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Debt-ridden Opa-locka boots city manager

Citizens on Tuesday spoke against firing Steve Shiver

Opa-locka City Manager Steve Shiver is out. After less than three months on the job during which he attempted to balance the city’s budget and uncovered myriad debt, Shiver was fired. Mayor Myra Taylor, Vice Mayor Timothy Holmes and Commissioner Luis Santiago voted to terminate Shiver’s contract Tuesday, Nov. 24. Commissioner Terrence Pinder voted no. Commissioner Joseph Kelley was absent. When Shiver arrived at the meeting, WFOR Channel 4 Reporter Joan Murray asked: “Do you think you will survive this?” Shiver replied: “It’s not my fight. It’s the taxpayers’ fight. I‘m only trying to right the ship.” Shiver has outlined debts of as much as $12.4 million, including an estimated $5.1 million in overdrawn cash liabilities. Included in that is a $4 million liability to Miami-Dade County. The meeting saw a number of citizens address the commission during the Citizens Input segment. One by one, taxpayers threw their support behind Shiver.

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Taylor presents her own proposal to bail out city

Surprise plan dominates first recovery workshop in Opa-locka

A planned workshop to discuss how to resolve Opa-locka’s burgeoning financial crisis on Thursday was supposed to focus on an update from City Manager Steve Shiver, who had prepared a memo to Tallahassee that shows larger debts than previously revealed. Instead, Mayor Myra Taylor announced that she had a recovery plan to bail out the city in five to seven years. That conversation dominated the agenda and the meeting. Responding to the surprise announcement, City Attorney Vincent Brown asked, “Are we going to follow the agenda?” “Yes, when I get finished,” said Taylor. Her recovery plan, she said, would be in two parts. The first part is to pay off the estimated $4 million debt that Opa-locka owes to Miami-Dade County beginning with an immediate payment to the Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) of $566,000 in fees incurred in 2014 for utility operating permits. The payment, she said, would be funded through ad valorem taxes. Taylor hopes to get an installment plan for the 2015 fees, which are estimated at $573,000.

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More tears at Northwestern after fourth shooting death

Pastors, Commissioner Hardemon pray, call for an intervention

A second group of activists and leaders on Tuesday stood at the perimeter of Northwestern High School and called for tougher measures, including bringing back the multi-jurisdictional anti-gang units that brought down the Cocaine Cowboys, and the John Doe and Zoe Pound gangs. Among those speaking out were Miami-Dade School Board member Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall and rapper Luther Campbell. Larry Williams, president of the Northwestern Alumni Association, also urged Miami-Dade Public Schools to re-implement random hand-held metal detector searches in schools, among other things. That gathering preceded a similar one on Friday, where pastors joined Liberty City mothers in front of the school to pray and call for an end to the violence — and to the silence that allows murderers to walk free.

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U.S. should do better during refugee crisis

It was nice to see a Black mayor challenge the xenophobic statements said by Florida Gov. Rick Scott last week. Scott and about 25 other governors have said that they will not accept Syrian refugees in their states until the risk to the United States by the Syrians was completely evaluated. The federal government told Florida that it was getting 425 refugees, according to Scott. Though Scott protests verbally, he doesn’t have the authority to curtail the federal government from funding the refugees’ relocation to Florida.

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Curbing youth violence is mission critical

It was heart wrenching to hear on local TV that there isn’t any leadership in the Black community when it comes to address the rising and disturbing violence — especially among young people. Drawn to the fore by the death of a fourth student at Northwestern Senior High School in recent months, the violence has been spiraling all year, some incidents culminating in death, others in serious injuries. Of the four youth at Northwestern who were killed, there has been one arrest.

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The making of a slave

I often tell my children that if you can tune out the noise in a place with the windows open you’ll still be able to hear the wind whistle. On Thursday, Oct. 22 the position of executive secretary for the Opa-locka city manager was posted through the Human Resources Department. Rumors had already been going through city hall that there was going to be an attempt to fire the city manager based on a series of articles and changes that were being made by the new administration. So a meeting was called by the obvious three but what neither of them figured is that one of them had sold out the other two. The sellout was because of an obvious deal that anyone could’ve seen but no one was paying any attention to, because they were all caught up in the hype of the so-called job that the new city manager was doing.

