Title: James Jones
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Title: James Jones
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FB 81A Side 1-Beginning Bridges

An inter-view with James Jones in Riviera Beach, Florida, on 12-11-75
for the Button Project.

I Okay, the first few questions are asked to find out how well the

voting Rights Act of 1965 has helped blacks to take part in Florida

politics. And the first question is: What year did you first

register to vote?

J: I first register to vote in Georgia and that's when I was eighteen

years old.

I' Uh. huh. And what year would that have been?

J: Well, I'm npow thirty-nine so whatever.

I: Okay. What year were you first eligible to register?

J: That must have been around 1954.

1: Okay. Did the local registrars ever turn you down when you applied

to register?

J: No.

I: Have voter registration drives been held in Riviera Beach?

J: 0h, yes. Voter registration drives have been held in Riviera Beach

every year since I've been in the city-some ten years.

I-: Uh huh. What are some of the organizations that conducted these

drives-local, national?

J: Well, one of the main organizations is the Voter's League. Another-

a couple of community improvement groupsAconducted voter registration

drives. And I have conducted voter registration drives myself.

I;: Uh -huh.

J: As sort of a preliminary to elections.

I: The year that they purgedthe county took over the voting rolls and

purged a lot of the voters, did you take part in re-registration drives?

EB. 81A Bridges


J: Oh, yes. Yes. Actually the year that I won the election my seat

was vacated because an ordinance had been passed some seven years

earlier which stated that voter registration must take place at

city hall. And since, when we conducted our registration drive we

registered a lot of people within the community outside of city hall.

Those folks who were registered outside of city hall were purged from

the Books.

It Ulh huh.

J1: And -A y seat was vacated so we put on a massive registration drive then

to try to restore some of those folks to the book. Also, when we

went to the county rolls, all those persons who were already registered

with the. county were, you know, given city cards-given a card where

they could vote in both city and the county. However, those persons

who were only registered with the city at that time, you know, were

in effect purged. And we put on a big registration drive to get some

of those folks Back on the books.

I: Uh huh. How successful in general were these registration drives?

rje an--

J: ell, they've been very successful, a4LC)Jc\.

I: 3 see. I know you did get more on that--in the rolls after they had

purged them which had been-that had been on before.

J: Oh, yes. Right. Yes.

I: Do you feel like there's anything in Riviera Beach that would prevent

Blacks from registering to vote?

J: No. Not at the present time.

I Well, this next question is kind of a follow-up to that. I guess

what I'd like to do is just run down these and have you check very

FB 81A Bridges


I: important, fairly important, or not important--whether those might

prevent blacks from registering in Riviera Beach. The first one is

economic dependence on whites.

J: That's not important. Fear of physical violence from whites. No.

Complicated registration form. No. Poor registration hours. For the

lack.of a better category I'll put that.

I: Uh huh.

J: Because a lot of people work during the regular, you know, 8:00 to

5:00, and they're just not available.

I Uh huh.

J: Except for special registration drive. Registration not very often


I: And if you could add to that removal from rolls for nonvote in that

category? Does that happen tery often--people not voting in a

certain period of time?

3: No. That really doesn't worry me much. Registration not held often

enough. That's not important from the point of view that we conduct

registration drives almost every year.

I: Uh huh.

J: And indifference of blacks to voting. That's fairly important.

1: Okay. Thank you.

J: Uh. huh.

I: There'll be a couple more of these so you can just sit and-

Okay. The next set of questions are asked to gather information on

your election campaign. Were you able to campaign freely? That is

were you threatened in any way?

J: I imagine in all campaigns there are some types of threats, and there

fI:81A Bridges

Jli were some._ait they were. minor threats.

I: Tli huh. Okay. Were you handicapped by a lack of campaign money'or not?

J: No.

I: Never? That 's unusual.

J: No.

I: Okay.

J: Well, T'll put it this way, you know, the more money you have within

limits the better campaign you can run; however, I sort of anticipated

the amount of money that I was going to have available and geared my

campaigns according to that.

I: Uh h~uh. I've done a little newspaper research and at one point they

gaye figures on the reports that all your candidates gave. And in

one election you were involved in, and I remember compared to some of

the other candidates that you ran against you--it was comparatively

little money.

J: Yeah, as compared to-- ~Right. That-s true. Well, the reason is

is Because I' generally get a lot of volunteer help, and I do a lot

of work myself, you know. I1m not above doing whatever has to be done.

I; Th huh.

J: So I get right out and put up signs and, you know, everything else that

has to be done. And I get a lot of people to do the same. As far as

transportation to the polls, I have gotten out and driven people to

the polls myself, and gotten a lot of people to do so, you know, for

no charge. So to that extent, I got around the money situation but if

I were not able to get that type of support, then I certainly would

t have had a financial problem.

