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Fri May 29, 2015, 04:21 AM

A True Story About Big Sugar and Political Corruption in South Florida:The Strange Suicide of Art Te

May 28, 2015

A True Story About Big Sugar and Political Corruption in South Florida

The Strange Suicide of Art Teele

by ALAN FARAGO


In the accompanying picture, that’s me on the left. The year is possibly 1994. I’m standing next to the late Congressman William Lehman from Miami-Dade. Bill Lehman died in 2005. Next to Bill is the civil rights activist and Miami path breaker, Thelma Gibson. The sturdy, imposing African-American to the right was the star of the photograph. Arthur E. Teele Jr. (Sorry, I don’t recall the name of the woman to Art Teele’s left.)


[font size=1]
From left, Alan Farago, Rep. William Lehman, Thelma Gibson, Arthur E. Teele Jr. and an
unidentified woman.

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At the time, Art Teele was chair of the Miami-Dade County Commission. He died in 2005, too. A decade ago. A decade after this photo was taken. Twenty years after this photograph more or less, Arthur E. Teele blew his brains out in the lobby of One Herald Plaza, the home of the Miami Herald that also no longer exists. He did it for a reason: he believed he was being hounded out of existence by enemies including the powerful Herald.

In the photograph, Art Teele is caught looking off to the side. Bill Lehman is looking down. That happens, especially when photos are staged and there’s a lot going on around you. The moment the camera clicks you are inattentive. But as I look at the photo today, I recall Art Teele often looked that way when you were talking with him. Looking somewhere else. Restless.

Art had a powerful mind directed to politics. During an era when very few African-American Republicans rose to the top – Teele had been an Assistant Secretary of Transportation under President Reagan – he stood out. When the photo was taken and Teele was running for mayor of the Miami-Dade County Commission, I was his link to a constituency Art believed key: the Anglo vote in Florida’s most politically influential county. It was Art’s belief that a strong African-American turnout at the polls, connected with Anglo voters, could overcome the Cuban American bloc vote.

Local elections are non-partisan. Still, Art – a moderate Republican (extinct, too) – ran a single television ad during the 1996 campaign against Alex Penelas: it was a spot featuring Teele’s endorsement by the Sierra Club for his willingness to be a friend of the Everglades.

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/28/the-strange-suicide-of-art-teele/

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