Thursday, April 30, 2009

America's Cities: The Solution to National Problems

I invite you to read my article in the March/April 2009 issue of FOCUS Magazine, "America's Cities: The Solution to National Problems", where I discuss how addressing the priorities of America’s cities will assure long-term opportunity, growth, and stability for all Americans.
Since 1972, FOCUS magazine has provided coverage of national issues to a leadership audience. Over 18,000 readers, nearly half of whom are black elected officials, value the magazine for its in-depth, yet straightforward features on politics, as well as a broad range of economic and social concerns affecting African Americans and the nation at large. The magazine is a publication of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, one of the nation's premier research and public policy institutions and the only one whose work focuses exclusively on issues of particular concern to African Americans and other people of color.
Read the March/April 2009 issue of FOCUS Magazine (article starts on page 6.)
- Manny

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Three New Parks for Downtown Miami

Commissioner Joe Sanchez, Paul Walker, his granddaughter Wendy Wills, wife Mary Walker, step- daughter Silvia Pardo, and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, gather with other members of Mr. Walker’s family in honor of the grand re-opening of Paul Walker Park. Photo Credit: Jorge R. Perez/City of Miami.

Parks are where communities and neighborhoods are built, and today we celebrated the grand re-opening of the Paul S. Walker Mini-Park, located at 46 W Flagler Street, as well as the completion of two additional pocket parks in downtown that are part of the Downtown Development Authority’s beautification program.
The opening of these parks in our downtown is another example of how the City of Miami is investing in our parks, our neighborhoods, our residents and our children.
Joining in the celebration was Mr. Paul Walker, who 32 years ago was recognized by the City for his contributions to downtown with the naming of the park. Mr. Walker was instrumental in bringing Miami Dade College to downtown, was the President of Richard’s Department Store, and the head of a Grand Jury for a term. Upon hearing that renovations of the park were near completion, Mr. Walker’s daughter contacted me to express gratitude for bringing this beautiful park back to life.
To find out more about City of Miami parks, visit our Parks and Recreation webpage.

- Manny

Monday, April 27, 2009

Volunteering in Our Community

Jorge R. Perez/City of Miami

This weekend, my office participated in two important volunteering events. On Saturday, several of my staff members and I participated in National Rebuilding Day. We worked with Rebuilding Together Miami Dade to provide free home repairs to Eugene and Aida Adkins, an elderly low-income couple, who have lived in their Coconut Grove home for 35 years and would otherwise not be able to do the repairs in their home.
Rebuilding Together Miami Dade worked on 20 sites in Coconut Grove. We joined more than 200 Rebuilding Together affiliates nationwide, bringing together thousands of community volunteers, to provide free home repairs and modifications for low-income Americans - the elderly, disabled, military veterans and families in need.
On Sunday, my office and dozens of volunteers participated in the Hands On Miami Show You Care Volunteer Fair during Bike Miami Days in Coconut Grove. Some of the organizations that participated were the Urban Paradise Guild, the American Cancer Society, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Miami Office of Sustainable Initiatives (MSI), the Superbowl South Florida Committee, the Soroptimist International and AmeriCorps VISTA.
Please visit the Bike Miami Days blog for more information on these great organizations and for opportunities to volunteer in your community.

- Manny

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Reminder: Bike Miami Days this Sunday in the Grove!

Hi Friends, this is a reminder to please join me for Miami’s Biggest Free Street Party in Coconut Grove TOMORROW Sunday, April 26th. From 9:00 to 2:00pm!

Explore your city in a new way – walking, cycling, skating the streets of Coconut Grove from City Hall to CocoWalk to the Barnacle Historical Park and everywhere in between.

A rally to kick off the festivities will take place at 10:30 am, Peacock Park, 2820 McFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove. Special guest actress Gabreille Anwar of the hit series Burn Notice will also join in the fun.

Family-Friendly * No Bike Required


Hands On Miami Volunteer Fair * Bike Clinics Live Music * Green Art & DemosKid’s Corner * Orange Parade Buddy Bike Rentals and so much more!