I:: Uh.huh.

FB 81A Bridges


J: Well, one of the other reasons is because Riviera Beach has a

population of about 29,000 right now, more or les And it's

not a very large city. It's fairly convenient to get people to the

polls so--but if it were a county-wide situation financing would be

very crucial.

I: Uh huh. Why did you decide to run for office?

J: Well, I've always been civic minded. I guess during the early days

blacks were not able to register and vote in Georgia. That's where

I came from, and my father was a very avid, you know, voter and

community participant. So that sort of rubbed off on me. And so

when I came to Riviera Beach, naturally, I became active in the

community and I ran up against the typical frustration, all the

problems, and very little you can do about it. So I' came to the

conclusion that the only way I could really make an impact on the

problems that I felt needed addressing was to get in myself. Because

I would talk with councilmen and, you know, they would give you lip

service, but when it comes down to taking the action, you know, well,

something else was always more important.

P: So it was pretty much your own decision?

J: Oh, yes.

I: I know like Mayor Brooks--I interviewed him. And he had a group kind

of put him up to it as far as selecting him-a citizen's group that he--

J: Right. That is true. That is the way he got involved. I got involved

differently than he did.

I: Okay. To which political organization do you belong--aemocratic party,


J: Democrat.

FB 81A Bridges


I: Okay. Have you ever received any support financial or otherwise from

the Democratic party?

J: No. You know we are non-partisan, but, you know, that doesn't prevent

support. But I haven't solicited any and haven't gotten any.

I: Okay. What were the two or three most important campaign issues when

you ran--say from the first?

J: Okay. At the time that I ran, one of the most important issues was

better police protection through an integrated police department.

At the time, you know, we had two sets of patrols, and the whites

patrolled on one side of town and the blacks patrolled on the other

side of town. And the protection was kind of bad.

I:: Uh huh.

J: So that was one of the big issues. Another big issues was, at the time

there was very limited employment of blacks, you know, in the city

government;in any position other than public works. That was a big

issue. Integrated staff and office personnel. Another big one was

improved fire service in the city. We had one fire department--s3-y

one fire station at the time. We've since built two additional ones.

Another one was better recreation facilities.

I:: Were these all lacking in the black community? I mean all the issues

you mentioned--

J: Oh, yes. Well, the--

I: Were they better in the white community than say the black? Or were--

did it just need overall improvement?

J: Well, in terms of the first issue I mentioned, police protection, I

imagine to some degree it was a matter in which people perceived it.

The two sides were segregated and for example when policemen over he-e

FB 81A Bridges


J: were tied up, you couldn't bring policemen to the other side and vice

versa. So that created a problem of getting service when patrols were

tied up. So in terms of the fire service, that was a problem. Because

we have a train that goes right down through the center of the city.

Whenever there was a fire would hit, and the train coming by, you

know, you got a problem there. Another one, we have a bridge 7

open bridge, teaus bridge going across to the island. Sometimes that

bridge gets stuck, and it has gotten--stayed stuck for as much as a

day. And of course, it's about-a long way around to get there.

I: Uh huh.

J: So that was a problem. And recreation was a problem--inadequate.

I: Do you feel like the issues that you campaignedwere the major

!> issues for the black community? I mean were you in touch with
------ ?-------
any of those?

J: Okay. Let me mention one other--I: missad one of the major issues.

The other major issue, the one that I had been concerned with since

I came here was poor streets. And so that's certainly one of the

major issues.

I: Uh huh.

J: Now when I got on the council, one of the first things that we dealt

with was the police situation. I guess we fired the existing chief

and put in a new chief who is black who we felt could work better with

the entire. And not just because he's black but because of the kind

of person he was. And we felt that considering the image the police

department had over the years that the black guy in that position

would tend to improve the image. We had had a riot here at the

school and what have you, and that did happen. The police department

FB 81A Bridges


J: improved significantly, and the community as a whole has positive

views about ge&tng police in the city.

J: On the street program, we started working on that program shortly

after we got in, and it took about three years to finally put together

a program that would simply pave all the remaining non-paved streets

in the city and upgrade some of them. And we're still working on that

program, But essentially, that particular problem of poor streets is

Being completely resolved.

1:: Jh huh.

J: In terms of poor fire service, we have built two new fire stations--

one along the ocean front and one on the western section here. And

we are still trying to get them staffed--adequately staffed, but we

do have the facilities that we can use. So I think we have made an

impact on the major problems that we had at the time I was elected.

I: 2s community development your main concern right now on the commission?

