Friday, April 27, 2007

Saving The Human Race Under The Palms

Florida lawmakers are proposing to give the University of Miami an unprecedented $80 million gift to help establish a genetics research institute "that will target cures for common diseases and spur economic growth" according to the Miami Herald. Founded in January 2007 thanks to a $100 million gift from the estate of Leonard Miller, founder of the Lennar Corp, the Miami Institute for Human Genomics will focus on diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and more. With the state's help, it will create in south Florida a "bio-technology powerhouse," high paying jobs, and spin off companies. Headed by Dr. Pascal Goldschmidt, former chairman of Duke University's respected department of medicine, the new Institute expects to create 75 high paying jobs within months and another 300 over the next five years. The Institute will partner with other universities and Scripps Florida, the huge California based research center lured to Palm Beach County last year.

MVB finds this all very exciting. Aside from helping ALL MANKIND, it will be a major boost to our local economy and help sell some of those condos now being built all around downtown Miami.

We also think it was interesting to discover that one reason Miami was chosen (aside from the fact that Dr. Goldschmidt's departure from Duke, -- thanks to UM pres Donna Shalala's recruitment efforts-- also brought 20 staffers and approximately $70 million in research grants with them, basically sabotaging those programs) was because of our "access to multiple population groups without having to go anywhere else." It seems there isn't enough diversity up there in Durham, North Carolina to do proper studies. Well, welcome to Miami, docs, our "multiple population groups" is one of the things that makes us great.

UpDate (4/30): We learn today from the Herald that part of the stratagey in recruiting the top research scientists to Miami is that UM will pay a "50 percent match up to $300,000 for housing, becoming part-owners of the houses purchased and getting that percentage back from future sale prices." Smart.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Best Burger in the Known Universe"? MVB's First Food Review

The Miami Herald's recent "Quest for the Best Burger" mentioned GQ magazine's July 2005 article "The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die" which states the "best burger in the known universe" is made in a small waterfront restaurant in Hollywood, Florida called Le Tub. The boys at MVB thought it was about time we checked it out for ourselves.

We arrived around 9pm on a slow Sunday night. It's a funky place located on the Intracoastal waterway at 1100 N. Ocean Drive, just a few blocks north of Hollywood Boulevard. It began life in 1959 as a Sunoco gas station and transformed itself into a restaurant in the mid-Seventies when the gas crisis was closing gas stations left and right across the country-- you can still find the roll-up garage doors over the kitchen. Mult-leveled in lots of wood, most of Le Tub is outdoors. If you have a boat you can dock alongside. If you don't, you can sit and watch the constant parade of boat traffic passing by. We sat in the "center table" which afforded a good view of the small bar, the water, and the small kitchen which can't be more than 8' by 8' square. To think that the "best burger in the known universe" came from this cramped humble space was truly amazing. It's only big enough for one cook but the one we had that night wasn't a happy camper. Besides hurling invectives at the waitstaff, he was also hurling the burgers through the pass through. We saw one roll out of its bun and off its plate onto the dirty stainless steel counter top. It sat there for a while before the cook walked around the corner and put it back in its bun. I guess that is just part of the "atmosphere," which includes a melange of toilets and tubs scattered inside and outside the restaurant.

We sounded like an old SLN "cheeseburger, cheeseburger" sketch when our waitress came to take our order that included fries and beer.

As a group we were under impressed. The $11.00 price for our cheeseburger seemed like a fair price because of its hefty size, but we all agreed, it was not the best burger in the known universe unless, of course, your world only includes a few bars and restaurants along the Intracoastal. The fries, on the other hand, were great. Still, we recommend it highly because of its location and laid back atmosphere. The only thing that will probably disappoint you is the burger. Please note, and this is very important, Le Tub does NOT accept credit cards.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dancing The Conga Around The Miami Marine Stadium Question

It's been over 10 days since we asked a Miami city commissioner these simple questions: If engineering reports come back that the Miami Marine Stadium is salvageable, would you vote to save it? and, Would you be open to having a major company such as Budweiser pay all or part of the restoration costs in exchange for naming rights, i.e., the Budweiser Miami Marine Stadium?

The commissioner, whose district includes the Marine Stadium, danced around the question with a lame response from staff: "Until the Virginia Key master plan is complete, the fate of the Marine Stadium remains in limbo."

