Thursday, January 17, 2019

Update on the Palmetto Bay Freebee service. I am passing my update on to my readers. We could have this service very shortly, possibly in February!

I am updating you, interested readers on the status of the Palmetto Bay Freebee service.

A source has updated me on the status of the Palmetto Bay Freebee.  I am providing the updates to my blog readers.  My source advises that Palmetto Bay's Freebee service could be up and running very quickly if the Council will approve the Contract at the February council meeting. (It was confirmed that we could have been up and running in December, 2018, but the village requested changes in the contract. These discussions commenced at about the New Year, post-election).

It is my understanding that there have been no changes in pricing from the May 2018 discussions, unless there is a change in service, and that is apparently being discussed.  The Town of Miami Lakes is rolling out a larger Freebee passenger vehicle, a 6 to 9 max passenger version. Palmetto Bay may be interested in upgrading to this larger capacity vehicle.  The upgrade would not be ready for a February launch. Commencing with the larger vehicle service would cause a 60 to 90 day delay in initiating service, however, Palmetto Bay could start with the standard vehicles and then upgrade to the larger vehicles when ready.

A December launch would have provided the Village experience to judge whether the ridership would justify the larger vehicle, rather than jumping right into higher capacity, higher cost.

There will be an increase in overall service cost for Palmetto Bay if the Village opts to run with the larger vehicles (which may be worth it, but this should be publicly disclosed and discussed as to the expectations, the wants and needs of our residents).


I was also told that at the present time, there is no ability for the Freebee service to operate on the buslanes/transitway (as the IBus currently operates), but there are ongoing discussions relating to obtaining permission. Such operations would be designed more to avoid the traffic congestion on US1. My source is also unaware of any discussions to use this vehicle outside the Village jurisdiction, e.g., from the Village all the way to the Metrorail, to the Datran South station.  Current plans and County permissions remain that the Freebee would operate within the Village, and venturing to close major destinations including the Falls Shopping Center and including the Jackson South Hospital/medical complex.

I formally request that this Manager, Mayor and Council cease any further delays and get the contract (or whatever documents that the council deem necessary to be approve in order to justify the past delays) approved at the February council meeting so this service can begin without further delay.

More recommended reading - a Miami Herald article by Douglas Hanks, Jan. 16, 2019: Looser rules on transit tax bringing ‘Freebee’ shuttles to cities. Is Uber next

Thank you for your interest,

Eugene Flinn

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Its a 'hot' trend, but Palmetto Bay is clearly not "cool" enough. This kind of trendy setting definitely NOT coming to Palmetto Bay

Here is an example of right idea, but only in the right place. This won't be coming soon to Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest or Cutler Bay. None of these municipalities "cool" enough.

Have fun, read up on what I am talking about, and note read the full story, all credit goes to LakeGeorge.com: see story: Cool Cocktails, Scrumptious S'mores, Incredible Ice Scupltures & More at Lake George Area Ice Bars 2018 - 2019
Ice bars are one of the hottest trends sweeping Lake George, NY! These cool attractions feature bars, seating, glasses, and even props carved from thousands of pounds of ice. Below, you'll find a guide to ice bars in and around Lake George and the Adirondacks. Be sure to hit up these hotspots while you can, as they're only around for a limited time each winter season.
Photo - as credited: The Sagamore as posted in LakeGeorge.com
Lake George is a great family place to be, regardless of the season. I've done some crazy things there (multiple years engaging in the Lake George Polar Bear Plunge, 2007 & 2013). I would like to be able to try out one (or more) of these new outdoor ice bars. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

POD - Palmetto Bay is currently out of service area for Freebee. Let's make it happen. Improve our local mobility.

Reports are coming in as to the Pinecrest Freebee. The service started Monday, January 14, 2019, in Pinecrest.  I downloaded the APP sometime ago, when I was confident that Palmetto Bay would be the first to introduce the Freebee service.  I was pushing for an October 2018 start of the Freebee service for Palmetto Bay.  We pushed for and were awarded a 3 year pilot grant late in 2018 to start the service for 2019 (that's the start for the Grant, but the ability to use CITT funds for this on-demand service were already available.

