Written by Miami Today on March 6, 2003
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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AIRPORT OVERSIGHT: The Miami-Dade County Commission’s transportation committee today (3/6) will hold a hearing to investigate allegations of wrongdoing or problems at Miami International Airport. This meeting is part of Commissioner Dennis Moss’ effort to increase oversight of the airport. Mr. Moss, committee chair, also proposes legislation to protect airport staff reporting wrongdoings and seeks a hot line for anonymous reports. The 1 p.m. hearing is in commission chambers, 111 NW First St., 2nd Floor. Details: (305) 375-2859.
WAGNER OK’D: Despite Commissioner Arthur Teele Jr.’s reservations about how the city is monitoring its federal funds, the Miami City Commission gave the go-ahead to development of Wagner Square, 2.95 city-owned acres at 1700 NW 14th St. in Allapattah. Using $5 million in federal funds, the city and developer Wagner Square LLC plan to turn the contaminated site into 198 condos plus commercial and retail sites. Mr. Teele expressed concern about how far the Miami’s federal allotment could stretch if the city committed to the project. Local governments use section 108 funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to revitalize neighborhoods. City documents estimate the development could add nearly $305,000 in annual property taxes. Wagner Square comprises three companies: Redevco, the Urban Development Group and Atwater Capital Group. The $34 million project already has letters of interest from Family Dollar Stores and Subway Restaurants.
TEELE TAKES A STAND: Calling it "a serious step in the wrong direction," Miami Commissioner Arthur Teele Jr. cast the only vote against an agreement among four governments regarding the Nov. 8 Americas Business Forum, a gathering of trade ministers from 34 nations. The forum is tied to ministerial meetings that are part of the negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas. The cities of Miami, Miami Beach and Coral Gables with Miami-Dade County plan to jointly support the events with cash and in-kind services. Mr. Teele decried composition of the forum’s board of directors, calling it "nowhere near the reflection of the Americas."
INSURING MIAMI: Despite a lengthy protest from attorneys representing Miami’s longtime insurance brokerage service, city commissioners selected Brown & Brown to manage the city’s insurance and self-funded programs. "On a legal basis, the protest has no merit," said City Attorney Alex Vilarello of the appeal from AON Risk Services, the city’s former provider. AON alleged the bidding process was flawed but commissioners disagreed Thursday, awarding Brown & Brown a one-year $110,000 contract. However, at the urging of Commissioner Joe Sanchez, the contract’s renewal option was changed from four years to one.
BLUEPRINT FOR POLICING: New Miami Police Chief John Timoney will discuss his blueprint for the Miami Police Department March 19 when he addresses the Brickell Area Association in the "Of Importance to Brickell" series. The noon lunch, sponsored by the association and Miami Today, is public. The lunch will be in Salon I of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 500 Brickell Key Drive, with complimentary valet parking. Members $35, others $40; table of eight $280. Details and reservations: Gloria Konsler, (305) 375-0080.
CONTINENTS SEPARATE: Six Continents, a London-based conglomerate of hotels, soft drink distributors, pubs and restaurants, recently spun off Inter-Continental Hotels, which will now operate worldwide as an independent company. The up-market lodging brand will also serve as the umbrella organization for Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Staybridge Suites. Although Inter-Continental Hotels will trade separately on the London Stock Exchange, operations in Miami and elsewhere will remain the same, said Gil Katzman, Southeast/Caribbean director of sales and marketing in Miami. The newly spun-off hotel group operates two Inter-Continental Hotels and two Crowne Plazas in Miami-Dade County, plus several Holiday Inns.
FLYING THE COOP: After 17 years, Mayra Bustamante resigned last week as assistant Miami-Dade County aviation director. This week she started as assistant director of Miami-Dade Transit. "I’ve been thinking for a while about making a change," she said. "I was looking for something new. When this opportunity came along, I talked to my boss [Aviation Director Angela Gittens] and she understood." Ms. Bustamante said she’ll have charge of the transit agency’s finances, warehousing and personnel.
MOSS COVERS DISTRICT: Commissioner Dennis Moss last week kicked off his district’s "Mom and Pop" grant program. His office is providing $200,000 to small business owners from Goulds, West Perrine, Richmond Heights, South Miami Heights and Naranja. A five-member committee will pick businesses that will get up to $10,000, paid directly to vendors providing owners with goods and services. Applications will be available from March 10 to April 10 at South Dade Government Center, 10710 SW 211th St., Suite 206. Details: (305) 234-4938.
COUNTRY CLUB MAKEOVER: The Country Club of Coral Gables is undergoing a face-lift and could reopen with a new look by year’s end, said Monica de la Torre, membership director with Granada LLC, the club’s management team. Built in 1923, the 40,000-square-foot club will have its interior remodeled to reflect classic Coral Gables elegance.
RENO AT UM: Former US attorney general Janet Reno is to visit the University of Miami School of Law today (3/6) to discuss reasons and remedies for wrongful convictions in Florida. The meeting will be from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the law school, Room 352. Panelists also will share their views on Gov. Jeb Bush’s proposal to eliminate the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel. Details: (305) 467-9471.
ADDING AIR TIES: The Miami-Dade County Aviation Department and Miami Today will offer an International Roundtable on growing international air travel links to South Florida at 5 p.m. March 13. Panelists include Regina Bereswill, sales manager for Florida for British Airways; Stanley Bodner, president of the Greater Miami Aviation Association; Angela Gittens, Miami-Dade County aviation director; and William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. It’s in Concourse E, Miami International Airport, in the MIA Hotel, 7th floor conference center. Details: Techy Fernandez, (305) 358-2663.