Bell: Make government more transparent, less complicated

By Gary Alan Ruse….

County Commissioner Lynda Bell speaks to the EDC.

Lynda Bell, who was elected Miami-Dade County commissioner for District 8 in the Nov. 16 runoff election, was the guest speaker at the Jan. 18 morning meeting of the Economic Development Council (EDC) of South Miami-Dade.

Greeted by a standing room only turnout and introduced by EDC chair Joe Corradino, Bell took the opportunity to express her views and explain her priorities in the coming months.

“It’s a very big and a tough job, but it’s a large task and a great task,” Bell said. “I believe that people don’t realize how hard people do work on the Miami-Dade County Commission. It doesn’t matter at the end of the day if you made everybody happy as long as you know you’ve done the right thing.

“As your new county commissioner I’m going to have the opportunity to impact your lives in a very different way — as residents, as business owners and as community leaders — and that’s an awesome task and a very heavy responsibility. I tell people I will not forget who elected me and why I was elected.”

Bell said that one priority is to sponsor legislation that will make government more transparent in the county as well as less complicated and “maze-like.” Connected with that, she also announced that she is moving her district office from where it currently is at the South Dade Government Center in Cutler Bay to an office building on S. Dixie Highway near Publix and Starbucks in Palmetto Bay.

“Being at the South Dade Government Center is pretty far south at the tip of the district and I’ve been hearing from my constituents that it’s hard to get to and parking is tough because it’s shared with the courthouse,” Bell said. “We’re going to put our boots on the ground and be more accessible to you.”

Bell also intends to reform the processes by which businesses in the county are able to get the licensing and permitting they need to operate. She said that she was able to accomplish that while a mayor in the City of Homestead and hopes to bring that expertise to the county level as well.

She announced that she plans to hold informal public meetings about the county’s Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) created in 1974 to regulate and manage activities affecting the fragile environment.

“We need a town hall meeting about DERM, about everybody that’s been affected, positively or negatively, by DERM,” Bell said. “We’ll have DERM officials present.”

Bell is on the county’s Public Safety and Economic Development committees, and also on the Budget Committee where she hopes to make a difference by looking closely at all expenditures.

“I was humbled to be appointed to it as an incoming freshman,” Bell said.

She reminded everyone that the county’s “Mom and Pop Grant” applications for small businesses in District 8 are available now to Feb. 9. Grants in the amount of either $2,000 or $4,000 will be given out to selected deserving applicants, and there will be a workshop on Feb. 9 prior to submission of completed applications.

She also discussed other topics ranging from Jackson Memorial Hospital to working more closely with the state legislature to improve things in the county.

Attending the meeting with area business owners were Palmetto Bay Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and council members Joan Lindsay and Patrick Fiore; Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin and Councilmember Peggy Bell, and other area leaders including EDC director Paul Neidhart. Newly elected District 117 State Rep. Michael Bileca also was present and introduced himself to the group.

Bell asked attendees to let her know about problems so that she can work to take care of them, and said she welcomes ideas and comments. Contact her by phone at 305-375-5218 or by email at either District8@miamidade.gov or LyndaBell@miamidade.gov.


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