Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A very not Happy ending. Facebook post (texting while driving) lead to fataility

Condolences to all involved. A last moments of a driver's life documented on Facebook. CLICK HERE to view the link to the CNN online story and video.

Please, think of your friends, family - all your loved ones and fellow drivers - do not text or operate your phone while driving. It is not worth the risk.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy National Arbor Day! Friday, April 25, 2014

Today, Friday, April 25, 2014 is the nationally celebrated Arbor Day.

It is also celebrated in Palmetto Bay as part of Earth Week.  Florida's Arbor Day is recognized as the third Friday in January.  Florida's State Tree is the Cabbage Palmetto.
Palmetto Bay has a rich history in Earth Week / conservation practices even though incorporated occurred in 2002. I am proud of Palmetto Bay's record of protecting the environment. 
CLICK HERE to view prior posts regarding Palmetto Bay, Arbor Day activities.

Happy Arbor Day everyone!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day 2014

Today is the 44th Earth Day Celebration.  What, if anything, are you doing to mark this event?  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 my personal blog 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.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Palmetto Bay’s Earth Week celebration begins. Let’s have some fun. Here is what I have done today, 4/21/14, to kick it off: my bicycle to the office commute.

This was too beautiful a morning not to commute via bicycle to the office.  It was a very cool 63 degrees this morning when I left the house. I try to ride at least once a week and my best week was riding 4 out of 5 work days.  My goal for biking to work this week is 3 of the 5 days based upon my present schedule of work events. Who wants to join me on a bike ride?  CLICK HERE to view some of my other posts on "Bicycling".

I have always enjoyed Palmetto Bay’s Earth Week.  I have written on it even after leaving office see: the EarthWeek tab/label (labels posted in the column to the right).

It is important that we take some time to consider our future, what type of world we want to turn over to our children, our next generation.  I was proud that I was able to start a village Earth Day celebration that has morphed into a multi-faceted Earth Week celebration, partnering with local public and private schools, environmental groups, community groups and involve so many residents of all ages.  We are now seeing the fourth year that Palmetto Bay celebrates Earth Week. 

This year will see a continuation of the ladybug releases which I started many years ago as Mayor, providing a living example of the use of nature’s pest control over chemicals.  It is a fun event for both the kids and the adults. Movie night has always been fun with past Earth Week movies including “WALL-E”, “Hoot” (with presentations which included the actual Owls featured in the movie), and the “Bee Movie.”

The Earth Week celebrations cannot always stay the same. New events freshen it up and draw new participants.  Past years have included events such as the Magical Bus Tour, area clean ups with the administration, staff and students at Alexander Montessori School; Kayak Tours from Deering point in beautiful Biscayne Bay sponsored through Laura Reynolds and the Tropical Audubon Society (TAS); a family bike ride enjoyed by hundreds organized in cooperation with Eric Tullberg and the Green Mobility Network; safe solar viewing provided through the Southern Cross Astronomical Society (SCAS); and area nature walks guided by members of Palmetto Bay’s tree board through the preserved areas of the Palmetto Bay Village Center.  Interested persons were able to see crocodiles, several varieties of mangrove trees and other native plants right here in Palmetto Bay! These were extensive events to involve everyone and celebrate our surroundings, all great events.  I want to publically thank all the individuals and local institutions who have partnered with Palmetto Bay to make these past events so successful.

These events will not be forgotten and there is work behind the scenes to keep and continually improve these events or bring prior events back either through private efforts or simply impromptu community events such as the bike ride (sponsored by both Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay, but starting in Cutler Bay this year).

Have a safe, fun and memorable Earth Week – 2014.

I have them in my Palmetto Bay yard. Do you? Dr Strangebug or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Lubbers - Home & Garden - MiamiHerald.com

Dr Strangebug or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Lubbers - Home & Garden - MiamiHerald.com 
Welcome Earth Week. How is your yard doing this year?  Connie Ogle of the Miami Herald writes about the annual infestation of the eastern lubber grasshopper or romalea microptera.

2014 - A lubber dining in my Palmetto Bay garden
I recommend this article for all garden hobbyists, or those just interested in what is going on in their yards.

