Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Have a Happy and Safe New Year

New Year’s Eve is upon us. Tonight is a time for families and friends to get together and celebrate the year that has passed, and toast the one to come. I will be celebrating this New Year’s with my family and thousands more at Bayfront Park, where the City of Miami will host a huge party featuring concerts by the Spam Allstars and Betty Padgett & Elements of Funk, all before a countdown with Miami’s own “Big Orange.” Remember to have a safe evening, and I invite everyone to join me and my family as we ring in the New Year.
-Manny

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dali Comes to Miami

Salvador Dali is one of the greatest artists of the last century. His work can be seen in buildings and paintings throughout Europe and the Americas. The City of Miami, due to the efforts of Miami Dade College, has been able to bring us Dali’s “Divine Comedy”, on display at the Freedom Tower. The “Divine Comedy” is Dali’s visual interpretation of Dante’s classic piece of literature, and presents the viewer with a combination of jarring and beautiful imagery.
I thoroughly enjoyed viewing Dali’s collection, and encourage the residents of Miami to take this opportunity to experience the work of a truly great and visionary artist. With the holiday season in full swing, and leisure time being made available to families across the city, now is the perfect time for our residents to see great art in one of Miami’s most iconic buildings.
To read more about this exhibition visit MDC's page.

-Manny

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have a Happy and Green Holiday

The City of Miami encourages you to have a "Greener" Holiday Season this year. Please consider the following three simple steps to help conserve our natural resources.


1. Save Energy, Save Money! Make sure to select energy saving LED lights for holiday decorating. LEDs have a lower wattage and generate much less heat than traditional strands. Set all holiday lights on a timer for increased energy efficiency.

2. Rethink the Gift Wrap. When wrapping your gifts, select gift wrap made of recycled paper, old newspapers, magazines, or pictures. Reusing gift boxes, bags & ribbons can also help reduce waste. Finish off your present with a recycled card to add just the perfect green touch!

3. Recycle Your Tree! This holiday season, prolong the usefulness of your Christmas tree by turning it into mulch and using it for gardening or landscaping. You can also have it picked up and recycled through the City of Miami's curbside recycling collection up until Februadry 4th. To find out more information, contact the City of Miami Solid Waste Department at 305.960.2801.


Happy Holidays and a Happy (and Greener) New Year!


-Manny

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

USCM Releases Third Report of Main Street Recovery Plan

The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently released the third installment of their Ready-to-Go Jobs Report that inventories infrastructure projects from cities around the country that could be started and completed in just two calendar years to create over a million jobs with help from federal dollars.

This report contains examples of the kinds of projects that, if funded through existing channels, would contribute significantly to the President-elect's stated goal of creating 2.5 million jobs to spur the national economy.

The USCM, an organization that I preside, represents over 1,300 mayors and their cities. The organization invited its members to submit what projects they could start right away and put people to work.

Investing in MainStreet metropolitan economies, which comprise 90% of our gross domestic product and drive the national economy, is the most direct path to creating jobs and stimulating the business that can begin to reverse the current economic downturn. Additionally, metro infrastructure projects can start quickly because the funding for them can come directly to their cities through existing funding channels such as the Community Development Block Grant.

The mayors of 641 cities of all sizes in all regions of the country reported a total of 15,221 local infrastructure projects are "ready to go." These projects represent an infrastructure investment of $96,638,419,313 that would be capable of producing an estimated 1,221,677 jobs in calendar years 2009 and 2010.

The USCM accepted each city’s project submittal, and each Mayor and City is responsible for its justification for putting these projects forward.

However, Mayors recognize that this list must go through a review process through which Congress and the new Administration will identify projects eligible for funding. During this process, the new Administration and Congress must create a selection criteria to decide which projects are feasible and would be of most benefit to the community.

To view the entire report and individual city results, please go to http://www.usmayors.org/.

- Manny

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bike Miami Days 2009 Launching Sunday, January 18th

I am happy to announce the Bike Miami Days continues to be a successful, free & family community event here in the City of Miami. I am dedicated to making sure that the City of Miami hosts this event every month - our next Bike Miami Day will take place Sunday, January 18th in Downtown Miami. The street closures will extend down West Flagler Street, opening up access to bicyclists and pedestrians to the Cultural Center, the Miami River Greenway and Lummus Park. The schedule of free events will be posted soon at Bike-Miami.com, but I can tell you now that there will be a Riverfront Rally, tours of the City of Miami Police Stables, and bicycle rentals, all new to Bike Miami Days.
Thank you to everyone who supports this initiative to promote cycling, livable streets and Miami's growing urban community. Save the date!

-Manny

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We Must Continue the Port of Miami Tunnel Project

The Port of Miami Tunnel project, part of the Global Agreement, has been a dream of City of Miami planners for decades, with the ultimate aim of its construction being the relief from congestion that currently clogs our downtown streets near the entrance of Miami’s port. It has been our goal to get this important infrastructure project approved and finished, in the hopes that its construction will make our downtown more livable.
The Florida Department of Transportation’s decision not to close the deal on the Port of Miami Tunnel project is unacceptable. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and I held a press conference yesterday urging Governor Charlie Crist to reconsider FDOT's decision.
The $457.5 million dollar investment will bring an immediate influx of cash into our economy. The construction of the tunnel will create an estimated 600 jobs, jobs that will go to our residents and will help protect Florida’s largest economy from the recession we are currently facing. The tunnel, recommended by FDOT as a means of improving the flow of traffic and relieving congestion, is vital to the future of Miami as a major player in the world economy.
During this time of ever increasing economic hardship we, as a city, county and state, need to have projects in place that not only create jobs, but improve our competitiveness and invest in our future.
The port, Miami’s second most important economic engine, employs 17,000 people, generates over two-billion dollars in business and has an immediate economic impact worth well over half-a-billion dollars. With increasing competition from Port Everglades, Jacksonville, Panama and a slew of ports in the Caribbean, can the state really allow Miami’s port, the state’s most important to lose its position as a global player? The answer is no, and we implore Governor Crist to do his part and provide the assistance that we need to improve the sustainability, resident friendly and competitive position that downtown Miami has developed over the last ten years.

Please read the letter sent to Governor Crist HERE
- Manny

Listen in on NPR Interview


Listen to Mayor Manny Diaz’s December 15 interview in National Public Radio’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin. Some of the subjects discussed include the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Homelessness and Hunger report as well as its Main Street Recovery Plan and the current economic situation in Miami.

