Tag Archives: systemic racism

Say Goodbye to the E.W.F. Stirrup House While You Still Can

Right now there’s still a bit of old among
the new, but not for long. May 18, 2016

Why was the E.W.F. Stirrup House
so important to the community?

Read: Happy Birthday Coconut
Grove!!! Now Honour Your Past

If you’re a longtime reader of Not Now Silly, you know of my years-long campaign to SAVE THE E.W.F. Stirrup House. It is with great sadness that I report the fight has been lost.

I’m throwing in the towel.

Let me be clear. A developer is going ahead with the “Historic E.W.F. Stirrup House Bed & Breakfast.” It is currently in the process of … what’s the correct word? Clearly not renovation.

I say that because I spoke to the foreman on the 18th, who confirmed what I feared. When they are done, not a single piece of the original house will remain. It will be all new construction — from the piers on which the house will sit right up through the roof.

Therefore, it will no longer be the oldest house on Charles Avenue. It will no longer be the Historically Designated E.W.F. Stirrup House.

This NEW! IMPROVED!! Stirrup House will be a mere re-creation. An ectype. An analogue of the original. A facsimile. A carbon copy. A semblance of the former. A clone. A chip off the old wood block. A mere imitation. Imposture!!! It will be a double, aka duplicate doppelgänger. A dead ringer for what used to be. A mega-ditto. An impersonation of a historic structure. An ersatz E.W.F. Stirrup House. It will be a deceit, or deception. It’s a put-on. A reproduction. A copycat. Bogus and just an effigy of the original. An incredible likeness. A look-alike. A replica. The spitting image. A pseudo E.W.F. Stirrup House, or a simulacrum. A twin, but counterfeit. It’s a fake, a forgery, and a fraud. Merely a knockoff. A phony E.W.F. Stirrup House. A sad replication. A rip-off. A hoax. A sham. A mock-up. A simulation. Just a representation. A shadow of its former self. An archetype of the Stirrup House. An impression of what once was. Merely an approximation. Possibly a reincarnation, if you believe in that.

The northwest corner of the Stirrup House, May 18, 2016.

On the left: front. On the right: the west side. Nothing of
the original house remains, the fate for the rest of the house.

In other words: even though he built
it with his own 2 hands, it will be a house that Ebenezer Woodbury
Franklin Stirrup never touched.

According to the Cleveland Restoration Society‘s guidelines, this is called a “Reconstruction”:

The act or process of depicting, by means of new work, the form, features, and detailing on a non surviving historic structure for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific time in its historic location.

I asked my source, who has rehabbed many old and historic houses, whether the preservationist community looks upon these recreations with the same disdain I now look upon the NEW! IMPROVED!! E.W.F. Stirrup House.

Not if it had burned down or had fallen so far into disrepair that nothing could be salvaged.

And, therein lies the rub.

The E.W.F. Stirrup House has undergone nearly a decade of DEMOLITION BY NEGLECT. I have THOUSANDS of pictures of the Stirrup House that document the slow disintegration of the historic structure over
the last 7 years. For the majority of that time this house was not
sealed from the elements, with windows either open, missing, or broken. The all-wooden house had no protection from the wind-driven rain and from the invasive vines, reptiles and insects that took over when people moved out. No wonder the developers were able to argue nothing could be salvaged.

The official reason given for
starting from scratch is termite damage. However — and I cannot stress this enough — had the house been sealed
and protected, there may not have been quite the infestation. They allowed the worst devastation to occur on their watch. Before they got a hold of it, the house was a rental property.

Bottom line: The developer profited from allowing the house to fall apart. It would have been far more expensive to bring the old structure up to code than it will be to wire and plumb an entirely new structure.

The Mariah Brown House was once
the oldest house on Charles Avenue

IRONY ALERT!!! This is the same fate that befell the Mariah Brown House, a few doors west of the Stirrup House. What is now seen is not the Mariah Brown House. It’s a relatively new re-creation.

The Mariah Brown House was once the oldest house on Charles Avenue. “Mary the Washer-woman,” as she was known, and her husband were the first to buy land on the Frow Homestead on a footpath that later became Evangelist Street, for the number of churches that were strung along its length. It’s now known as Charles Avenue.

The Browns were among the original Bahamian labourers at The Peacock Inn, right at the beginning of the nascent South Florida tourist industry. Those tourists traps — just like modern day tourist traps — needed a service industry. The Bahamians drifting up from the Keys became those workers. After enough of them gathered in West Grove, Mr. Stirrup laid out Charles Avenue, slightly out of true east-west coordinates.

That’s why this is the very 1st street in Miami. Which is why Charles Avenue was designated a Historic Roadway by the City of Miami.

When the Brown House was reconstructed, the E.W.F. Stirrup House became the oldest house on the block.

I take absolutely no solace for being right all along. Right from the get-go I called this a case of DEMOLITION BY NEGLECT. I predicted that the developer was hoping a hurricane would knock it down because he was quoted in the Miami media as saying that he would rebuild if that happened. Just substitute termites and wood rot for hurricane and you’ve got the picture.

If you’ve been reading my blog you know that I’ve been writing about West Grove for the past 7 years. Now, all of a sudden, it’s become très chic to write about Coconut Grove. The New Tropic has been all over it lately. In one recent article I couldn’t help but notice a new name attached to the reconstruction of the Stirrup House. I’ve never seen that name mentioned in connection of the Stirrup House before. However, it’s a name I recently heard in connection to a new Coconut Grove rumour that I am currently trying to chase down. Stay tuned on that.

I haven’t Googled the topic of the E.W.F. Stirrup House in a while because I was the only one writing about it. During the research for this article, to see whether there was something new I had missed, I was gratified to discover a website called Stirrup Family Legacy. Because I didn’t want to edit this, here’s the entire ABOUT page:

This collaborative effort was born in the social media space
following an inspired Facebook discussion among a few family members.
While aware that our family story is already in the public domain and
has been for some time, we acknowledged that the telling of our family
story varied greatly and was regrettably unknown to many– particularly
to those most needing to hear it. We came to an agreement as a family
and decided to act–as a family, for our family.

We agreed that our family story is a classic American immigrant tale;
one that is deeply rooted in the American dream.; one that is both
exemplary and extraordinary; one that deserves to be told; and one that
should rightfully be told by the Stirrup family.

The goals for the Stirrup Family Legacy are threefold. First, our
website is a means of preserving the Stirrup Family Legacy while
increasing the digital footprint of the Stirrup family story. We are
creating a lasting tribute to Stirrups who have passed on, and a living
legacy for current and future generations of Stirrups.

Second, we want to promote, through digital media and deeds, the core Stirrup Family Values that were lived and bestowed to us by our beloved patriarch Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup, Sr. and Charlotte Jane Stirrup, our beloved matriarch. The values are these: commitment to FAMILY; commitment to EDUCATION; commitment to SERVICE; commitment to COMMUNITY; commitment to ENTREPRENEURSHIP; commitment to PHILANTHROPY; and commitment to CREATIVITY.

Finally, our web presence is also a means to unite our family with
the aid of the web–a virtual and ongoing family reunion that convenes
regularly in cyberspace. We created a family community where connection
and exchange of ideas, information, resources, and love can happen.

