Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Riviera Beach: A Mecca In The Making

The Marina Grande in Riviera Beach (deep water)

Here’s an e-mail message I sent, just recently, to the City of Riviera Beach’s parks and recreation department: 

[Dear Sir or Madam:]

I've worked in Riviera Beach, from time to time, and I've used it as a recreational refuge from… Jupiter, Hobe Sound and Indiantown. There's always something new popping up over there. From the newly renovated Ocean Mall to Winn Dixie to Publix to that entire stretch of blocks near the new Family Dollar, it's abundantly clear that you are a city on the move. You guys have a good thing going on down there. Be proud.

Congratulations on establishing Phase 1 of the marina project, as well. Moving forward, I hope you'll further develop the city in a way that doesn't pave over its original laid back character and charm. Hopefully, by the time you guys revitalize everything, you'll still be able to drive through, on U.S. 1 or Blue Heron Boulevard, and recognize iconic shops and long-established neighborhoods that make the city what it is. 

I've sent you an edited version of a photo that I took (See: attachment) on a day in which there were no assignments available where I work. I hope you'll deem this or any other photo I send you as good enough to use in any of your promotions of the City of Riviera Beach. Keep up the great work! 

sincerely,

a friend of the City,

V. Johns

https://www.flickr.com/photos/90169042@N05/

http://www.lostparadisejournal.blogspot.com/

Sunday, April 13, 2014

All Aboard the Future! Maybe.

All Aboard Florida graphicI mildly disagree with TCPalm.com columnist Rich Campbell, regarding the Stuart News’ Shaping Our Future series, that “All Aboard Florida is a bad idea for all of us.” I do agree, however, that several demands should be met in order for All Aboard Florida’s passenger trains to benefit everyone that its proponents (myself, included) are claiming that it will benefit. Everyone, meaning: The whole state of Florida. Including the Treasure Coast area, which hosted one of President Obama’s annual retreats, last year, in Palm City.

Before listing and commenting on these concerns (concerns that should be packaged into a set of demands), I’d like to, as Mr. Campbell did, in his column, encourage Treasure Coast and other South Florida residents to speak out on these matters. You can snail-mail your concerns to the Federal Railroad Administration at: 1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C. 20590. Or you can email your thoughts to the FRA at: www.fra.dot.gov.

Right now, let’s look at some of the concerns that have been noted and gathered by Rich Campbell, Eve Samples and others about All Aboard Florida’s presence in our region:

QUIET ZONES: For any state- or federally-proposed outfit, quiet zones are a given. If this had been the original public high-speed-rail project that was submitted to Washington for proposal  by Charlie Crist and later de-railed by Governor Scott, quiet zones would have been a built-in feature, right from the start. Quasi-private All Aboard Florida should do the same, without dumping that responsibility on the citizens of the Treasure Coast, even though we will initially not be served by their trains.

STOPS ALONG THE TREASURE COAST: If there are no overt plans to have stops on the Treasure Coast, one of our nation’s most important centers for agricultural, biological and marine research, why should we foot any part of the bill we’re being asked to dole out? Vero Beach, Ft. Pierce and Stuart are all key South Florida cities that deserve the same significance of destination and importance as our larger, more hectic metropolises to the south.

BETTER INFRASTRUCTURE: Existing railroad infrastructure won’t suffice and isn’t going to cut it for the purpose of high-speed rail. There should be additional tracks laid (double tracking, etc.), along with safety features such as double grade crossings to prevent cars from passing on both sides.

THE LEAST ALL ABOARD FLORAIDA CAN DO FOR THE TREASURE COAST?  All of the above. And, maybe, a great deal more. What to do about delays for boaters; congested traffic at railway crossings created from 16 trains a day, both ways; impacts on home values, etc., I really don’t know. These are all things that are gonna have to be worked out in town hall meetings, and perhaps, in the courts. 

Still, there’s no reason to try and stop All Aboard Florida from happening. Not this late in its development. And not so long as they are willing to address major issues that will impact its initial partial presence on the Treasure Coast. It’s counter-progressive to even think that way. We can iron out all of our noted concerns as the project matures.

The optimal time to have addressed any major issues of concern would have been early on in the game. Where was the NIMBY crowd, back then? Still, most of the blame for any recent outrage over secrecy and lack of disclosure on some issues should be attributed to All Aboard Florida. Several years ago, I had an opportunity to attend a few meetings in Jupiter for the proposed SFECC Corridor project and felt that not only was I listened to, I was well-educated by the SFECC Study Group on the scope, scale, benefits, drawbacks and impacts of the project that they were proposing. They were all very professional and their project was very well thought out.

Here, on the Treasure Coast, we’re all very excited about Amtrak passenger service returning to the east coast of Florida. So, there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be just as much enthusiasm about having high-speed passenger-rail service between Miami and Orlando. Not to mention the possibility of future rail service to Jacksonville and Tampa. But it would help if (like Amtrak, like SFECC, like Tri-Rail) All Aboard Florida was more forthcoming on some things and more thoroughly engaged with the public about the good, the bad and the ugly regarding what I think could very well be a very beneficial and game-changing service for our state.

We have, right here, in our hands, the opportunity to become the most intermodal, transit-oriented and well-connected state in the nation. It’s either now or never. And I say we go for it! But thoughtfully and carefully, not foolishly or in the most mindless way.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Visual Feel For Where A New I-95 Interchange In Northern Palm Beach County Would Go

The Florida Dept. of Transportation is planning to build a new I-95 interchange somewhere along the Central Blvd. corridor between Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens. This clip illustrates the ride between Hood Rd. and PGA Blvd. 

Southbound on Central Blvd. in Palm Beach Gardens, Fl. (Hood Rd. to PGA Blvd.) where the Florida Dept. of Transportation is planning to build an I-95 interchange (to alleviate growing traffic on PGA).

The bridge at the start of the video slopes up and over an Eastward bending I-95. what’s not so easily seen in the video are the large townhome and apartment communities that rest on both sides of Central Blvd. between Hood Rd. and PGA Blvd. Not to mention Scripps Florida and Florida Atlantic University further north in Jupiter.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

West Palm Beach is Larger Than Miami… and Jacksonville is Slightly Larger Than Tokyo!

According to a Google search I did using the phrases “land area West Palm Beach FL” and “land area Miami FL” West Palm Beach is larger in total land area than Miami. With respects to population, Miami trumps West Palm Beach with a 2011 population of 408,750 versus West Palm’s population of 101,043 in the same year. But at 58.2 square miles in land area, West Palm Beach bests Miami’s 35.68 square mile land area, nearly doubling The Magic City in physical size.

For immediate visual comparison, the Google map graphics displayed on this page illustrate the physical boundaries claimed by each municipality. Above: West Palm Beach. Below: Miami. The maps are probably not to scale, but it’s clear to see that West Palm Beach’s westward sprawl takes it into land area territory slightly greater than the more compact city of Miami.

I think it’s interesting to note that places older in existence and smaller in land area seem to be more populous than newer places with larger land areas. Paris and Miami are roughly the same size (at 40.7 and 35.68 sq. mi., respectively) but Paris proper has nearly seven times the people. Land-wise, Jacksonville, Florida (at 885 sq. mi.) is slightly larger in total land area than the largest metropolitan area in the world, Tokyo, Japan  (at 845 sq. mi.)! But while Jacksonville is roughly 173,000 residents shy of a million people, the Tokyo Metropolis weighs in at over 13 million people. Granted, neither one can touch Beijing, China’s 6,487 sq. mile land area with an astounding population of over 20 million people!

No matter where you go, in this world, a place being considered to be “important” or “major” is a matter of perspective. Bigger isn’t always better but room to grow will always be a rather attractive feature for various prospective parties. Should West Palm Beach experience an economic uptick or sharper than usual demand for jobs and housing, at least on the surface, there appears to be a great deal of room to grow. Since I commute to the area quite frequently for work assignments, I can tell you, first hand, that there’s major potential for that area to become a small but booming hub of local, national, and even international, economic activity and growth. Much like it’s neighbor to the south, Miami.

