Doral

Doral to Florida legislature: Make texting and driving a primary traffic offense

Doral officials have voted to approve an item that would “urge the Florida Legislature to pass legislation making texting and driving a primary offense.”

Currently texting and driving is a secondary offense in the state of Florida, meaning that a driver cannot be ticketed or pulled over exclusively because they are texting while driving.

The issue received added attention after a 17-year-old Ronald Reagan High student, Rafael Acevedo, lost his life in September after being struck within the city limits by a 22-year-old driver. Acevedo succumbed to his injuries after spending 11 days in the hospital. One other child was also hospitalized and required surgery.

“Texting and driving is affecting all of us teenagers,” said Angelica Ballestas, a 17-year-old student at Ronald Regan High. “It’s taking our lives and we don’t even realize the consequences.”

Acevedo’s mother and father were in attendance at the council meeting’s evening session on Oct. 13 and they were addressed by Mayor Luigi Boria.

“On behalf of myself and the council, I want to thank you for what you’re doing for the future,” Boria said. “If the seed doesn’t fall, it won’t give any fruit. Rafael is giving that fruit now through you.”

Other actions

▪ Condemning Venezuela: Boria sponsored two items critical of the Nicolás “Maduro regime” in his native country of Venezuela. The items would have the city publicly condemn: (1) the “unjust sentencing of Leopoldo Lopez,” a public leader of the country’s opposition party; and (2) the “persecutory targeting of Colombians along Venezuela’s border by the Maduro regime” and urging the United States to impose sanctions. The item came up as a result of Boria’s upcoming participation in the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Commissioner Sandra Ruiz pointed out that the council rejected a similar motion she presented in July regarding Donald Trump’s remarks about Mexican immigrants. However, the council moved to approve both items unanimously with language stating that the comments were exclusively for the purpose of Boria’s presentation at the conference of mayors and changing the term “Maduro regime” to “Venezuelan government,” and not an official stance of the city of Doral.

▪ Naming parks: Council moved to scrap the name of Doral North Park because its name was no longer representative of the park’s location within the city. The park was renamed Doral Glades Park. Also, the proposed Northwest 114th Avenue Park was officially named Doral Legacy Park. Both names were recommended to council as part of a park naming contest that the city hosted on its website.

▪ Ethics matters: Final approval of an ordinance that would have taxpayers pay for legal defense of city officials was deferred to next month’s council meeting. The item would also allow for the “recovery of legal costs for malicious, frivolous, or groundless complaints” made against officials. Councilwoman Christi Fraga expressed concerns that she didn’t want the council to “send the wrong message” to residents and that she did not want the ordinance to be a “deterrent for people to file legitimate complaints.” According to City Attorney Dan Espino, Doral’s insurance through the Florida League of Cities does not cover legal fees related to investigations made by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics.

▪ Veterans’ preference: At October’s zoning meeting on Wednesday, the council approved an item that would give small businesses owned and operated by veterans a preference as it relates to the rewarding of city contracts. The city attorney made sure to point out that the preference would only come into effect “all things being equal” between two applicants — otherwise the city would have to amend its code. Doral is currently the home of Southern Command — a U.S. military base that employs more than 1,200 military and civilian personnel.

▪ New charter school: The city approved an item approving modifications to a development agreement that would allow construction of a charter school on a four-acre tract of land along Northwest 102nd Avenue and 78th Street. Outside of this item, a representative from Miami-Dade Public Schools indicated that plans for more schools are in the works, including a new K-8 center for 1,200 students. Potential plans to convert the Doral Middle School facility into a second high school for the city.

THEY SAID IT

“I’m not understanding where the hesitation is coming from. I’m very comfortable with their presence here.” – Vice Mayor Sandra Ruiz, in response to public comments on the “veteran’s preference” item addressing concern that city preference towards veterans could interfere with private enterprise and individuals living in the city.

YOU SAID IT

“There’s been so much development, with not enough accommodation on our arteries, to hold the traffic that’s here. It’s just terrible. I’ve got people that couldn’t put their children in school here because of the traffic.” – Linda Scott

▪ Next regular council meetings: 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m, Nov. 4, Doral City Hall, 8401 NW 53rd Terr.

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