CONGRESSIONAL CHEW AND CHAT: US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will speak at a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Group luncheon to address the outlook for the region under the new Congress. The luncheon will be 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. March 30 at Radisson Hotel, 1601 Biscayne Blvd. Cost is $50 for chamber members, $65 for non-members. Details: (305) 577-5471.
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SISTER SEAPORTS: Port Everglades signed an International Sister Seaport agreement last week with the Port of Olbia in Sardinia, Italy. Olbia port authority president Paolo Piro, Italian Consul General Gianfranco Colognato and Giampiero Di Persia, president of the Italy America Chamber of Commerce Southeast, joined Port Everglades director Phil Allen and Broward County commissioners for a ceremony at the Broward County Government Center on March 13.
ELECTION ANTICIPATION: The Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce will host a candidate forum at 6 p.m. April 5 to prepare for the April 10 city commission and mayoral election. The chamber invited all seven candidates to participate in the forum, which former Miami-Dade County manager and Miami-Dade school superintendent Merrett Stierheim will moderate. The event will be at the Hyatt Regency, 50 Alhambra Plaza.
BROKEN GLASS: Six Jewish women who reached the top of their professions in male-dominated fields are to be honored with Breaking the Glass Ceiling Awards at 6:30 p.m. April 12 at the Jewish Museum of Florida, 301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Honorees are Lettie Bien, retired Army Reserve colonel who served in Iraq; Daniella Levine, founder and executive director of the Human Services Coalition of Dade County; Sarah Maman, senior vice president of the Fire, Life Safety & Security Institute; Eris Sandler, president and CEO of South Florida retail banking for Colonial Bank; Annette Stiefbold, director of commercial markets for Lockheed Martin Corp.; and Judith Wolf, a member of Pan American World Airway's management team. Details: (305) 672-5044, Ext. 12.
NORTHERN EXPOSURE: If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Miami Beach has a sincere admirer in Susan Fennell, mayor of Brampton, Ontario, who dropped by a recent Beach City Commission meeting to learn about creation of a cultural district, which is underway. She's working on a similar district in her city and is discussing creation of a Sister Cities relationship between the two municipalities.
HISTORY LESSON: Miami Historian Arva Moore Parks will speak at an Of Importance to Brickell luncheon at noon April 4 at The Conrad, 1395 Brickell Ave. The event is sponsored by the Brickell Area Association and Miami Today. Ms. Parks will discuss preservation of the Brickell legacy. Details: (305) 375-0080.
RED CROSS HONORS: The American Red Cross of Greater Miami & the Keys will honor real estate broker Edie Laquer; Diario las Americas editorial-page editor Helen Aguirre Ferré; and Josefina G. Carbonell, assistant secretary for aging in the US Department of Health and Human Services for dedication to the community at its Sara Hopkins Woodruff Spectrum Awards for Women luncheon at 11 a.m. March 28 at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove. The awards recognize women who exemplify the humanitarian principles of the American Red Cross. Details: (305) 644-1200, Ext. 111.
MALAYSIAN MATTERS: The Malaysia Trade Center of Miami will hold a USA Business Opportunities Seminar 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 10 to educate the business community about opportunities between Malaysia and the US in trade and investment. Rafidah Aziz, minister of international trade and industry of Malaysia, will address the group at the Hilton Miami Airport, 5101 Blue Lagoon Dr. The event is free, but participants must register. Details: (305) 267-8779.
SERVICE SURVEY: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce will conduct a survey of local companies in an attempt to identify how to better serve the South Florida business community. Golin Harris, marketing communications consultant, created the Internet questionnaire.
DEVELOPMENT DEVELOPS: The Miami City Commission will have a chance today (3/22) to approve several major development projects, including Loft 3, a 398-foot mixed-use development at 201 and 229 NE Second Ave. and 200 NE Third St.; The Edgewater Tower Project, a 482-foot residential high-rise at 701 NE 31st St., 3117, 3120, 3121 and 3131 NE Seventh Ave. and 475, 533, 537, 545, 601 and 619-25 NE 32nd St.; the Omni Development Project, a six-building residential and retail project at 1501-1701 Biscayne Blvd.; and the One Project, a mixed-use development of townhouses and 148,152 square feet of commercial space at 3224 and 3232 SW 23rd St. and 3209 and 3219 SW 23rd Terrace.
