June 21, 2015

Miami-Dade mayor meeting again with Marcelo Claure on soccer


Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is scheduled for an early-morning meeting Monday with Marcelo Claure, a major investor behind David Beckham's pursuit of a soccer stadium in Miami.

The mayor's public schedule includes the 7:30 a.m. meeting between Gimenez and Claure at the county's Water and Sewer offices near Gimenez's home in the Coral Gables area. No details were available, but the confab comes just a month after Gimenez met Claure, Beckham and others in the soccer star's circle about a potential stadium.

That meeting took place at the University of Miami, as outgoing president Donna Shalala tried to broker a joint football-and-soccer stadium that both Beckham and the university could use. 

At the time, a stadium next to Marlins Park around the old Orange Bowl site was considered the favored location. But the Beckham team has also been scouting privately-owned property in the Overtown area. 

June 20, 2015

Miami-Dade GOP remembers Luis Arrizurieta


Luis Arrizurieta, a longtime member of the Miami-Dade County Republican Executive Committee, died Thursday, two days before the party's annual Lincoln Day fund-raiser.

The GOP honored his memory Saturday night by holding a moment of silence at the start of the program. A projector showed photographs of Arrizurieta, a Bay of Pigs veteran who died of natural causes. He was 86.

"We were wondering why he hadn't purchased a table for the dinner," lamented GOP Chairman Nelson Diaz, who called the late Arrizurieta "a dear friend."

One of Arrizurieta's sons, Jorge Arrizurieta, is a longtime friend and fund-raiser for presidential candidate Jeb Bush. The younger Arrizurieta has said he met Bush through his dad when he was Miami-Dade GOP treasurer.

The elder Arrizurieta attended Bush's campaign launch Monday and Miami -- and, last month, a fund-raiser in Sweetwater in which a Miami Herald photographer snapped a picture of the two men hugging.

"My dad said to me, when I showed him that picture, 'OK, now my life is complete,'" Jorge Arrizurieta said later. "I said, 'Whoa, hold on. You're not going anywhere yet. No. 1, you've got to vote for the guy.'"

"I shared that with Jeb and he said, 'Well, that sounds like your dad.'"

Bush Arrizurieta

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, El Nuevo Herald


June 19, 2015

Miami mayor offers to pay for roving downtown toilets

via @NewsBySmiley

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado wants downtown business owners to know that, for him, fecal matters.

And so, amid calls to bring souped-up porta-potties to the area to rid the streets of human waste, Regalado says he’s willing to use some extra office cash to pay for a roughly $500,000, six-month test run.

“I really feel that I owe it to downtown Miami,” said Regalado. “It’s an economic engine of the city.”

Downtown business owners and the city’s tax-funded Downtown Development Authority have been calling for additional public restrooms for about a month, going back to when local businessman Jose Goyanes noted news reports about San Francisco using a portable “Pit Stop” program to reduce instances of public urination and defecation.

The issue became a mini public-relations fiasco for downtown after the DDA demanded that the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust pay for the toilets. After being rebuffed by Ron Book, the chairman of the tax-funded Trust, Goyanes made a YouTube compilation of human waste and then produced a map showing all the locations where feces and urine were discovered one morning around downtown.

More here.

June 17, 2015

Tax rebates for Tri-Rail Miami connection come with demands


Tri-Rail executives appear to have secured soft commitments for the $69 million they need to connect to the Florida East Coast railway and build a platform at All Aboard Florida's MiamiCentral station. But getting the ink to dry on the bottom line will require some concessions.

Specifically, in order to obtain $17 million in tax rebates from Miami's Southeast Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Agency, Tri-Rail, as well as All Aboard and Miami-Dade County, have been asked by CRA Chairman Keon Hardemon to agree to a series of compromises.

Here are some of the negotiating points released Wednesday by Hardemon.

The county: extend the life of the CRA to 2042, allowing the anti-poverty agency to continue to reap property taxes for 12 more years in a rapidly redeveloping area; and redevelop public housing projects in Overtown.

All Aboard: Responsible wages and 40 percent local hiring for workers building the Tri-Rail train platform; a 99-year lease for community space at MiamiCentral; and three discounted lease spaces for CRA tenants.

Tri-Rail: Free rides for poor low-income Overtown residents; Overtown residents hired exclusively for platform jobs; and build fencing in the areas where railway police have made a slew of arrests.

The money requested from the Overtown CRA -- which would come out of the property taxes paid by All Aboard -- could be up for a vote as soon as June 29. Miami-Dade's Board of County Commissioners is expected to vote on county funding June 30.

A teeny cloud in Miami-Dade lifts from Donald Trump's presidential campaign

Donald trump golf


There was a time — about a month ago — when Donald Trump’s political agenda included pursuit of a management contract at a Miami-Dade golf course. On Wednesday, the country’s newest presidential candidate was cleared in a county ethics probe relating to that failed deal, which started with a round of golf with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Miami-Dade’s ethics commission rejected a complaint by blogger Al Crespo that claimed Trump improperly lobbied Gimenez during their round at the Crandon Park golf course in late 2013. Trump reportedly criticized the condition of the county-owned course and offered to buy it. Gimenez said that wasn’t possible, but eventually was in talks with Trump’s organization about outsourcing management to the celebrity developer.

“Since there was no proposal for which action was being sought at the time of the initial discussion between Trump and Gimenez, the meeting is not considered lobbying,” the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust wrote in a report released Wednesday.

