From interviews earlier this week with County Commissioners Dale Holness, Sue Gunzburger and Stacy Ritter about the County Commission’s approval of $16,700 sought by a civic group for Haitian Heritage and Cultural Month.
“We should celebrate the culture and the diversity of Broward County. I think it’s the greatest strength that we have locally, and as a nation,” Holness said.
He said Miami-Dade County has supported a similar event for years and he thinks Broward’s eventually could become so big it would “draw tourism into Broward County and as such expand the economy.”
“The strength of our country has always been the diversity of our people. E pluribus unum, of many, one, even when those were primarily Europeans. It’s something that was coined by our forefathers…. Celebrating the diversity and when we become one we’re so much stronger.”
He said he’d be happy to have a system that funded other groups. “Not merely the Haitian Cultural Heritage Month should be celebrated. We should celebrate all cultures.”
And he rejected the “pork barrel” label from Ritter. “This is not pork at all.”
He said he was surprised at the tenor of some of his colleagues’ comments. “I think some of the language might not have, probably could have been said differently. Everyone has their own agenda and their own beliefs,” he said.
Ritter said: “I don’t know if we should be in the business of doing that. In better times, groups would raise their own money. I’m not sure that coming to the government and asking for it is a good thing. I don’t think we can be everything to everybody. We still have things that we cut when the times were lean that we haven’t restored yet.”
Each commissioner gets $345,230 a year to pay for salaries and office expenses. Ritter used some of her money last year for the Coral Springs Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Commissioner Barbara Sharief supported cultural programs at the Miramar Cultural Trust.
Holness said he doesn’t have any money to spare for the Haitian month.
“When you look at my district, you’ll find that there’s a greater amount of needs that exist there. I staff three people in my office…. It’s documented,” he said.
Commissioners told the county administrator to report back on the possibility of creating a pot of money to fund similar projects when she prepares the budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
Gunzburger said it could work this way: “We allow everyone who might fit a category to apply and then vote on those…. We might say, ‘There is $25,000 and we can allocate $5,000 to five or whatever we want to do.’”Copyright © 2015, CT Now