We thank you for finding us and invite all who arrive here to visit
often, contribute, become involved in our initiatives and above all,
spread the word!   S<3

As I have stated many times: The purpose of my campaign to restore the E.W.F. Stirrup House was about much more than the house. It was also to burnish the legacy of Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup, a man way ahead of his time. During the Jim Crow years he made a fortune, but more importantly he made a home and neighbourhood for thousands of Bahamians and their descendants. The fact that there is still a cohesive Black enclave — in the middle of one of the most exclusive Zip Codes in the country — is a testament to this visionary. In the vast and ugly history of Race Relations in this country, Coconut Grove is the exception that proves the rule.

Animation: May 11, 2016, when more of the east wall still existed.

COMING SOON: Who is to blame for the
destruction of the E.W.F. Stirrup House?

The Not Now Silly Newsroom plans to name names.

Coconut Grove in Black and White

Francisco J. Garcia of Miami’s Department of Planning
and Zoning provided the answers to residents’ questions

Community involvement was strong last night in Coconut Grove as more than 200 residents packed a meeting hall at Plymouth Church to vent and make plans. 

The homeowners of South Grove are up in arms and called this “Community Organizational Meeting,” which was attended by Miami District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell, Miami-Dade District 7 Commissioner Xavier Suarez, and Francisco J. Garcia, of Miami’s Department of Planning and Zoning. Homeowners want to develop a strategy to put a stop to the division of large properties to build more homes; the demolition of old houses; the building of ‘cookie-cutter’ houses, derisively called White Boxes; and the continued destruction of the Grove’s famous tree canopy.

Oddly enough, these are the exact same issues I’ve been quietly researching for the last several weeks, even before this story bubbled up to the surface. My interest began when a source suggested I attend a Planning and Zoning meeting about potential “up-zoning” of a certain property. Up-zoning is when a developer asks for more than is allowed by the Miami21 code and — usually — gets it. This piqued my curiosity. A few weeks later the same source took me around to show me the contemporary ‘cookie-cutter’ houses being built. These concrete White Boxes stick out like sore thumbs among the older homes that fit the neighbourhood.

Just some of the White Boxes being built all over Coconut Grove

However, all my research — and all the houses we looked at — was in West Grove, where the prevailing style of house are either one-story Shotgun Homes or Conch-style houses, both reflecting the neighbourhood’s rich Bahamian history.

South Grove architecture, on the other hand, is distinctly different and all over the map, as it were. The houses there are
more suburban in style, from the earliest one-story small cottages, to the more recent Monster
Homes of the last few decades, and everything in between. Because this area was developed from the
1920s onward, the houses reflect nearly every kind of home architecture attempted
since then. And, as people were told at last night’s meeting, these White Boxes are what developers want to build because, they claim, it’s what people want to buy.

This demolition on Charles Avenue has taken place
over the last 6 weeks. That is not a typo. This is how it
looked on April 27, 2016, the same day South Grove
residents complained about their precious tree canopy.

However, that’s not the most glaring difference between West Grove and South Grove. In fact, as I’ve joked before, the difference is like Day and Night.

West Grove is the Black area of Coconut Grove. It can’t be said any simpler than that. The area is blighted, and has been for decades, precisely because it’s the Black area.

QUICK HISTORY LESSON: Unlike most Black neighbourhoods of its era, Coconut Grove is unique because the people owned their own homes. At one time Coconut Grove had the highest percentage of Black home ownership than anywhere else in the country. [Read: Happy Birthday Coconut Grove. Now Honour Your Past] This meant they couldn’t be dislodged as they could in other U.S. cities where Black folk rented from absentee landlords. However, the same economic factors that kept Black neighbourhoods in poverty elsewhere also worked on West Grove: low wages, an inability to get home improvement loans, and systemic racism. However, the neighbourhood has remained predominately Black as folks passed their houses down to generation after generation, the way White people pass down the family jewels.
End of history lesson.

This is the same rooming house as above on April 2, 2016

Earlier in the day I met with a second anonymous source who has also been researching the White Boxes in West Grove. Oddly enough, before we went to look at them, they wanted to take me to see a house on Charles Avenue that I had already taken a number of pictures of.

This demolition has so far taken about 6 weeks. The site has never been secure, making it an attractive place to play for local kids. But the nails sticking out of the boards are the least of the problems. This house was filled with asbestos, from the roof shingles to the several layers of paint on the walls. The prevailing winds have scattered some of it to wherever prevailing winds blew for the last 6 weeks.

The woman who lives next door has asthma and was just getting sicker. She and her husband have gone to live with relatives up north, in Georgia. The rest of her neighbours will just keep breathing it in until something is done about it.

One kind of nondescript White Box being built in West Grove,
this one on William Avenue. That’s actually the front of house.

People have complained to By-Law Enforcement about the unsafe demolition site and are still waiting for something to happen. There is, apparently, a promise for it to be cleaned up by the city in the morning. I sure hope they take into account the toxicity of some of the materials.

For more examples of these ‘cookie cutter’ homes go to The White Boxes.

Meanwhile, South Grove residents were told on Wednesday night if they see anything hinky happening in their neighbourhood — from illegal tree-cutting to demolitions without a permit — to call By-Law Enforcement. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that they respond a lot quicker than they have to this disaster on Charles Avenue in West Grove.

As South Grove meets with their elected representatives, West Grove is as ignored as ever. As South Grove begins the task of forming a Homeowners Association, West Grove is quietly gentrified without anyone noticing. When will West Grove get the same kind of attention from the City of Miami as South Grove?

The Birthday of the Ku Klux Klan ► Throwback Thursday

As the south grapples with removing the names of Confederate traitors from buildings and monuments, it’s a good time to remember the Ku Klux Klan was formed exactly 150 years ago today.

Wait. That’s a not entirely true. It’s more accurate to say the first iteration of the Ku Klux Klan was formed on this date in 1865. There were two others.

Three, if you count what’s been going on in this election cycle.

“I’m so glad we’re living in a post-racial society” is something I say frequently on Facebook and Twitter. I am always being sarcastic because I’ve never thought racism was eradicated. Ten years ago, when I first moved back to the States, I had people come up to me and say the most racist things, thinking we belonged to the same White skin club. And, this was before that Muslim Obama (/sarcasm) smoked out all the current racists.

According to History.com:

The organization of the Ku Klux Klan coincided with the beginning of the second phase of post-Civil War Reconstruction,
put into place by the more radical members of the Republican Party in
Congress. After rejecting President Andrew Johnson’s relatively lenient
Reconstruction policies, in place from 1865 to 1866, Congress passed the
Reconstruction Act over the presidential veto. Under its provisions,
the South was divided into five military districts, and each state was
required to approve the 14th Amendment, which granted “equal protection”
of the Constitution to former slaves and enacted universal male
suffrage.

From 1867 onward, African-American participation in public life in
the South became one of the most radical aspects of Reconstruction, as
blacks won election to southern state governments and even to the U.S.
Congress. For its part, the Ku Klux Klan dedicated itself to an
underground campaign of violence against Republican leaders and voters
(both black and white) in an effort to reverse the policies of Radical
Reconstruction and restore white supremacy in the South. They were
joined in this struggle by similar organizations such as the Knights of
the White Camelia (launched in Louisiana
in 1867) and the White Brotherhood. At least 10 percent of the black
legislators elected during the 1867-1868 constitutional conventions
became of violence during Reconstruction, including seven who
were killed. White Republicans (derided as “carpetbaggers” and
“scalawags”) and black institutions such as schools and churches—symbols
of black autonomy—were also targets for Klan attacks.

