Sunday, September 29, 2013

Another local natural attraction opens: Bird watching takes flight at Biscayne National Park - Outdoors -

Bird watching takes flight at Biscayne National Park - Outdoors -
A new local outdoor activity kicks off which should be added to your family "To Do" list.  Read up in the Sunday Miami Herald: Bird watching takes flight at Biscayne National Park, which introduces the Biscayne Birding Trail — a free program created by the park and Tropical Audubon Society (TAS) to encourage South Florida residents and tourists to get outdoors and watch wildlife. Visitors may pick up a bird checklist at the Dante Fascell Visitor Center and mark down which species they see within the park boundaries on both land and water. A ranger will verify the bird count, and the birder will receive an achievement certificate on the spot. Full-color certificates will be awarded for lifetime achievement levels starting at 30 native park bird species and culminating with expert for identifying 120 species. There’s even a special category for junior birders who spot 10 or more different birds in the park. 

See a prior South Dade Update post relating to local birdwatching resources: Is Bird Watching the new hit? No need to travel far for Miami -Dade County Residents.

What are you waiting for?  Now is a great time to check out Biscayne National Park, especially as the weather begins to cool off.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Things going wild in the Village: Pinecrest pig chase: Kids, nanny, neighbors and cop join hunt for escaped pet - Pinecrest -

Pinecrest pig chase: Kids, nanny, neighbors and cop join hunt for escaped pet - Pinecrest -
Some people wake up on Sunday morning to bacon, but not an entire pig.  A great ‘good news’ story in the Miami Herald detailing the rescue of an escaped pig.  See: Pinecrest pig chase: Kids, nanny, neighbors and cop join hunt for escaped pet, by Brittny C. Valdes, who reports that a potbellied pig named Mud had escaped from a Pinecrest home on the morning of Sept. 22.

Officer Edison Cruz of the Pinecrest Police Department’s crime-suppression unit was monitoring the neighborhood when he received the call that a pig was being chased by dogs down the street. After searching for 30 minutes, Cruz found nothing.

But an hour later — after Falcon, her three kids, their nanny and a group of neighbors on Southwest 61st Court tried to capture Mud — Cruz received his second call about the elusive pig.

At least the pig was not greased.

Read the details on how the pig was eventually cornered. Mud broke the first restraints. Come on Ms. Valdes, how could you resist the urge to report that they tried to “hog tie” Mud?

Glad to see it turned out well for all involved.

EYE ON MIAMI: A special place in hell for this lady ... by gimleteye

EYE ON MIAMI: A special place in hell for this lady ... by gimleteye

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

For at least one night, Palmetto Bay has gone to the dogs! Councilman Schaffer’s Town Hall Meeting on lost pets. Reduced Fee Micro-Chipping sponsored by Friends Forever Rescue.

Tim Schaffer held an informational Town Hall meeting (along with his dog Ricky) on Wednesday, September 25th.  The topic was lost and found pets in Palmetto Bay.  Vice Mayor John DuBois was also in attendance.  Take some time to view the Palmetto Bay Animal Services web page.  
Councilman Tim Schaffer pictured with Ricky
Any comments or questions? Contact Tim at

On a personal note - the meeting ran by Councilman Schaffer ran very smoothly. Perhaps it was the presence of Ricky. Either Tim needs to run more Village meetings or Ricky needs to attend all council meetings to act as the council therapy calming service animal.
Ricky heading up to calm the council dais
Reduced Fee ($15) Micro-Chipping Program for Palmetto Bay

Dee Chess from Friends Forever Rescue was also in attendance and has set up a special offer for all Palmetto Bay residents: Reduced Fee Micro-Chipping sponsored by Friends Forever Rescue. Dogs will be chipped by the vet and must be registered in the program that same day.  The cost for registering and chipping will be $15 per dog.  Call 786-229-9002 for more information and appointments in the Reduced Fee Micro-Chipping Program for Palmetto Bay.
NOTE: All pets could easily be returned to their families if they were micro-chipped and registered.  A found chipped pet would simply be scanned, information obtained and the call made to the family - this would be much more effective than any found pet sign.

Wreck-It-Ralph - Cutler Bay family movie night this Friday, 9/27 at 7 PM

Fall has arrived, so Cutler Bay is kicking off its Fall Movie Night season.  The first Fall Movie Night in the Park is this Friday, September 27, 2013 at 7 p.m.

