Saturday, July 04, 2015

Eye on Miami Saturday Editorial Page July 4th: Overtown, Autos and Lawsuits. By Geniusofdespair

We take up the slack from the Miami Herald - They refuse to do a Saturday Editorial Page

 Following in his dad's steps as a journalist, Daniel Ducassi has written an amazing article: Overtown's Past Meets Overtown's Future. The article begins:
In Overtown, a battle over the neighborhood’s future has been brewing since the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) voted in late December to give potentially more than $100 million in tax incentives to the developers of Miami Worldcenter, a 27-acre complex of high end shopping, luxury condominiums, and hotel rooms that will cost more than $1 billion. In comparison, the CRA spent a total of roughly $6.5 million on community redevelopment for the entire year of 2013, less than 7 percent of what’s being proposed for Worldcenter.

Losing so much revenue that could have been used for other projects doesn’t seem right to many Overtown residents. Religious leaders, along with housing rights and labor activists, have been sharply critical about the agreement.

“Why do developers think that when they come to the city of Miami that the CRA checkbook is going to be open to subsidize their projects?” asked Frank Schnidman, Florida Atlantic University professor of urban and regional planning. One of the project’s sharpest critics, Schnidman and his students have studied CRAs around the state and found the CRA practices in Miami-Dade County in general to be the most “off base.”
Go read the rest. There is some great film footage of historic Overtown.

Why am I writing an editorial page on Saturday, July 4th. No one is going to read it.
Anyway, here I am doing it like a jerk.

I have had two Lexus sedans. I just sold the last. I have one regret. I miss the free cappuccino at the dealership. I don't miss the car, I love the Snot-a car much better. I got it with all the bells and whistles, including adaptive cruise control, air conditioned seats, rear camera, automatic trunk opening, stay in lane alarm and blind spot detection. My only complaint, there are always alarms going off and I don't know what I did wrong. I drift out of the lane a lot maybe that is it. In this car you must use your turn signal.

He loves that lawsuit more than he loves to wear a suit. He might have more lawsuits going than business suits in his closet. Who knows, never looked in his closet. I will post his latest lawsuit this week. This one was filed in Federal Court, some sort of Civil Rights thing. I will let one of you try to figure out who I am talking about.

Miami Dade County Commissioner Pepe Diaz a.k.a. (Pepe le Pew) for loving LED signs more than people and trying to changer the sign ordinance to help his lobbyist friends. Let's put one next door to his house and see how he likes it.

Do you remember those old movies in the cheap hotels, where the star is smoking a cigarette contemplating his loser life? There is always a blinking sign from outside lighting up his room with a color, enforcing the melancholy in his life. That is what I think of when all these super expensive condos will have new neighbors: proposed LED sign thanks mostly to LED Sign booster Pepe Diaz. Maybe the people will start to jump off their balconies from melancholy producing dazzling lights. No sleep for you Euro Trash!

Friday, July 03, 2015

Brian Wilson and Little Mexican Kids Rock To "Love and Mercy" ... by gimleteye

Which of these kids from California are children of Trump's rapists and criminals from Mexico?

Must READ and Must WATCH: John Dorschner in Biscayne Times on: "Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company Created The New Urbanism, Which Is Transforming The World - Miami Included" and Media Matters, on ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council ... by gimleteye

In Biscayne Times, former Herald writer John Dorschner captures the magic realism within the fact that Miami-Dade -- one of the most poorly planned large metropolitan areas in the nation -- is home to two of the nation's foremost urban planners; Lizz Plater-Zyberk and Andres Duany. The BT story is a must read. Congratulations to Dorschner and BT for capturing the nuances of a great American story.
On the other hand, there is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, the right-wing, conservative effort to circumvent democracy using Trojan Horses to slip into state and county legislatures and take over the process of writing legislation. It is difficult to explain to people who don't care about the fine details of democracy, just how damaging ALEC has been. Its fingerprints are all over Florida and Miami-Dade rules and regulations.

