Written by Miami Today on April 24, 2008
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GREEN MEANS GO: Plan review should be expedited for proposed green buildings, according to Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. He’s to ask commissioners today (4/24) to amend the permit review process to allow plans for green buildings be reviewed before non-green-building applications in the order they’re received. The buildings must be registered Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified projects.
GROVE OFFICE OK: Offices are to be allowed on street level in certain areas of Coconut Grove where only retail, restaurants and entertainment venues have been permitted should commissioners give final approval today (4/24). They OK’d it initially this month. The change is meant to fill empty storefronts, with the hope also that office workers become local restaurant and retail patrons.
MUSEUM FUNDING: The Miami-Dade County Commission Tuesday approved initial grants for engineering and design of new homes for the Miami Art Museum and the Museum of Science in Bicentennial Park. But some commissioners made it clear they don’t want the City of Miami to use money generated by expansion of the boundaries of the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency to build a park outside the museum buildings. The commission OK’d a $235,000 grant for the art museum and $3.3 million for the science museum. A memorandum of understanding between the city and the county included a reference to $68 million from an expansion of the Omni district to fund a park outside of the two 4-acre parcels where the museums are to rise. But expanding the district’s bounds will take a separate county commission vote, after a need assessment, and at least four commissioners said the expansion is not a done deal.
FISHER ISLAND DEAL: The Miami Dade County Commission Tuesday approved a five-year land lease with Fisher Island Community Association for a commercial barge operation linking the upscale residential island to the Port of Miami. The contract, which has two five-year renewal options, will bring the county $122,000 a year. The association will also pay the county $16,500 a month for security. The association also agreed to settle a dispute with the county over $1 million in security costs incurred by Fisher Island Holdings, the island developer that had the lease and ran the barge operation before Fisher Island Community Association took control. The association has paid nearly $500,000 and is to pay the remainder over 12 months.
BAY OF PIGS SKIRMISH AHEAD? Miami-Dade County Commissioner Natacha Seijas sounded annoyed and frustrated Tuesday that the commission’s Recreational and Cultural Affairs Committee this month declined to endorse a Bay of Pigs museum, library and 1,000-space parking garage on county land beside American Airlines Arena. "That sounds not too distinguished to me," Ms. Seijas said of the committee’s decision to ask the full commission to consider alternative sites. "What kind of games are we playing here with the museum?" As part of the arrangement that led to the City of Miami ceding to the county the land on which the arena was built, the 2.76-acres beside it were to be used for a soccer field and open space. That’s why filling it with a 5-story building that would house the museum, library and garage concerns some commissioners. The current museum commemorating the failed 1961 invasion of Fidel Castro’s Cuba is housed in small quarters in Little Havana.
SEVERANCE SECURITY: Burned before by an employment contract that did not include a clause denying severance for termination for wrongdoing, Miami won’t let it happen again with new City Attorney Julie O. Bru. Her contract, up for approval today (4/24), includes the caveat: "the city attorney shall not receive any severance if terminated for neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance." Fired City Attorney Jorge Fernandez’s contract did not contain a similar clause, and he’s asking for about $300,000 in severance from the city after pleading no contest to misspending his $10,000-a-year expense account and making false statements. Ms. Bru’s salary is to be $240,000.
COUNTY ENVIRO ACTION: Miami-Dade County’s Climate Change Advisory Task Force is suggesting that the county urge commercial haulers and rental companies to use biofuels. The task force’s report Tuesday to the county commission included 35 recommendations that range from protecting water supplies to reducing greenhouse gases. The task force noted that the county is moving to hybrid vehicles in its fleet and 20% biofuel use in public transportation and said Miami-Dade should urge the use of environmentally friendly fuels among companies that do business with the county. The task force also supports an ordinance to tie new taxi cab medallions to hybrid vehicles.
A TOAST IN THE PARKS: The Miami-Dade County will consider allowing the sale of alcohol at some parks and facilities during athletic events. The proposed change to park rules passed the county commission on an initial vote Tuesday. If passed on a second vote, alcohol could be sold at Tropical Park stadium, Ronald Reagan Equestrian Center, Crandon Park Tennis Center, Amelia Earhart Park and other places in the park system. A hearing on the proposal is expected May 12 before the Recreation & Cultural Affairs Committee. Then the full 13-member commission would vote.
NEW JACKSON EXECUTIVES: Jackson Health System has named Gene Bassett chief operating officer. Mr. Bassett joined the Jackson Health System in 2006 and previously served as chief administrative officer for Jackson Memorial Hospital, with responsibility for the Medical/Surgical Hospital Center, Perioperative Services, Pathology and Radiology. He has more than 40 years in hospital operations, including more than 30 years in hospital administration. In addition, Eneida O. Roldan has been appointed senior vice president, associate chief medical officer and chief administrative officer for Jackson Memorial Hospital. Ms. Roldan was formerly president and chief executive officer of Metropolitan Hospital of Miami.
ALL-NEW METROMOVER: The Miami-Dade Transit Committee last week approved spending $34.3 million for 17 Metromover vehicles to replace the entire current fleet. Purchase, using the half-cent transportation tax, still needs county commission approval. The ordinance that specifies uses for the tax would have to be amended to allow for the buy, because the levy isn’t intended to be fund existing service. Life expectancy of the cars is 20 years, according to county documents. The Citizens Independent Transportation Trust recommended the purchase March 26. The current fleet will be retired in 2010, four years before the end of its 20-year life cycle, county documents show.
DOMESTIC PARTNER BENEFITS: The Miami-Dade County Commission’s Economic Development and Human Resources Committee on April 16 approved a proposal to provide domestic partners of county employees with an array of benefits: allow for registration of domestic partnerships and rights to insurance benefits and require health care facilities in the county to provide domestic partners with the same rights accorded to patients’ spouses. The proposed ordinance would include gay and lesbian couples. The measure now faces action by the full 13-member county commission. The committee deferred a second proposal that would extend employee benefits to persons who are dependent on county employees.