Politics

American Dream

In Miami, one of the most popular phrases used by our political class is the ever present “American Dream”; the go-to euphemism for social mobility and odd rebuttal to the residents’ continued demands for better public transit.

A Better Life?

Cars, according to County Commission Chairman Esteban Bovo, are part of the so-called American Dream. For the people who move to Miami from all over the world, toll-roads, expressways and bumper-to-bumper traffic on Bird Road is the fulfillment of a yearning they carry over from their respective Latin American ‘shit holes’. Buses and trains? That’s just a bad dream.

While Bovo pays lip service to the transit-challenged population, engaging in visible marketing bus adventures, the pervasive mentality among his ilk - who otherwise never step foot in a bus - is decidedly anti-public transit.

Just a few days ago, Bovo put out this telling tweet:

Perhaps the commissioner is unaware that most people in Miami have children, too, and taking “meetings all over town” is about as feasible on a Miami-Dade bus as getting to a 9-to-5 on time. Perhaps the bus “doesn’t work” for him because it doesn’t work for anybody.

El Sueño Cubano

With few exceptions, wherever you look on the County Seat dais, instead of representatives we find agents of developer interests masquerading as elected officials, who carry a chip on their shoulder about a boogey man in another country altogether. It’s almost as if these guys have been making policy in Miami for the last 30 years just to ‘stick it’ to Castro, and show him how capitalist capitalism can be. To them, public transit is an expression of socialism, it seems. The car, on the other hand, embodies the ‘free market’ ethos they ostensibly champion, while rigging the game for their developer friends in back room deals.

American Dream
CORAL GABLES, FL – May 10: Man in a wheelchair waves a large American flag on the corner of Ponce de Leon and Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, Florida on May 10, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

The Mayor, who staked his entire re-election campaign on public transit, has invoked the so-called American Dream to excuse one of the most unbelievable about faces in recent memory, comparable only to George Bush’s “Read my lips. No new taxes.” Giménez even had the audacity, after circulating campaign materials with the words “More Rail Lines” directly above his pepper shade comb over, to dismiss rail as “19th century technology”, shortly before taking a publicly-funded trip to China with a 15-people entourage. The two-week sojourn was billed as a fact-finding mission for innovative transit solutions; a laughable premise, which never seemed to produce any kind of official - or unofficial- report of their observations. The only notable fact to come out of the Asian vacation was the Mayor’s absolute silence about the tragedy of the collapsed FIU pedestrian bridge. Despite having direct family connections to the company, which designed the ill-fated structure, not a single word came from Beijing or wherever in the Middle Kingdom Carlos Giménez happened to be at the time.

It’s also not a trivial matter that the Mayor traveled to a communist country to conduct business, and everyone who lives in Miami should get the joke. As a member of the world’s leading anti-communist exile community, Carlos Giménez and the rest of the Cuban-born gang who presides over the vast majority of local government seats have made a living backing a five-decade old economic embargo on ‘la patria’, and condemning everything left of your right hand’s pinky finger.

Cars Killed the Dream

The irony is that the automobile itself is to blame for the demise of the so-called American dream.

For close to a century, the American working class managed to gain benefits and increase wages, while reducing the number of hours they had to put in each day. This, in turn, resulted in the creation of the biggest middle class in modern history. The automobile was a big part of that process, spurring growth and entrepreneurship.

The federal highway system and urban roadway development gave rise to the car-based, American lifestyle characterized by suburban sprawl, malls and the big box store. It was an ode to prosperity as each generation bequeathed a higher standard of living to the next. This was the American Dream, and for a few decades it actually worked.

American Dream
MIAMI, FL – February 25: Metromover travels south in front of the newly built shopping mall, Brickell City Center in Miami, Florida on February 25, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

As Dr. Richard Wolff from the New School so clearly lays out in this lecture from 2009, the 1970’s was the beginning of the end. Since then, corporate profits have consistently soared while wages have stagnated, remaining at virtually the same level. The rise of productivity coupled with flat lining wages allowed corporations to acquire massive wealth, while the workforce they employed had no choice but to turn to credit cards to bridge the gap between income and their desire to continue to living the American Dream.

General Motors, was among the first companies to take advantage of the American working class’ new plight, and decided to go into the mortgage lending business, expanding the scope of their original car loan business, GMAC. The General Motors Acceptance Corporation kick-started what would become the credit card/debt boom in the United States. The automobile, in particular, would be used as the asset, which underpinned the burgeoning credit-based economy. Linchpin of the small loan industry, cars have been used to both issue loans and secure credit lines using the vehicle as collateral.

Television is riddled with car commercials, that flash financing and leasing terms on the screen. Every movie and TV series, almost without exception, promotes the idea of car ownership as a status symbol, rite of passage and the key to all your dreams come true, especially as it relates to sexual prowess. Anyone who knows the history of the diamond trade and how DeBeers manipulated public perception through movies and stealthy advertising techniques to literally create a market out of thin air, knows this is not an accident.

The unpolished truth is that cars are little more than debt traps. Gateway credit drugs designed to hook people on a lifetime of interest payments and modern-day indentured servitude. The literal American nightmare.

Recalculating

The children and grandchildren of the ‘exilio’ have heard the stories of dispossession and betrayal. If “El Sueño Americano” makes a cameo, it carries with it a certain melancholy, double entendre that reveals the real dream of their redemptive return to the island. This place called Miami is really just a way-station. It was never part of the plan. Smart or otherwise.

If the past keeps informing our actions in the present, then we are simply sowing the seeds for history to repeat itself. At some point, you have to let go. Miami is ready to move on. Francis X. Suárez is the first Miami-born Mayor the city has ever had. His father, County Commissioner Xavier Suárez, is one of the few voices in the County who seems resolutely against building more toll roads and regularly advocates for better transit solutions, though he, too, has been known to indulge in the occasional fawning over personal internal combustion engines.

American Dream
MIAMI BEACH, FL – July 29: Girl bikes down Washington Avenue as a Miami-Dade Transit bus speeds by next to her in Miami Beach, Florida on July 29, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

The Columbus High alum, Francis Suárez, has hitched his wagon to Beckham’s soccer stadium as the first major project of his era. The wisdom of this move is yet to be seen, but the city’s very recent history with sports stadiums does not augur a good outcome. A serious lack of transparency in the process and the young leader’s full-on support of the massive development is concerning, to say the least. Hopefully, as the first native mayor, he will identify as a resident of this city first and foremost, understanding that Miami is not Havana 2.0 anymore.

Miami needs leadership that sees the city as more than a tourist trap or a preferred destination for asset flight of Latin American grifters. It’s time for the people of this community to stand up and demand a public transit system on par with the enormous potential of this beautiful place. The cost of neglecting transit for decades is already manifesting, and will ultimately inflict a terrible toll on the future of Miami if nothing is done to stop the irresponsible, short-sighted and tone-deaf approaches we have endured for years.

