12 CDs for the Price of 1!

Saturday, December 31, 2005

News Items, Happy New Year's, Now I'm going to get drunk

Item: After the Miami 'Canes got their asses kicked byLSU in football they did so again in boxing. Following the game two players from the "U" (as in the cell block "U"nit that most "U"sed to inhabit) decided to avenge their loss by tossin' em. Didn't turn out so well, with two "U" team members being knocked out by the Bubba Gumps of LSU. Miamista made enough money to pay for a trip to Nawlin's by playing the spread.

Item: Jeb says: “I may be an asshole but I’m not an idiot!” When asked if he believed that Intelligent Design should be taught in schools he reasoned that there were other more pressing problems with Science education like a more rigorous curriculum in the subject area as a whole. He referenced the decision of his brother’s appointee U.S. District Judge John E. Jones who ruled “that (Intelligent Design) smacked of creationism and was a violation of church and state separation.” A follow up question to Jeb Bush asked if the University of Texas Phi Beta Kappa alumni believed in Darwinism. He answered “Yeah”, but went on to say that it did not have to be part of the curriculum but could be discussed in the classroom.

Item: Miami Herald says: Housing market slump? Real estate watchers were looking to see if October’s record fall in sales were a blip caused by Katrina. The Herald’s Matthew “Honk if you’re a Realtor” Haggman noted that average sales prices rose after taking a tumble last month but rose in November. “S. Florida home costs roar back, The cost of South Florida single-family homes soared in November after an October slide, bolstering claims that hurricanes caused the dip. By MATTHEW HAGGMAN South Florida home prices jumped sharply in November, appearing to quell speculation the red-hot housing market is cooling off. The median price of an existing single-family home climbed 6 percent from October to November to $391,100 in Broward and 4 percent to $381,600 in Miami-Dade, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.”
Buried somewhere on the fifth page jump, last paragraph, Realtor Shill Matty noted that in November, single family homes sales volume fell 25 percent in Miami-Dade and 21 percent in Broward, compared to the year-ago period. This and October sales were the largest fall in sales in twelve years for the counties. The kicker is that the Florida Association of Realtors numbers do not track condos (multi-family housing). Condo prices and sales were down in Miami-Dade, for the fourth month in a row, especially in zip codes in the City of Miami.
The Sun-Sentinel ran the story in exactly the opposite way as the Herald: “Big drop In November home sales: Sales of new homes plunged in November by the largest amount in nearly 12 years, providing the most dramatic evidence yet that the red hot housing market over the last five years is starting to cool down.” Seems the Sentinel believes that the obvious story was that there is a nose dive in sales and that outside the very top end of the market (where billionaires fear not) we are in a pure-dee meltdown in the coming year. A number of has a new plan. Just graduate everybody!

Item: Kudos to Rebecca Wakefield! She is the most intelligent and informative journalist this side of the blogosphere and she made the weekly radio program J-Walkin’ worth finding even if the commentators are nakedly ambitious, with a lead commentator Jason Walker working as an aide for Miami city Commisioner Winton. Where she really came through recently was in her year end piece in the her Sun Post Column. Those year-end pieces are full of pitfalls. Some recapitulate news we all remember but have little relevance to what is happening today. Others go into hokey personal detail. Rebecca did neither.

Item: Look who is increasingly falling prey to Castro baiting. Hint, someone that authored a book entitled “In Cuba I was a German Shepard”. An excerpt from a Castro speech that was about, (who am I kidding, a Castro speech never has a topic), in a Castro tangent about consumerist destruction of resources he said that future generations might be able to solve the problem by determining if it was possible to live on another planet. Castro also made a sneering aside to a Brazilian aide to Lula who took a shot at him and other Latin American leftists on the issue of IMF issued debt. The fact that Fidel said “What, you’re becoming a pubic hair” should leave no Cuban in wonderment considering that it is a oft used phrase in Cuban Spanish denoting an annoying little asshole and secondly, Cubans tend to be a little potty mouthed in our insults. My point here is that Castro may be all sorts of assholes but that is not a reason to mischaracterize statements. For a writer that I respect admire and like I think she went a little “Nuevo Herald” on us here. The flip to this is that she may have increased her wiggle room to attack local sleazeballs. (Note on this topic- I don’t write about Latin American issues on this blog as I don’t write about national politics, economics or even issues in other regions unless I think there is an interesting cause for comparison. I even refrain from linking to my blogs or others that deal with extra-regional issues. It would be too messy.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

"I'd be safe and warm if I was in LA" (but the ocean would be cold and dirty)

Being outside of Miami for a moment is like going back to the real world. Don’t get me wrong, I love our soft humid breezes, clear water and white sand beaches. What brought this to mind is a quick trip out to Los Angeles I have coming up. Los Angeles, a city of 7 million is what we can imagine Miami will be in 20-50 years. (That’s without Hollywood, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.) L.A. also has the educational institutions, research institutions and industrial base that we can only dream of now. On the other hand it some of its challenges are eerily familiar.

Examples of poor planning over the years in Los Angeles should serve as a model to Miami. Part of the reason that the city does not learn from the experience of other urban areas is the pervarding insularity and boosterism that abounds. Miamians many of whom have only a passing familiarity with other parts of the country, are not even aware that the building boom is nationwide, not just here in Miami.

Miami is susceptible to hucksters as well as good intentioned folk that step into the void and deliver seemingly great ideas, (sometimes backed with capital) to city leaders and citizenry. Duany and Plater-Zyberk come selling rehashed if perfectly valid Jane Jacobs ideas; Rouse Company came in and sold the Festival Marketplace idea for Bayside. (Am I the only one that wants to bomb the Hard Rock café guitar and that horrible 500 feet wide water fountain that is suppose to remind us of Claude Pepper's pork barrel mastery?) Then there are the folks behind Imagine Miami who sold the “food stamps, Medicaid and tax refunds as a solution to poverty idea”. Developers Diversified came in with the “give me free money and open zoning and I’ll kickstart retail” idea and Dan Pfeffer and the Cayre family brought in the “give me free land and I will develop it” idea.

The public debates that should arise do not in Miami whenever these hucksters get an official’s ear. Mayor Diaz is the sort of “looking past this place” politician who loves a big, simple answer to small complicated questions. It doesn’t help when city manager Joe “You fuckin’ talkin’ to me” Arriola (aka he of no qualifications and even less sense) threatens his semi qualified department heads that unless they follow whatever he and his boss want without question, they will get the axe.

Los Angeles (as well as Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, etc.) went through downtown building booms two decades ago in excess of the amount of building that is occurring in Miami. In the short run they increased their skylines dramatically (LA prohibited skyscrapers until 1970's) and early speculators cashed in big. In the medium term it turned out that behind the sparkle there was a lot of failure.

Historic buildings were lost, office and residential space went empty. In Los Angeles, in order to clear up the homeless problem and encourage business to abandon some of the older sections of downtown, the city made the area around 5th Street the center for social services and housing for the indigent, drug addled and mentally ill.

Eventually Los Angeles was forced into a redo of sorts with Century City in the affluent Westside of the city becoming the new functional version of downtown for Los Angeles while the actual downtown floundered. Century City offered the right mix of housing, industry, retail and amenities and was grafted into the existing urban fabric and structure. The area around Los Angeles’ Century City area had a huge stock of midrise (two to six story) buildings in mid-Wishire, West Hollywood and other neighborhoods and a mix of multi-family and single family homes in adjacent Westside neighborhoods that benefited from Century City’s development.

The uneven development in downtown Los Angeles has now been redressed by a massive performing arts center, one of the nation’s largest convention centers, a beautiful city library, a top flight museum, a new sports arena, new park space, public transportation system, mixed income housing, a technology corridor, a design college/studios/wholesale complex and medical centers. Unlike Miami, the museums and sports arena were built with private funding and park space and the projects are funded through bonds that were paid for through CRA levied taxes and impact fees. Downtown Los Angeles had a CRA since 1948 so obviously they are well ahead of the curve vis a vis Miami.

That was not all that apparent during the boom of the late 1980’s and early ‘90’s when every doubt about the need for so much housing and office space was answered with “Los Angeles is the Gateway of the Pacific Rim” (a much more promising vision than "Gateway to Latin America", granted). It took a decade of failure until Los Angeles found that the best way to be a gateway to another area was by focusing on building its own competitive infrastructure and institutions.

Two California real estate booms later and only now has downtown Los Angeles become what it was projected to be. None of the fanfare that came with the initial efforts is apparent. Los Angeles has moved beyond the stage of boosterism to honest debate and critical analysis of its circumstances. It is finally getting over being burned by transportation projects, tangled with insider dealings that went way over budget. Expansion of the train system has finally restarted.

Downtown's development has been overshadowed by Santa Monica, Pasadena, Long Beach, Beverly Hills, etc. Quietly however, downtown Los Angeles, covering roughly the same area as downtown Miami brings in $2 billion in taxes a year, an exponentially larger sum than all of Miami.

The city has aggressively defended historic buildings, mixed income housing, park space and design integrity in the area during this new phase. This has resulted in tremendous long term growth in property values, tax base and a top bond rating for future projects. One of the largest projects underway is something very reminiscent of Midtown Miami in design and scope. The Grand Avenue Project is being built by The Related Companies- as in the parent company of Jorge Perez’s Related Company.

For those interested I recommend this and this article and
http://www.joelkotkin.com/ (One of the better minds in urban affairs.)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

"Let My People Go, (Backwards)" The legacy of Teele, Carey-Shuler and Meeks

Three recent opportunities have come for progress to be made in Miami’s Black political representation and each time defeat has been snatched out of the jaws of victory. No, in fact there has not been much of a chance for progress because progress implies that there is an impulse to move forward. South Florida’s Black community has been moving backwards now for some time thanks to its representation. It is reasonable to expect a South Florida Black official in the debate about the appalling lack of child health care to blurt, “I don’t know how to born no babies!”

