Written by Miami Today on September 8, 2005
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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KATRINA AID: Miami-Dade County businesses, government officials and nonprofit organizations are rallying to provide aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina here and on the Gulf Coast. Paris-based PNB Paribas, which has an office in Miami, has pledged $500,000. The United Way of Miami-Dade is allocating $100,000 in the county – $75,000 for food vouchers to be distributed in Little Haiti and the southern part of the county, where a further $25,000 is to buy food and other supplies. County Commissioners Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Carlos Gimenez, Barbara Jordan and Dennis Moss are among a group flying from Opa-locka Airport this week to Pensacola, where they’ll join trucks of supplies headed for the Gulf Coast.
CITY OF FISHER ISLAND? Efforts continue to turn Miami-Dade County’s wealthiest community, Fisher Island, into a city. The county commission today (9/8) is to vote on an ordinance establishing the Fisher Island Area Municipal Advisory Committee, the first step to creating a city. A committee was approved by commission resolution last year, but because its work is expected to take longer than a year, county code requires an ordinance rather than a resolution to continue work beyond 12 months. The ordinance would require county staff to study a municipality on the island, just beyond the tip of Miami Beach.
ARTISTIC ADDITIONS: Miami-Dade County Commission today (9/8) is to consider change orders and a joint participation agreement totaling almost $4 million for the Miami Performing Arts Center. The arts center requires an additional $298,230 to install fixed theater seating and $2.7 million to fund kitchen equipment and security, sound and telecommunications systems. The $412,787 requested in a further change order is for road improvements at the venue on Biscayne Boulevard – improvements that could be further supported through a $480,000 joint participation agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation.
DIALING FOR DOLLARS: A contract to pay Miami-Dade County more than $2.2 million over the next three years to install and operate 37 vending machines for prepaid phone cards at Miami International Airport comes before the county commission today (9/8). The Aviation Department originally advertised for bids in June 2002, but the commission in December rejected all bids and told the department to start over. Latin American Enterprises was chosen this time, a competitor protested but a hearing examiner upheld the bid. The county would get the higher of $2.2 million or 25% of monthly gross revenues.
PARKING SPACE FILLED: Almost a year after attorney Michael Kosnitzky resigned last Sept. 27 from the Miami Parking Authority Board in the midst of his failed run for the Miami-Dade County School Board, the Miami City Commission has unanimously appointed Thomas B. Jelke, who heads a consulting firm for universities and nonprofits, to the vacant seat.
SPREADING THE WEALTH: A resolution by Barbara Jordan before the Miami-Dade County Commission today (9/8) would request the Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust and the county manager to evaluate providing funds from the half-percent sales surtax for transportation to Doral and Miami Gardens and to areas that are in the process of incorporation. The cities, which were incorporated after the tax was created in November 2002, have been seeking funds from the tax that are dedicated to municipalities.
RAISING THE BAR: The Miami-Dade County Commission is to vote today (9/8) whether to repeal its 7-year-old ordinance that prohibits campaign contributions by corporations, banks and unincorporated associations to candidates for mayor, the county commission or community councils and a 5-year-old ordinance limiting any contributions for those offices to $250. The resolution by Sally Heyman says the prohibitions, "although well-intentioned, have neither increased transparency in the electoral process nor served the public interest." If the ordinance is approved, contribution ceilings would rise to $500 with no rules barring any donors.
RAISING THE FLOOR: Companies moving to Miami-Dade or adding jobs here would lose eligibility for incentive funds from the county unless every employee is paid more than the county-mandated Living Wage Rate under a proposal before the county commission today (9/8). The Beacon Council, the county’s economic development organization, uses the Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund to lure companies or entice expansions that increase jobs in the county. The proposal by Barbara Jordan would annually increase the minimum pay required for each employee of a firm seeking such incentives.
MOVING OUT: Calixto Garcia-Velez this week became a commuter as he headed to San Francisco to run Citibank California/Nevada, the bank’s largest division, after six years as president of Citibank Florida. He’ll oversee nearly 400 branches in his new job, a big jump from the 36 he headed in South Florida and the 16 he oversaw in Puerto Rico. Carlos D·vila, who ran Citibank Puerto Rico under Mr. Garcia-Velez, replaces him in South Florida. Mr. Garcia-Velez, whose family will temporarily stay in Miami, said he considers the move a major promotion but hopes to return here. "It’s tough to leave a community that I know and love."
MOVING UP: Regions Bank on Tuesday named Wanda Trouba executive vice president of retail banking for Miami-Dade County, overseeing the bank’s 48 branches and its retail banking personnel. She had been senior vice president and head of the wealth-management division.
BOARD SKIPS SEPTEMBER: Due to Hurricane Katrina, Miami’s Historical and Environmental Preservation Board couldn’t advertise its agenda or mail notices to applicants more than 10 days in advance of its scheduled September meeting, as required, so hearings originally scheduled for September will go on the agenda for Oct. 4.
ADDING NURSES: Miami-Dade College and Florida International University partnered to receive a $1.2 million Expanded Nursing Capacity and Diversity Initiative grant from the Florida Department of Education. The effort aims to address a critical shortage of registered nurses by increasing the number the institutions can educate. Miami-Dade leads the nation in number of nursing degrees awarded.
AUSTRALIA TIES: The Jay Malina International Trade Consortium of Miami-Dade County and the Australian government are sponsoring a seminar "discussing the free trade agreement between the two countries," said Manny Gonzalez, consortium executive director. Presenters will include Beryl Blecher, Australia’s commercial counselor in the US, and Amanda Hodges, Australia’s consul general. According to the consortium, the US enjoys a trade surplus of $9 billion with Australia. The seminar is at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 20 at the Miami Free Zone, 2305 NW 107th Ave., Doral. A 12:30 p.m. luncheon follows. Details: (305) 375-5808.
FEDERAL NOMINATION: A Miami attorney could become the next director of the US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. President George Bush has nominated Emilio Gonzalez of Tew Cardenas for the post in the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Gonzalez is senior managing director of the law firm’s government-affairs practice in Washington and Miami. He has advised Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the President on foreign policy and taught at the US Military Academy in West Point. Mr. Gonzalez has served at US embassies in El Salvador and Mexico.
CROSSING OVER: An employee of the American Red Cross of Greater Miami & the Keys is heading for Iraq in less than two weeks. Matthew Walton, who’s worked at the chapter for 11 years, leaves for the Persian Gulf on Sept. 20. He is to serve in the American National Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services Reserve Corps and is the branch’s first employee to be deployed to Iraq. The Robert A. Ballard National Guard Armory at 700 NW 28th St. is to host a sendoff Sept. 16. Details: (305) 728-2572.
DOMINICAN TRADE MISSION: Miami-Dade County’s Jay Malina International Trade Consortium and the Florida-Dominican Trade & Investment Center plan a business trip to Santiago, the Dominican Republic’s second-largest city. The Sept. 27-Oct. 2 mission will include a visit to Expo Cibao 2005. The trade show involves an array of sectors – from agriculture and cattle auctions to financial services and real estate. Details: Pedro Ballester, president, Florida-Dominican Business Development Group, (305) 779-4810.
CHAMBER KICKOFF: The South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce kicks off its membership drive 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at Tapas & Tintos, 448 Española Way, Miami Beach. Details: Liliam Lopez or Irela Bague, (305) 534-1903.
GERMAN MISSION: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is joining Enterprise Florida on a mission to Frankfurt, Germany. As one of Europe’s most important financial centers, Frankfurt has 650,000 residents and is Germany’s fifth-largest city. The Nov. 16 mission will be led by Gov. Jeb Bush. Registration is $50, with airfare and hotel rooms paid separately. Details: Andrea Montoya, Greater Miami Chamber, (305) 577-5460.