Current Affairs

City of North Miami Incumbents Re-Elected; Runoff for Open Council Seat

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Incumbents Philippe Bien-Aime and Mary Estimé-Irvin were re-elected in Tuesday’s  City of North Miami municipal elections. Bien-Aime won overwhelmingly and returns to the City’s mayoral seat. Estimé-Irvin returns to the District 3 council seat after narrowly avoiding a runoff race against three opponents.

35FAD90C-3A7F-46DB-995A-DAA6D50CB7D8Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime and Councilwoman Mary Estimé-Irvin were re-elected to their positions.

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Kassandra Timothe and Kevin Burns are in a runoff for the District 2 Council seat.


In the seven-candidate race to fill the open District 2 seat, former City of North Miami public information officer, Kassandra Timothe was the top vote-getter and is in a run-off with former City of North Miami Mayor Kevin A. Burns who narrowly edged Hector Medina for the number two spot in that race.

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The District 2 run-off is June 1. Vote-by-Mail ballots will be mailed, Tuesday, May 18. Early voting is May 24 - May 30.

If you live in the City of North Miami Council Seat 2 voting district and are eligible to vote, exercise your right. Only 16 % of the city’s 34,084 registered voters turned out in the last race.  Conventional wisdom dictates that turnout percentage will be smaller for the upcoming  runoff election. If you don’t vote, don’t complain.

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NAACP, FAMU and NTA Present Discussion on Environmental and Climate Justice

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The NAACP Florida State Conference, in collaboration with the Florida A&M University School of the Environment and National Technical Association Space Coast Florida Chapter will present a discussion on the very important topic of Environmental and Climate Justice.

This virtual event will highlight the science of climate change, its impacts, and a discussion on local advocacy and solutions.  It is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, May15, 2021.

Click here to register.

 


Clark Atlanta University to Host Stacey Abrams and Bakari Sellers as Commencement Speakers

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The university will hold a unique dual ceremony honoring the Classes of 2020 and 2021

ATLANTA/PRNewswire/ -- On Saturday, May 15, Clark Atlanta University will hold a dual commencement ceremony honoring the Classes of 2020 and 2021. Politician, attorney and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams will address the Class of 2020 during the 8 a.m. ceremony, followed by attorney, politician and political commentator Bakari Sellers, who will address the Class of 2021 during the 3 p.m. ceremony.

Like many universities across the country, Clark Atlanta University postponed its 2020 commencement ceremony due to COVID. But university leaders remained committed to making sure that students don't miss out on this pivotal moment in their lives.

"We wanted to give our students the opportunity to walk across the stage, receive their diplomas and be recognized for their hard work in a traditional ceremony," said Clark Atlanta University President Dr. George T. French, Jr. "They have earned the right to experience that moment surrounded by their classmates, family and friends." 

An HBCU graduate and Georgia's Democratic nominee for governor in 2018, Abrams, was scheduled to address 2020 Clark Atlanta University graduates before the pandemic postponed the ceremony.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to speak to the next generation of leaders graduating from Clark Atlanta University," said Abrams. "I hope that my words serve as a source of encouragement for the graduates by reminding them of how they can use their education to uplift those who are often unseen and unheard and push our society forward."

New York Times bestselling author, Abrams served as the Ga. House of Representatives Minority Leader from 2011 to 2017. In 2018, she launched Fair Fight Action, a national voting rights organization rooted in Georgia.

New York Times bestselling author, Sellers made history in 2006 as the youngest African-American elected official in the nation by winning a seat in the South Carolina State Legislature at age 22. Sellers, a CNN commentator and host of the Bakari Sellers Podcast, has been recognized as one of Time Magazine'40 Under 40 and made "The Root 100" list of the most influential African-Americans.

"As an HBCU graduate myself, I can distinctly recall the pride and excitement I felt when I graduated," said Sellers. "I hope to share a sense of optimism with these remarkable students as we honor their great accomplishments and look ahead to their bright futures."

Clark Atlanta University President Dr. George T. French, Jr. recognizes the importance of having two Black leaders who have profoundly affected American politics and civil rights.

"Our goal here at Clark Atlanta University is to prepare our students to be globally competitive and to be successful contributors and trailblazers in their respective fields of study," said Dr. French. "Hearing from Ms. Abrams and Mr. Sellers -- two leaders who have already made a difference themselves -- is a fitting way to send our students off fully prepared to take on the world."