For your entertainment, and mine as well, I have compiled a sectional list of well-known state, national and international locales to compare, with regards to total land area, that includes and begins with key cities here in the Southeast Florida region. For simplicity, population figures have been ignored.

 

Key Southeast Florida cities and their land areas:

Ft. Lauderdale: 36 sq. mi.

Key West: 7.4 sq. mi.

Miami: 35.68 sq. mi.

Port Saint Lucie: 76.7 sq. mi.

Stuart: 8.5 sq. mi.

Vero Beach: 12.93 sq. mi.

West Palm Beach: 58.2 sq. mi.

Major cities in Florida and their land areas:

Gainesville: 62.39 sq. mi.

Jacksonville: 885 sq. mi.

Orlando: 216.6 sq. mi.

Pensacola: 39.7 sq. mi.

Tallahassee: 103.1 sq. mi.

Tampa: 170.6 sq. mi.

Major U.S. Cities and their land areas:

Anchorage: 1,961 sq. mi.

Atlanta: 132.4 sq. mi.

Birmingham: 103.4 sq. mi.

Boston: 89.63 sq. mi.

Chicago: 234 sq. mi.

Charlotte: 297.7 sq. mi.

Cleveland: 82.47 sq. mi.

Dallas: 385.8 sq. mi.

Detroit: 142.9 sq. mi.

Houston: 627 sq. mi.

Honolulu: 68.42 sq. mi.

Kansas City: 319 sq. mi.

Las Vegas: 135.9 sq. mi.

Los Angeles: 503 sq. mi.

New York: 468 sq. mi.

Philadelphia: 142.6 sq. mi.

Phoenix: 517 sq. mi.

St. Louis: 66.2 sq. mi.

San Francisco: 231.9 sq. mi.

Seattle: 142.5 sq. mi.

Washington, D.C.: 68.3 sq. mi.

Major world cities and their land areas:

Beijing: 6,487 sq. mi.

Hong Kong: 426 sq. mi.

Istanbul: 2063 sq. mi.

Jerusalem: 48.3 sq. mi.

Johannesburg: 635 sq. mi.

Lagos: 385.9 sq. mi.

London: 606 sq. mi.

Mexico City: 573 sq. mi.

Moscow: 969 sq. mi.

Paris: 40.7 sq. mi.

Rio De Janeiro: 486 sq. mi.

Rome: 496 sq. mi.

Tokyo: 845 sq. mi.

Toronto: 243.2 sq. mi.

Information compiled using Google Search. Actual sources may vary.

Map data: © 2013 Google.

Article: © 2013 www.lostparadisejournl.blogspot.com.

 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Florida Transit Nexus: A New Configuration

“Southeast Florida Transit Nexus” is a term I have used to describe the massive network of federal, state and local mass transit outfits that would intersect and connect right here in Southeast Florida. When Governor Scott killed a bill that would have brought federal dollars for high-speed rail to our state, I renamed it the “Southeast Florida Mass Transit Corridor.” Now that All Aboard Florida has revived the option of passenger-rail service between Orlando and Miami (and possibly Tampa), I have renamed the term: The Florida Transit Nexus.

Should this system take shape, it will consist of the following entities:

 

1. East-coast Amtrak service between Jacksonville and Miami (federal, FEC tracks, proposed).

2. All Aboard Florida passenger-rail service between Orlando and Miami with possible expansion into Tampa (private, FEC tracks, proposed).

3. Tri-Rail service between Mangonia Park and Miami (state, CSX tracks, currently in operation).

4. Tri-Rail Coastal Service between Jupiter and Miami (state, FEC tracks, proposed).

5. FEC service between Jupiter and Miami with north-to-south and possibly east-to-west service on newly-built tracks (state, FEC tracks, proposed).

And…

6. All local mass-transit outfits, such as Palm Tran, Treasure Coast Connector, Martin County Public Transit, Miami-Dade Transit, etc. (all currently in operation).

Bringing the “Florida Transit Nexus” into fruition would solve a problem that Tri-Rail cannot: the growing need for commuter and passenger rail service between our region’s downtown urban cores (Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Jupiter, Stuart, etc.). Tri-Rail was originally intended as a temporary solution to shuttle commuters between Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties as the completion of the last segment of Interstate 95 in northern Palm Beach county commenced. Since then it has grown in popularity and ridership amid rises in gas prices and a severe national economic recession that began in 2008 and left massive unemployment and rampant home foreclosures in its wake.

Recently, Tri-Rail has proposed a project called Tri-Rail Coastal Service to address commuter service needs east of I-95 and north of Mangonia Park. The addition of other commuter and passenger projects on FEC tracks will compliment and expand Tri-rail’s existing, built-in regional ridership.

Friday, May 31, 2013

From Lexus Lanes to Lexus Trains, More Choices In Mobility Will Make Florida More Competitive

A few years ago, citing price tag and future maintenance costs, Governor Rick Scott, our newly-minted state leader, vetoed a bill that would have brought federal dollars into the state of Florida to build high-speed-rail service from Tampa to Orlando to Miami. Since then, the budget has been balanced, the national economy has been rescued and has improved, and federal stimulus money has poured into the state for other projects that are just as important (port channel-widening, road-resurfacing, bridge-replacement, solar power, etc.). Furthermore All Aboard Florida, Tri-rail and the SFECC Study Group have all joined forces to lobby for building train crossings for their respective projects all at the same time.

It’s not called the Florida Transit Nexus. It’s just a working title I have used to describe the massive intersection of federal, state and local mass-transit outfits that would begin to converge and form a large hub right here in Southeast Florida. The Florida Transit Nexus, as I have previously described it, would have consisted of:

1. East-coast Amtrak service between Jacksonville and Miami (federal, FEC tracks, proposed).

2. High-speed rail service between Tampa, Orlando and Miami (state, FEC tracks, proposed).

3. Tri-Rail service between Mangonia Park and Miami (state, CSX tracks, currently in operation).

4. SFECC service between Jupiter and Miami with north-to-south AND east-to-west service on newly-built tracks (state, FEC tracks, proposed).

And…

5. All local mass-transit outfits, such as Palm Tran, Treasure Coast Connector, Martin County Public Transit, etc. (all currently in operation).

The overall framework, of what could potentially be a rather massive and very busy transit nexus with deep positive impacts on commerce and trade, is still in place. Just consider that the federally-funded high-speed rail outfit, listed up above, has been scrapped but with All Aboard Florida moving in to fill the gap left behind in its wake. Also consider that in addition to current Tri-Rail service on CSX tracks, new Tri-Rail Coastal Service would be built quickly and cheaply to service downtowns between Jupiter and Miami.

I refer to All Aboard Florida’s project as “Lexus trains” because of the potential cost of moving between Miami and Orlando and, perhaps in the future, between Miami and Tampa. $90 I have heard. Kinda out of reach for the average low-income person. It’s also a nod to the infamous “Lexus lanes” on I-95, here in Southeast Florida, that free up more valuable lane space for those willing to pay the toll to get from Lauderdale to downtown Miami faster.

With so many options available, it probably won’t matter, in the future, that mostly higher-income people will be more able to afford to use All Aboard Florida for frequent trips between Miami and Orlando. Plus, with so many options available, price competition could possibly work in our favor to drive train fares down to more reasonable prices for lower-income families and individuals.

It’s one thing for people to clamor publically for more transit options and availability. It’s quite another for a private outfit such as All Aboard Florida to step up to the plate, in an area where there is presumed to be no real financial feasibility, and make the bold proposal that it has made to make our state more competitive. That tells me that they smell profits in the water and have figured out a way to make, allegedly unprofitable mass-transit, profitable.

When I last posted anything worthwhile on the subject, All Aboard Florida and Tri-Rail seemed to be in competition to green-light competing projects. Now, they’re working together, as it should be, to see that crossings from multiple projects are built simultaneously, if and when all projects are approved. So, I say bravo to All Aboard Florida, AND to Tri-Rail as well! And if I may propose… A toast to public-private partnerships… Cheers!