They do the equivalent on a regular basis, in a Step and Fechit routine, where they concentrate on passing legislation beneficial to developers, construction companies and the tourism industry, while doing fuck all for their constituency. Numerous chu’ch leaders have determined that preventing abortion and homosexuality (as if either were possible) are much more important than the sky high infant mortality rate, the highest Black male incarceration /court supervision rate and the highest HIV rate in America. Blacks in Miami are the poorest constituents of the poorest city in the nation and this reality translates into painful, depressing daily realities that all the sunshine in the world cannot blur. So why does Miami’s Black leadership seem so utterly inept and unresponsive?

It is well established that Miami suffers from the lack of a Black middle class. Cities such as Memphis, Atlanta, Houston, *New Orleans, St. Louis, Washington and Philadelphia expectedly have a large black middle class because they are black majority / black run cities. Other cities like New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles also have formidable middle class and affluent communities. In Miami's failure there are historical factors at play.

The lack of progressive Black movements that most of Black America took part in was somehow stunted in South Florida. In the seminal work, “New Day in Babylon”, William Van Deburg describes the various movements that formed Black political and economic evolution. Beginning with the Syndicalism and Socialist movements of Black workers in the Northeast and later the Black enfranchisement movements in the South, Blacks moved forward from a condition of powerless semi-slavery to the monumentally improved conditions and opportunities that many, if not most Blacks enjoy today.

The beneficiaries of radicalism are almost never the radicals themselves. They create the political space by shifting or widening the landscape. And the Civil Rights, Black Nationalist and Afro-centric cultural movements were indeed all radical in the context from which they were born. Civil rights and Black Identity movements provided political activism to secure civic space and influence. These movements also established a highly critical perspective throughout the Black masses that valued unity, Black culture and pride in identity. When Black representation increased, a reform movement demanded accountability. Older institutions established during the pre-integration period while still existing, were the subject of criticism and reform.

The competing visions of separatism and integration are evidence that there are unresolved currents that are a legacy of these movements. Despite the failures or unresolved issues that still exist, these movements in their entirety have had the affect of shaking off many of the culmanitive affects of oppression. In confronting the establishment, these movements eventually forced it to reckon with Blacks as an independent political force, with its own voice.

While the rest of Black America struggles with questions of a growing political divide between middle class beneficiaries of yesterday’s political movements and those left behind, Miami’s Blacks struggle as an entire mass of people that are being left behind. They have not just been left behind politically and economically, they have been left behind the modern era.

Most often local Black political leadership places the blame upon the influx of Cuban Americans and other Hispanics. I suspect that there are a number of other factors at play. Miami’s geographic isolation, political history and struggling economy probably had much more to do with stagnation of the Black community than the influx of Cubans. It is important however that the shift in American attitudes that were accomplished by Black American political and social movements had little to no effect upon the newly arrived, largely isolated group of immigrants. To whatever extent that Blacks reached an accommodation of power, social integration and historical awareness vis a vis the White power structure, it was undone by the eventual arrival of Hispanic power.

It is arguable that Miami's Blacks did not initially see Hispanics as rivals but partners, in challenging the Anglo power regime. Proof of this comes from the Black led lawsuits for school board, county and city representation by district, municipal hiring affirmative action lawsuits, etc. Blacks assumed that Hispanics would simply supply added weight to their political struggle to gain inroads, as had happened in other cities. Blacks did not anticipate the degree to which Hispanics in Miami would establish their own relationships with larger power structures.

Blacks in Miami were often accommodated by the local White power structure out of a desire to avoid the racial tension that marred the South in the Civil Rights era. Leaders were often selected by Anglo leadership to represent the community. A notable example of this is the appointment, not election of former Commisioner Barbara Carey Shuler following the McDuffie riots in 1979. While this did not serve to give grass roots representation to Miami’s Black community it did stifle the impetus to confront power about problematic conditions in the Black community. No local incarnations of SNCC, CORE, Black Freedom Party, Panther Party or other such organizations developed from the need to unite and confront White power. The only organizing impulse remained within a particularly regressive local Black church structure. Black leadership as it was, had no pole to be answerable to in its failure to deliver real gains. What gains were delivered were to be challenged by the newly arriving minority Hispanic community.

Solomon Stinson as a perennial Miami-Dade school board chairman followed in the footsteps of Black superintendent Johnny Jones (convicted of diverting public money). Stinson controlled school board politics in the transitional phase of White exit from the county. In this era Black teachers and other employees were hired en masse, replacing Anglos that fled the system. In an effort to maintain power Dade School Board member Stinson came to build a coalition with Hispanics as a junior partner. Patronage hiring soon ballooned into construction contracts. The burgeoning Latin Builders Association members previously did not have the experience or capacity to vie for school construction contracts. This changed radically under the new review board instituted by Black and Hispanic board representatives. In poverty stricken Miami public hiring and public spending could not be expected to go unchallenged. Hispanics were compelled to fight for control over the school board, and nasty battles with the Black dominated teacher and employee unions followed.

In Miami city and Miami-Dade county government Blacks did not fare as well. Once the districting was created several seats switched to become Hispanic dominant thus negating the design of boundaries that were configured to make a Black / Hispanic coalition necessary for both parties. Black majority districts had been drawn extremely large by Black leadership wary of Black voter apathy. In all but a single county department (Transportation), Blacks were all but shut out.

With the new Hispanic majority Blacks struggled to maintain their gains partially because they were not given entry to a merit based system or elite social institutions. Miami’s business forums, exclusive schools and colleges, clubs and social organizations remained segregated. The Black business community had been driven, uncompensated, from their downtown businesses with the construction of the I-95 exchange in Overtown. Even if they had been integrated into these structures, Miami’s new Hispanic elite did not recognize the existing structures' validity until they themselves dominated them. When they did, they did not feel compelled to accommodate Blacks into these structures in any real or meaningful way.

Miami's Blacks are thus left with unresponsive political leadership, geographically, economically and socially isolated and with a barely existent entrepreneurial class. Still it would seem with a substantial voting population all would not be lost. After all the Black electorate in Miami is as large as the Cuban American electorate.

This is where the peculiar history and culture of Miami’s Black community haunts it. The culture of Black Miami did not create a post-Civil Rights consciousness or civic institutions that would breed a new crop of Black leaders. The same leaders that came into power years ago are now entering dotage. Young, well educated Blacks with community involvement are in limited supply and they are not welcomed by the old warhorses, likely out of jealousy. Like the rest of Miami, African American leaders are insular, inbred and wary of things unfamiliar.

There is a new wrinkle. In the past several decades in major cities along the East Coast, the number of Caribbean immigrants and their descendants are growing rapidly. The cultural isolation has meant that while these groups live adjacent to African Americans they do not share the same cultural heritage or identity. Lacking the historic baggage and making use of family and community resources, this group is leap-frogging their African American counterparts. Formerly middle class African American suburbs from Chelsea (Boston) Uniondale (New York) to Silver Springs (Washington, DC) and even here in Western Broward are now West Indian. A study last year by Lani Guinier and Henry Louis Gates Jr., pointed out that most Blacks admitted to Ivy League and other elite institutions are either West Indians or born of West Indian parents. Broward has the fastest growing Black community in the entire U.S. and it is almost entirely fueled by West Indians directly from the Caribbean and the Northeast. In fact Jamaicans, not Cubans, Puerto Ricans, or Haitians are the largest group of foreign born residents in Broward County.

Miami Dade has its share of recent West Indian immigrantion, including (but not limited to) Haitians. This group is now demanding representation. The friction that exists in other East Coast cities is exacerbated by the cultural distance between Miami-Dade's African Americans and newly arriving West Indians. What is often not appreciated is the degree in which West Indians are hyper political, with political ideals far removed from certain segments of American Blacks. After all, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Louis Farrakhan, Stokely Carmichael were all of West Indian parentage. Most West Indian independence movements of the 1960’s and 70’s were led by socialist and syndicalists. Aristide was a self proclaimed socialist. The widely popular anti-neocolonial Haitian Negritude movement was and is Black Nationalist/Pan African and socialist in character. These movements and leaders have had cross pollinated in Northern cities for years but they are utterly alien to Miami’s Black community.

In South Florida West Indian immigrants are shunned by the mainstream media, as if ignoring their existence will keep them at bay. Even in Broward where the largest group of immigrants is Jamaicans, there is almost no news coverage. The Sun-Sentinel shows a blatant disregard for this community, preferring to focus on Latinos. Isolation has not had a negative effect, as West Indian immigrants create their own businesses and become technical professionals. Eventually these Caribbean blacks will form the largest bloc of voters in Broward, forcing the White, Black (and Hispanic) communities to come to terms with them. Black leaders in Miami-Dade and South Florida have unfortunately seemed unwilling or incapable of reaching true understanding and cooperation.

On another planet a cause for comparison: A colleague of mine, (of Jamaican parentage) finishing his M.P.A. program was running for a seat on the Nassau County Board of Supervisors. I was recruited by the Republican Party to oppose him but did not because I was on my way back to Miami. Nassau, a county of three million people, twenty percent Hispanic and twenty percent Black, with a wide array of other minorities is also one of the five most affluent counties in America. Thus there was a lot at stake with a seat on the board of supervisors. Both of us, in our twenties, were supported by minority community leaders as a whole, (in the Northeast where despite differences minorities have a definitive overarching identity as people of color). We would not expect otherwise. After all, wasn’t that the reason why generations sacrificed so much?

*Note: It also should be recognized that New Orleans Black residents had an average income, rate of homeownership, and percentage of those with high school diplomas and college education much in excess of Miami's. New Orleans was not even in the top twenty of America’s poorest cities, quite a feat for a large Southern city. Yet the world was horrified at a rare glimpse of that city’s African American poverty. What should America think of Miami?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"Cronicas", Miami, A Movie Or Reality?