Our commissioners and representatives keep dreaming about America. But, this is our bed and we’re the ones laying in it. It’s time to wake up.

Miami Soccer Stadium
I don’t want any interruptions from anyone in the public… We’ve done this day in and day out for a very long time in the City of Miami… We do not need assistance with running this meeting.Keon Hardemon (District 5) - Commissioner & Chairman
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Joe Carollo, Commissioner for District 3, banters with City Commission Chairman, Keon Hardemon, just before the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal begins at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Swing vote-holder, Commissioner Ken Russell, answers some of the press’ questions prior to the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

We are circumventing our own statutes, our own laws… Let the real owners of the land decide… We are going against our own charter. That’s why people don’t trust us.Manolo Reyes (District 4) - Commissioner
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: The Mas-Beckham team huddle together during the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: District 4 Commissioner, Manolo Reyes, states his opposition to the process underlying the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

For the purposes of the questions that were posed, the way the commission is proceeding at this time is perfectly legal. I wanted to remind the commission that in 2014 there was a resolution passed that we wanted MLS soccer, David Beckham to be the group that led this charge… It’s legal.Victoria Mendez - City Attorney
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Mayor of Miami, Francis X. Suarez, follows the proceedings during the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Richard Perez, Holland & Knight partner, representing the Beckham interests stands smiling at the podium during the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

This impromptu proposed ballot language is deceiving and is calculated to elicit a particular response. But, I also think it’s out of order… I have not seen this. We were not contacted about this. We were not asked questions by Commissioner Reyes’ office.Francis X. Suarez - Mayor
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: A First-T supporter looks on skeptically during the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal, while a stadium supporter sits anxiously behind him at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Francis X. Suarez, Mayor of Miami, disputes a proposed language change resolution before the City Commission at the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

We are extremely confident that the remediation costs on this particular site, including the park and including the lease premises will be substantially less than $35 million. Richard Perez - Holland & Knight partner
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Miami Mayor, Francis X. Suarez and City Manager, Emilio T. Gonzalez, confer privately just prior to the start of the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Stadium proposal partner, Jorge Mas Jr., stares forward defiantly during the special hearing at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

We would adopt reaching a living wage on a scalable basis, starting at $11 dollars over four years to get to the $15 dollars.Jorge Mas
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: A member of the Mas-Beckham entourage follows the proceedings attentively during the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: The Mas-Beckham team consult with each other during the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

I know that you say that it is legal. But, is it ethical?Manolo Reyes (District 4) - Commissioner
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Jorge Mas Jr., Beckham’s partner in the stadium venture, assumes a pleading posture during the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: A stadium deal supporter sits through the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

MIAMI, FL - Grant Stern’s Only in Miami radio show (880 The Biz Radio) held a Transit Town Hall yesterday evening in Wynwood’s popular venue, Shots.

Florida Rep. Kionne McGhee (D) spoke eloquently about the pressing issues facing residents of Miami on transit as part of a panel, which also included Transit Alliance co-founder, Marta Viciedo, Miami-Dade Commission candidate for District 6, Maryin Vargas, and Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Esteban Bovo chiming in remotely over the phone.

McGhee has emerged as a vocal opponent of County Mayor Gimenez’ BRT proposal for South Dade, that was recently unveiled and looks to replace the original plans for a rail extension. The Representative for District 117 has demonstrated an ability to cut through the political noise, and express the overwhelming support for rail among the people of Miami.

U.S.

HOMESTEAD, FL - The detention and separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border has sparked a swell of protests and marches across the country, as the mainstream media made this not-so-new problem headline news last week. The immediate outpouring of support for migrants and the, by now, predictable social media sniper fire from both sides of the proverbial aisle is part of a cycle, that began with the inauguration ceremony of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.

Since then, the polarization of American society has been razor sharp, and its subsequent manipulation by complicit media organizations, a case-study of Goebellian propaganda tactics. Nevertheless, at the center of it all, is the American people’s cognitive dissonance regarding what their country actually does around the world. Hollywood and network television have conditioned generations to believe in the righteous, virtuous American profile. On the surface, between L.A. and New York city, this narrative is plausible enough. But, once the metaphorical stars and stripes engages with resource-rich nations outside its borders, a fog of ignorance descends upon Americans, who by-and-large have little understanding of how their government’s foreign policies affects the populations of the rest of the world.

Demonstration Day

On Saturday, June 23, over a thousand people gathered under the intense heat of one of the farthest reaches of Miami-Dade County - a stones-throw from the most biologically vibrant part of the Everglades ecosystem - to march a few hundred yards towards a detention center, where reportedly dozens of youngsters, intercepted with their families at the border, are being housed away from their parents.

Earlier that day, two politicians were given a tour of the facilities. Scandal-plagued Wasserman-Schultz, who’s running for Congress and Senate candidate Bill Nelson, who had been turned away the day before. Nelson’s opponent, and current governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has not weighed in on the matter. A third politician, Nicolas Kimaz, was there to meet the marchers, busy propping up his foam board campaign signs, which kept toppling over from the winds of encroaching rain clouds. Kimaz, is seeking to fill the seat for Florida’s 22nd district, which includes the site of the recent school massacre, Parkland, FL. After informing me, unsolicited, about his qualifications to speak about the issue at hand, due to his own experience as a child soldier in Lebanon, he told me - with no sense of irony - that he was in Homestead that day to condemn the political exploitation of the children detained in the compound behind us.

HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: A tall woman in dreadlocks carries a sign in support of the children over the other marchers at the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Right in front of the building in question, three senior citizens, had arrived early to set up their pro-Trump, pro-detention counter-protest ‘kiosk’. Recycling a few hand-made signs seen before at other Trump-related events in Miami, these die-hard Trump groupies sat comfortably on their portable lawn chairs, equipped with water to keep hydrated and umbrellas to shield them from the scorching sun. As they awaited the marchers, the men indulged in a few wise-cracks about the protestors who were still nowhere to be seen. They seemed to feel safe, surrounded by a half dozen police cruisers and, at least, a dozen Miami-Dade police officers - themselves somewhat more apprehensive as they decided the best way to cordon off the area. As storm clouds got closer and darker, one of the old men remarked that “God” was going to punish the marchers with what, at this point, looked like an inevitable deluge. A comment only possible from someone who’s never had to cross a desert with a child in tow.

The Flood of Humanity

The silhouette of cardboard signs and flags began to be distinguishable in the distance at around 5:30 in the afternoon. A wave of protestors started to make their way down 288th street; the heat mercifully subsiding as incoming clouds produced a canopy over the area. Monitored and followed by policemen on foot and motorcycle, the demonstrators marched past two enormous petroleum silos belonging to the Homestead Air Force base, located just north of the detention center.

