Saturday, December 31, 2011

Alexandra mentioned in Miami Herald's film roundup, Best Miami homegirl made good

A very nice way to close out 2010, Alexandra is mentioned in Miami Herald's film roundup posted Friday, December 30, 2011:

By Rene Rodriguez

Best Miami homegirl made good: Bestselling young adult author Alexandra Flinn had one of her novels, Beastly, adapted into a Hollywood film.

CLICK HERE or on the headline above the mention to view the complete article in the online Miami Herald.

Dec 29, 2011, group E-mail from Dan B. Kimball, Superintendent, Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks Update – Everglades Park’s Draft General Management Plan (GMP) and Related Projects

Click read more below to read the entire 12/29/2011 group e-mail from Dan B. Kimball, Superintendent, Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks

I encourage everyone interested in our local National Parks to read this e-mail which discusses the delay in the public release of the park’s Draft General Management Plan (GMP) and the challenges facing the Federal government, including the National Park Service (NPS), on how best to invest available funds in support of our nation’s most critical needs.
The NPS has been asked to carefully reevaluate proposals regarding the redevelopment of Flamingo and the Gulf Coast Visitor Center site in Everglades City, as these two projects were by far the most expensive elements identified in the GMP.
The terms “realistic” and “feasible” are used to describe the plan to establishing long-term direction for Flamingo and the Gulf Coast sites. 
I encourage you to become interested and participate in this process in 2012.  The process includes long-term concessions contract planned to be awarded in late 2013 that identify the facilities and services that will be provided at Flamingo.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year from Eugene Flinn - South Dade Updates

I wish everyone a very Happy and prosperous New Year in 2012.  

2011 was the first year I kept up a web site/blog while not holding elected office.  I would like to see this site continue to grow along with my South Dade Updates E-mail blasts as a positive forum for readers to be kept up to date as well.  Feel free to keep me up to date with tips, suggestions and ideas either through posting to the articles or by e-mailing me at 

Thank you all.  Let’s make 2012 a year of taking the next positive step forward.

Eugene Flinn, South Dade Updates.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One of my favorite photos. Palmetto Bay's finest capturing a non-native snake in 2005.

The capture of the 13 foot python in Palmetto Bay on Christmas Day provides me with the opportunity to share one of my favorite photos taken during my two terms as founding mayor. This photo was taken on October 12, 2005, and shows one of Palmetto Bay's original policing unit officers and high school friend, Ofc Randy DiStefano, participating in the capture of a non-native snake.  I believe this snake was captured on Franjo road in the parking lot of a former grocery store, where Palmetto Bay's village hall building now stands.  If I'm correct, this is not too far from where the 13-foot Burmese python was captured on Christmas day.  Are the snakes both part of an existing feral colony of snakes in the area or both recently escaped pets?  Regardless, both are examples of the extent of the problem.

Officer Distefano passed away on December 5th, 2007, after battling cancer.  Officer Randy DiStefano was also a Palmetto Bay resident with his wife, Rose.  He will always be remembered as a friend as well as an original member of the Palmetto Bay Policing Unit and as Palmetto Bay's first motorcycle patrolman within the Palmetto Bay policing unit. We miss you Randy!

In my opinion: Open the skate park earlier in the day during the holiday weekdays!

Hasn’t the Palmetto Bay Mayor and Council noticed that it is the holidays and kids are home on break?  The Mayor, Vice Mayor and council are apparently oblivious to this fact, as there are no accommodations made for the youth activities.  Where is the winter break camp, especially now that the JFTA camp has moved on? 

My own daughter was disappointed to find the Coral Reef park concession stand closed during this same school break period “for renovations, a new menu”  Is this really a good time to plan for closure of this amenity?  I think not.

I thought it would be a good idea to send my brother and his family over to Palmetto Bay Park on Tuesday, 12/27, so my nephew could enjoy the skate park.  I was wrong.  They were told (very professionally and politely) by staff that the skate park does not open until 4:00 PM.  My brother and family ended up traveling to the open Miami-Dade County Parks skate park located off Sunset Drive.

This is what happens when you have a Mayor, Vice Mayor and council who are too far removed from having young kids of their own.  You get what they think is appropriate, not what the child rearing tax-payers need and deserve. 

Why haven’t Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, Vice Mayor Brian Pariser and the remainder of the council provided the Parks department with the proper budgeting to properly staff the skate park to be open appropriate hours, especially during off school holiday season?  Just as important is why the web site only indicates Palmetto Bay Park's Hours of Operation as ‘Open Sunrise to Sunset (with the exception of reserved fields).’ (CLICK HERE to view)  There is no mention of reduced hours for the skate parks.  This from a Mayor and Vice Mayor who claim transparency! Their failure to properly fund and notify the public again becomes glaringly apparent.