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North Miami re-examines the utility rates in newest study

Topic historical sore subject with residents

North Miami’s utility rates have been a source of consternation and grumbling for years. So the city is undergoing another study of its water, sewer and sanitation systems to see if it could be used effectively and efficiently, and recommend a rate structure that ultimately will go before the city council. Mayor Smith Joseph, hoping to keep constituents informed, held the first of a series of town hall meetings Thursday evening at Joe Celestine Community Center on the city’s west side. “As a responsible mayor, it behooves us to take the active role to gather the required information that may benefit the residents,” Joseph said. “We hope the study will bring data that will benefit the people.” Joseph said he had received complaints about water bills since shortly coming into office last November. While most residents focus on water, the billing also includes fees for sewer and trash and recycling services.

UM students celebrate culture at 32nd Int’l Thanksgiving

For Americans across the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday represents peace, love, family, good eats, and sharing a tradition, regardless of race, creed or religion. And after the recent ISIS attacks in Paris, events of racial discrimination at the University of Missouri, and the expulsion of thousands of Syrian refugees, students at the University of Miami said there was plenty for which to to be thankful. On Friday, Nov. 20, the UM brought together students from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America, for the 32nd year in a row at its Annual International Thanksgiving. “When I see all these people together, I feel like I'm around the world,” said Maan Ezmirly, a Turkish student who performed a traditional Saudi Arabian song on piano.

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Congresswoman Wilson kicks off her re-election

Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson kicked off her re-election campaign for the 2016 election with a standing-room only celebration at Miami’s Parrot Jungle on Friday, Nov. 20.  Friend, college classmate and congressional colleague Rep. John Lewis, Georgia-District 5, a lauded Civil Rights Movement leader who is famously portrayed in the hit movie “Selma,” joined her.  Wilson’s long-time supporters, community leaders, friends and family members attended the event. Wilson, wearing her trademark turquoise campaign colors, addressed the crowd of supporters by thanking them for their continued support and reiterated her commitment to improving her district. “It’s an honor to serve District 24 in Congress and I am hoping my constituents will allow me the privilege to continue fighting for more jobs, improving education, making affordable healthcare more accessible and protecting Medicaid and Medicare,” she said. District 2

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Miami Heart Gallery Moment

Children in foster care get a photo shoot for online display

Foster children looking for their forever family had their photos taken at Miami Marlins Ballpark as part of The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery. The images from the photo shoot on Wednesday, Nov. 11, becomes a web-based exhibit featuring children that are available for adoption from Miami-Dade’s foster care system. A team of award-winning professional photographers volunteered to photograph nearly 40 children in and around the Miami Marlins ballpark. Many of the kids posed on the field with official Marlins gear, such as bats and gloves, after volunteer makeup artists and hairstylists from Beauty Schools of America made them look their best for the camera. Production crews recorded on-camera interviews with each child on the ballpark’s second-floor promenade for posting online along with their written bio and still photograph at www.miamiheartgallery.org.

Let me ask: Who do you pray to?

Give all praises, honor to the Father

True story: One day, I went to get my car washed. As I waited, an older lady asked me if I wanted something to read, and handed me a magazine. I first noticed that it was a publication handed out by members of the Jehovah's Witnesses denomination. Out of courtesy, I accepted the magazine, and thanked her for her kind gesture. The headline asked the question, "Who Do You Pray To?" I thought I would glance through it later when I had more time. But strangely, as the days and weeks went by, I realized that is a very good question: Who do you pray to? I went in search of the publication to see what angle this particular denomination was taking, but unfortunately, I could not find it anywhere. Yet the question still haunted me. These days, when I go to church, I hear about 80-85 percent of the prayers being offered to the Lord Jesus. And the remaining percentage offered to Father God. But my question is, which one is this correct? And please, don't get me wrong; I get it! I know that Jesus was God in a "man suit." • "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." - John 1:1 • "He who has seen Me, you have seen the Father." - John 14:9

