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‘Strut-on Outa Here’ Sez Us!
Michael Miller

‘Strut-on Outa Here’ Sez Us!

By Michael Miller….

Michael Miller

My, oh my! Isn’t the City of South Miami having such a great time dealing with the King Mango Strut which emigrated from Coconut Grove to the City of Pleasant Living just a few weeks ago? Some folks with feathers in a fluff want to get to the bottom of this dastardly deed.

Seems as though the Strut didn’t have its own EVENT permit within the VolksBlast event that was legally permitted. Some observers tell me the ‘Strut’ lasted maybe 15 minutes, weaving through the permitted VolksBlast event that took place on Sunset Drive not too long ago.

About 40 or so fun-loving Strut participants did their usually ‘gig,’ wearing pretty cool and outrageous costumes, depending upon your perspective, of course. That made most folks smile, especially upon seeing Mayor Phil Stoddard, wearing a beautiful blue mask. Some asked: was he an unpermitted ‘Strut’ participant or part of the VolksBlast when the Strut happened by and he just had a mask handy? In any case, who cares?

It must have really po’d some naysayers who saw a colorful sign carried by a couple of nice ladies at the front of the Strut, reading: ‘South Miami King Mango Strut’—‘ Stepping out for the 29th time.’ Golly, I thought. Had the South Miami Strut been around that long? Wasn’t this the first time the ‘Strutters’ had come to visit the City of Pleasant Living?

Many think the King Mango Strut should stay in Coconut Grove where it has a traditional identity. They feel that merry band of fun-loving ‘Strutters’ should just slither right out of our town, leaving it to our own culture and entertainments.

What I’m hoping is that the city will close its needless investigation of the ‘dastardly EVENT-less deed.’ Stop wasting taxpayer time and get onto more important things, like – well, you can fill in the rest!

Tom Vageline, the city’s Planning Director has called it a day and has tendered his resignation. No official reason given for his departure. But should he want to stay in the field, I hear Julian Perez, Department Director for the Division of Planning and Zoning and Code Compliance at Palmetto Bay has departed the Village. Julian, gentlemen’s gentleman, worked there for a couple of years, serving in South Miami in similar capacity before heading to Palmetto Bay.

In Palmetto Bay Julian helped shepherd the city’s first “Green” initiatives under former Mayor Gene Flinn and the Council, including the creation of a Green commercial building code. Julian was also instrumental in developing Palmetto Bay’s sustainability web page which you can visit at: http://www.palmettobaygreen.com. Now, sources tell me the pressure is on the Palmetto Bay Village staff to put the brakes on any zoning applications that might put an elected official in an uncomfortable light (not unheard of, in any city government operation —the nice folks in South Miami have it down pat, been doing it for years).

Sometimes unwanted city projects wind up on very slow tracks. Staff can delay action by picking apart every last application detail, ordering multiple changes and then repeating frivolous demands over and over again until an applicant just gives up. That’s just how the city gets the reputation as being unfriendly to developers and business people, and often winds up with empty storefronts and vacant lots.

Mayor Stoddard did the city right a few weeks ago when the testosterone boiled as Yvonne Beckman acted up at during a city commission meeting, and ‘Dr. Phil’ (as he is sometimes known) tossed her from the chambers. Bravo, Mr. Mayor, for taking control of such outbursts that so often make the city an area laughing stock.

Speaking of testosterone, we can’t wait to see what will finally happen to the dispute between the city and the YMCA, two parties who have yet to resolve long-term challenges about who will do what and when. (A former YMCA’er predicted way back that this muchballyhooed marriage would end up in court).

A little history: a while back , the city bought the 10-acre YMCA property on SW 58th Avenue and SW 43rd Street for some $2.5 million, and then leased it back to the ‘Y’ in a deal that would have the organization improve the property, along with other vague conditions. All that has been created is a bunch of grief for both parties. So now the city commission and the ‘Y’ folks ought to get together, sit around a circle and sing “Kum-Ba-Yah!”

Enjoyed the ranting and ravings of our beloved Vice Mayor Valerie Newman who (how can I say it?) was very ‘charged up’ when speaking about the Lee Park condo on SW 62nd Avenue. Seems that Lee Park holds a special place in her gracious heart.

With the next election less than 12 months away, some folks in the Dante Fascell area, as well as the north side of town, are primed to advance a new and viable candidate. And some folks at City Hall can’t wait ‘til the new election is held.

Speaking of north side, a rumor is going around that former South Miami Mayor Julio Robaina might run again for public office. Hmmm…could that be as South Miami Mayor? Or a seat on the County Commission?

Ran into former mayor Horace Feliu at Town Restaurant the other day, he was with some of his croniesand looked like he was going over someone’s campaign materials.

More around town: saw Senator Marco Rubio at Flanigan’s in Pinecrest a week ago Saturday, apparently a family outing, and just before sitting down, spending a moment talking with Dr. Don Harris and Paul Marolf. Also ran into Chip Black, Michael Raley and former Palmetto Bay Mayor Gene Flinn at Big Cheese the other day, and it turns out that when they go lunching there, they ask to be served by Ricardo — for good reason, as he’ll customize fare for favored customers.