I was negotiating for an earlier start and I found the local proprietors of Freebee most accommodating. We could have, should have, started this Freebee service in December 2018 for Palmetto Bay.

Please see my prior post regarding the grant and other update on the Palmetto Bay Freebee: posted January 9, Freebee update - reviewing prior notifications. FAQ. The funding is in place for the Palmetto Bay Freebee service, but is the interest or political will?

 CLICK HERE to see other prior posts relating to Freebee.

But for now, many Palmetto Bay residents will be "outside the service area" of the Pinecrest Freebee.

Focus. Let's get it together and start the Freebee for Palmetto Bay.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Being swept away, as if by a king tide. Part of Xavier Cortada's street art is being washed away (on purpose). Part of Xavier Cortada's Underwater HOA.

Art removed 1-14-19
I noticed this photo today, Monday, January 14, 2019 - someone on Facebook calling out the removal of the (temporary art installation) as "...nothing short of a victory for all the amazing residents in Pinecrest."  I respectfully disagree. This is a thought provoking project on an issue of great impact to Florida - and the entire Earth.

Not everyone may have loved it. And not everyone may have had the chance to see several Pinecrest intersections painted as part of Xavier Cortada's Underwater HOA. 

For more information, see Forbes, With Underwater HOA, A Florida Village Faces Its Sinking Future, by Lena Katz, December 6, 2018:
The Village of Pinecrest, an upscale residential neighborhood far from the hectic Basel hot zones, would like to get visitors' attention via a community-wide participatory art project entitled Underwater HOA. Through markers placed by residences on the community’s 6000 houses and an art exhibition by environmental artist Xavier Cortada, this typically non-exhibitionist town is inviting the rest of the world to get a glimpse of its future.
This was a true community project:
Ludlum Road at SW 72nd Street, Pinecrest
The pressure cleanings may be using water to remove this temporary street art, but numerous homes (more than just within Pinecrest; many in and around Palmetto Bay) continue to participate in this environmental participatory art project.

Congratulations Palmetto Bay resident, world renowned Eco Artist Xavier Cortada.

May you and your art continue to find success.

Eugene Flinn

Family/children event at Pinecrest Branch Library, Tues., 1-15-19 - Anole Invasion

Calling all local school green team members! (and others interested in our environment as well as literature).

Local author Marta E. Magellan will be at the Pinecrest branch library at 4 PM, TUESDAY, January 15, presenting her new book Anole Invasion to children ages 6-12. 

Learn about invasive lizards, green anoles.

The Pinecrest Branch Library is located at 5835 SW 111 Street, Pinecrest, 305-668-4571, on the grounds of Pinecrest Gardens off Red Road (SW 57th Avenue).


2019 Bike To Work Day - Friday, March 1st 2019 - first call - always a fun time. Presented by Bike 305

For fun and fitness.

Try bike commuting for ONE day! Ride your bike and meet residents, along with Village Council, starting at Village Hall for a guided bike ride to celebrate Bike305's Bike to Work Day.

WHAT: Bike to Work Day 2019 - join your Palmetto Bay friends and neighbors.
WHEN: Friday, March 1, 2019

DETAILS:  (See full information posted on flyers above and at bottom) Participants will depart from the Village Hall Parking Lot at 6:45 am to head towards the Dadeland South Metro Rail Station. Upon arrival to the station you will learn how to take your bike on the Metrorail and then head to the full Bike 305 County Event where all of the Bike 305 festivities will take place.

All participating cyclists will receive a FREE Bike305 performance cycling t-shirt (at the event site), FREE one-way easy ticket on Metrorail (*limited quantities and must provide valid email address), FREE air & bike checks by Mack Cycle & Fitness and other goodies (while supplies last). Light refreshments and breakfast foods will be served at the event site.