Listen HERE


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Annual Update on Hunger & Homelessness Released during Miami Cares Day

Photos by Jorge Perez/City of Miami

At this time of significant economic downturn, the issues of hunger and homelessness in America are more prevalent than ever. Cities are the front lines where these effects are first felt, which is why mayors have been proactive and have implemented local initiatives to combat hunger and homelessness in their communities. Miami Cares Day is a coordinated effort that our City has done for the past four years to address these very issues and take care of our most vulnerable residents.
The City of Miami Homeless Assistance Program, in conjunction with more than 20 community partners, provided free services today to more than 700 homeless individuals during the fourth annual Miami Cares Day on December 12. During the event, 513 meals were served and 118 homeless individuals were taken off the street in a single day, through shelter placement, residential treatment and relocation.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) also released results of its 2008 Hunger and Homelessness Report at a press conference during the Miami Cares event.
The USCM report reveals that on average, cities reported a 12 percent increase in homelessness from 2007 to 2008, with 16 cities citing an increase in the number of homeless families. The lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment were cited as the primary causes of homelessness for families. For individuals, the top three causes cited were substance abuse, affordable housing and mental illness. The lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment were cited as the primary causes of homelessness for families.
Only Los Angeles, Phoenix, Cleveland and Miami saw a decline. Miami saw a 16% decline from last year, and a 66% decline from 2003, the year we adopted our 10 year plan to reduce homelessness.
This year’s survey included a special focus on the demand for government subsidized housing and the effect of the foreclosure crisis on homelessness. Twelve cities (63) percent reported an increase in homelessness because of the foreclosure crisis.
The report shows that requests for emergency food assistance went up in nearly every city surveyed with the demand outpacing the supply in 20 cities. The Miami Indoor Meal Program served 150,000 meals last year.
December 18 update:
Today I received impressive numbers detailing the positive impact we had on Miami's homeless during Miami Cares Day:
250 volunteers were able to provide 743 people with 92 shelter placements, 47 haircuts, 136 showers and new clothes, 18 long distance phone calls to family and friends, 14 family re-unifications, 12 substance abuse treatment placements, 59 people were provided medical services, 40 mental health screenings were administered, 15 veterans affairs consultations were given, 33 legal service consultations were given, 38 permanent housing applications were filled and filed, 49 food stamps applications were filled and filed, 475 gift bags were handed out, 86 HIV/Hepatitis tests were administered, 81 people were provided with optical services, 88 Florida I.D.'s were issued, 21 people people were given manicures/pedicures, and 118 people were provided with some form of housing.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who made this possible!

To read the entire USCM 2008 Hunger and Homelessness Report, please visit www.usmayors.org.
Follow this link to hear my NPR interview about the report and homelessness.
- Manny

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Second Sunday for Biking, Walking, Skating & Exploring the City in a New Way

photo: Jorge Perez, City of Miami

Sunday was another a success for Bike Miami Days. I had a great time riding around Bayfront Park and Downtown Miami, visiting local shops and meeting local families along the way. I had a great time and got to try riding a Trikke and saw lots of interesting bikes and skates, segways and skateboards, too.

I would like to thank City Year volunteers for 'Bringing Books Alive', their program to promote reading for kids at Bayfront Park. The Downtown Miami Partnership and the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts hosted the top entries from the DAWNTOWN International Architectural Ideas Competition. Kirk Jewelers gave out free water to everyone who passed their shop on Flagler Street. Sun Cycling came out to Mary Brickell Village and offered a free bike clinic with helmet fittings and lots of holiday cheer, too. The Everglades Bicycle Club collected toys for children in need across Greater Miami, and the Green Mobility Network was back, valeting bicycles and sharing information about bike safety. Bike Miami Days is truly a community effort, and I could go on and on thanking everyone who make it happen. Last but not least, we could not do this without the support of the City of Miami Police and Parks & Recreation Departments, as well as Public Works, Solid Waste, GSA and Communications.

It was a great day. I look forward to announcing the date of the next Bike Miami Day soon.

- Manny

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This Sunday: Bike Miami Days in Downtown Miami

This Sunday, Bike Miami Days returns to Downtown Miami, back by popular demand.
Bike Miami Days is an initiative to promote bicycling and walking, livable streets and our urban community.
This Sunday, from 9:00am-3:00pm, I hope that you and your family will join me and mine to Explore our City in a New Way. East Flagler Street and portions of SE 1st Avenue and South Miami Ave will be closed to cars so that everyone can visit the parks, shops, cafes and restaurants of Downtown Miami by bike, on foot or rollerblades or trikke or...
I encourage you to carpool or take public transportation if you cannot bike or walk to this event. Mary Brickell Village will be offering $3 all-day parking and the MetroMover and Bike Valet, as always, will be free.
I would also like to thank all of you who have shared with me your photos, videos, blogs and thoughts on Bike Miami Days. Many of them are on Facebook, the Bike Miami Days blog and the official site: Bike-Miami.com
I hope everyone who came to the first event will be able to join us again. This Sunday will feature a full service Bike Clinic, the Everglades Bicycle Club Annual Toy Drive, Live music, and the City Year program "Bringing Books Alive", which promotes reading for kids, at Bayfront Park, and much more.
For the full list of events and a map, please visit the blog.
See you Sunday!
-Manny

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Call to Washington to Invest in Our Cities

Investing in MainStreet metropolitan economies, which comprise 90% of our gross domestic product and drive the national economy, is the most direct path to creating jobs and stimulating the business that can begin to reverse the current economic downturn. Yesterday I was joined by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to renew our call for MainStreet Economic Recovery during a press conference on Capitol Hill, and to release the second report that inventories local ‘ready-to-go’ infrastructure projects – projects that could be started and completed in cities in just two calendar years -- if emergency federal funding were made available. We were also joined by House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (NY).
Information on these projects has been submitted to the U.S. Conference of Mayors from hundreds of cities in all regions of the country and includes projects in ten different sectors including Community Development Block Grants, transit, highway infrastructure, green jobs, school modernization, public safety and public housing (see details at http://www.usmayors.org/).
Immediately following the press conference, we met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her office and then with Senate Majority Leader Reid and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Durbin to discuss the report and the MainStreet Economic Recovery plan.



Below are my remarks given during the press conference:

Main Street America’s economic crisis continues to worsen.

Since the start of the recession a year ago, our nation has lost nearly 2 million jobs. Over 10 million American workers are now unemployed.

These workers live and work in our cities, they live and work on Main Street.

Mayors also live and work on Main Street.

We see problems first and are the first to respond.

Mayors lead the metro economies, our nation’s economic engines, accounting for 86 percent of jobs, 90 percent of income and gross domestic product.

With a real sense of urgency, we met throughout the Summer to begin drafting our main street economic recovery plan.

Our plan calls for investments that will stimulate our economy by quickly creating jobs, fixing our aging infrastructure, increasing our global competitiveness and further reducing our carbon footprint.

In developing our plan, we asked our 1,200 member cities to provide us with a specific list of their 2009 and 2010 shovel-ready projects, their estimated cost and the number of jobs created.

To date, 427 cities of all sizes have responded. We have over 11,300 infrastructure projects “ready to go.”

They represent an investment of more than 73 billion dollars and will produce an estimated 848,000 jobs in 2009 and 2010.

These are real jobs, and a real return on taxpayer investment.

To reverse the current economic crisis, we must invest wisely. We must invest where we get the greatest return: in “Main Street.”

We are not here for a bailout. We are here to help build-out America, and put America back to work, and to strongly endorse President Elect Obama’s call for a long-term economic recovery plan that creates or saves 2.5 million jobs over the next two years, and that invests in a sustainable, energy-saving infrastructure.

We are prepared to work with President Elect Obama and our congressional leaders to measure our progress, to spend the dollars timely or lose them, and to account for the number of jobs created and the energy saved.

The conference will continue to collect information from our members and issue our next update during the first week of January.


- Manny

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mayor’s Blog One of Miami’s Top Blogs!

I am happy to announce that this blog was ranked among Miami's top “up and coming” blogs by Outside.in, a hyperlocal news and information service, which provides news and information on a level beyond what traditional media provides.
Outside.in recently analyzed data from over 4,000 blogs that provide feeds to the Outside.in site, and based on variables that include total number of posts, location of posts, and links from other sites in the community, identified the Mayor's Blog as a top blog in the Miami area.
Read more at http://blog.outside.in/2008/12/03/dept-of-blogiology-101-miami


Thank you to my readers!

