Written by Miami Today on June 17, 2004
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CANCELED: It was a matter of timing when the Miami Business Forum withdrew petition efforts to put an independent aviation authority on the November ballot, said Executive Director Mario Artecona. Also targeting a ballot spot is a General Obligation Bond that would fund about $2.6 billion in county projects. The forum’s board voted last week to stop collecting signatures, he said, because the drive, opposed by many county commissioners, could have affected bond efforts. "We are not abandoning reforms at the airport," he said.
CRITICIZED: County Mayor Alex Penelas expressed disappointment that the drive was stopped. "I firmly believe that creation of an independent airport authority would signal that we are serious about reform," he said in a statement. "Placing the General Obligation Bond proposal on the ballot without allowing voters an opportunity to reform Miami International (Airport) may actually cause voters to question our commitment to reform and place that initiative in greater peril."
COUNTED OUT: The Miami Business Forum wouldn’t be allowed to use signatures already collected in a future drive to put an independent aviation authority on the ballot. "They’re not valid after 60 days," Mr. Artecona said. The forum had collected about 18,000 of more than 38,000 signatures it would have needed – a rate "exceeding the weekly projections," he said. After the election, he said, the forum will regroup and form a strategy for its next move.
NO BID: Miami erred when it awarded a contract for engineering services for a park in Little Haiti, according to an audit of the city’s 2001 Homeland Security and neighborhood improvement bonds. The comment came in the first of a series of audits the Office of the Auditor General will conduct on the bonds. The $159,200 contract given to Post Buckley Schuh & Jernigan in October 2002 was not publicity announced nor were there discussions with at least three firms, as state law requires, said Auditor General Victor Igwe. Instead, the deal was piggybacked onto another contract – which should happen only in the case of a "valid public emergency," according to an opinion from the city attorney.
FIFTH TERM: The Association of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce in Florida named its 10-member executive committee and reelected Lita Haeger president for the fifth consecutive year. Other members are Cristiano Marinari, Eric Saucedo, Patrick Murray, Arturo Chamorro, Jaap Donath, Dwayne Williams, Roland Jean-Louis, Yunis Segura and Zdzislaw Wesolowski. The group is the umbrella organization of more than 40 Florida-based bi-national chambers whose members do business between Florida and their home countries.
POWER HIRE: Florida Power & Light Co. hired Jeffrey S. Bartel as vice president of corporate and external affairs. He left law firm Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson to oversee FPL’s statewide business unit from the company’s office at 9250 W. Flagler St. FPL is the principal subsidiary of FPL Group Inc., a power company that serves more than 4.2 million customer accounts in Florida and has annual revenues of more than $9 billion.
TOP CUSHMAN POST: International real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield named Bruce Mosler president and CEO to replace Arthur J. Mirante II, who held those posts for 20 years. Mr. Mosler, the 87-year-old company’s sixth CEO, joined Cushman & Wakefield from LaSalle Partners as executive vice president in 1997 and was named president of US operations in September 2000. He is a former commissioner for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Mr. Mosler and Mr. Mirante are to share the positions until Jan. 1, when Mr. Mirante is expected to leave the company and announce his plans.
EUROPEAN LINKS: Two European charters added weekly service this month out of Miami International Airport. My Travel Airways, a Danish carrier, launched non-stop service each Thursday to Oslo, Norway. Italian carrier EuroFly introduced weekly trips to Milan with continuing service to Freeport, Bahamas, on Saturdays.
DORAL PLANNING: The newly incorporated city of Doral has scheduled a charrette as part of procedures to establish a master plan. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Miami-Dade Fire & Rescue Building, 9300 NW 41st St. Miami-Dade County’s planning department formerly had responsibility for the Doral area. Planning firm Iler & Associates is overseeing the session, which is public. Details: (305) 593-6725.
COCHRAN FIRM OPENS: The Cochran Firm, a personal-injury law firm headed by famed trial attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., has leased 4,000 square feet of Class A office space on the 33rd floor of the Bank of America Tower at International Place. The firm has 14 offices nationwide with more than 100 lawyers who specialize in civil litigation.
CONRAD OPENING: Conrad Miami is scheduled to open July 1 at Espirito Santo Plaza, 1395 Brickell Ave. The hotel’s lobby will share the 25th floor of the $180 million mixed-use building with a restaurant and lounge. Hilton Hotels Corp. and Hilton International, which own the 203-room hotel and 16 other Conrad hotels worldwide, plan to open three more Conrads in the US in the next two years. Details: www.conradhotels.com.
QUANTUM LEAP: Developers of Quantum on the Bay closed a $14.1 million loan with Fremont Investment & Loan, broker Andrew Elfmont of Elfmont Associates said Tuesday. Terra-ADI International Developers, led by attorney Pedro Martin, plan 698 units and 11,635 square feet of commercial space at North Bayshore Drive and Northeast 19th Street near Margaret Pace Park and the Miami Performing Arts Center.
NEARER INFINITY: Infinity at Brickell will include 459 condo units and two additional floors following approval from city commissioners. A consortium of developers needed permission to make the changes, prompted in part by market demands. Thirteen planned two-bedroom units have been changed to one-bedroom, 26 units were added, parking increased from 585 spaces to 590 and 13,400 square feet of office space was added. The project is to cost $89.8 million and employ 840 construction workers, according to city documents, and add $1.27 million in annual tax revenues.
TOURISM AWARD: Farooq M. Rehmatwala was named South Florida Tourism Professional of the Year by the Academy of Travel and Tourism. He manages Hilton Miami Airport and oversees 10 other Hilton and Doubletree hotels in Florida. The Academy of Travel and Tourism is a Miami-Dade County program that provides high-school students with a comprehensive overview of the travel and tourism industry.
TRADE TIMETABLE: The International Roundtable on June 24 will count down to decisions on the Free Trade of the Americas. Panelists will be Manuel A. Mencia, senior vice president for international trade and development for Enterprise Florida; Ambler H. Moss Jr. of the board of advisors to Florida FTAA Inc. and of counsel at Greenberg Traurig; Harold E. "Ed" Patricoff Jr. of the Jay Malina International Trade Consortium, an attorney with Shutts & Bowen; and Dominique Virchaux, trustee of Florida FTAA Inc. and managing partner at Virchaux & Partners. The breakfast, sponsored by BankUnited and Miami Today, will start at 7:30 a.m. at the JW Marriott, 1109 Brickell Ave. Details: Claudia Fernandez, (305) 358-1008.