Someone drew the correlation between the John Leguizamo movie Cronicas and the news story below. Hmm, troubling.

Posted on Thu, Dec. 15, 2005
MIAMICrowd delays medics from treating boyMiami police had to call for backup to handle an angry crowd that gathered after a 6-year-old boy was hit by a car and critically injured Wednesday.By ROBERT L. STEINBACK
An agitated crowd gathered at the scene where a 6-year-old boy was struck by a car, menacing the terrified driver and interfering with paramedics arriving to treat the child Wednesday evening, police and fire department spokesmen said.
Stacheck Gue, whose sixth birthday was Tuesday, was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center in extremely critical condition with head trauma and possible internal injuries, said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Ignatius Carroll. Carroll said Stacheck wasn't conscious as he was taken to the hospital.
Members of the mob pounded on the driver's car and also on the first Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue truck to arrive, and then hounded paramedics as they tried to get to the fallen child -- actions Miami Police Department spokesman Delrish Moss called ``ridiculous.''
''The kid is lying in the street,'' Moss said. ``He should be the [crowd's] primary concern, not beating on the car [that struck him] after an accident.''
Carroll, who arrived five minutes after the first rescue crew arrived, said paramedics couldn't get through the crowd of 100 to reach the injured child.
''People were fussing with the paramedics about why they didn't get here earlier,'' Carroll said. ''I understand there were some people frustrated, who thought there was a delay in the [fire-rescue] response, but you only delay it further by impeding us getting to the patient,'' Carroll said.
Moss said there was no indication Marie Medjine Andre, 25, who struck the child, ever tried to leave the scene. She was still there -- locked inside her 1989 Chevrolet Blazer and frightened as the crowd beat on her vehicle -- when Miami police arrived.
Andre was not injured.
''She was shaken up and scared,'' Moss said. ``All indications are that this was a pure accident, but there is more we have to find out.''
Andre told investigators that she screamed to the mob through a slightly opened window: ``Help him, help him!''...

Moss said police officers had to assist the paramedics evacuating the boy because of the crowd. No one in the crowd was arrested, and most dispersed when backup police units arrived, he said.
The victim arrived at Jackson at 6:15 p.m. -- 20 minutes after the first emergency call was received, Carroll said.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Overheard: Out In NYC

Back In NYC And Remembering I keep returning to New York. Ya Gotta Love This City! (The Following is Funnier When Listened to With Odessey's "You're a Native New Yorker") Just Wanna Share Some Of What I Overheard:

Prepping for Internship Drug Test

Guy: But you haven't been doing drugs?
Girl: No...Well, not really; I'm not sure what sucking off a drug addict counts for.
--Columbia University Butler Library, West 114th Street

New York Style

Manager guy: You looking for the perfect plastic bag now?
Director lady: There's nothing festive. I don't want to be seen walking with a Duane Reade (Drug Store Chain) bag. It screams beggar.
--Office, 39th between 8th & 9th

Hopes, Dreams and Opportunities for the Future?

Hipster girl #1: I mean, I feel bad for not finishing him, but I didn't want to break the tradition. He's never been finished before right?
Hipster girl #2: Never, and I think he's a little traumatized ever since that girl threw up on his...you know.
--Whole Foods, Union Square

Proof That Spontaneous Combustion is Real

Girl #1: When did you start smoking again!?
Girl #2: When I quit.
--The Boathouse, Central Park

Don't Ask Him How It's Hanging

Girl: Wow, look at all these vegetables and things.
Guy: Yeah.
Girl: This is great! We should come here all the time.
Guy: I think my testicles are falling off.
--Union Square

That Must Have Been Some Orgy at the UN

Girl: God there are so many Chinos here. I hate Chinese people.
Guy: You're so dis...What do they call it? Racist! That's not a very good attribute to have, Christina.
Girl: The only people I like are Spanish people and white people.
Guy: I hope one day someone who's black and Chinese and...80 other races all mixed together bitchslaps you in the face!
--Canal & Lafayette

He Reached Down and Proceeded to Mash Dog Crap into His Chest

Man: You dropped something.
Teen girl: What?
Man: You dropped something.
Teen girl: No, I didn't.
Man: Yeah, you did...You dropped my heart.
Teen girl: Well, pick it up and put it back in.
--90th between Columbus & Amsterdam

Jailhouse Breakfast at Tiffany's

Teen girl: You know that dream I keep having where I kill you on Madison Avenue? I think it's coming true.
Mom: Oh look, the Chanel store!
Teen girl: Uh oh. Ugggh!
--Madison between 63rd & 64th

Where Are They Now? (A NYC Short Story)

Woman: What ever happened to Ceci?
Man: Ceci?
Woman: Yeah, Ceci. That little girl that got her fingers cut off. The pretty little crackhead with the beautiful soul.
--116th & Frederick Douglass

Smart, But Not Crazy Smart (aka Preppin' for drug test)

Teen #1: What's your practice test score now?
Teen #2: 760 math 710 verbal and 720 essay
Teen #1: What are using, Adderall or Ritalin?
Teen #2: Aderall. Ritalin is for kooks.
--Top Tier Educational Services, West 83rd Street

Playing Your Cards Right

Junkie: Hello, Ms. Ma'am! You're lookin' nice today!
Middle Class Woman: Hi
Junkie: If I had your hand I'd throw mine in!
--Fort Green

Update On Status

Junkie lady: Wow, that thing is nice, what year is it?
Yuppie guy: '06, BMW, I just got it.
Junkie lady: '06? That shit ain't even here yet. You better put that in a garage, nigga!
Yuppie guy: I don't have money for that or for you.

Not As Old-fashioned As Some

Girl #1: So I said I'm not sure if I'm gonna take his last name; it seems really old-fashioned.
Girl #2: What'd he say?
Girl #1: He said an engagement ring is old-fashioned, but I took that.
--Rockefeller Center

Struck Out

Tween boy: So how's the strike going?
Bus driver: If there was a strike I wouldn't be here, you moron.
--M15 bus

Too much information

Anti Abortion Speaker girl: Any questions?
Audience girl: Were you able to find out about how much women paid for the abortion procedures?
Speaker girl: About $200 a pop.
Audience Girl: Oh.
--Outside Columbia University

Life Expectancy

Guy #1: Yeah, I'm going home again next month. My parents are sort of obsessed with me because I'm an only child.
Guy #2: You're an only child? Oh man, I feel so bad for your parents. No, what I mean is they are going to be so depressed when you die.
--Columbia University

Drop Weight And Cure A Fat Lip

Girl #1: Why do I always have camel toe?
Girl #2: Are you buying your pants too tight?
Girl #1: No, I think I gained weight.
Girl #2: Where, in your labia?
--E train

Putting Your Business Out

Girl #1: Do you think my boobs look bad?
Girl #2: No, not at all.
Girl #1: But are they, like, saggy?
Girl #2: No, they look good. But if you're so worried, why don't you start wearing a bra or something?
Girl #1: God, next thing you'll tell me to wear underwear.
--Telephone Bar & Grill, 2nd Avenue

Keeping Up With What Matters

Girl #1: What do you think of Brad Pitt adopting Angelina Jolie's kids?
Girl #2: I don't get it, she doesn't want her kids anymore? She's just going to give them to him?
Girl #1: Man, you're an idiot.
--NYU Coles Sports & Recreation Center, Mercer and Houston Street

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"Visiting Hours Are Every Thursday, But You Might Want To Wait"

First, Dear Readers, I have removed the article with my email for a reason. If you want to reach me please do so in the comment section. I really appreciate the notes but I often can't distinguish them from junk mail.-Miamista Now back to our program.

It’s official, the Miami New Times is on life support. Let's see the highlights of recent offerings: "Brilliant Miami Cuban Proves We Ain't Born From Monkeys", "Hilarious Mock Interview from Cub Writer at Miami Hurricane", "Newsflash: Desperately Poor Tourist Town Lacks World Class Restaurants". And then there is this week’s cover story, “Miami Geeks Collect G.I. Joe Action Figures”. This final one is honestly freakin’ beyond belief. I am still looking for the punch line.

Honestly, Miami New Times makes the Herald look, well, readable. The Herald, cognizant that there is a void, has turned up the quality, just a bit, by hitting us with some surprising “johnny-on-the-spot” or is it Knight-Ridder-on-the-block, news reporting. A few writers are actually reporting the news. There is an excellent columnist, Anna Menendez, who deserves praise. You could actually fill up an entire page with readable stuff, if this was a tabloid and not a broadsheet.
Miami's mini-blogosphere has a commercial addition that has received a mixed reception. Contrary to Critical Miami's take, (which I always respect) I think that Miamist is downright entertaining in places. Once the writers come to actually know Miami it will make it all the better. There perspective is one that many can relate to, people from the outside who have just moved to town and don't know shit about it.

Ah, but the New Times. That paper’s stars are gone. Sure there were missteps even during Jim Mullin's high point, like the occasional employment of Special Agent Steve Dudley, the State Department's man in Miami (an odd thing for an alternative weekly). The decline however, all started with the departure of Jim Defede. After he left for Herald the Miami New Times was not the same. Neither was Jim. Jim Defede turned into a shadow of himself, writing sensationally more than having sensational stories. Today he is issuing commentary, of no actual value or interest, on television which is, ahem, not his medium.

Even the Bitch has been spayed after her blogging adventures. The New Times cleaned house and seemingly swept what remaining talent there was out with it. Rebecca Wakefield, whom I like and admire, (save the minor lapse that made her seem a little partisan prior to the Bennett Brummer election) is making the Sun Post almost a real paper. In terms of consistency, she may be the best columnist / investigative reporter going these days in the Magic City. A reporter freind went so far as to say that the Sun Post is the new Miami New Times. That could mean a lot of things...