- Manny

Friday, December 5, 2008

Join Me for the Overtown Folk Life Festival

This weekend marks the first of what will be a monthly tradition for Miami's Overtown Neighborhood, First Fridays, with the Overtown Folk Life Festival. Come visit the Historic Overtown community this weekend with your family and enjoy live music, arts & crafts, and a visit from Santa!













Support Adopt-A-Classroom


Outside the home, the teacher is the single greatest influence on the life of a child. They do more than just teach, they are caregivers, guardians, mentors, and role models. In order to succeed at their increasingly demanding job, teachers need more resources and support. According to the National Education Association, public school teachers spend an average $1,200 annually purchasing materials for their classrooms. Without these resources, teachers are unable to do the job they are being asked to perform so it should be no surprise that 50% of teachers leave the profession within the first five years. As the Mayor of the City of Miami, I believe the time has come for all citizens to begin taking a vested interest in the future of the children of our City.

I have partnered with Adopt-A-Classroom and Miami-Dade County Public Schools to work toward its mission of matching every teacher in Miami with a community partner. Through Adopt-A-Classroom, anyone can partner with and make a donation of any size to any classroom in Miami. 100% of the donation goes directly to the teacher so the teacher can purchase the resources necessary to meet student needs. Donors receive personal feedback from the teacher and students. In addition, Adopt-A-Classroom sends donors Impact Reports that details exactly what teacher purchased with the donation, providing full accountability and transparency in the process.

The teacher would have the resources necessary to maximize student achievement, and the students would have the knowledge that others in the community care about their success and are rooting for them. We want to expand this initiative for the 2008-2009 school year to adopt all classrooms within the City of Miami. We are calling on you to become a part of this plan. A contribution of as little as $500.00 could make an enormous difference. Please consider this as an opportunity to contribute to the City’s future. You can make a donation directly to a school and teacher of your choice by going to Adopt-A-Classroom’s website – http://www.adoptaclassroom.org/ or for information, please contact Vivianne Bohorques, from my office, at 305-250-5317.

- Manny

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Miami Art Week and Re-Designing Simpson Park

Miami is alive with art during Miami Art Week, coinciding with the world-renowned art fair, Art Basel. Headed by Design Miami/, an official Art Basel activity, hundreds or art-related events will be happening throughout the city, including gallery openings, art festivals, and a plethora of exhibitions.
One of these wonderful events was today’s celebration of the first phase of ‘re:design Simpson Park’, a public-private partnership to revitalize this historic park and return it to the community. I would personally like to thank Audi of America, landscape designer Enzo Enea and Miami-based green architect Chad Oppenheim for their donation and their hard work to make this project happen during the week of Design Miami/.
The first phase of the re-design of Simpson Park is a step towards the realization for my vision of what Miami’s green spaces will be, and I remain committed to achieving this vision, with a park within half a mile of every resident, and no net loss of park land. Already the city has doubled its park funding and is starting to acquire more park land.
Don’t miss any of the other great art-related events in our city. Some of the highlights of Miami Art Week include: Design Miami/, the official Art Basel event in the City of Miami, in our own Design district, Design Miami/ brings together a mixture of upcoming designers, influential dealers, collectors and curators that celebrate the past, present and future of design. Several other galleries will also showcase work. Midtown Miami: This trendy Miami center has an unprecedented number of satellite art fairs during the week of Art Basel, including Art Miami, the GREEN Art Fair, and Scope Miami. Wynwood: The MOCA, the Margulies Collection, Pulse Miami and dozens of other galleries and events will be going on in this artistic neighborhood throughout the whole week. MiMo District: Several galleries in this historic neighborhood will be open, as well as in Little Havana, Coconut Grove, Overtown and Downtown.
Download a map of these activities HERE.

- Manny

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Our World AIDS Day Commemoration



Yesterday we commemorated the 20th World AIDS Day at the city of Miami with a candlelight memorial and tree lighting ceremony. I would like to thank everyone who participated, and who made this event possible, including our sponsor, Walgreens Corporation, the Miami-Dade County Health Department, the South Florida Aids Network, Jackson Health System, my staff and a special thanks to my good friend Mayor Kevin Burns of North Miami, for donating the Christmas tree.
This year’s international theme is a call for leadership - “Stop AIDS. Keep the promise.”
Whether you are here honoring the memory of a loved one, raising awareness about this disease, or simply because you care about others, it is important that we all lead in stopping this disease.
HIV/AIDS does not discriminate. It does care about age, race, or gender. It destroys lives, families and communities, and it will continue to do so unless we lead the way to stop the spread of AIDS.
Our Christmas tree has 175 cards in memory of loved ones who have left us and gone to rest after their battle with HIV/AIDS. These are the names of people, just like you and me, who brought us joy and laughter, who brought us smiles and tears, people who faced great odds with great courage.
Let us not forget them – let us keep the promise so that each year the roll call will become smaller and smaller.
You can help by donating canned food to the Girl Scout Tropical South Florida Troop 95. You can drop off your canned goods at the MRC building, on 444 SW 2 Avenue until December 5. The Girl Scout troops will donate the food to the Food for Life Network.

- Manny





Friday, November 28, 2008

World AIDS Day is December 1st

World AIDS Day is this Monday, December 1, 2008. For the last twenty years, people have been marking this important day with memorial services, rallies and community gatherings. Today, there are 40 million people living with HIV around the world. In support of these individuals and the families of those we have lost, please join me in wearing a red ribbon - the international symbol of hope and commitment to stopping the spread of HIV - this Monday.

This is more than an international tradition. It is an opportunity to mark our commitment to stopping the spread of AIDS worldwide.


In honor of World AIDS Day and its 20th Anniversary, the City of Miami would like to invite the community to a candlelight memorial and tree lighting ceremony.
Please join me, the City of Miami Commission, the Miami-Dade County Health Department and Walgreens, Co. in commemorating World AIDS Day on Monday at 5:00pm at the Miami Riverside Center on 444 SW 2nd Avenue.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thanksgiving Message




Today we celebrate Thanksgiving, an opportunity to spend time with our families and reflect on the many blessings in our lives. This is also a time to think about those less fortunate than ourselves. The City of Miami, with the help of community and corporate partners, has provided over a thousand Thanksgiving meals for Miami families this week.
This is the time to consider offering our time to volunteer in our community or making a donation to our favorite charity. There are many volunteering opportunities right here in our city. The Miami Rescue Mission and Camillus House are just two of the organizations in Miami that will be holding Thanksgiving Day events for the homeless and those less fortunate. I will be participating in these efforts this Thanksgiving Day.
I encourage you to also think about our community's needs and find the time, or the money, to give back.
I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving, and wish you and your families all the best during this holiday season.







