Thursday, January 31, 2013

First public peek 2:00 PM today. Gov. Rick Scott to outline his budget wish list, priorities to state lawmakers - Florida -

Gov. Rick Scott to outline his budget wish list, priorities to state lawmakers - Florida -
The hinting ends today. Everyone gets to see in detail the first draft/proposals for Florida’s future today when Florida Gov. Rick Scott presents his budget at 2:00 PM (Thursday, January 31, 2013).
The Miami Herald reports that the Governor has already made it clear that education is a top priority. Among the big education items: a request to raise public school teacher salaries by $2,500.
The state budget is roughly $70 billion.  I am interested to see the funding priorities for many other items such as the Florida Forever (State Department of Environmental Protection – land conservation and recreational lands acquisition programs) and for infrastructure needs.  There are obviously many competing needs.  To what level will social services, especially mental health and child protection/developmental services be funded?
The budget is worked over and passed in the Legislature. The governor then approves the budget, after significant review that includes line item vetoes.

Pinecrest is offering a Citizen Academy. Pinecrest residents can learn more about their village government

A great idea.  This is a good project for municipalities.  It would be a good project for Palmetto Bay now that we have moved out of the initial formation period. These programs are good for more that just residents. Elected officials can profit from them as well.

Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay and South Miami take note. This information is taken from the official Pinecrest e-news.  CLICK HERE to read the full e-mail. This program is for residents of Pinecrest.
  2013 Citizen Academy

Learn More About Your Municipal Government
What is the Citizen Academy?  The Pinecrest Citizen Academy is a great way for Pinecrest citizens to learn more about their municipal government and how municipal operations affect the quality of life in the Village of Pinecrest.  The six-week educational program consists of interactive presentations by the various departments of the Village government and is intended to familiarize citizens with the function and purpose of municipal government.    The graduates of the academy will receive recognition for their time and participation with a ceremony and reception.   The tentative schedule of sessions is as follows:

  Session 1 - Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 7:00 p.m. (Orientation/Budget/Finance)
  Session 2 - Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 7:00 p.m. (Council/Administration/Legal)
  Session 3 - Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 7:00 p.m. (Building/Planning/Public Works)
  Session 4 - Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 7:00 p.m. (Parks/Recreation/Pinecrest Gardens)
  Session 5 - Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 7:00 p.m. (Police)
  Session 6 - Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 7:00 p.m. (Graduation)

The program will be open to 15 Pinecrest residents on a first-come, first-served basis. Please click on this link for additional information and the application.  The application deadline is February 28, 2013.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Colbert Report Tip/Wag: Montpelier School District, & Florida Officials

The Cobert Report focuses on Florida's Python Problem and the Python Challenge.  The Python Challenge portion starts at approximately 4:08. It is the third of three topics covered in this edition of "Tip of the Hat/Wag of the finger." Don't miss it:

Family finds pet tortoise that was missing for 30 years as they clean out dead father's storeroom

Family finds pet tortoise that was missing for 30 years as they clean out dead father's storeroom
Here is a great story to take a break from politics and all the bad news out there. No angst. No doping. We certainly wont see this tortoise on an afternoon talk show telling us why he suddenly decided to turn up. 

On the other side, what a story of procrastination.  How often was the late father asked to clean up that storeroom? Kinda scares you to think what may be lurking in that shed, back closet or garage.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hostess getting close to buyer for Twinkies - Jan. 29, 2013

Hostess getting close to buyer for Twinkies - Jan. 29, 2013
We had a feeling that this would not be the end for the twinkie!

Twinkie hoarding begins! - Nov. 16, 2012. Marking an end of an era!

Twinkie hoarding begins! - Nov. 16, 2012 Every now and then a event occurs that you can recall where you were when you heard ....  This is one of those events. 

Where do we begin? Who here remembers the twinkie in their school lunchbox?

Read the news by clicking the link above.  Read the story in CNN Money online:

Just hours after Twinkies maker Hostess declared it will shut down for good, grocery stores nationwide are already experiencing a run on Twinkies and the company's other iconic products like Wonder Bread, Hostess Cup Cakes and Ding Dongs.

"We're definitely seeing a sharp increase in purchases of Hostess products today," said Mike Siemienas, spokesman for grocery store operator Supervalu. "We expect this will continue as more consumers become aware of the news.

