Blueprint Future: Episode 02 – Mayor Dan Gelber, Miami Beach

From the Florida House of Reps to the State Senate and now the top office in Miami Beach, Mayor Dan Gelber is a seasoned public servant. He sat down with Richard and Padden to share the wisdom he’s picked up along the way, including how to keep a hospitality town afloat during a pandemic, lessons from being a Democratic mayor in a Republican state, and prioritizing livability in a growing city.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

News Break: “Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber: ‘Our City Is Outraged’ At Violent Weekend That Saw People Robbed, Shot”

 Miami Beach police and city leaders say they are cracking down on crime and beefing up enforcement.

In a news conference Monday, Mayor Dan Gelber says this past weekend was the latest in an unfortunate trend in violence in the city.

“Our city is outraged,” he says. “What we saw this weekend and, frankly, what we’ve been seeing for a while now is well beyond unacceptable.”

The weekend began with several tourists being held up at gunpoint Friday, in broad daylight.

It ended with a separate incident Sunday night, when shots were fired on a busy Washington Avenue. Two men and a woman were injured in the shooting.

The mayor says they are taking action.

“We are going to have dozens of more police officers enforcing every ordinance we have.  All the signs coming in here will let people know they are going to be arrested if they misbehave,” he says.

In that news conference, Miami Beach PD identified the suspected gunman from Sunday night as 24-year-old Keshawn McLean , telling the public to be on the lookout.

Meantime, Chief Richard Clements says he’s making changes to provide better security.

“We will be looking for different staffing plans and staffing components for our patrol division and our police department to see if we can go ahead and enhance their performance, in terms of being in all places at all times, as best as we can, in order to deal with the expectations our residents have,” says Clements. “They deserve the right to be safe here and it’s our job to make that happen, and, quite frankly, people like this walking around don’t make it safe. We need to do a better job, and we’re going to do a better job.”

He also expressed frustration with people visiting who treat Miami Beach like a free-for-all.

“I think we have to change the narrative that’s out there that’s coming from people all over the country that when you come down here, anything and everything goes. Not anymore,” Chief Clements says. “I think the men and women of the Miami Beach Police Department are tired of it. They’re tired from the attitudes that they’re getting when they go out there and try to keep, for lack of a better term, a lid on things. More importantly, they’re stressed every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night about having to go out there and do the same thing over and over and over again.”

Mayor Gelber says they will also be working on an enforcement plan for bars and restaurants with the upcoming spring break.

If you know Keshawn McLean or know where he is, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477) or contact them online at crimestoppersmiami.com .

View the original article here.

News Break: “Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber To Spring Breakers, ‘Want To Act Crazy, Please Don’t, Go Somewhere Else’”

We are getting close to that time again when thousands of college students flock to South Florida beaches for spring break.

Last year, crowds packed in just as the coronavirus began to spread here.

Then beaches closed, stopping the party in its tracks.

Now, the concern is what will happen this year?

“Given where we are now with COVID, the lack of vaccines, the fact that UK strain is in Florida pretty prominently. The fact that there are now cases of the South African strain here, spring break could tend to be a significant super spreader,” said concerned CBS 4 viewer David Moss.

He looped us in as he reached out to local leaders to find out what the plan will be this time around.

“If people are coming here to go crazy please don’t, go somewhere else,” urged Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. “If you’re coming here because you think we don’t have rules with regard to COVID, go somewhere else as well,” he said.

Mayor Gelber said with the governor’s orders, it’s difficult to enforce mask mandates and other rules, but Miami Beach plans to do what it can, including not approving permits for big events.

“We obviously are going to be enforcing the curfew, vigorously,” Mayor Gelber said. “We still have the mask mandate. We’re limited by the governor as to what we can do to enforce it. But we’re still walking up to people asking them to wear masks and giving them masks,” he said.

Broward Mayor Steve Geller spelled it out, “If they come, they stay out in the open on the beach, on the breeze, they’re 6 feet away from each other, God Bless them. We’re not going to do a thing to them,” Mayor Geller said.

The county plans to vigorously enforce mask mandates and county rules.

Geller said they will be watching bars and restaurants closely.

“I do not want to shut down a single business in Broward County because of COVID. But if we’re going to avoid shutting them down then they need to comply with our orders with masks and social distancing,” he said.

Neither mayor is holding out much hope that the governor will call for stricter rules during spring break. They just stress they will strongly enforce rules that are on the books already.

View the original article here.

RE Miami Beach: “tougher penalties approved for sidewalk café violations”

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber secured another victory in his proposal to overhaul the City’s Entertainment District with the passage of an ordinance that toughens the penalties for violating the Sidewalk Café Code of Conduct.

