Friday, August 01, 2014

Palmetto Bay EAR submitted today? Guest Blog By Palmetto Bay Resident

The government of Palmetto Bay submitted their Evaluation and Appraisal Report today to the county? If it is not online, ask our City Manager for a copy. Things are happening too fast. Although I did get a response from South Dade Matters and I thank them:
Message to Eye on Miami readers: SDM will be taking a look at the development plans for the Palmetto Bay Village Center (a.k.a., the old Burger King Property) before they come up for a vote next time. We thought the objections to the plan were over-the-top given its scope, but we understand our duty here and will review the concept as objectively as we can.
Message to South Dade Matters: You had better look at the EAR now! SDM: Wasn't Silver given property or perks in another area to make up for the Parks and Recreation zoning on the property near the Bay? I seem to remember him getting something (why sould he agree to it otherwise) for the change so I don't think he can claim a taking, especially since that is the zoning now.  I understand the property is degraded but it is not ruined, there remains many environmental elements. Thank you for getting back to me SDM.  

P.S. People should know that a charette is not a legal meeting. It is like a screening of a pilot TV show: People give their opinions. Nothing is binding. 

I am still an inquiring mind and I still want to know what is going on.

For Florida voters, the GOP Rick Scott scandal will not go away … by gimleteye

There is no good spin the Republican Party of Florida, GOP legislative leaders, or Gov. Rick Scott can put on the exposure by the Tampa Bay Times that all received gilded trips to the King Ranch in Texas, paid for by the state's shadow government, Big Sugar.

Now more news: a month after Gov. Scott's secret hunting trip he appointed the top manager of the King Ranch operation in Florida to the board of the South Florida Water Management District.

Call it:  crony capitalism at its most explicit. Florida voters would not know it even happened, except for a pair of intrepid reporters at the Times and the support of their newspaper.

There is a further point to make about the King Ranch. In Texas, water has been privatized just like oil. The King Ranch is as powerful in Texas as the oil industry.

The rest of the nation conceived the public responsibility to manage water resources differently. Private utilities have always played a small role, because water was first recognized as a public right. That's exactly the kind of thinking that crony capitalists despise.

Florida conceived the water management districts, all supervised by boards appointed by the governor, in order to balance the allocation of water resources. Clean, affordable fresh water: ring a bell?

In Texas, dominating water resources is a neat business model when cities and the environment are thirsty. So why not change Florida to the way things work in Texas?

Voters don't need to track back much further than 2011 -- that's three years ago for those who can subtract -- when Governor Scott's environmental chief, Herschel Vinyard, debunked the notion to the Tampa Bay Times' Craig Pittman (one of the reporters who broke the King Ranch/Big Sugar/Rick Scott scandal), "... he's interested only in saving the taxpayers money through greater efficiency, not seizing control of the water supply. "I'm not a conspiracy theorist."

The follow up question would now be: if you are not a conspiracy theorist, in light of the recent scandal, what exactly are you?

Influence peddling, crony capitalism, and deceit (redistricting, anyone?)  is all part of Florida's GOP program.

It is time for voters to take ownership of the mess we've permitted; that's the real take-away from serial scandals roiling the GOP.

Tampa Bay Times

After Scott's secret trip to King Ranch, he tapped ranch employee for state regulatory board

July 31, 2014

TALLAHASSEE — A month after Gov. Rick Scott took a secret hunting trip to the King Ranch in Texas last year, he faced a big decision.

A seat had come open on the board that oversees Florida's efforts on the multi-billion-dollar project to repair damage to the Everglades caused by agriculture. To fill that position, Scott picked a corporate executive named Mitchel A. "Mitch" Hutchcraft.

Hutchcraft's major qualification for a seat on the South Florida Water Management District board: He is the vice president in charge of the King Ranch's Florida agricultural acreage.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Question for South Dade Matters Blog. Guest Blog By Palmetto Bay Resident

Inquiring minds want to know....

Shelley Stanczyk can't even sneeze without South Dade Matters covering her. You have been a tremendous watchdog.  However NOT ONE WORD about the fire station and the change of zoning of the property for condo's. Not one word that the notice was printed in the Business Review and not the Miami Herald to try to hide it. Not one word about John Dubois recusing himself to give testimony. Wasn't this a Comprehensive Master Development Plan (CDMP) change? That is a mighty big deal to a community. Some people said they were not notified that live close by.  I would think you would report that. You guys and gals report everything. You reported what wasn't done at that meeting (Palmer Trinity), but not what WAS done. Why? And no Shelley problems to report?

