Written by Miami Today on November 9, 2006
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EXPENSIVE ERROR: Oops! A printing error on the Miami-Dade Solid Waste District’s 2006 fee notice has cost taxpayers $45,000 in postage to send out the correct forms. About 145,000 customers who pay their solid-waste fees directly to the district quarterly or annually were told they owe $449 — $10 more than their actual bill. Increased postage cost aside, no harm was done, Assistant Tax Collector Fernando Casamayor said after the corrected notices went out this week. The mangled missive, produced in the county’s print shop, was a heads-up on the impending trash fee, not a bill. The district’s bills, which have also been mailed, contain the right annual cost — $439.
AUDIT AWAITED: The Miami Parking Authority is completing a request for proposals for an accounting firm to run a forensic study on authority finances. Board members voted to seek the study in October, almost three months after Oscar Rivero resigned as chairman following reports he was involved in an affordable-housing scandal with the Miami-Dade Housing Agency. Board member Arthur Hertz asked to extend the services further by having the firm evaluate the authority’s practices.
PARKING LOT CRACKDOWN: Miami Parking Authority officials remain adamant about cracking down on illegal parking lots near the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts. "We are in the very early stages of reaching out to code enforcement to discuss the situation and then, as we have always done, assist them in bringing into compliance all of the facilities in the area so that Carnival Center patrons are provided with a secure parking environment," said Fred Bredemeyer, authority deputy executive director for operations. The authority oversees parking in nearby lots owned by the Miami-Dade County School Board, which are lighted, paved lots used by arts center patrons, while the illegal lots are unlit, have improper or nonexistent fencing and lack security.
NEW JAILS CHIEF: Veteran corrections professional Timothy Ryan is expected to be confirmed as new boss of the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department at the county commission meeting today (11/9). Mr. Ryan, who ran the Orange County jail system in Orlando, should take over from interim director Leonard Burgess on Dec. 4. Mr. Ryan, 58, inherits a $290 million budget, 2,500 employees and an organization that has been wracked by squabble and scandal. County Manager George Burgess, who picked Mr. Ryan for the job, says he expects him to reform and rebuild the department.
HOKIER FORECAST: Hope President Donna Shalala’s forecasts for University of Miami growth top her football prognostications. Speaking at a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce lunch last week, she began by saying she wouldn’t discuss an on-field brawl among players during a UM-Florida International University game earlier this season except to say that good kids sometimes do bad things. She went on to outline university growth plans, concluding, "I’d be happy to take a few questions." Dead silence. "Yes, we’re going to beat Virginia Tech," she said in closing. "We’d better." Final score Saturday: Tech 17, UM 10.
FARMERS EYE FUTURE: A nine-member delegation representing Miami’s small-scale farmers and food producers recently returned from Terra Madre 2006, a five-day international gathering in Turin, Italy. The delegation sought to connect this area’s sustainable agriculture movement to work going on across the world.
FOUND RICHES: Miami International Airport’s operating revenue is $41,635 richer, thanks to last month’s lost-and-found sale, said spokesman Greg Chin. "This is better than our previous best-ever auction this past May." Unusual items included a huge torque wrench, a fly fishing set complete with rubber boots caked with dried mud and a set of brass trumpets. "The auction," he said "is always quite a spectacle of what people leave behind in the airport."
WOMEN’S BUSINESS MEETING: The Miami Chapter of the Organization of Women in International Trade will host the organization’s 2007 World Conference here Nov. 7-9. "This will be an amazing opportunity for us to host delegates from around the world," Helen Picard, WIT-Miami’s president, said at the organization’s annual International Businesswoman of the Year Awards program last week. The organization has 5,200 members worldwide. Details: www.wit-miami.com.
FOUR SEAONS, FIVE DIAMONDS: The American Automobile Association awarded the Four Seasons Hotel Miami the Five Diamond Award, a rating acknowledging excellence in service, accommodations, amenities and overall experience. The Four Seasons is now the only hotel in Downtown and Brickell to hold that distinction, according to spokespersons. "The award is a testament to the dedication of the entire Four Seasons Hotel Miami staff who provides world-class service to our guests daily," said Ignacio Gomez-Tobar, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts regional vice president and the hotel’s general manager. "We are also pleased to bring the recognition to Downtown Miami as the area undergoes a renaissance." Additionally, the Associated Press is reporting that investors including Bill Gates and Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal have offered $3.7 billion to take the international chain of 71 hotels private. The deal depends on shareholder and regulatory approvals.
