Friday, March 16, 2018

Palmetto Bay hit with the LINE ITEM VETO!

The Florida Legislature giveth, but the governor took it away (line item Veto). The Palmetto Bay appropriation for the Multi-Modal project was vetoed by Governor Scott today (Friday, March 16, 2018).  

The entire veto list can be viewed online.  Governor Scott Vetoed $64 Million worth of line items.

This is why we don't count our chickens.  This post is in follow up of the prior post of March 14, 2018, Governor Scott to decide if Palmetto Bay receives State Money for its Multi-Model project.

Thank you to our State Representative Michael Bileca and State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez for their assistance.

We move on, living within our budget means.

Traffic meetings continue on a neighborhood group or personal level - updates.

We continue to meet with concerned residents on Traffic issues - both Traffic enforcement as well as Public Services (Public Works) requests.  Yesterday I was at Old Cutler and 152 on a failure to yield to school buses issue. Today with an issue impacting Cape Cutler Estates.

Council Member David Singer and I remain engaged in see these issues through.  See a prior post of  March 13, 2018, Update on Traffic Enforcement - Major Serralta and team discuss special traffic initiatives for Palmetto Bay - Council Member David Singer and I want to thank those who contiue to follow up with us, as well as those who were able to join us live at our Traffic Safety Town Hall meeting held March 12, 2018.  

I don't limit myself to office hours. I have met anywhere from 6:30 AM to as late as it takes. My cell is (305) 302-3713. My e-mail is

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

SW 136th Street project - FDOT - State Road (SR) 5/US 1 at Howard Drive/SW 136 Street, Project Identification Number: 439984-1-52-01

This project affects both Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Six is developing the design for a safety improvement project along SR 5/US 1 at Howard Drive/SW 136 Street, in Miami-Dade County. The scope of work for this project is listed in the project fact sheet (CLICK HERE to view online).

 Construction is expected to begin in November 2020 and last about four months. The estimated construction cost for this project is $385,520.

Work is expected to begin in November 2020 and last about four months. Please note that the construction duration is subject to change.

Project Identification Number: 439984-1-52-01

Junior League of Miami - 2018 Annual Legislative Breakfast

It was my honor to represent Palmetto Bay at the 2018 Legislative Breakfast held on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. The event was held at their headquarters in Coral Gables.

I am familiar with this organization as my wife Alexandra spent some years as a member and volunteer with this organization. Discussions of the long-term programs brought back memories, such as assisting as Santa Claus at an Inn Transition Christmas event.  Good times serving for great causes. I look forward to the Junior League April event at Deering Estate: April 14 – when The Junior League of Miami plans to transform the historic Deering Estate for the 2018 Miami Showhouse; open to the public from April 14 – 29, 2018. (CLICK HERE) to view the official Junior League of Miami website release regarding this event.

The official Miami-Dade County News Release describes the April Miami Showhouse event as an event hosted by the Junior League of Miami to increase awareness and financial capability for the 91-year-old nonprofit organization to continue its work helping at-risk families in Miami.

The release notes further that: “The highly anticipated design event will inspire dozens of the most sought-after interior designers to temporarily transform interior and exterior spaces in the former home of industrial magnate Charles Deering. From April 14 to 29, the public will have the unique opportunity to explore the residence reinterpreted with modern touches in an estate dating back to 1916.”  Please (CLICK HERE) to view the full Miami-Dade News Release regarding this event.
I am a supporter of the outstanding work of the Junior League of Miami.

I also discussed a few of the issues important to Palmetto Bay that I am fortunate to sponsor/facilitate including School Safety, transportation, our efforts in recent legislative agenda, Parks and Parks programing, including our Community Center, as well as our progress on becoming an Age-Friendly City.  

This event also provided me with time to meet (post event) with Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli – we are in contact on numerous issues relating to school safety, traffic, FPL, development, and even coyotes.  More on that in another post. Discussions were also held with County Commissioner Sally Heyman on traffic, transit and animal issues.

Thank you to the leaders, members and supporters of the Junior League of Miami that allows the Junior League of Miami to do some any great things for our community. 

Governor Scott to decide if Palmetto Bay receives State Money for its Multi-Modal project

The legislature placed the money in the budget, but the final decision belongs to Governor Rick Scott.

The money made it into the budget, but do NOT start counting the chickens. The question is whether the multi-model money will survive Governor Scott’s line item veto pen.

The Multi-Modal line item was discussed at our March Regular Village Council meeting when I set up an extraordinary telephone call in report from our State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez.  We also thank our Representative Michael Bileca who sponsored this appropriation in HB 3821.