 

© 2013 www.lostparadisejournal.blogspot.com

Saturday, March 2, 2013

General Consensus Seems To Be: Sequestration Will Indeed Be Harmful

sequester_graphic_what_is_pg_2 (copy)The graphic to the right of this column is a White House graphic illustrating some of the potential effects of the sequester, which was allowed by the petty 113th Congress, featuring House Speaker John Boehner and Eric Cantor, to be signed into law on Friday, March 1 (2013). I say “allowed” because the sequester was designed to be repulsive enough to inspire the nominal degree of cooperation necessary to have passed a better, more sensible law (#FAIL).

According to President Obama: “The whole design of these arbitrary cuts was to make them so unattractive and unappealing that Democrats and Republicans would actually get together and find a good compromise of sensible cuts as well as closing tax loopholes and so forth. And so this was all designed to say we can't do these bad cuts; let’s do something smarter. That was the whole point of this so-called sequestration."

I think it’s safe to opine that allowing sequestration to be signed into law this past Friday was nothing short of a political stunt (a potentially harmful one at that) to benefit the political images of the Congressional Republicans who are up for election in 2014. Our upcoming frustration and suffering, the result of the repeal of sequestration being ruled out of the question, for now, will help all these conservative-cred-thirsty Republicans look like they’re just really taking it to President Obama. Furthermore, they all realize that there’s still time to repeal this stupid law. So, even some Democrats might not have been as eager to repeal the law on Friday as they should have been. 

Regardless of what anyone’s particular political slant might be, the general consensus outside Washington seems, to me, to be that budget sequestration will be harmful. Furthermore, it’s just common sense to see that anytime you take money away from someone (teachers, firefighters, students, the elderly, etc.) there will be some degree of suffering.

Even though these harmful cuts to the budget have passed to become law, there’s still time to either repeal the law directly or pass legislation to stop its senselessly hurtful outcomes. We’re all a bit Johnny-come-lately on this issue, most of us, but it won’t hurt at all for us to contact our elected representatives and business leaders so as to mount as much pressure from the public on this issue as possible.

To learn more about what sequestration is, click on the link below: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/sequester.

To learn more about the President’s plan that would have averted the sequester and reduced the budget deficit, click on the link below: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/sequester/the-presidents-plan.

To use an interactive map to learn about specific sequestration effects in your state, click on the link below: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/sequester/interactive-map.

To “share your story” or tell the White House staff “what cuts like these will mean for you,” click on the link below: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sequester-stories.

To view a PDF showing how sequestration will impact the state of Florida, click on the link below: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/sequester-factsheets/Florida.pdf.

Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address Speaks For Itself. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

President Barack H. Obama Delivers his second Inaugural Address at the 57th Presidential Inauguration. Source: YouTube.com/WhiteHouse.

 

And from WhiteHouse.gov, a reprint of the official transcript of President Obama’s second Inaugural Address:

 

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

January 21, 2013

Inaugural Address by President Barack Obama

United States Capitol

11:55 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice,

members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:  

Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.  We affirm the promise of our democracy.  We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  

Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.  For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.  (Applause.)  The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob.  They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.  

And for more than two hundred years, we have.  

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.  

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers. 

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.  

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune. 

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.  For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.  No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.  (Applause.) 

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.  A decade of war is now ending.  (Applause.)  An economic recovery has begun.  (Applause.)  America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.  My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together.  (Applause.)  

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  (Applause.)  We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.  We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.  (Applause.)   

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time.  So we must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher.  But while the means will change, our purpose endures:  a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American.  That is what this moment requires.  That is what will give real meaning to our creed.   

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  (Applause.)  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. 

We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm.  The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us.  (Applause.)  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.  (Applause.)  

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  (Applause.)  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.  

The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise.  That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure -- our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.  (Applause.)  Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage.  (Applause.)  Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.  The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends -- and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law.  We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully –- not because we are na├»ve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.  (Applause.)

America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe.  And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.  We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.  And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice –- not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes:  tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice.  

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.  (Applause.) 

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  (Applause.)  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law  –- (applause) -- for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  (Applause.)  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  (Applause.)  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity -- (applause) -- until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  (Applause.)   Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.  

That is our generation’s task -- to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American.  Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness.  Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time.  (Applause.)  

For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay.  We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.  (Applause.)  We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.  We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall. 

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction.  And we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.  But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty or an immigrant realizes her dream.  My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.  

They are the words of citizens and they represent our greatest hope.  You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.  You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time -- not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.  (Applause.)  

Let us, each of us, now embrace with solemn duty and awesome joy what is our lasting birthright.  With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.  

Thank you.  God bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.  (Applause.)  

END

12:10 P.M. EST

 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

SFRTA’s Fast Start Plan for Tri-Rail Coastal Service

Fast Start info graphic Capture

The graphic to the right is a captured edit of the South Florida Regional Transit Authority’s service plan for new train stops between Jupiter and Miami. Their Fast Start Plan for Tri-Rail Coastal Service would help to significantly expand passenger rail throughout South Florida by complimenting already established service on CSX tracks west of I-95 with new train stops and service on FEC tracks to the east of the Interstate near US 1 and A1A.

Some objectives of the Fast Start Plan are: Integrated service, financial feasibility and fast implementation. The brochure from SFRTA’s Fast Start Plan website (PDF) is well-illustrated and informative. Their header reads: “Tri-Rail Coastal Service: Getting Southeast Florida to Work.”

Their service plan is far more local in scope than All Aboard Florida’s ambitious Orlando to Miami project but would fill a much needed gap in the current lack of train service between Southeast Florida’s downtown cores. For more information, please visit their website at: http://faststartplan.sfrta.fl.gov/index.htm.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

All Aboard Florida’s Plan for Passenger Rail in the State of Florida

All-Aboard-Florida-Infographic_1

I should disclose, again, that I am personally biased in favor of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority’s plan to extend Tri-Rail service (PDF) northward up into Jupiter, on FEC tracks, and quite possibly up into the rest of Treasure Coast, as well. All Aboard Florida, a private outfit, on the other hand, picks up where the failed Orlando-to-Miami bullet train project left off, but with additional stops in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Much like its doomed-via-rejection-of-federal-stimulus-money high-speed-rail forbear, All Aboard Florida’s passenger rail proposal (PDF) calls for a potential Orlando-to-Tampa route, in addition to another potential route connecting Jacksonville and Miami. For more information, please visit All Aboard Florida’s homepage. For more information on Tri-Rail and other regional transportation projects, please visit SFRTA’s website, as well. Links relevant to this topic are highlighted throughout this post.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Florida’s 10 Media Markets

Capture-fortreport.com-fl-dmas3

I get most of my national news information and opinion from watching MSNBC. Until a commentator on the network mentioned it, not long ago, I wasn’t even aware that the state of Florida has 10 U.S. media markets. I’ve been curious to know what they are ever since. And with another presidential election on the horizon, political ads in these markets are already running with fierce competition. 

According to frandocs.com: “A media market, broadcast market, media region, designated market area, DMA or simply market is a region where the population can receive  types of media including newspapers and Internet content.”

The screen shot above is a website snapshot of a Florida media markets map from a site called The Fort Report. The Reid Report has a similar map posted in a January article on GOP election-year politics, as well, but it’s closer in relevance to Enterprise Florida’s eight key regions map that I profiled earlier on. More political than technical.