U.S.
HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: Soaked participants of the March to Keep Families Together take shelter from the rain underneath a gas station canopy in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Media presence was limited to a few local TV stations, but otherwise not significant. The crowd’s chants started to filter in, as the large multitude approached. Within minutes, the cul-de-sac created by police tape and parked cruisers was crammed with hundreds of protestors, with hundreds more following behind. Upon seeing the three Trump-supporters happily perched in front of the center, one of the marchers smartly suggested to a cop that they might want to remove them, given the numerical disparity between them and the imminent mob. The police officer agreed, in principle, but soon there would be no time to maneuver.

Just as the first flank of the demonstrators flooded the detention center’s entrance, many bringing stuffed animals and toys to leave at the gates, the skies opened up to a torrential downpour, which drenched everything within a 5-mile radius. Caught as they were between the anti-child detention horde and the actual child-detention complex, it would be a miracle if the three Trump supporters were able to save their signs from mother nature’s wet wrath. Unfortunately, I was unable to determine their fate, as I walked through the rainstorm hoping for a miracle of my own - that my expensive camera and lenses wouldn’t get soaked.

Keep Families Together
HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: A father carries a sign in support of migrant families with his young daughter on his back during the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Ideals vs Reality

Thankfully, I reached the small roof cover of the gas station half a mile away with perfectly functioning photographic equipment. I took some last shots of the marchers, some of whom also took cover alongside me, while others continued on undeterred by the rain and thunder. These were essentially good people who felt the need to express their opposition to something they believe is wrong. The three Trump supporters, are good people, as well. They, too, felt the need to defend something they believe is right. Neither (for the most part), understand the reality, that has brought them here on this day to stand by their respective principles.

The foreign policy of the United States towards Latin America is a very complicated, but consistent regime of oppression and economic subjugation framed within the parameters of the Monroe doctrine, which basically claims everything south of the Rio Grande as the exclusive purview of American interests. Strategy and implementation have varied throughout the decades, but the ultimate goals of resource extraction, debt burdens or perpetual trade advantages have been achieved through the subversion of the political processes in Latin America, including direct interference in presidential elections and actively backing the region’s most repressive dictatorships, while assisting in the overthrow of many others.

HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: A young, Hispanic girl chants along her mother at the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

America’s policy in Latin America over the last forty years has been dominated by the war on drugs, which has decimated subsistence economies and is largely responsible for the constant flow of migrants northward, in search of deliverance from the clutches of increasingly powerful drug cartels and the corrupt governments, which run their countries. The fundamental role, that the United States plays in this state of affairs is never examined by mainstream news sources, and rarely by anyone else.

In my documentary series “Borderline - The Unhinged Truth About the Drug War”, I break down how this so-called failed policy is really a vital tool of American hegemony. Part one details an event, which occurred in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila just a few years ago, and which shows the horrific reality that people only a few miles away from the border are facing.

The true scope and consequences of the U.S.’ foreign policy in Latin America are exposed as the series unfolds. I’m sure that at its conclusion, viewers will see the immigration crisis in America through a new, and more informed lens. I’ve included a special access link to part one at the end of this article, and I invite everyone to watch and share.

HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: Protesters approach the child detention center along 288th street during the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.


The Trump Sink Hole

Like Saturday’s washout, any energy we waste shaking our fists against Donald Trump or screaming our support for him, is energy that will never be used to address the real causes behind the problems that lie at our doorstep. Instead, we keep falling into the big, orange sink hole, because we lack the necessary information.

The children being separated from their families and detained in so-called “tender-age” camps are a symptom of a much bigger and systemic problem. Eight U.S. administrations have waged the disastrous war on drugs, year after year, decade after decade. Trump will continue to wage it. Hint: it’s not really about drugs.

BORDERLINE - PART ONE | Access Password: “borderlinepremiere”

Fox

MIAMI BEACH, FL - Trump nemesis, and former Mexican President, Vicente Fox Quesada delivered the inaugural keynote address in front of a few thousand guests, exhibitors, and invitees at the fifth iteration of eMerge Americas, one of the newest technology conferences in the country, focusing on Latin American and local tech startups.

Known for his straightforward style, and colorful language, Fox got right to the point, beginning with a soliloquy on what he called the “underground” threat to globalization. Citing Brexit and the separatist movement in Catalonia, he then singled out Donald Trump as the new driving force behind the sinister plot to break up the “progress” and “enlightenment” so far achieved by the breaking down of national barriers to trade and people.

Fox warned, with the tone of a man with inside knowledge, that President Trump was not revealing his true intentions to the American people.

Trump “Has not yet shown what is below the surface; has not clearly stated to the American people where he is taking this nation. He’s got a plan,” Fox said, “he knows where he’s going. But, I don’t think U.S. public opinion knows what the path is.”

Fox
MIAMI BEACH, FL – April 23: Vicente Fox Quesada, former President of Mexico, delivers keynote speech at the eMerge Americas tech conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center on April 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

He continued with a look into the future, in which he forecasted human lifespans of 130 years, and a civilization enjoying the fruits of robot labor. The six-foot-four, one-time Coca-Cola executive, declared that NAFTA had achieved its goal of bridging the economic gap between north and south, and predicted that all of North America would reach one-to-one economic parity in the coming years.

After his relatively brief address, Fox sat down for a discussion with John Harwood, Chief Washington D.C. Correspondent for CNBC, who pressed him on his remarks about Trump.

“Now, if I understood you correctly,” Posed Harwood, “you said you thought that the president, our president has only revealed part of what his agenda is. But, there’s much more coming, that we have not seen. What do you mean by that?”

Fox, however, didn’t provide any hard evidence for his claim, and instead went on to talk generally about the dangers of populist governments, like those which litter the history of Latin America.

The conversation then veered off into the speaking engagements he’s taken on since his exit from public office, candidly telling his audience, that he only does it to generate revenue for his three foundations. Harwood, at one point, asked him how his anti-Trump t-shirt sales were going, to which the former president responded, that he had yet to see the numbers.

Fox
MIAMI BEACH, FL – April 23: Vicente Fox, and John Harwood hold a discussion at the eMerge Americas tech conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center on April 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

His mention of a Cannabis conference he will be hosting at Centro Fox in Mexico, opened the door to expounding on his views concerning drugs and legalization, as he is in favor of complete legalization. After Harwood asked sarcastically whether he didn’t believe Mexico was at fault for the drug problem in the United States, Fox stated categorically that the “headquarters” of the big drug cartels are not in Mexico, but here in the United States.

“Those who distribute here. Those who raise the money here. Those who benefit from the crime and drugs are the U.S. cartels.” Said Fox.

Eventually, the topic would inevitably turn back to Trump and his protectionist policies, pointing out the folly in shutting out 80% of global GDP, or the rest of the world. “What’s going to happen with GM, with Chrysler, with Ford?” Asked Fox, “They make the profits out there.”

