Saturday, July 25, 2020

Why I bike. Marking my 58th with a 58 mile ride. I missed the rain.

But I did not miss the headwinds. I thought myself smart, initially heading north for trip out on a 58 mile ride to celebrate my 58th trip around the sun. This was solo ride due to the Pandemic. Just to ponder, and pedal. Wind was heading southwest from what I could tell, so I headed north. Take on the headwinds when fresh and earn a soothing tailwind on the ride back, after making the turn. But, like so much else, things change. As I said, I missed the rain, but not the fierce winds generated by some of the rain. I did enjoy the much anticipated tailwinds for the first few miles (who doesn't enjoy a tailwind?), until I returned to downtown Miami, where I was met with the fierce headwinds. You can either think “unfair” or pedal harder. I did the latter. Downtown was very stout. At one point I felt like I was pedaling merely to stay in place. How I missed having fellow cyclists to take turns pulling in the wind. Perhaps next year.

Old Cutler, past Key Biscayne, Brickell through downtown to Biscayne and north up to 110. I had 25.6 miles, I think, at the turn. Some loops or route diversions would be required to make the 58. I initially followed the same route back until I reached the Grove then into the Gables for a stop, through South Miami to what will soon be known as the south terminus of the Underline. That is where it got slow. Continued down what is in reality the “South Dade Trail” the M Path – a 30 mile path from downtown Miami to Florida City. I rode the path to 184 then headed East back into Palmetto Bay.

58.1 miles. Mission accomplished. A most interesting ride. I waited in downtown Miami for the drawbridge over the Miami River. 
One of the many things great about cycling. You take the time to enjoy the view.

I did stop at The Cat’s Meow Café. It was not open yet. Adopt a cat. The poor guy at the window looked quite friendly but suffers  from (or gets along despite) the loss of an eye. Many small businesses that appear not to be open or operating takeout / delivery only.
That was my ride. I seriously doubt there will be a 75 miler on my 75th – but I will train for it just in case.

The post would not be complete without a few cycling related quotes:

“In politics, one can learn some things from cycling, such as how to have character and courage. Sometimes in politics there isn’t enough of those things.”
Guy Verhofstadt, Prime Minister of Belgium, 2004

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
Ernest Hemingway

“One Less Car” & “We are not blocking traffic; we are traffic.”
Cycle advocacy slogans

And both sides of the aisle agree:

“Nothing compares to getting your heart rate up to 170-something, riding hard for an hour-twenty, getting off and not hurting, as opposed to 24 minutes of running, at the end of which I hurt. When you ride a bike and you get your heart rate up and you’re out, after 30 or 40 minutes your mind tends to expand; it tends to relax.”
President George ‘Dubya’ Bush, May 2004

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
President John F. Kennedy

Friday, July 24, 2020

ALERT. A potential new Bert J Harris claim has been raised by Qualcom Palmetto Bay Active Zone Business, LLC. This should be discussed Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Good Grief! Here we go again. Will Qualcom Palmetto Bay be LUXCOM part deux? Let's hope not. I wonder if there is blood in the water? Perhaps Palmetto Bay officials need to go back to zoning hearings rather than piecemeal by Bert J Harris litigation as LUXCOM is starting to appear to be merely the first of what is feared to be the start of a Bert J Harris litigation avalanche. Precedents are being set where zoning decisions are being taken out of the Village hands and determined by the courts, where our fellow village residents have essentially no input into the decisions. See: July 13, 2020, LUXCOM - Tuesday, July 14, 2020 is mediation day. a day that will set the future of development in Palmetto Bay. Some thoughts. for background information relating to LUXCOM.

Now there is the probability of rough water ahead for Special meeting - Tuesday, July 28, 2020: Zoning Hearing (Comprehensive Plan Amendment, FLUM, & DUV Zoning District). (CLICK HERE to view this 9 page agenda package - as it was posted as of 3:30 PM on Friday, 7/24/2020) This is scheduled to be the final hearing to pass the DUV changes on second reading. Anyone that has been following zoning hearings know that they have been held and then reset to a future date due to the pandemic and resulting difficulties in holding live hearings. This one looks like it will move forward (and it should as village business needs to move forward). However, this DUV code rewrite is not moving forward under the radar, without notice of at least some of the affected property owners. The entire 1,392 page agenda can be reviewed (it is a long download) CLICK HERE.

