Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Miami Is Not Afraid Of The Dark

Many buildings in the City of Miami went dark for Earth Hour 2009.
Photo credit:
Violette Sproul, Spinning Palm

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour Around the World at 8:30pm local time

Today, people around the world, in more than 2800 cities and towns and representing more than 84 countries, will be switching off their lights at 8:30pm local time for Earth Hour.

The City of Miami is one of ten American Flagship Cities participating in this historic global call to action on the threats of climate change, and I hope that you will join us, too.
All you have to do to participate is turn off all unnecessary lights from 8:30pm to 9:30pm tonight. You can also join me in celebrating Earth Hour with events in Coconut Grove, Mary Brickell Village, Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus and across South Florida. (Click here for a list of events)

Thank you for helping us make Earth Hour 2009 the greatest environmental movement in history.

Watch Michele Gillen and I Count Down to Earth Hour on CBS 4 News


Friday, March 27, 2009

Recovery Plan Includes Energy Grants for Cities

This week, the Obama Administration announced it will distribute $2.8 billion in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) in the Recovery Package. These Block Grants will go to support jobs, cut energy bills, and increase energy independence.

The City of Miami will receive $4.7 million from these grants, which will be used according to the guidelines stipulated by the Administration.

The funding will support energy audits and energy efficiency retrofits in residential and commercial buildings, the development and implementation of advanced building codes and inspections, and the creation of financial incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements. Other activities eligible for use of grant funds include transportation programs that conserve energy, projects to reduce and capture methane and other greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, renewable energy installations on government buildings, energy efficient traffic signals and street lights, deployment of Combined Heat and Power and district heating and cooling systems, and others.

The Block Grants are a major investment in energy solutions that will strengthen America’s economy and create jobs at the local level.

Find out more about President Obama's recovery plan on the U.S. Conference of Mayors Website.

- Manny

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Affordable Homes Available to Seniors

(Jorge Perez, City of Miami)

I was very pleased to take part in today’s grand opening of Allapattah Community Housing II—rental homes available to lower income seniors. The Community Housing provides a chance for the City of Miami’s senior citizens feeling the pressures of the unsteady economy to find an affordable home. The four-story building includes a total of 79 one-bedroom units and an on-site manager. Other amenities such as a Community Recreation Service Room and proximity to the Allapattah Community Senior Center are also available to residents. The need was there—some waited in line overnight to get a unit. So, I am very glad they now have this opportunity and are planning to call this place home by April 1st!

Click HERE to see a video of the grand opening.
- Manny

Join Me in Celebrating Miami's Designation as a WWF Earth Hour 2009 Flagship City

Friends and readers,
Please join me as my guest for a special celebration of Earth Hour on the Sky Terrace of the Bank of America Tower at International Place, this Thursday from 6:00 to 9:00pm.
There will be live music, a green art showcase and a special preview of the GenerationEngage film: Project Switch & Save.
Click on the image below to see the full invitation.
I hope that you can make it. Please don't forget to turn off your lights this Saturday night from 8:30 to 9:30pm. Together, we are making Earth Hour the largest climate action event in history.
For a list of events through this Saturday, please click here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Help Is on The Way for Small Businesses