We have built outstanding park assets.  We have an outstanding village staff, including parks staff.  So why are the kids getting the short end of the deal, especially as the Mayor and Vice Mayor have struggled to find ways to provide discounts to their friends and allies?  Expensive activities and amenities free to seniors and friends, but closed to our youth.

Mayor Stanczyk, Vice Mayor Pariser and the remainder of the council need to get tuned in with the demographics of the community.  Open the parks for walkers at a consistent and early hour.  Don’t wait for 4:00 PM to open a skate park when kids are out of school and need activities.  Get a camp going for those who need child care when schools are closed.

 I can certainly spend time with my nephew by that time, sneaking out of the office a bit early, my nephew and other similarly situated youth needed that skate park opened earlier in the day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Don't release your unwanted pet into the environment, turn it in at a FWC Nonnative Amnesty Day Event

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) ( CLICK HERE for main page)
Nonnative Amnesty Day Events (CLICK HERE for Amnesty Day Events)

(Info from FWC web site): The Nonnative Pet Amnesty Program is an effort to reduce the number of nonnative species being released into the wild by pet owners who can no longer care for their pets or no longer wish to keep them.  One-day-only Amnesty Day events are held around the state to provide the opportunity for people to surrender their nonnative pets free of charge with no penalties.  Every attempt will be made to place all healthy animals with qualified adopters.

Don't release your no longer wanted pet into the "wild" south Florida environment.  No good will come of it.  The pet is not suited for survival here and will have to compete in an unfamiliar environment for food and shelter.  The animal, at best, will become a nuisance.  At worse it will either kill or injure native animals or local pets, or finally be injured/killed itself.

The FWC and Zoo Miami host Nonnative Pet Amnesty Days each year. last occurring on March 12m 2011, at Zoo Miami. 70 exotic pets were turned over at the 2010 event, including eight Burmese pythons, red-eared slider turtles, parrots and even a monkey.

Be on the look out for this event which most likely will be held in or near March of 2012 at Zoo Miami.  

You can even adopt one of these animals, if you qualify.  CLICK HERE to reach the FWC page where you can download the application to become a non-native pet adopter.

Monday, December 26, 2011

NBC 6 reports: A 13-foot Burmese python was captured in the swimming pool of a Palmetto Bay home

NBC 6 reported that a 13-Foot Burmese Python Caught in South Florida Swimming Pool, identifying the location as a Palmetto Bay home.  (Click the headline to view) Does anyone have any details?  I cannot imagine that this snake was around for very long without local pets going missing or anyone not seeing this animal roaming the local streets.  

Miami Herald also reported the story, South Florida family finds Burmese Python in backyard pool Read the article, and discover more about the current problems south Florida is facing from exotic snakes.

The Herald reported that this snake was located and captured at a Palmetto Bay home located off 97th Avenue and SW 183 Street on Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Where is Santa now? NORAD Tracks Santa. This is for the young and young at heart.

NORAD Tracks Santa A recommended site.

Click on this link to
Welcome to NORAD Tracks Santa to view where Santa is at the time.  

Always a family favorite, at least until the kids age out.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last Call! Savings Bonds go digital beginning January 1, 2012

Last minute gift ideas - and last chance to support your local bank.
I grew up in a time when many friends and relatives went down to their local banks and purchased US Savings bonds.

The times keep changing. An now another icon for Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers goes bye, bye at the end of this year.

This holiday season is your last chance to stop by the bank and buy a paper savings bond, either for yourself or your loved ones.

Starting Jan. 1, you'll no longer be able to purchase paper savings bonds at banks or other financial institutions. Instead, the savings bonds, which have been around since 1935, will be replaced by electronic bonds that can only be purchased online. 

New rules also go into effect that will make purchasing bonds more difficult, as reported in this same article: 

If you want to buy a savings bond in 2012, you'll need to have an online account with the Treasury Department. To give a bond to another person, they will also need an account so you can transmit the bond electronically to them. And if you're giving a bond to anyone under the age of 18, a parent or guardian must open the account.

The last year paper savings bond could be a nice last minute gift as well as supplying a bit nostalgia over your purchase of another milestone at an end.  This last bond could even be a collector's item!  But seriously, did anyone one of you ever think of a day when paper savings bonds would go the way of the dinosaur?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays from our family to yours


From the Flinn family -- Eugene, Alexandra, Katherine and Meredith.

Families celebrate the holiday season in many different ways, but one of the great things that we all have in common in our area is the overwhelming sense of community and responsibility to family that we share.

I am reminded, especially during the holidays, of the importance of family and the importance of maintaining our sense of civic spirit.

I hope during this holiday season as we celebrate and enjoy our families that each and every one of us takes a few minutes to think about those families who cannot be together – for the soldiers who defend our country, for the loved ones who must share in their sacrifice, and for those who are no longer with us, although we hold their memory dear.

