Little Haiti Calls for the Reinstatement of Fired Cultural Center Director Sandy Dorsainvil

Little Haiti residents protesting outside Miami City Hall.EXPAND
Little Haiti residents protesting outside Miami City Hall.
Photo by Alexandra Martinez

Miami commissioners Thursday afternoon came within a hair of firing City Manager Daniel Alfonso. 

The issue: Alfonso's ham-handed removal of Little Haiti Cultural Complex manager Sandy Dorsainvil.

"This should be a come-to-Jesus moment for you," Commissioner Ken Russell said as he headed off Alfonso's removal. 

Just hours earlier, dozens of members and friends of the Little Haiti community poured into Miami City Hall to demand Dorsainvil's reinstatement. They were led by Marleine Bastien, Executive Director of Haitian Women of Miami. 

"We will not give up. This is a call for our community to stick together," Bastien said.

"It's a sad day for Little Haiti," said Commissioner Keon Hardemon, who represents Little Haiti, as he addressed the commission meeting.

Little Haiti Calls for the Reinstatement of Fired Cultural Center Director Sandy Dorsainvil (2)EXPAND
Photo by Alexandra Martinez

The firing happened abruptly last Friday. Dorsainvil claims she was not given any notice and had only 30 minutes to clear her office. Her three years at the complex brought increased cultural programming for the community, which has recently become a target for developers. 

"If the community is not vigilant and is passive, then the cultural center will evolve and turn the direction that many neighborhoods are going towards today,” says Dorsainvil. 

Commissioners Francis Suarez, Frank Carollo, Willy Gort, Russell, and Hardemon voted unanimously to push City Manager Alfonso to reinstate Dorsainvil.

But Alfonso would not budge.

"The position is open for recruitment," he said.

Hardemon, driven by Alfonso's decision and previous insubordination, called for his removal as city manager. 

Little Haiti Calls for the Reinstatement of Fired Cultural Center Director Sandy Dorsainvil (3)EXPAND
Photo by Alexandra Martinez

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"What is the definition of 'insubordination'?" Commissioner Carollo asked.

Suarez said Alfonso had shown a history of not following through with the committee's and the people's decisions. "The voice of God is the voice of the people," Suarez said. "The fact that we had to get to this point where we want to make a destabilizing decision means we are very frustrated.  

"I hope this discussion is something that produces positive change. If we're back here again, the decision will not be the same."

But the commission needs a 4-5 vote to fire Alfonso. Russell and Gort did not vote in favor of the firing.

Mayor Tomás Regalado, who was absent for a majority of the meeting, finally entered and said, "Trying to fire the manager will not solve the problem." Chairman Hardemon then removed his motion to oust Alfonso. 

The cultural complex, located at 212 NE 59th Ter., is housed under the city's Department of Real Estate Asset Management (DREAM). Commissioners voted unanimously for a directive to move the complex back to the Parks and Recreation Department, where it will not be seen as a revenue-generating asset but as a community center, as it was intended.


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