Saturday, February 11, 2012

Michael Putney's 'Liberty City' commentary sparks outrage

Last Sunday, Channel 10's Michael Putney ended his show with a commentary that combined old-fashioned common sense with a healthy dose of harsh reality aimed squarely at Miami City Hall and the residents ZIP code 33127, otherwise known as Liberty City.

Putney blasted Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones for approving a plan that will waste some $428,000 in taxpayer money fixing up four small businesses along NW 7th Avenue.

Putney didn't pull any punches as he spoke frankly about the problems that have plagued Liberty City for decades. It's the kind of talk that's long overdue and the kind that residents of Liberty City don't often least not from their elected leaders.

In his 35 years as a journalist in Miami, Putney has seen hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars - the equivalent of the Gross National Product of several Central American banana republics - funneled into Liberty City on do-good, feel-good projects that have yielded little or no benefit to the area's residents.
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.
Putney expanded upon his Sunday commentary with a column in Wednesday's Miami Herald:
There are restrictions on how CDBG money can be spent, but if it were up to me I’d use that $428,000 to train Liberty City residents in job skills so they could go to work at the nearby UM Life Science and Technology Park.

Or for training to get a job at Resorts World Miami.

Or spend it on after-school tutoring and other programs for Liberty City school kids.
Reaction was swift. Liberty City residents called a press conference Friday to denounce Putney.

Leroy Jones of something called the "Neighbors and Neighbors Association" labeled Putney's commentary, "bigotry toward the residents of Liberty City."

Jones told Channel 10 reporter Jeff Weinsier the $428,000 would "improve the morale" of residents and make Liberty City an attractive place "so that people who don't live in Liberty City might want to come here with their money."

Ironically, as Weinsier's piece aired tonight on Channel 10's 6pm newscast, Miami police were investigating the second drive-by shooting in as many days in Liberty City.

Putney ended his Herald column with this sentence: "To spend this money renovating the facades of four Northwest Seventh Avenue businesses is a cosmetic fix for a systemic problem. It’s worse than putting lipstick on a pig. It’s putting a useless Band-aid on a festering wound."

Putney's right. It's going to take more than paint, new signs and awnings to attract people with money to Liberty City.

And I'll add - are you listening Leroy Jones? - that Liberty City will become a whole lot more attractive to outsiders when the shooting stops. Just sayin'.


  1. I have worked with Michael Putney and he is NO bigot. As a matter of fact, he is one of the most fair and honest reporters on the air today...

  2. Hi, does anyone know the exact addresses of these businesses? I do not see it in any reports. I'll bet that is the real story. All 4 buildings combined are probably not worth 428k. And who are the recipients, contractors, etc.? Follow the money. I bet the story is a lot bigger. She protesteth too much.

  3. Yea let's send the blacks to work at the billion dollar casinos cleaning up the toilets and serving beer to all the ultra rich foreigners who will just be funneling money to Malaysia. Michael Putney's time has long passed. He is out of touch with the Miami of today. Why should the money go to train African Americans to work for some corporate conglomerate when the money can be used by local African American businesses struggling to get by? So excuse me if I don't subscribe to the white establishment journalist's notion that black people can't fend for themselves.

  4. I once had a business on 7th Avenue. It was a banquet hall/teen club. We use to go to NANA for grants but never got approved. Leroy Jones heart is in the right place. After dealing with him i truly believe he's passionate about seeing Liberty City thrive. but.....

    I honestly don't think the people of Liberty City want to thrive. There are some people there that have visions and dreams. They will survive with or without a face lift.

    I agree with Mr Putney. I've seen a lot of business on 7th Ave get grants and waste the money. Painting and getting a sign will not generate business if the people running the biz are incompetent. This program has been running for years and 7th Ave still look like hell. It has great potential with all the traffic that pass through it and i think Leroy Jones sees what i could become.....

    With that being said..... how about a report on the Millions that were stolen from Liberty City CDBG and diverted to other areas of Miami. Liberty City CDBG money has gone to Coral Gables, Aventura, Brickell and other areas. This little 400K is just a drop in the bucket.


Feel free to comment on anything you read here.

All comments must first be approved. Spam and spam links will not be tolerated or approved.