- Manny

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thoughts on Leadership

I was honored to participate in a panel discussion about leadership with some of the country’s best leaders during a reception hosted by U.S. News & World Report at The National Press Club in Washington, DC. Those of us who participated in the panel yesterday were named one of America’s Top Leaders in 2008 by U.S. News and the Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
During the lively discussion, led by David Gergen, editor-at-Large of U.S. News and director of the CPL, I was pleased to see that leadership is alive and well in our country.
Participating in the discussion were 14 of the 24 honorees chosen by the center, including myself. The other 13 participants were Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., founder and CEO of the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic; Benjamin Carson, M.D., director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital; Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund; Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, co-founders of the KIPP Foundation; Fiona Anne Harrison, Ph.D., professor of Physics and Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology; David Baltimore, Ph.D., R. A. Millikan Professor of Biology, California Institute of Technology; Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Amory B. Lovins, co-founder, chairman and chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute; Linda Rottenberg, co-founder and CEO of Endeavor; Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University; and Maria T. Zuber, Ph.D., E. A. Griswold professor of Geophysics at MA Institute of Technology.
One theme that continued to come up in the discussion is the need to invest in our future and in our children. A large part of the discussion centered on educating our children and giving them the tools they need to succeed. Many of the panelists were involved in education and the sciences, and they shared inspiring stories of times when they have seen children become inspired to do great things, as well as heart-breaking stories of children who cannot succeed because they are born in the wrong place or in the wrong economic class.
There was consensus among us: our country cannot afford to lose so many of our children to crime, poverty and lack of education. We must invest in our children now if we are to become the great nation that we deserve to be.
To read the U.S. News 2008 edition of America’s Best Leaders, please visit www.usnews.com/leaders.
- Manny

Friday, November 21, 2008

Miami's Condo Market Still Strong

Miami’s real estate market continues to thrive in spite of the difficult economic conditions being experienced all around the nation. As reported in The Miami Herald, the closings at downtown Miami condos have continued despite the slow-down in the economy.
The article reads:
“Since 2003, 17,299 condos have been finished and 12,169 have closed at an average price of $405,966 per unit, adding up to total sales of nearly $5 billion in the greater downtown Miami area, which includes the Brickell, central business district and Midtown neighborhoods.”
More than 12,000 units have closed in downtonwn, a large number of units for any local economy to absorb, even in robust economic times. The fact that all of these units have closed despite the current economic climate speaks volumes about the city’s stability and ability to attract buyers. This is a testament that Miami continues to grow and prosper, and will continue to be a source of prosperity for its residents.
It is also a testament to how far the city has come in creating an urban core to live, work and play in. Not too long ago, Miami had no urban core to speak of. Now, downtown has been completely transformed. The residents who will live in these 12,000 that have closed will help create a new urban environment and a brand new sustainable city. These closings also create an opportunity for renters to live in the urban core, renters who are likely to become buyers once the lending market improves.
This is why the City of Miami will continue to invest in projects such as the Miami World Center, and continue to work towards implementing the new zoning code, Miami 21. These investments are necessary to build the city we all want to live in, and create a sustainable home for our children.
- Manny

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Elevate Miami Kicks Off with Goals for Second Class


Elevate Miami is one of the programs that I am most proud of in the City. A result of the City's partnership with the Miami-Dade Public School System (the Education Compact), Elevate Miami is a comprehensive “Digital Inclusion” program to break the downward spiral of economic adversity and educational inequity and give our youngest residents every opportunity to pursue their hopes and dreams.

This week, I was joined by Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, two Elevate Miami alumni and 200 sixth graders at a rally at Jose De Diego Middle School to celebrate our goal to double the number of families to receive free computers and internet access this year to 1200 families.

Elevate Miami gives our students the ability to develop the skills necessary to compete globally. We need to ensure that we continue investing in our children and that we provide them with all of the tools they need to succeed. It is a life skills course that is being taught to sixth grade students that attend schools within the city. Students who complete the required coursework and also meet important academic and behavioral benchmarks during the school year earn a free computer and internet access for their homes.

In 2007, 600 sixth grade students successfully completed the very first ELEVATE MIAMI curriculum and took home a free computer. This year’s goal will be to double the amount of students to 1200.

Students participating in the Elevate Miami – Rites of Passage Initiative will need to meet certain criteria to earn a computer. Among the requirements students need to meet are: attending a Title I school or attend a City of Miami magnet school with a Title I City of Miami home school; complete the Rites of Passage Curriculum including the submission of a Rites of Passage Portfolio; attend school consistently; maintain academic grades of C or above in all academic subject areas on the second quarter report card. Additionally, parents/guardians will have to complete four (4) Parent Academy Rites of Passage Workshops.

I want to wish good luck to all of the students participating in Elevate Miami.

To learn more about this program http://www.elevatemiami.com/.





- Manny



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

National League of Cities Meeting


This past Friday I was named 2008 Municipal Leader of the Year by the Hispanic Elected Local Officials (HELO), the organization with the largest group of locally elected Latino leaders in the United States, at the National League of Cities (NLC) meeting in Orlando.
I received the award for my work to strengthen the quality of life and economic vitality of our nation's cities and towns. I would like to thank the National League of Cities and HELO for this profound honor.
While in Orlando, I also urged NLC members to support The US Conference of Mayors MainStreet Jobs and Infrastructure Stimulus Plan totaling $89.8 billion that includes funding in the sectors of transit and roads, green jobs, school modernization, and community development. The US Conference of Mayors presented this plan in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in October.
I will post more information about this plan soon.
Posted below are my remarks, made during the NLC meeting.


- Manny


Remarks made on Friday, November 14, at the National League of Cities (NLC) meeting in Orlando:

"GOOD AFTERNOON, IT’S ALWAYS GREAT TO BE IN A ROOM SURROUNDED BY MY COLLEAGUES AND OTHER LOCAL OFFICIALS........ALL OF US WHO WORK ON THE FRONT LINE OF GOVERNMENT.....WE GET IT.
I WANT TO THANK PRESIDENT KATHLEEN NOVAK AND VICE PRESIDENT MAYOR RON LOVERIDGE FOR INVITING ME HERE TODAY.
LET ME ALSO RECOGNIZE YOUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DON BORUT, WHO WORKS VERY CLOSELY WITH OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TOM COCHRAN.
AND LET ME CONGRATULATE MY FRIEND AND NEIGHBOR TO THE NORTH, MAYOR BUDDY DYER AND THE ENTIRE ORLANDO HOST COMMITTEE ON SUCH A FANTASTIC MEETING –
YOU DO ALMOST AS GREAT A JOB HOSTING THESE EVENTS AS WE DO IN MIAMI…
AS THE GOVERNMENT CLOSEST TO THE PEOPLE, WE ARE CONFRONTED DAILY BY WORRIED AND ANXIOUS RESIDENTS ASKING ...........
WHAT WILL THIS ECONOMY DO TO THEIR JOBS, THEIR LONG-TERM SAVINGS, THEIR HOMES, AND THEIR PENSION FUNDS.
PARENTS ARE GETTING LAID OFF, FAMILIES ARE STRUGGLING TO PAY BILLS.
GRANDPARENTS ARE STRUGGLING WITH RETIREMENT, AND YOUNG PEOPLE UNABLE TO SECURE FINANCIAL AID...... ARE BEING FORCED TO FORGO COLLEGE.
SEVERE FEDERAL AND STATE CUTS TO EDUCATION, HOUSING, HEALTH, PUBLIC SAFETY, YOUTH PROGRAMS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, JOB TRAINING, ARTS, AND INFRASTRUCTURE ARE RESULTING IN A LOSS OF NEEDED SERVICES ON MAIN STREET.
TODAY WE GO FROM CRISIS TO CRISIS – WE ARE ENGAGED IN A WAR WITH NO CLEAR END, A HOUSING AND A FORECLOSURE CRISIS AND A MELT DOWN ON WALL STREET.
CONGRESS BAILS OUT INDUSTRIES THAT SHOULD KNOW BETTER, AND THEN THEY SIMPLY MOVE ON TO THE NEXT DEBATE – ALL WITHOUT ADDRESSING THE UNDERLYING CONDITIONS THAT GOT US HERE, AND KEEP GETTING US HERE.


