South Dade Newsleader: ‘Rebuilding Together’ is Making a Difference

Original link here: http://m.southdadenewsleader.com/mobile/news/rebuilding-together-is-making-a-difference/article_c061648a-30ee-11e7-bbcd-1f390629d7d9.html

It all started after Hurricane Andrew wreaked havoc on South Florida in August of 1992. Out of the piles of debris arose a branch of a National Organization called “Christmas in April.” They rolled up their sleeves and began repairing homes that were in savable condition. Their name was later changed to “Rebuilding Together” thus becoming more “politically correct” therefore attracting a wider spectrum of volunteers. Today, on a national level, more then 100,000 volunteers have completed 10,000 projects. Last year the Miami Chapter repaired 44 homes all without cost to the owners. It’s about helping the elderly, the disabled, veterans and families with children who are in need of assistance in making their homes safe.

April 29th: Those who attended today’s function were amazed by the number of cars surrounding Live Like Bella Park in Leisure City. Close to the south entrance, a group of 37 bearded construction workers stood waiting for the starting call. This group, “The Bearded Villains,” is part of a National Club that can be found on the Internet (BV305.com.). Other groups comprised a work force of over 200 “professionals” many with hammers, saws and a variety of other tools in hand. These guys and gals were chomping at the bit to tackle anything in need of repair from major roofing repair to making a home handicapped accessible. Landscaping, street repairs and even demolition of abandoned structures is included if necessary.

After gathering around the “snack tables” filled with coffee and high energy drinks, a short presentation followed. As our beloved Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava took to the podium. The crowd was introduced to the Officers from the National Headquarters of Rebuilding Together. For those who didn’t know, today is National Rebuilding Day with some 20,000 volunteer workers donating their time, money and materials “to improve and preserve affordable homeownership to low-income homeowner by revamping neighborhoods.”

Funding of $220,000, for local projects, was obtained from a Community Development Block Grant. There have been other projects throughout Miami-Dade but today’s target
was 16 homes in our own back yard. Before the workers were “set loose” a recipient of this wonderful program, Rose Marie Johnson, was handed the microphone. If enthusiasm had not peaked by now Ms. Johnson’s words overflowed the cup of motivation with her appreciation.

The Bearded Villain Chapter stated that “It was an honor to participate in this years National Rebuilding Day. An event put together by the wonderful organization Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade. This event was to provide critical home repairs to low-income, elderly, veterans and disabled homeowners at no cost. So the BV305 was out in full force to tackle as many houses as possible. We painted, planted trees, etc. Thank you to everyone that supported us, and to the brothers that were able to make it.”

Commissioner Levine-Cava released the herd of workers with her unbelievable energy. She arrived home late last night but never missed a beat from jet lag…how does she do it? In closing. this yearly event deserves the praise equal to the beloved “Habitat for Humanity” program, so members of the media, how come we have never heard about this “positive” organization on a State or National level?
Oh well, Thank Heaven for local news.

HomeShopper Magazine: “Accelerate South Dade Grand Opening”

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, in conjunction with the Economic Development Committee and the Neighbors And Neighbors Association, hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Accelerate South Date small business and nonprofit incubator on April 7. The new facility located at 10700 Caribbean Blvd #301 will provide a shared space and resources for small businesses to learn and grow.

Miami’s Community Newspapers: “Accelerate South Dade office opens to help small businesses”

Original link here: http://communitynewspapers.com/cutlerbay/accelerate-south-dade-office-opens-help-small-businesses/

Miami-Dade County District 8 Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava officially opened the Accelerate South Dade Small Business and Nonprofit Incubator office on Apr. 7.

The facility and program provides workspace and one-on-one guidance to about a dozen tenants and support services to other members and associates who are starting businesses or non-profit organizations.

Attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the office were Commissioner Levine Cava, who sponsored the office; Cutler Bay Mayor Peggy Bell and town manager Rafael Casals; Accelerate South Dade manager Danilo Vargas; Neighbors and Neighbors Association Inc. executive director Leroy Jones; Lisa Greer of the Economic Development Council; Jackie Souza of FIU’s Small Business Development Center; Lawanda Wright-Robinson of the county’s Internal Services Department, Small Business Division; Daniel Leyte-Vidal of U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s office and numerous others.