For more information on Bike305's Bike to Work Day, visit www.bike305.com.  Bike305 is a collaborative effort forged by the County Mayor in partnership with several municipal Mayors and Parks Departments to unite and support the connectivity of people and places through the county's bike trails. Throughout Miami-Dade County, Mayors are promoting the opportunity to achieve physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle by cycling to parks, attractions, shops, and events located on or near bike trails.

CLICK HERE to view prior posts relating to this event, including photos.

For more information on all upcoming Bike 305 events, please visit Bike305.com

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Taking a close look. A ten foot multi-use path proposed for around Palmetto Bay by a member of the Village Council - here is how it might look. Actual photos of a similar, if not identical design. Offering some Pros & Cons

Discussion is ongoing between the Village Council members regarding a 10 foot wide multi-use path around Palmetto Bay.  Many residents are unaware of how serious this proposal is as this proposal was last discussed at a "Visioning" session held on a Saturday morning (January 12) where only 3 members of the public were present.  The meeting was not broadcast on WBAY or live streamed.  

The issue of public participation and notice of meetings is another discussion for another time. 


This present blog post is about wide sidewalks and what they will look like here in Palmetto Bay. I have posted aerial and street level photos below showing a 10 foot multi use path in a residential area. The area is SW 87th Avenue and Miller Road area. 


Is this what councilwoman Marsha Matson is proposing for Palmetto Bay? 


Please note this post is informational in order to discuss, not attack, the proposal. There are pros and cons to this proposal, as in most any ideas.  I discuss some of the issues below.




How would  such a path look, running alongside either SW 184th or SW 136th Streets? Along US1, would vehicles pulling out of stores and shopping centers stop before entering these paths or will they continue through to the edge of the road where they would block the path or worse, could plow into any bicyclists riding on the path?

Would your opinion change about such a path when advised that bicyclists would not be legally required to use such a path instead of the roadway?

Note:  This is just one way such a path could be completed. Perhaps softer walkways, such as used in paths at the park are prepare, though paths such as the one proposed for surrounding Palmetto Bay would certainly be subjected to much heavier, constant use including trucks and cars that would be driving over it to enter or exit properties.

          PROs / CONs

Pros: Nice wide sidewalk that services multiple uses including pedestrians, joggers, walkers with strollers, dogs, accompanying children in pedal cars or small trikes, as well as some slow moving cyclists.

Cons: Bicyclists competing with pedestrians, moving in same direction as the pedestrians or other users identified above. 

Cons for property owners:  That's a lot of cement in front of homes and/or businesses. Much more green space/drainage swale is taken up than simple bike lanes.

Additional cons specific to cycling: Bicyclists are vehicle drivers, they belong on the road… and they are safer on the road. This type of path discourages use by cyclists as, unlike the street or bike lanes, the route is constantly undulating due to the driveway curb cuts.   

Adult bicyclists do not belong on the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk is unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists on the sidewalk expose motorists to a higher risk of hitting them when entering or leaving the road — where the motorists are likely to be at fault in such a crash.

          FLORIDA LAW RELATING TO BICYCLES:

In Florida the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and the bicyclist is a driver. Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways, and must obey the same traffic laws as the drivers of other vehicles. These laws include stopping for stop signs and red lights, riding with the flow of traffic, using lights at night, yielding the right-of-way when entering a roadway and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks. 

The Miami Foundation - Safer Street Talk: How We will Reduce Pedestrian and Bicyclists Deaths

Back in 2016, I was fortunate to represent Palmetto Bay at The Miami Foundation - Safer Street Talk: How We will Reduce Pedestrian and Bicyclists Deaths. The event was held Thursday, September 15, 2016, and it became part of the goals and policies that drove how I tried to direct policy in Palmetto Bay while mayor. The event topic and projected action plan remains relevant, especially as we focus on whether the current administration will remain committed to "complete streets." This was a discussion about how to make our community more bike and pedestrian friendly.  The panel featured:

•Seleta Reynolds, General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Leader of Great Streets for LA, and Chair, National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)
• Stuart Kennedy, Director of Program Strategy and Innovation, Miami Foundation
•Alice Bravo, Director, Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works
•The Honorable Jose Felix Diaz, Florida House of Representatives 
•George Navarrete, Deputy Director, Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Dept.
•Paul Schwiep, Chair, Citizens Independent Transportation Trust (and Palmetto Bay resident)


What is the SAFER PEOPLE - SAFER STREETS - LOCAL ACTION PLAN?
The following taken from the executive summary - (CLICK HERE).