What's wrong with saying in advance you would vote to save the Marine Stadium if it proves salvageable? Or that you would be open to searching for a private company to pay for the restoration in exchange for naming rights? We're still waiting for a more forthright answer.

Another source says planners are "considering reusing/redesigning the Marine Stadium as an entry way building for Biscayne National Park."

Say what? We asked for clarification and never got it. MVB would like to think that means incorporating the Marine Stadium into future plans which allows the stadium to continue to do what it was built to do: provide a covered viewing stand to watch boat races-- and to listen to concerts. Finally, our city planners and non-communicative city commissioner should be reminded that the Marine Stadium has been recognized by the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Dade Heritage Trust for its architectural and historical value so, keepa your hands off!

The Virginia Key Public Planning Coalition will be holding a luncheon next Tuesday "to bring some sane planning to the marine Stadium area." The meeting is open to the public and starts at Noon at the Sierra Club, 2700 SW 3rd Ave, Suite 2F. If planning on attending, call first just to make sure it's still on at (305) 860-9888.

UpDate (4/24/2007): There was no meeting. We called first to find out and hopefully you did too.

On the same website above, click here to see an eye-opening and damning video about the Marine Stadium made by high school kids from Turner Tech. Hopefully their efforts and the emails from fans of the Marine Stadium from around the world* won't fall on deaf ears and that the old scarred and disfigured grand dame will be rescued from an ignoble fate.

*MVB knows for a fact through our Site Meter that many people emailed the mayor and commissioners because of the "out clicks" to the email addies we provided. After notifying the main boat racing organizations-- with special thanks going out to Taryn Baze of the American Boat Racing Association in Pasco, WA, David D. Williams of the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum in Kent, WA, and award-winning boat racing photographer and writer Bill Osborne for getting the word out through emails to their members and friends urging them to check out our postings and to let their voices be heard and taking the time to write personal letters to mayor Manny Diaz-- we were swamped with hits from as far away as Australia and, three weeks later, we're still getting hits with out clicks to the City of Miami mayor and commissioner email links.

UpDate (8/27/08): The "experts," AKA city planners/consultants, came back with the latest designs for Virginia Key. Despite an earlier charette where the public overwhelmingly agreed that the Marine Stadium should be saved, it is glaringly absent from this latest iteration. In its place: Two 5-story parking garages, a "dry-stack" boat storage for 700 boats, 41,000sf of "small scale retail," and Olympic-sized swimming pools among other sundry items. The city and its experts have effectively destroyed one of the few things that makes Miami unique in the world and replaced it with the pedestrian. The Marine Stadium was the only one of its kind on the planet. Now, because it might be "cost prohibitive" to fix-up, we have become a lesser city, less unique, and a people less worthy of being taken seriously, at being looked upon by others as blessed, lucky, special and cool.

UpDate (9/19/08): Friends of the Miami Marine Stadium pulled off a major coup: they got the World Monuments Fund to endorse saving the Marine Stadium. This couldn't have happened at a better time because The City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board will discuss and possibly make a determination of the final historic designation of the Miami Marine Stadium at their meeting on Tuesday, October 7, at 3:00 PM, City of Miami Commission Chambers. Failure to do so should make them look like idiots-- or at least suspiciously on the take. If you got the time, try to stop by to make your voice heard.

UpDate (10/7/08): The City of Miami historic preservation board finally saw the light: by a vote of 8-0, it agreed to designate the Miami Marine Stadium worthy of preservation as an historic site. Let's see the visionless try to knock it down now!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

World's First Civilian Spaceport Update: New Mexico 1, Florida 0

New Mexico: Voters approved a tax this month to support building the world's first civilian spaceport.
Florida: Nothing.

Which is hard to understand since it will cost New Mexico a couple hundred million dollars to construct a spaceport which requires runways of 10,000 feet or more. Florida already has such a beast just 35 miles west of Miami smack dab in the middle of the Everglades. It's the leftover remains of the Super Sonic Transport (SST) dreams of the seventies. Miami started building what was to be a "Jetport" (see picture) to accommodate the SST's when Congress nixed the idea because it feared the jets would harm the environment. Now it's only being used for emergency landings and occasional touch-and-goes. You can find it on Google Earth by typing in it's official name: Dade-Collier Training Airport.

