Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Will dangerous distracted drivers maintain their "right" to continue their terror on the roadways? Say it ain't so! Texting while driving ban could be dead

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.: Texting while driving ban could be dead - Florida Wires - MiamiHerald.com
The Miami Herald reports that a statewide ban on texting while driving could be dead after the Florida House amended the bill Tuesday with only three days left in the legislative session. 

My, how fast things change in Tallahassee. No texting while driving bill passes Fla Senate 36 - 0 on April 16, 2013. Now A change in the House bill changes everything and puts the proposal in jeopardy.This is not the news we wanted to hear. So close and a procedure - in this case an ever so slight change in the bill that makes it non-conforming with the bill passed by the Florida Senate.  A bill needs to be passed in the identical form by both the Florida House and the Florida Senate to move on to the Governor. 

Otherwise, both the House and Senate can claim to support a bill, but regret that it was not the same bill.  Ironic isn't it?  You can be against the bill by voting for it, and an amendment to it, knowing that there may not be time to pass a conforming bill.  This is politically having your cake and eating it too, assuming you are in favor of distracted drivers continuing their terror on the roadways. 

The Miami Herald reports that Miami Lakes Republican, Rep. Jose R. Oliva, was the author of Tuesday's amendment.  He may have said that he wasn't trying to torpedo the bill, but that will probably be the effect. 

From the Herald article: The House discussed the bill (SB 52) and adopted the amendment without voting on the bill. The amendment allows police to use drivers' mobile phone records against them only when texting causes a crash resulting in death or personal injury.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously earlier this month. If the House passes the amended bill, it must return to the Senate for that chamber to approve the new change. The legislative session ends Friday. 
Sen. Nancy Detert, the Venice Republican who has pushed for a ban for four years, was watching from the back of the House floor, frowning.

"No one spoke to me about it," she said, walking back to the Senate. "We made the bill as small as we possibly could to try to get it through the House. It's a very simple bill; it should have simply passed."

Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia already have texting-while-driving bans for all drivers.

Efforts to pass a ban stalled for at least four years in the face of House Republican opposition. Conservative members based their concerns on government intrusion into people's lives.

The bill has passed through committees in both chambers this year with only one no vote: Rep. Jimmy Patronis, a Panama City Republican.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Early Voting has started, but will it count? Providing you with a compilation of info on the Dolphins Stadium Bed Tax increase

Miami-Dade County - Elections - Welcome to the Elections Department!

Early Voting - on the Dolphin Stadium Bed Tax increase issue

Early voting officially starts today, Monday, April 29, and runs through 5 PM, Sunday. May 12. All this to lead up to the May 14 election on the Dolphin Stadium Bed Tax increase - MAYBE.   Absentee ballots were mailed out and many are already tricking back in, but as Patricia Mazzei, of the Miami Herald, reported, This is a "...Miami-Dade election so unusual that the whole thing could be called off by the end of the week." So what else is new here. Isn't that why we live here? 'Cause it is just so darn interesting to see how things will turn out.

(Following info from Miami-Dade elections website): Why Wait? Click here to see the Early Voting wait times The Early Voting period's range of days and choice of a convenient voting site near your home or place of employment makes it an ideal option.

Please go to the Voter Toolkit for details on what to bring.

Can't decide how to vote? I have posted some additional information taken from online Miami Herald, blog or website posts of information (I will add the official pro-tax website link if someone sends the link to me):

Eye on Miami: How The Marlins Stadium Deal Has Changed South Florida and
       Absentee Ballots Have Gone Out on Corporate Welfare for Dolphin's Billionaire Owner.
South Dade Matters: The Dolphins Deal: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Stop the Stadium Madness
Prior Post, South Dade Updates: Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall says "Stop the Stadium Madness!" and he wants other elected officials and everyone to join him.
Political Cortadito: Get informed: Dolphins stadium debates kick off  and 
       Anti Dolphins stadium team’s silence is not golden
Miami Herald: Early voting for Miami Dolphins stadium referendum begins Monday amid uncertainty in Tallahassee

Sunday, April 28, 2013

One World Trade Center to Top Out Monday, April 29. A new tallest building in the Western Hemisphere

1 World Trade Center to top out Monday as tallest building in hemisphere, by Morgan Winsor, New York (CNN) -- Big news on Monday when construction crews at the World Trade Center site raise the final sections of a spire to the top of One World Trade Center. The completion of the spire, or topping out, will officially make the building the tallest in the Western Hemisphere, according to the site's management.