Speed kills cyclists and pedestrians.
Plan goals include:
1.Adopting a ''Vision Zero'' policy that sets the goal of zero pedestrian and bicycle deaths.
2.Making texting while driving a primary offense to help increase enforcement.
3.Realizing the County's Greenway Master plan of building 500 miles of connected bike trails.
4.Facilitating a culture shift within transportation planning that places a higher value on pedestrian and bicycling needs.
5.Creating a Safety Innovation program to implement new safety strategies using technology.
6.Developing ''Complete Streets'' guidelines to help engineers and planners put moving people above moving cars.

7.Launching a Miami-specific education and enforcement campaign cautioning drivers to consider all users of the road.

This is the start of future discussions in this blog regarding Complete Streets and making our village streets safer for all.  


I look forward to engaging in this topic.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Downtown Palmetto Bay DUV updates - presentation 3 of 3 - presentation by Graham Penn. Esq, who represents some of the stakeholder/property owners within the area at the Special Council meeting of Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019

This is the Third and final of the three presentations that I will post here, the presentations from the Special Council Meeting of Wednesday, January 9, 2019.

 

This presentation (the third of 3) is a Powerpoint Presentation (file is in .PDF format) by Graham Penn. Esq, who represents some of the stakeholder/property owners within the area. CLICK HERE to download and view.

 

The second (2 of 3) is the Official Palmetto Bay presentation, prepared by Palmetto Bay Staff. (Prior post – CLICK HERE) 


The first (1 of 3) is Presentation by Council Member Marsha Matson, Special Council meeting of Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Prior post – CLICK HERE)

 

This completes the downloading of the three PPT presentations (all in .PDF file format).


Downtown Palmetto Bay DUV updates - presentation Two of Three – Official Palmetto Bay Presentation by Village Staff, Special Council meeting of Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019

This is the second of the three presentations that I will post here, the presentations from the Special Council Meeting of Wednesday, January 9, 2019. 


(CLICK HERE) for the Official Palmetto Bay presentation, prepared by Palmetto Bay Staff.

 

The first (1 of 3) was Presentation by Council Member Marsha Matson at the Special Council meeting of Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Prior post – CLICK HERE for Matson's presentation in .PDF format)

 

One more to follow when time permits.



Downtown Palmetto Bay DUV updates - presentation 1 of 3 - Presentation by Council Member Marsha Matson, Special Council meeting of Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019

I will have all three presentations from the Special Council Meeting of Wednesday, January 9, 2019, posted for your access when ready.  

CLICK HERE to download and view the 13 page .PDF slides from Proposal by Council Member Marsha Matson

Removal of Palmetto Bay Street Sign - required to get a large utility pole through a tight turn in a Palmetto Bay neighborhood. Updated 1/16/19- PBay Public Services required to revise the re-installation of the street sign.



The Street sign is resting until re-installation:


UPDATE - The street sign was put back in place as of Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - photo sent to me by a FOSDU.
Photo credit: FOSDU
ADDITIONAL UPDATE: (Jan., 16, 2019) Surprise, the FOSDU was advised that FPL did not use any concrete when reinstalling the street sign. Palmetto Bay's own Public Services team stepped in to correct this situation.  The FOSDU was told that FPL will be back charged for the work.
Photo Credit: FOSDU
SDU EDITOR'S NOTE:  This was just a street sign. I sure hope that the installers properly installed the 60' pole properly!

