Sunday, June 30, 2013

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.: In Florida, New laws take effect on Monday - Florida Wires - = Ready or not. Check the list. Know before you go.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.: In Florida, 150 new laws take effect on Monday - Florida Wires - Miami
What laws take effect that affects you? It might be worth your time to scan the list for yourself as I could not possibly know which of these new laws will impact you, and since most people or small business do not have lobbyist to keep them abreast of new laws.

Most legislative action that makes it into law take effect one of three date: upon approval; July 1st or October 1st of that year (see the Florida Senate Glossary, link below for full information).  The Miami Herald reports that: In Florida, 150 new laws take effect on Monday, By Gary Fineout and Brendan Farrington, Associated Press, on just some of the bills that take effect at 12:01 AM, Monday morning, July 1, 2013.

UPDATE: also view: "New laws kick in on power plants, drones, cyberbullying, bongs", by Jim Turner, News Services of Florida, published in the Miami Herald. ... nearly 200 new laws approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott hit the books. More than 50 bills still await action by Scott.

The bills already signed into law range from a limit on the law enforcement use of drones, to a bill spelling out how money is raised to build nuclear power plants to new rules for Citizens Property Insurance Corp. There also will be, come Monday, a crackdown on “cyberbullying,” conversion of low-speed vehicles into golf carts and a prohibition on the sale of bongs. A law against texting while driving (SB 52) doesn’t take effect until Oct. 1, while changes to campaign fundraising (HB 7013) go into place next year.

The article provides numerous examples of the new laws that took effect at 12:01 AM.  Check out the link before for the complete listing of new laws from the last legislative session.

Visit the online Florida Department of State, State Library and Achieves of Florida (CLICK HERE).  The source provides a verbatim publication of the general and special laws enacted by the Florida Legislature in a given year and published each year following the regular session of the legislature. It presents the laws in the order in which they are numbered by the Secretary of State, as well as resolutions and memorials passed by the legislature. Source: Florida Senate Glossary

There is one very important caveat: titles may be deceiving.

Large asteroid safely zips past Earth, dragging its own moon along

Large asteroid safely zips past Earth, dragging its own moon along
Just when you thought it was safe to venture outside. 
An asteroid dubbed 1998 QE2 whizzed past Earth at the end of May, 2013, with its own moon in tow.

"#asteroidQE2 has sailed harmlessly past Earth," NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted around 5 p.m. ET.

It got within about 3.6 million miles of our planet. That's close relatively given the vastness of space, but still more than 15 times the distance from wherever you are to our moon.

The fly-by had astronomers less fearful and more excited about getting the "best look at this asteroid ever," according to NASA.

Meeting Mon, July 1, beginning at 5:30 PM. EYE ON MIAMI: $20 billion in new nuclear at sea level? Get involved

EYE ON MIAMI: $20 billion in new nuclear at sea level? Get involved ...
Tropical Audubon and Sierra Club will host a special reception to discuss the upcoming FPL hearings on Turkey Point and the transmission lines.

The meeting is Monday, July 1st at 5:30 p.m. at the Doc Thomas House. The event starts with a networking happy hour, followed by the program at 6:30 p.m. 

There will be knowledgeable speakers to go over these issues and discuss how these projects affect you! Food and refreshments will be provided. Please follow the links for full information.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Is an election do-over in the works? School expansion vote falls short - Palmetto Bay -

School expansion vote falls short - Palmetto Bay -
Will there be an election do-over?

The Montessori school in Palmetto Bay wanted a to improve their school , offering up a new master site plan that included significant updating and replacement of the one-story north and south buildings with two-story L-shaped facilities.   

Improvements cost money, and as the school officials stated, moving forward with this plan is contingent upon increasing the enrollment.  As reported in the Miami Herald, School expansion vote falls short, by Lidia Dinkova; James McGhee, the school’s headmaster advised that “It makes no sense to build such a large facility without an increased enrollment.”

So how many new students was Alexander Montessori School seeking?  59.  An increase of the maximum number of students from 270 to 329.  This is for the six-acre Ludlam Road Elementary Campus, 14850 SW 67th Ave.  This is not the campus located at the corner of 144th and Old Cutler Road.

 “We had hoped to win but we knew that 75 percent of the vote was a very high bar to get over,” said James McGhee, the school’s headmaster. “But we are not going to give up.”