Property owners with objections - Attorneys for Qualcom Palmetto Bay Active Zone Business have raised multiple objections to the code rewrite, placing Village Officials on notice of potential lawsuit. The main claim is that the revisions violate the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Protection Act (“Act”). Their objections are discussed in detailed further on in this blog post, as well as providing a link to the actual objection letter.

CLICK HERE to read this letter for yourself

So here were are - days away from the potential LUXCOM part Deux. It really isn't hard to see these issues develop. That is for those who pay attention. And that is one reason why I continue to express my opinions in this blog. You are reading it here so you can truly be kept in the loop. Important information is not being passed on to Village residents. Palmetto Bay officials were recently served with a letter from Litigation Counsel for Qualcom Palmetto Bay Active Zone Business, LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company. The sale of this property was featured in a prior related post on January 8, 2020: More real estate sold for redevelopment while the council continues to neglect the promised DUV rewrite. Bellsouth Building, south of Palmetto Bay Park is sold to investment group

Review that prior post. You will see where I stated in the opening line of that blog post that "Private enterprise keeps moving while the Palmetto Bay government sleeps, perhaps trying to get in under the wire, before any new zoning restrictions take effect." I mentioned in that blog post that it "... is unfortunate that these moratoriums/ZIPS were allowed to expire under Mayor Cunningham as of February 2019, prior to any of the promised revisions." This was not a prediction, as the current state of disarray is far to easy to foresee. The shoes are now dropping from the sky. The subject property appears to be one of those properties traded during the lapse in the moratorium. Now what? More tough talk and political promises (specifically the 1 unit per acre promise on LUXCOM) only to be followed by hiding being the 'threat of lawsuit' to give the developer (such as LUXCOM) what the developer wants? Yes, 'new direction' - everything done under threat of lawsuit.

FAIR QUESTION: Why can't critical updates such as this demand letter and the threat of pending litigation be disseminated to fellow residents at all, forgetting for the moment, as quickly as notification of an official village celebratory birthday or graduation drive by? Distraction over business. Village notifications demonstrate that news can be disseminated, but current officials instead have chosen to dull residents with 'bread and circuses' rather than actually keeping people in the loop and allowing for public discussion on matters of great public importance. 

There was a Committee of the Whole meeting held Tuesday evening, 7/21/2020. Another Special Council meeting was held Thursday evening, 7/23/2020. Nothing was said in public regarding this new probable lawsuit. This is important. This is a matter of public importance. Regardless, it appears that once again my fellow village residents will be treated like mushrooms and remain in the dark regarding this latest festering matter until village officials can figure out how they can best spin it. Drive by party caravan anyone?  Officials hoping things go away is no way to run a government!

Back to the developing litigation demand: The property owners object to the Revision as applicable to the Property, alleging that the village's recent changes to the code "...unreasonably, arbitrarily and detrimentally burdens (their) Property.” 

Specifically, the property owners allege that:
A. The Revision violates the provisions of the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Protection Act (“Act”). The Act is a mechanism to protect and compensate any Landowner whose Property is affected by Government action not rising to a taking. See Florida Statute Section 70.001. It is our position that the Revisions inordinately burden our Client’s existing use of the Property and/or a vested right to a specific use of the Property under Section 70.001(2) of the Act.
There are additional objections alleged by the property owner in addition to the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Protection Act (“Act”) claim. Other objections include impermissible spot zoning; violation of Equal Protection, as well as the length of the moratorium (which actually was 'accidentally' dropped for a period of time, which many other property owners used as an opportunity to rush development plans into the Village Planning office, before that window of opportunity closed.Counsel for ended their correspondence stating that "We hope the Village will take our concerns seriously and modify the Revision accordingly. In this regards we are ready to meet with the Village at any time. If our Client’s concerns are not resolved we will have no alternative but to pursue our legal remedies. PLEASE GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY."

Stay tuned and we shall see what develops.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Is this the new normal for Palmetto Bay? Is there sufficient monies put aside to cover the expected litigation expenses for the remainder of this budget year? How large will the village litigation budget be for the upcoming 2020-21 budget year. Is this the REAL reason why the Cunningham Administration is seeking to raise taxes?

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Ballot for Town Manager Search - Town of Bay Harbor Islands, 7-22-2020. How will this impact Palmetto Bay?

Unfortunately, it is not unusual for a top choice to not come to terms. Leadership shows confidence in continuing the process, rather than scrambling at the first occurrence of an unfortunate turn of events. There should be no panic and no rush to cut and run from the process. The top candidate turned down Palmetto Bay on Tuesday, July 14. But there are questions as to why public discussion of next steps for Palmetto Bay manager had to wait until tonight, July 23. That has led to fair questions as to whether Palmetto Bay officials were waiting to see who would be available after the Town of Bay Harbor Islands acted on their process for Town Manager.  

