Thursday, May 31, 2007

Big Five Endorsers Named

For the record, here are the five Florida Democrats picked by the Washington Post political blog as the most sought-after for endorsements in the presidential race:
Bob Graham, Alex Sink, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Kendrick Meek and Robert Wexler. Two are already committed, according to the Post. The link.

And the Miami Herald blog wonders why Bill Nelson isn’t on the list.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ana Menendez 1, Hardliners 0

The Wednesday Herald has news of an apparent climbdown by the hard-line Cuban exiles. It’s a a stunning vindication for Miami Herald columnist Ana Menendez, a blow to the Bushes, Jeb and George both, a big knock out of the Cuba Liberty Council. And is it light -- or lights out -- at the end of the tunnel for the Miami port tunnel? This is an interesting time to be living in South Florida. Change is in the air. And of course they bury the news in the Metro section.

Here’s a link to Wednesday’s story.

Don’t neglect to click on the link in Herald Extras to Ignacio Sanchez’s letter of resignation. It rambles on for three pages including a screed on legal issues of 1770, with a little fantasy thrown in asserting that Ms. Menendez wanted to “goad” the Cuba Liberty Council into taking a position at odds with the Helms-Burton Act. At the very end, he resigns from the CLC board he was instrumental in founding.

Here’s a link to Ms. Menendez’s column of Wednesday May 16, where she indulged in a clearly ironic use of a phrase Fidel Castro likes to use. Giving the hardliners an excuse to say harsh things about her.
A sample of some of the comment after that column.

In her column on Sunday May 27 Ms. Menendez laid out her bona fides as a Cuban whose family has suffered, and she asked for an end to the “acts of repudiation” that attack those who disagree with the hardliners.

A lot of reading. There’s a lesson herein on the difference between the letter and spirit of a law (Helms-Burton), and the need for civil discourse in our politics, both local and national, where character assassination is the mode of the day.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Coral Gables Democrats choose officers, hear from Luis Garcia

The Coral Gables Area Democratic Club elected a slate of officers unopposed at their meeting last week. Returning as president is Connie Washburn. Vice president will be Shannon O’Sullivan, secretary is Roz Marks, and treasurer is Sandi Strickland.

The monthly meeting voted to make a donation to the re-election campaign of State Rep. Luis Garcia, who expressed gratitude to the club for the help given by its members in his winning campaign for the State House of Representatives last year.

There was widespread agreement that all our candidates should be like him – but it’s hard nowadays to find a fresh face who came from Cuba as a teenager in 1960, worked hard all the time, became a firefighter and then fire chief in Miami Beach, and then won two terms on the Miami Beach city commission.

Garcia said he had beaten the freshman curse by getting several bills passed in his first session in Tallahassee, and by winning appropriations for his District 107. He said he would argue strongly against any cut in public safety services if the legislature cuts property taxes.

On those lines, see Sunday’s Miami Herald’s story on some purported drastic cuts for firefighters. Here’s the link.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

“I don’t let go easy” – Eufaula Frazier

Her Georgia charm won another admirer, the WLRN host Joseph Cooper. As usual, though, there was some steel under the soft tones as Eufaula Frazier spun away an hour while recalling her half-century and more of civil rights work in Miami.

Ms. Frazier, 82 but not slowed much, recently won the M. Athalie Range award for public service, given by the Miami-Dade County Democratic Executive Committee, and WLRN invited her in for an interview on the Topical Currents afternoon program.

It was a hit with the public radio station’s staff, and a fair number of callers rang in to praise Ms. Frazier’s long career that had kicked off with a concern for tenants’ rights. Among the callers was former Congresswoman Carrie Meek, who had often worked with Ms. Frazier in the past. She asked how to renew the spirit of volunteerism that drove much of Ms. Frazier’s work.

“If you get young people to come it, we can do it,” Ms. Frazier responded, “It’s a matter of leadership.”

