Local 10: Surge teams in Miami-Dade going door to door to COVID hotspots

Florida is shattering the record again, nearly 9,600 new positive COVID-19 reported in the last 24-hours.

The state’s highest numbers are Miami-Dade County with 1,300 new cases.

Little Havana is one of several neighborhoods in Miami-Dade now designated a COVID-19 hotspots, along with Brownsville and Allapatah.

Surge teams will soon be going door to door dropping off materials and educating residents.

County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said rather than the new case numbers, it’s the increasing positivity rate that has him concerned, especially among the younger population.

“We were running at about 7 or 8 percent. Now we’re running around 14 percent. Frankly, over the last few days, that figure has jumped to over 20 percent,” Gimenez said.

He’s also seeing an increase in hospitalizations, but, the mayor said, the county still has plenty of beds available.

View the original article here.

Miami Herald: They’re living in a COVID-19 hot spot. A ‘rapid-response team’ just visited the area

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Eileen Higgins and her staff handed out supplies to residents in Little Havana most severely affected by rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.

A member of Higgins’ team, who represents District 5, said Saturday’s effort was coordinated over two days.

“We need these people to know they live in a hot spot,” Higgins said. “They have to be careful. We cannot let our guard down. Case numbers are going up.”

Higgins’ team joined with Miami state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez and members of his staff, as well as with volunteers from the area, to create a “rapid response team.”

Higgins said volunteers put together bags containing information in English and Spanish, as well as five reusable masks, to give out to 2,000 homes. Volunteers gathered at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium on West Flagler Street for assembly and disbursement.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez was in Little Havana on Friday, also handing out free masks. Suarez and other city employees handed out masks near Marlins Park on the corner of Northwest 7th Street and 17th Court, with lots of passing traffic. They handed out two packs of five masks each to every car that slowed down for the offer.

According to WPLG-Channel 10, Suarez handed out 10,000 masks on Friday.

“We have lots of people living in very, very small apartment buildings, so social distancing can be difficult,” Higgins said of Little Havana, where she said the county has seen a surge of cases. “We need to spread the word in these neighborhoods very quickly that they’re in a neighborhood where they need to be more careful than they even already are.”

Higgins said she’s also concerned about the area because low-income workers can struggle to acquire health insurance or paid sick time.

Florida hit another record Saturday with nearly 9,600 confirmed new cases of COVID-19. Higgins said people should stay careful, not go into crowded areas, wear their masks and call code enforcement if they see businesses not enforcing social distancing measures.

Lucero Ruballos, a county legislative aide for Rodriguez, said the county should return to leaving only essential businesses open.

View the original article here.

Univision 23: Comisión de Miami-Dade aplaza decisión sobre ayudas para pagar la renta a residentes afectados por el coronavirus

La Comisión de Miami-Dade tenía en la agenda del miércoles la discusión de un plan para destinar $10 millones de fondos federales para ayudar a pagar la renta a los residentes afectados económicamente por el coronavirus, pero decidieron posponerla hasta el próximo 8 de julio.

El tema fue bloqueado bajo el amparo de una ley que permite que los comisionados suspendan una discusión, cuando no han tenido cuatro días para estudiar una propuesta.

“Es un programa muy bueno, pero el problema es que nos lo dieron esa misma mañana, y queremos saber cómo se van a otorgar los $10 millones, la forma de pago y otros detalles”, dijo Joe Martínez, comisionado de Miami-Dade.

Martínez agregó que a su parecer las condiciones de distribución de los fondos no estaban claras y él y otros comisionados quieren ser justos con todos los residentes del condado.

Pero la comisionada Eileen Higgins criticó que se bloqueara la discusión, asegurando que la necesidad es urgente, debido a todos los que han perdido su empleo, por el coronavirus.

Higgins afirmó que no es tan complicado leer algunas páginas para decidir si es una buena idea o no, para ayudar a la gente de Miami-Dade.

Además, le preocupa que ahora el tema se discutirá en la Comisión después de que se haya vencido la orden de suspensión de desalojos emitida por el gobernador Ron DeSantis, ante la emergencia y los cierres del covid-19.

Higgins publicó una declaración sobre el tema que puede ver aquí en su cuenta de Twitter.

Aumento de casos preocupa al alcalde del condado

El alcalde Carlos Gimenez se mostró el miércoles preocupado por el aumento de casos de coronavirus en el condado e hizo una advertencia a residentes y dueños de negocios que no cumplan con las medidas de distanciamiento social.

Aunque afirmó que esperaban ver este aumento cuando iniciara la reapertura de la economía y las personas tuvieran además un mayor acceso a las pruebas de coronavirus, dijo que su gobierno no contaba con las protestas de las últimas 3 semanas, que al parecer han contribuido al aumento de casos positivos.

