Last fall, a representative of Buckeye Development and Logistics contacted our City Planner
and inquired whether our Council would entertain issuing a permanent pipeline Easement, Permit, or License, before Buckeye spent resources. At the time, it appeared that the issue had been resolved.
However, on January 18, 2013, Buckeye Development & Logistics sent our City Planner a letter explaining that it was seeking to place a new route to complement or replace the curren
t pipeline and that route would pass through the limits of the City of Miami Springs and the Village of Virginia Gardens.
The letter fueled a story by Theo Karantsalis, which claimed that the proposed pipeline would be the sole source of jet fuel to the Miami International Airpor
t. Theo's story was overstated. It was not being proposed as the sole source, but the overstatement certainly made residents stand up and take notice. The Chairwoman of the County Commission was contacted as well as the City's lobbyist, Jose Fuentes. The hoopla continued and Mr. Boone of Buckeye Partners, L.P. issued a news release clarifying that the January 18, 2013 letter was not a statement of intent,
but instead a notice that Everglades Pipe Line Company, L.P. was conducting a feasibility study to assess potential options. Theo Karantsalis wrote another story for The Miami Herald, which explained the status of the jet-fuel pipeline
Thereafter, on February 28, 2013, the Manager and Mayor sent a joint letter explaining that
there is no "form" City application for the type of project they were suggesting and reiterating the concern of the residents, schools and churches in the neighborhood. Only a few days later, on March 5, 2013, Mr. Boone announced through a press release that the feasibility assessment had been concluded and that a pipeline relocation at the Miami Springs location was no longer an option under consideratio
I call this "the power of the press." Theo's stories sure did stir up the residents of the City of Miami Springs, which in turn got the attention of the Chairwoman and County Commission. If you look back to the beginning, it seems like much ado about nothing. It goes to show that a little press can go a long way.
Last week a well-known local journalist asked me why I decided to run for Mayor, and I gave him a very direct answer. Some perceived my answer as crossing the line of propriety. The article can be found HERE.
It is challenging to be part of any campaign, and I believe that anyone with the courage to put themselves out there as a serious candidate for public office is worthy of our respect. I also believe that those candidates have a responsibility to tell the truth as they campaign, and I will continue to do so during this campaign, and beyond.
This campaign has some difficult truths to confront, and while it might be easy or comfortable to ignore them out of “respect for the candidates” – the reality is, our respect for good government in our City must come first. You can expect me not to turn away, but to look those problems in the face.
Why am I writing this now?
I appreciate every single word and gesture of support I’ve received as a candidate. As you can see at the bottom of this page, my blog posts are open for comments, but each comment is approved for content before it is posted. I recently received a very positive and supportive comment from a reader that I would love to have approved, but it concluded with some not-so-nice words about the Mayor. I know that I can’t single-handedly stop negativity in this election, and I acknowledge that there are strong opinions on both sides of this election – but I will not condone or approve comments that include personal attacks.
Please feel welcome to comment, but please keep it focused on the issues. We all belong to the same community, and that will still be true regardless of who wins on April 2nd.
I look forward to hearing from you.
PS, many of you have asked about yard signs. They will be arriving within the next week, and if you’d like one, please send an email to me at Jennifer@jenniferator.com with your name, address, and contact phone, and we’ll have one placed for you as soon as they’re in.
Thanks again for your support.
I attend the lawyer's lunch with the Ethics Commission each month. Joseph Centorino is the executive director of the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. The Commission does a good job educating lawyers that represent local governments. I enjoy the lunches because I look at it as a lawyer and as a public official. The speakers are always interesting.
Mr. Centorino does not only educate lawyers, he also crusades for the enactment and enforcement of ethics provisions. Our current laws are weak and do not do enough. In his most recent opinion piece, he concluded with the following:
Public servants do not need to be heroes. They need to treat people honestly and fairly and act as loyal employees to earn their constituents’ respect. But they also need to understand the public’s frustration toward government due to improper appearances that lie beyond enforcement. Everyone in public service today faces that challenge.
Well said, Mr. Centorino, well said.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/25/3201035/the-battle-against-public-corruption.html#storylink=cpy
Movie night seems to be getting a lot of press lately -- and unfortuately, it is not good press. After Ms. Owens complained at Council, and Theo Karantsalis
wrote a story for Neighbors in the Miami Herald, we decided to move movie night back to All Angels -- the place that it started five years ago.
