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Submit your questions to candidates for Key Biscayne debate Tuesday

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Got a question for the candidates?

Residents are invited to submit questions for the Key Biscayne Mayoral debate. The session is Tuesday, August 9th at Crossbridge Church at 6 p.m.

Three journalists will ask questions — Alex Harris from the Miami Herald and Jessica De Leone and Tony Winton from the Key Biscayne Independent. Thom Mozloom, a marketing professional with decades of TV news experience, will moderate.

Submit your debate questions to this email:

[email protected]

If you are attending in person, please register here

The forum is being sponsored by the Key Biscayne Community Foundation, the Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce, and First Service Residential.

The event will be streamed live on YouTube

David Rivera, former Miami congressman, arrested in Venezuela probe

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By JOSHUA GOODMAN and TERRY SPENCER

WASHINGTON — A former Miami congressman who signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government was arrested Monday on charges of money laundering and representing a foreign government without registering.

David Rivera, a Republican who served from 2011 to 2013, was arrested at Atlanta’s airport, said Marlene Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami. The eight-count indictment alleges he was part of a conspiracy to lobby on behalf of Venezuela to improve U.S.-Venezuela relations, resolve an oil company legal dispute and end U.S. economic sanctions against the South American nation — without registering as a foreign agent.

The indictment cites meetings in Washington, New York and elsewhere that Rivera is described as setting up with senators, congressmen and White House officials, none of whom are named.

In July 2017, for example, the indictment alleges Rivera wrote in text messages to an unnamed U.S. senator, “Remember, US should facilitate, not just support, a negotiated solution,” and, “No vengeance, reconciliation.”

Pressure has been building on Rivera for more than two years after it emerged that he received the massive contract from a U.S. affiliate of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company as President Nicolas Maduro was trying to curry favor with the White House in the early days of the Trump administration.

Rivera’s Interamerican Consulting was sued in 2020 by PDV USA — a Delaware-based affiliate of Venezuelan-owned Citgo — alleging the former congressman performed no work as part of the contract he signed in 2017 for three months of “strategic consulting” meant to build bridges with key U.S. stakeholders.

In the indictment, prosecutors say that in October 2017 Rivera sent a text message acknowledging he should register to lobby for the Venezuelan government, otherwise “my attorney has told me is currently illegal … and not to touch it with a 50-foot pole, but it would be a scandal of monumental proportions.”

Although Rivera’s contract was with a U.S. entity, any work he performed on behalf of Maduro’s government or Venezuelan business interests required him to register as a foreign lobbyist.

Rivera, 57, has maintained his innocence and has countersued PDV USA, alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment for its failure to pay $30 million he says he is still owed. A lawyer for Rivera said he had not seen the indictment and Rivera did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The U.S. Marshals Service said Rivera bailed out of jail Monday afternoon after making an initial appearance in Atlanta federal court.

Around the time Rivera was hired, Maduro’s government was seeking to court Donald Trump’s administration, donating $500,000 to his inaugural committee through Citgo and initially avoiding outright criticism of the new U.S. president who had a penchant for befriending strongmen including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

The charm offensive ultimately failed, as Trump in 2019 recognized opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader and imposed stiff oil sanctions on the OPEC nation in a bid to unseat Maduro.

Records that emerged as part of the ongoing lawsuit show Rivera’s consulting work was closely coordinated with Raul Gorrin — a Venezuelan insider and media tycoon who has been sanctioned and indicted in the U.S. on money laundering charges.

Correspondence introduced as part of the lawsuit shows Rivera and Gorrin discussing buying “concert tickets” — a possible code word for bribes — to unnamed officials and attempting to coordinate a meeting between Venezuela’s foreign minister and executives from the U.S. oil company Exxon.

As part of that effort, they also roped in Republican Rep. Pete Sessions, whose former Dallas district was home to Exxon and who secretly traveled to Venezuela in 2018 to meet with Maduro.

Some of the $15 million in payments that Rivera received as part of the contract were transferred to two of his associates and a Miami company, Interglobal Yacht Management, which PDV USA alleges was used to pay for maintenance on one of Gorrin’s superyachts.

To justify the large payments, PDV USA allegedly created “phony contracts” backdated to March 20, 2017 — the day before the consulting agreement took effect.

