Only five weeks before the end of her second and final term in office, Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones followed through on a promise to her district: Naming the theater in Liberty City’s Charles Hadley Park after the late Arthur E. Teele Jr.
“Today I wanted to do something publicly. We honor the late Arthur Teele,” said Spence-Jones.
The resolution to name the venue after the controversial former city commissioner passed 3-0, with votes from Spence-Jones, Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff and Commissioner Wifredo “Willy” Gort, who once shared the dais with Teele. From now on the theater at 1300 NW 50th St. will be called the Arthur E. Teele Jr. Black Box Theater.
Notably absent from the vote were Commissioners Francis Suarez and Frank Carollo, who didn’t reappear despite pleas from Spence-Jones and former State House Rep. Dorothy Bendross Mindingall.
Suarez said he left to deal with other issues, and regretted it. “I feel bad,” he said.
Carollo, locked in his office discussing items for the budget hearing later Thursday, was not available for comment.
Teele, a former Marine and federal transportation director who also served as a Miami-Dade County commissioner, shot and killed himself in the lobby of the old Miami Herald building in July 2005. At the time he was facing state corruption charges and a federal investigation, neither of which was ever resolved. A minor conviction of threatening a police officer was overturned on appeal after his death.
Spence-Jones, who spent almost two years away from office successfully fighting a state felony corruption charge and having another dismissed, won the first election for Teele’s District 5 seat after his death.
“To be accused and ashamed on such a public level, and then to be cleared,” she said. “Where do you go to get your reputation back?”
The former commissioner was lauded for brokering massive city projects like Little Haiti Park, where the community center is now named after him, and creating the Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency.
“Commissioner Teele meant so much to so many people in the district,” said Thema Campbell, a local children’s issues advocate. S