McGhee said school officials will consult with their attorney and the village to discuss other options, such as repeating the referendum, to reach their goal.

Only voters who live within 2,000 feet of the school received ballots in the mail during the recent special election. That added up to 330 people of whom 119 sent back their ballots, according to Miami-Dade County Elections Department results certified by Palmetto Bay.

“It’s very possible that if we had to conduct the referendum again, more people would vote, and we could get the needed votes,” McGhee said. And if he gets a second referendum, he said he would work harder to educate residents about the school's expansion plans.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Election update: Palmetto Bay's Alexander Montessori School expansion vote

I was advised that the Miami-Dade County Elections Canvassing board met at 10:00 AM today, Wednesday, June 26. CLICK HERE to view the Canvassing Board's certification of election. 

The vote totals are now official - 78 votes in favor of expansion (66.10%) versus 40 votes against (33.90%).  The Alexander Montessori School needed 75% approval to move their application forward.

The next step is for the Village Council to pass a resolution certifying this election. The resolution should be on the July 11, 2013, regular council meeting agenda.

Palmetto Bay's Alexander Montessori School - No expansion - at least for now

The Alexander Montessori School failed to meet the 75% threshold in the special election that was held on June 25, 2013.  This was a special election unique to the Village of Palmetto Bay -- a mail ballot election only for residents within 2,000 feet of Alexander School, which is located at 14850 SW 67 Ave.
The results were announced last night. I have learned that they may still be 20 votes outstanding for the canvassing board to consider, so things may still change. We will know more when the canvassing board meets at 10 AM today.

Palmetto Bay Special Election - June 25, 2013
Precincts Counted2 (100%)
Absentee Precincts Counted1
Registered Voters - Total330
Ballots Cast - Total110
Voter Turnout - Total33.33%
Question 1 City: Palmetto Bay Special Election
All results are unofficial until certified by the municipality
click "Read more" for the full ballot information

Monday, June 24, 2013

NEW YORK: Hostess: Twinkies to return to shelves July 15 - Business Breaking News -

NEW YORK: Hostess: Twinkies to return to shelves July 15 - Business Breaking News -
The loud thud you heard earlier was from dejected speculators who had bought up the last of the original Twinkies and were trying to exploit them on e-Bay - See Twinkie hoarding begins! - Nov. 16, 2012. Marking an end of an era!  But in an outstanding reversal of fortune for the diet-impaired, the plan is to have Twinkies back on shelves starting July 15. I had written on the unfortunate, but thankfully temporary situation of Twinkies twice prior. 

As reported in the Miami Herald: Hostess: Twinkies to return to shelves July 15. And based on the outpouring of nostalgia sparked by its demise, Hostess is expecting a blockbuster return next month for Twinkies and other sugary treats, such as CupCakes and Donettes. The company says the cakes will taste the same but that the boxes will now bear the tag line "The Sweetest Comeback In The History Of Ever."

Prices for the cakes will remain the same; a box of 10 Twinkies will cost $3.99.

During bankruptcy proceedings, Hostess had said that its overall sales had been declining, although the company didn't give a breakout on the performance of individual brands. But Seban is confident Twinkies will have staying power beyond its re-launch.

As for the literal shelf-life, Seban is quick to refute the snack cake's fabled indestructibility.

"Forty-five days - that's it," he said. "They don't last forever."

And the die-hard fans of Zombieland rejoice!As they know, one day life's little Twinkie gauge will go empty, just not in 2012, but for the foreseeable future.  So the Twinkie prospecting can end for now.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Just for fun IV - NBC's Parks and Recreation – Mayor Ron Swanson on Vegan Bacon

Parks and Recreation takes place in the fictional town Pawnee, Indiana.   
Mayor Swanson is out to protect us from vegan bacon.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Views of June 22 supermoon in Palmetto Bay

Approximately 46 people were on hand at to view and photograph the June 22 suppermoon from The People's Dock at the Deering Estate at Cutler:
and 9:30 PM from home in Palmetto Bay:

June 22 & 23. Sun, Earth and moon to align for supermoon over a king tide - Florida -

Sun, Earth and moon to align for supermoon over a king tide - Florida -

Tonight is the night of the supermoon and king tide. And no, the World Wrestling Federation is not in town.  This is an effect of the summer solstice. The sun, the Earth and the moon will align this weekend to leave a supermoon shining on a king tide.

