State Rep Jose Javier Rodriguez Talks About Tallahassee Dysfunction – #OnlyinMiami Show, Ep. 75 – 5/4/2015
5 May 2015 Brandon Mowry
Episode 75 of the #OnlyinMiami Show featured an interview with Florida state representative Jose Javier Rodriguez who talked about the legislative session that just concluded in Tallahassee.
Host Grant Stern started off the show by talking about the plan negotiated by then-Governer Charlie Crist to purchase certain agricultural land from U.S. Sugar to be used for Everglades restoration. The purchase of the lands would allow the water flowing into the Everglades to be purified of pesticides and other pollutants. Funding for the purchase was provided for in a constitutional ballot initiative this past November; however, Governor Rick Scott and the Florida legislature are so far refusing to finalize this transaction. All concerned citizens are urged to contact their state representatives and senators to let them know there is broad support for this purchase.
State representative Jose Javier Rodriguez then joined the show to talk about the legislative session that ended recently. He started by talking about the discussion surrounding healthcare funding. The federal government has authorized funds to expand Medicaid programs for low-income residents. However, certain Republican leaders in Tallahassee are refusing to accept the federal money. In fact, due to an impasse between the House and Senate, the House adjourned several days earlier than planned in order to avoid some of these difficult decisions. Representative Rodriguez then talked about Florida Power and Light. FPL is looking to expand the nuclear power generating facility at Turkey Point, adding two new reactors. However, they have not yet received approval from federal regulators. The expansion plan also includes a component that would construct transmission lines along US-1 through the communities of Pinecrest, South Miami, Coral Gables, and Brickell. The 100-foot tall towers would bisect these neighborhoods and create not only an eyesore, but also potentially lower the property values surrounding the corridor. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is accepting public comments about the expansion plan until May 22; for help submitting comments, please call Representative Rodriguez’s office at 305.854.0365.
Representative Rodriguez also spoke about how FPL has been rigging the game against distributed power generation. In essence, companies who own property and would like to install solar panels for their own needs and to sell excess power to the grid are forced to sell any excess power well below the market rate. In fact, it is so low that investors and developers have agreed that it will not pay enough to make it worthwhile. A new coalition of citizen activists, Floridians for Solar Choice, will be advocating for changes in the regulations to make it possible for individuals and businesses to create a distributed solar power generation network. He also spent a few minutes discussing fair districting which would seek to eliminate some of the more egregious gerrymandered districts statewide. To connect with Representative Rodriguez, follow him on Twitter at @josejavierjjr.
Then, Omar Rivero of Occupy Democrats joined the show. He talked about the history of the site and their mission. He gave his thoughts on the issue of the pending purchase of big sugar land to aid in Everglades restoration and how citizens might get involved in the political process to encourage Florida lawmakers to appropriate the funds. He also talked about the recent issues of police brutality that have come to light in Baltimore, Ferguson, and elsewhere, and how addressing economic inequality might be able to curtail some of the illegal activities that occur among inner city youth.
Omar also spent some time talking about the upcoming 2016 presidential election and the two Democratic candidates who have announced their candidacy, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. He talked about the positions, sometimes surprising, that the two candidates have espoused in the first few weeks of the campaign. He also talked about the difficulties surrounding campaign finance due to the Citizens United ruling that allows virtually unlimited funds to flow to candidates and political action committees. For continuing coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign, visit occupydemocrats.com or follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/occupydemocrats.
At the beginning of the second hour, Casey Rodriguez joined the show to talk about the upcoming Spring Ballet Gala presented by the Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida, which will feature the Shostakovich Suites and Pentimento. For more information, visit http://www.artsballettheatre.org/p4.html or for tickets, visit aventuracenter.org (for the May 9 performance) or browardcenter.org (for the May 10 performance).
Finally, Grant was joined by producer Brandon Mowry and Daren Bentley to talk about sports, including the NBA playoffs and a recap of the Dolphins draft.
28 April 2015 Brandon Mowry
Episode 74 of the #OnlyinMiami Show featured an interview with Hialeah City Commissioner Paul B. Hernandez.
Grant began by talking about a new development project in Overtown, the “Miami Innovation Tower”. While the project might possibly be worthwhile, special attention needs to be paid to the visual elements on the building exterior to ensure that visual pollution from extensive advertisements does not occur.
Then, Paul B. Hernandez joined the show to talk about the current happenings in the Miami-Dade County’s second-largest municipality, the City of Hialeah. He talked about the governmental structure of Hialeah, where every commissioner is at-large and represents the entire city.
He also talked about how Hialeah is looking to become a new haven for artists in Miami-Dade County by creating a new arts district within the city boundaries. The new arts district will extend along East 10th Ave from 9th Street (NW 62nd St in the county numbering system) to 17th Street (NW 71st St). It will be a place where artists can live, work, and display their art.
Grant Stern and Commissioner Hernandez also gave a brief history of Hialeah. They talked about the financial demographics of the area and the dynamics of real estate within the city.
Finally, Commissioner Hernandez talked about a kickoff event that will happen on May 17. For more information and updates, search the hashtag #HialeahNow or follow @LeahArtsDistrict on Instagram.
Later, Xavier Gonzalez joined the show to talk about the second annual eMerge Americas convention at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The main event will be Monday, May 4 and Tuesday, May 5. It’s a chance for executives to network and talk about technology.
Special guest presenters include the Small Business Administration head Maria Contreras and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development chief Julian Castro.
At the beginning of the second hour, Grant was joined by local poet Antonia Wright. She talked about her start in poetry and the closing events for the O, Miami poetry festival that has been running throughout the month of April in various places around Miami-Dade. Antonia also shared an original poem, You Must Be An Artist.
Finally, Grant was joined by the Drastic Fanatic and Jose El Rey to talk sports. They spoke about the upcoming NFL draft and whether the top draft pick will be Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariotta, or a dark horse. They also talked about what teams might be trying to move up or down in the draft. They gave their opinions on what approach the Dolphins should take and what holes need to be filled. They guys also talked about the Marlins turnaround and the NBA playoffs.
21 April 2015 Brandon Mowry
Episode 73 of the #OnlyInMiami Show featured interviews with Steve Janowicz of Patients Out Of Time, Fred Frost of Stop the TPP, and Jag Davies from the Drug Policy Alliance.
The show began with Grant Stern talking about the initiative to legalize marijuana for medical use in Florida. He stressed the need to be properly registered to vote and to do so when issues like this arise.
Grant was then joined by Steve Janowicz from Patients Out Of Time, who talked about the upcoming conference on medical marijuana that will be held in West Palm Beach from May 21 to 23. For more information about the conference, visit patientsoutoftime.org.
Then, Fred Frost joined the show to talk about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a trade agreement involving twelve different countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. This agreement has been kept mostly quiet from the public, but deserves attention due to the devastating effects it could have for the American worker. In essence, it would easily allow American companies to outsource certain labor to countries like Vietnam, where workers are paid only 70¢ per hour. This could result in a vast quantity of American manufacturing jobs being moved overseas, since labor costs would be significantly reduced. For more information and updates, visit cwa-union.org or search Twitter using the hashtag #StopTheTPP.
Steve Janowicz then talked about in more detail about Amendment 2 in the 2014 election which would have legalized marijuana use for medical purposes. The amendment received almost 58% of the vote, yet failed because it required to be passed by a supermajority of 60%. Steve detailed that turnout and undervotes in the populous counties like Miami-Dade contributed to the amendment not being adopted. He also talked about the disparity in advertising in the closing weeks before the election as another reason why the initiative failed. Finally, Steve and Grant talked about the differences between competing legalization plans, including limits for medical use only to full legalization for anyone.
At the bottom of the hour, Jag Davies from the Drug Policy Alliance joined the show to talk about civil asset forfeiture laws, which basically allow law enforcement agencies to confiscate personal property and/or money if certain criteria are met. Jag related that approximately 75% of people who have had property seized are never convicted of a crime. It has become a four billion dollar industry for police departments across the country. The Drug Policy Alliance issued a report in the Los Angeles Times in which they report on the actions of a number of small municipalities in Los Angeles County who are illegally creating department budgets based on future civil forfeitures. They tend to prey on lower income minorities who have a hard time fighting to have their things returned because of the time and money required. It seems as though police are using these laws as a legal means to steal. For more information about civil forfeiture, read the L.A. Times here. For more information about the Drug Policy Alliance, visit drugpolicy.org or follow them on Twitter at @DrugPolicyOrg.
At the beginning of the second hour, Grant spoke with Sarah Trudgeon (@SarahTrudge) from the O, Miami poetry festival happening throughout April. She talked about how she got her start in poetry and read a poem called 2006. For more information about Sarah, visit saratrudgeon.wordpress.com, and for more information about the O, Miami festival, visit omiami.org.
Then, Grant was joined by Shayne Leighton (@shayneleighton), a South Florida musician whose first recording, Invincible, was just released. She is also about to start out on her Rock It Like a Redhead Beauty Tour. She talked about her musical inspirations and shared a few tracks from her EP. For more information about Shayne or her tour information, visit shayneleighton.com or follow her on Twitter at @shayneleighton.
Finally, Grant was joined by Drastic Fanatic to talk sports. They started out talking Marlins and Mets baseball and how the Marlins can’t wait to get Jose Fernandez back in the starting rotation. They were then joined by Surya Fernandez of Hot Hot Hoops (@hothothoops) to talk about the Heat who have now begun their longest off-season in a long time. They talked about the team’s chances in the lottery and the offseason dealings that the Heat could engage in.
14 April 2015 Brandon Mowry
Episode 72 of the #OnlyinMiami show featured interviews with Commissioner Xavier Suarez from the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners and journalist Carlos Miller from the Miami-based national news website, photographyisnotacrime.com.
Grant began the show talking about recent discussions to route approximately half Tri-Rail commuter trains into the proposed downtown Miami terminus of the All Aboard Florida intercity train. The trains would travel north using the Florida East Coast right-of-way from downtown through the neighborhoods of Wynwood, Midtown, the Design District, Morningside, and the Upper East Side before turning to the west to join the existing line just south of the Metrorail Transfer station. The move would not only allow commuters from Broward and Palm Beach counties to easily travel into downtown Miami, but would also potentially allow new stations in some of these neighborhoods as well.
Then, Grant was joined by Carlos Miller, a local journalist and photographer who is the founder and publisher of Miami-based national news website, photographyisnotacrime.com. The site focuses on issues of police and government accountability and upholding constitutional rights for photographers and videographers. They talked about the recent police shooting of Walter Scott by a police officer in North Charleston, SC, where a citizen journalist was able to record a video of a police encounter gone wrong. The video shows the suspect fleeing a police officer when he was shot in the back five times by the same officer. The incident has made national news because the video appears to contradict the report made by the officer after the incident. Carlos also talked about another incident out of Oklahoma, where a reserve deputy, intending to discharge his Tazer to subdue a man, ended up using his gun instead, killing the man, Eric Harris.
Grant and Carlos were then joined by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez. They talked first about the issue of police-worn body cameras and whether footage from these cameras should be available to the public under government sunshine laws and what exceptions are reasonable to expect. They also talked generally about police accountability and how best to achieve it. Then, the conversation moved to Miami-Dade politics and whether or not Commissioner Suarez would seek the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s seat. Commissioner Suarez said that he was considering the possibility, but that he felt that it was too soon to begin campaigning and raising funds with some of the issues and needs facing the city, including the pressing need for transit expansion. Finally, they talked about the need for citizens to be able to hold their government accountable and the methods that should be available for them.
In the second hour, Grant was joined by Annik Adey-Babinsky to talk about the O, Miami poetry festival which will be taking place throughout Miami during the month of April. She talked about some of the upcoming events, including the O, Wolfsonian event, where museum visitors are encouraged to write a poem about one of the pieces in the collection. The event will happen this Friday from 1pm to 9pm. She also shared some poetry from visitors to last year’s festival’s O, Wolfsonian event. For more information about O, Miami festival events, visit their website, omiami.org.
Then, as usual, Grant was joined by Drastic Fanatic and Jose el Rey to talk sports. The NBA regular season is winding down, and the guys talked about the prospects for the Heat to make the postseason. They also talked about their predictions for the NBA’s second season and who might be able to come out of the East and the West. Finally, they spent a few minutes talking about the upcoming NFL Draft and how the Dolphins might approach it.
7 April 2015 Brandon Mowry
Episode 71 of the #OnlyinMiami Show featured an interview with blogger Roger Craver, an activist whom the Wall Street Journal called “a assassin of all things right-wing.”
The show began with Grant’s rant on the recent tactic employed by the city of Miami to combat citizens seeking good government who have challenged the city’s actions in court. The City of Miami is fighting numerous court cases challenging it actions by arguing that these citizens who are suing the city lack the standing to do so; in other words, because they are not personally harmed any more than any other citizen, they need to express their discontent at the ballot box, not in court.
For the balance of the first hour, blogger Roger Craver joined host Grant Stern to talk about his background in helping create citizens’ action groups such as Common Cause, the National Organization for Women, the Environmental Defense Fund, and Greenpeace. They also talked about the issues currently facing the city of Miami, including the need for transparency in city government dealings. Roger spent some time talking about how average citizens can get involved in government and become active in achieving change. He also talked about the upcoming elections for the city of Miami commission, primarily the race to replace District 2 Commissioner Mark Sarnoff. Finally, Roger and Grant talked about one of Roger’s newest projects, the Coalition Against Causeway Chaos, which, among other things, is challenging the proposed Watson Island Flagstone development, where developers received a below-market rent for city-owned waterfront property to construct a shopping center, hotel, and marina. However, citizens are questioning the value of the project and the potential traffic impact to the MacArthur Causeway.
In the beginning of the second hour, Grant talked with Ashley M. Jones from the O, Miami poetry festival which will be happening throughout the month of April in various places around Miami. She shared her own poem, Letter to Miami (Using Lyrics from the Golden Girls Miami Jingle). The first big event of the festival happens at the Soundscape Park on Sunday, April 12 from 4pm to 9pm. For more information about all of the events of the O, Miami festival, visit their website at http://www.omiami.org/. You can also follow them on Twitter (@omiamifestival).
Finally, Grant talked about the Marlin’s Opening Day, which included perhaps the first rain delay in a stadium equipped with a roof. He also talked about the Heat, who are in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time in five years because of numerous injuries.
31 March 2015 Brandon Mowry
Grant Stern started the show by talking about local efforts opposing Walmart development in the Richmond pine rocklands and in Midtown Miami. He indicated that there are several reports that are forthcoming that will detail that the University of Miami was using a portion of its south campus as a nuclear waste dump. The university reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency that was kept quiet. Grant also updated everyone on the status of the Midtown Walmart project. It came to light on Monday that Walmart has asked the appeals court for a speedy resolution of the issues, because if they don’t begin construction very soon, the property will revert back to DDR, who is the mall development company responsible for the Midtown development. Grant also filed an amicus curae brief summarizing the problems with Walmart’s permit. For more information and to receive updates as they become available, visit facebook.com/nowalmartinmidtown.
Grant was then joined by Natalia Napoleon de Bens and Lauren Fernandez. They talked about the StartUp Miami conference sponsored by The Atlantic. They also talked about their own startup, Lemon City Teas, which started last year and produces Miami-inspired tea blends. They talked about how they started their company and some of the things that make them unique, such as the fact that they were founded by four first-generation American women. They also spoke about how they have expanded their market by working with local bars to create tea-infused cocktails. For more information about Lemon City Teas, visit their website at lemoncitytea.com, connect with them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter at @LemonCityTeas, or check out their pictures on Instagram at @LemonCityTea.
Later, Tamara Wendt, Executive Director for The Lab Miami, stopped by the show to talk about some of the startups that have launched from that space in Wynwood. The Lab is a co-working site where members can use the office facilities and resources to create their own companies. It is currently host to a diverse group of professionals, including lawyers, software developers, designers, and others. She also talked about the neighborhood of Wynwood and what it is like to work there. For more information about The Lab Miami, visit their website: http://thelabmiami.com/, follow them on Twitter at @thelabmiami or on Instagram at @thelabmiami.
In the second hour, Mia Vassilev and Georgi Danchev from the Miami Piano Circle stopped by the studio to talk about their upcoming concert presentation, American Grands, which will be held at the New World Center on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 8:00pm. It will feature ten grand pianos playing arrangements of composers such as Scott Joplin, John Phillip Sousa, and many more. Mia and Georgi talked about how they came up with the concept for the show and shared some music from a show from last year entitled Miami Grands. For more information, visit their website at www.miamipianocircle.com or connect with them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/miamipianocircle
Finally, as usual, Drastic Fanatic joined the show to talk sports, including many NBA teams’ push to to the playoffs (or a great quantity of ping pong balls if you’re the New York Knicks). They talked about the Heat’s prospects looking to the postseason and looked at the the other teams in the race, including the Indiana Pacers, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Boston Celtics. They also talked about the offseason pickups in the NFL, particularly the AFC East’s New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.
24 March 2015 Brandon Mowry
In this clip from the #OnlyinMiami Show, host Grant Stern was joined by Jeffrey Greenberg, event sales manager for the Miami Marlins, who talked about their upcoming event, Passover at Marlins Park, which will happen on April 7. There will be kosher barbeque, a family fun zone, and a performance by the Maccabeats. For more information about this event and to purchase tickets, visitwww.marlins.com/specialevents and scroll down to April 7.
24 March 2015 Brandon Mowry
In this clip from the #OnlyinMiami Show, host Grant Stern was joined by DJ Andres Fresko, a Miami native who is making the circuit in the electronic music scene. He will be performing at this weekend’s Ultra Music Festival, as well as other events in town. He talked about getting started in the EDM music scene and about his recent tour with DJ Carnage. He also shared some of his recent tracks and talked about the creation process for his music. He played one of his newest tracks, a remix done for Borgias, which is so new it hasn’t been officially released. To connect with Andres on social media, connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AndresFresko, follow him on Twitter at @AndresFresko or on Instagram at @andresfresko/. You can also find him on SoundCloud at @andresfresko.