Commissioner Levine Cava introduced the dignitaries and thanked everyone for attending. She said she was extremely pleased with the way everything had come together.

“This is a dream come true,” Levine Cava said. “A vision realized that could have only happened with the partnership of so many people here in the room. If this were my last act I would die happy. It’s a critical part of growing our economy here in South Dade. We all know that small businesses are the backbone of our economy.”

Mayor Bell thanked the commissioner for her efforts to help the community.

“Welcome to Cutler Bay,” Mayor Bell said. “This is a historic day for South Dade, in going in the direction of ‘More to Explore’ and we are the very best place. Of course, Cutler Bay is the number seven fastest growing suburb in the United States. I couldn’t be more pleased as a small business owner myself to see all these new businesses starting and having this wonderful opportunity.”

Leroy Jones, executive director of Neighbors and Neighbors Association Inc., which operates the Accelerate office, was pleased with the launch of the incubator.

“This is an opportunity to serve and I don’t take it lightly,” Jones said. “I’m thankful, Commissioner, that you believe in me. We go way back, in the same line of work, and to see you grow… I always knew you had great things inside you, and to see us do this together, it’s wonderful.”

Tenant members of the Accelerate office are especially appreciative of the facility and its program.

“It allows for me to focus,” said Farrah Joseph of Pure Essentials. “I’m a single mother, so at home it’s all about family. This allows me to be in a business environment with help and contacts.”

Joann Chan, a fashion designer at Grandstand Fashion, said, “This is a godsend, for Commissioner Levine Cava to do this.”

Wendy Muguercia, an investigator with Revival Private Investigators, said she also was grateful for the assistance and the opportunity provided by the incubator program.

Accelerate South Dade is located at 10700 Caribbean Blvd., Suite 301. For information call 786-732-0774 or send a email to Danilo Vargas at dvargas@nanafl.org.

Miami Herald: Let the 2018 campaign season begin

Original link here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article142404769.html

Miami-Dade’s 2018 political season officially began Monday when County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava filed for reelection.

Two years into her first term representing South Dade, the Democrat expects a challenger for next August’s election, according to a source familiar with her thinking. The first commission candidate to file for the 2018 elections, Levine Cava said Monday she’s used to having her political vulnerabilities overestimated.

“They thought I didn’t have a chance to win the first time, too,” she said.

Though incumbents rarely lose their seats on the 13-member board, newcomers are more vulnerable than most. Levine Cava narrowly ousted predecessor Lynda Bell in 2014 during Bell’s first four-year term representing Miami-Dade’s District 8. Levine Cava also has been an advocate for workplace-housing requirements, campaign-finance caps and other left-leaning causes opposed by lobbyists, developers and other stalwarts of the county’s political fundraising circuit.
“I am proud of the progress we’ve made in a short period of time,” Levine Cava said in a press release announcing the filing of her candidacy papers for District 8, which includes Homestead, Cutler Bay and Palmetto Bay. “I look forward to continuing to earn the voters’ trust and deliver on even more promises for our residents and businesses over the next few years.”

Monday evening, a former paid field operative for Florida’s Republican Party unveiled a website criticizing Levine Cava’s personal wealth and voting record, including her opposition to the planned American Dream Miami mega-mall proposed in Northwest Miami-Dade. Titled “Keeping up with Cava,” the website features a caricature of Levine Cava in a convertible zooming past a country club, cash flying out of the vehicle.

“Basically I want to bring a conservative back to that seat,” said Jaime Figueras, a regional field director for the Florida GOP until December. “I think people need to take a serious look at Levine Cava.”

Levine Cava said that the photo of the waterfront home on the website isn’t hers, and that she doesn’t belong to a country club. “I canoe and raft,” she said.

While Levine Cava is the first to file for any of the six commission seats up for election in August 2018, conditions are ripe for an unusually high-profile cycle.

