CUTS AND TOURISM: At any mention of the Florida Legislature's pledge to overhaul the state's property-tax system, County Commissioner Katy Sorenson cites possible curtailment of police and fire protection and funding for parks upkeep and the cultural arts. Now she's worried about the repercussions the cuts would have on Miami-Dade's tourism and convention business. Her concerns led her to ask Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau President & CEO Bill Talbert on Tuesday for a report that "gives us a sense what these cuts are going to do with tourism." He said he will prepare a report and present it to the commission soon.
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AGAINST MEDICAL ADVICE: County Commissioner Joe Martinez voiced gratitude to fellow commissioners, especially Carlos Gimenez, for their concern and assistance during his recent hospitalization for a cardiac condition. Mr. Gimenez, a former paramedic, insisted that Mr. Martinez get medical attention between committee meetings May 15 after he began having chest pains. Mr. Martinez, 49, subsequently was hospitalized for observation. He indicated that he is uncertain of his medical condition. "It's apparent that's still ongoing. We don't know where it is going to wind up." Later, he noted that he showed up at Tuesday's meeting "against medical advice" to get commission consideration for a resolution urging state and federal officials to temporarily cut gasoline taxes.
TIMEOUT: University of Miami and Miami city officials haven't met again to discuss the Orange Bowl's future, "but they are meeting soon," said Gilbert Cabrera, executive assistant to the city manager. On "The Hank Goldberg Show" on WQAM-560 this month, outgoing UM athletic director Paul Dee said school officials haven't decided whether to move Hurricanes football games from the Orange Bowl to Dolphin Stadium. The university's lease runs through 2009. "Basically, what you have are two issues that fight each other — the tangibles and the intangibles," he said. Dolphin Stadium has amenities, but the Orange Bowl has a tradition. It would take $180 million to $210 million to bring the Orange Bowl "to a level that would be acceptable," Mr. Dee said. "How do you pay for it?" But "we have to see if we could create the tradition" at Dolphin Stadium. "Could you bring the intangibles over?"
ON TARGET: Miami-Dade commissioners this month approved incentive packages to entice an unidentified life-sciences company to produce its premium research and clinical products and instruments here. State officials, a Beacon Council spokesman said, are to review the packages, which include nearly $1 million over 10 years from the county's Targeted Jobs Incentive Funds and Qualified Industry Tax Fund. The company is considering sites in Baltimore and New Jersey in addition to one at 50 NW 176th St. A move here would yield 56 high-quality, high-income jobs in eight years with annual average wages of more than $54,000 and a local capital investment of $21.1 million, according to county documents.
EDUCATION COLLABORATION: Miami-Dade commissioners this month adopted a resolution approving a partnership between the Jay Malina International Trade Consortium and Florida International University to study trade development agencies and provide trade promotion and workforce education and training. The $100,000 project, provided for in the consortium's budget, will begin this summer with a study on other cities' international trade efforts and is to be completed by December, said Tony Ojeda, consortium executive director. It will include a symposium with county officials and a series of breakfast workshops "dealing with things that would affect trade adversely," he said. The funds are to go toward scholarships to FIU students to study abroad for one semester. Students are to be selected this fall, Mr. Ojeda said.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce has chosen a new executive committee, effective next month. Hank Klein, executive director of business development at Cushman & Wakefield, is to be chairman, replacing Adolfo Henriques, CEO of Florida East Coast Industries who will sit on the committee as immediate past chairman. Chairman-elect will be Carlos Fernandez-Guzman, executive vice president of neighborhood banking at BankUnited. Bruce Jay Colan, partner at law firm Holland & Knight, will be first vice chairman, and John Messer, partner at Grant Thornton, treasurer.
STADIUM STEPS: Florida International University is to break ground on its new football stadium at 9:30 a.m. Friday, ahead of schedule. Workers will dismantle the south stands of the existing stadium, 11200 SW Eighth St., over the weekend, also weeks earlier than planned, an athletic department spokesman said. The plan is for the Golden Panthers to kick off next season in their new $35 million facility, which will replace their existing on-campus stadium. The first phase of the project, called the Lower Bowl, will contain 18,000 seats and 14 suites. Athletic director Pete Garcia said the stadium eventually will contain 45,000 seats, a concourse and a press level, though no timetable for completion has been set.