Worst of all, does this make iconic movies like Ghostbusters just a little less relevant, a little more dated?

See WHAT ABOUT THE TWINKIE - Ghostbusters:

Scammers operating on all fronts, including text messaging

Scammers operating on all fronts, including text messaging

Posted online Palm Beach Post ( Sat, Jan. 26, 2013, Scammers operating on all fronts, including text messaging,  By Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer.

Read up on some of the scams that every day thousands of people fall.

There are the emails claiming they’ve won a prize.
There are advertisements on Craigslist for rental apartments which don’t exist.
Bogus lotteries seeking payment upfront, that have been around for years.

With technology such as text messaging on the rise, scammers have more ways than ever to do their dirty work.

So take some time and read this article.  The elderly especially are being targeted by scammers, who are estimated to be taking around $3 billion a year from people age 65 or over.
After reading the online article, tell me whether or not either of the e-mails I have posted below are scams:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Curbing the threat of higher rates from Citizens - Other Views - - By State Rep Jose Felix Diaz

Curbing the threat of higher rates from Citizens - Other Views -
HB 107 – Citizens property Insurance Corporation Rates, filed by house member Jose Felix Diaz (Dist. 116) Provides that restrictions on annual rate increases apply to both new & renewal policies.
State Representative Jose Felix Diaz has filed the legislation to address property insurance rates.  Read his commentary published by the Miami Herald, Mon, Jan. 28, 2013, Curbing the threat of higher rates from Citizens. It is a must read.
As stated in his commentary, Rep Diaz was appalled that Citizens announced in the summer of 2012 that they would increase rates through a loophole in the law.  Too many people are not aware of this situation until they receive their notification letters.
As I have stated throughout my blog, the cost (rising rates) as well as the availability of property insurance has a very profound impact on the affordability of all homes in South Florida, but particularly those east of US1 and I-95.
The legislative agendas of all the South Dade representatives, state, County, and all Miami-Dade municipalities, need to work Tallahassee to continue to make Citzens available and affordable.
Watchdogging Citizens and insurance reform is a necessary part of the 2013 legislative agenda.

Texting while driving – will this be the year for positive action in Tallahassee?

I have not heard of one person stepping forward in support of texting while driving, yet the ban never seems to pass in Tallahassee. Is it an issue as to how to best enforce?

I am told that the bill most likely to succeed this legislative session is SB52 (CLICK HERE), and it will see modifications as the bill progresses. Groups such as the Green Mobility Network are watching and advocating for good bills to help make Miami-Dade County a safer and more enjoyable place to bicycle, run, and walk.

CLICKHERE to view a past Palmetto Bay e-currents (Oct. 2009) explaining past efforts from the Palmetto Bay council on making our roadways safer for everyone, especially our students.

Safe streets have been important from the very first Palmetto Bay council.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

This will be a legislative year where solid preparation is a must! TALLAHASSEE: State budget surplus will spur intense debate on what to fund - Florida -

TALLAHASSEE: State budget surplus will spur intense debate on what to fund - Florida -

The Miami Herald ran in interesting article on Sunday (Jan. 27) regarding the expected budget surplus: “Budget surplus to spur debate.” 

Note that any one-year surplus does not mean that earmarks and appropriations will reappear to the extent seen in the period predating 2010. It does mean that some important decisions will be made in Tallahassee as to what to do with this money.  So who or what cities will be best positioned to prevail in the ongoing state budget and policy debates this legislative session?  Will there actually be a surplus, and if so, will all or part be used to replenish previously drained trust funds, or into other savings? Will it be used as a rational to cut intangible or corporate taxes? Will the teachers get their raises and, if so, how much?  Will there be funding to address school security? The article addresses the issues in detail and is recommended reading.

 I have covered two posts dealing with preparation for the Palmetto Bay legislative agenda, the first on infrastructure and capital possibilities and the second (just below) on policy considerations (primarily insurance).

Obviously, the original council tackled much more than just municipal issues, taking on items such as senate bills 360 and senate bill 6.

What was neglected during the lean years that now urgently requires attention?