Can someone review this photo sent to me and verify? I was advised that this was the vote on the first round for the finalists for the Town of Bay Harbor Islands manager search. The date of this ballot is listed as July 22, 2020.  There were 6 finalists compared with the 3 for Palmetto Bay. The candidates listed below either did not participate in the Palmetto Bay search or qualify for the final three. The 5 (now) former candidates for Bay Harbor Islands are now moving on; assuming that Bay Harbor Islands comes to terms with their top choice.

The Palmetto Bay manager selection should not be made on a whim, without proper vetting. I recommend that they stick to the process and show respect to the other two candidates who put their faith in Palmetto Bay. The remaining final 2 believed that they would be respected and not abandoned, cast out, based upon the inability of this mayor and council to come to terms with their former top candidate. That is why there are three finalists.

Palmetto Bay should not be someone's safety net, plan "D" or worse.

I am providing links to some recent Community Newspapers opinion articles relating to the current state of the Palmetto Bay search:

Grant Miller, Community Newspapers: Palmetto Bay’s No-Show Manager Might Be A Sign of Bigger Problems, July 17, 2020

Grant Miller, Community Newspapers: Palmetto Bay: Patience May be Your Best Ally Right Now. July 21, 2020

Palmetto Bay may have been turned down by the top finalist, but 2 of the 3 remain and they deserved the respect of the process continuing as promised.


  • Is this why Palmetto Bay scheduled their discussion for tonight, July 23, 2020, to allow for the vote to take place in Bay Harbor Islands?
  • Are any of these candidates not hired going to be considered by Palmetto Bay tonight on a whim?
  • Did any of these candidates participate in the Palmetto Bay search performed by the Mercer Group, but did not make the list of Palmetto Bay finalists.
  • Would Palmetto Bay elected officials actually consider any of these candidates if they chose not to participate in the Palmetto Bay search, or if they did, they failed to make the finals?
  • What communication, if any, has been held between any of the 6 listed candidates for Bay Harbor Islands post and our elected officials (or any of their intermediaries)?
We shall see if the Palmetto Bay officials continue to follow the process or if they abandon it and hire on a whim, hiring someone who did not make the top three in a neighboring community. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

POD - do as Batman does, wear the mask. "The mask is not for you. It's to protect the people you care about."

Listen to Batman, if you won’t listen to the CDC. Batman provides a perfect explanation as to why we should wear a face covering during the pandemic. The quote is lifted from the 2012 movie The Dark Knight Rises.

"The mask is not for you. It's to protect the people you care about."

Monday, July 20, 2020

What's happening - Real Estate - Change is coming to the old Calico Corners – building reported sold for $1,650,000

I have no information on what will go in there, but there is an update posted as to the recent sale – the near landmark Calico Corners building 

OK, so I hadn’t been there in a while, but they were happy trips, looking for materials for drapes and other items for our nursery room(s). Good times.

$1,650,000 was the closing price for the 5,636-square-foot, two-story retail building on just over a quarter-acre lot at 16810 S. Dixie Highway in Palmetto Bay.

See LAW.COM, dbr Daily Business Review, July 20, 2020, Palmetto Bay Retail Building Trades for $1.65 Million, by Lidia Dinkova, that is if you are a subscriber and therefore able to get past the paywall.

NOTE: Potential buyers often meet with officials in the village planning office to discuss their plans for a property, as part of pre-sale due diligence. Again, I am not in the loop as to whether such a meeting occurred in this specific instance or what was discussed if there was a meeting. We will, as they say; “wait and see”.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Update on LUXCOM – this is a question, not a statement.

I was advised that the mediation did go forward on Tuesday, July 14. And, like I predicted, there was no resolution. Unconfirmed reports are that the parties are to meet again in the near future, perhaps or week or two.  It is now July 17, and not a peep has been reported to the general public.

PREDICTION: Mediation will start, but will suspend and reset for another day further down the road, ….”
This was hardly a risky prediction as the behavior of this current council and their employees have become so predictable. But we move on to the next question: when will this mediation reconvene? I was hoping that someone would keep me in the loop, but even though this information is obviously made available to our elected officials, it clearly is limited in distribution only to those insiders who they deem need to know. The general public appears to been deemed non-essential for updates. Mushrooms anyone?