 

 


NAACP Presents Legislative Debrief on Voter Suppression

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Let’s get informed and stay informed in preparation for the 2022 midterm elections. 

The Fort Lauderdale/Broward Branch of the NAACP will present a Virtual Legislative Debrief: “Where Do We Go From Here” on voter suppression in Florida. The event is scheduled for Thursday, May 6, 2021, 7 PM- 8:30 PM ET. Featured speakers are House Minority Leader, State Representative Bobby Dubose and State Representative Tracie Davis.  

Scan the QR code on the flyer to register or click here

Marsha A. Ellison is the president of the Fort Lauderdale/Broward Branch of the NAACP.

 

 

 


City of North Miami Beach Commission Names Street in Honor of Miami-Dade Commissioner Jean Monestime

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NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FL __ The North Miami Beach City Commission has voted to name Northeast 159th Street in honor of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime for his advocacy and trailblazing leadership in the community.  The Commission voted unanimously to name the road from West Dixie Highway to Northeast 8th Avenue "Jean Monestime Street," making it one of the longest roads named after a Haitian American in South Florida. Commissioner Michael Joseph was the prime sponsor of this resolution, and  Commissioner McKenzie Fleurimond was the co-sponsor.

"The City wanted to recognize Commissioner Monestime for his leadership, vision, and longtime support of our community's quality of life. May is Haitian Heritage Month, which makes the timing of this honor especially meaningful," Commissioner Joseph said.

Commissioner Monestime represents District 2 on the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, which includes parts of North Miami Beach. He is the first Haitian American to serve as a Miami-Dade County commissioner and the first to serve as its chair. He is also in his last tenure of office due to term limits.

The resolution passed by the North Miami Beach Commission also urges the Miami-Dade County Commission to co-designate the remaining county road section of 159th Street, from Northeast 8th Avenue to Northwest 6th Avenue, in solidarity with the municipal resolution. The co-designation awaits the confirmation of the Miami-Dade County Commission before becoming final.

 

 


Ebenezer United Methodist Church Relaunches Drive-Through Food Distribution Plus Health and Wellness Resources

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The Ebenezer United Methodist Church (EUMC) in partnership with Young Adult Missional Movement (YAMM) and United Methodist Commission on Relief (UMCOR) Global Ministries announces the re-launch of the EUMC Food Distribution Ministry on Saturday, April 24, 2021, at 2001 N.W. 35th Street, Miami, Florida 33142 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

 

EUMC has distributed food in the community for over 10 years on Mondays but will now shift to the 2nd and 4thSaturdays starting on April 24th. The change to Saturdays is designed to enable more families to participate on theweekend. Free and open to the publicparticipants will receive food (perishables and non-perishables, based upon availability), temperature checks, blood pressure screenings, in addition to health education information and resourcesThis will be a drive-through distribution site and requires all attendees to remain in their cars at all times. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) will be available for distribution, while supplies last.

 

“To address the demand and impact of COVID 19 on the community, the people that come to our food pantry have generally have no food at home. Considering the expense of food and health care, we are providing screenings that indicate other condition,” said Pastor Sherlain Stevens. “Ebenezer is proud to be part of the solution.”

 

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NAACP Florida State Conference Infuriated with Gov. DeSantis’ Signing HB 1 Into Law

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NAACP says this proposal is racist and discriminatory for black and brown Floridians.
 
Yesterday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 1, his censorship and repression bill, into law as America awaits a verdict in the trial of former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. The bad optics, but likely intentional timing, and an all-white contingent of supporters in the background at his press conference in Winter Haven, sends strong messages on who this bill targets. 
 
“Today is a sad day for Florida. The Governor signed H.B. 1 into law. The bill is racist, discriminatory, unwise, unlawful, and unjust. The Governor put his stamp on this discriminatory law filled with criminalization and civil rights disenfranchisement aimed at Black and Brown Floridians. We won’t sit silent on this issue and we won’t let this stop peaceful protests across the state of Florida,” says Adora Obi Nweze, President of NAACP Florida State Conference and member of the National Board of Directors.
 
HB 1 is effective immediately.
 