Visit for all the details!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Celebrating Arbor Day

Today we celebrate Arbor Day and I was honored to be joined by the members of five consulates for our third City of Miami Arbor Day celebration. The Consul Generals of Israel, Mexico, Uruguay, Haiti, and the United Kingdom, and their staffs, joined me and 140 volunteers at Archbishop Curley Senior High to plant 215 trees in the Little Haiti/Buena Vista area. That is up from 120 trees planted last year.
I am also honored that the Consul General of Israel for Florida, Ofer Bavly, planted a circle of five trees in my honor in Israel, and presented me with a certificate during our Arbor Day celebration.
Using our tree trust fund the city will plant over 3,000 trees this year through events like this, fruit tree giveaways, right-of-way plantings, plantings at schools, and many other efforts.
The vision for the Green Miami Campaign is to restore and enhance the city of Miami’s tree canopy into a thriving urban forest that provides multiple aesthetic and environmental benefits. The long-term goal is to increase the city of Miami’s tree canopy to 30% by 2017.
Through our tree trust fund, city residents can request a free tree by calling 305-960-4NET.

Below are some of the responses volunteers left in our volunteer story box, which began with "I came here to plant today because"…

To support the environment and leave a lasting impression on this planet.

Let’s green up Miami! Giving back to the community is a great way to help out.

It’s important to start in our own back yard and restore what we have taken.

Always a pleasure to participate in assisting the community to grow.

I Love doing something positive to help another—we actually get back ten-fold.

Thank you volunteers!

Watch a video of our Arbor Day Activities.

- Manny

City of Miami is now on Twitter!

Calling all Residents: Follow City of Miami and Receive Miami Tweets

Look out Ashton, Diddy, Shaq, and Oprah-- the City of Miami is now on Twitter. Residents can now receive up-to-date information directly to their home computers and cellular phones. In an effort to better reach residents using new social media tools Miami signed up for a Twitter account and is calling on residents to follow the City of Miami.

City of Miami tweets regarding upcoming events, city services, new projects, and news will be sent regularly to followers.

Anyone interested in receiving Miami Tweets can sign up for a Twitter account on , if they do not have one already, go to “Find People” and search for City of Miami.

- Manny

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Miami: North American Major City of the Future

Once again the City of Miami has placed in the Top Ten North American Cities of the Future and Major Cities of the Future, as ranked annually by the Financial Times Group fDi (foreign direct investment) magazine.

Miami has consistently ranked as an fDi North American Major City of the Future in their annual rankings. In the 2009/10 lists, Miami is ranked in the Top Three of Major US Cities for
  • Best Quality of Life

  • Best Business Friendliness

  • Lowest Unemployment Rate and

  • Highest Growth of Companies within the Knowledge-Based Sector (top five).

I am honored to have the City of Miami recognized in these categories and hope that you will join me in celebrating our shared success. The rankings were shared with me today and as soon as they are published, I will post them to my website:


Monday, April 20, 2009

Groundbreaking Energy Smart Miami Announcement

Jorge Perez/ City of Miami

Today the City of Miami partnered with FPL, GE, Cisco Systems and Silver Spring Networks to launch Energy Smart Miami, a groundbreaking initiative that will help reduce our shared carbon footprint.