Pero señaló que algunas personas se están relajando y han dejado de ponerse las mascarillas cuando van a las tiendas o restaurantes y no están siguiendo las reglas de distanciamiento social.

Y finalmente advirtió a los negocios que no estén siguiendo o haciendo cumplir las reglas establecidas que “van a enfrentar un cierre por parte de la policía de Miami-Dade”.

Ver el artículo original aquí.

Univison 23: Retrasan discusión de un plan para ayudar con la renta a afectados por el coronavirus en Miami-Dade

Este miércoles la Comisión de Miami-Dade debía discutir la posibilidad de usar 10 millones de dólares para beneficiar a quienes no puedan pagar sus alquileres debido a la pandemia. Sin embargo, varios comisionados pospusieron el tema hasta el 8 de julio porque, aseguraron, necesitaban más días para analizarlo. “La necesidad es urgente”, dijo la comisionada Eileen Higgins, quien criticó el aplazamiento.

Ver el artículo original aquí.

Local 10: Civilian oversight of police one step closer in Miami-Dade

The Miami-Dade Commission voted 9-4 Tuesday in favor of resurrecting a civilian oversight panel for when police are accused of wrongdoing.

After passing that first vote, details including funding and the composition of the panel will need to be ironed out before a second vote could put it into law.

A civilian panel had been in place in the county years ago but was defunded.

“It’s the bad apples that we want to get, that we want to get rid of,” Commissioner Barbara Jordan, who sponsored the idea of the panel, said last week. “We want to make sure that there are policies in place that … would hold them accountable.”

Commissioners voting to advance the plan were: Jordan, Daniella Levine Cava, Audrey Edmonson, Sally Heyman, Eileen Higgins, Jean Monestime, Dennis Moss, Rebeca Sosa and Xavier Suarez.

Voting against: Steve Bovo, Pepe Diaz, Joe Martinez and Javier Souto.

Public comments Tuesday were been largely in favor of civilian oversight, though mindful that Miami-Dade is not Minneapolis, and recognizing the county’s police force for its community-minded approach.

In the plan advanced Tuesday, county commissioners will pick panel members with input from the community.

The funding for the panel will be no less than one percent of the police department budget, but the source of the funding is still unclear.

Commissioners received a letter from the President of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association opposing any move to defund or reallocate the police department budget.

“It has been put out there that this item is taking money from the police department, and it is not,” Jordan said. “I just wanted to clear that up.”

The power of civilian oversight is tested regularly, and one example it the City of Miami‘s Civilian Investigative Panel.

As the county commissioners met, Miami CIP member Steve Navarette tweeted: “… we need full subpoena power, at least one more investigator and an analyst, and the Chief Mayor to take actions on recommendations”.

Florida law gives accused law enforcement officers broad rights, including the choice to refuse interviews.

“Although sometimes police departments don’t listen, oftentimes they do reopen cases and oftentimes they do discipline officers,” said Rodney Jacobs, Assistant Director of Miami’s CIP. “ We try to do our best with the tools that we have and our powers.

“The reason why police chiefs may not listen to our recommendations rest in state law, so I urge people to look at those issues and take it to their elected leaders,” he added.

Miami-Dade’s police director Freddy Ramirez said Sunday on Local 10′s “This Week in South Florida” that he wants to ensure his officers are represented and protected.

“If it’s the will of the community and the will of the board to impose a civilian review panel, what I ask is that it’s fair and representative of not only members of the community, but also law enforcement,” Ramirez said. “Because I don’t want my officers to be put in a ‘gotcha’ moment, or to be exploited.”

View the original article here.

Diario Las Américas: Miami-Dade acepta propuesta de panel independiente para supervisar “policía y todo”

MIAMI. La propuesta de crear un panel independiente que atienda quejas relacionadas con la Policía y otros asuntos de Miami-Dade recibió el visto bueno a primera instancia de la Comisión condal, con nueve votos a favor y cuatro en contra.

La propuesta para reinstaurar un panel independiente, que funcionó entre los años 1980 y 2009 y fue desmantelado durante los cortes presupuestarios de la crisis económica de entonces, tuvo a la comisionada Barbara Jordan, que tuvo por seguidores a los comisionados Xavier Suarez, Sally Heyman, Daniella Levine Cava y Eileen Higgins, así como a Jean Monestime, Rebeca Sosa, Audrey Edmonson y Dennis Moss.

En contra votaron Javier Souto, Joe Martinez, Esteban “Steve” Bovo y Jose “Pepe” Díaz.

El principal escollo pareció ser el monto que sería asignado al nuevo panel para operar, que se situó en un mínimo de 1% de la suma que reciba el cuerpo policiaco condal al año, lo que equivale a cerca de ocho millones de dólares.

De cualquier manera, si el panel es finalmente aprobado en segunda votación, los fondos serían asignados por el alcalde, Carlos Giménez, y sus asesores.