And she joked, “We can’t walk but we can do it” – a reference to the arthritis that has slowed her pace while not stopping her continued work in community organizing.

Cooper asked how she kept on going at her age, and she replied, “I don’t let go easy.”

Those who want to hear the entire hour of personal experience in civil rights can turn to WLRN’s audio archives, and turn it up. Worthwhile time for learning. The link.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

DEC chair endorses Wolfson in Beach race

A few days ago Joe Garcia, chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee, issued the first endorsement of this election season: for Jonah Wolfson in the Group 4 race for Miami Beach City Commission.

Here, in part, is the letter sent to Democrats in Miami Beach.

I am writing to inform you of my wholehearted endorsement of Jonah Wolfson for Miami Beach Commission in Group 4.

Jonah is an active member of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee, having signed and submitted a loyalty oath. But more importantly, Jonah exemplifies the type of leader we need at the local level to help communicate our party’s values in the years ahead. Jonah runs his family’s law practice and communicates well in both English and Spanish. Jonah is energetic and hard-working, as he’s proven by mounting a door-to-door, grassroots campaign. Finally, Jonah is the lone registered Democrat running for the Commission in Group 4.

Although local elections are nonpartisan, state law allows parties and its officers to endorse or support candidates in those races. Like you, I am a resident of Miami Beach and care about our local government and who represents us. In the end, you and I are taxpayers of this city and we need leaders we can trust on the commission.

For all these reasons, I am pleased to endorse Jonah Wolfson’s candidacy and urge you to join me in support of his election this coming November.

Please call me with any questions about this matter. Also, I encourage you to contact the Miami-Dade Democratic Party to become an active member or learn how you can participate. Thank you for your time and attention.

Warm regards,


Joe Garcia


Paid political advertisement paid for by the Miami-Dade County Democratic Executive Committee independently of any candidate.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Joe hits 'em with sarcasm

Tuesday's Miami Herald had a nice long piece on the dubious immigration status of a host of a Republican fundraiser event in Miami. Kudos to DEC Chair Joe Garcia for a quote commending the hard work of an undocumented immigrant "like throwing fundraisers for the GOP." Link to fights deportation.

And on p. 1 of Tuesday's Herald, did you see the long workup on the wobbly condition of a religious right institution in Broward, the Center for Reclaiming America. Here's a link to political crossroads.

This is about the Coral Ridge Ministries of the Rev. James Kennedy. It raises interesting questions. As Howard Dean pointed out in his recent talk to us at Parrot Jungle, new churches today are as likely to be big on the environment and global warming as on their more usual hot-button social issues. Are we ready to welcome them to our revival tent?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Some comic relief

Click and enjoy. YouTube link.

What's behind those calls for emails to Congress

The Sunday papers had some explanatory background to what’s going on with Congress and the public and the Iraq war.

The Sunday NY Times put it on the front page. Here's the link.

The Miami Herald put a version of the same article well inside, so maybe you saw that and were surprised to see them quoting from the sort of emails you get if you hear from MoveOn regularly.

MoveOn, it turns out, is allied with a bunch of other groups in a coalition called Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (remember the surge?). To learn more about the coalition, check out

The coalition meets often and has conference calls, and then the calls and emails go out to … Hey, that’s us! We get encouragement to call and email our congressmen, and to demonstrate.

So I’m sitting here at 11:30 a.m. on Monday and wondering whether they’ve had their meetings yet today and have decided what to suggest to us. And when will that email from MoveOn roll in to my inbox.

UPDATE: That email came at 12:24 p.m., MoveOn touting its VideoVets project with a TV ad made by Oliver Stone.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Veto protests

Part of crowd of 40 who protested the veto Wednesday at foot of Lincoln Road in South Beach. A group of about equal size demonstrated at the same time on U.S. 1 in Miami. Sign-wavers included people from MoveOn, Democracy for America, plain Democrats and people who walked up and joined in.

The road to GOP House

Did that scare you?

