Why Does PAMM Support the Destruction of Art?
“I am the Wei, the Truth and the Life”
By John Dorschner
A Miami artist walks into the taxpayer-funded Perez Art Museum, sees an exhibit of a Chinese artist destroying an art work
and – guess what? – the Miami guy … destroys … an art work.
Technical score: 7.6. Originality: 0.
Locally, the art world and the media have blasted the criminal act, in which Maximo Caminero was arrested after smashing
an ancient vase that had been splattered with modern paint by Ai Weiwei in front of three photos of Ai dropping a Chinese vase
thousands of years old.
Internationally, some thoughtful commentators are asking more probing questions. Click here to see full commentary on my blog.
Posted Thursday 9/19/13
Major Overhaul Coming for Miami-Dade Bus System
By John Dorschner
Miami-Dade's bus system is heading toward a major overhaul, with rapid "rubber-tire" service planned for lines once envisioned for Metrorail.
Some routes -- along main "backbones" -- will get increased service, while little-used routes will be eliminated in places like Miami Beach and Kendall.
The changes are Miami-Dade Transit's adjustments to the ambitious Metrorail extensions that were envisioned when voters approved a half-penny sales tax for transit in 2002.
In 2009, then-county manager George Burgess acknowledged that there was too much competition for the federal dollars needed to get more Metrorail lines any time soon. "He said, 'We overpromised," summed up Monica Cejas, a Miami-Dade Transit staffer said Wednesday in a presentation before the Citizen's Independent Transportation Trust, the entity that oversees how the half-penny funds are spent.
Cejas' presentation involved plans for rapid bus service along NW 27th Avenue -- a route originally envisioned for Metrorail -- that would run from a major new station at NW 215th Street to the transit center at Miami International Airport.
The NW 27th improvements -- expected to cost $25 million to $30 million -- are already approved, with the new service starting operations in 2017. The North Corridor Metrorail line was estimated to cost $1.4 billion.
Still on the drawing board is a more extensive overhaul of the entire bus system, which would emphase enhanced service and simplified routes in many areas of the county.
Jerry Bryan, a Transit section chief, told the board that on Miami Beach, the number of routes could drop from 16 to 12, while building up "extremely frequent service" along a main route, such as Collins Avenue.
In Kendall, the number of routes could drop from seven to five, with enhanced service on more popular routes.
The changes would save Transit about $5 million to $10 million a year, Bryan said.
Bryan said overall the change would reduce the number of lines countywide from 93 to 90. He said the idea was still "a draft," needing public workshops; input from "stakeholders," such as the CITT; elected officials, municipalities and transit unions before being approved by the mayor.
The NW 27th plan includes a 14-acre site, already purchased with CITT tax money, for a station at the north end, with space for commercial development.
Buses could move quickly along the corridor because drivers could control the lights along the way, with a "jump queue" system, in which buses would move into a right-hand turn lane at a stop light, trigger a green-light for buses only, cross the intersection and then "jump" back into the right lane, getting around traffic.
Cejas said that's an alternative to having a lane dedicated strictly for bus use -- meaning that the line would be Bus Rapid Transit Lite, Cejas told the CITT board, which controls how the half-penny transit money is spent. She said state transportation officials were unlikely to approve a dedicated bus lane, and there didn't appear to be a need for it.
She said bus drivers controlling lights will delay some car drivers, but a bus could carry 100 persons, while a car often carries only one. "We have to change the mindset. Everyone is so concerned about cars. We need to get cars off the road."
In other business, CITT Executive Director Charles Scurr told the board that auditors had recently reexamined the transit money that had gone to Miami Lakes and Sweetwater, towns where the mayors were recently arrested on corruption chargs.
By law, 20 percent of the half-penny transit tax revenue goes to Miami-Dade munipalities to spend on transit. Scurr said that coincidentally Sweetwater and Miami Lakes were the only two cities in the county that the CITT has had to be demand the return of transit tax money because it was improperly spent.
The most egregious case was Sweetwater, which Scurr said used more than $700,000 in transit taxes some years ago to purchase garbage trucks.
Scurr told Trust members that the recent re-examination of transit expenses at Sweetwater and Miami Lakes indicated no new problems.
By John Dorschner
With newly released figures showing that 740,000 persons are uninsured in Miami-Dade, a leading county activist Thursday night lashed out at how little federal support was given to help inform Dade residents about the upcoming benefits of Obamacare.
Daniella Levine, head of Catalyst Miami, said, "We're all up in arms" about Miami-Dade not getting any significant federal money to finance Navigators, the program intended to inform the uninsured about how they can get coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The feds made $7.8 million in Navigator grants in Florida. The bulk of that -- $4.2 million -- went to a group organized by the University of South Florida in Tampa.
"It's a travesty," Levine said. "We're ground zero for the uninsured." She said that Catalyst Miami, whose goal is to "create a more equitable and caring society," and other groups will still work to get the message out about the healthcare exchanges, which start next year, but without the federal funds, it will be difficult to coordinate efforts.
Levine spoke to this reporter before a Knight Foundation meeting at the University of Miami, attended by about 200 to consider the topic: "How can we make Miami a healthier place to live?"
The event promoted the latest Knight News Challenge, which will reward $2 million in grants to those who come up with ideas on how to better bring health information to the public.
This reporter was one of the panelists who spoke to the audience about the huge needs Miami faces in healthcare. He said that Miami's fragmented community is far behind in coordinating efforts to help the poor and uninsured.
Because Florida has refused to expand Medicaid as Obamacare envisioned and because many in Miami-Dade are undocumented immigrants who by law can't receive Obamacare benefits, the problem of the uninsured is likely to be a huge problem locally for years to come.
The reporter cited a move by the Miami-Dade Health Action Network to help provide coordinated care for the poor and uninsured by having a universal health ID card, which authenticates a person qualifying for charity care -- simplying an often-complicated process in which the poor must often go through paperwork at each facility to qualify for care. Such a card could also lead to electronic records shared by various safety-net groups.
That's particularly important because the poor often do not have a primary care doctor and bounce between clinics and emergency rooms, with doctors having to repeat tests and gather information that could be much cheaper with coordination.
While some communities like Tampa and San Francisco have had such coordinated efforts for years, Miami-Dade's effort remains mired in the talking stage.
Friday morning, Marisel Losa, chief executive of the Health Council of South Florida, said that, after years of work, the Action Network is close to signing a contract for a one-year pilot on the uniform enrollment form, which will create patient barcodes that safety net institutions can use to register patients. The group had hoped that the pilot could have been in place when people filled out financial information for the new exchanges, but that didn't work out. She said Jackson Health System, which in the past was slow to accept the concept, is now on board.
Losa, whose organization applied with the Broward health council for a South Florida navigators grant, said she is mystified why the feds didn't give them an award. "We have no clue" why the proposal was rejected. She said that the Center for American Progress had ranked Miami-Dade as No. 1 nationwide as the community that can benefit the most from the Affordable Care act.
Four organizations did receive grants that will in a small way help fund navigators in Miami-Dade but "they are not significant dollars," Losa said, and some of the organizations don't even have a footprint in Miami-Dade and others are specialized only in certain health areas.
Among the other speakers Thursday night was Ali Khoshnevis, co-founder of WeRx.org -- a website that quickly helps people find the lowest price for a drug in their area.