Friday, January 30, 2009

America Benefits from the House Passage of Economic Recovery Plan

The House of Representatives this week approved the $819 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act with a 244-188 vote. This bill will create the much-needed jobs in our community and will revive our economy. I commend our South Florida Members of Congress who voted for the bill, especially our Congressman Kendrick Meek.
This bill contains funding for many important programs that will benefit the City of Miami, and will assist working families during this time of economic difficulty. Both the House and Senate bills contain funding for key priorities including creating jobs through road and street improvements, bridge repair and maintenance, transit projects, public safety and water and wastewater infrastructure. The bills also contain funding for much needed job training, expanded unemployment benefits, poverty reduction, increased tax benefits, affordable housing and education.
Now it is time for the Senate to work to pass a bill that supports cities, job creation and economic growth.
Read more about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the U.S. Conference of Mayors Website.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

National Arbor Day Foundation Honors Tree City USA Miami

Today, the National Arbor Day Foundation recognized the City of Miami as an official "Tree City USA" for the second year in a row. The City was further honored with a Tree City USA Growth Award, which recognizes the tireless, collaborative and innovative efforts of a multiple City departments in improving community tree care and increasing our tree canopy.
When I took office in 2001, one of my goals was to make Miami a greener city through increased tree plantings and care. I created the City's first-ever Tree Master Plan (which you can read here) with the support of the Urban Forestry Working Group and other members of my Green Commission. The Plan creates minimum standards in order to enhance, restore and stabilize the City’s tree canopy cover by a minimum of 30 percent by 2017, and is in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol. This year, we expanded our Tree Program with the website, which provides resources and information about how you can get a free native tree.
Today is a proud day for the City of Miami. I would like to recognize the Neighborhood Enhancement Teams (NET), the General Services Administration and the Offices of Grants Administration, Public Works, Parks & Recreation and Sustainable Initiatives (MSI) for their invaluable work that is making this City greener everyday.
Please know that we also need your help to increase Miami's tree canopy. Visit and join us for Volunteer Tree Plantings throughout the year. Also, I invite you to call your local NET office at 305-960-4638 and let us know if a street in your neighborhood needs a tree.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More Assistance Needed for Small Businesses

South Florida is home to approximately 77,000 small businesses, which are the heart of our local economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. We hear about the thousands of jobs lost in America's corporate giants due to the economic crisis, but the impact is exponential among the thousands of small businesses in small towns and metropolitan areas.
Many small companies all over South Florida have been forced to cut salaries and lay off employees. In fact, it is reasonable to project that, without some improvement in cash flow opportunities for small businesses within the next sixty days, there will be a projected loss of some 231,000 jobs in South Florida alone.
I recently met with the local small business community, each facing these challenges. They represent a group that has come together to form a Small Business Roundtable support network with a message to elected leaders from the cities to the congress, and the community, that there is a state of economic emergency for small businesses in South Florida.
Every member of the group has had a negative experience with lending institutions, and worries that without cash flow, their business will have to close. Their banks have refused to lend, credit lines from banks and credit card companies have been drastically decreased, and the ripple effects on the status of their credit and relationships with vendors, as they are faced with mounting obligations. As a result, cash flow shortage is the number one issue, need, and challenge with small businesses.
In times like these, the City of Miami has many resources available for small businesses. Today we opened the Minority Business Enterprise Center (MBEC™). Thanks to a partnership with the City, the MBEC™ recently made the City’s Manuel Artime Community Center in Little Havana their headquarters. The City is also providing them with a range of support services, including equipment, Internet and telephone support services. You can call 305.576.7888 for more information on the center.
We also work closely with ACCION USA, the largest micro-lender in the United States. ACCION USA opened an office in Miami in 2003 and has been providing business loans ranging from $500 to $50,000 to self-employed Miamians who are shut out from traditional sources of business credit. WE are working closely with the Small Business Administration to create new programs to help our businesses.
These emergency circumstances call for bold, incisive action and political will to meet the needs of thousands of small businesses, their owners, employees, and those institutions that resuscitate their lifeline.
As president of the U.S. conference of Mayors, I have called to the Federal Government for financial relief for small businesses to help them through this unprecedented economic downturn. I urge small business owners to contact their members of congress in Washington, D.C., and call for passage of the Economic Stimulus Package.
I also sent a letter to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (MA) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (NY) calling for financial relief for small business. Click HERE to read the letter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Miami’s Free Services Help Residents Through Difficult Financial Times