Relax. It's only the headline on George F. Will's column in the Washington Post. In the Herald the headline was a little less alarming: "Are Republicans ready to regain the House?"

I posted this to keep us working to win in '08. The other side certainly will not roll over and play dead.

Here's a link to the column.

Quick review: Not one of his most brilliant columns.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New media laid bare

A departure here from the usual Democratic events. This post is from a lunch program I attended May 2 with the International Press Club in Miami on the new media. There were two speakers, and sometimes they had the audience gasping with surprise at how the world of journalism and communications has changed – and it ain’t standing still.


· Rick Hirsch, new media editor of the Miami Herald

· Allen Richards, head of department of journalism and mass communications at Florida International University

Notes from Rick Hirsch: The Herald now is so multi-media that it does 18 news broadcasts each weekday. Print output is slipping.

A handful of people with internet skills can compete with a newspaper with a $140 million printing plant.

The Herald had about 15% annual growth in internet usage until growth flattened recently. Now the paper has to do more to earn online growth with:

  • Video online. All photography staff is now trained to do video, too
  • Links to other media. A Herald story now may include a link to the Sun-Sentinel’s version of same event.
  • Herald will have a video channel on its website soon. Now has daily video features
  • No filter for public comment on Herald website. This horrifies old hands in the newsroom (Gasps from some in audience – How do you keep this family-friendly?)
  • Be open to citizen journalism. Hirsch said the recent release of DOJ emails was an example. The NY Times and Washington Post put of a flood of the emails on their websites, and then some of the resulting stories came from readers who read the emails and made the damning connections.

Notes from Allan Richards. He was told to start teaching online journalism at FIU in 2002 when there wasn’t a website for the students to practice on, so they dummied one up with Powerpoint.

Later he had to do a course on blogging when he didn’t have a clue how. Students asked how; his answer was “Google is also a verb.” They figured it out.

Kids are so far ahead on digital stuff. His example was when he was asked for a photo of himself to illustrate a column, and his 9-year-old daughter took it and loaded it into the computer to be sent off.

Best website for exploring online communications:, the Online Journalism Review of the Annenberg School at U. of Southern California.

There was much more, but hey, got to go protest the Veto. Later …

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Howard Dean wows Miami Dems

Howard Dean and Joe Garcia

Who would have thought that Tuesday noon was a great time to draw Democrats out of their dens? Just bring Howard Dean to Miami, announce a $20 lunch on Tuesday May 1 to meet him, and presto – 200 people turn out to clap and yell.

We are going to have some fun on the way to the summit of electoral success. This fine party was held at Parrot Jungle, in an amphitheater where people usually see trained birds perform. It got off to a cute start with a parrot using its beak to pull the halyard and raise the Stars and Stripes up a 5-foot pole for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Gov. Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told the crowd he’d come to Miami partly to draw Cuban-Americans back home to the Democratic Party, though his main message was related to the day’s demonstrations for comprehensive immigration reform.

Republicans scapegoat immigrants and blame them for all sorts of problems, he said, while the Democratic program stresses secure borders and enforcing the law. It’s impossible to round up 12 million people, he said, so Democrats favor giving honest immigrants a chance to get in line, pay a fine and earn citizenship – the kind of deal that 78 percent of Americans back in polls. Law-breakers would be deported.

“It’s not amnesty,” he said, but rather “earned legalization.”

Gov. Dean applauded Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s plan to restore felons’ civil rights as a way to “make them more responsible people.”

The event included honors for two of the most veteran members of the Democratic Executive Committee of Miami-Dade County, Ginger Grossman and Eufaula Frazier, who received congratulations from the national chair as well as strong applause from the audience.

DEC Chairman Joe Garcia shared officiating with Executive Director John Hornbuckle and BJ Chiszar, whose position as a Florida field director reflects Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy of putting paid staff in as many places as possible.


The Miami Herald's Beth Reinhard attended and put this post up on the Naked Politics blog.