Written by Miami Today on October 25, 2007
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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DO OVER: Because Miami Commissioner Tomás Regalado left the dais last month during the vote to accept the Downtown Development Authority’s millage rate at one-half mil, the same as the prior year’s, the City Commission is to redo the vote today (10/25). Approval requires a unanimous commission vote.
RESCHEDULED: The City of Miami’s planned Museum Park design public meeting intended for the end of October is now to be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 13, site to be determined. The meeting and others to come respond to an outcry for a larger public say in the redesign of what is now Bicentennial Park downtown.
FREE FOR NOW: Miami Beach has yet to resolve its dilemma over how to offer free film permits or whether to accept Miami-Dade County’s new $100 application fee to use its FILMiami.org Web site. The fact that the fee system is not yet functioning has bought the city time, said Graham Winick, film and event production manager. He said city officials are exploring "if we can provide a reasonable alternative" to the fee, but are in the meantime "advising clients to use the FILMiami system" until the payment system is functional.
STREET TALK: The Florida Department of Transportation is to hold a public information meeting regarding its Brickell Avenue concrete repair and restoration project from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Miami Science Museum, 3280 S. Miami Ave.
SEMPER FI: Miami-Dade commissioner and former US Marine José "Pepe" Diaz has been appointed the county’s military liaison by commission Chairman Bruno Barreiro. Mr. Diaz’s new role is far from an empty title. It calls for him to build positive relationships with all branches of the armed forces operating in strategically located South Florida, which serves as an important base for military operations such as the US Southern Command. The command is responsible for defense of the Panama Canal and for military operations and security cooperation throughout Latin America.
HEALTH HAPPENINGS: After two years of construction, Mercy Hospital was to today (10/25) host the grand opening of its new, green, $25 million emergency department. The facility offers 32 private rooms, self-serve check-in kiosks and other amenities at 3663 S. Miami Ave.
MORE DISASTER MONEY: FEMA was responsible for $44.5 million of the $59 million debris cleanup for unincorporated Miami-Dade after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. If Miami-Dade faced a similar debris cleanup cost today, the federal agency would cover $47.5 million of the $59 million cost. The approval also means the federal government will reimburse Miami-Dade for straight-time salaries and benefits of permanent county employees who do debris cleanup work after a disaster. Before the pilot program, local governments were reimbursed only for their employees’ overtime expenses. Under the pilot program, Miami-Dade also will be able to keep any revenues generated from the sale of debris for recycling.
NAME CHANGE: Family-owned Bill Ussery Motors will officially rename its Coral Gables dealership Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables on Nov. 1. The business also is preparing to open a second dealership, Mercedes Benz of Cutler Bay, said Chairman and CEO Robert "Bob" Brockway.
IDENTITY ISSUE: "The name change is an interesting story," Mr. Brockway said. "Starting several years ago, as more and more dealers were following the "Mercedes-Benz of…’ designation, we chose to maintain our original name for strategic reasons." That became more significant when the dealership’s competitors to the north sold out to Autonation. "When we received the additional franchise in Cutler Bay, Mercedes strongly recommended we adopt the identity standard."
ORANGE BOWLING: The Orange Bowl Committee appointed 35-year-old Michael Saks chief operating officer, a post that had been open since August. The former senior associate athletic director at the Air Force Academy replaces Michael Lipitz, now senior associate athletics director for varsity sports at the University of Maryland. Mr. Saks holds a bachelor degree from the Air Force Academy and a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado.
GRAFFITI-FREE DOWNTOWN: Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez, chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, and members of the authority along with volunteers from Hands On Miami, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Macy’s, the Jewish Volunteer Center and the city’s Neighborhood Enhancement Team and others, last week painted downtown storefronts to beautify the area and remove graffiti. "This is a giant step in making downtown Miami a more attractive place to work and visit," Mr. Sanchez said in a press release.
MORE BITE THE DUST: Continuing efforts to rid the city of derelict and dangerous structures, Miami officials last week began demolishing two abandoned commercial buildings at 1733 NW 33rd St. and 3372-80 NW 17th Ave. The owners, Greater Miami Neighborhoods Inc. and Neighborhood Lending Partner Inc., are paying for demolition, though the city has beefed up funding to further its push to raze unsafe eyesores citywide.
SAFETY FIRST: Miami commissioners are to be asked today (10/25) to approve an ordinance providing for recorded monitoring and enforcement of red-light violations at intersections citywide.
GREEN GABBING: Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff plans to introduce several environment-oriented discussion items at today’s (10/25) commission meeting, including that the City should not buy bottled water in containers smaller than two liters, emergencies excluded; should restrict use of plastic bags; and should request Miami-Dade County to require use of hybrid vehicles by taxi companies.
FAIR CHAIR: The board of the Miami-Dade County Fair has appointed Willie L. Carpenter chairman for a two-year term, replacing Sandy Vanden, who remains on the board. Mr. Carpenter, a fair board member since 1999, is senior vice president of business development for Community Bank of Florida. He also serves on the boards of Homestead Hospital, South Florida Workforce, AvMed Advisory Board and the Nat Moore Foundation.
CLEANUP HELP: The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved the Miami-Dade County Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security’s Coordinated Debris Clearance Plan. Approval will be a major financial boon for Miami-Dade after a disaster. Prior to approval, the federal agency paid for 75% of all debris cleanup costs as part of the Public Assistance Grant Program. The state and local governments typically shared the remaining expenses. The feds will now pay for 80% of all cleanup because the debris clearance plan is approved to be part of the pilot program.
DIVESTING DOLLARS: Florida is moving to yank $1.3 billion in pension funds from foreign companies that do business with either Iran or Sudan, state CFO Alex Sink said. Full divestiture is expected by September, she said, but meanwhile, some companies "are making the decision not to continue doing business in Iran and Sudan," as several states are pursuing divestment. The plan does "not have any negative benefits," she said. "And who knows, maybe it will have a positive benefit." It’s been reported that Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman’s "terror-free fund" returned 29% during the last year.