I hope that we will also never forget and never stop striving to achieve the holiday ideal of “Peace on Earth.” Everyone can do their part to help create a better world simply by treating each other with understanding, kindness and respect. Each time you help another person, we all take another step closer toward true peace on earth.

So we wish each and every one of you, a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season and a joyous and prosperous New Year. You all have earned it. Thank you all, again, for the kindness you show others, not just during the holidays, but all year long.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Palmetto Bay council continues to ignore the warning signs, trends of a low tax revenue future. Could the financial future of Palmetto Bay be at risk due to continued ill-advised financial behavior?

The Sun Sentinel reported that a proposed constitutional amendment that would cap the amount of taxes virtually all property owners pay is quickly gaining traction in Tallahassee.  Wide-ranging tax exemption proposal gainssteam, By Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel, December 18, 2011.  I am specifically bringing this to the attention of our current Palmetto Bay Village Council who appear oblivious to the future of lower revenue and have failed to heed advice to reverse the stealth tax increase of this current budget that also plans on spending down $1.5 million in hard fought village savings.  (See my prior posting: Florida's (State) Tax Collections expected tofall sharply. Palmetto Bay council should reconsider its stealth property taxincrease for this budget year. October 12, 2011)

Back to the Tax proposal in Tallahassee:  This proposal, if passed, would mean a super exemption on top of current exemptions, ranging from 15 to 30 percent of their property's fair market value of between $75,000 and $400,000 for most homeowners. The exception: Those whose Save Our Homes (SOH) benefit exceeds the super-exemption.

The SOH benefits would extended far beyond the homesteaded property owners as for snowbirds and other non-homesteaded owners, there would be a 7 percent cap on how much taxes could rise.  This would replace the current 10 percent.

The recapture factor would be lost to local government.  For long-time Save Our Homes beneficiaries, whose property is valued for tax purposes at an artificially low rate, assessed home values would no longer increase 3 percent a year if in fact the property value has stayed the same or decreased.  This becomes a permanent low rate.

As reported; "This constitutional amendment would benefit the entire spectrum of property owners," said Roger Suggs, president of the Florida Association of Property Appraisers and Clay County's property appraiser.

The article continues to provide warning to local officials (and to the local taxpayers residing in those areas where their officials are not listening) that this proposal, which would need to pass the Legislature and then go to voters, could be a blow to cities and counties — costing them an estimated $3.63 billion over four years. School districts would be the only taxing bodies not impacted.

In other words, Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, Vice Mayor Brian Pariser and the other council members are ill-advised to continue risky fiscal practices such as proposing to spend down village reserves on the growing increasingly riskier bet that there will be a property value (and therefore  tax revenue) recovery in the next few years.  Values may rise for the owners after the real estate recovery, but revenues to governments will not.  Not if the Florida legislature and the voters have anything to say about it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Time to wake up and get serious with our decisions. We can see out future slipping (or moving out) before our eyes

Where are the comprehensive plans that will pull our area out of its downturn?

Job creation? Paving the way for more donut shops, mattress stores and liquor stores is not the answer.  

The problems are clearly identified, but are the elected leaders really working to resolve them?   Read the Miami Herald article By Deborah Acosta The Miami Herald (12/13/2011) (click the headline to view):

While local and state government officials cut ribbons on new Walmarts that bring in low paying or part time service job, you have to ask the question as to whether there is a long term plan actually create competitive, high paying jobs.  Jobs that will keep our locals here and able them to afford buying local homes and supporting our local businesses.

State University System of Florida chancellor Frank T. Brogan addressed to the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches Monday December 12.  His message?  As the Palm Beach Post headline called out: Brogan: It's time to revamp Fla. university system (By Kevin D. Thompson, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer)

The Chancellor was quoted as stating that "In a rapidly changing economy, Florida must reinvent its university system by placing a greater emphasis on graduating students in science, technology, engineering and math"

Chancellor Brogan was further quoted as observing: "It's easy to give lip service," he said. "It's another thing to plan and budget for and create public policy that will turn that vision into a reality."

I agree, but issue this challenge: Sound bite or head fake? It is great talk, but will the legislature fund it?

We are talking more than our own children.  Those of you who think you are done educating yours and have no interest in this issue should consider who will be able to afford to support those business upon which you have bet your finances on or will there be anyone left in South Florida with income sufficient to buy out your nest egg, your home, when its time to sell.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Photos from the 2nd Annual Palmetto Bay Canal Association Holiday Boat Parade

The 2nd Annual Palmetto Bay Canal Association Holiday Boat Parade was held on Saturday December 10th. This was a fun family event privately organized by the Palmetto Bay Canal Association.

The group added a canned food drive to the festivities for this year.Event organizer Rainer Schael advised that over 150 cans were collected in support of The Village of Palmetto Bay's food drive. Outstanding!