Trump offered a $10 million upgrade for Crandon, but course loyalists questioned why the well-regarded 18 holes needed a rescue from someone with a reputation for pricey golf resorts. Trump promised special discounts and access for county residents, but would have controlled the tee times and been free to rework the layout under the proposed 99-year deal. He wanted to slash mangroves blocking the course’s water views, and turn a sleepy clubhouse into a thriving hospitality business.

More here.

Jeb Bush hires Miami firm to work on Hispanic digital outreach


One of the perks of running a 2016 presidential operation out of Miami is finding Spanish speakers to assist is easy.

Jeb Bush, whose crew is headquartered in West Miami-Dade County, has hired Pinta, a Miami Beach-based marketing firm, to help with Hispanic strategy, particularly online.

Mike Valdés-Fauli, the company's president and chief executive, emailed friends over the weekend urging them to attend Bush's launch Monday at Miami Dade College. As part of the invitation, he mentioned he would be working for the campaign.

"I've long admired the Governor for his significant accomplishments in both the public and private sector, preference for reason over ideology, unparalleled grasp of the issues, and penchant for celebrating (as opposed to begrudging) diversity in our society," Valdés-Fauli wrote in the email, which was obtained by the Miami Herald. "For those reasons, I'm incredibly proud that Pinta has been formally engaged to assist his cause with Hispanic strategy, digital content and social media."

Valdés-Fauli declined an interview request from the Herald over his expected role. The campaign has been focused on Bush's announcement and subsequent tour of early-primary states and did not respond to a request for comment.

Jorge Arrizurieta, a friend of Bush's who also knows Valdés-Fauli, characterized the hire as noteworthy as part of a "robust" organization.

Continue reading "Jeb Bush hires Miami firm to work on Hispanic digital outreach" »

June 16, 2015

Big bucks for Miami water projects

How do you shrink $1.2 billion in requested water projects down to about $70 million?

You cut. A lot.

Lawmakers gutted the initial list of 475 projects — and added some new ones at the last minute. Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, the Senate’s budget chairman for environmental issues, said lawmakers tried to keep things as fair as possible, even as they had to pick which projects got reduced funding, or none at all.

“Well, we were looking to try to be as effective as we could with the dollars, number one,” he said. “Number two, we wanted to try to be fair and distribute the resources all across the state as much as we could.”

Still, some counties are coming away with big chunks of change for water infrastructure, while others won’t get any at all.

Miami-Dade County is getting $6.48 million to help fund 23 projects, more than any other county in the state. Included are drainage work in Miami Gardens and Miami Lakes.

The Tampa Bay area will see a water projects boon, too: $7.53 million across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.

Lawmakers dropped in $1 million to hook up some Pasco County residents to a different water source. Another $1.9 million will go to a Dade City stormwater project.

In fact Hillsborough and Pasco counties account for nearly all of the Tampa Bay water project funding. The two counties have important residents to this budget process: Appropriations Chairs Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, and Tom Lee, R-Brandon.

But, Hays said, the fact that the budget chairs call these counties home doesn’t mean there was political patronage involved in securing coveted water money.

“I don’t see any significance there,” Hays said. “There’s plenty of money going to places that don’t have Senate or House leadership people, too.”

For example: Miami.

Miami-Dade GOP plans Lincoln Day after-party for Carlos Lopez-Cantera, with most Miami poster ever


The Miami-Dade Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day fund-raiser is usually a classic chicken-dinner affair, this year with 2016 presidential candidate Marco Rubio as keynote speaker. Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera is listed as a "special guest."

That "special" designation now includes an after-party in Lopez-Cantera's honor -- and a flashy poster to go with it. Palm trees! Congas! A Chevy! Bentley!


Jeb Bush professes 'love' for Miami, 'a crazy, wacky place'


Twice at a New Hampshire town hall Tuesday, Jeb Bush invoked Miami, the adopted hometown that has embraced him as an honorary Cuban American and where he launched his 2016 presidential bid.

He referred to Miami as "where I live, that I love, and where I announced my campaign because it's part of my DNA."

"It's a crazy, wacky place," Bush said.

And it's also far more diverse than Derry, New Hampshire, a point Bush used as an example of how Republicans should campaign to all sorts of constituencies.

"I don't know if you saw the rally for my announcement," he said. "It's a different kind of crowd. Miami's a different kind of place."

Crowd shots from Monday, via Miami Herald photographers Patrick Farrell (top) and Charles Trainor Jr. (bottom):

Bush crowd

Crowd 2

Miami Lakes mayor crashes car into tree, briefly leaves scene

via @ChuckRabin

Combative Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi, who beat a federal bribery rap and won a fight against the city to return to office, was bruised up in a battle with a tree Monday night, police said.

According to police, Pizzi drove his Kia into a tree, the airbag deployed, and the mayor left the scene before returning a short time later wearing a baseball cap, and with a cut on his forehead.

Miami-Dade Police Lt. John Jenkins said Pizzi, who was the only person in the car, refused medical attention. Jenkins said Miami Lakes police, contracted by the city through the county, were already at the scene when Pizzi returned. The crash happened at Northwest 140th Street and 82nd Avenue, a residential enclave in Miami Lakes.

“He hit a tree. He didn’t go to the hospital. There was blood on the airbag,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said there was no need to give Pizzi an alcohol test. The mayor was very cooperative, he said, and “didn’t seem impaired.” The accident happened just before 9 Monday night.

More here.