Friday, May 30, 2008

Naturalization Ceremony

Yesterday morning I had the honor of speaking before 3,000 new American citizens during a naturalization ceremony - here is what I said:

Good morning to you all.

Let me thank Linda Swacina for inviting me to this ceremony.

Let me also thank former CIS director, Dr. Emilio Gonzalez who is in the audience with us. I hope you are enjoying your return home.

Being mayor, I get asked to speak at a lot of events, to a great number of audiences. Each is special and unique in their own way – but today is very special for me. I will never forget the day when I sat where you are, receiving my citizenship. How excited and proud I felt. And so, today it is a real honor for me to address you on this occasion, on your day.

Today, you begin your new lives as American citizens– it is a day of celebration, and of relief. I know that for many of you this has been a long and a difficult process. Some of you came fleeing oppression, some of you came looking for a better life, but today all of you are part of our nation, a nation with a long history built on the stories of men and women just like you, who from many, have all become one.

You have much to be proud of, and this is a moment for you and your families to savor and to never forget.

As you celebrate, I ask that you keep in mind 3 things – they are 3 easy things, but they are things that every citizen should remember, and every citizen must do.

First - Be informed. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, a democracy cannot survive without an informed citizenry. It is as simple as reading a newspaper, watching the news on tv or the internet. And then, don’t take what you read for granted. When you read a news story, do not accept it at face value, but try to understand the why, the how, and the reason behind the story.

We are blessed to live in a country with a professional and a free press. They are often the eyes and ears of the people. But that does not mean you are relieved of this responsibility. It is up to each and every one of you to become informed, attend government meetings, discuss this with your friends, learn about where you live.

And while you enjoy these political and personal freedoms, know this, that these freedoms require a duty and a responsibility from all of us.

This brings me to my second point: get involved.

The easiest way to do this is to vote – in fact, I believe you can register to vote as soon as you step outside. There are tables set up ready to sign you up. And either party, or no party, is fine, as long as you register to vote. One of the many great things about this country is that you can keep a person like me in office or you can kick me out, at the ballot box.

If there is something you don’t like, don’t just complain about it, change it. That’s why I ran for office. There were things about city government I did not like so I ran for office and now i am changing them.

Get involved in our community. This reminds me of the story of William Dawes. Unless you are a history professor or watch a lot of history channel, William Dawes might not ring a bell. But what about Paul Revere? We all know him – the ride on horseback, the British are coming.

Well, Dawes rode the same night as Revere, but why do we not remember him?

Revere was involved in the community; he was someone people saw every day. Dawes was not. It was easy for people to then remember Paul Revere because he was involved in the daily life of his community. This is why I encourage you to join a community group – answer the call to jury duty – even run for office. Be a part of our community; be remembered for what you do.

Take the pride you feel today, take everything this country has given to you, and give something back.

Finally, I ask you to love this country because this is indeed a great country. Where else can a six year old boy arrive on his mother’s lap, without a penny to their name, and grow up to be the mayor of one of America’s greatest cities?

Learn about all the great many people who changed our country for the better – many of them immigrants just like you and I.

Learn about our history, about what makes us who we are. When we celebrate Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veterans and President’s Day, know that it is more than a day off, but why we pause to remember and to honor those that came before us

When we listen to our national anthem, know that it was written during a time of war, when we were under attack, and the exclamation of hope and relief when amidst the fire and rocket blasts, our flag was still there.

Know that today all of you become sons and heirs to the greatest political experiment in history – the idea that we are not to be ruled by kings or despots, or ruled by one man or one group, but that we rule ourselves, with rights handed to us by our creator, that government operates with the consent of the governed, and that all men are created equal.

These were and still are radical ideas – and they are ideas worth having, ideas worth fighting for.

Ours is the only country that inspires a dream, and today all of you share in it.

It does not matter what corner of the world you come from, what language you speak, what flag you were born under, today we are all Americans – and we have this common thread.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and all our founding fathers brought forth L’Ouverture, Bolivar, Marti and many around the world whom even today struggle for liberty, struggle for the idea that every man and woman should live free.

Congratulations to you all – God bless you, and may God bless America.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

We pause to commemorate and honor the men and women who have given their lives to secure that our country remains free - to them and their families, we owe them our gratitude.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Travel, Tourism, McCain

This week, I met with Senator John McCain to speak with him about the importance of the travel and tourism industry to American cities, and Miami in particular. Overnight visitors to greater Miami generate $17.1 billion in direct expenditures - and Miami leads the nation in both hotel occupancy and rates. Yet, foreign visitors are finding it more difficult to enter the US, usually due to a very burdensome visa process and cumbersome procedures once arrived at US airports. We want to make sure that Senator McCain and all running for US President understand the positive impact of tourism to our cities, and to seek a balance between streamlining the Commerce and Homeland Security Department to promote travel and tourism while maintaining our national security.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Water Park UPDATE

Just received numbers from yesterday's opening - 2,7oo users!