According to the map above I reside within the parameters of the West Palm Beach, Fl. media market which includes the Treasure Coast counties of Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin, as well as one Heartland Region county, Okeechobee, and the Gold Coast county of Palm Beach which anchors the market. So in comparing this map to others mentioned above, we can see that Southeastern Florida contains two of the state’s media markets: The West Palm Beach, Fl. and Miami, Fl. designated market areas.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Advice for Future Grads: Start Your Career While Still in College

Even in today's less than stellar economic environment, college grads, if they are smart and are willing to think beyond their partying ways, can give themselves an edge by thinking ahead, between all those parties and games. The best way to begin any post-college career is to start that career while still in college. Here's how:

1. Establish an online presence relating to your studies. With a blog, you can publish your ideas or research online in written form. Long before you've left school, you'll have an independent body of work that shows potential employers how serious you are about your field of study. Avoid wasting too much time on chatty social sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Instead, try building professional credibility with job-related social networking sites like LinkedIn before you start working in your field.

2. Practice working in your field of study. Journalism requires writing, of course, researching, meeting deadlines and dealing with public officials. Why not write for your school newspaper or community weekly to sharpen your skills and learn industry practices? Interested in film? Then, making your own film or video productions and posting to YouTube or Vimeo is a no-brainer.

3. Attend trade shows and conferences related to your field. You may have to travel out-of-state or stay in hotels for the largest and most popular expos or conventions to large business-oriented cities, like Atlanta, but the time, energy and money spent in doing so may be well worth it. At these events, you will learn new technologies and strategies for success in your field of study and will have an opportunity to network with others in your field. In the graphic design industry, these events are a must for anyone who wants to be tops in their field.

4. Join a trade or professional association in your field. Many associations charge dues, but some don't. In the field of urban planning, college students and even people not directly employed in the field can join and become members of the American Planning Association. Look online or talk with your department head to find out which associations are best for your field. One benefit to being a member of a trade or professional association is access to unique publications that can't be found in retail book stores.

5. Volunteer for organizations with needs in your field. Five or ten hours here and there with a non-profit organization will not only look good on your resume, it'll give you a sense of mission and purpose about your chosen field. It's also a great opportunity to gather references for jobs or graduate school.

6. Gather, build and maintain valuable references. Ask instructors and key people you meet, befriend and associate with if you can use them as a reference at a future date should you need them. Use your e-mail, iPad or smart phone to organize them in a meaningful way.

7. Attend seminars, lectures, and non-credit classes for personal and professional enrichment. Examples of this would be Florida Atlantic University's Lifelong Learning Society classes at their Jupiter, Florida campus or Palm Beach State College's Corporate and Continuing Education classes. Some classes last only a day or a month, but can add tremendously to enhancing your skills, presentation and conversational knowledge.

8. Land an internship in your field. This may be the most "standard" of all items listed, but if you can land one, it'll give you a more hands-on idea of what you'll be doing day-to-day in your field. Some internships are for the general public (Ever seen the movie Pursuit of Happyness?), while others gear more toward high-school and college students. Only take internships far away if they pay and pay well or if you can land a second job in your chosen city or town to pay room and board. Local internships that don't pay are great as long as they don't interfere with your "bill-paying job."

In college, parties are a must! But the way to ensure that the good times keep rolling is to work hard at doing those things that are going to secure your future beyond your glory days. For anyone unsure of their future beyond Academia's hallowed halls, this list will help to get them started. Congrats and GOOD LUCK!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Vontonio_L._Johns

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6540275

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mass Transit Ecosystems: Revisited

When most people think of mass transit, trains and buses come to mind. This is correct. But what most people don’t readily understand is that there are modes in between shoes and trains that don’t seem to be accounted for when building and maintaining modes designed for large numbers of end users. Effective mass transit systems should include all or more of the following: Trains, planes, automobiles, buses, cabs, shoes, bikes, motorcycles, golf carts, trolleys, boats, water taxis, monorails, scooters, wheelchairs, etc.. This is what can be called a mass transit ecosystem and is what I call a logistical ecology of scale. I’ll explain what I mean in due time. But before I define this term and present base arguments for a more professional assessment from experts, here’s a quote from a previous column posted on March 12 of last year:

Mass transit has long had a reputation for having low dollar returns on investment. OK, I get it. But what people don’t realize is that the returns, unlike in a business where goods and services are sold and accounted for, are not direct. They tend to spread out into less tangible and less easily measured ways such as increased revenue from tourism or corporate relocation. Not to mention the maintenance of urban population without further gridlock from cars. While Palm Tran and Martin County Public Transit may occasionally suffer from budget shortfalls and low ridership, the real costs of not having these outfits would come in the form of higher unemployment, low growth and lack of any real business investment from serious firms that look for low labor costs and infrastructure efficiencies as pathways to profitability.

My final point is a theory in which I have no real name for at this time, but involves a potentially new way of looking at mass transit that’s often overlooked: how to make it profitable, at best, or at the least, self-supporting… A theory which not only calls for examining the implementation of full service on a regional scale but ignores population support in favor of scope and reach… This way of looking at public mass transit can only thrive if it is constructed in such a way that driving a car to a certain destination makes no sense whatsoever. Thus, the heart of this theory is the idea that smaller transit outfits like buses, taxis, rental cars, city rail, cruise lines, bike routes, walking trails, etc. would feed into larger outfits like regional trains and airports to form a symbiotic relationship that would eventually lead to self-sustainability. For example, with the proposed Amtrak line from Jacksonville to Miami, aligning Martin County Public Transit in such a way that [it] collects riders and tourists from the train station to reach their destinations in Martin County would mean that MCPT would not have to worry much about funding since fares collected from enticing train riders would stabilize ridership.

The overall idea in aligning various modes of transportation so closely together, including cars, would be to create an economy of scale of sorts, but with regard to human logistical efficiency, rather than an industrial economy of scale in which suppliers and distributers align themselves closely together to reduce logistical and informational costs. An example of an economy of scale would be a parts store and other automotive-related entities being located near car dealerships. Another example would be the biotech companies forming around Scripps Florida to take advantage of proximity to their research.

Nearly a year later, I’ve finally found a term to describe the close alignment of as many modes of human transport as possible. I define the term logistical ecology of scale as the symbiosis between all available modes of transportation, public and private, within a city, county, or regional structure, that forms a nearly seamless and self-supporting human-logistical ecosystem. Borrowed from the economic term, economy of scale, the concept suggests that in order for large modes of transportation to make profits and thrive, or at least sustain themselves, their connections to smaller, less costly modes of transportation (that claim more users, in aggregate) must not only be able to accommodate and collect traffic from all available modes, but must be able to send that traffic out just as orderly and smooth.

 

© 2012 LostParadiseJournal.blogspot.com

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

City-State Florida: Enterprise Florida’s Map of Eight State Regions

Capture-eflorida-FL-Regions-3

I hope Enterprise Florida doesn’t mind that I’m using this modified screen capture of their map of Florida’s eight state regions. I used Microsoft Paint to add directional text of my own so that they get the credit for this useful map graphic.

Enterprise Florida, by the way, is the “official economic development organization of the State of Florida.” The banner near the top of eflorida.com, under the tabs section, reads: “Florida. Innovation Hub of the Americas.”

Like other sites I’ve profiled, this site has a wealth of information that’s useful to current and prospective residents, visitors, businesses and institutions. The page with this map on it (The “Florida’s Regions” tab) has links to “regional microsites” that give you “a good overview of what’s happening in each area.” For more information, please visit this site.

 

Map © 2012 eflorida.com

Text © 2012 LostParadiseJournal.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cool-Hand Obama’s Atmosphere of Certainty… And Other Reasons Why the U.S. Economy is Improving

I was expecting the unemployment rate to be at about 9 percent flat as of January. As it turns out, since October of 2011, the economy has been trending toward a flat 8 percent. I’m not convinced that a slight uptick in unemployment numbers won’t occur over the summer, since oil prices are headed upwards of 4 dollars per gallon. But, now that Europe’s own debt-default problems are being worked out and the debt-ceiling debacle, here in the U.S., has ended -– and now that the the presidential race of 2012 has begun -- firms can reasonably forecast where to focus their capital.