Below is a video of the truck and the pole passing by Palmetto Bay homes. Who ordered the pole?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A much needed parking lot for transportation - Banyan Street lot - close the deal and open the Park & Ride lot. For the good of Palmetto Bay traffic relief.

This was one of my many priorities as Mayor. We were deep into negotiations with the owners of this vacant property for use as a direct lot for the misnamed Miami-Dade Transit Way (it's a bus way), waiting for a contract offer that may have been provided by now. The property address is 17280 S. Dixie Highway, Miami, FL 33157. This property is listed as 74,615 square feet, so I am calculating its usable space at 1.5 acres of land for parking.

I call upon the current Mayor and council to support this park & ride lot and bring it to operation.  I did have separate discussions with some members of the current village council on January 9, and asked both to negotiate smart on HRSR (I am confident that these council members will) as well as to keep in mind that the price set on the park & ride lot at HRSR will set a precedent for this lot as it risks setting set a corresponding price too large for Palmetto Bay to be able to afford (they were well on this point). 
Photo edit credit declined
This is a vision of what could be

I never, never, understood why Miami-Dade County Transit has never obtained this lot for use in transit (I'm sure they have their reasons - funding maybe?). I believe that this is one piece of property, one project, where Palmetto bay is forced to step up on where the County has not. How many drivers choose to cut through Palmetto Bay, through the neighborhood streets, creating much of the congestion that cause many drivers to divert into the neighborhood to avoid?

This Banyan Street lot is critical for the future of Palmetto Bay neighborhoods. A few points: 
  • This lot is large, so hundreds of cars can park there. 
  • It is actually on the bus line, so you walk to the bus for a pick up every 6 minutes (or the schedule for the time of day). 
  • Palmetto Bay commuters drive out of our village, not through it to reach transit. 
  • This lot is located in a location that actually discourages cut through traffic in Palmetto Bay. 
  • How many vehicles would be removed from roads running through Palmetto Bay (particularly 87th Avenue) if this lot was opened for commuters who would now have added incentives to ..., ready?  To actually 'park & ride'. 
  • This lot would be of great benefit to those living at or north of 211 Street in or west of Cutler Bay (the next large metrotransit park & ride lot).
I am posting photos that demonstrate why this current vacant lot, operated as transit parking, would have such beneficial impact to Palmetto Bay.
The photo, above left, is unaltered. I circled the actual transit stop in the photo to the above right in order to document how the transit stop is actually connected/adjacent to the large parking lot. No interim ride, no addition IBus trip, is required to reach transit. 

This lot could also serve as a stop for a south leg of another IBus route, bringing residents from south of 168th from Palmetto Bay neighborhoods to County Transit.

Final negotiations with the Manager remains ongoing (assuming this new council is supportive of this lot that we began work on in 2018). I have no update as to where it stands, if it is still standing at all. This project needs to close successfully sooner, rather than later, for the good of Palmetto Bay.

Whether efforts continue on this project deserves a public discussion at the very least.  This was a project that I was personally looking forward to completing and opening.  I call upon the current mayor and council to not lose this lot and assist the Manager to bring this lot to completion.

Thank you.

EUGENE FLINN

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

POD - oops he did it again! Palmetto Bay Council’s rock star

Photo of the day - is that Palmetto Bay’s council member David Singer or Britney?

A FOSDU brought to my attention council member David Singers new head wear (the head set microphone) at the January Village Council meeting. So of course, I can't leave this one alone. See any resemblance in looks, deed or reputation? Questions include whether the new head set mic will see the stage at the next holiday event where David Singer and the band will perform?
This is just for fun. And the head set microphone should improve the sound quality for those who follow the meetings.

EDITOR's NOTE: Any resemblance between council member David Singer and Britney Spears is purely coincidental. 

Freebee update - reviewing prior notifications. FAQ. The funding is in place for the Palmetto Bay Freebee service, but is the interest or political will?

I was asked for some updates/confirmation as to representation of a TPO Grant applicable to the Freebee. The excerpt/TPO Grant confirmation letter is posted here in response.

