March 14, 2012

Miami Transformed

By: Manny Diaz

Six-year-old Manuel Diaz and his mother first arrived at Miami’s airport in 1961 with little more than a dime for a phone call to their relatives in the Little Havana neighborhood. Forty years after his flight from Castro’s Cuba, attorney Manny Diaz became mayor of the City of Miami. Toward the end of the twentieth century, the one-time citrus and tourism hub was more closely associated with vice than sunshine. When Diaz took office in 2001, the city was paralyzed by a notoriously corrupt police department, unresponsive government, a dying business district, and heated ethnic and racial divisions. During Diaz’s two terms as mayor, Miami was transformed into a vibrant, progressive, and economically resurgent world-class metropolis

“Under Mayor Manny Diaz’s leadership and direction, Miami has undergone a great and sustaining transformation into a cultural hotspot and a hub for the ‘creative class,’ with a thriving business climate that is open, multicultural, and inclusive. Miami Transformed offers politicians and policymakers a blueprint for transforming their cities block-by-block into destinations for innovative businesses and entrepreneurs, building livable and safe communities for all.”—Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited

In Miami Transformed: Rebuilding America One Neighborhood, One City at a Time, award-winning former mayor Manny Diaz shares lessons learned from governing one of the most diverse and dynamic urban communities in the United States. This firsthand account begins with Diaz’s memories as an immigrant child in a foreign land, his education, and his political development as part of a new generation of Cuban Americans. Diaz also discusses his role in the controversial Elián González case. Later he details how he managed two successful mayoral campaigns, navigated the maze of municipal politics, oversaw the revitalization of downtown Miami, and rooted out police corruption to regain the trust of businesses and Miami citizens.

Part memoir, part political primer, Miami Transformed offers a straightforward look at Diaz’s brand of holistic, pragmatic urban leadership that combines public investment in education and infrastructure with private sector partnerships. The story of Manny Diaz’s efforts to renew Miami will interest anyone seeking to foster safer, greener, and more prosperous cities.

“Miami Transformed is the story of a doer, a big thinker with a passion for improving the lives of people. Manny Diaz is undaunted by the challenges that inevitably arise in government and business but always squarely focused on the agenda he has carefully set to reach his goals. That’s the definition of a good leader, and that, based on my experience, is Manny Diaz.”—Richard M. Daley, former Mayor of Chicago

Manny Diaz served as mayor of Miami from 2001 to 2009. He was president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and an Institute of Politics Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He is currently a partner at Lydecker Diaz.

Michael Bloomberg is currently serving his third term as mayor of New York City.


Miami Transformed »

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