Rivera’s contract had all the hallmarks of a sham, according to PDV USA, which since 2019 has been run by directors appointed by the U.S.-backed opposition.

According to the lawsuit, Rivera’s Interamerican made just $9,500 in the year before being picked, out of the blue, by Maduro loyalists without any due diligence. Rivera never met in person with anyone from Citgo or PDV USA while supposedly working on its behalf. Instead, he filed two “deficient and incoherent” progress reports of the seven he was required to submit.

“The written record is bereft of any evidence that Interamerican performed any of the contracted services,” PDV USA argues in court filings. “There is not a single email, a single PowerPoint presentation, a single outline, a single memorandum, a single calendar entry, or anything else suggesting that Interamerican ever performed any of the services.”

Before being elected to Congress, Rivera was a high-ranking Florida legislator, serving from 2003 to 2010 in the House. During that time he shared a Tallahassee home with current U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who eventually became Florida House speaker.

Rivera has been embroiled in several election-related controversies, including orchestrating the stealth funding of an unknown Democratic candidate to take on his main rival in a South Florida congressional race and a state investigation into whether he hid a $1 million contract with a gambling company. That probe also involved possible misuse of campaign funds to pay for state House activities already reimbursed by the state.

Neymar scores for Brazil in return from injury at World Cup

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DOHA, Qatar — There were no signs of the limp or the swollen ankle that had sidelined Neymar at the World Cup.

There was a goal, though.

Neymar scored from the penalty spot in the 13th minute to help Brazil beat South Korea 4-1 and advance to the quarterfinals for the eighth straight World Cup.

The forward’s 76th goal moved him one shy of Pelé’s all-time scoring record for Brazil’s national team. Vinícius Júnior, Richarlison and Lucas Paquetá also scored for Brazil at Stadium 974.

Neymar hadn’t played since injuring his right ankle in the team’s opening match against Serbia. Brazil coach Tite had said Neymar would play from the start against South Korea depending on how he did in training on Sunday.

Neymar was substituted in the 80th and said he felt fine.

“I didn’t feel anything on the ankle,” he said. “I think I played well, but there is always room for improvement.”

Danilo, who also injured his ankle in Brazil’s opener, joined Neymar in the starting lineup against South Korea. He played at left back, though, because Alex Sandro remained sidelined with a hip injury. The other left back, Alex Telles, was dropped from the squad because of a knee injury sustained in Brazil’s loss to Cameroon in its last group game. Central defender Éder Militão was playing at right back.

Gabriel Jesus also was dropped from the squad because of a knee injury

Tampa police chief resigns after dodging traffic ticket

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TAMPA — The police chief in Tampa, Florida, resigned Monday after using her position to escape a ticket during a traffic stop involving a golf cart driven by her husband.

Mary O’Connor submitted her resignation after an internal affairs review found she violated police department policy during the Nov. 12 stop by a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy.

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During that stop — which was recorded on video by the deputy’s body camera — O’Connor identified herself as the Tampa chief, flashed her badge and said “I’m hoping you will let us go tonight.”

The deputy issued only a verbal warning instead of a citation, according to the internal affairs review. The golf cart did not have a license tag, a requirement for when such vehicles are driven on public streets. O’Connor’s husband, Keith, said they had just come from a restaurant and didn’t usually drive the cart on streets.

The internal review found O’Connor violated regulations on standards of conduct and “abuse of position or identification.”

“The Tampa Police Department has a code of conduct that includes high standards for ethical and professional behavior that apply to every member of our police force,” Mayor Jane Castor — herself a former Tampa police chief — said in a statement requesting the resignation. “As the Chief of Police, you are not only to abide by and enforce those standards but to also lead by example. That clearly did not happen in this case.”

Castor appointed Lee Bercaw, who was assistant chief, as acting chief while a nationwide search begins. O’Connor served in the post for nearly a year.

Last week, O’Connor issued a statement apologizing for her conduct.

“In hindsight, I realize how my handling of this matter could be viewed as inappropriate, but that was certainly not my intent,” she said.

Mass deaths of seals in Russia thought to be from natural causes

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MOSCOW — About 2,500 seals have been found dead on the Caspian Sea coast in southern Russia, officials said Sunday.

Authorities in the Russian province of Dagestan said it was unclear why the mass die-off happened but that it was likely due to natural causes.

