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Miami-Dade District 2 Commissioner holds Town Hall Meeting at NM Library

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9/17/12 11:15 AM EDT


Description: despinosseNORTH MIAMI - A crowd of nearly 100 people gathered at the North Miami Library on Sept. 13 to hear Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime, District 2, speak and field questions. Additonally, North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre,  Councilman Michael R. Blynn (District 2), City Attorney Regine Monestime and businessman Philippe Bien-Aime, a potential candidate for the District 3 in the May 2013 race, were in attendance.

Monestime, the first Haitian-American to ever serve on the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, was welcomed by thunderous applause as he made his way to the podium installed for the meeting to address the audience.

During a 20 minute presentation, the commissioner updated residents on issues affecting District 2 and highlighted some of the major accomplishments of his office, to which he was elected on Nov. 2, 2010. He discussed the district's annual book drive last month, where hundreds of kids received book bags and other school supplies.  Additionally, the audience learned that the office of the commissioner is planning a major "Beautification Event" for Dec. 1 on the west side of the District 2. This clean-up event will take place in the neighborhood of 79th St. to 103rd and 17th Ave Northwest to 22nd Ave.

"This will be a huge clean-up event where authorities and residents of this specific area will gather during a full-day of work to put a new face on this neighborhood," said Commissioner Monestime.

Barbara Galvez, Operating Budget Coordinator for Miami-Dade County, was invited by the commissioner to make a brief presentation on the mayor's proposed county budget for fiscal year 2012-13.

"This is a responsible budget ($5,934,781,000) that reduces the property tax rate by a combined two percent, further cuts property tax revenues and maintains the same levels of service," said Galvez.  "This bud-get is $1.2 billion less than last year."

This proposed budget aims to reduce the county reorganization from 42 departments to 25, which will save more than $43 million this year alone and eliminate 1,767 positions.  A total of $4,304,450,000 (75%) from the proposed budget will be allocated to the operating budget.

Even though the proposed budget is lower than last year, more police officers will be patrolling the streets to ensure safety, and more firefighters will also be available.

"If the proposed budget is adopted, the price of government per capita will be $500 for the FY 2012-2013, the lowest for the last twenty years," said Galvez, who invited members of the audience to attend the budget vote meeting on Sept. 29, taking place at 5pm at the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners conference room.

The audience cheered when Commissioner Monestime acknow-ledged his fellow countryman, North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre.  "I am proud to be a resident of North Miami," said Monestime. "My streets are clean, well lighted at night and safer than many years ago. Mr. Mayor, we are proud of the good job you have been doing."

"I am here to listen to my constituents' concerns; that is why I brought with me some county staff authorities. I want to make sure every resident gets informed about my doings as the commissioner and the use of their taxes," said Monestime.

When the floor was opened for questions from the public, the commissioner fielded various general questions, including his views on the mayor's proposed budget and how he plans to help small business, particularly in the 7th Ave. Northwest corridor of Miami.

Monestime also discussed what he can and cannot do as a commissioner, but he said he strongly supports small businesses.

A business owner from the 7th Avenue flea market asked one of the few questions relating to economic development. The owner said this was the best town meeting he has attended in his entire life and is happy that Monestime has worked so hard to bring funds to small businesses. However, he questioned why Miami-Dade bus shelters are not operated throughout the 79th St. and 7th Ave flea markets roads area, where he has busines, as he believes this could help tourists visit the locations and spur the economy.

Monestime, who is serving his first term as county commissioner for District 2, promised to address the businessman's suggestion at one of the next County Board of Commissioners meetings, and he defended his efforts to bring funding to small businesses in District 2. Monestime pointed to the Mom & Pop Small Business Grant program, which offers financial and business assistance to certain small businesses in Miami-Dade County.

In addition to Monestime's answers, Pierre, whose city includes Miami-Dade County District 2, had to answer a lot of questions from members of the audience on matters of community concern, such as roads needing to be fixed, community policing and small business development.

At the end of the meeting, Commissioner Monestime stated, "I am here to serve you; do not hesitate to come to my office to address any issues you may have."

"It was a very interesting town hall meeting; unfortunately not too many Haitian residents and businessmen of the District 2 showed up," said a well-known Haitian entrepreneur, who asked not to be identified. The man questioned "whether the staff Commissioner didn't do a good job by reaching out to more Haitians, or our compatriots just don't want to get involved in politics and community affairs."

This was the fourth in a series of town hall meetings held by Commissioner Monestime. The previous meeting was held on Aug. 29, 2012 at Faith Community Baptist Church.

Dessalines FERDINAND




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