Perhaps it was the heat that the office generated that gave the old New Times their edge. Half of Miami’s gainfully employed White writers- in their funky, get-about-years, working in an office together was bound to create some incestuous drama. Grrrrrrr! I say put the damn blog back up and let it be a section of the paper.

So unless editor Chuck Strouse, replacement to editor Jim Mullin, is able to offer an injection of journalism, ready the casket.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Diference Between a Monkey and Manny Diaz? A Monkey Has Shame!

In the words of Kanye West, slightly over-rated poet of our time, “We Major!” Why? Because we are bringing to you in warp time, before it happens! Hope you appreciate it. Speaking of, I'm getting a couple of hundred of hits but people are not leaving comments. Wha's the deal? Anyway, here goes.

Two days ago I gave you all some of the lowdown on the mayor’s zoning codes. I also brought up the impact fees. Well looky, looky, from our blog to (Miami demi-) God’s ear!

First story, impact fees are going up! (http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/13418992.htm)

Second story, park space is going down, to the first story level where it belongs! (http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/local/13418993.htm)

Wait, wait, wait, there is a catch. Our mayor is doing developers a solid by making sure that they have a mini-moratorium. See, they can just file with the good folks at City Hall before January 15, and they will not be liable for the extra money. Whew, I was thinking that it might cost them an extra Rolex that developers normally give out at Christmas to real estate sales folks.

Oh yeah, wait, wait, wait there is also a catch with the ground level park plan. See this part of the Herald story: But approval came only after a clearly peeved Commissioner Johnny Winton complained that the amount developers will be charged for elevating required open space under the new measure -- $50 per square foot -- falls well below the $400-per-square foot land costs in his downtown district.

Coming hard on the heels of the Mayor Manny’s announcement that he was putting off “Miami 21” zoning regulations for another 6 months or so, YES I DID TELL YOU IT WOULD HAPPEN, he may have thought that the half measures would help smooth over ruffled feathers and unhappy voters. His political viability is going down like a water logged bale of coke in the Miami harbor.

But here is the kicker: MIAMIMiami mayor is given $53,000 pay raise:
BY MICHAEL VASQUEZmrvasquez@herald.com
Swiftly, with little debate, Miami city commissioners Thursday unanimously voted to boost Miami Mayor Manny Diaz's salary by more than 54 percent, from $97,000 to $150,000.

Now does he deserve it. Hmmm. Let us see what the national press thinks of our city. This little jewel below was run in Money Magazine's website and syndicated across the country. Two years in a row we are number 2! (We used to be number 1 but suicide capital Tacoma is number 1 now. Damn that Washington State weather.)

"America's Most (and Least) Stressful Cities Sperling's BestPlaces ranks 331 Metro Areas with a New Stress Index Complete lists for all 331 metro areas. Check out the study's methodology.Portland, Oregon, November 9, 2005 - Between international terrorism and a struggling economy, today's Americans are faced with more stress than ever. In this new study, America's favorite research gurus at Sperling's BestPlaces have identified the most and least stressful U.S. cities.

"No. 2- Miami, FL Miami has the highest violent crime rate in our study as well as one of the highest property crime rates. Making Miami even more stressful is the long commute time, a high unemployment rate, and a high rate of divorce. Despite these factors, Miami residents manage to maintain a positive mental attitude."

I’m beginning to think Winton: Pragmatic, Stubborn but not shameless. Mayor Diaz: Just plain shameless. If Winton had played his cards right on the Home Depot Deal he would be a viable candidate for Miami-Dade Mayor and beyond. Instead he won’t even be keeping his seat in the next election. Diaz has got the financial backers but he will live on in infamy in Miami. He seemed like a smart dude. What a waste he is using his powers for evil.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mayor Manny Sez: Miami, City of the Future (And Will Remain So)

Isn't it great that our needle nosed, pencil neck smug little so and so of a mayor (I'll be editing THIS ONE) and his bull shit self promoting, Jane Jacobs rehashing "New Urbanism" lackeys have decided to issue developers a moratorium on the sort of zoning codes that every serious city and most large towns already have? What a twit! As some of you already know, he even brickwalled Winton when he addressed the fact that developers were getting around the amount of green space they are entitled to provide by placing it on roof decks. Mayor Manny Dickhead also backed Suzanne "Airheaded Dilettante" Delehanty in using up a good deal of the public space we don't have to move a museum (which no one goes to). Of course they're using public funding, making Miami one of the few cities in the US where the public consistently foots the bill for what is deemed culture. This town is unbelievible.

If that was not enough on Friday Dec. 16th, he decided that impact fees would be raised BUT Developers argued that initial plans to make the new fees effective Jan. 15 placed an unfair burden on builders who already had budgeted projects with the old fees in mind. The city on Thursday agreed to allow developers to submit only a building application by Jan. 15 to qualify for the old fees.

One of the best blogs about development, urban planning and design has been seemingly overlooked: Kordor Too bad. You should also check out this Overtown Townie blogger. Hopefully an excerpt from a Miami New Times Article that I had been saving http://miaminewtimes.com/Issues/2005-08-11/news/metro2_print.html will help people see why for our city this may be one of the most important blogs in and about Miami.

From miaminewtimes.com: Build Now and Save Big By Emily Witt

The graphic renderings of some new condominium developments around downtown Miami look like the covers of pulp-fantasy novels. Architects, it seems, are taking "Magic City" a little too literally these days as they reimagine a skyline of gleaming towers and crystal pinnacles. A prancing unicorn wouldn't seem out of place in at least one proposed condo's "urban plaza." But at a city commission meeting July 28, as developers sought special permits for a little more land here, a little more height there, commissioners seemed more interested in swiftly approving the projects than making judgments about their aesthetics. "It's beautiful," was Johnny Winton's perfunctory response to a shining elfin palace called The Capital at Brickell.
Then it was on to public discussion, which Winton and the other commissioners clearly hoped would pass just as swiftly. But there was Steve Hagen. Again. He stood up to voice his objections. For the third time in a row. Commissioners didn't actually need to groan; their expressions said plenty.

Hagen adjusted the microphone. "Let me just do a little math here," he said, fumbling with folders. Then he began calculating the impact fees for parks that would be generated by The Capital at Brickell. (Impact fees are levied on new developments to provide the necessities that thousands of new residents will need -- schools, police and fire protection, roads, sewers, and parks.) Although he cares about all of it, Hagen is obsessed with parks. In fact "tunnel vision" is a complaint that comes up often when Hagen's name is mentioned, but he is unyielding. His mother, who is 90, comes to Miami in the winter, and they like to visit parks. "After about three weekends," he says, "we run out of places to go."

A scarcity of parkland in Miami is not mere anecdote. A recent study by the Trust for Public Land found Miami has less park acreage per resident than New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and seven other cities of comparable density. Hagen and the homeowners' organization he represents, Miami Neighborhoods United (MNU), see that as an embarrassment, which is why Hagen has dedicated himself to winning the prize for Most Annoying Citizen at city commission meetings. It's boom time in Miami, and he and others see an opportunity to fix things. He wants commissioners to stop issuing new building permits until developers are charged much higher impact fees -- a fantasy, of course.

Impact fees are not the only way a city can fund parks, but in a period of unprecedented rapid development they are a particularly important revenue source. Miami's impact fees, however, haven't changed since the late Eighties. Had they simply been adjusted for inflation, the city would now be collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it is. The commission will review a new impact-fee ordinance in late September, though it will likely take months for it to become law and take effect. Meanwhile developers rejoice.

But even higher fees won't necessarily mean a windfall for Miami's beleaguered park system. Dwayne Guthrie, a consultant hired by the city, says the new impact fees will reflect the cost of maintaining the present parks-to-people ratio, but not necessarily improve it. The city's own evaluation from this past March puts that ratio at a measly 1.94 acres per 1000 residents. (According to the Trust for Public Land, San Diego's ratio is 31.9 acres per 1000 residents; Phoenix's is 28.0; Portland, Oregon's is 24.5; Minneapolis's is 14.9. Even congested San Francisco puts Miami to shame with a ratio of 7.6.)

For Hagen and other activists Miami's failure to address its parkland deficit is disgraceful, especially at a time when acquisition of new parkland is more difficult and expensive than ever.
Says Horacio Stewart Aguirre, president of Miami Neighborhoods United: "The question is whether with the new, higher impact fees they'll even be able to buy parkland. They're locking the barn door after the horses have run free."

Indeed even Commissioner Winton acknowledges the slow pace of change. He is promoting a "green space" ordinance that will force developers who don't provide public space on their properties to contribute money to a parks trust fund. Although the proposal won't be reviewed until September, Winton pleaded with developers at the July 28 commission meeting. "I'm asking you to donate to the parks trust fund," he beseeched attorney Lucia Dougherty, who represents many developers. "Not as a condition, but out of the goodness of your heart."
Could Winton himself be living in a fantasy world?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

FIU Faculty: "I Second What Miamista Said"

Okay, if you had questions about what I was saying about FIU read this article in today's Herald- (This will be taken down and the link added to my entry "FIU: Doctor, No"- note: I consistently update old entries.)

