Miamis Film World Reels As Key Links Break At City And County
By Zachary S. Fagenson
Two high-profile public employee departures might leave entertainment firms trying to work in Miami-Dade without a dedicated point person at city or county levels.
Jeff Peel, Miami-Dade’s longtime film and entertainment head, on Tuesday said he’ll step down at month’s end.
"I’m retiring," he said. "I’ve been doing this job for 17 years. It’s been a long run, it’s been rewarding. It’s time to look at other opportunities."
Assistant County Manager Tony Ojeda will oversee the office and staff will remain.
Mr. Peel’s departure puts the industry at a crossroads. His office, along with groups like Miami’s Downtown Development Authority, has been working to help fill a gap left after Miami Manager Tony Crapp Jr. fired Harry Gottlieb, who was overseeing film work, at year’s end. The city parks and recreation department is handling permitting.
Yet Mr. Crapp says he could also leave after only five months for a private-sector job in Broward County.
In recent months his staff combed more than 220 applications to fill the film director’s seat. They sent a choice to Mr. Crapp, who said weeks ago he expected to decide "within a week." No name has been announced.
"The good thing is, I have the green light from [him] to select and hire. I didn’t have that green light before," Assistant City Manager Luis Cabrera said Tuesday. He’ll again comb the 44 names that qualified. If none seems viable, he added, the city may advertise again.
Lack of a film industry liaison at the city and county might or might not be a concern. The legislature three years ago approved a $242 million filming incentive, but after a large chunk ended up in South Florida dedicated to TV, lawmakers altered it to cap that amount and lure projects to other parts of Florida.
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