The original village council worked to oppose enactment of SB6 and any similar legislation that would negatively impact local public school teachers and children. I sponsored a resolution after speaking with concerned parties as to the particulars.  A veto was urged in a late session resolution passed on April 12, 2010 (CLICK HERE to view) . I actually met with the Governor on this and other legislative priorities.

The Palmetto Bay legislative agendas were never completed in a vacuum, thrown together at a single meeting by the founding village council. Discussions were held with community activists, parents, teachers, staff and our lobbyists.  

Legislative priorities should be year ‘round considerations.  This includes timely filing applications for grant monies to assist with eligible, worthwhile projects. The locals need to work hard to identify which capital projects to move ahead with due to their being assisting funding sources available.  I have discussed the need for proper preparation, not just the attempt to appear to have prepared (CLICK HERE) so I will not repeat those thoughts here.

Success in Tallahassee takes preparation.  Those locals who don't properly prepare are merely hoping to ride the coattails and claim part of the success caused by the Florida League of Cities or sister cities who have done the prep work and the heavy lifting before and throughout the legislative session.

Tallahassee will be a very interesting place. I am pushing hard to see some detailed preparation by all the South Dade members so we all cannot just survive, but thrive, this year’s legislative session.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Policy for the PBay council to consider for the 2013 legislative agenda. Work to guard against the re-establishment of the arbitrary property insurance line.

Protection of homeowner’s insurance is a legislative issue that needs some advocacy to ensure that we do not slip bad into even darker days of homeowners insurance. Property/windstorm insurance is an issue you need to watch each and every year.

There are two main issues:

1 The credits that are being lost through the sudden re-inspections that Citizens has been requiring. Have you received your letter in the last two years? It seems as if Citizen's has been doing their best to take the premium saving credits away.  The homeowners of Palmetto Bay need advocacy to prevent such tactics. Some argue that this is nothing more than a backdoor rate increase through removal of the discounts.  This makes homeowners insurance less affordable and its those who can afford it least.

2. Solving an "unresolved problem" of too much exposure - by redefining the mission of Citizens.  

I hope that we are not suffering from institutional amnesia due to the change in leadership. Homeowners insurance is the largest cost to area residents, exceeding property taxes.  Maybe people are starting to forget how much sudden rises or availability of property insurance affects our property values or even if we can get a mortgage. The original Palmetto Bay council took this issue seriously and always monitored the homeowners’ insurance issue. 

Check out the article posted online, Miami Herald: Senate committee hears concerns about Citizens, posted Jan 23, 201, by Brent Kallestad, Associated Press, reporting that:

A number of unresolved problems haunting the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. have left the state increasingly vulnerable to catastrophe, the chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee said Wednesday.

Sen. David Simmons, R-Maitland, said it's time to redefine the mission for Citizens, created a decade ago as the insurer of last resort.
(emphasis added)

Citizens' instead has grown into the largest property insurer in Florida with more than 1.3 million customers, roughly one-fourth of the total market in the state. The company's growth has resulted in part from artificially low rates.

"We haven't solved the problem," Simmons said during a two-hour, late afternoon hearing. "Any cataclysmic event would have cataclysmic results in Florida."

Virtually all Floridians carrying insurance, whether or not a Citizens' customer, would be liable to make up any shortfall in the event of a catastrophe. Any shortfall in the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, often known as the CAT fund, would also be made up from emergency assessments.

Code words?
"Redefine the mission"? Ut oh, I think this is all starting to sound like potential code words that we need to dump the expense of coastal insurance back onto those living east of I95 and US1.  Sure the legislators from Central and North Florida will take our tax dollars (their revenue) and distribute them statewide (mostly to benefit central and north Florida), but they want to forget that Florida is a peninsula with nearly 1,200 miles of coastline.  We are all in this together and the 'easterners' should not be cast off from being part of the Florida joint risk come insurance coverage time.

Will such a dramatic and unfair change in insurance happen in this legislative session? It is faintly possible, but certainly not probable. The issue is whether it would happen if those who want to cast the cost of windstorm insurance back onto those living east of US1 stick their toes in the legislative water and find only lukewarm, or worse, no opposition. 

Working the issues important to home affordability.

