- Faith & Family
In the U.S, South Africa, North Korea, China, Iran, Cuba and many other countries in the world, the government establishment seeks to suppress the rights of groups of citizens. Many would question the addition of the U.S. in this group of totalitarian regimes. Perhaps, we should refresh our recollection of history. During a short period after the Civil War, the former slaves were given true freedom and they began to thrive in business, become elected officials and enjoy total and unrestricted citizenship in this country. Then Jim Crow laws were enacted that denied Blacks the right to vote, the right to live in certain neighborhoods, the right to attend certain public schools, the right to use water fountains and even the right to use restrooms.
After the successes of the civil rights movement, some said the establishment was gone and that the election of President Barrack Obama signaled the end of racism in the U.S. Now, history is repeating itself. Just like in the 1800′s, the establishment is striking back. First, to be attacked was the early voting and voter registration laws. On the local level, I see the recent attacks by columnist Michael Putney as another strike by the establishment. What’s worse, as a consequence of this specious editorial, Joseph Centorino, executive director of the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission is investigating Leroy Jones of NANA. Centorino has sent a public records request to the City of Miami requesting documents on the funding for the beautification of four businesses in Liberty City. I am hoping that Centorino does his homework better than Putney. Centorino should realize that the funds requested for this project were requested by then Commissioner Richard Dunn, II. So the theory that Jones got some special dispensation because he has the same surname as Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, District 5 should be put aside. They are not related.
Centorino should quickly realize that Jones could not have misused funds as they have yet to be disbursed. NANA submits invoices for work performed and then uses the funding to pay the contractors, so it is very hard to misuse this funding.
This is clearly a textbook case of retaliation for the exercise of a constitutional right. Centorino allegedly stated that he began this investigation in response to Putney’s editorial. That seems to me like the old white establishment using the press and governmental power to oppress a minority group. Now, you see why I think the current actions of Centorino are reminiscent of not yet forgotten abuses against Black citizens in this country and are very similar to the actions of totalitarian regimes like those in Iran, North Korea and Cuba. Centorino is very close to abusing the power of his office; perhaps a few decent-minded commissioners should put pressure on the mayor to remove him. The ethics commission should be run by someone with ethics, not a person who attacks citizens for exercising their lawful, constitutional right of free speech.
By Reginald J. Clyne, Esq.