See Miami Herald, Which local projects in the state budget will survive? It’s up to Gov. Scott’s veto, by Elizabeth Koh And Steve Bousquet, March 13, 2018.

As stated:
Scott’s pen is the final hurdle for hundreds of local projects sponsored by lawmakers for constituents back home — but it is a high hurdle to vault. The governor has slashed more money from the budget — about $2.3 billion in line-item spending, not counting last year’s school budget — than any other Florida chief executive, calling much of that spending unnecessary or wasteful.
Many of those local projects are standard municipal fare, including money for water and sewer projects, housing, transit, emergencies, and local cultural and educational projects. They are also a fraction of the projects proposed by legislators every year during session — others never even make it into the state budget, blocked by legislative leaders who have final negotiating power on its contents before it is sent to the governor.

We are working to try to survive the 2018 veto pen. 
Here is a link to the 2018 legislative priorities that I prepared and sponsored this year. It was approved unanimously  See: (CLICK HERE) Palmetto Bay Resolution 2018-17.

Southwood Middle School - 2018 winner of the Village of Palmetto Bay’s Earth Day Art

Congratulations Southwood Middle School.

Our area schools - Southwood Middle in this specific case- continue to make our Palmetto Bay Community Proud!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Update on Traffic Enforcement - Major Serralta and team discuss special traffic initiatives for Palmetto Bay

Council Member David Singer and I want to thank the participants of our Traffic Safety Town Hall meeting held March 12, 2018. The council chambers was filled with fellow residents who brought forward their concerns for their neighborhoods.  Our Village Police were on hand taking notes and preparing "pink sheets" which will be used to set up special enforcement details throughout Palmetto Bay.  Your voices were heard loud and clear.  Council Member Singer and are fully supportive of life-safety and traffic enforcement measures.

This was a first of the kind meeting where we brought multiple neighborhoods and individuals together and discussed an updated Traffic Enforcement Plan. I also want to thank those who could not attend the event, but who reached out to me over the weekend and earlier Monday to discuss their concerns.

Major Serralta discussed staffing and deployment at the current time, including the level of enhanced protection for our area schools, until they can get their police staffing up.  The projected cost to Palmetto Bay is expected to be in the area of $60,000.00 to take us to the end of this school year.

There is more to come on safety initiatives. 

Our next Town Hall meeting will be held in April and will focus on Community Safety and enhanced School Security. This Town Hall Meeting will be jointly sponsored / co-hosted by Mayor Eugene Flinn and Council Member David Singer. Both Do The Right Thing and Crime Stoppers will be participating in our next Town Hall Meeting. Principals of our area schools will be invited to participate and we expect that they (or their designee) will be available to discuss our school safety plans (to the extend that Public disclosure is allowed, we do not expect any privileged information that risks compromising the programs to be released).
Major Serralta is presently updating the traffic enforcement plans.  This plan will be brought before the Village Council for the April Regular Village Council meeting. 

Council Member David Singer and I are serious about the newly unveiled traffic enforcement program. Child safety is our priority – in or out of our schools.
I want to thank both Crime Stoppers and Do The Right Thing (DTRT) for participating and providing general and child/student safety materials for participants.  Both Do The Right Thing and Crime Stoppers will be participating in our next Town Hall Meeting, Community Safety and enhanced School Security that will be jointly sponsored / co-hosted by Mayor Eugene Flinn and Council Member David Singer.
This Traffic Safety Town Hall has been part of the interactive series that Council Member David Singer and I have been holding.  Prior Town Halls include our Traffic Calming Town Hall (Public Services) held on February 13, 2018. This meeting included our Public Services team and focused upon the traffic calming initiates that I have brought forward.

A Public Meeting was held by us regarding Transportation, on, January 24, 2018, to focus on making better use of the Village's existing IBUS routes, including discussion on improvements to transportation in the community. It was from this meeting (and other council members attended the meeting and took notes!) that the Park and Ride and other ideas came forward.

Public Meeting on Strategic Plan - January 10, 2018.  The purpose of this Town Hall Meeting was to gather resident input and feedback prior to the final adoption of the Village's Strategic Plan. Draft copies of the Strategic Plan were made available online as well as at the actual meeting.

Again, thank you all for participating, making your voices heard.  The Operations Commander took down many “pink sheets” that document problem areas and place neighborhoods in the que for the special enforcement.

The local media is taking notice of our efforts!