THE REALITIES: All of you should be aware that the process would be visible; that residents would be able to give testimony and participate, if only this zoning issue was being held at a publicly noticed zoning hearing. But it is not a zoning hearing, so we cannot observe and participate.


Things break down. It has become the new normal in Palmetto Bay. It is happening with the Franjo Road modifications, the bridge at Coral Reef Park, our legislative requests, and most recently with the sudden hiring fiasco of the manager-select, where a deal that wasn't was announced and celebrated prematurely, but in fact, behind the scenes negotiations broke down (as reported in the Barrow News-Journal) leaving egg all over the faces of the Palmetto Bay officials.

So chew on the above for a moment. Then look ahead to some of the very important issues:

“What if” an ‘agreement’ is reached on LUXCOM and this village council reacts the same way as the manager-select's proposed contract: where the council again substitutes their judgement for those whom they sent to negotiate and subverts this process by using the mediation process as a starting point and not a complete negotiation. Will council members bust that agreement in the same way the manager-select’s proposed contract went south, doomed to failure once brought before this mayor and council?

The public has been excluded so far in this mediation process with LUXCOM. And remember, this mediation is VOLUNTARY (vol·un·tar·y) – meaning this mayor and council set about this process acting upon their own free will. Their decision. Mediation was not forced upon this Village by lawsuit or any other reason. It could have gone through the usual zoning application process. We shall see if this non-traditional process was a wise decision or another “oops I did it again” fiasco.

Again, we will see how this unique process plays out; hopefully better than the manager selection process to date.

FINAL THOUGHTS: There are two opportunities to properly update the public next week - the first is the special council meeting for Tuesday, July 21, 2020 at 5:30 PM. There is a single item noticed, only the following Resolution with public comments is currently notice to be heard during this special meeting:
And if one special council meeting was insufficient to satisfy your hunger to watch zoom council meetings, perhaps there is still time to notice a LUXCOM update to be presented at the second special council meeting of that week, set for Thursday, July 23.  This second special council meeting starts at 6:30 PM and involves attempting to resurrect the search for a new village manager.

Perhaps, for once, either item on either day can move smoothly through approval and the Village Charter officers can in good faith determine how to add on items in order update the council and the residents regarding LUXCOM. However, it would be a shame to hear that we, the people, should be locked out for the loop as it “may adversely impact the negotiations.” Really? This is not secret information as we all know LUXCOM representatives and those they report to have are in the loop as to the status, so by the same token, shouldn’t those who our elected officials report to (HINT: “We, the people”), be similarly situated in the know?

This is representative government. Government in the Sunshine. It is our right to know. Again, not your legal theory, but the status of demands, offers and counter-proposals.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

You have to be kidding me! Barrow County Manager Mike Renshaw turns down the Palmetto Bay Manager position

I have to say that this is a shockingly new low. Barrow County Manager Mike Renshaw was offered the most lucrative employment package ever offered by Palmetto Bay officials. Yes, that is right: the highest ever. Yet, this was not enough. Palmetto Bay officials (and those who were following this process) went to bed after the July 13, 2020 village council meeting (that actually ran past midnight, so into July 14) thinking that Palmetto Bay had agreed to terms for the next Village Manager. Apparently the money was not enough. With sunrise on July 14, 2020, the news began to circulate that Manager-Select Mike Renshaw had decided to reject Palmetto Bay’s offer and Palmetto Bay. The council spent well over an hour bickering over Renshaw’s final contract at that council meeting. Many of us want to know what happened behind the scenes. Why, after being offered the most lucrative employment contract ever, did the manager-select not put pen to paper to commit, but instead bolted like a spooked horse from a burning barn? Or, were Mayor Cunningham and the rest of the council simply played?

Better now than days, weeks or months into the job. I don't know whether this reads like a script from “The Runaway Bride” or “Bad Date Chronicles." Either way, it is neither entertaining nor good for the reputation of Palmetto Bay.

An article is posted online with the Barrow News-Journal (you must be a subscriber to pass through the paywall to read the full article).
It was reported that Barrow County manager Mike Renshaw will remain with the county for now after talks for him to become the new manager for the Village of Palmetto Bay, Fla., fell through Monday night.
… he said Tuesday that contract talks had broken down and he was no longer interested in the position.
He had been scheduled to begin work in the incorporated village in Miami-Dade County on Aug. 1. 
   ***   ***   ***Renshaw said he had told the Barrow County Board of Commissioners about his candidacy and kept them informed on the negotiations with Palmetto Bay. 
“I’m happy here, but if an opportunity arises that looks interesting and would be a challenge, that’s something I will look at,” Renshaw said. “I’ve got a good working relationship with the board here and that’s crucial to any manager’s tenure.”
The above does not read like a candidate that could be, or should be, persuaded (translation: "begged) to accept the Palmetto Bay Manager’s position. 

