|Letters October 2016|
|Written by BT Readers|
Thank you for Janet Goodman’s “Animal House 2.0” (September 2016), the most comprehensive article on the Pets’ Trust, the county animal shelter, and our animals that I have ever read. Janet really did her homework.
I would have loved to ask Commissioner Sally Heyman why she keeps thinking money from a county bond proposed by Pets’ Trust would have gone to build new facilities. We told her over and over that these were to be retrofitted old warehouses or storefronts.
In fact, we suggested she go to Jacksonville to see an example of a spay/neuter clinic (a prototype of what we proposed), and she did. What she saw was an old building redesigned on the inside. But she continues to say, and even told Janet Goodman, that “Most of the money was going to be used to build buildings.”
We never once said anything about building new buildings. She just used this as an excuse, which becomes even more shocking when you realize that she was the commissioner who sponsored the Pets’ Trust initiative.
The reason we talked about having an independent board like the Children’s Trust is because that is the only way you can get a binding vote with property tax dollars. That possibility can only happen with the Florida Legislature creating and passing legislation to allow for the creation of an independent board. Not easy, and probably impossible with Governor Scott.
But our commissioners and mayor assured us they would listen to the people, and we believed them. A nonbinding vote is nonbinding because they people can’t legally implement it. But by voting, the people give their message to our leaders, who are supposed to work for us. Almost 500,000 people said, “Do it!” Our leaders betrayed the voters.
The fact that so many voted to slightly increase their taxes at the end of the recession should have demonstrated to the commissioners and mayor how important our animals are to us. They should have been inspired by our community, rather than look for excuses to not honor our votes.
The mayor’s comment -- that more people would be against it even though they voted for it -- is shocking. He’s a mind reader?
Their county attorney drafted the language. We didn’t like it because the first sentence spoke of a tax increase. But in the end, it didn’t matter.
The people spoke loudly: We want to stop this killing, and we will pay for it. Unfortunately, our elected officials didn’t listen.
Michael Rosenberg, president
I applaud your report on the new county animal shelter. Mentioned in the article are several groups working to help animals.
I’d like to add one more: Project PetSnip is one of the best! (Visit www.projectpetsnip.com.) I regularly take cats from my neighborhood to its spay/neuter service. The result is that all the cats we feed are not reproducing unwanted offspring that often endure a horrible existence.
Thank you for the very nice “Park Patrol” review of Baywood Park, one of the many City of Miami park gems (“A Little Peace by the Bay,” September 2016). However, I’d like to offer a few clarifications.
The author, Janet Goodman, notes that “dozens of immature trees” -- oak, gumbo limbo, cassia, mimosa, and sea grape oak -- exist within the park. I do not believe that mimosa has been planted within the park. In addition to the other species listed by Ms. Goodman, the park has been planted with the following trees: Samenea saman (rain tree); Butea monosperma (flame of the forest); Chrysophyllum oliviforme (satinleaf); and Erythrina herbacea (coral bean).
I would note further that these were not “immature trees” at installation in 2013, but rather were trees that were 16 feet in height, with 8-foot spreads, and with a 4-inch caliper DBH (diameter at breast height), so they should not be categorized as “immature trees” three years after their installation.
Blanca Mesa’s “Going Green” column “Entertainment and Ethics” (September 2016) was a nice story, but as the vice president of the Miami Pine Rocklands Coalition, I’d like to add a few more facts that should have been in her story.
Let’s start with Miami Wilds. Since 1997, Commissioner Dennis Moss has spearheaded the effort to bring an entertainment district to Zoo Miami, and it has failed each time plans are made.
True, the voters of Miami-Dade County passed a resolution for it in November 2006, but they seem to forget exactly what they voted for. The resolution that the voters passed said the county could only develop “on land that is not environmentally sensitive and is outside the animal attractions.”
That’s a very specific description and very limited choice of site location. Based on that description, Miami Wilds cannot be built as proposed.
All of the 2107 acres that the U.S. Navy bought in 1942 for NAS Richmond, on what is now the Zoo Miami site and surrounding area, is today environmentally sensitive, globally imperiled pine rockland that is a lifeboat habitat to over a dozen threatened and federally endangered animals and plants. Some of it is protected by Miami-Dade County’s Environmentally Endangered Lands Program (EEL), while a lot of it sadly is not.
The University of Miami sold 88 of its 138 acres of pine rockland right next to the Zoo Miami entrance for $22 million to Ram Realty so the developer could put up a Walmart Super Center and 900-unit apartment project called Coral Reef Commons.
UM still plans to sell more of that land to Ram but is awaiting the results of Ram’s Habitat Conservation Plan, which it submitted to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Ram hired a former FWC executive to babysit and help push that plan through the FWC. Sounds like conflict of interest -- and the start of a great story of conservation corruption.
Commissioner Moss will tell you it’s all about bringing more jobs to South Florida. Yet Miami Wilds’ very own proposal projects only 2758 jobs, with 83 percent of them requiring a high school education or less, with an average annual salary of $36,100.
Moss also fails to mention that the developers and multibillion-dollar corporations (21st Century Fox and Sony) creating those entry-level jobs will be expecting for, asking for, and most likely getting multimillion-dollar tax breaks -- at least $130 million in tax breaks to be exact. That negates the tax gains from all those minimum-wage jobs and then some.
Yes, the Richmond Pine Rocklands are in peril, and thank you for publishing this piece to help bring more recognition to our fight. There is so much more to this story, and I look forward to follow-up coverage in the future.
Cully Waggoner, vice president
Jack King’s comments about Donald Trump are nothing but garbage he generates (“Trump End Game,” September 2016). No details, no specific examples, no journalism value.
I indeed will refuse to be persuaded by his own tirade against only one candidate while he totally ignores the other. I do promise not to read one more piece of commentary from someone obviously biased when he is suggesting Benghazi was a bogus situation. I bet if Jack King’s son was in Libya on September 11, 2012, he would not think Benghazi was bogus or noise.
Hey, Jack King, go ahead and vote for your Benghazi hero, and immerse yourself in your own ignorance of what the Clintons have done. Just because nothing she has done seems to stick, it does not mean all is well.
Frankly, how can you live with the garbage you write?
I always read Mark Sell’s Neighborhood Correspondent columns with great interest and scrutiny, due to the location of my business within the City of North Miami.
He is an excellent writer -- well-informed, topical, timely, and nonpartisan. He is to be commended. It isn’t often that a sense of optimism arises within this city, but I do actually think that the exclusionary pricing of areas to the south might make North Miami the “next big thing.”
And I am most excited about a possible train station at NE 125th Street.
In previous years, it was “not in my backyard.” We have finally evolved to the point where residents are clamoring for a station in the neighborhood. Hope springs eternal!
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