The Freebee is o be funded from our Transportation 1/2 Cent share. We also sought and received a 3 year TPO Grant.

The funding is there, but is the interest or political will?

CLICK HERE to view my e-mail blast of October 5, 2018, where I updated our community of the status of funding that will assist the village in facilitating the Freebee on-demand, APP based service..

This is an exciting item that I have been working on. It is presently operating in several Miami-Dade County Municipalities and is now set to commence operation in neighboring Pinecrest beginning Wednesday, 1/16/2019.

I still believe that it is time to bring the Freebee service to Palmetto Bay. This TPO Service Development Program awarding Palmetto Bay $225,000 in year one, does allow Palmetto Bay to move us forward on this exciting on-demand service for Palmetto Bay.

The funding is there, but is the interest or political will?

If you don't think cyclists belong on the road, then change the law. But there are significant issues that need to be addressed, both in legislation and, just as importantly, through updating our public infrastructure. My biggest takeaways (in my opinion), see Florida Phoenix online: Florida’s biking problem, by Mitch Perry -January 3, 2019


“Welcome to bicycle life (and death) in Florida – the state where you can slam your car into an unexpecting, innocent bicyclist and get away with it without a ticket,…”

If you don't think cyclists belong on the road, then change the law. But there are significant issues that need to be addressed, both in legislation and, just as importantly, through updating our public infrastructure. My biggest takeaways (in my opinion), see Florida Phoenix online: Florida’s biking problem, by Mitch Perry -January 3, 2019

A great read, whether you agree or not.  This article discusses the general state of the law through the experience of Alan Snel, a man whose frustration over the way Florida drivers endanger bicyclists led him to flee the state.
As he rode along Old Dixie Highway near Fort Pierce in 2017, a motorist hit Snel from behind, knocking him unconscious. He was later diagnosed with two broken vertebrae, a concussion (even though he was wearing a helmet) and a badly battered right leg. His physical condition was exacerbated by the emotional pain he felt when he learned that the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Department didn’t even issue a traffic ticket to the motorist who hit him, he recalls in his recently published memoir, Long Road Back to Las Vegas. “Welcome to bicycle life (and death) in Florida – the state where you can slam your car into an unexpecting, innocent bicyclist and get away with it without a ticket,” Snel writes.

This article discusses the following:

  • Florida has by far the highest per-capita bicyclist death rate in the country, and according to federal statistics cited by the Wall Street Journal, the state’s recent 10-year cyclist fatality rate of 6.2 deaths per 100,000 residents is 59% higher than the rate in Louisiana, the state with the second-highest level.
  • The worst region of the state for bicyclist deaths has been Tampa Bay. In fact, the Tampa-St. Petersburg region led the nation in 2016-2017, and three other Florida major metropolitan areas were right behind – with Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami taking the 2-4 slots, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • …state officials and advocates cite several factors at play: Florida is a warm weather state where people ride bicycles all year long; bicycles are the only form of transportation in many low-income areas; too many streets and intersections are poorly lit; and there are too many uneducated motorists and cyclists on the roadways.
  • The five essential elements of bike safety: education, engineering, enforcement, evaluation and encouragement. – defined by the League of American Bicyclists
  • More cities and counties in Florida are adopting protected bikeways – on-street lanes that are separated from motorized traffic by poles, curbs or other barriers. More common are “buffered” bike lanes, strategically marked to alert drivers to watch for cyclists. New state regulations now call for standard bike lanes to be wider – from four feet to seven feet.
  • Since 2014, many major regions of Florida have embraced so-called “Complete Streets” policies. Complete Streets in mixed-use urban areas have narrower lanes, more street trees, bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks and other “traffic calming” measures.
  • In a 2015 address, then-Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Boxold said the state’s transportation policies should be designed to ensure safety for all users.
  • In 2011, the state developed a website called AlertTodayFlorida.com that provides information about safety measures.
  • Snel lived and worked in Colorado as a reporter for The Denver Post in the mid-90s, where he saw a much different culture.:
“Out west, bicycling is seen as just another legitimate form of transportation, and it’s all part of the mix,” he says.  “But in Florida, the majority of elected political leaders don’t understand that bicycling is just a slow-moving vehicle on the right of way. That’s all it is, and as a result we have motorists who –  I think more than any other state that I’ve ever lived in – are engaging in just dangerous driving behavior.”
Please read the complete article (CLICK HERE for article)– as well as my prior posts relating to bicycle safety (CLICK HERE for prior posts).