Ms. Ogle discusses that there is no downside to letting the lubbers run wild

For those paying attention, the eggs usually hatch in February in South Florida; females lay eggs in the summer; and everything dies down again during the late fall and early winter months. Right now, the grasshoppers are still black, for the most part. Soon they’ll turn yellow, almost orange, which is even prettier until you realize it’s a warning that says to birds: I’m poison. Eat me at your own peril. Then they go green.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A little exploring and attention to surroundings yields an interesting find.

See what you may be missing when glued inside to your technology? A 9-year-old Michigan boy stumbled across something -- literally -- that, it turns out, is a mastodon tooth. Read: A prehistoric step: 9-year-old trods on 10,000-year-old mastodon tooth, by Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN.  

And to think I was proud of finding a locally produced antique Coke bottle while exploring with my daughters in upstate NY a few summers ago. I think we need to look a little harder next time to see what bigger treasures we can find.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Total Lunar Eclipse - Photo of the day from NASA and my attempt from Palmetto Bay

Total Lunar Eclipse
Were you able to get up (or stay up) and view the recent "Blood Moon"? It was a strange event connected to so many others on social media as we compared views.  I was texting/"Facebooking" and otherwise sharing experiences and photos with friends and family in Palmetto Bay, South Miami, Kendall, Pinecrest, Cutler Bay, North Miami, Aventura and Gainesville.  It was a unique reason to gather together, especially at such odd hour.

Here is the best I could do with an iPhone:
The link at the very top of this post will take you to official NASA site. Follow it to view the Image of the Day for NASA
Here is the high quality NASA photo:

From the site (as text to the official NASA photo):
The United States was in a prime orbital position and time of day to view the eclipse on April 15, 2014. Depending on local weather conditions, the public got a spectacular view looking into the sky as the moon's appearance changed from bright orange to blood red to dark brown and perhaps gray. The eclipse is a phenomenon that occurs when the Earth, moon and sun are in perfect alignment, blanketing the moon in the Earth's shadow. The United States will not be able to witness a full lunar eclipse in its entirety again until 2019. This image was taken in San Jose, Calif. Image Credit: NASA Ames Research Center/Brian Day
I hope you were able to take advantage of this event. There will be 3 more Lunar Eclipses in roughly six-month intervals on the following dates: October 8, 2014; April 4, 2015, and September 28, 2015.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Howling at the 'Blood Moon"! Coming Tues, 4/15. Ask NASA Experts About the Total Lunar Eclipse | NASA

Ask NASA Experts About the Total Lunar Eclipse | NASA
Get ready for an unusually beautiful moon to grace the night skies next week. There will be a total lunar eclipse Tuesday that will turn the moon a burnt reddish orange.

It's called a blood moon, and this one is just the first in a series of four consecutive total eclipses.

Within a year and a half, North America will be able to see a blood moon a total of four times. The moon takes on this color during the eclipse as it passes through the Earth's shadow, which is the color of a desert sunset.

The four blood moons will occur in roughly six-month intervals on the following dates: April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; April 4, 2015, and September 28, 2015. The eclipse will begin early on the morning of April 15 at approximately 2 a.m. EDT. (source: 'Blood moon' will be a sight to behold during total lunar eclipse, by Ben Brumfield, CNN)

Other interesting reading includes: About.com Urban Legends - What's With the 'Blood Moon' On April 15?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Congratulations to Palmetto Bay's initial Vice Mayor! Linda M. Robinson wins two prestigious awards | Palmetto Bay

Linda M. Robinson wins two prestigious awards | Palmetto Bay

Everyone should take the time to review the Palmetto Bay News article congratulating Palmetto Bay’s first vice mayor Linda M. Robinson who was recognized with a “Women of Impact” Award as well as being honored with the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s Pioneer Award.  Twelve women leaders were honored for their achievements in their respective fields.  We should be proud that our own Linda was honored as part of Miami-Dade County’s celebration of Women’s History Month.
Click the headline to read: Linda M. Robinson wins two prestigious awards, by Gary Alan Ruse, date posted: April 8, 2014.
Vice-Mayor Linda Robinson was honored twice, first, on Mar. 2 with the “Women of Impact” Award. Then, on Mar. 13 she was honored with the Mayor’s Pioneer Award during the “In the Company of Women” reception.  It was my honor to attend that function as well as having been one her sponsors, nominating her for the award.  The honors are well-deserved.