Palmetto Bay once really worked the issues, not just passed paper stating general intention.  See Palmetto Bay tries to tackle the 'gorilla' of insurance, posted online, re-posting the original article by then Herald reporter Kathleen Fordyce of Nov 17, 2006.  Or Officials Plan to push for storm insurance reform, by then Herald reporter Yudy Pineiro, detailing how Councilman Ed Feller, with the backing of State Rep. Julio Robaina, worked the state Legislature to consider windstorm insurance reform in its 2006 session.

I have provided links to two resolutions (November 1, 2004 and December 5, 2005) that demonstrate the extent that the original council advocated for area residents. I ask this current Palmetto Bay council to continue the vigilance over this key home affordability issue. 

The arbitrary line, gone, but not forgotten (and looked at as the good old days for those west of it):

Founding council members Linda Robinson and Dr. Ed Feller understood the importance of this issue and we all worked together as a cohesive unit with our local representatives in Tallahassee on the windstorm issue. 

Where was the "arbitrary line"?

Please take the time to read the Palmetto Bay council minutes for the November 1, 2004, council meeting (CLICK HERE).  Founding councilman (reminder taken verbatim from the minutes:)Feller explained the matter, noting that a line was drawn wherein all properties east of Dixie Highway and east of I-95 would require windstorm coverage. He stated that he believed this invisible line was “grossly unfair” and “arbitrary” as it determined how much people would have to pay for windstorm insurance; and the arbitrary line should be eliminated. He noted that many residents who have windstorm coverage made changes to their homes in order to get lower rates and have now discovered that the reduced rates were eliminated. Councilman Feller stated that he would like this matter reconsidered so that the reduced rates could be offered on improved homes.
* * *
Discussion ensued.

 Who stands to lose? The South Dade area would get hit hard.

Yearly vigilance and aggressive action is required each year or we could all be wondering what happened as we are writing those much bigger checks for homeowners insurance or worse, trying to sell our homes at a discount to buyers who can write those checks.

Pinecrest Art Show this weekend

The 10th Annual PINECREST GARDENS FINE ARTS FESTIVAL will be held this January 26 & Sunday, January 27, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

There will be a generous representation of art, delicious food, live music, and other activities for the entire family. CLICK HERE to view the official Pinecrest web site for full information. 

And don;t forget the Pinecrest Farmers Market located on the grounds of the Pinecrest Gardens.  CLICK HERE for more info.  Open 9:00 to 3:00 PM every Sunday.  

Great community events. Come on out and join your friends and neighbors.

Friday, January 25, 2013

14th annual “Moonlight & Music” Valentine’s Day Concert: Thursday, Feb 14 at 8:00 PM

It is that time of year.  Have you made plans yet for Valentine’s Day?  I suggest something different from the same ol’, same ol’.  Try taking your loved one to a concert on the Bay.  All info posted below is taken from the official website:

CLICK HERE to check out all the official information on the Deering Estate event. Celebrate Valentine's Day in Miami at the 14th annual “Moonlight & Music” Valentine’s Day Concert on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. (the main gate opens at 7:00 pm).

This year's concert will feature world-class singer, guitarist and songwriter Allan Harris. There will be an opening performance by jazz pianist and singer Ariel Pocock, a University of Miami Sophomore.

Tickets are $20 for general admission. Tickets can be purchased online for an additional $2.50 fee or by calling the Deering Estate Ticket Office at 305-235-1668 ext. 233.

Please note: Tickets are non-refundable, rain or shine. For support with purchasing tickets online, please contact the Customer Help Desk at 1-888-695-0888 (USA), 877-251-2364 (Canada).

The Valentine's Day Concert at the Deering Estate offers couples the opportunity to celebrate their love at a romantic, outdoor concert under the stars, on the edge of Biscayne Bay. Guests are welcome to bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets (no coolers permitted). Limited refreshments and food will be available for an additional fee. Parking is free. Food available for purchase from: Ms. Cheezious, Gastropod and Crepemaker.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Flag on you NCAA! "Roughing UM" Miami Herald reports: NCAA: Some information obtained improperly in UM investigation - UM -

NCAA: Some information obtained improperly in UM investigation - UM -
Has the worm turned?  Only in Miami and only involving the U, can the theater of the absurd take such a grandiose course.  The Miami Herald reports that the NCAA announced it improperly obtained information via the attorney of former booster Nevin Shapiro for the purposes of its investigation into the University of Miami’s football and basketball programs.