The biggest story in Palmetto Bay and  an opportunity to bash Shelly for pushing the item so fervently (she sounded liked the developers attorney) and you don't report it? Sunshine violations galore, and nothing from South Dade Matters. What's up do you have a stake in the deal with Terremark Development?  I am dependent on you to be my watchdog South Dade Matters, what happened? Your silence troubles me.

GENIUS Talking: Even though South Dade Matters is not talking, Eugene Flinn is and I think he is asking the right questions:

The Palmetto Bay Village Center proposal: 

When is the timing right to disclose to the public?


I will have more to say about this, but as I continue to investigate, it does not escape notice that the Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler (CCOCI) have not spoken up either in support or against this plan.  I have texted the CCOCI president and asked to speak with him.

This issue is more than whether you approve or object of the proposed 41 homes. There is a serious issue in regard to the process or lack of public process that ultimately brought this issue to the public hearing.

Read more.... Hit on Former Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn's link

Obama to Republicans: "Just stop hatin' all the time" … by gimleteye

I wish he had said it earlier, like the day after his election in 2008 when the GOP leadership of Congress convened and Mitch McConnell pledged to destroy the Obama presidency.

If the GOP gains control of the Senate in the November election, McConnell -- Mr. Carbon from Big Coal Country -- will be president of the Senate.

These days President Obama is delivering the message with a measure of humor, ridiculing opponents who are resident in very specific, insulated bubbles. What circulates in those bubbles is hatin'.

The GOP has persuaded itself that something has to be done about that uppity African American in the White House, so sue him. Sue him, because impeaching him would just look … too crazy. This is how fractions are labored over, in today's Republican Party.

The economy may be reviving, the stock market is up, but we are in the midst of the world's turmoil in ways that challenge our imagination.

A quarter of the nation wants to build fences to keep out immigrants and viruses, another quarter of the nation only watches Fox News, and another quarter of the nation is in bed with covers pulled over their heads.

That leaves a quarter of the nation willing to consider whether fences work or not, whether or not to consider another opinion and to help persuade the other quarter to get out of bed and do something. Run five minutes a day. Drink two glasses of water in the morning. Be kind and considerate and … yes … just stop hatin'.

Daniella Levine Ad.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Daniella Levine Cava Gets the Miami Herald Endorsement for District 8. By Geniusofdespair

Daniella Levine Cava got the Miami Herald Endorsement for County Commissioner District 8.

Now tell your friends and get them out to vote!

Climate Change Odds and Ends: how low can US voters go? … by gimleteye

Our ears perked up when the Miami Herald failed to even note the Miami Town Hall meeting hosted by the CLEO Institute and featuring one of America's most eloquent speakers on climate change: U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. Rhode Island, where I was born, is a coastal New England state with much at risk -- like Florida -- from rising seas. Unlike Florida where deniers and big campaign contributors from polluting industries have congealed around Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Whitehouse is educating the public on the reality and likely impacts to the economy from climate change.

A few days ago, on the floor of the US Senate, the latest nonsense from Senate's climate change denier in chief, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), sparked a spirited rebuttal by Senator Whitehouse. Here is an introduction to the video tape of Whitehouse's speech.
Here at ClimateProgress, we spend a lot of time debunking politicians who deny climate change based on scientifically murky grounds. On Thursday, it looked as though we’d have to do it again, after Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) blocked a Senate resolution that would have simply stated that climate change is real. Inhofe said he objected to the resolution because the earth had experienced “no warming for the last 15 years;” and because 9,000 scientists had signed a petition expressing doubt that greenhouse gases cause global warming. Fortunately, however, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) did the debunking for us, just seconds after Inhofe finished his tirade against the Obama administration for having his federal agencies “collude” together to promote a “global warming agenda.” “I appreciate very much having had the opportunity to hear those words, from what I can only describe as an alternate reality,” Whitehouse began, before getting into detailed specifics rebutting each one of Inhofe’s points.
If Inhofe can't be persuaded by the rise of extreme weather events in Oklahoma, it is unlikely he will be persuaded by Senator Whitehouse or even the U.S. military's warnings that climate change is a real, present danger for national security. Floridians ought to be outraged by the minor league performance of Senator Marco Rubio, refusing to even meet with scientists and learn about the reality of climate change.