WHY ARE MARKETS FAILING? WHY ARE THE FUNDAMENTALS OF OUR ECONOMY NOT SOUND? WHY DO PEOPLE FEEL WORSE TODAY, AND ARE MORE PESSIMISTIC ABOUT THEIR FUTURE THAN AT ANY OTHER TIME IN OUR HISTORY?
THIS IS WHERE OUR ROLE AS LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS IS MORE IMPORTANT TODAY THAN PERHAPS AT ANY TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY.
FOR IT IS HERE THAT THE REAL CRISIS IN AMERICA EXISTS.
MOST OF US BELIEVE THAT WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS CURRENT CRISIS, WHETHER IN 1, 2, OR 5 YEARS.
BUT, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
THE REAL CRISIS IN AMERICA TODAY
THE CHALLENGE THAT I AM CONFIDENT OUR PRESIDENT-ELECT WILL TACKLE HEAD-ON
IS HOW DO WE ASSURE THAT AMERICA WILL REMAIN COMPETITIVE IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY?
HOW DO WE ASSURE THAT THE NEXT GENERATION OF AMERICANS WILL STILL HAVE THE AMERICAN DREAM AVAILABLE TO THEM WHEN THEY ARE READY TO WORK AND FIGHT FOR IT?
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
WE HAVE A TRILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT –
OUR BIRTH RATE IS TOO LOW TO SUSTAIN SOCIAL SECURITY-
25% OF GNP GOES TO HEALTH CARE –
OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM IS NOT PRODUCING GRADUATES THAT CAN COMPETE ON A GLOBAL LEVEL –
AND SPEAKING OF GLOBAL, THE LACK OF AN ENERGY POLICY HAS US IN WHAT IS BEING CALLED THE GREATEST TRANSFER OF WEALTH IN HISTORY...... WHERE WE CONTINUE TO SEND OUR MONEY TO UNFRIENDLY GOVERNMENTS.
MONEY THAT WE THEN BORROW FROM CHINA, RUSSIA, INDIA AND YES EVEN IRAQ AND IRAN.
1 IN EVERY 6 CHILDREN LIVES IN POVERTY, WITH NEARLY HALF LIVING IN EXTREME POVERTY.
TODAY, THERE ARE MORE GANG MEMBERS IN AMERICA THAN POLICE OFFICERS. IN THE STREETS OF MIAMI, ASSAULT WEAPONS ARE CHEAPER TO BUY THAN A PLAY STATION.
OVER 60% OF AMERICA’S CHILDREN DO NOT READ OR PERFORM MATH AT GRADE LEVEL AND IN OUR LARGEST CITIES, OVER 50% OF CHILDREN DO NOT MAKE IT PAST HIGH SCHOOL.
OUR INFRASTRUCTURE REQUIRES TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS JUST TO FIX IT.
MOTHERS AND FATHERS SPEND 4 BILLION HOURS A YEAR STUCK IN TRAFFIC, TIME THEY DON’T SPEND WITH THEIR CHILDREN--
OVER A THIRD OF OUR CITIES DO NOT KNOW WHERE THEY WILL GET THEIR WATER FROM IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS.
AND THIS IS WHERE WE COME IN.
ALL OF US IN THIS ROOM, OUR CITIES, DRIVE THE NATIONAL ECONOMY.
85% OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE LIVE IN METRO AREAS.
WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALMOST 90% OF ALL JOBS, INCOME AND OUR GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT
CITIES ARE NOT THE PROBLEM, CITIES ARE THE SOLUTION.
WE KNOW HOW TO GENERATE WEALTH, PROSPERITY, OPPORTUNITY.
WE KNOW HOW TO CREATE SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIES.
WE ARE THE ANSWER TO OUR LONG TERM FINANCIAL CRISIS.
WE DO IT EVERY DAY BY INVESTING IN ASSETS, OUR PEOPLE, OUR BUSINESSES, OUR INFRASTRUCTURE, OUR MARKET PLACES.
CONGRESS WILLINGLY SENT $700 BILLION TO BAIL OUT WALL STREET.
CAN ANY OF YOU IMAGINE WHAT WE COULD DO WITH $700 BILLION DOLLARS IN OUR CITIES?
THE CONFERENCE OF MAYORS AND NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES GET IT.
.
EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US - WE ARE THE GOVERNMENTS OF FIRST RESORT - BUT WE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO BE THE GOVERNMENTS OF LAST RESORT.
IT IS TIME FOR WASHINGTON TO END ITS PARTISAN GRIDLOCK, END THE POINTLESS DEBATES, AND ENGAGE IN SOME SERIOUS PLANNING AND LEADERSHIP TO ADDRESS THE ISSUES WE ALL FACE.
IT IS TIME FOR ALL OF US TO HAVE A PARTNER IN WASHINGTON - ONE THAT SUPPORTS US, ONE THAT SUPPORTS A "MAIN STREET STIMULUS."
THE ONLY WAY TO REVERSE THIS SYSTEMIC, LONG-TERM ECONOMIC CRISIS IS TO INVEST IN OUR CITIES.
THE CONFERENCE OF MAYORS HAS DEVELOPED A 90 BILLION DOLLAR "MAIN STREET STIMULUS" THAT WILL CREATE JOBS NOW BY INVESTING IN OUR INFRASTRUCTURE, CREATING A GREEN ECONOMY, HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES, AND HAVE LASTING ECONOMIC, EQUITABLE AND SUSTAINABLE BENEFITS.
BUT FOR THIS TO WORK, WE MUST MAKE SURE THAT THIS FUNDING DOES NOT GET STUCK IN THE STATES, BUT THAT IT GOES DIRECTLY TO CITIES AND METRO AREAS.
PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA AND VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN HAVE MET WITH US, AND HAVE COMMITTED TO MOVE FORWARD ON OUR SHARED PRIORITIES.
AND WE HAVE MANY FRIENDS IN CONGRESS LIKE HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI AND SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID. MY TWO SENATORS, NELSON AND MARTINEZ, ARE WORKING TOGETHER FOR US IN A BIPARTISAN WAY.
BUT THESE LEADERS NEED TO HEAR FROM EACH ONE OF US. WE MUST EACH WORK WITH CONGRESS TO ENSURE THAT MAIN STREET IS NOT FORGOTTEN, BETTER YET THAT IT IS UNDERSTOOD.
TO ENSURE THAT THEY ALL KNOW THAT AN INVESTMENT IN AMERICA’S CITIES, AN INVESTMENT IN AMERICA’S PEOPLE IS AN INVESTMENT IN AMERICA’S FUTURE.
OUR HISTORY SHOWS THAT WHEN WE WORK TOGETHER, WE CAN ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS. THIS IS A DEFINING MOMENT FOR ALL OF US.
LET US STAND TOGETHER, UNITED, FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WE ALL SERVE. THERE IS TOO MUCH AT STAKE.
THANK YOU, AND GOD BLESS."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Letter from a Constituent on Bike Miami

Thank you to everyone who has shared with me your appreciation and ideas for Bike Miami. Many of you have commented about the coverage it received by our local media. Here is just one unpublished letter from a Downtown resident, addressed to the Editor of the Miami Herald:
"Bike Miami, held on Sunday, November 9 in downtown Miami was a huge step in the right direction to making Miami a place where people can work, live, and play. As a concerned citizen of our local environment and Brickell resident with a new baby, I appreciate Mayor Manny Diaz's effort to make our city greener and more accessible to families. We need more events like this, and I hope to see Bike Miami become a regular event. They will only improve each time. Way to go Miami!"
-Rebecca Carter
Founder & Editor, greenerMIAMI.com

