Over the last year or so, money from the City of Miami's Anti-Poverty Initiative has been used to set up college savings accounts for kindergartners, help low-income residents purchase vehicles to get to work, and fund the United Way's Thanksgiving Drive.
But Miami Commissioner "Loco Joe" Carollo has his own ideas of how to help the poor. In a pair of resolutions the city commission will consider Thursday, he proposes spending $10,000 on a statue honoring Cuban guerrillas who fought against Fidel Castro and putting $10,000 toward maintenance and improvements at the Brigade 2506 Museum and Library.
How will this fight poverty, you ask? Well, Carollo explains in paperwork accompanying the proposals that the statue created by Presidio Politico Historico Cubano Inc. will be educational, and "education is an aspect of addressing poverty."
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As for the Brigade museum, it will "generate foot traffic in the immediate area, which will assist businesses, create jobs, and help improve an area by promoting development and becoming more inviting to businesses," wrote the commissioner, who did not immediately respond to New Times' request for comment.
This is not the first time Carollo, a longtime Miami politician known for antics like skulking around a nightclub owned by an ally of his election opponent, has used money from the Anti-Poverty Initiative in an unusual way. New Times reported last month on his request for the city to transfer $65,000 from the account into his office's discretionary spending account.
During their January 10 meeting, commissioners approved the measure but lowered the amount to $35,000. Carollo said it was reimbursement for money his office had spent feeding the elderly in his district. Noting that the commission had never before transferred anti-poverty money into a commissioner's discretionary spending account, Commissioner Ken Russell asked for documentation. Carollo replied that he was using the funds as intended. "I feel that the best appropriate use for those funds is to spend it in the areas that people need the most," he said, adding that food and housing were at the top of the list.
A month later, he filed resolutions asking for the money to go toward the statue and museum.