Regional officials initially reported Saturday that 700 dead seals were found on the coast, but the Dagestan division of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment later raised the figure to about 2,500.

Zaur Gapizov, head of the Caspian Environmental Protection Center, said in a statement that the seals likely died a couple of weeks ago. He added that there was no sign that they were killed or caught in fishing nets.

Experts of the Federal Fisheries Agency and prosecutors inspected the coastline and collected data for laboratory research, which didn’t immediately spot any pollutants.

Several previous incidents of mass seal deaths were attributed to natural causes. Kazakhstan, which has a long Caspian coastline, reported at least three such incidents this year.

Data about the number of seals in the Caspian vary widely. The fisheries agency has said the overall number of Caspian seals is 270,000-300,000, while the Caspian Environmental Protection Center put the number at 70,000.

Fins fall to 49ers

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By JOSH DUBOW AP Pro Football Writer

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Rookie Brock Purdy threw two touchdown passes after replacing an injured Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers used another dominant defensive performance to beat the Miami Dolphins 33-17 Sunday for their fifth straight win.

Garoppolo has a broken foot and will miss the rest of the season, coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game.

The 49ers (8-4) allowed a 75-yard touchdown pass to Trent Sherfield on the opening play from scrimmage but little else until the fourth quarter against a high-powered attack for Miami (8-4) which had scored at least 30 points in four straight games.

Jimmie Ward and Deommodore Lenoir intercepted Tua Tagovailoa in the third quarter, leading to two field goals.

The 49ers had their four-game, second-half shutout streak snapped when Tagovailoa threw a 45-yard TD pass to Tyreek Hill in the opening minute of the fourth quarter but held on from there. They capped the performance with a strip-sack from Nick Bosa that Dre Greenlaw returned for a 23-yard score.

The Dolphins had their five-game winning streak snapped in coach Mike McDaniel’s first game against the 49ers after spending the past five years as an assistant in San Francisco.

Purdy, dubbed “Mr. Irrelevant” as the last pick of this year’s NFL draft, proved to be quite important to the 49ers when Garoppolo hurt his foot on a sack on the final play of the opening drive.

Garoppolo was taken to the locker room on a cart and didn’t return, leaving the game in the hands of Purdy, who had thrown his only nine passes in mop-up duty of a Week 7 loss to Kansas City.

Purdy capped his first drive of the game by throwing a 3-yard TD pass to Kyle Juszczyk to give San Francisco a 10-7 lead.

He then led a well-executed two-minute drive at the end of the half, completing six passes for 75 yards with a 3-yard TD to Christian McCaffrey with 4 seconds left in the half to make it 17-10.

Purdy finished 25 for 37 for 210 yards, two TDs and one interception.

CHALLENGE

Shanahan won two challenges in the fourth quarter to overturn completed passes by Miami. The second came on a fourth-and-2 play with the Niners leading by six with about six minutes left.

The Niners held the ball for nearly four minutes and made it a two-score game when Robbie Gould kicked a 48-yard field goal for his fourth of the day.

FAST START

The Dolphins wasted little time showing off their speed when Tagovailoa connected on the long touchdown to Sherfield on the first play from scrimmage.

It marked the first time a team scored on the first play after the opening kick since the Niners did it in Week 2 of the 2020 season against the Jets with an 80-yard run by Raheem Mostert.

The touchdown ended a scoreless streak of more than 94 minutes for the 49ers, who hadn’t allowed a point since the second quarter against Arizona two weeks ago.

Miami hadn’t scored a TD on the first play from scrimmage following the opening kick since the final game of the 2004 season when Sage Rosenfels threw a 76-yard pass to Chris Chambers against Baltimore.

INJURIES

Dolphins: WR Jaylen Waddle left in the first half with a leg injury but returned to the game.

49ers: San Francisco already lost starting QB Trey Lance to a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2. The only other QB under contract is Jacob Eason, who is on the practice squad. … DT Hassan Ridgeway (pectoral) left in the fourth quarter and didn’t return.

Dolphins: Visit Chargers on Sunday night.

49ers: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Messi leads to Argentina win over Australia 2-1 at World Cup

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By STEVE DOUGLAS AP Sports Writer

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Lionel Messi marked his 1,000th professional game with his first goal in the knockout stage of a World Cup, leading Argentina into the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win over Australia on Saturday.