Harwood ended the discussion with a question he’d been trying to get an answer to from the beginning; whether Fox thought there would be a new NAFTA deal. Fox came back with an emphatic yes, but left a 5% chance for a negative outcome.

“This is another false promise…” Fox said, referring to Trump’s threat of scrapping the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s newly expanded trade deal with the EU, agreed to in principle only days ago, might be the reason for his optimism.

But with presidential elections looming south of the border, and a populist candidate from the left leading in all polls, the only certainty is that you won’t live to 130.

Watch the inspiring words spoken by current and former mayors from all across Dade County, as well as MSD and Miami Beach Senior high alumni, who gathered together with thousands of supporters for March for Our Lives on March 24th, 2018 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Miami Beach, FL - Days after the tragic events at Stoneman Douglas High School, a nationwide march was planned by the Never Again movement, which emerged from the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida this past Valentine’s day. Today, a march was held in solidarity with several others occurring simultaneously around the country.

Thousands gathered early this morning at Miami Beach High, where organizers were ready with t-shirts and posters they distributed among the attendees; many of whom also brought their own signage. A stage with a “March for Our Lives” branded pulpit was set up in the south east corner of the campus, where several speakers would rally the crowd before the march.

A carousel of Miami-Dade notables would take the makeshift platform around 9:45 am. Among them was newly-elected City of Miami Mayor, Francis Suarez, and Miami’s prodigal superintendent, Alberto M. Carvalho, who delivered his first of two speeches on the day. “Today is the day” was Carvalho’s chosen refrain, displaying the knack of a natural politician.

Oliver Gilbert III, the Mayor of Miami Gardens, was also among the line-up of speakers, exhorting the people to look past race and ethnicity to come together for the cause of gun control. He asked if anyone really needed an AR-15 or should have the right to buy more than twenty automatic weapons in one year. The crowd responded to each of his rhetorical questions with a resounding “No!”. Philip Levine, former Miami Beach Mayor, and current candidate for Governor of the State shared a few words, as well.

Past and present alumni from Stoneman Douglas were also there. The most emotional speech was given by Michaela Manning, a Stoneman Douglas junior, who had to fight back tears as she lamented her friend and classmate’s passing during the tragedy at her school, knowing that she would never again sit beside her. It was another Stoneman Douglas alumni, Alex Margetts, who had the honors of kicking off the march itself. He is now a senior at the University of Miami.

A few minutes past 10 am, the mass of people began moving towards Dade Boulevard, which had been blocked off by police. They marched only a short distance to the Bass Museum a few blocks away on Collins Avenue, where another, more professional stage was set up for the closing rally.

Current Miami Beach Mayor, Dan Gelber’s 17-year old daughter, Hannah Gelber, warned NRA-beholden legislators about her upcoming birthday in August, when she would turn 18, and become eligible to vote. Hannah compared the number of teenagers in Florida with the far lesser number of NRA members in the state, illustrating how formidable a united teenage voting block would be. Her proud father took the stage after her, and reinforced his daughter’s message with the panache of a professional. Mayor Gelber roused the marchers with charged words and clenched fists before introducing, Superintendent Carvalho, who delivered speech number two of the day, and then left the stage for the ensuing musical performances, kicked off by one of the Marley clan, with a rendition of Bob Marley’s classic “Get Up Stand Up”.

Stoneman Douglas

The events that transpired in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, may turn out to be germane to our ability to live as a free society.

In a time of engineered fear, and an infantilized populace, enslaved by emotional responses to events they can barely comprehend, we’re also able to count on a considerable minority of people, who have taken advantage of the advent of information technology to create its own, independent force for the alternative interpretation and propagation of information, which has seriously challenged the status quo.

Both of these groups are being targeted by purveyors of the party line. The former as the focus of manipulation, and the latter with the aim of destruction. The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has provided them with an opportunity to pursue both, simultaneously.

Rumbling painfully in the background are the agonizing death throes of the American Republic, whose overextended empire-for-hire has begun to eat its own children. Like Saturn, the mythical god of ancient Rome, the United States is cannibalizing its young, beginning its inexorable march into oblivion.

The Strawman’s Dilemma

Within hours of the massacre at Stoneman Douglas, the mainstream news media had gotten a jump on the “conspiracy theories” and claims of fake crisis actors that, by now, have commonly followed highly publicized mass shooting events like these.

Miami Herald reporter, Alex Harris, was targeted by a hoaxer who created two phony screenshots, which seemed to originate from his Twitter account. Also making the rounds was a fake Miami Herald article, warning of “potentially catastrophic events” in the coming days, citing threats to a Miami-Dade Middle School.

Several McClatchy newspapers, the Herald’s parent company, as well as other national publications ran stories on the “attacks”, ascribing to them a specific motive: discrediting the mainstream news media.

The fake screenshots were circulated via Twitter and Snapchat, according to Tim Johnson, who penned the conspiracy-rebuttal for McClatchy DC. He quotes at least three individuals from news media and information circles, all of whom rail against what one called an “evolving system of misinformation”.

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PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 15: Members of the media setting up for their coverage of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, FL on February 15, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for Deep City Chronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Despite their dire predictions about a “world of dense information pollution”, the particular examples of fakery, which provoked the article are fairly easy to spot for anyone familiar with Photoshop or a cursory grasp of search engines.

Many other examples of false claims regarding the incident at Stoneman Douglas, proliferated on social media days after the tragedy; all of which could be easily disproven with the slightest effort; a classic strawman.

The Harris screenshots prompted Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, to join the chorus of anti-fake news refrains from social media industry leaders, stating that his company was looking for a “scalable and objective” solution to the problem. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had already inserted himself in the proceedings, with a ‘flagging’ feature for Facebook user’s posts, which resulted in the unintended consequence of drawing even more attention to the untrustworthy content.

This is not a new problem. The mainstream news media has been fighting for the restoration of is credibility for many years now. In fact, their struggle can be traced directly back to the birth of the World Wide Web.

A Hero’s Legacy

In the summer of 1996, the San Jose Mercury News chose to publish a groundbreaking investigative series called Dark Alliance, as the lead story on their newly-revamped website. Gary Webb’s original three-part series, documenting a nefarious network of collusion between the Nicaraguan Contras, drug traffickers and the CIA, exposing links that reached to the highest levels of the United States government, became the first viral story of the Internet, attracting millions of hits.

The shell-shocked mainstream media would take months to start their own coverage, but instead of investigating the explosive allegations made by Webb, they went after the author himself in article after article, trying to discredit him. Despite never finding a single factual error, the San Jose Mercury News was forced to publicly distance itself from the journalist and the story due to pressure by his corporate-funded naysayers.