Rick Stone of the Miami Herald reports that the best view of the supermoon will be at moonrise Saturday around 7:30 p.m. in South Florida. See: Sun,Earth and moon to align for supermoon over a king tide

“The king tide is just the highest tide of the season and it tends not to cause great problems,” said Jim Masterson, director of the Ocean Discovery Center at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. “I wouldn’t expect anything more than a few centimeters higher than usual.”

The supermoon is what we see when the moon happens to be full at the time of its closest approach to the earth. Because it’ll be about 18,000 miles closer than its usual 240,000-mile distance, it will be brighter and measurably (if not visibly) larger than the full moon we usually see.

I’m thinking that tonight is a great evening to venture out to Deering’s People’s Dock for this 7:30 event.

Check out Huff Post: SupermoonJune 2013: Everything You Need To Know About Perigee Moon This Weekend (PHOTOS): “Send us your supermoon photos this weekend!”: 

You can tweet your photos with hashtag #HPsupermoon. Or, you can submit them directly to our "Supermoon 2013" slideshow, which will be featured in our supermoon live blog on the evening of Sunday, July 23. We'll be collecting user photos from all over, and yours may be featured!”

Have fun.  Enjoy these celestial events with the family or just your significant other. Heck, maybe just venture out and howl at the (super)moon tonight!

Expert guidence from the Miami-Dade County Cooperative Extension Florida Yards & Neighborhoods program

Why Landscape Fail- June 22nd-at South Miami Library
The Miami-Dade County Cooperative Extension Florida Yards & Neighborhoods program will host a free class on “Why Landscapes Fail” on Saturday, June 22, 2013 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at South Miami Library Branch located at 6000 Sunset Drive, South Miami, FL 33143
Extension Agent Guillermo Salazar the County’s Florida Yards & Neighborhood program administrator will teach the Do’s and Don’ts of Florida gardening along with Florida Friendly landscape techniques, understanding the most common landscape failures, why they occur and how to prevent them.  Free Florida friendly plants are available to class participants.  In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to exchange their old showerheads and light bulbs to more efficient ones as part of the water conservation efforts of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department. 
WHO:             Miami-Dade Cooperative Extension Service 
WHAT:           Class for Why Landscapes Fail  
WHEN:          Saturday, June 22, 2013 from 4:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.                       
WHERE:        South Miami Library Branch 6000 Sunset Drive, South Miami, FL 33143

for more information, contact:

Barbara McAdam
Program Assistant/Florida Yards & Neighborhoods
Rain Barrel/Water Conservation Workshop Outreach
Miami-Dade County Cooperative Extension
Department of Regulatory And Economic Resources
18710 S.W. 288th Street  Homestead, Fl. 33030
(305) 248-3311 ext. 245


Friday, June 21, 2013

The Summer Solstice is here! Happy start of Summer 2013.

Happy first Day of Summer.

This year's summer solstice fell on Friday, June 21, at 1:04 a.m.  See National Geographic: Summer Solstice 2013: Why It's the First Day of Summer

Highest Sun at High Noon

The solstices are the results of Earth's north-south axis being tilted 23.4 degrees relative to the ecliptic, the plane of our solar system. This tilt causes different amounts of sunlight to reach different regions of the planet during Earth's year-long orbit around the sun.

Today the North Pole is tipped more toward the sun than on any other day of 2012. (The opposite holds true for the Southern Hemisphere, where today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.)

As a result of Earth's tilt, the path of the sun across the sky rises in the lead-up to the summer solstice, then begins descending for the rest of the summer.

The first day of summer would spark celebrations in some cultures.

The banging you heard last night was not a celebration of the Summer Solstice, but the pots and pans were banging in celebration of the Heat's Championship hours earlier. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

This is for all the marbles - It all ends tonight – late tonight. Go Heat!

This is it. No do overs, no two out of three (actually, it was always best of seven). Fans - Let’s root for the home team. And Heat – Please don’t squander a great game 6 comeback. Refs - If the foot is on the line when shooting, its not a three.

And whatever, don’t call me early tomorrow morning! It should be a late night. Hopefully everyone stays for a celebratory end of a series and championship season.

Go Heat!