Fabienne Fleurantin, South Florida Uncovered, provided recent coverage on our efforts, proposals, and plans, as well as balanced reporting as to some of the resistance to public transportation in the article: Preliminary plan for Palmetto Bay I-Bus extension includes routes to FIU and MDC

Invisible stop sign? This is an area on the list of special traffic enforcement.

Monday, March 12, 2018

2018 March Madness is here - Just for Fun - can you pick the perfect bracket?

The odds of predicting a 100% successful March Madness bracket? Odds very, but some sources have the probability of 1 in 9.2 quintillion. 

CLICK HERE to download the 2018 March Madness bracket posted online by the Miami Herald.

Good luck with your predictions. It is all just for fun.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

UPDATE - Condition of Moony, neighborhood cat injured by Dart. Opportunity to donate.

My heartfelt thanks again to those compassionate neighbors who helped out on the neighborhood cat named Moony. 

Moony the cat is now resting comfortably in a local safe house located at an undisclosed location of Palmetto Bay (OK, its one of the worst kept 'secrets'.  The cat is with local pet rescue activist Cindy Hewitt).  The cat is still under care of Miami-Dade County Animal Services.

I visited Moony Sunday morning, March 11, 2018. Moony looked much better from the last time I saw him - when he still had the dart embedded in his head.

Cindy Hewitt has been fielding questions from many fellow residents about donating.  Cindy posted the following on the Facebook Page, Palmetto Bay's Lost and Found Animals:
In response to folks who have asked about donating towards Moony’s care: While there is no veterinary charge for Moony’s care, MDAS incurred veterinary & forensic expenses. If you want to support their efforts to sustain/increase the live release rate at the shelter (currently around 90% for both dogs & cats), the Animal Services Trust Fund accepts contributions (tax deductible). Checks should be made payable to Miami-Dade Animal Services with Animal Services Trust Fund on the memo line. Mailing address is 3599 NW 79 Ave Doral 33122. Contributions can also be made online at under the news and events tab, but I could only find a direct deposit form for county employees.
Or CLICK HERE for a link to the Animal Services page - scroll down for a link to report Animal Cruelty.  You can also CLICK HERE to go to a donation page. 

Please do not forget our local animal rescue groups who work so hard to help our furry companions.  I will be posting updates in the future spotlighting these groups.
This case remains an open animal cruelty investigation.  Please see a prior post: March 9, 2018, Miami-Dade County, Village Policing Unit & Miami-Dade/Florida Keys Crime Stoppers are seeking your help. Neighborhood cat injured by dart

Thank you to everyone who has been so concerned and inquiring as to how they can help.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Miami-Dade County, Village Policing Unit & Miami-Dade/Florida Keys Crime Stoppers are seeking your help. Neighborhood cat injured by dart.

Channel 10 has updated coverage on the injured feline. Crime Stoppers of Miami-Dade, Florida Keys is now offering a reward for information.

Channel 10 Report - Photos, printed story and video - See: Cat found with dart in head in South Florida neighborhood Palmetto Bay residents hope culprit faces criminal charges, By Christian De La Rosa - Reporter, Sanela Sabovic - Reporter

This type of brutality to a defenseless animal will not be tolerated. Miami-Dade County Animal Services and our MDPD Village Policing Unit are taking this crime as a very serious matter.
About Crime Stoppers:
Miami-Dade & The Florida Keys Crime Stoppers is a program which involves the public, the media and law enforcement in the fight against crime. It offers anonymity and cash rewards to people who provide information leading to the arrest of criminal offenders. If you recognize the person or know about the crime, you should call Crime Stoppers.

You can call (305) 471-8477 to give a tip. Our lines are not configured for caller ID.  Phone calls are not traced. Phone calls are not recorded. You can also give a tip online at, here on our FaceBook page, or through our phone app, P3. Computer IPs are not saved. Locations are not tracked.

The “tipster” does not give her/his name. All tips are anonymous. Computers assign a tip number to the “tipster”. Appropriate law enforcement agencies receive the information and investigate the information submitted by the callers.

As a “tipster”, you are given a confidential tip number. Use this number to check on the status of your information. If your information results in an arrest or filing of criminal charges, arrangements are made for you to receive your reward in CASH and preserve your anonymity.

Once you have a tip number, you should check back monthly to see if your information qualifies for a reward. You MUST have the tip number to receive information or to be paid. Save your tip number! We don't have a way of giving it to you again!

Age Friendly community - an update. Palmetto Bay is the 156th community to be accepted in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.

Palmetto Bay moves on in the next step toward being recognized as an "Age Friendly" Community.

I want to congratulate our residents who have asked for as well as those who have participated in this effort to make Palmetto Bay a Village for all ages!.  