Over 50 families were on the canal banks to wave and wish Happy Holidays. This truly is a wonderful COMMUNITY Event.

The Palmetto Bay Canal Association is made up of Palmetto Bay (and Pinecrest) residents that are both users and stewards of our local canal system. The group includes pleasure boaters, fishermen, skiers, Canoers and Kayakers.

Click “Read more” below to view some photographs from this event.  I am looking forward to next year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations is hosting a Holiday Toy Giveaway for the Children of Farm Share

SPECIAL EVENT (all information taken from KFMA e-mail and web site):
Santa is Coming to the KFHA

The Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations is hosting a Holiday Toy Giveaway for the Children of Farm Share.

On December 12th, the KFHA will host its first annual Holiday Program featuring the Ferguson High School Jazz Combo and the Ferguson Concert Choir. There will be holiday treats, the Hanukkah Menorah will be lit and of course…Santa Claus will arrive with gifts for the Children of Farm Share.

The FUN will begin at 7pm at the Kendall Village Center Civic Pavilion, 8625 SW 124th Avenue, in front of the Regal Theater.

The KFHA is collecting donations to purchase as many toys as possible. Please send your tax-deductible donation to KFHA by December 1st so “wrapped gifts” will arrive on time!

Monday, December 5, 2011

2011 Palmetto Bay Canal Association Holiday Boat Parade

Get ready for the 2nd Annual Palmetto Bay Canal Association Holiday Boat Parade on Saturday December 10th. This is a fun family event privately organized by the Palmetto Bay Canal Association. The group is adding a canned food drive to the festivities for this year.

The parade route will start at northeast Palmetto Bay (either Coral Reef Park or the Farmer Road Lake) and idle through the village to southwest PB. The boat parade starts about 6:00 PM.

Look for the parade friends and neighbors if you are on or near the C100 canal boat parade route.  E-mail me at and I will put you in touch with the Palmetto Bay Canal Association organizers for more information.

The Palmetto Bay Canal Association is made up of Palmetto Bay (and Pinecrest) residents that are both users and stewards of our local canal system. The group includes pleasure boaters, fishermen, skiers, Canoers and Kayakers.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Palmetto Bay December FOOD TRUCK FRIDAY - 5:30-11 pm

Please Join Us! Friday, December 2, Food Trucks, Music, Bar, & Fun!! at the Palmetto Bay Village Center. 40+ Food Trucks, Music, Bar, & Fun!! Parking fee of $5 per car!

The Palmetto Bay Village Center is a great place to come and enjoy the cool December weather, live music, great picnic areas and of course, the Food Trucks. Take the Old Cutler tree tunnels down South 4 miles past Pinecrest. A gorgeous setting that hosts many weddings, TV & Film productions and huge events like the Taste of Cutler Bay.

This event is billed as a family-friendly atmosphere with a vast variety of foods to taste from. Bring a big appetite and tell your friends.  It should be a lot of fun. 5:30-11pm

Palmetto Bay Village Center
18001 Old Cutler Road
(Old Cutler & SW 184th Street)
Palmetto Bay, FL. 33157

We hope to see you there!  Look for Alexandra and me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thalatta Estate: Should a free park paid for by Florida Residents become an expensive exclusive party venue for those who can afford it?

I recent spoke out, raising concerns regarding Thalatta Estate: A plan that needs more consideration. {Published in the Palmetto Bay News (Nov 14 -18 edition) and is currently posted in the online edition (CLICK HERE or the headline).]

It is clear to me that now is not the time to spend down the raining day savings of the village as current Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and vice Mayor Brian Pariser are rushing headlong into doing.  It is wrong for current elected officials to spend more than they receive in revenue, and pass that debt, or lack of reserves onto future councils and the taxpayers.  It is one thing to spend on a much needed project of value to the general community, but financial alarms and whistles should be going off around this present village council and if not, the general taxpaying community should become concerned when this council wants to spend millions of our tax dollars without either a professionally developed business plan and clear transparent disclosure of what the intentions, expectations and back up plans are for our money. 

Another community blog has taken a look at this issue and offers its own perspectives.  Check out South Dade Matters.  The post regarding Thalatta observes that “Most people are busy with their lives such that paying attention to the Village of Palmetto Bay government is a luxury. Village property owners and residents want to rely upon the elected officials to provide leadership and sound judgment.” 

“The problem is that many of the kind folks elected to govern the Village are inexperienced at making management decisions for a multi-million dollar enterprise.”

SDM raises the concern that “Stanczyk is so convinced Thalatta will become wedding party central that she is willing to bet the financial solvency of the Village on her gut instinct. Stanczyk is so convinced Thalatta will become wedding party central that she is willing to bet the financial solvency of the Village on her gut instinct.” 

Several examples are given by SDM of government good intentions that went south and asks the question; “When will elected officials stop playing investment banker with tax dollars?”