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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

re John Mica's contention that SunRail is still on track; this issue barely exists in the Miami Herald's world

June 30th, 2009

The Miami Herald has not mentioned
this important story or what John Mica
has been up to the past few weeks in
his attempts to keep SunRail alive.
In fact, the Herald hasn't mentioned the
admittedly not-perfect SunRail by name
since June 13th.

But then as we've all borne witness to
over the past few years, their spotty
news coverage of non-political issues
around the state is hardly Breaking
News, itself, is it?

I'll be doing a blog post in the near-future,
long in the making, on the Herald's
very odd and mystifying coverage of
mass transit in general, and this issue
in particular, since Larry Lebowitz
no longer covers regional planning
and transportation-related issues
for the newspaper, and Alfonso
Chardy does.

The signs were clear for all to see
when the paper didn't even bother
to send anyone to cover the
Tri-county Regional Transportation
Summit that I -and many of you-
attended at the Broward County
Convention Center in FTL, many
Saturday mornings ago.
(Perhaps they were staking-out
Father Cutie, instead?)

Yet because of the nature of the
debate, that would have been the
perfect venue for the Herald to
actually incorporate some of that
multimedia element they keep
talking about, but when they had
the chance to do it, and truly help
illuminate an important issue,
they just blew it.

The Herald's almost complete
indifference to SunRail's future,
and what that might mean in
Central Florida for common sense
TOD, and locally for Tri-Rail,
coupled with what I perceived to
be their very moralizing editorial
against it on May 9th, is, to me,
just another sign of its swift decline
from quality newspaper into
near-irrelevance, just when South
Florida needs the paper to actually
be much better than its been in
quite some time.

But then what would you expect
from the Miami Herald,
whose Editorial Board foolishly
backed the taxpayer-funded
Marlins Stadium, and seemed
to be okay with the City of
Miami and Miami-Dade County
NOT submitting the issue to a
public referendum, but which
not only raps SunRail, but
seems inclined to nail the
coffin shut on SunRail on
account of taxpayer costs?
Wow!

When exactly did the Herald's
Editorial Board start worrying
about costs like they were
Ohio Republicans?

Costs and basic physics didn't
and haven't prevented them from
championing a proposd cargo
tunnel to the Port of Miami,
even though, to me at least,
that's clearly going to be a
financial and natural disaster
waiting to happen.

Just in case you forgot how
things are really done down
here in South Florida, here's
a reminder:

Fired Miami Bureaucrat
Continued To Get Full Pay


I-Team: Fired, Retired, But

Still Working

http://cbs4.com/iteam/Fired.CIP.Director.2.1064666.html


CBS4's Gary Nelson shoots
-and he scores!

-------------
Daytona Beach News-Journal

http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/News/Headlines/frtHEAD02063009.htm

June 30, 2009

Mica: SunRail is still on track despite political setbacks

By JAMES MILLER
Staff Writer


ORLANDO -- The proposed commuter-rail line connecting DeLand and metropolitan Orlando is not dead, despite two consecutive years of dramatic setbacks in the Florida Legislature, supporters said Monday.

In fact, SunRail is very much alive.


Negotiations to carve out a commuter-rail agreement palatable to wary lawmakers will be extended for six months.


The project could have been shut down today, according to an opt-out clause in an agreement between CSX Transportation, which owns the rail corridor, and the state Department of Transportation, which wants to buy it.

"We are on target to keep moving the project forward," U.S. Rep. John Mica, a Winter Park Republican and SunRail proponent, told an audience of SunRail supporters and media Monday at Metroplan Orlando headquarters.


Mica said the 61.5-mile system was necessary "for the sake of the environment, for the sake of energy, for the sake of moving people around our community."


Envisioned by boosters as a key transportation alternative in the growing Interstate 4 corridor, SunRail has been estimated to cost the federal and state governments and five local partners -- Volusia, Orange, Osecola and Seminole counties and Orlando -- $2.7 billion over 30 years, including operations.


But the project appeared to reach a dead end this spring when, for the second year running, the state Senate rejected legislation needed to make it a reality.