So now I must ask, who is investigating the NCAA for what clearly appears to me to be a total lack of institutional control over its investigation?

Shame on you NCAA! We will wait for your self-imposed penalty. Perhaps it is time for the member schools to reexamine their membership in the NCAA.

The Miami Herald reports that the NCAA dropped a bombshell Wednesday afternoon, Using phrases such as “grossly inappropriate” and “shocking,”  that the NCAA must sift through the information that was improperly obtained and throw it out – a process he says that should take no longer than a week or two.

The Herald article included this statement from UM President Donna Shalala in reaction to the NCAA’s findings:

“Since the University first alerted the NCAA to the possibility of violations more than two years ago, we have been cooperative and compliant with the NCAA and, I believe, a model for how institutions should partner with NCAA staff during investigations. In addition to encouraging current and former staff members and student-athletes to cooperate with investigators, we have provided thousands of documents to the enforcement staff.

“I am frustrated, disappointed and concerned by President Emmert’s announcement today that the integrity of the investigation may have been compromised by the NCAA staff.

Could this be a case where the NCAA finally got too greedy in denying due process and holding current students and fans hostage for the sins of those who have moved on a long time ago?  Enough already. Stop the charade! 

I can’t wait for the day that the NCAA’s actions become the inspiration for a new play, perhaps written by an Edward Albee. Until then, we will simply continue to read up on this painful matter in the Miami Herald.

Horse Country event on Feb 23. Have fun, help preserve a way of life

Come help support Horse Country. There is event you may not want to miss on February 23. It will be a great evening at the German American club. All proceeds go to help preserve horse country. More information is available by clicking on this photo invite.

Horse Country is a throw back enclave that continues to fight to fend off suburban encroachment.  It is one of the few remaining places where you can still ride or board your horses in Miami-Dade County. 

For recent insight on their battles, check out: Developer drops plans for Horse Country shopping centerby Jessica De Leon, Miami Herald.  Hundreds of residents turned out to oppose the project at a recent community council hearing, saying a shopping center doesn’t belong amid horse pastures in nurseries.

The Herald reports on the latest fight, where the residents were successful in convincing a developer drop his plans for a shopping center in Horse Country.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

‘Taste of the Bay’ seeking vendors, volunteers | Cutler Bay

‘Taste of the Bay’ seeking vendors, volunteers | Cutler Bay

Cutler Bay’s popular food and fun event, “Taste of the Bay,” is scheduled for Feb. 24 and organizers are ready for area food vendors and volunteers to get on board.  Read more in the Community Newspapers.  Click the headline/link above.

Save the date: ForEverglades Benefit: Palm Beach - February 15, 2013 – dinner & ZZ Top

Have fun and help support the Everglades Foundation.

The Everglades Foundation announces its 8th Annual Palm Beach Benefit featuring dinner and a performance by ZZ Top!

Friday, February 15th 2013
7:00 PM

The Breakers, Palm Beach, FL

For ticket pricing and information on sponsorships, contact:
Susan Ervin (305) 251-0001
Debbie Fife (212) 245-6570

Suggested attire:  Cheap sunglasses and legs (hey, this time I am not making this up – see invite info)
for full details on the event.  CLICK HERE to learn more about the Everglades Foundation. The Everglades foundation is located at 18001 Old Cutler Road, Suite 625, Palmetto Bay, Florida 33157,  (305) 251-0001

In the meantime - ZZ Top performing Cheap Sunglasses:


Monday, January 21, 2013

Online chat Tuesday to lead up to town hall on legislative session - Legislature -

Online chat Tuesday to lead up to town hall on legislative session - Legislature -

Want information about what is happening in Tallahassee?

WLRN and The Herald will host the first of three online chats at 4 p.m. Tuesday. It poses the question in the first chat:  Who runs Tallahassee?  The Herald’s Tallahassee bureau chief, Mary Ellen Klas, will answer questions about how Tallahassee works (or doesn’t work). What happens behind closed doors? How do budget provisions slip through without public debate? Klas will be joined by Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida, an ethics advocacy group.
The next two online chats will focus on education and property insurance.
WLRN and The Miami Herald will host a town hall meeting featuring legislative leaders during a free, live event next month in Fort Lauderdale. The event is sponsored by Global Integrity, a think-tank based in Washington, D.C., that promotes government accountability and transparency.
To participate:
Join the conversation at or on Twitter @WLRN, #FL2013.
Issues expected to be discussed include the reform of Citizens Property Insurance, implementing the Affordable Care Act, school achievement and election reform. Participants will include Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, and Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, chairman of the Ethics and Elections Committee.