Palmetto Bay is the 156th community to be accepted in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.  This was the next step in getting to the Age Friendly Community designation and we are continuing to work towards that effort.

Though our Palmetto Bay application was formally submitted on March 16, 2017, this has been a long process started under the initial council and continued to move forward over several administrations. 
We started our parks programs in our initial Village Parks Master Plans. Our future Community Center will be a hub of programming for all ages, including Senior programming (Thank you to Council Members David Singer and Larissa Siegel Lara for the ongoing support for the purchase and design of the grounds for the Center).  

Other efforts that move us forward to inclusion relate back to 2012, where, as a response to numerous requests for increase in park programming for Senior Citizens, the Parks department hosted a ten week summer program called, "Senior Sampler". The "Senior Sampler" program ran for 10 weeks and included a variety of activities; Music Therapy, Arts & Crafts, Gold Zumba, Seminars and Lectures, Yoga, Tai Chi and Aerobics. The Village Council has formed several Committees and appointed members of the community to serve; giving them an opportunity to work in collaboration to determine priorities and recommend strategies to achieve a common goal. The Village partnered with Baptist Health in 2011 to offer exercise classes geared towards older adults at Coral Reef Park. 

Other programs offered throughout the year are Gardening workshops, lectures and seminars in partnership with East Ridge (sessions on Aging and Eating to Avoiding the Fall), Bird Watching, Yoga by the Bay, and Photography Workshops.

Credit for most of the information posted above from (CLICK HERE to view) - World Health Organization, Age-Friendly World

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

MDC and SAS Students Demand Texting While Driving Ban - Wed., March 7, 2018

The students are speaking loudly, but will the members and leadership of the Florida Senate hear their pleas and act in time?

There are scant days to go before the end of the 2018 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature. Please join the effort - call or e-mail Florida Senate President Joe Negron (850) 487-5025 and tell our State Leaders that SB 90 or HB 33 must be heard on the Senate Floor, passed and sent to the Governor.

It was my honor to join Mark Merwitzer and students from Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Wolfson Campus and the School for Advanced Studies (SAS) on Wednesday, March 7, to address the issue of teen roadway and driving safety, and demand the Florida Senate pass legislation to ban texting while driving in order to save lives.
This was a touching press conference that each member of the Florida Senate should watch and hear tragic real life experiences from loved ones who suffer daily due to the loss of a family member - included in this press conference were Debbie Wanninkhof, who spoke of her late son, Patrick, who tragically lost his life at the age of 25 at the hands of a cell phone distracted driver and from Delphia Samuels describe how she and her family have suffered form the loss of her (then) 12 year old brother E'arron James Haley.  Two lives, out of tens of thousands, who suffered preventable deaths due to distracted drivers.

The Florida House recently voted to pass legislation to make texting while driving a primary offense but the bill has met opposition in the Senate.  Event organizer Mark Merwitzer, is a Palmetto Bay resident and Miami-Dade County Public Schools senior at the SAS, a top high school in the U.S. with locations at five MDC campuses.  He has been advocating for the bill after seeing fellow teens and adults texting while driving.

I want to thank Mark Merwitzer, a Palmetto Bay resident, student of this outstanding school and a founding member of our Palmetto Bay Youth Community Involvement Board – Mark currently serves as chair of our Youth Board.

I also must thank all the students who work so hard on this and other issues that so PROFOUNDLY impact the lives of our youth. The Florida Legislature has pre-empted local governments on many issues, including anti-distracted legislation within their own jurisdictions. We therefore call upon the Florida Legislature to hear the pleas and act – let’s get Florida off the list of a mere 4 state (out of 50) which do not consider deadly distracted driving to be a primary offense.  It is up to the Florida Legislature – and our Governor – to enact a statewide law in order to keep our communities safe – everywhere – in public and private, in school and in parks AND on the roads.

Mark has been a contributor to my blog - one of my medias used to stay on the record and push out many issues of importance.  His latest post was last January - on, of course, the importance of ending distracted driving.  This was the 6th appearance for Mark on this blog, all related to his public service and advocacy, including how to navigate a traffic circle as well as fighting against distracted driving: Oct. 25, 2017, Driven (without distractions). YCIB Member Mark Merwitzer testifies before Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee and Aug. 14, 2017: Traffic Circle Safety - Please take the time to view this creative video by Mark Merwitzer, Jackson Ribler & Justin Merwitzer. Edited and produced through the talents of "Miami Hal" Feldman.

Thank you Mark and fellow students for the work with Miami-Dade County and other municipalities. The Florida legislature has seen a massive push from numerous local governments across Florida.  Palmetto Bay has included the anti-distracted driving legislative annually.  We want lives saved.