Join friends and neighbors for Wreck-It Ralph at Cutler Ridge Park/Elementary School Field, 10100 SW 200 Street.

Admission is Free!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A dog park for Pinecrest? Absolutely. Adding more amenities to the Pinecrest Park & Recreation system is good for everyone!

Pinecrest is blessed with parks and park activities. What is missing? An off leash dog park. I would recommend a dog park to the residents of Pinecrest as a very positive addition to the Pinecrest Parks System.

Everyone should take the opportunity, with or without your dog, and spend some time at the Palmetto Bay Dog Park.  I am proud that as the first mayor of Palmetto Bay, I oversaw the council and residents working together on an outstanding parks master plan. The Dog Park was a natural use and we located the park at formerly neglected Perrine Wayside Park.  This is an award winning Dog Park and it provides unique activities where area residents can mix with their pets and other owners of dogs.

It’s the best dog park in Miami-Dade County – and incredibly popular... A wonderful place that’s not just for the family dog, but the entire family.  Maybe Pinecrest can wrest that title away from its neighbor to the South.  A little friendly competition benefits everyone. 

Dog Parks are a great place to mix.  We have taken our dogs, Ginger and our recent rescue, Timmy, to the dog park. It is not just a place for the dogs to run around – it is also for the owners to see both existing friends as well as meet new people with similar interests. Anyone who walk their pets through the neighborhood note that Dogs are great conversation icebreakers - it is a community builder. I can think of several examples of becoming more familiar with neighbors due solely to fact that they are suddenly out and about with a new pet.   Conversations at dog parks are no different than meeting and conversing with other adults while walking any of the trails, at the tot lots or watching your children at play in organized athletics. You might make more informed decisions about your next dog after seeing some of the many breeds in action at the park.  You might also discuss and discover a tip or a few on improving your pet ownership from those at the park.

All parks have their beneficial and less than beneficial sides. Does everyone clean up after their pet at Palmetto Bay’s dog park?  Well, no, but there are plenty of litterbugs at any parks and that has never stopped a new park from opening nor closed a single existing park. There are areas of Palmetto Bay’s Dog Park that show wear; areas where grass has been worn bare, but I would point to that as an example of success, of the popularity, of the amenity. 

Both Palmetto Bay and Pinecrest boast natural areas, walking trails, tennis courts and ball fields for football, baseball and softball.  Parks should be developed to support many diverse activities. A very significant percentage of South Miami Dade residents are pet owners.  Take the time to review Miami-Dade’s Parks and Open Space Master Plan which is available on the Internet. CLICK HERE to view (be patient, this link takes an unusually long time to open).  This was a well-done master plan and is a guide for all concerned with parks.    Note that parks “Parks should provide for a balance of active and passive users.”  Let’s work to add to the balance, not limit parks to merely the older traditional uses.

I would like to make a statement on location.  Pinecrest has an outstanding opportunity.  It boasts Pinecrest Veteran's Park. This park is similar to Palmetto Bay's Wayside Park.  This park is not currently competing for other uses. 

Now, due to its location on US 1, you might not feel comfortable taking time out there alone as one of very few visitors, but many people would feel safe and secure there when accompanied by their loyal canine, especially in the company of other dog owners and their pets. As a plus, wouldn't the visibility along US1 of a vibrant active dog park speak loudly, demonstrating for all to see, the benefits and activity diversity of the Pinecrest park system?  

Why would you ignore a popular park amenity used by many and not create a dog park? I recommend that you hound your local elected officials into a dog park. Get more information and get involved.  CLICK HERE to go to the Pinecrest Dog park online petition.  Those on facebook can CLICK HERE to view the Pinecrest Dog Park supporters page.  You can also "hound" your elected officials by e-mailing

It is exciting to watch grass roots efforts in action. The Dog Park is an outstanding project and I look forward to a positive result in Pinecrest with a new family dog park created in South Miami-Dade County.  Congratulations to all involved in this process including the Pinecrest officials who work hard at reaching their decisions.

Monday, September 23, 2013

They're baaaaaack, another sign of Fall season has arrived - in the grocery store!

Alexandra thought it would be a good idea to have me pick up an item from the grocery store on the way home from Court.  Wrong!

Look what I found.  But dear, it's a seasonal item. And the kids love it!