A Georgia television station captured ALEC in action. Eye on Miami offers anonymity to any Miami-Dade or Florida whistleblowers who would like to come forward and detail their ALEC experiences. There is a not-so-subtle connection between New Urbanism and ALEC: what the one seeks to encourage, the other is determined to suppress. Watch the video, here.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Miami Dade County's GOP is silent on Donald Trump: why? No respect for Hispanics? ... by gimleteye

Miami Dade County's GOP is failing the Trump-Latino-Test. Why? This is, after all, the city in the great state of Florida that defines Hispanic identity. And yet, leaders like Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez have been silent on Donald Trump.

Frank Sharry, executive director of immigration advocacy group America’s Voice, put it succinctly to the LA Times: "(he) said he was surprised that GOP leaders have not come out more strongly against (Trump's) statement."

The statement being the GOP candidate for president was sick of Mexico "... sending people [to the US] that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists.” Trump, sizing up his audience, also called on Mexico to fund the building of a "great wall" along the southern border to prevent the supposed influx of Mexican criminals to the US.

“Can you imagine if he was talking about Jews? African Americans?” Sharry said. (EOM: What about Cuban?) “Would the GOP stand up? Of course they would. ... But the silence of the GOP on this is defining the party.”

Mayor Gimenez enjoys his time with Donald Trump on the golf course and others close to the mayor would rather be comped at Doral than raise an eyebrow. And by silence on Trump, the truth comes in in two flavors: either they hate Latinos themselves or just Mexicans.

There is a third possibility: that Trump's ethnic baiting cannot go unanswered in Miami-Dade. The County Commission's condemnation is not enough.

In that case, Mayor Gimenez, if you can't fire Donald Trump from the Trump National Doral Golf Club and the Cadillac Championship of Golf, make him pay the free market rate for services Miami-Dade County provides gratis. And next time he asks you to a round of golf, tell him: "Not While I'm In Public Office."
No dogs or Mexicans allowed unless it's working on the golf course.

Florida Supercon 2015 Was Held this Past Weekend. By Geniusofdespair

Miami's answer to Comic Con was held this weekend at the convention center in Miami Beach. Teenagers showed up to see their favorite heroes and dress up in imitation of them. Autograph sessions were available. Anyone go? I was going to go as the Walking Dead but was told this was a different thing. The highlights of the event included an opportunity to meet the popular "Game of Thrones" actor Jason Momoa, who plays Khal Drogo, and actress Esmé Bianco, who plays Ros. Never watched the show. A lot of merchandise was for sale...look at the last picture. T-Shirts for Everybody!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Recreation pot now a misdemeanor in Miami ... AMEN ... by gimleteye

The Herald reports:
Miami-Dade commissioners voted Tuesday to let police treat marijuana possession the same way they do littering and loitering — by issuing a civil citation with a $100 fine that keeps the offense out of the criminal system. “We have better things to do with our police resources,” said Commissioner Sally Heyman, sponsor of the ordinance. “For goodness’ sakes, we don't have to destroy the lives of so many.” The change in county code passed 10-3, marking a milestone in how Florida's largest local government treats marijuana offenses. The new ordinance gives police officers the option of either charging pot possession as a criminal misdemeanor or as a civil offense — which brings a fine but no criminal record — for possession of 20 grams or less, enough for about three dozen joints. Read more here:
One could go on, discussing ad nauseam the failure of government's war on drugs, but for just one moment let's celebrate the small window opening on reason and rationality in Miami-Dade.

Shiver me timbers, matey ... I just found this piece by Philip Wylie ... by gimleteye

Shiver me timbers, matey. I just found this piece by Philip Wylie, a writer who experienced the 1920's in Miami and wrote about it for the Herald's Tropic Magazine in its second issue in 1967.

Wylie summons so many of the same feelings I have experienced, sounding cautionary notes about the destruction of our natural resources. He could see shit falling apart.

Wylie wasn't the only sentinel -- Marjory Stoneman Douglas, daughter of a Miami Herald publisher was right there with him -- , but this piece of writing is remarkable because he writes from the perspective of someone who had seen it fall apart before -- just after the Great Depression and collapse of real estate markets.

I love his description of trees growing through the cracks of the streets and abandoned housing. We will witness it again in Miami with sea level rise.

