Government & Law

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.

 


Wilson to Host Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee Hearing on the Future of Higher Education Post-COVID

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Washington, D.C. – Today, at 1 p.m. ET, Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson will lead her first hearing as chair of the Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment. The theme is Rising to the Challenge: The Future of Higher Education.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted significant inequities in higher education and placed an enormous strain on universities and colleges and their students. The abrupt shift to remote learning has exacerbated barriers that make it difficult to successfully attend and graduate from college, particularly for low-income students and students of color who depend more heavily on the on-campus services they no longer had access to, including food and housing. While all students have been impacted by the pandemic, the biggest enrollment declines have occurred among black undergraduates and low-income students. Alarmingly, students who do not complete their educations have considerably higher levels of loan default. There is also evidence that the shift to online learning has compounded existing racial achievement gaps.

“The three relief packages passed by Congress invests more than $75 billion to help institutions and students avert crises, but we must do much more to ensure that underserved students are not left behind as the nation recovers from the pandemic,” says Congresswoman Wilson. “Bold steps will be required to strengthen student protections and expand access to student aid so that we build back a better higher education system for everyone. This hearing will explore how we can begin to achieve those goals.”

To watch the hearing, click here.

 


Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo to Lead City of Miami Police Department

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Today, the City of Miami is expected to announce Houston police chief Hubert Arturo “Art” Acevedo as Miami’s next police chief. 

Acevedo, 56, was born in Havana, Cuba. His family emigrated to the United States in 1968, when Acevedo was four years old. He grew up in California and received his bachelor's degree in public administration from the University of La Verne. 

Acevedo began his law enforcement career with the California Highway Patrol in 1986 as a field patrol officer in East Los Angeles. He rose through the ranks and was named Chief of the California Highway Patrol in 2005. From July 2007  through December 2016, he served as Chief of Police for the Austin, Texas Police Department. In November 2016, Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed Acevedo to lead the Houston Police Department. Acevedo is the first Hispanic to be named to that position. With Turner’s term coming to an end, the availability of the Miami position was good timing for Acevedo. 

Comfortable on camera, as evidenced by his appearances on national news programs, the Cuban-born but West Coast reared Acevedo will be thrust into the Miami culture where his political affiliation and actions appear contradictory. Although a registered Republican, Acevedo appeared in a video segment on the opening night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. He is also one of the few to push back on Donald Trump openly. He also condemned the killing of George Floyd and walked in the procession for the burial of his remains. 

Acevedo did not formally apply for the Miami position. There was an expectation that something was amiss as there were several applicants for the Chief of Police position and the announcement of the selection was delayed by more than a month. Insiders expect more changes at the top levels of the Miami Police Department as there are rumors that Acevedo will bring staff with him.

Acevedo follows Chief Jorge Colina, who led the Miami police department for three years and announced his retirement earlier this year. 


Florida Democrats Have a Chance to Make History: Five Things You Need to Know

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At noon tomorrow, Saturday, January 9, 2021, the Florida Democratic Party will elect a state chair and other officers.

1. A Democrat has not been elected governor of Florida in almost three decades, and the result of the 2020 general election was the most embarrassing losses in recent history. The Democrats lost two congressional seats, lost three seats, and two open seats in the Florida Legislature, lost the presidential race by 375,000 votes, and possibly permanently removed Florida from the “swing state” category to red.

2. As expected, current State Chair Terrie Rizzo bore the brunt of the blame and did not seek re-election. Six individuals declared their candidacy for State Chair — former City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz; DNC (Democratic National Committee) member Nikki Barnes; Environmental Caucus Chair Dr. Janelle Christensen; former State Representative and Alachua County Party Chair Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut; Orange County Party Chair Wes Hodge; and Hillsborough County Party Chair Ione Townsend.

The candidates have participated in a series of forums and interviews. The online conversations between party faithful and supporters have been fast, furious, eye-opening, and informative. The chair is just one of the offices to be determined. There must also be a vote on the first vice-chair, secretary, treasurer, and DNC members.

3. Because of a gender-balance requirement in the organization’s arcane by-laws, the chair and vice-chair must be of the opposite gender, as is the same for the secretary and treasurer. That requirement also adds an interesting element to campaigning and political wheeling and dealing. It also helps to understand why some endorsers who are also candidates line-up on certain teams.

4. As of this writing, Nikki Barnes, Wes Hodge, and Dr. Janelle Christensen have suspended their campaigns. All three have endorsed Dr. Chestnut.

