By Garth Rose and Karyl WalkerSince elected Mayor of Miramar in 2015, Wayne Messam has led a commission that created a booming business environment and improved infrastructure. While he is not up for re-election until 2019, Messam is, surprisingly, not supporting two of his senior commissioners who are up for reelection in the March 14 Municipal Elections.Yvette Colbourne…boasts exemplary public service recordMessam, An American of Jamaican descent, insists that with a more dynamic commission, he can achieve bigger things in a city with a strong Caribbean populace. Next week, voters will decide whether to retain or replace three incumbents. Veteran Winston Barnes, a Jamaican-American, who has served the commission since 2003, is seeking re-election in Seat 3. Yvette Colbourne, a Panamanian-American of Jamaican descent, who has served since 2013, seeks reelection in Seat 2. Maxwell Chambers, also Jamaican-American, elected to the commission in 2014, seeks reelection in Seat 1.Miramar is the only city in Florida with an all-Caribbean-American commission. In addition to Barnes, Chambers and Colbourne, Darlene Riggs is Haitian-American. Two Jamaican-Americans, Attorney Norman Hemmings, and chiropractor Dr. Venessa Walker, are challenging for Seats 1 and 2, respectively. Barnes is being challenged by Haitian-American Dalton Jall’s Bonheur and African-American James R. Hepburn. Colbourne who served as a member of a county executive team that successful manage a $600 million budget with up 2,000 employees in Miami-Dade County is surprised at Messam’s stance, considering the commission supports most of his proposals. According to Colbourne, she voted 99% of the time to support the mayor’s initiatives. She did vote against his pitch to increase property taxes in 2016.Winston Barnes,,,my record speaks for itselfThe 30-year veteran of public service who also has a masters degree in Public Administration, said any budget gap could have been realized by improving efficiencies in the city’s management.“We successfully met this gap, without raising taxes. At the end of 2016, there was a balance of $6 million in the city’s funds, carried forward to supplement 2017 expenditure,” said Colbourne.And while Messam himself has wide-scale backing, an unofficial CNW poll in the community suggests residents are happy with the current commission. The general consensus is that Miramar’s business climate is a sound source of jobs for residents and commends Messam and the commissioners for doing a splendid job.According to one individual, Miramar is an aviation hub which provides economic spin-offs to many businesses that supply services to that industry, There is also a growing complement of Fortune 500 companies. Significantly, Miramar has managed to stem the outsourcing of U.S jobs to countries like China.In his 2015 State of the City address, Messam said there were 1,800 residential units planned for the city, valued at $191 million. He noted that during the recession of 2009, Miramar continued to expand. He also mentioned several infrastructural improvements in the eastern section, including new drainage. The Pembroke Road overpass is completed and has resulted in a significant ease on traffic congestion. He pointed to getting the commission to approve a $60 million revenue bond for funding park development, and the Miramar amphitheater (under construction) as other high points of his administration.Barnes, a broadcaster by profession, has been on the commission for almost 14 years. He listed his achievements which include: creating a scholarship fund from a raise he received in his commissioner’s salary; voting for funding both Miramar high schools annually; and providing funds to help residents with home repairs to meet city codes, and paying utility bills.He anticipates another term.“I should be re-elected to keep integrity, experience and decorum on the Commission. My record speaks for itself,” Barnes said.Chambers seeks re-election to enhance the financial health of the city without increasing taxes, and ensuring that property values in East Miramar are not compromised by developers who are bent on turning homes into rental property.If elected Dr. Walker’s mission is to make it possible for more residents to own businesses; enhance public safety, keep taxes low, push the city’s econ development and be a transparent representative.Hemmings, making his second bid for the seat, says his mission if elected is to hold down property taxes, and mobilize strong anti-crime strategies.
CENTAL program manager, Gerald D. Yeakula. The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has called on the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to timely and independently verify and publish all declared assets, income and liabilities, including those of President George M. Weah.In a statement issued on Monday, CENTAL said it is glad to acknowledge receipt of reports of declaration of assets, income, and liabilities by President George Manneh Weah, which the General Auditing Commission (GAC) has confirmed.Although it is belated, CENTAL lauded President Weah for declaring his assets in compliance with chapter 10 of the 2014 Code of Conduct for Public officials that requires all public officials to declare their assets.“This is one of several steps that demonstrate concrete commitment and political will to set the necessary condition for a successful fight against corruption in Liberia,” the statement said.CENTAL has also called on the Vice President, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, Justices of the Supreme Court and other officials of government to do likewise.“We maintain that former officials accused of corrupt acts, especially those of the immediate past regime, must be investigated and if found guilty prosecuted in keeping with relevant Liberian Laws,” CENTAL said.CENTAL said former officials who refused to declare their assets while leaving power/government, should be compelled to do so or prosecuted, in keeping with relevant provisions of the Code of Conduct.Finally, “we would like to admonish President Weah against repeating mistakes of former President Sirleaf, when she, among other things, shielded her officials; ignored recommendations from independent committees established to probe corruption scandals as well as appointed persons with tainted records in key government positions.”Any anti-corruption effort that is not built on a strong prosecution and deterrent regime is bound to fail; this is the weak link in Liberia’s current anti-graft efforts, which must be addressed to decisively tackle corruption and bad governance in the country, the statement maintained.The statement further noted that continuous violation of the Code of Conduct does not augur well for the reputation of the government and its professed desire to address graft, arguably the biggest impediment to the success of the pro-poor agenda.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)