Controversial language addressing liability for accidents, budget woes and union opposition helped lead to the defeat.


On Monday, Mica said proponents were working to address each of those issues.

Perhaps most important, he said CSX had agreed to revisit the liability language.

As proposed this spring, it would have shielded the rail company from up to $200 million in damages to commuters or other people in the corridor, even if CSX caused the damages through its negligence.

The FDOT was slated to pay CSX $432 million in a purchase deal, but CSX would have leased the corridor for freight traffic so its trains also would be in use there.


"The long and the short of it is CSX has agreed to look at new terms of liability in which there will be certain limits, I believe, and responsibility for CSX in case of negligence," Mica said. "I don't want to get into specifics."

In a statement, CSX said it planned to continue discussions for six months at the request of elected officials.

"Those discussions will center on whether options exist to bring the transaction to a successful conclusion," according to the statement.


Company spokesman Gary Sease declined to elaborate.


If SunRail proponents are able to hammer out a revised proposal, it could go before the Legislature in a special session this fall, said Sen. Lee Constantine, an Altamonte Springs Republican who's been shepherding SunRail in the Senate.


Constantine said lawmakers likely will have to go back in the fall for at least one other issue, anyway.

"Having it in the light of day by itself with very few other issues I think would be a real positive for us," he said.

Other changes discussed Monday include a potential state application for transportation stimulus money for the project.


Using additional federal money could free state transportation dollars for projects in other parts of the state and potentially soften some lawmakers' budget-based opposition.


Although much of the recent wrangling over SunRail has been happening at the state and federal levels, local officials almost certainly haven't had their last look.


Significant changes to already negotiated agreements would put SunRail back before the Volusia County Council, said County Chairman Frank Bruno.


Only one council member -- Jack Hayman -- has voted against SunRail so far, citing uncertainties about long-term costs and ridership.


james.miller@news-jrnl.com


-------------
This story includes multimedia on the URL

Orlando Sentinel


Orlando Sentinel Exclusive

SunRail commuter train might be back from brink

By Dan Tracy, Sentinel Staff Writer
June 26, 2009

Just days before facing a potentially crushing deadline, the SunRail commuter train proposed for Central Florida might be chugging along again.

Backers of the $1.2 billion project have won a crucial negotiating extension and likely will be heading back to the state Legislature, which has scuttled the plan twice before, most recently two months ago.

"It's far from a done deal. But what we have is one more chance," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who chairs the local SunRail committee.

Added state Sen. Lee Constantine, R- Altamonte Springs, and a prime SunRail supporter: "I think we are off life support. We're still not healthy, but the prognosis is improving."

A key development was the waiving of next week's deadline to buy tracks from CSX, the Jacksonville train company that owns the line SunRail intends to use.

CSX officially agreed this week to back off the June 30 cutoff date to give lawmakers another chance to consider the plan, company spokesman Gary Sease said.

"We are talking to the Florida Department of Transportation and local officials about options to continue the transaction," Sease said, declining further comment.

Without CSX, it would have been impossible for the train that would link DeLand in Volusia County with downtown Orlando and Poinciana in Osceola County to ever materialize.

Insurance still issue

But SunRail still remains far from becoming a reality.

Most vexing remains the problem that stopped SunRail in the Legislature the past two sessions: getting an insurance policy.

The state Senate has twice balked at approving a $200 million pact that assigns liability in case there is an accident. Opponents contend the plan placed too much risk on the state and not enough on CSX.

Dyer said SunRail hopes to blunt that criticism by having CSX assume more risk, particularly when its employees are at fault.

Critics also have decried the high cost of SunRail, saying it amounts to corporate welfare. It was an especially effective argument during the past legislative session when lawmakers were forced to raise some taxes and fees, raid trust funds and rely on federal dollars to plug a $4 billion hole in the budget.

But U.S. Rep. John Mica, R- Winter Park, said he hopes to win even more money from the federal government — close to $250 million — from the nearly $800 billion stimulus package approved earlier this year by the Congress.

"More federal money, less state money," Mica said. "We'll get as much as we can get there."

