A few weeks ago, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert appeared on the NBC 6 television show, "Voices with Jawan Strader," to talk about his bid to be the next, District 1, Miami-Dade County Commissioner. He is looking to succeed veteran County Commissioner Barbara Jordan for that seat. Outspoken community leader Sybrina Fulton is also in the race.
When Strader began to apply pressure to the mayor about the crime rate in Miami Gardens on the show that aired June 5, Gilbert stated that he was, “working with the Brothers of the Same Mind on a gun intervention program.”
That was a lie. Gilbert’s political savvy makes it hard to believe that his assertion was just a simple slip of the tongue. It's not a military secret that there have been grumblings among key members of the Miami Gardens community about the Circle of Brotherhood receiving $150,000 of taxpayers' money that will probably yield very little, if any, in return. So to state that you gave the money to the Brothers of the Same Mind, on live television, seems like smoke and mirrors to me. How in the world do you not remember to whom you gave that kind of money? And for the record, Brothers of the Same Mind did not change its name to the Circle of Brotherhood.
Crime has risen 25% in the city recently. Normally, a failure of this magnitude would lay square on the shoulders of the chief of police. But if the tools and resources that the chief needs to combat crime are being doled out in political waste, the smoking gun on crime is in the mayor’s and city council's offices, full stop.
I was amazed at how Gilbert showed up at Kameela Russell's press conference after she was tragically lured to her death. Because, in all the years that the murder rate has been climbing in the city of Miami Gardens, that was one of the few times that I saw the mayor present and concerned about a murder that occurred within the city limits. I’m sure that the publicity surrounding the case had something to do with that and, as the mayor, it was his duty to be there. At least Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho shows up regardless of who was the child who died, or what that child was doing or supposedly a part of. But you can't be concerned about one and leave the rest to a law enforcement agency from which you divert precious resources. They can’t make bricks out of straw.
Community partnerships have been a gold-star strategy in combating crime in our neighborhoods. But those partnerships are being soured by political favoritism and cronyism, without regard for real outcomes. I can still remember the anxiety that many residents had about the rapid and frequent tax increases that were necessary to get the city on solid ground when it was founded. To see 150,000 of those precious dollars not make a visible dent in the crime should both sadden and anger every taxpayer in Miami Gardens. If you’re going to give the Circle of Brotherhood $150,000, at least you could have gotten a hunger strike out of it to bring awareness to the gun violence that we already know exists. If anything, you could’ve allocated the money to an Officer Friendly and strengthen your police community relations. That’s how community partnerships work. Why pay a group of people who aren’t from your neighborhoods to mentor and liaise on behalf of Miami Gardens and its residents? Maybe there aren’t any leaders left who are from Miami Gardens.
Who can save Miami Gardens? Maybe city officials needs someone to tell them what’s best for them, because they can’t figure it out for themselves. At some point, the members of the City Council are going to have reach deep down within themselves to find the leadership that they are looking for in the mayor. Maybe former Mayor Shirley Gibson, Commissioner Betty T. Ferguson and other pioneers of the city of ‘destiny’ were just dreamers - or maybe it’s time for Miami Gardens to send a message in 2020, one that holds your elected officials accountable. Send a message that shows everyone watching that you know who’s real – and who’s a fraud.