Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 13: Get City Residents Involved in MB Convention Center Re-Do

By Sylvia Gurinsky

In 1983, the city of Miami built the James L. Knight Center and the Hyatt Regency in downtown in order to lure top conventions and speakers - even from across the bay, in Miami Beach.

That decision paid off big time last April, when President Barack Obama delivered a commencement address for Miami-Dade College graduates at the Knight Center.

In different circumstances, Obama might have delivered that speech at the Miami Beach Convention Center, which hosted three presidential nominating conventions from 1968-72. The facility originally designed by Morris Lapidus was once the gold standard. But even after a major 1980s expansion, it stopped attracting many top-drawer events.

That's why the city of Miami Beach is interested in another renovation of the convention center - with this one including a luxury hotel. The initial idea would have a new complex built on the land that currently includes the convention center, the Jackie Gleason Theater and Miami Beach City Hall.

Already, there are stirrings of concern from across a city where voters are often wary of major developments. Anything that is proposed will have to be put on the ballot.

At the very least, a new convention center/hotel complex should be of a design that complements the New World Symphony's facility across the street. Care should also be taken to pay tribute to the past of both the Convention Center and the Gleason Theater.

The best way that can be done: Make sure Beach residents are fully engaged in the process, from design to funding to voting.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March 6: Support Daniela? Support the DREAM Act

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Darn right Daniela Pelaez should be able to stay in the United States, finish her education and do the work she wants.

So should every other young person in her shoes.

Daniela, this year's valedictorian at North Miami Senior High School, faces deportation to Colombia, from where she came at age 4, because she does not have proper papers. She dreams of going to medical school and becoming a heart surgeon.

Many are supporting her cause - including her classmates, teachers, Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and numerous local politicians.

Among those politicians are needle-threaders such as U.S. Rep. David Rivera and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, both of Miami. They support Daniela, but won't support the DREAM Act, which would let thousands like Daniela stay in this country.

Like Daniela, those thousands of others whose parents brought them from the countries where they were born have no recollection of those countries, and no memories of anything other than growing up as Americans. They are certainly not to blame for their immigration status.

In fact, also like Daniela, most of those young adults are trying to make productive lives for themselves in this country. They should have that right in every way.

Amnesty for immigrants of long standing has been supported across party lines by figures ranging from former President George W. Bush to current President Barack Obama.

Everyone who supports Daniela Pelaez should also support the DREAM Act. Rivera and Rubio, the children of immigrants, should top that list.

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5: On Iran, Israel Can't Afford To Miss

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Even a fly in the room would likely want to escape the tension in today's meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu is as adamant about Israel's need to attack Iran's nuclear facilities to defend itself as Obama is about the need for more time for sanctions and diplomacy.

Israel has another factor to consider: Its chance for success.

Israel no longer has its previous reputation as the underdog country able to overcome the big armies of its neighbors. Another previous reputation for success - most notably with the July 4, 1976 rescue of airplane passengers held hostage in Entebbe Airport in Uganda - has also taken a beating in recent years.

Israel's battles with Hezbollah in 2006 and Hamas in 2009 showed that the Jewish state was found wanting in the protection of its soldiers and the communications and skills of its military leadership.

What Israel has to do in Iran is much more difficult, and even tougher than its successful mission destroying a nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981. It doesn't help that, unlike with the Iraq mission and others, Netanyahu and others in the Israeli government can't seem to keep their mouths shut about what they want to do.

Publicity doesn't make for successful missions. Discretion and smart decisions do. In recent years, Israel hasn't shown enough of either in its politics or its military leadership.

Israel may ultimately decide to launch a military strike on Iran. If it does, it better not miss. Doing so will be catastrophic to Israel most of all - for many reasons.

Netanyahu should try actually listening to Obama, who knows something about successful military operations.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 1: Remember Tallahassee Hypocrites In November

By Sylvia Gurinsky

This is addressed to the people of Florida.

That's because it's pretty obvious - judging by this year's session of the Florida Legislature - that addressing anything to their elected representatives in Tallahassee is a futile effort.

Not only have many lawmakers tried to interfere with everything from how Floridians choose to pray - or not pray - to what happens between patients and doctors, but they're also hypocrites.

How else to explain requiring drug testing for other state employees and exempting themselves? How else to explain their criticisms and legal challenges of the health insurance plan President Barack Obama signed in 2010 - and keeping their own insurance premiums low while they let the premiums of most of their constituents skyrocket?


Because the legislature is having trouble coming to a budget agreement, they may be in Tallahassee beyond next week's scheduled end of the session - which means more time for them to do damage and mischief, such as gutting child care for Florida's poorest families:


Lest we forget, there's an election this year.

If the lawmakers responsible for this hypocrisy are running for re-election, throw them out. If they're running for anything else, don't vote for them.

Don't forget, Florida. Remember in November.