This week we kicked off our 2009 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and free tax preparation campaign at the Youth Co-Op Center, 3525 NW 7 St. There are over 20 City-sponsored locations that will be offering free tax preparation services as part of this year’s EITC campaign. Eligible residents who file their tax returns at these sites can learn if they qualify to receive a federal income tax refund of up to $4,824 via the EITC and up to an additional $1,000 per child via the Child Tax Credit (CTC).
EITC tax credits can result in sizable refunds for low-income working families and help millions of individuals out of poverty nationwide. Each year, thousands of eligible households in the City of Miami fail to claim this entitlement, leaving millions of dollars worth of EITC benefits unclaimed.
Find out if you’re eligible for EITC at the
IRS website.
This campaign is one of the many initiatives in the City of Miami to help our residents during difficult financial times.
When I first took office, my administration resolved to reverse decades of official inaction and neglect and tackle the issue of poverty head on. Many of our residents were unaware of benefits and programs for which they were eligible, such as EITC.
In 2002 we launched the City’s first ever city-wide poverty reduction initiative, ACCESS Miami, investing directly in poverty reduction and in the years since we have continued to build this effort. Now we have a more comprehensive and integrated poverty reduction strategy that reaches more of our residents. These efforts have made a difference. More residents than ever now access the benefits and supports that they are entitled to. Poverty has been reduced, even while our population has grown greatly.
Because of our leadership, Miami became a founding member of Cities for Financial Empowerment - a 7-city working group dedicated to financial empowerment of at-risk city residents - Pioneering cities from across the country that have made tangible and measurable commitments to supporting financial empowerment programming - reducing poverty by addressing key underlying causes.
ACCESS Miami has and continues to successfully empower City of Miami residents and small business entrepreneurs by tackling four cornerstones: access to existing benefits, access to capital, wealth and accumulation of assets, and financial literacy. The program has received national recognition, with grants and awards from the Council for the New American City, the Mayors Business Council at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the National City Livability Award.

To learn more about how ACCESS Miami can help you, click HERE.
- Manny

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bike Miami Days and the ING Miami Marathon

One of the great things about being Mayor is the opportunity to make truly great things happen for our city. Seven years ago, I created what is now the ING Miami Marathon, an international event that will bring over 15,000 participants to the City of Miami this weekend. On Sunday, with the support of Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami Beach, and hundreds of businesses and non-profit groups, the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon will celebrate its biggest race yet. I will be there, at 6:15am, for the start of the race and I invite you to join me to show your support for those who are promoting healthy living, the sport of running, and charities from around the world.

It is a privilege to see how far the Miami Marathon has come, and it brings me hope for the future of Bike Miami Days - an initiative I started last November to promote bicycling, liveable streets and community in the heart of Miami. Last Sunday, for its third monthly event, nearly 3,000 people came out to walk, run, bike, skate, trikke and dance their way down the streets of Downtown Miami. A lot of those people brought their cameras with them, and I hope that you will enjoy some of what they have sent to me throughout this week.
MiamiBikeScene posted a great video from Sunday, as did our friends at GreenRoks Apparel, who gave away free eco-friendly t-shirts and hats to over a hundred Bike Miami Days participants.
I am also on Facebook, and I want to thank the 'Bike Miami fans' who posted photos here, as well the people from and the Miami New Times for posting two extensive online photo albums.
I hope to see you all at the next monthly Bike Miami Days event on Saturday, February 21st!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Local Governments Can Affect Climate Change

Today I had the pleasure of taking part in a global videoconference discussion with the Local Government Association (LGA) of the United Kingdom geared towards discussing ideas and strategies designed at implementing environmentally friendly initiatives. The discussion allowed me to address over the members of the organization, over 400 council leaders from across Britain on a rage of environmental protection issues during their In the Eye of the Storm: Councils at the Heart of Tackling Climate Change conference.
Protecting the environment has long been a concern of mine, and I have made it part of my mission as Mayor to address the problems that afflict our community. Through the implementation of environmental initiatives, such as Mi Plan, the city’s climate action plan to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the creation of the Green Commission and the Office of Sustainable Initiatives, we have placed our city at the forefront of local government environmental initiatives.
In talking to Britain’s local leaders I was also able to share what the United States Conference of Mayors has done to address environmental issues such as climate change. The USCM has begun a program that has seen 910 cities, more than 6 times the number of countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol.
I was also able to relay my optimism that the new administration of President Barack Obama will see more support on the local, state and national levels for projects designed at reducing our national carbon footprint. I believe that this new administration will do more to fund research and implementation of alternative energy resources, and expand the role of mass transit in major American cities, than past administrations.
Our environment is of vital importance. We have a direct impact on it, and thus far that impact has been detrimental. We have the ability to reverse the damage that has been done, and by continuing our support for “green” initiatives and research into alternative fuel resources we can overcome this challenge just like we have so many others.