J: Right. Community development is aa inVeereing concern right now. We

had a housing study made of the city, and we .&a~same categorize the

housing that we have here, the types and what have you, and we have

a lot of substandard housing in the city. And we have a housing

authority that's building 200 units that we finally got moving. And

we are hoping that we can use community development to substantially

improve larger houses through, you know, grants, whatever we can, and

through loans and what have you. Now the community development program whou

is through urban county. In other words, we have it with all the other

municipalities and the county together. And we have been working

extremely hard for the last couple of years or more trying to get

FB 81A Bridges


J: geared up for federal support. And in the meantime the whole federal,

you know, program changed.

I: Uh huh.

J: But by starting early we are in a very favorable position for getting

a good portion of the initial community development money, you know,

for the first year. And then we're still pondering now on whether

to s'i with urban county or whether to go on our to make sure that

we get our share for the city.

I: Uh huh.

J: So it's housing is under community development. We have one portion

6f the community here that's completely-almost completely undeveloped.

No streets, housing dilapidated, you know, unpaved streets, housing

dilapidated. It's unsanitary. We just put in sewer service out there.

We just put in water service. The trash and garbage service is under

a franchise which is inadequate, and we've been trying to deal with

that legally. You know, we're trying to somehow take over that

operation so we can improve the service, you know.

I: Uh huh.

J: That's an area-target area that we are hoping that we can, you know,

zero in on community development funds and get this upgraded.

I: Yeah. When you campaigned, what are you thinking? Are you thinking

because Riviera Beach is split pretty evenly--white and black--

J: Right. Right.

I: Are you thinking the black community needs this and since I'm g6ing

to get most of my support in that area, I mean the voting break

downs that I've seen have always been in precinct-one precinct, the


J: Right.

FB 81A Bridges


I: There's always like a 750 majority and in the white district it's

about the same over there. And it makes for close elections.

J: yeah. R5k+.

I: Do you think in your mind what does the community as a whole need or

just what does the black community need in particular?

J: Okay. I try to think in priorities, really. I,look at the overall

situation and from a financial point of view, I try to deal with the

worst problem first, you know. You can't spend all the money on the

worst problem. you have to spend some in other areas, too, because

everybody, you know, is a taxpayer, you know. So what I try to do

is put things in order of priority and spend most of the money where

it's needed and then spend some other money in other areas where

some improvements are needed. In that way, hopefully in the long run

we can things to a point where we can spend money evenly throughout.

I, feel that you have to do it that way because it takes-in a community,

well this community-even though this community is pretty much split

black and white, white politicians generally don't have the courage to

really deal with the problems in the black community. Okay. Their

constituents give them a hard time. Okay. And so they deal with the

problem, you know, very lightly. Okay.

It: Uh. huh.

T: So when blacks get in, even though they get a hard time from everybody,

even some of the blacks- on the same subject, they still I feel are sort

of obligated to deal with the problem since nobody else is really going to

deal with it. It's a hard problem because, for example, in the street

program there were three. blacks and two whites on the council at the

time. And we were coming up to an election, and the vote on that

FB 81A Bridges


J: street improvement program went 3:2. The blacks voted for it and the

whites voted against it. And the whites who voted against it were not

even coming up for re-election. It was the blacks who were coming

up for re-election. And the blacks knew--and it's harder to program

with an assessment program-plus the assessment, but we put forth a

lot of effort to try to make the program as less of a burden on the

people as possible because we have some charter limitations saying

that all improvements of these types have to be assessed. And you

got the state law and the local law that sort of had us binded. So

we just sort of looked at some technicalities legally and reduced the

costs as much as we. possibly could.

I: Uh- huh.

J: And, of course,' the whites would not go--on the commission--would not

go along with that. They felt that it should be, you know, the maximum

assessment. And of course, what we said is that if these improvements

had been done earlier-much earlier over the years, it could have been

done ten times cheaper, and that was the figure--ten times cheaper.

And it wouldn't be such of a burden, but at the unemployment, in terms

of high unemployment, layoffs, and escalating costs of inflation and

all that, we didn't feel that it was--it would be to the benefit of the

city as a whole to put all their burden on the people really. So we

made. the program as attractive as possible, and of course, some whites

wouldn't go for it. They said, "Well, our constituents don't believe

in the program." Now their program is set up on a priority basis.

Okay. All unpaved streets would be done first. And then the second

priority would be take old streets which were principally in the white

community--would be upgraded, and then we'd go, you know, one step

FB 81A Bridges

J: up from that. But they would not go along with the program, and

because of. criticism. Now we, the two other blacks who voted

for the program was defeated.

I: Uh huh.

J: Brooks was in at the time as councilman. He was defeated in election.

