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October 2010


MIAMI – Florida's 33-year-old policy barring gay people from adopting ended as the state Attorney General Bill McCollum opted not to appeal last month's ruling striking down the ban. The governor and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) had already announced that they would not appeal the decision.

The appellate court ruling arose in an American Civil Liberties Union legal challenge to the ban on behalf of Martin Gill, who wanted to adopt two foster children he and his partner have been raising for almost six years.

“This law, by baselessly branding gay people unfit parents, was one of the most notorious anti-gay laws in the country, and we are delighted that it has been ended once and for all,” said Leslie Cooper, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project, who argued the case before Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. “This victory means that the thousands of children in Florida who are waiting to be adopted will no longer be needlessly deprived of willing and able parents who can give them the love and support of a family."

For more information on the case, including a video of Martin Gill explaining how this law has harmed his family, visit: or

Miami Children's Initiative Designated [PHOTO]

On September 21, The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida designated the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami as a Florida Children's Initiative. The designation was presented to the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners.
As she accepted the award, Commissioner Audrey M. Edmonson applauded the volunteers and community leaders who worked together to complete the Strategic Community Plan required to earn the designation. Edmonson also thanked the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida for their leadership and guidance throughout the planning process.

In 2008, the Florida Legislature approved a process for the establishment of a comprehensive community-based children's initiative to provide quality education, healthcare and youth development programs for children and families living in neighborhoods and communities where opportunity and infrastructure is limited or nonexistent.

Commissioner Edmonson said, "The Miami Children's Initiative will be the catalyst for change from what may have been deemed devastating, bleak and disheartening to a flourishing and thriving community in Liberty City. Block by block, in districts 2 and 3, the Miami Children's Initiative will touch the lives of families and give hope to children to exceed expectations in all their endeavors."

The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida would like to acknowledge Alison Austin and Leigh Toney for their vision. Also, a special thanks to Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, Senator Larcenia Bullard, (former) Representative Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, Secretary George Sheldon, Irene Taylor Wooten, Betty Key and the members of the community who served on the strategic planning team for their faithful commitment and continued support of the Miami Children's Initiative.

Inaugural Board of Directors
Miami Children's Initiative has seated their inaugural board. They include:
Ms. Elaine L. Adderly
Mrs. Elaine H. Black
Ms. Thema Campbell
Mr. Morris Copeland
Dr. Luvernice H. Croskey
Dr. Cathia Darling
Mr. Cedric McMinn
Ms. Annie R. Neasman
Rev. Nathaniel J. Wilcox

**The Executive Director position has been advertised and over 400 applications have been received. The Board hopes to finalize its selection by mid November.

Promise Neighborhoods Update
Promise Neighborhoods, established under the legislative authority of the Fund for the Improvement of Education Program, provide grant funding to eligible entities so they can significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children in our most distressed communities.

The Promise Neighborhoods grant award supports the development of an implementation plan that includes:
· A leader and an organization that can engage the community and be accountable for results
· A "place-based" approach which leverages investments by focusing resources in targeted places, drawing on the compounding effect of well-coordinated actions
· Close integration of schools, academic programs, and family and community supports to close gaps that contribute to children missing academic and developmental milestones
· The capacity to collect, analyze, and use data to evaluate success

At the conclusion of the planning grant period, grantees should have a feasible plan to implement a continuum of solutions that will significantly improve results for children in the community being served.

This summer, 339 applications were submitted for the first round of
Promise Neighborhoods grant funding. Nationwide, only 21 communities were awarded grants. None of the 14 applications from Florida communities were selected; however, the following 9 Florida applications scored 80 or above out of a possible 100:
· Sulphur Springs Neighborhood of Promise, Tampa
· Gainesville Promise
· New Town Success Zone, Jacksonville
· Orlando Promise Neighborhoods
· Ounce of Prevention Fund in collaboration with East
Jacksonville, Miami Gardens, Pinellas County and West
Palm Beach
· Broward L.I.F.E. Project
· Florida City Promise Neighborhood
· Edison Edu-Plex Promise Neighborhood, Miami
· Miami Beach Promise Neighborhood

The Ounce of Prevention Fund applauds these communities on their performance and encourages you to continue the great work you have begun in your community.

