Monday, April 30, 2007

It’s a Howard Dean Tuesday

Democratic power and immigration are the two themes of the Democratic Party leader’s day in Miami.

At lunch with Democratic activists, Gov. Dean will discuss the strong leadership Democrats are offering for America’s future. This power comes from keeping our promises, as the Democratic leadership in Congress has shown in a strong measure to hold the president accountable on Iraq. We know the people are behind us. They voted us in. And now we want to work in a bipartisan fashion to achieve the comprehensive immigration reform the American people want.

Where to see this? Join Howard Dean and many of your Democratic friends at noon for a simple lunch at Parrot Jungle. Later there’s a rally at the Government Center in downtown Miami for immigration reform.

If there’s room in your Tuesday, this is the way to spend May Day. With Howard Dean.

Find your way to Parrot Jungle.

Wave of bad news for Bush-Cheney

We’re reaching a high point in the wave of bad news for the Bush-Cheney administration, and the 60 Minutes interview with George Tenet must be a big part of it. He sounds really mad at the White House, and he’s barely started on a marathon of interviews. Too bad he was in charge of the two biggest intelligence failures ever, or he’d appear more sympathetic.

It runs long, and the second half is the best. “I became a talking point …Men of honor don’t do this … Slam dunk … Washington blood-letting game … Intelligence officers being thrown out the door … ”

And the best was: “Let’s stand up and tell everybody why we did it” – No, Tenet, you don't have that kind of people in this White House, they never are honest and open.

CBS News web site. Click on Tenet.

Property tax debate

Here’s one of our favorite county commissioners, Katy Sorenson, expounding the local view of the property tax conundrum. If her math is right, killing the property tax will benefit the wealthy more. What else do we expect from a Republican-dominated state legislature?

She’s also pointing out that the state can’t really kill the property tax. About half of it is imposed by local bodies like the school district and bond-debt service.

Sorenson column in Monday’s Herald.

And talk about enjoying a tax cut -- I just cashed my $300 refund from being a Miami Beach homesteader. Makes me feel like a pioneer.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The gadfly lets loose.

It's not really necessary to watch those debates. Hold off, and after a while the best parts of it will fall into your lap.

YouTube shows how Mike Gravel did.

Thanks to Carlos Augusto Cabrera for passing this along.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Political donations help victory -- It happened here

You probably wonder what happens to the money when you dig into your pocket and send the Democratic Party a donation. Maybe it’s only $25 on your stretchy credit card. Maybe more significant amounts. Well, here we have a report from one of our rare paid staff from the Florida Democratic Party on what the money means: Victory in a special election for the Florida House! Money puts feet on the ground to convince and activate voters. It happened in the past week in the Orlando area. A Republican seat became a Democratic seat.

So, my friends, please be generous when Karen Thurman or Joe Garcia or Howard Dean asks for financial help!

Here’s BJ Chiszar’s report on a month he spent seconded away from his Miami-Dade post to help Darren Soto’s campaign.

Hello fellow Democrats!

Every member of the statewide field team was in Orlando/Osceola for the final month of the Darren Soto campaign. Soto defeated GOP heavyweight Tony Suarez in a close race decided by about 300 votes.

Soto, a 29-year-old civil rights attorney, built a solid coalition with labor, firefighters, teachers, ACORN, and many other progressive groups. One group stood out -- the Young Democrats of Orange County were an amazing field force, knocking on almost every door in the district.

The Florida Democratic Party focused our efforts on absentee ballots and GOTV on election day. I was joined by Ted Miller and the Young Democrats of Dade and also Michael Calderin and Georgi Blumenthal of DFA came up to get in the fight. It was awesome to have Dade county people in Central Florida, demonstrating our commitment to victory in 2008!

It also must be noted that our House Victory Director Steve Schale joined us on the ground, as well as Executive Director Leonard Joseph and most of the senior staff from Tallahassee. This showed leadership by example and let Democrats all across the state know that we mean business as it relates to winning elections.

We are excited about the renewed buzz around the state about our party! I hope that you will join us in our efforts to create positive change in America.

If we all do just a little, then together we can achieve so much!


Here's a fresh angle on this from Beth Reinhard's column in the Saturday Herald. Fair to say that people in politics are looking at this Orlando result with strong interest.

Lessons from Orlando column.