Herald: FIU profs censure their leader
FIU's faculty strongly criticized president Modesto 'Mitch' Maidique, but stopped short of asking the school's trustees to get involved.
Florida International University's faculty senate expressed ''grave concerns'' Tuesday about school president Modesto ''Mitch'' Maidique's leadership, following a report that criticized him for what it labeled a financial crisis, recruitment problems and other shortfalls at the public university.
Tuesday's action reflects a concern among some faculty that Maidique's aggressive push to keep FIU growing -- including recent efforts to win approval for a medical school -- has left some basics neglected.
''There was a continuing tendency to overextend ourselves in spite of limited resources and infrastructure,'' the Oct. 13 report states.
The report says the medical school effort ``might require a more sophisticated and professional approach.''
Most of the faculty's 62-member senate supported Tuesday's resolution, which called for Maidique and his top deputy to meet with a three-member faculty panel to consider the problems, said Bruce Hauptli, a philosophy professor who chairs the faculty governing body and one of the report's three authors. The faculty senate represents about 1,000 full-time professors.
The senate stopped short of passing a stronger resolution that would have asked the school's board of trustees ``to reassess the President's recent leadership and administration of the University.''
Maidique said he would meet with the faculty committee. ''I'd like to withhold judgment about how grave those concerns are until the committee is organized,'' he said.
He also suggested an ongoing impasse in union negotiations contributed to the disenchantment: ``How large does that loom over this?''
The union issue, said Hauptli, was included among several items in the faculty's five-page report, but was far from the overriding issue.
FIU has grown swiftly since it opened in 1972 in west Miami-Dade as a two-year program for community college students to earn a bachelor's degree. This fall, more than 35,000 part-time and full-time students enrolled. In 2000, it earned a Carnegie Foundation status as a major research university. And its first law school class graduated in the spring.
But the quick rise has had pitfalls.
Earlier this year, FIU agreed to pay a $11.5 million settlement to the federal government because of accounting irregularities with a research grant, part of the impetus for the faculty report. Hauptli said budget constraints were extremely tight last year, faulting the grant scandal and a series of historical decisions at FIU.
The report -- while praising Maidique's vision and acknowledging challenges with state education politics -- also cites ''lapses in hiring and replacement of top administrators'' and poor planning for new technology.
FIU's board of trustees, which extended Maidique's contract for one year during a summer meeting and has ultimate authority over his tenure, received the faculty critique last week.
''I read the report,'' said Chairman David Parker. ``I think the information is old news.''
Maidique also sent the board a response, pointing out that he has revamped his administrative team.
''A University of this size and scope, woefully under-funded by the State, and serving students from one of the poorest communities in the United States will always face special challenges,'' he wrote.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Myth of the Golden Exile

A former colleague, Cuban American, who works as a professor wrote an article that appeared in an academic journal a few years back entitled "Cuban Americans and the Myth of the Golden Exile". She shared with me how some of her research was reviewed by fellow Cuban American collegues in South Florida who were less than pleased with anyone writing about the topic of the Cuban American poor or the ineffables, as she called them.

I kept her paper for some time thinking it might come to be of use in my own research. Later I found myself working for several Cuban American community organizations where I peformed my own research. Maintaining interest in the topic, in an (aborted) doctoral program I researched some updated statistics on the income and other socio-economic indicators of Cuban Americans.

As has been often cited, Cuban Americans have a higher average income than some, but not all Hispanic subgroups. Cubans also are significantly older than any Hispanic subgroup or even the overall U.S. population. When income is adjusted for the age disparity, the income disparity between Cuban Americans and the overall Hispanic population disappears.

Other less publicized and very distressing information surfaced when reviewing U.S. Census 2000 statistics. Cuban Americans, compared to other Hispanics have a higher percentage of our population that earns less than $20,000 per anum, and a significantly smaller percentage graduating high school and completing four year degrees. Far fewer young adults (between 18 and 30) participate in the workforce. Conversely, there is a higher proportion of Cuban Americans that earn more than $50,000 per anum compared to other Latinos and that group tends to be among older Cuban Americans. Poverty among the elderly however is also significantly higher than the overall average for Americans.

What these statistics seem to point out is that Cuban Americans have a wide economic and social divide and deep problems of poverty. The difference in the economic reality for later arrivals, now the majority of Cuban population, and a segment of earlier arrivals (and presumably their descendents) is increasingly stark.

So what caused the conflict between data and perception? Why then the “myth of the golden exile”? Is it because older arrivals control the political conversation, through media and various positions of punditry? I suspect that while this is part of the reason, it is likely more complex. Most Cuban Americans live in an environment of isolation, most notably in South Florida, where there is little chance for comparison. Not only are they subject to a media dominated by a singular voice, there is little opportunity to contrast one’s self with others.

Cuban Americans seldom if ever view their domination of the local political apparatus with other cities or counties that have experienced massive “white flight”. This population has little opportunity to witness Blacks or other Hispanics in elected office locally or in city and statewide office. Cubans witnessing this phenomenon thus construe their reality into a singular instance of minority success.

Non-Cubans contribute to this false picture. Right wing conservatives see another handy instance of a “model minority”. They also use the more reactionary policies of a section of the group as cover for their own support of policies, especially towards Cuba, that may be unpopular. Undoubtedly, structures exist that cycle government funding for “pro-democracy” programs aimed at Cuba, which line the pockets of an element of the exile community only to be returned to campaign coffers. I suspect that there are more than a few non-Hispanics that also see the model minority construct as yet another way to divide a rapidly growing Hispanic community in the U.S. that is assuming a Pan-Hispanic identity.

Since the mid 90’s (with the established domination of local Cuban politicians) the Cuban American political elite has been at least nominally responsive to the community. With what could be seen as the death knell of the White community in Dade County following Hurricane Andrew, it could be said that the Cuban American elite has created opportunities for the larger community, much in the way that the Black elite created opportunities for their community in many Black controlled municipalities. The general increase in poverty may be owed to a decreasing economy. (It should be noted that Miami-Dade saw its slowest population growth in six decades.)

Poverty has long been a reality for many Cuban Americans arriving in the two decades following the Revolution despite the unique advantages of the Cuban American Adjustment Act and an assortment of supportive programs for the newly arriving exile. Hialeah, Little Havana and other heavily Cuban areas are areas of high concentration of poverty.

Nor were those who arrived necessarily those who were escaping the Revolution because of their anti-leftist political stance. The ambitious (and opportunists) of the left that supported the Revolution found no space in the tightly knit circle of the Revolutionary leadership. Many that held various middle level and low level offices in the Batista regime left Cuba for fear of being (wrongly) associated with the excesses of the regime. It is important to note that the American presence in Cuba created a whole class of people whose professions and skill set provided subsistence. The upheaval to the economy following the Revolution and the highly tenuous political conditions only made the United States that more attractive for those in the middle and lower end of the economic spectrum. Following this logic, Cuban Americans of the older generation were thus not necessarily the singularly upper class, ultra rightist and ultra conservative, as depicted.

The Miami Cuban American political machine’s local practice of appealing to poor and elderly voters in the Cuban community through social programs and community spending will immediately verify this. Miami Cuban American politicians take every opportunity to tout local public spending programs they support offering healthcare, transportation and food programs at the many Cuban American serving family and senior centers. It is impossible to imagine any conservative Republican agreeing with either the funding or promotion of these sort of programs. It is also impossible to imagine an affluent community needing so many of these centers.

Nevertheless there is a cultural divide, among Cuban Americans and other non-Cuban Hispanics, or more particularly Hispanics outside of Miami. Non-Cuban Hispanics are likely to look at positive reflections of their community with cynicism. Almost all internal and external reporting is done through the prism of addressing pathologies and falures. Non- Cuban Latinos accepted the "lesson of the squeaky wheel" from African American community leaders. Cuban Americans are likely to focus on and respond well to positive reports from community based and mainstream media.

Some in the Cuban American elite, the U.S. government, and the mainstream media found it convenient to create a monolithic and often highly inaccurate portrait of the early Cuban exile- wealthy, educated and committed capitalists with ultra rightist politics. It helped that the shibboleth that had to be uttered upon entry to the U.S. was a denunciation of leftist policies rather than Fidel Castro and the Revolutionary government. Revolutionary Cuba also found it politically expedient to promote this characterization of a rich Miami mafia. Classism is an easy way for Castro's Cuba to explain away the exile community.

Pragmatically speaking, mischaracterization of the reasons for exile may have been necessary to prevent hostility from American society towards early Cuban exiles. Of course Castro Cuba's lack of political space and U.S. support for Bautista should have been enough to convince any and all Americans that Cubans were and are deserving of refugee status. But we are now in a new era.

The myth has transformed itself into a perverse reality. There is a wealthy, ultra-right wing cabal that now forms the political leadership of the Cuban American community. It is not connected to the grass roots Cuban American community and its struggles. It has its support in a national ultra-right wing machine led in this state by Field Marshal Jeb. And because of the Myth, there is little opposition to point out how dangerous this is.

The adoption of the political paradigm of the Republican far right wing in the U.S. that we are witnessing among Cuba American leaders cannot be acceded to with a wink and a nod. This monster of our own creation no longer answers to us. Whether it be the intolerance of the so-called Christian Right, immigration laws or revision of bankruptcy laws, corporate pension raiding, anti-unionization, attacks on fair wage provisions, anti-affirmative action, opposition to minority set asides in government contracting, refusal to act against lending discrimination, cuts in education, healthcare, housing, mass transit, social security and a litany of other policies that attack our community’s middle class and poor- we can no longer afford the myth of the golden exile and the politics of dishonesty.

Interesting research, especially for us Cuban Americans:

First let me say this. A very good friend that works at the Cuban National Council always says to me that speaking about Cuban American poverty even in the middle of a Cuban American ghetto is useless. We are too proud. He noted that for all the CNC does and all the studies that it puts out Cuban Americans don't want to hear about their reality. He also noted that Cuban American leaders will go out of their way to cherry pick and distort figures. For example, one could point out that Cuban Americans residents of Miami or Miami-Dade have a much higher average income than Miami or Miami-Dade residents overall. But that would be misleading because most of the remaining residents are poor Blacks, poor, illegal Hispanics and incidently, not a few poor White elderly residents on fixed incomes. Again one could point out that there is a high proportion of Cubans that have attended college compared to other Hispanics. This would be misleading because an extremely high proportion of Cuban Americans are above 50. Non-Cuban Hispanics have an extremely high proportion of the population under 20. That is why demographers always adjust for age. Also, Cuban Americans are much less likely to have a four year or graduate degree, pointing out that attending college (especially in Miami-Dade where so many attend MDC's various programs) is different from graduating with a bachelors degree. To give a last example of the affect of non-age adjusted statistics, Cubans Americans with our low birthrate are much more likely to be adults (in the job market) whereas non-Cuban Hispanics
are likely to be young children thus obviously unemployed.