MVB contacted our new governor Charlie Crist just after he came into office. No response. We call it "getting Rodney Dangerfielded" but, hey, we're use to it. At least Bush's point man on finding a suitable location for a Florida civilian spaceport got back. He had never heard of the Jetport and was surprised it even existed. So it goes.

UpDate (4/21/07): According to the latest Virgin Galactic newsletter, Florida/Miami may have already lost its chance at immortality. The New Mexican Las Cruces venture is called Spaceport America. Not to be left behind, we also discover in the newsletter that Virgin Galactic signed an agreement with Sweden to build Spaceport Sweden. Located at Kiruna, a town in Sweden's northern wilderness, this would be the first spaceport outside the United States to be used by Virgin Galactic for flight campaigns with the intention of offering spaceflights into the Aurora Borealis. So, the way things are going, it appears that places like Las Cruces and Kiruna will become forever associated with space travel for the masses instead of Miami.

What went wrong? Who was in charge of Florida politics when all of this was taking place? Who's in charge now? Does anyone in government care? Well, it looks like our new governor does care and has already set things in motion. Space Florida, chaired by Governor Crist, has listed this as it's number one goal:
  • "Develop and obtain an FAA license to operate at least one horizontal launch spaceport in Florida to capture suitable aerospace activities, sub-orbital space tourism, travel and cargo operations, and reach agreements with commercial interest to locate launch, headquarters, services, and support activities in Florida."
Let's just hope it's not too late.

You can contact Space Florida about our existing "spaceport" in the middle of the Everglades here:

Sonya Montgomery
Senior Vice President
Communications and External Affairs
Telephone: (321) 730-5301 extension 225
Fax: (321) 730-5307

MVB would also suggest you get in touch with Spacearium, a Florida group with the same goals.

Monday, April 16, 2007

As MVB Predicted: Debbie Cenziper Wins the Pulitzer Prize!

As we predicted in our August 26th posting, Miami Herald reporter Debbie Cenziper won the Pulitzer today for her outstanding series "House of Lies."* The revelations were so outrageous regarding corruption of the county public housing authority and private individuals willing to rip off the public at the expense of the homeless that it took our nascent blog into a direction we never planned when it debuted only a few weeks earlier. MVB was going to advocate "big ideas" regarding the arts and transportation and other things but because of her diligent reporting, we found it impossible not to get angry and, before we knew it, we were posting comments on each new day's revelation. Congratulations, Ms. Cenziper, for giving all of us living here something finally to be proud about.

*To see a remarkable multi-media presentation of the "House of Lies" series by the Miami Herald, click here. You'll get to see and hear the lovely Ms. Cenziper in a video describing what she uncovered during the seven month series. Well worth the visit.

As a personal aside: I got a clue Ms. Cenziper had won the Pulitzer today when checking our Site Meter. It was picking up "referral" connections with Cenziper and Pulitzer from people doing Google searches. I quickly went to the Herald website to confirm my suspicions and was proven correct. The Internet is also how I discovered the World Trade Center had been attacked. A picture on MyYahoo home page showed smoke rising out of one of the towers. At that point no one was sure what had happened. The TV was switched on and I saw the second jet fly into the other tower. That was followed by the Columbia space shuttle disaster. It first appeared on MyYahoo home page as another picture of streaks of light in the skies over Texas. I turned on the TV to confirm. For me, this was a seachange in getting news since I've been reading newspapers longer than many bloggers are alive. I still look forward to picking up the Miami Herald every morning but I know I may be the last of a dying breed. So, although the Herald is basking in a well-deserved limelight, because of the unique demographics of this community and technology, unless it can adapt, it may soon follow the Miami News-- a paper I use to deliver after school on my bicycle when I was 12-years-old-- into history and rapidly diminishing memory.

MVB Big Idea Award Goes To Jorge Gonzalez & Richard Steinberg!

Click the button for Enzyte theme music.

We believe in the power of the "Ether-Net," getting ideas "out there" through the Internet. MVB is basically built around that concept of actively using the Internet as an electronic gadfly to lobby ideas and opinions. Positive feedback on these efforts happen when we see MLB insisting on a downtown Miami baseball stadium (hopefully our chosen site) and now through a little tidbit found deep inside today's Miami Herald's Business Monday section. Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez suggested to a meeting of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce that the city put the $55 million set aside by a county bond fund to refurbish the Convention Center toward subsidizing building a new hotel instead. This "Big Idea" was "ridiculed by tourism trade groups backing the renovations." The next day at a City Hall meeting, Commissioner Richard Steinberg backed Gonzalez up and "warned against dismissing it so quickly."

