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Opa locka state of the city highlights progress and substance

Mayor “Lady” Myra Taylor delivered a rousing State of the City Address.

Mayor “Lady” Myra Taylor delivered a rousing State of the City Address.

Opa locka state of the city highlights progress and substance

By Derek Joy

     There was more than the typical pomp and circumstance in the city of Opa locka on the eve of the dawn of Black History Month 2014.

That’s when Mayor “Lady” Myra Taylor delivered a rousing State of the City Address that highlighted growth and progress on a program where the Rev. Dr. Gaston Smith of Friendship M.B. Church was master of ceremony.

Such municipal events have far less comprehensive inclusion as was evident on this night that began with the entrance of the Miami Northwestern Senior High School Marching Band.

The band entertained the audience, as did Professor Stephen D. English and The Fellowship Choir.

More deliberate inclusion followed as the audience heard the invocation in three different languages.  First in Spanish by Pastor Cristino Pinales of Ministerio Renuevo, then in Creole by Pastor Jonas Pierre of Broadmoor Baptist Church and then in English by Pastor Michael Rhome of Day Spring M.B. Baptist Church.

Miami Dade Public School Board Member Dorothy Bendross Mindingall, while introducing Taylor, said: “She’s a woman who embodies all of the characteristics I mentioned.  Integrity, honesty and a stick to it attitude.”

“She decided she would stand in times of trouble, she would stand when friends turned their backs on her, she would stand when the road was tough.”

Taylor, before driving home the essence of her message, took time to acknowledge and thank the Rev. Dr. G.S. Smith, who pastors the Apostolic Revival Center, for being the first to make a substantial contribution to her legal defense in successfully fighting charges of misappropriating funds at her Vankara School.

Additional recognition went to the Rev. Jerome Starling for waging a fight against violence, Miami Dade County District 1 Commissioner Barbara Jordan and Elroy Romo of Romo’s Pizza for business and industry.

Interestingly, Taylor, in the style and format of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s land-mark “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 24, 1963, Taylor delivered her State of the City Address.

In this city founded by aviator Glen Curtis in 1926 with Moorish architecture, the 4.5-square miles has grown to nearly 16,000 residents (predominantly Black American), 1,600 businesses and 22 churches. There is also a Tri Rail Station and more than adequate public transportation.

“As the late Mayor Rev. Dr. Robert Ingram once said “Opa locka is the hub of North Miami Dade County.”  The Opa locka express train is on course to reach new heights.

Using the title of the Clint Eastwood movie, “The Good, Bad, and the Ugly,” Taylor continued.

“Let’s start with the bad. Yes, we’ve had homicides and robberies and car thefts. But our police department has made improvement to a 50percent clearance rate.  And that means some people went to jail.

“The ugly is we haven’t covered all the potholes in our streets and we haven’t cleaned up all of our streets.  But we’re working on that.

“The good is we were very busy in 2013 stimulating jobs in our community.  We’ve established a partnership with the South Florida Workforce that is hiring Opa locka residents through a residential job placement program.

Taylor also pointed out that Opa locka collected over $20 million in federal, state and county grants, $2 million of which is for the restoration of the original City Hall with its Moorish style architecture.

According to Taylor, Opa locka has the largest collection of Moorish architecture in the western hemisphere.

“I think it was nice, inspiring,” said Marie Falaise, an eight year resident of Opa locka.  “Her vision gives hope for a lot of progress for the city.”

North Miami Mayor Lucy Tundreau said: “It was captivating. I’m very impressed.  She has a legitimate vision, plan.  Before, the vision for the city was not there.”

And for Newell Daughtery, executive director of the Opa locka CRA and three time city manager, it brings to fruition the vision of progress he had some 40 years ago.

“Yes, we may be disappointed if we fail,” said Taylor.  “But we will be doomed if we don’t try.”


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