I remain proud of what I (along with so many others) worked so hard to build here in Palmetto Bay and believe that the position of Village Manager is one of high esteem. It should only be offered to someone who really wants the position with no holds barred. We need someone who is tried and true, dyed in wool Palmetto Bay Blue!

This is the "Brittany Spears" council - as this latest episode can be titled: "Oops, I did it again" Failure to close. Back to the drawing board. 


  • Did the Village dodge a bullet when the top pick for Village Manager withdrew?
  • Who will be blamed for this latest stunt?
  • Where do the Mayor and Council go from here? Move on to candidates 2 & 3? Or do they scrap the prior process and start over.
  • Do the Mayor and Council suck up any semblance of pride and beg him to reconsider, tossing more money, more perks or what ever it takes to land this fish?
  • This is a problem with going far outside the area to bring in candidates. One has to wonder whether this was all a ploy by the manager-select to negotiate a better deal with his present job. 
  • Was this actually orchestrated behind the scenes to enable some yet to be discovered player to bring in a dark horse candidate who did not go through the executive search process?

Unfortunately, it appears that the article put out by the Palmetto Bay News is going to sit out for the next two weeks, edition running from July 14 - 28, 2020, as an in our face article about what could have been. Not today! Read the Community Newspapers online: Palmetto Bay selects new village manager, by Gary Alan Ruse -July 12, 2020

Monday, July 13, 2020

LUXCOM - Tuesday, July 14, 2020 is mediation day. a day that will set the future of development in Palmetto Bay. Some thoughts.

Residents of Palmetto Bay were promised 1 unit an acre at the LUXCOM property, formerly known as the FPL property. So how is that working out?This is another of a series of updates relating to this land use issue that may set a precedent for years to come.

The "mediation" is set for Tuesday, July 14, 2020. I put the quotes around mediation as there is no Bert J Harris claim lawsuit filed, at least yet. Pre-suit mediation do happen by agreement of parties, but the fact of this matter is that this matter could have been worked in the public through a zoning hearing, where residents could have attended and put in their testimony, their input into the final numbers. 

At last check, the negotiations offered by Palmetto Bay officials included the following:
  • 145 units (which is significantly more than the 1 unit per acre limitation imposed by Palmetto Bay - promised to residents by this mayor and council)
  • Revert the zoning back to "institutional" but specifically excluding a use for a hospital, or
  • Participate in binding arbitration
The one unit an acre zoning was represented as fully defensible by both the Mayor Cunningham and Vice Mayor DuBois. If this is true, then why the offer for significantly more units? Once again, the issue is whether this promise and council action - setting one unit an acre - will be aggressively defended or will the political realities and promise breaking rear its ugly head once again. 

Perhaps this is less about political promises, but in reality demonstrates that the current administration is out of their depth, unable to fully grasp zoning issues and property rights.

Should the council exceed 1 unit an acre? The bottom line: LUXCOM has few true expectations of unit rights. Why?
  • They purchased a property known to be contaminated. A known health risk not just to the site, but to surrounding areas.
  • Due to the contamination, there is a valid argument for ZERO units per acre.
  • The majority of the site had only been used for power plant production, not residential (and is also the reason for the contamination).
  • The area to the north is in a differing jurisdiction, Coral Gables - which has its own zoning / land use codes, rules & regulations; what I considered to be a 'hard wall' against liberally applying any trend of development into Palmetto Bay.
  • The area and few houses (caretaker houses) were zoned 5 unit and 1 unit per acre in the applicable close proximity. This would support reasonable zoning decisions of between 15 - 65 units on this entire property.
  • Hearings were held on the legislation establishing the 1 unit per acre designation.
  • (There are many more reasons not included here)
LUXCOM is significant. This may be the first time ever that a Palmetto Bay mayor and council upzone any property, increasing density. This property has important distinctions from the Palmetto Bay Village Center (PBVC). First of all, back in the 1980s, the PBVC won a court-order right (against Miami-Dade) to over 1,400 residential units on the 80 acres long before Palmetto Bay residents ever though of becoming a municipality. Palmetto Bay officials have worked hard to whittle down the number of units over time. LUXCOM is an attempt to actually INCREASE the number of units.

