Monday, January 15, 2018

Celebrating the leadership of Martin Luther King. Jan 15, 2018

Today, Monday, January 15 is the day we celebrate the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King in 2018. A leader about principles, not populism and doing things that are RIGHT, not because they are politically expedient.

The 37th annual Martin Luther King Holiday Parade was held in Perrine, Saturday, January 13, 2018.  This annual event honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy.  It is an honor and pleasure to celebrate with constituents & colleagues - Thank you to

For more information, check out 10 Things You May Not Know About Martin Luther King Jr., on by Christopher Klein.

Happy Martin Luther King Holiday

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Guest Post - Mark Merwitzer - an advocate for safe roads - ending distracted driving

The following is another in a ongoing series of guest posts. Student Mark Merwitzer will not be distracted from his mission to save lives through advocating for increasing the safety of those on or near the roadways. Once again, Mark reports of his efforts in Tallahassee.  This is the 6th appearance for Mark on this blog (CLICK HERE) to view all prior posts, all related to his public service and advocacy, including how to navigate a traffic circle as well as fighting against distracted driving: Oct. 25, 2017, Driven (without distractions). YCIB Member Mark Merwitzer testifies before Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee and Aug. 14, 2017: Traffic Circle Safety - Please take the time to view this creative video by Mark Merwitzer, Jackson Ribler & Justin Merwitzer. Edited and produced through the talents of "Miami Hal" Feldman.

From Mark:

My name is Mark Merwitzer. I am a 17-year-old high school student who attends School for Advanced Studies - Wolfson. I am also the chairman of the Palmetto Bay Youth Community Involvement Board. For the last 18 months, I have been working very diligently with local and state legislators to make texting while driving a primary offense in the state of Florida.

To push for this primary ban I have been working extremely closely with Miami-Dade County and other municipalities. By pushing them to pass urgings and hire lobbyist to support this initiative, the Florida legislature has seen a massive push from numerous local governments across Florida. Their voices are strongly considered as they contribute a tremendous amount to the state tax pool.

Debbie Wanninkhof / Mark Merwitzer
With the support of Miami-Dade County and Palmetto Bay, I traveled to Tallahassee with Debbie Wanninkhof.  Debbie and Rik Wanninkhof’s son Patrick died at the age of 25 at the hands of a cell phone distracted driver. He was a son, a brother, a teacher, a musician, a friend and an incredible human being. Patrick got on his bicycle in June of 2015 to ride for and to build affordable housing for those who needed it most. On July 30, 2015, he was killed by a woman who was distracted by her phone while driving. Yet Debbie and Rik turned their grief into something extraordinary. They went up to Tallahassee with me and shared their story with many Representatives and the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee.

With the Wanninkhofs, I had the privilege of testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee in support of House Bill 33. House Bill 33 makes texting while driving a primary offense, which gives police officers the ability to pull over and issue citations to drivers who are texting behind the wheel. I have also been pushing Senate Bill 90, the Senate companion bill to House Bill 33, in the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill passed unanimously in both committees.

Rep. Kionne McGhee
In addition to the bill unanimously passing both committees, I had the privilege of meeting with House Minority Leader Designee Kionne McGhee (rhyme not intended). I am very appreciative to have his support and co-sponsorship of House Bill 33. Having the support of democratic leadership further solidifies the bi-partisanship of the bill.

Sen. Annette Taddeo
I also had the honor of meeting the newly elected Senator Annette Taddeo. Senator Taddeo turned the district blue and defeated Jose Felix Diaz (R) after the resignation of Senator Artiles. She sits on the Senate Transportation Committee and is a co-sponsor Senate Bill 90. I am very grateful to have her support.

Sen. Bill Galvano
The Senate Transportation Committee also has Senate President Designee Bill Galvano on it. He voted in support of the texting while driving ban. I am extremely thankful for his vote, as it shows that Senate Leadership is in support of making our roads safer.

If you would like to get involved with the texting while driving bill, please call your State Representative and voice your support for the bill. Additionally, if you can call Representatives that sit on the House Judiciary Committee, which is the next committee of reference, that would also be appreciated. I have linked the House Judiciary Committee and the find your Representative website for your convenience. Thank you very much in advance for your support. Welcome to the team!