We could see the effects of starting games so late for game 6, especially for those with children in attendance. National media has been mocking Miamians for what we have often referred to as “the Miami Standing ovation” – getting up and trying to beat the traffic rather than properly staying for the end of a game or performance, including departure rather than staying to applaud the efforts of the players or performers at cultural events.  

Recommended reading: Miami Herald:  MiamiHeat fans draw criticism for leaving Game 6 early - Tuesday night. The early exit revived questions about Heat fans’ loyalty.
Story – Channel 10 News: Hundreds of fans leave early, try getting back in arena - Bandwagon Heat fans show true colors in Game 6

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

We know where Pinecrest - and Mayor Cindy Lerner stand. How about Palmetto Bay?

Info below was published in the May 2, 2013, Pinecrest e-news update. A clear, unambiguous position. Thank you Mayor Lerner. 

South Dade Busway Update

We continue to question and oppose the concept of building an above grade toll express lane over the Busway along US 1.  MDX continues to study this ill-conceived proposal, which will not be completed until 2015, and the opposition through out South Miami-Dade grows with each public presentation.  The Village has recently responded to a grant program, by the Metropolitan Planning Organization, and applied for a grant to undertake additional studies for enhanced transit as opposed to putting more cars on the road, all of which would dump back onto US 1 somewhere in Pinecrest. We are proposing the county study a light-rail alternative or enhanced bus transit as a parallel proposed study to the express lanes study. I have asked Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and our local county commissioners (Moss, Bell and Suarez) to support our proposal. Please read this article from the Miami Herald for more information.

Special Council meeting - could consideration of a property tax rate increase be in the works?

Why can't the village council meeting go forward as scheduled and noticed since the beginning of the year; before the holiday rather than on the first business day after most have been focused on a four day 4th of July Holiday? There is no need to move this July meeting if the council intends to set a property tax millage rate at or below the current rate. Moving the meeting date is need only if this Mayor and council want to consider an increase in the maximum millage rate.

The issue is adopting the Maximum Millage rate which is done in July.  A special council meeting has been called or tonight, Wednesday, June 19th. There is but one item on the agenda (CLICK HERE to view): Changing the July regular village council meeting from the scheduled July 1 date back to July 8.  The reason is that the final tax roll is certified and released by the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser on July 1st (an annual date) and this does not provide meaningful time for review by staff prior to the council adopting the maximum millage rate for this coming budget session.

I see no issue - if the Village Council intends to set the maximum millage rate at the current rate. Tax relief should never be done at time of setting the maximum millage rate. This is is not final property tax rate, the council can lower the actual millage rate at the time the budget is adopted, but you cannot raise the rate above the the adopted maximum; rather, it is a maximum working rate while the budget is being created in August and deliberated on by the council during the two September budget hearings,

I have written previously (CLICK HERE) about Palmetto Bay being only one a few municipalities to see a further, though slight, reduction in its tax base (0.7%)this may be impacting the budget forecasts for the upcoming budget year 2013/14,

People have asked me whether I think this could signal a willingness to consider a property tax increase. We will not know until the maximum millage rate is adopted in July. There will obviously be no tax increase if the current property tax rate is adopted as the maximum millage rate.

But things will get more interesting if the council adopts a maximum millage rate that is higher than the current tax rate.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall takes a stand: MDX tolls keep rising: Let your voice be heard - Other Views -

MDX tolls keep rising: Let your voice be heard - Other Views -
Thank you to the reader who pointed out Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall's article posted in the opinion section of the Tuesday, June 18, 2013, Miami Herald: MDX tolls keep rising: Let your voice be heard

Mayor MacDougall is showing great leadership on this issue. Take a stand! Mayor MacDougall's actions are in stark contrast to what is NOT happening in Palmetto Bay.

Mayor MacDougall states that he has attended the last two MDX board meetings and was so disappointed by the lack of attendance by our elected officials at these critical hearings. Incredibly, he was the only elected official to watch the MDX board actions.
He is asking for you, the taxpayers to get involved in the MDX process, that (a)lthough these important hearings are public there is a sparse audience and the board seems to act in a bubble without any thought to the people who travel these roads daily.

I personally join Mayor MacDougall in thanking the efforts of the grassroots group,, these MDX issues are getting the attention they deserve.