Small businesses are the foundation of our economy, having created approximately 70 percent of all new jobs in the past decade. These businesses don't only generate millions of jobs, the are also the starting point of many towards the American Dream.
Unfortunately, during these harsh economic times, mayors all over the country have watched as small businesses in their communities shut their doors due to lack of access to capital and through no fault of their own.
In January, the nation’s mayors sent a letter to President Obama, Treasury Geithner Secretary and Congress urging for immediate relief for small businesses in the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and to express concern about the small businesses in their communities that are unable to borrow the funds they need to keep their businesses operating.
Thankfully, President Obama listened to our pleas, proving that he understands the importance of small and businesses in America’s MainStreet. The President recently announced a plan to save small businesses through higher loan guarantees, reduced fees and overall expansion of access to capital will help small businesses.
Today, Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and I discussed Federal and local aid for small businesses
during a press conference at Jungle Island, and then participated in the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Summit. We highlighted that the President's plan to unlock credit for small businesses will save businesses, allow them to grow, and save and create thousands of jobs.
I also discussed programs available within the City of Miami to assist small businesses, such as the Minority Business Enterprise Center (MBEC™), Small Business Loans and micro-loan programs, and technical support.
I am thankful to Senator Inouye for his support to small businesses. As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Inouye has been at the head of the table drafting and negotiating all of our economic recovery plans, including the stimulus bill, and we are grateful for his work in this area.
To read more about the President’s proposal click HERE and HERE
To read more about the CIty of Miami's programs available for small businesses, click HERE

- Manny

Friday, March 20, 2009

Miami Flagship City for Earth Hour 2009

I'm proud to say that the City of Miami is among just ten American Flagship Cities chosen by the World Wildlife Fund to lead our country's participation in Earth Hour 2009, the global campaign to raise awareness and promote unity in the fight against climate change. Last year, Miami was the first city in America to turn off its lights as part of the WWF marketing campaign leading up to the event. This year, we are hosting several events across the Greater Miami area to help everyone understand how together, we can make a real difference.

Earth Hour is not a blackout, but an invitation to turn off all unecessary lights - in our homes, businesses and on our most iconic buildings - to make a global statement of concern and a commitment to finding solutions. City Hall, the Bank of America Tower and the Freedom Tower are just a few of the buildings that will go dark. Please join us at one of the City's events or visit www.earthhourus.org for more information. You can also watch the official video here.

And please, remember to turn off your lights on Saturday, March 28th from 8:30pm to 9:30pm.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

City of Miami Announces New FREE Connection to Federal Benefits

Today, Florida Department of Children & Families Secretary George Sheldon and I announced that the City of Miami is the first city in Florida to offer a new and FREE service to its residents in order to simplify the application and qualification for Federal benefits.
The City of Miami is the first to offer the Direct Connect to the Department of Children and Families’ state system to expedite the application and qualification for benefits and delivery of services to those who are eligible through the Benefit Bank.
This program gives eligible residents access to benefits at a time when they need it most, which will help them take care of their families and become self-sufficient. It is often hard for people to access these benefits, and in Florida alone, more than $2 billion each year does not reach our people. The Benefit Bank will make it possible for our residents to access all of these benefits in just one step.
The Benefit Bank is an internet-based platform designed to help low/moderate income families get the tax credits, health care, food and other benefits that have been created to help them lift themselves out of poverty. Programs include Food Stamps, children’s health insurance, Medicaid, federal income tax preparation, and free application for federal student assistance (FAFSA), and voter registration, among others.
This access to benefits is more important now than ever. These are difficult times for everyone. The number of people that are losing their jobs, their homes, and their healthcare coverage grows every day.
And now, due to President Obama’s economic stimulus plan, hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance will be made available to qualifying residents in our community.
For example, a single parent of two earning $15,000 a year can have access to $4,824 in Earned Income Credit, $453 additional Child Tax Credit, $3,089 in Children’s Health Insurance, $3,469 in food Stamps, and $200 in Los Income Home Energy Assistance, for a total of $12,030 in additional income.
The Benefit Bank is available at the City of Miami’s 13 NET offices and is made possible by Solutions for Progress.
ACCESS Miami, Mayor Diaz’s anti‐poverty strategy, 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 find the closest NET office or to obtain more information on the Benefit Bank services, please visit www.accessmiamijobs.com or call 311.
- Manny

Monday, March 16, 2009

Check Out My Weekly Newsletter

If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to sign up for my weekly newsletter, where you can find out about events and programs in the City of Miami.
This week's newsletter included information about Bike Miami Days, the free Access Miami Jobs website, the Complete Streets Program approved by the City Commission, and the Green School Makeover won by Miami Northwestern High School.

