Written by Miami Today on September 25, 2003
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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WINGING FORWARD: Miami-Dade commissioners voted 7-3 Tuesday to send a proposal for an aviation authority to a transportation committee hearing Nov. 13 and then back to the full commission for a final vote. Voting against sending the proposal forward were Joe Martinez, Rebecca Sosa and Dennis Moss, chairman of the transportation committee. Nine of the 15 citizens who drafted the proposal were on hand, but there was little discussion on the issue.
FLIGHT PLANS: After more than four months of bimonthly meetings, the 15-member group studying governance of the county’s five airports turned over their vision of a new controlling body to the Board of County Commissioners. The proposal would hand most of the commissioners’ authority over airports to a seven-member, non-elected board. Commissioners would appoint four members and the mayor, commission chairman and governor one each. The proposal would limit ties between lobbyists and the airports. This is the fourth attempt in three years to create an aviation authority.
TAXING TRAFFIC: US Rep. Tom Petri of Wisconsin and colleagues – in town to campaign for funding for highway and mass-transit improvements – got a close look at Miami-Dade County’s transportation needs when they became snarled in an afternoon traffic jam on Dolphin Expressway. "We got stuck on (State Road) 836, and Rep. Petri got a firsthand view of how badly we need him," said Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Barbara Carey-Shuler, who was riding with Mr. Petri. He was here Monday promoting a bill to raise the national gasoline tax 5 cents a gallon to raise $375 billion for transportation projects over six years.
AIRPORT CONNECTOR: Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess said he will present a plan Oct. 7 for generating $300 million for a light-rail connector between Miami International Airport and a planned transportation hub. The state Department of Transportation, which is building the hub, said it will stop the $1 billion-plus project unless the county can show by Oct. 23 that it can pay for the connector. The county’s aviation department was to contribute $300 million, but Aviation Director Angela Gittens has said the department can’t do it because revenues have been low at the airport for two years.
FLORIDA’S STRATEGY: A meeting on global business development Monday at Hilton Miami Airport is part of Gov. Jeb Bush’s initiative to develop a strategic plan to chart Florida’s economic future using statewide input. The 1-5 p.m. meeting, ninth and last in a series, will focus on economic diversification and job creation, workforce and education for Florida’s international economy and infrastructure and livable communities for global leadership. To register: www.eflorida.com/strategicplan or (407) 316-4742.
CITY AUDITS: A contract with accounting firm KPMG for Miami’s external auditing is expected to return for a vote at today’s (9/25) City Commission meeting at City Hall. Commissioners asked for an amendment to provide for a periodic rotation of external auditors after delaying a decision Sept. 11. An evaluation committee ranked KPMG above Ernst & Young and Rachlin Cohen & Holtz.
POINT OF LIGHT: Gov. Jeb Bush has recognized The Kiwanis Club of Little Havana with the Points of Light Award. The organizers of the annual Calle Ocho street festival serve the community by building playgrounds, handing out backpacks full of school supplies and distributing toys during the holiday season. The honor ties into Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated in the US since 1974. Volunteer Florida administers the award, and a panel of judges evaluates nominees and makes recommendations to the governor.
PUERTO RICAN SUCCESS: Manuel Benitez-Gorbea, director of the South Florida office of the Puerto Rican Affairs Administration, wants to bring awareness to Puerto Rican successes and concerns in South Florida. His organization will launch Puerto Ricans Making a Difference on Friday to offer services such as advising immigrants on the job market and seminars on stress management. The group also plans services for non-Puerto Rican Hispanics. The program will act independently of the Puerto Rican Affairs Administration. Details: (305) 448-5145.
MUSEUM ACCREDITED: The Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th St., has been accredited by the American Association of Museums. Director Bonnie Clearwater said the association praised the museum’s Junior Docents and MOCA-on-the-Move educational programs as well as MOCA-zine, a magazine by and for high-school students.
AVENTURA TOWERS NEAR: Construction will start within 90 days on Aventura Marina, a community of nearly 400 condo units in three towers, said Jorge M. Perez, chairman of The Related Group of Florida. Residences at the $200 million project on Northeast 190th Street next to Dumfoundling Bay are to be priced from $300,000 to $1 million.
MALL TO WAL: New Plan Excel Realty Trust, which owns The Mall at 163rd Street in North Miami Beach, said Tuesday that it has closed on the sale of a 21-acre site to Wal-Mart for construction of a 226,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter. The estimated $13 million deal is the first phase of a redevelopment of the property, also anchored by Marshalls and Home Depot, which is to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2004, officials said. The Wal-Mart is expected to open in spring 2005.
FIU NURSING GRANT: Luz Porter, a professor of nursing at Florida International University, has received a $1 million federal grant to research the physical and psychological benefits of infant massage therapy. Ms. Porter, planning to retire last summer, will continue to do research and program development for drug-addicted newborns and their at-risk mothers. Now, she will explore whether infant massage therapy can contribute to the health and cognitive development of these infants. The program will begin next month.
RENTAL READY: Cornerstone Group said it will complete Captiva Club, a 136-unit rental property at 17680 SW 107th Ave., Miami, this month. Cornerstone said the property is 85%-leased. The 20 one- and two-story buildings on 11 acres have one-, two- and three-bedroom units renting from $508 to $685 monthly.
CARNIVAL OUTSOURCES: Carnival Corp. has hired Cushman & Wakefield to manage its 457,000-square-foot headquarters, which it previously ran itself. The complex, which includes 10-story and six-story buildings linked by a conference center, is at 3655 NW 87th Ave. in Doral. Three floors house parent Carnival Corp., which has 13 cruise brands. Carnival Cruise Lines occupies the rest of the complex.
CHANGE FOR ITALY: Gianfranco Colognato is the new consul general of Italy in Miami, replacing Giuseppe Morabito, who returned to Rome to another diplomatic position. Mr. Colognato was consul general of Italy in Cologne, Germany, from December 1999 until he arrived in Miami.
CONSTRUCTION WATCHDOGS: Miami-Dade school board members Perla Tabares Hantman and Agustin J. Barrera have been named to an advisory committee to track Public Education Capital Outlay state-granted funds that pay for new construction projects and maintenance of public schools. The state-appointed oversight committee monitoring county school construction sought creation of the committee.
CONSUMER PROS MEET: Customer-care representatives from major companies and small businesses will meet Oct. 12-15 to exchange ideas about effective strategies in customer service. The Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals – with member companies such as Sara Lee Bakery Group, Delta Airlines and American Express – will host its annual conference at Loews Miami Beach Hotel showcasing speakers and workshops by best-selling authors, experts in marketing and consumer relations and industry leaders. Lauren Basham, senior director of member services, expects about 500 to attend. Registration is $19.50 at www.socap.org.