‘What have you done for me lately… ooh ooh ooh yeah’

Executive Editor Michael Miller

Executive Editor Michael Miller

Nine more months until it’s delivered. Yep, coming up this February, voters will have a chance to deliver the latest rendition, via a city-wide election, of a new South Miami Commission.

FYI: There are three elected officials that the voters will be able replace this go around – Mayor Philip Stoddard, Vice Mayor Bob ”Bobble Head“ Welsh (oops), and Commissioner Walter Harris. And while there are many factors to consider when looking at the candidates, it really boils down to something Janet Jackson sang about in the 80s.

You remember that big dance-pop song, “What Have You Done for Me Lately?” If I sang it, maybe you’d get it – but probably not! Anyhow, voters should keep these lyrics in mind as they consider what these long-serving incumbents have done for the city lately:

Used to be a time when you would pamper me
Usta brag about it all the time
Your friends seem to think that you’re so peachy keen
But my friends say neglect is on your mind – Who’s right?

Based on the current state of affairs, I’d like to hear how these seated officials could possibly explain, say, the Madison Square neglect. You know the property, the much maligned, forever-delayed development proposed for the corner of SW 64 St. and 59 Place. It has been bounced around for at least the last 10 years and essentially nothing has been done. Unless you count spending a truck load of money and a bunch of trash-talking dudes on a basketball court, all spewing forth how they can each make the money shot. Yet not one will deliver upon his promise. What will it take for this Commission to make the shot and get the job done?

Another big item of neglect on the list is the county-owned HUD townhouses – frequently referred to as South Miami Gardens, right off of 59 Place and 69 St. – that needs to be replaced. Although Miami-Dade, the owner, has offered to do so, and put up some beautiful new buildings with the city paying only a tiny, tiny, tiny part of it, here again we have a shimmering example of a Commission bent on shirking its responsibility and making no progress whatsoever. Come on boys of the Commission, don’t be afraid to speak up. Speak loudly, in unison, and get it done!

Moving down the list, what about the fact that in the last year or so, there have been no fewer than three shootings in the area, right next to South Miami Gardens. And remember, with all the kids off for the summer and the sun blazing away, some folks have a lot less tolerance for one another. It’s time for the city to make it better and help save lives.

Then there’s the hot topic of city zoning, which sorely needs updating. Builders might actually view South Miami as a smart and friendly place to invest millions upon millions of dollars in quality residential development, attractive office complexes, modern shopping and entertainment amenities, and most importantly, in our downtown. As you may or may not know, a major developer wants to invest a reported $300-million-plus to re-fashion The Shops of Sunset. It plans to turn it into a beautiful and inviting complex that will draw people back into the City of Pleasant Living. Come on, how could this possibly be up for debate?

There are already a couple of folks that have claimed they’re running for the City Commission. So far though, only one has sent us proof that they are off-and-running. And for your viewing pleasure, we are sharing this amazing proof that this South Miami resident truly has begun running.

This candidate showing us they’re more than ready to run for City Commission.

This candidate showing us they’re more than ready to run for City Commission.

While we’re on the subject of small-town politics, or should I say small-minded cronyism, there’s another Antoinette Fisher appointment coming down the pike – thanks to City Commissioner Walter Harris. He’s apparently tone deaf to the situation that surrounded her  the last time she served on a public board. It’s not so much that she has no grasp of the issues, but there’s that pesky rant she so inartfully drafted in a letter that appeared in The Miami Herald not long ago. We all remember how well that went over with our black community – not!

And if that’s not enough, here we go again with yet another one of Walter’s crony appointments… this time to the Environmental Review & Protection Board, to none other than Denise Covington, a former CRA member, will be part of the pack and leading the way (that is, if the appointment goes through).

But in an even more strange twist of twists, Ms. Covington and the very Commissioner who is appointing her apparently don’t see eye to eye on the proposed Family Dollar project at Madison Square. He wants it – very much – and she very much doesn’t. Maybe someone failed to explained this little factoid to Walter, because I don’t think he gets it. It’s as though he’s popping a personal poison pill right into the very development he wants to see happen.

There’s simply got to be viable alternatives to Walter Harris retreads … Hope to see you at the June 6 City Commission meeting, please!

Lots of Vices here: While making my rounds, I ran into Armando Oliveros, a former South Miami Vice Mayor, and then there was  Horace Feliu, who was also a Vice Mayor and Mayor. Who else was there as well, but none other than Commissioner Josh Liebman, yet another vice mayor at Casa Cuba Restaurant. And NO, they were not sitting together, at least on the day that I was there. Let’s see, who else was in the house: Michael Raley, and co-workers Miller Meyers and PR maven Bill Kress. And from afar, I couldn’t help but see a few other politicos, but they swore me to secrecy as to their presence as to whom they were with that day.

Former Mayor Horace Feliu attended the last commission meeting to give advice to the mayor and city commission, with regards to the importance of educating city employees in order to prevent future lawsuits. The recent $300,000.00 settlement by the City of South Miami Commission with former police officer Michael Weinberg is one of the many reasons the city’s insurance premium has skyrocketed over the last 6 years. At the last request for proposal (Agenda item 9- September 20, 2016), the only company that responded was ACE for a whopping $451,981.00/year.  The Weinberg lawsuit which included defamation, violations of HIPPA and Whistleblower laws is just the beginning of the record-breaking onslaught which will continue to make lawyers on both sides of the issue very wealthy at the expense of South Miami taxpayers. To the obvious chagrin of Mayor Stoddard, the former Mayor did not stop there. Feliu went on to give more unsolicited advice with regards to the proposed bike path on 64th street from 62nd avenue east to the rails to trails on 70th avenue. His advice to the mayor and commission? …“Find out what is included in the whopping $200,000 consulting fees for the bike path” and “inform the residents, who reside on 64th street, that 4 feet of their green swale will be turned to pavement before voting on the resolution.” Golly folks, if I didn’t know any better, I would say Feliu is getting ready to run for his old seat again. The question to be asked… Is South Miami ready for a change?

Mayor Philip Stoddard and State Representative Robert Asencio were at the Pinecrest Tribune Luncheon.

Mayor Philip Stoddard and State Representative Robert Asencio were at the Pinecrest Tribune Luncheon.

At the recent Pinecrest Tribune luncheon we host monthly at Ana Capri Restaurant, President of Miami Dade College Eduardo Padron provided an impressive update as to what’s going on in his educational arena. It’s an amazing story. You might want to read how this little school in the 1960’s grew into a great institution that is providing the opportunity for people to get a secondary education; people young and old who might otherwise not have pursued furthering their studies.


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About the Author

Michael Miller
Michael co-owns Community Newspapers with his brother Grant and serves as Executive Editor of the group of newspapers. He enjoys writing about local politics and area businesses. Michael can be reached at michael@communitynewspapers.com

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