With a flourish of his famous left foot in the 34th minute, Messi put Argentina ahead with his third goal at this year’s tournament and ninth in total at the World Cup — one more than Diego Maradona.

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Julián Álvarez pounced on a heavy touch by Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan to tap into an empty net for the second goal as Argentina set up a meeting with the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.

Argentina’s Julian Alvarez, right, and Lionel Messi, left, celebrate their side’s second goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Argentina and Australia at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Australia scored a 77th-minute consolation goal when Craig Goodwin’s shot deflected into the net off Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez.

For Australia’s squad of unheralded players, it was a match too far at a World Cup in which the team has exceeded expectations by reaching the knockout stage for only the second time. Australia also lost in the last 16 in 2006, to eventual champion Italy.

Maybe it’s an omen for Argentina, which has fully recovered from its shocking loss to Saudi Arabia in its opening group match and won three straight games.

As for Messi, he now has 789 goals in a career that might yet reach a crescendo

U.S. eliminated by Netherlands in World Cup

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By RON BLUM, AP Sports Writer

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Memphis Depay and Daley Blind scored in the first half and Denzel Dumfries added a late goal as the Netherlands eliminated the United States from the World Cup with a 3-1 victory Saturday that advanced the Dutch to the quarterfinals.

Second-half substitute Haji Wright cut the U.S. deficit to 2-1 in the 76th minute when Christian Pulisic’s cross hit his trailing foot and popped over goalkeeper Andries Noppert and into the net. But Dumfries, who assisted on the first two goals, scored on a volley in the 81st.

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Runners-up in 1974, 1978 and 2010, the Oranje extended their unbeaten streak to 19 games and face Argentina or Australia on Friday.

It was a disappointing end for a rebuilt U.S. team hoping to advance past the round of 16 for the first time since 2002. Using the second-youngest squad in the tournament, the Americans achieved the bare minimum to consider the World Cup a success, beating Iran in their group-stage finale to reach the knockout round.

But just like in 2010 against Ghana and 2014 against Belgium, the United States was eliminated in the round of 16. The Americans are winless in 12 games against European opponents at the World Cup since 2002, losing six, and are 1-7 during the tournament’s knockout rounds.

Goalkeeper Matt Turner of the United States, right, makes a save from Memphis Depay of the Netherlands during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and the United States, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

“I think we made some progress,” United States coach Gregg Berhalter said. “When people look at our team, they see a clear identity. They see guys that go out and fight for each other. They see the talent on the field. We made progress, but on this particular night we came up short.”

Pulisic, playing four days after getting hurt during his game-winning goal against Iran, had a chance to put the United States ahead in the third minute but Noppert, playing in only his fourth international match, blocked his point-blank shot. With the Americans seeking an equalizing goal, Noppert dived to stop Tim Weah’s 25-yard effort in the 42nd.

Christian Pulisic of the United States, right, goes for the ball Daley Blind of the Netherlands follows him during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and the United States, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

The crowd of 44,846 was well back from the field at renovated Khalifa International Stadium, which has an athletics track and was more subdued than the raucous spectators for the match against Iran.

While the United States had the better play at the start, the Dutch went ahead after breaking the American press. Dumfries one-timed a pass from the right flank as Depay streaked unmarked into the penalty area. His right-footed shot from 14 yards beat Matt Turner to the far post in the 10th minute for his 43rd international goal, moving him into sole possession of second place on the Dutch career scoring list behind Robin van Persie’s 50.

The goal was the first allowed by the United States from the run of play in the tournament. In 37 World Cup matches, the Americans have never won a game in which they trailed.

The Netherlands doubled the lead on virtually the final kick of the first half, in the first minute of stoppage time. After a quick series of exchanges following a throw-in, Dumfries got a cross around Tyler Adams and found Blind wide open at the penalty spot. Blind scored only his third international goal — his first in eight years. Gio Reyna fed an open Weston McKennie in the 54th, but he skied his shot over the crossbar.

Wright entered in the 67th and scored his second international goal, sparking U.S. hopes. But Dumfries was left unmarked by Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson and used his left foot to volley Blind’s cross.

YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS

The starting lineup for the United States was its youngest for a World Cup knockout match at 25 years, 86 days. The previous low was 27 years, 19 days for the 1930 semifinal loss to Argentina.