Some of the money saved by the state could, in theory, be diverted to the struggling Tri-Rail commuter train in South Florida. Constantine tried to win votes in that region last session by offering to back a $2 surcharge on rental cars, but South Florida lawmakers turned him down.

Now that Tri-Rail is facing layoffs, service reductions and a related loss of federal funding, Constantine said, they might be more willing to work with SunRail supporters.

Mica previously has applied for $300 million in federal funding. About $40 million was aside for SunRail in the current budget, he said.

Special session?

Constantine and Dyer said they could bring SunRail back to the Legislature when it meets early next year or during a special session.

The most probable scenario, Constantine said, is a special session called during September or October, when regular committee meetings are held.

"Let's tee it up," he said.

Likely standing in the way will be Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, who successfully led the two previous fights against SunRail.

Dockery, whose hometown would be forced to accept extra freight rerouted by SunRail, has argued the commuter train is too expensive and the insurance policy is loaded against the state.

She was traveling Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

The attempt to resurrect SunRail largely came together Wednesday, when Dyer flew to Washington to meet with Mica, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and representatives from CSX, the Federal Transit Administration, Federal Railroad Administration and Amtrak.

Dyer and Mica both characterized the talks as "very positive."

The federal representatives, Dyer and Mica said, stressed that SunRail is critical to state hopes of building a high-speed train because they want it to connect to anther form of mass transit, not just a large parking garage.

Florida is seeking $2 billion in federal money to pay for a 90-mile link between Orlando International Airport and Tampa with a train capable of going at least 110 mph.

Ten areas have been declared eligible by the government. Besides Florida, other likely applicants include California, North Carolina, the Pacific Northwest and Pennsylvania.

As much as $8 billion is up for grabs. The Obama administration might start awarding grants by the end of the year.

Dan Tracy can be reached at
dtracy@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5444.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tonight's hearing on the Intermodal Center and People Mover b/w FLL and Port Everglades

I'm 50/50 on attending this, myself.
------------------------------

Public Hearing on the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Intermodal Center and People Mover

The public is invited to attend the Public Hearing and comment on the location, conceptual design, and effects of the proposed project. Read the Draft EA online and other locations where you read the actual document.

Broward County's Port Everglades and Aviation Department will hold a Public Hearing to discuss the Draft Environmental Assessment on the Intermodal Center and People Mover System.

Date Thursday, June 25, 2009

Time 6 -7 p.m. Review Exhibits and Oral Comments (in private)

Members of the project consultant team, staff from Port Everglades and the Aviation Department, and the Florida Department of Transportation staff will be available to answer questions during this period. Individuals can also record their comments in private.

7 - 8 p.m. Presentation and Public Comments

Location Aviation Department's Auditorium
100 Aviation Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315

Review and Comment on the Draft Environmental Assessment
The public is invited to review and comment on the Draft Environmental Assessment before July 10, 2009 to become part of the official record. See below for locations to view the document. Individuals can comment in three ways.

1. Provide an oral statement at the Public Workshop either in private from 6 - 7 p.m. or after the formal presentation.

2. Submit written comments during the meeting or mail them to Sambit Bhatta, P.E., Lea + Elliott, 5200 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 250, Miami, FL 33126

3. E-mail comments to Sambit B. at
sambitb@leaelliott.com

Draft Environmental Assessment
Project Document Structure (PDF - 42 KB)
Administrative Action (PDF - 38 KB)
Chapter 1 - Purpose and Need (PDF - 628 KB)
Chapter 2 - Alternatives Considered (PDF - 1.94 MB)
Chapter 3 - Environmental Impacts (PDF - 4.05 MB)
Chapter 4 - Transportation Impacts ((PDF - 303 KB)
Chapter 5 - Financial Analysis (PDF - 213 KB)
Chapter 6 - Evaluation Alternatives (PDF - 2.16 MB)
Chapter 7 Consultation and Coordination (PDF - 232 KB)
Appendix A - List of Acronyms (PDF - 6.39 MB)

