Written by Miami Today on June 12, 2008
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FOUR-DAY WORK WEEK?: As gas prices rise and property taxes shrink, Miami-Dade commissioners continue to explore ways to reduce employee commuting costs and save taxpayer money. They discussed at a Budget and Finance Committee meeting this week the possibility of creating four-day workweeks for county employees, setting up a procedure for telecommuting and instating flexible hours. "We’ve been talking about these types of things for a number of years," said Jennifer Glazer-Moon, director of strategic business management. But, Commissioner Rebeca Sosa said, "In the past, it was a fancy, creative idea. Today, it’s a necessity."
KNIGHT CENTER SALE: Public talk of Miami selling assets on the north side of its downtown Knight Center complex, tempered since last summer, are back on the table. Commissioners are to be asked today (6/12) to retain law firm Korge and Korge as outside counsel to assist with the invitation for bids and law firm Bryant Miller and Olive to act as bond counsel to the city "on issues pertinent to the Knight Center bond indenture," according to city documents. A resolution asking the University of Miami to allow the city to terminate its lease for the Knight complex’s conference center any time after Dec. 31 2009 — or assign the lease to a city designee — is also to come up for a vote.
MURAL MAXIMUM: A Miami-Dade County measure that would have allowed the City of Miami to increase permitted mural advertisements to 45 in the urban core is no more. The county’s Governmental Operations and Environment Committee voted this week to limit murals to 35, the number allowed by a recent city ordinance. The move simply matches the county’s law to the city’s, but it means that, should Miami officials want more murals — though none have expressed the desire — it would require county permission. Commissioner Natacha Seijas resisted the back-and-forth, voting against the proposal. Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, its sponsor, said the county only allowed 45 in the first place "at the behest of what we thought was the city." Now that city law provides for fewer, "I think that should be it."
POLL PLAN PULLED: County commissioners this week at a Governmental Operations and Environment Committee meeting nixed a plan that would have allowed businesses to select employees to work the polls on county election days. It would also have required the companies pay the staffers for poll training and work the same way they’re compensated for their regular jobs. Commission Chairman Bruno Barreiro said he proposed the idea to help recruit qualified personnel to smooth elections. But some commissioners worried that having large factions from companies at the polls could influence elections, or at least appear to. "There’s this perception of conflict," Commissioner Natacha Seijas said. Lester Sola, supervisor of elections, said that, while he would never turn away more poll workers, the county is not in dire need. "We are doing well with our recruitment and our training."
JUDGMENT DAY: Miami commissioners are to be asked today (6/12) to extend the city’s lease deadline with Flagstone Property Group for its planned luxury development on Watson Island to Feb. 1, 2010. Commissioners have recently questioned whether the developer will be able to get the long-planned project off the ground. Chairman and CEO Mehmet Bayraktar insists funding is in place. "We have everything lined up," he said last month, though he could not announce bank backings or new investors. City documents cite one of the needs for an extension as Flagstone experiencing "delays in financing due to the downturn in the real estate market." The proposed resolution would also establish "certain milestones in the timelines for other development matters" relating to the project, which includes two hotels and a mega-yacht marina.
HEMISPHERIC MAYORS HUDDLE: Mayors from across the Americas will meet in downtown Miami June 16-19 for the Inter-American Conference of Mayors and Local Authorities. Attendees at the Hilton will focus on "Building the Productive, Efficient and Equitable Municipality: New Challenges — New Opportunities." Speakers include Guido Bertucci, director of the United Nations Division of Public Administration and Development Management; Roy Bernardi, deputy secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Samuel Moreno, mayor of Bogotá, Colombia.
UBS GETS ARTS HONOR: UBS Financial Services received the Miami Art Museum Corporate Honors Award June 3 at the museum’s inaugural Corporate Luncheon at the Four Seasons hotel on Brickell Avenue, honoring business support of visual arts. UBS was chosen for its sponsorship of Art Basel Miami Beach since 2002.
BANKERS ELECT PRESIDENT: The Florida International Bankers Association elected as president effective July 1 Ramon Usategui, senior vice president and manager of BankUnited, who has been first vice president. The Miami-based association includes more than 80 financial institutions from 18 countries. He replaces David Schwartz of Regions Financial Corp.
DOWNTOWNERS WANTED: Miami’s Downtown Development Authority is looking for candidates to fill board positions. Requirements include owning property in the downtown district and having relevant downtown experience. Applicants should also have wide knowledge and experience in fields such as real estate, economic development, banking, retail operations and marketing. To apply, send a letter of interest and resume by July 3 to the authority, 200 S Biscayne Blvd., Suite 2929, Miami 33131. Details: (305) 579-6675.
SUSTAINABILITY TALK: The US Green Building Council’s Miami/Keys Branch will talk about sustainability at 6:30 p.m. June 18 at Miami City Hall. The council seeks recommendations for a regional update that is to be made to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, which encourages the adoption of green building practices. "It’s difficult to reach a point system in South Florida because of heat and cooling issues," said Louise Bendix, branch communications chair. The council plans to team up with Dream in Green, a non-profit that raises sustainability awareness, to expand its Green Schools Challenge to more than 30 schools in Miami-Dade County.
RESEARCH REWARDED: University of Miami neurologist Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S., has been inducted into the Association of American Physicians, founded in 1885 for "the advancement of scientific and practical medicine." He is Olemberg Family Chair in Neurological Disorders, Miller Professor of Neurology, Epidemiology and Human Genetics, and chairman of the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Members of the association have included Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Sacco is an international authority in stroke prevention and risk factors. "His groundbreaking research is having an impact on thousands and thousands of lives," said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Miller School of Medicine.
PÉREZ PRESENTS BOOK: Real estate developer Jorge Pérez will be at Books & Books at 265 Aragon Ave. at 6 p.m. today (6/12) to present his new book "Powerhouse Principles: The Billionaire Blueprint for Real Estate Success." A cocktail reception and book signing will follow. The book includes Mr. Perez’s business philosophies on how to reach success in real estate.
CORRECTION: Lesley Tobin’s name was misspelled in a photo caption on last week’s Dining Out page.