MICHAEL'S PRIORITIES

Water Bills

Up until the year 2011, if you had a high water bill with no clear reason why, you had to pay the bill or your water would be turned off. As the Miami Herald headline accurately states, high water bills are hard to fight. Up until that time, the water company was “always right” and their water meters were “always perfect”. I fought that battle for FOUR years and, during those days, I met people that had water bills that were as high as $6,000 with no choice but to pay or lose their water services.

During those four years, I tried to convince our commissioners that meters can be wrong or that other “strange” things can happen. Finally, after four years, I proved I was right, the meters can be wrong. So the commissioners passed a new law that allows homeowners a once in a lifetime discount when this happens. Thousands of homeowners have saved millions of dollars over the years. I am still fighting to get wireless meters installed so homeowners can see what their bill is and notice if any leaks have occurred. As your commissioner, I will try and make that happen!

Pets' Trust

In 2011, I learned that Miami-Dade Animal Services had been killing 20,000 dogs and cats per year at the “shelter”. Most of them were healthy and killed just to create more space in order to kill more. This had been going on for decades. It seemed that the killing had become accepted — business as usual. I decided that something needed to be done.

That is how the Pets’ Trust was born. The idea was to create a dedicated fund, supported by the community through a small increase in property taxes. That required a question on the ballot and, in November 2012, almost 500,000 people, 65% of the voters from all over Miami-Dade County said, ”YES”!!!. Sadly, the current mayor and certain current commissioners reneged on their promise to honor the votes of the citizens.

The Pets’ Trust army of volunteers began to fight back. Now, eight years later, a new mayor and many new commissioners will be coming into office. The hope of the Pets’ Trust is that this new class of candidates will respect the will of the people and implement what so many voted for. In 2020, let’s make sure our voices are heard and demand that our vote be respected. I know I will certainly be the first to raise my hand on behalf of the Pets’ Trust and animals in our county.

Police

As I’ve gotten older, I have learned to be much more appreciative of the work our police officers do on our behalf. Simply stated, they run towards danger. We run away. In the past few years, I have experienced some “ride-alongs” to get a firsthand look at what it is like to be a police officer in the 21st century. My conclusion is that it’s very challenging, requires much bravery and it’s certainly not for the average citizen.

In fact, even the simple act of an officer walking up to an unknown driver with tinted windows, on a dark street, to give a ticket or a warning, literally scared the daylights out of me. New police officers were making $19.50 an hour and I believe they are much more deserving. It’s a job that when you go to work, there is a chance you might not come home. In the last five years, almost 900 police officers did not come home.

Firefighters/Paramedics

One thing I learned from riding around with our Paramedics and Firefighters, there are no better people to call in your time of need. The professionalism, compassion, caring and dedication when it comes to saving a life for total strangers, be it a car crash or an emergency in your home, left me with joy and hope as I watched them perform emergency procedures. Their mission is to save lives and our mission should be to make sure they have every necessary tool to do so; and that Fire Stations are manned to the fullest and within the proper distance to where we live so that no time is lost when we make the call.

Government Speak

Did you ever try to read the Public Notices in the Miami Herald and then walk away with a migraine trying to figure out what the words meant? Below is an example. I believe that every legal announcement should have a “translation” that explains, in simple terms, what it means? I guarantee that the lobbyist, developers and attorneys can translate it because they wrote it! But, for us regular people, “government speak” does not allow us to understand how “some deal is going to help someone get something”! You have to understand how over-development sneaks up on us.

Voices of the Community

The original intentions of the Community Councils were to help bring the issues of local importance to the people directly impacted by that issue. After hearing from the neighbors that would be affected by that particular issue, the Community Council’s job is to relay the voice of the local community to the commissioners downtown. As time has gone on, the Community Councils have seen their authority diminish. I believe the original intent of these Councils should be restored.

Installation of School Bus
Cameras in the Side Mirrors

We’ve all seen it. The school bus stops, the big Stop Sign goes out, the lights are flashing, the children prepare to cross the street, and then a car comes flying around the bus, going through the Stop Sign, as the children jump back and the speeding car barely misses them. Our school bus drivers make millions of stops a year, each one a potential, serious accident. I would like to see cameras installed in these side mirrors that are activated when cars go through the Stop Signs. The technology exists. We just have to order them.

Traffic

I wish I could snap my fingers and magically solve the traffic problems. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent for ideas and nothing seems to get better. However, I do have four ideas to share and these ideas didn’t cost millions to figure out.