This model electricity system, which we are bringing to residents and business owners in Miami and across Dade County, will help us all save money by giving us the tools to identify how we use our electricity.
First, Energy Smart Miami will help us all save money by giving us the tools to identify how we use our electricity. Wireless "Smart Meters" in more than 1 million homes and businesses will notify owners which appliances are consuming the most electricity and when so that we can most effectively reduce our energy consumption.
More like the Internet than an electric network, the new grid will connect these smart meters to high-efficiency transformers and other equipment through a centralized system. This will allow FPL to continuously monitor, identify and react to outages, and provide information to improve reliability, efficiency and affordability. And while we consume less energy, we will also begin to use better energy.
Next, Energy Smart Miami will bring new solar technology to local universities and schools to help meet their energy needs with renewable, non-polluting technologies. Local universities will also be the trial sites for new charging stations to power FPL's growing fleet of plug-in electric hybrids. Finally, we will test new consumer communications and empowerment systems in approximately 1,000 households that will include in-home energy displays, or “eco-panels”, to help manage electrical loads and lower power use during peak periods. Emerging technology in home appliances allows smart meters in your home to reschedule high-energy functions or switch to a lower-consumption mode during peak demand periods. At the same time, your smart meter will be programmable to maximize your thermostat, lighting and other devices.
The Energy Smart Miami requires financial support under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and we are proud to say that this is a model that supports and embodies the goals of the stimulus bill. President Obama’s vision could not be clearer. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act—not only to create new jobs, but to lay a foundation for new and sustainable growth. This initiative does both.
I believe strongly that environmental sustainability and economic sustainability are one and the same. The investments made through Energy Smart Miami will not only save us money, they will reduce our Greenhouse Gas emissions, help end our addiction to foreign oil and help improve the reliability of our electricity system and reduce power outages.
For the sake of our economy, our energy independence, our environment and our future, this project must move forward. I invite you to read more about this HERE and to support the City of Miami's efforts to be a truly green, sustainable city.

Click HERE to see video of announcement.

The City of Miami has partnered with GE, Cisco and FPL to bring the new "Smart Grid" system to our residents, allowing them to see exactly where and when they are consuming the most electricity. Smart grid meters link all appliances to a single online account, so that consumers can identify ways to reduce their energy use and save money on their electric bills.

I was featured on The Today Show this morning in a story about this exciting new program, which is expected to substantially reduce energy use in the City of Miami.
See the Today Show Report.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Be Water Wise Miami!

This morning I was joined by Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho for a very special lesson in water conservation, lead by the students at Jose de Diego Middle School. These students, and their peers at 13 other schools in our city, are learning how to measure their water consumption through a multi-disciplinary approach to environmental education. Through the support of the National Environmental Education Foundation and several private partners, our children are being empowered with the knowledge of how they use water, our most precious resource, at school and at home.

Throughout April, Miami recognizes Water Conservation Month. In 17 parks, we have installed rain sensors that prevent unnecessary watering. This system should save 55,000 gallons of water this year alone. At City Hall and other city buildings, we use high efficiency toilets and automatic flush valves, preventing the waste of 32,000 gallons of water per year. And at the meeting of the City Commission next week, we will introduce Miami's first Water Conservation Ordinance, which will require high efficiency plumbing fixtures in all new construction and renovations. The ordinance will also lead to thousands of gallons of water savings through permanent restrictions on the time and frequency of landscape irrigation.

I believe that we have an obligation to our children to take care of our environment and to educate them in conservation practices. The Be Water Wise Miami campaign is just the latest step in this ongoing process. You can learn more about it here.

Thanks to all of the students at Jose de Diego and their principal, Dr. Clay, for all they are doing for the future of our planet.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Learn To Swim Safety Campaign Kicks Off

Photo Courtesy of the Miami Heat

I was pleased to join the Miami Heat, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, and the American Red Cross on April 8 at Grapeland Water Park, to kick off the swim season with the 8th Annual April Pool’s Day—all part of the summer-long “Learn to Swim” safety campaign. The kids got special swimming lessons from Heat player, Daequan Cook, and the Heat dancers, in an effort to raise awareness for swim safety.
Florida has more children under the age of 5 drown than any other state in the country, with Miami-Dade County leading the state. This community-wide water safety awareness campaign, which will continue through the summer months, is a big step towards changing these statistics.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Free Tax Preparation for All Miami Residents

The City of Miami offers free tax preparation services for all of our residents. I urge all Miamians to take advantage of these services, which will provide many individuals and families with new benefits from the federal government thanks to the Economic Stimulus Bill.