But now is not the time to interject, let's see what happens. Perhaps Palmetto Bay Village Officials will keep their promises and fight to reign this project in and keep the 1 unit an acre designation that was promised to the voters, the residents of Palmetto Bay.

Fair questions:
  • How long will we be kept in the dark as to any agreement reached at this mediation? 
  • Will an impasse be announced the same day? 
  • Will a proposed settlement be announced or will we have to wait until the proposed settlement is released in an agenda for a special council zoning meeting to approve the proposed settlement? 
  • What happens if a majority of the Village Council rejects that proposed settlement, or, 
  • One possible result being talked about - an announcement that no agreement was reached; that an update mediation will take place after the respective attorneys confer with their respective clients (one possible translation: pushed off until after the upcoming elections).
PREDICTION: Mediation will start, but will suspend and reset for another day further down the road, preferably after the upcoming elections.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Our condolences. We mourn the passing of Yolly Buchmann

Her leadership in the arts brought wonderful events to Palmetto Bay! Yolly was a firebrand who was hard-driven for the arts. I can't say enough about Yolly.

I will remember her for several things: Her role (along with the entire Cultural Council) in bringing "Art in the Park" as well as "Jazz Under the Stars". She has earned recognition in positive Palmetto Bay history. 

Palmetto Bay was blessed to have so many members of the Cultural Council residing within its borders.  I recall attending a Jazz Under the Stars when it was held at Metro Zoo.  A brief partnership formed between the first Palmetto Bay Village Council and the Cultural Council after incorporation,and through the efforts of Yolly Buchmann, Betty Noe, Maria Kesti and so many others with the Council.  We had two of their events.  "Jazz Under The Stars" on March 6, 2004. And the many years we enjoyed the Art Show through 2011 Neither event occurs any longer within Palmetto Bay.  CLICK HERE to read more and view a few photos from this Jazz event.

Her obituary can be found on page 13A of the Sunday edition of the Miami Herald (CLICK HERE to read the online version). Facts I did not know: 
She was baptized at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France. She would go onto study at the University of the Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico and the College of New Rochelle in New York. A dedicated patron of the Arts, she served as President of the South Miami Cultural Council and Theatre Arts League
My memories with Yolly will resolve around these events in Palmetto Bay, the tenacity should put in in the year around logistics to make these events happen, her leadership in working with the Cultural Council Board and her work with the village in sponsorship and logistics.  She was an 'energizer bunny' of the Arts. Rest in Peace Yolly.  You earned our lasting respect. So many of us benefited from your efforts. A leader in the arts and team building.

Your friend,

Eugene Flinn

Friday, July 10, 2020

Enjoy your ride. Please ride safely and in full compliance with the rules of the road and the emergency orders relating to COVID-19. Key Biscayne has agreed to suspend enforcement of their Order prohibiting non-motorized vehicles from entering Key Biscayne.

Enjoy your ride, please ride safely and in full compliance with the rules of the road and the emergency orders relating to COVID-19.

We are pleased to announce that the Village of Key Biscayne has agreed to suspend enforcement of their Order prohibiting non-motorized vehicles from entering Key Biscayne. During this temporary suspension, bicycles will be permitted within the Village, subject to strict compliance with applicable Miami-Dade County and Village Emergency Order requirements, which include, but are not limited to, maintaining appropriate social distancing and facial coverings.

We were notified of this decision by counsel for the Village of Key Biscayne sent at 11:53 AM on Friday, July 10, 2020.

Our position remains consistent that the violators should be held accountable for their actions, not any class of people, in this case cyclists. Law Enforcement may charge violators under Florida Statutes Section 252.50, Penalties, a second degree misdemeanor, should an individual fail to comply.

Everyone, no matter who they are or what their method of transportation, must comply with the requirements to wear a mask and social distance.  Obey the Emergency Order , and stay safe!

For more information, contact any of the following:

Eugene Flinn, Esq. 305-302-3713
David Winkler, Esq. 305-801-8700
Paul Schweip, Esq. 305-495-3833

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy Independence Day - 2020 - Have a safe and fun 4th!

Alexandra, Katherine, Meredith and I all wish a very Happy Independence Day to you and your families! 

This is a holiday to celebrate, the day we celebrate the birth of our great nation, the creation of the greatest system of freedom and democracy. All of this occurred due to the great physical and financial sacrifice of the founders of this nation, the brave men and women of yesterday and today who have sacrificed so greatly to ensure the traditions bestowed by our remarkable founders. We owe them vigilance, and the willingness to defend the democracy they have passed on to you.