The economy we feel (employment, consumer spending, etc.) is beginning to catch up with the economy on paper (increased domestic output, consumer confidence, etc.). Among countless other reasons, here are some other possible reasons why:

  • OBAMA’S COOL HAND (i.e., THE PRINCIPLE OF CERTAINTY): Like it or not, presidents set the tone for how the nation feels. President Obama’s partisan policy and political shifts from consensus-seeking moderate to unapologetic classic-liberal visionary has helped to create an atmosphere of predictability and certainty about our economy’s ability to move forward. From demands for Congress to “Pass this jobs bill!” to a very noteworthy January State of the Union address in which Obama challenged us to help erect an economy that’s “built to last,” as well as executive orders issued to assist students and homeowners, the President’s “with or without Congress” vision has provided corporations, small businesses, families, and individuals with a sense of certainty about what to expect from Washington (i.e., Congress) until well after the 2012 presidential election: nothing.
  • PENT-UP CONSUMER DEMAND: The 2011 holiday season unleashed a solid round of consumer demand that should have been tapped into a year or two earlier. But thanks to the Obama administration’s misreading of 2010 midterm election results and to a Tea-Party led assault on our nation’s full faith and credit, based on their own twisted misreading of those election results as a -- get this -- “mandate,” those years have been wasted. And last Spring, the President’s clashes with Speaker Boehner and his wily bunch of tax-religion zealots culminated into the now infamous debt-ceiling debacle, as legislation to aid homeowners, the newly homeless, students and the unemployed fell by the wayside and was replaced by senseless “debate” over deficits and spending. To President Obama’s credit, his 4-trillion-dollar “Grand Deal”, crafted by Vice President Biden, and others, but abandoned by Boehner and Cantor, would have set the nation on solid fiscal footing for years to come. This, according to CBO figures at the time.
  • ROBUST HOLIDAY HIRING: Holiday hiring at the end of 2011 was the highest it’s been in awhile. Once the debt-ceiling debacle ended, oil prices fell and the rough tumble in the markets over the Greece-led debt crisis in Europe subsided, with expectations of help from Germany, the stage was set for many companies to plan for what was one of the longest holiday shopping seasons ever. As early as August, some companies, here in Florida, were placing ads for seasonal workers to apply and get trained. These workers contributed to one of the best holiday shopping seasons in what seemed to be ages.
  • HIGHER LABOR COSTS ABROAD: Particularly in China. Labor costs over there have risen to the point of factories shutting down. Some American companies have begun insourcing and relocating factories back on American soil. There has also been allegations of trade-secret theft, by the Communist Chinese government, from U.S. companies that produce higher quality goods there - leaving some large companies to reconsider the risks of setting up shop in China to manufacture high-end goods with sensitive trademarks, patents and processes. Apparently, off-shoring and outsourcing have come home to roost. Insourcing is trending, but not enough to write home about.  Watch this trend, but don’t hold your breath.

Though I have been angry about -- or have made light of --corporations “bitching” about uncertainty, in previous posts, the truth is that, like their large corporate counterparts, small and mid-sized businesses really do need to know what the legislative and regulatory climate are going to look like in order to forecast future needs. I’ll drink to that! But the overall point I was trying to make –- that both companies and consumers need to be proactive in stirring up demand  -- still stands. The President has always realized this and the American people are beginning to recognize and respond to his leadership in this area.

In summary: Despite sharp increases in oil prices last spring, a toxic Democrat vs. Republican and Tea Party debt-ceiling “debate” over the summer, a slight downgrade of ratings on U.S. bonds, in the fall, followed by a market-rattling fear of Greece defaulting on its debt (and potentially creating a European debt-default domino effect), the U.S. economy has been holding steady, through it all, but with a slowly-creeping GDP. The underlying improvement in employment numbers, I believe, has come about as a result of enough companies and consumers being unwilling to depend on anything coming out of Washington, as well as some now-or-never pent-up demand that has been tapped into and maintained. In other words, many Americans have begun taking the health of the economy –- and the nation -- into their own hands.

© 2012 LostParadiseJournal.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Food-Stamps Haters: Hypocritical and Hateful

I’ve tried my best, over the years, to become the next Seth Godin or Matt Drudge, but given the somewhat limited, and relatively politics averse, scope of this blog, uh… probably won’t happen. Still, the benefit of being able to flex my supreme intellectual prowess in writing - so that my college education won’t be deemed a complete waste - is all but priceless. I’m researching more and more, but most of this blog is off the top of my head.

I’m not only an unpaid blogger, I’m currently a day laborer and temp worker. I live in Martin County, Florida. It’s fairly conservative and awfully Republican. In my opinion, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and where there are conservatives and Republicans, there seems to be a great deal of unnecessary prejudice and fear. That’s my opinion. Not that liberals and Democrats are exempt (Low expectations, anyone?). But unlike Republicans and conservatives, liberals and Democrats generally don’t try to squeeze votes out of the worst among us: those who hate.

Conservatives and Republicans don’t want to hear about racism or prejudice. Some just want to practice these abominable crafts with impunity.  They equate doing the right thing, for those without sway, with some mythical cult of “white guilt” as they lump people who are truly stuck in “park” right in there with the real losers and scammers, among us, that all of us are victimized by.

Stop being a “hyphenated” American, they say. Yet none of them have to bare the anger and humiliation of being stereotyped as “dangerous” or being treated like something other than a normal, hard-working American. So, for a jerk like Newt Gingrich to run for president of the most diverse nation on Earth, while stoking the fires of hatred against minorities, gays, and those who seek public assistance, is not only a slap in the face, it has cramped my own personal style as I attempt to claw my way out of the bottom rung with every ounce of being I’ve got. Why not get all the help I can get on my way - what I presume is still - “up?”

The idea that a customer, clerk or manager at any retail store that accepts food stamps would have the nerve to roll their eyes or mumble and moan about someone pulling out an EBT card shows not only their ignorance of economics and commerce, but also a lack of appreciation for what any form of payment adds to the bottom line and profitability of where they shop and work. This is the kind of once-in-awhile, but highly annoying, rude behavior I’ve encountered here in Martin county, and even in some parts of Palm Beach county, without so much as an inkling of an inquiry from anyone as to what may have led to me needing food stamps in the first place (a broken leg in the latter part of 2010 and being FIRED in the summer of 2011).

Some people in Florida are not only kinda hateful, at times, but also a bit hypocritical. After the hurricanes of 2004 (Charley, Frances, Ivan and Gene), more people than you could shake a stick at were getting food stamps, some for the first time, standing in line for Army M.R.E.s and seeking help from FEMA – people I never thought I’d ever see in line for anything. I worked in seafood, then. Many were buying expensive crab legs with these cards – the same thing some poor, single black moms do and get hated for (as if seafood is junk food). So, what happened, back then, to the “boot straps” thingy that people like to wax so poetically about?

After what I’ve been through, financially, no matter what I’ve done to dig out, I don’t want to hear a DAMN THING about people’s alleged “dependency” on public assistance. Who the hell, in their right mind, wants to be limited to waiting until the beginning of each month to purchase food? That’s like aspiring to place second on Survivor.

If the American system of commerce were, at all, working the way it’s supposed to work, there’d be no need for so many people to have to hassle with – yes, hassle with - public assistance in the first place. But since capitalism 1.0 just doesn’t work well, or only works well for that infamous one-percent of us, either we keep as many people afloat as we can, during hard times, or be prepared to confront massive unnecessary, but understandable, social unrest. That’s just all there is to it.

If public assistance is so bad, we need to get rid of ALL public assistance. Put the corporate crybabies in there along with everyone else who’d apparently rather drive a government jalopy than earn a nice Chrysler 300. No more deficit-exploding tax breaks. No more Wall Street bailouts. No more oil-industry subsidies. Let airlines go bankrupt. Let farmers collude on food prices. And, for that matter, let wind, solar and natural gas get their initial operating capital the hard way, as well. Let all of these industries scrape at the margins of profitability the same way the grocery industry does. Maybe, then we’ll see who’s got cajones and who ain’t.

