Last week, the developers of Miami Worldcenter, the massive $1.5 billion residential, retail, and convention hotel project planned for 30 acres between downtown and Overtown, tried to pull a fast one on Commissioner Keon Hardemon. They had promised to hire 30 percent of their workforce from Overtown to secure the commissioner's support for a key agreement giving Miami Worldcenter Associates the ability, among other things, to obtain 25 liquor licenses and to close off streets.
The developers didn't expect Hardemon to actually read their agreement when it came time for the city commission to approve the deal during a public hearing September 29. They were sadly mistaken, because he did and discovered the developers planned to hire only 10 percent of their workers from Overtown. Hardemon held his ground and delayed the vote for more than one hour, forcing Miami Worldcenter Associates to live up to the original 30 percent requirement.
Let this be a lesson to developers who want to build in Miami's African-American communities. They can't fool Hardemon. We didn't elect a dummy. In fact, the young lawyer is probably the only local black politician who takes the time to read contracts on which he'll vote. Heck, Hardemon struggles to hold conversations with other local black politicians because many of them don't read legislation.
Many African-American elected officials rely on lawyers and lobbyists to read for them. The problem is that these professional arm-twisters work for the prominent Miami firms that raise campaign money for these less-engaged politicians.
Hardemon is the first black lawyer to hold a city commission seat since the late Arthur Teele Jr. Developers couldn't trick Teele either. Power brokers don't like black politicians who can read because they can't control them. When Hardemon ran for the city commission last year, his opponent out-raised him because developers and people who do business with the city wanted a candidate they could manipulate.
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Miami's black community should take notice. It's time to stop electing politicians who don't read what is put in front of them.
Tune into Luke on the Andy Slater Show every Tuesday from 2 to 5 p.m. on Miami's Sports Animal, 940 AM.