The article reminds us that the Loews and Royal Palm hotels were built on public oceanfront and with government loans. So the idea isn't that revolutionary, but it does remind us of our own Big Idea-- getting Disney to build a hotel or hotels on the beach and the mainland in exchange for public land, a port on Watson Island for their cruise ships, and a Disney partnered BayLink. Disney is currently looking to build "stand alone" hotels. With the right inducements from a handful of visionaries (and $55 million isn't something to sneeze at), perhaps someday we'll see Disney hotels anchoring both ends of a Disney BayLink. The Mouse gets what it wants and the people of Dade County get what they need. Of course the biggest hurdle here is getting enough elected officials from the Beach to embrace the Disney BayLink to make it reality, but every big idea has to start somewhere.

For those wondering about Bob Enzyte, MVB's official award giver, please note that Bob officiated at the ceremony at Churchill's Pub in Little Haiti in a black Speedo, socks, and shoes. At first we were leery about letting him attend the ceremony like that until he explained it was a symbolic gesture toward honoring "those Beachites." Yes, it wasn't the prettiest thing to see and, yes, he silenced all background chatter at Churchill's when he rose to speak at the dais, but it sure beats the alternative and more jail time.

MVB Worthy Award Goes To Jose Solares

The MVB Worthy Award was inspired by "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," a 1963 movie starring Phil Silvers, Spencer Tracy, and Jonathan Winters among others. The parallels between the film and life in Miami-Dade County were eerily similar starting with the title of the picture which resonated with local relevance. In the movie, the characters will stop at nothing to get rich, just like many of our public "servants." When Jonathan Winters yells, "It's the Big 'W,' I tell ya, the Big 'W'!", they are led to believe that four palm trees resembling a "Big W" mark the spot where a recently deceased old guy's (Jimmy Durante) riches are buried. MVB liked the idea of taking a negative symbol that served as a beacon for cutthroat opportunists and transforming it into a positive one used in an award that recognizes the efforts of those men and women fighting corruption and unbridled spending in a public sector palm covered world gone mad by greed and bone-headed stupidity.

Our third ever MVB Worthy Award goes to the rarest of breeds, the public servant who can say no to spending your money. When Terence Riley, president of the Miami Art Museum, came begging recently for millions of dollars from the Bond Oversight committee to build his $208 million museum, all but one of its board members caved. That gentleman's name is Jose Solares. It seemed Mr. Solares, an electrical engineer appointed by Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, had a problem with the museum's preliminary budget's consulting fees, some of which are listed here*:

  • $2.2 million for MEP/FP consultants
  • $1.1 million for structural consultants
  • $200,000 for a lighting consultant
  • $125,000 for acoustical/audiovisual consultants
  • $100,000 for food consultants
  • $100,000 for thermal studies
  • $50,000 for digital systems consultants
  • $50,000 for an elevator/escalator consultant
  • $50,000 for a retail consultant

As much as we want to see the art and science museums rise at Bicentennial Park, we'd also love to see somebody pull in the reins at least once in awhile against the charging, mindless beasts running roughshod over the public coffers. There aren't enough public servants like Mr. Solares riding shotgun on the county and city's runaway stagecoach. He may have lost this one, but he won our respect and humble recognition.

UpDate (6/14): Riley gets an extra $2 million from City of Miami commissioners for his museum.

*As reported in the April 5th edition of The SunPost.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

It's Time To Stop...

Leave it to the Russkies to make you feel old. Yesterday a thousand baton wielding cops and God-knows-how-many undercover cops beat back a peaceful demonstration in Pushkin Square. For those who haven't been paying attention, it seems a lot of Russians are pissed off with Putin, accusing him and his government of rolling back their freedoms. Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion was detained for a short while. It all got me to thinking about that great Buffalo Springfield song (which I hope you're listening to while reading this). It's called "For What It's Worth." Wikipedia reminded me it came out in January 1967. Over 40 years ago. Stephen Stills is singing. Buffalo Springfield was the band he formed before Crosby, Stills, Nash, (and sometimes Young). Neil Young and Jim Messina (later of Loggins & Messina) were members of Buffalo Springfield. That was a magical time for rock music and this song captured the general paranoia young people had during that period. It added a foreboding counterpoint to that year's Summer of Love, the last great blowout before America's downward slide through two assassinations and the dark years of the Viet Nam war. Demographics on bloggers show most of you weren't born yet but that doesn't mean you can't appreciate the Russkies for resurrecting that great old street anthem which I'm sure, by the way things are going, you'll be hearing a lot more of. The picture is from November 2003. It shows our cops protecting us from folks against the FTAA, something MVB is for. It's our feeble attempt at making our posts relevant to Miami and the Beaches. I bet those Miami and Russkie protesters were listening to that great lyric, "there's a man with a gun over there, telling me I got to beware..." through ear buds connected to their iPods. Except for technology, some things never change.