This is the third piece of legislation in his effort to get what he calls the “anything goes” attitude of the area under control. His vision: Create an Art Deco Cultural District that emphasizes the arts over raucus entertainment. Earlier this month, Commissioners voted to turn down the noise at 2 am on two blocks of Ocean Drive between 9th and 11th Streets known as the Cabaret District which had been exempt from east-facing noise limits. They also voted to create a Legacy Business designation that may be used to provide incentives or exemptions in the future for longstanding businesses in good stead. 

Under the new Sidewalk Café Code of Conduct penalty structure, following the first violation of the Code of Conduct within the preceding 12 months, the operator’s sidewalk café permit would be suspended for 24 hours. Once reopened, the café would have to close its sidewalk café at midnight until an operational plan detailing how violations will be corrected is approved by the City Manager.  

The Code of Conduct prohibits “hawking” to bring customers into a café, 2-for-1 specials signs, and deceptive business practices, among other things. While the Code of Conduct is citywide, the no solicitation provision impacts Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road, and Española Way. It went into effect in October 2019.

Upon the second violation within the preceding 12 months, the operator would receive a suspension of the sidewalk café permit for one weekend (Saturday and Sunday) and once reopened would have to end all sidewalk café business operations at 10:00 pm each day until an operational plan detailing how any violations will be corrected is submitted and approved by the City Manager. The ordinance requires the City to make “reasonable efforts to approve or deny the permittee’s proposed operational plan within five (5) business days.”

Significantly, upon a third violation within the preceding 12 months, the business would have its sidewalk café permit revoked for the remaining portion of the permit year. Currently, revocation is not applied until the fourth offense.

A permittee who has been issued four or more violations within the preceding 12 months will not be allowed to apply for and obtain a new permit for two consecutive permit years following the permit year in which the most recent violation was incurred. 

The new ordinance takes effect on February 6, ten days after its final passage, and is applied prospectively. On that date, the “’penalty clock’ would be reset for all permittees, for purposes of implementing the enhanced penalties,” according to a memo from Acting City Attorney Rafael Paz. In other words, the next penalty assessed to any sidewalk café operator would be their first.

Though the ordinance was part of Gelber’s plan to overhaul Ocean Drive, its impact is citywide. Upon passage, seven sidewalk café operators had three Code of Conduct violations and, thus, in a position to lose their permit with one more violation prior to the clock being reset. They are Il Giardino, The Carlyle Cafe, Il Bolognese, and Cuba Libre on Ocean Drive and Taverna, Ole Ole, and Tapelia on Lincoln Road.

Between now and the effective date of the ordinance, the City will conduct outreach to café operators regarding the tougher penalties.

The item was co-sponsored by Commissioner Mark Samuelian.

Paz’s full memo on the café penalties and ordinance is here.

View the original article here.

CBS Miami: “Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber Sends Message To Spring Breakers”

“If people are coming here to go crazy please don’t, go somewhere else,” urged Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. “If you’re coming here because you think we don’t have rules with regard to COVID, go somewhere else as well,” he said.

View the original video here: https://cbsloc.al/2NPshvV

ABC Action: “Florida not revealing how contact tracing is going, other states struggling to keep up”

Failing, overburdened and outpaced by COVID-19, that’s how some are describing the state’s contact tracing program. Investigative Reporter Katie LaGrone finds out where the program stands despite the state revealing little about its efforts

Touted as a major weapon in the war to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Florida’s contact tracing program remains an active part of the state’s ongoing battle but detail appears to still be shrouded in secrecy.

For months, we’ve reported on the state’s slow and struggling efforts to successfully contact trace.

Despite repeated requests for basic information including the most current number of tracers, success rates and other program details, Florida’s Department of Health (FDOH) has not provided any information.

So we asked cities and counties for insight. Most county health departments referred us to the FDOH.

But Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber didn’t hold back when asked how contact tracing was going in his city.

“It’s failing,” Gelber said. “Contact tracing still remains one of many weak points in our [the state’s] approach to this pandemic.”

Gelber has been an outspoken critic of the state’s overall response to the pandemic.

“Unfortunately it’s deja vu because it happened precisely like this over the summer and we didn’t even have enough people to make the calls at that point. Now we just have a terrible program, “ he said.

His city and Miami-Dade county run general remains an epic-center for positive cases, deaths and a continuous surge.

“When you don’t have contact tracing, you have the surge and that’s exactly what’s happening,” he said.

State draft reports about contact tracing in Miami Dade County Gelber provided to us show over a two-week period in December, less than half the number of people who tested positive were interviewed by a tracer within two days, records show.

