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BIRD BREAK: Jungle Island is one step closer to a tax break from Miami-Dade County after commissioners last week gave initial approval with no comment, customary for first readings of legislation. Because the Watson Island theme park is in what's designated an economically depressed "enterprise zone," it's eligible for an exemption. Should commissioners grant it, the county would forfeit $396,800 to Jungle Island. The total covers five years beginning in fiscal 2007. In exchange for the break, Jungle Island would pay a $50 application fee and 10% of the first year's exemption to cover county administrative costs. Commissioners are to discuss the issue in their Housing and Community Development Committee Feb. 10.
HYPING HEALTH CARE: Visitors are to soon get a taste of what Jackson Health System has to offer simply by passing through Miami International Airport. Miami-Dade commissioners last week voted to direct airport officials to give Jackson space for an ad campaign "aimed at providing international and domestic passengers… with information regarding available health services at JHS." It would be even better if Jackson "maybe considered putting a clinic in the airport" to capture paying passengers, Commissioner Joe Martinez suggested. The airport may one day become a health hub should a proposed Florida International University "medical city" at its doorway get built.
COMING DOWN THE TRACK: New Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer stopped by last week's Miami-Dade commission meeting to greet lawmakers and hint at upcoming changes. He said he'll soon be sharing plans to "greatly enhance the guest experience," telling commissioners and the community to "please stay tuned" for details. He said also he plans to expand community events at the track. He comes to Miami from Richmond International Raceway and said his wife and 3-year-old daughter recently made the move to join him.
SOUTO SUCCESS?: The only so-far successful measure in Miami-Dade Commissioner Javier Souto's bevy of open-government legislation is to come up for final vote Tuesday. The law would require all elected county officers to swear in writing that they've read and will comply with local ethics law. Sally Heyman and Rebeca Sosa have jumped on as co-sponsors, marking the first real show of support for Mr. Souto's transparency push. Commissioners have shot down one by one his other proposals, like one that would have required that one-on-one meetings between administrators and commissioners be open to the public and other commissioners.
CORRECTION: In a Jan. 14 article about healthy lifestyle services, Cat Haayen should have been identified as Green Monkey Tree House's director of athletics and YogAthletics instructor.