De hecho, la Comisión condal de Miami-Dade propuso revivir la idea con la creación de un grupo comunitario supervisor hace dos años, pero el alcalde Giménez vetó la resolución en busca de otra solución.

Por otro lado, la municipalidad de Miami cuenta con un panel independiente que supervisa el acontecer de la Policía de la ciudad, mientras, hace un par de años.

“No quería solo representación de ‘grupos de intereses especiales’. Si vamos a tener un panel de investigación civil, debe estar compuesto por personas de la comunidad, toda la comunidad”, nombrados por los comisionados, señaló Giménez.

El resurgimiento de la idea del panel independiente está relacionado con la muerte injustificable de George Floyd a manos de la Policía de Minneapolis y las consecuentes protestas callejeras que piden justicia, amén de la violencia y los disturbios acaecidos.

“Queremos que el nuevo panel aborde todos los problemas en el condado”, declaró la comisionada Jordan.

De esta manera, la legisladora condal apuesta por una junta independiente de supervisión que aborde todos los problemas en el condado y no solo quejas o denuncias sobre la Policía.

Acorde al director de la Policía condal, Freddy Ramírez, “el 99.9% de mis oficiales sirven con honor y respeto y se preocupan por esta comunidad”.

Eso quiere decir que el 0.01% es causante de excesos. Un ínfimo porcentaje que, aplicado a otros cuerpos policíacos municipales, ha causado grandes atropellos, como las muertes de Arthur McDuffie y Israel Hernández en Miami, en 1979 y 2013, respectivamente, y Delbert Rodríguez Gutiérrez en Miami Beach en 2014, entre otros.

texto original aquí

Miami Today: “Commissioner calls for affordable housing summit”

To infuse new ideas into housing, Miami-Dade Commissioner Dennis Moss is calling for an “affordable housing summit” where decision-makers and experts can jointly target solutions.

On Monday, at the first Housing, Social Services and Economic Development Committee meeting, Mr. Moss, the chairman, said he also wants county departments to submit “reaching” ideas that “would really make a difference.”

“I’m asking people to think outside of the box, [and] I don’t want you to come with small projects,” he said. “For example, [I hope] our housing agency… will come back and say they’re prepared to build 10,000 units of housing this year.”

But no matter how much is built, Commissioner Jean Monestime said, land is finite and gentrification is pressing.

“The cry-out is very loud,” he said. “We have an unlimited amount of need but very limited… space.”

Commissioner Xavier Suarez recommended inviting “important other municipalities” – specifically Miami, whose voters in November 2017 OK’d a $400 million Forever Bond with $100 million for affordable housing and economic development.

Vice Chairwoman Eileen Higgins seconded that suggestion, adding that Little Havana in her district has the city’s highest percentage of natural affordable housing but could grow unaffordable as developers scoop up property.

She said she was also working with Public Housing Director Michael Liu to “co-collaborate” with the city in densifying county land in the city to add “more than 1,000 new affordable units.”

As skyrocketing costs and prohibitive down payments force young adults to remain at their parents’ home, Commissioner Joe Martinez said he was less optimistic.

“I know the feds have their own definition, but what is exactly affordable?” he asked. “I don’t know if we can tackle that, because supply and demand, and we do have a capitalist society.”

Miami Today: “Eileen Higgins: Brings her business experience to the county commission”

Eileen Higgins stays busy. The freshman Miami-Dade commissioner, now seven months into representing District 5, works long hours and makes it a point every week to visit all parts of her district, made up of portions of Miami, Miami Beach and unincorporated Fisher Island.

This year, in her first full legislative session, Ms. Higgins will serve on the Housing, Social Services and Economic Development; Transportation and Finance; and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs committees, as well as the Community Disparities Subcommittee.

She is excited about all four assignments, she said, but is especially eager to work on two she asked for specifically, albeit for different reasons.

“Some of the strong leaders on the commission, who understand housing deeply and are the biggest advocates, will term out in 2020. I want to learn from them because I’ll be here in 2021, God willing,” she said. “On transportation, I provide a different perspective. I am a true transit rider in all its forms. I don’t just ride the train.”

Those issues and others she’ll address, she said, are intrinsic to improving the overall quality of life here, and she plans to use the diverse experience she gained prior to serving in elected public office in developing novel solutions to age-old quandaries.

“I tell people I have a split personality, but there’s only two,” she said. “I intend to approach things thinking about, ‘How do we make the economy grow?’ I have that business background. At the same time, [I ask], ‘How do we not leave people behind while we’re doing that?’ We can do both, and I have a career that’s proven that.”

Ms. Higgins sat down with Miami Today reporter Jesse Scheckner. The interview, recorded by Jahmoukie Dayle, can be found Friday at http://bit.ly/2uNHy0Q.