Come on, who among us with siblings did not engage in the annual Boo Berry, Count Chocula and Frankenberry rivalry?
Forget UM v UF. The cereal rivalry is what divides the family!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fall has arrived – and soon will one of Palmetto Bay’s “A” List events held annually by the Deering Estate Foundation: Wine on Harvest Moon

Wait for it … wait for it…  the Autumn Equinox arrives today, Sunday, September 22, 2013, specifically at 4:44 PM.  This is one of two days per year when we  experience equal Day and Night.  It officially marks the time of year we kick off the fall season in the northern hemisphere and the start of spring in the southern hemisphere. 

Equinox: The word equinox comes from Latin meaning “equal night” and refers to the 12 hour long day and night that occurs only twice a year.

It’s only on the spring and autumnal equinox that the Sun rises due east and sets due west.

Full Harvest Moon.  We witnessed the annual Harvest moon last, Wednesday, September 18 through September 19. 

The full moon nearest the fall equinox is known as Harvest  Moon and was probably coined by farmers in the Northern Hemisphere since its added light is said to have helped them gather in their crops.

Wait for it … Wait for it: great event scheduled this year for Saturday, October 19, 2013: The Fall Equinox also signals one of Palmetto Bay’s “A” List events held annually by the Deering Estate Foundation: 2013 Wine on Harvest Moon

Aussies, Kiwis and Didgeridoos at Deering’s Wine on Harvest Moon
Saturday, October 19, 2013
7:30 pm to 10:30 pm

Capacity is limited and tickets are:  $150 General admission
$125 for Deering Estate Foundation Members

Proceeds from the event are dedicated to environmental conservation and historic preservation of the Deering Estate at Cutler.

CLICK HERE to view the official Deering Estate Foundation page for the 2013 Wine on Harvest Moon event.

This is a great event.  I encourage you to attend.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pinecrest Relay for Life - Cognac Tasting in honor of its sister city, Cognac France, as part of its Relay for Life Fundraiser

Support Relay for life. CLICK HERE to view the Pinecrest e-news.

Pinecrest Team (France) is holding a Cognac Tasting in honor of its sister city, Cognac France, as part of its Relay for Life Fundraiser

This event will be held this Saturday, September 21st, beginning at 5:00 PM at Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 Red Road, Pinecrest, FL 33156

Contribution is $25.00 per person, includes light Hors D'Oeuvres and Cognac (must be 21 or older to attend)

The Proceeds will benefit Relay for Life, Pinecrest Team (France)

RSVP tp Zobe Vargas at or (305) 234-2121 Ext 114

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Participate in developing the future of our Palmetto Bay! PBVV Community outreach meeting Sept 25, 7 to 9 PM. Discussion on developing the Franjo Triangle Area.

The Palmetto Bay Village Voice (PBVV) is holding a community outreach meeting on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. I suggest that you get involved and participate in developing the future of our Palmetto Bay! These meetings have been ongoing.  Do not miss your chance for input before a final plan is proposed to the Village Council.

This meeting concerns the Village Manager's Downtown Redevelopment Task Force. What are the plans/possibilities for Palmetto Bay's downtown district in the Franjo Triangle area.  The present status of this plan was presented to members of the Palmetto Bay Business Association (PBBA) at their Sept. 5 luncheon meeting.  CLICK HERE to view the 9/16/2003 Palmetto Bay News article: Future downtown district plan unveiled during PBBA meeting, by Gary Alan Ruse.

The PBVV wants to stimulate public input, asking:

Did you know the Village is actively working on a plan for our downtown??
Got ideas for the “look” of our downtown?
Have you heard that a vibrant downtown helps to reduce or stabilize taxes on our homes?
If you would like to learn more about Downtown Palmetto Bay Redevelopment, attend the PBVV community meeting on September 25, 2013 - 7 to 9 PM – in the Palm Room at the Palmetto Bay Village Center – 18001 Old Cutler Road
For more information, call Peter England 305-965-2246.

The Palmetto Bay Village Voice is a group of Palmetto Bay residents whose mission is to increase local government transparency and accountability through education and communication, and to promote active resident participation in our community.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Thursday, Sept 19 EDC meeting to feature Jackson Health CEO, Carlos A. Migoya

The EDC of South Miami-Dade invites you to attend
the Community Outreach Speaker Series  Luncheon

Guest Speaker:

Jackson Heath System
Carlos A. Migoya, CEO

"Upcoming ballot item VOTE regarding general-obligation bonds
for Jackson Health System "

Open to the public
Program details:
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Networking: 11:30 a.m.
Speaker: Noon to 1:00 p.m.

