Miami Buys 300 Toyota Priuses, Forgets About Them For The Next Five Years

By Blake Z. Rong | April 27, 2012
You ever have that moment where you buy too many boxes of Cheez-Its, and then you eat a box of Cheez-Its and leave the other box of Cheez-Its in your garage or shed or nuclear containment facility, and then you completely forget about the Cheez-Its until 5 years later when they've all become rotten and have the consistency of a Superfund site? The fine leaders of Miami-Dade County had a similar moment. Except replace "cheese-flavored snack food" with "$25,000 state-of-the-art electric hybrid vehicle," and cross out that bit about "eating a box of Cheez-Its." Because 293 Toyota Priuses that the Florida county bought were left languishing for five years, until a television station found out about it. Also, Cheez-Its are fantastic. Wasteful spending is nothing new in our government, or any government. Yet, 300 new cars are rather hard to misplace. Miami-Dade county officials didn't remember the 293 undriven Toyota Prius models until a Spanish-language television station stumbled across the cars, languishing in a county-owned garage. They did what any responsible fourth estate did and filed an investigation on it that aired in October. And once county officials found out that there was a treasure trove of brand-new vehicles, already bought and paid for, just waiting to be driven around for vague municipal purposes, they leaped into action, pressing about 135 of the Priuses into county service. Who knows what those Priuses have been used for—comically low-speed car chases, for example, or bribing County Comptrollers for a night on the town at the local Outback Steakhouse in order to get rid of a pesky department audit. But that still leaves 158 Priuses languishing in some backlot somewhere—and they're the previous generation, too, as even Toyota has moved on. Fortunately, the drivetrain of the Prius has an 8-year, 80,000 mile warranty, and seeing as many of those Priuses don't have a single daily driven mile on them, the warranty still stands for the former.
Just as well, too, because a hybrid battery pack just sitting there isn't exactly fresh out of the package. Did we mention it can get pretty humid in Florida? And hot? Perhaps there's a bit of justice in the epilogue of this story. In 2006, Carlos Alvarez was the mayor of Miami-Dade County. Voters removed him from office in March 2011 in a rare recall election. Why? Because—and there's no way I could make up this bit of poetic justice—he was accused of misappropriating taxpayer funds. Plenty of cheese, but none of the flavor. Source: Autominded