And Taylor was in. He was also defeated. Okay, because of this

street improvement program.

I: Uh huh.

J: And it was not just whites voting against them. The blacks voted

against them in large numbers because they didn't want the assessment.

I: They-you say the blacks voted against them because they didn't want-

J: Oh, yes. They did not want the assessments.

I: The lowered assessments or the--

J: No, what it was, see, we floated a bond issue to raise enough money

to do the streets; however, our charter stated that you could not

improve streets in front of people's houses without charging them a

certain amount for it. Okay. It's supposed to be 60:40. The property

owner's supposed to pay sixty percent, and the city's supposed to pay

forty percent.

I: Uh huh.

J: Okay. And so, you know, in these rather crucial economic times, these

people just did not want to pay sixty percent costs. Okay. That's a

lot of money to them.

I: Uh_ huh.

J: But what we felt--we felt that the contract that we had at the time-

well, we started out with four people. The top four bidders on the

contract, and let's see, I think two of them had dropped out. And

FB81A Bridges


J: we had gotten in a situation where we were holding anto one contractor

and he was trying to back out off the contract because of the, for

example, the asphalt had gone up fifty percent and labor costs khve

gone up and all these things. And see he was still binding on the

contract because he had a deposit-a five percent deposit. And he

tried to negotiate out of the contract, and we told him that he was

going to pay the penalty if he tried to hack out of it.

I l Uh. h-uh.

J: So-they eventually sold out to another outfit, but nevertheless we

felt that if we didn't go along with that contract, the cost was

going to he even higher. And as time progressed we would be getting

to the point where it would Be virtually impossible to pave some of

these streets because of the cost.

I1 You were- on the council at this time?

J: Oh, yes.

I: And that was.-at one time there was a 4:1 black majority. Right?

And then after this election weren't both, like you say Brooks and

Taylor defeated and you were the only black left on the council?

J; 'Right. The only black left.

1 Why do you think you survived? Did you not come up for re-election?

J: I wasn't up for re-election.

I: Oh. That's interesting.

J: So anyway when it comes to hard issues and dealing with problems in

the. black community, white politicians won't deal with them. And

even in--sometimes it's easier for, for example, sometimes it's easier

for a black. to deal with.problems in a white community than a white

politician. And sometimes it's easier for a white politician to deal

FB 81A Bridges


J; with. the problems in a black. community than a black politician. But

blacks in general would deal with the problem in the black community

whick sometimes is a pretty rugged problem to deal with. And you know,

they get all kinds of knocks for it. And they also deal with the

problem in the white community.

I: tJh huh.

J: Do you see what I ?mean? Where. the white. politician just won't roll

up his sleeves and deal with. a real serious problem in the black


1 TUh huh.

j,: And that's one of those serious problems.

I,: Uh huh. I can remember I read an attack on that assessment by

Councilman Taylor in the paper, but do you feel that was discriminatory,

too, that assessment in of itself. I mean was it a discriminatory


J; Well, it wasn't discriminatory in and of itself. Well, see, what

really happened--well, a lot of people felt that a lot of streets

had been paved in the white community. Okay. At city cost, the

city s expense, and then when those streets were pretty much paved,

they passed--they changed the charter to put in the assessment so

that when blacks came around to get their streets paved they would

have to pay an assessment, see.

I: Uh huh.
J: 1-mean That was: the prevailing I and that's not entirely true

but it is partially true. And so they felt that they shouldn't be

assessed, that the charter should be changed back so that there would

be no assessment, but we were dealing with the problem from this

FB 81A Bridges


J: point of view. Politically, we couldn't guarantee a charter change.

And on an issue like that it would be extremely controversial and,

you know, there's no prediction of ever getting something like that

* to pass anytime in the near future. In the meantime, improvements

are remaining static, you know, a lack of improvements of poor

streets and what have you are remaining static and costs are


I Uh, huh.

J; So what we're trying to do is make the best of the situation which,

I feel that we made the Best of it.

I, Okay. Well, these next few questions are asked to determine some of

the conditions which have enabled blacks to win office in Florida.

KH were you elected--at large or By district?

J: I was elected at large.

I': How many, people are in your district--well, let's say--that doesn't

fit Riviera Beach. They are changing, though, aren't they, in 1976?

J: Right. The voting situation has been changed to a district.

I: Uh huh.

J: In other words, candidates run--qualify in my district but vote

is at large.

I: Okay. I read in the--I'd like to mention another thing I read in the

paper about that. It--paraphrasing, it said the competition between

the races is due to end in 1976 because of this new districting. Is

that a fair way to put, do you think? That that's what'll happen?

