Democracy in action 
in charter-school 
enrollment debate

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It looks like neighbors will get another chance before the Miami-Dade County Commission to have their objections heard regarding the proposed enrollment number at the charter school at Sunset Drive and SW 73rd Ave.

Initially, the school wanted 2,500 or so student enrollments and then lowered it to 1,400 as they must have thought that number would have been somewhat magically more manageable. But alas, the neighbors spoke out at the very well attended meeting during which District Commissioner Xavier Suarez gave the school another opportunity to come up with figure that was more acceptable to the neighbors, and then come back for another hearing. 

It was good to see the community mobilize in such a positive and productive way – and clearly they knew what they were doing. I applaud them for speaking up and for being heard.

And btw, I was happy to be among those outspoken people who got a minute or two to express themselves about the project – and funny enough, I did happen to wind up sitting very very close to South Miami Vice-Mayor Bob Welsh.

Speaking of elected officials, many many thanks go out to Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinin who after nearly 40 years of public service has decided to move on. I could honestly go on and on about her accomplishments, but now is not the time to do so – but I do know that she paved the way for so many people and set the standard for years and years to come. Ileana, thank you so much for your commitment, dedication, and wisdom.

Back to South Miami poly tics: I hope that there are a bunch of candidates out there, that will at least “throw their hats in the ring” to run for elected office in the city. The election isn’t until February 2018, but the clock is ticking and if you want a chance at winning, you’ve got to put your team together and start working it.

Oh yes, there are three seats that are up for grabs, one for mayor and two city commissioner seats. So, it’s just the right time to start picking your seat.

Speaking of picking – there was such a bounty of fresh picked fruit and vegetables on sale Sunday at the Pinecrest Gardens Farmer’s Market. I took a little field trip down to our neighboring berg of Pinecrest and ended up picking up more fresh produce than I could possibly ever hope to eat in one week – but I just couldn’t control myself. I guess this is fair warning to my neighbors that I’ll be knocking on your screen door over the next few days with some beautiful gifts from the horn of plenty.

Not only was everything so fresh and beautiful – but so were all the happy faces I saw there. This operation definitely has the corner on area farmers markets, with so many people out enjoying the amazing setting, the friendly atmosphere, and all the super pleasant vendors. Pinecrest Gardens’ Farmer’s Market is open Sundays, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at 11000 Red Rd, Pinecrest, FL 33156. Check it out!

But a little closer to home, Metro South Senior Apartments, an affordable senior-housing development located across the street from City Hall at Sunset and SW 61 Ave., is about to get its certificate of completion to fully open for business. We’re pleased to report, as part of the negotiated agreement with the city, they have made a very nice $250,000 contribution toward our city parks system. Metro South features 91 units designed for independent living in a seven-story structure. It includes commercial space for a café, game room, theater, fitness center, a laundry facility, and a parking garage.

South Miami may have just earned the moniker of “Lawsuit City”  by adding a resolution to its first commission meeting of May to settle a  case for $300,000.00. The Plaintiff, Michael Weissberg (case no. 14-018469-CA-30, 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade) was a former South Miami police officer and  his complaint, alleges HIPAA violations, Defamation, Negligence and Whistleblower violations. Betcha the city is happy to be done with this one.

And of course, the lawsuit filed by the  former chief of police, Orlando Martinez de Castro is still being appealed by the city and  then to add insult to injury, another lawsuit was filed by a woman against the police dept. Lots of accusations about how she was treated while in police custody. This one should be very revealing on both sides.

And let’s see …. a lawsuit filed by city residents led by Beth Schwartz has caused city leaders more grief as they hired outside attorneys at the rate of  $550.00 per hour to defend itself for allegedly violating its own city charter. Beth and other city residents, hired land use attorney, Nancy Stroud to file a Writ of Mandamus against the city for the up-zoning of the city’s iconic City Hall property in order to sell the property to developers. Needless to say, South Miami taxpayers will be footing more legal bills for some time to come.

And lastly, I know it’s just May, but July 4th is just around the corner, especially if you’re planning to be a food vendor at the City of South Miami’s. It’s not too soon – in fact it’s time right now – to submit your State of Florida Business License, General Liability Insurance, and menu with prices and pictures to City Administration. The annual event is hugely popular, as you know, and happens this year on Tuesday, July 4, at Palmer Park (6100 SW 67th Ave.) from 5 – 9:30 p.m. I hear that vendors are selected on a first come, first serve basis, so shake a tail feather and contact the city’s Special Events Coordinator Yvette E. Valdes now at 305-668-3873 or email at

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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

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