Remember President Obama’s stimulus package? The $787 billion bill was supposed to goose this country’s ailing economy like a line of premium yeyo. Here in Miami, it was also booked to save us from our slovenly, speed-eating selves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the Miami-Dade County Health Department nearly $15 million for healthy-living programs. Neighborhoods such as Overtown and Liberty City — where McDonald’s locations easily outnumber produce vendors — desperately needed the help.
But three years later, those lofty plans have fallen prey to red tape. All the money must be spent by next month, yet half a dozen organizations have only begun to receive funds.
“It’s been a huge pain in the ass,” says Ian Wogan, whose company, Garden of Ian, was awarded a grant to improve two community gardens in Little Haiti but struggled for months to get the cash.
What happened? Well, it took a full year for Miami-Dade DOH to even receive the $14.7 million. Then DOH began soliciting bids. It didn’t start doling out cash until June 2010, giving $12 million to 20 groups.
But those that received money included many programs that had little to do with putting vegetables in the hood. Miami-Dade County Public Schools, for instance, took $3 million for “healthier” vending machines and education sessions; the Miami Police Department bizarrely snagged $300,000 to train crossing guards; and more than $3 million went to ad firms to promote the CDC’s plans.
Three million bucks for ad firms to promote a nonexistent program. Brilliant! The rest of the piece here.