3: I don't know. Well, let's put it this way, that's a positive way of

looking at it, but I think districting is more complicated than that.

FB 81A Bridges


J: I think there are a lot of drawbacks to districting, but I think that's

the positive way of looking at it, the way you're looking at it. That's

the way I try to look at it--to--it would insure representation by

various sections of the city.

I: Uh huh.

J: And that's the basis on which I supported it and promoted it and helped,

you know, draw it up and what have you. But there a lot of other

problems with districting.

I: Okay. Well, the next question is how many people are in your district.

I know how many are in Riviera Beach, but is that a valid question?

J: Yeah, that's a valid question now. Let's see, the way the city is

broken down now, you have four districts and they're based on

population. So it must be-I would say about seven to eight thousand.

1' Okay.

End of Side 1

FB 81A Bridges

-17- Side 2-Beginning

J: Mostly ninety-nine and nine tenths would be accurate.

I: Okay.

J: But as, you know, 'evi..

I: Okay. What percentage of that--those black voters are registered to

vote'do you figure?

J: Okay. We have somehiere h eebokood fI u. .

I'll just average it or round it off at 12,000 registered voters--not

quite that high so I'll say 3,000.

I: Okay. In the past elections you've had, how many of the registered

black voters-what percentage voted for you, do you figure?

J: It's been running I would say about--oh, what percentages of those

who voted?

I: Yeah, what and just, I guess the question is just all candidates, just

what voted--not actually for you. I shouldn't have said that. That

was a mistake.

J': Okay. What percentage.of blacks voted for m or what percentage of--

I: -What percentage of blacks voted? Not necessarily for you, just voted

would you think from your district?

J: Oh, okay. The percentage-

I: Or at Riviera Beach in general let's say.

J: Okay. In general we've gotten as high as sixty-five percent conserva-

tively speaking, city wide.

I: Okay. Do you think you ,got any votes from whites?

J: Oh. yeah. Oh yeah.

I: What percentage came. from whites?

J: I've gotten as high as probably-lI've probably gotten as high twenty


FB 81A Bridges


I: I know you've run for office more than once, but let's say in your

last effort how many opponents did you have?

J: How many opponents? In the primary I had two, and of course

I: A#bw Okay. What percentage of the total vote did you

get in ultimately winning it? Oh, is it a run-off?

J: Okay. Let's see, o-U +ke_ total, I would say about 53 percent.

I: Okay. Okay. These next few questions are asked to determine how

well black officials in Florida have been able to benefit those they

represent. In what ways do you think you have helped blacks in your

district by\ holding office?

J: Well--

1- I think you went into that pretty much, the streets and--

J': Yeah, right. It's a matter of sensitivity. Blacks are aware of the

problems in the black community. They live there, and they know what

the problems are. And people will approach them, you know, personally--

IEmean, you know, I know people all over the city, you know. And they

stop: e anywhere in the streets, come to my house, see me in church,

at social gatherings. I see them everywhere so--they call me on the

telephone. I'm listed so they feel comfortable talking to me and

reluctant. They know I'm familiar with the same kind of problems that

they' are and what have you so it makes it real easy for blacks to

address their problems whereas when going before some of the all white

boards, blacks are very reluctant because-for a number of reasons.

So it creates a lot of hope for blacks because they feel that they can

address their problems, and can feel relatively sure that their problem

will be given consideration. Not necessarily always solved, but they

will Be, you know, treated fairly.

I: Uh huh.

FB 81A Bridges


J: Whereas they feel that, you know, some white politician will come

over in the black community and say one thing, and go back and do

something else so, you know, we're in alignment. So it makes

a more of an open situation.

I': That's well said. I mean I've heard that it-you've pretty much

expressed the way I hear it opens up communications

J: Yes, it does. Well, see, another thing, too, you know, politics is

something that you--a lot of people don't understand, you know, until

they really get involved in it. They understand the mechanics of it.

Being ot~ the sidelines, and of course, a lot of people don't have

time to read about politics or to watch it, follow it to find out

how it works and all that.

P: Uhl huh.

J: They are about their business of, you know, going to work and eating

and sleeping, you know, just living normal.daily living. So when

they get a problem they don't really know how to address it. So

if they come before a council where you have the blacks on that,

they may not know how to address their problem but blacks know that

they have to sort of, you know, help them along, skou 'Cyv, you know

listen and try to understand what the problem is, and then state

what their problem is and then the problem can be addressed. Do

you see what I mean?

I; Yeah.

J: So.oa -.V

I1: Um., That's interesting. Has there been anything that's prevented you

from doing a better job as far as benefiting blacks than you have done,

let's say?

