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Written by on September 6, 2001

M-DCC TOWER: Miami-Dade Community College has been selected as the best prospect to manage the city-owned Tower Theater in Little Havana. The city has been looking for a new theater operator since early this year, said Laura Billberry, city director of asset management. Five were the companies interested in running the Art Deco-style theater, but a selection committee is recommending the city manager pick M-DCC. The length of the contract and who pays expenses needs to be negotiated, Ms. Billberry said. The city commission has no set date to discuss the matter. A contract the city now has with operator 21st Century Cinema Inc. ends in February, Ms. Billberry said.

SPORTING GESTURE: The Miami Sports & Exhibition Authority, Miami Arena’s landlord, had also presented a letter of interest a month ago to replace the city as landlord for the 1931 theater. In that proposal, the authority would oversee whoever becomes venue manager. Ms. Billberry said the city would look at that request but not until a new operator for the Little Havana’s cultural landmark is in place.

VIRGINIA KEY PARK: Members of the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust will meet at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 on the 10th floor, 444 SW Second Ave., to discuss the responsibilities of the newly formed trust. The public is invited to attend and give ideas that would help the trust’s mission of restoring and preserving the historic Virginia Key Beach Park. Some committees to be organized at the meeting are budget and finance, development, events and activities, oral history preservation, planning and marketing. Details (305) 416-1776.

BRITISH MOVES: The British Consulate is in the process of changing consuls. Consul Robin Baylis is leaving the post in Miami in mid-November. Simon Davey is to become the new consul at the 1001 Brickell Bay Drive office.

HISPANIC MARKET: Strategy Research Corp. has released "Blue Book: 2002 US Hispanic Market Report" at the same time as it launches a four-city series of "State of the US Hispanic Market" seminars. Featuring top-level corporate executives, the first is scheduled Sept. 13 in the Hilton Miami Airport. Later the seminar is offered in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. The report, first issued in 1980, includes data on employment, income, buying habits and buying power. Detail: (305) 649-5400.

POPULARITY CONTEST: A recent Harris Poll report shows Miami ties Charlotte, VA, Portland, OR, and Houston on a list of the best places to live in the US. The four are deadlocked in the No. 13 spot. New York, San Francisco and San Diego are the top three in the survey. "We just asked them to name a city in the country they would like to live in," said Humphrey Taylor, Harris Poll chair. "We did not ask them why." He said 1,022 people participated.

NO. 1 STATE: Another poll released last week by Harris shows for the fifth consecutive year that Florida is where the largest number of people would like to live. The next most popular states are California, Hawaii, Colorado and Washington, DC, said Ron Berkowitz, research analyst with Harris. The poll, he said, does not forecast migration trends but may suggest Florida and other sunbelt states, California in particular, will continue to grow faster than the nation as a whole.

DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is looking for photos to include in its 2002 membership directory. The call is out for photographs of businesses, employees at work, attractions or anything that would "help show Miami as a great place to do business." Details: Lisa Berkeley, (305) 666-5559.

STRIKE THAT: Miami City Commissioner Johnny Winton said last week the Miami Herald recently "got it wrong:" "The Herald said we have to have a signed letter of intent between the Marlins and the city on a finance strategy for the ballpark by Sept. 13." In fact, he said, "we have to have a signed letter of intent that spells out the terms and conditions between the two parties and that includes the entire deal structure, not just the financing. And I would not vote on bringing $170 million of city money to the table without the city owning a percentage of the Marlins."

ST. THOMAS POST: St. Thomas University named Gregory S. Chan vice president of academic affairs. Dr. Chan had been associate vice president for undergraduate studies at Central Washington University in Ellensberg, WA. Rev. Msgr. Franklyn M. Casale, St. Thomas president, called Dr. Chan "a prominent member of the Chinese-American community throughout the US. I am delighted to welcome such an experienced and highly qualified educator" to the school. Dr. Chan is an advisor to the Ministry of Overseas Chinese Affairs in Taiwan and has been three times appointed commissioner for Asian-Pacific American affairs for the State of Washington. " I am excited and grateful," Dr. Chan said, "to have been selected as one of the first Chinese-Americans in the nation to be vice president for academic affairs at a Catholic university."

HISTORICAL CONNECTION: The Historical Museum of Southern Florida and the Miami Art Museum are teaming up to present the next Jam at MAM after-hours networker from 5-8:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at 101 W Flagler St. Optional docent-led tours of exhibits Let’s Entertain at MAM and Florida’s Rock & Roll Legends at the historical museum are offered as well as gourmet snacks and a donation bar. Music is scheduled by popular local groups called the Baboons and Men From Mars. Cost is $5. Details: (305) 375-3000.

SMALL WORKSHOP: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is co-sponsoring "Small Business Workshop Loan Eligibility Through the SBA" from 8-10 a.m. Sept. 20 in the ballroom level at Wyndham Miami Biscayne Bay Hotel, 1601 Biscayne Blvd. Topics include what to take to the lender and US Small Business Administration procedures. Cost is $15; $10 in advance. Details: Olivia Carey, (305) 577-5443.

DOCENT TRAINING: The Museum of Contemporary Art is offering a docent-training program starting Sept. 22. Adrienne von Lates, an art historian who has taught at FIU, UM, the University of California and Columbia University, presides. Participants are asked to lead at least four weekend tours during the exhibition season. Details: (305) 893-6211, ext. 25.

CHILE DISCUSSION: A panel talk and book-signing for Chile, Pinochet & the Caravan of Death — a book recently published in English after its original publication in Spanish — is being held at 6 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Student Lounge, University of Miami School of Law, 1311 Miller Drive, Coral Gables. Speakers are Patricia Verdugo, author, and Felipe Aguero, associate professor at UM. The session is sponsored by the UM North-South Center. RSVP by 9/13. Details: (305) 284-8921.

DRESSING ASSISTANCE: The Women in Technology International South Florida Chapter is presenting "WITI Women: Dress for Success" at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 20 in the Albion Hotel, 1650 James Ave., Miami Beach. The event is being held to collect clothes to donate to Dress For Success, a program that assists women who are seeking jobs. Cost is $20; $10 for members. Details: witi.org.

TOTAL OPENING: Totalbank is holding a grand opening for its remodeled branch and new operations center from 5-7 p.m. Sept. 20 at 17945 Franjo Road. RSVP. Details: (305) 476-0710.

REDISTRICTING: With public hearings on redistricting now over, County Supervisor of Elections David Leahy said, county officials received Tuesday copies of the first draft of a redistricting plan submitted by hired consultants. An ad hoc county redistricting committee meets at 10 a.m. Friday in city commission chambers to discuss the plan. No public comment is allowed at the meeting.

PLANNING POST: Coral Gables Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk Jr. was named to the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s governing board last week. The organization is responsible for oversee transportation planning in the county. As one of 21 members, Mr. Kerdyk is to assist in the approval of the development and deployment of highways, mass transit and other transportation facilities and services. Mr. Kerdyk is president of Kerdyk Real Estate Inc.

TAKE BACK: County Supervisor of Elections David Leahy said he is going to give Take Back Miami-Dade until Friday to present him with official notice of a federal lawsuit filed against him or he will continue evaluating 60,000 signatures the group submitted as part of a petition drive to force a referendum on changing the county’s gay rights ordinance. The group said it would file Aug. 13 alleging Mr. Leahy violated voter rights. He came under fire after rejecting 23 affidavits from petitioners who said they signed the petition, but whose signatures previously were ruled invalid.

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