Written by Miami Today on June 25, 2009
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COMMERCE COORDINATION: Miami-Dade should form a central county office to coordinate efforts to boost international business, Commissioner Javier Souto says. The port and airport have sister ports across the globe. The county and its municipalities have ties to numerous sister cities. "At a moment like this, all of that should be together," he said at a committee meeting this month, referencing the distressed economy. "We need to increase business. The best way to increase business is to increase our contacts… we have to pull all of the resources together." His idea is to "have a central office… and coordinate all of these activities and move forward. There’s a need for that."
TURBULANCE: The $54 million the Transportation Security Administration is providing toward a new Miami International Airport baggage system is not enough, some Miami-Dade commissioners say. The federal agency makes the rules, requires certain equipment, has "everything under their jurisdiction," then "drop[s] everything in the hands of the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County," Commissioner Rebeca Sosa said at a meeting this month, questioning whether the agency could provide more. The feds reimbursed Miami-Dade with 75% of spending, which was "never guaranteed," Aviation Director José Abreu said. But some airports got 90% reimbursement because of "almost a technicality" having to do with timing, he said. "Totally unfair," Ms. Sosa said. Commissioner Carlos Gimenez called it "outrageous." Local members of Congress are working to get an extra $10 million or $11 million for Miami, Mr. Abreu said.
TRASHED CANS: New trashcans purchased by Miami’s Downtown Development Authority are already damaged and overflowing, said Jose Goyanes, board member and area businessman, at last week’s authority meeting. And they weren’t cheap, either: Mario Soldevilla, director of the city’s solid waste department, said at the meeting that the authority’s trashcans cost about $1,000, compared to the city’s $655 bins.
LEGAL SAFEGUARDS: Although the City of Miami has pledged to pay nearly $1 million in debts to the federal government for local nonprofit M.O.V.E.R.S. Inc.’s unauthorized sale in 2007 of Sugar Hill, a government-funded apartment complex for AIDS patients, safeguards are now in place to prevent similar occurrences, said George Mensah, city director of community of development. Now, all grants involving sale of property are not approved until there is a recorded mortgage and covenant, he said. "No money goes out until that is done," he said. Mr. Mensah said he personally questioned M.O.V.E.R.S. about the Sugar Hill sale in 2008 when speaking with the organization about another property, but they "weren’t willing to discuss it." City commissioners have directed the city attorney to look into whether the Sugar Hill transaction merits an investigation by the State Attorney’s Office.