TRAINER’S ROOM

United States forward Josh Sargent did not dress after injuring his right ankle against Iran.

UP NEXT

The Netherlands will next play Friday at Lusail Stadium, the site of this year’s final.

The Americans begin the 2026 cycle with a match against Serbia on Jan. 25 in Los Angeles and face Colombia three days later in Carson, California. The games are not on FIFA dates, meaning mostly Major League Soccer players will be used.

DeSantis OK’s $650K for Key Biscayne pilot program to clean filthy stormwater runoff

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Gov. Ron DeSantis, using the waters of Biscayne Bay as a backdrop, announced approval of $650,000 Thursday for a pilot program to use green technology to combat street flooding caused by sea level rise. 

The funding is part of about $23 million for various Biscayne Bay water quality projects, making good on what DeSantis said was his administration’s commitment to be “good stewards of Biscayne Bay.” 

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The Key Biscayne projects approved will install green infrastructure along the right-of-way of a flood prone corridor along West Heather Drive from Allendale to Palmwood, according to the State Department of Environmental Protection. 

The village sought the funds to see how well bioswales, porous materials and native plants might improve filtration of stormwater as it is pushed back into the bay after storms and heavy rain. The question of moving much larger volumes of filthy runoff water back into the fragile bay has prompted a review of ways to treat and filter stormwater. 

Key Biscayne is planning to install pressurized drainage lines as part of an estimated $250 million set of projects to boost resilience on the barrier island off Miami.

The state funding will help test water quality to evaluate the technology, said DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller.

The funding is a bit of a windfall for Key Biscayne, which did not anticipate winning the money in its future year capital budgets, said Village Manager Steve Williamson. 

“It’s something we didn’t bank on,” Williamson said. “We requested, we hoped.” He added: “We are obviously very excited.” 

Williamson noted the funding is separate from a different matching grant to test water collection technology that was the source of some debate before the Village Council. The council put a  $56,000 contract award for collections systems on hold after questions were raised by Council Members Ed London and Brett Moss. The larger funding announced by the governor is not a match, but an outright grant. 

Williamson said the village will reach out to the state’s program manager to develop a testing plan, timetable, and contract award framework. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis shakes hands with Key Biscayne Mayor Joe Rasco as Village Manager Steve Williamson, center, watches, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. At Bill Baggs Cape Florida State park, DeSantis announced $650,000 in funding for a pilot project in Key Biscayne to test green stormwater technologies (KBI Photo/Tony Winton)

The governor focused on hurricane resilience in his remarks, taking time to praise his administration for swiftly restoring a causeway to Sanibel Island washed out by Hurricane Ian. But when asked how the state might help secure the Rickenbacker Causeway and the Bear Cut bridge, DeSantis didn’t have an answer for the vulnerable roadway and bridge he’d just driven over, saying only that bridges are subject to regular inspections. 

The Village has said engineering data on the bridge has shown the aging structure could be washed out by a major hurricane. It has mapped out a vision for handling traffic on the Causeway that is currently under review by Miami-Dade County. 

County officials have already started preliminary environmental study work on replacing the Bear Cut, built in the 1940s, but the current timetable envisions a new bridge being finished around 2030. 

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The Rasco era begins — again

Joe Rasco returned to the center of the dais Tuesday, starting a new term as mayor after a previous stint 20 years ago. He began presiding after the most expensive and vitriolic election campaign in the history of the village, raising one big question for the audience in the council chamber and those viewing at home:

Would anything be different? 

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And for the first meeting, at least, there was a different tone and a sense of speed that sometimes eluded previous councils. Rasco, joined by new council members Oscar Sardiñas and Fernando Vazquez, worked to keep the meeting moving — but with a bit more formality. 

An early test came about 30 minutes into the session, when questions were raised about a cost overrun for Paradise Park. Council Member Ed London had the floor, asking questions of village staff. 

Council Member Brett Moss interrupted — and Rasco quickly interjected, cutting the crosstalk off. 

“Hey guys,” Rasco said. “There’s a different style that I have. You know, the way that I’ve always run meetings is, go through the chair. So let’s try to remember that.”  