Independence Day has been celebrated since 1776.  But do you know the year that July 4 officially made a Federal Holiday?  Would you believe 1941? Check out the page regarding July 4, for additional information.

Let us continue to look to a future that belongs to all of us - a future that ‘we, the people’ have the power to create.

Happy Independence Day – 2020.

Protect Your Pets on July 4th
Protect your pets on this fourth of July holiday - it is not a 'pet-friendly' holiday.  They don't understand what all the ruckus is about. (See my blog - CLICK HERE - to view my full post and important links)
July 4th is a busy day for pet shelters. Many pets get frightened and run off during fireworks. Pets are severely distressed by the noise of fireworks. Remember, dogs' and cats' hearing is much more sensitive than ours, so those loud booms can be extremely uncomfortable!

A wiser choice for your pet is for you to bring your pet inside the house and make sure that your special friend is safely tucked into a room with a television or radio on. It is recommended that if you are not staying home with your pet, make sure that their favorite hiding spot is available so they can run to a place in the house where they feel safe ---- this could be under the bed, in the closet or even their pet crate.  If you are home, stay near them, speak to them and let them know that they are safe. 
Please take the time - CLICK HERE - to view a .PDF put out by Miami-Dade County Animal Services - July 4th Pet Safety Tips.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

How Many Cyclists Have to Die Before We Get Serious About Bike Lanes?

I originally started this post on June 29th and put it aside. Then I learned his name, Hector Echeverria, and realized that my family knew him and his family. He was my daughter's Algebra 2 teacher at Coral Reef High and subsequently taught at Palmetto High and MAST Academy. He lived two blocks away from us, and my other daughter knew his daughter at Coral Reef Elementary, Southwood Middle School, and Palmetto Senior. She also knew Hector. He was a caring, gentle, and certainly not careless man. At 57, he had just beaten pancreatic cancer.

This is the cyclist who was mowed down by a vehicle in what was supposed to be a 25 mph street on Key Biscayne this past weekend. A second cyclist was also struck and remains in the hospital. 

I mourn the loss of another cyclist - one who had a deep and personal connection to Palmetto Bay. I still do not know the identity of the other cyclist. But regardless, a pair of cyclists were struck by a single vehicle early Sunday morning on Key Biscayne. There appears to be no allegation that either cyclist was doing anything other than what thousands of others do riding that same route. Another life lost and more lives changed forever.

But hey, keep tell me how we don’t need bike lanes. We still know little about this accident. But killing a cyclist is barely even a traffic ticket in South Florida. And there are always those who will make the point that cyclists are a nuisance -- as if they deserve the death penalty for getting in your way.

There has been much discussion and planning for bike lanes in Palmetto Bay. But there seems to be a lack of political will to act beyond planning. Politicians, including our own Daniella Levine-Cava, hold meetings. There are longstanding strategic / master / local / community plans. Plans are not the problem. The problem is that the efforts end with a celebration of discussion. Then people go back thinking there will be action, implementation. But there is little to none. And then more are injured or worse, killed. And then we all wonder why.

Or maybe discussion ends because politicians are scared of a few neighbors who don't like cyclists -- even if those cyclists are kids trying to get to school.

Why do I post my opinions here? Because this latest killing occurred at a spot where many were pushing for meaningful changes to improve safety. It tears me up to think of what this family is going through. The route was one used primarily by bikes, basically like being in a park. A road where it occurred, I am told, had a posted speed limit (for any vehicle, any type) of 25 MPH. I am familiar with this area, having ridden this route often. It is filled with bicycles.

This situation has been festering for far too long. Cycling advocates, and anyone who believes that life has value, need to ask whether this latest killing should (not could, but should) have been prevented. 

When will discussion result in actual action? We have seen many, many, “initiatives” where people are called together to discuss the issues, weigh in and propose solutions.  I have participated in some of these:  See the Miami-Dade County "Dead Serious" discussions reported back in May of 2018 (CLICK HERE to review). What has changed? Everything appeared to have gone dark once the videos and photo ops were completed. "Mission accomplished" was declared seemingly without any new protections actually put in place. 

