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Front Page » FYI Miami » Fyi Miami

Fyi Miami

Written by on July 13, 2006


Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead

of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.

   BANNER POLICY: A banner spotlighting genocide in Darfur will remain hanging in the Miami-Dade Government Center, but county commissioners concerned about opening "a Pandora’s box" directed County Manager George M. Burgess to devise a posting policy. The banner calls attention to an earlier commission resolution about the genocide, but at last week’s meeting, Commissioner Natacha Seijas said she was concerned that the banner included a Web site seeking donations. "I have serious problems putting that up in a government building. It is completely inappropriate and could open up a Pandora’s box for other organizations," she said. Other commissioners said they were concerned that removing the banner would "send the wrong message" but a policy governing such banners is needed.

   MONEY AND LOYALTY: Miami-Dade commissioners voiced relief that George Burgess will stay on as county manager but exchanged good-natured ribbing with him when he appeared before them last week to put departure rumors to rest. Chairman Joe A. Martinez noted there had been a rumor that Mr. Burgess’ $390,0000 compensation might be a central factor but said money did not play a role in his decision to stay. Mr. Burgess joked, "Don’t discount the compensation (issue)."

   POWER POINT: During the special meeting to discuss Mr. Burgess’ decision to stay on, commissioners noted that he may be stripped of some power if Mayor Carlos Alvarez gets voters to initiate a strong-mayor form of government. But Mr. Martinez said he has urged the mayor to change his mind. "The last thing I told him prior to his leaving on vacation was that maybe we can start working together, and he told me he’d think about it," he said. The commission gave Mr. Burgess a standing ovation after he said he’d stay. "Thank you, that does mean a lot to me," he said. "I do get a lot of offers from time to time, and I’m flattered, but I want to keep doing what I’m doing while I’m enjoying it." "I’m glad you’re staying," said Commissioner Carlos A. Gimenez. "Of course, now I have to question your sanity," but "that could be said for all of us."

   NEST EGG: Christopher L. Holley, executive director of the Florida Association of Counties, stopped by the county commission chambers last week to present Katy Sorenson with the association’s Presidential Advocacy Award for work on behalf of the Empty Nester legislative proposal to allow Florida homeowners age 62 or older or permanently disabled to transfer their assessed value one time to a newly purchased home in the same county that is smaller and less costly. The plan failed this year, but, said Mr. Holley, "our legislators eventually will come around."

   ARTS CENTER WANTS YOU: The Miami Performing Arts Center is looking for volunteers in time for its October grand opening. Volunteers will become members of the Alliance for MPAC, which includes advance notice of performances and special events. The center needs people in concierge services, tour guides, special-needs assistance profiders, security monitors, ushers, counselors, mentors and more. Details: (305) 579-7632.

   ALL ABOUT MIAMI 21: Miami’s Planning Department is hosting a Miami 21 zoning plan meeting and open house 8 a.m.-noon Saturday at Legion Park, 6447 NE Seventh Ave., to provide information and answer questions. Details: (305) 416-1404.

   CITY MANAGER VOTE: A resolution is to go before the Miami City Commission today (7/13) from Mayor Manny Diaz to appoint Miami-Dade County Deputy Manager Pete Hernandez city manager, replacing Joe Arriola. The appointment would become effective upon its adoption and signature by the mayor. Commissioners are to vote whether to approve the mayor’s appointment.

   US/JAPANESE HUDDLE: For the first time in 14 years, Florida will host the 30th annual Joint Meeting of the Southeast US/Japan Association and Japan/US Southeast Associations on Oct. 21-24, in Orlando. More than 700 business and government leaders from the US and Japan are expected. As Florida’s second-largest trading partner, Japan directly invests $2.4 billion and has more than 100 businesses operating in the state. Japan remains the world’s second-largest economy and third-largest export market for the US.

   NEXT GENERATION OF GIVERS: Wealth-management firm Evensky and Katz is working with the Coral Gables Community Foundation to launch a summer program for high-school and college students in philanthropy. Students will meet at the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables on July 22 to participate in Youth 4 Tomorrow, a grant-distribution program that allows students to allocate funds. David Evensky has committed his firm to an initial $2,500 gift to charities of the students’ choosing.

   MIDTOWN FIVE STANDSTILL: Midtown Group, developer of the 18-square-block Midtown Miami, has delayed submitting a building permit application to the Miami Planning and Zoning Department for Midtown Five, a 392-unit residential tower. High-rise developer Colin Carby said planners are fine-tuning floor layouts and aesthetics to address concerns of residents and city officials. He said there’s no timetable for the permitting phase and developers have not spoken to city officials in months.

   ANOTHER BOARD: Miami-Dade College North Campus President José A. Vicente was appointed July 6 to the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce board of directors. He serves on boards of the Children’s Trust, North Miami University, Aventura Marketing Council, North Dade Regional Chamber of Commerce and American Association of Community Colleges. "I am honored to have been named to serve on the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce board of directors," he said. "According to the research, higher education plays a key role in all aspects of economic development, so we are very pleased to be involved."

   PHARMED COO: The Pharmed Group appointed Bruce Paul executive vice president and chief operating officer. The 17-year Pharmed employee will oversee distribution, purchasing, customer service, contracting and data management. Pharmed, given the Premier Supply Diversity Recognition Award on July 5, is the largest independently owned distributor of medical, surgical and rehabilitative supplies in the US.