By 1870, the Ku Klux Klan had branches in nearly every southern
state. Even at its height, the Klan did not boast a well-organized
structure or clear leadership. Local Klan members–often wearing masks
and dressed in the organization’s signature long white robes and
hoods–usually carried out their attacks at night, acting on their own
but in support of the common goals of defeating Radical Reconstruction
and restoring white supremacy in the South. Klan activity flourished
particularly in the regions of the South where blacks were a minority or
a small majority of the population, and was relatively limited in
others. Among the most notorious zones of Klan activity was South Carolina, where in January 1871 500 masked men attacked the Union county jail and lynched eight black prisoners.

*

The Ku Klux Klan was eventually broken up by the Federal government, which passed the Enforcement Act of 1871 (aka the Civil Rights Act or the Ku Klux Klan Act). Then it took measures to arrest and convict the terrorists attacking Black folk in the south.

Then came the sequel. From the WikiWackyWoo:

Refounding in 1915

In 1915 the film The Birth of a Nation was released, mythologising and glorifying the first Klan and its endeavors. The second Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1915 by William Joseph Simmons at Stone Mountain, outside Atlanta, with fifteen “charter members”.[86] Its growth was based on a new anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, prohibitionist
and anti-semitic agenda, which reflected contemporary social tensions,
particularly immigration and industrialization. The new organization and
chapters adopted regalia featured in The Birth of a Nation.

The Birth of a Nation

Director D. W. Griffith‘s The Birth of a Nation glorified the original Klan. His film was based on the book and play The Clansman and the book The Leopard’s Spots, both by Thomas Dixon, Jr.

Much of the modern Klan’s iconography, including the standardized
white costume and the lighted cross, are derived from the film. Its
imagery was based on Dixon’s romanticized concept of old England and
Scotland, as portrayed in the novels and poetry of Sir Walter Scott. The film’s influence was enhanced by a purported endorsement by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson,
a Southerner. A Hollywood press agent claimed that after seeing the
film Wilson said, “It is like writing history with lightning, and my
only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” Historians doubt he
said it.[87]
Wilson felt betrayed by Dixon, who had been a classmate. Wilson’s staff
issued a denial, saying he was entirely unaware of the nature of the
play before it was presented and at no time has expressed his
approbation of it.”[88]

The new Klan was inaugurated in 1915 by William Joseph Simmons on top of Stone Mountain.
It was a small local organization until 1921. Simmons said he had been
inspired by the original Klan’s Prescripts, written in 1867 by
Confederate veteran George Gordon, but they were never adopted by the first Klan.[89]

The third Klan is generally accepted to be that time after World War II, through the Civil Rights Era of the ’60s.

Today there has been a reemergence Ku Klux Klan. The Klan’s former leader came out in support of Donald Trump, whose racist and xenophobic rants have energized the White Power Movement.

Everything old is new again.

The Klu Klux Klan Act of 1871 ► Throwback Thursday

It was supposed to be a normal meeting of the Miami Planning and Zoning Board last night. The first 2 items were deferred from last month and there were a number of citizens who wanted to speak to it. 

Normally when I attend a meeting at Miami City Hall, I know all about the issues that will be discussed. I knew nothing about this issue. All I knew is that one of my sources, who has yet to be wrong, strongly suggested I make time for the 6PM meeting without telling me why. That was the first time they were ever wrong. It turned out to be a 6:30 meeting.

And, the meeting didn’t even start at 6:30. It took a few extra minutes to get a quorum. However, once the meeting was gavelled to order, it moved pretty quickly to the first 2 agenda items, which had been deferred from last month in the hope that the residents and developer could work out an amicable deal. That didn’t appear to have happened.

MAP LEGEND:

A: The 4 parcels on the north side of Day Avenue; B: The 4
parcels on the south side of Day Avenue; C: Brooker St. is
where Coconut Grove ends and Coral Gables begins; D: Douglas
Avenue; E: The Trolly Garage, which was the last time the city
tried to run roughshod over the neighbourhood and won a Pyrrhic
victor that cost the city a lot of money, all because of
[allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff’s meddling.

In a nutshell, and not to get too deeply in the weeds: A developer wanted to “upzone” 8 parcels of land along Day Avenue to commercial from residential. Upzoning is the new word for variances, which appear to be routinely approved despite what the neighbours may want.

First to speak was the City of Miami’s lawyer, who seemed to have been asked by the board previously, to give the city’s recommendation on the upzoning request. After a whole lot of yadda, yadda, yadda the city decided to take a Solomonic approach. It recommended approval of upzoning the 4 parcels on the north side of Day Avenue (labeled A on the map to the right) and recommended denying the upzoning on the 4 parcels labeled B on the south side of Day.

Next it was the lawyer’s turn to speak on behalf of the developer. It was a whole lot more yadda, yadda, yadda, but this time couched in lawyer talk. However, as he spoke you could hear the citizens, the stakeholders, the taxpayers grumbling over the wording and assumptions being made.

Then the meeting was opened to public comments. People were asked to line up at the podiums on either side of the dais and given 2 minutes to explain their support or opposition to the application for upzoning. No one spoke on behalf of the upzoning. All were opposed.

First up was J.S. Rashid, CEO of the Coconut Grove Collaborative Development Office, who spoke about how his organization is trying to maintain the fabric of the historic West Grove neighbourhood for decades, which continues to be whittled away by decisions made in Miami. He talked about the neighbourhood development zone which had been created previously and how this was more about equity than it is about the zoning of a few parcels. He brought up how there may be 8 parcels of land, but that represents 14 residential units of affordable housing for disenfranchise people. While he was hoping for a compromise, he said if there’s not a net benefit to the community in affordable housing, he was prepared to oppose the project in toto.

Then the various shareholders, citizens, and taxpayers turn. It was, in essence, the same arguments heard every time the people of West Grove come out to protect their neighbourhood. Paraphrasing many of the comments: 

“You can’t do this.”

“Once again the historic fabric of the originally Bahamian neighbourhood is being destroyed for the sake of commerce.”

“Currently, this is affordable housing. If these are lost, what will replenish the supply of affordable housing in this impoverished neighbourhood?”

“We are 3 generations of Grovites who have lived on this block for over 30 years.” 

It look as if the board was about to recommend they defer the issue all over again, because it truly seemed as if there might still be room for compromise. However, the lawyer for the developer didn’t think more negotiations would have been productive and asked for a decision.

Then it was time for more comments from the public. Step up Professor Anthony Alfieri. You may remember reading about Professor Alfieri in the Not Now Silly Newsroom’s An Introduction to Trolleygate and Trolleygate Violates 1964 Civil Rights Act ► Not Now Silly Vindicated. Alfieri was also instrumental in unearthing Soilgate (pun intended), when his team researching Trolleygate found a memo alluding to contaminated soil in several parks in Miami. Alfieri is from the University of Miami’s School of Law and the Center
for Ethics and Public Service; not to mention Founder of the Historic
Black Church Program.

