Written by Miami Today on November 1, 2007
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.
APPRAISED BY VOTERS? Miami-Dade commissioners seem poised to put the question of directly electing the county’s property appraiser before voters as early as Jan. 29. The Government Operations and Environment Committee has already signed off on the idea and the full commission is to vote on it Nov. 6. Miami-Dade is the only Florida county with an appointed property appraiser. The county Charter Review Task Force is making a similar call for direct election.
LANDLORD?: The Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority may end up acting as landlord for the proposed art and science museums in Bicentennial Park by serving as the subleasee for the City of Miami-owned property. The idea has "not been discussed in any detail yet," said Tim Schmand, executive director of the authority, which already acts as landlord for the Miami Children’s Museum. "We stand ready to take whatever role" the city asks, he said. "MSEA has the experience of doing this sort of thing." No revenue would be derived, he said. The children’s museum pays only $2 a year.
INTERNET ON THE HOUSE: IBM has finished deploying a free citywide wireless broadband network in Miami Beach, and city officials expect to complete testing of the system by mid-November. The $5,167,800 contract with IBM called for at least 95% of the city to have free outdoor coverage and at least 70% to have free indoor service through the second floor of a building.
CHILE CHAT: The Embassy of Chile to the United States is to host Nov. 8 an "Investing in Chile" seminar focusing on opportunities in the real estate and tourism markets. Discussion is to center on priorities of the Chilean government, foreign investment rules in Chile and the main real estate and tourism projects planned for the next five years. The event is to be held at the JW Marriott Hotel, 1109 Brickell Ave., from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
PAGING MICHAEL VICK: Miami-Dade commissioners will vote Nov. 6 on a resolution urging the state to increase penalties for dog fighting, in the wake of publicity surrounding the disgraced NFL quarterback’s involvement with the "sport." Sponsors Rebeca Sosa and José "Pepe" Diaz feel the current state penalties — a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine — are too lenient. Kansas, they point out, has penalties of 10 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.
REVAMP THE RAMPS: Miami-Dade County, City of Miami and Downtown Development Authority officials this week launched the Revamp the Ramps landscape enhancement project designed to improve the look of green spaces surrounding on-ramps to I-95. The $170,000 project, to be complete by the end of the year, is funded by a $100,000 contribution from the authority and $70,000 from the county’s Community Image Advisory Board. The aesthetics project is expected to enhance Miami as a tourist destination.
DWNTWN NWS: Miami’s Downtown Development Authority and Downtown Miami Partnership have teamed up to revamp the Downtowner newsletter, in publication since 1993. It has been renamed DWNTWNR to coincide with the area’s newly chosen logo: DWNTWN Miami. The quarterly publication is geared toward residents, visitors, workers and students and cover topics such as living, business, arts and culture, and education, all from a downtowner’s perspective. About 15,000 copies of the first edition were recently distributed downtown, targeting residences and business, as well as areas such as the Downtown Welcome Center. The online version can be accessed at www.dwntwnr.com and is a replica of the printed version.
MEANDERING MILLAGE: The Downtown Development Authority’s millage rate — proposed at .5 mills, the same as last year — has yet to be approved. Passage, requiring a unanimous vote by the Miami City Commission, was voided last month when one commissioner was absent during the vote. Commissioners planned to try again at last week’s commission meeting but again did not have a quorum.
EYE ON MIAMI: Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez’s proposal for a giant observation wheel at the Port of Miami — based on a similar attraction in London — gets a hearing before the full commission Nov. 6. Mr. Gimenez is calling for a feasibility study for the project. The transit committee approved the study Oct. 10. The "London Eye" itself is nearly 450 feet high at its apex and offers views of more than 15 miles in all directions.
NEW HIRE: Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez this week appointed Guillermo "Bill" Anido an assistant city manager. His responsibilities are to include capital improvement and transportation projects, public works, parks and recreation, planning, zoning and building. Mr. Anido previously served as director of Transit System Development with the county’s Transportation Administration. He was principal of projects such as the Port of Miami Tunnel Feasibility Study; the Miami International Airport Central Boulevard widening project; the North Extension of Metrorail for Miami-Dade Transit; and the Bay Link project for the Metropolitan Planning Organization. He also worked in the private sector as senior vice president with DMJM Harris.
TEACHING TEACHING: Florida Speaker of the House Marco Rubio, state Rep. Dan Gelber, Burger King CEO John Chidsey and United Healthcare CEO Dan Rosenthal this month are to leave their offices and hit the classroom to co-teach with educators and more than 350 other business professionals as part of The Education Fund’s Teach-a-Thon. The campaign is designed to raise awareness for quality teaching.
ORANGE BOWL ULTIMATUM: Miami commissioners have given the Florida Marlins an ultimatum: they must within 30 days confirm interest in the Orange Bowl site as a future home for a new retractable roof stadium. By December, administrators are to present a status report on negotiations with the team "or else we’ll explore other options," said Commissioner Joe Sanchez. He suggested a "central park" in Little Havana, as the district has "the least acreage of green space." City Manager Pete Hernandez said that while he’s confident the Marlins have interest in the site, "they feel that the Orange Bowl site is not as ideal as downtown" for yielding revenues, so they may pay less than their planned $207 million cash-plus-rent contribution to the project, creating "a greater (funding) gap which has been concerning to the city and the county." Officials, he said are still "developing a plan to bridge that gap."
US 1 LANE CLOSING: One lane of US 1 northbound from Southwest 17th Avenue to the Miami Museum of Science & Planetarium will be closed off and on for construction of a new wall behind homes along the highway. Construction officially began Monday and is expected to be completed by February, replacing the current pink wall. Commuters should expect delays from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, the city said. There will be a groundbreaking for the wall at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 3 at Nethia Drive and Halissee Street in the Natoma Manor neighborhood. Details: (305) 416-1286.
UP, UP AND AWAY: Air Cargo Americas, touted as the largest air cargo trade show in the Western Hemisphere, is to be held this year in Miami, Nov. 7-9, at the World Trade Center Miami, 1007 North America Way. The event is geared toward manufacturers, shippers, logistics companies, customs brokers, freight forwarders, distributors, importers and exporters, and others in the air cargo industry. Details: (305) 871-7910.