Miami Gardens City Council Says ‘No’ to Homeowners and Paves the Way for Formula One Racing

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On this past Wednesday evening, by a 5-2 vote, despite significant constituent opposition, the City of Miami Gardens Council followed through on what residents feared. They reversed the decision of last year’s council and voted in favor of a resolution that paves the way for Formula One Grand Prix racing to be held in Miami Gardens for at least a decade starting in 2022. 

Public comments at the council meeting were overwhelmingly in opposition to bringing Formula One racing to Hard Rock Stadium. There were reminders about environmental concerns, noise, and the vague promises delineated in the resolution. Individuals who spoke in support of the resolution had business ties to Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins organization. Owners of small, black-owned businesses shared testimonials on how the Miami Dolphins organization made it possible for them to operate during the pandemic. 

The last two in-person commenters at the council meeting, Shirley Gibson, the first mayor of the City of Miami Gardens, and Barbara Jordan who served as Miami-Dade County Commissioner for 16 years, brought out some crucial points on why the resolution and Formula One are detrimental for Miami Gardens.

Mayor Gibson also advised the council to read the resolution, especially the threat to the future of the Jazz in the Gardens concert weekend for which the city has earned international notoriety. “Jazz in the Gardens is not worth what we are going to lose,” said Mayor Gibson. She also reminded the council, as did others, that $5 million over a decade is not a lot of money. 

Commissioner Jordan pointed out the unrealistic financial benefit to the City since many of the Formula One patrons would likely be shuttled to Hard Rock Stadium and spend their money in the all-inclusive stadium environment rather than patronize surrounding small businesses in Miami Gardens. 

Despite last year’s unanimous council vote rejecting Formula One, it was a foregone conclusion when Mayor Rodney Harris introduced the proposal via mainstream media that a sufficient number of council member votes had already been secured for its passage. Many residents questioned what changed since then. It would be easy to blame it on new members to the council, but two of the four new council members voted no - Shannon Campbell and Shannan Ighodaro. The remaining two new members - Linda Julien and Robert Stephens and the three veteran members - Mayor Harris, Vice Mayor Reggie Leon, and Katrina Wilson voted yes. 

Optics matter

It’s not lost on observers that Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins organization made smart, strategic moves that used black people to represent them and speak in favor of Formula One, thereby placing the all-black governing council of the City of Miami Gardens in the precarious position of direct conflict with their constituents who are also mostly black.

I caution you to think critically and be careful as news is reported about this situation. Some media outlets reporting on the issue will have you believe the Miami Gardens homeowners are unreasonable. Still, the devil is in the details of the resolution the council eventually approved. 

It’s also important to remember that the City of Miami Gardens is embroiled in this situation because residents in the City of Miami no longer wanted Formula One racing in their community for many of the same reasons the residents of Miami Gardens don’t want it in their neighborhood. What’s terrible for one community is good for another community? Really? 

It’s embarrassing that a majority-black-led city would accept the trinkets, yes, trinkets as Commissioner Jordan referred to them, it will receive from multi-billionaire Stephen Ross and almost grovel when speaking of the Miami Dolphins philanthropic community endeavors as if they are the only organization feeding people in need. Like many businesses who do the same, they also write these donations off on their income taxes. No doubt, the gifts that were supposed to be given freely actually came at the cost of some folks integrity or exposed their lack thereof. 

It would be a mistake for Stephen Ross, the Miami Dolphins organization, and anyone else to think the homeowners, UP-PAC and the NAACP will quietly accept this latest vote. Stay tuned.

 

Related Links:

City of Miami Gardens Council Meeting April 14, 2021, on YouTube

Formula One: The Racing Event that Refuses to Accept “No” from Black Homeowners 

 


Formula  One: The Racing Event that Refuses to Accept “No” from Black Homeowners

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In 2018,  Formula One Grand Prix racing on city streets was rejected by residents in downtown Miami due to excessive noise, environmental pollution and traffic chaos. In 2019, real estate developer, sports team owner and philanthropist Stephen Ross sought to move the multi-day event to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Residents rejected the event for many of the same reasons it was rejected in downtown Miami. It’s 2021; rather than find another location for the racing event, Ross appears to have been strategic and waited long enough for supportive leaders to be elected or selected to the Miami Gardens City Council to approve his event.

