Coral Gables -- The University of Miami will be the site of the first debate between presidential nominees next fall. The Commission on Presidential Debates selected the school from 14 applicants. The Miccosukee Tribe of Florida will put up about $1 million to underwrite the Sept. 30 event. ... In other news, the university announced the creation of a center devoted to research of marine conservation and fishery issues. The Pew Institute for Ocean Science will be a $3-million collaborative effort between the prestigious Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts.
Homestead -- Raising hope that Homestead Air Reserve Base will escape the next round of U.S. military base closures in 2005, the Department of Defense has announced that a special operations unit will relocate to the base from Puerto Rico. The 150-member Special Operations Command South will move here early this year. The base remains one of south Miami-Dade's largest employers.
Miami -- Miami voters approved a measure to raise city commissioners' annual salaries from $5,000 to $58,200. Some opponents criticized commissioners for approving the use of nearly $300,000 of taxpayer funds to campaign for the raises.
Miami Beach -- Incumbent Mayor David Dermer has won re-election to a second term, overwhelming political newcomer Ronald Rickey.
Miami-Dade -- A survey by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and Florida International University found that post-Sept. 11 security measures designed to thwart terrorism are hampering local business and could threaten Miami's bid to become the headquarters for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. Among the complaints: Stringent visa requirements, tightened airport security, customs delays and new banking regulations that hinder trade.
The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove has joined downtown Miami's Mandarin Oriental as the only hotels in Miami-Dade and Broward with the AAA's coveted Five Diamond designation. The 115-room Ritz-Carlton opened about a year ago.
CARGO BAYCargo shipments at the Port of Miami jumped 49% from 1995 through 2002:Port of MiamiYearCargo
(in millions of tons)% Change19955.855.019966.002.819976.7712.719987.064.319996.93-1.820007.8012.620018.255.720028.705.5Sources: Miami-Dade County Seaport Department, Port of MiamiDespite widespread community support, a plan to create an independent authority to oversee Miami International Airport has been rejected by county commissioners. Civic leaders have long called for such an authority as a means of insulating the scandal-prone airport from lobbyists and political meddling.
CEMUSA Inc., a Spanish maker of urban and street furniture, has established a Miami headquarters to oversee sales and marketing in North and Latin American. The company expects to hire 70 over the next three years.
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Merrett Stierheim has announced he will step down when his contract expires in June. Despite butting heads at times with school board members and a state-appointed oversight board, Stierheim has received high marks for streamlining a bloated bureaucracy and for overhauling a school construction department plagued with cost overruns and charges of nepotism. School board members have vowed a national search for a replacement.
Miami Lakes -- In a cost-cutting effort, Elizabeth Arden Inc. (Nasdaq-RDEN) has announced it will sell its headquarters here and lease office space nearby. Executives also say they will close an adjacent distribution center. About 190 will be laid off as a result of the moves.
Cordis Corp., a unit of Johnson & Johnson that makes cardiac stents and other medical devices, has announced it will lay off 93 from its corporate offices here. The company employs about 2,000 in south Florida.
MIAMI-DADE -- Former Miami-Dade teachers union President Pat Tornillo has been sentenced to 27 months in prison in a plea deal for misusing millions of dollars of union funds. Tornillo, 78, also must repay the union about $800,000. Union officials have criticized the sentence as too lenient. Tornillo, who is in ill health, also faces a civil suit related to the charges.