Remember the proposed height? Described as an iconic height of 1,776 feet.  All by design.

CNN Reports - helicopter team gets a nice view of Saturn and its rings

A WPVI television news crew on a helicopter got a nice view of Saturn and its rings.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sobering news during Earth Week: Butterflies in decline in South Florida? - Miami-Dade - MiamiHerald.com

Butterflies in decline in South Florida? - Miami-Dade - MiamiHerald.com
This is not the happy news that is created by releasing ladybugs. Behind the joys of Earth Week activities appear some rather sobering news: Curtis Morgan, Miami Herald reports that the butterflies are in trouble here in South Florida.
As Earth Week comes to a close for 2013, please think about what actions you are going to take yearlong to preserve our environment. Your part could be a simple as treating your pet directly rather than spraying your entire yard for fleas, after all, as our pet’s veterinarian told me, yard spraying also kills the good guys as well as any fleas. No butterfly has ever bitten my dog or cat, so let’s all be less indiscriminant in applying toxic yard sprays.
But no one cause has been identified:
“With a lot of these butterflies, we don’t necessarily know the ins and outs of them,’’ said Mark Salvato, the service’s lead butterfly biologist. “There are a whole bunch of factors that could be affecting them. It’s hard to find a smoking gun.’’
South Florida’s unceasing growth has clearly hastened the decline. Many of the area’s unique subspecies, originally blown in from Cuba, the Bahamas or other Caribbean islands, developed their distinctive colors or markings in the subtropical comfort of rocky pinewoods and hardwood hammocks, ecosystems now paved over or cut into small pieces.
But there are a long list of additional suspects: Pesticide spraying for mosquitoes can kill delicate larvae. Hurricanes and tropical storms can ravage habitat. Exotic predators have more recently emerged as a major concern, with iguanas eating essential “host plants” that shelter eggs and caterpillars. In some cases, invasive predatory ants may have supplanted native varieties that once protected butterfly larvae in symbiotic relationships.
A lack of breeding partners and genetic diversity also could cripple populations. Climate change and land management may also have impacts.
What is particularly puzzling is why many butterflies have declined in otherwise healthy habitats in places like Everglades and Biscayne National parks, protected area where mosquito spraying is prohibited.
Please take the time to read the complete article. The Miami Herald reports that only four butterflies were previously presumed extinct in North America, all in California:
Sthenele satyr butterfly – 1890s, San Francisco
Xerces blue – 1943, San Francisco
Strohbeen’s Parnassian – Santa Cruz, 1958
Atossa Fritillary – Tehachapi, 1959  
The present local butterfly blues are listed by Entomologist Marc Minno’ as:
Presumed extinct: Zestos skipper, rockland Meske’s skipper, Keys Zarucco Duskywing.
Vanished from region but possibly elsewhere: Bahamian swallowtail, nickerbean blue.
Imperiled and at risk of disappearing: Miami blue, Schaus’ swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail, Florida white, Statira sulphur, Dina yellow, atala, amethyst hairstreak, silver-banded hairstreak, Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak, gray ministreak, Cuban crescent, tropical buckeye, malachite, Florida purplewing, dingy purplewing, Florida leafwing, Hayhurst’s scallopwing, Palatka skipper.
CLICK HERE to view prior articles dealing with our local South Florida Backyard Eco Systems (including State declares Miami blue butterfly endangered) or CLICK HERE for past Earth Week articles.  
Remember – Earth Week should not end at movie night.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Are we due for a political "quick kick" in Tallahassee on diverting tax dollars for stadium funding?

Elaine De Valle of Political Cortadito has a sinking sensation that the Tallahassee legislation for the Dolphins is not dead, but that in fact, there’s another political bait and switch in the works and we all may be hit with a surprise by the end of session next week. 

Read on: Sinking feeling on stadium scam as game clock ticks | Political Cortadito. Read what is being represented and what is not being disclosed in the present absentee vote campaign for the May referendum.   