 “I truly accepted that honor on behalf of all of Palmetto Bay,” Robinson said during an interview on Mar. 23. “I was so honored and really humbled by this. It’s very exciting when you receive recognition after you’ve done something you really loved every minute doing.”
It has been my honor to have worked with Linda and her late husband, Ken Robinson both on important community issues, including the incorporation of Palmetto Bay and then serving with her on the initial Palmetto Bay Village Council. Linda was the catalyst in so many Village projects and initiatives including communications and special events.  The list is far too long to mention here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Photo (Video) of the Day - Morning Peacock wakes the neighborhood

I was hoping for something more exotic than a peacock, but there it was, on our roof this Wednesday morning. I am unaware as to what it was looking for here in Palmetto Bay. The song birds seemed to be answering it at times. It eventually flew off when another neighbor started a lawnmower.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Photo of the Day - Shopping local in Palmetto Bay - fixing the ride along the South Dade Trail

A quick pit stop on way home down from the office yesterday (Monday, 4/7/14), while riding the South Dade Trail. Feeling spoiled with the new front tire. 

Shopping local Palmetto Bay! Installed while I waited.

The thumping is now gone - a smooth bike ride for now on the bike commute. CLICK HERE to view the "before" photo from the Sunday Photo of the Day to see the condition The Cycle Mart located in Palmetto Bay corrected for me.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Item 12A - The Anti-Dog Ordinance to be withdrawn? (for tonight), but keep your eyes and ears open for its reappearance.

Thank you all for the intense public pressure so many of you have brought to bear on the current mayor over this ill-advised ordinance, presently item 12 A of the village council agenda set for tonight.  Your concerns and communications have worked today and information has been provided in a confirming e-mail that the item will be temporarily withdrawn (withdrawn from consideration on tonight's agenda).

This is a bad ordinance. It sets neighbor upon neighbor. It removes trained code enforcement officers and/or police from enforcement of our rules - which protects us.  It risks creation of more problems than it is designed to 'solve.' This is driven by divisive politics. We need leadership that works to unite, not divide the community.

This entire ordinance shows the problems when laws are created in back rooms, outside of public sunshine. It should have been brought to a Committee of the Whole Meeting to give greater notice, transparency and an initial opportunity for public input before it was rushed to a first reading. Significant staff time has been wasted on this effort to date.

This effort is now under intense public scrutiny. Let's work together to make sure all voices are heard.

Thank you all,

Eugene Flinn

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Photo of the day. Riding along the South Dade Trail.

This can't be good, but at least I think I discovered the cause of my front wheel thumping. 

Taken during the early Sunday morning ride with Alexandra.  We were once again using the South Dade Trail.
Where does this trail run? The bike trail follows along the US1 Bus Lanes. An official description is as follows: The South Dade Trail runs along the South Miami-Dade Busway between Florida City and Kendall Drive/ SE 88th Street just north of the Dadeland South Metrorail station. The trail connects communities from South Miami to Homestead. At Kendall Driver, however, the trail doesn't end. You can pick up the M-Path here and continue north to downtown Miami. The corridor is 31 miles long. 

It is certainly a road less traveled and separates the bicyclists from the heavily trafficked road. 

Get out and enjoy the bike amenities. It is a healthy way to both travel to and work off your morning breakfast. It is a great route to and from sites in Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, East Kendall (especially Downtown Dadeland) and South Miami, we have taken it as far as to the University of Miami campus.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Great cause- Team participated in CABA's Third Annual Lawyers On the Run 5k

The team participated in the April 5, 2014 (third annual) CABA Lawyers On the Run 5k. This was my second time at this event.
No biking today. Today was a run to raise money through "Lawyers on the Run" which helps raise money for the CABA Pro Bono Project which is dedicated to helping individuals in need find pro bono legal services.