Celebrating the leadership of Martin Luther King. Jan 21, 2013

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King day.

I have posted a link to watch a posting on YouTube of the "I Have A Dream Speech" of August 28, 1963.  Please take the time to view this important and inspiring historical statement.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Walking 4 Friendship, Sun, Feb. 10, 2013, a 3K walk and Community Carnival event to raise funds for the programs and services offered by the Friendship Circle of Miami

Walking 4 Friendship, Sunday, February 10, 2013
9:00 am  -- Registration Begins

Friendship Circle, 8700 SW 112 Street,  Miami, Fl 33176.

The Walking 4 Friendship is a 3K walk and Community Carnival event to raise funds for the programs and services offered by the Friendship Circle of Miami, while promoting awareness and acceptance of children with special needs in our communities. 

Message from Michael and Grant Miller, Miami’s Community Newspapers and supporters of Walking 4 Friendship (please click “Read more" below to read the entire message regarding the mission of the group, purpose of the event, tax deductibility and important contact information):

We are walking on Sunday, February 10, 2013, for children with special needs and we are asking for your support to help us reach our goal.

Miami-Dade County Residential High Efficiency Toilet Rebate

Miami-Dade County has a program for residents – rebates for High-Efficiency toilets to assist in the replacement of older-model toilets with High-Efficiency models.  

Single-family residential property owners or tenants, as well as multi-family property owners, may receive a $50 rebate with the purchase and installation of a WaterSense-certified High-Efficiency toilet.

To qualify, the residential property must have been built prior to 1996.  CLICK HERE to review complete information. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Palmetto Bay’s WBAY TV is now accessible for AT&T U-verse subscribers

Are you a AT&T U-verse subscriber?  Finally, the Palmetto Bay broadcasts have moved from Comcast to other carriers which will hopefully boost its ratings. 

How to find Palmetto Bay TV on U-verse:

Go to channel 99, the Local Government Education and Public Access channel.  Press “OK” and from there drop down to number 8 of 9, which is Palmetto Bay Community TV-WBAY. 

The full line up, 1-9, is:

Broward County TV
City of South Miami Comm Television
Coral Springs City TV
Hollywood Community TV – HTV
Homestead TV
Miami-Dade County Government TV
Miami Beach TV (MBTV)
Palmetto Bay Community TV-WBAY
Pembroke Pines Our City Television

Choose your city and click “OK” and you are there. 

Now you can compare programing and determine how your council and its programing compare to other local governments, including meeting decorum and quality of issue consideration, discussions on how your money is being spent.

For recent discussion on WBAY TV, see Palmetto Bay council starts 2013 with a long meeting, by Howard Cohen, Palmetto Bay’s new vice mayor questions some expenses, making for a long Village Council meeting. Discussion from staff at the meeting revealed that the current viewership is placed at 100 people. 

Palmetto Bay is trying to offset costs of the station through “sponsorships.” Hopefully moving to U-verse will boost ratings as sponsorship dollars are hard when reaching 100 people, far below what can be accomplished though newspaper advertisements or even direct mail for the same costs.

The Mayor and council have budgeted $100,000.00 for TV & Video Production, Page 94 (of 149) CLICK HERE to view adopted budget for fiscal year 2012-13.

Rate the County Service - Take the recycling survey

Take the Recycling Survey

Miami-Dade County Government wants to know:

How often do you recycle? Are you satisfied with the recycling services you receive?  

CLICK HERE to take the Miami-Dade County Recycling Survey, and also offer your thoughts on the recycling program.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Update on Thalatta. Tax dollars, not grant dollars, and not historically restored

The weekend is here and I am thinking about what to do with the family.  Along with the Beaux Art Show, perhaps we should spend some time on the bay, at Palmetto Bay's Thalatta Estate, assuming it is not closed for a private event.

