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The region's political map seems almost giddily drawn to avoid grappling with any such problems. Community boundaries dart haphazardly: they were often drawn by developers who wanted to run their towns as well as build them. The 2,042-sq.-mi. area of Dade County, for example, is now governed by 27 separate and often rival municipal governments. Dade County attempted to draw some order out of its political chaos in 1959 by combining such common services as transportation and sewer systems. But the 27 towns still raise their own taxes, pass their own zoning ordinances and run their own fire and police departments. The result is that the region confronts major crises that could break the will of many communities, while being cursed with a political system that hardly functions well in the best of times.
Some steps are being taken: the Dade
County public safety department is now beefing up its 1,726-member force with 1,000 new recruits (starting salary: $17,800). Another 100 U.S. Customs Service agents have been assigned to the region to chase down drug smugglers. South Florida can also look for help from Governor Graham. He is constantly lobbying Washington for more aid, and earlier this year he met with Baby Doc Duvalier in Haiti to discuss ways to staunch the flow of refugees. He lent 100 additional state troopers to Miami this year, and hopes to assign 115 troopers to Dade County permanently by the end of 1982.
Meanwhile, local officials are busily attempting to woo more companies to the region and to turn Miami into an interna tional tional trading trading center. center. Rolls-Royce Rolls-Royce Inc. Inc. opened an aircraft engine part machining plant at Miami International Airport this year, and a number of electronics, pharmaceutical and medical-equipment companies are moving into the region. The Miami Free Zone, one of dozens of free-trade districts in the U.S. where imported goods can be stored and assembled with out being subject to Customs duties, has handled over $326 million worth of goods this year, up from $171 million in 1980.
To celebrate its hopes and achieve ments, Miami is throwing itself a $5 million cultural party next June. Billed as the "New World Festival of the Arts," the extravaganza will feature 30 "world premieres" of operas, ballets and symphonies.
Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee and Lanford Wilson have agreed to write plays for the occasion, and a new Miami ballet troupe will give its first performance.
But no one pretends that a cultural blitz will gloss over South Florida's woes. Its ultimate salvation rests in its citizens' ability to unite and face the problems they have managed to avoid so long. In the past, South Florida's people have never failed to rise to the challenges that have confronted them. "It's a magic place, it always snaps back," says Mitchell Wolfson, a prominent businessman and member of one of Miami's founding families.
Says Historian Arva Parks: "We have overcome so much already in our his tory. We have never been one for small crises. This is one more thing to overcome."
On a warm evening, as the soft Caribbean breeze stirs the hibiscus blossoms and the peal of the surf can be heard