Miami’s Community Newspapers: “Better prepared, more effective response, faster recovery”

Resilience is all about preparation, response, and recovery from outside “shocks and stresses.” We can look to our countywide experience with Hurricane Irma to see opportunities to improve – starting with this year’s budget.

It is clear that we have improved upon our ability to respond, but we still have a lot of work to do to prepare our community for inevitable hurricanes and other potential “shocks.” We were quite fortunate that the storm’s winds were at a minimal hurricane strength in Miami-Dade, yet nearly everyone lost power, roads became impassible for days, and communications systems were rendered useless when we needed them the most. While heroic efforts are still underway to restore our power grid and road network, Irma laid bare our continued vulnerability to these inevitable events.

I’m especially concerned about how dangerously under-prepared and ill-equipped the nursing homes and assisted living facilities in our community were to handle this storm. We absolutely need to insist on greater protection for our most vulnerable residents.

I want to thank our amazing first responders – our police, our firefighters, our emergency managers for an outstanding job in helping our community through the recovery. Also, I am proud to recognize the many other critically important and often under-appreciated County employees that worked around the clock to keep our water safe and available, clear our roads and piles of debris, fix our traffic lights, provide a transit lifeline for so many trying to get to safety, and answer calls from more than a hundred thousand residents to guide them through a multitude of issues.

We should assess our priorities within this budget to see if they indeed align with the need to become more resilient as a community and as a government.

Does our budget put enough police and fire resources in the community? I have been advocating for more resources be dedicated to community policing and doing more to backfill the deficit in the number of County police.

Are we investing enough in our Transit system to not only provide a convenient alternative to driving, but provide a reliable connection to safety for our residents? A seamless rail connection from Florida City to the County line would be a strategic investment in greatly enhanced evacuation access for a huge proportion of our population. Unfortunately, the proposed budget cuts transit funding at the same time we’re working on a planned expansion. This is wrong, and I will continue to press to reverse the cuts to Metrorail that serves so many South Dade commuters.

Our solid waste system is overtaxed from years of cost-cutting and it shows. Illegal dumping has become a scourge throughout the County, but most troublingly in South Dade’s agricultural area. Illegally dumped waste exposed many homes and businesses to terrible risks during the storm. I will continue to fight for more aggressive illegal dumping enforcement while engaging our community in more resilient solutions to prevent and protect our property from such abuses.

I look forward to receiving input on our budget and to continue pressing for greater investment in community resilience in the years to come.


Resiliency will help us prosper

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Irma packed a punch in South Florida, but it didn’t knock out our infrastructure completely. To protect families as much as its buildings, South Florida needs to transform Irma recovery into a higher level of resilience planning: one that includes the economic, health, and housing needs of all communities, particularly for communities of color and those living paycheck to paycheck.

Miami is more likely to experience a hurricane than any other U.S. metropolitan area. Even without a hurricane, our low elevation and rising sea levels have spurred a critical need for millions of dollars of investment in new infrastructure to protect our drinking water from intruding saltwater and to help us navigate sunny-day tidal flooding. Sea-level rise and hurricane threats are already serious issues for Florida and the rest of the United States, and will continue to be our greatest challenge.

This climate challenge puts our homes, jobs, and health at risk. When roads are flooded, people can’t get to work or school. Storm damage reduces the supply of affordable housing and can spur mold-related health issues. Rising temperatures and pollution worsen health conditions such as asthma and encourage bacteria growth.

Fortunately, this challenge is met with an opportunity. South Florida is taking action to build the resilience the region needs, but more leadership at every level is needed. Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Monroe counties are updating the Regional Climate Action Plan, or RCAP, to protect people and places from the worst effects of climate change. If implemented, the plan will coordinate government efforts in the region to help all residents rebound and prosper despite the threats of climate change. It employs strategies to provide clean energy to all communities, ensure training and access to jobs and education, and create healthier living environments. As important, the plan aims to address racial and economic disparities and focus on areas that already are more exposed to increasingly extreme weather. It also addresses the need to combat pollution that has caused these more powerful storms.

To protect Floridians and our changing environment, leaders at the community, elected, and regional levels must collaborate and coordinate to build a plan that will prevent the worst effects of storms and help people thrive after they occur.

The latest draft of the RCAP will be released soon, with a call for public comment. The public and our leaders should rally for a comprehensive approach that includes housing, economic opportunity, and public health. Only then can South Florida build stronger communities that can prosper in the wake of the extreme weather we see today, and will see more of in the future.

