The event: Opa-locka’s State of the City address
Reginald J. Clyne | 2/6/2014, 9 a.m.
Mayor Otis Wallace, the sagacious public servant of Florida City, commented once that Black municipalities seem to have stories written about them that always portray them in a negative light, and that their positive achievements are never publicized. I reflected upon the words of Mayor Wallace, when I attended
Mayor Myra Taylor’s State of the Union address for the City of Opa-locka.
If you have never gone to the State of the Union address at the City of Opa-locka, then you have missed an event. The State of the Union address is not a boring speech by some politician about how great they are. It is part Church, part revival, a concert and more importantly a fun event that informs residents of the plans of their leadership. The entire Commission for the City of Opa-locka was present from the venerable Commissioner Holmes, Vice Mayor Kelley, Commissioner Johnson, and Commissioner Santiago. One of my favorite people, Reverend Gaston Smith, was the Master of Ceremonies. School Board Member Dorothy Bendross Mindingall, who was chided for not wearing red, but instead wore a rather tasteful Black and Gold, introduced the Mayor. The event was attended by several hundred people, 20-30 pastors and the Who’s Who of the Black Community: Commissioner Jordan, Mayor Gilbert, Mayor Tondreau, Councilwoman Odom, Councilwoman Felicia Robinson, Councilman Ighodaro, State Representative Campbell, State Representative Stafford and State Representative Watson. I also saw Willie Logan and Yolanda Cash Jackson, who both are responsible in part for the revival that is occurring in the City of Opa-locka.
It was the first time, I have ever heard Mayor Taylor speak. She was engaging and humorous. She made a joke of the negative press surrounding the police escort of Justin Bieber by the City of Opa-locka police to a “girlie club” in another city. Given the havoc caused by Justin Bieber, it was probably a good idea to escort that boy out of town. She was refreshingly human and humble. Thanking those that helped her, taking off her heels and bringing the children to stand on stage with her. She told the City residents of her dream and vision, and then supported it by telling what has been accomplished and what needs to be accomplished. It is was a fantastic state of the union address.
The City of Opa-locka seems to only make the press when there are stories about drive by shootings. No one has mentioned that the City is undergoing a quiet Renaissance. Opa-locka’s often maligned police department cleared over 50% of its crime, an achievement not often reached by many police departments. More importantly, you have not heard about any police misconduct or brutality. They are cleaning up the streets without abusing the decent people who make Opa-locka their home.
The City has built a beautiful new community center, is developing housing for the elderly, developed clinics for the elderly, is repaving roads, working on sewer infrastructure, renovating the historic City Hall, and working with South Florida Workforce to bring jobs to the residents. In addition, the City is seeking to build a new, larger City Hall and to annex critical land that will make the City financially stronger. No one seems to realize that the City of Opa-locka is one of the oldest Cities in the State at the ripe old age of 90. It has some of the most unique and underappreciated architecture. Everyone raves about the Mediterranean style architect of Coral Gables, but few comment on the beautiful Moorish architect in Opa-locka. As Black residents of Miami Dade County, it is time for us to appreciate the good works that are quietly occurring in our midst, and applaud the many quiet heroes.