Yet another angle from The Buzz, St. Pete Times political blog. Hillary Clinton is said to be the only presidential candidate to help with this race, and here's her congratulatory message to Darren Soto.

Buzz link re Hillary.

News of the Veep

I didn’t see the debate last night, and I was wondering whether they brought up the impeachment resolution Dennis Kucinich has filed against Dick Cheney. Didn't find it in the Miami Herald. The New York Times has it in the national briefs section, with an additional mention that Brian Williams asked the other candidates if they agreed with Kucinich that Cheney should be impeached. No one raised a hand.

So much for impeaching the vice president. Well, there's a resolution drafted now in the House Judiciary Committee, and we'll see. Meanwhile, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported it the other day, so at least the people of China have had a chance to hear about it.

Curious how the big media do not understand why people are moving to the internet for their news, huh?

Well, if you do a Google search of the internet for “impeach cheney” you’ll see lots of hits. One of the most rewarding is the YouTube video of Cheney cartoons, to the tune of the song “Bang Bang.”

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Umoja up in flames

Just after midnight a candle tipped, and in short order the Umoja experiment in housing came to a fiery end. Thursday afternoon the big dumpsters were arriving, and the charred remains of the squatters’ village looked damp and forlorn.

Many friendly neighbors came and expressed sorrow to the homeless who had been sheltering there for months. These are people whose lives have been the hardest. They may not be very well. They may be disturbed. They are so tired. What next?

The Herald reports that by mid-afternoon Thursday the bulldozers were at work, and several residents had been arrested for refusing to leave the site.

Your blogger saw the Citrus Health Network, a non-government agency specializing in mental health and primary care, helping some people find shelter. They seemed to be doing good work.

Umoja called attention to the disparities in this country. How, with all our wealth, can someone running a hedge fund make $1.7 billion a year (yes, billion) and others not have a safe place to sleep?

Link to Herald story.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Our Guy Is Clean – And That’s Not in the Joe Biden Sense

With Howard Dean coming for lunch with Miami-Dade Democrats soon, it’s good to reflect on the contrast between our national chair and the Republicans’. The Miami Herald doesn’t like to inform us about bad news concerning local Republicans but they didn’t have much choice last Friday. Mel Martinez is scrambling to give back money that the Federal Election Commission says is too much – even for a Republican.

You may remember the ’04 campaign. Mel Martinez, awash in money, could afford all those vicious ads implying that Betty Castor was weak on terrorism. Seems some of that money was over the top, so to speak. Well, too bad. Mel Martinez now is U.S. Senator from Florida. Too bad, indeed. It was Bob Graham's seat. Now Martinez will just give back some of the money, pay what the Herald thinks will be “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in fines – with other donations, we suppose, and he’ll go on being the Republican Party’s chief national fund-raiser. Introduce the president here and there. Chatter on the radio in English and Spanish. An honorable man.

What does he say now? “Mistakes were made,” the Herald quotes him as saying, employing the usual passive voice trotted out when an honorable man avoids responsibility.

Howard Dean will perhaps have a word or two of comment at the May 1 lunch (at Parrot Jungle – just announced), or DEC Chairman Joe Garcia may bring it up to contrast the Republican cash machine against the forthright and honest way the Democratic Party is trying to conduct its political campaigns.

And the Herald, eager to mend its fence with the senator, published an article Monday with the headline “GOP leadership job is on track.” This is called fair and balanced in some circles. Well, it’s quoting the senator, and he’s an honorable man.

Links to the two Herald articles:
Mel Martinez to be fined -- April 20.
Mel Martinez a fine leader -- April 23.

The Herald's Take on Lunch with Howard Dean

The other day I sent out a news release about Howard Dean's lunch on May 1 with local Democrats. From reading the Herald's political blog, I guess he's going to lecture us about the calendar of primaries. Naked Politics on Howard Dean.

Will the menu be Turkey on Rye, as Naked predicts? Anyway, everyone is welcome to sign up for the lunch. Call the DEC or DFAM.

Getting Ready for W

Bob Goldstein wields a wicked brush.

Here is what the Democrats of South Dade Club were up to at their April 17 meeting: making signs to show the president what we think of him. Worst President Ever! Indeed. The signs are for the demo to protest Bush when he speaks at the Kendall campus of Miami-Dade College on Saturday April 28.