Cutler Bay Mayor Edward “Mac” MacDougall is ready. He’s already put quite a bit of coin into the operation, hiring a campaign strategist and interviewing phone bankers. He told Ladra Monday that he was ready to go, ready to invest more, ready to hire people and put them in his insurance office building near South Dixie Highway and ready to get the ball rolling. But he doesn’t want to do it alone.

Want more information?  Then please do not forget about the town hall meeting today in Cutler Bay to discuss this issue.  See South Dade Updates:  “Town Hall” Meeting About Funding For Sun Life Stadium - Wed.April 24, at 4:00 PM, in Cutler Bay for full information. All area residents are invited.  This will be a valuable local meeting regarding the potential spending of taxes: a “Town Hall” Meeting About Funding For Sun Life Stadium. 

Hey, I hate to mix issues, but wouldn’t it be nice to see tax dollars be used for public good, like transportation? Maybe once we could use this type of “flexible tax dollars” that 'do not cost property tax payers a dime' (the uses of taxes such as 'bed taxes' are designated by the Florida Legislature) in place of more toll roads. Help Joe and Jane lunch bucket who are getting road taxed out of their wages in commuting daily to work rather than helping billionaires make their next billion in private assets.  There is a real economic impact - allowing people to actually get to work without having to turn over all their income to pay for public infrastructure. Heck, no highways, no routes to stadiums. 

 It is merely a matter of priority (not the people) and another example of the golden rule.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day 2013

Today is the 43rd Earth Day.  What, if anything, are you doing to mark this event?  I have not yet put pen to paper (or I guess it is now hand to keyboard) to write my 2013 Earth Day post.  I am working on it here in Palmetto Bay.  Please feel free to CLICK HERE for past updates on Earth Day.

Of course, no special day is complete without viewing Google's special Earth Day animated doodle on the Google site.

A brief history of Earth Day: The April 22 Earth Day, was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson, and was first organized in 1970 to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and soil pollution.

Some relevant posts on this site include Invasive Species, creating a backyard oasis, Celestial Events: there have been many posts throughout this blog covering these topics and how they are relevant to our South Miami-Dade Communities. Please take the time to check a few out.

Thank you, 

Eugene Flinn

“Town Hall” Meeting About Funding For Sun Life Stadium - Wed. April 24, in Cutler Bay. All area residents are invited

A valuable local meeting regarding the potential spending of taxes: a “Town Hall” Meeting About Funding For Sun Life Stadium
Wednesday, April 24, 2013, at 4pm at Cutler Bay Town Hall. Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall invites elected officials and the general public to attend a town hall style meeting to discuss use of additional tourist room taxes for the modernization of Sun Life Stadium. Read the press release for more information.

Thank you Tom and Barbara Condon of cutlerbay.net for pushing out information to the community on this important Countywide issue and a presentation taking place in our South Dade community. cutlerbay.net is an independent community website serving the Cutler Bay area and is not the official website for the Town of Cutler Bay.

From the press release:

Please join Mayor MacDougall and guest speakers for a 30 minute presentation, which will include a Certified Public Accountant who will provide financial views for the proposed Sun Life Stadium financing.

Upon completion of the meeting, a joint press release will be issued expressing the positions of individual Mayors on the Stadium financing proposed.

This meeting is being held to express the opinions and/or position of any elected officials and the general public.

Press is expected to be available for questions following the meeting.

Please RSVP via email to RSVP@cutlerbay-fl.gov 
SDU Editor Note: This is an issue of great public importance and all area elected officials should make it a point to attend, participate and take a stand, pro or con on this issue.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Congratulations Cutler Bay and new Town Manager Ralph Casals

Cutler Bay hires new Town Manager - Cutler Bay - MiamiHerald.com
After 62 applicants and a (call it) a 9 month search, Cutler Bay choose to remain with developing its home town talent and hire from within when the town council voted 5 - 0 to remove "interim" from the title of Town Manager Ralph Casals.  As reported in the Miami Herald: Before he was tapped to fill in for Alexander, Casals had served as the town’s public works director since 2006.

Ralph Casals
Congratulations new manager, town council and town residents.  Unless your intent is to clean house, nothing spoils chemistry and team morale more than telling its staff that there is insufficient talent to promote from within.

