Michelle Spence-Jones' Court Setback Is a Loss for Black Miami
Rev. Richard Dunn II and all the other Michelle Spence-Jones haters think they got the last laugh. They're wrong. Last week, a Florida District Court of Appeal ruled Miami's only African-American city commissioner can't seek a third consecutive term. She had appealed a lower court's decision siding with Dunn, who sued the city and Spence-Jones to overturn the city attorney's ruling that she could run again because she didn't serve two full terms.
Now Dunn is celebrating a hollow victory. He might have finally beaten Spence-Jones, but the real loser is Miami's black community. She's been the real deal when it comes to getting things done in her district. Following her return to office in August 2011 after she beat two bogus criminal cases, Spence-Jones secured $50 million in city redevelopment funds for Overtown. Recently, she successfully blocked a plan by the Florida Department of Transportation to take over historic streets in Overtown, citing the agency's long history of screwing African-Americans in that part of Miami.
Any time a black city commissioner gets results, he or she becomes a target. The same thing happened to her predecessor, Arthur Teele, who paid the ultimate price for protecting his district when he took his own life because of relentless politically motivated prosecutions by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Rundle teamed up with Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado to force Spence-Jones out of office by accusing her of crimes she did not commit. When that failed, they got Dunn, a Regalado stooge who has never beaten Spence-Jones at the polls, to file his bogus lawsuit. Coincidentally, Jorge E. Cueto, the judge who ruled in Dunn's favor, was once employed by Rundle. During his tenure as an assistant state attorney, Cueto investigated Spence-Jones, a fact he failed to disclose when he made his decision to disenfranchise the voters who elected her.
But Spence-Jones is a strong-willed person. And she is far from beaten. She could still win a federal lawsuit against Regalado and Rundle for violating her civil rights when she was being prosecuted. Plus, Dunn is not guaranteed a win in November. Spence-Jones can be far more effective playing the role of kingmaker.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.
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