More than 20 years later, Webb’s work has not only been corroborated by a deluge of facts unearthed by the army of independent journalists he inadvertently created, but even the conclusions of the CIA’s own internal investigation eventually revealed, that the intelligence agencies involvement was greater than what Webb had disclosed.

All of this notwithstanding, the mainstream press buried any retractions, and continues to publish, as late as 2014, articles meant to disparage the now deceased investigative reporter. In addition to unleashing a real citizen journalist movement, Webb’s Dark Alliance series and the aftermath dealt a massive blow to the credibility of the mainstream media, which has never recovered.

The current campaign to discredit independent journalism with strawman social media posts and ivory tower arbiters of information is one of their latest, and most concerted efforts to regain control over the dissemination of content they enjoyed before the Webb fiasco.

The Parkland massacre has been riddled with dicey tidbits of patently false information. One such example was a video purporting to show David Hogg, one of the MSD students thrust into the limelight, as a high school graduate from California in a class of 2015. The claimant posted a picture and a video fragment of what was supposed to be Hogg’s senior yearbook picture in the Los Angeles area high school. The image and video postings, however, were clearly taken from a social media account of one of Hogg’s classmates, who had uploaded the original video of his first yearbook picture at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. The strawman account, which published the doctored images, was less than three days old.

In the Court of the Manchurian Prom Queen

On the morning of February 15, less than twenty-four hours after the massacre, a group of approximately 25 students met at the home of MSD senior, Cameron Kasky, and formed the so-called “Never Again” movement; a latter day breakfast club, which set its sights on gun law reform. The student group raised an astonishing 3.5 million dollars in the span of two days through a Go Fund Me campaign, that drew large infusions by several Hollywood celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, and intelligence-connected George Clooney.

CNN wasted no time in introducing the faces from the newly-minted teenage political action committee to every living room in America. While one of the members, Emma Gonzalez, would not make her big splash until a couple of days later at the inaugural “Never Again” rally in Ft. Lauderdale, David Hogg would get a head start on his career in TV journalism. Hogg would join CNN at the media staging area of the Stoneman Douglas crime scene to recite the scripted responses to the network’s questions, which oscillated predictably between emotional triggers and gun control, but never any actual investigation of facts.

Stoneman Douglas

PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 15: Camera equipment from a local CBS affiliate in the foreground, as a police officer talks on her cell phone in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL on February 15, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for Deep City Chronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

David Hogg has been one of the most “attacked” figures in the ad-hoc student activist movement, with the mainstream media coming to his defense, and knocking down strawman arguments at every turn, virtually assuring at least a measure of skepticism about any negative stories, that might call his starring role into question.

Kevin Ralph Hogg, David’s father, is a former Comey appointee at the FBI. Special Agent, Hogg, was assigned to the Los Angeles International Airport Resident Agency during a mysterious incident in 2011, involving Nigerian national, Olajid O. Noibi, who managed to board a Virgin America flight from JFK airport to LAX without a valid boarding pass or ID. Despite the fact that the FBI had been tipped off by the plane’s Captain and an airport police dispatcher, after being spotted in flight, Noibi was not arrested when he arrived at LAX, and was only detained days later, when he attempted to board a Delta flight to Atlanta from L.A. using another invalid boarding pass. Noibi cleared TSA and made it to the flight’s boarding gate without a valid ticket, passport or identification. It was only as a result of the actions of a Delta Airlines employee, that Noibi was ultimately denied boarding and his belongings searched, revealing, fake ID’s and 10 boarding passes with different names in his possession.

Kevin Hogg interrogated Noibi and issued an affidavit to a Los Angeles court, which sentenced him to time served (five months) for a single stowaway charge. The blatant lapses in airport security and the Bureau’s own apparent indifference would suffer no scrutiny, however. Hogg would move on from the FBI a few years later and join the private sector with an Orlando, Florida-based company called Cubic Simulation Systems, which specializes in tactical training programs for police and military personnel.

Hogg heads up their Pompano, Florida offices. Among the services offered by the DOD contractor, are a software and visualization package called PRISim, which trains assault rifle users on simulated human targets. Another of the company’s offerings is called ASAULT (Advanced System Architecture for Urban Live Training), a comprehensive urban warfare training system, complete with cameras, speakers, smoke generators, ballistic laser mounts to track the accuracy of the marksmen trainees on their computer-based monitors, and other bodies. ASAULT was recently installed in a Homeland Security Training Center in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The name of the facility is pronounced “slay” for its acronym, SLEA, which stands for Suburban Law Enforcement Academy.

Cubic Simulations Systems’ new Chairman, Bradley Feldman, whose firm has already scored at least one multimillion-dollar contract from the DOD for the procurement of services of Israeli Defense Forces, has close ties to the Israeli military industrial complex and is perfectly positioned to take advantage of his proximity, and special religious-cultural kinship with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who heads the nation’s largest police department and its $730 million-dollar budget.

The dovetailing of Kevin Hogg’s background with the actual events of February 14th, 2018 in Parkland, Florida is not unique. Another parent also shares some odd, if circumstantially relevant links to the emerging details of the Valentine’s day massacre.

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PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 15: BSO deputies confer in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL on February 15, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for Deep City Chronicles ©2018 FDeep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Jeffrey A. Kasky, Jr., father of the enterprising Cameron who ostensibly presided over the creation of the “Never Again” movement at his home is an attorney who, together with his own father, runs a for-profit adoption program called One World Adoptions, which works with impoverished young women all over the world to facilitate placement of children they cannot afford to raise, even before they miss their first period. Jeffrey Kasky is also the author of “The ABA Guide to Assisted Reproduction”; the Orwellian overtones of such a title are clear enough.

The accused, Nikolas Cruz, was adopted not once, but twice in his short life. The 19-year old purported gunman’s origins are as sketchy as the claims of him being a white nationalist; a bogus story planted deliberately in the media by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) hours after the incident at Stoneman Douglas.

Neither CNN or any of the other MSM networks would look into any of these things. Instead, they would continue round-the-clock coverage of the student-led movement. Indeed, CNN would go above and beyond, by literally creating platforms for the students. Just two days after the massacre, that they would organize a town hall at the BB&T center, home of the Florida Panthers. The event would take place the following Wednesday, and invitations were publicly sent to a number of political leaders. Among those who attended the discussion were Senator Marco Rubio, NRA representative Dana Loesch, and Sheriff Scott Israel, the former Broward SWAT director, who is personally leading the pro-gun control discourse.

Momentum is gathering steam, and Emma Gonzalez will soon lead the “Never Again” kids in a march in Washington D.C. in a few days. Curiously, the permit for that march is not held by the students, but by a controversial lobby group called Everytown for Gun Control.