County Commissioner Cava promised to construct bicycle lanes on 136 Street from Old Cutler to US 1. (CLICK HERE to view the full text of her transportation plan promises made back in January 2018) # 11 of the projects listed for 2018 was “11) Construct bicycle lanes on 136 Street from Old Cutler to US 1.” Instead, years later, the project was swapped out for a 8-10 foot sidewalk placed in the right of way, south side (Palmetto Bay side) of SW 136 Street). See December 29, 2019, The SW 136th Street Plans are posted for your review. Currently your only source to view as Palmetto Bay officials continue to fail to post these documents Bait, meet switch.
The above is just a single example. But the bottom line is that, as long as pedestrians (and their dogs and children) are on the path, cyclists will continue to ride along on the roadway of SW 136th Street as they are legally entitled to; where they will not be placing pedestrians at risk of bikes or be at risk of being struck by vehicles turning on or off the roadway (a recent example was posted on June 24, 2020, Yet another car v bike conflict along the Old Cutler Trail – a multi-use path, not a dedicated bike lane.)

I have worked to implement actual solutions, including safe routes to school programs, bike lanes and cyclist and motorist safety education. Implementation, going beyond the planning.  Discussion, advocating, location (and, more importantly, securing) funding and then implemented.

But it is disingenuous and worse – actually dangerous – when plans are derailed and replaced with lesser alternatives, that are not really alternatives at all, but 'repurposing' serious transportation safety issues to recreational uses that continues to place cyclists at risk. Cyclists that are our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers - teachers.  

Look at the dates of the “Dead Serious” initiatives. Where is the follow up, the delivery, a completion of a project? What has been actually implemented as a result of the efforts? Photo ops or actual efforts to improve safety? How many more need to die?

Meanwhile - Palmetto Bay continues to sit on $1 million dollars, a grant which they received to during my administration. This is that was to be used to make bicycling safer and, what's more, to enable people to use public transportation and take a bicycle for the first and last mile of public transportation. It would also help students to bicycle to Southwood Middle School. Is Palmetto Bay going to use this grant? Or should it be returned so that it can be awarded to another local government that we can trust to keep promises made. 


SUPPORT VERSUS ACCOMPLISHMENTS. It is easy to wave a flag in support. The hard part is actually delivering solutions. I suggest that this current Palmetto Bay Village Council, Charter Officers and Staff take a look at policy set to date by prior administrations, specifically Resolution 2017-67,  (sponsored by then Mayor Eugene Flinn) wherein the Village Council unanimously adopted  Miami-Dade County’s “Complete Streets Guidelines” and directed that these guidelines should be incorporated into the planning, design, approval, and implementation processes for any construction, reconstruction, retrofit, maintenance, alteration, or repair of streets, bridges, or other portions of the transportation network, including pavement resurfacing, restriping, and signalization operations if the safety and convenience of all types of users (i.e., pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transit riders, including children, youth, families, older adults, and individuals with disabilities) can be improved within the scope of the work.

CONCLUDING STATEMENT:  I make no apologies for the passion and venting of frustration. People are dying - all types - parents, grandparents, sons, daughters, friends and neighbors. Yes, some are sportsters; but many of these victims were simply traveling on a short commute by bike to or from work, riding to school or a friends house, or otherwise simply on a leisurely ride, but all were in the very wrong place at a very wrong time.  So spare me the celebration of yet another public photo op forum. I am demanding implementation, that promises be kept.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Don't miss it. Bike305- Bike the Wild Side at Zoo Miami. Saturday, July 18th

I am posting a wonderful family inclusive event. Bike305's: Bike the Wild Side at Zoo Miami is set for Saturday, July 18th (Check-in starting at 4:30 p.m. Ride starts at 6 p.m.). This installment offers a safe and enjoyable experience for guests, all while following CDC recommended guidelines.

Now is the time to request your tickets as this event always fills up fast – and there is a limited number of tickets for this family Bike305 'Bike the Wild Side' event at Zoo Miami.  Guided by the talented Zoo Miami staff, groups of 9 cyclists will be led on a leisurely ride around the zoo for approximately 3 miles. Each group will have the opportunity to stop and learn about the habits and habitats of some of the animals, with special appearances from life-sized animatronic dinosaurs. Don't miss this one of a kind opportunity to see Zoo Miami in a whole new way!

It doesn’t get more family friendly, cuter than this!

CLICK HERE for more information and tickets

*Masks are required to participate. Masks must be worn at registration and at all stops along the route. However, they may be temporarily removed while bike riding.*

Note- There is a charge for this event: $20 for ages 13 to adult. $15 for 12 and younger. Bring your own bike or rent one at the event (must pre-register rental for an additional $15 per rental. Please review the official site to review and confirm all prices and details.