UpDate (12/3): Putin pummels Kasparov and democracy at the polls as Russia overwhelmingly hands him the power to become anything he wants. We bet he chooses dictator.

Monocle Man On Imus & Hypocrits

WARNING: First off, anyone wearing a monocle today should be viewed with suspicion. This gentleman, who wishes to remain anonymous as is a blogger's wont, is not the kind of guy you'd invite to a party. If his 1,000 yard stare doesn't quickly put your shindig into an irreversible slide toward downersville, his jaded, dyspeptic personality soon will. So, dear reader, read his words with caution and a mojito, MVB's drink of choice, in hand.
  • As a rule MVB shies away from most things not related to Miami and the Beaches but sometimes things outside our region have a way of touching us which makes it impossible as a blogger not to chime in. The Don Imus brouhaha is one of them. It also has a bearing on where we live. Imus announced he's tired of apologizing and I'm tired of watching everybody tripping over themselves trying to apologize for just about everything. If England is a nation of shopkeepers, we're becoming a nation of apologists. Well, at least some of us are.That said, Imus had to go. He was embarrassing. Not for apologizing but for what he said about the Rutger girls.
  • Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam and Robert and Sheila Johnson, founders of Black Entertainment Television (BET), made fortunes promoting negative black stereotypes and misogynistic rap videos. Shelia Johnson in a recent Imus related interview on CNN side-stepped answering questions about how they could have done it by saying it bothered her for years and, in fact, created a show to help teens choose their BET programs-- while still taking gobs of money for airing the denigrating rap videos. The Johnsons, now divorced, sold BET to Viacom in 2000. Debra A. Lee, a 20-year veteran at BET, is now in charge-- and has a lot of explaining to do too. Hopefully she won't give this lame excuse Simmons issued on Imus: "Hip-hop is a worldwide cultural phenomena that transcends race and doesn't engage in racial slurs. Don Imus' racially-motivated diatribe toward the Rutgers' women's basketball team was in no way connected to hip-hop culture." Right.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Tip O' The Kangol to "Boom or Bust: Miami"

The Boom or Bust: Miami blog has only been around for a short time but we really like it and recommend you check it out if you find south Florida development and its position and influence on Latin America intriguing. Well written with great links. Now if its writer would only make communicating with him a no brainer, i.e., too bad it's on Word Press.

Miami Could Use A Few Good Men In Dresses

MVB finds it amazing that Largo, FL fired its city manager Steve Stanton not for incompetency, but for his desire to become a woman. They don't know how fortunate they were to have a professional who could balance a budget without relying on "fuzzy economics," drama, and innuendo. Most communities (with the possible exception of Hialeah) would kill for competent leadership like that, dick or no dick. We predict the 14-year employee of what is described as a 76,000 "bedroom community" west of Tampa will sue their bigoted, redneck asses for all kinds of legitimate reasons and win.

UpDate (4/14/07): Today's Miami Herald headline: Fired transsexual won't sue Largo.

UpDate (8/28/08): Steve divorces from his wife of 18-years and must pay her $4,756 a month in alimony plus another $799 in child support for their 15-year-old-very-confused-son. Steve has not been able to find a new job since being fired. The support payments will come from Steve's retirement fund. The ex will also receive 50 percent of any money from movies or books re Steve's life.

UpDate (4/9/09): Steve, now Susan, has been hired by the City of Lake Worth as its manager. A contract still has to be negotiated, but the city is offering Susan and annual salary of $150,000 plus a $500-a-month car allowance and other benefits.

Just In Time For The Weekend: MVB Floater Alert!