Deep State Spillover

We are told that he “signs” about Nikolas de Jesus Cruz were there, but that all were ignored and his alleged rage was allowed to fester. A monster under the roof, said Mrs. Snead, the plus one in the marriage who took Cruz in weeks earlier after his adoptive mother passed away. Mr. Snead, coincidentally, also had a Military Intelligence background, with expertise in radio-frequency technology; the very technology that police claimed failed miserably on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 in Parkland, Florida, and contributed to their delayed response.

Cruz’ guilt was treated as a matter of course by the media, who never raised any questions about how that conclusion was reached by law enforcement, despite several witness accounts raising serious doubts about the official narrative. One of the most salient examples is an interview with MSD senior, who related to a CNN reporter her belief that more than one shooter must have been active, and followed that statement with the explosive claim that the accused gunman, himself, walked out of the campus beside her.

This video and other witness accounts pointing to the likelihood of multiple shooters were quickly scrubbed from any coverage. Predictably, the media simply began to engage in their familiar pattern of character assassination, to paint a credible picture of incrimination to an emotionally rapt viewing audience.

The media’s talking points, as usual, centered on the outrage. The gory details of massacred children, the dereliction of duty by BSO officials (while simultaneously accepting their word about the events as gospel), and of course, the political hot button subject of gun control.

Cops apprehended Nikolas barely an hour after the massacre. BSO was tipped off to his whereabouts by Rabbi Hershy Bronstein, who spotted Cruz strolling casually by the Chai Chabad House. After the good Rabbi turned over the security cam footage to police, the cameras kept rolling as BSO deputies led a confused-looking Nikolas Cruz into the police cruiser, which would make a short stop at Broward Health North before continuing on to the precinct, with the suspect dressed in an emasculating hospital robe.

The Broward Sheriff, Scott Israel, wasted no time in putting politics front and center. The very next day, during a vigil attended by thousands of Parkland residents, Israel laid out the agenda:

“If you are an elected official and you want to keep things the way they are and not do things differently, if you want to keep the gun laws as they are now—you will not get re-elected in Broward County.”

A not too subtle endorsement of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the disgraced former DNC chair who was also in attendance, and is running to retain her seat as representative for Florida’s 23rd congressional district in the upcoming midterm elections. Wasserman-Schultz’ involvement in the federal probe of her former IT aide, Imran Awan, (not to mention the mysterious case of DNC staffer Seth Rich’s murder) has been conveniently shoved aside from the media spotlight thanks to the Stoneman Douglas tragedy.

The Awan probe threatens to ignite a political tinderbox surrounding recent global events, tied to Israel’s geopolitical machinations and the apartheid state’s sponsors in the U.S. government. One of them is Robert Wexler, a five-time U.S. Representative for Florida’s 19th district, hired Awan in 2004, flying him in from Pakistan. The Congressman resigned his seat in 2010 to become chairman of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Mideast Peace, which is a major source of funding for pro-Zionist politicians and State Department bureaucrats.

Wasserman’s infamous row with Capitol police in mid 2016, threatening law enforcement with “consequences” over the aide’s confiscated laptop, revealed just how compromised she is in what looks to be the real spy scandal of the century, involving the illegal surveillance of Congressional communications and the deep state’s covert operations to bring down all secular Arab states.

Is the Awan case at the heart of the unlikely installment of Donald Trump in the White House, the Mueller investigation, and the radical policy shifts being attempted by this administration? Are Wasserman-Schultz and Robert Wexler more invested in furthering Israeli interests, than those of the districts they represent? Or, are these actually the real interests of the people and corporations in these districts?

The State’s biggest contractor, GEO, is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida in Wexler’s former district 19. Formerly known as Wackenhut, the company founded by former FBI agents, is a massive security firm that runs private prisons all over the world, and has been known to spy on American citizens on behalf of their customers, many of whom are in the oil and energy sectors. More recently, GEO has moved into Immigration and Customs enforcement, making them one of ICE’s biggest contractors.

Stoneman Douglas

PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 15: A BSO motorcycle and cruiser parked behind the police tape in Parkland, FL on February 15, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for Deep City Chronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

The secrets of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Valentine’s Day massacre could be hidden in the upcoming midterm elections, as those left in the lurch after November, 2016, seek to regain control after being ousted by the interests behind the Trump presidency.

The Obama administration facilitated an unprecedented influx of the financial kleptocracy into government, as Goldman Sachs and other creditors set up shop in D.C. Hillary Clinton was slated to continue their agenda, but was clearly thwarted by the asset holders, like big oil, who seem to be thinking twice about handing everything over to the central planners or perhaps it was the central planners, themselves, who have given us Trump in anticipation of another bloodbath.

The signals are contradictory to those of us looking on from the outside. But, we can always look at the final outcome to discern the truth.

The last time we had a Valentine’s Day massacre was in 1929, when Al Capone slaughtered a few of his enemies in a Second City restaurant. A few months later, Montagu Norman’s Bank of England and the central banking cabal would redouble efforts to destroy the gold standard and plunge the world into a massive financial meltdown, in order to erect their debt-based game of musical chairs.

Now that the music has stopped, and the United States is the world’s largest debtor nation, who will be left standing?

It’s unlikely that issues such as gun control and immigration will ever be resolved. These issues are ways to mobilize their respective bases, in order to put themselves in the position to act on behalf of the interests that they actually serve. One thing we can be sure of, they are not ours.

American Coda

The area immediately surrounding Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is a very affluent, suburban enclave with fastidiously trimmed hedges and artificial bodies of water, typical of many developments in South Florida. Fake hills line the north and south sides of Holmberg Road, where the campus stands between Pine Island and Nob Hill Roads. The idyllic, if contrived, scenery works for a weekend stroll or the occasional outing with the kids along the bike path, that undulates beneath the imported trees.

Holmberg Rd, itself, is named after a marginally important figure who bought some land in the area a few decades ago. But once you move past the security kiosks, which guard the entrances to the multiple gated, million-dollar communities, the street names cease to have even this tenuous relation to the region’s history, and become a potpourri of posh-sounding words brainstormed in a real estate marketing firm by an underpaid graphic designer.

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PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 15: Floating plastic ducks on an artificial lake in a gated community of Parkland, FL on February 15, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for Deep City Chronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Distances are long and there are few community-oriented spaces, like parks, which have not been specifically included in the amenities section of the development’s marketing brochure. The wide boulevard is about the only place you’ll steal a glimpse of an actual person through their windshield.

In general, Parkland, Florida looks like a deliberately sterile environment where the risk-averse come to nest. Even the colors are heavily patrolled by zoning committees, which make sure the color palate remains strictly within a beige-taupe spectrum. Only the green leaves and perfectly mowed lawns are permitted to add contrast.