How is the park doing? There was a plan presented by Staff at the Wednesday, 1/16/2013 Committee of the Whole meeting for renovating the home, but the plan does not restore the home to its historical significance.  In reviewing the presentation, I am disappointed that the current Palmetto Bay council is not trying to restore the Thalatta home to its historical significance.  The (few) comments from the council members appear to range from demolishing the entire home, alleging that it would be less expensive to replicate, to stone silence of the issue.

The proposed construction project goes out to bid soon.  The next council action will be approving the staff selection of the lowest qualified bidder.

This property has special significant to me having fought hard to save it and eventual led the purchasing of this property as well as the grants to fund the purchase and initial updates to the bay front park property, which I proudly proclaimed “put the bay, back in Palmetto Bay. 

There is the possibility of grant monies for restoration.  We used to do so well at obtaining grants and appropriations.  I was surprised to hear nothing from the current mayor or other council members in attendance bring up the question.  The mayor and council should not give up grants.  There are grants still available.  I offer up just one potential source:

Check out (info from the official state web site): Historic Preservation Grants Program

The Historic Preservation Grants Program allocates state funds appropriated by the Legislature and federal funds apportioned to the state by the U. S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, for the preservation and protection of the state's historic and archaeological sites and properties. The program is administered by the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State. Two types of grants are awarded through this program: Small Matching Grants and Special Category Grants.

Of course, it appears that the council has missed the 10/15 – 12/15/12 application period for the special category grants, for funding requests from $50,000 to $350,000, but there is always next year for this council. 

Preservation is important.  Thalatta is to be a park, not a for profit wedding business.  I joined the  successful fight as a fellow resident against the ill-advised commercialization of this property by the current administration.  See 4/17/2012, Council opposes Thalatta event facility expansion and others, CLICK HERE to view the thread index for all the Thalatta related articles.

The home, now known as Thalatta Estate, was purchased through grant monies provided through the Florida Communities Trust; SFWMD, Florida Recreational Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) and other assistance.  We owe it to these large investors of public money to stay with the spirit of the grants and try to continue to properly preserve the Thalatta Estate for current and future generations to enjoy, Palmetto Bay’s home on the bay.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Beaux Arts weekend is here – Jan 19 - 20

Set aside some time during the weekend of Jan. 19 - 20.  It is time for the 62nd annual Beaux Arts Festival of Art, held as usual, at the grounds of the Lowe Art Museum on the University of Miami main campus.  The art show will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  CLICK HERE to view the official event website for full information.

This is always a great family event.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Proceeds benefit the Lowe Art Museum, which will be open to the public all weekend, and support bringing children from low-income schools on cultural field trips to the museum.

For questions concerning the Beaux Arts' Festival of Art, please email them at or call 305-668-8499. Please be advised that volunteers periodically check messages and return calls.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What are the opportunities in Tallahassee this legislative year? Is there any desire for capital projects?

I am providing a short list of possible projects remaining in the village. None of these projects should be undertaken without substantial assistance either through grants / appropriations from Tallahassee; through Federal assistance or through partnerships/coordination with Miami-Dade County or neighboring municipalities. This council does not have to take on any projects. But this council can also evaluate, discuss and take their best shot in their Legislative Plan on our behalf on one, several or none of the suggestions listed below.

Disclaimer: The status, if there is one, of any of these projects are unknown. It is also unknown as to any support for any of these projects on the Palmetto Bay Council or that there are any opportunities for funding in Tallahassee. One thing is for certain, you don’t have any chance if you do not try. 

Here are some of the major projects rolled over from the intitial village council:

Funding through the Florida agencies for land acquisition; I am specifically referring to the purchase of the currently available bay front properly near the Palmetto Bay neighborhood branch library (5 +/- acres). Note that this is a critical item – Timing is everything. Community centers can wait indefinitely, but opportunities for land, especially providing public water view/access are far too few and far between – this property may be gone forever if it sells to another private buyer, or developed into something that residents may not like!

Note that the village council owes the residents the acknowledgement that this property is currently available and a public discussion of whether to act now or let the opportunity pass.

Economic assistance – Tallahassee talks job creation, but how about seeking funding that will allow Palmetto Bay to revitalize the Palmetto Bay “downtown corridor” (main street Program monies) – specifically the FT&I district.  This is also a great opportunity for the Village Council to repair ties with the EDC and for this council to start working with the both the EDC and Palmetto Bay Business Association. 