That meeting wasn’t all arts-and-crafts. They elected officers to back President Shirley Alexiou, who’s in the second year of her two-year term. Bob Goldstein is vice president, Errol Saunders is treasurer, and board members are Sam Dorr, Frank Morra, Barbara Schwartz and Kristin Wipior.

The South Dade Dems are one of the most powerful clubs we have, and they contributed a generous amount of work in last fall’s election campaign, helping Michael Calderin to his strong challenge in Congressional District 25 and Ron Saunders to his victory in State House District 120, taking away a Republican seat. Yes!

Learn more about the DSDC at their website,

Other recent club news:

Sunny Isles Beach Democratic club had a good crowd of 50 or so for its April meeting. County Clerk Harvey Ruvin was the featured speaker, touching on his work on the green side of politics. After years of working on a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, he got the County Commission to create an advisory panel on climate change. And it’s about time to get effective: Ruvin said emissions have been going up despite the wish to cut them. In the Miami Herald he is quted saying that carbon dioxide has been rising at a rate of 36.5 percent a year in the county. Whew, time to go alternative. Ruvin said the county is buying hybrid vehicles to start the trend in the other direction.

Miami Beach Democratic Club meets with a MoveOn chapter, and is moving its meetings back to the first Monday of the month. Next is 7 p.m. May 7, at the VFW post in the Floridian, 650 West Ave. Miami Beach 33139.

In Surfside, the Adlai Stevenson Women’s Democratic Club recently had DEC Chairman Joe Garcia as the main speaker. Club President Evelyn Manset enjoyed his presentation so much that she felt like she was 16 again – she’s 88! Joe urged club members to volunteer to help register new citizens to vote. A ceremony is held every other month, usually at the Convention Center in Miami Beach, and 6,000 new citizens are all in one place at one time, thrilled at their new status and ready to sign up to vote. All it needs is more volunteers to hold the clipboards. Quite a few of the Surfside ladies said they’d be there the next time.

Feel free to send club news to the blog.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Look at Money in Coming US House Races

Here’s a money item from the Herald to keep an eye on. If you donated to Tim Mahoney and helped him take Mark Foley’s seat in the U.S. House, you will want to know that the three Republicans planning to run against him have raised more than he has – collectively, mind you, but still an indication of the challenge ahead for Dems in ’08.

Ron Klein is the leader in fund-raising among freshman House Democrats, according to the Herald story. Here’s the link.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Party Had a Party, Starring Eufaula

Friday night at The Fifth a party broke out, and good times rolled.

It was “Dance for the Democrats,” a fund-raiser and celebration of a remarkable civil rights career for one of the most venerable and charming Democrats in South Florida, Eufaula Frazier.

“Can I talk?” Ms. Frazier asked as her strong arms got piled up with plaques and proclamations and flowers and a flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol. She was holding the microphone at that point, and so she talked for a few minutes about those who worked with her over the years. Before she finished, the stage in the center of the South Beach nightclub called The Fifth was crowded with more than a dozen people she summoned up, all with at least 20 years on the Democratic Executive Committee of the county party.

Ms. Frazier, we must hope, will be around in 10 years when she’s over 90, and we can again celebrate her contributions to human progress in our corner of Florida, because she plans to train young community activists later this year.

Don’t stop, Eufaula!

Miami Beach City Commission

The Sun Post devotes two pages in its April 12 issue to the crowded field running for mayor and city commission in Miami Beach. See the story.

More than enough people already for a football team, and we know of others thinking of running. This is for the November election, so there's time still to think about it. You too could run.

Now, who are the Democrats among them? We'll work on that for a future post.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

BJ Wanted

A commenter on the post about the lively DEC meeting on April 9 (scroll down to April 10 to see it) said he wanted to have contact info for BJ Chiszar, our new paid organizer, to get started early on the training drill BJ announced.

For now, contact BJ through the DEC office, 305 447-4994, BJ has been on the road for a few days and will set up a new email address soon. Thanks for your interest.

Presidential vote, of a sort

Here's what MoveOn calls its "full results" from the Virtual Town Hall. The votes seem to include votes cast by those who looked at the videos, as well as those who went to viewing events. This does not imply a MoveOn endorsement, nor is this space endorsing. And here are the campaigns' websites.