Educational Advisory Committee (EAC) - updates on school school security and transportation initiatives

School safety was the big topic of the Education Advisory Committee (EAC) meeting held on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Other important issues discussed included school transportation and a legislative update from Tallahassee. I am proud to be the liaison to this committee.

Palmetto Bay Policing Unit Major Gady Serralta presented on Palmetto Bay’s collaborative efforts on security in and surrounding our schools. Major Serralta disclosed that the enhanced security to MDCPS may reach $60,000.00 in overtime - through the remainder of this school year. I expect to bring forward budget adjustments to facilitate keeping students safe within our area.

As Mayor, I provided updates to the EAC members and guests on both village meetings on security and transportation efforts and meetings I have held with school board leaders.

Transportation is also being discussed - both on proposals I am facilitating regarding of ongoing meetings with Miami-Dade County Schools in an attempt to use our IBus to relieve school traffic as well as updating on (presently available and approved by MDCPS) car pooling initiatives - how I am working with our County Commissioner to identify potential users and encourage a dramatic increase in car pooling to schools.  Council Member David Singer appeared and privately discussed his own ideas for school transportation with District Representative. I understand that there will be a roll out for discuss in the very near future . 

Council Member David Singer and I have been hard at work holding several Town Hall Meetings on transportation (along with an upcoming traffic Safety Town Hall set for Monday, March 12, 2018).  Many ideas have arisen through the interactive discussions occurring at these town halls.

Village police officers were honored for their "life-saving actions" following the driveway shooting of an off-duty Doral officer

Palmetto Bay Officers honored for their life saving actions at the March 5, 2018, regular village council meeting.

Mayor Eugene Flinn was joined by Councilman David Singer, Village Manager Ed Silva, Village Attorney Dexter Lehtinen and Police Commander Gady Serralta in recognizing the Palmetto Bay officers.

See coverage on Palmetto Bay Patch: Palmetto Bay Police Officers Honored For 'Life-Saving Actions', by Paul Scicchitano, Patch Staff | Mar 6, 2018 
Council Member David Singer and I support our police! Together we recognized our Village Police for their hard work and heroics. 

Ofc Alex Castillo has 13 years with our Village! Ofc Astrid Rodriguez recently returned for her second tour with the Palmetto Bay Policing Unit.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Traffic Safety Town Hall - impact of WAZE on our Palmetto Bay Community

Please attend and be part of the discussion relating to traffic safety in Palmetto Bay. We expect to be rolling our new OT/ZERO tolerance traffic safety initiatives. I am co-hosting this meeting with Council Member David Singer.  The meeting will be held Monday, March 12, 2018, beginning at 7:00 PM (CLICK HERE to view the official village notice). Please accept our invitation to participate. 

Our Village Police Commander, Major Gadyaces Serralta, provided an interesting update at the March regular village council meeting (March 5, 2018) in discussing an area of special traffic enforcement. Major Serralta noted that most of an area's offenders were driving with a WAZE app open.  I am posting here an article that makes more than a few "interesting points" about WAZE:
Even though the app makes the route quicker for the user, that’s only in relation to other drivers not using the app, not to their previous drives. Now, because everyone is using the app, everyone’s drive-times are longer compared to the past. “These algorithms are not meant to improve traffic, they’re meant to steer motorists to their fastest path,” he says. “They will give hundreds of people the shortest paths, but they won’t compute for the consequences of those shortest paths.”
See: For the Good of Society — and Traffic! — Delete Your Map App, by Rick Paulas,, December 11, 2017

This is recommended reading about something that our Palmetto Bay residents are severely impacted by, noting that:
All that extra traffic down previously empty streets has created an odd situation in which cities are constantly playing defense against the algorithms.
“Typically, the city or county, depending on their laws, doesn’t have a way to fight this,” says Bayen, “other than by doing infrastructure upgrades.”
(CLICK HERE) To view the grid report of how many traffic citations (527) were issued in Palmetto Bay during the month of January 2018.  We maintain monthly reports online.
We continue to work for solutions and we continue to address ongoing issues.  The areas of concern shift from one area to anther, as Mayor Serralta advises: "The Village Policing Unit takes traffic enforcement very seriously however we do not always know where the violations have shifted to.  Our village administration/Law Enforcement does depend on our residents and elected officials to let us know if they feel there is an area that we need to address or in some cases re-address."

So please join us and provide an update to us and our police on your area(s) of concern.

Thank you,

Eugene Flinn, Mayor