Sally Heyman, a veteran commissioner and Democrat representing District 4 on the coast, drew the ire of Miami-Dade’s Democratic chairman this year when she championed Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s new policy to detain local inmates being sought for deportation by immigration authorities. Jose “Pepe” Diaz, of District 12, faces his first reelection since a 2015 Key West drunken driving arrest (he refused to have his breath tested for alcohol during the incident and was acquitted in May).

The odd-numbered commission districts follow the election cycle for the mayor, and are voted on during presidential years. Even-numbered districts face elections two years later. Also up for reelection in 2018: District 2’s Jean Monestime, District 6’s Rebeca Sosa, and District 10’s Javier Souto.

While the first votes in the 2018 commission races won’t be cast for 17 months, the timing of Levine Cava’s filing isn’t unprecedented. Incumbent Audrey Edmonson filed her reelection papers for 2016 in March 2015, and fellow board member Barbara Jordan filed a month later.

Term-limit rules approved in 2012 went into effect only last year, meaning all but one of the commissioners not up for reelection in 2018 must leave office in 2020. The exception, Joe Martinez, replaced incumbent Juan C. Zapata in District 11 last year and is eligible to run for a second term. All of the incumbents whose seats are up for election in 2018 would be running for a final four years, though Levine Cava is the only one up for her second term on the board.

Because Martinez served on the commission before, Levine Cava retained her rookie status after he rejoined the board last year. The former director of Catalyst Miami, a leading social-services organization, Levine Cava won office with the support of the Democratic Party, unions and other mainstays of the left. Bell is a prominent Republican, and the race was seen as a proxy battle between the two parties.

The commission elections take place in two stages: a nonpartisan primary for each seat in August, and then a November run-off for any district where a candidate fails to capture more than 50 percent of the vote. Once the commission elections are over, fundraising efforts will turn to the 2020 mayoral race.

Term limits prevent Gimenez from running again, setting up a wide-open race that’s attracting the attention of commissioners and their supporters. Levine Cava is mentioned as a potential candidate, especially with Democrats seeing an opportunity to tap into the high turnout expected for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

Other commissioner names making the rounds as potential mayoral candidates: Sosa, Monestime (who briefly flirted with an Gimenez challenge last year), Martinez (who lost to Gimenez in 2012), Xavier Suarez (a former Miami mayor who ran campaign ads against Gimenez in 2015 before opting against a challenge) and Chairman Esteban “Steve” Bovo, who represents District 13.

Miami Today: Daniella Levine Cava: Targeting more economic opportunity, accountability

Original link here: http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2016/11/15/daniella-levine-cava-targeting-economic-opportunity-accountability/

Daniella Levine Cava was trained as an attorney and social worker. She moved to Miami from the Northeast when her husband began working as a doctor here, and soon thereafter immersed herself in the community, first as an attorney with Legal Services of Greater Miami, followed by directing the guardian ad litem program and founding Voices for Children, its fundraising arm.

After Hurricane Andrew hit, Ms. Levine Cava was asked to lead an effort for addressing the displacement of children in South Dade. With the onset of welfare reform, she started a not for profit then called Human Services Coalition, which is now Catalyst Miami.

When people from groups in South Dade approached her in 2013 and asked that she run for office, Ms. Levine Cava had been at Catalyst Miami for 18 years. It was time for her to let it grow up, she said, as well as a good time for her to find a new opportunity.

Tomorrow marks two years since Ms. Levine Cava has been in the commission representing District 8, which covers about half of South Dade County, including Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Princeton, Naranja, Homestead, Redland, The Falls and parts of Kendall.

She said her job on the dais is an opportunity to get involved in some of the same concerns she had from her community work. The commission has done a lot of work toward fostering economic opportunity, bringing a fair share of resources to South Dade, and government accountability, she said, which was the main reason she ran in the first place.

Trust in government is critically important, Ms. Levine Cava said. She thinks people are not feeling very good about government at any level. That’s the framework for our democracy, she said, so it’s vital that our government inspire confidence and trust.