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

At least Pinecrest has the Freebee, what about Palmetto Bay's? - service should have started in December 2018.

At one time, Freebee was set to initiate service in Palmetto Bay in December, 2018. I would like to see a status report and explanation as to why our planned service has gone off line? The status was on time, ready to go, set for the anticipated December, 2018, launch, as late as October, 2018.  (My involvement obviously ceased as of November 6, 2018.)

For background, please see my prior post of March 30, 2018, Offering up solutions to transit. I am sponsoring the Freebee alternative on Mon., April 2. I hope my fellow council members jump on board.  And note that Palmetto Bay was awarded and did accept the 3 year TPO grant to sponsor this on demand service.

My last communication with Jason Spiegel, Managing Partner, Freebee, was October 23, 2018, about a week after Freebee brought out the fully prepped Palmetto Bay Freebee Vehicle to the State of the Village. Managing Partner Spiegel's timeline was to launch the Palmetto Bay service in December. (I do not know if this vehicle has been reoutfitted to serve other areas or if it remains in a garage waiting the green light.

So what happened to a December/Holiday start to the Palmetto Bay Freebee service? I asked last  January 4th, where's the Palmetto Bay Freebee?


Pinecrest is moving forward with this service.  The Pinecrest Village Council invites you to the official launch of the Pinecrest's new on-demand transportation service - Pinecrest FREEBEE. This SMART Demonstration Project is a collaborative effort with the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization (TPO). The event is set to take place Wednesday, January 16th, 11:00 a.m. at Evelyn Greer Park.

For more information about the service, please visit www.pinecrest-fl.gov/FREEBEE. For more information about the TPO and other demonstration projects, please visit tinyurl.com/y9682jhu.


Palmetto Bay, it's our move.  Where are we on Palmetto Bay's Freebee? I asked this question earlier, asking Where’s the Freebee, the on demand service we worked for (and obtained a large 3 year grant) in order to commence service during the holiday break, December 2018? 
Palmetto Bay was close to starting the Freebee service. Pictured is the first
Freebee vehicle completed and ready for service. Ads were running seeking drivers
The Palmetto Bay Freebee service should be up and running, serving our village residents and local businesses, circulating through the village on call and even providing service to The Falls Shopping Center and Jackson South Medical Center (just to name two large destinations outside of Palmetto Bay, but within the projected service range). The Freebee is ADA accessible and would be available to take seniors or those who choose not to drive to local grocery stores and other shops.  Palmetto Bay should not be neglecting this outstanding service. 

I recommend that you attend the Pinecrest event to hear what this Freebee service will provide for the residents of Pinecrest - again, this event is scheduled for Wednesday, January 16th, 11:00 a.m. at Evelyn Greer Park.  

Dr. Henry E. Perrine Academy of the Arts Students Host Toy Drive for Toys for Tots, Report by The Florida Villager

Lessons on sharing and community citizenship. See: Palmetto Bay Students Host Toy Drive for Toys for Tots, by TFVstaff
Dr. Henry E. Perrine Academy of the Arts located in Palmetto Bay, held its 7th Annual Toys For Tots toy drive and we are happy to report that we collected a whopping 325 toys this holiday season.
Photo credit - photo posted in original TFV Article.
Pictured here is a small representation of the students who donated to this worthy cause. Also pictured from left to right is Merlina the Magician, Maria Ibanez, and Mercy Diaz, toy coordinator. The school has collected over 2,500 toys since 2012.
Thank you to the Faculty, staff, volunteers and students for their community spirit!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Eroding Transparency gains in Palmetto Bay. 3 voted yes in 2017, but new council, new rules, new goals for 2019. Where is Elvis Costello when you need him most in this dark time for transparency roll back in Palmetto Bay!