NEW DEAN: Luis Mirón is to begin next month as dean of Florida International University's College of Education, replacing Judith Blucker, who had been serving as interim dean. Mr. Mirón was chairman of the college's department of educational policy studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been chairman of the department of education at the University of California at Irvine and taught at the University of California at Berkley, Loyola University, Tulane University, the University of New Orleans and Vanderbilt University.
BUYING SPREE GOES ON: Seagis Property Group, a Pennsylvania company that has been on a buying spree in Miami for more than two years, said Tuesday that it has acquired a five-building, 208,000-square-foot office/warehouse portfolio in Palmetto Lakes Industrial Park, bringing local holdings to 28 buildings and 2 million square feet.
STEAK SOON: Brazilian steakhouse Grimpa is to open its first US restaurant next month in Mary Brickell Village, 901 S. Miami Ave. The 300-seat upscale eatery is to serve lunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays and 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. Dinner is to be served 5-11 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 5 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays and noon-10 p.m. Sundays. Reservations are suggested. Details: (305) 416-9355.
ONE MORE TIME: After continuing the item from its April agenda, the Miami City Commission is to be asked again today (5/24) to give initial approval to a change in development standards in the area surrounding the Metrorail station in Coconut Grove at 27th Avenue. Some Grove residents and the Coral Gables City Commission oppose the proposed size limits.
REEVALUATING: A resolution that would allow the development of Nickel Goeseke's proposed 56-story Columbus Centre at Southwest 15th Road and South Miami Avenue has been removed from today's (5/24) Miami City Commission agenda to allow him time to work with area residents to design a neighborhood-friendly project. "We are trying to keep the door open and have dialogue with the neighbors," he said. He announced plans last week to trim six stories from the tower. "We're trying to do whatever we can to make it a better building," he said. The date the project will go to the commission is to be determined.
TOUTING TOURISM: William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, is to address the Miami City Commission today (5/24) on the state of the local visitors industry.
VENEZUELAN CONNECTIONS: The Florida Foreign Trade Association is to host a business luncheon on bilateral trade and doing business with Venezuela noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday (5/30) at the DoubleTree Coconut Grove, 2629 S. Bayshore Dr. Sean Kelley, a commercial counselor with the US Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, is to speak. Eighteen Venezuelan companies are to offer one-on-one appointments with local manufacturers and distributors. Details: (305) 471-0737.
NEW COUNTY ATTORNEY: Robert Cuevas Jr. plans to retire this summer as first assistant attorney for Miami-Dade County. But he is to return Sept. 4 as county attorney, replacing the retiring Murray Greenberg. All 12 commissioners gave a second to Chairman Bruno Barreiro's motion Tuesday to appoint Mr. Cuevas, a 37-year veteran of the legal department. Commissioner Katy Sorenson suggested that Mr. Cuevas be ready for courtroom combat on several fronts. The appointment "comes at a time we're fighting everyone," she said, citing battles at the federal, state and local levels. "Wherever there is a fight, we're engaged in it."
WHAT A COMMISSIONER WANTS: Commissioner Carlos Gimenez said he sees a personal benefit from Mr. Cuevas' appointment. He said he feels he is getting an attorney who "can protect him from himself." Dorrin Rolle, an African-American member of the commission, said that with Mr. Cuevas, the county is getting an attorney "as colorblind as Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder."
QUICK AND PAINLESS: Miami International Airport last week unveiled an eight-lane security checkpoint at Concourse E expected to alleviate security lines during the busy summer travel season and help expedite completion of the North Terminal, airport officials say. "The new Concourse E checkpoint is a milestone in getting the North Terminal completed in 2010 and controlling our costs," Miami-Dade Aviation Director José Abreu said. The new checkpoint can accommodate flights relocated to Concourse E from Concourse A, which will close when the South Terminal opens later this year.
NEW LEADERSHIP: The Miami Jewish Home and Hospital's board of directors has appointed Sanford "Sandy" Miot CEO. Mr. Miot will oversee an annual $100 million budget and more than 1,400 employees for the not-for-profit geriatric-care center. Mr. Miot currently serves on the executive board.