Many of you have emailed us with your concerns about C. "Boss" Poop swimming and/or floating in our water. This is quite normal considering more than half of the sewage from Dade County is disposed of through ocean outfalls (see picture).

When asked where he swims by our MVB intern (hey, we're not asking him an innuendo laden question like that), Poop exhaled cigar smoke in his Bicentennial Park sewage lift station lair, paused and assured us in a deep gaseous voice that the only swimming he does is far out in the Atlantic Ocean unless, of course, the seas are rough and he is pushed toward shore by the wind and waves. He added, after emitting what our intern described as the mother of all farts that literally shook the room and caused him to cut the interview short, he's only speaking for himself and that the question is more fitting for his cousin Fecal "Freddy" Coliform who resides at the Miami Beach sewer plant with an outfall line much closer to south Florida's beaches. Still, dear readers, your anxiety was so palatable on whether or not to go to the beach that MVB decided to help make your life a whole lot easier. As a public service, we are proud to bring you the one click MVB FLOATER ALERT. Finally, no more fretting over free range floaters when planning a day at the beach. Found at the top on the right side of the Home Page, with just one click you can learn if the water you're planning on swimming in is clean and safe at 15 beaches in Miami-Dade County.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

$100 Million Blip on Miami's Radar

The April 5th edition of the respected Miami Today weekly marks the first time in print by any publication we have seen that lists the estimated cost of the proposed Port of Miami tunnel at $1.3 billion. That's a $100 million increase without a spade of dirt being turned. Pass the mojitos, please.

UpDate (5/3): The following consortium won the right to build the $1.3 billion tunnel: Bouygues Publics Travaux (French), Babcock and Brown (Australian), Jacobs Engineering (U.S.), and Transfield Services (Australian). The 35-year concession agreement still needs to be negotiated and the state is still waiting for firm commitments from the county and the city for $450 million for their half of the construction costs.

UpDate (5/11): The Miami Herald discovers that Bouygues Pulbics Travaux has ties to Cuba, having built 11 high-end resorts with the Cuban military since 1999. Considering the flavor of local politics, this could be a deal breaker.

UpDate (6/21): A resolution pledging $50 million from an unnamed source was removed from last week's city of Miami commission agenda and deferred to July 10th. The administration is targeting community redevelopment funds. Commissioner Tomás Regalado has promised to move to deny the funds.

UpDate (7/24): 9 County commissioners pledge $402.5 million towards the tunnel. Only 3 vote against it on political reasons (Cuba): Javier Souto, a Bay of Pigs veteran, Natacha Seijas, and Rebeca Sosa. Joe Martinez was absent. Now its up to the City of Miami to pledge their share: $55 million. That vote is not expected to take place before September. Commissioners, nervous about paying their share, suggest tolling the tunnel and the existing bridge to the Port. Tolls for trucks would be as high as $7.00 per outgoing truck. Cruise lines are against tolling as it would affect employees and increase surcharges to cruise line passengers.

UpDate (12/13/08): Christmas comes early with the announcement that the tunnel project succumbs to a well-deserved death when the state and Bouygues Travaux Publics can't agree on terms. Hurray!

Monday, April 09, 2007

MVB's Grand Central Station of the American Pastime Meets Cirque du Soleil

Maybe we should cut back on the mojitos, but we're beginning to think MVB may be having some influence on shaping Miami's future. From the beginning we saw MVB as a digital gadfly/cockroach of ideas and criticism of the local scene. In that regard, we made sure our ideas were made known to those involved with the topic. Now, for the first time, we learn in Miami Today that Glenn Straub, owner of the Miami Arena, is interested in speaking to Cirque du Soleil about making his arena a permanent home for Cirque. Although he admits Cirque has not contacted him, we made sure he and Cirque knew about our vision for the Miami Arena through numerous emails with links to our posts. The same goes for MLB and the Florida Marlins. We are excited about the Marlins insisting on a downtown site. Although their first choice is very close to our site which we lobbied for since 2003, perhaps this is the time for the city and the county to step in and bring all the parties together to choose a central, unified site that connects the Miami Arena and a downtown baseball stadium with existing commuter rail (FEC tracks, MetroRail) and a future BayLink (monorail). We call it the "Grand Central Station of the American Pastime." We think it is the best idea of any of them that have been thrown out there because it is built over existing mass transit. This fact alone will supply the downtown baseball stadium and Cirque with a lifeline of fans who will be more than happy to give up their cars to get downtown to see a game or the latest Cirque show. Fans from as far away as Palm Beach will be able to hop a commuter train and travel to a game without ever fighting traffic or searching for parking. Best yet, they'll never have to pay an exorbitant parking fee again. If it's raining, they'll never know it because they'll get on and off the train inside the enclosed atrium connecting the stadium to the arena. BayLink will offer the same hassle free trip to the ballpark for the thousands of fans living on Miami Beach. All it will take is a little vision on behalf of everybody. Perhaps Miami's Mayor Manny Diaz or County Mayor Carlos Alverez would like to step up to the plate and make this happen. Oh, yeah, you can rest assured that we have forwarded this posting to them.