SPANISH SECURITY: Fermax Inc., a Spanish firm that manufactures electronic security systems, established a US distribution office in Miami-Dade County last week. It will serve clients in the US and Latin America from here, and expects to hire in the next three years 12 full-time employees. It will occupy more than 4,000 square feet of office space in Doral. The company's capital investment in the county will be about $500,000. "Our first office in the United States needed to be located in an area that had a diverse cultural mix and the international infrastructure that allows our company to reach anywhere in the Western Hemisphere," corporate director Edgar Bargues said in a press release. "The ease of conducting business from a single location that embodies the best of major US metropolitan areas and Latin culture made choosing Miami the best business decision."
BOOGIE MAN: Assistant county aviation director Max Fajardo has earned a reputation as a rock-hard hombré as he bulldogs Miami International Airport's $1 billion South Terminal toward summer completion. But away from work, Mad Max is strictly hard-rock — he's a bass guitarist and singer for C.O. Jones, a local band that's been wowing Miami fans for years and is booked solid through next year. Max says, "Music is in my blood." His late father was a noted flautist and his cousin is Miami Sound Machine superstar Gloria Estefan.
BUSTED: Miami-Dade County commissioner Carlos Gimenez ticketed the police department last week for running through a budget stop sign. He says the cops are $7 million over budget this year and issued them a stern warning. But he says lawmen have time to mend their ways before the commission slaps on the fiscal cuffs. Expenses for overtime, general operations and capital improvements, he said, can be trimmed to set things right.
BECALMED: Plans to launch a $29.5 million test of a ferry-boat commuter service on Biscayne Bay ran aground last week after county officials said they need more time to sort out legal issues surrounding the use of facilities at Haulover Park, Matheson Hammock Park and Miami's Chapin Plaza. But Metropolitan Planning Organization chief José Luis Mesa said he expects the project to be back on course in time for next month's meeting of the county commission's transportation committee, which will be asked to formally bless the pilot program. Transit officials have been trying to establish a ferry service for more than a decade.
NO PARKING: Assistant County Manager Roger Carlton is still knee-deep in plans to solve the parking crisis at the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts. After months of talks with the owners of three potential sites for a government-owned garage, he says he's weeks away from recommending a deal to the Miami-Dade County Commission. The high-dollar proposals are pretty complicated, involving land swaps, construction options and cash, he said.
NO THANKS: Miami-Dade aviation director José Abreu has scrapped plans to make contractors shoulder all the financial risk for cost overruns at Miami International Airport's $2.6 billion North Terminal, which is years behind schedule and bleeding money. After intense negotiations, building giant Parsons-Odebrecht agreed to eat any cost increases, but only if the county coughs up $220 million more, he said. He walked away from the deal. "We just don't have that kind of money," he said. "We can't afford it. I'm trying to control costs, not increase them."
FREE RIDE: Community Asphalt Corp. of Hialeah is a heartbeat away from landing a $140 million deal to build an 11-mile stretch of US 1 from Florida City to Jewfish Creek Bridge. Florida Department of Transportation District 6 Secretary Johnny Martinez says he'll be meeting with company representatives next month to negotiate the final terms of the firm's innovative buy-now, pay-later offer that would get the project completed five years ahead of schedule. In January, Community Asphalt submitted an unsolicited proposal to build the road today in return for payment in 2012. Under law, other companies had until the beginning of March to submit competing offers. Mr. Martinez said no one else bit. Now he'll try to seal the deal.
CORRECTION: A March 15 article should have stated that nine acres of government land earmarked for a baseball stadium in downtown Miami is valued at $9 million an acre, or about $81 million.