The American dream fulfilled, hidden behind the uncomfortable rumblings of volatile mortgage debt and the nightmarish undercurrent of American culture. This is Levittown of the 21st century. In the 1950s, school children were faced with the abstract prospect of nuclear annihilation, and trained to hide under their desks, at a time when the country was engaged in a nuclear arms race. Today, the threat faced by our children is far more concrete, but the drills equally absurd as the arsenals of individual Americans continues to swell.

Nearly seven decades since William Levitt held his first open house, nuclear weapons have proliferated, despite the lip service paid to détente. But, without the credible threat provided by the now defunct Cold War, nation-wide fear indoctrination loses potency. A heavily armed population is a good substitute, if it can be effectively vilified.

Walking around Parkland, Florida, one could easily imagine a narrative where a socially isolated, heavily medicated kid, with severe depression and a weak support system could suddenly snap, and take out his anger on fellow former classmates. The story has been inculcated into the American collective unconscious via Hollywood and repeated ad nauseam by the news media, itself.

In the end, whether it’s the “lone gunman” approach, eliciting marches for gun control or the “Mexican rapist” argument drawing calls to build a wall, the consensus points to the same pattern, which is recognizable in the last days of all empires: More security. More surveillance. More locks on the doors, and increasingly less, and less freedom.

Transit

Carless in Miami

The look on people’s faces when I tell them I don’t have a car is usually one of absolute bewilderment. The question that invariably follows after they get over the initial shock is some variation of how I can possibly live in Miami without one. As someone who has used MDT for over 20 years to get around this city, no one is more understanding of their befuddlement, but my answers never seem to clear up the confusion. After all, why would anyone put up with late, infrequently scheduled, frequently broken-down buses and a so-called “metro rail” that features a single line – no, the airport detour doesn’t count as a second line - in 90-degree weather, to boot?

It’s a valid question. But a more valid question is why our city leaders continue to neglect our transit system, while repeatedly using it to collect tax money. The SMART plan, unveiled to much media fanfare late last year, is yet another in a long list of similar proposals brought forward promising the expansion of public transit system everybody knows the County needs. Politicians make the speeches, tout the benefits and announce from the bow of the ship sightings of Miami’s bright future.

A Mayor Mistake

Mayor Carlos Gimenez pulled off one of the most egregious about-faces in recent memory when he turned on his own campaign promises just months into his last term. No need to maintain the façade if reelection is not a consideration. He can afford to shed the pretense and get to work for his real constituents: property developers.

Miami has always been developer heaven. The Metrorail plan was originally nothing but a hook for developers, who were supposed to flock to Miami and build along the banks of the suburb-to-downtown rail line. The idea was to cater to a white-collar workforce that never materialized thanks to the emergence of the Internet and the subsequent decentralization of work. 35 years later, the Miami monorail – as it should more aptly be named – continues to shuttle only a few thousand people a day. Ridership has decreased, despite claims to the contrary. Some city commissioners even claimed that ridership had gone up because train cars appeared to be packed. But this is nothing more than an illusion caused by the dwindling number of train cars, which have to come off line as they break down and the parts needed to fix the old steel wagons are no longer made.

New cars are currently being manufactured and scheduled to be on the tracks sometime in 2019. Mayor Gimenez will still be in office at that time, unless drastic action is taken by the people of this city. His 180 on transit, proposing more buses instead of implementing the SMART plan as it was intended and once again defrauding the residents of Miami should be enough to bring us together to recall this Mayor. Unfortunately, most people are making car payments. They look at people like me and think I’m crazy for even making the effort. I don’t really blame them. They have kids, jobs and in their day-to-day hustle to make ends meet, who has time to deal with a dysfunctional transit system that doesn’t work?

Local Swamp Thing

U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee, is responsible for allocating federal funds for transportation projects across the nation. Appearing on the local ABC affiliate channel 10’s Sunday morning news show yesterday, he decried the lack of consensus plaguing municipal politics that has resulted in no projects even reaching his desk in Washington from Dade County.

MIAMI, FL – JUNE 16: U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart gives crowd a thumbs up at Manuel Artime Theatre during an event to sign President Trump’s new Cuba policy – June 16, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles.com ©2017 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

“Get me something that’s real… that I can fund.”, said the Congressman as hosts posed the issue of the SMART plan and Gimenez’ duplicity. “With the need we have here (and) nothing gets to us”, he added, further eroding Mayor Gimenez’ credibility who just last week stated that no federal money was available for transit. County Commissioner Esteban Bovo, Jr. also made an appearance later in the show and largely backed the Congressman, assuring the panel that he would soon bring a resolution to the floor regarding transit.

According to Bovo, there is currently $1 billion in available County funds to make the North Dade Corridor – part of the long-awaited Metrorail extension – a reality, as well as several millions more in other city coffers waiting to be utilized for transit purposes.

Escaping the Trap

At the end of the day, it is always a matter of political will. But unless we make it clear that we want a competent, useful and reliable public transit system, they will continue to divert funds to their pet projects. Recalling Gimenez is the clearest message we can send to Dade County. He made his reelection campaign all about the SMART plan and now he is trying to weasel his way out of it.

Those of us who use Miami Dade Transit are used to waiting, but we can’t wait for this train any longer. Gimenez and friends’ vision for Miami is one of luxury condos for foreigners and a low-wage local service economy. It is the traditional tourist trap model that thrives off a poorly educated local population serving the provisional needs of visitors and results in a high-crime, heavily segregated city.

The transformation of Miami starts with the recall of Mayor Gimenez. If he is allowed to finish his term, it will be yet another capitulation to dishonest politics and we will continue to have the government we deserve, not to mention late to work.

Summer School

At first, it reminded me of a 6th period class on the last day before Spring Break. Most of the 300 seats were empty in the auditorium and the only students in the room had been brought by their parents or had come to see friends. Except, this was a rally for public education, which was taking place in the middle of the summer. Considering that, the seventy-five people, or so, that did show up was a positive turn out.

The production values were above average, with professionally designed and consistent “Women’s March” branding rolled out on T-shirts, hand-signs and video splash screens. The venue was properly set up for the lineup of speakers there to address the small, but spirited crowd about a cause, which had come into sharp relief over the past week. Florida House Bill (HB) 7069 was signed into law by governor Rick Scott a few days earlier and public school advocates across the state have been reeling since. The sweeping legislation gives for-profit, charter schools nearly half a billion dollars in state funding and access to public school facilities and infrastructure.

“Now, we’re in a situation; a state of affairs where we have legislators that are trying to systematically dismantle public education.”, said Karla Hernandez Mats, the first Hispanic President of United Teachers of Dade (UTD), an organization that traces its roots to the nation’s first statewide teachers’ strike in the history of the United States.

Elective History

Pat Tornillo was a Dade County public school Teacher when he ran and won the presidency of the Dade County Classroom Teachers Association (DCCTA) in 1963 on a platform of greater organizational militancy and the desegregation of teaching staff.

