Part 1

 My mother had the saying for me growing up: "If they talked about Jesus Christ and he was blameless, who are you?" 

For the last two weeks, I've written columns about MMAP/MDEAT and the organization’s unwillingness to continue implementing a crucial disparity study (mandated by County Ordinance) that “examines the present economic conditions of Blacks in Miami-Dade County.”  On July 10, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners supported MDEAT’s decision and took the first step in permanently deleting the requirement of the disparity study. 

The disparity study supports the critical mission of MDEAT, which was created as the “Metro-Miami Action Plan (MMAP)” in 1983, in response to the infamous May 1980 “McDuffie Riots.” MMAP (now MDEAT) was to address the ills of poverty and to bridge the gap between Blacks and the rest of the local population.

The main reason for discontinuing the study? Money.  The pending ordinance amendment cites a cost of nearly $500,000 to conduct the study – money that MDEAT can no longer afford to expend because of its rapidly dwindling coffers. But these coffers aren’t disappearing because of conspiring Black commissioners who have sold us out; they’re disappearing because of the County-created competition – The Beacon Council.

The County apparently countered itself in 1987when it created the duplicative “Beacon Council,” an agency whose mission is identical to MMAP’s and one that was instantly empowered with enabling resources, including an 8% entitlement of proceeds from all business tax receipts collected in Miami-Dade County.  

With MMAP steadily dwindling in capacity and influence, the County Commission countered itself again by restructuring  MMAP in 1992 and creating the “MMAP Trust” ordinance.  This change set the stage for a showdown two years later, in 1994, when Black commissioners would successfully force the 8% entitlement from the Beacon Council to the MMAP Trust, where it belonged. However, 14 years later, in 2008, the 8% entitlement would, once again, be restored to the Beacon Council because it serves “all of Miami-Dade County,” not just the Black community. Sounds a lot like “All Lives Matter” to me.

County records show a history of valiant battles to preserve and sustain the mission and financing of MMAP/MDEAT by Black commissioners. Notably, Audrey M. Edmonson, Barbara Jordan, Dennis Moss and Jean Monestime have all been on record in proactively advocating for MMAP.

For example, after the County Commission voted to return the 8% entitlement of tax receipt proceeds to the Beacon Council in 2008, Edmonson successfully sponsored a resolution that mandated quarterly reports to ensure that the Beacon Council was spending the 8% revenue for similar purposes as outlined in the former agreement with MMAP. Meaning: You still have to spend it in the Black community. And then, again, in 2010 Edmonson introduced legislation to rescind the 8% from the Beacon Council and essentially terminate its partnership agreement with Miami-Dade County. That legislation was withdrawn, but it looked like a stern warning from where I sit. And before these examples, there is more evidence of Moss and Jordan successfully standing in the gap to ensure that MMAP remains viable and relevant.

Proverbs 3:11 (NKJV) states, “My son do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest his correction.”  Verses 13-14 goes on to state that, “Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver and her gain than fine gold." 

With that, I stand corrected regarding Chairwoman Edmondson, as well as Jordan, Moss and Monestime in writing that they should “have their Black cards revoked” – at least not on this issue. The record clearly points to a 25-year war with the Beacon Council for control of dollars to revitalize and sustain our neighborhoods. We need to win this war.

For what it’s worth, in September you can attend a series of pivotal public hearings. On Sept. 5 at 5:01 p.m. come to the County budget hearings and put on the record that you want the County to find the money to fully fund the mission and programs of MMAP/MDEAT. 

Then on Sept. 9, at 9:30 a.m., come to the Housing, Social Services and Economic Development Committee meeting and tell County Commissioners that you oppose the deletion of the disparity study from the MDEAT ordinance. Both meetings will be held at the Stephen P. Clark Center: 111 NW First St., Second Floor, Commission Chambers. You can also call your County Commissioner ahead of those meetings and voice your opinions.

Best believe there’s still the issue of the MMAP Foundation (a spinoff of the MMAP/MDEAT Trust) that still has lingering questions. Is the foundation still in existence? Are there resources available for the Black community? If so, how are the dollars being spent? What inventory of land do they possess?

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