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District 12 Newsletter
Commissioner Jose District 12 e-Newsletter

Dear residents,

Throughout the month of April, I was proud to participate in Autism Awareness Month and inform residents about this disorder that affects 1 in 88 children born in this country today. The prevalence of autism can be worrisome to many parents, but it’s important that all families recognize the signs of autism.  If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, contact your pediatrician as soon as possible.

I sponsored a resolution in 2009 recognizing April as Autism Awareness Month in Miami-Dade County. Today, I’m glad to say that we have been able to partner with great organizations like Autism Speaks and the Dan Marino Foundation to fund research and treatment. Even though Autism Awareness Month has come to an end, please learn all you can about the disorder and tell your family and friends. Only through education can we successfully help children affected by autism.

Sincerely,

Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz

April 2012
U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement to go into effect May 15

Commissioner Diaz applauded news that the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement will go into effect starting May 15, 2012. Commissioner Diaz had been a major advocate for the agreement to become finalized, which will make over 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia duty-free. Significant access to Colombia’s $180 billion services market will also be available thanks to the agreement, supporting increased opportunities for U.S. service providers. More>>

Residents learn about neurological disorder during Autism Awareness Month

On April 3, Commissioner Diaz held his annual event at the lobby of the Stephen P. Clark building for Autism Awareness Month. He spoke about the importance of testing children and how many of our children are being affected by this neurobiological disorder every year.

In 2009, the commissioner sponsored a resolution designating the month of April to autism awareness and education in Miami-Dade County. During the kick off, Commissioner Diaz unveiled artwork created by autistic children from the South Florida Autism Charter School. Bryce Lucas, a young man with self-identified Asperger’s Syndrome spoke about his experience with the Dan Marino Foundation’s Summer STEPS employment program.

According to Autism Speaks, autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that impairs communication skills and social abilities. There is no known cause or cure for autism, which is estimated to affect 1 out of every 88 children born in the United States. This event was sponsored by the Dan Marino Foundation, Autism Speaks, and the South Florida Autism Charter School.  For more information about autism, please visit Autism Speaks at www.autismspeaks.org or the Dan Marino Foundation at www.danmarinofoundation.orgMore>>

Commissioner Diaz teams up with Panera Bread and Dan Marino Foundation to raise funds for autism treatment

On April 27, Commissioner Diaz partnered with Panera Bread and the Dan Marino Foundation to raise funds that will benefit the Dan Marino Vocational College. The commissioner rolled up his sleeves and baked football-shaped cookies that were sold during April as part of the “Touchdown for Autism” campaign throughout 33 Panera bakery cafes in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. One dollar from every cookie sold will benefit the Dan Marino Vocational College, which will serve teens and young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. More>>
Commissioner Diaz discusses top issues with Congressional officials in Washington, D.C.

Commissioner Diaz traveled to Washington, D.C. last week and met with several key members of Congress as well as United States Senators and key officials of President Barack Obama’s administration to discuss the “Joining Forces” initiative, sex trafficking, the approved Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, and the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). More>>

Commissioner Diaz pushes legislation to create Military Affairs Board
 

Commissioner Diaz, who serves as Miami-Dade’s military liaison, is sponsoring legislation to create the Miami-Dade County Military Affairs Board. This board will provide the County Commission with recommendations regarding local military affairs involving the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard and Coast Guard, as well as active, reserve, retired, disabled and deceased military personnel. The board will be in charge of enhancing the life for active, reserve, retired and disabled military personnel as well as their families.

Some of the issues the board will be addressing include housing, health care, business loans, pension benefits, education, employment, unemployment benefits, disability claims, and vocational training. The Military Board will consist of 24 voting members; each member of the Board of County Commissioners will be able to designate one member to the board. The board will also have representation from Mayor Gimenez, Southern Command, the U.S. Air Force Base in Homestead, the U.S. Coast Guard Station, the U.S. Army National Guard Reserve station, the Miami-Dade Defense Alliance, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the Red Cross.

This legislation is scheduled for a public hearing at the County Commission meeting on May 15.

District 12 donates Marlins tickets to sick children

Commissioner Diaz donated 15 suite tickets to children with sickle cell anemia from the Second Chance program, part of the Department of Pediatrics at University of Miami Holtz Children Hospital. The children enjoyed the Miami Marlins versus the Chicago Cubs on April 18 and even took pictures with Billy the Marlin.

Commissioner Diaz attends commission for new U.S. Coast Guard Cutter

Commissioner Diaz was on hand on April 14 at PortMiami for the commission of the U.S. Coast Guard’s first Sentinel-Class Fast Response Cutters (FRCS), the USCGC Bernard C. Webber. The new 154-foot cutter will provide a larger and more stable platform to conduct operations, safer small boat launch, and recovery in heavy seas via stern ramp. It will also have the ability to detect threats at longer range, remotely-operated weapons to protect the crew, and the capacity to remain on station at sea for long periods of time.  Sentinel-Class Fast Response Cutters are primarily used for search and rescue and homeland security, along with other missions.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new NW 138th Street Bridge in District 12

On April 16, the Miami-Dade County Public Works and Waste Management Department (PWWM) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the newly-constructed NW 138th Street bridge.  The bridge, which crosses the Miami River Canal where NW 138th Street meets Okeechobee Road (US 27), was widened to four lanes with an additional left-turn lane.  Additional improvements include a painted median, sidewalks, storm drainage, roadway lighting, signalization, and signage. Elected officials from several local governments, PWWM representatives, and Williams Paving representatives, the contractor that built the bridge, were on hand for the event.  The bridge was opened to vehicular traffic immediately following the ribbon-cutting. 
Seniors: Don't forget to re-apply for 2012 property tax exemption!

Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser, Pedro J. Garcia, is appealing to homeowners who last year benefitted from the Additional Homestead Exemption for Persons 65 and Older (more commonly called the Senior Citizen’s Exemption) to file their renewal applications for 2012.
Although the deadline to file timely applications ended March 1, Mr. Garcia says his office will accept late applications for the Senior Exemption. 

The Senior Citizen’s Exemption can reduce overall property taxes by $500 or more each year.   To qualify for the 2012 Senior Exemption benefit, the Adjusted Gross Income cannot exceed $27,030.  This limit applies to everyone who lives in the house whether they are owners or not.  Mr. Garcia points out that in most cases social security income does not count towards qualifying for this benefit. He is advising seniors filing for the exemption to check the “Adjusted Gross Income line” on their Federal Tax Return to verify actual income amounts. 

Since December, the Property Appraiser’s Office has sent notices to 42,341 seniors who received the benefit in 2011, reminding them that unlike the homestead exemption, this benefit does not automatically renew and they must re-apply for 2012. Mr. Garcia notes that 6,997 seniors have still not filed renewals for 2012.

To file your senior renewal application, visit either the Downtown Miami or South Dade offices of the Property Appraiser:

Stephen P. Clark Government Center
111 NW 1st Street
Miami, Florida 33128
Suite 710, Public Information Counter 

South Dade Government Center
10710 SW 211 Street
Cutler Bay, FL 33189
Suite 207, Public Information Counter

Renewal applications can also be filed online at the Property Appraiser’s website.  First-time applications have to be filed in person at either of these offices.

Constituents first

On a daily basis, constituents either walk into the commissioner’s office or call to ask for his help regarding a variety of issues: filling out forms, getting a drainage system on private property cleaned, requesting recycling bins, guidance regarding their property in foreclosure, and more complex issues that usually require our office to do extensive research and work with other County offices to solve problems. Here is just one example:

  • Several residents from SW 135th Avenue and SW 5th Street called the commissioner’s office, to voice their concerns regarding traffic from 132nd to 135th Avenues and several accidents in the area. Working with the Miami-Dade County Public Works and Waste Management Department, a traffic study was conducted and showed that an installation of  a four-way stop at the intersection of SW 135th Avenue and SW 5th Street would enhance the public safety. The four-way stop has been installed. Residents in the area were extremely grateful for the commissioner’s swift action regarding this issue.
SR 836/Dolphin Expressway closures

On November 30, 2009, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Six in partnership with the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) began a reconstruction project of the State Road (S.R.) 826 (Palmetto Expressway) and S.R. 836 (Dolphin Expressway) Interchange. Now that construction has begun, there will be many upcoming lane and ramp closures on the Dolphin Expressway. For more information about construction-related activities, please contact Oscar Gonzalez at 786-280-0983 or via e-mail at ogonzalez@mrgmiami.com. General information can be found at www.826-836.com. Motorists are encouraged to call 511 before they drive, or log on to www.fl511.com for real-time traffic and lane closure information.

Affordable health care within reach

Miami-Dade County has an online pre-screening tool to help people obtain health insurance. In less than 5 minutes, County residents can find out if they qualify for premium assistance in paying for their health insurance. By answering some simple questions, residents can find out whether Miami-Dade County's new Health Insurance Assistance program which provides premium assistance for Blue Cross and Blue Shield's Miami-Dade Blue, is for them. Just click on Health Insurance Assistance today and see if you qualify.

Need assistance paying your utility bills?

The Miami-Dade Community Action Agency’s (CAA) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is currently assisting eligible residents with payment of their gas or electric bills.  The program assists individuals who are experiencing an increase in their energy bill due to the weather as well as individuals with final notices or those who have had their services disconnected.  Applications for LIHEAP are available Monday through Friday at CAA Service Centers like the Hialeah Service Center, 300 E. First Avenue, or the Sweetwater Service Center, 250 SW 114 Avenue. For a complete list of all the CAA Service Centers or to download the application, please visit the County’s website or contact the Miami-Dade Community Action Agency at 786-469-4600.
Upcoming events

June 30, 2012 at 5:30 p.m.– Commissioner Diaz will be hosting the annual 'Military and Veterans Appreciation Day' at County Line Dragway, located at 19999 Okeechobee Road. For more information contact Raymond Bush at 305-599-1200 or email him at Bushg@miamidade.gov   

Contact us
 

Downtown Office
Stephen P. Clark Center
111 NW First Street, Suite 320
Miami, FL 33128
305-375-4343

District Office
8345 NW 12th Street
Miami, FL 33126
305-599-1200

district12@miamidade.gov

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