ORANGE BOWL PAYOUT: Miami commissioners are to decide today (11/9) whether to pay $750,000 to Wisconsin-based Hammes Co. as settlement for a $150 million contract the project-management firm and city signed in 2005 to renovate the Orange Bowl. Hammes sued the city during the summer for $2 million after commissioners voted to rescind the deal and award the project to Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle. If the commission approves the settlement, $500,000 would reimburse Hammes for work it did before the contract was signed and the balance would atone for the city’s failure to provide written notice before backing out of the deal.
LEVEL FIELD: Miami might have to pay up to $170,000 to demolish and clear buildings at 1601 NW Seventh Ave. as part of its development agreement with non-profit Camillus House. The city and Camillus reached a land-swap deal in August to build a homeless shelter on that parcel, then revised the deal in October to give the city the responsibility of demolishing the buildings on the site. Commissioners are to vote today (11/9) on the arrangement.
LOW-INCOME HOUSING: Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is to lead a discussion today (11/9) about transferring $1 million from the affordable-housing trust fund to non-profit Tacolcy Economic Development Corp. to refinance Edison Towers, a multi-family housing complex for low-income and Section 8 residents at 5821 NW Seventh Ave. The proposed measure says Tacolcy would then be able to secure additional money to rehabilitate the complex.
DOWNTOWN TERM LIMITS: Miami city commissioners are to vote today (11/9) on an overhaul of the Downtown Development Authority’s bylaws. In February the authority’s board approved increasing the terms of board members from three to four years and imposing a 12-year limit, meaning members could only stay have three consecutive terms. If the commission approves the measure, the requirements would take effect immediately.
HONG KONG MISSION: The Association of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce of Florida is to send a delegation to Hong Kong for the second time, Nov. 27-Dec. 2. The mission is designed for small and mid-size businesses to seek opportunities in the Far East. It costs $1,160 per person; deadline to register is Tuesday. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PIRATES ASHORE: Bayside Marketplace will host the crew of Pirates Mutiny, a human circus and pantomime performance with acrobats, dancers and artists from around the world, on Friday. The crew will arrive aboard the pirate ship El Loro to offer a sneak peek three weeks before performing in a tented theater in Bicentennial Park on Dec. 1.
PROCESS-SERVING POWERHOUSE: Gissen & Zawyer Process Service Inc., a Miami process-serving firm, bought First Priority Process Service Inc. for an undisclosed amount this week. Gissen & Zawyer will retain all clients and assume operations of the formerly family-owned and operated business. "First Priority has had an outstanding reputation in the legal community throughout the years for providing its clients with a high level of service," said Vice President Sean Zawyer.
DESIGNING DAYS: Designs for a 400-space garage in Miami’s Design District are two weeks from completion, says Art Noriega, executive director of the Miami Parking Authority, which approved the design proposal for the garage in June. Consultant Timothy Haahs & Associates is working on the designs for the Design District Parking Plaza, 3800 NE First Ave., just north of Interstate 195. The parking authority is working on an agreement with Dacra Development, which has done extensive development in the Design District, because Dacra may gain a long-term lease for some garage spaces. Dacra initiated discussions with the authority to get a garage in the area, and the authority’s board approved the $135,000 design proposal June 7.
CARPETING GUSMAN: The Gusman Center for the Performing Arts continues being restored as new carpeting reminiscent of the original of 1926 is to be added to the mezzanine level in December, with work continuing into mid-January. The Gusman, in downtown Miami at 174 E. Flagler St., has undergone more than $5 million in interior renovations that are turning back time in a theater that celebrated its 80th birthday in February. The Olympia Theatre, renamed the Gusman in 1970 after it was purchased by industrialist Maurice Gusman, was introduced to Miami as a movie palace by Paramount Pictures in 1926. The Gusman is hosting 10 events this month and will showcase "The Nutcracker" Dec. 7 and 8.
CORRECTION: Steve Sauls on Oct. 2 returned to his post as Florida International University’s associate vice president for governmental relations. An Oct. 26 photo caption incorrectly linked him with interim employer Office Depot.