Miami Today reporter Susan Danseyar interviewed Ms. Levine Cava in her downtown office on the second floor of the Stephen P. Clark Center.

Florida Bulldog: Miami-Dade Commissioner questions value of $3.7 million Beacon Council subsidy

Original link here: http://www.floridabulldog.org/2016/10/miami-dade-commissioner-questions-value-of-3-7-million-beacon-council-subsidy/

An elected official’s recent inquiry into The Beacon Council, a private agency that is tasked with keeping companies in Miami-Dade and attracting new ones, revealed that 10 firms that supposedly received assistance in the past year have either zero presence or no employees based locally.

County Commissioner Xavier Suarez said his investigation raises doubt about whether Miami-Dade should continue subsidizing The Beacon Council, which it does to the tune of $3.7 million a year.

“My instinct tells me we could use that money more effectively for micro-loans and insurance subsidies for small businesses,” Suarez told Florida Bulldog. “Just about anything else but giving money to The Beacon Council bureaucracy makes more sense.”

Dyan Brasington, The Beacon Council’s executive vice president of economic development, defended the agency’s performance in an email statement that claimed the agency facilitated the creation and retention of 2,840 jobs in the past fiscal year.

“These jobs contribute an estimated $50 million to the local economy and help families thrive and prosper while generating additional indirect jobs,” Brasington said. “The companies that have expanded or located to Miami-Dade will spend $188.2 million in new capital investment and occupy over 1 million square feet of commercial space.”

Suarez colleague Daniella Levine Cava, a Beacon Council board member, also defended the agency’s track record. “I think the Beacon Council has done a good job in the narrow aspect of economic development,” the county commissioner from South Dade said. “What they have done has not been effectively communicated to the public.”

However, Suarez’s probe turned up some troubling evidence when members of his staff attempted to verify The Beacon Council’s assertions in its Third Quarter Key Performance Indicators Report. During the first week in August, Suarez’s staffers conducted on-site visits to the addresses of the 10 firms that were provided to The Beacon Council, according to an Aug. 22 memo the county commissioner sent the agency’s then-CEO Larry K. Williams.

For instance, on Aug. 10, Suarez aide Joanne Padron visited The Doral Professional Center at 7950 NW 53rd St., where Alpha Trade, a construction materials import and export business that received Beacon Council assistance, supposedly had an office suite. Instead, Padron found Offix Solutions, a shared-office space for multiple companies with a single receptionist, who informed her that no one from Alpha Trade was available to meet with her.

Padron was also unable to find any state incorporation records for Alpha Trade or its phone number. On Oct. 21, during a visit to Offix Solutions, the receptionist told a Florida Bulldog reporter that there was no Alpha Trade located in their shared office space and that the company’s CEO, Sergio Santa Ana, was not listed in their directory. “I’ve got an Alpha International,” she said. “But there’s no one with the name Sergio Santa Ana. Maybe they went out of business.”

Santa Ana did not respond to a request for comment sent to an email address listed on Alpha Trade’s Facebook page, which lists the Offix Solutions location as the company’s location.

Another Suarez aide, Ela Pestano, stopped by 2330 Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables on Aug. 12 to verify the existence of GeoGlobal USA, a start-up company that is going to import and sell home goods and furniture in the United States and Mexico, according to The Beacon Council’s third-quarter report. The agency claims it helped GeoGlobal by providing contacts, referrals, training and workforce recruitment assistance.

Pestano informed Suarez she found an accounting firm, Hernandez & Co., at 2330 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, but no GeoGlobal. She also visited another address in Doral that GeoGlobal listed in its state incorporation records that turned out to be the headquarters for A Customs Brokerage, a shipping and logistic company. Padron told her boss that individuals at Hernandez & Co. and A Customs Brokerage had never heard of GeoGlobal.

Florida Bulldog visited Hernandez & Co. and A Customs Brokerage the same day as Offix Solutions. A woman at the accounting firm said GeoGlobal was her client and uses 2330 Ponce de Leon Boulevard as a mailing address. She declined to provide Florida Bulldog with a contact person for GeoGlobal. At A Customs, a company representative also said GeoGlobal was a client that used their address, but was not physically located there.