That is why our most amazing folly -- one that would have Wylie tearing at his hair -- is FPL's continued push for two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point that would not be completed at least for another 15 years and, once they are built, would operate directly into a South Florida being ripped apart by sea level rise.

The dystopian vision of a post Great Depression Miami is just over the horizon and it is going to look more like the real-life franchise of a Mad Max movie.

Miami's infrastructure depends on the current level of tax base. Climate change will eat at the tax base like acid on a thin sheet of metal. The irony is that the force of climate change is as unstoppable as a nuclear reactor once it commences operation.

Let's be clear: no one of my generation will around to witness the demand to shut down Turkey Point because the region can't be protected from sea level rise. And no one at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission -- in its final permitting phases -- is even talking about it.

There should be an exclamation point at the end of every one of these sentences because it is so hard to reconcile that every one of Wylie's observations when only one hundred people lived in post Great Depression Miami forecasts the same today, except multiplied a few hundred thousand times.

Wylie danced around the theme, we have met the enemy and he is us. His words are so resonant, washing back and forth in the tide.

Tropic, Miami Herald
Paradise Lost –And Regained

Philip Wylie, the famous American author-philosopher came to Miami in 1929, when the town lay in the backwash of bust and the Depression, and rusting steel skeletons of unfinished buildings stood as monuments to community despair. He kept a home here until his death in 1971. And often, he wrote about his adopted city — its struggles to survive the spoilers and polluters, the geography and climate that make it unique — “this place,” he wrote, “where new things constantly happen.” He wrote this article for the second issue of the Miami Herald’s Tropic magazine in 1967. The story predates Time Magazine’s article in 1981 about South Florida — titled “Paradise Lost?” — when the crime rate had gone off the charts. The original, digitized pages of Wylie’s piece are posted below, with the text following. The descriptions of Florida’s natural world and those who would ruin it remain relevant decades later.

October 22, 1967
Philip Wylie recalls the dark days
when South Florida poisoned itself,
and warns: “It could happen again”
By Philip Wylie

The boom of 1928 had collapsed, Wall Street’s Black Monday was history and the bread lines began to form. A skinny young writer was told by his doctor he needed to get away from Manhattan to a warm climate for the winter. The Arizona desert say, or South Florida. He’d had too many colds, he needed to rest otherwise he might die of pneumonia or TB.

The favorite recreations of that patient were aquatic. And the desert seemed to offer poor chances for swimming, fishing, boating, what was called fancy diving or, even, any forest where his northwoods skills might be enjoyed. So he took a slow train to Miami.

County Commissioners: Let Them Watch You Work: Fill the Chamber. By Geniusofdespair

During the County Commission meeting yesterday at County Hall I was disheartened. Some people, there for the first time,  were forced to stay downstairs hanging around the escalator until their number was called. WRONG.

That is not democracy in action.  There were empty seats. People were saving them and many were never filled. When Martinez was chair every seat was filled. Lobbyists couldn't save seats for their pals. And, once they got up and left for more than 10 minutes, the seat was gone.  There should have been an officer going around accessing empty seats and filling them with the people waiting downstairs. Only bathroom breaks were permitted or your lost your seat.

The people came, let them see government working (or not working) but not from the bottom of an escalator.

Lobbyists at work in the lobby of the Commission Chambers

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

LIVE REPORT: Circus at County Hall. By Geniusofdespair

9:15 am: Taxi Drivers are lined up honking their horns in protest of Uber. There are people lining up for the Special Taxing District discussion, and the Homeless. People are here to discuss LED signs --- against changes to the county ordinance. Mark Sarnoff and Willie Gort are here from the City of Miami. Wait I have to go pee.

Back. All the lobbyists are here in chambers or the ante room. The public? They are lined up downstairs. So many Lobbyists no room for the people in here.

 They are still giving awards and stuff. 10 am. Stupid Osterholt is watching the Mayor who is talking to Willie Gort while Commissioner Moss is talking. Not a seat left in here. Lobbyists are saving seats. Public Hearing is starting. Mayor is now talking to Lobbyist Ron Book.

