If I don't post it today, I might as well just delete it, so...
Since I've been waiting for a few months to mention all the things I've seen, heard, observed and written on the subject of the FL-17 congressional race, let's start off with some very simple questions first.
Given that reporter Scott Hiaasen still works at the Miami Herald, why is it that the Herald's current reporters and editors have never mentioned in any article about Moise's candidacy for FL-17 the salient fact that, as Hiaasen wrote in 2007, the company he was president of received a half-million dollar loan despite NOT being located within the targeted "empowerment zone"?
What are the names of the people at Miami-Dade Govt. HQ/Steve Clark Building who helped him navigate that particular manuever?
What commissioners carried the ball for him?
All this time later, we still don't know.
But we have our hunches, don't we?
And if it's not too much trouble, could some South Florida print or TV reporters finally end their summer snooze and actually start doing some bonafide investigatory reporting on the people who are running for Congress from the FL-17 instead of the measly handful of sentences that get dropped into generic stories about fund-raising amounts?
If there is a major newspaper in the country that has written less and written worse than the Miami Herald has about a congressional seat that we've known since last year would get a new member come November, I'd like to know what newspaper that is, because I don't think there is.
The Herald has won that dubious honor with no serious competition.
Below, from Part 5 of the Miami Herald's 2007 Poverty Peddlers series
By Scott Hiaasen
The Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust was founded to target nine specific neighborhoods with millions of dollars in federal and local anti-poverty money.
But over the years, the trust routinely bankrolled projects outside the empowerment zone boundaries, often at the urging of County Hall.
About $3.6‚million has gone from the trust to nearly a dozen businesses or agencies outside the empowerment neighborhoods, records show.
These deals include $200,000 to the Hialeah Chamber of Commerce, a $150,000 loan to a North Miami television production company, and a $150,000 loan to an acupuncture clinic in North Miami Beach - more than seven miles from the nearest empowerment boundary.
The publisher of Image, a Christian youth magazine, was expected to move from South Miami-Dade to the Overtown empowerment area after receiving $25,000 in grants, records show. Instead, the company moved to Georgia. Owner Fatima Hall declined to comment.
An international free-trade foundation in the ritzy Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables received $300,000 - but it never did anything for the empowerment zones.
Instead of using federal dollars - which must primarily benefit the empowerment zones - the trust financed many of these deals with county money, records show. While some county grants to the trust were for specific projects, millions of dollars have flowed to the agency with few restrictions since 2000.
County Manager George Burgess said he didn't know why county tax dollars were leaving the confines of the empowerment zones, or whether the county imposed restrictions on all grants to the trust.
Steering money outside the empowerment zones runs counter to the intent of the program, said Bruce Nissen, a professor with Florida International University's Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy.
"The purpose of an empowerment zone is to empower a certain community," Nissen said. "How could that possibly empower the community?"
Trust officials refused to comment.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development selected Miami-Dade for the empowerment zone program based largely on the high levels of poverty in nine Miami-Dade neighborhoods: Allapattah, East Little Havana, Liberty City, Melrose, Overtown, Wynwood, Florida City, Homestead and Miami's Central Business District.
HUD allows the trust to finance projects outside the empowerment zones, but federal rules say that any projects receiving HUD money must primarily benefit the zones - with jobs set aside for zone residents, for example.
County commissioners, however, imposed no such restrictions when they approved $770,000 from a county-backed Empowerment Trust fund for three companies outside the zones: $500,000 to the Haitian Broadcasting Network, a Miami radio broadcaster; $170,000 to a Carol City diaper store; and $100,000 to the North Miami Beach acupuncture clinic. All three ventures failed.
County officials also steered $300,000 through the trust to the Florida FTAA Foundation in the Biltmore Hotel between 2003 and 2006, records show. The foundation's director, Brian Dean, said he was unsure why the county money came through the trust. His agency has no programs that specifically target empowerment zone neighborhoods.
The FTAA Foundation is aimed at promoting Miami as the headquarters for the Free Trade Area of the Americas pact. Much of the nonprofit's spending has gone toward trade missions or other travel, including a trip to President Bush's second inauguration, records show.
"I cannot speak to the rationale" of the trust funding, said Dean, who joined the foundation last year. "I presume there is one."
County officials believed the FTAA headquarters would help bring jobs to the empowerment zones, said Victoria Mallette, spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez. But today there is no headquarters - the FTAA talks have been stalled since 2005.
DATA ON JOBS LACKING
The trust's files often don't show whether its projects have created any jobs, let alone whether the jobs went to empowerment zone residents.
A $150,000 loan was awarded to Bato Productions, a television production company, to create eight new jobs. The company had an office in the Wynwood empowerment zone when the loan was approved in 2004, but the office moved to North Miami the next year, said co-owner Tamara Philippeaux.
Philippeaux said she has hired two new staffers and four part-timers with the loan - not the eight first promised. She doesn't recall ever being asked whether her employees lived in an empowerment zone.
"I don't think that ever came up,'' she said.
Philippeaux said she provided the trust with receipts for cameras and other equipment she bought with the loan - although the trust could not produce any receipts when asked for all paperwork on the deal.
Records show that Hidden Curriculum Education, a company offering college prep classes, was supposed to hire new workers as part of a $100,000 business loan in 2004. The company opened an office in Brownsville, but owner Rozalia Williams moved out because she didn't feel safe there at night, records show.
