Politics, Government & Law

AKAs and Other Local Organizations Collaborate to Present Wrap-Up of Florida’s 2021 Legislative Session

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One of the most controversial legislative sessions in Florida, in recent memory, has concluded and the Connection Committees of Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter and Alpha Alpha Beta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated are presenting a virtual legislative wrap-up on key bills from the 2021 Legislative Session. The event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Thursday, June 10, 2021, via Zoom.

The Connection Committee is the civic engagement arm of Alpha Kappa Alpha. For this community presentation, they have joined forces with the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP and the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association.

Panelists are State Senator Jason Pizzo (Dist. 38); State Rep. Dotie Joseph (Dist. 108); State Rep. Christopher Benjamin (Dist. 107); and State Rep. Felicia Robinson (Dist. 102). Dr. Cassandra Arnold and Dr. Tisa McGhee will serve as moderators.

Key bills to be covered include:

  • HB 1: Combating Public Disorder
  • SB 90: Elections
  • HB 7051: Law Enforcement and Correctional Officer Practices
  • HB 7045: School Choice
  • HB 1463: Department of Economic Opportunity

Don’t miss this opportunity to get informed. A well-informed citizenry is vital to our survival as a democracy. To register, visit http://akagzo.org.


North Miami District 3 Race Results Stand; District 2 Recount Scheduled

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The Canvassing Board met this morning to certify the May 11, 2021 Regular Election for the City of North Miami. Mary Estimé-Irvin was officially declared the winner of the District 3 Councilperson race. A recount of the votes in the District 2 race is scheduled for 10 AM, tomorrow, May 15, 2021, at the Miami-Dade County Elections Department.

The Canvassing Board members for North Miami are Vice-Mayor Dr. Alix Desulme, Councilman Scott Galvin, and Councilwoman Carol Keys.


North Miami City Council Candidate Dr. Hector Medina to Present Evidence of Election Fraud to Canvassing Board

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Medina Explicitly Calls Out Kevin Burns for Fraudulent Voting Activity

North Miami — Dr. Hector Medina, a candidate for North Miami City Council District 2 alleges there was significant fraudulent voting in the latest municipal election. Medina narrowly missed the runoff race, placing third, and specifically calls out second-place candidate Kevin Burns for fraudulent activity.

Burns, a former North Miami mayor, is in a runoff race against Kassandra Timothe, scheduled for June 1, 2021. Medina will present evidence of fraudulent voting to the Canvassing Board this morning and ask them to postpone certification of the election results until after an investigation has been conducted.

The basis for Medina’s protest is the following, verbatim:

● There were 19 votes cast in the election by voters who only very recently registered as having an address in the City of North Miami. Upon visual inspection on May 13, the addresses where some of those who voted claim to be living appear vacant. As such, there is a strong likelihood that at least some of these voters participated in a coordinated vote fraud scheme facilitated by one of the candidates and/or their campaigns.

● There were 12 votes cast by mail from voters that have been identified as “Deceased” by the NGPVAN VoteBuilder voter database that was used by my campaign. While this database is not perfect, the high number indicates a very high probability that one or more votes were mailed back on behalf of a deceased voter, in violation of Florida law.

● Combined, the number of potentially fraudulent votes identified is up to 31, which exceeds the number of votes by which the unofficial count suggests I was eliminated or defeated from this race.

● In addition to these specifically identified votes, a statistically improbable number of voters cast their ballots by mail in Precinct No. 148. Data from the Supervisor of Elections suggests at least 348 ballots were cast by mail in this precinct, a nearly 75% increase on the 200 votes by mail that were cast in the regular municipal election in this precinct just two years ago. The lion’s share of that vote-by-mail spike is clustered in four high-rise buildings with shared mail facilities susceptible to mail ballot theft. By comparison, the total number of mail-in ballots received in 2021 vs. 2019, when all of the city’s districts are averaged, only went up around 21%.

● Further suggesting foul play, I was verbally informed by the Supervisor of Elections staff that 50 ballots cast by mail in the District 2 council race were rejected due to a signature mismatch, a figure that accounts for just under 6.4% of all absentee ballots returned. By way of comparison, the rejection rate for signature mismatch issues during the 2020 election was around 0.12%, about one voter out of every 833. Using common sense and rudimentary probability, it’s obvious a rejection rate of 6.4% is a statistical near impossibility. The idea that one out of every 16 voters who mailed their ballot back in this North Miami election somehow forgot how to sign their name is absurd. It is impossible to look at this outlier and not call it out for what it is: convincing evidence that there was a coordinated effort by one of the campaigns to sign and handle absentee ballots on behalf of the voters, in violation of Florida law.

 

“Kevin Burns does not think the rules apply to him. From failing to pay his debts to business partners and little old ladies, to deciding he just wasn’t going to file campaign finance reports, it’s clear he thinks following the law is for schmucks,” said Dr. Hector Medina, “We now see clear evidence that his campaign likely rigged the election in his favor with fraudulent mail votes. This is not just of concern to me and my campaign, but to every voter in North Miami who wants ethical and honest government. We cannot let Kevin get away with this.”

 


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 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.

 

 


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.