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March Mayor’s Message – 3/31/2020 Council Meeting

While we cannot meet in person as we are “Safer at Home,” the El Portal Village Administration and I have worked on leveraging a digital platform for us to remain connected and provide continuity during this COVID-19 outbreak; and I know we are all here this evening, because we believe and understand–that we are stronger together!

And, now it is more important than ever for us to stay connected as a community and to educate ourselves and one another.  

The COVID -19 outbreak is testing our collective strength as a community, as a governing body, and even within our own homes.

And, so now more than ever we must work together – to help one another – to achieve resiliency and sustainability so that when this pandemic comes to an end (because it will) we, the Village of El Portal is in a position of strength and is ready to move forward – more united, and more committed to continue working for the greater good of our community.

As we continue to respond to COVID-19, here is what The El Portal Police Chief, Village Manager, and I have done to ensure that we protect the public health in El Portal since March 2020:

  1. Friday, March 6th: the Village Manager wrote a Memo: COVID-19 and its impact on the Village of El Portal Community and Staff. It was addressed to her staff and cc’d the Village Council about the potential threat of COVID-19, best practices, the actions the Village Administration has already taken, where staff was asked not to come into work if they were not feeling well, among other points addressed.
  2. Monday, March 9th: The State of Florida first declared a “state of emergency” for COVID – 19, and on Thursday, March 12th, Miami-Dade County declared a state of emergency.  Therefore, the Village of El Portal (as we follow the Miami-Dade County emergency protocol) declared a state of emergency on Friday, March 13th, via a Press Release to the Village Council and Residents; whereby we stated that all Village of El Portal community events in March and April were canceled. We also reinforced the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) best-practices and advised our residents to stay abreast of updates from the CDC, the Florida Department of Health, and our Village website.
  3. From Saturday, March 14th – Tuesday, March 17th: I coordinated with Miami-Dade County to have meals delivered to the senior citizens in our community, as well as reviewed other resources that may be available to us.
  4. Monday, March 16th: We closed the El Portal Tot Lot and advised our residents via the Village’s website, social media, and an email blast.
  5. Tuesday, March 17th: We coordinated with the Miami-Dade County Emergency Operations Center (EOC), and thereafter we have a police officer liaison there, who directly keeps us abreast of information as it comes in.
  6. Wednesday, March 18th: We rescheduled the regularly scheduled Village Council Meeting from Tuesday, March 24th to Tuesday, March 31 (one week later) to allow the Village’s emergency management team to address needs as they arose, as well as prepare for a potential online meeting.
  7. Wednesday, March 18th: I, as Mayor, postponed council meeting agenda items that were not ‘necessary’ to the immediate progress or economic development of our Village community.
  8. Thursday, March 19th: A reminder was sent out to the residents that government services are still functioning, where things such as: bulk pick-up are still continuing.
  9. Since the week of March 23rd: As President of the Miami Dade County League of Cities (MDCLC) have coordinated a Zoom Meeting (every other day) with Miami-Dade County Mayor Gimenez and his team the. The purpose of these Zoom meetings is to collaborate, share information, and work together and ensure our equities are in the forefront before the County Mayor implements a county-wide emergency order.
  10. March 26th: The Miami-Dade County Mayor Gimenez, in collaboration with the MDCLC Executive Board, issued Emergency Order 12-20 ‘Safer at Home.’
  11. March 26th: My COVID -19 Mayor’s update was emailed to El Portal Council, the Village staff, and all residents that signed up to receive Village emails.
  12. March 27th: I held an MDCLC Executive Board Zoom meeting with our associate league members to see how we can help our neighbors and other communities navigate the perils of COVID-19, and still push forward. As such, we took in some information from our associate members to include: Comcast, Baptist, and others. I have attached some of their services being offered during this time.
  13. Tuesday, March 31: As Mayor, I extended our local State of Emergency due to COVID-19. 

In closing, a few El Portal residents have harried the efforts of this Administration, and me personally, for attempting to keep government continuity and things moving forward, as opposed to a preferred sophomoric course of action, and I responded to that at last night’s Council meeting. And encourage each of you to listen to last night’s Online Zoom (the same platform the Governor is using to conduct the State’s business as well as the Florida Courts) Council Meeting in its entirety on our Village website and YouTube page in a day or so.

El Portal, in short, regardless of a community’s size, or the nature of the disaster, local government leaders are responsible for overseeing all phases of emergency management—preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.

As such as we progress through each critical phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have started to see initial ‘recovery’ efforts commenced by local, state, and national government–governments that are leaning forward in a positive manner in an effort to recover, while they (we) are still working to ‘respond’ to each need that may arise.  That is why the stimulus package from the federal government has recently passed as well as one from the State of Florida as well. These federal and state dollars are put forth to assist families, businesses, and communities to provide relief, assistance and help them gradually recover. 

In closing, it’s during times of great friction, that leaders need to be tenacious, compassionate, resilient and provide hope through logical and methodical continuity. 

A leader with tenacity and grit maintains a positive attitude and a strong sense of responsibility during periods of turbulence. A resilient leader has their eye on the longer-term picture, and is compassionate to still be responsive to immediate needs and not simply “reactive.” Tenacity requires long-term thinking. Having this tenacity is particularly crucial in times of crisis, like the COVID-19 outbreak, where the present reality can seem bleak and unsettling. A tenacious leader doesn’t give up just because the solution lies far into the future. Tenacious leaders are determined to see things through properly to their end. They don’t let the current disparity get in the way of their responsibility and commitment to creating a stronger and more resilient future.  

Thank you for your attention as we will get through this situation even stronger, smarter, more prepared, and more resilient. ~ Mayor Cubillos

P.S. Look out for another email in the coming days with some tips to help each of you navigate through the Federal and State Stimulus packages – I want to be sure each of you has an understanding of what you may qualify for and then how to apply for it!