Finally proud to say we figured how to use those new downtown parking meters (it’s actually pretty simple). At each day’s end, the city expects to make a whole lot more money from those who just don’t know (or care) how much time is left on the meter.

So, folks, have your money or credit card ready and remember: you don’t get any change, and you don’t need to put the receipt on your dashboard.

And, the lovely meter readers have a hand-held contraption to let them know what meters have used up all the advance deposit money when the meter runs out. Rest assured you’ll get an $18 ticket, compliments of the City of Pleasant Living.

Grab your calendar and sharpen your pencil

Keeping track—don’t forget the Zoning Hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 7 p.m. at the Council Chambers, 9705 E. Hibiscus Street. Then there’s the Committee Of The Whole Meeting on Wednesday, March 2, same place and time. And of course there’s the Annual Celebration Picnic on Saturday, March 5, at Coral Reef Park, 7895 SW 152 Street, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. The next Regular Council Meeting is Monday, March 7, in the Council Chambers, 9705 E. Hibiscus Street, 7 p.m.

By the way, we’re reminding you about all those things because beginning in March, the Palmetto Bay News (and the Kendall Gazette) is going to a bi-weekly schedule like our sister publication, the Pinecrest Tribune, and others . They’ll alternate, which will make it easier to juggle production and printing duties, but don’t worry, there’ll be more pages of local news and of course ads from our community businesses. Our next issue will be March 8.

Ain’t that grand… We hear from a reliable source that as many as 750 residents and guests attended the Grand Opening of the Thalatta Estate, that great bay front park facility that is now also available for wedding rentals and other special events. Go the village’s official website at www.palmettobay-fl.gov/ and click on the links there to see the Facebook photos or YouTube slideshow.

In recent off-the-cuff commentary to a citizens’ group, Hammocks District Major Alexander Casas mused how marijuana grow houses are probably the most serious ‘gang-type’ operations in West Kendall. South Miami Police conducting a drunken driving check on S. Dixie Highway earlier this month found only one DUI suspect but five narcotic-related arrests. Meanwhile, South Miami detectives have recently investigated three separate incidents of ‘grow houses’ in their territory, involving some $670,000 in seizures of drugs and cash. Palmetto Bay has had a few grow houses “blooming” there as well.

Does this mean South Dade is becoming a grower’s paradise of much more lucrative crops than tomatoes and strawberries?

The South Miami Rotary Art Festival celebrates its 27th year the weekend of February 26-27, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. This popular annual show is one of the best attended events in the area. The festival is held near the Shops of Sunset Place, in the heart of South Miami on Sunset Drive between South Dixie Highway and Red Road (SW 57 Avenue). Each year, art lovers and weekend adventurers come to see the work of hundreds of artists and crafts people from around the country, eat at the multinational food court, listen to live music, and much more. Admission is free to this great family event, so bring the kids. Even pets are welcome, and there are watering stations at the South Miami Rotary Club Coke booths. For info about the festival, go to their website at www.southmiamiartfest.org.

Into Comics? Wizard World Miami Comic Con is Feb. 26-27 at the newly refurbished Miami Airport Convention Center (MACC), 711 N.W. 72nd Avenue. Lots of TV and movie stars, comic book creators and other neat stuff. Hours are Saturday, February 26, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday, February 27, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets are available in advance online at up to a 20 percent savings over tickets purchased at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.wizardworld.com/miami.html.

Appointed Town Council members can relax for now

Well, folks, it looks as if the recently appointed vice mayor (Ernie Sochin) and the town council member (Sue Ellen Loyzelle) don’t have to worry about running for those seats just yet. Although it was originally thought that those jobs would be up for grabs when the March 15 recall election occurs (if it still occurs), the county elections office has announced that there will be no add-on elections at that time. So we guess that those folks chomping at the bit to challenge the appointed council members will just have to be content to wait awhile longer. Do stay tuned!

Mark these on your calendars: On Saturday February 26th Representative Dwight Bullard will host a Town Hall Meeting from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Second Baptist Church, 11111 Pinkston Drive. And there will be a Parks Committee Meeting on Monday, February 28, at 7:00 p.m. located at Cutler Ridge Park. The next regular Town Council Meeting will be on Wednesday March 16.

In recent off-the-cuff commentary to a citizens’ group, Hammocks District Major Alexander Casas mused how marijuana grow houses are probably the most serious ‘gang-type’ operations in West Kendall. South Miami Police conducting a drunken driving check on S. Dixie Highway earlier this month found only one DUI suspect but five narcotic-related arrests. Meanwhile, South Miami detectives have recently investigated three separate incidents of ‘grow houses’ in their territory, involving some $670,000 in seizures of drugs and cash. Palmetto Bay has had a few grow houses “blooming” there as well.

Does this mean South Dade is becoming a grower’s paradise of much more lucrative crops than tomatoes and strawberries?