Palmetto Bay Village Center, Palm Room
18001 Old Cutler Road
Palmetto Bay, FL 33157

Lunch Catering by Chef David
Please RSVP for lunch or request more information at
or call 305-378-9470

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Palmetto Bay: Residents’ tax bill to rise slightly -

Residents’ tax bill to rise slightly - South Miami - Miami 
Click the headline above to read recent Miami Herald coverage on the budget which seems to be lost in all the other controversies going on this month at Village of Palmetto Bay Council meetings. I would like to hear more from the elected officials on the budget. They must be accountable for this budget and not hide behind Bill Kress, the village’s communications director (not an elected official) who is quoted in the article stating that $1,000,000.00 is “That’s the ‘we build it and they will come’ money” Whoa, Bill, hold on there, wasn't that one of the same comments made in support of building the Marlin's Stadium with public money? How is that attendance going?

I have faith, but never blind faith. I prefer informed decisions. The current mayor and remainder of the council are strangely quiet, unattached, on this budget process. This budget is being driven by staff and that reflects lack of decisiveness and vision from this council.

There is nothing more important to the financial health of Palmetto Bay than proper attention to the budget.  September should be budget month. Most everything else can wait.

I recommend that interested persons view the tape of the first budget hearing. The budget did not get the undivided attention it deserved. It is almost as if the current elected officials are trying to divert attention from the budget. True or not, that is the perception of the onlookers when you have a meeting go on well past midnight and even then, decisions on agenda items are carried over yet another September council meeting (e.g. additional time taken from the September budget focus).

The lack of focus is evident. Far too often "improvements" have been budgeted - and publicly touted- then not carried out during the year.  This is the true reasons for the recent "surpluses". These are not a planned surpluses, but gained by the lack of vision of this council. Perhaps we taxpayers should breath a heavy sigh of relief; that the failure to spend is for the better as many recent ideas contained in the budget have not been well-thought out.

I do advocate public investment and we took the first step with the placement and construction of village hall in our downtown area (with, by the way, grants exceeding 7 figures), but I want to see some indication from the council that they understand why we need to move forward. The Village Manager, Ron Williams and Building & Capital Projects Director Ed Silva have kicked started a focus lost since Village Hall was opened with the Village Manager's Downtown Redevelopment Task Force (DRTF) which continues to meet on a regular basis. It is my sincere hope that staff and these dedicated participants can lead this mayor and council toward truly following through on the original Charrette and take the next step in realizing the visions created by the initial village council and participating residents for Palmetto Bay. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Good Morning - Photo of the Day - sunrise over Biscayne Bay, 9-14-13

Photo of the Day - Sunrise off Deering Estate at Cutler in Palmetto Bay taken Saturday, September 14, 2013. Another magnificent start to the day.  This stop is part of the morning family bike ride.  Good morning everyone.

Amazing Video: Where's the Octopus

I found this interesting.  Who knows how many times I have simply passed over camouflaged nature while diving locally in the Florida Keys.

Courtesy/credits to Science Friday. CLICK HERE to view the article and video online if you cannot view from this page.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy Friday the 13th!

I trust that everyone is enjoying this Friday the 13th.

Several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition. CLICK HERE to view the Wikipedia weigh in on this topic.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Photo of the day:father/daughter time at UM v UF game

A great day with my daughter at the UM v. UF game on Saturday. Too bad only one of us could go home happy with the results of the game.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Palmer litigation update - Miami Herald: Palmetto Bay to vote on settlement with Palmer Trinity School

Palmetto Bay to vote on settlement with Palmer Trinity School - Palmetto Bay - Miami

Click on the link above to view the just posted Miami Herald article regarding potential Village Council action to settle the Palmer litigation. The discussion and vote is scheduled for Monday, September 9, 2013, 7 PM at Village Hall (working around the budget hearing also scheduled for that same evening).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A final resolution to the Palmer Trinity litigation? What are the terms?

