Criminal mental health program in Miami-Dade seen as a model for nation

The front lines of the mental health crisis unfolding in Miami-Dade County — home to the nation’s largest ratio of people living with a serious mental illness in an urban community — are not in the psychiatric hospitals and behavioral counseling centers where patients seek help.

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Private development to bring construction boom to Miami River

By Jeff Lennox

MIAMI (WSVN) – Big changes are around the bend for the Miami River waterfront, as private development in the area is paving the way for a construction boom.

Paul George, a professor and local historian, has been giving tours up and down the Miami River for years, so he is in a unique position to know how the area will change. “It’s a special place for anyone who has been in Miami for a very long time,” he said.

George recently gave local developers an idea of what’s in store. “I see increased commerce on the river, especially as relations grow closer to normality with Cuba,” he said. “I think there is going to be more business back and forth. If and when that embargo is lifted, there’s going to be a flood of vessels relating to Cuban business in the river.”

In recent years, the river, which winds its way through the heart of Downtown Miami, has already seen an increase in retail, residential and business construction. But new plans approved by voters in mid-March call for a $30 million; 58,000-square-foot complex that includes an expansion of the public Riverwalk, an outdoor plaza and several outdoor restaurants.

The city, in turn, would receive a minimum annual rent payment of $195,500 from the developer. “The Miami River is becoming more populated then it has ever been,” said David Restainer, managing director at Douglas Elliman Commercial Real Estate. “When you look at some of the great cities around the world, most of them develop around rivers.”

With residential high-rises popping up in the area, real estate developers are hoping this trend flourishes. “What we’re looking at is creating a walkable waterfront,” said Alex Rhodes, a partner at Grant Thornton LLP, “a true neighborhood where people can live work and play, all in one place.”

The future site for the new restaurants is the north bank of the river, the land on the west side of Interstate 95. Part of the land being re-imagined has been leased by Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market for decades.

But that will all soon change, and the upcoming Miami Riverfront has earned George’s seal of approval. “I see nothing but positive stuff for the river in the next 15 years or so,” he said.

This project is still in the early framing stages. Developers believe they’ll break ground on the riverfront sometime in 2017 or 2018.

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Who is left holding the bag for latent damage claims?

By David A. Samole

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Harley Tropin AJC

Harley S. Tropin, senior partner at Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, received the 2016 Judge Learned Hand Award from AJC Miami and Broward on April 13, 2016. Established in 1964, the award cites legal professionals for excellence and contributions to the legal community. Recipients embody much of what the Judge represented: the rights of the individual and the importance of democratic values in an orderly society. Judge Hand, who was Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, has been quoted more often by scholars and the Supreme Court than any other lower-court judge. Dinner Co-Chairs included Hilarie Bass, Adam M. Moskowitz, Aaron S. Podhurst (2015 recipient), Marty Steinberg (2014) and John C. Sumberg.

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Lawyer to be honored by American Jewish Committee

Harley S. Tropin, president of the law firm KozyakTropin& Throckmorton in Coral Gables, will be honored with AJC’s 2016 Judge Learned Hand Award.

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Lawyer to be honored by American Jewish Committee

Harley S. TropinLawyer Harley S. Tropin of Pinecrest will receive American Committee’s 2016 Judge Learned Hand Award.


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In Health Care, Cost Transparency Is Unclear

By Sammy Mack

Health-care prices are complex and in many ways secret—which can affect how much you end up paying for your health care.

But not everyone agrees on what transparency in health-care pricing should look like.

You can listen to a story about what we mean when we talk about transparency here:

As part of our PriceCheck project, we’ve been spending a lot of time talking to people about what they picture when it comes to transparency. Below, you’ll find some of their thoughts.

And if you want to contribute your billing information to our crowd-sourced health-care price project, check out the PriceCheck tool at the bottom of the page.

Bruce Rueben, president of the Florida Hospital Association—which is—on what transparency could look like:

Boy, that’s a big question. It’s almost too big to really give a specific answer on it, so let’s talk about just a bit—acute-care hospital services to begin with.

I think when people are in a health crisis what they want is to know that they are going to be treated in a place that is safe and that provides effective care that is as patient-friendly or patient-centered as possible. And in a true crisis, the last thing people are concerned about are costs—and that’s probably appropriate.

But when one does have a chance to research—say if it’s not a life-threatening situation or it’s an elective situation—then what you want is information that can help you begin to narrow down where the choices are. And what are the relative value of those services.

Those are the kind of things that you want to know about to begin to ask the right questions. And I think that’s really the best we can do at this point. And that alone would be very useful if it’s in one place where people can get ready access to it.

Steven Weissman, lawyer and former interim chief of Palm Springs General Hospital in Hialeah—he also started a petition for health-care pricing reform on—on his idea for health-care price reform:

True transparency would be the simplest thing in the world, and to me it’s the most obvious thing in the world: All providers have to state their prices and charge everyone that price. Same as gas stations, same as delicatessens, same as a department store.

If you went into a department store and three people in front of you were being charged $19 for a shirt and when you got to the cash register they charged you $199 for the exact same thing, everybody would recognize that’s absurd. And all kinds of consumer protection organizations would help you.

But that happens every single day in hospitals.

Doug Wolfe, health-care lawyer with Kozyak Tropin Throckmorton, on the limits of transparency in health-care prices:

Even the most basic way of presenting information to consumers doesn’t really tell them what they need because they’re not going to know the services that they’re going to need when they go into a doctor’s office, or a hospital or whatnot. So I think the starting point is going to be educating consumers on how to ask the right questions. Transparency begins with educating the consumer.