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Book captures the prayers, sermons after the massacre

Pastors, priests and rabbis, Black and white contributed

“A Storm Has Passed” is the compilation of nine sermons from CDs, YouTube, live stream or video sermons and prayers that were preached or said on June 21, 2015 by pastors to their congregations, to show sympathy, condolences, and unity towards the nine families and friends murdered in the massacre on June 17, 2015 at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, located at 110 Calhoun St., in Charleston, South Carolina. Only excerpts were used from the manuscript, submitted by The Lutheran Church of Atonement, along with the six prayers. The sermons and prayers commemorated the lives of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Emanuel and State Senator; Ethel Lance, 70, a retired City of Gaillard Auditorium employee; Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a speech pathologist, track coach and pastor; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Tywanza Sanders, 26, a recent college graduate, poet and businessman; Rev.

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Rev. John C. Vaughn: From the civil rights movement to inner city city

In 2012, Reverend John Cread Vaughn was sent to New Covenant Presbyterian Church (NCPC) located at 4300 NW 12th Ave. in Miami as its Stated Supply Pastor to replace, according to the history located in the archives of the church, Geraldine “Jerri” Kilpatrick Owens and Laura Powell. New Covenant Presbyterian Church is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Allapattah. It is significant for being the first Southern congregation in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to break racial barriers. Vaughn was born in Chicago and was married for 55 years before his wife died in 2014. He is the father of two daughters, one killed in a car accident; has five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. He served in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1952-1954. He has a Bachelor’s of Arts from the University of Illinois in Anthropology; a Master’s of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary; and in 1960 was ordained into the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. He obtained a PhD in Sociology from the State University of New York at Albany. Vaughn has pastored numerous churches including: Presbyterian Church Albany, NY, where he worked with a Black militant group, The Brothers, who were involved in building low-cost houses. He was also active in the Civil Rights movement.

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Miami Magic Music Murals

The Broadway Art District Initiative has created a mural project to develop and enhance the quality of life on Northwest 18th Avenue between 62nd and 71st Streets, known as the Broadway Corridor. The collection of murals, titled The Miami Magic Music Murals, opens on Nov. 27-28 with a drive-thru tour and programming leading into Art Basel Week on Dec. 1-6. The murals, created by 15 artists, are related to Miami sound from musicians of the 1950s to the present. The project is supported by the 79th Street Corridor Neighborhood Initiative.

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Erika Carter-Rolle: Grateful for a new heart

A local educator’s courageous fight to survive leads to a transplant

An assistant principal at M.A. Milam K-8 Center in Hialeah is recovering from a life-saving heart transplant after eight years of “buying time” before getting a transplant. Dr. Matthias Loebe and Dr. Nicholas Brozzi, transplant surgeons at UHealth — the University of Miami Health System — treated Erika Carter-Rolle at Jackson Memorial Hospital, restoring the life of this beloved educator. Her troubles began late 2006 with a bad cold that wouldn’t go away. A few months later, in January 2007, Carter-Rolle was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy — a condition, in which the heart muscle becomes enlarged and weaker, and often leads to heart failure. Over the last eight years, she suffered a stroke, consecutively had Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs), more commonly known as “mini strokes,” had to stop driving and had a pacemaker implanted to resynchronize her heart rhythms. “The pacemaker is a small device placed on her chest to help control irregularities in the heart rhythms,” said Dr. Loebe. “Patients receive this once heart failure is very advanced but it is only a temporary fix.”

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Obama official visits Jackson Soul Food to talk insurance enrollment

Miamians urged to sign up for Obamacare

Sitting at the counter of Jackson Soul Food last Wednesday, Stephanie Bromfield watched curiously at the commotion stirred when U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell entered the room. Bromfield, a local publicist and political strategist, has a 19-year-old daughter in college and a couple of employees. She is in the market for insurance for them. She already has health insurance, but wants better. “I’m thinking about switching. I have private insurance, and it’s costly,” Bromfield said. “If I can get a better deal with better healthcare, I’m for it.” Bromfield, other customers and employees at the popular Overtown eatery had plenty to say to Burwell about the insurance options under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Burwell was more than happy to give her spiel. Burwell’s visit is part of a push by the Obama administration to get more uninsured people to sign up for Obamacare. Open enrollment in the program began Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15 for coverage that begins Jan. 1. Enrollment ends Jan. 31. Florida ranks as one of the top states for people who enroll in the insurance program. There are concerns about price increases or coverage gaps.

