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* State Government News Briefs ... Governor Rick Scott announces that the two individuals he has re-appointed to the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, namely TECO Services, Inc. Senior Corporate Counsel Megan Proulx Dempsey and former State Representative Edwin Narain, are due to serve until December 31, 2020. Subsequent to their re-appointment, on August 29, the Governor appointed Matt Brackett, a program administrator at the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration, to the state Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers, Mr. Brackett’s term running until January 1, 2021. Meantime, the Governor, mindful of the sacrifices of the men and women in uniform, was in communication with Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels to convey his and the First Lady’s prayers and condolences to the loved ones of Deputy Ben Zirbel and the law-enforcement community in that county, following the death of the Deputy in a motorcycle accident. In other developments, Governor Scott reports that, following on the heels of his issuance of Executive Order 18-221 declaring a state of emergency due to repetition of the nearly-annual emergence of red-tide algae blooms along the state’s Gulf Coast, the Department of Environmental Protection has moved to furnish $3 million in grant money to local communities so impacted, having initiated a $3-million grant program in July to aid counties affected by blue-green algae. Some $2 million of the grant money is earmarked for Lee County, with Manatee County receiving $750,000; Collier County, in excess of $190,000; and Sarasota County, almost $100,000. To date, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has conducted aerial surveys of the damaging red-tide blooms, with the University of South Florida furnishing 3.5-day forecasts of bloom trajectories, and dead fish are being removed from the shoreline, from inshore or near-shore areas. Then, too, the Commission is working with Florida Department of Health aquatic-toxin experts in furtherance of the state’s public-information campaign, and the Mote Marine Laboratory is engaged in the rescue of distressed manatees, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine animals. At the same time, the Department of Environmental Protection is concerned with beach clean-up and is performing enhanced water testing, while volunteers who collect water samples at routine collection sites for the Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute operate an early-warning system for researchers who investigate offshore algal blooms. Where there has been a direct impact from red tide, county health departments typically post signage alerting the public to respiratory issues, health tips, and beach conditions. Besides, VISIT FLORIDA and the Department of Economic Opportunity have roles in mitigating the impact of the red-tide occurrences. On its part, VISIT FLORIDA, tasked by the Governor to develop a marketing campaign, is to set about helping southwest Florida communities rebound from 2018’s red-tide blooms. In fact, the agency’s prospective $500,000 emergency-grant program is intended to aid local tourism-development boards in the affected counties. The Department of Economic Opportunity, in turn, can make bridge loans to impacted businesses, interest-free for a term of six months. With respect to other environmental concerns, the Governor reports that his Administration is committed to removal of excess nutrient pollution from Florida waters, and, toward that end, the Department of Environmental Protection and the St. Johns River Water Management District have pledged up to $1 million in support for the Everglades Foundation’s $10-million George Barley Water Prize, which encourages researchers to compete in development of a cost-effective solution. With the technological testing ground being the Lake Jesup Conservation Area, the Governor sees the competition as a logical next step since his Administration adopted the first-in-the-nation, nutrient standards for the state’s surface waters. However, the Scott Administration has expressed frustration that, while Tallahassee has been intent upon storing water and moving it south of Lake Okeechobee to restore the Everglades and neutralize blue-green algae, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters now seems intent, instead, upon refusing its stamp of approval and discharging Lake Okeechobee water in the opposite direction, into the state’s northern estuaries. Next, the Governor has recounted the state’s record of job creation since 2010 and record drop in unemployment since April, 2007, crediting Florida’s business-friendly climate with attracting new businesses and their estimated 1.6 million jobs, including the e-commerce, restaurant-supply company, WebstaurantStore, Inc. and its projected 300-plus new job openings, which are calculated to accommodate Hillsborough County’s information-technology talent. In addition, Governor Scott, defending his push for investment, since 2014, of more than $300 million in the state’s cancer centers, says, “Nearly everyone has been affected by cancer in some way. Our families deserve to have the best treatment possible without leaving Florida.” In fact, the Moffitt Cancer Center not only treats patients from all 67 of the state’s counties, but every state in the Union and 130-plus foreign countries. The financial support the NCI[National Cancer Institute]-designated cancer-research and treatment center has received attracts doctors and scientists world-wide to conduct cutting-edge research. The funding received by two other Florida cancer-treatment centers, Shands and Sylvester, is helping them to earn NCI designation, too.
* County Government News Briefs ... Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez reports that the County has rebounded financially after Hurricane Irma and the threat of the Zika virus last year, as a result of vigorous construction activity and brisk tourism. Indeed, the County’s tax collections have grown by double digits. While passage of the referendum granting an additional homestead exemption is calculated to set back the County treasury by in excess of $50 million, the Mayor says that the County, anticipating that possible development, has adjusted and forecasts that there will be no layoffs of personnel or cutback in public services. The Mayor’s proposed 2018-2019 fiscal-year budget provides for a $44-million budget reserve and calls for the deployment of at least 100 school-safety officers, along with nine priority response teams. The Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to hold its first public hearing on the proposal at 5:01 PM on September 6 in Commission Chambers, at the Stephen P. Clark Center (111 N.W. First Street).