Meanwhile the Boston Globe published an OPED co-authored by UM president Donna Shalala on climate change. It's the first statement by a South Florida academic leader on climate change. Shalala collaborated with a former GOP senator from another New England state, Maine, Olympia Snowe.

Snowe will be remembered for withdrawing from the Senate because of political gridlock and the atmosphere of rancor on issues like climate change; a refusal to accept responsibility that Senator Rubio's denial represents.

"In Florida, storm impacts may be even higher in the future: the likely 2 to 3.6 feet of sea-level rise projected by 2100 under a business as usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario would result in additional losses of $7.4 to 14.2 billion of commercial and residential real estate each year as a result of increased storm surge, an increase of 50-100 percent above 2010 damages. No wonder flood insurance rates have doubled in the last year in Florida, Louisiana and other states, while many properties cannot get insured at any cost."

Last week in an interview with, astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson said, "“... maybe we have to sink lower before the pistons of Congress and the electorate align to take meaningful action, to protect the planet going forward. And this idea about being too late, well that’s defeatist of course. That’s saying, ‘Well, okay, we don’t know what to do so therefore let’s do nothing.’”

If you want to know what defeatism looks like, watch the Liberians running away from the deadly Ebola breakout in their cities; overcome by superstitions, refusing to cooperate to methodically weed out the chance that the virus could destroy everyone. That's what "back to nature" looks like, if we can't come to our senses soon.

If US voters return control of the Senate to the GOP in November, Senator James Inhofe will again be chair of the important Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Click here for the full text of the Shalala/Snowe OPED:

Is Farm Share Food Being Wasted? Food found rotting after the LYNDA BELL event where she had a melt-down. Guest Blog by Youbetcha

Farm share food rotting. Was it really about distributing food (you had to register) or about getting votes:

These Farm Share Photos were taken at the South Dade Government Center.

Lynda Bell had one of her famous food giveaways on Saturday, July 19, at the South Dade Government Center. Unfortunately, she can't stop talking about it. So, far she has mentioned it at two public campaign debates and in one campaign email.

Food giveaways are not new, Lynda has done them before. Many other politicians at the county take advantage of the local food banks to build voter affection. Of course, the timing of her event (and the other events she has been having) is questionable. The best time for food giveaways, tree giveaways, book bag giveaways, and ribbon cuttings is always directly before the election, just like now. No doubt she will be able to add-on to her database by having people fill in forms certifying they qualified for her gift.

Anyhow, Lynda managed to find time to have a food giveaway on a busy campaign Saturday with the election weeks away. Having this event on a Saturday required having county employees who aren’t usually scheduled to work (is that overtime?) to the support event. Cutler Bay had people there on overtime. Budget shortages do not seem to be an issue when it comes to Lynda’s events.

Lynda went all out for this event. Along with the enough food for a complete meal (a chicken, veggies, etc), she had multiple banners with her name in giant letters, and county funded handouts touting her smiling self. Even the gifted food was bagged in purple plastic bags with Lynda’s name in big letters. Nothing said “vote for Lynda Bell”, but then, everyone knows that when they vote "Lynda Bell" after being bombarded with her name at this event, they reap the benefit of commission slush funding.

In addition to the scheduled food giveaway, Lynda also had an unscheduled melt down at the event. 

Apparently, the Police and Fire Unions parked a pick-up truck with a trailer carrying a Daniella Cava campaign sign in front of the building. The truck was neatly parked in a parallel parking area away from Lynda’s event. The county allows non-cars to park in the same area (like buses) there on week days, even when the parking lot is full.

Lynda could not handle the sight of this pick-up truck. Two weeks later, she still can't handle the sight of the truck. She is trying to make an A-frame sign put in a public parking area a major campaign issue. Actually, the general public doesn't give a hoot about a traveling campaign sign when our county governance is in shambles. Is this rant Lynda's way of distracting us from the real issue of budgets and multimillion dollar deals?

On that Saturday, the commissioner had the county building manager called to come handle the offending sign (he was on vacation that week). She then had Cutler Bay Village staff called which resulted in the Cutler Bay code enforcement people showing up. After much discussion and threats of fines, it was determined the sign could stay if it was covered up. So, out came black plastic and Lynda’s opponent, Daniella Levine Cava, disappeared in a billowing black plastic cloud. So much for freedom to express political opinions in Miami Dade County.

