Sunday, February 05, 2012

Michael Putney rips City of Miami for 'wasting' $428,000 in taxpayer money

The City of Miami is getting ready to spend part of $428,000 in taxpayer money to 'renovate'
The Shantel Lounge in Liberty City

Local 10's Senior Political Reporter Michael Putney was checking his email last Friday when he noticed a "press release" [below] from the City of Miami.

Instead of hitting the "delete" key like they do in most TV newsrooms, Putney actually took the time to read the fine print.

On this morning's edition of "This Week in South Florida," Putney talked about what he found in that press release.
Before we leave you this morning, a personal perspective about wasting taxpayers' money to help a struggling neighborhood.

The neighborhood is Liberty City, a tough, [African American] community west of I-95 whose main streets are northwest 7th ave and 62nd street.

After the McDuffie riots in 1980, hundreds of millions of dollars poured into Liberty City for promised "improvements." Besides widening 62nd Street, there's not a lot to show for that money. Each layer of government took its cut and so did some unscrupulous community organizers and politicians, black and white.

Now, this week I got this "news release" [see below] from Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones saying that $428,000 dollars will be spent for a, quote, "commercial rehabilitation project" in Liberty City.

What does that mean? That the facades of four small businesses on Northwest 7th Avenue are going to be spruced up. In an "Afro-centric architectural style" whatever that means.

Could these businesses stand a fresh coat of paint and some new windows and awnings? I'm sure they could. But why are taxpayers footing the bill? And what long-range difference will it make to Liberty City? I'd say, not much.

Why not take that $428,000 dollars and spend on after-school tutoring, special programs for kids who attend schools in liberty city.... so that they'll have the intellectual and social skills to get the heck out of there if they can.

Spending this money to fix up four - just four, businesses - is absurd. Spend it where it will make a real difference.... in education.
Mayor Tomas Regalado and Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones Mark the Start of the NW 7th Avenue Commercial Rehabilitation Project in Liberty City

(Miami, FL February 3, 2012) -- City of Miami Mayor Tomas P. Regalado and Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, District 5, will join Armando Fana, Miami Field Office Director, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the City’s Department of Community Development, the Board of Directors of Neighbors and Neighbors Association, Inc. (NANA), and several area business owners at Duhart’s Daycare Center on Monday, February 6, 2012, 10 a.m., at 5580 NW 7th Avenue, to mark the start of work on the Northwest Seventh Avenue Commercial Rehabilitation Project in Liberty City. The project encompasses the exterior rehabilitation of small businesses along the busy Seventh Avenue corridor, from Northwest 54th Street to Northwest 71st Street. The extensive façade project will be possible thanks to $428,545 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars, provided via HUD.

Renovations to four businesses will include new windows and doors, fresh paint, stucco work, new signage, awnings and lighting, as well as the installation of protective shutters. The work will be handled in two phases and encompass several commercial buildings. Some of the small businesses to be renovated during the first phase include Duhart’s Daycare Center, Melanie’s Beauty and Barber Salon, Café NanKing Chinese Food, and Shantel’s Lounge. The facades will feature a contemporary Afro-centric architectural style by Design2Form Architecture. Work is being overseen by NANA, a not-for-profit corporation established in 1996 that specializes in assisting small business owners in low-income communities by providing technical assistance with community development projects, business improvement efforts and more.

Begun in 1974, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program allots federal funding to more than 1,000 municipalities, including the City of Miami, for a variety of initiatives and activities that benefit low- and moderate-income persons. This program helps cities and counties create jobs, increase economic development opportunities, expand home ownership, and provide assistance to the neediest in our society.

WHO: City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, District 5, HUD Miami Field Office Director Armando Fana, the City’s Department of Community Development, Board members of Neighbors and Neighbors Association, Inc., and several small business owners in Liberty City.

WHAT: Will mark the start of exterior work on several small businesses as part of the Northwest Seventh Avenue Commercial Rehabilitation Project, made possible with federal CDBG funds.

WHEN: Monday, February 6, 2012, 10 a.m.

WHERE: Duhart's Daycare Center, 5580 NW 7th Avenue

Angel Zayon


  1. Mr. Putney's comments, even though he is well respect by me and others, has definitely missed the mark. First, CDBG $ can't be used for after-school/tutoring programs. This particular projects is economic development focused. Has anyone noticed the economy lately? Will a fresh coat of paint and some exterior enhancements make a difference. YES! Those same children that you speak about, should be able to walk through a clean and spruced up neighborhood. Also $ put into a small business, increases their sale, and economic positioning to which improves those that own the businesses and those that work there, maybe even add some new employees.
    This is hard work, and limited resources to go around. Why doesn't Mr Putney write about the 30% reduction in funds for the City and many others that is not being told by the media. Now there's a story!

  2. I typicall agree with Putney and I see his point here but I guess he missed the fine print.
    If this is really some type of Block grant then I guess there's no choice about whether to use the money on education.
    However, $428,000 seems like an awful lot of money to fix up four business. Even with structural work, etc. I'd be interested in knowing what type of bid process they used. And I certainly hope that the work is being done by contractors and workers from that community.


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