TRENDING TOPIC FOR THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 5TH: Happy Friday, or if you are a subject of Her Britannic Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, happy belated Guy Fawkes Day! While we haven’t had any gunpowder plots in South Florida recently, we continue to have media reports about the use of County funds by County Commissioners. We leave you with a follow-up report on that topic and an interesting plan to create a new park in Miami-Dade County.

ETHICS COMMISSION PROPOSES NEW RULES: Univision Reporter Erika Carrillo from“Noticias 23” concluded her investigative series on the use of public funds by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Juan Carlos Zapata to pay for a Harvard degree, with the result of the County Ethics Commission probe that determined that the Commissioner’s conduct was not unethical. The commission also made recommendations on how to avoid this issue in the future. Carrillo was on “Pedaleando con Bernie” on Radio Mambi 710AM, discussing her investigative report (watch it here).

Carrillo explained that “the ethics commission concluded that the county has to clarify the rules, because they are not clear and it should also set limits on how much money can be spent by county commissioners on their studies and what type of funds can be used. In this case, Zapata had requested the money from funds assigned to his district’s office for expenses that benefit District 11 residents. His check was for over $30,000.” Carrillo explained that the ethics committee determined “there is no evidence to show that Zapata violated any ethical code, but the fact that he returned the money means that he had knowledge that his use of public funds gave an appearance of impropriety.” Carrillo said, “the commissioners have full authority over discretionary funds. No one in the county or the budget office asked what the money was for, what he was studying or what classes he was taking, for how long, etc. because there is no system. The ethics commission said this was unprecedented in Miami-Dade County, no one had ever used such a high amount from those funds to pay for their studies, which is why they are expected to impose regulations now.”

FRIENDS OF THE UNDERLINE: Yoly Cuello talked to Ralph Rosado on her show “Noticias del Mediodia” on Caracol 1260AM, about a project to transform the area below Miami’s Metrorail into a 10-mile park and trail called The Underline (learn more about it here).

“This is a very special project for our community, there is nothing else like this in Miami. It will include an area of 10 miles between Dadeland Mall and the Miami River. We want to use this project to maximize the space below the Metrorail for people to take advantage of the area and use it for all sorts of activities, from cyclists and pedestrians, to people who want to play sports and enjoy any outdoor activity.” Regarding the funding, Rosado said, “so far we have raised funds from different cities and Miami-Dade County, as well as from various private donors like the Miami and Knight Foundations. We already have more than $5 million and hired the renowned firm James Corner Fields Operations to work on the design. They have done thousands of projects like this, including The Highline in New York.” He said the firm finished the designs for the project, and invited listeners to the public meeting on Monday, November 9th in the Architecture Building at University of Miami at 5:30 p.m. “There, they can see the designs and give us their feedback. The budget comes out on Monday as well. We are going to pay using both public and private funds. Friends of The Underline is a non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible, so we encourage for everyone to donate and participate.” Rosado concluded, “it’s a pretty great project.”