FB 81A Bridges


J: Well, you know, I guess anybody can always strive to do better than
cred; b le
they'Ve done, but I, think I've done a firly goed-job. At least

I try to and--

I; Have there Been any road blocks, I mean, as far as you're concerned?

J: Well, political road blocks, you know, you always have that.

I Vh1 huh,

J: But other than that, I would say no.

I; Okay. Here are some more things on this. If you could check how

important you feel they are. The office has no real authority.

J: You mean the office of councilman?

IS Counci-an, yeah.

J; Neery important.

I; What, in what-how, could you expand on that?

J: Okay. Now you're saying the office, in other words being in office--

you' re saying how important is it to Be in office?

I: No, I;'m saying this is far as preventing you from doing a better job

of benefiting blacks. Like the position you hold has little authority

to be able to actually bring power to bear on a problem.

J: Okay. It's very important when someone approaches me, blacks approach

-me in terms of black problemsperiod. And of course, I don't just

deal withlbalack problems. I deal with problems all over the city.

I- thJ huh.

J; Okay. II have the necessary authority to address the problem, and resolve

the problem really. You know.

Ir: lUh huh.

J: You see, one person on a broad of five, you know, you can't make the

decisi-on by yourself. You got to have at least three people, and so

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J: I think it's a function of the individual. If he can communicate

with the other folks on the board. And explain what the problem is

and what's the possible solution and all this kind of thing and they

respect that you are sincere and you know what you're talking about.

You've done your research, and that you are really sincere about

solving the problem. And of course, how people support you, you know.

I: Tih huh.

Ji And sometimes you have to bring political pressure to bear on them,

you know. But it's extremely important. It's a key.

I: Where is it? Oh yeah. Outvoted by white officials? Has that


J: On the commission?

I.: 'es. Or in general, I: mean, is it-when it comes--things come to

actually voting, there's usually a white majority. Do you find you're

outvoted much?

J: On major issues. On minor issues that's no problem, but on major

issues it's very important.

I: Uh huh.

J: So really it should be two questions, really. There are the major

issues and the minor issues. I can deal with the minor issues but

come the major issues, you can't get white officials to go along

with some '

I: Okay. What'll that be?

J: So I want to make it fairly important.

I: Okay. Not enough revenue available.

J: Not enough, uh, that's very important. There's not enough revenue

in Riviera.

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I: Unfamiliarity with administrative duties? Did you find that a

problem when you first--

J: When I first got in. I don't find it a problem now.

I: Right.

J: So are you speaking of now or when I first got in.

I: Well, now I would imagine because-well, in--

J: I'm going to put not important on that one.

I: Yeah. Lack of cooperation from whites. I guess this means citizens.

J: Uh huh.

I: Lack. of cooperation from blacks? That's not important. Lack of

cooperation from state officials? And lack of cooperation from

federal officials? You put fairly important for both state and

federal officials. In what way does that hinder you?

J: Well, in a number of ways. You know we do get some revenue from the

state-state revenue sharing, and the state is constantly, you know,

changing laws that impact upon what municipalities can do. And that

causes a problem. For example, when we make out our budget, you know,

to try to project what we're going to do with our budget, we don't

reallyknow what the income is going to be, okay, for the year,

clyJ VOcorewm taxes, for example. And we've been trying to get

the state legislature to pass a statute to require the county appraiser

to give us the final assessment early enough so we can make our budgets.

And this is not only a problem with this city, but it's a problem with

-most cities.

T;- Uh huh.

J: I mean, in other words, this kind of thing.

I: Uh huh.

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J: Also, they--when the state passes certain laws they tend to--seem

to pass them from the point of view of the state, and they don't

always know how it's going to effect local governments. And sometimes

it's a real shuffle to try to recover from some of the problems they

cause as a result of changes in laws.

1: TJh' huh.

J: Even though we have. an organization that represents municipal officials,

you know, in the county and in the state, still, they make a lot of

these changes without really getting any accurate input from municipal

officials- from their point of view.

I: Th huhf. Okay.

J: Changes in revenue, also, like the revenue, you know, for example, because

of the present economic situation the revenues are going like that,

you know, up and down. And cities make their budgets based on these

revenues. Okay, and based on state projected revenue where the state

is sort of slow on letting most governments know, you know, monitoring

where the revenues are. So you may get so far down the road and then

realize that the revenues have been cut back significantly and monies

that you've spent for capital improvement have long been spent. And

you're really in a Bind as far as, you know, so things like that.

I: Okay.

J: With the federal government, : would say red tape. /i4 +k -kAe (erv-J Ie--

we--since I've been on the council, we've been trying to get federal

help and they've gone through, let's see, urban renewel. They've

gone through.neighborhood improvements, all these various organizations,

and it's always difficult to figure out what you're supposed to do.