* City Government News Briefs ... Mayor Francis Suarez announces that the City is set to hold additional workshops on its Electronic Plan Review (ePlan) on September 22 at Robert King High Park (7025 W. Flagler Street), on October 27 at Elizabeth Virrick Park (3255 Plaza Street), and on November 17 at Athalie Range Park (525 N.W. 62ND Street), so that developers and other interested parties can familiarize themselves with the new, simplified, on-line permitting process. Further, the City reports that the free EKG screenings it coordinated with the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Heart Program took place at five City parks, tested 345 youth aged 5-21, and identified six patients requiring follow-up testing, as a precaution against heart conditions that might lead to sudden cardiac death. A total of 137 screenings were conducted at Shenandoah Park alone and each EKG screening otherwise costs up to $433. The Nicklaus Children’s Hospital informs that it was important to conduct these screenings because conditions leading to sudden cardiac death usually show no advance symptoms, and, yet, sudden cardiac death is the leading cause of sudden death among young athletes. Moreover, the City’s Department of Solid Waste assures that regular collection of garbage, bulky trash, and recyclables is scheduled on the September 3RD Labor Day Holiday and that, with proof of City of Miami residency, the Mini Dump Facility will be open, as well, on Labor Day. Regarding upcoming City government meetings due to be held at City Hall (3500 Pan American Drive), the Civil Service Board plans a regular meeting on September 4 at 10 AM; the Historic and Environmental Preservation Board has, likewise, scheduled a regular meeting on that day, but at 3 PM; regular meetings of the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board are slated for 6 PM on September 5 and 6 PM on September 10; a regular meeting of the Code Enforcement Board has been arranged for 5 PM on September 6; a regular meeting of the City of Miami Beautification Committee ensues at 6:30 PM on September 10; and the City Commission gathers once again for a regular meeting at 9 AM on September 13.
* School District News Briefs … Miami-Dade County Public School District Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho announces that a Teacher Planning Day is scheduled for September 10 and that students will also have off on September 19 and on October 26 when other Teaching Planning Days are set. The latter occasion is also a district-wide Professional Development Day. Meanwhile, on September 5, the School Board is poised to assemble for a regular meeting at 11 AM in the School Board Administration Building Auditorium (1450 N.E. 2ND Avenue), to conduct a second public hearing on the District’s proposed budget beginning at 6 PM, and to consider authorizing the Superintendent to reduce annual millage rates by 0.261 mills to 6.733 mills for the 2018-2019 fiscal-year. The Board’s agenda also includes consideration of a proposal by Chair Perla Tabares Hantman to mark October 21-27 as National Teen Driver Safety Week and to encourage safe-driving practices year-round at all District high schools; a proposal by Maria Teresa Rojas to endorse the Governor’s recommendation to equitably distribute to school districts, and for school-safety purposes, the $58 million in unused funds from the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program; and, among other matters, a proposal by the same Board Member for Superintendent Carvalho to study The Consequences Aren’t Minor presentation and update the Board on its feasibility by October 10.
* Weather ... The National Weather Service reports mostly-cloudy skies at Miami International Airport and a temperature of 81 degrees Fahrenheit, as of 7:53 PM (Eastern Daylight Time), with relative humidity of 82 percent, wind out of the east at 15 miles per hour, barometric pressure of 29.99 inches, the dewpoint standing at 75 degrees, and visibility of 10 miles. The forecast for the city tonight is for breezy conditions and a low temperature of 77 degrees, with showers likely, then heavy rain. On Labor Day, residents can expect windy conditions, more heavy rain, and a daily high temperature of 83 degrees.
* Sports … In college football, the visiting University of Miami Hurricanes fell to Louisiana State University today, the Tigers winning in Arlington, Texas, by a score of 33-17. The Hurricanes’ next game is against Savannah State at Hard Rock Stadium on September 8 at 6 PM. Meantime in Major League Baseball, the Blue Jays defeated the Marlins (54-83) today by a score of 6-1, and Miami sets its sights on Philadelphia tomorrow, with a 1:10 PM game-time start. Over in the NFL, the Dolphins (1-3 in the Preseason), having defeated the Falcons (0-4) 34-7 in Game 4 of the Preseason, host the Tennessee Titans, who were 0-4 in the Preseason, for a Regular Season game on September 9.
Flying the Flag (Condensed and Reprinted) Steve Healey
What's in a name? A rose by any other name really does smell as sweet. Shakespeare, as so often, was right. But can the same be said of a corporate image or a country for that matter? Do your blue jeans feel the same or does your soft drink taste quite the same if the name has been changed or the label re-designed…. If those marketing men are to be believed, then branding is of supreme importance.
Flags, of course, are just about the biggest piece of branding that there is…. British Airways has almost furled the flag. Gone, they say, are the days of post-imperialist flag-waving. Not before time, some may say….
Now being a Brit, I remain a patriot. I follow my nation's sporting endeavors with interest, and I would hate to see the good old pound disappear from my pocket. And I would defend to the death my right to sink a pint of beer in my local pub, as opposed to swallowing a Continental half-liter in a cafe. And, I hate to say this, but we do drive on the right side of the road. That's the left, by the way. Why, I would even retain the monarchy. After all, they are good for tourism and the newspaper industry.
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VOLUME V NUMBER 1 SEPTEMBER 2, 2018
Miami News Edition