At tonight’s Miami Gardens City Council meeting, Mayor Rodney Harris will proffer a resolution that is purported to satisfy Ross and concerned residents. His resolution addresses major critical concerns surrounding noise and environmental pollution. Moreover, his resolution also indicates the event will not be held on 199 street or 27th avenue. There are also promises of $5 million to the City, funding for STEM programs at schools, opportunities for local restaurants and paid internships for students.

Those all sound great to most people, but the devil is in the details. First of all, on its surface, the body of the resolution appears to have been crafted by the Dolphins organization. Secondly, that $5 million amount might sway many people, but it translates to $500,000 or less per year over a 10-year-period. In the multi-billionaire world of Stephen Ross, that’s less than chump change, don’t sell yourself cheap, Miami Gardens. Thirdly, if this is such a great idea, why did residents have to find out via local media?

A town hall meeting or workshop with the mayor, council members, and the public could have been an excellent vehicle for introducing this resolution. There could have been dialog, and questions could have been asked and answered if it was all above board. Instead, this resolution seems rushed, forced, and shady. Instead, residents and a coalition of organizations — Miami Gardens Families Unite, UP-PAC (Unrepresented People’s Positive Action Council), and the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP continue to protest Formula One racing in Miami Gardens.

Not surprisingly, local politicians who seek support from Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins organization for philanthropic purposes and are trying to walk a fine line regarding this situation. It’s simple, though; the Black community should never be for sale. Not for toy drives or a luncheon or frozen turkeys or backpacks. Not for anything. Will the Miami Dolphins discontinue their philanthropic efforts if the Miami Gardens City Council rejects the mayor’s resolution? No, that would be bad public relations for the Miami Dolphins organization.  

Pay attention. A protest is scheduled at 4 p.m. today at Miami Gardens City Hall. The City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will be streamed live on the City’s website via the Agenda Web Portal at  /Portal/Video.aspx and YouTube Live. City Council Chambers are closed to the public, but an exemption will be made for one individual at a time to enter Council Chambers to address the City Council during the Open Public Comment portion of the City Council meeting on a particular item.

The mayor’s resolution is Agenda Item 12.1. It is toward the end of the printed agenda but could be taken out of order. If you wish to give public comment, pre-register with the City Clerk no later than 6 p.m. by emailing mbataille@miamigardens-fl.gov.

 


Follow the Money: School Board Vice-Chair Dr. Steve Gallon Proposes Item to Address the Receipt, Plan and Accountability for the District’s Nearly $1.1 Billion from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

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At today’s Miami-Dade County School Board Meeting, Vice-Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III will propose an agenda item regarding the almost $1.1 billion the school district receives from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 117th United States Congress. It intends to speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession, which developed as a consequence. First proposed on January 14, 2021, the package builds upon many of the measures in the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 from December 2020. 

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $1,400 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 annually, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, and $14 billion for vaccine distribution. It also provides $130 billion to elementary, middle, and high schools to assist with safe reopening, with Florida slated to receive approximately $7.4 billion. Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district and having the highest proportion of economically disadvantaged students, is estimated to receive $1.1 billion. The bill will also directly impact local students and families through individual relief measures, including child tax credits that are projected to reduce child poverty substantially. 

With the infusion of these funds, the District will enhance its capacity to mitigate and address the adverse impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on its students and their learning for over a year, with studies anticipating that learning loss will be more significant among low-income, Black, and Hispanic students---a demographic highly concentrated in Miami-Dade County Public Schools and whose anticipated academic, social, and emotional needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in large part and generated the unprecedented amount of federal funds.

Gallon’s proposal also directs the Superintendent to schedule a Board Workshop to discuss and review the allocation and allowable use of these funds, as well as,  review the prior allocation, expenditure, and planned use for remaining funds allocated to the District through the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 from December 2020; and establish a system and structure for quarterly reporting of all funds expended through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and make available for easy public access and review on the District’s website.

“This will ensure that the Board provides increased focus, transparency, and accountability as well as an opportunity for the public to be informed about and serve witness to the School Board’s policy, practices, and procurement decision-making processes involving nearly $1.1 billion that have been allocated to enhance and uplift the learning and lives of our students---especially those facing the greatest challenges and with the greatest needs,” said Dr. Gallon.

To read the full item, click here: 

http://schoolboard.dadeschools.net/documents/agenda/h17.pdf