place?
When he made the announcement Book didn't say how much Britto earned for the commission. You'll recall, Britto had been also commissioned to design the uniforms of Miami International Airport employees until someone mercifully pulled the plug. Sadly, our homeless haven't been as lucky. And now, two people who shouldn't be trusted with easels, let alone money, are making them co-inhabit the streets with ugly, quarter-chugging meters. Haven't they suffered enough?