(Sources US 2000 census survey, Miami Beacon Council, College Board. Note: South Americans and Central Americans are lumped into a Census category despite having very different community profiles and indicators.)

Percentage of Hispanics over 16 making less than $10,000 by national origin: 37.4-Mexican; 40.5-Puerto Rican; 41.1-Cuban; 30.8- Central and South American.

Percentage of Hispanics over 16 making less than $50,000 by national origin: 4.6-Mexican; 5.7- Puerto Rican; 8.9 Cuban; 6.0 Central America and South American.

The Cuban American population is appreciably older than the entire population and almost twice as old by median age as other Hispanic groups.20% of Cubans are over 65; 14% of Whites and 5% of Hispanics overall.

Conversely, the number of Cuban American youth, under age 18 as a percentage of the the overall Cuban American population is 21%, less than Whites and substantially less than other Hispanics. Non-Cuban Hispanic youth, under age 18, makeup over 40% of this grouping. Hispanic adults with a degree represent by national origin: 23%-Cubans; 12%Puerto Ricans; 8%Mexicans; 17%Central and South Americans and 30% Whites. Conversely of those with less than a 9th grade education is 22% for Cubans; 18% Puerto Ricans; 34% Mexican Americans; 23% for Central and South Americans and 5% Whites.

Cuban Americans have a much greater internal disparity in income and eduation . Cuban youth are receiving degrees and diplomas at a comparatively low rate while Cuban adults over 50 have diplomas and degrees at a higher rate than Hispanics overall. (I included two year degrees.) My impressions are that the Cuban American population has a much greater disparity in income and education. The younger population seems to be experiencing a precipitous drop in education and income levels. I am not sure if this is related to time of arrival, geographic and racial factors.

Another area that I found interesting was the fact that home ownership was very high among Cuban Americans in South Florida, almost the same as the White population in Miami-Dade and Broward counties but 14 percent lower than the overall American average. Yet Hispanics of all origins have a high rate of home ownership in Florida. In the 2000 Census this may have beena function of low housing costs in Florida (something that has changed in the past five years.)

Of the three largest Hispanic groups in the United States, 58% of Cuban-headed homes nationwide were owned, compared with 48% of Mexicans and 35% of Puerto Ricans. Among the White population 72 percent owned homes. Much of that is due to where these different groups settle. The majority of Cubans live in Florida, where housing prices and the cost of living are lower than in the Northeast and Midwest, which has a large Puerto Rican population.

There is a spike in the number of Cuban American adults that earn over $50,000 versus other Hispanics and without age adjustment there are a higher proportion of Cuban American indivduals with incomes over $50,000 than the overall U.S. average. This info comes from the "U.S. Census, Current Population Survey March 1999, PGP-2 PPL-124 a". I also suggest Daniel J. Perez-Lopez's study for the particulars. DEMOGRAPHIC AND SOCIOECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS OF CUBAN-AMERICANS: This again points out to pronounced income disparity in the Cuban American population.

Another part of my research covered the rate of attendance in top tier colleges. I found Cuban Americans were proportionately the second least represented among Hispanics in Top Tier Colleges while Puerto Ricans were highest using the CB composite ranking system that very much mirrors some of the college rankings by popular publications such as Newsweek and Princeton Review. My assumption is that this is also owing to geographic dispersal of Hispanics by country or origin.

Tie It All Together

If you have read what I wrote recently about the possible future of Miami's development, the Herald article below plays into it. (Sort of like each time I write about drug smuggling, poverty, corruption or money laundering there is a new story about it in the paper.) Everyone knows the problems with regional integration projects. Miami and Broward have been resisting integration. Though this region desperately needs to cooperate on transit, the same petty ethnic conflicts that caused damn near half of a million people to exit Miami Dade for Broward has put the damper on this. A regional train is even more important than the MIC or the extensions of metro rail which we will not be seeing until 2050 yet it is a fraction of the cost. The existing infrastructure for the north south, east of I-95 line just needs an upgrade for a rapid train.

We need a more powerful, centralized Regional Planning Authority/Council. As it is now there are just a hodgepodege of regional planning organizations with limited funding and authority. Even former mayor Alex Penelas, after taking as much lobbyist money as possible vowed that an independent, central body with wide ranging powers was the only way to get politics, lobbyists and corruption out of the way of regional transit planning and execution. (We have a South Florida Regional Planning Council but unlike the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut based Regional Planning Association or the Greater L.A. Regional Planning Association it has little authority or influence). It might be something comprehensive like the (NY, NJ, CT) Regional Planning Association that outlines policies for the (NY/NJ) Port Authority, which runs area ports, including airports and commercial intermodal centers as well as a commuter rail system, the PATH Train(Port Authority Trans Hudson). The combined design and organization of the various transit authorties are thus able to coordinate a public transportation infrastruture that serves portions of three states and 12 counties.

Now just imagine being able to work (or for employers to tap the talent) in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach's major eastern cities, with all within a 50 minute commute. The natural amenities such as the beaches and harbors and the Everglades have created urban development patterns actually work FOR us for once!

Anyway here is an excerpt from the article:

The idea of running commuter trains on the Florida East Coast Railway corridor is rising once more from the dust bins of dream projects that were oft-studied, but never removed from the drawing boards.
''For years, governments have been looking at it with drooling mouths,'' Scott Seeburger, a project manager with the Florida Department of Transportation, said of the 82-mile FEC corridor that runs through 45 downtowns from Jupiter to Miami.
Supporters say commuter trains along the FEC corridor would give millions of South Floridians an alternative to driving and take advantage of a redevelopment boom along the tracks east of Interstate 95 from downtown Miami to Jupiter.
Unlike Tri-Rail, which runs along a largely industrial and warehouse corridor dominated by Interstate 95, boosters say an eastern train would provide an accessible alternative that is much closer to where people live and work.
The FEC corridor would also provide local governments with a linchpin to entice transit-oriented homes, shops and offices to redeveloping downtowns.
Several major residential and retail projects, such as Midtown Miami, are already taking advantage of the boom and would be strategically poised if passenger trains returned to the area for the first time since 1968.
Local officials coveted the FEC corridor when Tri-Rail was being developed in the 1980s, but FEC management at the time refused to sell.
That's how Tri-Rail wound up on the CSX Transportation tracks that run on the less populated, and more industrial areas west of Interstate 95 from West Palm Beach to Miami International Airport.
''Right idea, wrong corridor. That's always been the problem with Tri-Rail,'' said Johnathan Nelson, a Miami Beach high school teacher and train enthusiast.
Headed by former Miami banker Adolfo Henriques, the new FEC corporate leadership appears to be much more willing to sell a portion of its corridor for commuter rail.
The biggest questions: How much would it cost to buy a portion of the corridor and develop a parallel passenger train that wouldn't damage FEC's ability to run thousands of freight cars every day from Jacksonville to Miami? And who would pay for it?
Some conservative estimates place the price tag on the corridor alone at $500 million to $600 million.
Tack on the construction of 82 miles of track and dozens of stations and the budget quickly swells toward the $1 billion mark.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Enjoy the Party, Parties Weren't Meant to Last

The classic eras are never as fun and outrageous as they are depicted in hindsight. Miami is engaged in housing and car insurance, mortgage fraud, medicare fraud, The construction industry is booming. The Black Market peso exchange is in full throttle. Cocaine, ecstasy and illicit prick stiffeners are flowing freely from their Miami port of entry thanks to Homeland Insecurity which has taken resources away from interdiction.

The statistics may not reflect it but for Miami these are heady days.

When it is politically expedient to rediscover the drug war and banks and insurance companies decide the losses are unsustainable that most adaptable of creatures, the Miami hustler, will temporarily be put on the sideline. The bloom has already faded from the real estate market and homeowners are stuck with debt, taxes and declining values.

We will remember real estate sales parties that rivaled Hollywood for spectacle and excess. Hip Hop and trance appropriately have been the sound track of this era of greed, crime, victimization and indulgence.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

So Everyone's An (Art) Critic

Okay, it’s time I turned my critical eye towards art (patrons). My initial annoyance was brought on when Art Basel began to create havoc with traffic to the beach. So I bring these things forth because I can’t let these things eat me inside. But first let me go back and share something else, vaguely related.

A few months back I was attending one of those weekend block fairs in Coconut Grove which are rapidly disappearing. The new residents, women in tight jeans, skinny heels, unreasonably colored hair and gobs of make up and eye watering amounts of perfume didn’t get it. When a couple of young, nice West Grovites (ahem) came through to look, the tight jeans were the only ones who became, agitiated by their presence. Alonso Morning, resting his lanky frame on a chair witnessed and rolled his eyes. The idea of these fairs was not as a social event to be seen, but a part of the laid back show and tell with our neighbors. The key to this was a lack of pretense and warm neighborliness. The art offerings by the remnants of what was once a thriving (okay struggling) bohemia was arts and crafts by folk, who simply enjoyed creating, (the Anti Art Basel). Okay, it was heavy on the palm frond and beach scenes and creative things to do with coconuts, but what they hay?

Now I move on to last week. Eli Broad, (rhymes with toad) one of the original Committee of 25 members from Los Angeles was prominently mentioned in the Miami New Times as one of the great art lovers of our time or some sort of bull. Really Miami Herald. Then I heard a murmur that he was at a venue close by. Oh yes, such a loving patron. Eli Broad; if his treatment of the underclass, his anti-public education stance, union busting tactics, systematic discrimination at his companies, etc., is any reflection of his soul, he wasn’t dragging his old ass around for art but to amass even more wealth and influence and to be seen by others. He wasn’t alone.

