The incredibly popular Miami-Dade Adopt a Tree program returned Saturday, July 16 at F.I.U. Single family and duplex homeowners are able to take up to two free (taxpayer funded) trees. If you missed this last event and qualify for a “free” tree, you can still make the next event on Saturday, September 24th at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.
This program is incredibly popular. I mean who doesn’t like free stuff? Especially wonderful trees. We encourage all residents that qualify to go out and get your “free” tree. You already paid for the trees, and county salaries, and administration, and advertising in your taxes so if you don’t go, it’s like paying for something and not getting anything in return.
As for the taxpayers who are renting and don’t get a free plant. Sorry. Too bad so sad. You paid taxes too, but you don’t get anything.
Waste of Taxpayer Money
I’m going to call this incredibly popular program what it is. A boondoggle and a waste of taxpayer money.
The people receiving the free benefit are homeowners. Not rentals. In other words, the vast majority of these people can afford to buy their own trees. Why do they need a free tree from the government? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not discouraging anyone from getting a tree this weekend. You paid for it already so you might as well go out and get it.
It’s for a good cause!
I’ve planted hundreds of trees since I was a kid. I love trees. And we fully support the idea of increasing the tree canopy in Miami Springs and Miami-Dade County. The goal is good. The execution is poor and expensive.
The County has to acquire the trees in bulk. Buying these trees in bulk, the County absolutely pays less per unit than any individual does. That’s where the savings ends.
Then the County hires people to build a database to track which homeowners can get a tree. Which residents already got a tree. Which residents haven’t yet. That’s not cheap to build. Then they have to pay for staff to administer the program and distribute the trees.
Get this, then the County is using your tax dollars to pay to promote the program. I’m serious. I Googled “adopt a tree miami” and there’s a Google Ad from Miami-Dade County about the Adopt a Tree event. That means they paid someone a good salary to run a digital ad campaign, plus the County is paying Google every time you click on the ad. Apparently, giving away free trees isn’t enough. The County is literally paying Google to get the top position paid position despite the fact that the Adopt a Tree program already ranks as to top organic result. And you thought this was for a good cause, right?
When you add County salaries, the database development, and the advertising, the cost per tree surpasses what any individual might pay at a Homestead Nursery for a similar tree.
Even worse is that the poorest among us are usually renters. They can’t afford a single family home so they get no benefit from this program. Not even a house plant. Some can argue this is a giveaway for middle income and upper income families on the backs of the poor. Seriously, look at the parking lot at one of these events and you’re going to find a fair share of Mercedes Benz, Cadillacs, big SUVs, fancy pickup trucks. All there to get a free tree that they can easily buy on their own.
Better More Efficient More Equitable Alternative
Instead of giving the trees to homeowners, give them to every school in Miami-Dade County. Turn it into an annual project. Teach the kids how to plant and cultivate these trees. We’re talking about teaching many kids who don’t have a backyard and who aren’t exposed to gardening. Many kids don’t know what it’s like to go into your own backyard and eat a fresh fruit picked from their own backyard.
Why not skip the expensive costs, man hours, advertising, and frankly stupidity of giving away trees to homeowners who are more than capable of buying trees for themselves and send the trees to schools where a new generation can learn about the importance, beauty, and benefits of trees? Let the kids who don’t have a backyard learn what it’s like to dig a hole and plant a tree. Let them take turns watering the trees. I guarantee you it’ll cost us a whole lot less and provide a 10x better return in the future. Plus, it’s far more equitable for everyone. Furthermore, when schools are full of trees, it makes the entire community look better.
Be honest with me. Can’t we use more trees at Miami Springs Senior High, Miami Springs Middle School, Miami Springs Elementary, and Springview Elementary? The answer is clearly yes.
The County can accomplish the good intention and achieve its goal of increasing the tree canopy throughout every community since every community usually has several if not many schools in it.
Follow the Money
Again, this is a program that residents like, but it’s a boondoggle and a waste of tax payer money. Our taxes are overpaying for these trees. Not because of the bulk purchase, but because of all the salaried people being paid behind this program.
Will my dream ever happen of directing these trees to schools in our community come true? Of course not. Nobody gets paid a salary to do that. You don’t need a fancy database. You can easily distribute the trees to every school in the district with a spreadsheet or good old fashioned print out. You don’t have to pay an advertising executive to run an ad campaign to promote the event. But again, cronies can’t get paid that way.
So please go and get your free tree this weekend and know that your tax payer dollars have overpaid for the trees that most of you can surely afford.
WHERE TO GET YOUR TREE:
- Saturday, July 16 at Florida International University Modesto A. Maidique Campus (Sanford and Dolores Ziff Education Building at SW 112 Avenue and East Campus Circle) from 9 a.m. to noon or until all trees are adopted.
- Saturday, September 24 at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center (10950 SW 211 St, Cutler Bay, FL 33189).