Professor Alfieri made the comparison to Trollygate, that I had been waiting for, and how an approval of this upzoning would trigger Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1968. As part of his presentation Alfieri remarked that they have been receiving anecdotal information — which was still being compiled — that developers across the city have been using coercion, intimidation and interference to deal with those opposed to upzoning plans. If that can be proven it could trigger the Klu Klux Klan act of 1871:

The Enforcement Act of 1871 (17 Stat. 13), also known as the Civil Rights Act of 1871, Force Act of 1871, Ku Klux Klan Act, Third Enforcement Act, or Third Ku Klux Klan Act, is an Act of the United States Congress which empowered the President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to combat the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and other white supremacy organizations. The act was passed by the 42nd United States Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on April 20, 1871. The act was the last of three Enforcement Acts passed by the United States Congress from 1870 to 1871 during the Reconstruction Era to combat attacks upon the suffrage rights of African Americans.
The statute has been subject to only minor changes since then, but has
been the subject of voluminous interpretation by courts.

This legislation was asked for by President Grant and passed within
one month of the president’s request for it to Congress. Grant’s request
was a result of the reports he was receiving of widespread racial
threats in the Deep South, particularly in South Carolina.
He felt that he needed to have his authority broadened before he could
effectively intervene. After the act’s passage, the president had the
power for the first time to both suppress state disorders on his own
initiative and to suspend the right of habeas corpus. Grant did not
hesitate to use this authority on numerous occasions during his
presidency, and as a result the first era KKK was completely dismantled
and did not resurface in any meaningful way until the first part of the
20th century.[1] Several of its provisions still exist today as codified statutes, but the most important still-existing provision is 42 U.S.C. § 1983: Civil action for deprivation of rights.

The city’s lawyer couldn’t answer whether approval of upzoning would trigger the Civil Rights lawsuits, but stressed as strenuously that the Planning and Zoning Board is a single issue board. Civil Rights lawsuits was not within its purview to adjudicate.

Whether it had anything to do with the Klu Klux Klan Act of 1871, or whether common sense prevailed, the developers request was DENIED.

Which is it’s this week’s Throwback Thursday.

Headlines Du Jour ► Monday, December 16, 2013

Not Now Silly has been publishing Headlines Du Jour since October 29th. The NNS news team has learned a few things in that time. The biggest problem? The headlines simply won’t wait. They’re ready when they’re ready and not a moment before. And worse yet, they’re only stale when they’ve gone stale and not a moment too soon. The dilemma? The line between the two is so narrow, that one can’t always tell the difference. Which is why Not Now Silly will hire only the most discerning and intelligent interns and then pay them nothing. So, let’s see which intern didn’t hold up their end and needs retooling.

SO GLAD WE’RE LIVING IN A POST-RACIAL SOCIETY:

White supremacy’s long shadow: Why the myth of “race” still haunts America

POLITCAL CORNER:

CONSTITUTIONALLY YOURS:

Federal judge declares Utah polygamy law unconstitutional
District court ruling finds key parts of Utah polygamy laws unconstitutional.

MAKE WAR, NOT PEACE:

Female protester pictured kissing policeman accused of sexual assault

FREE THE WEED:

Here’s How Many Pot Shops Will
Open In Denver After Weed Is Legal

Fort Lauderdale stockbroker ‘living
proof’ medical marijuana works

A NEW FOX “NEWS” LIE IN THE NEWS:

 
Krauthammer Tells PBS Viewers:
If You Want the Whole Story, ‘Try Fox’

MEGYN KELLY IN THE NEWS:

Slate Writer Who Questioned ‘White Santa’ on
Megyn Kelly’s Response: She ‘Played the Victim’

Black Marxist Jesus? Ask Megyn Kelly about this.

RELIGION CORNER:

Pope Francis Addresses ‘Ultraconservatives’ (and Limbaugh?) Calling Him a Marxist

TRUE STORY: THE “O” IN GOP STANDS FOR “OLD”:

John Boehner’s Budget Outburst
Shows Right-Wing Groups
Have Jumped The Shark

FLORIDUH’S NEXT SHOW TRIAL:

Another Stand Your Ground showdown?

WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE:

Poverty nation: How America created a low-wage work swamp
For decades, both parties supplanted a push for higher
wages with well-intended public aid. The result: calamity

ANOTHER DISPATCH FROM DETROIT, ‘MERKA’S FIRST THROWAWAY CITY:

When Detroit paved over paradise: The story of I-375

VIDEO DU JOUR:

Headlines Du Jour is a leisure-time activity of National Trufax, a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of Not Now Silly,
home of the Steam-Powered Word-0-Matic and your rest stop on the Information Highway. Use
our valuable bandwidth to post your news comments in today’s open
thread.

Trolleygate Violates 1964 Civil Rights Act ► Not Now Silly Vindicated

The non-conforming government operated vehicle maintenance
facility appeared virtually finished on a October 16, 2013 visit

Ever since I first began writing about Trolleygate, I have called it an obvious case of Racial Discrimination. Now it appears the United States Department of Transportation, writing the latest jokes in this comedy of errors, agrees with me. All brought to the good people of Miami and Coral Gables by [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff.

Legal troubles over the non-conforming, polluting, government operated vehicle maintenance facility have grow exponentially since the residents of West Grove were first made aware of the project and launched a David vs Goliath legal challenge against the cities of Miami and Coral Gables, not to mention the powerful Astor Development, a company with deep pockets. Had the residents not had a legal team willing to work Pro Bono, they would have never been able to afford to take on this legal battle.

Unfortunately when the residents’ lawsuit came up for a hearing the judge, while sympathetic to the residents’ arguments, ruled not to rule, saying he had no jurisdiction. The residents’ legal team vowed to continue to fight the non-conforming, polluting, government operated vehicle maintenance facility and began to prepare an appeal.

And, it’s a good thing that legal battle continued. Intrepid tree-shaking by the West Grove legal team discovered two very important documents, the first of which is the Smoking Gun email. This internal email was from Dakota Hendon (City of Miami Building and Zoning Department) to Francisco Garcia (City of Miami Planning Director). It stated in unequivocal language that the non-conforming, polluting, government operated vehicle maintenance facility did NOT comply with the Miami 21 Plan, which specifically ruled out things called “government operated vehicle maintenance facilities.”

Rather than say “NO” to a multi-million dollar developer, there was some obvious — if not obviously illegal — jiggery-pokery performed by someone [still to be determined] within the City of Miami government. This person ordered the developer to re-write and re-submit the proposal, but this time leave out the word “maintenance.” The developer did so and the building permit was issued under this second application, even though the only thing that had changed was the wording, not the building’s intent.

However, the West Grove legal team shook out something far more important during its research. It turns out that City of Miami officials had been sitting on a report for years that said the soil at Armbrister Field contained high levels of toxins from Old Smokey, the not-so-affectionate name for the incinerator that belched out carcinogens for nearly 100 years — before it was closed down in 1970. That discovery led to soil testing at all the parks in Miami and, GUESS WHAT?!?! It turns out that toxic ash from this incinerator was used as fill all over Miami, including many of its parks. Expensive remedial action will need to be taken while the parks are closed, ironically including the Marc D. Sarnoff Memorial Dog Park.

The White Elephant at 3320 South Douglas Road from another angle

NB: Don’t get distracted. Soilgate is merely a side issue to this three-ring circus.

