COMMISSION PAY BID: Miami-Dade commissioners Tuesday are to vote on whether to call a special election for Sept. 5 to increase commission salaries from the $6,000 set in 1957 to the current level for large counties set by the state, currently about $88,919. Commissioners Bruno Barreiro and Dennis Moss sponsor the resolution. Voters over the years have repeatedly rejected any change in commissioners' salaries. Mayor Carlos Alvarez made an increase in commission salaries a plank of his 2004 election campaign.
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LEISURE JOBS RECORD: Miami-Dade's leisure and hospitality industry hit a record 103,400 jobs in March, according to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation. More than 3,200 jobs were created in the industry between March 2005 and March 2006, up 3.2%, making the industry among the county's top generators of new jobs. The leading job generator, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, was professional and business services, which added 7,700 jobs in the period, a 4.7% gain, followed by trade, transportation and utilities, a sector that added 3,300 jobs, a 1.3% gain.
DOZEN LOBBYISTS: Miami commissioners last week accepted City Manager Joe Arriola's recommendation of 12 firms to do federal lobbying for the city - Collins & Co.; Alcalde & Fay; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld; Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz; Patton Boggs LLP; Akerman Senterfitt; Dutko Poole Mckinley; Van Scoyoc Associates; Tew Cardenas LLP; Russ-Reid Co; Federal Legislative Associates; and Blank Rome LLP. The city is paying $500,000 a year for their services.
CLEANING UP: Miami commissioners voted last week to make an emergency relief agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation for debris cleanup associated with Hurricanes Wilma and Rita. The city is asking for $8.6 million reimbursement for the debris removal for roads and lands under federal jurisdiction.
SALE OF KNIGHT CENTER: Miami's Department of Public Facilities is still working on a contract with Staubach Company Northwest, chosen by the city in April for financial services in the possible sale of the James L. Knight Center at 400 NE Second Ave. and its parking garage at 100 SE Second St. The negotiated contract would go to the city commission for approval, said Lori Billberry, director of public facilities. Global Spectrum manages the 5.7-acre city-owned hub.
CUSTOMIZED SPACE: US Customs and Border Protection will pay Miami-Dade County $484,373 to lease 15,747 square feet of offices and 63 parking spaces at the Port of Miami for three years, according to a deal county commissioners approved unanimously last week. The Community Empowerment and Economic Revitalization Committee recommended it, stating the space is needed to accommodate more staff and operations stemming from the seaport's growth in cargo and passengers as well as added security following 9/11. Assistant County Manager Carlos Bonzon said the federal agency, by policy, never comments on whether officers are being added, but "if they requested the space and the parking, you have to assume they need it."
STERLING PERFORMANCE: The Miami-Dade County Health Department will receive the Governor's Sterling Award for organizations that achieve performance superiority for the second time June 2 at a dinner in Orlando, it was announced Tuesday. The department also won in 2002. The other winner this year is Ramblewood Elementary School in Coral Springs. The nonprofit Florida Sterling Council, supported by the governor's office, is designed to teach executives how to elevate performance and increase productivity. More than 1,200 executives are to be present at the June conference.
MITCH'S 100,000: In five ceremonies this week, Florida International University graduated 3,200 students - including the 100,000th of Modesto Maidique's 20 years as university president.
TRUST MR. VICKERS: The Miami-Dade County Commission last week named Milton Vickers president and CEO of the Metro-Miami Action Plan Trust, which was formed in 1983 and became a trust in 1992 with the aim of resolving socioeconomic disparities in the black community. After Vincent Brown resigned that post, 60 applicants were reviewed and the trust chose Mr. Vickers, formerly an aide to former Miami commissioner Jeffrey Allen.
VENEZUELA COMES SHOPPING: Eight Venezuelan companies that want to represent US firms or buy their products will meet with prospective business partners at the Miami Free Zone on May 10 under the auspices of the US Commercial Service of the US Department of Commerce. Among other products, the firms are seeking makers of hydraulic equipment, construction machinery, metallic powders used in the glass industry and components to manufacture buses. The commercial service says exports to Venezuela through Miami's customs district jumped 48% in the first three quarters of last year, a $1 billion increase. Details: Michelle Hernandez, (305) 526-7425, Ext. 22.
BOWL CEO SHIFT: Keith Tribble, CEO of the Orange Bowl Committee for 13 years, last week was named athletic director at the University of Central Florida. He was replaced by Weston resident Eric L. Poms, for the past 13 years the organization's chief operating officer. The not-for-profit, 329-member committee produces the Orange Bowl Festival and a variety of events revolving around the annual FedEx Orange Bowl football game.
TRINIDAD-BOUND: Miami-Dade Commissioner Natacha Seijas is leading a mission abroad as new chairwoman of the Jay Malina International Trade Consortium Board of Directors - a five-day trip to Trinidad & Tobago for the seventh annual Trade and Investment Convention. Expected are 225 exhibitors and 6,500 buyers from more than 30 nations. Businesses have until May 5 to register at an estimated cost of $1,199 each. The first $599 payment is due May 5. Details: (305) 375-5420.