The Florida Education Association (FEA), the larger body to which the DCCTA and other educators’ associations yielded to, was originally limited to white teachers and administrators and even engaged in direct actions to sabotage the efforts of African-American teachers who sought equal pay and other benefits. Tornillo upended the status quo, playing a vital role in the dissolution of these legacy, racist policies as well as the establishment of collective bargaining rights for educators through the adoption of a more union-like approach to their dealings with the state.

MIAMI, FL - JULY 22: Audience members look on during the March For Education at the Chapman Center in Miami Dade Community College on July 22, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles.com ©2017 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

By the time the strike broke out in 1968, Tornillo’s star was steadily rising. The work stoppage lasted anywhere from a week to three months and would yield little in the way of practical gains for the teachers, but the strike split and weakened the FEA, which opened the door for Tornillo to merge his DCCTA – the largest teachers’ union in the state – with FEA rival American Federation of Teachers affiliate in Dade to form the United Teachers of Dade. This forced the FEA into a state-wide merger with AFT by 1974. The new teachers’ federation would be called FEA-United and Pat Tornillo would control the organization for almost a quarter of a century until his spectacular fall from grace.

In 2003, the FBI raided UTD’s headquarters in Miami after being tipped off about Tornillo’s embezzlement of union dues. The scandal rocked the entire state and the financial burden brought on by the ordeal nearly bankrupted the organization. Tornillo, who died in 2007, was convicted and sentenced to twenty-seven months in prison for stealing millions out of UTD’s coffers. The FBI, however, may still be watching - In my attempt to connect to a weak Wi-Fi signal at the rally’s venue, a network named “FBI surveillance van #1” appeared on my mobile device, but mysteriously disappeared before I could take a screenshot.

Preaching to the Choir

Resigned to the fact that I won’t have access to my Twitter feed, I turn back towards the stage of the Chapman Center at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus. It is brightly decorated with a couple of blue roll-up banners, indoor plants and a futuristic-looking plexiglas podium from where Aida Reyes, the Women’s March Miami representative and emcee, keeps the introductions going.

A few spots after Hernandez-Mats was local radio personality, Fernand Amandi, whose program, “The Fernand Amandi Show” on 610 WIOD was recently pulled by the station citing budgetary considerations. Many believe it was his anti-Trump rhetoric, however, which caused his show to be axed. “We need to make their lives a living hell. You need to call them. You need to show up at their offices. You need to show up at their town hall meetings. When they do their public hearings, you need to bring your friends and family and make them realize that if they don’t respond to the people’s interest, we will vote them out.”, Amandi told the largely anti-Trump audience.

Public School

MIAMI, FL - JULY 22: Karla Mats, President of United Teachers of Dade, addresses audience at the Chapman Center in Miami Dade Community College for the March For Education on July 22, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles.com ©2017 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Joe Gebara, former President of Florida PTA/PTSA, echoed these same ideas of civic awareness in his speech, even cueing the audience to shout “and vote!” after specific trigger words. Nonetheless, both of them made it abundantly clear that they are not against private schools as such. Only their funding at the expense of public schools. The clarification seemed unnecessary, but maybe they had been looking for a Wi-Fi connection, too, and decided to err on the side of caution.

Social Studies

Kay Reed, from Women’s March Broward, talked about the importance of public schools for parents of disabled children, who, she said, “pay about ten to sixty thousand dollars more to raise and take care of our child” and that public schools are often the “only venue for disabled children to find a quality education.” Necessary things like speech therapy or behavioral therapy would be all but impossible for most families to afford if these were not provided by the public education system.

Jennifer Solomon, followed up with the more controversial issues surrounding gender and identity. As the South Miami Chapter President of PFLAG, which stands for Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians, she spoke about the challenge of raising her own “gender non-conforming” son; a term she defined as the “opposite of a tomboy”. Mrs. Solomon called for the introduction of staff protocols at the elementary school level for the protection of children who display fluid gender roles. “This is new for elementary school.”, she said, “We can’t expect our teachers to know this. This is something that we need to get into the schools so they can identify what they can do to make the children safe”.

Several other guest speakers broached matters of social justice, including a few students, notable among whom was a young man named Connor Cunningham. He shared his inspiring story of overcoming a diagnosis of autism at an early age and using public school system resources – and the social interactions he found there – to fight through his challenges. Today, he is the Co-Founder of the Stand in my Shoes movement, which promotes tolerance and awareness of neurodiversity in children.

Homeroom Politics

Many of the guest speakers at the March for Public Education here in Miami have ties to the various labor unions that represent the educators and education professionals that work in our public schools. Organizations like UTD, the National Educators Association (NEA), Education Support Professionals (ESP) and others naturally see themselves as the most threatened by the election of Donald Trump.

But as laudable as we find the struggle for social justice and as much as we need advocacy for those can’t fend for themselves, school children should never be used to advance an agenda. As the Tornillo case shows, entrenched bureaucracies can become blind to the original purpose of the institutions they serve and in an effort to remain in power, will undermine the very principles they pretend to uphold.

“Fair and fully-funded public education for all children is a moral imperative we should all stand up for”, said Rudy Diaz, 2017 Miami Dade Teacher of the Year, in the event’s closing remarks. You will not find many people on either side of the aisle that will disagree with that statement. Most would also agree that the public education system is in crisis and anyone who witnessed the apathetic turn out for yesterday’s nationwide March for Public Education events – a dozen planned across the country – including the two thirds empty auditorium in Miami, it’s clear that it goes deeper than a few earmarked dollars.

The School Bell Curve

Change is inevitable. In the 21st century, it is also furiously fast. The rate of automation, the advancement in robotics, big data and the IoT are on the verge of transforming every facet of life on earth.

Public School

MIAMI, FL - JULY 22: Connor Cunningham, speaker for the Stand in my Shoes movement, talks about his battle to overcome an autism diagnosis at the Chapman Center in Miami Dade Community College for the March For Education on July 22, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles.com ©2017 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Jeremy Rifkin, in his seminal work “The Zero Marginal Cost Society” predicts a very near future where work, as we know it, will be obsolete. Economists, as we speak, are baffled by the unpredictability of markets that no longer follow once proven patterns. Proponents of a universal basic income are convinced that it is the only way to stem the coming lag between production and supply, as technologies like 3-D printing quickly evolve and manual labor is relegated to a past chapter in human history. If so, what does education mean in a society where people no longer need to work to live?

We are undergoing deep changes in society brought on by exponential advancement in technology and the public school system will have to adapt like the rest of us. It is, itself, the product of the Industrial revolution, another massive social shift. But that shift occurred over decades, whereas ours can be counted almost by the hour.

Our educators have to see beyond the obvious and look past petty politics. They must develop a vision for the future and for that, they need to see the forces that are leading us there.

Simply stated: If you want to keep teaching, you need to keep learning.

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