The Return of Darryl Reaves

It was sweet and sour, and above all it was short

When Reaves volunteered to help retool the council -- free of charge -- the newly elected board president thought she had found her answer. A few weeks into his volunteer gig, a duly impressed OTAC board asked Reaves to serve as executive director. The position would be unpaid, but a salaried directorship might be in the future if everything went as expected. Reaves threw himself into the work.

The first results arrived at the Miami-Dade Housing Agency office on August 7. OTAC's “Greenprint 2000” laid out a plan to turn it into a revenue-generating machine. Even though it was billed as Yvonne Green's vision, Greenprint 2000 had Reaves's fingerprints all over it. Its grandiose money-raising schemes and far-ranging plans sounded eerily similar to those of the failed Unity Council of Miami. Instead of relying on the housing agency for handouts, OTAC would raise $245,000 from corporate donors. That seed money would be used to pay salaries and buy equipment.

As the future unfolded, OTAC would become a business incubator for public-housing residents. There would be a security firm, a cleaning company, a maintenance team, a day-care academy, a laundry, and a string of convenience stores. OTAC would operate as the parent company of each business and offer financing for start-up costs. Each business would return a percentage of its income to the organization.

Reaves: Former state legislator, shill for the Haitian military, lobbyist, and briefly the would-be savior of one very troubled housing organization
Reaves: Former state legislator, shill for the Haitian military, lobbyist, and briefly the would-be savior of one very troubled housing organization

Greenprint 2000 didn't stop with making money. Other plans included a mentor program, online centers at public-housing projects, turkeys at Thanksgiving, toys at Christmas, Easter-egg hunts, an annual banquet, even a golf tournament.

To finance the expansive vision, Reaves churned out grant applications: a $21,000 grant for drug elimination funds, a request for $400,000 from the state Department of Health, and a $14.8 million proposal aimed at the county's Office of Community and Economic Development.

But just as Reaves and OTAC began to gather momentum, something abruptly brought the train to a halt. Green convened an OTAC board meeting and startled those in attendance by characterizing Reaves's past as a liability to the organization. The board voted to fire him. After being informed of the decision, Reaves resigned on September 29.

Despite having ousted Reaves, Green and OTAC board member Noemi Ezpeleta nonetheless praise him. “He uplifted me,” Green says with obvious sincerity. Ezpeleta argues that just because someone has made mistakes in the past doesn't mean he shouldn't have another chance.

The contradiction between words and actions feeds speculation that Reaves's political enemies engineered his dismissal, speculation that is further fueled by the sudden eagerness of the housing agency and county officials to provide OTAC with a paid interim director, and Ezpeleta's revelation that several highly placed politicians (whom she refuses to name) spoke to OTAC board members about Reaves.

Some OTAC members believe the housing agency felt threatened by the council's rising star, although housing agency director Rene Rodriguez says his agency had no part in Reaves's departure.

Reaves himself suggests that his latest version of a promising future was cut short by the ghosts of his past. “I'm viewed as a political person,” he says. “Any time I'm involved with stuff, the antennas go up. It's seen as having a political edge.”

For her part Green reports that Greenprint 2000 will proceed, and when OTAC advertises for a paid director, Reaves is welcome to apply. The annual salary will be around $60,000.

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