Council member David Singer has fought hard to increase transparency. It would be tragic to repeal a simply procedural device to provide full transparency. 

And shame on this council for calling transparency “burdensome and time-consuming” (agenda item 10B, page 1 of agenda item, lines 21-23). 

I want to preface this post with the disclosure that 'the memo system' was not plucked out of the air by councilman Singer.  Numerous municipalities in Miami-Dade County use the memo system very effectively. 

But here it is 2019 and this council appears to be hard at work to return to the period of 2010-2014 (or is it 1984)?

3 of the 5 current council members
voted "YES" to Resolution 2017-126
The goal? Agenda Item 10B (sponsored by Mayor Cunninghan and Councilmember Matson) seeks to repeal Palmetto Bay Resolution 2017-126 requiring that Councilmembers submit memorandum proposing certain action by the Village Council for review by the Village Council prior to such proposed action being drafted in legal form by the Village staff and other procedures .... (and note, Resolution 2017-126 passed unanimously, 5 - 0.)

Want irony? 
Irony Point 1. Agenda Item 10B is 'rushed" to this council agenda without itself having to undergo the so-called  is no written memorandum at a prior meeting, preceding this agenda item. The resolution fails to follow the very procedure that they seek to repeal!
Irony Point 2. There is no staff report, no council report. Just a resolution and the exhibit. Is this the level (or lack) of "transparency" we can expect on future agendas, future council action?
Irony Point 3.  The present council has 3 members who voted to approve resolution 2017-126. Will we see some serious flip-flopping on votes originally made between 2014 to present?

What was once old is new once again.  Elvis Costello released his hit in 1979, asking “What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding”. Now, in 2019, Palmetto Bay residents must ask themselves, “What's so funny 'bout transparency"?  Why, why, must this council reel back from a simple process that does not impede, but to the contrary, provides notice and reason, attaches accountability and responsibility, to legislation that a member of the village council wants to pursue?

What’s the hurry???? To quote Elvis Costello:

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin' for light in the darkness of insanity
I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?
And each time I feel like this inside
There's one thing I wanna know:
What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding? Ohhhh
What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?

Issue, also known as the apparent burden - here is what the offending procedure requires of a member of the Village Council: 
“A council member may make a request for the preparation of policy, legislation or action by the village manager or village attorney under this section of the agenda. A signed written memorandum or form provided for this purposes shall state the purpose of the item or action, the major points to be covered, the reasons why action is necessary, and the action desired by the council member.”

Is this too hard, or does this shine the light of transparency far too brightly on the proposed actions of the village council? Does this provide too much notice to the public and provide too much accountability? Say it ain’t so!

Will 2019 mark the beginning of transparency gains being eroded, not taken, away from our residents?

And as I walked on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony

The memorandums do provide great detail of the “what” and “why”. The memos provide detail, substance of what is being offered. They assist the reader, concerned residents, with real background. I looked it up substance; it is not defined as “burdensome and time-consuming”. 

Seriously fellow residents, where has this simple procedure, a mere one meeting period that provides additional notice – a single meeting - been “burdensome and time-consuming”?  This transparency encumbrance serves to provide substance visible to our fellow residents. There should be a compelling reason to pull back from this effort at increasing transparency. However, it appears that this council wants to place a curtain between their actions and the public.

So where are we going? Reeling back in on transparency? Reducing notice from 37 to a mere 7 days? Elvis – this could be a great song for you to write in 2019!:

So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony
'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away, just makes me wanna cry
  *  *  *
Just tweak some lyrics for Palmetto Bay 2019:

What's so funny 'bout accountability and transparency? Ohhhh
What's so funny 'bout accountability and transparency