Sen. Barack Obama


Sen. John Edwards


Rep. Dennis Kucinich


Gov. Bill Richardson


Sen. Hillary Clinton


Sen. Joe Biden


Sen. Chris Dodd


Coral Gables: Don Slesnick in a Landslide

You won’t read this part of the story in the Herald. The incumbent mayor of Coral Gables, Don Slesnick, won re-election on Tuesday April 10, and the county Dems will hope to get a little credit for his strong victory. The DEC sent out two e-mails pointing out he was the only Democrat in the three-way race. Slesnick won with 56 percent, against 34 percent and 9 percent, and the turnout was 18.4 percent, unusually good for an isolated local election.

And it doesn’t hurt, of course, that the mayor was doing a fine job. Now he has a four-year term, following a charter revision approved in 2005 changing the term from two years. (You can read that part of the story in the Herald.) Incumbents win in Coral Gables

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lively April DEC Meeting

Eufaula Frazier with Bennett H. Brummer.

Maybe it was springtime juices flowing, but there sure was a lively spirit to the April DEC meeting. Regularly scheduled – but special stuff happening from the opening bell on April 9.

Chairman Joe Garcia started with a speaker who had to leave early – Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who confessed he had been a Republican for 46 years until seeing the light last year on the road to getting elected.

Next up was Miami-Dade Public Defender Bennett H. Brummer, who brought the house down by declaring he hadn’t made such a mistake – always a D for his party affiliation.

Brummer’s first task was to introduce and extol an old friend – Eufaula Frazier, who received the DEC’s new M. Athalie Range Award, named in honor of the late civil rights pioneer in Miami. Ms. Frazier, with a half-century of civil rights work under her belt at age 82. was cheered mightily by a standing-room-only crowd. Even now she’s planning sessions to train the next generation of leaders in her community. She has been a DEC member for over 30 years.

Brummer said Democrats must campaign as “the party of well-being.” The main elements, he said, should be universal health care, education to reduce the incidence of crime, treating drug and alcohol problems in the health-care system rather than the courts and prisons, economic opportunity, and a policy of treating all with dignity and honesty.

Next to report were activists who directed recent voter-registration efforts with people who just received U.S. citizenship. Bob Goldstein of the South Dade Democrats and Rosa Kasse, president of the Hispanic Coalition, said some 65 percent had declared themselves Democrats.

Joe Garcia appealed for more volunteers to help register new citizens. “We will turn elections,” he said.

Also turning elections: Garcia introduced the first paid organizer sent by the national and state Democratic Party to work in Miami-Dade – our own BJ Chiszar. “Victory starts here in Dade County,” BJ declared, outlining two tracks of training that he will pursue. The first is training in the use of the Voter Activation Network to develop data useful for the 2008 general election campaign.

Second, he appealed for dozens of young people to be found and be trained in the summer as interns in Democratic work.

State Committeewoman Cindy Lerner talked about coming party events and urged all to sign up to receive the Florida Democratic Party’s weekly newsletter. That link is at

Joe Garcia announced two appointments: Augusto Granados to be campaign chair, and Larry Thorson to be communications director.

Especially good news: the Miami-Dade Democratic Hispanic Caucus launched its first Florida Spanish-language radio program, Democracy al Dia (Democracy Up to Date). It airs on WRHC Cadena Azul every Thursday 9-10 p.m. Its first broadcast was on April 5. Co-hosting are Millie Herrera, past president of the Florida Hispanic Caucus, and Hector Caraballo, vice president of the Miami-Dade Caucus.

Y’all tune in!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

He’s got to stop listening to that man in the bushes …
What a difference a camera angle can make. I saw other angles on this event -- Bush speaking on Wednesday in the Rose Garden -- but until I saw this one I didn’t understand why he wasn’t making any sense. Now it’s clear that Dick Cheney, over there lurking in the bushes, is the author of the nonsense, and somehow he’s beaming it into the president’s head.
This photo was on the front page of Thursday’s NY Times. It was taken while Bush was declaring that even if he vetoes money for the troops in Iraq, it’s the Democrats in Congress who are responsible for failing to support the troops. Sorry, Sir, a veto is a veto. You are responsible for what you do.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Some recent local political news that you might find of interest...

Herald politics blog reports record fundraiser for Hillary:

Also see in Thursday's Herald:
p. 8A - Kerry gets revenge -- very late -- on Swift-boater.
p. 1A - Coast Guard takes more lumps in arrival of packed Haitian boat after big exercise in keeping boat people out.

Also, congrats to Joe Garcia for mention in Herald story on Wednesday re immigration.