House Judiciary:
Find Your Representative:

NOTE: Palmetto Bay is a supporter of traffic safety.  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. It also takes a Village and Mark Merwitzer has been doing much of the heavy lifting these past few years. Subsequent councils (including this current council) have continued to efforts in regard to making our roads safer. - Thank you to Mark Merwitzer and others like him who are committed to making our communities safer!

(Video below - Mark Merwitzer testifying before the Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee in Tallahassee on January 9, 2018. A unanimous vote helped move the bill on to the next step.)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Another successful "Coffee With A Cop" at Panera in Palmetto Bay

In honor of National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day - L.E.A.D, (Jan 9, 2018), I Thank all the hardworking men and women who serve to keep us safe. Thank you for your commitment to strengthening our communities and protecting our residents. 

Many residents and officers of all rank participated. It was my pleasure to spend time with newly elected PBA President Steadman Stahl and our Village Police Commander, Major Gady Serralta.  Palmetto Bay initial Vice Mayor, Hon. Linda Robinson ("VM 1") joined us as well.  

There was no agenda, as advertised - just coffee and Panera treats bringing residents and our local Law Enforcement together at Panera on 136/US1.  Coffee and conversation together during the "Coffee with a Cop" event held on Tuesday, January 9, 2018.

Monday, January 8, 2018

FWC / Coyote workshop scheduled for Tuesday, 2/20/18, 6 - 8 PM

Have you seen coyotes in your neighborhood?
Join the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for an informative workshop about coyote biology and ways to co-exist with coyotes.

I invite everyone to attend and participate in this workshop which has been scheduled for Tuesday, February 20th, 2018, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM –at the Palmetto Bay Municipal Center.

More information to follow as to the specifics of this meeting. 

Please see my related posts on Coyote sightings in Palmetto Bay (CLICK HERE) or: October 17, 2017, Coyote update - meeting held with officials from FWC - here is authoritative information regarding co-existing with Coyotes in Florida.
CLICK HERE to view the Official Palmetto Bay Public Meeting Calendar for 
Coyote Workshop hosted by Mayor Flinn and FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - February 20, 2018, 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Village of Palmetto Bay Village Hall (CLICK HERE for notice as posted online)

10:00 PM update: Newly released photos of Coyotes in Palmetto Bay:
Photo Credit: Juan Alayo, posted to "Around Palmetto Bay" Facebook page on 
January 8, 2018. Original caption - "Just spotted this coyote on Ludlam (SW 67th Ave)
across from CCC (Christ Congregational Church). Beats frozen iguanas" 

Commissioner Cava issues her decision. She is NOT supportive of the 87th Avenue bridge. She will continue to work to find solutions for all.

Update from County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava on the 87th Avenue bridge issue:

Thank you Commissioner Cava.  Our Commissioner has determined that she cannot support construction of the bridge at this time.

This is not to merely a "no".  Commissioner Cava is committed to working with Palmetto Bay to address our serious traffic issues.  We are all committed to working for best solutions that will not harm the quality of life for many, while providing only partial, temporary relief for those who currently suffer intolerable traffic congestion in their neighborhoods.

From County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava.

Dear Residents:

I am grateful for all of you who provided feedback and engaged in dialogue concerning the 87th Avenue bridge proposal. Over the past few months I have reviewed the proposal objectively and with compassion for all those affected. I do not make decisions on the basis of political expedience. This decision has been extremely difficult.

After full deliberation I determined that I cannot support construction of the bridge at this time. I am greatly concerned that the solution proposed will harm the quality of life for many, while providing only partial, temporary relief for those who currently suffer intolerable traffic congestion in their neighborhoods.
From the time this matter first came to my attention, I have followed these parameters to make my decisions transparent and fair:

  • Comprehensive and continuous resident engagement.
  • Data-driven information gathering.
  • Coordination among the affected neighborhoods and municipalities.

I held two public meetings, spoke with hundreds of residents, observed traffic in the most congested areas first-hand, consulted with dozens of transportation experts and spent hundreds of hours considering the pros and cons of the proposal.
The County’s Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) had pursued this bridge as part of a plan that includes more bridging and that intentionally seeks to disperse traffic through neighborhood streets. I do not believe that this way of thinking protects the quality of life we expect for our neighborhoods. Loss of neighborhood integrity is not inevitable. Building more roads to increase car capacity should be the last thing we consider instead of the first, as we look to a future with a greater range of innovative mobility options.