See you on Sunday, December 14th!
-Manny

Save the Date! Bike Miami: Sunday, Dec.14th

I continue to be impressed by the positive feedback I have received from Bike Miami. Thank you to everyone who has contacted my office, written emails and contacted me through Facebook. It was an inspiring day and, as I wrote earlier this week, I am dedicated to make Bike Miami a monthly event.
Please join me for the next Bike Miami: Sunday, December 14th!
My office is working hard to ensure that this Bike Miami is as fun and successful as the inaugural event. If you would like to volunteer, or if your business would like to participate in some way, please contact my office by email or phone at 305.250.5300.
Together, we are making Miami a world-class, bicycle-friendly city.
-Manny

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Honoring Our Veterans


Today we celebrate Veteran’s Day, a day to honor the men and women who fight for our country and so that we may live in freedom. Some of these men and women never come home, making the ultimate sacrifice. They, and their families, deserve our respect and to be honored. As our country continues to be at war, and thousands of brave men and women risk their lives every day, we must thank them for their service and pray for their safe return home.
The City of Miami has been honored to host The Moving Wall, the half-size replica of the Washington, DC Vietnam Veterans Memorial and has been touring the country for more than twenty years. The Wall is a project by a group of veterans who have made it possible for thousands of people who cannot travel to our nation’s capital to be able to experience this solemn memorial to our fallen warriors. The Wall will close today at 5:30 pm.
To learn more about The Moving Wall, please visit their WEBSITE.



-Manny

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thank You for Making Bike Miami a Success!

Thank you to everyone who came out and made the first ever Bike Miami such a success!
Thousands of you explored the streets of Downtown Miami by bike, on foot, on rollerblades, by pedicab... I want to thank you for your emails and letters of support of Bike Miami. If you have not done so already, please tell us about your experience at this historic community event.
I would also like to thank all of you who have shared with me your photos, videos, blogs and thoughts on Bike Miami. Many of them are on facebook. Some of them are included below. Please keep them coming!
I am looking forward to the next Bike Miami and want you all to know that I plan to make this a monthly event.
Green Mobility Network Director, Organizer of the free Bike Valets at Bayfront Park and Mary Brickell Village and Bicycle Action Committee Member, John Hopkins, posted a video from the rally on his blog, SpokesnFolks.
TransitMiami.com, hosts of the very successful Bike Miami AfterParty posted some great photos this morning.
MiamiBikeScene posted a great video covering most of the streets closed for Bike Miami.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

City of Miami Police and Communications Departments YouTube for Bike Miami!

I would like to thank Chief of Police John Timoney and Major Gomez for their YouTube video for Bike Miami. You can view the video below (in English and Spanish), as well as a special Public Service Announcement about the event created by the City of Miami Communications Department to be shown this week on local channel 77.

video video

Please join us this Sunday in Downtown Miami.

For a full list of free events taking place during Bike Miami, please visit the Bike Miami 2008 blog.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Only 5 Days Left Until Bike Miami!


Please join me this Sunday for Bike Miami, a free and family-friendly opportunity to explore the city in a new way.

East Flagler Street and portions of SE 1st Avenue and South Miami Avenue will be closed to cars so that you can visit the local parks, shops, cafes and restaurants by bicycle, by foot, by rollerskates or any other non-motorized transport.

Help us spread the news about Bike Miami.

You can download flyers directly from here, in English & Spanish.


What to do at Bike Miami

Make plans with your family and friends to enjoy this Sunday at Bike Miami.

It's free - there is no registration or starting point. It's easy to get to and practically free to park! Local businesses are open and offering special discounts and family-friendly activities all day, from dance and yoga classes, to face painting and live entertainment.

This is the first-time the City of Miami has hosted something like this. Bike Miami is all about our Miami community - please show your support by coming out for the 11am rally & enjoying a beautiful day in Downtown Miami.


Come early and stay all day! I will be sending an email with a final list of all participating businesses & special events this Thursday. If you would like to join my email list, please sign up on my website.

- Manny

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Project Search: City of Miami Launches Landmark Program

As Mayor, I am committed to a holistic approach to reducing poverty, creating opportunity, and strengthening our community. The basis of my approach has always been education.

Since the creation of the County’s first Education Compact with Miami-Dade Public Schools, the City of Miami has continued to expand our ACCESS Miami, ELEVATE Miami, and Parks & Recreation after-school programs. Today, I’d like to tell you about how we have all partnered together to create Project SEARCH Miami, a program of which I am very proud.

Project SEARCH Miami is a unique business-led transition program designed to empower students with developmental disabilities to achieve employment and personal growth.
The program allows twelve students (ages 18-22) interested in the professional workforce to gain exposure and on the job training in marketable skills while working alongside a mentor from a volunteering City of Miami department. The year-long program is the first of its kind in the State of Florida and the second in the nation to offer this training opportunity through the public sector.

Each department has one student rotate approximately every ten weeks during a ten month period. Participants and City of Miami employees are given support through job coaching, specialized teaching, sensitivity trainings, and adaptations as needed.

This week I was very fortunate to participate in the Open House for Project SEARCH Miami, and was able to speak to the students and their families. I am proud to say that this has been meaningful and enriching to everyone involved and the students are exploring work in departments including Parks & Recreation, Communications, the Fire Department, Information Technology and several more. In addition to teaching students professional, marketable office skills, the program also helps these students achieve independent life skills by training them in the use of public transportation in order to get their job location, among many other life skills. The ultimate goal of Project SEARCH Miami is for these young adults to be able to achieve competitive employment.

Project SEARCH Miami is a united effort between the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc., the Florida Department of Education Vocational Rehabilitation Agency and the State of Florida Agencies for Persons with Disabilities along with other local agencies as well.

I’d especially like to thank the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) for awarding the City of Miami as one of five Pilot Site Designations in the State to develop the program and making this all possible.

For more information on Project SEARCH, please visit: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/svc/alpha/p/search/default.htm

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Remediating and Reducing Poverty




Poverty is an issue that affects all major cities in the world. Recently I was asked to write an editorial for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. Through Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, foundations will use their prestige to make sure that 2008 sets the stage for concerted action on poverty and opportunity in 2009 and beyond. You can read the editorial below. Please visit http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/ to learn more about this organization.



Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Remediating and Reducing Poverty

by Mayor Manny Diaz, Mayor of Miami and President of the United States Conference of Mayors


