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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Miami's New Year's Resolution: Climb Out of Poverty and Dysfuntion Part 2

Educational research institutions. Miami failed to get Scripps because of the local insular, anti-intellectual crowd. Broward has put the skids on almost all new high density redevelopment fearing that it will lose its suburban character. This was understandable public backlash to a lack of planning and infrastructure. It does not mean a shortage of land. Areas east along the FEC rapid transit corridor should be opened to medium rise urban development thus precluding the need for shifting the urban boundary or building costly roadways.

Repairing our business links with Latin America. The inability to deal with those on the new Latin American left is hurting the Miami economy. New York and Washington created the policies of currency manipulation, debt slavery and onerous economic prescriptions. There is no reason for Miami to be burdened by the resentment and mistrust that those policies engendered. To this point South Florida has fashioned itself as a market for Latin American purchasing power. This has always had severe limitations. It is now great timing to reverse our relationship with Latin America as an entry point for Latin American access to the U.S. market.

Community Development Imagining beyond Imagine (Miami). A huge portion of grants for our community based organizations go through the Miami Dade Alliance for Human Services and Miami Dade Human Services Coalition, who get a cut off the top. So far they have given us the Imaginative (as in Imagine Miami) Greater Prosperity Program for food stamps, Medicaid (which has already been capped) and Tax Preparation as an answer to poverty. Both organizations have had some significant problems with grant fulfillment and reporting, not to mention a limited amount of funding. The idea is that by being a pass through agency they can present themselves to funders to gain a larger amount of money. In fact that is just the problem. A small group of gate keepers lack the ability of multiple agencies. They inevitably compete with agencies. In this case they also are a way too close to government when a large part of what community service agencies are supposed to do is advocacy. The county would have done much better if it had housed a branch of the New York based Foundation Center. (It is the major training agency and clearinghouse for national grant giving foundations.) Miami is the poorest city in the U.S. and Miami-Dade is one of the poorest urban counties. This sort of (unfortunate) demographic competitive edge in grant applications has done us little good with our current system. According to Mark Weaver of the Florida ACDC we were dead last in the country in every aspect of community building.

I am normally annoyed beyond belief with the Miami Herald's Andres Oppenheimer. I believe he may have been right about Latin American universities are not enrolling many students in math, science and technology. The quality of Latin American higher education is increasingly uneven. This means that we have to make up a deficit with our immigrant community’s “educated” middle class as well as the more numerous unskilled, semi-skilled and undereducated. I suppose the three ways to answer this would be to strengthen our capacity to add technical skills through local community colleges, and encourage domestic in-migration and more rounded, global migration.

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