Miami Children's Initiative Designated [PHOTO]


South Florida will sizzle again this November as the 9th Annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival, the largest Caribbean food festival in the United States, gets underway at the lush and spacious Markham Park in Sunrise on Sunday, November 14, 10am to 10 pm.

The event, which has grown in size and popularity, now boasts over 18,000 patrons from various cultures and age groups. Each year throngs of families and friends flock to the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival for the delectable jerk foods and the explosion of Caribbean culture, which have become the hallmark of this award-winning event.

“We take pride in producing a festival of this caliber and continue to work diligently to improve the event. Our goal is to produce an event of the highest quality, delivering satisfaction to both patrons and sponsors,” said Eddy Edwards, Chairman of Jamaican Jerk Festival USA Inc.

Title sponsor, Grace Foods, the leading Caribbean food manufacturer and distributor, will add more spice to the event with its culinary delights. Step into Grace Kitchen with Chef Mazie Miller whose cooking demonstrations will wow patrons. One of the main features of the festival is the popular Publix Jerk Cook-Off in which fierce competitors vie for a cash prize, bragging rights and the honor of hoisting the coveted Dutch Pot Trophy.

Numerous food vendors will also be on hand to offer a variety of jerk products to titillate the senses and satisfy the palate. Patrons will be thoroughly entertained throughout the day with cultural presentations from the Digicel and Western Union stages. The Main Stage will feature Byron Lee’s Dragonaires, John Holt and Richie Stephens among others.

For the sports enthusiasts, there is a healthy serving of popular Caribbean sports like cricket, football, netball and, of course, the always exciting domino tournament; and the kids will be kept busy all day in the Kidz Fun Zone.

The Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival is presented by Publix and Digicel and Sponsored by Western Union, Air Jamaica, The JTB, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, WAVS Radio, Hot 105, Teleamerica, Jamaica National and VitaMalt.

For more information please contact Jamaican Jerk Festival USA, Inc., at 954.369.9002 or [email protected] or log on to our website,

Activist Renita "Biggie Mama" Holmes Assaulted by Miami Police for Taking Photos

Activist Renita "Biggie Mama" Holmes Assaulted by Miami Police for Taking Photos

Renita Holmes, a Miami inner-city activist, said a police officer assaulted her while she was photographing a candlelight vigil last month.

The vigil was to memorialize a man named Marvis Williams, whom she said was the eighth person to be killed in this area of Overtown within the last year.

A Miami police officer named Keandra Simmons – who is related to Williams – did not want Holmes photographing the vigil.

“She said, ‘why don’t you leave? Why do you have to take pictures?’” Holmes said in an interview with Photography is Not a Crime.


Activist Renita "Biggie Mama" Holmes Assaulted by Miami Police for Taking Photos

Beware of Miami Gardens company with "free trial offers"


Miami Gardens firm draws 2,000 BBB complaints

Have you ordered any teeth whiteners, acai diet pills or colon cleansers online and had a problem with your order, especially with a so-called ``free trial offer?''A Miami Gardens company that sells roughly 40 such products, XM Brands Inc., is the subject of close to 2,000 consumer complaints with the Better Business Bureau of Southeast Florida and the Caribbean, West Palm Beach. It has an ``F'' rating.In addition, the Florida Attorney General's Office has received almost 400 complaints against XM Brands and its Economic Crimes Division in West Palm Beach is investigating the firm, a spokeswoman said.


Sent from my iPad

Highlights of NAACP Political Forum [PHOTOS]

More than 1,500 people were in attendance at Monday night’s political forum sponsored by the Greater Miami Branch of the NAACP and several unions. The event was not a debate although it seemed as such with a few of the panels. Candidates from several races participated and several were absent but let’s get to that later.