Become an MVB FACILITATOR! For those who also think this is the best solution for the survival of a downtown stadium and an arena based attraction, feel free to let our government officials know by emailing your thoughts to them through our handy-dandy email contact list found on the right side of our home page.

UpDate (4/27/07): The Miami Herald reports that the plan to help build a downtown Miami baseball stadium which was passed in the House won't be heard in the Senate, basically killing any chance to see a $60 million tax subsidy spread over 30 years. Instead the Senate is considering a watered down allocation to be split between three professional teams netting the Marlins a one time payment of $32.6 million.

Friday, April 06, 2007

5 Architects Make Cut to Design Miami Science Museum

Five world renowned architectural firms made the cut to design Miami's new Science Museum along Biscayne Bay. They are:
  • Grimshaw Architects
    This UK company is the same firm that designed the enclosed baseball stadium shown at the right of the MVB home page. Shown on the right is a building they designed for the Eden Project (2001).

  • Steven Holl Architects
    Named America's Best Architect by Time Magazine in 2001, we particularly like his Busan Cinema Complex in Pusan, Korea.

  • Polshek Partnership Architects
    Shown at the right is the New York firm's re-imagining of the Hayden Planetarium for New York's American Museum of Natural History Rose Center for Earth and Space.

  • Wilkinson Eyre Architects
    Of the five firms, this UK company's design for the New Crystal Palace Exhibition Hall and Sculpture Garden in London intrigues us the most. Wrapped in glass, photovoltaic cells are embedded in the "skin" to provide solar power while "gill-like" louvres provide natural ventilation.

  • Zaha Hadid Architects
    This UK firm, headed by Ms. Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi born British citizen, is one of the bright lights of deconstructivist architecture. Her work is right out of a Frank Herbert "Dune" novel, something very other-worldly and a whole lot of fun to look at. The building pictured to the right is her design for the Nuragic and Contemporary Art Museum in Cagliari, Italy (2007). She is the only one of the five who has won the celebrated Pritzker Prize in architecture (2004).

Three other firms were chosen to submit proposals for the "executive architect" role. They are:
These eight firms were culled from 35 submissions. Final architect selection is scheduled for May 1st and 2nd in what is promised to be a "transparent process" conducted in a public forum. There is no mention in the museum's press release whether or not the public's opinion will really be considered. At least it won't be left in the hands of one person to choose the architect as it was for architects for our new art museum. Yes, we're still disappointed Gehry didn't get chosen for that project. And, yes, Herzog and de Meuron (2001 Pritzker Prize) are more than worthy and we look forward to seeing what they whipped up for the art museum, but we have a jones for Gehry-- despite his disappointing design for Miami Beach's New World Symphony. We are also disappointed that not one local architectural firm made the cut when there are so many worthy ones.

UpDate (5/2/07): Grimshaw wins.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

MVB's Big Idea Award Goes To Shaya Boymelgreen for Re-Imagining Soleil for Workforce Housing

Enhance your blogging pleasure by clicking the button for Enzyte theme music.

MVB proudly presented Shaya Boymelgreen with our Big Idea Award last night at Churchill's Pub in Little Haiti. Although this award could have been presented for any number of worthy local projects his company brought to Miami, we felt his most important contribution was his recent re-imagining of the Soleil* condo project to accommodate workforce housing, something our area is sorely lacking.

Located at 3100 Biscayne Boulevard, Boymelgreen is splitting the formerly 288-unit, 43-floor project into two towers, one for middle-income owners and the other for the originally targeted wealthy buyers. Prices will start at $200,000.

Other MVB Big Idea Awards have been given to Jorge Perez, Carlisle Development Group and Carrfour Supportive Housing, and Bruce Rubin.