The Village has posted the August 21, 2013, counter-offer letter from the Palmer Trinity School (PTS).  CLICK HERE to view this letter. I will offer more insight into the contents of this offer letter soon. The settlement numbers appear much better than the prior demand (and demands are always a starting point and sometimes the first numbers are to shock) of $12 - 13 Million.

The numbers appear to be $200,000.00 in cash to PTS with $600,000.00 in village credits against permit fees - a net total of $800,000.00 to PTS.

But there is more. It appears that something else was traded for money - a re-visitation of the conditions placed upon the school. The modifications appear to now allow for the following:

  • Lighted ball fields
  • Reduction in buffer
  • No berms built in the buffer area
  • Allowing a single path through the buffer.
  • Removing traffic conditions (this is how I read it)
  • Material changes to the sidewalk conditions
  • Signage
  • No reporting to the Village of student enrollment numbers.
  • Removal of conditions/restrictions on the number of events.
  • Future traffic studies are limited
  • No community discussion group.
I cannot place a value of these released covenants at the present time.

It is obvious that Mayor Stanczyk overplayed her hand. Please review my prior post of October 8, 2012:
Update on Palmer litigation. The story of hubris and a very missed opportunity to settle from a position of strength.

I discussed in that post how the Palmer story could have ended during the period of June 12, up to July 3, 2012, after Palmetto Bay did so well at oral argument.  The background is that Palmer thought they lost – and bad, after participating in Oral Argument before the Third District Court of Appeal and there was palpable fear that they would have to live with no expansion, staying at 600 students.

This would have been a good time to settle and end all litigation, past, present and future.  The zoning case could have been settled for anywhere from 600, to 900, to 1,150 students, but more importantly, focusing on the big picture, conditioned upon Palmer dismissing its civil rights claims.

Those are not the facts we are living with today.  Now I want to see how this all plays out in the upcoming village council meeting. We could be seeing this chapter end for the good of Palmetto Bay.

What are the plans/possibilities for Palmetto Bay's downtown district?

Find out today at the Palmetto Bay Business Association: 

Ed Silva, Director of the Palmetto Bay Department of Building and Capital Projects will discuss the Village Manager's Downtown Redevelopment Task Force. What are the plans/possibilities for Palmetto Bay's downtown district? 

Cost for lunch is $15 for members, $20 for nonmembers and guests. See below for pertinent information.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day. Photo(s) of the Day - Sunrise at Deering

Happy Labor Day. Photo(s) of the Day - Sunrise off Deering Estate at Cutler, as they like to call it, located in the heart of Palmetto Bay.
What a sunrise. A great start to another day in paradise.
To all those who work so hard to make America great enjoy a safe and relaxing holiday weekend, I wish a very happy Labor Day weekend.  
Early risers enjoying sunrise at the People's Dock
 This weekend may officially mark the end of Summer, but we enjoy the Bay year around, 
At Deering South/Snowden's Point, looking toward Thalatta.
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron & Great White Heron greet the morning bikers, walkers & kayakers.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

What do you think the United States should do in Syria? Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen is soliciting your input.

Message, request for your input from Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member of Congress

CLICK HERE to view the entire message online or click Read more below.

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen would like to hear your opinion on what do you think the United States should do in Syria.

Stated choices:
A)    The United States should take no military action.
B)    The United States should take no military action other than to continue to provide humanitarian assistance.
C)    The United States should not get involved militarily but should continue to provide humanitarian aid and provide more support to the anti-Assad forces, including supplying arms and materiel.
D)    The United States should take no action until we get more evidence and have a UN mandate.
E)     The United States should take immediate action – in coordination with our allies – to attack Assad’s infrastructure and armed forces.
F)     The United States should take immediate action to attack Assad’s infrastructure and armed forces immediately – with or without our allies.
G)    The United States should take immediate action to topple the Assad regime.

This is your opportunity to speak out on this issue.

From Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen's full e-mail blast:

1983 - a perilous year in the Cold War. Sept 1, 30 years ago the Soviet Union shocked the world, shooting down KAL 007

(CNN) -- The idea that Soviet fighter jets would shoot down a Boeing 747 airliner seems shockingly unbelievable. Two-hundred sixty-nine innocent people died in a largely forgotten Cold War attack that took place exactly 30 years ago this weekend.

30 years ago this weekend, the Soviet Union shocked the world by shooting down a 747 airliner

Click on the video to review a compilation CNN report