For too long our community has suffered from lack of a coherent, sensible vision for appropriate growth and transportation management. Such planning is necessary to ensure that growth occurs only where it does not reduce mobility, such as in “transit-oriented” development along major transit routes. As a result of this lack of adequate planning, most of our residents now face crippling commutes with few effective transportation options. Disruptive applications like Waze have also fundamentally altered traffic patterns through otherwise quiet neighborhoods, adding to our congestion woes.

We should not settle for antiquated plans from a car-centric era when new solutions are emerging around the country and world. We need to decrease dependence on one passenger per car commutes. We need to increase access to fast, safe and reliable transit, bicycle, “last mile”, carpool and shared ride services. We need to live and work near the best mobility options. 
We cannot build our way out of today’s traffic snarls with old ways of thinking. Now is the time to embrace the reality that in order to increase mobility, we must get cars off the road.
The Palmetto Bay Council unanimously voted against the 87th Avenue bridge project and remains steadfast in opposition. Concerns include the impact to quiet neighborhoods, the small incremental improvement in traffic congestion, and fear that any benefit would be short-lived as drivers flock to this new connected roadway. The Cutler Bay Council voted unanimously to support the project on the basis that any and all improvements are vital to moving traffic for those currently plagued with crippling congestion during the morning and evening rush hours.
Many Palmetto Bay residents also strongly support the bridge, as they currently suffer from unbearable cut-through congestion, unable to exit driveways and waiting up to 30 minutes to get out of their neighborhood. As frustrations have escalated, so too have aggressive driving and verbal altercations. This cannot continue and I am determined to protect these neighborhoods from this intolerable situation.
In the end, I have weighed resident input, staff analysis and my own review of the information, and concluded that the proposed bridge will not provide significant or lasting relief. The estimated four minutes saved does not justify the extreme disruption of a bridge, when other innovative and future-oriented solutions exist.
I am dedicated to finding win-win solutions for all residents, while looking ahead to significant changes in our traffic patterns and transportation options. I am committed to working with our most affected municipalities, the Village of Palmetto Bay and Town of Cutler Bay, as well as the residents of unincorporated South Miami-Dade who traverse this area daily. 
I will convene a public traffic solutions planning “charrette” in February to explore the range of options that exist. I will expect DTPW, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay to make needed improvements, putting their dollars on the table, and reprogramming the $1.8 million in County funds that had been set aside for the bridge. A list of possible improvements is included below.

Most importantly we will work together to press for rapid decision-making and implementation of the SMART plan in South Dade, bringing “premium” transit to the Transitway. An extension of Metrorail is one of the options, and we know that this solution will help to turn many current car commuters into transit riders.
Here is the preliminary list of alternative traffic solutions that I champion:
2018 Traffic Solutions 

1)   Improve capacity on US 1 and the Transitway, increasing speed and on-time performance for express transit service through adaptive signal technology. DTPW installed these “smart traffic signals” in December.

2)   Partner with Palmetto Bay to construct “turbo” bypass lanes, “reversible” lanesor traffic circles at key intersections on Old Cutler Road. Additional traffic circles at high congestion intersections within the Village of Palmetto Bay are also being explored.

3)   Work with Palmetto Bay to greatly improve commuter service by establishing three new “park & ride” facilities, linked to “IBus” commuter service carrying riders to Dadeland Metrorail station via the Transitway. Palmetto Bay Council is expected to vote on the first location in February.

4)   Press DTPW to realign Bus Route 287 Saga Bay MAX for more efficient express service from Cutler Bay. Work with Cutler Bay to deploy a Cutler Bay on-demand commuter service and van pool service to Dadeland Metrorail.

5)   Introduce a bus “circulator” route for the Princeton/Palm Glade area, in unincorporated Miami-Dade, to connect transit riders to the Transitway and future Turnpike express bus service.

6)   Open a new Park & Ride on the Transitway at Eureka Drive.

7)   Replace more than 50% of the Metrorail fleet with new trains.

8)   Work with Miami-Dade Public Schools to reduce school-related traffic through use of school-based carpooling apps, walk-to-school networks, and pedestrian improvements.

9)   Increase carpooling through use of more incentives and technology solutions, such as purchase of free or reduced cost Transit passes for those who use IBus or carpool.

10) Introduce express commute transit service on the Turnpike, connecting Homestead and Cutler Bay/Palmetto Bay to job centers in Doral and Dadeland. We have been pressing DTPW and the Turnpike Authority to start this service ASAP.