Thank you Mayor MacDougall.  Be sure to let your neighboring counterpart know when it is safe to surface and take part in issues of regional importance. She has been strangely silent on this issue as well.

Note that this is not the first complaint I have issued regarding a strange lack of leadership within Palmetto Bay's current electeds.  See:
A great example of action, follow through, by the Village of Pinecrest on Neighborhood Protection; and

Update on the 3/19 MDX South MIami-Dade meeting. Toll hike on state roads 836 and 112 might not be final -

Monday, June 17, 2013

Current Palmetto Bay leadership strangely silent on yet another issue. Kendall residents oppose giant FPL power lines - Kendall -

Kendall residents oppose giant FPL power lines - Kendall -
Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and the current council appear to be hiding from important neighborhood protection issues.  Where are you Mayor Stanczyk? We need to see some very public leadership on these critical issues that will profoundly impact Palmetto Bay as part of the entire eastern corridor of South Dade.

I have written about this before, including last April, 2013: South Dade Busway update. Pinecrest and Cutler Bay are engaged in neighborhood protection. Palmetto Bay continues to ignore this important issue under the current administration.

We cannot afford elected leadership that waffles or waits for others to do the heavy lifting. It is time for this administration to step aside if she believes her sole duty is to lead the photo ops while leaving the critical and sometimes controversial work for others.

Three issues that deserve your public efforts or explanation:

The USDA location Fire Station (this is an issue that originally passed the US House in 2009, but let slip by the current Mayor) - also see  Nov. 30, 2012; A holiday wish list for the new Palmetto Bay council | Palmetto Bay. The 2013 Palmetto Bay council has a chance to go positive this upcoming year.: Where in I asked for "The status of two fire stations that the original Palmetto Bay village council worked with Federal, State and Local (County Commission and Fire Department) officials." Obviously I should have picked up from the deafening silence from Mayor Stanczyk that the news was not good, proven not only by the lack of response from her, but in the recent failed panicked rush to pick up a long-neglected project apparently on life-support if not now dead.):

South Dade Busway (see two links above to the April 30th article); and

FPL Transmission lines (See the March 2, 2012 blog article: Update on the US1 Transmission line fight. Pinecrest, South Miami, Coral Gables and Miami continue the effort).

What gives? Just where does Palmetto Bay stand on these issues? The public has a right to elected officials that will actually fight for their neighborhoods. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father’s Day - 2013

I want to wish a very Happy Father’s Day this Sunday to all fathers and grandfathers and those who fill the role of Dad, who live, work, play, or raise their family here in and around our communities.

Father’s Day is a day to honor and commemorate fathers and forefathers. A special Father’s Day wish goes out to the families who are separated due to military service, especially overseas

“Fun Facts” relating to Father’s Day:

The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Father’s Day has been celebrated annually since 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.

Father's Day is the fifth most popular card-sending holiday, with an estimated $100 million in card sales. Husbands, grandfathers, uncles, sons and sons-in-law are honored as well as father.

Neck ties, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, are the number one gift for Father’s Day.

See for additional history on Father's Day.

2 Fun quote for this year:   

Stanley T. Banks; (Character, movie - Father of the Bride (1991):
You fathers will understand. You have a little girl. She looks up to you. You're her oracle. You're her hero. And then the day comes when she gets her first permanent wave and goes to her first real party, and from that day on, you're in a constant state of panic.

Kid Rock (musician):
Being a father helps me be more responsible... you see more things than you've ever seen. 

Happy Father’s Day! 
Enjoy the YouTube videos - both from the movie "Parenthood."

Friday, June 14, 2013

June 14th is Flag Day. Fly it with pride. Happy Flag Day 2013.

Today is June 14, which has been designated as “Flag Day.” June 14, 1777 is the date that Congress officially adopted our nation’s flag.
The U.S. flag has been modified 26 times since its adoption in 1777. Today's 50-star flag, created in 1960, has been in use the longest.  Check out: Flag Day 2013: 9 things you never knew about the American Flag for interesting reading/facks sbout this day and the American Flag.

Additional recommended reading is How to display the American flag, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, Chicago Tribune
Are you up to date on flag custom; which days are appropriate to fly your flag? The answer is every day, but there are special days when the flag should be displayed.
Please review my 2011 article regarding Flag Day: Today, June 14, is Flag Day, a special day to fly the US Flag. This article contains links to more information regarding flag customs including:

Air Force Association
(Display of U.S. flag)
Title 36, Chapter 10 PATRIOTIC CUSTOMS
Sec. 174. Time and occasions for display
And a list of the dates that we should display the U.S. Flag.