Miami Herald: “Miami-Dade urges Trump to extend asylum to Venezuelans during Maduro crackdown”

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Miami-Dade commissioners on Monday urged President Donald Trump to extend temporary immigration protections to Venezuelans as their government cracks down on democratic institutions and pushes the South American nation further into economic chaos.

“I hope that this action we are taking here today, my colleagues, resonates throughout the world so the people who are fighting each and every day in Venezuela know that we hear them and we support them and we are with them,” said Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, whose district includes Doral, home to one of Miami-Dade’s largest Venezuelan populations.

The resolution, passed unanimously, adds to a long list of symbolic declarations the county board has made to the president and Congress urging various federal actions. This piece of legislation stood out for the process that passed it: A majority of commissioners signed Diaz’s request for an emergency meeting to pass the resolution, causing a rare interruption to the board’s official August recess.

With a single item on the agenda, commissioners heard from Venezuelans living in the United States who condemned President Nicolás Maduro and warned of a once-prosperous country melting down through a dictatorship.

“We are victims of a government that betrayed us,” said Daniela Capriles, a Doral resident and a daughter of jailed opposition leader Antonio Ledezma. “We are in this terrible position of looking for asylum and looking for places to go.”

“Venezuela is currently undergoing the worst institutional crisis in its history,” Alejandro Rebolledo, a justice on the Venezuelan Supreme Court who recently fled to the United States, told commissioners in Spanish. “It’s military justice that is ruling and acting out on Venezuelans. There is no due process.”

Rafael Poleo is the founder of the Caracas newspaper El Nuevo País and the weekly magazine Zeta. He now presides over both from his home in Coral Gables. He began his remarks to the commission by thanking Miami for giving him “asylum.”

“The suffering that’s going on in Venezuela is savage,” he said through the meeting’s translator. “It’s as if it just doesn’t matter to the rest of the world.”

The resolution passed Monday triggers a letter to Trump from the commission and Mayor Carlos Gimenez urging the federal government to grant “temporary protected status” to all Venezuelans living in the United States. The status is reserved for citizens of countries under extraordinary strain, such as from a natural disaster or government failure, and temporarily halts rules that otherwise require the citizens to return home.

Haitians were granted the status in 2011 after the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country, and the protections are set to expire in January 2018. Citizens of El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Syria and Yemen are also set to lose temporary protections next year. The Miami-Dade commission voted earlier this year to endorse extending temporary protections for Haitians.

Several elected officials used Monday’s meeting to compare Venezuela with Cuba, suggesting the world was watching a repeat of Fidel Castro’s takeover of a once-thriving nation.

“We’ve seen this movie before in our homeland,” said Gimenez, who was born in Cuba and came to the United States as a young boy in 1960. “We’ve had the same kind of people take over our country, using a different methodology, using a different vehicle. Which is democracy. Now that democracy no longer works for them, now they’re going to do what they want to do. Basically rewrite the constitution so it will become a dictatorship.”

Immigration and the Trump administration brought Miami-Dade one of its largest political controversies in recent years when Gimenez, in early 2017, reversed county policy and began honoring detention requests from Washington for people booked on local charges while being sought for deportation. The change was designed to avoid Trump’s promised cut-off of federal funds to local governments offering “sanctuary” to immigration violators, and one commissioner took a dig at the mayor over the issue during the Venezuela discussion.

“As we call out to our federal government, let us remember that there are thousands here who need to feel reassured that we will protect them right here,” said Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava.

South Dade Newsleader: “Political Polar Opposites Can Work Together”

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This week Daniella Levine Cava was a guest at the Dade County Farm Bureau Board of Director’s meeting.

She provided an update of her nearly three years in office. Cava was well received by an appreciative agriculture community at the meeting for her efforts to help with their issues, including NAFTA.

During the most recent Presidential election Cava was a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter.

Bill Losner, seen here with one of his trademark ‘Let’s Make America Great Again’ hats, was an equally outspoken supporter of then candidate Donald Trump.

The two are friends and can agree to disagree on some issues, but ‘at the end of the day’ are capable of working together respectfully, addressing the many challenges facing Miami Dade County’s second leading industry, agriculture.

At the meeting was one local farmer representing several generations of tomato farmers here, Kern Carpenter, who’s livelihood is threatened by the unfair trade practices of NAFTA. Cava gave her support of doing what she can to change the current agreement.

All in attendance felt it would be a good thing if our elected officials in Washington would put aside their differences and work together for the good of the country.