Suarez’s aides turned up similar results for the eight other firms identified in The Beacon Council’s third-quarter report.

According to a Sept. 2 memo from Williams to Suarez, The Beacon Council’s then-CEO informed the commissioner that it was not unusual for new companies like Alpha Trade and GeoGlobal to have temporary office space before establishing a permanent address. “Given the nature of decision making for corporate relocations and expansions, the outcome of your staff’s outreach does not surprise me,” Williams said. “The person knowledgeable about the transaction is not the person at the reception desk and is sometimes in a different office.”

In his response to Florida Bulldog, Brasington said CEOs and executives whose companies receive Beacon Council assistance must attest in writing to the work the agency provides their businesses. “Company leaders often do not share information about location or expansion decisions with employees or even middle management, which is why some employees may not be aware of the assistance provided by The Beacon Council,” Brasington explained. “The economic development process of educating and then recruiting or retaining businesses can be lengthy.”

However, the same week Williams sent Suarez the letter, he resigned as Beacon Council CEO to assume the same role for Atlanta’s Technology Association of Georgia, where he was previously a vice president. The commissioner’s inquest occurred just as The Beacon Council — which relies on $3.7 million in county permitting fees for its $5.2 million annual budget — became an issue in the county mayor’s race. Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado, who is in a runoff with County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, has made eliminating The Beacon Council one of her campaign promises.

Suarez told Florida Bulldog he held a public meeting earlier this month with Levine Cava and Beacon Council chairman and Greenberg Traurig co-managing shareholder Jaret Davis to discuss his findings. “I stated my views that a lot of people in the business community don’t see the sense in giving $3.7 million to The Beacon Council for promoting economic development,” Suarez said. “I am leaving it in the hands of my colleague, who expressed some of the same concerns I have.”

Levine Cava told Florida Bulldog that The Beacon Council does have room for improvement, but doesn’t believe it should be cut off from county funding. “I found The Beacon Council’s response to Suarez to be credible,” she said. “In each case, there was a logical explanation for what his staff found. There is nothing that cries out a problem exists.”

South Dade News Leader: Levine Cava Seeks to Ban Fracking in Miami-Dade

Original link here: http://www.southdadenewsleader.com/news/levine-cava-seeks-to-ban-fracking-in-miami-dade/article_07df8ed6-81d1-11e6-a64e-1b49b72160ac.html

An ordinance banning fracking has passed an initial committee hearing at county hall.

The legislation was brought forwarrd by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who represents parts of South Dade, and would regulate and/or prohibit the well stimulation method of gas and oil exploration, commonly known as fracking.

There is a way to receive a variance, but it would require a public hearing and a positive vote from the board of County Commissioners.

Judging by the passionate response this ordinance got from the public last week in its preliminary form, a public hearing would be a daunting hurdle to jump over.

“This shouldn’t be just atheoretical ordinance, there is a proposed well site in Broward that possibly possesses a threat to the Miami-Dade water. They [the oil companies] are looking for sites in South Florida,” Jorge Aguilar warned at the public hearing.

Levine Cava thanked the crowd for showing up, showing passion, and making a compelling case.

“This commission has stood solidly behind the state ban,” Levine Cava said when addressing the dais.

She also acknowledged the situation in Southwest Florida where the oil and gas industry have set their targets on, and possibly even more of the South. She called the possibility “chilling.”

“This risk, the potential long term damage can not be compromised for the short term gain of a few,” said Levine Cava.

In it’s current form, the ordinance will serve as the rules in unincorporated parts of the county, and as a minimum standard for the incorporated portions.

The new article it creates is specifically for gas and oil exploration that utilizes well stimulation. Usually such tactics employed are a protected trade secret, and so no specifics in chemicals or methods are traditionally made public. And so the wording is broad while still specifically describing fracking.

It is described as “a well intervention, exploration, operation, or maintenance procedure performed by injecting fluid, which may include additives, into a rock formation to increase the rate of production at an oil or gas well by increasing the flow of hydrocarbons from the formation into the wellbore.”