Read more about Miami’s Green Agenda HERE.
- Manny

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Importance of Broadband Deployment in Cities

Today the U.S. Conference of Mayors paid special attention for the need for easily available broadband internet connection in our cities.
The mayors were joined by Alberto Ibargüen, the President and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Knight Foundation in partnership with One Community formed the Knight Center on Digital Excellence, the first national non-profit resource center dedicated to helping communities create sustainable universal access programs.
I am personally grateful to the Knight Foundation for their partnership and investments in our community to help Miami become a globally competitive city.
Keep this in mind:
The United States is now #15 in the world in broadband deployment.
Korea, Japan, Canada, Spain, and Poland all surpass us in providing their citizens with access to the digital world. As a nation, we have to address our ability to compete in the global economy – a digital economy. In ten years, 70% of all jobs will require technology knowledge and skills.
Cities must address digital inclusion aggressively and consistently and we must take serious steps to create the technical infrastructure and a digitally capable workforce.
During the last several years, cities have entered into partnerships with the private sector to provide broadband wireless infrastructure in their communities.
But many of these attempts have largely failed because there have been challenges with the financial models -and that was before the economic crisis that we are now facing.
But there are good news. Now we have partners in Congress and in the new administration. The economic recovery plans of both the House and President Elect Obama address the need to provide wide broadband access to our citizens by proposing a $ 6 billion dollar investment in broadband and wireless services in under-served areas.
In Miami, we have worked for the last 6 years to provide both infrastructure and digital literacy programs. elevate Miami is a comprehensive, life-long approach focused on the accessibility and affordability of technology and training for youth, adults, senior citizens and small businesses.
The initiative encompasses ePark and eSenior Computer labs, the Rites of Passage Initiative with Public Schools and workforce training. With the support of the Knight Foundation, over time this program will put a computer in every home.
We have also been working with the Knight Center of Digital Excellence for the past year on a “Community Broadband” project that will bring together Miami’s government, business, education, healthcare, and non-profit organizations to create a plan to address Community Broadband – both in infrastructure as well as digital skills.
It is imperative that cities, private businesses and philanthropic institutions realize the importance of investing in creating digitally connected communities in order to remain globally competitive.
Find out more at
- Manny

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mayors Urge Passage of Economic Recovery Plan

The mayors of the country have gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 77th Winter Meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors to discuss national priorities and the proposed Obama Economic Recovery Plan, and to urge Congress to pass the plan as soon as possible.
We have come together in one of the most critical and difficult times in our nation’s history. Main Street’s economic crisis continues to worsen. The unemployment rate reached 7.2 percent in December and is climbing. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the nation has lost 3.6 million jobs. Over 11 million American workers are now unemployed, and another 1.9 million are “marginally attached” to the labor force.
This is why we urge Congress to move quickly on President-elect Barack Obama’s call for a national economic recovery plan to immediately create jobs and make investments in the future economy.
This bill follows the goals outlined by President-elect Obama and authorizes $825 billion in spending to get our economy moving again.
This package is the first crucial step in a concerted effort to save and create 3 to 4 million jobs, jump start our economy and begin the process of transforming our nation for the 21st century.
Mayors are pleased to see significant funding for local programs with targeted investments and unprecedented accountability measures. The plan reflects an investment of $358 billion in our cities and communities.
Important conference tax policies have also been proposed, including energy tax incentives, municipal bonding capacity and the expansion of the earned income and child tax credits. It is also important to note that the new energy block grant, which we helped create less than two years ago, will be funded at $3.5 billion.
As President-elect Obama said at our meeting in June, cities are not the problem, cities are the solution. Mayors know how to create sustainable economies. We do it every day by investing in our people, our environment, our businesses and our infrastructure.
Over the last two months, USCM has produced a series of Main Street economic recovery reports that inventories local ready-to-go infrastructure projects that could be completed in two calendar years, showing how quickly cities could produce new jobs.
In the latest of Main Street Economic Recovery reports released today, 779 cities across the country report a total of 18,750 local infrastructure projects that could produce over 1 million jobs with a federal investment of $100 billion.
The American people are aligned with the mayors’ priorities.
A Zogby poll conducted for the conference and released today, found that 84% of respondents believe that infrastructure improvements are important to the health of the local economy.
In another significant finding, respondents trust local government over state government by a margin of three to one. And while only 37 percent of respondents believe the President-elect’s economic recovery plan will help “people like me,” a majority of respondents believe the plan will help create local jobs (55%) and help stimulate the local economy (54%)
This is why we must commit to secure passage of the President-elect’s Economic Recovery Plan. Let us commit to deliver on our projects with all deliberate speed, transparency and accountability.
Let us commit to the success of our new President.