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Art of Black

Event returns for second year featuring art and music, panel discussions, galleries and exhibits across Miami-Dade County Dec. 2-6

For the second year in a row, Art of Black is back! Celebrating the art, music, culture and beauty of the African Diaspora and of Miami's Latin and Hispanic communities, Art of Black features a culmination of events, exhibits and shows, from Overtown to Little Haiti, during Art Basel Miami Beach. On Wednesday, Nov. 18, the Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater Cultural Arts Complex hosted the Art of Black preview, organized by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB). Free drinks and hors d'oeuvres were served, and international and local artists attended and painted. The Florida Memorial University Jazz Band provided live music. Tracy Guiteau of the Rhode Island School of Design, who worked on her piece titled “Rise” at the event, said art started as something therapeutic for her, but soon became a career. After she uploaded her art on Instagram and other social media outlets, gallery owners began reaching out to her for shows. Guiteau encourages budding artists to participate in any show and every show they can, especially those that they think may not be fruitful endeavors.

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Sankofa: Moving forward while also looking back

AHCAC Celebrates 40 years of community empowerment through the arts

The African Heritage Cultural Arts Center (AHCAC) celebrated 40 years of community arts and culture, culminating on Saturday, Nov. 14th at its Liberty City location. NBC affiliate WTVJ Channel 6, News Anchor Jawan Strader, served as the master of ceremony for the evening. It was years ago that Channel 6 heralded the Center as a "hidden gem" in the inner-city community of Miami. In the days that followed, highlights from the event were broadcasted during their news hour. The gala featured such alumni as jazz and R&B singers Ja'Nia Harden and Zipporah Hayes. The speaker was award-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. He said, as a young man who resided in Liberty City, he needed the secure environment and the artistic, educational programming that the AHCAC provided.

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'The Barber of Seville' opera opens

Two shows left at Broward Center for Performing Arts

Florida Grand Opera (FGO) kicked off its 75th anniversary season with “The Barber of Seville,” with sets, props and costumes from a production that originated at the Vancouver Opera (VO). Originally produced by VO in 2012, this edition will be a saucy and surprising take on the beloved opera. “This is an incredibly smart and nuanced take on a story South Florida has come to know so well,” said General Director & CEO of FGO Susan T. Danis. “Even opera-lovers who have seen ‘Barber’ a dozen times will find this production exciting and entertaining.” Effervescent arias, mistaken identities, and irresistible shenanigans will all come together at Broward Center for the Performing Arts’ Au-Rene Theater Dec. 3 and 5. Music and staging rehearsals, currently being led by stage director Dennis Garnhum and associate stage director Kathleen Stakenas, have already begun at Florida Grand Opera’s rehearsal space in its Doral administration offices.

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Trump: The hate machine

Donald Trump's supporters are desperate. I find them to be entranced by the idea that somehow he will lead them to the American Dream he flaunts. I imagine the hopeful bunch being led into the desert in pursuit of water, or in this case the economic oasis of Trump’s promises, only to die starved of opportunity. I've sat back and watch this entitled egomaniac taunt a large segment of the American people into a cult-like frenzy for the sake of building his own brand. My angst was once directed to Trump himself until I realized he's simply manifesting the blueprint of his book — "Art of the Deal" — into the political arena. After all, he's the consummate capitalist, beholden to reaping profit at the exploitation of his current commodity — brazen anti-politics. He knows the American public is so desperate for truth that they'll take any warped and disagreeable package in which it can be delivered. In this regard, Trump's played postman and I must admit it's been entertaining, but my amusement stopped at the sight of the now-viral video of his supporters manhandling a Black Lives Matter protester.


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