Soon after the West Grove residents had their case tossed out of court, the City of Coral Gablesthe city that Racism builtfiled its own lawsuit against Astor Development and the City of Miami. The suit alleges, essentially, that it was duped. Coral Gables was to accept transfer of a ‘clean’ government operated vehicle maintenance facility that Astor Trolley, LLC, built in exchange for land on which Astor Development, LLC wants to make gazillions of dollars by building a massive mixed-use development. However, Coral Gables is now concerned that the non-conforming, polluting, government operated vehicle maintenance facility is encumbered in lawsuits and wants a judge to either sever the contract it has with Astor or, in the alternative, rule that the non-conforming, polluting, government operated vehicle maintenance facility actually conforms to the Miami 21 Plan, despite the fact that it doesn’t, smoking gun emails notwithstanding.

Which brings us full-circle to the [alleged] Civil Rights violations. According to a Department of Transportation investigation into Trolleygate instigated by a neighbour’s complaint, the cities of Miami and Coral Gables [allegedly] violated the Civil Rights of the West Grove residents by not ensuring the project complied with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically Title VI. The 13 page letter and memorandum from the Federal Transit Administration reads in part [PDF]:

As you know, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) provides that “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations require that public transportation services be provided in a nondiscriminatory manner. To implement this requirement, DOT regulations and the Federal Transit Administration’s Title VI guidance require that entitles receiving Federal assistance, when determining the site or location of public transportation facilities, may not make site selections with the purpose or effect of excluding persons from, denying them the benefits of, or subjecting them to discrimination with respect to, public transportation services on the grounds of race, color, or national origin.

To ensure compliance with FTA’s Title VI regulatory requirements, entities receiving Federal assistance must conduct a Title VI equity analysis for all public transportation facility siting decisions. This analysis will generally include outreach to persons potentially impacted by the siting of the respective facility, and consideration of the equity impacts of various siting alternatives. When a potentially discriminatory impact is found, the transit agency must revise its plans in order to avoid or mitigate the discriminatory impact. If, upon taking mitigating actions and reanalyzing the proposed site selection, the transit agency determines that minority communities will continue to bear a disparate impact of the proposed site selection, the transit agency may implement the site selection only [emphasis in original] if the agency has a substantial legitimate justification for the site selection and can show that there are no alternatives that would have a less disparate impact on the minority community.

The entrance and maintenance bays for the fake trolley buses as
viewed from Frow, a quiet residential street, on October 16th

Cutting through the verbiage: Because both the cities of Coral Gables and Miami accept Federal Dollars to run the free fake trolley buses, they both need to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI. When Astor Development decided to build this in a predominately minority neighbourhood without consultation, it [allegedly] violated the Civil Rights of the struggling neighbourhood. Furthermore, when Coral Gables refused to give the residents of West Coconut Grove a Fake Trolley Stop, it [allegedly] violated their Civil Rights.

However, the comedy doesn’t end there. The first paragraph quoted above starts out “As you know…” It turns out that both Miami and Coral Gables claim that they didn’t know and have never considered Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Oh! Stop!! My!!! Sides!!!! According to Jenny Staletovich of the Miami Herald:

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation, triggered by a neighbor’s complaint, found the county failed to ensure the cities followed the law. The cities, in turn, violated the law by not conducting a study during the garage’s “planning stages” to ensure that race did not play a part in determining where it was built or whether the garage would have an “adverse impact” on the West Grove neighborhood, which has long struggled to attract business.

The two municipalities, which say they were unaware of the requirements, also failed to perform public outreach as required by the law, the investigation found.

[…] University of Miami law professor Anthony Alfieri, whose Center for Ethics & Public Service has helped residents fight the garage, said the ruling calls into question whether the governments violated the law in other projects where federal transportation money was used.

“This letter and memorandum raise a significant question about whether the county and these two municipalities have ever been in compliance with Title VI, because apparently they’re not aware of the objectives and have no program in effect,” he said. “Title VI is one of the main provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, so this statute is 49 years old. People marched and died because of this.”

If this were really a situation comedy, this would be where the plot complications begin. Miami and Coral Gables have now committed to conducting the FTA study that should have happened long before the building permit was ever issued; just like the Trolleygate Dog and Pony Show was only mounted by [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff after the residents of West Grove discovered he had worked behind their backs to grease the wheels to get this white elephant approved. That’s our sitcom character Sarnoff: Always putting the cart before the horse. Hilarity ensues.

Still not laughing? Maybe the latest finger-pointing from Astor Development will get a chuckle or two out of you. According to the same Miami Herald article:

Astor, however, believes the city should have made sure the Civil Rights Act was followed.

“The city of Coral Gables recently learned that they were subject to the rules and regulations of the FTA, of which the city manager and the city attorney were not aware of in the past,” Astor spokesman Tad Schwartz said.

“Their compliance with the FTA program was not disclosed in any way with our agreement. This wasn’t in our contract.”

Here’s where the comedy ends because: TAXPAYERS’ MONEY!!! Every dollar spent on this project so far has been a monumental waste. When [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff decided to help Astor Development push this project through Miami City Hall, it had the reverse-Midas effect: Everything touched by this project has turned to manure. Astor Development purchased the land and threw up the structure. Astor, Miami and Coral Gables have all hired legal teams for the various lawsuits past, present, and future. This is throwing good money after bad and, except for Astor’s money, the taxpayers are on the hook for it all.

ROLL CREDITS: This comedy of errors has been brought to you by [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff, the anti-Midas, who decided a developer’s desire to build once again trumped the interests of his own constituents.

A Century of Coconut Grove Racism ► Soilgate Is Trolleygate Writ Large

One of hundreds of thousands of Racist internet memes

Follow the bouncing ball: Trolleygate is modern day Racism, pure and simple. Furthermore, the Racism that allowed for Trolleygate is exactly the same Racism that thought West Grove was the perfect place for Old Smokey, an incinerator that belched carcinogenics into the air for 5 decades. Racism — which is a cancer on our body politic — may have led to actual cancer clusters in Coconut Grove. I’m here to prove that thesis. 

Let’s start here: It’s been a truism since the founding of ‘Merka that People of Colour have always gotten the short end of the stick. There is no disputing that. But that’s a thing of the past, according to modern day Racists, because we now have a Black president. We are now living in a post-racial society. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! Right?

For an explanation on the pics used to illustrate this article, please read my essay Racist Memes and Blogging ► Unpacking the Writer

Not even close. While some Racism is less blatant than it has been in previous decades, one can find hundreds of thousands of Racist memes against President Obama, each more disgusting than the next. However, make no mistake: It’s still Racism. Racism doesn’t have degrees. Like being pregnant, a meme can’t be a little bit Racist. It’s either Racism, or it isn’t. The entire story of Coconut Grove depicts a Racism that continues to this very day, culminating in Trolleygate.

West Grove is a quiet residential neighbourhood that has remained predominantly Black since its founding in the late 1880s. It was settled by Bahamians who came up through Key West, at one time Florida’s largest city. The Black Bahamians who settled in Coconut Grove worked for The Peacock Inn and Commodore Ralph Monroe, among the earliest residents. As a nascent tourist trade flourished, more Black folk arrived to do all of the backbreaking work and menial labour that made it all happen.