   MARCH MADNESS IN MIAMI: The National Collegiate Athletic Association selected Miami as a host site for the first and second rounds of the 2009 NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament. Eight teams will play six games at AmericanAirlines Arena in March 2009. It’s Miami’s second time to play host. The regional finals in 1994 were played at Miami Arena.

   BACK TO THE FUTURE: William Johnson on Monday began his 27th year with Miami-Dade County, back where he started now that he’s interim director of the Port of Miami. "I started here 26 years ago as an intern at this port, so it’s fitting and a great honor for me to come back after 26 years." He’s been director of the Contract Coordination Office, chairman of the County Review Committee and county representative for AmericanAirlines Arena. He’s overseen construction of the Performing Arts Center, which he’s still doing. He’s also had oversight of the county building department, building code compliance, planning and zoning, capital improvements and aviation.

   BACK TO THE ZOO: William D. Talbert III, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO, waxed nostalgic as the county commission took steps to create a theme park at MetroZoo. Mr. Talbert, who was at last week’s meeting, noted that he began his career in 1970 as an intern in the parks department when it secured the zoo site. "It was government surplus land. That was one of my first projects. I still have some of the signs we used," he said. The entertainment district envisioned by the commission, he predicted, will be a top-drawer attraction for the region.

   GOING PRO: Expanding the Miami-Dade Sports Commission and broadening its mission to include professional events won unanimous county commission approval last week. The commission expanded the panel to a maximum 45 members despite some commissioners’ concern that it might prove unwieldy. Sally A. Heyman spoke in favor. "We are now hearing that we are a 12-month-a-year venue, and we have such wonderful parks to support it," she said. "Last year, we had over $30 million returned for our $250,000 investment. The idea that we can create all types of sports with this seed money is incredible."

   FLAGLER STATUE: A 7-foot-tall bronze statue of Henry Flagler will be dedicated on the south steps of the Miami-Dade County Courthouse facing Flagler Street at 11 a.m. July 28 after a three-month delay. Construction at the courthouse forced postponement of the unveiling from April 13. The statue, a replica of one in St. Augustine, cost about $70,000 and memorializes the man who brought the railroad to Miami. Mr. Flagler is credited with bringing agriculture and tourism to Florida.

   LEADERSHIP CHANGE: Sol Sotheby’s International Realty has a new president and interim CEO – J.C. Padial, a 23-year veteran of international banking who was managing director of the company’s resort and developer sales division. He replaces Irving Padron, a principal and co-founder of the year-old boutique residential brokerage.

   TEAMWORK: "Beach Patrol: Miami Beach," a documentary highlighting Miami Beach’s Ocean Rescue Division, premiered this week on Court TV. The six-episode series depicts city police, fire rescue and ocean rescue working together, featuring true stories dealing with unpredictable and often volatile situations from dangerous ocean rescues to drunken brawls. Two episodes air each Monday, at 8 and 8:30 p.m.

   STILL TOPS: For the fifth year in a row, CB Richard Ellis is the leading brand in commercial real estate, according to a Lipsey Co. survey of real estate professionals globally. The firm has been named top since the survey’s 2002 inception. "Enhancing the CBRE brand has been one of our key corporate objectives for the past few years," said Brett White, president and CEO. Lipsey provides commercial real estate training and professional development. About 23,000 professionals were surveyed.

   WANT TO BE A GUIDE? Miami Dade College’s Travel and Tourism Department offers its tour-guide certification course Sept. 19-23. It’s a joint initiative among the college, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Florida Association of Meetings & Events Professionals, the Southern Florida Concierge Association and the Professional Tour Guide Association of Florida. Details: (305) 237-1093 or

   SAVING YOUR GREEN: Experts in water, energy, air quality and waste reduction will show hotel proprietors how to save money while making buildings environmentally friendly at the Green Lodging Workshop on July 26 at the Four Seasons Hotel. The free course is offered by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau in cooperation with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, City of Miami Beach Environmental Resources Division and Miami Dade Water and Sewer Department. Details: (850) 245-8726 or

   PROMOTING ‘VICE’: The promotional hubbub around the forthcoming "Miami Vice" movie continues, with the Baltimore Sun running a consumer contest based on the debut. A grand-prize winner and guest will get a vacation to Miami including airfare, accommodations, dinner for two and VIP treatment at a nightclub.

   DECO HUNT: A TV crew from UK show "Grand Designs" was to be in town this week following a couple who are seeking inspiration for a house they are building by visiting the county’s Art Deco areas. After being shown in the UK, the show is broadcast by the Discovery Network, which dubs it in various languages.

   20 AND COUNTING: The New World School of the Arts, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary with the start of the next school year, is focusing on getting alumni involved as it prepares to celebrate, said Mercedes Quiroga, interim provost. The school has no plans to expand or renovate. "We don’t have anything concrete in the works right now," she said. "We went through a renovation about two years ago, so right now we’re not in renovation mode." While she said the school would "ideally love to have more space," there is no urgent need and "being downtown and urban, where land is premium, is part of a reality we have to face."

   CHINA SHIPPING LINKS: Starting Aug. 2, CMA CGM and China Shipping Service will expand destinations with new weekly service from the Port of Miami called EAG/Victory Bridge Service. The service includes two CSCL ships, two CMA CGM and one Hatsu. "China Shipping Container Lines is pleased to have another service call the Port of Miami. This new call will allow China Shipping to provide services from the Far East, Mediterranean and now Northern Europe. It will provide an excellent opportunity to meet the needs of our customers," said Zhang Bing, China Shipping (North America) president. The Port of Miami is Florida’s largest container port, with China ranking as one of its top trading partners.


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