Robbery in the Pork and Beans Beam project
In about a month-and-half, Miami-Dade Commissioners will decide whether or not to go with Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s selection of The Related Group to redevelop Liberty Square, the county’s oldest public housing project.
But one county commissioner, Audrey Edmonson, is going to bat for Atlantic Pacific Communities, the firm that ended up in second place after initially having the inside track to rebuild Liberty Square, otherwise known as the Pork n’ Beans. During a press conference last week, Edmonson claimed that she felt her community was “disrespected.”
“The community is feeling as if they did not have a say-so, that it was all a sham,” she said. “The feeling is that this whole, entire Liberty Square Rising was initiated for one particular developer.”
Of course, Edmonson doesn’t mention her close ties with the scandalous company that sold off its affordable housing business to Atlantic Pacific. Since being to the county commission in 2005, the former El Portal village mayor could always count on campaign donations from the Carlisle Group, its executives and related entities. In 2012, for instance, 30 corporations controlled by Carlisle’s bosses gave a combined $15,000 to her reelection campaign.
Three years later, Carlisle’s CEO Matthew Greer pleaded guilty to defrauding the county and the federal government for $30 million by inflating the cost of construction for low-income developments. Lloyd Boggio, another ex-Carlisle head honcho, is awaiting trial on similar charges.
In between being investigated by the F.B.I. and doing the perp walk, Greer and Boggio sold off most of Carlisle’s assets, including the company’s interest in several county affordable housing projects, to Atlantic Pacific. Some of Carlisle’s non-indicted executives also went to work for Atlantic Pacific, which also employs Roosevelt Bradley, a former Miami-Dade transit director who assists Edmonson’s campaigns, as a lobbyist.
Even though Atlantic Pacific’s affordable housing division is nothing more than a reinvented version of Carlisle, the company is still doing business with Miami-Dade like nothing happened. Now Edmonson, along with a bunch of pastors led by former Miami Commissioner Rev. Richard Dunn (who also benefited from Carlisle’s campaign funds), could derail the Liberty City revitalization project.
If their sabotage succeeds, Liberty City will not make any progress.
When you look at both deals objectively, there’s no comparison. Related is promising that current residents will not be forced to move out during and after the construction, they will all get free wifi access, and 1,350 construction and permanent jobs will go to residents from Liberty City and surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, Related is proposing a new community center, a youth sports complex, a childhood learning center and a school for kids with special needs.
My only beef is Related teaming up with Miami Heat executive and former center Alonzo Mourning on the youth center. Mourning has no ties to Liberty Square. Instead, Related should team up with Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who grew up in the Pork n Beans with his brothers and sisters. Freeman is an inspiration to the young people in that community.