By the way, for all of those who are wondering about Bob and his continuing struggle to overcome self-medication, we are happy to report that Bob again managed to keep his pants on during the entire award ceremony.

*This website has a way-cool 3D animation that begins with a circling aerial of Miami before landing on Biscayne Boulevard for a pedal-to-the-metal thrill ride up the boulevard to the project.

UpDate (4/14/07): Today's Miami Herald says "Developer Shaya Boymelgreen is going it alone in Miami." Leviev Boymelgreen is no more. Boymelgreen's partner dosen't see Miami's potential. Boymelgreen does and is taking over the Miami projects. He is so worthy of the MVB Big Idea Award.

Another Mojito Moment or Things That Make You Drink in Miami: The $1.2 Billion Port Tunnel

Although the official county estimate for the Port of Miami Tunnel was $1.2 billion, real world bids came in this week that might cause more than a few of us to make up a batch of mojitos. The lowest bid was $1.16 billion and the highest was $2.21 billion. The kicker is how the county will pay its 50% share since, according to the Miami Herald, that issue "remains a little fuzzy." Using County Manager George Burgess' "fuzzy economics"-- which includes a $50 million contribution from the City of Miami, the poorest of the big cities in Dade County-- the county still comes up $300 million short. His solution is to add truck tolls and shipping fees.

MVB thinks that's one bad solution because it will only drive shippers and truckers away from the port-- as some have already promised they would if that happened. Where will they go? Miami's chief cheaper shipping rival: Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale. In the end, real world economics instead of "fuzzy economics" will turn what has been described as "the largest bored tunnel in the U.S.," into the world's biggest money pit.

Our solution: Use the existing rail system (currently not used at all) to its maximum capacity in the wee hours of the morning so as not to disrupt downtown traffic with off-loading in the rail yards near MIA (where many, if not most, of the trucks from the port drive to anyway). We believe that solution hasn't really been looked at because of the influence of the powerful trucking unions.

What's Next? A panel of five "experts" will determine which of the three proposals is the best. And then it's up to the county commission to give the final vote. Knowing it comes back to the commissioners is another reason we drink a lot here at MVB. In the past, few commissioners have shown any restraint on spending huge amounts of money on projects like these, i.e., the nearly half-billion-dollar Carnival Center for the Performing Arts (which will probably never show a profit) and MIA's $6.2 billion-and-rising costs. Even county mayor Carlos Alverez, whom we backed in his strong mayor bid, is for this project which just goes to show, even MVB can make mistakes.

Heads Up to Christopher Mazzella, the county's Inspector General, who has said "fraud and ineptitude" cost the county $344 million a year: Considering the potential amount of public money that will be spent on this project, pehaps you may want to get your Public Corruption and Investigations Bureau to keep an eye on the five experts and the commissioners in advance to make sure their opinions aren't tainted in any way from outside influences instead of after-the-fact when it gets convoluted and very expensive.

UpDate (12/13/08): Christmas comes early with the announcement that the tunnel project succumbs to a well-deserved death when the state and Bouygues Travaux Publics can't agree on terms. Hurray!

Monday, April 02, 2007

University of Florida: America's University of the Century!

Push the button to enhance your blogging pleasure!

It took over a hundered years, but the University of Florida Gators tonight did something no other college team has ever done before. Tonight it became the first NCAA school to own back-to-back national championships in basketball and football in the same year. That's something all Floridians can be proud about. The Gators did it by beating Ohio State 84 to 75. Kudos to the "Gator Boys," the starting five who agreed to stay together as a team for one more year last season instead of jumping to the NBA. Selflessness, what a concept! So rare in today's sports. And so well-rewarded.

Some stats on the team and the school:
  • No team has won back-to-back titles with the same starting lineup. Until tonight.
  • No college basketball team has won back-to-back titles since Duke in 1992.
  • Florida won its first national championship in 1968, in men's golf. Since then, the Gators have won national titles in women's swimming, gymnastics, women's golf, women's track, women's tennis, football, soccer, and basketball.
  • The University of Florida has the highest admission standards in the state. The average SAT score is 1400. That was the requirement for the Honors Program just a few years ago.
  • 25,000 apply for fewer than 7,000 openings each year.
  • My kids go there! Ye-haw!

Way to go Gator Nation!