Before doing day labor and temp work in neighboring counties, I worked at a grocery store, here in Martin. One thing I’ll never forget is taking a break out in my car and watching a customer I knew, a white dude, DIG IN A DUMPSTER, out back, while his wife bought what she could in the store. You think a dollar more on food prices don’t make that much of a difference? Black or white, try being poor, and having to come up off of that extra dollar, then tell me what you think.

I’d like to see Mitt, Newt, Rick and Ron dig in a dumpster. Maybe, one of these days, these pompous asses can do it as a way to raise money for a charity of their choice. The smell and the flies are expected. Just watch out for heroin needles.

Well, I’m down to a meager $2.24, from last month, on my EBT card. My six months are up. It’s only by the grace of Almighty that as my time on food stamps have run out, I’m needing them less and less. For now. That’s how it’s supposed to work. And now that I’m back on the road doing what I do best – work! - I’ve replaced cold-ass convenience store fare with the usual hot-and-ready Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonalds I’ve grown accustomed to treating myself to.

So, thanks for the lift, Uncle Sam. That extra buying power was great while it lasted. But by the same token, good riddance to all the eye-rolling and dirty looks I’ve had to put up with for simply looking after myself. Wouldn’t want to raise the federal deficit with all the chips, subs, Gatorade and burritos I’ve purchased over the months.

© 2012 LostParadiseJournal.blogspot.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

WPTV NBC-5: SFRTA's Proposal to Expand Tri-Rail


I haven't looked at SFRTA's Fast Start plan for Tri-Rail, yet. Nor have I examined the competing plan from FDOT & FEC. But I have read about them and if I were you, South Floridians, I'd trust the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority's best guess over the state department of transportation's fiscal crystal ball on any given day.

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the state wants to privatize Tri-Rail and hand operations over to the FEC Railway. HELL NO! If SFRTA says they can expand service faster, cheaper and WITHOUT THE HELP OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, then why the hell not give them a go at it?

FDOT, says the Sun Sentinel, would have to raise $300 million in construction costs. Who has time for all that? SFRTA, on the other hand, could do it for $265 million and would be able to begin construction in a year!

FDOT's intentions sound kinda funky to me. And where the hell does the Florida Rail Enterprise, created by the legislature when Charlie Crist was in office, fit in all this? I haven't heard a peep out of them. That's if they exist. Were they axed in Governor Scott's budget from hell? With this state, who knows?

If I had to put money down on anything, at this point, I'd bet on RTA's Fast Start plan, first and foremost. Who knows South Florida's mass transit needs better than RTA? And as far as their plan goes, personally, I'd like to see Tri-Rail expanded up into Stuart or Jensen Beach. Why stop at Jupiter when the Treasure Coast is screaming for commuter and passenger rail?

© 2011 LostParadiseFL.us.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

ABC To Cancel Miami Version of Charlie’s Angels. Look for Future Comeback Set in New City…

I’m disappointed to read in the news, over the weekend, that after only four shows, the Miami-themed incarnation of “Charlie’s Angels” has been cancelled. According to Liz Smith’s “The Dish” column, the show was ABC’s first cancellation, this season, and that an 8 p.m. time slot (against NBC’s comedy lineup) may have been an ill fit. Furthermore, says Smith, the show may potentially return on a different night, set in a different city, with a more “adult spin.”

I would loved to have seen many a season filmed right here in Florida, but as a fan of the show, now that I’m into the characters and their stories, I just want the show to return… period! I loved the show when I was a kid and I’d love to see it live on now that I’m well into adulthood. I had no idea that filming in Miami could be considered to be “expensive.” (Maybe for ABC.) I can live with that, but what I can’t live with is the idea of anywhere in the state of Florida, somehow being devoid of stories to tell. Now, THAT’S funny. But so far, no indication of such a notion.

Florida’s legislature has done a fantastic job in beefing up the state’s incentives, and there was no mention of bad ratings, so I’m assuming that a lack of economies of scale in the film industry here, may have played a role in the Charlie’s Angels’ cancellation. Still, it was a worthy effort and an indication of what needs to be in place, in the future, to host other efforts. All said and done, however, even shows set in New York and L.A. get cancelled. All the time, as a matter of fact. So, good luck to my Angels and bravo to the city of Miami for landing a big one!

© 2011 LostParadiseFL.us.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wall Street Siege: The Middle Class and the Poor Strike Back! - Join the Rebellion!

I recently joined Dylan Rattigan's campaign to “Get Money Out” of politics. I also look forward to Reverend Al Sharpton’s October 15 “March for Jobs and Justice” in Washington, D.C. And, although I don’t know quite what to make of it, yet, I’ll be more than happy to support the movement to “Occupy Wall Street.”

But while Wall Street protesters don’t have any one particular grievance to air, I DO. And while most political discourse, these days, is trending toward blaming “Washington in general” or pointing fingers at “both sides,” I hold and maintain that if anything is to change, at all, those responsible for the current madness we must endure must be brought to justice and put to political death.

Both parties, Democrats and Republicans, many of them, bought and sold, they are. But to what degree and on behalf of whom? The media -- they themselves largely bought and sold -- won’t say.

How anyone can look and see what the Republicans and their Tea Party affiliates have done, in the face of worldwide economic collapse, and claim, with a straight face, that the Democrats are somehow, not a barricade against, but a major part of this sick charade, I cannot understand...

Blame “both sides,” while one obstructs? I’m not playin’ that game…

It’s not the Democrats blocking unemployment and jobs legislation…

It’s not the Democrats pushing costly tax cuts for the rich and putting the burden of reducing the deficit on women, children, elderly, the disabled, and the poor…

It’s not the Democrats blocking appointments to cabinet posts, court vacancies, and… security agencies?

It’s not the Democrats filing a record number of filibusters in the Senate…

It’s not the Democrats allowing the government to be shutdown over ideological nonsense…

It’s not the Democrats who used the full faith and credit of the United States of America as a political weapon, this past summer...

It’s not the Democrats proposing cuts to programs they don’t like in exchange for funding FEMA... for RECENT emergencies!

It’s not the Democrats who walked out on the “Grand Bargain,”  this summer…

It’s not the Democrats who want to do away with Medicare and Social Security…

It’s not the Democrats who are crafting legislation in Republican-dominated state legislatures to get rid of collective bargaining...

It’s not the Democrats trying to restrict certain people from voting...

It’s not the Democrats booing gay soldiers...

It’s not the Democrats cheering for people to be put to death, whether they are guilty or not...

It’s not the Democrats clapping for uninsured patients to die…

It’s not the Democrats trying to force the United States Postal Service –- THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE -- out of existence...

It’s not the Democrats saying no to high-speed rail in the state of Florida…

It’s not the Democrats claiming that the 99-percenters, marching on Wall Street, are lazy or looking for dates...

It’s not the Democrats calling our own President “the enemy” and claiming that he has a “deep-seeded hatred for white people.”

It’s not the Democrats who failed to fund the FAA, back in August, before leaving Washington, on vacation…

It’s not the Democrats who have a race problem…

It’s not the Democrats who used language that led to the killing of an abortion clinic doctor or the crashing of a plane into a federal building in Texas…

It’s not the Democrats who are discriminating against any religion that isn’t fundamentalist Christianity…

It’s not the Democrats who are called “The Party of the Rich.”

Am I wrong?

As one can clearly imagine, I've been deeply troubled by what the tyranny of a few has caused our nation to be reduced to. So, while other 99-percenters are protesting and marching on Wall Street and elsewhere, I’ll continue doing what I've been doing all along, since late 2007… writing opinion columns… and making my case for nothing less than the complete and total END of the Republican Party as we know it.

I can forgive the silliness, disunity and bungling of priorities coming from a big-tent outfit like the Democratic Party. What I cannot, and will not, forgive is the senseless hatred, heartlessness and malice, coming out of what passes for the Republican Party, these days…
May the all burn, comfortably, IN HELL…

© 2011 LostParadiseFL.us.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

“Charlie’s Angels” - Miami Style! ABC’s Remake Brings Big Budgets and Potentially Big Production Values to the South Florida Region

I just finished watching the premiere episode of the new Charlie’s Angels TV series on ABC (local news channel WPBF 25). How fitting that on the day that Jennifer Lopez’s upcoming thriller, Parker (based on author Donald Westlake’s Flashfire), wraps up shooting in the town of Palm Beach, this evening, another South Florida-based drama makes its debut on network television, tonight. (ABC, WPBF-25; Ians, filmicafe.com).

