WSVN 7: “New center to benefit NE Miami-Dade community”

Officials broke ground in Northeast Miami-Dade on a building meant to benefit the community.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime dug in the first shovel for the construction of the new Father Gerard Jean-Juste Community Center.

The 20,000 square foot center is being built near Northeast 159th Street and Seventh Avenue and will feature multi-purpose rooms for special events, after school programs and more.

Miami Herald: “Miami-Dade creates King Carter Street in honor of 6-year-old shooting victim”

By Douglas Hanks

King Carter will have his name on the street outside the apartment complex where the 6-year-old was fatally shot in a slaying that came to symbolize Miami-Dade’s relentless gun violence in some of its poorest neighborhoods.

When asked about the street, Santonio Carter jumps back to a different role that stretch of road played in his son’s brief life.

“Every day he got out of school, we raced down that street,” Carter said a few minutes after county commissioners approved creating King Carter Street between 11th and 12th avenues on Northwest 104th Street. “I had to let him get to the white mail box. Then I could start.”

The pair of moments — a dad giving his son a head start on a race home from school, and the same son gunned down a short walk from home — captured the mournful mood at the commission chambers Thursday as the board prepared to approve what’s believed to be the youngest person ever honored with a county street.

“Normally when we have a street naming, it is to honor someone who had a long and prosperous life,” said Commissioner Jean Monestime, who sponsored the renaming legislation, which passed unanimously.

King Carter was shot dead on Feb. 20, 2016, outside the Blue Lake Village Apartments, a complex facing 104th Street and just a block from the Van E. Blanton Elementary School. Police said the boy was walking to buy candy from a neighbor in the complex early in the afternoon with $3 from his dad. He died from a teenager’s bullet, part of a crossfire in a feud that started on Facebook.

His age helped make King Carter a symbol for young victims of gun violence in pockets of Miami-Dade where shootings are common amid a broader drop in crime countywide. Esteban Bovo, chairman of the County Commission, touched on the divide before the street-naming vote.

“It is unacceptable that a child in our community can’t go to a candy store,” said Bovo, who represents Hialeah. “This is not Baghdad. This is not Aleppo, for God’s sake.”

More than a year after their son’s death, Santonio and Monica Carter have joined the ranks of Miami parents advocating against gun violence after losing a child to a bullet. Both stood before commissioners Thursday, but only Santonio spoke. He talked about the fears of children he encounters in travels around Miami.

“I’ll say to these kids: What are you scared of? And they’ll say the boogeyman coming out of their TV,” he said. “Then I’ll go back to my neighborhood and ask: What are you all scared of? And they’ll say: ‘I don’t want to die like King.’ ”

Read the original article here.

South Florida Caribbean News: “Commissioner Monestime Urging Trump Administration To Extend TPS For Haitians”

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime issued a statement on the Trump administration’s investigation of the Haitian community’s criminal history as part of its deliberations over whether to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the 58,000 Haitian nationals allowed in the U.S. following the 2010 Haiti earthquake:

“I am flabbergasted and this unusual exercise would only serve to send a message to the rest of the world that America is departing from its moral responsibilities.

We as a country have always extended a helping hand to the most vulnerable and seeking to penalize a majority over the mistakes of a few is un-American and I hope the administration understands that.

The hunt for evidence of possible crimes committed by Haitians before deciding about TPS is unorthodox and inconsistent with American historical and traditional values.

Haiti is still trying to recuperate from the devastating 2010 earthquake; a recovery that was made even more difficult by the introduction of cholera from the UN peacekeepers and exacerbated by hurricane Matthew last October.

Haiti is still in a state of crisis and sending 58,000 people back to a country that is still in turmoil would not only be inhuman but un-American. This move is shortsighted and would only serve to further destabilize the country and lead to another mass exodus.

I urge the Trump administration to put an end to the uncertainty for thousands of hard-working, law-abiding Haitian nationals who have been contributing to the US economy.

I also join my voice with many others and ask that the Trump administration extend Temporary Protected Status for those 58,000 Haitian nationals living in constant fear,” Commissioner Monestime said.

Read the original article here.

South Florida Caribbean News: “Chairman Jean Monestime Announces South Florida Haiti Relief Group”

Chairman Jean Monestime created the South Florida Haiti Relief Group in order to provide coordinated and transparent relief efforts to Haiti in response to the outpouring of support and solidarity after Hurricane Matthew made landfall on Haiti’s southwestern peninsula and the northwestern coast on Oct. 4.

Based upon preliminary assessments, the group decided to focus on three areas vital to recovery in the wake of a Category 4 hurricane.

These areas are: health, education and small business recovery (primarily farmers and mom and pop operations).

The group agreed that Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center will serve as fiscal agent to receive donations in a specially designated account for this relief effort. Sant La is a community-based organization which is trusted for its transparency and accountability.

The donation may be made via checks payable to Sant La for South Florida Haiti Relief Group and mailed to 5000 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida 33137 or using a credit card via PayPal through Sant La’s website

The mobile giving option is texting the word HAITI to 52000; a $10 fee will be deducted.

Sant La will provide a full accounting of funds collected and distributed.

“Please rest assured that your donation is tax-deductible and will be directed exclusively to relief efforts in Haiti,” said Chairman Monestime. “Also, your donation will be distributed to the most accountable organizations working in the most devastated regions of Haiti.”

Read the original article here.

WLRN: “Commissioner Jean Monestime Talks State Of Black Miami”

By Nadege Green

Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jean Monestime recently hosted a summit called “The State of Black Miami”

The summit addressed economic opportunities and quality-of-life issues.

Here is an edited excerpt of his conversation with WLRN’s Nadege Green about the state of black Miami:

What is the state of black Miami as you see it in 2016?

