Written by Miami Today on February 7, 2008
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BUDGET HIKED: The Miami-Dade County commission Tuesday approved increasing the $6.9 billion fiscal 2007-08 budget by $7 million. The supplemental increase affects 14 departments and agencies. The administration requested the increase to offset changes in state and federal grants, higher-than-expected utility costs and other unanticipated events, according to a memo to commissioners from County Manager George Burgess.
CONVENTION TAX REVENUES UP: Convention development tax revenues were up 18.8% in December over the same month in 2006, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. December revenues totaled $4,592,664, the bureau said. The 3% hotel tax is used to support or maintain public facilities in Miami-Dade County such as the arenas, auditoriums and convention centers.
ACTION POST FILLED: Mayor Carlos Alvarez has appointed Julieann B. Edwards executive director of the Miami-Dade Community Action Agency. She’ll be paid $121,362 a year and oversee 916 persons. The agency oversees social programs for seniors, young adults and children, such as Head Start/Early Head Start. She’s been interim director since October 2006 and worked for the county more than 14 years, including a stint as assistant executive director of Miami-Dade’s Homeless Trust, according to county information. She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Florida International University.
SHORT RUN: Aerolíneas Galapagos, or Aerogal, halted its non-stop flight from Miami International Airport to Guayaquil, Ecuador, Jan. 23 after only a month of operation. According to North America Vice President Rafael Farias, the halt came after a contractor failed to deliver the two planes that would operate the route. In order to meet the route’s promised start date, Aerogal used a smaller plane during the month it ran but no longer finds this fiscally possibly. "This is definitely a major set back for us," he said, adding that the company is looking elsewhere for planes and hopes to reenter the Miami market as soon as possible.
HOSPITAL HEAD: M. Narendra Kini has joined Miami Children’s Hospital as President and CEO, replacing Thomas Rozek. Dr. Kini comes from Novi, MI, where he served as executive vice president of clinical operations for Trinity Health. He has 10 years of hospital administrative experience, is board certified in pediatric emergency medicine and holds a master’s degree in hospital administration.
RETAILER READY: Miami has agreed after prompting from the Downtown Development Authority to work on initiatives designed to improve the city’s permitting, plan review and inspection processes. The city plans to endorse a process flowchart created by the authority, pre-submittal meetings with retail tenant applicants and a "top-10" list of fire inspection mistakes, among other initiatives, according to an e-mail from Davon Barbour, the authority’s economic development manager, to board members. He called the support from the city a "significant milestone."
CONSORTIUM APPOINTMENT: Miami-Dade County Commissioner Natacha Seijas, who chairs the Jay Malina International Trade Consortium, has appointed Walter Loy to the consortium’s board. Mr. Loy previously was chairman of the Miami-Dade Sister Cities Coordinating Council. He is a senior adviser of international affairs for Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors. The consortium leads trade missions overseas to create business opportunities for firms in Miami-Dade, among other things. Mr. Loy will chair the European and Middle Eastern Trade Initiatives Ad Hoc Committee for the consortium.
FREE MARKET ADVERTISING: Free distribution newspapers and periodicals in Miami-Dade County have escaped a requirement to charge the county their lowest rates for publishing the county’s "discretionary" advertisements. A proposal floated in the fall called for the publications to give the county the best rate it gives any of its customers. That provision had been dropped by the time commissioners took up the issue Tuesday. But Carlos Gimenez indicated he may want to bring it back up if he can gain interest from fellow commissioners to seek to have the county’s largest general circulation newspaper, the Miami Herald, begin charging the county its lowest rate. "I want the lowest price" from the Herald, he said. The county, which is among the Miami Herald’s largest advertisers, now charges the county market rates, county officials say.
LOWELL HONORED: Boston Red Sox third baseman and 2007 World Series Most Valuable Player Mike Lowell pitched his support Tuesday for a new $525 million Florida Marlins Stadium, saying he wanted to be able to take his children to a professional baseball game when he retires. Mr. Lowell, a former Marlin, was honored by the county commission with a resolution proclaiming Tuesday "Mike Lowell Day." He thanked Mayor Carlos Alvarez and commissioners for keeping professional baseball in Miami, saying there wasn’t a major league team in the area when he was growing up. An agreement on a new ballpark would require the Marlins to stay in Miami at least 30 years.
BOWL BIDDING TIME: Now that the last event at the Orange Bowl has been held, almost all remnants of the to-be-demolished landmark will be up for grabs beginning 11 a.m. Feb. 9. Most everything is to be sold, including signs, lockers, benches, framed photos, urinals and turnstiles. Revenue is help the City of Miami fund the bowl’s demolition. Items such as air-conditioning units, generators, trees, garbage cans and food equipment are also being sold, along with autographed and framed mementos. Online bidders can view the catalog, place absentee bids prior to the sale and bid live during the sale at www.orangebowlstadium.com or www.liveauctioneers.com but must pre-register on the site before the event. A preview of auction items is to be held 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 8 and 9-11 a.m. Feb. 9. If need be, additional auction hours are to run noon-5 p.m. Feb. 10.
EYES ON THE STREET: Small black kiosks are popping up around Coconut Grove as part of a City of Miami pilot initiative to have more "eyes on the street," Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said. He proposed the idea in May, calling for increased enforcement officer presence. The booths are to serve as bases for police officers "most of the time," he said, and sometimes for code-enforcement officers. During special events, they could also serve as information booths for visitors, he said. The city hopes to complete the booths before the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, which begins Feb. 16. "If this (pilot) works, we’re going to bring it up Biscayne Boulevard around the performing arts center," as well as to the Upper East side and possibly Little Havana, Mr. Sarnoff said.
WHAT’S COOKIN’: Restaurateur Nino Pernetti, behind Coral Gables’ Caffé Abracci, has co-written a cookbook detailing his life and world travels. The University Press of Florida included a write-up of the book in its spring/summer 2008 "new books" catalog. The illustrated cookbook contains more than 100 recipes. Mr. Pernetti, a native of the Northern Lakes district of Italy, traveled in France, Afghanistan, South Korea, Malaysia and Mexico before settling in Miami.
BILLBOARD BASH: The Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is to present from noon to 7 p.m. Feb. 9 and 10 a free exhibit: Overtown Rhythm & Soul, an exhibition of 1950s and 1960s nightclub billboards from Miami’s "Little Broadway." The art is part of the Black Archives’ Clyde Killens/Sam Rabin collection. Count Basie, B.B. King, Duke of Earl, Bo Diddley, Little Eva, Etta James, Ben E. King, The Dells, Nina Simone, Patti Labelle and Bill Haley are some of the stars featured. The exhibition, in celebration of Black History Month, is to be the center’s first temporary art exhibit.
CORRECTION: An article last week should have named the Miami Woman’s Club as the potential recipient of a grant.