alcalloway.jpgThe best recent example of a poverty pimp is the head of a church-run, non-profit housing program that purportedly helps qualified near-poor, first-time home buyers. Instead, this woman used the program to build her own huge house, and at a discount.

Moreover, according to the South Florida Times story by investigative reporter Elgin Jones, Jacqueline Tufts, our newly exposed poverty pimp, had the unmitigated gall to have a house built on a double corner lot, subsidized by property tax dollars through the Fort Lauderdale Community Redevelopment Agency. (Read the full Dec. 12 story, “Housing director used government program to build herself a house,” online at

More galling in Jones’ report is that Tufts, and the New Visions Community Development Corp. board of directors, have no qualms about nepotism. The Rev. Clarence “C. E.” Glover, pastor of Mount Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, is founder and CEO of New Visions. Not only was a house constructed for his daughter through the program, but also for some former board members of the agency. 

So many programs and projects geared to service the poor and near-poor are subverted by not having enough funding to even scarcely ameliorate the condition. Unfortunately, quite often, those meager resources are siphoned off by black poverty pimps and rerouted to their friends and families, or to satisfy “downtown” interests.

Last year’s “House of Lies” series in The Miami Herald reported even more sinister happenings. For seven years, the Hope VI program in Liberty City was to build homes for the more than 1,100 poor blacks displaced when the Scott Carver Projects were torn down. Nothing was built, and some black elected officials, bureaucrats, preachers and other so-called community leaders acted as pimps of the poor with their silence, acquiescence and back-door dealing for personal crumbs.

Years ago, back in the 1980s, Fort Lauderdale’s black community was assured, through a series of planning sessions, that what they desired for redevelopment would begin to happen once people were relocated. After numbers of black voters who lived within walking distance of City Hall were removed from the city limits and their houses demolished and the land cleared, the land was banked by its new owner, the city of Fort Lauderdale.

Negroes who knew nothing about land banking, development or the politics of access were chosen by downtown interests (the status quo) to sign off on their scheme through membership on applicable advisory boards. And later, where necessary, some were hired as consultants to “sell” the hole in a donut to the black community.        

While the stratified black community of Fort Lauderdale was poised to prosper under single-member districting from the late 1980s onward, it lost that possibility due to political pimps thinking they were shrewd by cutting a back-door deal with downtown interests. This was done while a discrimination lawsuit against the city for single-member districts was winding its way through the courts.

Some of these Negroes double-crossed the lawsuit and the black community. The document verifying this reality is called The Rodstrom Deposition, which is included in the court documents of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Broward County vs. The City of Fort Lauderdale.

A single-member district made it much more likely that a black person would be elected to a commission seat because the seat covers the northwest area where most black people in the city live. Current County Commissioner John Rodstrom, who was at the time a Fort Lauderdale city commissioner, gave the 96-page deposition in 1987 as part of a lawsuit by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights group that sued Fort Lauderdale in 1983. The lawsuit argued that the at-large voting system at that time discriminated against black people.

The SCLC lost in court but won at the ballot box, in part because of Rodstrom’s swing vote for the referendum on districting, which voters passed overwhelmingly, according to The Miami Herald.

Rodstrom drew the assignment on the city’s behalf to negotiate with known Negro “movers and shakers” of the greater Fort Lauderdale area. All of the downtown interests, including judges and lawyers, knew that another city had just lost a similar case before the Supreme Court, which was the next step for the case against Fort Lauderdale.

The Negroes were so busy scheming their 30 pieces of silver scenarios, and, because of a lack of due diligence, they were unaware of the Supreme Court decision and its gravity regarding the SCLC lawsuit. But they got what they wanted: A district and one of their own as city commissioner.

And that’s how it has been. But the lawsuit would have given the black community a commissioner, the “stolen’’ land back, and lots of economic power. Instead, they wound up maintaining the status quo, and with the hole in a donut: Pimping.

Al Calloway is a former vice president of the Fort Lauderdale NAACP.