Access to education, economic empowerment…For the past five years we’ve gotten information that less than 2 percent of county contracts are given out to black businesses. Maybe the county is not making enough of an effort to give a bigger piece of the pie to black businesses. Maybe we need more qualified black contractors or business people.

If it’s the latter, we definitely have to do a better job of getting contractors trained, registered and certified to do business with government.

But if it’s the former, if it’s that because there are biases, I think a bigger political push has to be made to let the establishment understand that you know what we are here too.

There is an ongoing conversation happening right now about contracts at the Miami International Airport and whether black-owned businesses like Jackson Soul Food and Chef Creole are getting equal treatment compared to Cuban-owned businesses.

Which communities here have more clout?

I’m sure everybody listening to this interview knows which community has more clout. It appears based on what the conversation is today that there has not been a level playing field. It could have been mistakes that have been made, but if it’s deliberate we definitely have to fix it one way or another.

The county recently bailed out the Frost Museum after it failed to secure enough financing for construction. You were critical of the $49 million bail out—even though you voted for it. You said there have not been similar bail outs for cultural institutions in the black community, but for affluent communities, “We find ways to solve problems.”

Can you give me an example of one of those institutions that needed a bailout but didn’t get it.

I don’t think it matters to go into the details. But what I wanted to convey is at times when mistakes are made in the less affluent community we look at this community as a failure. But when the same mistakes take place in the affluent communities we quickly find solutions.

I just want us to understand that this is a very diverse Miami-Dade County we all are part of this great mosaic of culture, of people. We need to be sensitive to one another. We need to pull each other up instead of pushing each other down.

Being black myself, being Caribbean American, Haitian American, I think it’s important we sit as a family trying to understand the issues that face us and what policies can be brought forth to address some of these problems.

Read the original article here.

Miami Herald: “County commission elects first Haitian American chairman”

By Patricia Mazzei

Jean Monestime, who left Haiti alone at age 17 to move to the United States and went from washing floors at a doughnut shop to running his own real-estate business, was elected Monday as the first Haitian American chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission.

His colleagues chose him by acclamation, voting unanimously in what they said was a show of unity for a board sometimes pulled apart by ethnicity and race. Monestime represents one of the poorest commission districts, a Northeast Dade corridor that includes portions of Little Haiti, Liberty City, North Miami, North Miami Beach and Biscayne Gardens.

“What an honor this is,” the 51-year-old Monestime said, his voice breaking. During his two-year term as chairman, which will begin Jan. 1, he promised to “allow our diversity to strengthen our community instead of divide us.”

Esteban “Steve” Bovo, 52, was elected, also unanimously, as the commission’s vice chairman. He represents areas of Hialeah, Miami Lakes and Palm Springs North.

“Our actions today show that the American Dream … continues to live on,” said Bovo, who is Cuban American. “Many have come from abroad to establish themselves in this community.”

The two men are part of the commission’s newer wing. Monestime became Miami-Dade’s first Haitian American commissioner in 2010. Bovo took office after a 2011 special election. Some of their fellow board members have been around since the 1990s.

Monestime and Bovo will replace outgoing Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa, who will remain on the board as a commissioner, and former Vice Chairwoman Lynda Bell, who lost reelection in August.

Though commission positions are nonpartisan, both Bell and Sosa are Republicans. So is Bovo, but Monestime is a Democrat. The last Democrat to lead the commission, Dennis Moss, ended his chairmanship four years ago. Six commissioners are Democrats, six are Republicans, and one is independent.

The commission chair’s power, however, does not usually come from partisan ties but from the discretion over the agenda — and, crucially, over the leadership and membership of committees that can block proposed legislation. Commissioners are scheduled to meet next month to decide how many committees, and which ones, it should have. Monestime will appoint members, chairpersons and vice chairpersons.

Though all commissioners are eligible to chair the full board, the only candidates nominated Monday were Monestime and Audrey Edmonson. Edmonson, however, declined the nomination.

“I think, for once, this commission needs to move forward without us competing against each other,” she said.

Commissioners praised Edmonson’s move as gallant. No vote had been taken, but it appeared clear that she would not have had a majority of votes to win anyway. Bovo was the only vice chair nominee. Commissioner Barbara Jordan was absent due to her mother’s recent death.

While commissioners are not allowed to speak to each other about board business outside public meetings, lobbyists and political consultants are known to count votes behind the scenes and rally support for their preferred chair candidate for weeks before the election takes place. By the time the day comes, the result can be a foregone conclusion — though insiders were jockeying for votes as late as this weekend.

Prior orchestration appeared evident Monday when Sosa asked Monestime, fresh from hugging and shaking hands with his colleagues, to hold off on his acceptance speech. She called on a man in the audience to congratulate him. It was Daniel Supplice, who presented Monestime with a poster signed by Haitian President Michel Martelly. Supplice is the former minister for Haitians living abroad.

But Sosa denied any preordination, telling the Miami Herald later that she did not invite Supplice to the ceremony. She found out in the morning that Supplice was on hand and, though she could not rework the agenda for his presentation, said she would allow it once the ceremony was over. The perfect moment presented itself after the chair vote, she said.

Monday seemed to go Monestime’s way from the start. Before the chair vote, commissioners held a symbolic ceremony for their five reelected members, most of whom were formally sworn in last week. Monestime was one of them. So was the only new commissioner, Daniella Levine Cava. Monestime’s two sons, Clarence and Darnell, had been listed in the program as the ceremony’s national anthem singers.

Yet at the appointed time, neither son walked to the stage. Monestime stepped down from the dais, took the microphone and explained that one son was in school taking a test. The other, he would explain later, had lost his voice over the weekend.

So the commissioner himself sang instead.

The rest of the commission, and the audience in the standing-room-only chambers, joined him.

Read the original article here.