The pilot episode of Angels begins with the ultra-smooth, optimistic voice of Charlie (Robert Wagner) giving us a brief background of our Angels, while a short, updated hint of the original series’ theme plays in the background. In this episode, the ex-cons turned detectives of the Townsend Agency (played by Rachael Taylor, Annie Ilonzeh and Minka Kelly) along with Bosley (Ramon Rodriguez) take on human traffickers as they avenge the loss of their fallen Angel and car-bomb victim, Gloria. ABC’s slow and steady, high-gloss cinematography captures Miami’s nighttime skyline with splendid big-city magnitude – making the fabled “Magic City” look larger than life. Which it often is. (Hanks, Miami Herald).

The premiere of the new Charlie’s Angels series follows on the heels of two other recent and successful TV dramas shot entirely in South Florida: USA Networks’ Burn Notice and A&E’s The Glades. According to the Miami Herald, however, while Burn Notice and The Glades have enjoyed phenomenal success on cable, the new Charlie’s Angels is the first network-television “broadcast series” to be shot here since Miami Vice. Furthermore, the reigning South Florida-themed champion, CSI: Miami, while wildly successful, and at one time the number one TV show worldwide, is shot mostly in L.A. with occasional production in Miami. It’s 10th season starts on Sunday at 10 p.m., by the way (CBS 12 locally). Finally, what makes Charlie’s Angels a real grab for the Miami area is that network television shows have substantially larger budgets and reach more viewers than cable shows do. (Hanks, Miami Herald).

With promising, less-than-perfect characters, a glamorous locale and butt-kicking action, this show looks like a winner! For more information on the new Charlie’s Angels television series, please click on ABC.go.com/shows. Better yet, tune in to your local ABC news station every Thursday at 8 p.m. Good luck, Angels!

 

© 2011 lostparadisefl.us

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Dire Warning to Liberals: Support the President or Watch Him Fail

Now that the debt-ceiling debacle is over, the media has gone back to doing what it does best: calling the President weak (CNN and Fox) and demanding that he transform himself into an FDR-like figure for the new millennium (MSNBC). ENOUGH already!

While I side with liberals on about 65-98 percent of all issues, I cram to understand how some of them can beat up on the President day in and day out, knowing damn well what he’s up against. From Cornell West and Tavis Smiley’s shameless 15-city bus tour to badmouth the President to cable news commentators demanding that the President be big and bad like FDR -- why is the President being attacked on all fronts while Republicans and Tea Baggers continue to go unpunished for their obstruction against our country’s progress?  Why are people accusing Obama of not saying or not doing things that he clearly is?

I know people are suffering. I’m one the people suffering -- damn it! But, demanding that President Obama be a “Magic Negro” is no better than Rush Limbaugh singing his racist “Magic Negro” song. The President said that he would once again make jobs and job creation a headlining issue. He has done just that. While I don’t always agree with President Obama, I refuse to contribute to destructive chatter that only serves to detract from whatever the President is trying to accomplish. Either we Independents, Moderates and Liberals get behind Obama - warts and all - and keep his path free of debris OR we risk his presidency (and therefore our economy) being lost to some Tea Party zealot in 2012.

Think it can’t happen? Keep thinking it. People moaning and whining (and sitting home on election day) is part of the reason why the Tea Party is in power this year. I voted in the fall of 2010 –- against the Tea Party. Where were the rest of you bozos? Whining or voting?

I’ve been following the President’s bus tour on MSNBC and C-SPAN. As a voter, I like what I’m hearing. Perhaps Obama does need to be more clear on some things or package his ideas into a large publicly-reviewable package. But other than that, he’s doing exactly what he should be doing: taking his plans to the people and inviting us to get involved by demanding that Congress get off its ass and do its job. He knows that the House Republicans are at largely at fault for our current failures. And he knows that the American people know that this is the case. But as long as the media keeps trying to make a story out of Obama’s style of governing (about as good as you can get with a do-nothing Congress), his message on jobs will get lost.

Keep challenging the President. He wants us to. But don’t tell the man how to do his job. What kind of a supporter micro-manages his own President? The hell with that. As I said before, and as the President is asking us to do now: Call your congressman. Call your Republican congressman, especially. Call, write, fax, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, visit their office, sleep outside their office, protest, picket -- whatever it takes for them to get the message that those who continue to hold our country hostage (away from the jobs, infrastructure, innovation and prosperity we all deserve), will not be tolerated.

Whatever you decide to do, DON’T fight the President. By all means, however, DO keep fighting!

 

© 2011 lostparadisefl.us      

Friday, July 22, 2011

Opportunities And Challenges: How to Use South Florida’s Emerging-Region Designation To Build Businesses, Brands and Industries

Even with a bad economy, a slight dip in population and a housing boom gone bust, Southeast Florida is still awfully close to build-out. And even with build-out approaching, though more slowly than it was when things were booming, Southeast Florida is still a region that is rife with opportunity and business potential.

For individuals, companies, institutions and brands looking to start a new venture or expand an existing one, the key to doing so, in a region as diverse as ours, is looking for potential to build product and service strength in areas where we are perceived to be weak or have no representation compared to other more centralized metropolitan regions. What do other places have that we don’t or could use more of? Movie stars? Trains? Buses? Museums? Skyscrapers? Film Schools? Film Studios?

Southeast Florida is slowly, but steadily, evolving into a national and international business and branding hub. To support this, several examples come to mind:

(1) While Hollywood and Silicon Valley are the ancestral home to the animation and movie effects industry, California-based Digital Domain has chosen to blaze its own trails by expanding its brand to South Florida with studios in Port St. Lucie and a forthcoming educational institution in West Palm Beach. With any luck, Southeast Florida could potentially become a large entertainment hub in a state that threatens to rival Hollywood in film production.

(2) Throughout the region, institutions of higher education are either locating, or are being built near, Interstate 95. Nova Southeastern University, for example, recently opened its new campus between Military Trail and I-95, in Palm Beach Gardens.

(3) While many of the world’s most respected biological research and technology institutes are clustered in states well known for their stake in the biotech pie (California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, etc.), Scripps Florida, Max Phlanck, VGTI and Torrey Pines are forming the foundations of a forthcoming “biotech corridor,” along I-95, that will compliment the previously-mentioned entertainment and education corridors taking shape along the interstate, as well.

South Florida is not only an entertainment capital in its own right, its also heavily populated with stars like Venus and Serena Williams, D-Wade, Alonzo Mourning, Shaq, Rod Stewart, Rush Limbaugh, Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Ann Coulter, Don King, Michael Jordan, Donald Trump and George Hamilton, to name a few. Homegrown stars like the great Burt Reynolds, Gloria Estefan, Vanilla Ice, Larry the Cable Guy, Dan Marino, Pit Bull, Rick Ross, Flo-Rida, Alicia Minshew, Megan Fox and Mickey Rourke show the area’s propensity for producing high-quality, top-level talent. While many of our stars value our unparalleled privacy, others view our status as a top national media market and population center as being crucial to building, marketing and maintaining their brand. Still, others just simply enjoy living here and wouldn’t trade our beachy lifestyle (and nonexistent state tax) for anything in the world. Furthermore, when you’re famous in Florida, you’re famous forever. There’s no such thing as “has-been” here. We remember and appreciate everyone.

South Florida’s propensity to attract celebrities and stars of all kinds shows the power of its unusual mix of combining privacy and security with brand expansion potential. It also shows how in some cases, bigger can indeed be better. In Miami, one of the most successful Super Bowl sites in the nation, each time the event has been held there, in recent years, it has been dubbed: “the South Florida Super Bowl.” Each year, regional-level business participation is not only encouraged but is promoted and even “coached.”

