FYI Miami: April 9, 2020
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AIRPORT BONDS DEFERRED (AGAIN): A hearing over a $5 billion bond issue to fund a 15-year capital improvement program at Miami International Airport (MIA) was again delayed Tuesday, as Miami-Dade lawmakers deferred for the second time talks on – and potential approval of – the authorizing item. No reason was given for the deferral. The county commission met virtually to consider “emergency and time-sensitive” matters, which the MIA-related bond issue is increasingly becoming, but by then a deferral request was already tacked onto the item. The commission last year OK’d the overhaul plans at MIA, the county’s greatest economic generator, through five sub-programs at the North, South and Central terminals, cargo facilities and a mix of other upgrades, including two new on-site hotels. Plan projects totaling $984.4 million are already underway, paid by commercial paper notes in bond proceeds, but according to a March 3 memo by Deputy Mayor Ed Marquez, approval of the bond issue is need by July to continue the program’s funding.
COURTING BILL GATES: In a letter to Bill Gates, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has asked the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft to come to Miami with Melinda Gates to see what the city is doing. The mayor asks that the Gates Foundation perform an assessment of where the city stands and what it should do in the coming weeks. “As with climate adaption, I believe that now is the time that we listen carefully, act boldly, and engage in a painfully honest discussion about combating Covid-19.” In the letter, Mr. Suarez also points to his donation of blood plasma to help aid infected residents and says he is willing and able to donate blood for any vaccines or therapies the foundation may be working on.
HOSPITAL IN CONVENTION CENTER: The Miami Beach Convention Center will be used by the State Department of Emergency Management as a temporary alternative care facility, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said in a video update. The makeshift facility would be constructed with 450 beds, with the capacity for more if needed. “The facility will be completed quickly and likely remain vacant unless and until necessary. Please understand this is a precaution to assure that we are fully prepared for a worst-case scenario and that our community will never face shortages of beds or equipment. Hopefully, it won’t ever be occupied.”
LEGISLATURE PLANS: The 2021 session of the Florida Legislature will start on March 2 and is scheduled to end April 30, according to a schedule posted on the Senate website.