(1) If you carpool, you don’t pay tolls during rush hour.

(2) Shopping Malls should set aside free parking areas in their parking lots for
those that will meet to carpool.

(3) Staggered work hours with incentives for businesses, and their employees,
that choose to open and close later.

(4) Free transit, or at least free transit for a period of time, to encourage people
to get out of their cars.

Recycling

I have to admit it. I used to throw my pizza boxes in the Recycling Bin. WRONG! But, I am not the only confused person regarding our Recycling Rules. During my visit to the Recycling Plant, I discovered that we are ALL guilty. At least 30% of what we put in the Recycling
Bins are wrong. We need to create clear, detailed instructions and remember, we have got to make it simple: Clean paper/cardboard,glass, cans & plastic bottles.

The Multi-Million Dollar Pizza Box — 30% of our Recycling is WRONG!!

If you don’t know what to do, don’t put it in blue!

Our Solid Waste Department

I was very interested in the journey our garbage takes. You take the trash outside and dump it into the trash bin. The truck picks it up in the morning, but what happens next? I wanted to see where it goes, how it gets where it’s going and what happens when it gets there. The trip to the dump was very “nose” opening. Yes, it smelled terrible, but learning how our trash is disposed of, and much of it is turned into electricity for about 50,000 homes, was very educational. Unfortunately, the plant is getting old and we are going to soon need a billion dollar investment to build a new one.

Nuclear Energy

Earlier in the year, I took a tour of the Turkey Point Nuclear facility. It was fascinating to discover where so much of our electricity comes from and to explore all the safety features that go into running a nuclear facility. Also impressive was the land around the power plant and how the cooling canals surrounded by this undeveloped land was a home to so many animals. We all have various opinions of FPL, but I have to say that the FPL employees that take care of this land and these animals do an amazing job and they do it with such love. And, as a side note, the multi-billion dollar nuclear plant was also mind-blowing!

Farm Share

Patricia Robbins is the founder of Farm Share. They collect the produce from farmers that have minor blemishes, that are not perfect and that grocery stores don’t want. I have so much admiration for Patricia, who started Farm Share from nothing, to eventually collecting tens of millions of pounds of food that would have been thrown away but, instead, now goes to those among us that are in need.

In 2011, Farm Share was in serious trouble as Governor Scott was slashing their budget in half. I didn’t know Patricia at that time, but I certainly could understand that food was going to go to waste if this was not fixed.

It was during this time that I became President of the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations. I started lobbying the governor to restore the funding. I met Patricia and brought her to a KFHA meeting; not only was the funding restored, but increased as years went on. Together, we all won! I love Farm Share!

Super PLUS Majority to move the UDB

In order to protect our environment, I propose we create a “Super PLUS Majority of commission votes” to move the Urban Development Boundary. In the past, it took a simple majority of seven (7) to expand into the Everglades. You can clearly see what that has to do with our quality of life. Later, that was changed to a Super Majority, meaning nine (9) commissioners were needed to vote to expand the UDB. I propose that we make it even harder and require a Super PLUS Majority. That means it would take ELEVEN (11) out of thirteen (13) votes to push further into the Everglades. This would be a challenging number
to reach, but moving farther into the Everglades should not be an easy decision and should be extremely hard to achieve.

The Arts and the Piano

Many people are surprised to find out that I have a Master’s Degree, in piano performance, from the University of Miami. My passion for the Arts are an integral part of my life and I will do everything possible to encourage our children to become involved in music, drama and dance, as I believe the Arts should be a requirement for a well-rounded life. I also look forward to supporting our artistic institutions and to help them grow their audience base because, for the first time, you will have a classically-trained musical commissioner that lives, loves and feels what music is all about.

Triple By-Pass

In 2016, I started to have some issues with high blood pressure that occurred when taking short walks. Long walks were impossible and I hid my symptoms from everyone. Like far too many of us when confronted with something like this, I thought it would “go away” and that it was nothing to be concerned about. This was a huge mistake and, in January 2017, I needed and received a “Triple By-Pass”. After the surgery, in the middle of the night while recovering in the ICU, my heart crashed – Code Blue – flatline – but I was miraculously brought back to life. It is almost impossible for me to read the hospital and doctors’ reports of that 24-hour period without a feeling of overwhelming despair and dread.

Nevertheless, the community activist in me said there must be a lesson here, and there was! You won’t have a conversation with me without hearing me strongly suggest that you see your doctors and have regular check-ups. In other words, everything I am telling you to do, is, unfortunately, everything I didn’t do.

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