Williams now runs the company from her condo on South Ocean Drive in Hollywood. Last year, Williams reported to the trust that her company had no employees, records show. She did not return phone calls seeking comment.
DEFAULT ON A LOAN
The trust's loans to the HealingEdge Wellness Center in 2003 were designed to help start up the "alternative healing'' and accupuncture clinic in North Miami Beach. The business closed, defaulting on a $100,000 trust loan, records show.
The trust loaned the company $50,000 more, but the agency could not explain what happened to that loan, or provide evidence that it was repaid.
The owner of HealingEdge, Josette Zamor, has not returned phone calls.
The trust told HUD that it provided job training for 100 people and placed 25 in jobs with a $200,000 loan to the Hialeah Chamber of Commerce - also outside the empowerment zones. But the trust has no records to show that any jobs were created.------
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
HAITIANS BUYING CARIBBEAN RADIO STATION IN DAVIE - $2 MILLION SALE RAISES CONCERN THAT PROGRAMMING WILL CHANGE.
Seventeen years ago, WAVS Radio launched the first 24-hour, daily, English-speaking Caribbean radio station in the country.
Now, for the first time in its history, the Davie-based operation at 1170 AM will have Caribbean owners to match its format.
The radio station, owned by Radio WAVS Inc., a company composed of non-Caribbean shareholders, has been sold for $2 million to a Haitian-owned company called Alliance Broadcasting Network Inc., pending FCC approval.
The sale comes as South Florida's non-Spanish-speaking Caribbean community is exploding. The 2000 census puts the size of the population at nearly 400,000, but most experts believe it's much higher. The group is developing economic and political clout, which has helped make WAVS Radio a hot commodity.
Radio WAVS President Roy Bresky said shareholders sold the station because the right buyer just came at the right time.
"This was the aim of the shareholders, to sell it to a Caribbean company or individuals ... to maintain what we worked hard to develop over the past 17 years," said the retired ophthalmologist.
But the Caribbean community is not a monolithic group, owners of the station have discovered. News of the sale angered some entrepreneurs who purchase time on the station and fanned rumors throughout the English-speaking community that the format might change to Haitian Creole.
Winsome Charlton, president of Hi-Class Promotions, which leases the largest amount of time on the station, said it was her idea to adopt the Caribbean format, and she had offered Bresky up to $6 million to purchase it.
She said she was hurt when she found out that it had been sold to Alliance Broadcasting, and she doesn't believe the new owners will keep the current format.
"I just don't see Haitians buying a station and keeping it Jamaican," she said.
But Alliance Broadcasting met recently with staff and brokers to assure them that programming would remain the same.
"It would be a grave mistake to change the format," said Emmanuel "Mani" Cherubin, who is principal owner of Alliance with his brother, Jean. "It's doing well. If something is not broken, why fix it?"
Bresky said Charlton expressed interest in purchasing the station, but never followed up with a formal request in writing. He said he's received calls from many people who said they wanted to purchase the station over the years.
Rudy Moise , owner of Haitian Broadcasting Network (HBN), which runs Radio Carnivale (WRHB 1020-AM in Little Haiti), said he offered $5.5 million for the station four months ago, but the owners wouldn't sell.
Bresky said Moise also never put it in writing.
"It's a business approach that's required when you make a major investment," he said. "And just to say in passing, `I'll give you such and such' just doesn't cut it."
Radio WAVS Inc. has owned the station since 1971. In the mid-1980s, it began the transition from an urban contemporary/Hispanic format to a Caribbean one at the suggestion of Charlton, Bresky said.
With permission from the owners, she began playing Caribbean music in 1985. Two years later, the owners decided to switch to the Caribbean format, and sell broadcast time to businesses and individuals that wanted to target the Caribbean community.
Charlton said she borrowed $60,000 from investors and launched her company to purchase most of the time on the station.
Today the station, which broadcasts in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties as "The Heartbeat of the Caribbean," has 38 brokers.
Hi-Class Promotions leases about 50 hours week, and produces programs like Taking Care of Business (TCB), a morning show that features infomercials from professionals who provide listeners with advice on a variety of issues; and an open-line talk show hosted by Miramar Commissioner Winston Barnes, who's also the station's news director.
"This station has been a profitable business venture," said Bresky. "The Caribbean community is strong and growing exponentially and it's made up of people of entrepreneurial interests who are out there trying to develop businesses, make money and spend money."
The station "pretty much has been the main voice of the community," said Jamaican-born Eddy Edwards, who hosts a show called Caribbean Riddims on WVCG (1080-AM). "It's a great medium to get information out."
Cherubin, 47, said Alliance Broadcasting is a new company, with plans to purchase other radio stations. He and his brother already own Choice One Telecom, a Miami telephone and Internet service provider, with 40 employees.
They also host programs on WLQY (1320-AM), a Haitian Creole station; and WJCC (1700-AM), a Haitian Creole/Hispanic station, both in Miami. He said his programs are in French, English and Creole.
Moise, of the Haitian Broadcast Network, said he might be soon partnering with the Cherubins to purchase the Radio Carnivale frequency, which his company has been leasing with an option to buy.
He plans to expand the station to a radio network with programs in New York, Boston and other cities.
Alliance made an official offer for WAVS in April, Bresky said. The application for transfer of the station was filed June 16.
Cherubin said he and his brother had been eyeing the station for some time.
"It's a station that most people in the English-speaking Caribbean are listening to, and provides a lot of leadership and togetherness," he said. "We've been talking to the [owners] for years and finally it was the right time for them to sell."