Classically, the story had a “be careful what you ask for” ending.

The truck’s owner arrived to move the Cava poster. He freed Lynda’s antagonist from the black plastic, once again displaying the ad and Daniella’s union endorsement. Because the owner could not park in front (and out of sight of the event), he simply drove. And drove. And drove. He drove in circles around the event, on roads with public access, and in full view of the public attending the event.

Lynda couldn’t stand it. My guess is there will be serious retribution directed at the PBA and Fire unions from the dais in the coming weeks. Be on the look-out for an ordinance banning rolling advertising with-in a half mile of a political event.

Lynda, put on your big-girl panties and stop whining about the sign being disrespectful to your constituents. You even stopped giving out the packages of food and whipped out your cell phone to start snapping photos of the truck. You were disrespectful of your constituents waiting in line by not paying attention to them and you certainly did not respect the employee on vacation nor the other employees that you demanded cover the sign.

Daniella Levine Cava did not put the truck there, the PBA did, so, get over it, Lynda, and give John Rivera a call. He misses you.
Police Union Sign Parked near Farm Share food giveaway. Lynda Bell went nuts when she saw it.

They had to cover up the sign to placate Lynda Bell.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This is where your Tax Dollars are going: Audit of Airport Hotel

Don't complain about your tax dollars. Complain about the mismanagement of those dollars. The county is too big and bloated to watch what is going on. This one cost us at least $215,584.70. You would have to audit everything to get a true accounting of the waste. Every audit turns up mismanagement that costs us plenty of money.    Final Report.

The Secrets of Crony Capitalism: Will Miami-Dade citizens get up and out and vote? … by gimleteye

There couldn't be a sharper contrast between lands leased by US Sugar in Texas -- 30,000 acres -- to secretly entertain Florida's top GOP politicians and the secret 11,000 acres owned by FPL in South Dade, where nature is subverted to the hum of two nuclear reactors.

The King Ranch, US Sugar flew its GOP guests on private jets there (free from TSA inspectors), is filled with native and exotic species for big game hunters. FPL in South Dade boasts endangered species -- or did before a deadly toxic algae outbreak clogged its cooling canals. 

The one is a piece of the old American West. The other is coated with such high levels of salt that its native plant life has disappeared. If you are an ordinary taxpayer and voter, you can't visit either unless by special invitation. Both are emblematic of apex, crony capitalism.

FPL and US Sugar are in different businesses but share this goal: to make as much money as possible for themselves while shifting costs of pollution to the public. In the case of Florida sugar producers, the business model involves insuring government regulation nominally addresses pollution control measures.  The same applies to FPL executives at Turkey Point. In the first case it is excess fertilizer that kills the downstream Everglades and sulfate run-off that contributes to form the most toxic form of mercury known to mankind. In the case of FPL it is hyper saline water flowing from underneath its failed cooling canal system.

US Sugar and its chief competitor, Florida Crystals, excel at the various forms of crony capitalism that require secrecy -- like shipping out successive generations of GOP leadership to exclusive hunting retreats, spas, or foreign getaways on Gulfstream IVs. FPL requires secrecy, too.

FPL's new plan to shift the costs of pollution by changing the way the state of Florida reviews and supervises Turkey Point nuclear was conceived in secrecy, despite scientists and agency staff who have met regularly for years in a technical working group concerned with water quality and Biscayne National Park. The same secrecy applies for its environmental review for two new nuclear plants, that could make Turkey Point the largest nuclear generator of electricity in the US in a region that is most vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise.

One way to measure the powerlessness of voters in the face of crony capitalism is to consider how FPL and Turkey Point have scarcely risen as issues in the hotly contested campaign for county commissioner in the area of South Dade most affected by FPL's pollution fiasco. The Homestead business community -- the same way it did for the plan to make the former air force base a major commercial airport -- has lined up in support of the new nuclear reactors while completely ignoring the salt water front moving underground toward population centers and drinking water wells. 

District 8 county commissioner Lynda Bell doesn't believe in regulation of the environment. She actually said that people shouldn't worry about arsenic in drinking water because it is everywhere. She is the candidate of crony capitalists, but the same could be said of all the incumbents routinely returned to office by voters. 

This election cycle could be different, but only if voters pay attention.

Pet's Choice Video "Bone to Pick" on District 8 Election.

Bone to Pick on YouTube