Read more about our Winter Meeting at

- Manny

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thank You to Our Federal Representatives for SCHIP Approval

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 2 –The Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act of 2009 (HR 2) by 289 votes to 139, a margin of 150 votes.
In this time of great economic uncertainty, this legislation will ensure that children from low-income families have healthcare coverage. It could not be more important. Children are our future and we must ensure they have the best future possible. Health care is a vital part of this equation.
I am pleased to single out our City’s representatives in Congress, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Congressman Kendrick Meek for their support of the legislation, in addition to the support of the Miami-Dade and South Florida delegations, namely Representatives Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ron Klein, Alcee Hastings and Robert Wexler.
The SCHIP program will expand coverage to an additional 4 million eligible children nationwide at a cost of $33 billion over 4 1/2 years. The bill includes an important provision which allows the states to eliminate the five year waiting period for low-income children who are legally in the U.S. It also gives states new options to cover pregnant women while also preserving existing pregnant women coverage options. An earlier version of the bill was vetoed in 2007 by President Bush. The extension of coverage will be funded by a 0.61 cents tax on tobacco.
I urge the Senate to follow the House’s lead and approve this important program.
- Manny

Mayor Diaz on WPBT

Watch Mayor Manny Diaz in a January 9 interview with Helen Aguirre Ferré in the WPBT show Issues.

ISSUE ONE: Interview with City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. As the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz joins us to discuss the organization’s Mainstreet Economic Recovery Plan, and shares the latest in local projects such as the Port of Miami Tunnel and the Florida Marlins stadium.

Watch HERE

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Moore Park Rededication

On January 6, I was joined by Orange Bowl Committee members Danny Ponce and Eric Poms, James and Gerry Moore, Lee Corso and Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford in rededicating historic Moore Park. The park, site of the original Palm Festival, which would eventually become the Orange Bowl, has been an important part of Miami’s community for over seventy-five years.
The $2.5 million gift from the Orange Bowl Committee will go a long way to aiding in our plans to revitalize the park, which will feature new track and football facilities, including a 1,500 seat stadium. I would like to thank the Orange Bowl Committee, and all those involved for their continued support of the City’s investment in its communities.
To view video of the ceremony click on the following link.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Bike Miami Days 2009 Launches This Sunday

I continue to be impressed by the success of Bike Miami Days and the widespread community involvement and support it has received. This Sunday, I invite you to explore your city in a new way: Spend your morning enjoying the breeze off the Miami River, taking a ride on free bike, touring the City of Miami Police Stables, trying a free yoga class at Lummus Landing. Flagler Streets cross streets will be filled with live music, in-street cafe seating, and the energy of families and children riding, walking and skating safely in the heart of Downtown Miami.
This Bike Miami Day will also feature an expanded bike clinic, live music, health & fitness giveaways, free green apparel and $3 all day car parking. For more information, please visit
I hope that you can make this free, fun and family-friendly event.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Herald: More and more, Miami becomes a bike-friendly city

Today The Miami Herald published a story about how Miami is increasingly becoming a bike-friendly city. The story points out Bike Miami Days, the Miami Bike Action plan and the new dedicated bike lanes along the full length of the Rickenbacker Causeway as examples of bike-friendly initiatives. Read more below.
Miami's long-downtrodden but growing community of bicyclists is reaping a sudden bonanza: Miles of new bike lanes and plans for more. A new monthly, family-friendly bike festival downtown. And a clutch of bike-friendly proposals designed to promote cycling for recreation and commuting.
On Saturday, Miami-Dade County will formally inaugurate new dedicated bike lanes along the full length of the Rickenbacker Causeway by closing half the roadway for the morning and letting cyclists, roller bladers and pedestrians have the run of it.
The following weekend, on Jan. 18, the city of Miami will host the third, expanded edition of Bike Miami Days, the monthly effort by the administration of Mayor Manny Diaz to promote urban fun and safe cycling by closing off streets in downtown and the Brickell area in hopeful emulation of the famed Ciclovía in Bogotá.
Read the whole story on the Herald website

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Congress: Support MainStreet Economic Recovery

President-elect Barack Obama issued a call to save or create 3 million jobs and to jumpstart our economy. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which I preside, answered the President-elect’s call. We have released the MainStreet Economic Recovery plan, which would create over one million jobs during the next two years.
Mayors all over the country have sent their delegations in Congress letters urging them to support the USCM plan. Below please find the letter I sent to all Florida Representatives and Senators in Washington, D.C.