Engineering Report
Preliminary Engineering Report (PDF - 154 KB)
Part 1 of 4 (PDF - 3.45 MB)
Chapter 1 - Executive Summary
Chapter 2 - Purpose and Need
Chapter 3 - Introduction
Chapter 4 - Existing Conditions
Chapter 5 - Design Controls and Standards
Chapter 6 - Traffic
Part 2 of 4 (PDF - 7.8 MB)
Chapter 6 - Traffic (continued)
Chapter 7 - Corridor Analysis
Part 3 of 4 (PDF - 7.7 MB)
Chapter 7 - Corridor Analysis (continued)
Part 4 of 4 (PDF - 8.96 MB)
Chapter 8 - Alternative Analysis
Chapter 9 - Preliminary Design Analysis

Locations to Review Document
The actual document is available to review at the following locations:

Broward County Aviation Department
Community Outreach Office
550 NW 10th Street
Dania Beach, FL 33004
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday (954-359-6977)

Broward County Port Everglades Department
1850 Eller Drive
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
(954-523-3404)

Broward County Main Library
100 South Andrews Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
(954-357-7444)

-------------------------------------

There are some excellent illustrations

and designs on this particular project

that are well worth examining:

http://www.leaelliott.com/assets/files/BrowardCounty%20IntermodalCenter.pdf


This is the new Port Everglades' website:

http://www.porteverglades.net/about-us/



Take a trip on the South Beach Hoosier
Time Machine and go back to the first
time the Herald archives contained that
odd word, intermodal, for Miami-Dade
and Broward Counties.

For Miami-Dade, that was Sept. 1, 1982,
when I was still at IU in Bloomington,
then and now, one of America's Five
Most Beautiful College Campuses.

A week before that first article appeared,
I foolishly moved into Colonial Crest
Apts. at 703 West Gourley Pike,
northwest of IU's campus, seduced
by its well-deserved rep for a
high-sociability factor and truly
great spring/summer pool scene,
but sadly for car-less me, it was
located not-so-close to campus.

(And home to my great IU friends
Jill Johnson, Colleen Cole, Julie
Swann, and the Yoakum sisters,
Kate and Karen, each in their own
way, bright, funny, vivacious and
charming IU Hoosier Ambassadors
of goodwill -and good times!)

In retrospect, I could've used an
intermodal station of my own, so
I wouldn't have to walk up and down
so many snowy hills -esp. at night-
to get from the north campus bus
stop alongside Memorial Stadium,
or the nearby food store, the IGA.

Yes, the fall of '82, a year before
Dan Marino was here, but back
when South Florida had a powerful
House Appropriations Cardinal in
Congress, Bill Lehman, the
2nd-most honest Florida politician
I ever met, after only Lawton Chiles,
and Arthur Teele was an otherwise
obscure federal agency
head:

Miami Herald

METRORAIL BEGINNING NEW LOOP: TRANSIT LINK BRINGS FANFARE

By FITZ McADEN Herald Staff Writer

September 1, 1982

Politicians and transit officials gathered under an I-95 ramp Tuesday for the ceremonial start of work on Miami's Downtown People Mover, a $116.9-million transit novelty.

"It's a great day for Miami," said U.S. Rep. William Lehman, a North Miami Democrat instrumental in obtaining federal funding for the project. "Nothing can contribute more... than a great urban mass transportation system."

Tuesday's groundbreaking was at the future site of the people mover's operations and maintenance building, a block south of the Dade County courthouse. Work on the $2-million structure is just beginning, although assembly of other project pieces has been under way for more than a year.

"We applaud and encourage your success," said Arthur Teele, administrator of the federal Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA), who was among the dignitaries.

Teele chose the ceremony to confirm that UMTA, which already has pledged $64.1 million for the people mover, will provide another $3.96 million for unexpectedly high costs of building Metrorail's downtown Government Center Station.

Dade officials asked for the additional money after the estimated cost of the station increased $5.2 million, to $17.7 million. Costs rose after transit officials decided to make Government Center an "intermodal station" where passengers could transfer to and from the people mover, the Metrorail rapid- transit trains and Metrobuses.

Government Center initially was not designed as a transfer point, officials said.

