The handling by all levels of government of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan has been nothing short of abominable. The residents of the mostly poor, Black suburb received little to no attention for more than a year and a half as they tried to tell city leaders and the nation that their water was tainted and their children were getting sick. Flint sunk into poverty when the automotive industry that supported its residents collapsed, leaving a trail of unemployment and neglect. So, that another poverty stricken town calls on government to hear the troubles that plague it, and getting no response was par for the course.
Instead of being a salve for community leaders and Liberty Square residents who have been anxious of the future of the housing project, the announcement that the mayor wanted the best and final offers from the two top-ranked firms created yet another wound. In the move, County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has alienated almost all if not all the stakeholders. But the biggest slap in the face goes to Sara Smith, president of the Liberty Square Resident Council. Smith served on a nine-member selection committee, tasked with scoring the developers’ proposals to rehab Liberty Square and recommending a company for the job. Smith over-scored on a developer, skewing results and causing the process to get legal review. It is not clear if the legal review recommended that the mayor whittle down the developers to those with the top two scores. No matter. By asking the top two vote-getters to resubmit their best and final offers, the
The BTW Alumni Association will meet Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. in the BTW cafeteria. Call 305-213--0188. Booker T. Washington Class of 1956 will meet Friday, Jan. 22 at 11 a.m. at Michael’s Restaurant. Call 786-351-6558. The Hadley Park Homeowners and Tenants Association will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. at Carrie P. Meek Senior Center. Call 305-758-5966. The African American Cultural Arts Center presents “Simply Simone-The Music of Nina Simone” Wednesday February 17 thru March 13. Call 305-638-6771 or visit www.ahcacmiami.org.
With two weeks left before the first votes in Iowa, it is time for Democrats to try and steal the spotlight from the Republicans – if that is even possible. The Democratic candidates for the highest office in the nation have been overshadowed by noise and poorly scheduled debates. In a large field, it is understandable why the Republicans are unsure who they want as a nominee. But for the Democrats with a field of only three candidates, it is unsettling that it is unclear who Democratic voters want to be the nominee. Young white people are listening to and taking affinity with Sen. Bernie Sanders, a plain spoken, likable man. Sanders wants to take on establishment politics and Wall Street. It is unclear how that will benefit Black people. Hillary Clinton, while she has tried to warm up her personality and engage voters, still has work to do. If you followed mainstream media, you would think she is unelectable. But the truth is, she is electable, experienced in several areas such as foreign and domestic policies, and she is the other half of a former U.S. president.
The Martin Luther King holiday generally is a time for reflection, reverence and revelry for the life of this nation’s greatest civil rights leader. How ironic it is that this year’s local holiday celebrations for a Black man who stood for peace took on a much more somber tone because of the deadly gun violence that is stealing away our Black children? But this is where we are. The deaths of Black teenagers and children – by some estimates there have been 30 to die in the last year – has affected much of Black Miami. All of our neighborhoods are impacted. The images of grieving mothers, siblings and other relatives that come with each deadly shooting should give everyone cause for concern. But the comment by Umi Selah of the Dream Defenders at the Carol City High Youth Symposium that Miami is attempting to rival Chicago for deadly gun violence shows that people outside South Florida are taking notice.
How commendable it is that Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie is committed to offering 15 percent of the district’s contracts from its voter-approved $800 million general obligation bond to Black businesses. After receiving data from a five-year disparity study, Runcie and his staff decided to implement the recommended solution. This sounds familiar. Miami-Dade County Public Schools also conducted a disparity study after it got approval for its $1.2 billion bond in 2012. The problem for Miami-Dade schools is that the disparity study was flawed and it took dogged challenges to the study by community leaders to affect change. And while Miami-Dade did agree to changes to more level the contracting playing field, a definitive percentage of how many contracts should go to Black, minority and women-owned business was not decided on. To be fair, Miami-Dade implemented new policies that makes it easier for Black businesses to do business with the system.
A 7-year-old boy lost his life Dec. 27. He was a boy with a bright future, played for the Palmetto Bay Broncos and made his family happy. His mother said she sent him to visit his cousin in Richmond Heights because it was safer than her hometown of Goulds. Or was it? It is even more disturbing that Amiere’s parents didn’t feel safe in their part of town. That Sunday evening, a group of young men drove by the house. A 19-year-old fired shots from a high-powered rifle; a bullet hit Amiere Castro in the head, killing him. Police say the shooting was retaliation because of a dispute earlier in the day. Adults have the responsibility to keep their homes safe. If not children like Amiere will get caught in the crosshairs. In this state of Stand Your Ground and the potential for loosened gun laws, it is ever so important to limit confrontation and deescalate arguments.
The turnaround of the Belafonte TACOLCY Center is notable and remarkable. The institution that has served Liberty City since 1966 was in serious trouble in 2014 and still isn’t out of the woods. It is still carrying enormous debt -- $180,000, though it has gone down from a high of $200,000. The new CEO Horace Roberts has a daunting task and will need the entire community’s support to take the TACOLCY Center out of the financial woods. It is unclear who is responsible for growing the debt so high at Tacolcy. Clearly there was mismanagement of funds and a lack of oversight. An investigation by the Miami-Dade Office of the Inspector General did not reveal wide-scale wrongdoing.
The 2015 Haiti elections started as if democracy would take center stage. There were 54 candidates vying for president alone. And other offices of the government were set for elections as well. International agencies flooded the island to keep a watchful eye on the elections process. The elections took place in October and Jovenel Moïse took top votes, followed by Jude Célestin. A run-off was scheduled for Dec. 27. It did not happen. Instead, violence and protests erupted in Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital. The Haitian people have been questioning whether the October elections results were tainted because Moïse is outgoing President Michel Martelly’s preferred candidate. Right now the country barely has leadership. Parliament was disbanded in January when terms for the members ended. Since then, Martelly has been ruling by decree. He is set to leave office Feb. 7.