Continue to move forward Cutler Bay!

You can e-mail the Cutler Bay Town Manager at townmanager@cutlerbay-fl.gov 

A quality quote on the practice of hiring from within an organization:  “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”
- Lawrence Bossidy, Former COO of GE and author

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Stand up for our local (beneficial fish) population: Florida officials encourage lionfish harvests - Florida Wires - MiamiHerald.com

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.: Florida officials encourage lionfish harvests - Florida Wires - MiamiHerald.com
This is a great example of reducing intrusive government regulation and allowing the public to address the problem, providing you the chance you have been waiting for: Let’s overfish and dine this delicacy, but unwanted non-native invasive into oblivion.  Read the Associated Press article published in the online Miami Herald:  Florida officials encourage lionfish harvests

State wildlife officials want to make permanent a temporary rule in place last August that waived the recreational fishing license requirement when targeting lionfish allowing the unfettered use of pole spears, handheld nets, Hawaiian slings or other devices specifically designed for catching lionfish.  Bag limits were also removed.

I cannot understand why there were ever any protections for an invasive species with no natural reef predators and which competes for food and habitat against domestic species such as grouper and snapper.

According to wildlife officials, lionfish off the southeast United States, Bahamas and the Caribbean harm indigenous fish because they eat important juvenile reef species, such as grouper and snapper.

Spearing or using hand-held nets are the most effective method of removing lionfish from Florida waters.

Lionfish have venomous spines but they are edible. When properly cleaned, lionfish yield a white meat that is considered a delicacy.

So here is your opportunity to fish out an invasive species doing its best to remove our beneficial local, commercial and sport fishing species.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

No texting while driving bill passes Fla Senate 36 - 0 on April 16, 2013.

Good news for pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers.  Fla Senate passes CS/CS/CS/SB 52: Use of Wireless Communications Devices While Driving, today, 04/16/2013, 36 - 0.
• Read 2nd time
• Read 3rd time
• CS passed; YEAS 36 NAYS 0
• Immediately certified
The bills make texting while driving a secondary offense. That means police have to first stop drivers for an offense like an illegal turn.
CLICK HERE to view the Fla Senate bill tracking for SB 52.
Note that the House side of the Florida Legislature must pass a conformed bill.  HB 13 is currently pending through the Florida House of Representatives. 
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.
CLICK HERE to view a past Palmetto Bay e-currents (Oct. 2009) explaining past efforts from the original 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.  This is an effort that requires continued vigilance and work to see an idea pass, not just paying lip service.
Update - Miami Herald article posted on Breaking News: Texting-while-driving-ban sails through the Senate, by Rochelle Koff.  Includes The texting problem, Detert said, has become an “epidemic” with 11 teenagers dying every day in the country due to texting. Florida is one of five states without any type of texting ban.

Monday, April 15, 2013

SDM to PB Council – build the roundabout and you will have a friend in (SDM)

You can feel the community excitement build over the potential of a roundabout installed at the Old Cutler/Ludlum/Howard Drive intersection.  See the post below: (April 12, 2013): Finally, you can give your input of the long awaited 136/Howard Drive/Old Cutler Traffic circle project this Wednesday April 17 at the Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting. 

How will the council react to this circle that has been worked on by Pinecrest and Miami-Dade County, will this mayor and council actually jump on board with this project?  Please do. The traffic circles (or roundabouts) have been outstanding additions to the overall traffic calming program started in Palmetto Bay under the original council. Keep the infrastructure improvements coming!

Another South Dade Blog, South Dade Matters (SDM) has even weighed in “PB: Roundabout" even offering a deal that may be too good for the present mayor and council to resist: SDM’s message to the village council is go for it! The intersection at issue is perfect for a circle. Make it pedestrian and jogger friendly and SDM might actually write something nice about you. 

Well, well, well, Mayor Stanczyk, you have a found a friend indeed. SDM likes to quote from music and therefore I dedicate the following lyrics and video clip in honor of this new found friendship between the Palmetto Bay Council and SDM: 

You've got a friend in me
When the road looks rough ahead
And you're miles and miles
From your nice warm bed
Just remember what your old pal said
Boy, you've got a friend in me