But the ordinance does chiefly cite the “health, safety, welfare, comfort and convenience” of the county residents and their property rights as the driving force behind the steps.

The legislative findings state that potential impacts of such fracking would impact properties well past the immediate vicinity, possibly causing structural damage to buildings and foundations.

While variances are a possibility, they would only be granted if a hardship is shown by the literal enforcement of the regulations. Meanwhile the variance must be simpatico with the spirit of the ordinance and not result in harm to the land.

Fracking in Florida would mean using acids and chemicals said Levine Cava, and it could “pose a threat to the drinking water.”

Then of course it must be granted with a public hearing attached to it.

“I wanted to thank you all for your leadership. The ordinance passing last week sent a message to the state legislature,” said Pete Gonzalez who spoke during the public hearing. “It has no place here, and we already have enough threats to our drinking water.”

Miami’s Community Newspapers: Commissioner experiences first National Convention

Original link here: http://communitynewspapers.com/kendall-gazette/commissioner-experiences-first-national-convention/

Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who represents District 8, served as a delegate to the recent 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. This was Levine Cava’s first time at a Democratic National Convention and it made a huge impact on her as a commissioner.

The Convention ran from Monday, July 25, to Thursday, July 28.

“It is a convention of a lifetime,” Levine Cava said. “I had never been active in Democratic Party matters prior to the convention.”

Levine Cava said she believes this upcoming presidential election is important because it determines what is at stake for the nation. She was excited to attend the convention for a couple of reasons. In addition to being her first time at a convention, her son just moved back to Philadelphia after being out of the country for one year in India.

The ability to witness Hillary Clinton on the convention stage was an overpowering experience for Levine Cava.

“I have been a great admirer of her for many years,” Levine Cava said.

She knows Clinton personally because they worked on the same children and women’s issues for organizations that supported the Children’s Defense Fund where Clinton served as the board chair. Clinton and Levine Cava also attended Yale University, although at different times. Levine Cava went to Yale as an undergraduate student and Clinton went as a law school student.

“I feel confident that the Democratic nominee will be able to move the country forward. She will be inclusive and be able to allay our fears. I think she will be able to strengthen our economy and restore trust in the government,” the commissioner said. “The whole tone of the convention was one of optimism with a path toward strengthening our democracy and country.”

Levine Cava takes her job as a commissioner for Miami-Dade County seriously. She serves in a non-partisan seat and believes that it is very important to solve issues at the local level. She said that the decisions that are made cross political lines, and she doesn’t want to mix her Democratic Party affiliation with her commissioner duties.

“I’m always looking for a commonsense approach for my constituents,” Levine Cava said.

She was sworn into office in November 2014 and wants to accomplish many things for South Miami-Dade including enhancing environmental factors, creating more jobs, improving transportation options and solving economic issues. “It has been a great opportunity, and I’m so grateful that I was elected.”

Levine Cava said the main reason ran for office is because of the distrust in the government, which she feels is hurtful.

“I will do everything I can do in my lifetime to instill a sense of pride in the government and the country.”

She has worked on improving government transparency as a commissioner.

Levine Cava received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Yale University and graduate degrees in law and social work from Columbia University. She is married to Dr. Robert Cava and raised two children, Eliza and Edward Cava, in Miami-Dade County.

Miami’s Community Newspapers: Student is a summer intern with county commissioner

Original link here: http://communitynewspapers.com/featured/student-summer-intern-county-commissioner/

Mark Merwitzer, a resident of Palmetto Bay and a student at Miami Palmetto Senior High School, is turning his summer vacation time into a learning experience of a different kind. He currently is a summer intern for Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava.

Merwitzer, who has been very active in standing up for the needs and wants of his community since age 7, when he helped push for higher wages and better benefits for teachers, was appointed at the age of 15 to the Palmetto Bay Youth Advisory Board.

Since then he has raised money and handled many logistical aspects for the Palmetto Bay Relay for Life booth. He has taken an active interest in politics on all levels, local through national.