A single mother with two children earning just $15,000 can be eligible for up to $11,300 in combined state and federal benefits if her taxes are filed properly. Those benefits equal 78% of her take home income. If she comes to one of our free preparation sites she can be sure of what benefits she is entitled to without paying a dime for the service. Due to new measures in the economic stimulus bill, this year increased benefits include: a recovery rebate credit, a one-time benefit of up to $600 for people who didn't receive the full economic stimulus payment last year, new withholding tables that have resulted in more take-home pay this spring for millions of American workers, and a one-time payment to retirees and veterans disability beneficiaries of $250 sent to them directly by the Social Security Administration. Additionally, future benefits will include a first-time homebuyer tax credit of up to $8,000, increase in EITC return, suspension of taxation on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits, and a partially refundable tax credit up to $2,500 for higher education expenses.

As part of this year’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Campaign, City-sponsored sites can help you file your tax returns, learn if you qualify for a tax refund and apply for other Federal and State benefits through Miami's Benefit Bank program. I urge all residents to take full advantage of these services.
If you have any questions, please call 311 or visit our ACCESS MIAMI website:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The AAA Goes Green

(Left to right): Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair, US Green Building Council; Eric Woolworth, president of The HEAT Group’s Business Operations and Mayor Manny Diaz. Photo: Jorge R. Perez/City of Miami.

Several years ago I called for the greening of Miami with the hope of creating an environmentally-friendly city, a model for others to follow. The Heat and the AmericanAirlines Arena have since answered that call. I was very pleased today to join Eric Woolworth—president of the Heat Group’s Business Operations— and Rick Fedrizzi—president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGNC)—in acknowledging the AmericanAirlines Arena’s accomplishment of receiving LEED Certification for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance by the USGBC. The AAA is one of two arenas in the U.S. to be the first to receive this prestigious certification.
Some of the “green” features in the AAA include water-efficient landscaping, walk-off carpets, green roofing materials and underground parking, all in accordance with the LEED Existing Buildings Rating System. This building now serves as a model for other arenas across the country.
We are also building the Miami Marlins Stadium, which will be the first LEED Silver Certified retractable-roof stadium and represents the first time Major League Baseball has partnered with a team to make a stadium green. This means we will be the 1st city in the country with 2 major “green” sports facilities.
When we called to the private sector to green their buildings, Miami led by example: Miami City hall is one of a handful of LEED EB registered buildings and is the first LEED EB registered building East of the Mississippi.
I know that we cannot achieve our goal of a greener Miami without the help of the private sector. It is my hope that Miami’s business community follows this lead.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Gateway to Green invitation

The City of Miami continues to promote green building, sustainable practices and eco-friendly businesses here in South Florida. Tomorrow, we will kickoff the City's first Annual Gateway to Green Symposium on Sustainability with the announcement that the AmericanAirlines Arena is now LEED-certified. Through retrofits to the home of our Miami Heat, the AAA will be formally recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.
The Gateway to Green Symposium at Jungle Island welcomes members of the public and local business communities to engage with each other and learn about environmentally sustainable practices. For the full program and other details, please click HERE.

I hope that you can join me.


Earth Day Every Day in the City of MIami

On April 22nd, people around the world celebrate Earth Day. Here in Miami, we are partnering with local schools, community organizations and green businesses to bring you a month of free events and volunteer opportunities for the whole family. From cleaning up Biscayne Bay to a Goin' Green Fair at Bayfront Park, from an Arbor Day tree planting in Little Haiti to Bike Miami Days in Coconut Grove, I invite you to join me in celebrating a more sustainable Miami. Earth Day provides a great opportunity for all of us to become more involved in helping our environment. We can all help reduce our energy consumption, promote eco-friendly business practices and make positive, lasting contributions to our planet.

This week, we are dedicating a community garden in Liberty City, celebrating April as Water Conservation Month, and learning about living green at Miami River Day in Jose Marti Park.
For more information and a full list of April events, please click HERE.