What forms you're supposed to fill out and who you're supposed to get

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J: them to, and what dates you're supposed to get them to, and what's

the approval cycle and all this, you know. You really don't know-

really know where you stand. It's--at one time and still to a

larger degree, it sort of depends on political power. If you don't

know anybody then, you know, you're overlooked. We have gone through

to--we just used to go to just about every activity in the general

area, Miami and Tampa or wevea even gone to D.C. to talk with federal

officials. in the department and all, you know, to try to push our

programs. And of course, we've had some limited success by, you

know, knowing some of those people.

I: Uh huh.

J: But the red tape, you know, if you don't know someone your program,

you submit it and it just lays there and gathers dust, and probably

will never get through.

I1 Oh yeah.

J: But I:mean you can't really put together a program and realistically

expect to get it through, you know.

I: You have to push it.

J: You have to push it, and you really don't know where you stand after

you know.

I: Right.

J: If you knew what f9rms were available, on what basis they're going to

be allocated, and what portions you're likely to get, and all this

kind of thing, you can set up your program of local funding and state

funding, what have you, and anticipate federal fundeand move ahead.

I: Uh huh.

J: But what ends up happening, you end up waiting years, you know, to get

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J: your programs going. For example, the housing authority, we got an

approval for housing authority funding probably some six years ago.

Okay. And we're just beginning to put up housing right now.

I: Uh huh.

J: Red tape. And we've been to Washington on numerous occasions. I don't

know how many occasions. We've contacted all the, you know, congressmen,

and as a matter of fact, we had a groundbreaking probably three years

ago and had the congressmen-district congressmen here.

I: Uh huh.

J: And of course, you know, it's just red tape.

I: Have you physically been to Washington?

J: Oh yes. Yes. Well, I haven't personally but some of the other

guys have.

I: Okay.

J: But I've-we have contact with some of the, you know, guys in Washington.

And as they move around the country, we try to move out where they

are and make contact. Like, for example, they have these conventions

or conferences where they set up or like they try to set up political

studies or set up a conference in Louisiana last February. Okay. And

they had people from all the different departments down there, you

know. So I went down.:there.

I: Uh huh.

J: And you know, made all sorts of contacts and you get information. You

get names, you know, who you can call,and write to and this kind of

thing. And we have good contact with- ___ political

studies. This is an organization funded by the civil service, and

of course, it's funded by ? They do a lot of research on

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J.: black elected officials and politicians or what have you.

I: Uh huh.

J: And Mayor Brooks is, this year he's gone on I think two or three

trips where he spent a lot of time with these officials. And as a

matter of fact, he had a-he sponsored a workshop down here with a

lot of federal officials. But, you know, we do a lot of things like

this, But they just don't seem to materialize. It's not that we're

trying to influence anybody. It's just a matter of you need to talk

with whoever knows what you should do, you know, in order to get

something through.

J: So those are the kind of federal programs.

I: IVd like to ask you about what you felt the differences were-you've

served on a council that was 4:1 white, and you've served on a council

that's 4:1 black.

J: Right.

I: What kind of differences do you feel about that---I mean, do you


J: Well, when you're serving on a council that's 4:1 white, you know

you're not going to get anything major through that benefits the

black community.

I: Oh yeah?

J: You know that r;ekr Serving a 4:1 the other way,

four blacks and one white--a majority of black, especially a four to

one, you know you can make a substantial impact on problems in the

black community.

IT I noticed during that period you fired Malcolm Cunningham and Mr.


B;M81A Bridges-


I3 garden,

J: Aight.

I; And Ida Reed and all those people. Okay. Has criticism or lack of

support from the black community hindered you in holding office, that

is, do some blacks not cooperate with you because they believe you're

only a token in government and you have no real authority?

J: Yeah, that's true.

I; Has it ever hindered you from doing your job?

J: No, I would say no. Only to a minor degree. No, I would phrase it

a little bit differently. There are some people who won't support

you Because they differ with your point of view in dealing with the


1: Okay. Do you find much resentment at all or jealousy or anything like


J: Oh yeah. You have some of that.

I: Okay. Well, that's not important. Do you feel that white officials

treat you differently from other officials or not. That is, do they

consider you a spokesman for the blacks, land are you able to raise

only certain issues?

J: No, I raise issues all the time. In other words, I'm pretty broad

minded on the city because I feel that in this particular city that,

you know, in order for it to remain healthy, you have to make sure

the whole ship stays together.

I: Okay. What services have you provided blacks in your district that

they did not have before you took office? I know that you've answered

that pretty well.

