Wednesday, January 03, 2007
20 Days Left Till Strong Mayor Vote
There are many reasons to reel in a city or county commission's power when they become corrupted by it, but this may be the most important: to keep them honest.
As we predicted, in the most recent example of in-your-face callous indifference to what we think, the city of Miami commission, led by Michelle Spence-Jones, promises to "change the rules in the middle of the game" to get what they want-- the ouster of the homeless from their shantytown called Omoja Village. The Village, built on land owned by the city of Miami-- a lot made vacant when the city tore down an apartment building in the traditionally segregated part of Miami known as Liberty City and forgot to rebuild it ten years later-- embarrasses the commissioners and, we're sure, the Mayor, and the bureaucrats down at City Hall.
"By God, we've got a Super Bowl coming up! We can't have the world's media covering a story like this! It'll make us look like psychopathic assholes! Worst yet-- it'll make us look like a third world country!"
No! Not a "third world country"! We're bigger and better than that-- so we keep telling ourselves. So, in that effort to make it go away, Ms. Spence-Jones, an African-American who represents that part of town, has introduced an ordinance that passed 3-2 to make it more difficult for you and me, and especially those without a voice or a roof over their heads, to assemble on city owned land. With a change in the law, Miami will have a legal right to remove the shantytown and everything it stands for before the Super Bowl hits town. It doesn't sound very American does it? And we wonder where our critics come up with that "third world" moniker?
The final vote comes January 11th. Will Miami commissioners rise to the occasion and surprise us by voting against this ordinance? Don't hold your breath. Although there are many characters on the commission, there is a dearth of character individually. Still, there is a ray of sunshine. If the ordinance passes, Commissioner Tomas Regalado has threatened to walk off the dais and join the poor and homeless at the Village where he expects to be arrested along with 40 other "squatters".
If he does, you and me, we should too, join him that is, down at the Village. In the words of Kathie Klarreich in an opinion piece that appeared in today's Miami Herald, "For those who believe in our responsibility for the least among us, the demolition of Umoja Village would diminish us all."
Too bad the Strong Mayor county commission vote doesn't come before this City of Miami vote. That vote is expected to win. Overwhelmingly. Just the eye-opener the city commissioners need to remind them they have been "commissioned by the people" to serve them and not their own self-interests.
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