Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

No More Bike Miami?

It started this morning with a status update on the Bike Miami page on Facebook:

Bike Miami Days Team: Working hard to bring Bike Miami Days back on Sunday, October 4th. That’s just around the corner… will you help us get the word out?

Cool! There’s been rides all summer, but we weren’t sure when the whole-day events would be back. Shortly thereafter, however, a blog post comes through the RSS feed from the Bike Miami Blog, being echoed almost immediately as a comment on the status update above (fourth comment down):

UPDATE: Friends, we apologize for the over-excitement. Bike Miami Days is seeking sponsors to cover the extensive costs associated with keeping this event FREE, FAMILY-FRIENDLY and FUN, all of which requires a great deal of services and financial support that we do not yet have. If you or your business would be able to sponsor the Set Up, Clean Up, Sound, Public Service Aides and Police or any other part of Bike Miami Days, please contact the Coordinator here. Thank you.

Baffled, I sent an email to the aforementioned coordinator, Kathryn Moore and after a short phone call she gave me the bad news: there’s just no money for a Bike Miami Days.

The October date was to be covered via private sponsorship, but the company in question seems to have pulled out, leaving the event still missing the close to $25,000 needed to hold the 6-hour event. This money, for the most part, pays for the City of Miami police officers present at the event, as well as other costs associated with closing a huge chunk of Downtown Miami.

The City of Miami just released also it’s proposed budget for the 2010 Fiscal Year, and try as I might, I cannot find any mention of Bike Miami in the future tense; it is mentioned a handful of times as part of the past year’s accomplishments, but nothing’s there about future iterations of the event. Add to this the fact that Bike Miami has been the brainchild of the Mayor Diaz administration, and that his term comes to an end in November, and it is easy to see how this community event could fall prey to the shifting political winds in Miami.

Plainly, this sucks. Here we are, just a couple of days ago celebrating the first victory of Miami 21, and now the event that is meant to foster the bikeable lifestyle Miami 21 seeks to facilitate is in danger of not happening. After coming from the dumps in the rankings of Bicycling Magazine’s Most Bikeable Cities two years ago to where they actually declare Miami a BikeTown less than a month ago, could it be that we’re headed for another nosedive?

Any private company/non-government organization/individual donor wants to sponsor part or all of Bike Miami Days, please come forward, please speak up.

Miami 21 Passes First Reading!

In a (dare I say it?) historic moment for Miami, the City Commission, after an 8-hour session, voted 4-1 to in favor of Miami 21 (Commissioner Regalado was the sole “no” vote, surprise surprise).

The plan now needs to face a barrage of amendments and scrutiny from various groups as it embarks on its way to change from a 500-page document into a blueprint for new urbanism and sustainable city living. It then has another date with the City Commission for a second reading at a date yet to be determined.

I was bracing for the worst, jaded as I am by politics, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the plan passed. I WANT to see Miami 21 be put into effect; we won’t go far into our future with things as they are right now. It’s proven that the current zoning code doesn’t work, so let’s give this one a try and who knows, maybe we will have done the right thing for us and those that come after.

To the rest of Miami-Dade, I hope you’re watching closely, cause we, the residents, will be expecting proactivity from you as well in the near future.

Miami 21 – Round 2

Back in August 6th, the ambitious and forward-looking plan known as Miami 21 was presented to the City of Miami Commissioners for a vote. It should have been a day of celebration, yet it turned into a bittersweet stalemate when one of the up-to-then supporters, Commissioner Joe Sanchez, voted “No” on the plan, achieving a 2-2 result (the fifth City Commissioner was undergoing surgery that day), citing weak “zoning laws litigation” reasons for his vote. Since a 2-2 vote does not actually mean a defeat, Miami 21 has a new chance to go before the City Commissioners, and that is happening tomorrow, September 4.

Residents of the City of Miami that support Miami 21 are urged to attend the public hearing at City Hall, starting at 10 AM. This is a case of “the more, the merrier,” and Mayor Manny Diaz wants you there, as he has made known via the Miami 21 Facebook group and other media.

Miami 21 presents a new zoning code known as form-based code which seeks a more organic separation of zones and encourages mixed-use spaces. It would be a great simplification on my part to give a layman’s interpretation of Miami 21 as a plan that seeks to create spaces that are people friendly and encourage walkability/human-powered transportation use instead of the blocky urban sprawl Miami (in general, not just the city) has tons of, and yet I would not be that far off the mark.

Miami 21 also represents a precedent for all of South Florida, arguably the most populated area of our state, as we move into the future; it is a plan to which other cities can look as they work on new urban designs for our congested living spaces. I know I would love to see Miami Beach follow a similar route to what Miami is doing on the other side of the causeway, for example.

Support Miami 21 tomorrow at City Hall, and if you’re not a City of Miami resident, spread the word about Miami 21 and its innovations towards a more livable city to everyone you know. Who knows which city will be the next to be inspired to follow suit.

Food, Inc. Opens in South Florida

The film “Food, Inc.” has now opened in various locations across South Florida:

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL: Gateway 4
  • North Miami, FL: Intracoastal 8
  • Palm Beach Gardens, FL: BMC PGA Cinema 6
  • Miami Beach, FL: South Beach 18

Food, Inc. presents a documentary-style look at the food industry of the US, and what exactly is happening behind those happy farms that provide us all with our food. From the movie website:

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.

Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield’s Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

I’ve been hearing about this film for a while thanks to some friends in Seattle who run a locavore website called CookLocal.com.Local foodie website Miami Dish also ran a story on the movie recently; I recommend checking this site also for local shopping info.

I intend to go see it, fully aware that it will affect how I eat, what I eat and how/where I shop from now on. I think everyone should as well (especially before it is bumped off the theatres by the latest blockbuster to come). Most people will ignore it, as usual, but if a small percentage can be affected and made to change their shopping/eating ways, I think we’ll be on course for a better tomorrow. Frankly, I hope many Miami/South Florida people go see and perhaps like that we’ll all work towards improving the availability of locally-grown foods.

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