5. If elected, Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut could make history as the first Black person elected to lead the Florida Democratic Party. Being the first is not new to her. Dr. Chestnut is the first Black woman elected to the Gainesville City Commission; the first Black woman elected Mayor-Commissioner of Gainesville, the first Black woman elected to the Florida House of Representatives from Alachua, Marion, and Putnam counties, and the first Black woman elected to the Alachua County Commission.

Dr. Chestnut, a Tallahassee native, is well-known throughout the state of Florida. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University, Florida State University, and Nova Southeastern University. She is also a member of The Links, Incorporated and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

She is a life-long Democrat and proven leader who is uplifting but doesn't tell you what you want to hear just to get your support, and genuinely welcomes everyone to the “Big Tent” the Democrats like to brag about.

Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut embodies the “magic” that so many outside our community seem to have just discovered, but we see every day. The nation has seen it in Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Stacey Abrams. Democrats can win again if it returns to its grassroots and listens to the voters. Tomorrow’s Florida Democratic Party election will determine the political trajectory of Florida. Stay tuned for the results.

 

 

 


City of Opa-locka Hosts Swearing-In Ceremony for Newly-Elected Commission Members

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Clockwise, from top left, City of Opa-locka Mayor Matthew Pigatt; former Judge Shirlyon McWhorter swears in Vice Mayor Veronica Williams; former City of Opa-locka Mayor Dr. ML Taylor swears in son John Taylor Jr.; and  City of Opa-locka Commission, from left, Commissioner Chris Davis, Vice Mayor Veronica Williams, Mayor Matthew Pigatt, Commissioner Alvin Burke, and Commissioner John Taylor Jr.

 

(OPA-LOCKA, FL)  —  The City of Opa-locka hosted a Swearing-In Ceremony for the newly-elected Commission Members Vice Mayor Veronica Williams and Commissioner John Taylor Jr. on Thursday, November 19, at the Sherbondy Village Community Center. 

City of Opa-locka Mayor Matthew Pigatt served as the Master of Ceremony which began with an invocation from Rev. Dr. Ranzer A. Thomas, Sr., Senior and Founding Pastor of New Generation Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Dr. Kay Williams-Dawson, Senior Pastor at Cathedral of Praise, introduced newly-elected Vice Mayor Williams. The Honorable Judge Shirlyon J. McWhorter, former Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge, swore in newly-elected Vice Mayor Williams.

Next, newly-elected Commissioner Taylor was introduced by his wife Monica Taylor. Dr. M.L. Taylor, former Mayor of the City of Opa-locka and her husband Bishop John Taylor then swore in their son, newly-elected Commissioner Taylor. Other program participants included: John E. Pate, City Manager; Commissioner Chris Davis; and Commissioner Alvin Burke.

“I believe that now more than ever we needed more leaders that will talk less, listen more, and work together for the community and the citizens that we were selected and elected to serve. So, time’s out for secret agendas, time’s out for cliques, time’s out for ununified behaviors. We were elected by the people to support the people,” said Commissioner Taylor. “Let me fight for you and be your advocate. To the 1,600 plus people that reside within the walls of the great City of Opa-locka, I stand here for you and because of you.”

“Service for people has always been at the forefront of everything I do. I follow the footsteps of many trailblazing African-American women in politics in Miami. To the many black and brown women stepping up to the plate to shape our communities and our country⎯⎯this is why I decided to be the change agent that I wanted to see in my community,” said Vice Mayor Williams. “I am ready to work with everyone to form a new vision to create a new and better reputation for the City of Opa-locka because I am Opa-locka!”

To view the event, visit: City of Opa-locka’s Facebook page


Photos: Gregory F. Reed

 

 


THE MIAMI-BISCAYNE BAY (FL) CHAPTER OF THE LINKS, INCORPORATED HOSTS VIRTUAL FORUM ON FLORIDA’S CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

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Miami, FL — This year’s November general election ballot includes six questions proposed to amend Florida’s constitution. The Miami-Biscayne Bay (FL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, wants to make sure the community is informed when ballots are cast on these important issues. In partnership with the Miami-Dade and South Dade Branches of the NAACP and the Miami-Dade National Pan-Hellenic Council, The Links will present a virtual issues forum, “WE THE PEOPLE: Get the FACTS Before Voting on Florida’s Constitutional Amendments!” The forum is scheduled for 6:30 PM-7:30 PM ET, Wednesday, October 14, 2020 and will be broadcast on Facebook Live and Zoom.

The program will be moderated by Bobby Henry Sr., publisher of The Westside Gazette, Broward County, Florida’s oldest and largest African American owned and operated newspaper.