For anyone wanting to invest in Southeast Florida, whether it be as an individual, a business, a brand or an institution, the idea is to get in where you fit in, get comfortable, invest locally, be charitable and grow your brand slowly on a small, but effective scale. Understand that while Miami, Miami Beach or Palm Beach may be the area’s most prolific locales, there’s room for growth and a need for solid industry in other, less glamorous parts of our region (such as Ft. Pierce and the Glades) that could use more jobs and opportunities. For those with existing name recognition coming into our state, there’s potential here to promote your brand even further with pathways into Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean that can only be done within the context of South Florida’s own unique style of international flair.

While Southeast Florida will never be the largest or most populated metropolitan region in the United States, it has major potential to be the most dynamic. Even in its apparent state of incompleteness, it is often hailed as being a very lively and dynamic area. And it is. Opportunities abound, but many challenges beacon as well. Among them, structural challenges that impede commerce on a wider scale. Crime, housing, schools and governance issues continue to linger and persist. Public transportation on a regional scale is still years away. Key in building on our region’s noted dynamism is the idea of thoroughly connecting it’s two sub-regional polar opposites (the Treasure Coast and the Gold Coast) in ways that exemplify the official existence of a large, diverse, well-connected universe of cities, towns and villages with unparalleled opportunity and choice.

There really are two starkly different sides of South Florida. The main difference being the highly-populated Tri-County or Gold Coast counties of Palm Beach, Broward and Dade versus the less urbanized, less built-out (but just as crowded and congested) Treasure Coast counties of Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin. But, as with any other major metropolitan area, culture clash ultimately gives way to economic survival and the need for people to socialize. The level of inter-regional travel across and within South Florida’s seven counties is astounding and at least mildly comparable to New York or Los Angeles, on any given day, with the main difference between these MSAs being: In Southeast Florida, there’s no central city. More akin to a coastal Japanese megalopolis, than an American metropolis, this area is bound to the east by the western edges of the Everglades, Lake O, and other natural areas in our state’s famed wild interior. In our region, it’s all about the counties: Seven in all. Each with their own unique vision of what life in South Florida is all about.

One of the best things anyone new or native to our area can do is to advocate for the one thing that’s going to fuel the region’s future in a way that home and highway-building can’t: pubic mass transit. Public transportation on a massive regional scale that promotes activity and commerce remains to be a “last-mile” type of challenge for this area. If this region is to truly evolve into a more sophisticated center of commerce, the ability to move people to and from, with or without cars, must be sufficiently present in our area. Even with high-speed rail off the table, for the time being, the revival of Jacksonville-to-Miami Amtrak service, as well as the building of a proposed commuter line (from Jupiter to Miami along U.S. 1) could combine with Tri-Rail and local bus-service to grow the U.S. 1 Corridor into marketplace dream. As trains and busses fill up downtowns along the region’s coastline with shoppers, businessmen and travelers that cars and trucks can’t, business will no doubt boom.

The good news is that even with cars currently owning the show, throughout South Florida, there seems to be more and more people out and about, walking and riding bikes along U.S. 1 in big places like Ft. Lauderdale and even small places like Hobe Sound and Tequesta. More choices in mobility, with special attention to walkers and bike-riders, can only improve this trend.

With New York losing seats in Congress and Florida gaining seats, return on investment in Southeast Florida, our state’s economic engine, is not rocket science. Those things that will ensure South Florida’s transition from “accidental region” to cultural center include: (1) education, research and entertainment corridors forming along I-95, (2) a robust coastal marketplace along U.S. 1, and (3) the potential to create a public large mass transit system that’s accessible, self-sustaining and commerce-generating.

While uprooting Hollywood as the film capital of the world, or New York City as the cultural center of the world, are all still a long way off, the main point is that the opportunity does exist. Though incomplete in its construction, it’s the potential to create a new paradigm altogether that makes Southeast Florida among the premiere regions in the world –- yes, the world -- to live, work, study, play, relax and do business.

 

© 2011 lostparadisefl.us

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Web and Travel References Recognize South Florida’s Diverse, Multi-regional Profile

I suppose it can be argued that South Florida + The Treasure Coast = Southeast Florida. I disagree. I believe that “South Florida” is indeed synonymous with “Southeast Florida.” For natives, longtime residents, and businesses with deep roots in our area, this is the way it has always been. Apparently, I am not without company on this matter. Below are four resources and references that put our region in its proper perspective: a seven-county super region, with a coastal urban core, consisting of the four state sub-regions of the Treasure Coast, the Gold Coast, the Florida Everglades and the Florida Keys.

 

Exhibit A: SoFlo.org 

Capture_SoFlo_Call-to-Action25

This a screenshot of SoFlo.org’s Call to Action web page. Their findings are the basis for many of the arguments made on this site. SoFlo.org, maintained by Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Urban and Environmental Studies (FAU C.U.E.S.), is a very valuable resource for anyone seeking to contribute to the Southeast Florida landscape. FAU C.U.E.S. is at the forefront in outlining South Florida’s problems and challenges, while promoting cooperation among its many municipalities, agencies and jurisdictions.

 

Exhibit B: The Southeast Florida Regional Partnership

SEFL-Regional--Partnership-Logo_thum[2]

The logo above represents all the hard work that has been done by FAU C.U.E.S., Enterprise Florida, FDOT, FDLE, the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council and the South Florida Regional Planning Council to build our state and region into a major hub of safe and sustainable communities that are attractive, innovative and business-friendly. Please note that the Southeast Florida Regional Partnership, as indicated at the bottom of the graphic, consists of representatives from seven local counties (Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe) across four state regions (the Treasure Coast, the Gold Coast, the Florida Everglades and the Florida Keys). Last year, the Regional Partnership, formerly known, in concept, as Southeast Florida: Vision 2060, scored a federal grant of 4.5 million dollars to begin developing a regional master plan for the entire seven-county area.

 

Exhibit C: “Frommer’s South Florida”

Capture_FrommersSF_Cover_thumb2_thum

This highly-regarded travel guide, perhaps because its publisher, Mr. Arthur Frommer, is from South Florida, is quickly becoming a Florida traveler’s classic. “Frommer’s South Florida,” unlike similar publications, adds intrigue and depth to our area in a way that can’t be done by ignoring the Treasure Coast in favor of its Gold Coast counterpart. For example, in the introduction to the book, Mr. Frommer provides a detailed list of “Frommer’s Favorite South Florida Experiences.”  One of them being: “Scuba Diving [on] the Treasure Coast.” As is the case with New York, visitors to our area realize that there’s more to see than meets the eye and are, almost by default, encouraged to stay a long time. May as well, since one cannot possibly see everything in one day. As a matter of fact, a section from Chapter 4 on page 50 is titled: “South Florida in 2 Weeks.”

 

Exhibit D: SmartGrowthPartnership.org

Capture_SGP_WebSnip

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, a Southeast Florida publication with a mild tendency to only acknowledge the Gold Coast as being “South Florida,” the Smart Growth Partnership is a nonprofit group, founded by Gloria Katz, that addresses growth and development issues in South Florida. They recently published an article by Ms. Katz detailing the economic implications of embracing mass transit. The Smart Growth Partnership’s website is loaded with valuable resources and features a map that acknowledges all seven of Southeast Florida’s counties (Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe).

 

Although the Treasure Coast can easily stand on its own, as its own distinct state region, its historical, emigrational and geographical ties to the Gold Coast region shows that both regions are economically linked and part of a larger national commercial region: the super region of Southeast Florida. As demonstrated, in references listed above, South Florida’s true dimensions are becoming ever more clear with the help of representative agencies, such as the South Florida Regional Planning Council, the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, the Smart Growth Partnership, Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Urban and Environmental Studies, and various others who share the same goals. Life in our region can only get better as these agencies and institutions continue to build and forge more effective relationships across county lines and throughout the region.

 

© 2011 lostparadisefl.us