Miami Herald: “Closing wage gap advances women’s rights”

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As a Miami-Dade County commissioner, I help ensure public policy that promotes economic development and prosperity for all of our residents. Like so many communities across the globe, Miami-Dade faces a persistent gender wage gap. This gap will not close for many decades. Our community cannot wait.

Wednesday is Cities for CEDAW Day. CEDAW is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, now an ordinance in Miami-Dade County.

In December 2016, the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women, along with the commission auditor, helped produce and analyze the first Status of Women in Miami-Dade County report.

The report revealed opportunities for promoting female entrepreneurship, reducing violence against women and bolstering women’s leadership opportunities. Since the report’s release, I have been working to implement recommendations from the Commission for Women.

I am committed to smart public policy and believe our local government should serve as a model for best employment practices. I also realize that we cannot make the needed changes alone.

I call upon our community to join the work of the dynamic groups advancing women’s equality and provide input on how to best address the gender wage gap.

It has been inspiring to work alongside and learn from the Commission for Women, the Women’s Fund, League of Women Voters, Junior League, Miami Workers Center, and Florida Association of Women Lawyers to find the best paths to promote equality.

Together, we can unleash women’s full potential, whether it be in government, business, philanthropy or any sector. Women in our community should be leading the way toward greater prosperity and economic growth. I hope you will join us.



WLRN: “Miami-Dade, Key West: We Still Support Paris Climate Accord”

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Increased flooding during high tides, like this one in October 2016 in Key West, has raised local concerns about climate change.

Commissioners in Miami-Dade County and the city of Key West have voted to endorse the Paris Climate Accord, despite President Donald Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the international agreement to cut carbon emissions earlier this month.

On Tuesday, both the Miami-Dade County Commission and the Key West City Commission voted to support the agreement.

“We’re ground zero. We’re at the forefront of what’s happening globally. So it’s very important for us to weigh in,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who sponsored the county’s resolution.

The historic Stranahan House in Fort Lauderdale, during king tide flooding in 2013.

Key West commissioners cited similar concerns at their meeting.

“Being an island surrounded by water, our engineering department’s going to have to get really good at building walls to keep the water out if the water levels rise at a faster pace,” said Key West Commissioner Sam Kaufman.

In neither case was the support unanimous. Two Miami-Dade commissioners voted against the measure, as did two Key West commissioners.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez said he disliked the terms of the Paris agreement.

“That was just a bad deal for the United State and the American citizens,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we can’t continue to do what we need to do for our environment. We should.”

Key West Commissioner Margaret Romero said she did not think it was the city’s role to weigh in on national political matters.

“Let’s concentrate on what we can do, and if anything else, let’s lead by action, not just writing letters,” she said.

Miami Herald: “Miami-Dade backs Paris climate agreement that President Trump rejected”

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Miami-Dade commissioners on Tuesday endorsed the Paris climate accord, giving the symbolic and explicit backing that the county’s mayor declined to provide after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement three weeks ago.

“This our affirmation,” said Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who sponsored the resolution to support the 2015 agreement and its goal of limiting the planet’s warming to under two degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The slowdown would come from a reduction in greenhouse emissions, the primary culprit in the rising seas already threatening South Florida.

“We’re at the forefront of what’s happening globally,” said Levine Cava, a Democrat. “It’s very important for us to weigh in.”

The resolution adds Miami-Dade to a string of local governments and municipal officials seeking to counter Trump’s rejection of the nonbinding agreement between 195 countries. The legislation also gave Mayor Carlos Gimenez a second chance to publicly back the Paris agreement after gingerly avoiding an outright endorsement after the rejection by Trump, who the mayor is hoping will shepherd billions of dollars in transit funds to Miami-Dade.

On Tuesday, a spokesman answered “yes” when asked if Gimenez — who can veto commission actions — backed Levine Cava’s resolution.

“Mayor Gimenez signed the U.S.-China Climate Leaders Compact in 2015,” said Michael Hernández, Gimenez’s communications director. “Those benchmarks may be more ambitious than the Paris Accord.”

Reporters pressed the Republican mayor on whether he endorsed the Paris agreement after Trump’s June 1 announcement, which fell on the first day of hurricane season. Gimenez declined to answer the questions directly. Instead, he emphasized his commitment to fighting climate change and pointed to the 2015 agreement he signed with mayors in the United States and China in 2015 as part of a summit put on by the Obama administration.

The Obama administration’s agreement with China called for reducing U.S. greenhouse emissions by 25 percent to 28 percent of the country’s 2005 levels by 2025. Obama included roughly the same pledge in the Paris agreement.