Traffic calming projects (circles or traffic humps): Locations – along Old Cutler Road at 136 or other similar intersections.  Traffic humps in neighborhoods where residents have sought traffic calming for the safety and improvement of their neighborhoods.

Bicycle lanes on major Palmetto Bay controlled streets – 82nd avenue; 144th street; part of the Franjo Road (SW 97th Av) improvements (Palmetto Bay has recently taken ownership of Franjo Road from Miami-Dade County)

Work with Miami-Dade County for Bicycle lanes on SW 152 and SW 168 Streets.

Work with Miami-Dade County for Bicycle/Pedestrian lane (creation or improvements) on existing bridges such as Old Cutler road at Snowden’s Point (174 – C100); SW 77th and 82nd Av bridges.

Participate with FDOT and Miami-Dade County for funding for studies and/for improvements for the US1 intersections at 136; 144; 152.

Seek funding assistance for the Green Corridor and PACE program.

Funding for facilities to assist seniors – possible funding assistance for a Palmetto Bay Community Center for senior and youth/family activities.

Funding for implementation/completion of the 5 year plan recommended by the Palmetto Bay Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan Committee (see post immediately below).

Is there any money available for green programs that have been running in the village such as for tree canopy restoration (Palmetto Bay has been designated a "Tree City USA" community for many years). The tree program costs money. Any money available for conversion of existing facilities to be more green compliant (and therefore, more energy efficient for our taxpayers)?

The list is endless.  I have only provided samples of projects on the table.  The issue is whether there is any vision, desire or support on the present Palmetto Bay Council to take on any projects and whether there is any money available to assist in the acquisition, study or construction of such a project.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. Another committee study, another book end for the Palmetto Bay shelf

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan Report is another study that currently sits unresolved by the current council, much like the Palmetto Bay's Building and Permitting Advisory Committee Final Committee Report.  Review the minutes from the September 2009 regular council meeting.  I personally do not like sending people on a snipe hunt (also known as fool’s errand).  The study was completed through significant resident input alongside the Corradino Group as consultants to the study, paid for out of an MPO grant.

The study was presented at the regular council meeting of September 2009.  I made specific inquiry as to the following:

Q: Are any of the recommended plan currently funded?  A: They were not.
Q: If the plan was accepted, would it give critical mass to go forward and seek funding.  A: I was assured it would.

Despite the fact that current mayor Stanczyk takes credit for much of this plan, it remains another plan on the shelf and cannot currently be located on the village website under documents (as of 1/15/13).  The plan addressed safety and accessibility issues.  This report has value and was a project rolled over from the original council, yet no effort has been made over the last two years to resolve the 5 year plan. 

RESULTS TO DATE:  Miami-Dade County (not Palmetto Bay) completed the Old Cutler Bike Path upgrades.

BRIEF ASIDE: The Complete committee report accepted in September 2009 should be available online, without having to make a public records request.  All Charettes, Public studies, etc., should be maintained online for public access.

RECOMMENDATION:  Seek funding from the State or County to implement the proposals of this plan. Show your work. Don’t let these recommendations be the next fire stations, a project left to be completed, but ignored to date by the current council.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THIS REPORT:  A spreadsheet of the project was provided (Click the link to view) to me from one of the committee members (I forgot to obtain authorization to use the member’s name and will follow up).  Care was taken to split up routes that are MDC responsibility from VPB.  Critical Co. infrastructure is sidewalks on the west side of Old Cutler Rd. particularly from SW 157 Tr. to SW 162 St. and from SW 168 St, to SW 174 St. as there is no way to get past the canals without crossing Old Cutler Rd. twice at locations where there is no light or marked crosswalk. 

The committee member also identified one more safety item that we should ask the Co. to do ASAP.  There is no ped. push button to operate the light at Old Cutler Rd. & SW 176 St.  Cars and bicycles with aluminum wheels can operate the light by rolling over the detector loops but there is no way for a pedestrian to operate the light.  The library at 17641 OCR is cut off from pedestrian access. 

I have asked the town to concentrate on the sidewalks on SW 176 St. to provide safe travel for peds. when people are entering and leaving Palmer Trinity School.