The South Miami Rotary Art Festival celebrates its 27th year the weekend of February 26-27, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. This popular annual show is one of the best attended events in the area. The festival is held near the Shops of Sunset Place, in the heart of South Miami on Sunset Drive between South Dixie Highway and Red Road (SW 57 Avenue). Each year, art lovers and weekend adventurers come to see the work of hundreds of artists and crafts people from around the country, eat at the multinational food court, listen to live music, and much more. Admission is free to this great family event, so bring the kids. Even pets are welcome, and there are watering stations at the South Miami Rotary Club Coke booths. For info about the festival, go to their website at www.southmiamiartfest.org.

Into Comics? Wizard World Miami Comic Con is Feb. 26-27 at the newly refurbished Miami Airport Convention Center (MACC), 711 N.W. 72nd Avenue. Lots of TV and movie stars, comic book creators and other neat stuff. Hours are Saturday, February 26, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday, February 27, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets are available in advance online at up to a 20 percent savings over tickets purchased at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.wizardworld. com/miami.html.

No one asked but we’ll predict ex-Gov. Jeb Bush will make a statesman-like appearance at the Republican National Convention, then run and gain the GOP nomination for President in 2016! The third Bush should be a near shoo-in once the Romney-Palin-Whoever GOP candidate is soundly beaten by President Obama in 2012, barring any unforeseen disaster effecting his current administration. Bush’s opponent: Hilary, natch’, unless she’s “had it” with public posturing by then!

Recalling those ‘Town Center Days’

Our file on West Kendall was once again consulted when the new Bus Terminal station was announced for opening February 27.

It served to refresh memories on the tortured path witnessed over the past 10 years to gain improvements for what continues to still appear as the county’s highest growth area – unless we’ve lost count of those vacant downtown condo units.

The new bus station occupies the same spot originally platted for it amidst the robust plans for Kendall Town Center under Rouse Development, now bankrupt with its West Kendall property in a midwestern REIT’s portfolio.

Ambitious development promised back in 2003 included 1.35 million square feet of retail anchors and outlets, a 220-room hotel, 18-screen theater, 220 units of assisted living, a hospital, entertainment centers, and more.

Today, thanks to Baptist Health determination, the much-needed hospital that weathered a year’s delay in an unnecessary lawsuit brought by Mt. Sinai Hospital will soon become a reality.

Small an item as it seems, now the bus terminal opens, overlooking a flat vista of scrubby acreage once envisioned as a major regional shopping center for southwest Florida. Meanwhile, the opening of SW 162nd Avenue, the six-laning of a crowded section of Kendall Drive and gaining the new hospital have all worked to West Kendall’s benefit – all offshoots of the Center’s master plan.

While the economic downturn of the past four years has pigeon-holed anything like the Town Center dream, we suspect that the property’s value will re-grow its potential once again until a revised plan is drawn to appeal to the mixture of housing and neighborhood shopping plazas that grew up all around it.

Growth sometimes takes an unusual course, and now West Kendall seems on the verge of resuming its status as one Kendall’s major areas, including not only Dadeland in the east, but the Executive Airport/SW 137th Avenue area in southwest Kendall, and a newly-redeveloped “The Palms,” giving rebirth to Town & Country Center in what is now “mid-center” Kendall. Thirty years ago or so, that SW 117th Avenue/Kendall Drive crossroads was Kendall’s new frontier.

Sometime in the not too distant future, we suspect incorporation of Kendall areas may come up again…and when it does, we have a hunch that there may be several “Kendalls” involved, each geographically homogenous to where the growth actually did occur. Time really does fly!

In recent off-the-cuff commentary to a citizens’ group, Hammocks District Major Alexander Casas mused how marijuana grow houses are probably the most serious ‘gang-type’ operations in West Kendall.

South Miami Police conducting a drunken driving check on S. Dixie Highway earlier this month found only one DUI suspect but five narcotic-related arrests. Meanwhile, South Miami detectives have recently investigated three separate incidents of ‘grow houses’ in their territory, involving some $670,000 in seizures of drugs and cash.

Does this mean Southwest Dade is becoming a grower’s paradise of much more lucrative crops than tomatoes and strawberries?

No one asked but we’ll predict ex-Gov. Jeb Bush will make a statesman-like appearance at the Republican National Convention, then run and gain the GOP nomination for President in 2016! The third Bush should be a near shoo-in once the Romney-Palin- Whoever GOP candidate is soundly beaten by President Obama in 2012, barring any unforeseen disaster effecting his current administration. Bush’s opponent: Hilary, natch’, unless she’s “had it” with public posturing by then!

Project work for two retail centers underway at Market Square, new shopping center and townhome complex at SW 117 Avenue and SW 104 Street with Publix sign lighted but supermarket not yet in sight. Separate structure will be built by the company to complete the shopping complex.

Opening of new Kendall Book Exchange did not “retire” Manuel Rodriguez who currently owns and operates Miami Production & Design, as our story of February 15 indicated. With 25 years in graphics and printing, he continues to maintain the business from Tea ‘N Sanity behind Wendy’s at 12011 SW 131 Avenue, just off SW 120th Street.

Thought of the Day:

Humor is also a way of saying something serious.

— T. S. Eliot

Richard Yager contributed to this column.

Got any tips? Contact me at 305-669- 7355, ext. 249, or send emails to michael@communitynewspapers.com.

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