Teele also reiterated a pledge to give Dade $10 million more for Metrorail next year. The money is to compensate the county for the higher-than-expected costs of land needed for Metrorail and for inflation that outran estimates. It was included in a budget bill passed by Congress but was jeopardized when President Reagan vetoed the bill last week.

Teele vowed that Dade will get the $10 million anyway. "Somehow we're going to find it," he said. "The administration is very much opposed to it, but I'm the chief transit person in the administration."

The money will be taken from UMTA's current budget, he said. "We won't be requesting additional money
from Congress, but will be shifting priorities around."

The money ensures that work won't slow down on Dade's three- tiered transit network, Dade officials said. When it opens in 1984, the system will include a larger Metrobus fleet, the 20.5-mile Metrorail line and the people mover.

The system is supposed to work this way: People commuting downtown from outlying neighborhoods will board buses that take them to Metrorail stations. From there, trains will shuttle them downtown. At Government Center, they will transfer to the people mover.

The entire ride is expected to cost at least $1 although the Metro Commission has not yet set fares. A ride on the people mover alone probably will cost less than 50 cents, officials said.

The people mover will loop 1.9 miles around Miami's central business district. The system, officially called the Downtown Component of Metrorail, is unique in two ways, transit officials said:

* It will be used to siphon off riders from the Metrorail rapid-transit system running from Dadeland to Hialeah and distribute them at 10 stations downtown. Never before have two different types of transit systems been meshed that way.

* "It's the first application of an automated, rubber-tired system in a downtown environment," said J.A. Geikler, general manager of the transportation division of Westinghouse Electric Corp., the firm building the people mover.

Systems with almost identical design have been installed at amusement parks including Busch Gardens, and at such airports as Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Atlanta, for example -- but never downtown.

Because of its differences, Miami's people mover "will attract widespread attention," Geikler predicted.

Like existing people-mover systems, Miami's will be computer controlled. Its 12 cars, with a capacity of 155 passengers each, will be electric powered and will travel clockwise and counterclockwise on two concrete guideways. Trains will stop at stations every 90 seconds and complete the loop almost every 10 minutes. The system can carry 7,200 passengers per hour.

"The people mover is an absolutely essential element," Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre said. "Now you'll be able to go all around this damn town."

In addition to Ferre and Lehman, other public officials who attended the groundbreaking included Congressman Dante Fascell (D., Fla.), Gov. Bob Graham, Dade County Manager Merrett Stierheim, Metro Mayor Steve Clark and other county commissioners.

Plans for the people mover have been evolving since 1976, when UMTA encouraged U.S. cities to compete for federal funding.

The people mover's original 1979 budget of $76 million has grown now to $116.9 million. In addition to the $64.1 million from UMTA, the state will contribute $11.7 million; the county, $17.2 million; and the city, $2.3 million.

Another $1.6 million worth of construction will be done by developers who will tie their projects into the people mover. Finally, downtown businesses will pay a special assessment to support a $20-million bond issue that the county floated for the people mover.

"As far as the cost is concerned, I'm comfortable with $116.9 million and prepared to stick with it for now," people mover manager Simon Zweighaft said.

He expects the cost of some items, such as the people mover's guideway, to bust budget, however. Estimated at $14 million, the guideway probably will cost at least $20 million, he said.

But costs on other items have come down. The contract for the operations and maintenance building, for example, was $400,000 less than expected.

To keep costs down, transit officials plan to eliminate or scale back several features originally planned for stations, just as they did to reduce Metrorail's $120-million overrun.

"You can't call them cutbacks," Zweighaft insisted. "These are just some features that the architects have put in their plans. We've never accepted them."

Tentatively targeted for elimination or reduction are:

* Large planting boxes planned for the outside of some stations.

* Special paving in sidewalks around stations. Architectural plans call for a special, brownish-colored pigment to be used to color the concrete in the sidewalks. "The idea is that it will make pedestrians aware that they're around a transit station," Zweighaft said. "We'll still have some of the sidewalks, but not quite as extensively."