11) Construct bicycle lanes on 136 Street from Old Cutler to US 1.

2019 Traffic Solutions

1)   Complete the Turnpike Expansion project.

2)   Complete SW 137th Avenue construction west of US 1 to provide an alternative north-south connector from Homestead to Doral.

3)   Evaluate the opportunity to include bicycle lanes on 168th Street as part of resurfacing project between Old Cutler and 82nd Ave.

4)   Construct parking garages along the Transitway at Coral Reef Drive and Allapattah Road if the County is awarded a federal TIGER grant (application submitted).

5)   Open a Park & Ride facility in Franjo Triangle for IBus commuters.

6)   Replace all Metrorail cars, expected by end of 2019.

Long-Term Solutions

1)   Complete installation of premium transit service (expansion of Metrorail as the preferred mode) on the Transitway, with improved service and increased ridership. This will reduce congestion and the % of commuters relying on individual car travel.

2)   Increase employment in South Dade through commercial and industrial growth, creating more jobs near home and “reverse commute” traffic patterns.

3)   Explore implementation of a conditional Moratorium on new residential development outside of the SMART corridor zone until premium transit solution begins construction.
To learn what is planned to address our countywide traffic crisis, please attend the County’sTransportation Summit on January 25-26I hope you will also join me and area civic leaders in February (date to be announced) for a Traffic Solutions Charette, a deep dive into South Dade traffic challenges. We will look at the solutions outlined above as well as others you may bring. Together we will create an Action Plan that will lead to real results. In the meantime I will be fighting for enforcement of the existing traffic restrictions, and exploration of additional measures, to assure that the neighborhoods experiencing the worst cut-through traffic get immediate relief.

Please know that I will be by your side fighting for real win-win solutions that look to the future while resolving today’s most urgent challenges.

Yours for a better, safer, more mobile community,

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Palmetto Bay Garden Club at work - what goes up, must come down. Deering Holiday decoration removal day.

Our Palmetto Bay Garden Club (PBGC) breaks down the Holiday Decorations at the Deering Estate early Saturday morning, January 6, 2018.  Thank you Garden Club Members for all you do to make Palmetto Bay green and adding to the holiday spirit.

Palmetto Bay is blessed to have a wonderful Garden Club.  The Palmetto Bay Garden Club, Inc, was founded August 2009. I am proud to have been a early proponent of this club and to remain as a dues paying member (family membership) to this day. 
(above left and right - I am thankful for the PBGC, for their service to our community
I was hoping to help with the "heavy lifting, but they had things well under control)
Members of the PBGC are responsible for many of the green projects throughout the Village.  The Holiday Decs at Deering is just one of many examples of their projects - community leaders gathering and working to make our Palmetto Bay a better place to live work., play and be educated.
Here are some photos of the tree decs at the 2017 Deering Holiday event - annual Festival of Trees:
A big 'THANK YOU" to our Palmetto Bay Garden Club!

Your Mayor (and PBGC member), 

Eugene Flinn

BTW, love to see how members of our PBGC traveled to Deering for the event:

Friday, January 5, 2018

Support your local businesses. Support our local business association, the Palmetto Bay Business Association (PBBA)

Do you want a vibrant 'downtown' area where you can go shop, be entertained and dine? It doesn't simply "happen". It takes work and support. I ask that you support our local businesses. These businesses are where we shop, dine, workout or receive other services including various repairs.

The Palmetto Bay Business association is largely made up of local owners living in and around our Palmetto Bay community. I participate in this organization and have since it's inception.  See:

The PBBA last met on Thursday, January 4, 2018.  The featured speaker was Beacon Council President & CEO Michael A Finney

PBay resident - and realtor - Hal Feldman currently serves as Chairman of the PBBA.  Hal succeeds Courtney Reeder, (another PBay resident and PBay business person) who remains on the PBBA Board as Immediate Past Chairwoman.  Courtney is the Operations Director for Golden Rule Seafood, a family owned & operated seafood market, If you haven't been there, you are missing some of the greatest seafood that can be found in South Florida.  Courtney been very instrumental in the creation of the newest family business, a family friendly, local seafood restaurant in Palmetto Bay.