“I first met the commissioner in May, when I saw about the FPL Turkey Point Power Plant meeting in Community Newspapers,” Merwitzer said. “I’ve learned a lot about how local government works. I’m really thankful for Commissioner Levine Cava mentoring me and giving me useful advice.”

A personal project Merwitzer has been working on relates to distracted driving due to cell phone use. Besides research, he has drafted a letter to the legislators for his district, Rep. Michael Bileca and Sen. Gwen Margolis. He plans to reach out to them by telephone and also invite them to meet with him in the hope they will sponsor legislation at the state level to allow county or municipal regulations regarding cell phone use while driving. Currently the state has full control over cell phone laws. Already, the Office of Rep. Holly Raschein has invited Merwitzer to meet and discuss these policy considerations.

“I want to give back to the community and help make this a safer place to live and work,” Merwitzer said. “Cell phone usage is the No. 1 cause of distraction in auto accidents. My plan right now, since Florida legislators are in recess, is to try to speak with them about this issue.”

Merwitzer started his summer internship at the end of June and in the fall will begin classes at the Miami Dade School of Advanced Studies, Wolfson Campus, where he will do both high school and college level work. Merwitzer also has a passion for aviation and computers. He built his first computer at age 13 and currently is pursuing his private pilot’s license.

Richard A. Morgan, community liaison and special projects at Commissioner Levine Cava’s office, is pleased Merwitzer is there.

“He brings a lot of enthusiasm to our team,” Morgan said. “We have enjoyed having him, as well as our other summer interns.”

Merwitzer would like to encourage others to reach out and share their concerns about distracted driving due to cell phones as well.

Readers may find their state representatives at the following link: www.flsenate.gov/Senators/Find or by calling Miami-Dade 3-1-1.

Miami Herald: Miami-Dade Commissioner calls for special meeting on Zika efforts

Original link here:

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2016/08/miami-dade-commissioner-calls-for-special-meeting-on-zika-efforts.html

UPDATE: Monestime and Levince Cava have called a special meeting Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. on the 18th floor of the Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW First St.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava said Thursday she will request a special meeting of the Board of County Commissioners to discuss coordinating local, state and federal efforts to quash a Zika virus outbreak in the city of Miami.

So far, health officials have identified 15 people who have contracted the virus from mosquitoes in Miami-Dade County, all but one of which inhabited a one-square-mile zone in and around Wynwood. The county has increased efforts to kill mosquitoes in the area, and county Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott have all made appearances in the neighborhood during the last three days to answer questions about local and state efforts.

Gimenez and Scott have planned a joint press 3:30 p.m. conference Thursday at the Miami-Dade County Emergency Operations Center, 9300 NW 41 Street, in Doral.

Here’s a copy of Levine Cava’s letter:

August 4, 2016

The Honorable Carlos A. Gimenez
Mayor, Miami-Dade County
Stephen P. Clark Center
111 NW 1st Street
29th Floor
Miami, Florida 33128

Dear Mayor Gimenez,

Thank you for your leadership thus far in addressing the threat of the Zika virus in our community. We have all been watching developments in the spread of this disease closely, with national and international news outlets reporting on the matter over the last few days.

I know your office has been coordinating with various government agencies to ensure we engage in an aggressive public education campaign. Further, I know action has been taken for aerial spraying to control mosquitoes and the distribution of repellant wipes for residents.

As we work together to face this challenge and keep our residents and visitors healthy, it is imperative that we all coordinate our efforts effectively and deploy our elected leaders to ensure that the state and federal governments put resources in place to combat the impact of Zika on our community and our tourism brand.

Today I will send a memorandum to Chairman Jean Monestime requesting that he convene an emergency meeting of the Board of County Commissioners pursuant to Rule 3.02(b) of the Rules of Procedure to discuss our response to the public health threats posed by the Zika virus. Such a meeting would provide the opportunity to coordinate the support from our federal partners, and to understand what support Miami-Dade County can expect from the state of Florida.

I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to working together to keep Miami-Dade healthy and open for business.

Sincerely,

Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava