Miami Shores councilman and former Vice Mayor Jesse Walters resigned from office on Tuesday in a surprise announcement that has jarred the local political scene.
Walters announced his resignation before Tuesday’s regular Village Council meeting and was replaced by Mac Glinn, the man who barely lost out on a seat in the council election held in April. Glenn will serve out the remainder of Walters term, which runs out in April of 2017.
Walters will continue as the Executive Director of the Miami Shores Chamber of Commerce.
In an interview with Rise News, Walters said he resigned because he no longer enjoyed the job.
“It just isn’t fun anymore and I crossed it off my bucket list,” Walters said.
Walters also said that the tenor of correspondence between himself and members of the Shores community has grown darker in recent months.
“Some of the people that email you are really really angry,” Walters said. “I just feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
Walters said that he intended to stay an active member in the community and now has more time to spend with his family.
“We love it here,” Walters said. “The vast majority of people are nice and great.”
Rise News reached out to Glinn but could not reach him before the publication of this story. We will update it with his comments.
Glenn did post a message to Facebook however celebrating his new role in the community.
“While I was very sorry to see Jesse resign and I am grateful for his years of service to the Village, I am also very honored to have been selected and am excited about this chance to directly influence our Village’s path forward,” Glinn wrote on the social media site. “I cannot thank you enough for all you did this year to help me reach this incredible opportunity. I look forward to the opportunity to deliver on the faith you have placed in me.”
Walters made news in in 2011, when he was only the fourth openly gay public official elected in the history of Miami-Dade County.
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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By MIA bites
This piece was originally published by our partner MIAbites.com and is produced by them.
Thanksgiving was late this year, Hanukkah started this past Sunday, and Christmas is just a couple more weeks away.
No matter who is on your shopping list…which seems to grow longer and longer with each passing year, these items suggested by ourMIAbites contributors are sure to please. We have compiled a list of favorite items both from local purveyors and if you prefer avoiding the crowds and shopping online.
Brandon Chase- @thebowtiebarrister
I think with all the hoopla of barrel-aged cocktails, gifting a 1L (or larger) Custom Oak Barrel would be awesome. That way people can tinker with their own barrel-aged recipes at home.
The New York Times has a Personalized Oak Whiskey Barrel that ranges from $89.95 for 2 liters to $119.95 for 5 liters. Order at www.nytstore.com
Also, with the craft beer explosion in Florida, most breweries permit you to go to their brewery and fill up your own growler. Wynwood Brewing Company offers a Growler Hour daily from 12-1pm, and Funky Buddhacurrently has no less than ten growlers for Tuesday fills in both 32 and 64 oz sizes. A lot of online stores are now creating the 32 oz. containers for the beer advocate and they are pretty neat (and green!).
Melissa Ginsberg- @TheFoodieTeach
I like gifts for the holidays like magazine subscriptions or monthly gift box deliveries because the recipient continues to receive something even after the holidays are over! Also they’re easy to purchase and you don’t need to brave the holiday rush at the stores. Here are a few that are great:
• For men who like to cook: Mantry–monthly artisanal gift box specifically curated for the male cook/gourmand. www.mantry.com
• For cocktail lovers: Imbibe Magazine subscription. www.imbibemagazine.com
• For the coffee aficionado: Drift Away coffee subscription—www.driftaway.coffee
• Other Magazines include: Gastronomica, Lucky Peach, Sugar & Rice
Mandy Baca – @mandybaca
Bypass the big box stores and shop all your foodie gifts at Flavorish Market. Haven’t been? Well, you’re missing out. It’s a delightful little store in the burgeoning MiMo District loaded with wine, craft beer, tea, cured meats, cheeses, and the like. www. flavorishmarket.com
Also make a stop to Aragon 101 in Coral Gables for lots of food related gift items and cooking classes.
Wok Star ( aka Eleanor Hoh ) is also offering her popular hands on Asian cooking classes at cool venues like ALNO kitchen showroom in Design District and ZONIN 1821 penthouse. Use XMAS as code for MIAbites 30% off discount just thru 12/20 thru this link http://eleanorhoh.com/class-gift-certificates/
A little whimsical
Add some whimsy to your everyday wear, even if you’re the only one that knows you’re wearing it. From Macaroon printed ankle socks to ice cream cone and donut stud earrings, NYLON Shop is your go-to for all the kitschy, yet irresistible stocking stuffers. http://shop.nylon.com/products/macaroon-socks.
Etsy can be a time warp. 3 hours later, and you don’t know what the heck happened. We’ll save you some time. Check out The Vintage Cookbook Maven. The online store has a fantastic collection of vintage cookbooks for everybody on your list. https://www.etsy.com/shop/cookbookmaven
Sweets are always sweet
If you don’t have the creative bug or just pressed for time, opt for The Mason Cookie Jar Company. Choose from either a glass jar or plastic pouch, ingredients will come artfully layered so the recipient can make their own cookies. The best part of this is that your gift won’t be stale by the time it arrives. Choose from their menu of cookie mixes or create your own. http://masonjarcookiecompany.com/
Care for some tea?
Lemon City Teas is a local tea company making their way about town. You can currently find their teas at Oak Tavern, Andiamo, and Uvaggio. Varieties include Oolong Old Fashioned (90% oxidized competition grade oolong tea), Granada Green (organic green tea, pomegranate essence, organic raspberries and rosenips), and San-Té-Ria (premium whole leaf nilgiri tea blended with yunnan golden buds). http://www.lemoncitytea.com/
Craving artisan chocolates or need a hostess gift?
Cacao Art Miami offers locally made artisanal chocolates made on site from the finest Venezuelan cocoa. You can order online wonderfully packaged gift boxes or visit their shop at 7165 SW 47th st.
Deanna Dominguez- MIAbites Contributor
Sometimes shopping online for the foodie in your life is easier that braving the traffic and crowds. Racked.com just posted a link to www.mouth.com Tasty Gifts for Everyone on Your List. Pre-packaged kits are designed to be the favorite gift. Top choices include Bacon Me Crazy, Marc Murphy Chef Kit, The Holiday Chef and The Spiked Tailgate.
Jen Massolo- @liquidprojects
Gift basket items: Put together your own gift basket by visiting a local Williams Sonoma, or ordering items online at www.williamssonoma.com
Always good smoked paprika, sauces, oils, rubs and kitchen tools like olive wooden spoons, fish spatulas small and large, flat cheese slicers and spreading knives.
Allison Riley- @YallTasteThis
The best gift for a foodie is ALWAYS a donation to a local food bank. Local non-profits to support include, Feeding South Florida, Food Pantries, No Kid Hungry and Common Threads Most people who can afford to be “foodies” are more than capable of buying their own gadgets and gizmos, but if you must include a small gift for someone to unwrap with that donation card, I recommend local South Florida gifts, such as preserves and hot sauces from Robert is Here, a growler from The Funky Buddha, or a key lime rum cake from The Rum Cake Factory.
Ellen Bowen- Managing Director MIAbites
Turn heads while working off those holiday pounds or just show how HOT you like your coffee with Sriracha Hot sauce items from Amazon.com. Choose from water bottles, t-shirts, leggings, socks and coffee cups.
Other items on Amazon include Mimi Sheraton’s “1000 Foods to Eat before you Die” , and many top cookbooks and other foodie items.
Stay Calm and Eat Bacon
Bacon gifts that sizzle with humor…Iphone cases, t shirts, ties, aprons, clocks, luggage tags, wrapping paper…and on and on! 169 pages online at Zazzle.com of Bacon Gifts!
Uncommongoods.com has also always been my “go to” catalog for fun but functional, good quality gift items and this year my faves include Foodie Dice, a set of wooden dice that challenge even the most creative cook by offering over 186, 000 combinations of proteins, spices, cooking methods and bonus ingredients, aBox of Chocolate Soaps AND for the kid in you (or for kids in your life ) the Mr. Food Face Plate which allows you to customize the face using your food. Reminds me of that Wooly Willy magnetic face toy invented in 1955!
DinnerLab, the New Orleans based popup dinner party now in multiple cities, is offering a Gift Card program for events or membership. They host frequent events in Miami, but also all over the country if you want to gift a foodie in another city! Gift Link is here.
Everett Rashotsky- @ErGagit
My wife, Londa, makes beautiful beaded jewelry pieces that are inspired by food. With names like Fresh Mint, Cinnamon Dots and Coconut Crème Bruleethey are colorful and a perfect gift for the foodie in your life. Each is individually hand made with a variety of vintage 50 year old glass beads and are priced from $105- 120. http://foodiebracelets.com/
And of course, gift cards to favorite restaurants are always great gifts…or stocking stuffers, especially if you get to go with the recipient!
Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!
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By Mark Kaire
The I-95 Express lanes are literally deadly. Ineffective “delineators” — those flimsy orange plastic poles you see falling down like so many pins on a bowling lane — invite collision and abuse. They are obstructive more than instructive, and they do little to divide high-speed traffic from cars driving at more normal speeds.
As a result, Miami now faces a new phenomenon known as lane diving, in which drivers weave between express lanes and regular lanes as though there isn’t any difference in them at all.
It’s a dangerous habit, but one that has become commonplace — all on Miami leaders’ watch. Real people are suffering real injuries. I’ve seen it first-hand. My firm has represented some of these people. These are your neighbors. They could be your family members. They could be you. And all because Miami-Dade County rushed into an Interstate “improvement” project it wasn’t ready for.
The intentions were undoubtedly noble. The state needs revenue. Drivers want to get where they’re going quickly. One might reasonably argue that the fast traffic ought to be divided from the slow and assessed a fee for the privilege of efficiency. But when priorities are ranked, money and speed should never surpass safety. And moreover, if the goal is to divide traffic, division ought to be a keyword.
The I-95 Express lanes in Miami do not provide adequate division, nor have they advanced safety. On the contrary, they’ve introduced a new danger in our community, and our commuters’ lives are at stake.
It’s time to admit that, however, worthwhile the original aspirations might have been, the project hasn’t worked. And now it’s time to fix it.
It’s time for Miami and the State of Florida to own up to its error. It’s time to admit that, however, worthwhile the original aspirations might have been, the project hasn’t worked. And now it’s time to fix it.
I’d like to demonstrate just how dangerous the problem has become by looking at actual numbers. Consider the following, keeping in mind that these all pertain to just a short stretch of road right here in Miami (about 13 miles):
- In 2014 alone, state troopers made more than 150 arrests for lane diving. That is an especially compelling number when you consider that, by their own admission, officers are increasingly reluctant to enforce the laws on I-95 because the traffic conditions are so dangerous there. They fear for their own lives. It is likely, then, that these 150 arrests represent only a very small portion of the amount of lane diving that actually occurs.
- There have been more than 17,500 crashes on this specific stretch of I-95 between 2005 and 2014. That is an astounding total. No 13 miles of asphalt should be that dangerous.
- The total number of crashes that have occurred on this section of I-95 has increased over 50% in the past eight years.
- At least four people have died as a result of lane diving in Miami during just the last few years. Even more have been injured.
- Crashes are most likely to occur during peak traffic periods (i.e. southbound in the morning rush hours and northbound in the evening rush hours).
- Fatal crashes are most likely to occur between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and are more common when traveling southbound.
- Serious injuries happen at all times of the day, with incapacitating injuries evenly distributed across the 24-hour driving period.
- Road crews replace 11% to 15% of the plastic delineators on I-95 every single week. That’s how often cars hit them.