Backyard oasis update

Yes they've been crossing their legs. I have not even planted my corky vine purchased recently from TAS Native Plant sale yet. Gulf Fritillary and Zebra Longwing caterpillars seem to always be together.  I have never seen one variety without the other. Why is it that?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

SI - never a fan of the University of Miami - takes a critical look at the NCAA and president Mark Emmert

Under Emmert, NCAA enforcement division has gone from bad to worse

Read More:

Miami Hurricanes brace for NCAA hearings - UM -

INDIANAPOLIS: Donna Shalala, Miami Hurricanes brace for NCAA hearings - UM -

Waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I am looking forward to reading the SI article titled “The Institution Has Lost Control” (which the Miami Herald reports is set to be released in magazines Thursday). The article is alleged to touch on the “atmosphere of instability, distrust and tension in the NCAA’s enforcement division” since NCAA President Mark Emmert took office in October 2010.

Good luck to the 'Canes with this group. The NCAA will be hard pressed not to try to save face and take it out on the 'Canes.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

UM finally comes to hearing Thurs., June 13th. What you can expect What Mississippi State's NCAA Probation Means to Miami By Michael Felder
(National College Football Lead Writer) on June 10, 2013

Click the link above to read the entire article.  For those who have not followed College Football for several years, turned on TV or Internet news or read any newspapers - the University of Miami finally has its day in 'court' (before an NCAA internal board) this Thursday, June 13.  What can we expect from what, in my opinion, is universally accepted as "tainted" proceedings which has seen firings of NCAA enforcement administrators and investigators, exclusion of some evidence and the over-empowerment, a ridiculous granting of a public stage, to an admitted liar and convicted felon.  In summary, the author states that:

For Miami fans, the smart move is to simply hope for the best, hope that the NCAA recognizes this is a battle it cannot win, and to take its ball and go home. Hope that time served is the compromise. Most importantly, hope that the NCAA does not continue its crusade against the 'Canes despite the public missteps that have tainted the findings.

The NCAA is a strange beast. Often, none of its rulings appear to follow much in the way of a pattern. In the case  of something as unique as the Miami situation, this becomes even more true. There is nothing to learn about Miami from Mississippi State situation. But this Miami case is teaching all of us plenty about how the NCAA operates.

CLICK HERE to view previous blog articles regarding this outrageous NCAA v. UM witch hunt. Just for fun, here is a YouTube clip of how I think the hearing will play out on Thursday (WARNING - "R" rated language in video):

"I put it to you (NCAA President Mark Emmert), isn't this an indictment of our entire American society?"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Work ongoing to protect our local environment. Scientists find rare butterfly on Biscayne Bay island -

Scientists find rare butterfly on Biscayne Bay island - Miami-Dade -
Researchers hunting for one of the world’s rarest butterflies announced that they captured a single female in the mosquito-filled forest of Elliott Key. 

That may not sound like much but the discovery last week gives scientists a shot at producing lab-bred Schaus swallowtails to boost a population that experts fear is fast fluttering toward extinction.

“It at least gives us some hope,’’ said Jaret Daniels, a University of Florida butterfly expert leading a recovery effort that includes state and federal wildlife agencies and Biscayne National Park.

The current 2013 article documents those actions that have been ongoing to deter (perhaps delay) what I feared in a June 13, 2012, South Dade Updates post: Butterfly on the brink.  Another Florida species to go extinct in our lifetime?  Interested readers will learn that: Decades ago, hundreds of Schaus swallowtails — hand-sized butterflies with brown-black wings accented by swirls of yellow – would typically be in the area called Petrel Point at this time of year, slowly flitting along trail edges and around the torchwood and wild lime trees that are prime “host plants” where they lay their eggs.

Last year, 35 were spotted on Elliott, another six in Key Largo. This year, they’re even fewer and very far between – five sightings overall since May 11, only three confirmed.

Because butterfly pupae can survive dormant for several years, biologists can mount capture efforts again if they strike out in this waning flight season. But without some boost from captive breeding, the Schaus could be fast slipping toward extinction.

