CEPS & Miami-Dade Commission Present on Environmental Justice and Municipal Governance


Professor Anthony AlfieriCity attorneys and local elected officials had the opportunity to head back to law school during the Environmental Justice & Municipal Governance Luncheon on September 11, where Professor Anthony V. Alfieri presented and quizzed those in attendance on the ethical obligations of municipalities when dealing with environmental justice issues. The event was presented by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust and provided attorneys with Continuing Legal Education credits.
The event began with a screening of the documentary, Old Smokey: A Community History, which was produced by Professor Alfieri’s Center for Ethics & Public Service Oral History and Film Documentary Project. The documentary chronicles the West Grove community and its struggle with a former city trash incinerator, nicknamed Old Smokey, which operated for over 40 years spewing ash and soot throughout the abutting communities.
Old Smokey not only caused pollution and soil contamination at the site of the former incinerator, which is now the City of Miami Fire Rescue Training Center located at 3425 Jefferson Street, but also led to the contamination discovery that several City and County parks were used as ash dump sites.
“This event provided an ideal forum to highlight the important educational, research, and policy contributions of law student fellows and interns enrolled in the Historic Black Church Program across the fields of civil rights and environmental justice,” said Professor Alfieri.
The Center for Ethics & Public Service operates two programs staffed by law student fellows and interns: the Historic Black Church Program and the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program. The Historic Black Church Program provides rights education, interdisciplinary research, and public policy resources to low- and moderate-income communities in partnership with inner-city, faith-based and nonprofit groups through four projects: Civil Rights & Poverty; Environmental Justice; Social Enterprise & Nonprofit; and the Oral History & Documentary Film.
The Environmental Justice Project works with local communities seeking fair treatment and meaningful involvement in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies, including incinerator contamination and industrial pollution. The Environmental Justice Project continues to research issues related to Old Smokey and the contamination of local parks, in collaboration with its community partner, the Old Smokey Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is a local organization comprised of residents from across the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County that seeks comprehensive environmental testing and remediation, the creation of a disease registry, and right to know laws regarding contamination and pollution.
After the film screening, Professor Alfieri highlighted the ethical rules governing attorneys faced with these issues and led the participants in a lively discussion about the roles of city attorneys and elected officials when it comes to disproportionate environmental effects.
“Professor Alfieri is a master at presenting important ethical issues within a compelling framework of real-world problems and solutions,” said Ethics Commission Executive Director Joe Centorino.
The Miami-Dade Ethics Commission’s mission is to ensure the integrity of both the governmental decision-making process and the electoral process, to restore public confidence in government, and to serve as the guardian of the public trust.
“We were privileged to be able to utilize him and his environmental justice project to provide local municipal attorneys and elected officials with an unforgettable program,” said Centorino.