Florida Congressional Delegation
Washington, D.C.

Dear Representatives and Senators:

I write to you today to urge you to support in an economic recovery package that calls for investment in America’s Main Streets. America’s mayors strongly endorse President-Elect Obama’s call for a massive economic recovery package that creates/saves 3 million jobs over the next two years, and that invests in sustainable, energy-saving infrastructure. In today’s world, it is Mayors who lead the metro economies that drive the nation. These metro economies now account for 86 percent of national employment, 90 percent of labor income, and 90 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Therefore, if we are going to reverse the current economic situation and create jobs, the quickest, most efficient way to do so is to invest in these “Main Street” economies.

The United States Conference of Mayors, an organization that I preside, has worked over the last several months to craft a MainStreet Economic Recovery that will create jobs now, improve the infrastructure that the private sector needs to succeed, help the small businesses of Main Street America, and have lasting economic and environmental benefits. Our plan focuses on existing programs such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG), Surface Transportation Program (STP), water and wastewater grants.

On December 19, the Conference of Mayors released its 3rd “Ready to Go” survey of 643 cities of all sizes in all regions of the country ( These cities have identified over 15,000 infrastructure projects as “ready to go.” These projects represent an infrastructure investment of almost $97 billion, capable of producing over 1.2 jobs in 2009 and 2010.

As Congress works with the President-Elect to craft an economic recovery program, let me try to address what might be concerns of those who may not understand cities and their capacity as public works engines.

Get the shovels in the dirt quickly. Cities are public works organizations. We are always building and rebuilding our infrastructure and community assets: sidewalks, community centers, gymnasiums, water systems, schools, roads (usually complete streets), a multitude of municipal buildings serving a multitude of purposes, and much, much more. We have on staff people who oversee contracts put out for bid and supervise construction of the widest array of public works projects. We also know how to use the design/build approach, an acceptable and efficient way of getting projects done more quickly than normal.

A process involving cities could easily be managed. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program already exists and every year the federal government directly allocates funds to cities over 50,000 people. That database is available. For the economic stimulus, immediate communication with cities would easily be established. The guidelines could be stipulated and cities could start planning and be ready to spend the money immediately-- “use it or lose it” would apply. Just as with the CDBG system, a percentage of the money could be allocated to the state or to the Metropolitan Planning Organizations to be used for smaller communities. They would likewise be challenged to begin their projects immediately.

The need for American cities. There is no city in America that does not have a long list of infrastructure improvements and capital projects needs. Most cities have had their capital budgets stressed and their repair and maintenance budgets overwhelmed. Most cities have always planned for the future and have a substantial list of desired and community-backed improvements. To make an unprecedented investment in public infrastructure and not use this vehicle would be a wasted opportunity.

The economic downturn, the likes of which our country has not faced since the Great Depression, has created a lack of confidence in the American people. We need to restore their sense of hope. One way to accomplish this is to show them that in their local communities, projects are underway, jobs are being created. They will be witness to our investment, they will be able to benefit from it, they will know that things have started to turn around. Basically, to have all these monies go to state highway departments for road rebuilding or resurfacing, most of which will be invisible to neighborhoods, certainly in our cities, will not give the sense of hope and encouragement that our citizens need.

I stand ready to work with you to make sure that a Main Street Economic Recovery package creates/saves 3 million jobs, promotes energy independence, and rebuilds our great Nation.


Manuel A. Diaz

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Interview: On Leadership

I was recently interviewed by The Washington Post for a special online video series titled On Leadership. Click HERE to watch the interview with Steven Pearlstein.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Supporting Our Children

I recently had the privilege of being honored by one of Miami-Dade County’s most important organizations, The Children’s Trust. The Trust, established to buttress the County’s school system by providing services to children and families in co-operation with the School Board, has spent over $90 million on programs designed assist disenfranchised youth.

Now more than ever it is important that we support organizations whose goal it is to further the education and opportunities available to Miami’s most important resource, its children. I urge the readers of this blog to visit The Children’s Trust newsletter, and thank you for your continued support.