And with that, council members made a point of obtaining the floor before speaking, a key provision of Robert’s Rules of Order. The standard guide to parliamentary procedure hasn’t always been followed, even though the Council has its own set of procedural rules that specifically requires civility. 

Was it effective? The first meeting ended at about 9:40, hardly a speedy session but shorter than some gatherings that have gone well past 11:00 p.m. 

In another nod to efficiency, Rasco circulated a list of boards and committees for council members to signal interest in serving in, with responses due in a week. He even suggested he’d be open to forming specific committees that would report back to the full council. 

Committees are standard features in many deliberative bodies, but former Mayor Mike Davey backed off of a plan to form committees early in his first term after some council members objected. 

Perhaps the biggest evidence for a sense of optimism for shorter meetings came during a discussion on the meeting calendar. The council voted to shift the meeting start time  a half-hour later, with sessions to start at 6:30 p.m, even though some worried there might not be enough time to get everything done.

“Let’s try it,” Rasco said. The measure passed unanimously. 

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Power line undergrounding mistake leads to 19% cost overrun for new Key Biscayne park

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It’s gotten a little more expensive to have a park in paradise — 19% more, to be precise. 

Key Biscayne officials are blaming higher-than-budgeted costs to bury power lines for the overrun at the site, once a Citgo station. But members of the village council expressed concern Tuesday about what appeared to be a knowingly incorrect cost estimate made in preparation for the 2023 budget. 

The new price tag for the long-delayed park at 530 Crandon Boulevard is $1.9 million, up from the originally budgeted amount of $1.6 million. The biggest driver was an increase in the cost of utility undergrounding, initially budgeted at $75,000 but costing more than twice as much. 

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Adding to the expense was the need to clean more of the fouled soil than expected, costing an additional $34,000, and increases in labor and other costs in the two years since the project was bid. 

The additional funds were approved in an amendment to the 2023 budget. While the overrun will come from the 2023 capital budget, it’s not yet clear how that will affect planned village projects. A second vote to amend the budget is expected next month. 

But the council questioned why village staff underestimated the cost of undergrounding the power lines to such a large extent.

“Was that just pulling it out of thin air?” asked Council Member Ed London to Public works chief Jake Ozyman. 

“No,” said Ozyman, but he said the allowable budget allocation was only $75,000. “FPL was right on the money, it was always $150,000.” 

That response seemed to surprise Council Member Allison McCormick, and not in a good way. 

“Did we really just say ‘this is how much is left? Let’s throw $75,000 at the undergrounding when you had the budget?’” 

“Pretty much,” Ozyman replied. “We were trying to make the numbers work.” 

Village Mayor Joe Rasco, presiding over his first council meeting since winning election, said he didn’t have any more information about the cost inaccuracy. But he said he expected the staff to be as precise as possible. 

“We want the staff to tell us the right numbers whether we like them or not,” he said. Former Mayor Mike Davey echoed those comments, but said he did not have a specific recollection of the power line undergrounding costs. 

Village Manager Steve Williamson said there will be impact on future capital projects, but did not have details other than to say lower-priority projects might be deferred.

As for the overrun, he said the administration was bound by the 2022 budget approval amount which he said was inadequate at the time.

 “It was done before I was here,” Williamson said. He sidestepped the question of why the inadequate funding was not brought to the council’s attention during this year’s budgeting process.

 “Sometimes that happens,” he said. “We’re doing that now.”

 

FILE – Power lines at the site of Paradise Park in Key Biscayne, Florida, Feb. 26, 2022. The expense of burying the power lines was partly responsible for a 19% cost overrun for the park, which has been delayed for two decades. (KBI Photo/Theo Miller)

Paradise Park has been vexed — some would say cursed — for decades. Plans for the nearly 13,000 square foot parcel went back and forth for years between successive councils. Meanwhile, the cost of the project has risen while its features were debated. In 2019, the council balked at a $1.8 million dollar estimate, and the project was pared down. 

Rasco said he expects the park to be eligible for about $160,000 in reimbursements for cleaning up polluted land, under a “brownfield” designation the council approved last night. He noted that it was during his earlier term as mayor — 20 years ago — that the council voted to acquire the gas station for about $1.5 million. He’s looking to come full circle on the park with an opening in January. 

“A long time to wait for a ribbon cutting, for goodness sakes,” he said. 

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NOTE : This story has been updated from the original version.