Sign up now to not miss any of these important news!

Click HERE to read this week's newsletter.

Click HERE to read past newsletters.

- Manny

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bike Miami Days Cycles Out Crime in Downtown Miami

Bike Miami Days is today in Downtown Miami!
Visit www.bike-miami.com for a complete list of events, and don't miss this news report by WPLG 10 about how Bike Miami Days has contributed in reducing crime in the Downtown area.

Click on Channel 10 logo to see video.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bike Miami Days Celebrates Bicycle Action Month this Saturday

Walk, Bike, Skate... Bike Miami Days returns this Saturday. From 9:00 to 3:00, the streets of Downtown Miami will close to cars and open to thousands of locals to explore in a new way.
Bike Miami Days is a movement here in the City of Miami and people around the country are taking notice. As the first city in the United States to host monthly cyclovias, Miami is gaining recognition and inspiring cities like San Francisco and others to follow our model. More importantly, Bike Miami Days gives voice to people across South Florida who are thinking about streets in a new way, who are answering the President's call to become more involved in their communities and who are remembering how fun and easy it is to enjoy Miami without a car. It is a completely free and family-friendly opportunity to explore our city in a safe and relaxed way.
There will be a public rally, live music and improv, lots of children's activities, a green art showcase, yoga and bicycle safety classes and more. For information about special events, workshops, free bike rentals and more going on at Bike Miami, please visit the blog here. You can also view a map of the route at http://www.bike-miami.com/.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Video of Kids at Miami Heat Game

Last month, I had the privilege to treat 60 kids to a Miami Heat basketball game against the Charlotte Bobcats. Prior to the tip-off, the kids, who all participate in City of Miami after-school programs, also had the incredible opportunity to watch the pre-game warm-up, meet some of the players and coach, and participate in the Miami Heat High-Five Club.

Watch a video of the event in this corrected link
Go Heat!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Speaking Out Against Assault Weapons

Today I participated in a debate about assault rifles, and joined other local leaders in urging a reinstatement of the federal ban on those types of dangerous and deadly weapons. The discussion took place on the radio station WMBM with Bishop Victor Curry, Rep. Kendrick Meek, Miami Police Chief John Timoney, and myself.
Read the CBS 4 story about the discussion HERE.
- Manny

Find Your Next Job at ACCESS Miami Jobs

ACCESS Miami—part of my Anti-Poverty Initiative launched in 2001—is now more relevant than ever, when the residents of Miami, along with other major cities around the country, are experiencing difficult economic times. We can all name at least one person in our lives who is currently out of a job and looking for work.
ACCESS Miami offers a one-stop-shop for job seekers. You will find training, financial seminars, job listings, which are constantly updated, the ability to upload your resume and more. Employers are also taking advantage of the opportunity and choosing us because we post their openings for free, unlike other sites which charge for their services.
To date, we have forged partnerships with Bank of America, Consumer Credit Counseling Services, H & R Block and others. I encourage each of you to explore http://www.accessmiamijobs.com/ and utilize all of the free services it offers.
We currently have more than 400 jobs posted and receive 30,000 unique visitors a month.
Take advantage of this great and free opportunity and take a step towards starting your next career.

- Manny

Friday, March 6, 2009

Stimulus Dollars for Public Safety

Today, Miami Chief of Police John F. Timoney and I had the honor of welcoming Vice President Joe Biden and Laurie Robinson, Acting Assistant Attorney General/Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, to our Miami Police Headquarters. During their visit, we toured the construction site for the City of Miami College of Policing and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Senior High School for Law Studies, Homeland Security and Forensic Sciences.
We also held a joined press conference today at Miami Police Headquarters to discuss the $4 billion for state and local law enforcement and other criminal and juvenile justice activities included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. We discussed funding in the Recovery Act specifically for Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program funds – which will help keep police officers on the street, protecting our communities and our families.
As a senator, as a Vice Presidential candidate, and now as Vice President, Joe Biden has stood with America's mayors and America's cities on public safety: police, fire and emergency services, and federal law enforcement.
Vice President Biden joins America’s mayors in recognizing that assuring our public safety requires an active partnership between cities and the federal government. He joined our call to revive the cops program and the Byrne/JAG grants.
He joined our call to renew the federal ban on military assault weapons that are killing children on the streets of Miami and cities around the country on an unprecedented scale, and he joined our call to put an end to the gun show loophole.
True to his word, the COPS Program and Byrne/JAG grants are included in the economic recovery act and are part of the president’s proposed 2010 budget.
This couldn’t come at a more crucial time.
Declining municipal budgets have forced many cities to reduce their police force at a time when public safety is more important than ever.
Government’s most important role is to make our streets and neighborhoods safe for our children and our families.
With the help of our government in Washington, we will achieve our goal of making our streets safer.

- Manny

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Vice President Biden and Secretary of Transporation LaHood in Miami

This afternoon, I met with Vice President Biden and Secretary of Transportation LaHood at the site of the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC). The MIC is a local example of the kinds of critical transportation infrastructure projects being realized with the assistance of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It is the future hub for all modes of transportation in the Metropolitan Miami area, connecting air, rail and bus to our existing highway and road infrastructure.
Not only will the MIC take our transit system into the next century, it will reduce our carbon footprint by providing residents and visitors with easy and affordable mass transit options.

It was an honor to welcome our Vice President and Secretary of Transportation to Miami and I am looking forward to continuing this city's partnership with this Administration.

I offered some brief remarks, which are available HERE.
See The Miami Herald's story and video about the visit HERE


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Miami Top City for Energy Efficiency

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has recognized the City of Miami for being in the Top 25 U.S. Cities with the Most Energy Star Buildings. An Energy Star building uses 35 percent less energy and emits 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than an average building of comparable size.
I believe that cities are at the forefront of climate change, and I am proud that Miami continues to be a leader in promoting energy efficient design and development. Through the promotion of LEED certified building (Miami 21), the retrofitting of historic buildings for energy efficiency (the Greening of City Hall), and proactive iniatives like Earth Hour, we continue to make real strides in the global fight against climate change. I would like to thank the Office of Sustainable Initiatives and everyone involved in the Green Commission for their tireless efforts in making Miami a cleaner, greener city.
For more information, please visit www.miamigov.com/MSI
Read the EPA press release HERE

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Preserving History: Restoring Miami High

This morning, the City of Miami celebrated the Grand Opening of the restored Miami High School building. Our city's first high school is now home to a historic classroom, complete with an antique wooden 1900-era student school desk, historic photos of students at the building and a 1902 map of Florida. The building is open for tours, educational meeting space and a new City Parks Office.
The opening event was a proud occasion for this city, as we celebrated the preservation of another historic landmark and successful collaborative effort with the Dade Heritage Trust.
My administration understands how important it is to recognize and preserve our many historic treasures, and we know that by identifying and designating properties of major significance, we encourage the preservation and protection of Miami's important historic, architectural, and archeological resources.
The City of Miami's Historic Preservation Ordinance provides a process by which individual sites, historic districts, and archeological zones can be officially recognized.
Within the City of Miami, there are now almost 100 designated historic sites, districts and archeological zones. These designated properties include individual sites, such as private homes, schools, fire stations, churches, municipal buildings, bridges, and a cemetery, as well as the Morningside, South River Drive, Buena Vista East, Bayside, and Spring Garden historic districts.
During the event, I also had the pleasure to meet Miss Lamar Louis Curry, the 102 years young former Miami High teacher and local philanthropist who helped make the restoration possible. As Mayor, it is a privilege to recognize the unsung heroes of our community, whose dedication and spirit can serve as an inspiration to us all.