SAUDI TIES: Miami Dade College administrators, faculty and students are to travel to Saudi Arabia to learn about that nation's health-care system under an agreement signed in April to allow Saudi students to get training at the Medical Center Campus in the medical field.
FAMILIAR VOICE: Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce staff members took off at 2 p.m. April 28 to host a celebration for Mercedes Salazar, 89, who has just completed her 51st year as chamber receptionist.
SOUTH, UK LOVE US: Miami ranked third among favorite beach destinations of readers of Southern Living magazine. The Great Escapes section says, "A playground for celebrities, couples and families alike, Miami lures visitors year-round." British business travelers favor Miami as well. The International Herald Tribune recently cited a survey by Travelocity.com of 1,000 British customers that found "nearly eight out of 10 long-haul travelers said they regularly add days to business trips for personal holidays." According to the study, New York was the most-common long-haul destination, with Miami the most-popular extension to add a spot of rest and relaxation.
BUONGIORNO: This week, it's Italian journalists who are delving into the sexy side of Miami (along with arts and culture, fine dining, attraction and beach time) as the theme of their research trip to South Beach and downtown Miami. The attendees include scribes from Gioia, a weekly women's magazine (circulation 340,000); Weekend, a monthly upscale tourism magazine (circulation 75,000); Ventiquattro, a monthly newsmagazine distributed with Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy's major financial newspaper (circulation 430,000); and Alitalia inflights Brescia Oggi (circulation: 16,000) and Ulisse (circulation 200,000).
EDEN ROC RETREAT: The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation is to hold a retreat this week at Eden Roc Renaissance Resort. Hosted by newly elected Chairman Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, the retreat expects 60 attendees, including senior executives of Microsoft, Dell and General Motors. The foundation raises funds for scholarships and educational opportunities.
HURRICANE PLANNING: Miami Beach is holding hurricane information and preparedness fairs to help businesses and residents get set for the upcoming hurricane season. The fairs will be 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday in the 1000 block of Lincoln Road; 9 a.m.-noon May 13 at North Beach Farmers Market at the Normandy Fountain; and 9 a.m.-noon May 20 at RDA South Pointe Police Satellite Station, 210 Second St. City departments, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Coast Guard, Humane Society of Greater Miami, American Red Cross, Florida Power and Light and Ace Hardware are to have information available. Details: (305) 604-CITY.
SEAL OF CULTURE: Miami Beach's Art in Public Places Committee is seeking an artist to create what it calls "an iconic image of what the artist believes defines the City of Miami Beach" - an image the city says it will emblazon on the Beach's manhole covers "to further promote the city as a world-renowned cultural destination." In a city that has the Jackie Gleason Theater memorializing the TV culture of bus driver Ralph Kramden, here's recognition for sewer worker Ed Norton, too. Details: (305) 604-2477.
HOUSING SITES: The Miami-Dade County manager's staff is compiling a list of county-owned land that could be used for developing affordable housing and will forward it to the county commission's Community Empowerment and Economic Revitalization Committee before its 2 p.m. May 16 meeting in the county commission chambers, said Cynthia Curry, senior advisor to County Manager George M. Burgess. In a February memo requesting the list, Mayor Carlos Alvarez wrote that the need for affordable housing is evident and it "is becoming increasingly difficult" for employees of the county to live here. He requested "a list of available county land and an action plan for developing this land for affordable housing." Ms. Curry said the report, to be shared with the mayor, will be part of the committee's agenda.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING: The quest for affordable housing will be the focus of a Miami Today International Roundtable sponsored by TotalBank. Scheduled panelists are Cynthia W. Curry, Miami-Dade County senior advisor for economic development and housing initiatives; Matthew Schwartz, director of urban development for Crosswinds Florida and co-chairman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Committee on Affordable Housing; Michael Wohl, partner in Pinnacle Housing; and Claudia B. DiStrito, Mercy Hospital senior vice president of nursing and patient services and president of the Nursing Shortage Consortium of South Florida. The 5 p.m. May 11 discussion will be at the Four Seasons Hotel, 1435 Brickell Ave. RSVP: Jannina Roman, (305) 358-2663.
NEW BRANCH: Premier American Bank has opened a branch in Hialeah Gardens, at 8404 NW 103rd St. The community bank also has branches in Miami and Surfside. The bank has about $280 million in assets and offers business and personal financial products and services.
THE FIRST SHALL BE LAST: Philip Caputo will be guest speaker for the last meeting of the Brickell Avenue Literary Society's 2005-06 season, scheduled for noon today (5/4) at Northern Trust Bank, 700 Brickell Ave. Mr. Caputo, author of "Acts of Faith," had been the society's first scheduled guest last Sept. 9. He rescheduled due to illness. His book was reviewed in our Sept. 8 issue. The Brickell Avenue Literary Society is sponsored by Northern Trust Bank and Miami Today. Details: (305) 529-7713, Ext. 213.