Blaming Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Carlton Moore for the lack of progress in economic renewal in the near Northwest is wrong ("A Dream Deferred," Jay Cheshes, October 8). In fact, Commissioner Moore should receive most of the credit for whatever "successes" we have had in that community due to his continuous prodding and leadership efforts. If we must find "blame," then let's look collectively at all public, private, and community leaders and interests.
Community revitalization efforts are complex and slow because it takes years of human and financial resource investments to overcome the past discrimination and barriers to economic opportunity suffered predominantly by the African-American community in Fort Lauderdale. The new health center, post office, new affordable housing (Regal Trace), trash cleanup, and code enforcement are all-important first steps. However, we seem to miss something more important and fundamental. There must be an inclusive plan for revitalization with a clear, realistic, and compelling mission to guide its activities. All community interests need to have a voice and share in the responsibility of the creation of that plan.
This plan must translate its mission into goals, objectives, sound business strategies, and an appropriate community-based development structure. City and county officials have completely missed the boat on this one. While over 2500 community-based development organizations have achieved remarkable success across the country, our elected officials have virtually ignored this possibility. Two years ago a national foundation (the Local Initiatives Support Corporation), with program offices in over 30 communities including Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, declined an overture to set up shop here in Broward. One of their key reasons? Lack of any sign of public or private support for community-based development. Struggling community development corporations (CDCs) such as the Mount Olive CDC and the Fort Lauderdale CDC need to be strengthened and supported in their efforts. They also need to be evaluated in their progress in achieving sound economic and social results.
Community renewal efforts must have visible and tangible results. This visibility needs to be leveraged to further the community-uplifting mission. The media should be responsive and focus on the efforts of those that do well and on the practices of those who do harm (i.e., redlining, limited public investment activities, et cetera).
Carlton Moore's passion for his community and his voice against injustice and discrimination should be applauded and not minimized. But more importantly, in the entire community's self-interest, we need to ensure that barriers to opportunity are lifted and the right ingredients for economic and social renewal are mixed today.
Animal Lovers Unite!
I loved Nicolas Atwood's letter last week in response to the October 1 feature on Preston Henn, owner of the Swap Shop ("One Small Step Forward For Carol, One Giant Leap Forward For Broward," Letters, October 8). I've had the misfortune of witnessing the pathetic animal circus there and left wondering why anyone would ever go back.
Short of Atwood's radical solution, that Carol the elephant take matters into her own hands (or feet!) by stomping her way out of slavery, I would simply recommend steering clear of all Swap Shop acreage. If Henn's beloved circus becomes a financial liability, he'll cast it away quicker than you can say "animal abuse!"