That West Grove wasn’t razed is due almost entirely to the efforts of one man, Ebeneezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup. E.W.F. Stirrup was one of Florida’s first Black millionaires and, at one time, the largest landholder in Coconut Grove. On some of the land he owned he threw up more than 100 houses with his own hands. These he rented, sold, and bartered to other Bahamians. That’s why, at one time, Coconut Grove once had the highest percentage of Black home ownership in the entire country, making it unique.

It’s for that reason and that reason alone that The Powers That Be were unable to dislodge the Black residents of Coconut Grove. Overtown, just up the road and the second Black neighbourhood in Miami, had I-95 rammed through the middle of what had been the Black Shopping and Entertainment district. However, Overtown was mostly renters with absentee landlords, who were happy to cash out on their investments. The same pattern took place in Paradise Valley, in my home town of Detroit, which was leveled for I-75. The same scenario played out all across the country.

It’s not as if the Powers That Be didn’t try to get rid of Black Grove. There were three separate attempts to get rid of the neighbourhood. In 1921 an urban renewal project called The Bright Plan, approved but never realized due to an economic downturn, would have created a golf course on everything west of Main Highway to Douglas and north to Grand Avenue. In 1925 City Fathers tried to get Miami to annex around what was called Coloredtown, instead of including it. Miami decided to annex it all instead, which led to the creation of Coral Gables, the city that Racism built. In the ’50s, long after the rest of the city had indoor plumbing, West Grove still used outhouses. Honey wagons were just a way of life long after every surrounding neighbourhood (read: White neighbourhoods) had an indoor toilet. In the ’50s. The city wanted to raze the entire blighted neighbourhood and start all over, but the high percentage of Black home ownership defeated the proposal. People, who in some cases were now the 2nd or 3rd generation in the same house, refused to sell. They knew better. Where could they go? They would be redlined out of any neighbourhood they wanted to buy into. It was better to stay put and bequeath their homes to their children and their children’s children.

Which is to explain why the neighbourhood has remained predominately Black. That and the fact that White folk tend not to move into Black neighbourhoods. I’ll now let Nick Madigan, writing in yesterday’s New York Times, pick up the story of Old Smokey:

MIAMI — When she was little, Elaine Taylor remembers rushing home whenever Old Smokey fired up. Clouds of ash from the towering trash incinerator would fill the air and settle on the ramshackle houses and the yards of the West Grove neighborhood.

Her mother, who took in laundry, would be whipping sheets and shirts off the clotheslines. Often, the soot would force Elaine and her mother to wash everything again, by hand.

Old Smokey was shut down in 1970, after 45 years of belching ash, but its legacy might be more ominous than mere memories of soiled laundry. Residents of the neighborhood, established by Bahamian immigrants in the 1880s, have become alarmed by recent revelations that soil samples there show contamination from carcinogens like arsenic and heavy metals, including lead, cadmium and barium.

Ash from the old incinerator is being blamed, and residents are asking why none of this came to light sooner.

Something that Madigan leaves out of his story — because it makes a simple story of soil pollution and subsequent coverup far too complicated — is that the coverup was only discovered due to Trolleygate, the story I’ve been following since January. The documents were discovered by the pro bono legal team researching Trolleygate while preparing its case against Miami, Coral Gables, and Astor Development. While that suit was thrown out of court for a lack of jurisdiction, the documents kicked loose during the research are still bearing fruit. Friday I wrote about an email from a City of Miami Zoning and Building Department official who said that Trolleygate did not conform to the Miami 21 Plan. Yet, after some undetermined jiggery-pokery, [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff managed to get the project approved anyway, despite the fact that it screws his owns constituents and rewards a developer in the next town over. But, that’s now a side issue to Soilgate, the discovery of toxic soil throughout Coconut Grove and greater Miami. [Coral Gables is now suing to get out of ever having to use the polluting diesel bus garage.]

The Racism that decided a Black neighbourhood was the perfect place for a polluting diesel bus garage — despite it not being zoned for it — can be seen as a parallel to the decision in the 1920s to build Old Smokey, the incinerator that polluted Miami. Miami needed an incinerator. Why not stick it as far away from the White folk as possible? Stick it in West Grove. Again from the New York Times:

Across the street from Old Smokey’s former site lies Esther Mae Armbrister Park and its playground. Down the block is George Washington Carver Elementary School, a once all-black institution that traces its history to 1899. Former students recall ash blowing in through the school’s open windows.

[University of Miami law] Professor [Anthony V.] Alfieri [of the Environmental Justice Project] said that the construction of Old Smokey “in the middle of a Jim Crow community” in 1925 exemplified the city’s pattern of neglecting the West Grove, an area that has never experienced the prosperity so evident in its neighboring communities. In a 1950 article in Ladies’ Home Journal, Marjory Stoneman Douglas wrote that when the city installed a water and sewage system in Coconut Grove, its western neighbor was left out of the project, and for years residents continued to use wells and outhouses.

Old Smokey was shut down in 1970 after many years of neighbourhood protests and a successful legal battle initiated by the White folk of Coral Gables. Yet, 98% White Coral Gables learned nothing from that court battle. When it needed a place to build its polluting diesel bus garage, Astor Development chose West Grove. This is the neighbourhood that’s been given the short end of the stick since it was called Kebo by the original Bahamian settlers almost 130-years ago. Even if you attempted to argue, against all logic, that the developer was unaware it was a Black neighbourhood, the only reason the land was cheap was due to the last century of systemic Racism, that depressed every economic indicator you can name in West Grove, especially when compared to the rest of the 33133 Zip Code, now considered one of the most exclusive in the entire country.

The Supreme Irony: Air pollution — emanating from a fake diesel-powered trolley bus or a giant incinerator — doesn’t abide by the Colour Line, of course. There appears be less pollution the closer one gets to Old Smokey’s former site. As the expression says, “What goes up, must come down.” It seems a lot of Old Smokey’s toxins came down in the Marc D. Sarnoff Memorial Dog Park. Coincidentally, or not, that’s right across the street from where [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff lives. The New York Times again:

“Everything is testing to be residential standard,” Mr. Sarnoff said, referring to contaminant levels permitted under environmental regulations.

That may not be the final word. A cancer researcher at the University of Miami said that she and several colleagues discovered a cluster of pancreatic cancer cases in the West Grove several years ago.

“That’s the little region that lights up,” said the researcher, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the issue. Although she found the discovery “puzzling,” she said she did not pursue it because of a lack of funds. But when she read a newspaper article this year about Old Smokey that said its ash had spewed arsenic and heavy metals into the neighborhood, she said “everything started making sense.”

The researcher noted that no correlation could be established between the cancer cluster and the old incinerator without more research.

Institutional Racism could be the answer as to why so many people in Coconut Grove are now being diagnosed with cancer. Yet, despite this ugly history of sticking the Black neighbourhood with what the White neighbourhood doesn’t want, [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff, the City of Miami, and Astor Development all still think it’s appropriate for them to have played a shell game in order to get Trolleygate approved.

That’s nothing but Modern Day Racism, pure and simple.

Enjoy some videos of the Marc D. Sarnoff Memorial Dog Park from September 13, 2013, as the soil testing was occurring.




History Is Complicated ► Save The E.W.F. Stirrup Playhouse!