Join.  Participate.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Nicholeris family vacation in the 2018 winter “bomb cyclone” POD

Pictures of the day! Comparing our "frigid" weather here in Palmetto Bay with Palmetto Bay's (and the Coral Reef Elementary family's) own Nicholeris family who are currently experiencing the full impact of the winter 'violent 'bomb cyclone' going on in the Northeast.

Many Palmetto Bay residents are on vacation, skiing, many enjoying a respite from South Florida traffic.  Anyone from the Coral Reef Elementary family know both Theodore Nicholeris "Mr. Nick", music director, and Janice Nicholeris. Both long-time teachers at Coral Reef Elementary.

Mr Nick and I were comparing notes of our local weather today and her responded with the photos (actually Janice provided the photos and video). The report I received from the Nicholeris family is that it started Thursday (1/4/18) morning at about 4:00 AM - all the snow was blowing sideways. Winds steady at 30 kts. Gusts to 70 kts.  

I am promised more photos if they can get out to take them. The wind and snow had forced them to "...hunker down, stay warm, and eat good food."

The photos of  Mr. Nick with a snowblower is a keeper:
Missing Palmetto Bay?  I was told that our  +44degrees Fahrenheit  would feel like a heat wave!
 Stay warm Nicholeris family!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Guest Post - Make South Miami-Dade into an attractive, prosperous, first-class community. Choose elevated MetroRail, by Steve Zarzecki

The following is a guest Blog Post from Steve Zarzecki, who wears many hats in our community, including being President, Concerned Citizens of Cutler Bay and appointed Member to People's Advisory Group - Miami-Dade County Public Works & Transportation Department:
Photo: Steve Zarzeci

In a few weeks the TPO will make a decision that will affect us for decades to come here in South Dade. They will decide the mode of Mass Transit on the South Dade Transit Corridor (US-1). It should be clear to everyone that elevated MetroRail is the only viable solution for South Dade.

So, what will we gain from a decision to choose elevated MetroRail? And more importantly, what will we LOSE if they make the wrong choice?

From: American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC, 2017

Public transportation in the United States is a crucial part of the solution to the nation’s economic, energy, and environmental challenges - helping to bring a better quality of life. In increasing numbers, people are using public transportation and local communities are expanding public transit services. Every segment of American society - individuals, families, communities, and businesses - benefits from public transportation.

Public Transportation Saves Money
•According to APTA’s Transit Saving Report, a two-person household can save, on the average, more than $9,823 a year by downsizing to (or only using) one car.
(To calculate your individual savings, with or without car ownership or use, go to )
•Public transportation provides an affordable, and for many, necessary, alternative to driving.

Public Transportation Provides Economic Opportunities & Drives Community Growth and Revitalization
•Public transportation offers individuals access to jobs.
•87 percent of public transit trips impact the economy.
•Every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns.
•Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates more than 50,000 jobs.
•Every $10 million in capital investment in public transportation yields $32 million in increased business sales.
•Residential property values performed 42 percent better on average if they were located near public transportation with high-frequency service.

Public Transportation Enhances Personal Opportunities
•Public transportation provides personal mobility and freedom for people from every walk of life.
•Access to public transportation gives people transportation options to get to work, go to school, visit friends, or go to a doctor’s office.
•Public transportation provides access to job opportunities for millions of Americans.

Public Transportation Saves Fuel, Reduces Congestion
•Public transportation has a proven record of reducing congestion.
•The latest research shows that in 2011, U.S. public transportation use saved 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel in 498 urban areas.
•Without public transportation, congestion costs in 2011 would have risen by nearly $21 billion from $121 billion to $142 billion in 498 urban areas.
•Public transportation use in the United States saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.
•Households near public transit drive an average of 4,400 fewer miles than households with no access to public transit.

Public Transportation Reduces Carbon Footprint
•Public transportation use in the United States reduces our nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually. This is equivalent to Washington, DC; New York City; Atlanta; Denver; and Los Angeles combined stopping using electricity.
•One person with a 20-mile round trip commute who switches from driving to public transit can reduce his or her daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds, or more than 4,800 pounds in a year.
•A single commuter switching his or her commute to public transportation can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10 percent and up to 30 percent if he or she eliminates a second car.

These benefits will not come to South Miami-Dade if a sub-standard, inadequate mass transit system is chosen.

Make South Miami-Dade into an attractive, prosperous, first-class community. Choose elevated MetroRail.

Steve Zarzecki