“We are not even reaching 50% of those infected on a daily basis,” he said.

But tracing during the holidays is likely to cause challenges. Gelber said he receives updated reports every two weeks and a less than 50% contact rate is consistent in the county.

It’s unclear if that’s true and for how long. We asked FDOH for copies of all county reports on contact tracing going back to Nov. 1. In an email, a spokesperson with FDOH said our public record request, “is currently being processed.”

Across the county, contact tracing is a struggle for states and communities experiencing surges in positive cases.

“When cases are so high there’s only so much you can do,” said Adriane Casalotti with the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Casalotti has encouraged contact tracing since the beginning of the pandemic. She said the surge coupled with people’s refusal to cooperate with tracers has left state contact tracing efforts severely weakened around the country.

“There are just some places that are not even attempting contact tracing to certain levels at this point depending on how their community spread is going,” Casalotti said.

Other states and communities are changing the way they trace by focusing only on populations most at risk of dying or spreading the disease.

Last summer, Florida contracted with an outside firm, Maximus Inc, to ramp up its contact tracing efforts. The state has three contracts with the Virginia-based government contractor worth a total of $70 million, according to the state’s government contract website.

As of August, the state with the help of Maximus had 4400 tracers working to stop the virus’ spread. Where that number stands now remains unknown.

In an email, a Maximus Inc spokesperson said, “Maximus continues to support the state in their contract tracing efforts, and we are working closely with the Florida Department of Health to provide any support they need to address the current COVID-19 cases in Florida.”

What that means and how it’s all going, like contact tracing itself in Florida, remains a question the state has yet to fully answer.

View the original article here.

NBC Miami: “Miami-Dade County Leaders Give Update on #Resilient305 Project”

Leaders in Miami-Dade County say the ‘#Resilient305’ project has made progress since being launched over a year ago.

“The purpose of this was to get us all together and agree on some common objectives some common goals that would raise everybody,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber an event Friday.

He is one of several mayors whose city is included in the project, which is overall aimed at making the community better for everyone.

“The best way to do this is to work collaboratively in a way that is good for everybody,” Gelber said. “All the ships rise in the harbor when the tide rises.”

The county is faced with issues including affordable housing, income inequality, traffic and infrastructure. 

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that since #Resilient305’s launch, there has been progress for nearly all of the 59 action items, including protecting Biscayne Bay.

“We know that it is under attack, and we need to do everything urgently to protect it,” Levine Cava said. “It’s the cornerstone of our public health, our environment and our regional economy, but it has been careening towards collapse.”

“This work touches upon all the critical aspects of our community and its future.” 

Recently, the state gave $20 million to protect the bay after dozens of dead fish washed ashore over the summer. 

In the City of Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez said $200 million will be spent on adding pump stations in the city, and the city plans to plant 4,000 trees to help absorb water during flooding and with storm surges. 

“We are working together to ensure that our beautiful paradise that we call home, stays just as wonderful for our children and my grandchildren, and everyone’s grandchildren for the years to come,” Levine Cava said. 

She hopes to have all 34 municipalities onboard with the strategy in the near future.

View the original article here.

WSVN: “Miami Beach, North Bay Village declare Friday as Deco Drive Day in honor of 25th birthday”

We weren’t making a big deal about Deco’s 25th birthday, but when officials across South Florida are making a whole production about us, what can we do?

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber: “Happy birthday, Deco Drive! Wow, the big 25!”

It’s official, Friday was Deco Drive Day in Miami Beach.

Mayor Dan Gelber issued a proclamation, and we’re honored.

By the way, does that mean we get free parking?

And in our home of North Bay Village, we got some love, too.

Mayor Brent Latham declared it’s Deco Drive Day in North Bay Village. We love our neighbors.

View the original article here.

Local 10: “Miami Beach starts to deliver 300 vaccines to local seniors”

Miami Beach started to deliver Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines to seniors’ apartments on Wednesday in South Beach, as part of a program that aims to vaccinate 300 seniors.

Fire Rescue personnel arrived at Council Towers North with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. They were carrying blue bins and rolling in coolers for some of the dozens of residents at the affordable housing community for seniors.

“We just have got to get it to them because every day they go without it is a day they’re in danger,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.

To start the program, city officials made sure emergency medical technicians received training and moved an industrial freezer into a fire station to store a small supply of the Moderna vaccine.

City Manager Raul Aguila said the city received 60 vials of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday in addition to “an extremely limited number of vaccines” for homebound seniors. Authorities are choosing who to vaccinate.

“We don’t want to do what we have seen happen, which is tens of thousands of hundreds of thousands of people call and there’s really not enough vaccine to address them,” Gelber said.

View the original article here.