Archive for May, 2008

Marlins winners, ballpark loser?
May 27, 2008

My spies in the street say that the “nuts and bolts” agreement between, the city, the county, and the the Marlins is being cobbled together and should be ready for a July ratification. The fate of the new roofed baseball stadium for the Orange Bowl site rests on this agreement and its approval by the commissions involved. I am told by those in the know that of this day (May 26th) the votes are not there to secure passage by the Miami-Dade County Commission.  “No one is budging and that is it going in,” a source familiar with the story tells me.  Meanwhile the Marlins are performing miracles in the ball yard that Joe Robbie built. Winners or losers it does not matter, for now the Fish big shots are looking at strike three on the ballpark issue.


And the answer is?
May 22, 2008




Obama not just on Cuba……
May 19, 2008

We are told that Senator Barrack Obama’s speech to the Cuban American Foundation will not solely focus on Cuba. With guaranteed coverage not only from the U.S. English and Spanish press but also international news organizations in attendance Obama, it is said, will spend 5-10 minutes on Cuba and broaden the speech to layout his agenda for all of Latin America.  The presumed Democratic nominee for President will speak in the wake of an appearance by Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain. McCain speaks Tuesday in Miami and is expected to fully address the Cuba issue. 

The appearance of the two candidates in Miami within days of each other will certainly push the Cuba policy issue to the forefront in South Florida. The debate within the Cuban community is whether the current Bush Administration policy of severe travel restrictions, limited remittances, maintenance of the Embargo and refusal to talk directly with the Castro government is still a productive policy. 

Pollsters say the discussion over Cuba policy is split between older and young members of the Cuban Community. Older exiles tend to remain steadfast and support the Bush Policies. Newer arrivals and second and third generation Cuban Americans tend to be more open to travel, and even discussion with Cuban officials.

Just look around………….
May 13, 2008

How tough time creep into your daily life:

Saturday I am told by the lady that runs the dry cleaning outlet that she’s paying over three hundred dollars a month in gas. I say to myself, ‘how much money does this lady make a month to support that cost. Next door to the dry cleaners there is an empty store front. There used to be a boutique shoe store there. I count five empty stores in the shopping center that in normal times is full of tenants and bustling year around.  One business in the complex moved to a much smaller store front, a real down size, probably a survival tactic.  The guys at the gas station  that sits on the edge of the shopping center tell me that folks are not filling up their tanks.  At the market, which caters to a high end crowd, things are pretty much normal, but lotto is off. The car wash near by is pretty quiet for a Saturday afternoon. A quick look up and down my street later in the day reveals that two guys are washing their family cars. Have not seen that in a while.  We went out to dinner the other night in one of the Gables better restaurants. We were the only couple in the the place for sometime before several other small groups filtered in, and we skipped the high priced wine.  At the grocery store where we do our regular shopping, not the high end grocery near the house, the bill still came to over $100 bucks, meat and fish getting real expensive.  Lettuce and vegetables expensive and I have shut down our garden that normally produces lettuce and herbs. I am trying to stamp out a crop of weeds that has taken over the garden.  I got to tell you paying for lettuce in a plastic bag and $3-4 bucks a bag is painful.  And to top it off check out all the for sale signs and for rent signs in the Gables just to our east. Attached to the tiny for sale signs that are a unique Gables touch are even smaller metal signs that read, “reduced.”  Just look around……’s ugly.

The Bridge is cool and so is the view!
May 7, 2008

Mike Zimmer, our chief photographer and I were the first TV crew to get to the top of the brand new bridge that spans Jew Fish creek at the top of the Florida Keys.  The $93-million dollar span eliminates the need for the old draw bridge that has hindered traffic for years and made hurricane evacuations always a roll of the dice. 

For our hurricane special our ace producer Mike Jenkins asked that we detail just exactly what the new bridge means for emergency operations planning in the Keys.  We gathered Irene Toner, the Director of the Monroe EOC, Col. Rick Ramsey from the Monroe Sheriff’s office and Patti Jones who handles public relations for the contractor. There we were right at the top of the bridge. The group telling us on camera how the soaring structure eliminated the need for the cranky draw bridge and  how improvements to the north of the bridge on the notorious 18 mile stretch would make evacuations smoother and safer.  That said all three in one way or another brought up the view. Yep the view from the top of the bridge is awsome.

Col. Ramsey was the first to mention it. He said it was his first time  up on the bridge and he was taken by what he saw. Those thought echoed by Patti Jones who told me that the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce folks are always asked by tourists “are we in the Keys yet?” 

Sure enough when you drive into the Keys much of the view from U.S.-1 is obscured by mangrove trees and other non native foliage.  Often you do not realize that the water is just beyond the shoulder of the road.  Driving into the Keys is like driving through a tunnel of greenery.  You can’t see the canals, the Gulf side or the Atlantic. Since there are no mountains a high bridge has to do. Best example is the Card Sound bridge which provides impressive vista of the upper Keys, but few tourists take Card Sound Road on their dash to the fun and sun further to the South.

The Jew Fish Creek bridge provides that spectacular entrance to the the Keys.  You can see for miles, it is like a live shot from a helicopter. Some of nature’s best scenery laid out right in front of your eyes.

The Bridge will open later this month. It will be interesting to see if the traffic flow is slowed by gawkers taking in the view. 

Meanwhile I am calling Andy Newman from the Keys Tourism Council and letting  him know there is a brand new attraction to promote.

Hispanics move into Liberty City and beyond…
May 1, 2008

We  have noticed the trend over the past few years. As we cover news stories in Overtown, Liberty City, and Opa locka. 

What we have been seeing was most visible the other day while covering a story near the corner of Northwest 17th Avenue and 36th Street. To give  you a landmark the event was right in front of Miami-Jackson Senior High School.  Ten years ago the area was mostly black. Black businesses, a vibrant corner of what has been traditionally African American.  Not anymore.

17th Avenue and 36th street is like a slice of Santo Domingo. Spanish is the operative language, the restaurants serve Central American fare, the tiendas feature phone cards for the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras.  The sounds blaring from the music store’s large speaker is not rap, it is salsa.

Throughout Liberty City and Opa locka we have seen more and more evidence of Hispanic families as part of the neighborhood mix. Most noticeable are the Central American construction workers who are seen making their way home into Liberty City. Often, it appears,  three or four workers share a small house, probably a rental.  As has happened elsewhere families soon follow and an small enclave is created.

There are 45 million Hispanics in the U.S., about 15% of the population. The newer arrivals are seeking workand finding it  in South Florida. Any day check out the construction sites of downtown Miami. The City skyline is being changed by thousands of Hispanic workers who daily cling to the skyscrapers that are turning the Magic City into “the Manhattan of the South.”

They have to live somewhere and to the keen observer it is pretty clean where they are setting up camp, just check it out after quitting time and see  who comes home to many of the traditional African American neighborhoods to the north of Downtown Miami.

Hard to tell without deep study and government statistics what the social, economic, and political ramifications of this means for South Florida. No doubt along the way issues will surface but for now, it is an interesting development worth watching.