You can follow tweets of the forum below. Forgive the typos; it was difficult trying to keep up with each person, especially Rev. Sharpton.

Participating candidates (In order of program): SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT 2- Rep. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall and Ronda Vangates; COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 2 - Dorrin Rolle and Jean Monestime; GOVERNOR - Rep. Jennifer Carroll (for Rick Scott); COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 8 - Eugene Flinn and Lynda Bell; CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 17 - Roderick Vereen; and U.S. SENATE - Congressman Kendrick Meek.

Candidates absent and who did not send a surrogate: GOVERNOR - Alex Sink; CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 17 - Senator Frederica Wilson; U.S. SENATE - Marco Rubio (declined to participate) and Charlie Crist.

Here are our tweets of the forum. Remember they are in reverse chronological order


blogblackmiami Good night everyone. This has been fun. Get out and vote. No excuses.

blogblackmiami Pastor Johnson giving benedictio

blogblackmiami Bishop Curry was acknowledged. He's not speaking tonight.

blogblackmiami Time for the benediction.

blogblackmiami Asked about brokering deal for him to get out of the race. He's not quitting the race. Said we can win this race. 

blogblackmiami Joy Ann Reid is an excellent moderator. Meek handling questions well. Will she ask about Stackhouse issue or is that irrelevant now? 

blogblackmiami Joy asked about folks who are wavering between him and Crist. Meek runs down list of issues that Crist has not dealt with. 

blogblackmiami Meek said he's running because people need good strong representation. Said it's not about him; it's about the people. 

blogblackmiami Kendrick Meek is the only candidate present from his race. 

blogblackmiami Wow. Quote of the night: "I may walk up here in a suit but I wear many hats too!" --- Rod Vereen

blogblackmiami Wow. Vereen pointed out that Wilson is absent. Said he wants to raise the bar for District 17.

blogblackmiami Vereen said healthcare needs to be tweaked.

blogblackmiami Vereen is speaking quite well.

blogblackmiami Now he's talking about Haiti and Disparity of wet foot dry foot policy. Lots of applause.

blogblackmiami He also said that some employers take advantage of undocumented aliens.

blogblackmiami Supports DREAM Act but thinks illegal aliens should be given an opportunity to take steps to work for citizenship. 

blogblackmiami Question about the DREAM Act. 

blogblackmiami Median family income in District 17 is $30,000. 

blogblackmiami District 17 race. Vereen is here. Wilson is absent. 

blogblackmiami Two more races to do. 

blogblackmiami A lady is here with a RECALL ALVAREZ petition. 

blogblackmiami Half the audience has left. 

blogblackmiami Time for the collection. This is for the NAACP. 

blogblackmiami That's all from Rev. Al. He has thrown down the gauntlet. 

blogblackmiami He's about to close. Kendrick Meek just entered the room. 

blogblackmiami We have a genuine opportunity to change history for everyone. 

blogblackmiami Rev. Al is cutting up like Katt Williams without the profanity. For real.

blogblackmiami Talking about trying to turn back the clock. Our children are being taught to give up. 

blogblackmiami OMG He is cutting up. If folks don't vote after this I don't know what will motivation is required. 

blogblackmiami "Don't try to put the man in a box. Let the man be president for everybody!" 

blogblackmiami President Obama really needs to take Rev. Al on the road. 

blogblackmiami He's covering too much. Can't type that fast. He is breaking it down and connecting dots. Tea Party. State's rights. Wow. 

blogblackmiami "Change don't come with one vote!" 

blogblackmiami I know a collection is going to be taken after this. He's got folks fired up. LOL 

blogblackmiami He's bringing the crowd to their feet. 

blogblackmiami Rev. Al is breaking it down about civil rights in the 60's and how we lost because of infighting. 

blogblackmiami Rev. Al is way thinner than expected. Speaking of challenges we face today. Talking about us using excuses not to vote. 