After Trump’s announcement, mayors across the country, including in Miami and Miami Beach, endorsed the Paris agreement and said their cities would still pursue the the accord’s goals on pollution reduction. The Pinecrest Village Council also passed a resolution in support of the Paris agreement, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors convenes for its yearly gathering after issuing a string of statements endorsing the accord.

In withdrawing the United States from the Paris accord, Trump said the country should remain “the world’s leader on environmental issues” but said the agreement must be renegotiated into something that “protects our country and its taxpayers.”

Two Republican Miami-Dade commissioners echoed Trump’s criticism and cast the only no votes against the Paris resolution Tuesday. Commissioner Joe Martinez said he supports Miami-Dade wanting to fight climate change, but not through the Obama-era agreement. “I do believe we have issues,” he said. “But when the Paris climate accord was signed, I didn’t believe in it then.”

Chairman Esteban “Steve” Bovo, who also voted no, touched on a parallel Trump move to stop the United States from contributing to a United Nations fund supporting pollution reduction and fighting climate-change impacts in the developing world. The U.S. had contributed about $1 billion to the Green Climate Fund, which has paid for a hydropower plant in the Solomon Islands, restoration of Ugandan wetlands and irrigation systems in northeastern India.

“In symbolically doing this stuff, are we endorsing the $1 billion that goes to India,” Bovo asked. “And if it does, can it come out of Cava’s account?”

“Daniella recognized as Miami’s Government Leader by Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce”

On June 7, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava received a Salute to Miami’s Leaders Award in the category of Government from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. The Salute to Miami’s Leaders Awards program recognizes and honors Leadership Miami alumni who are community leaders that make Miami a stronger, more vibrant community.

“I am absolutely delighted to be honored by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce with such a distinguished award and humbled to be recognized among my esteemed friends and colleagues who are also committed to improving the quality of our community,” said Commissioner Levine Cava.

Commissioner Levine Cava extended her congratulations to the other Leadership Miami alumni who also received awards: Jaret L. Davis, Miami Co-Managing Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, P.A.; Emilio T. Gonzalez, Director & CEO, Miami-Dade Aviation Department; George W. Foyo, Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, Baptist Health South Florida; Julie A. Baird, Shareholder, MSL CPAs and Advisors; David Restainer, Managing Director, Douglas Elliman Commercial Real Estate; Kevin M. Levy, Shareholder, GrayRobinson, P.A.; Keith “Fletch” Fletcher, Executive Director, City Year.

“It gives me great pride to congratulate our County Commissioner, Daniella Levine Cava, for being a recipient of the Salute to Miami’s Leaders Award,” said Cutler Bay Mayor Peggy Bell. “I have enjoyed working alongside Commissioner Levine Cava to address issues of importance to the residents of South Dade. She brings County Government close to the people. She has been instrumental in bringing local elected officials from across District 8 together to identify areas of commonality, and advocate collectively on behalf of our constituents. She exemplifies great leadership, and is an inspiration to many.”

“I am so pleased Commissioner Levine Cava is being recognized for all of her hard work, leadership and dedication to our community,” said Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn. “Her award is well-deserved.”
The awards are intended to encourage future community involvement and recognize truly outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to the community, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and their chosen profession.

111 NW 1st Street, Suite 220
Miami, Florida 33128

Miami Herald: “Paris Accord”

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I am disappointed, but not surprised that President Trump would seek to dismantle the historic Paris Climate Accord.

Even in the face of near universal consensus from climate scientists and world leaders from nearly every country in the world, the president has decided that the United States of America will abdicate its position as the leader of the free world on the development of cutting edge technology and no longer lead the world on innovation and science-based solutions.

I am hoping that the Florida Congressional Delegation and our State legislature will not allow our State to be the most visible victim of this irresponsible decision — a decision that puts our great nation in league with Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries refusing to sign the treaty. And Nicaragua is reportedly soon planning to sign.

As local governments are forced to confront the impacts of sea level rise and a resurgence of backward policies that glorify the wasteful dependence on dirty fossil energy, Miami-Dade and our Climate Compact Partners of Monroe, Broward, and Palm Beach will hopefully double-down on all of the efforts we that have already undertaken to foster innovative, job-creating, green-tech solutions to this worsening problem.

Daniella’s 2018 Kickoff Event! [PHOTOS]

Thanks to everyone who attended Daniella’s re-election kickoff on May 13th, 2017!

Photo credit: Community Newspapers