Written by Miami Today on July 22, 2004
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TIMING: Florida International University political-science professor Dario Moreno told Miami-Dade County commissioners Tuesday that they have a "golden opportunity" to push a $2.75 General Obligation Bond. With 200 polls in the county under his belt in five years, Mr. Moreno said support of the government is at the highest level in the past two years. About 65% of those polled rate county services satisfactory or excellent, he said. "If there is a moment in time to pass the bond issue, this is it," he said.
FIREFIGHTERS COOL ON BOND: While many spoke for a General Obligation Bond, one firefighters group was opposed. According to Stan Hills, president of Local No. 1403, a training center promised in 1994 is still not built. Mr. Hills told county commissioners that a flyer promoting the bond shows a photo of a firefighter and mentions fire services but no funds from the bond have been set aside for any fire department. "It is important that this be advertised honestly," he told commissioners.
PARK IMPROVEMENTS: The Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation Department received a $200,000 grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund for improvements to Black Point Park, which has 4,000 visitors a week. The Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond Project is matching the grant to provide an additional $200,000 for the project. County officials plan to enhance recreational opportunities for all trail users and park patrons and make Biscayne Bay more accessible to the public. Details: (305) 755-7800.
TRANSIT MEETINGS: The Metropolitan Planning Organization, Miami-Dade’s transportation planning arm, is hosting a series of public workshops to help formulate a 26-year spending guide. The organization intends to create the guide for federal, state and county transportation spending until 2030. It has scheduled seven public meetings for this month. The remaining schedule includes Wednesday (7/21) at Miami Beach City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Drive, and West Kendall Regional Library, 10201 Hammocks Blvd.; today (7/22) at South Miami City Hall, 6130 Sunset Drive, and Homestead City Hall, 790 N. Homestead Blvd.; and Monday at Joseph Caleb Center, 5400 NW 22nd Ave. Details: (305) 375-4507 or email@example.com.
ARENA ACTION: A joint venture of Brooklyn developer Shaya Boymelgreen and conglomerate Africa Israel Investments Ltd. is behind parking-lot magnate Hank Sopher’s opening offer of $25 million for Miami Arena, which is to be auctioned Aug. 10, officials said Monday. An hourlong "How to Bid" seminar will begin at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the arena, 721 NW First Ave. Details: (800) 331-6620 or www.fisherauction.com.
BIG DEAL: Commercial real estate broker Edie Laquer of Laquer Corporate Realty revealed in December that she was "in the middle of the biggest deal of my life" during a quick phone call as she jetted from meeting to meeting. True to form, she declined to discuss details. Finally, she revealed this week that she had been working with longtime client Mr. Sopher and the New York-Israeli partners who plan to develop six projects in Greater Miami in two years under the name A.I. & Boymelgreen.
SHAQ SHACK? Again, true to form, Ms. Laquer wouldn’t disclose any plans her clients have for Miami Arena except to say she’s heard of a "larger-than-life basketball star looking for a larger-than-life residence close to work."
FIRST PROJECT: The first project A.I. & Boymelgreen plans to develop is a 55-story mixed-use condominium and boutique hotel designed by Arquitectonica that would replace the former Howard Johnson hotel at Biscayne Boulevard and Northwest 11th Street. The hotel would have about 50 rooms and more than 300 condo units are planned, said Jeff Morr, principal at Majestic Properties.
GABLES-BOUND: Marjorie H. Adler, who has been chief personnel officer for human resources for the county’s public schools since March 2003, will join the City of Coral Gables on Aug. 2 as employee-relations director. From 1997 to 2002, she was human-resources executive director for the School District of Philadelphia. She holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Bryn Mawr.
SPLIT DECISION: County commissioner and mayoral candidate Jimmy Morales distanced himself from County Manager George Burgess at a Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce Goals Conference on Saturday at the Biltmore Hotel. Without specifying Mr. Burgess’s recent action in putting the county’s aviation director on management watch under one of his assistants, Mr. Morales told the conference, "We need to empower, not criticize, Angela Gittens." He also reiterated support for an aviation authority under which, he said, Ms. Gittens could continue her efforts to improve Miami International Airport.
SCIENTIFIC BREAKUP: Miami-Dade school-board member Augustin Barrera told the Goals Conference that his biggest concern is that the county has too few school classrooms and is building too few schools. Things are so bad, he said, that the schools have gutted some high-cost science labs to turn them into general classrooms.
NUMBER ONE: Elected officials on a panel at the Coral Gables Goals Conference were asked to give out their e-mail and phone contacts to the audience. "Our city hall has an unlisted number, but we encourage your input," quipped Mayor Don Slesnick, who then did list his contact details. At his turn, Vice Mayor Ralph Cabrera started and finished by reciting the mayor’s private phone number.
MIDNIGHT OIL PAYS OFF: Fort Lauderdale-based BankAtlantic says it opened nearly 14,000 checking and savings accounts each month from April to June. The bank said it opened almost 42,000 accounts in the second quarter, compared to about 35,500 during the same period last year. BankAtlantic markets itself as "Florida’s Most Convenient Bank" and attributes the new business to longer operating hours, new services and branch expansions. In 2002, it implemented a $10 million-per-year "convenience strategy" that, among other things, keeps its 73 branches open weekends and until midnight in some locations. Since then, the bank reports, it has gained 331,000 savings and checking accounts.
CANADIAN TRADE: Gov. Jeb Bush and Enterprise Florida will lead Team Florida Canada, a trade- and business-development mission, to Montreal and Ottawa next week. State economic officials say businesses should strengthen trade relationships with Canada, Florida’s second-largest export market and largest foreign investor. "With a flourishing economy expected to grow by about 3.5% this year, Canada presents a wealth of international trade opportunities," said Manny Mencia, Enterprise Florida’s senior vice president of international trade and business development. Details: (305) 569-2650.
FIRED UP: Former Broward County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services Department head Herminio Lorenzo is to replace retiring Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department chief Antonio Bared. Mr. Lorenzo has worked as a South Florida firefighter for 31 years, holding administrative positions in Hialeah and Hollywood. Miami-Dade officials selected him after a nationwide search to replace Mr. Bared, who is to retire July 31.
NEW BUS IN TOWN: North Miami’s Nomi Express, a free bus service, began rolling this week. It operates 7 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays and follows four west-east routes in the city. "This element of public transportation is a well-needed service in our community," the city’s transportation manager said in a statement. "Our parks, our library and our civic plaza, in addition to many businesses, will now be more accessible for those that regularly rely on public transportation." The bus service is a municipal project financed by a Miami-Dade County half-cent sales surtax and a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation. Details: www.northmiamifl.gov.
SMALL TALK: Hector V. Barreto, an administrator of the US Small Business Administration, is to discuss the impact Hispanic business owners have on the US economy and policies and issues that affect small businesses at CAMACOL at noon today (7/22). CAMACOL, 1417 W Flagler St., is the Latin Chamber of Commerce. The administration’s South Florida district, which encompasses a 24-county area south of Orlando, includes more than 2.3 million Hispanic Americans and about 258,000 small businesses. Details: http://www.camacol.org.
FTAA DVD AWARD: The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s economic development agency, and Florida FTAA received an award for the "Miami Gateway of the Americas" DVD at the 2004 Florida Economic Development Council Promotional Materials Awards Competition. The DVD, which won the audio/visual award in June, was created in November as a marketing supplement for the FTAA Trade Negotiations Committee, which is evaluating sites for the FTAA permanent secretariat. The DVD showcases unique attributes of Miami, presents proposed sites and designs for the secretariat location and includes commentary from local business and community leaders. Details: www.beaconcouncil.com.