* Stainless steel handrails for stairways. They may be replaced with aluminum rails.

* Concrete posts forming a barrier between the ground floor of the stations and the street. The posts would have prevented errant cars from entering the station area.

* Ceramic tile. Some was planned for floors, some for walls in stairwells. "We're taking a close look at it," Zweighaft said.

* Aluminum grating for false ceilings in stations. The grating would have been hung from ceilings and "would have been nice visually, but it's not essential," Zweighaft said.

"None of these changes would affect the overall operation of the system," he said.
-------------------------------------
Broward County is on the move!.

Miami Herald

NEW TERMINAL WOULD LINK TRANSIT SYSTEMS

By DAN RAY Herald Staff Writer
May 4, 1983
A new terminal for mass transit systems in downtown Fort Lauderdale that would link the existing county bus system and the proposed people mover and commuter rail systems was embraced by the Broward County Commission Tuesday.

The $12.7-million facility would replace the inadequate existing downtown Fort Lauderdale bus terminal, county mass transit officials said.

But if the proposed people mover and commuter rail systems ever are built, the building's design will allow it to become a terminal for passengers on those systems as well.

Commissioners unanimously approved the first step in building the facility at NW First Avenue and Broward Boulevard -- a grant application for $2.9 million available to Broward through the federal Urban Mass Transportation Act (UMTA).

The money would come from the gasoline tax increase of about 5 cents per gallon imposed by the federal government in April.

"We're very excited about it," said Joel Volinski, an assistant county administrator who is acting Mass Transit Division director. "The existing facility is somewhat substandard, and the area we're looking at provides a fantastic opportunity to expand and connect with the other modes of mass transit."

The existing terminal at NW First Street and NW First Avenue, just east of the proposed location, is little more than an open-air waiting area. It was designed to handle 36 buses an hour, Volinski said. It now handles 35 buses an hour.

The proposed two-story terminal would allow more comfortable waiting areas for bus passengers and could accommodate passengers for the other systems, should they be built.

On the west side of the proposed terminal are the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. The state is conducting a $500,000 study to see whether these tracks, or the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad tracks to the west, could be used for a tri-county commuter rail system linking Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

On the north side of the proposed terminal is NW Second Avenue, which is along the route of the proposed people mover system, a fixed-track loop through downtown Fort Lauderdale being pushed by downtown interests.

The "Downtown Fort Lauderdale Intermodal Mass Transit Terminal" as it is officially called, would be built with 80- per-cent federal money, 10-per-cent state money and 10-per- cent county money.

Broward County and the Florida Department of Transportation are near an agreement to provide the state's share of $1.3 million. Broward commissioners have not set aside their share, which would come from property tax revenue.

The terminal could be built in three to five years, depending on the willingness of the 11 property owners in the area to sell their land, said Victor Iskowitz, the Mass Transit Division's manager of development planning and marketing.

If the owners do not agree to sell and their land must be acquired through condemnation, the project will take five years, Iskowitz said.
----------
Meanwhile, 26 years later...intermodal
has become codeword for turkey.
What do you think?

Miami Herald
STATE BUDGET

Group finds Dade 'turkeys'

By Steve Bousquet and Alex Leary Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau
May 27, 2009
TALLAHASSEE -- Confronting their tightest budget year in decades, Florida legislators squandered relatively few tax dollars on hometown projects known as "turkeys," according to a statewide research group.

In its annual "turkey watch" report, Florida TaxWatch cited 10 projects worth $15 million that should be vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist -- the fewest such projects in the last 15 years that TaxWatch has been combing state budgets for questionable spending. The group reported $110 million in turkeys last year and $256 million the year before that.

Nearly all of this year's "turkeys" are in Miami-Dade and the Tampa Bay area. Among the turkeys cited by TaxWatch:

* $3 million to retrofit traffic signals so they are less vulnerable to hurricanes;

* $1 million for the South Florida
Intermodal Logistics Center;

* $1 million for the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis;

* $1 million for Miami-Dade Diabetes Research Institute;

* $250,000 for Goodwill Industries of South Florida;

* $200,000 for the South Florida Charter Autism School, and

* $100,000 for a task force on African-American history.

