Joe Martinez For Miami-Dade Mayor!
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 when 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 it was the county commission that did that. He's done nothing to promote local African American county employees. Russell Benford, the only black member of his executive team, is not from around here and he couldn't find MLK Restaurant on NW 62nd Street without Google maps.
He's also the guy being backed by Genting, which wants to build a casino in downtown Miami. In addition, most Miami-Dade residents don't want gambling downtown so why would they vote for the mayor that is supported by Genting, the 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. Carlos doesn't care anything about the regular citizens, Cuban or black.
So I'm backing Commission Chairman Joe Martinez. As commission chairman, Martinez led the charge to reduce the governing board at Jackson Memorial Hospital from 23 to 7 members; he is working with Donald Trump to develop a movie studio in Homestead that will bring thousands of well-paying jobs for people in 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 end. Martinez has got 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 get rid of 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. At a recent candidate forum, Edmonson had the audacity to claim that black residents don't go to county commission meetings and blamed her staff for not keeping her informed. 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.
Follow Luke on Twitter @unclelukereal1.
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