blogblackmiami A printed program was not distributed so we don't know the order of the program. 

blogblackmiami Rev. Sharpton is being introduced. 

blogblackmiami Both candidates are now letting us know about their church involvement. 

blogblackmiami Bell said the parade was a Veteran's Day Parade for an organization. Said she was set up by her opponent. 

blogblackmiami Here comes question about the confederate flag. 

blogblackmiami Flinn and Bell are answering questions about cutting the budget. She is more specific.

blogblackmiami Rev. Sharpton is here. 

blogblackmiami It's great that both candidates are here because their district is so far south. 

blogblackmiami Next up County Commission District 8 candidates. 

blogblackmiami @msgrbornagain Sounds good if the resources are available to make that happen. Too often we have to deal with unfunded mandates.   in reply to msgrbornagain

blogblackmiami It's a little hostile in here for Carroll but she's holding her own. 

blogblackmiami SB6: Voted for it. 

blogblackmiami Joy Ann Reid is pulling no punches. Carroll gets points for handling herself well. 

blogblackmiami Joy Reid does not play when it comes to staying within time limits.

blogblackmiami Looks kind of funky with only one person at the table. 

blogblackmiami Amendments on the ballot are being reviewed by moderators. Pros and cons. 

blogblackmiami @JamiMiami You're welcome.   in reply to JamiMiami

blogblackmiami Jennifer Carroll is here representing Rick Scott. 

blogblackmiami Rolle continuing to list what he's done in District 2. Monestime supporter escorted out. 

blogblackmiami Monestime said he's running because it's time for a change. He said businesses are closing their doors.

blogblackmiami Rolle talked about projects with requirements to hire from the inner city. 

blogblackmiami Monestime said we need to develop our business corridors. We have to copy what has happened in other areas.

blogblackmiami Next question about economy and jobs.

blogblackmiami The audience is answering the question. LOL

blogblackmiami Monestime breaking down impact of lobbyists on the election. Remember the question was about term limits.

blogblackmiami Monestime said either Rolle is in denial or he doesn't live in the District. 

blogblackmiami Rolle is on the defensive. Accuses Monestime of not knowing the community. Wow. 

blogblackmiami Question about term limits. Rolle said term limits are set by the people. If you're doing your job the voters will re-elect you. 

blogblackmiami Monestime would bring in independent bodies for recommendations about JMH. Rolle said he is the reason JMH is still open.

blogblackmiami Next question about JMH.

blogblackmiami Monestime pinpointing progress in other areas. This is a debate. 

blogblackmiami Elliott Rodriguez has arrived.

blogblackmiami Rolle is on the defensive and is listing his accomplishments. Seems like a debate to me.

blogblackmiami Monestime said his opponent has had 12 years to benefit District 2 and he has failed to do that.

blogblackmiami It's hard to concentrate on the intros because of the individual comments from some of the audience members.

blogblackmiami It's so unfortunate that this was not a debate. The voters really need to hear more to determine which candidate to vote for.

blogblackmiami Up next, County Commission district 2.

blogblackmiami A few digs during the closing remarks. Wow.

blogblackmiami It's getting hot in here!

blogblackmiami Both would vote no on Amendment 8.

blogblackmiami Both agree that students should not have to choose between athletics and academics.

blogblackmiami Are athletics too important in our school system?

blogblackmiami Vangates mentioned need to protect all employees not just teachers.

blogblackmiami Question about crumbling school facilities in District 2.

blogblackmiami Vangates generating a lot of applause for responses. Says vote for her for something different.

blogblackmiami Mindingall wants to bring organizations together to work with our kids. Wants to bring in K-8 center, increase # of Haitian admins, etc.

blogblackmiami Starting off with School Board District 2 candidates. Mindingall and Vangates.

blogblackmiami A lot of energy here. Moderators being introduced. Joy Ann Reid is here. Elliott Rodriguez en route.

blogblackmiami At New Birth Cathedral of Faith. Monica Russo is starting things off. Lower level is almost full. This is not a debate.

blogblackmiami At New Birth Cathedral of Faith. Follow us on Twitter at



Afterthoughts and Comments: 

It would have been really beneficial if the community was afforded the opportunity to hear from all of the candidates in all of the races even if forums were scheduled over multiple dates. There are too many importance races and issues on the ballot to cover in one evening and several audience members were disappointed that they did not hear from candidates in addition to those presented.