New Water Park - Grapeland Park

We all know Miami is surrounded by water - and we also have some of the best beaches anywhere - but if you wanted to enjoy a nice waterpark, for a long time going up to Broward was your only choice - not anymore!

Yesterday we opened the City's first water park at Grapeland Park in Allapattah - it features slides and pools and other aquatic delights for children of all ages to enjoy - best of all, local artist Romero Britto designed all of the fixtures, so it's like swimming inside a work of art. The park is located at 1550 NW 37th Ave if you want to visit - and I included a picture of our lifeguards on duty at the park to make sure everyone is safe and having a great time.

This water park comes after years of Grapeland being neglected - in fact, when construction first began, we found that the park had been used as a dump ground for waste - we cleaned it all up and turned it into a signature park not only for the residents of Allapattah, but all Miami and all South Florida - Enjoy the water!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

All the best on your special day - Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2008

City Biofuels and Virginia Key Restoration

Here is an article from the South Florida Business Journal on the City's new biofuel program:

Friday, May 9, 2008

Miami mayor signs biofuel purchasing program into law

South Florida Business Journal - by Oscar Pedro Musibay

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz won approval from the City Commission and signed into law a biofuel purchasing program for city vehicles.

The program is part of the mayor's green initiative for the city, which also includes the remediation of a landfill at Virginia Key and the goal of replacing a portion of the city's vehicles with hybrids.

The city put out a public bid for a biodiesel fuel contractor, with Biodiesel of South Florida, led by Federico Garcia-Cartaya, coming out on top.

The biodiesel provided by Biodiesel of South Florida comes from sustainably harvested soybeans grown in the United States.

"The fuel has significantly lower emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, particulates and sulfur dioxide [the cause of acid rain] than petroleum diesel," according to the city. "It is also less flammable and burns cleaner, leaving fewer residues in the engine."

"This is an excellent opportunity to promote local green industry and increase green-collar jobs in South Florida," Diaz said.

Diaz also pushed for the Virginia Key landfill remediation project, also approved by commissioners, which would provide clean up for the site, and ideally restore area wetlands.
The project would involve a lengthy process that would include surveys, contamination assessments and multiple strategies to remove waste.

"This is a great first step in cleaning up a landfill at Virginia Key that should never have been," Diaz said. "It is a pleasure to see this project approved by the City Commission, and I look forward to seeing the wetlands of Virginia Key fully restored."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Little Haiti Soccer Field

This past Saturday we opened the Little Haiti Soccer Field - Together with the Cultural Center, this will be the first park in Little Haiti...

Also, I appeared on Eliot Rodriguez' Sunday morning show on CBS - here is a link to the clip: - I spoke about the importance of neighborhood investment, such as this park in Little Haiti, where children from the neighborhood and throughout the City will be able to enjoy state-of-the-art facilities - Stay tuned for the grand opening of the City's first water park at Grapeland Park...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Young Entrepreneurs

I am in Boston today accepting the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) Mayoral Leadership Award for our “substantial and passionate approach to supporting inner city economic revitalization” in the City of Miami - This is the ICIC’s 10th anniversary of the Inner City 100, the only nationwide business ranking to shine a spotlight on inner city company success.

I was further honored to meet the ICIC Growing Up CEO winners - this an award for international youth entrepreneurship competition for financially deprived youth business owners.

Miami ranked second in the list of international cities with the most winners this year, with four young women entrepreneurs receiving the winning Merrill Lynch grant and invitation to an exclusive Harvard Business School forum: Tiffany Fuentes, Dalila Flores, Cassandra Callazo, and LaJoya Anderson for their local businesses, Les Dames de Chocolat and Creative Memories - These young women are excelling in creating small business opportunities, and their products are amazing - the vegan chocolate covered strawberries were the success of the gathering!

And more great news, the ICIC is bringing the 2008 Inner City Economic Forum Summit, the country’s only national leadership network focused on business-led inner city economic development, to the City of Miami on September 25-26, 2008.

Miami's economic backbone is made up of small businesses - we are proud of our entrepreneurial spirit, and of these young men and women who have wholeheartedly embraced it.