A Mayor's Plan for the National Agenda
The current financial climate in America underscores that entrenched poverty and limits on economic opportunity are not only local problems, but American problems. And national problems demand national investments. As Washington bails out Wall Street, they must also remember Main Street America and invest in education, infrastructure and poverty remediation measures to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to achieve self-sufficiency and a prosperous future.
This summer, as president of the United States Conference of Mayors, I announced five Mayors’ Action Forums, to convene a discussion on the major issues facing our nation’s cities: energy and the environment, crime and public safety, reducing and breaking the cycle of poverty, infrastructure investment and development, and the economic impact of arts, culture and travel. Due to the urgency of these problems, we held the first forum on August 5 and concluded the last forum on October 3.
While it is vitally important for the mayors of America’s cities and metropolitan areas to meet and discuss the problems facing our cities and arrive at concrete solutions, the reality is that these are national problems. America’s cities and metropolitan areas make up 85 percent of the total population. Our cities and metropolitan areas are where more than 90 percent of our national economic growth occurred between 2000 and 2007. Economic activity in our cities and metropolitan areas represent more than 86 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. Unfortunately, Washington has ignored the needs and national growth opportunity of its cities and its people. The truth is that Washington has lost its values and sense of purpose—engaging in endless debate and partisan bickering while people in this country continue to suffer.
In view of Washington’s continuing neglect of these important issues, the United States Conference of Mayors took the initiative to hold these forums to devise a plan of action for America’s cities for the next president. The mayors of the country want to see our recommendations included in the next president’s proposals to congress, and implemented in the first 100 days of the next administration.
Poverty is at the top of our list. Statistics show that 1 in every 6 children in this country lives in poverty, with nearly half living in extreme poverty. In addition, of the more than 140 million Americans employed in 2006, 8.7 million were living in poverty – evidence that even full-time work is failing to lift workers out of poverty. Long-term poverty remediation is required.
We cannot tolerate such injustices in our midst. That’s why, on September 24 in Los Angeles, mayors at the Action Forum on Poverty included the following amongst their recommendations:
A recalculation of how poverty is measured to accurately determine the true nature of poverty in this country
A cabinet-level position to direct and coordinate poverty reduction programs with a special emphasis on early-childhood education and healthcare
Tax-code reforms to simplify the process to access benefits and make them available to a wider number of families
An expansion of financial literacy programming to promote and enhance financial stability
Significant investment in workforce development programs to give students multiple paths to employment
We invited senior advisors to Senators John McCain and Barack Obama, so that no matter who prevails on November 4, America can look forward to real action on poverty in the coming year.
During my tenure as Mayor of Miami, I have worked to make our city an example of how we can alleviate and remediate both the immediate effects of poverty and its long-term causes. I also launched “Helping Hands, Mending Lives,” a 10-year, public-private partnership to end chronic homelessness. I’m proud to say that since then we have already reduced homelessness in Miami by 50 percent. In March, after Washington enacted an economic stimulus, we assisted low and moderate income residents to navigate the complicated tax filing process through 25 City of Miami-sponsored locations, so they could secure the relief to which they were entitled—and desperately needed.
Other mayors have taken bold and decisive action on poverty. Yet this alone is not enough. Poverty is a national problem and demands national attention. The next president must take strong steps to ensure that Washington never again abandons the needs of its cities and their residents.
I left Cuba at the age of six, arriving on my mother’s lap. We didn’t have a penny to our name, but I grew up to become mayor of one of America’s greatest cities because of a partnership between the federal government and the people of Main Street America. I believe in the American dream because I am a product of it. This is the only country in the world that inspires a dream. Let us not deny America’s poor and disadvantaged the same opportunity to dream.

Viewpoints in this section solely represent the authors’ opinions and not the opinions of "Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity."





- Manny

Monday, October 27, 2008

Operation Hope for Haiti Continues

The devastation wrought upon the residents of Haiti cannot be measured by words. Families have been left destitute and the infrastructure of a once vibrant nation has been left in shambles. Our mission to help our Caribbean neighbor cannot end yet.
I urge everyone to attend a fund-raising event where I, along with Miami commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, will announce that World Vision, a philanthropic organization that has concentrated much of its efforts to cumulating relief for Haiti, will match all of our contributions 3:1.
This means that every dollar that is donated to these efforts will be matched by $3 contribution from World Vision, an incredibly generous donation.
The event will be held this Thursday, October 30, from 5:30 pm to 7:00pm at the Doubletree Grand Hotel at 1717 North Bayshore Drive.
The suggested contribution for the event is $500.00. Please make all checks payable to World Vision.
This is a critical moment for us in the City of Miami to aid those Haitians that have been left in despair by the four storms that hindered the island at the height of the Hurricane season. I am asking the generous residents of our City to open their hearts and wallets to aid our neighbors. Their country has been left severely crippled, but our hope for them must remain strong.
To find out more about World Vision, and their work in Haiti, please visit their website.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Say No to Amendment 2

I am proud to join County Commssioners and members of our community to urge our residents to vote against Amendment 2, the so-called Florida's Marriage Protection Amendment. Please read below my comments made at the press conference yesterday.

"I am proud to serve as the Honorary Statewide Co-Chair for Florida Red & Blue.

I’m opposed to amendment 2 because of its vague language which could actually take away important existing benefits like health care from Floridians.

It’s called the Florida Marriage Amendment but I don’t see how this amendment protects anything.

Amendment 2 claims to ban "gay marriage" but Florida already has multiple laws banning same-sex marriage. It is an unnecessary amendment. Gay marriage is already illegal in Florida.

I am proud that in September our City Commission passed a resolution opposing Amendment 2.

It’s also clear that Amendment 2 is bad for business:

If passed, Amendment 2 could make companies and municipalities that currently offer benefits to unmarried employees the targets of legal action. It could damage morale among current employees and dissuade new job candidates from moving here.

By defeating Amendment 2 in November and focusing instead on positive business development efforts, we send a clear message to potential new businesses that this is the place where they want to be.

Similar amendments in other states are being used to take away benefits from public employees and dissolve domestic partnership registries used to provide health care benefits and pensions. Miami-Dade county, Broward and Palm Beach, among others, offer domestic partnership registries. Every unmarried Floridian will be impacted by this amendment - especially divorced or widowed seniors and public employees who, under existing programs, can share some benefits such as hospital visitation privileges and health care coverage without being married. Also, Amendment 2 could force seniors to choose between important benefits like sharing health care and important government benefits.

Amendment 2 could take away job benefits from university employees and be used as a defense to domestic violence - as in other states which passed similar amendments.

To learn more about why you should vote NO on Amendment 2, visit http://www.sayno2.com/."


-Manny

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A New Home for Camillus House

Yesterday I was proud to participate in the groundbreaking celebration for the new Camillus House 340-bed center at 1603 Northwest Seventh Avenue. This was a historic day for the City of Miami, and it is a shining example of what can happen when the private sector and the public sector join forces. A partnership between the City of Miami, Camillus House, the State of Florida, the University of Miami and the surrounding neighborhoods have made this day possible.
After 24 years of trying to move to their new home, this partnership has finally resulted in a long-term home for the acclaimed center, the largest and most comprehensive center offering social and clinical treatment services to Miami’s chronically homeless. I am proud to have played a role in bringing all of the parties together and making the move a reality, as Camillus House has always been an integral part in our 10-year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. This plan has served thousands of people with a 78% success rate, and has helped reduce the number of homeless in our city by 39%.
The City of Miami has also established the Miami Cares project - mobilizing hundreds of volunteers to service 650 homeless during a day of assistance. Two-hundred and fifty of those in attendance have been placed in treatment or shelter programs. Camillus House’s new center will be an important tool to fight chronic homelessness, with its increased capacity, innovative design and training programs for Miami’s neediest citizens.
The construction of this new center will also bring economic benefits to the community. There is an immediate investment to build the center, as well as the creation of 60 jobs with an average of $40k/annual salary, which in 10 years is $24 million. Also, the land where the shelter is now will be sold, placing that property back on the tax roll and representing about $800,000 in 10 years.
Because of the importance of Camillus House in our community, I have also pledged $10 million towards this project, which will come from Community Redevelopment Agency funds. These funds will aid Camillus House in their endeavor to end chronic homelessness, a goal that the City also shares.
To learn more about Miami’s homeless Assistance Program, please visit their WEBPAGE.
- Manny

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Our City: A Historical Masterpiece


It’s no secret that Miami is a city of rich historical significance. We’re famously known for our art centers, architecture, culture, and two National Historic Landmarks - the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and, more recently, the Freedom Tower. I was proud to welcome U.S. Deputy Secretary of Interior Lynn Scarlett today at City Hall for a reception in recognition of Miami’s historic preservation efforts and its designation as a Preserve America Community last year.