The audience turnout was great because frequently there are more candidates than attendees at political forums. It is unfortunate that half the audience and moderator Elliott Rodriguez left after Rev. Al Sharpton’s keynote address because they thought the event had concluded. Candidates for the District 17 Congressional Race and U.S. Senate race addressed a crowd that dwindled to less than half the number present before Sharpton took the stage.


Here are some afterthoughts and comments from some of the attendees:


*Lt. Governor candidate Jennifer Carroll

A number of people who attended did not know Rick Scott’s running mate is black and a woman. Some commented that she’s another Sarah Palin but they have not seen her in action. She has benefited from the Republican-dominated politics in Florida and let folks know that she is in a history-making position because no black female has been that close to the highest elected position in Florida. She also made sure folks know she’s Caribbean and has local ties since her husband’s uncle Earl Carroll was the first black county commissioner; her husband is from Miami and their son Nolan II plays for the Miami Dolphins.


Carroll handled some tough questions well in a Democrat-dominated audience. Some in the audience commented that they would prefer to vote for her over Alex Sink and Rick Scott. They went on to say she held her ground when questioned and did not appear to give an answer just to satisfy the audience.


*U.S. Senate

Congressman Meek had this panel to himself as Rubio declined and Crist was a no-show. As expected, Meek was very comfortable in responding to the questions. He reiterated he is in the race and he can win.


*Congressional District 17

Senator Frederica Wilson, widely regarded as a shoo-in, was a no-show. Her opponent, Atty. Roderick Vereen, pointed out that she is a frequent no-show. He also spoke favorably of the previous District 17 representatives and the need to have someone with law-making experience fill that seat. Several attendees were pleased with Vereen’s presentation.


*County Commission District 2

Former North Miami Vice Mayor Jean Monestime is the strongest competition incumbent Dorrin Rolle has faced since he’s been on the Board of County Commissioners.  Monestime pointed out the lack of development and need for change in District 2 and Rolle rattled off a list of projects he takes credit for bringing to District 2. This panel seemed a lot more like a debate than a forum and Rolle did appear to be on the defensive at times. One of Monestime’s vocal supporters was escorted from the sanctuary by New Birth security.


*County Commission District 8

Eugene Flinn and Lynda Bell have both led cities in deep south Miami-Dade County and are vying to replace retiring Commissioner Katy Sorenson. Both seemed comfortable although their attempts at justifying their sensitivity to diversity and proclaiming their church involvement came across a little awkward. Bell still has to overcome the flap from the display of the confederate flag at the Veteran’s Day parade in Homestead a couple of years ago. She claims to have been set up by her competitor. Interesting.


*School Board District 2

This race between Rep. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall and Ronda Vangates has been very low profile as far as media coverage but one of the most important races in recent years. Retired educator, administrator and legislator Mindingall has name recognition, UTD endorsement and grassroots community support while Vangates enjoys the backing of retiring school board member Dr. Solomon Stinson, Former County Commissioner Dr. Barbara Carey-Shuler and their supporters.


Comments from some attendees are that this race will be very close and others think Mindingall will win by a landslide. Some think Vangates connected more with the audience and others think Mindingall seemed to have a better overall grasp of what the position needs and will better engage parents. Other comments indicated that this race may break down to a battle of the generations also.


 In full disclosure, I know both of these candidates and am a former candidate for this seat. I have endorsed Bendross-Mindingall.


Other candidates and elected officials present included Perry Thurston; Dwight Bullard; Cynthia Stafford; Richard Dunn; Alison Austin and Gwen Margolis.


