Written by Miami Today on August 23, 2007
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LANDING ON HIS FEET: Former Assistant County Manager Roger Carlton — whose annus horibilis has seen him verbally pilloried by Miami-Dade commissioners for his oversight of a failed biotech park and the Carnival Center parking debacle, thrust into a public shouting match with a county lobbyist and ultimately let go in what officially was described as a budget-related layoff — has been hired as Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez’ chief of staff, effective Sept. 4. Mr. Carlton, who remains on the county payroll by way of accrued leave, said his salary has not been set.
TAKING BULLETS: Although Mr. Gimenez and Mr. Carlton had sharp exchanges during commission meetings in recent weeks, their relationship dating back several years withstood the strain. On July 23, the night that news of Mr. Carlton’s dismissal broke, it was Mr. Gimenez who told the Miami Herald that he felt Mayor Carlos Alvarez’ office had made his future hire a scapegoat and that Mr. Carlton "took some bullets; he took them like a professional takes bullets.’" Mr. Carlton replaces Genaro "Chip" Iglesia, who left to become Key Biscayne’s village manager. "I have known Roger for many years and I have always respected his professionalism," Mr. Gimenez said.
FEATURE PRESENTATION: Carnival Center for the Performing Arts has booked more than 15 events by outside presenters for fall, says spokeswoman Suzette Espinosa. The center plans to present 60% fewer performances itself during 2007-08 to leave open more dates, officials have said, because of overwhelming interest from outside presenters. Beyond those already set, more performances are at various stages of booking for 2007 and some for 2008, Ms. Espinosa said. Last season, outside presenters booked 38 performances, she said, often on shorter notice than other events.
SPACE STRUGGLE: The Miami Parking Authority board has deferred approval of a contract to allow the Related Group to use 410 parking spots in the city-owned downtown convention center garage now predominately utilized by Bank of America tower occupants. Related wants the spaces in order to accommodate residents of its planned Loft 4 condo development. Blue Capital, which owns the building and may buy the garage and the land it sits on from the city, fears allotting the extra spots could affect its tenants. Authority officials say it’s a good use for the garage. Authority board members are to reconsider the issue at a special meeting Friday.
SUIT SHAKEUP: Miami has joined developer Related Group in a motion to drop lawsuits filed against them for a decision to allow three high-rise condos to be built on Mercy Hospital grounds, according to Rafael Suarez-Rivas, assistant city attorney. The city has also asked Circuit Court Judge Pedro Echarte for a special hearing date to consider consolidating the suits filed by neighbors the Vizcayans and the Grove Isle condo complex because of duplication between the two cases. All of these actions are pending.
DOGGY DEED: Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has purchased with $1,800 of his office’s discretionary funds three sculptures of dogs to be placed in city dog parks. The statues — Legion, Blanche and Kennedy, named after the parks in which they are to be stationed — are intended as a "tribute to man’s best friend," Mr. Sarnoff said, "a reminder we share this world with other animals."
GETTING THE WORD OUT: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce this week launched a TV ad campaign promoting membership and building awareness of the chamber. Ads are to air for six weeks on NBC-6. Radio spots are to run on 87.7 FM.
NEW DEAN: Researcher James M. Tien has been named dean of the University of Miami’s College of Engineering effective Sept. 1, the university announced Tuesday. Mr. Tien, who served as founding chair in the Department of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems and the Yamada Corporation professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will replace M. Lewis Temares, dean since 1994. Mr. Temares will now focus on his post as vice president and chief information officer of Information Technology, a job he has simultaneously held.
ON THE MOVE: The Miami office of Boston-based John Hancock Financial Network is moving from 9155 S Dadeland Blvd. to 1101 Brickell Ave. Aug. 30 and will be open Sept. 4. The John Hancock Financial Network, whose products and services include wealth management, business and succession strategies, estate conservation, retirement solutions, compensation design approaches and corporate fringe benefits, has had a Miami office for more than 25 years, said Ana Luisa Pieropan, director of recruiting and marketing.
OPEN HOUSE: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce will hold a free open house for members and those interested in joining from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Radisson Hotel Miami, 1601 Biscayne Blvd. Attendees will hear results of a recent member survey, sign up for committees and attend the Business After Hours networking event, showcasing business products and services. Member firms may buy tables for $125. Details: (305) 577-5466.
REACH OUT: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce has set up an in-house sales staff to visit business associations and local businesses to seek new members, said Daniel Galindo, vice president of marketing and member services. The chamber will also pilot area council meetings beginning in September or October to "take our reach out of its traditional downtown boundaries," he said, noting that membership has increased about 30% this year.
BUSINESS NEIGHBORS: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Americas Linkage Outbound Program, which aims to encourage business opportunities between Florida and Latin America and the Caribbean, plans a trip to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic Sept. 13-14, offering networking, seminars and a country briefing. Registration for members is $195, plus airfare and accommodations. Details: (305) 577-5486.
GOT GOALS? A master list of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s goals set by committees at the goals conference in June is available online at www.greatermiami.com. Each chamber committee submitted five or more goals for this year.
GREEN GAS: In a General Motors initiative to promote bio-ethanol, the automaker is sending senior engineers to Florida International University Sept. 12 to discuss pros and cons of E85, an eco-friendly mix of ethanol and gasoline fuel made of corn or grain. Directors from FIU’s Energy and Business Forum and other experts will join the discussion. No gas stations in Miami-Dade County now sell E85, said Carmen Algeciras, director of the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program at the university. General Motors makes E85 cars called FlexFuel Vehicles and plans to hit a goal of "half of annual vehicle production" of cars taking E85 or bio-diesel fuels by 2012. The 11:45 a.m.-2 p.m. session will be at FIU’s University Park Campus, Graham Center Ballroom, 11200 SW Eighth St. RSVP required, but it’s free. Details: (305) 348-0399.
CORRECTION: Last week’s report on the status of new construction in the Brickell area should have said that Brickell Financial Centre will be ready for tenant improvement construction in February 2009 with tenant occupancy expected by the end of July 2009.
CORRECTION: A Newsmaker profile Aug. 16 misidentified the People’s Transportation Plan, which is funded by a half-cent sales surtax and overseen by the Citizens Independent Transportation Trust.