I am a bit disappointed at the tone the River Cities Gazette
has taken with covering this story. The Editor of the Gazette
, Mr. Tom Curtis never contacted me prior to penning his editorial -- I imagine he thought he had all the information he needed from the Council meeting -- but his story suggests that he didn't have all the facts.
I was contacted by Theo over the weekend and asked via email why movie night was moving back to All Angels (a little surprising he had to ask since he wrote the Neighbors article
criticizing it as a City sponsored event). Since the story is still incomplete, I am going to post my response to Theo in its entirety.Theo
In 2007 and 2008, we
were holding movie nights at All Angels. We moved it to the Circle because
we thought it would be a fun thing to do, and to create a greater sense of
community by broadening it just beyond the Church and Academy
I had first suggested
moving it to the Circle in 2008 (before I was even on the Council). We
talked to Jim Borgmann and he was very supportive, given that the City has been
trying to do things to support businesses downtown for a long time. After
the first month, Chief Dilling (sp??) said he did not have it in his budget to
have officers at movie night and we would have to pay for police to assist
people in crossing the street. The Church did not have the money so Jim
suggested we ask Council to reimburse us for the police support, which it turns
out is cheaper than having the City simply pay officers directly, because it’s
considered a private event instead of
The idea to move movie
night to the Circle came from my first run for Council in 2005. Residents
told me that the City does not provide activities for middle school aged kids
and suggested that we renew the movie night on the Circle from years ago.
The City has taken the position since 2005 that it does not have the funds to
run a movie night, a position I find believable now that I have sat through four
budget cycles. Essentially, All Angels was partnering with the City to
provide a service to everyone that the City could not afford to provide on its
own without making a more significant investment. All Angels provided the
equipment and volunteers to put the event on, and the City granted the permits
and reimbursed for the traffic control. For four years, it was a win/win
arrangement that created a lot of smiles and fond memories on the
The Movie Night
committee decided to stop hosting the event on the Circle and move it back to
All Angels in light of the concerns voiced by some of the residents.
They’re committed to the event, but not at the cost of putting the Church, the
City or the Council in a compromising position. The cost to the City,
together with the negative publicity made it unrealistic to continue on the
Circle. The Movie Night fan base has grown over the years, and the
committee is optimistic that the audience will follow the move back to
When Ms. Owens spoke
at Council, it wasn’t the first time I had heard the baseless allegation that the
City was funding movie night because of my position as Councilwoman. To
set the record straight, the City has been subsidizing Movie Night since before
I was elected to Council. Since I have been elected, I have taken every
opportunity to make clear my relationship with All Angels and have always sought
to recuse myself.
All the same, I agree
with Mr. Seiden. The City has done nothing wrong by reimbursing the
Church, who is providing a service to the City, for police support.
Dedicated volunteers from All Angels Church and Academy (including my husband Bill Tallman and I) have been the month-in-month-out "worker bees" behind Movie Night since the beginning. We do not plan to stop doing it as it is something we can enjoy as a community. However, we also take our community responsibility seriously and so we moved swiftly to protect the community's interests.
It is disappointing (and really unfair to the hardworking volunteers behind the program) when the same news outlet whose reporting precipitated the move in the first place, now publicly criticizes those volunteers for "taking away" movie night from the community. The volunteers did not create this problem, they are just doing their best to deal with it.
The same newspaper had the Mayor joining in the chorus of criticism:"I am disappointed that it is not being held on the Circle," said Mayor Zavier Garcia who expressed dismay the location was being moved. "I would love for it to continue being held on the Circle as a community event, which is what we as a Council voted unanimously to support."
The only thing that has changed with movie night is the location. It is still free and open to all. We are inviting the community to our property over on Ludlam -- the same location as the popularly-attended Saturday Farmer's Market -- to enjoy the movies on the third Friday.
The bottom line is, the show will go on! I hope to see you at Movie Night on December 21, 2012 at 1801 Ludlam Road at 7 p.m. Bring your lawn chair or blanket and a few dollars for the concession stand - I might even make home made Hot Chocolate if it is a bit nippy.p.s. Since nobody on the Council has said it, to the volunteers of All Angels I would say:
"While the Council is saddened by the decision to relocate Movie Night, we recognize and sincerely appreciate all of your effort over the years to make this program happen and keep it going. We trust that you are making this move based on what you believe are the best interests of the community, and we're hopeful that we can quickly resolve any outstanding issues so that the program can return to the Circle in the near future."
Friday, October 12, 2012 was Ethical Governence Day. We [lawyers, public officials, city employees -- I got hit up twice] were asked to speak at local schools by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics. While I asked to speak in Miami Springs, I was told that MSSH was not participating. Kind of a shame.