Thank you to everyone who attended the forum and those who followed on Twitter. All registered voters need to get out and vote. Every election is important but just as important as the 2008 election was, 2010 is equally if not more important. Get out and Vote!



Miami Herald endorsement to Alison Austin in City of Miami District 5 Commission race

The Herald recommends

OUR OPINION: For Miami City Commission District 5

District 5

This district, covering Liberty City, Overtown and Little Haiti, is among Miami's most troubled. The neighborhoods are in dire need of economic development, affordable housing and jobs to sustain families.

The district needs strong and committed leadership, too. The candidates vying to replace interim Commissioner Richard Dunn, who is also running, offer the potential for fresh ideas for proud, but beleaguered, residents.

Michael Jackson Joseph, Alison Austin, Andre Joyce and Jerry Sutherland, along with the Rev. Dunn, all have deep roots in District 5. Their desire to be of service to their community comes across as genuine. (Ernest Mailhot, of the Socialist Workers Party, is also running for this nonpartisan seat.)

Ms. Austin, who has been chief executive officer of the Belafonte Tacolcy Center since 2006, offers the most thoughtful vision of what it will take to bring a measure of enduring prosperity and security to the district.

She wants the city to restore trust between the police and jaded residents, partner with the county to bring shuttle buses to these transportation-challenged neighborhoods and bring in nationally certified community development corporations to build affordable housing. Just as important, Overtown has to have a greater voice -- and far more revenue -- from the Community Redevelopment Agency, while reducing commissioners' muscle on the board.

For Miami City Commission, District 5, The Miami Herald recommends ALISON AUSTIN.

Read more:

Oscar Joyner weds in Miami

Miami, FL -- Media executive Oscar Joyner married Alem Gola in a day-long multicultural celebration presided over by Bishop T.D. Jakes with special performances by award winning artists Yolanda Adams, Eric Benet, Tamia, Mike Phillips and Doug E. Fresh.

Joyner, President of Reach Media Inc. and Executive Producer of the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show, and his wife, a TV and film actress, hosted more than 350 guests at the historic Plymouth Congregational Church and a series of receptions and concerts at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

See more at

Oscar Joyner weds in Miami

Oscar Joyner weds in Miami

Oscar Joyner weds in Miami

Oscar Joyner weds in Miami

Oscar Joyner weds in Miami


MIAMI — The Voters Action Project (, a non-partisan voter education and outreach program run by United Faculty of Miami Dade College (UFMDC), announced today that it will have student and faculty volunteers at early voting sites starting Monday in Miami-Dade County to ensure that voters’ rights are respected.

The volunteers will monitor polling sites, and provide referral information to voters who feel they were treated unfairly when voting, or who were harassed by campaign workers.

All complaints will be referred to the Miami-Dade Elections Department, or other appropriate government agencies, for investigation and resolution.

Mark Richard, UFMDC president, said the poll monitors will serve as the community’s election watch dog through election day on Nov. 2.

“It’s important that voters have someone at the polls they can turn to for help if they feel that their rights were violated, or who might feel they were being disenfranchised,” Richard said.
​Early voting starts Oct. 18 and runs through Oct. 31.

United Faculty of Miami Dade College is the union that represents professors at Miami Dade College. UFMDC and the Voters Action Project are independent of Miami Dade College.

Jay-Z is a gangbanger?

Check out this article in the Miami New Times: Miami Police Department Thinks Jay-Z Looks Like a Gangbanger


It seems the MPD did not provide an explanation for this gaffe to the New Times but when NBC Nightly News reported it, they were told that the images were just a "place-keeper for artwork they were developing" that were "mistakenly" posted online.  


Really? A place-keeper for artwork makes using it okay? Give me a break. That’s so wrong on so many levels. Of course, since it was brought to the attention of the appropriate folks at Miami PD, the image has been removed but it should not have been used in the first place. I’m just saying.