There is something untoward that I can't place my finger on, when art is presented in hundreds of temporary cubicles to be displayed to the wealthy. I can barely stand the small crowds of local art “patrons” for whom art is more likely to be used as a tax shelter, a money laundering tool, for social climbing and (a suitable) political statement. Art deBasel. But it’s good for the economy and artist so, it has its positives. I joined in.

The whole thing was sort of fitting for a town that has an annual book fair dominated by hot dog vendors. “Art” is now spacially balanced compositions that will fill an empty apartment wall, in shades to complement whatever retro/modern Scandanavian/Italian furniture you have. Only the abstract or vaguely ironic will do. Or it can be exotic, as in cultural artifacts. Black and white photos of anything unfamiliar or eerily familiar goes down well. When I see some religious or daily utilitarian article from a dispossessed culture in a White persons living room or a museum I wonder if the owner appreciates the neo-colonial message intimated. Then there is my fave, sculpture, i.e., anthrophomorphic blobs of material shaped to resemble expressions. Of course there is space for anything new, different, that can hold an eye for 30 seconds and get a write up. I thought of shitting on the floor in front of a painting of a toilet with a painting of a magazine in my hand but it had been done already.

I’m not being anti art here. I am interested in art and I appreciate much of it. I appreciate whatever interests or pleases my visual / tactile sense around me when I have a chance to. I also appreciate thoughtful criticism of art.

I guess I can pinpoint what annoyed me, outside of the traffic. I don’t like when the word “art” means that there has to be some sort of pretension attatched. There were too many who would not go to an empty gallery or museum to save their lives, just to enjoy art, but who will dress up and consider themselves cultured because they are seen “appreciating”. But hey, live and let live.


A few entries back, in the entry entitled “Prognosticator of Prognosticators” I posted a letter from the New Times from a decade ago that predicted with uncanny accuracy the state of affairs in Miami. It spoke of the problems that the Herald and its parent company would be facing, it predicted that Miami would displace Detroit as the poorest city in America, it stated that the Non-Group and the class that it represented would disappear, it mapped out how and which local political players would be dominant for the next decade and how that would play out in state politics. I thought I might do some prognosticating of my own.

Following the model set out by Harvey Molotch and Jonathan Logan, among others, Miami is in a classic transitional moment in its development. Many forget that every American city has gone through a secondary speculative phases where developers dominated to some degree the political and economic landscape. This follows flight and is suceeded by a an economic bust and realignment of power and economy. Fortunately what follows is usually a much stronger civic structure and economy.

Developers form part of what can be seen as a united pro- growth coalition. This coalition also includes property owners who derive income from rent and the business community that derives its wealth from trade. They are principally opposed by an anti growth coalition which includes home owners and environmentalists, who are concerned with the impact of relentless growth upon living conditions. What follows, according to many urban political economists, is a phase where the growth coalition splits.

The large scale property ownership class becomes concerned with anything that will affect its ability to derive the greatest amount of income from its property. This elite group of property owners arises wants to solidify sections of the city to receive the greatest amount of services from the government to improve the quality of its property and services to its renters. This is achieved by drawing income away from other sections of the urban area. The elite class of property owners also wants distinct boundaries that differentiate their smaller high income producing areas from competing areas.

Most importantly the property owning elite partners with the business community because both want a large high wage, highly skilled wealth producing professional class. This professional class supplies a group with the ability to pay high rents, also having large disposable incomes to spend at retailers, enabling property owners to charge higher retail rent.

Developers who depended upon low wages and constant expansion of the urban boundary find themselves opposed by both anti growth civic leadership and large scale property owners. In this new environment developers find that the only way to continue to do business is by working to maintain and upgrade property belonging to the elite property holders.

A successful economic infrastructure today is dependent upon having a large number of highly skilled people. Thus research and educational institutions are important for generating these skilled people, as is an environment that attracts highly skilled workers from throughout the world. Good schools parks and cultural institutions, transit and transportation and low crime attract skilled workers.

Applying this understanding of Miami’s stage of development and its transition to a new stage in this paradigm, the future of the city becomes predictable. Aiding us is the fact that Miami, like most parts of the nation, is exiting a cycle of real estate development that was artificially created to buoy an economy reeling from the effects of 9/11 which affected local state and federal budgeting, consumer confidence and international confidence in American currency and markets.

Miami’s long dominant development community will lose clout. New real estate development projects will not be economically feasible. There will be a serious shakeout as developers and speculators lose a tremendous amount of their invested capital. They will also lose political clout to the anti-growth civic community as well as the elite property owning community.

Miami-Dade has a real albeit unnatural boundary with the I-95 interstate. It has traditionally separated the county, though less so than the north / south divide that splits largely low income African Americans and Hispanics from middle class and wealthy Anglos and Hispanics in the southern portion of the county. The portion of the county east of I-95 is where business, government and culture is or will be focused: Brickell, Downtown, Midtown; where tourism is or will be focused: Miami Beach, Coconut Grove and Downtown; and where some of the wealthiest neighborhoods are focused: zip codes to the east of I-95 as well as to the south of I-95) have higher income and property values.

Again, power will shift to Downtown and Midtown large scale property owners and property managers. Investors in long term land holding will be joined by the vulture investors. Look for property owners that invested heavily in rental space Downtown, Midtown as well as some of the other nearby satellite downtowns east of I-95, to form a new power bloc. Interestingly, many of the property owners that accumulated property immediately preceding and during the real estate boom were people from outside of the area. Of the "vulture funds"alredy assembled almost all are from outside the region.

The population shift will change power bases in districts. The Upper East Side/ Morningside, with its largely Anglo population had been a swing vote for their Black majority district. The swing vote will increase with Midtown/Wynwood, lower Biscayne and the Upper East Side all growing. This means Miami’s Blacks may become even more disenfranchised. It is also logical to anticipate redistricting.

As a neighbor to the mega-development Midtown, the Wynwood Art District will change demographics of the whole neighborhood. Today the ambitiously named “Art District” is a sad few retail blocks bordered by I-95 to the west, largely Puerto Rican Wynwood and Midtown to the South and Little Haiti to the north. The Art District has minimal foot or auto traffic. It has long been rumored that the majority of shops are front businesses for money laundering. The Puerto Rican homeowners of Wynwood may be pressured to leave by rising values and taxes but Little Haiti will likely hold because high density and pooled resources and continued influx from Haiti.

Little Haiti, an economically struggling neighborhood, will push the northern and western boundary to Biscayne rather than I-95. Expect to see a considerable increase in the population of the northern beach communities that have been practically dead for the last several years. As Little Buenos Aires proved, with a relatively small number of ambitious, entrepreneurial folk, these areas can quickly spring back to life with commerce.

On a countywide level expect an end to school board corruption of the building process. I think reasonable heads prevailed with the selection of Superintendent Rudy Crew andhis team and will continue to. The desperate attempt at getting back to filthy practices by dividing the county into districts is going no where, but it speaks to how desperate some of the lower orders of the construction industry has gotten.

Construction of the Miami Intermodal Center and the MDOT rail lines will not be able to wholly avoid corruption and mismanagement. The county government is structured with a weak mayor and commisioners who are lowly paid, open to lobbyists and rarely accountable. They have already stood in the way of stronger auditing, transparent awarding of contracts and an independent airport authority. Expect an embarrassing debacle followed by an independent authority with power over the intermodal center. Also expect the MIC to go way over schedule and budget.

Also on the county level expect to see some major shake-ups. The county commission is where the hardcore development stooges are. At least two seats in more affluent districts will have support of large property owners and an expanded, powerful civic base.

Incorporated towns throughout Dade will become the focus of civic political power. To the degree that any individual incorporated town is wealthy enough, they will push for a greater share of county spending and local tax dollars. Many other municipalities will fail.

Expect to see a greater voter turnout among non-Cuban Hispanics and Haitians. The influx of Latinos from throughout the 1980’s and early 90’s have children born here who will be old enough to vote, many Latinos from other parts of the country have moved here and many immigrants are slowly but surely getting citizenship. The average age of Cuban Americans means the population is declining (Te Quiero, Abuela) and younger third generation Cuban Americans will be a higher proportion of a dwindling ethnic bloc.

Expect to see the re-engagement of Anglos. I believe that the watershed will happen when one Anglo candidate (Evelyn L. Greer?) runs and brings in the Anglo, Black and progressive Hispanic vote. No Anglo will win the mayor’s seat because conservative property owners will not want to confront real estate development interests along a potentially racially divisive rift. It will be the Trojan Horse candidacy that will create a new bloc of voters cutting across race. Do not be surprised if the beneficiary is a progressive Hispanic (Jimmy Morales?) in a mayoral race if Alvarez missteps or a state race if he does not.

If a Jeb supported candidate loses the Governor’s race expect that a whole group of politicians will make way. Jeb was depending on the FTAA for a throne to sit on or beside, with stooge (too harsh?) Jorge Arrizurieta and active oldster Chuck Cobb (I went to b-school with his son so I will hold back on strong name calling there.)