I am please to donate to this worthwhile cause.

CLICK HERE to view CABA's Lawyers on the Run website to view the information. You can also make a donation through this same site.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Make it a habit, not just a photo op - 15 Mayors In Miami-Dade County Bike To Work « CBS Miami

15 Mayors In Miami-Dade County Bike To Work « CBS Miami
CBS reports - today (Thursday, 4/3/14) was "ride to work day." Local mayors left their cars at home Thursday morning and rode their bikes to work  in the name of health.

A county statement says the 15 mayors are promoting physical fitness and healthy lifestyles, while encouraging residents to bike to parks, attractions, shops and events throughout the year.

The mayors took part in the “Bike305 Bike to Work Day,” including Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez who encourages South Floridians to do the same.

“If you get into biking, it’s almost an addiction eventually you miss it,” said Mayor Gimenez. “Every person that gets on a bike and doesn’t get in a car improves everybody’s way to get around.”

So how is it to ride to work on a regular basis?  I have been biking it to work fairly regularly this year.  See my initial post on this back in February.  This week has seen me ride 3 of the 4 week days to date. I am undecided as to whether I ride on Friday.  Riding does take preparation when you have to be (or at least have to try to be) presentable at the office - obviously I am not riding in a suit, so keeping clothes at the office is a must.

The route gets adjusted, based upon time available or my goal on exercise.

Proposed Palmetto Bay Ordinance May Leave Dogs With No Voice « CBS Miami

Proposed Palmetto Bay Ordinance May Leave Dogs With No Voice « CBS Miami
PALMETTO BAY (CBSMiami) – Dog owners in Palmetto Bay may need to
invest in a muzzle if a proposed upgrade to the village’s noise
ordinance is passed into law.

The Mayor of Palmetto Bay, Shelley Stanczyk, proposed that the noise ordinance be changed
to allow anyone to file a complaint with the city for a dog that barked
for 20 minutes or longer, or more than 5 times in an hour.

Click the link at top to read the entire article.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Anti-Dog legislation on agenda in Palmetto Bay. Why are dog owners being singled out?

             Dog owners need to take a close look at Agenda Item 12.A., This is an ordinance scheduled for first reading this Monday, April 7, 2014, by the Palmetto Bay Village Council. This ordinance is sponsored solely by Mayor Stanczyk and it represents a major change from the existing reasonable noise ordinance.

            The current noise ordinance provides for restrictions on noise between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. (later on weekends) and also provides that a “barking dog” shall be considered a nuisance if it barks or bays for a period of longer than twenty minutes.  These are reasonable restrictions which prevent homeowners from leaving animals out to annoy neighbors all day, or keeping neighbors awake at night. This current code can be found online: Sec.30-60.29. Noises – [scroll down to (e)(5) Animals].

            The proposed ordinance goes much further. The complete can be found online at: http://www.palmettobay-fl.gov/sites/all/files/documents/agendasminutes/item_12.a_0.pdf.

This is a proposed amendment to our Palmetto Bay zoning code specifically targeting barking dogs and someone’s new opinion about what constitutes a “public nuisance animal”. It provides for more stringent rules and puts only pet owners at risk for fines levied against their homes based solely upon subjective standards and the owner of any animal deemed a public nuisance animal, “… including barking dogs …” “shall be deemed to be in violation of this article regardless of the knowledge, intent or culpability of the owner.” (emphasis added - Contained in subparagraph (5). I was hoping that this was an April Fools’ Day prank, as it was posted to the village website on April 1st, but it is now April 2nd and it is still there.

This will have a profound and adverse impact on innocent dog owners and you need to be made aware of it. It is directly solely at property owners who have pets. The proposed process does not extend to any other items that people may complain of - loud parties or early morning noise in violation of the noise ordinance like lawn maintenance or construction that starts in violation of the noise ordinance. It doesn’t extend to repairing race cars in one’s yard or even mowing the lawn more than once a week. No, this ordinance is solely directed at pet owners.  It essentially states that, should a neighbor claim that a dog is barking excessively (more than five barks per hour), a fine will be levied.  It is not required that anyone other than the complaining neighbor hear the dog.