J: Okay. Yeah,;i.I think I've already answered


FB 81A


I:: We have another one of these little check off things. Just to run

down now in each area how effective you feel you've been. And you

can add a category not applicable for say, areas you don't deal with.

J: Okay. In police protection. I'm very effective. Streets and roads,

very effective. In housing, somewhat effective. In welfare, not

effective. Really not applicable ?

I IJh. huh.

J: Employment, city employment I'll say somewhat effective. Okay. Parks

and recreation, I would say __effective in that. '

effective. Health and hospitals, really not applicable.

Education, not (pr i -\A wu0 tMI.

I; Okay. Have. you gotten federal funds in your-district?

J: Yes,.we just received a four-million-dollar grant for water and sewer.

And we received several one grants for planning. We received the

housing authority grant.

1: How much was that?

J: That-around three hundred and some thousand dollars a year for I guess

for about twenty years. So I don't know, maybe around--that's around

a couple million dollars for the total program.

I: Uh huh.

J: And we've received funding to: relocate utilities for the rebuilding of

a new bridge. _Of course, the intercoastal. And we received-I guess

that's basically it in general.

I: Okay. Have you as an elected official been able to bring industry or

retail stores into the area?

J: No, we haven't been very successful in that area yet. As a matter of

fact, we haven't done a lot yet to improve that particular area. Some

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J: of the other problems, you know, it takes a long time to solve some

of these problems. It's just the mechanics of putting them together

and getting them through takes a long time. And we have just gotten

around to a point where we made a study of the entire city to find

out, you know, the conditions of everything in the city, you know, the

housing and stuff, the commercial areas, the industrial areas, where

things should be in these areas, how the zones should be set up, and

what are the kinds of things we should be doing to try to improve

all these areas. But we are just getting into those areas. We have

formed an organization that's made up of business people, community

people to address their problems because a lot of the money is going

to have to come from, you know, private business people.

I: ML huh.

J: So we are just beginning to work on that problem.

I: Okay. You might have already answered this question, but have you

been able to see that.bla'cks are hired fairly in local government.

You mentioned that answer before.

J: Yes.

I:: Has revenue sharing-federal revenue sharing helped your district,

Riviera Beach I should say or not?

J: Yes, not only has it helped Riviera Beach, but Riviera Beach has been

moving, you know, on so many fronts that financially that we're in a

position where we're sort of depending on revenue sharing-federal

revenue sharing right now.

I: Uh huh.

J: With state revenue sharing, I think it's fairly constant, at least a

portion of it right now. It's fixed rather. But general revenue

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J: sharing like federal revenue sharing, we're sort of depending it.

I:: Uh. huh.

J: So wetve been able to do a lot of things, you know, by using revenue

sharing we. could use some local funds to--for bonding issues and some

other things,.

I: Uh. huh. Okay.

J: Be for the police department, fire department, do some public works

improvement, purchase a lot of capital--equipment- and what have you
through it .

I; Okay. You mentioned a riot at the school. Have there been any black

protests, sit-ins, boycotts, or riots in your city in the last ten

years? If so, what were the issues involved?

J: There was a riot at one of the schools in Riviera Beach in 1971.

And the issue I guess could be described a police brutality.

I: Okay.

J: A policeman--a heavy handed police l they used tear gas

on some kids. They were having some disturbance over at the school

and the police used tear gas on them, and I think that sort of


I:T Uh huh. What were the effects of that? Any?

J: iWat was the effects?

I: Yeah.

J: What long range problems it caused or what?

I: Did you notice any change or were there, say, was there action by the

council or by the leaders in the black community?

J: Yeah, there was a lot of action. It just took a while to, you know, sort

of settle the thing down.

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I: Mayor Brooks described those as ruckuses, +k ose 4kr.- rV.

This-over at the school, he just said, "No, there haven't been any

riots. There were a couple of ruckuses."

J: Yes, I guess you could probably call it that. He was on the council

at the time that occurred. I wasn't.

I: Uh huh.

J: So I really don't know what they did in particular. He would know

more about that being on the council.

I: Okay. The next couple questions are asked to enable an assessment of

black politics in Florida in general. Briefly, what is your opinion

of Governor Ruben Askew? That is, do you think he's been favorable

in attitude and policy toward blacks in Florida or not?

J: I: think he's been very lukewarm. I guess I could categorize it that

way--very lukewarm. He hasn't really, like I was saying earlier,

white politicians are very reluctant to address issues relating to

Blacks. And that's the reason why--this fellow is that typical guy

iho's been very lukewarm in addressing the problems in the black


I: What's your opinion of other state officials and state representatives

or any-

J: State representatives-in this county.

End of Side 2

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