Joining Henry for a spirited discussion and deep dive into the amendments are: 

  • Yolanda Cash Jackson, Shareholder, Becker & Poliakoff, and member of the Greater Miami (FL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated;
  • Donald Jones, Professor, University of Miami School of Law; and
  • JoLinda L. Herring, Shareholder, Bryant Olive Miller, and member of Miami-Biscayne Bay (FL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.

“Voting is one of our most important responsibilities as American citizens, we should be sure we are informed when we exercise that right,” said Miami-Biscayne Bay Chapter President Georgia H. McLean. “The goals of this forum are to make sure we have dissected each proposed amendment and that each attendee logs off informed and ready to vote.”

The forum is scheduled for 6:30 PM-7:30 PM ET, Wednesday, October 14, 2020 and will be broadcast on Facebook Live and Zoom. Click here to register in advance. Submit questions, in advance, to mbbclinksinc@gmail.com. 

 


Oprah Winfrey, NAACP and National Voting Rights Leaders Join Together for National Town Hall: “OWN YOUR VOTE: OUR LIVES DEPEND ON IT”

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Winfrey To Discuss Her New Initiative “OWN Your Vote” with NAACP President and CEO and Other Key Leaders in the Fight for Voting Rights, Focused Specifically on Mobilizing Black Women to Vote 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 22, 2020) – Oprah Winfrey and OWN have joined together with the NAACP and national voting rights leaders to host “OWN Your Vote: Our Lives Depend On it,” a virtual conversation aimed to inspire and equip thousands of voters and community leaders with specific steps they can take to register to vote, request their absentee ballots, and mobilize voters throughout their community. Slated to take place on September 24, 2020, at 8:00 PM EST, the hour-long conversation will include remarks from leaders in the fight for voting rights, including Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Stacey Abrams (Fair Fight), Minyon Moore (Power Rising), Tiffany Dena Loftin (NAACP Youth and College), Judith Browne Dianis, and other key leaders. Join this conversation by visiting bit.ly/OprahZoom and registering today!

“We are excited to work with OWN, Ms. Winfrey and other key voting rights leaders as we engage our members, activists, and community leaders around the country about the importance of this election and their vote,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. “Her voice during this critical time when communities not only need reassurance in their ability to affect change but encouragement and enlightenment on how to do so with clear impact cannot be overstated.”

As the nation reels from the effects of COVID-19, racial injustice, and voter suppression, OWN Your Vote seeks to shed light on the solution through a bipartisan registration and a get-out-the-vote campaign aimed at providing OWN’s audience of Black women with tools and resources to overcome voter suppression in the November election. The pro-social campaign connects people to urgent political actions and gives their concerns a powerful microphone by placing a spotlight on crucial community issues.

“OWN is proud to partner with the NAACP and prominent voting rights leaders to hold this important conversation to energize and engage our community to vote this November,” said Tina Perry, president of OWN. “This is a critical time in our history to come together and raise our voices.”

Along with shedding light on why this moment is paramount for Black women to use their voice, Ms. Winfrey will also moderate a panel discussion that will bring attention to barriers to voting, what everyone should know about this election, and how they can overcome voter suppression in their community.

The OWN Your Vote campaign has been informed by a study OWN conducted with over 700 Black women of voting age to identify critical issues affecting them. The political impact tracking study determined that affordable health care and racism/discrimination are the two most relevant issues to Black women this election season.

OWN Your Vote Partner Organizations include:

Advancement Project National Office

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated

AME Church Social Action Commission

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated

Fair Fight Action

Higher Heights Leadership Fund

Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice and Human Rights

The Kapor Center

The King Center (Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc.)

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Links, Incorporated

NAACP

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)

National Council of Negro Women

National Urban League

Power Rising

Power to the Polls

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated

Sistahs in Business Expo

Vote Run Lead

Vote.org

VoteAsIf.org

When We All Vote

Woke Vote

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated


Surviving, Thriving and Mobilizing and the New South Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, September 24

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The Southern Area of The Links, Incorporated presents the second in a series of Surviving, Thriving and Mobilizing and the New South Virtual Town Hall Meetings! On Thursday, September 24th at 9 PM EST, witness "Politics, Faith & Media: Harnessing the Collective Power of When We All Vote." Joining the one hour 15 minute discussion will be one of the most powerful men in politics, House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, renowned activist and faith leader, Bishop William Barber and journalist/talk show host Roland Martin. The meeting will be shown live via Facebook telecast, on the Southern Area Website (www.salinksinc.org) and via Youtube.