The Coconut Grove Playhouse anchors one corner of
Charles Avenue, where it dead-ends at Main Highway

History is complicated, real estate history even more so. At one time all the land at the east end of Charles Avenue in Coconut Grove was owned by E.W.F. Stirrup, one of Florida’s first Black millionaires. In fact, Mr. Stirrup once owned most of Coconut Grove, the irony being 33133 is now considered one of ‘Merka’s most exclusive area codes. To honour history I propose the Coconut Grove Playhouse name be changed to the E.W.F. Stirrup Theater.

Follow along: Back in the day, when a man of Mr. Stirrup’s complexion could not get into most movie theaters in the country, E.W.F. Stirrup owned the land on which the Coconut Grove Playhouse now sits. In order to bring culture to Coconut Grove, Mr. Stirrup sold the land on which the Coconut Grove Theater was built in 1927. While the movie theater was practically on his doorstep, that didn’t guarantee that Mr. Stirrup could enter the theater during Jim Crow days. How close was it? Watch:


Less than 300 feet separate the front door of the E.W.F. Stirrup House
from the box office of the Coconut Grove Playhouse, just catercorner

 

Mr. Stirrup may have been the exception that proves the rule.

It’s quite possible that a man of Mr. Stirrup’s means could have crossed The Color Line easily. It’s within the realm of possibility that he could have walked the 250 feet, from his front door to the Coconut Grove Theater’s box office, and buy a ticket at a time when other Black folks couldn’t. That would have put Mr. Stirrup in the same category as Dana A. Dorsey, who was Miami’s first Black millionaire. Mr. Dorsey was allowed to cross The Color Line as the only Black man allowed to ride on the elevators at Burdines department store. This during the same period when other Black folk couldn’t even try on the clothes in the store to see if they fit. History is complicated.

Flagler Street in the ’40s, with Burdine’s in the background

Like Stirrup, Dana Dorsey made his fortune with real estate. At one time Dorsey was one of Colored Town’s [Overtown‘s original name] largest landholders. When the William Burdine ran into money troubles, he turned to Dana Dorsey for a loan, which allowed the store to survive an economic downturn. From that day on Dorsey was the only Black person who could ride the elevators at Burdines of Flagler Street, until the store was fully integrated after his death. The exception that proved the rule. History is complicated.

SLIGHT TANGENT: How Overtown Got Its Name:

 

Henry Flagler’s railroad created south Florida

Overtown was one of two Colored Towns in Miami. The older, and smaller Colored Town was a part of Coconut Grove, which predates Miami. Kebo, the name the Bahamians gave their West Grove neighbourhood, eventually became hemmed in by White neighbourhoods. Black folk looking for housing had to look elsewhere, and many settled in the newer Colored Town to the north. This area was designated by Henry Morrison Flagler. As he did through every town he rammed his railroad, Flagler designated the northwest sector to be a Black neighbourhood. This was not as progressive as it sounds. These Black enclaves had a never-ending supply of workers who did the actual backbreaking labour of building a railroad through a swamp. History is complicated.

This later Colored Town became the business and entertainment district for the growing Black community that the railroad brought. Later it provided the hotels where people like Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington could find a hotel room after playing for the rich White folk, because they were not allowed to stay in the hotels in Miami and Miami Beach. History is complicated.

Between Coconut Grove in the south and Colored Town in the north is where the fledgling town of Miami grew up. When the folks in Coconut Grove talked about going to the Black entertainment district, they said, “Let’s go Over Town” and the name stuck. The city trying to designate the area Washington Heights,
despite it being on the same sea level as the rest of Miami. Eventually everyone gave in and it became known officially on maps as Overtown. History is complicated.

TANGENT OVER

One other thing links the E.W.F. Stirrup House with the Coconut Grove Playhouse and that’s the rapacious developer I have profiled here repeatedly, Gino Falsetto. Through a property swap, and later what appears to be a shady real estate deal, Falsetto’s Aries Development Group has got its corporate grubby mitts on a 50-year lease on the E.W.F. Stirrup House, although the house must remain in the family in perpetuity.

In an odd coincidence [and everything traced to Falsetto is
filled with odd coincidences] Aries Group also has his fingers in the Coconut Grove Playhouse pie, and has
scuttled more than one previous deal to renovate the Playhouse. Whatever backroom deal the town big wigs have already decided upon, Gino Falsetto is still an impediment to any Playhouse restoration plan unless he signs on.

Ever since Falsetto got his hands on the property he’s done virtually nothing with the E.W.F. Stirrup House, except to allow it to undergo Demolition by Neglect. Last week I posted a video I was able to take of allegedly illegal work the inside of the Stirrup House because the property was left open and the house was left unlocked. There was no building permit, either prominently posted outside as the law demands, or hidden inside the house.

I had been assured that a building permit had since been obtained, but a week later it was not posted on the property. I am starting to wonder if they truly have a building permit. I’m starting to wonder whether they truly have a brain. When I returned on the 27th, the front door on the right was left unlocked again, which you can see in this video:

It’s almost like Gino Falsetto is hoping some accident will befall the house, before he actually has to spend the money to restore it LIKE HE PROMISED 8 YEARS AGO!!! During that time Falsetto managed to find the money and energy to build the monstrosity behind the Stirrup House, the multimillion dollar, mixed use development, with fancy restaurants and valet parking, known officially as the Grove Gardens Residence Condominiums. Yet, Falsetto has only recently spent the $10 bucks to buy some plywood to board up the upper windows, which had been open to the elements for the last 8 years. Oh, wait. Never mind. That looks like a piece of scrap. There’s no better proof that Gino Falsetto has been a bad steward of an historic community asset. What’s worse, as I keep pointing out, every infraction committed by Falsetto’s workmen is cited against the actual owners of the property, Stirrup Properties, LLC.

One again watch another video which shows how proximate the Coconut Grove Playhouse is to the E.W.F. Stirrup House and recall how both these structures are linked through both Mr. Stirrup and Gino Falsetto:

 

That’s why I now propose to rename the Playhouse the E.W.F. Stirrup Theater.
Save the E.W.F. Stirrup House and Theater!!!

 

No Skin In The Game ► Part Four

The One Grove mural in Coconut Grove

On the same day I was posting about the upcoming court hearing for Trolleygate, a news article came across my transom that dovetails with that story nicely. Tell me if this doesn’t sound familiar:

A nearly all-White town refuses to install bus stops that would make it convenient for Black folk to get to their community. While this fight is between suburban Beavercreek and the nearby city of Dayton, Ohio, it could almost be coming from Coral Gables and Coconut Grove.

The brouhaha in Ohio began a few years back, when the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority decided to add three bus stops in Beavercreek. The Bevercreekians said, ‘No fucking way‘ and started enacting legislative barriers to any new bus stops in the community, which oddly enough, don’t apply to current bus stops, like heat, air conditioning, and a high-tech camera system. According to Think Progress:

Many in the area argue that their opposition boils down to a simple reason: race. According to the 2010 census, 9 in 10 Beavercreek residents are white, but 73 percent of those who ride the Dayton RTA buses are minorities. “I can’t see anything else but it being a racial thing,” Sam Gresham, state chair of Common Cause Ohio, a public interest advocacy group, told ThinkProgress. “They don’t want African Americans going on a consistent basis to Beavercreek.”

A civil rights group in the area, Leaders for Equality in Action in Dayton (LEAD), soon filed a discrimination lawsuit against Beavercreek under the Federal Highway Act. In June, the Federal Highway Administration ruled that Beavercreek’s actions were indeed discriminatory and ordered them to work with the Dayton Regional Transit Authority to get the bus stops approved without delay.