I had a great experience at Hialeah Gardens High School. Because of block scheduling, I spoke to two Honors Government classes taught by Mr. Chait. Only one or two students were falling asleep (I am sure it is because they were up late doing homework). The students and the teacher were interested and engaged.
I was also impressed with the facility. I am not sure how long it has been open, but it was clean and well organized. Kind of reminded me of my days in the classroom.
Some of the things we discussed were the significance of the First Amendment; what the Sunshine Law means and how to access public records; why it is important to vote; and the difference between community service and public service and how each benefits our government. The Ethics Commission also included a short case study to discuss, which was short on facts and created more questions than answers -- but that is a good thing, it means the students were paying attention.
Thank you to the Commission of Ethics for putting this event together. I am not sure how everyone else did, but I enjoyed it and would be willing to speak again in the future.
City Manager Ron Gorland, Councilwoman Jennifer Ator, and Park and Parkways Chairperson Eric Richey. Photo courtesy of Wally Clark at www.beautifulmiamisprings.com.
Today is Arbor Day in Miami Springs. Mayor Richard Wheeler led the agenda, which included a proclamation, a poem recited by a student from All Angels Academy, and the planting of a tree at Curtiss Mansion.
In addition, I was THRILLED to learn that this year we are on track to plant 100 trees in the City
. Since I have been on Council, I have encouraged the City to plant 100 trees a year and finally are meeting the goal. It is fair to say I am pleased!
Thank you to City Manager Ron Gorland, the City Arborist Tom Nash, the community partner that donated the tree, the Board of Park and Parkways, all the citizens in attendance, and Wally Clark of www.beautifulmiamisprings.com
for the photo. It was a beautiful day all around.
All Angels Academy has been teaching a year long interdiciplinary lesson on World War II this year. We have a Victory Garden, had a World War II themed Christmas Show, and turned in World War II based book reports. As part of the lesson, our students did history projects for the National History Day Competition using World War II as the theme.
We sent fourteen students to Tallahassee to represent Miami-Dade County in the 32nd Annual Florida History Fair. Making it into the final competition, Christopher Alexander performed "One Man, One Fight, Against All Odds" and Carolyn Bernal, Amanda Gard, Dakkea Jester and Jacqueline Mesa performed "When We Were Men."
Christopher Alexander placed second place in the state -- and we could not be more proud of him. Carolyn Bernal, Amanda Gard, Dakkea Jester, and Jacqueline Mesa took first place in the State of Florida. They now begin to prepare for the final competition in Washington, D.C. Last night they were at the City of Hialeah Council Meeting and hopefully they will be at the City of Miami Springs Council Meeting on Monday, May 14, 2012. Should you want to see their presentation, please contact Susan Keedy at All Angels Academy 305-885-1780.
Congratulations to all the students and Thank You to Mrs. Alexander who dedicates her time and talents to make this event happen for our students.
I am very proud.
On January 18, 2012, Calvin Giordiano presented the information for Work Order #2 and did not provide the materials until we were at the meeting. I don't understand why our vendors cannot provide information for the meeting PRIOR TO the meeting so those watching the webcast have access as well. There is a 51 page slideshow attached here.
Another edition of At My Chair, with all the documents left at our seat at the City Council meeting last night.
A list of documents left at my chair last night:
Agenda Item 10G: Optimist request for funding
1.9.12 Emails between attorneys regarding MS General Employee Pension Plan
1.9.12 Emails between Seiden and Wishneff regarding Curtiss Mansion Historic Tax Credits
Announcement regarding Commissioner Rebeca Sosa Commission "Mom and Pop Grant Program" for 2012
1.9.12 Memo from City Manager regarding September 2011 City of Miami Springs Public Works Dept Organizational Review and Operating Cost Analysis
As you well know, my least favorite thing is agenda items left at my chair. Unfortunately, my own husband
is to blame this week as the only late agenda item was the Optimist request.
The first meeting of the New Year was relatively short, as the Council Chambers seemed giddy with the prospect of the National Championship Game. (I am a bit disappointed that LSU did not pull out the win.) But there was some controversy with respect to some of the recreation related proposals. And, a group of Angels from All Angels Academy stopped by to lead us in the pledge. The short meeting was certainly worth watching. You can find the video at miamisprings-fl.gov under webcasts or just link here
Very little to report at my chair this week. Only a revised Extension Agreement for Theatrical Services for the Pelican Playhouse
Have a very Happy Halloween!