August l , 2003…Interview with Commissioner JIMMY MORALES


 

‘CARL’S CORNER

August l , 2003…Interview with Commissioner JIMMY MORALES, District 7, Miami, Florida, candidate for Mayor, Miami-Dade county in 2004, on “LE COIN DE CARL PARLANT DE TOUT ET DE RIEN, ” Radio Carnivale, 1020 AM.

CARL.- Good morning, Lionel, Harold, Jacques, and Myrlène, “CARL’S CORNER” today will be exclusively in the American language as a courtesy to Mr. Jimmy Morales, of Puerto Rican-Cuban descent, two term Miami-Dade Country Commissioner, District 7, 41 years-old, graduated from Harvard University, who is presently in my company, in my home.

POSITIVE QUOTE OF THE DAY.- “People want to see someone that provides for the community; someone who can show people results and a man with a vision.” Signed: Jimmy Morales. Good morning, Commissioner, welcome on “Carl’s Corner.”

 

JIMMY MORALES : Good Morning Carl, it’s a tremendous pleasure to be here with you, especially in your lovely home. Thank you for your hospitality. Good morning to all the listeners. Bonjour, mes amis!

CARL.- Welcome again Commissioner, it’s a pleasure to have you. It has been said that English is the business language; French, the language of diplomacy; Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, the romance languages although all of them, including English, derive from Latin.

As for the Haitian Language which is Creole, I would dare say it’s a combination of all those languages, residue of a colonial culture, with a basic flavor of many African tongues.

Although being yourself a descendant of mixed cultures, Commissioner, it must be a difficult transition for you in your campaigns in those different communities, would you say ?

 

JIMMY MORALES : Actually, Carl, it’s one of the things I enjoy most campaigning across this county. As you mentioned, I come from a mixed culture. My father is from Puerto-Rico, my mother is from Cuba, I actually married a woman who is not Hispanic. So in my own home there is tremendous diversity. One of the things I love about Miami and the reason I moved back to Miami after going to study in Boston, in Harvard and what not, is that diversity. In this community you have the Caribbean culture, the Central and South American cultures, the European culture, people from across the United States, people from New York, the Jewish culture.

 

I imagine that one of my strengths is my ability to go to different communities, try to understand their issues, and listen. Listening is so important when you go to these communities. Not talking, but listening to what their concerns are, and being responsive. I think whoever becomes mayor of this community, I hope it’s myself, needs to be a mayor of all people, listen to all of them and represent them. To me the diversity is actually not a challenge so much but an opportunity.

CARL.- Correct, beautiful!  Miami and its surroundings is a unique multi-ethnic city and all of us living in it are proud to be here, and love it because of its diversity.

Commissioner Morales, it is a pleasure and a great honor for “CARL’S CORNER”, Radio Carnivale, and the Haitian community at large to have you with us this morning. Welcome again, sir!

 

JIMMY MORALES: The pleasure, Carl, is all mine. It’s a great opportunity to reach out to people, through radio and Radio Carnivale in particular. It’s a great media and a lot of people listening, get a lot of information, news about the community at large and again it’s part of the magic of the diversity we have such diverse radio waves from here. Spanish radio to Creole. I think there are even Portuguese programs, Colombian, and others. It’s the magic of this community and I think it’s appropriate for folks like myself who are elected officials to come here, give information to people and to interact. Thank you for that opportunity.

CARL.- Thank you, sir. Commissioner Morales, “CARL’S CORNER”, commited to serve the Haitian people, is only a 20 minutes segment and with all due respect, sir, let’s come to the point. A two term Commissioner, graduated from Harvard University, where by the way I had an older brother who studied administration there; presently a grandnephew is a professor there. Top-notch university to say the least.

You are running for mayor of Miami to replace the present incumbent, Alex Penelas. What do you propose which could be different from business as usual ?

 

JIMMY MORALES : Carl, there are a couple of things you’re going to see me talk a lot about and hopefully focusing on as mayor. One of the issues is economic development. I think we need to focus on two critical issues that really have not been focused on in recent years. One is providing access to capital to small businesses and they are entrepreneurs. One of the problems I am sure people listening to this program face is borrowing or getting access to the amount of money they need to start a business, to meet the payroll Friday, to buy a new piece of equipment for their company, to start their business.

 

The banks should start lending that kind of money. One of the things I want to do as Mayor is try to create programs to provide access to capital in minority communities. I think that would be particularly relevant in the Haitian community. Secondly, I think we need to focus on re-building the infrastructure of lots of these communities.

 

Part of the problem businesses do not want to come into an area or local people who want to start a business, it’s hard when the land is contaminated by old ground field sites, the roads are in poor shape, the water sewage construction is not up to code. Then not only you have to give that money to start small businesses, you have to spend all that money to put the infrastructure in. We, one of the obligations of government is not for us to create jobs, because that’s for the private sector, it’s for us to provide the climate for business to do best.

 

If you look at a lot of communities even portions of Little Haiti, the infrastructure has been neglected for so long by government. We need to go in and do a massive public works project, to bring the infrastructure up, so the people will have a chance, a fair chance to compete and start a business. I am going to try to be a lot more agressive and pro-active because at the end of the day, it’s all about economics. If you don’t have a job you can’t feed your family. It’s hard to educate people. It comes down to the bottom line, the economy is everything, as the president once said.

Carl.- Correct. I have read the remarks made by a prominent columnist, Mr. Jim DeFede, in the Miami Herald on July 29, 2003. In short, he declared quote,        “ that if Jose Cancela CEO of Radio Unica enters the race, the biggest loser will be Jimmy Morales. Morales is viewed as the best possible alternative to Miguel Diaz de la Portilla. However despite campaigning almost non stop since last year, Morales does not inspire confidence. Morales is a nice guy, but weak. He is not the person you would want on your side going into battle….It will be a long drawn-out bloody affair…Just the way politics in Miami was meant to be. End of quote.” Any comments, Commissioner ?

JIMMY MORALES : Oh, Carl I have lots of comments !!!

CARL : (laughing)

 

JIMMY MORALES:  First of all it’s sad that the Miami Herald and one of its reporters is saying that politics in Miami was meant to be a bloody affair. I think we should be challenging our community to rise above that. We should not have divisive, bloody, mud-slinging ugly campaigns. We should be insisting that our politicians act with decency, civility, focus on the issues and talk to the people directly. That’s the kind of campaign I am going to wage. Mr. DeFede may not like that because it does not make for good headlines, but it’s what our community deserve.

 

Secondly this issue I am not inspiring confidence I have raised contributions from nearly 2000 people in this community nearly doubling my opponent Mr. de la Portilla. I have been running for a year, he has been running since 2000 when he ran against mayor Penelas. The facts are we are very close in the polls. And as for not wanting to be on my side going to battle I can direct you to so many different communities in this county: the disabled community; women’s groups; in fact even this very Haitian community where I have been there fighting on issues with success by reform of campaign finance rules. I think Mr. DeFede talks to too many insiders.

 

There is no question the insiders, the lobbyists, the special interests don’t want me there because they know that they can’t control me, because I am willing to respond to the people, and so they want to spin that message but I know I have been getting great responses across these communities. Mr. Cancela wants to come to the race I welcome him. Anybody wants to run it’s a free country, this is a democracy, but I am confident the responses I am getting from people I have a tremendous opportunity. I challenge everybody not to do what Mr. DeFede says. Let’s make this a decent, honest, fair campaign where we focus on the issues and not on bloody, ugly battles. Miami deserves better than that.

CARL.- Commissioner, I have also read your eloquent response in the “Readers’ Forum” of the Herald, yesterday July 31, 2003, and where the latest poll shows you narrowly trailing Mr. de La Portilla, the so-called front runner.

Mr. DeFede, usually a keen observer, I believe this time has dropped the ball. Any additional comments ?

JIMMY MORALES.- I think you are exactly right. I think he dropped the ball. I think the most important thing in his article was that by Mr. Cancela running, the may or of Miami Manny Diaz is not going to run. There is not questin I think in most observers’minds that Manny Diaz would have been a very formidable opponent. Mayor of Miami, he is doing a good job, he is a friend, and certainly I think had he jumped in the race he would have been a very different race, a very challenging race. Now that he is not running, I actually think I am the big winner.

 

I think I have a very strong opportunity to reach out to all communities. No other elected official in this community except for maybe mayor Diaz has worked like I have to reach out not just to Cubans and Puertoricans but to Haitians, to blacks, to women’s group, to Jewish groups, to all communities. And as result I am the kind of inclusive person that people want in this community. I think I am the big winner by the fact Mr. Cancela is the one who is going to be running, not Mr. Diaz, and I look forward to that race very much.

CARL.-You, Commissioner Jimmy Morales, do not seem to be a weak political entity, but being in the limelight for too long, people look for ways to give you a sunburn. It happens to me too. One can not please everyone. I feel your pain sir, like president Clinton would say.

Sir, just for you to be on this Haitian radio and other times with the Haitian communities of Kendall, Homestead, Little Haiti, etc, it takes courage. We, Haitians, we have been and still are the underdogs due, let’s face it, to being black, poor, speaking creole, and political turmoil at home, resulting with Haitian refugees coming to South Florida.

Haitians are being returned to their native land compared to our Cuban brothers being received in Florida with open arms. It happened again yesterday in Key Largo where 45 Cuban refugees arrived, with governor Jeb Bush taking sides against his own brother, the president, with the other Cubans which were returned to Cuba.

As for us, it’s not easy being Haitian, and it’s not easy being a friend of the Haitian people. What are your thoughts on that ?

 

JIMMY MORALES : Well, I have to tell you I have tremendously enjoyed my friendship with Haitians. I have met, Carl, so many people like yourself who have been good friends, who taught me a lot, whom I have wonderful times, so for me personally it has been very easy to be a friend of the Haitian people but also because the Haitian people are on the right side of these issues. It is wrong what this country is doing. It is wrong that we indefinitely detain Haitians. It is wrong that we don’t let people in who have risked their lives by crossing dangerous waters, that we don’t let them stay in this country and seek the opportunities.

 

I am a son of immigrants. Far be it for me to ever close the door on other immigrants and as a result of the last few years I have taken up with many of my Haitian brothers and sisters this fight to try to change that policy. I was there on Key Biscayne when the boat arrived last fall. Shortly after that I was at that meeting of the county commissioners where many of us signed the resolution to Washington to please change the policy. I sponsored the resolution to have the children freed for the holidays. Few months ago I was very proud to accompany many Haitian leaders to Washington and walk the walls of Congress and send a very strong message to congressmen and U.S. senators.

 

We even at a hearing had a chance to say a few words to John Ashcroft, the Attorney General, about how this is wrong. We are going to continue working on that. It is unfortunate what is happening to the Haitian people in this country and I think we need to prevail on Washington to change those policies and many of us here in Miami who want to be and are part of that struggle, and we’ll continue to be. While it’s a hard fight in Washington it’s a pleasure for me as a member of the Caribbean community to keep on supporting my fellow “caribenos.”

Carl.-  Thank you sir. Commissioner Morales I do respect you for having the courage of being part of us Haitians in those difficult times, and in addition to your response to Jim DeFede in the Herald, please feel free to add any additional comments. The mike is yours.

 

JIMMY MORALES: Well, again, I appreciate that. I think that in my reaching out you’re going to find me a tremendous ally. Not just on the issue of immigration either. I remember a couple of years ago when the Haitian political action committee and many other groups came to the Commission wanting a seat on the county commission, I was very proud to co-sponsor with Commissioner Carey-Schuller an item to add a seat to the county commission to try to create Haitian representation. Unfortunately the rest of my colleagues did not support me on this. Even though my district, district 7, has a very small Haitian population I have understood how important it is to reach out to every segment, to provide funding to Haitian communities, to appoint friends like Mimi Tribié to serve on the Minority Economic Development committee of the county, make sure that the Haitian voice is heard on these kinds of issues. To support Haitian womens’s groups, for example I helped create a micro loan program and one of the agencies is now providing micro landing because of my program to the Haitian Womens’s organization down in Homestead. So I understand as a commissioner and you can rest assured

that as mayor I will surely understand how important it is to work with all communities including the Haitian community to provide opportunities.

CARL.-I am glad to know that you have Dr. Mireille Tribié with you.

 

JIMMY MORALES:  Absolutely.

 

CARL.- Commissioner, I understand that you will be the keynote speaker tomorrow night at the Radisson-Deauville hotel in Miami Beach at a get together by “SLN HAITI, INC.”, a worthwhile organization which is raising funds to improve the little town of Saint-Louis du Nord in the Northwest of Haiti. I have already been made an honorary resident and will be present tomorrow night to listen to you, and partake in the festivities. Do you have a last word, Commissioner ?

 

JIMMY MORALES : I certainly hope that folks listening who want to come to that event. It’s an important event. Not only do we as a community in South Florida have an obligation to help one another down here, but we also have an obligation to take care of our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean and in the Americas. We are the gateway to the Americas. We are the gateway to the Caribbean and I think as a result not only it’s important that we benefit economically from that but that we also give back and for me it’s an honor to try tomorrow night really encourage people to partake, get involved and help this wonderful Saint-Louis du Nord community.

 

CARL.- Well you prounounce Saint-Louis du Nord pretty good.

 

JIMMY MORALES.-  Oui, oui

 

CARL.- I have here with me also Dr. Mireille Tribié who is on the staff of Commissioner Morales. Welcome Mireille, don’t be so shy. Will you please say a few words to the Haitian community.

 

DR. MIREILLE TRIBIÉ: Good morning my people. I am glad to be here, Carl, thank you for letting me say hello. I know we’re running out of time. I wholeheartedly support our Commissioner Jimmy Morales for next mayor in 2004 and we will take the seat and I know we in the Haitian community we’re gone be very safe and we will go first economically, socially, and in every other way once we take that seat. I am really asking for your support but we are only starting the campaign and the fight. Thank you.

 

CARL.- Thank you Mireille. You know I did that program in English. First of all I love to hear Commissioner Morales speak English. He speaks it so beautifully for the son of an immigrant. Myself  I have been living here for 57 years, I still have my Haitian accent. I am proud of it but I still admire his. Commissioner Morales again thank you very much for coming to my home and to meet with the Haitian community on Radio Carnivale. Hasta la vista mi amigo.”

 

JIMMY MORALES: “Hasta luego. Au revoir !!! Merci beaucoup.”

 

CARL.- Mes amis, Radio Carnivale à vous.

 

LIONEL DUPERVAL.- Et bien merci Carl. C’était “LE COIN DE CARL” en ce premier août 2003. Merci Carl, Bonne journée et bon week-end.

END OF INTERVIEW.