Miami Law Experts In the News: Gentrification, "Pizzagate," and Ethics

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The Miami Herald reported a story on the impact of gentrification in Coconut Grove’s West Grove neighborhood, quoting Anthony Alfieri.  The director of the University of Miami’s Center for Ethics and Public Service, which studies social justice issues in the West Grove, said research shows the lax enforcement of those laws is stressing the county’s low-income housing stock and ultimately pushing residents of condemned buildings out of the urban core and into racially isolated suburbs. “There appears to be a citywide and countywide policy and practice of under-enforcement of housing codes,” Alfieri said. “A prototypical example of that is what we’re seeing on Hibiscus Street.”

The Sun-Sentinel quotes Jan Jacobowitz on Broward conundrum over ethics commission. "I really don't understand turf wars over ethics, Jacobowitz said Friday. "I'm an ethics professor, and there's a lot of gray. Why wouldn't you want to have a central location where everyone gets the same answer. I feel like saying, 'What's up Broward?' I really don't get it.''

The National Law Journal quotes Scott Rogers in a roundup story on law schools’ efforts to ease the angst of final exams. "I think there is a sense students can have that their grades really define them," said the director of the Mindfulness in Law Program at the University of Miami School of Law. "A lot of students have been very successful academically to this point. They feel that they need to maintain that. They feel pressure from a lot of fronts." The Law School offers free coffee during finals, and it also encourages students to slow down with its "Green Tea on the Bricks" program where they can "mindfully sip tea so you can disrupt the frenetic mind that might otherwise be engaged," according to Rogers. In addition, the school sends students a series of videos in the run-up to finals that walk them through relaxation, breathing, and other stress-reduction exercises. "These are especially targeted for what to do when we're feeling overwhelmed or what to do when we want to focus," Rogers said.

The Tampa Bay Times reports on a possible ethics violation in St. Petersburg city government, with comments by Anthony Alfieri. The ethics law professor and founder and director of the school's Center for Ethics and Public Service, doesn't buy that, the Times reports. Alfieri told the paper it was "side-switching" and said it could damage the public's trust in City Hall and the Department of Environmental Protection. It creates the risk that a state employee could give the city confidential information about the state investigation. "That might be adverse to a full and fair state investigation," Alfieri said, "and unfairly advantage the city in obtaining a result that would be detrimental to the public's right to clean water in Tampa and Boca Ciega bays."

The Leesburg Daily Commercial quotes Caroline Mala Corbin in their reporting about the court ruling on whether students can form Gay-Straight Alliance groups in local public schools. The professor of law at the University of Miami School of Law, said if the Equal Access Act applies to middle schools it is very hard to say the district did not violate the law.

Vice News quotes Mary Anne Franks in their story about “Pizzagate” and the role of Reddit. Though Reddit has pledged in the past to implement better fixes to deal with toxic elements of its community, the University of Miami law professor and Cyber Civil Rights Initiative policy director said the company “still hasn’t developed a coherent and transparent vision of what kind of site it wants to be.” “The_Donald is only the latest iteration of the internal contradiction at the heart of Reddit: how easy it is for an allegedly no-holds-barred, radically free forum for ideas to be repeatedly monopolized by narrow-minded, censorious mobs,” Franks said in an email. “Reddit’s leadership needs to confront this reality and consider whether it is compatible with their vision for the site. If it is, then it needs to drop the pretense of having any principled commitment against harassment and abuse — and indeed any commitment to actual quality of discourse.”

The South Florida Times publishes an op-ed by Donald Jones on the mistrial in the Walter Scott murder trial. “The significance of the failure to reach a verdict in the Walter Scott case, and others like it, shows that these old, false racist narratives are still widely shared. For those under the sway of these narratives, our humanity is still invisible. For them the facts don’t matter. It is not the evidence that determines who is guilty or innocent. For them, and for the hold out juror in the case of Walter Scott, that is determined by race,” Jones wrote.

CONTACT: Catharine Skipp at 305-284-9810 or cskipp@law.miami.edu