I think that employers are starting to pick up on that. Premiums and the cost of insurance are going up and up and up every year. We’re starting to see that the employers are doing a lot more to educate consumers and to manage the claims, and make sure to keep people out of emergency rooms. If you need imaging stuff, go to a lower-cost facility. And employers are starting to do that, but it tends to be the bigger, more sophisticated employers.

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Shatter the Stigma Fundraiser

More than 150 community leaders attended Shatter the Stigma, an inaugural mental health awareness fundraiser addressing the stigma surrounding mental illness and the lack of resources available for treatment in South Florida. ​Money raised at t​he event​, which​ took place at de la Cruz Collection in Miami’s Design District, will support outreach and patient services at the University of Miami Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences​. The event was hosted by Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz and underwritten by Sherry and Harley Tropin, president of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton and honorary chair of the event. The speakers at the event, including Dr. Charles Nemeroff, Chair of the University of Miami Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Pascal J. Goldschmidt, Dean of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and Harley Tropin, explained the need to remove the stigma of mental illness to encourage people to seek help, and addressed the pressing need for funding for research.

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American Jewish Committee’s Gala

Harley S. Tropin, president of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, received American Jewish Committee’s 2016 Judge Learned Hand Award at a gala dinner at Jungle Island. Hundreds of legal, business and community leaders attended the event and presentation of the award, which was established by AJC in 1964 to recognize leaders in the legal profession for their excellence and contributions to the practice of law.

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Historic U.S. cruise docks in Havana

By Annie Rose Ramos and Catherine E. Shoichet

Ana Garcia was crying and could hardly walk as she left the cruise ship that took her from Miami to Havana.

It had been more than 48 years since she stepped foot in the country where she was born.

“I’m just thinking of that day when we left (Cuba) and shaking like a leaf,” she said.

Garcia is one of about 700 passengers on the first cruise in decades to travel from the United States to Cuba. The Adonia, a ship on Carnival Corp.’s Fathom cruise line, docked Monday in Havana.

The ship’s arrival marks the first stop on a historic, seven-day voyage that signals closer ties between the United States and its communist-run neighbor.

As the ship arrived, crowds onboard started chanting, “Cuba! Cuba! Cuba!”

For Garcia, the city manager of North Miami Beach, Florida, pulling into the port was an emotional experience.

“I’m blessed to be here today,” she said, “and hoping for a better tomorrow for Cuba and my Cuban brothers and sisters.”

A warm welcome

 Large crowds waved to the boat from the shore as it approached Havana.

Bands and dancers greeted passengers at the port.

Cuban rum drinks awaited them as they made their way into Havana.

The seven-day cruise is scheduled to stop in three cities: Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

Ship left protesters in its wake

 The boat set sail from Miami on Sunday as salsa music played and protesters picketed nearby.

Standing beside Cuban and American flags, the cruise manager touted the journey as “the beginning of a new era.”

Not everyone was happy about the new route.

A small group of protesters gathered outside the port Sunday. And as the cruise ship was getting ready to leave Miami, police descended upon a nearby boat labeled Democracia, where demonstrators held a blue sign that said, “Castro why do you ask Cubans for a Visa to visit their own country?”

But passengers on the ship said they wanted to put politics aside.

As the boat sailed, a salsa band serenaded passengers on deck.

Jesse Mercado, a business owner from Los Angeles, was one of the first to hit the dance floor with his girlfriend, putting aside the small American and Cuban flags they had been waving at people on the shore as the ship passed by Miami’s South Beach.

He said he was looking forward to buying some of the island’s famed cigars, but he most likely wouldn’t try to bring them back to the United States, where an embargo on Cuban-made products still exists.

“I’ll probably smoke them all there (in Cuba),” he laughed.

Gary Carlson said controversy surrounding the cruise doesn’t add up.

“I’m not sure I really understand, because it’s time to put those things behind us,” he said. “Really the big issue is government to government, not people to people, and that’s what we’re excited about participating in.”

Cruise almost didn’t happen

 The voyage, the first U.S. cruise bound for Cuba in nearly 40 years, almost didn’t happen as scheduled.

Last month, controversy erupted over a Cuban law that prevented Cuban-born passengers from coming to the island on boats. The law stopped Fathom owner Carnival Corp. from selling tickets to Cuban passengers.

That move sparked a lawsuit from would-be Cuban passengers and an announcement by the cruise line that it wouldn’t sail unless Cuba changed its policies. Soon afterward, the Cuban government said it would scrap its longstanding ban on letting people born in Cuba come to the island by cruise ship.

But the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit aren’t on this week’s voyage, according to lawyer Javier Lopez, “not because they don’t want to be, but because the Cuban government requires people that were born in Cuba to jump through a whole bunch of other hurdles.”

Cruise officials said six of the passengers on the cruise are Cuban.

Beatriz Melendez is one of them.

The 52-year-old was 4 when she left Cuba with her sister and parents. Now she and her sister are taking the cruise to Cuba together.

“Is that where you had your birthday party when you were little?” Melendez asked her sister, pointing excitedly as the boat pulled into the Havana port Monday.

On Sunday, when the cruise ship left Miami, the sisters spotted a rainbow spanning the bright blue sky — a sign that the spirit of their parents was with them, Melendez said, as they began their journey back home.

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