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Boston developer Dennis Stackhouse arrived in Miami-Dade County with a troubled financial history and a bold plan: to develop a $250 million biopharmaceutical park in one of the neediest neighborhoods in the country. He had no financing to build buildings, no tenants to fill them, and no experience constructing the high-tech facilities required by pharmaceutical companies to test and manufacture drugs.
What he did have: an all-star lineup of lobbyists, lawyers, consultants and politicians who drummed up support — and, in some cases, millions of public dollars — for a biotech project in Liberty City that after four years consists of only a lot cleared for a parking garage. His roster includes a powerful county commissioner, a former chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee, a board member of Jackson Memorial Hospital and the mother of a powerful U.S. congressman, herself a former congresswoman.
As the biotech park stalled and Stackhouse diverted more than $500,000 from a county poverty agency through double billing and dubious expenses, he spent hundreds of thousands on political insiders in Miami, Tallahassee and Washington, a Miami Herald investigation found. Former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, who has a street named after her just blocks from the proposed park, received at least $40,000 from one of Stackhouse’s companies, a leased Cadillac Escalade and a 2,600-square-foot office for her foundation, rent-free. She was paid as her son, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, requested millions of federal dollars for the biotech project, congressional records show.
As the person who flagged this to my attention said, “Everybody who believes that Meek never talked to his mother about earmarking funds for this project please raise your hands.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”