Additional information from Cornell University, Insect Conservation Biology on the Papilio aristodemusponceanus, Shaus Swallowtail Butterfly 
This is a somewhat good (but not great) news update to my prior post (and prior Miami Herald article) of June 28, 2012 : State declares Miami blue butterfly endangered. Florida Wildlife managers declared the Miami blue butterfly an endangered species back in June, 2012, noting that the tiny Miami blue butterfly, which once ranged from the Florida Keys to Daytona Beach, has been reduced to a few hundred survivors on islands off Key West. Its decline has been blamed on an array of threats, including pesticide spraying, development in its coastal habitat and exotic iguanas eating the plants it needs to reproduce.

It is not difficult to incorporate native species in creating or maintaining your backyard oasis.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hazard lights in the rain: the law explained to Florida drivers

Hazard lights in the rain: the law explained to Florida drivers

Timely reporting during these recent heavy rains. Please know the law. Heavy rains make it difficult to drive, but driving with your flashers only makes a dangerous situation worse. So there you go; driving with flashers is more than just irritating to others, the FHP confirms it is illegal and dangerous., Channel 5, reporter Mollie Reynolds reports the facts about driving in the rain in Florida in this news story: The use of hazard lights: The law explained to Florida drivers. 

In Florida, it is illegal to drive with your hazard lights. Hazards lights are for stopped vehicles only, officials say. The one situation where Florida drivers are allowed to use their hazards when in motion is when the vehicle is being used in a funeral procession .  

Flashers are for emergency situations.    

Law enforcement officials say hazard lights can actually reduce visibility making other drivers think you are stopped or stalled.

What should you do when driving in heavy rains? Channel 5’s Mollie Reynolds reports that (the FHP spokesperson) says if visibility is so bad that you cannot see, pull over in a parking lot, plaza or somewhere safe until conditions improve.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Is the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser mistaken? Palmetto Bay's drop is alarming. Is this a signal of the need for change?

I have taken more than a few e-mails and spoken to numerous people on Sunday about my post regarding the release of the estimates of taxable value by the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser. First, let me say that you can post anonymously if you don't want to post under your name, but posting comments to the blog makes the blog more interactive and entertaining, as well as spreads your concerns to all readers.  There, that being taken off my chest, let me say that I too wonder whether the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser is mistaken.

The overall increase in taxable value is 3.1 in the county.  Palmetto Bay sits between Pinecrest which improves by 2.6% and Cutler Bay, which currently mirrors the County average of 3.1%. So then, as it is safely ensconced between these two, how does Palmetto Bay drop from an estimate increase of 2.18 in 2012 to a slight reduction in 2013 of 0.7%. 

Why is Palmetto Bay under performing by (3.8%) against both the County and Cutler Bay and (3.3%) against Pinecrest.

Make no mistake about it, if the figure holds, the projected number will have a profound impact on the 2013-2014 budget.

This is not a foreclosure issue. Foreclosures are happening everywhere. No one area is immune and Palmetto Bay is far from foreclosure central. Homestead may have many, many more foreclosures than Palmetto Bay. I welcome anyone to present an data showing Pinecrest, Coral Gables, the county as a whole, face any less of a foreclosure issue than Palmetto Bay.

As I said in an earlier post, new construction tells a story here: Palmetto Bay is far, far behind all of our neighbors at only $2 million. Coral Gables leads the cities I had listed with $75 Million in new construction. Homestead $31 Million. Pinecrest $28 Million. Cutler Bay and South Miami list $17 million.  (see: The June 2013 Estimates of Taxable Value was released. Gainers for the most part, with a few losers). $2 million has to be wrong. Has Mayor Stanczyk and council been that successful at driving off any development? $2 million? The number is awe inspiring?

There is a council meeting tonight (Monday, June 3, 2013). It would be a good time for the mayor to bring this matter up and discuss the direction this council is taking. She says she and the city are business friendly, but what projects has she led to Palmetto Bay? Sure, she initially cut some ribbons early on in her term as mayor, but all those were projects brought in and started under the prior administration. What has SHE attracted and have in the pipeline that will improve the tax base and, therefore, ease the tax burden on the residential taxpayers.

Instead of attacking all development, we need a council that will go back to properly planning for quality development. There will be a real cost to us, the taxpayers, if we continue down this slope.