Playing Politics at the Expense of the Poor
Robert Andrew Powell's article "From Knight Manor to Nightmare" in last week's issue touched a strong chord in me; I am an affordable-housing advocate. I commend nonprofits like Tacolcy that build safe, decent, and affordable housing for the working poor. Tacolcy's Garden Walk in Cutler Ridge is a perfect example of how nonprofits put good deals together. The development is beautiful -- you can tell the subsidy is in the project, not in their pockets. Tacolcy has a track record for taking affordable housing seriously -- and doing it well.
Lorenzo Simmons was appointed to the board of the Florida Housing Finance Agency in the early Nineties because of his know-how and experience. I know this because I have had the opportunity to study his approach to affordable housing for several years now. I barely know the man, but I can always recognize a Tacolcy community. Shame on Miami city commissioners for allowing the Tacolcy project to fail! This is a prime example of what happens when politics and prejudice stop community developers from building communities. Liberty City certainly needs decent affordable housing. I respect Simmons even more for supporting the Urban League of Greater Miami in its efforts.
There's More to Grant Giving Than Meets the Eye
I am very pleased to read such candid criticism regarding the state of the arts here in South Florida. Judy Cantor's article "The (Kind of) Magnificent Seven" last week was much needed to reveal some of the nonsense surrounding the arts. Her statement that "some of the artists who received the Cultural Consortium grants seem to have been chosen because their work typifies aspects of life in South Florida -- i.e., Latin American imagery, gay themes, and suburban culture" further proves that art's only moral value is to be good, and that its most fulfilling reward is unrelated to sex, politics, and religion. Is there more to art than meets the eye? Depends on what you're looking for.
The Beach Cop Bop, Part 1
Just finished reading Elise Ackerman's article about Gina Cunningham's treatment by the Miami Beach Police ("Insult to Injury," June 6).
I'm sorry for Ms. Cunningham's pain, but there was nothing unusual about the incident -- perhaps with the exception of the fact that she knew how to get attention by telling the press. There are plenty of people who get treated the same way by police in their own hometown but do not have the connections to get any attention.
Of course, Ms. Cunningham's complaint to the review committee will come out something like this: Br'er Fox sitting in the hen house asks, "Did any of you other foxes eat Farmer Brown's fattest chicken? See? Of course not, we're all very good foxes [citizens]."
The only time a police officer gets chastised (with pay, of course) is when some really bad citizen catches him or her on film. Let us not forget also that as long as the "good cops" let the "bad cops" stay on the force, they're all bad. The good ones have said, "It's okay for these guys to represent the blue uniform."
What all communities need is a civilian-dominated review committee for the police. All the excuses as to why a civilian review committee wouldn't work A civilians don't understand; or the proceedings must be secret -- are so much horse hockey. If citizens really cared, they would call their local commissioners -- all of them -- and insist that it happen now.
The Beach Cop Bop, Part 2
Elise Ackerman's article "Insult to Injury" should be headed by words like scandalous, brutality, criminal, excess, et cetera.
Police behavior like this is totally outrageous and should be prosecuted vigorously. Pepper spray, beating, lying two hours on the floor? Pardon me? Is it standard today in police circles to use death-squad tactics on bagged citizens? To serve and to protect -- what a joke. Just the language used by the officers -- even if only partly true -- shows a total disregard for human dignity, constitutional rights, and their duty as officers. Their thuggish behavior is criminal and should trigger immediate suspension.
Alas, I fear all we'll hear is a delayed "All is well" by the leaders of this frat house. Tragically, this nation is so programmed by TV shows -- the cops and the public both -- that a scandalous event like this does not cause the outcry it deserves. Cops act out TV, which is mostly violent, and the public sees nothing but heroes in uniform.
The Miami Beach police are in dire need of purges and extensive re-education, if such a thing is possible.