This will become a real tool for a vindictive neighbor who wants to target a pet owner, not to mention someone who simply has an unreasonable dislike for animals. And yet someone who does not want to be "a bad guy' by turning in the offensive neighbor will still have to 'suffer in silence.' My fear is that this process will in fact be expanded to other situations – thus setting up neighborhood feuds.

I was unaware as to how bad the living conditions must be in Palmetto Bay. Barking dogs are a crisis requiring drastic new rules? Can you imagine a senior citizen having to give up the family dog because their toy poodle happens to bark 5 times in an hour, more than once during a single month, thus facing a $500 fine?  Do you want to tell your children that you have to get rid of the family pet because a neighbor has targeted you because your dog barks occasionally?  Do dogs not occasionally bark? Mine does; especially when chasing balls or running with family members. Or when a neighbor lawn service starts up, or mango thieves enter our front yard (good dog!) or when another dog walks by (we are, or used to be, a friendly dog-walking community).

An occasional dog bark falls into the category of “normal suburban noise.”  We do not live in the country, so occasionally, we will hear our neighbors talk, do yard work, start their cars, play with their children, splash in their pools, and yes, hear their dogs bark.  By all means, dogs should not bark for an hour.  But an occasional bark is a fact of life.

No more playing with the dog outside should it make noise? How is that family friendly? That is just sad. This is not the vision so many of us have for living as a functioning community in Palmetto Bay.

If such a law was really needed, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a provision in this law that protected pet owners from malicious or frivolous claims, to make you whole for costs (and potential attorney’s fees) you have to put out to defend yourself in the “Civil Citation Hearing Before Special Master [numbered subparagraph (2) of the proposed ordinance]?  There is no intent to create a level playing field here.  This is a dog silencing ordinance. It is interesting that there is no ability of neighbors surrounding the Thalatta Estate to seek similar redress when that place gets rocking each weekend. 

Village leaders should not abdicate their enforcement responsibilities to residents.  This power to initiate a fine levy will only led to spreading the current dysfunction on the village council into neighborhood dysfunction. This is why we hire professionals – our well-trained police and code enforcement officers to step into these situations and make trained judgments. They are impartial.  If a police or code enforcement officer is called and hears a dog barking excessively, a fine will be levied under the existing noise ordinance.  If the dog is not barking enough for the police to notice, this likely means that the barking is not excessive.

Has Palmetto Bay finally “gone to the dogs”? This is a bad proposal. As one of the village founders, we promised those skeptical of incorporation that they would not be subject to restrictive codes – “no Coral Gables type rules.”  This proposal is much more draconian.  This proposed ordinance can be seen as another covenant with the people broken by the current mayor.

Please respond to me as to your review of this proposal.

Thank you.

Eugene Flinn

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happy April Fools Day - 2014.

"I got nothing" so far today to report insofar as a local April Fools' Day effort. Rumors abound of an opportunity allegedly soon to be posted, but that report has not been confirmed and may just be in and of itself a April Fools' Day gag being played out on yours truly. Regardless, I must carrying on with what I have and I am commenting on what is often a good nature working holiday.  Time dot com reports on "The Best April Fools’ Pranks Ever" by Dan Fletcher and Olivia B. Waxman, posted online March 31, 2014.

This April Fools article takes a look at the author's opinion on the wittiest, most believable April 1 gags throughout history

Wisconsin Capital Collapses – 1933
The Spaghetti Tree – 1957
Do-It-Yourself Color TV – 1962
Planetary Alignment – 1976
Sidd Finch – 1985
Richard Nixon for President – 1992
The Taco Liberty Bell – 1996
The Left-Handed Whopper – 1998
Alabama Redefines Pi – 1998
Gmail Paper – 2007
Highchair for Dogs – 2011
The YouTube Collection – 2012
Military Working Cats – 2013

If you missed the link above, CLICK HERE to view the full article and its links to the specific pranks.

Also check out About.com - Urban Legends for April Fools' Day Origin, History, by David Emery