TaxWatch defines a turkey as a project that surfaces in the budget conference committee stage near the end of the session. The group cited the April report by a Leon County grand jury that indicted ousted House Speaker Ray Sansom and former Northwest Florida State College President Bob Richburg and harshly criticized the secretive nature of last-minute budget deals.

Several Miami-Dade projects landed on the TaxWatch list because they were added in conference. That was the case with a $1 million appropriation for the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, which is affiliated with the University of Miami.

"Curing paralysis is something every citizen in Florida should support," Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, one of two House budget chairmen, said when told the appropriation made the list. "The center has made great strides."

Asked if he agreed that there are turkeys in the budget, Crist said: "There may be a few. We'll have to decide."
--------------------
Miami Herald
MIAMI-DADE TRANSIT

Metrorail set to grow at airport

By Matthew Haggman and Charles Rabin
May 2, 2009
Seven years after Miami-Dade voters approved a half-penny sales tax to significantly expand mass transit, ground was broken Friday on the first major rail project bankrolled by that effort: A long-sought Metrorail link to Miami International Airport.

The celebration announcing construction of the $526 million, 2.4-mile rail line -- running from Earlington Heights station to the Miami Intermodal Center next to the airport -- marks the biggest milestone in the ongoing effort to create meaningful public transportation in Miami since Metrorail was started 25 years ago.

The Miami Intermodal Center will become a central transportation hub, linking airline, bus and rail travelers with a centralized rental car facility. It's expected to be operational by 2012.

END OF THE LINE?

But the Friday ceremony also served as a reminder of how voters were woefully over-promised by county leaders earlier this decade. The Earlington Heights project may well prove to be the only major Metrorail expansion produced from the tax.

In 2002 Miami-Dade County officials said the half-cent tax would deliver 88.9 miles of new rail lines crisscrossing the county as part of the People's Transportation Plan. The county also promised new buses, improved traffic signalization and roadway improvements.

Instead, nearly three-fourths of the $900 million collected for new projects has been spent on inflated salaries, bloated staff and maintenance of existing operations. There is scant evidence the county will be able to do much more than the 2.4-mile connector, which starts construction Monday.

"I think it will be difficult," said Commissioner Katy Sorenson.

PRIORITY CHALLENGE

Commissioner Barbara Jordan, who chairs the subcommittee overseeing transit, said she's exploring public-private partnerships to pay for other promised rail lines, such as the long-proposed route to Miami Gardens or westward to Florida International University.

"Our challenge now is to creatively fund other corridors on a priority basis," said County Manager George Burgess, who said voters were over-promised in 2002.

The county's failure to fulfill its promises has prompted Commissioner Carlos Gimenez to sponsor legislation that would give voters the chance to repeal the half-penny tax.

"Government shouldn't fool people to get more revenue, and that's what Miami-Dade County did," said Gimenez, who did not attend the Friday ceremony, but is expected to present his proposal at Tuesday's commission meeting.

Once completed, the Earlington Heights link will allow riders to go directly from points such as downtown Miami or the Brickell area to the airport. Riders starting in Hialeah and other stops along the north end of the line will have to transfer at Earlington Heights.

Foundation work for Miami Central Station, the Metrorail stop at the Miami Intermodel Center, is set to begin next week. The half-penny tax will pay for the majority of the $526 million project, with the Florida Department of Transportation contributing $100 million.

"This will be a signature project of the People's Transportation Plan," said Harpal S. Kapoor, director of Miami-Dade Transit, who took over the troubled agency two years ago and sought cost savings. "My department will make this project a reality."
-----------------------------
Do you have what it takes to be
Undersecretary for Intermodalism?

Administration, lawmaker collide on highway bill

ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

June 17, 2009

#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy

Thumbs up! What a night we had! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016

Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015

Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. �� In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue looks like, up close, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza!✨ ������

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North Miami Beach High school alumni

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers
Before I was a Hoosier, I was an NMB Charger, Class of 1979.

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation
"In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation." -South Beach Hoosier, 2007.