The Preserve America Community program was started by the George W. Bush Administration under the vision of First Lady Laura Bush. The program aims to strengthen local pride and increase participation in preserving the country’s unique cultural and historical assets. With this designation, our City is eligible to receive Preserve America grants from the federal government which are very important to support planning and development of heritage tourism programs and activities.

I’m thrilled about our City’s unique historical background. The City of Miami’s application to become a Preserve America Community focused on the Miami Modern (MiMo) architectural style and the Biscayne Boulevard Historic District. Officially designated on June 6, 2006, the district between NE 50th and NE 77th Streets includes 65 historic structures, many of which date from the 1940s to the 1960s period.

It was fitting that we should have held such a reception in Miami City Hall, originally the Old Pan American seaplane base and terminal building. Built in the middle of the Great Depression, the terminal linked the U.S. and Latin America. The building was completely restored and is now a beautiful reminder of Miami’s history.

Now, there are now almost 100 designated historic sites within Miami. These designated properties include private homes, schools, fire stations, churches, municipal buildings, bridges, a cemetery, and many streets. These sites bear testimony to the unique background of the City I am proud to call home.

My administration will continue its efforts to preserve Miami’s history. I recognize that we must preserve and protect this history for the benefit of our children, our grandchildren, and their children thereafter.

Some of the initiatives we are currently involved in include:

· Assisted in drafting Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) Language in concert with Miami 21, so as to protect the character of neighborhoods which might not otherwise qualify for historic district designation.
· Hired a consulting archaeologist on an as needed basis to protect irreplaceable historic artifacts, and assist property owners in achieving compliance with the city’s survey requirements.
· Continue our work with the Historic and Environmental Preservation Board who review alterations to historic properties; and facilitate communications with property owners regarding those changes.
· Assist in drafting a revised Chapter in the City Code that will integrate our tree protection ordinance and our protective provisions for environmental preservation districts—to better safeguard Miami’s signature landscape elements.
· Continue the production of a Historic Preservation Newsletter that targets owners of historic properties and inform them of news which affects them on a timely basis.
· Continue to participate in the plans for the interpretation of the Miami Circle archaeological site.


- Manny

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Get Ready for DawnTown!


It’s that time of year again, when DawnTown, the annual architectural design showcase and competition in Miami. This year, we are calling for submissions of ideas for the new waterworks building in downtown Miami's Bicentennial Park. DawnTown 2008: Waterworks is an architecture ideas competition for a new waterworks building in Downtown Miami's Bicentennial Park. The competition will conclude with an awards event in Downtown Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach, the world's largest contemporary art show.


DawnTown 2008: Waterworks has been organized by a partnership of Downtown Miami stakeholders, including the University of Miami, Florida International University, and Miami Dade College schools of architecture, the Miami Mayor's Office, and the Miami Art Museum. In addition to the presenting partners, DawnTown 2008: Waterworks sponsors include the Miami Downtown Development Authority, Akerman Senterfitt, Burt Hill, and Home Miami magazine.

The competition invites entrants to transform the existing pump station on the waterfront in Bicentennial Park into a waterworks building that expresses its function, provides information about water conservation, and brings innovative architecture to Downtown Miami. Full competition materials are available at http://www.dawntown.org/.

Because the City has plans and funds to improve the park, any entry that captures the public imagination could inspire the eventual transformation of the existing pump station into a landmark waterworks building.

The jury is led by Terry Riley, Director of the Miami Art Museum, and also includes Alex Wall, Professor of Urban Design at the University of Karlsruhe; Loretta Cockrum, CEO of the Foram Group; Cathy Leff, Director of The Wolfsonian-FIU; and Raymond Jungles, Landscape Architect.

The awards event will take place during Art Basel Miami Beach on Friday, December 5 at 9 AM at Miami-Dade College in the heart of Downtown Miami, and will also feature a special keynote speaker. Prizes are $8000, $4000, and $2000. The registration deadline is November 7, 2008, and full event details are at http://www.dawntown.org/. Select entries may also be exhibited in Downtown Miami and published in Home Miami magazine.

We look forward to seeing the brilliant ideas that can be born out of this project and we wish everyone good luck!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Elevate Miami Testimonials

When I started Elevate Miami, I wanted to help our citizens, regardless of age, to improve their digital literacy. Through our many training centers around the city, we have touched thousands of residents. Some of them have let us know how helpful and life-changing their classes with Elevate Miami have been. It’s always nice to see just how much our community is learning by hearing from them directly. Below are some examples of written testimonials we’ve received via their newly-created email addresses that truly showcase the impact this program is having on their lives. In these difficult economic times, these messages help reinforce the type of work we do and why we do it.
To learn more about Elevate Miami, please visit their website.


“I write to you today to thank you for offering these classes. I was sick and tired of having to ask for favors when I needed something done in the computer. When I visited Sisters & Brothers Forever and saw a sign announcing the computer classes. I decided to take one, despite fear that I was too old to take it. I found a very comforting and friendly environment very favorable for my age, and the teachers were very patient and full of love and other classmates who had the same fear as me. Today I can be informed of what is happening in the world and I can send emails. I am very thankful to Elevate Miami.”

“I am very happy because the classes are very friendly and interesting, and I have learned a lot about how to send an email. It is amazing how much I have learned. I have a computer and have never been able to use it because of lack of experience. Thanks to these classes, I can now write and communicate with my friends who are far away.”



“Through this wonderful communications medium, the computer, I can tell you that I am happy to learn. En each class, I learn more. Thank you for the opportunity that you have given the community, to seniors and to people of all ages. My experience has been wonderful.”

“I have learned a lot in a computer that it is very entertaining. The teacher is very special. I wanted to learn a lot and also hope to work in a place. I feel this computer class mean a lot to individuals. It’s like going to a place and to me it looked kind of scary but in reality its not. It’s like going for a vacation with nice individuals, and especially the teachers are nice and the ones who work there too. It’s like being in the library and you are learning and having much fun. It’s unexplainable. The Miami Herald Newspaper advertisement got me to these classes and to me it’s like a dream come true. I am very grateful for this and the United States of America also the government. Thank You. God Bless America.”

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bike Miami is coming: Sunday, November 9th

As Mayor of the City of Miami, I am proud to announce a special event that I am hosting in Downtown Miami on Sunday, November 9th: Bike Miami.

From 10am to 3pm, the City of Miami will close East Flagler and the Downtown portion of South Miami Avenue to vehicular traffic so that pedestrians and bicyclists can explore the city in a new way.

Bike Miami is an opportunity for all of us to enjoy the natural beauty of Miami’s waterfront and the restoration of Downtown with family and friends. Walk along the BayWalk, ride your bike down South Miami Avenue, learn more about the city’s bicycle and pedestrian friendly initiatives at a special outdoor presentation at 11am.
Shops, restaurants and caf├ęs will be open and there will be a special free yoga class in the Park.

You are encouraged to take public transit to Bike Miami – bring your bicycle on the bus or Metrorail. There will be covered bike valet parking at Mary Brickell Village and outdoor bike parking between Bayfront Park and the Bayside Marketplace. Vehicle Parking will also be available at the Miami-Dade Cultural Center, Bayside, Mary Brickell Village and many other garages throughout the area.

Bike Miami is a community event that is open and free to everyone. I hope to see you there.