By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke makes his picks for Miami-Dade mayor and the county's black county commission seats.
With the August 14 primary election approaching, it's time to announce the worst candidates for mayor and county commission in Miami-Dade's black districts. Forget the current top gun, Carlos Gimenez. In the 13 months he's been in power, the elitist hasn't done squat for the poor and middle-class residents of Miami-Dade. He's been too busy dialing for dollars and cutting backroom deals for his re-election campaign.
Some of Gimenez's biggest donors represent Miami's one percent. For example, Gimenez's political action committee, Common Sense Now, received $25,000 each from Coral Gables developer Jim Carr (the former partner of mega power broker Armando Codina), prominent Miami law firm Genovese Joblove & Battista, and the Miami Dolphins, whose billionaire owner, Stephen Ross, is trying to get taxpayer money to renovate Sun Life Stadium. In addition, car dealership mogul Alan Potamkin and the wife of Richard Fain, chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises, each kicked in $10,000 to the PAC.
Meanwhile, Gimenez has hurt the rank-and-file county employees, the ones who can least afford it, by slashing their benefits and, in some cases, laying them off. He has ignored the gang violence that has enveloped the troubled Liberty Square projects and other county HUD apartment buildings in Liberty City. As mayor, he has the authority to kick out any tenants who are harboring criminals, but he hasn't done so. Kids are getting shot in our parks while Gimenez is out collecting bundles of cash. And after Miami-Dade fire captain Brian Beckmann went on a racist rant about Trayvon Martin and inner-city blacks, Gimenez didn't have the balls to fire him.
Gimenez is also taking credit for lowering property taxes when the county commission is really responsible for that. And he's being backed by Genting Group, which wants to build a casino in downtown Miami. Most people don't want gambling downtown, so why would they vote for a mayor supported by a company that wants to build a casino at the site of the Miami Herald building? Any new casino has to go in an undeveloped part of Miami-Dade. Gimenez doesn't care about the regular citizens, Cuban or black.
So I'm backing Commissioner Joe Martinez. As commission chairman, he led the charge to reduce the governing board at Jackson Memorial Hospital from 23 to seven members; he is working with Donald Trump to develop a movie studio in Homestead that one day could bring thousands of well-paying jobs to Miami-Dade; and he is a major proponent of a commuter train that will provide public transit from the south end of the county to the north. Martinez has the vision to lead. He's not a bureaucrat like Gimenez.
Meanwhile, there are a lot of people lining up behind billionaire car dealer Norman Braman to take out the three African-American commissioners. I am not one of them. The only commissioner I want to dump is Audrey Edmonson. She has drawn four challengers, the most of any incumbent on the county commission, because she has really stunk at her job. She is a do-nothing politician who has brought no jobs to her district during her entire tenure. I'm endorsing Keon Hardemon, a smart, energetic young man from Liberty City. He has the best chance of beating Edmonson, who has done one thing well: raising $188,730 from lobbyists and affordable-housing developers to put up billboards of herself along I-95.
As far as the other two African-American seats, I am not impressed with any of the candidates looking to unseat Dennis Moss and Barbara Jordan. Even the ones backed by Braman are no good. He's banking on former Miami Gardens mayor Shirley Gibson to beat Jordan. But no one likes Gibson. She targeted small-business owners running barbecue stands and car washes in parking lots when she should have concentrated on the crime in her city.
Against Moss, Braman is supporting the Miami-Dade County Farm Bureau's president, Alice Peña, a Tea Party radical who wants to allow more development in the Everglades. I can't support someone like her. So I'm sticking with Jordan and Moss this time around.