- Each delineator is replaced between 6 and 8 times per year, on average.
- When the Express lanes were installed, the average shoulder width shrank by 40%. As WLRN reports, the shoulder along I-95 in Miami is now 7 feet, 11 inches on average (about the size of a single parking space).
Why the I-95 Express Lanes Are Dangerous
Before going further, it’s important to understand exactly why these lanes are dangerous. It isn’t just that they’re fast. Speed is indeed dangerous, but it isn’t the sole source of the problem.
The Express Lane situation is more complicated than that. A number of factors converge to create the danger here, and we can begin with the delineators themselves.
Lightweight as they are, the delineators still stand as obstructions to traffic. Every time a car hits one of these in-the-way wobblers, there is an increased likelihood that the driver will be distracted by the collision and/or lose control of his or her car, thus raising the risk for subsequent or multi-vehicle collision.
The simple fact is that the delineators make it more difficult to drive down I-95. Difficult driving isn’t anyone’s objective, so why did we pursue it?
Drivers have historically shown little patience for obstacles, and many simply ignore them. Figuring that they can easily zip between the delineators with little risk of real damage to their own vehicles, many of Miami’s drivers — already known for an occasional proclivity toward recklessness — now pick the lane that suits their interests best in the moment.
“If I see a line at a grocery station that’s faster than the one I’m in, I’m liable to jump over there,” expert traffic analyst Scott Cooner recently told Miami’s WLRN. That same instinct kicks in on I-95.
To be clear: the standard and Express lanes are not intended to be interchangeable. Drivers aren’t supposed to hop between them. But with very little to prevent them from doing so, drivers do it anyway.
The problem with such “lane diving” is that higher-speed traffic is suddenly entering into slower-speed traffic without warning, and vice-versa. Different speeds don’t mix well, and sudden changes in acceleration often lead to unexpected impacts.
Without a Shoulder, Drivers Can’t Shrug Off Their Mistakes
Adding insult to injury (or, as the case may well be here, adding injury to injury), the diminished shoulder width on the Express Lanes leaves little room for error. So not only is driver error more likely on these roads but there is also a small margin for correcting those errors before they cause a crash.
The shoulder size poses other dangers too. Police officers say the small shoulder is the biggest reason they avoid enforcing the laws on I-95. They simply don’t have a safe space for pulling people over anymore.
Pedestrians are vulnerable too.
On March 5, 2011, five people were killed on the shoulder of an I-95 Express lane. They were standing on the side of the road after a series of accidents had forced them out of their cars. Then another vehicle — this one with a drunk driver behind the wheel — entered the Express lane and veered off course, killing all five. It was Miami-Dade County’s deadliest I-95 accident in a decade. And while the drunk driver is to blame, those bystanders might not have been in such peril had the Interstate not been so poorly redesigned.
The Proof Is in the Price Tag
The delineators aren’t just dangerous. They’re expensive too. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) spends more than $1 million on replacing delineators that have been damaged or destroyed by vehicle impact every year.
If you need a sign that something isn’t working, a million-dollar annual repair budget is it. And again, we’re talking about a cumulative total of 13 miles here. That comes to about $77,000 in annual delineator repair-and-replace costs for every mile.
It’s Time for Change
It is not permissible for our leaders to recognize a dangerous condition and then simply do nothing about it.
We here at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC hold irresponsible parties to a basic duty of care every single day — hospitals, storeowners, insurance companies, vehicle and drug manufacturers, and more. We expect the same kind of care from the people who have a responsibility to keep our roads safe.
Our firm has called on county and state leaders to take immediate action to rectify the dangerous situation on Miami’s I-95 Express Lanes. We only hope that more people won’t have to lose their lives before we see real change.
Take a minute to sign our petition for Florida representatives to step up and fix the failed, deadly, and costly I-95 Express Lane.
Mark Kaire is a personal injury lawyer in Miami and a cofounder of Kaire & Heffernan, LLC.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place.
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