Beavercreek, though, isn’t particularly keen to do that. The city council voted most recently on Friday to put off consideration of the matter until later this month. They are weighing whether to appeal the federal ruling, or perhaps whether to just defy it altogether. Appealing the ruling could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, according to a Washington D.C. lawyer the council hired. However, non-compliance with the ruling could cost Beavercreek tens of millions of dollars in federal highway funds.

Fake-trolly that won’t be stopping in Coconut Grove

Oddly enough, White Coral Gables has refused Black Coconut Grove a bus stop outside the polluting government vehicle maintenance facility that it has foisted upon their neighbourhood. When it appeared the bus maintenance facility was a fait accompli, some residents asked for a bus stop at the very least. They were turned down flat.

Keep in mind these are the FREE diesel buses to take shoppers up and down what Coral Gables likes to call Miracle Mile, the exclusive, high-end shopping district. Of course, it might affect the businesses bottom line and Coral Gables property values if too many Black folk were able to get Coral Gables conveniently. It’s better if they walk a half mile to one of the Coral Gables fake-Trolley stops than to give them a bus stop in their own community.

The more research I do into the history of Coral Gables, the more I see that its progress and development over the years is due to almost a century of systemic racism. I make that case in my previous chapters on Coral Gables:

No Skin In The Game ► Part One
No Skin In The Game ► Part Two
No Skin In The Game ► Part Three

Click here to read all my stories on Trolleygate.

Another Dispatch From Detroit, ‘Merka’s First Throwaway City

Once upon a time Detroit was called “The Arsenal of Democracy.” However, the consequences of 60 years of White Flight — systemic racism, to be blunt — finally came home to roost in Detroit, my hometown. On July 18, 2013, at approximately 4:06 PM EDT, Detroit’s unelected, possibly illegal, Emergency Manager Kevin Orr filed for bankruptcy. 

It’s conventional wisdom — conventional, but completely wrong — that Detroit’s White Flight began after the 1967 riot. White Flight had already been going on for almost 20 years at that point. The ’67 riot only accelerated the exodus.

Detroit: The Arsenal of Democracy

Detroit’s race problems go right back to the earliest days of the city. In my earlier [very long] essay The Detroit Riots I report on the little known 1943 riot and the far lesser known 1863 riot. Understanding these earlier riots is the key to understanding Detroit’s current demographics. Both of these earlier riots not only set the table for the 1967 riot, but also set the table for the Detroit’s systemic racism, which manifested itself in the White Flight that eventually killed the Motor City.

The 1863 Detroit riot exploded in the wake of Lincoln’s Emancipation Declaration. There had already been tensions between Blacks and Whites, and the openly racist Detroit Free Press was happy to fan the flames for months on end. When a rumour swept through the neighbourhoods that a Black man did something, something, something to a White person, White folks went crazy. [Isn’t that always the way? See: May 31, 1921 ► When Whites Went Crazy In Tulsa] They roamed the streets screaming, “Kill all the niggers,” beating people on sight. At the time it became known as “the bloodiest day that ever dawned on Detroit.”

Prior to that day Detroit did not have a police force. However, one was quickly formed and in the original incorporating documents the city fathers of Detroit made it clear that one of its primary jobs would be to keep the Blacks folk in line.

A sign in Detroit during the war, when the Feds proposed
to build Black housing to relieve overcrowding

The 1943 Detroit riot came during war time, but it also came in the midst of what has been called The Great Migration, when rural and southern Blacks made their way to cities in the north. Detroit was clamoring for unskilled workers and Black folk came by the tens of thousands. However, that didn’t mean anyone wanted to share their neighbourhoods with Black folk, nor work side-by-side with them. The 1943 riot was a result of these tensions and more.

[This is the simplified version. The conditions that led to these 3 riots are explained in much greater detail in The Detroit Riots, my earlier article on these topics.]

As soon as World War Two was over, prosperity reigned, in Detroit and across the nation. Part of that prosperity was due to the fact that all across the country houses had to be built for all the returning soldiers. ‘Merka saw a housing boom like no other. This was great for the economy and for the growing White Middle Class. However, it didn’t trickle down to Black folk.

In the Detroit area, developers started building north of 8 Mile, the city limits made famous by Eminem’s 2002 movie. These suburbs grew exponentially during the ’50s and ’60s and were attractive to the people with the same mindset as those who refused to share their neighbourhoods and work places with Blacks during the 40s.

The last remnant of a vibrant Black
neighbourhood and business district

Black families were redlined out of the suburbs, just as they were from most of the neighbourhoods in north Detroit. During the ’40s and ’50s Blacks were unable to expand much beyond Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, the neighbourhoods they already occupied. During the early ’50s a few Middle Class Blacks moved to the 12th Street area, which had been predominantly White. That’s when the first Whites started leaving because — you guessed it — they didn’t want to live in the same neighbourhood as Blacks. By the time Black Bottom and Paradise Valley were razed for I-75, the die was cast. The only area accepting Black folk was surrounding 12th Street, because the first Blacks had already “busted the blocks,” in the parlance of the day. White folk fucked off in droves. The entire demographics of the neighbourhood reversed itself in a single decade. [This is also told in greater detail in The Detroit Riots.]

Then came several decades of terrible local government, which just made
everything in Detroit a whole lot worse. But, let’s be clear. What these
politicians made worse was already there: an absolute division of Black
and White and the continued blighting of a once great city. Systemic
racism is the foundation on which it was built. The White folk of Wayne
County moved across 8 Mile and, quite literally, turned their back on
Detroit.

That, dear reader, has been the story of Detroit from the very beginning. As soon as Black folk gained a small toehold in a neighbourhood, that neighbourhood eventually turned all Black. Block by block. Neighbourhood by neighbourhood. Until the entire city was virtually Black, while the suburbs became predominantly White. Eventually integration came to the suburbs, but it never had a chance in the City of Detroit.

IRONY ALERT:
Detroit’s seal, which represents the fire of 1803
Speramus Meliora = We hope for better things
Resurcet Cineribus = It will rise from the ashes

This White Flight to the suburbs reduced Detroit’s population and ‘Merka’s systemic racism kept it low. At one
time there were almost 2 million people in Detroit proper. When I was
growing up in Detroit, we were proud to call Detroit the 5th largest
city in the country. Now it’s the 18th, sandwiched between Charlotte,
North Carolina, and El Paso, Texas. Its population of just over 700,000
is about a 3rd of what it was during the go go ’50s. As the city’s
population shrank, so did it’s tax base. These are the conditions that led to Detroit’s bankruptcy.

This would be as good a time to remind people that Detroit is responsible for two things that not only made ‘Merka better, but made ‘Merka great: Cars and Motown. These products of Detroit have been bought and sold all around the country during the same 6 decades that Detroit has slid into decline. Detroit cars and Motown — and it almost seems like they were made for each other — were bought and sold all around the world over the last 6 decades.

The people north of 8 Mile, the greater country at large, and the rest of the world took ittle notice of the problems facing Detroit until recently. During the last 6 decades they couldn’t have cared less what was happening to the city. That’s why I call Detroit ‘Merka’s first throwaway city.

Take it away, MC5:


CRANK IT UP!!!

Further Reading on Not Now Silly:
Unpacking My Detroit