Sarnoff, Francis Suarez and Gort are talking about the new homeless program sponsored by Camillus House. Ron Book is not listening still talking to the Mayor. Mayor Regalado just walked in.

Mayor Regalado speaking about homeless problem. Gimenez is talking to Osterholt not listening. Mayor Gimenez now talking to County Clerk - not listening.

10:43 -- not one citizen has spoken. I have to move my car at noon. The Mayor has finally sat down. They are all talking about 7a --- making marijuana possession a civil infraction. The chair was waving a bundle of yellow speaker cards, he said he has 200 speaker cards. That is a lot. Each person has 2 minutes. Half the people are downstairs as there is not enough room up here (all the lobbyists are up there.)

The public hearing begins at 10:51am. This is crazy. They are speaking on so many subjects the Agenda hasn't even been set. This is the general public hearing. Talking about homeless. Mayor walking around.

Okay Ron Book got everyone here to talk about the homeless trust. They have organized, they have uniforms, it is all about homeless. Apparently I AM WRONG. It is bad blood between Camillus House and The Homeless Trust---- a pissing match. The other side motivated and brought the speakers. Speaking of pissing the homeless want porta-pottys too. It is 11:39 still going on. People are supporting the MAT program. They like to sleep on mats outside. The Mat program is sponsored by Camillus House. Have to go --- noon. Too boring.  Book must be furious. His hold on the Homeless Trust is waning.

The Special Taxing District, time certain at 9:30 am, heard at  4:44pm.

Commissioners Levine Cava, Bovo and Chair Monestime

Taxi drivers aren't very happy with UBER.

People waiting to speak in the First floor lobby. The Commission Chamber is filled.

Ron Book, Jack Osterholt and Mayor Gimenez chatting. Who is the dominant one? The Mayor has his tell on -- head tilt. Ron Book is very unhappy. It appears there was a power grab from his Homeless Trust to Camillus House. All the homeless were talking about the training and other perks offered by Camillus house that the Homeless Trust doesn't do.

A Sulfurous Smell from Tallahassee ... by gimleteye

The sulfurous smell from Tallahassee is not the stink of dying Everglades. It is the scent of a corrupted democracy. After this recent session of the legislature, no one should sit on their hands. The theft of Amendment 1 funding demands a response. In a recent OPED, former Martin County commissioner and longtime Miami-Dade observer, Maggie Hurchalla, writes in the Treasure Coast Palm:
A Senate committee invited residents to tell them how to spend the more than $700 million that Amendment 1 required them to put back into the trust fund — and 1,800 people said “Buy land!” Only 26 people said “Don’t buy land!” The Legislature paid no attention. They put $200 million into existing commitments — the old Lottery switcheroo. They put $10 million into “historic preservation.” I’m still trying to figure out how renovating the house where Ma Barker was shot protects our water and land legacy. They put just $17 million into Florida Forever. They got more than $700 million this year. When they were through, they had spent less on the environment than they did the year before.

Can they get away with it? Yes, if we let them. The only certain remedy is to hold our elected representatives accountable. We are still a democracy. There are more of us than there are of them. You don’t have to vote against every politician who served in this dysfunctional Legislature. You don’t have to threaten to leave them in an alligator-infested swamp if they don’t do right by the alligators. You do have to talk to them and see if they are salvageable."
"Talk and see"? The power of voters to change outcomes in Florida needs to be mobilized.

Maggy Hurchalla: Lawmakers ignored will of voters when spending Amendment 1 funds
3:11 AM, Jun 28, 2015
Treasure Coast Palm

Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Racism: whose side are you on? ... by gimleteye

Mayor Carlos Gimenez must not waste another day before severing the county's ties with Donald Trump, quickly fired by Univision and NBC for blatantly racist comments during his presidential campaign kick-off. By his silence, it is clear Gimenez prefers rubbing shoulders with Trump than spending a moment considering whether Trump feels the same way about Haitians, Guatemalans, Columbians or Venezuelans. Or Cubans. In Miami-Dade, we don't do business with racists. Stand up for what you believe in, Mr. Mayor. Thanks for Commissioner Levine Cava for raising the issue: