samedi 16 octobre 2010

North Miami delays decision on Haiti funds

The North Miami City Council is expected to vote on who will get money donated to carry out Haiti reconstruction efforts on Oct. 26.
Despite outcry from donors and concerns from the Red Cross, North Miami officials did not come to a consensus Tuesday on how they will spend more than $116,000 raised for Haiti relief immediately after the January earthquake.
Officials had put the issue on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting to discuss the fate of the funds raised ostensibly to be handed over to the American Red Cross in the days following the disaster.
At the meeting, the council decided to accept proposals from other organizations seeking the donated money to carry out Haiti reconstruction efforts.
The council did vote to remove the Red Cross' name from the city's website, which is still accepting online contributions.
But as of Wednesday afternoon, the city's Haiti relief site still stated: ``Our fundraising efforts will benefit the Red Cross.''
The council is expected to vote on who will get the donated money Oct. 26. At least two local organizations have already expressed interest in applying for the funds, which were donated by more than 200 people across Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
``Things are very bad in Haiti. By holding on to the money, children are dying. People are dying,'' said Marc Jacques, who submitted a proposal from his North Miami-based organization, Nord Ouest Environmental Inc, to install a water system at a hospital in Port-de-Paix, Haiti.

Several donors, as well as the CEO of the American Red Cross of Greater Miami and the Keys, expressed frustration that the funds had not been turned over nine months after the earthquake.
Officials said they have not ruled out turning the money over to the Red Cross -- but if not, the city will consider refunds to donors who request them.
Several donors have complained the city misled them into thinking the money would be provided to the Red Cross immediately after the quake for relief efforts.
``I thought the money had already gone there, I wasn't aware it hadn't,'' said Mark Levitt, who donated money on behalf of his company Limousines of South Florida.
He said he doesn't care what agency receives the money -- as long at it goes to Haiti.
Mayor Andre Pierre said he will not support giving the money for basic needs like food and water, saying the city should fund long-term projects like hospitals and women's shelters.

Julia Essman, owner of a Kendall automotive supply shop who contributed $200, said that the need for basic supplies was precisely why she donated the money in January.
``That's surprising, I thought the money would have been sent for food and shelter days later,'' Essman said.
Councilman Scott Galvin suggested the city contact every donor to determine if they have any objections to their money going to an organization other than the Red Cross. His motion did not receive a second. Pierre said that was not necessary.
``There's no need for us to go to individual donors of 25 dollars, 50 dollars,'' said Pierre, who took credit for $70,000 of the money raised. ``I contacted those people,'' he said.
Councilman Jean Marcellus said he was concerned about the city's image if 200 people received phone calls or letters from the city, asking them where their money should go.
``They will laugh at us,'' said Marcellus, who also said he would support giving the money to other groups besides the Red Cross. ``Where is our minimum leadership?''
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/14/1872566/city-delays-decision-on-haiti.html#ixzz12Y69lCLe

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