As a closing aside, I happened to have a talk with Rep. Jim Davis (I’m not Democrat necessarily) and he turned out to be a good egg. He talked about policy stuff with me until he was called away. I asked a couple of questions and, zoom! off he went with some thoughtful, well considered ideas. He gave well reasoned responses when I disagreed with him. Real Atticus Finch. It struck me that he was far too intelligent, articulate and earnest to be a politician. He ain’t winning. I think most people would take Charlie Christ, with the perma-tan and the charm. His distancing from the Terry Schiavo thing had made me a fan but Jim Davis probably has 10 times more compassion.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Miami Vice: We Got Our Suspect Crockett

I am sure all of you have been keeping up to date on the crazy shit in Miami. I just left a club where it was glaringly evident that we are not winning the war on drugs. As a resident it just makes you feel like you can become a Kingpin (a la Big Trouble) one day. There is now an FBI field office to investigate medicaid/medicare fraud, which Miami leads the nation in. Funny because Miami also leads the nation in mortgage fraud, home owners' insurance fraud and vehicle insurance fraud. It is tops in drug money laundering and widely assumed to be one of the top cities in drug smuggling. It is only 7th in overall crime. You think it's the same guy?

The Big Bust: A multi-million dollar drug smuggling/money laundering outfit utilizing two dozen U.S. banks with operation throughout Latin America was busted. BY JENNIFER LEBOVICH / Friday, December 9, 2005 (Herald.com) Federal officials said Thursday they've busted a major drug distribution and money-laundering ring that moved more than $10 million in drug proceeds through U.S. banks and then back to drug suppliers in Colombia.

The Big Get-Away: A $7.4 million heist of Fed Reserve funds were robbed at Miami International Airport, by a team of enterprising, disciplined team of men with masks and "heavily Spanish accented American English". -Help FBI crack $7M heist -- and get $150,000BY ROBERT L. STEINBACK / Friday, December 9, 2005 (Herald.com) If you can help the FBI find the bandits who pulled off a $7.4 million heist from a warehouse at Miami International Airport on Nov. 6, there's $150,000 in it for you.
-That's right baby, we are organized and we are making the big hit. How do you like that Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and George Clooney.

Why the police missed the Big Get-Away:

Officer accused of stealing money fired By DAVID OVALLE/ Friday, December 9, 2005 (Herald.com) A Miami-Dade police officer was arrested Thursday night in Cutler Bay after he pulled over an undercover detective during a traffic stop and stole money from him, authorities said. The officer, Jose Novoa, a five-year veteran, has been relieved of duty.

On late Thursday night, he had not been booked into the county jail system, said corrections spokeswoman Janelle Hall. Police did not specify what the charges against Novoa would be.

The department's professional compliance bureau received several compliants about Novoa, according to a news release, but it was unclear how long he had been under investigation. It is also unclear how Novoa, 30, stole the money, or whether he used his sidearm.

Note: You've got to see www.criticalmiami.com on the topic of the DEA's Blues. Economy? We don't need no steenkin' (legitimate) economy!

A Sunburned Economy Must Look North

The US economy is based on innovation and creativity. The tie to top research universities and urban economic growth is important. Those college rankings are a lot more important than many realize since they are based largely on the criteria of research money, quality of research professors and perceived quality of students.

Charlotte has become what it is because of Duke and UNC as well as Davidson. Atlanta relies heavily upon Georgia Tech and Emory. New York City has Columbia and NYU with Yale and Princeton less than an hour away. Los Angeles has UCLA, Cal Tech and USC. Chicago’s research centers are Northwestern and University of Chicago. Boston has MIT and Harvard. Nashville may be known for music but it is Vanderbilt and its ties to Oakridge National Laboratories that has fueled its economic growth. It is no surprise that Austin and Houston have developed a tech corridor when one of the largest premier research universities, University of Texas /Texas Tech (They share endowments and research funding) are leaders in public and private research dollars and Rice is the largest recipient of federal research grants in the deep South. Washington, DC has Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and UVa. I could offer numerous other examples but there is one example that states the case definitively. The Bay Area and its research universities, Stanford and Berkeley; no two schools have surpassed them as technology incubators and birth place to tech start-ups.

Miami has something that some of these cities do not. The city and the university share weather and beaches that enable it to attract talent for less pay than other regions.

UM, thanks to a failure of leadership has proven mind bogglingly adept in recent years at frittering away this advantage. A young university, for years Miami struggled to increase its name recognition and to shed the negative implications that came with its image as “Suntan U”. Early university leaders hoped to follow in the aggressive strategy that allowed some West Coast universities to vault their East Coast counterparts.

Miami also tried to convince Fortune 500 hundred companies’ Southern operations that Miami was a viable option for regional headquarters. Miami has long been said to be Los Angeles twenty years ago. Miami mimicked that city's attempts to encourage families to relocate through a network of development and business councils (GMCC and the Beacon Council). The Orange Bowl Parade, like the Rose Bowl Parade was identified as a method to advertise glorious weather and a prosperous city to workers and potential students. It integrated Blacks into leadership (albeit grudgingly) and ended segregation rather than risk the image of racial strife. (This attracted a significant amount of black professionals from throughout the region.)

The "Non-Group" led the way. This organization of business and civic leaders fashioned after "LA’s Committee of 25" and Charlotte’s simply monikered "The Group" and Boston’s "The Vault". Not surprisingly these leadership groups from each of their respective cities often met and shared ideas, visions and advanced trade.

As a result, Miami had one of the fastest growing economies in the nation. And each decade Miami roughly doubled in population, from it’s inception until 1980. Almost half of American GI’s from World War II trained in Miami and many moved to the city with their families following the war. They were said to have had “sand in their shoes”.

When Miami’s power landscape shifted, and Miami experienced crisis after crisis the Anglo elite left, taking their businesses and networks with them. It was a sign of the times when the huge media conglomerate Knight Ridder, publisher of the Herald decided to move to San Jose.

Today, well educated, ambitious and creative people, like the GI’s from years earlier still get “sand in their shoes”. What vacationer does not envision a life in America’s only large tropical city? (Sorry, LA you are a paved desert with a cold, dirty ocean.) The problem is that Miami has developed an attitude of insularity, distancing itself from domestic trade and talent.

This has a multiplying effect. The Anglo or African American Harvard grad who applies to a City of Miami job is turned down, perhaps because of ethnicity perhaps because of being an “outsider”. She does not move here with her MIT educated husband that is active with a start up utilizing nanotechnology or the like. A chain of talented people are turned away with each act of insularity and discrimination in hiring practices.

Again, even though Western Europeans and Canadians continue to be the largest foreign investors in Florida and US residents (not a few of them Black) are the largest source of tourism, local leadership has decided that as the self appointed Capital of Latin America its priorities lie elsewhere.

Effects: Miami’s banking sector has went from the headquarters to a number of flourishing regional banks to a bilingual forward sales force for banks headquartered in other cities. Light manufacturing has all but been replaced by freight forwarding for American items made in other places.

So, the Miami-Dade government and business community, ever looking southward, gives the cold shoulder to Scripps, claiming that it cannot do anything about the lack of available real estate for a research campus, while pushing the Urban Development Boundary back to make way for urban sprawl. Palm Beach, instead of Miami, cashes in on nearly a half billion dollars of incentive funding offered by Governor Bush to jump start Florida’s lagging tech sector.

How bad can it be? The Amazons, Genentecs, Googles, Microsofts, Facebooks, Yahoos, eBays, Def Jams, Tasers, AOL, Ciscos, Dells, Suns, Oracles, etc., formed by college students and recent graduates from elite universities continue to create a new economy based on information technology, communications and entertainment. Billions of dollars in research money go to universities that attract the finest students and professors regardless of background. As research spawns new technology and products industry is created that serves their surrounding economies.

This is not just an issue of shutting out the “new” economy. The older industrial based economy already has shored up its relationships with research universities and new tech companies. Non-tech professional, marketers, advertisers and designers continue to do business where they have the access to broadest and most qualified source of human capital.

Manufacturers and retailers, formerly the less technology dependent players in the economy now are dependent upon highly technical distribution systems. Product design is also technically driven in an economy where product shelf life is shortened and manufacturing is global. America is not a manufacturing economy but a design and innovation economy. Technology has allowed large talent pools in metropolitan areas to exchange ideas. These talent pools are dependent upon the educational and research infrastructure for their training, support and regeneration.

Miami is at the bottom of large cities for the percentage of adults with high school diplomas, bachelor degrees, and has the highest percentage of those for who English is a secondary language. (Florida has the lowest graduation rate in the nation.) This is a particularly worrisome state of affairs in a world that has made post graduate degrees the necessary professional qualification and English the world’s lingua franca. Miami now leads the nation in poverty, and disparity of income and housing prices. This is no secret as the Manhattan Institute, The International Journal for Economic Development and the Brookings Institute have all made exhaustive studies focusing on the poverty, crime and drug use tied to the lack of a well educated populace. Can you imagine Fortune 500 execs lining up to move their headquarters to Miami?

Here is another illustration of the need to look beyond Latin America northward. FIU's Graduate School of Engineering created a recruiting program including full scholarships and housing, in an attempt to recruit from Latin America and the Caribbean. This was to make up for a shrinking pool of Asian and African graduate students who would rather attend colleges with more research opportunities and a welcoming local economy post graduation. FIU found it nearly impossible to find qualified graduates from any part of Latin America or the Caribbean save Jamaica and Trinidad (Most of these students had been planning to go to England or the Northeastern U.S.)

The upshot is that until Miami welcomes the most qualified people in public and private sector hiring and lures national businesses to compete for our public contracts, it will continue to be the poorest city in America. Outside talent is, however only part of the solution. We must strengthen our educational infrastucture. This will take lots of dollars. It will also take the de-politicization of educational leadership.

The other side of this coin is that we must broaden our focus in trade. Miami must not value our trade ties with desperately poor Caribbean and Central American nations where there are five of the hemispheres poorest countries (Haiti, Nicaragua, Jamaica, El Salvador and Guatemala). We must also recognize that South America is looking inward, investing in its own economies. Even if this were not the case, Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires and Caracas hardly look to Miami as the capital of Latin America.

Miami must open its eyes to the largest market in the World. The death of the FTAA should have been a clarion call to General Jeb and his Dade junta who have continued this blind march into the Caribbean.