Written by Miami Today on August 14, 2008
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CRUISING ALONG: The Port of Miami set a cruise passenger record for the first six months of 2008 with 2.2 million passengers, up 5% from the first half of 2007. Sustained growth is due in part to the variety of cruise options offered at the Port of Miami, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. And that growth is good for the community, said Rolando Aedo, bureau senior vice president of marketing and tourism. He said 10% of people who come to town for a cruise will stay here at least one night, meaning hotels, restaurants and other businesses also benefit. "That is good for the community as a whole and it is good for the cruise lines," he said, adding that the statistics could be better. "While (10%) is a good number, there’s a great potential to increase that number."
4-DAY WEEK STUDY: Miami continues to weigh whether to shift some departments to four-day work weeks to save money and aid the environment. City directors and staff were asked to fill out a survey as part of the Compressed Work Week study, which looks at the financial impact of running some departments four days weekly. Gregory D. Anderson, city compensation and special projects manager, said he’s reviewing all completed surveys to present an option to City Manager Pete Hernandez. Mr. Anderson said the study estimates a cutback of up to $130,000 a year on utility expenses and gas savings for city employees. He said the city also is studying added benefits to the schedule change such as extended service hours to the public, an increase in productivity and possible cuts in overtime hours. He said he hopes to finish the study in a few months.
TRAVELING FOR TRANSPORTATION: Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, president of the US Conference of Mayors, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-chairman of the national infrastructure coalition Building America’s Future, are to lead a meeting today (8/14) in New York City to discuss new and streamlined infrastructure and transportation needs in cities across the nation. They are to be joined by more than a dozen US mayors. The purpose is to develop an action agenda to replace antiquated transportation and infrastructure and connect metro cities from coast to coast in a way that is climate and energy efficient.
LAWYERS JUMP FIRMS: Litigation attorney Daniel S. Rosenbaum and a team of ten lawyers from Becker & Poliakoff have joined Katzman Garfinkel, a statewide law firm with offices in Miami that represents about 1,000 condominium associations. The announcement that Mr. Rosenbaum is to lead the firm’s new West Palm Beach office was made Tuesday. The legal team is taking along 10 staff members from Becker & Poliakoff, a law firm with offices in Coral Gables and Doral. Mr. Rosenbaum brings with him 28 years in trial and appellate cases regarding matters like commercial litigation, employment law and insurance cases like hurricane-damage claims.
NEW URUGUAY CONSUL GENERAL: Alvaro Gallardo is to join the Consulate General of Uruguay in Coral Gables as consul general. He comes from the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Uruguay, replacing Manuel G. Vieira, who was appointed the country’s ambassador in Stockholm, Sweden. Mr. Gallardo is expected to take on the post at the end of August or beginning of September; Cesar Rodriguez, adjunct consul, is temporarily in charge. The consulate general helps Uruguayans with passport procedures and other legal documentation.
SAWYER’S WALK TALKS DELAYED: The city and county tug-of-war continues on the planned housing development in Overtown. They agreed to settlement talks July 16 but the meeting was postponed to July 25 because not all county representatives could attend, said Jim Villacorta, executive director of Miami’s Community Redevelopment Agency. That was once again cancelled, this time because all city representatives couldn’t be present, he added. A new date has yet to be set. The settlement is regarding county-owned land given to the city, which Miami commissioners voted to use for the construction of Sawyer’s Walk, a housing development years in the making. In January, the county commission voted to take the land back to build a project with more affordable housing options. That’s when Miami lashed back with a lawsuit to keep the land and give Sawyer’s Walk a green light.
NEW INDEPENDENCE, OLD DIRECTOR: Should Miami-Dade County’s Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust gain some independence next month — commissioners gave initial approval to new measures giving the body more freedom and are to consider them for final approval in September — its board should soon begin discussing issues such as drawing a contract for a newly autonomous director, Chairman Miles Moss said. And the contract will probably be for current Director Nan Markowitz, he said. "Certainly that decision would be up to the entire trust. But everybody at the trust appears to be extremely satisfied with Nan." The move to make the trust director independent from Miami-Dade County staff to allow the trust to truly do its job — overseeing and reviewing transportation and transit projects tied to a voter-approved half-cent surtax — "was not being done for her specifically, this was being done for the position," Mr. Moss said. But not with the intention of seeking new leadership now.
WALK ON IN: Three Miami-Dade Navarro Discount Pharmacies now boast physician-staffed walk-in clinics. MediGo Express Medical Care, part of an affiliation between Samoho Healthcare and Mercy Hospital, now staffs clinics at 3141 W 76th St. in Hialeah and 3949 SW Eighth St. and 10720 SW 72nd St. in Miami. Adults and children 6 months and up can be seen 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Average visits last 15 minutes and cost about $55. Medicare and most insurance plans are accepted. Details: www.navarro.com or www.medigoonline.com.
PAINT THE TOWN: Miami’s ACCESS program is teaming up with Sherwin-Williams Co. to offer free training as skilled painters. ACCESS is a city of Miami initiative to inform residents of programs and services available in the local business sector. The two-week course runs from Aug. 18-29 and classes are held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration is required. Details: (305) 416-1481.
DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS: Domestic partners in Miami-Dade County are now eligible for new benefits such as visitation rights at healthcare and correctional facilities, among others. Benefits apply to those who live together and consider themselves a part of the immediate family of the other partner, but are not married or related. To qualify, residents must register with the county. Registration begins at 10 a.m. Aug 18. The county’s Consumer Services Department is to accept mailed applications or walk-ins at 140 W Flagler St., Suite 908, in downtown Miami. Applications must be signed by a notary. The initial fee to declare a domestic partnership is $50. Details: www.miamidade.gov/csd.
HOUSING STRATEGIES: Miami-Dade County’s Community Affordable Housing Strategies Alliance, an advisory board charged with monitoring county housing policies, programs and plans, is to hold its second meeting as a permanent body from 2-5 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, 101 W Flagler St. The alliance was formed initially as a temporary taskforce to assist in addressing the county’s housing crisis. Commissioners later made it permanent by ordinance. Details: (786) 469-2193.
MIAMI INVITES VENDORS: Miami is holding its third annual purchasing information exchange session with four meetings yesterday and today (8/14). Morning sessions are from 8:30 a.m. to noon and afternoon from 12:30-4 p.m. at the Bank of America downtown, 100 SE Second St. Sessions focus on how local businesses can do business with the city using its online services. Companies can register free online or by phone. Details: (305) 416-1902 or www.miamigov.com/procurement.
CORRECTION: An article last week should have said international travel makes up 46% of Miami International Airport’s business, with domestic accounting for 54%.