Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Barack Obama event on Aug. 25

This should be only a beginning -- but a great one! Sen. Barack Obama is coming to Miami on Aug. 25 to do a fund-raiser to benefit the Democratic Party of Miami-Dade County. We hope others from the strong crowd of Democratic presidential contenders will find time to help our surging party (a better use of the word surge) fill its treasury so that we will be strong and capable when it's time to mount campaigns on all levels in 2008. Feelers are out to other campaigns.

Meanwhile, bare details from Sen. Obama's event:
  • Saturday Aug. 25, 3 p.m.
  • Miami-Dade County Auditorium
  • 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami 33135
  • Tickets: $30 general admission, $100 VIP seating.
  • Click this link to buy tickets.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Electronic voting

This reaches our ken via Naked Politics, the Miami Herald politics blog, a report about electronic voting. Seems it doesn't work right in California, either.

Florida Progressive Radio -- again

Trying to help introduce new stuff, here's another promo for Florida Progressive Radio -- available on the Internet, and the link here is to the already-archived program on Sunday July 29, during which your faithful blogger was the first caller.

Listeners will hear that your blogger approves of being nimble in political campaigning -- that is, reacting quickly, being proactive, letting no moss grow. The reference is to the blogging done by Michael Calderin and Christian Chiari, both candidates for the Florida House of Representatives, reacting to news that the Republicans in Miami-Dade County were holding lavish fund-raising spectacles this weekend. This link takes you to my post earlier this weekend on this topic.

Since then there has been further evidence of nimble thinking: Dave Patlak, pictured in that earlier post, organized a protest at the site of the Republican gross excess in South Beach. He reports that Marco Rubio, speaker of the state House of Representatives, descended from his tour bus and opined that Big Dave had a perfect right to mount a protest. Thank you, Your Majesty!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Karen Thurman on THAT question and others

Here is the Florida Democratic Party Chair on the record about her lobbying job and other topics about taking the party forward.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Political weekend contrasts

Dave "Big Dave" Patlak and BJ Chiszar on cleanup detail Saturday at North Shore Open Space Park, Miami Beach

The Miami Herald enlightened us as to what the Republicans will be doing this weekend: dropping big bucks at glamorous fund-raisers. All weekend long. We Democrats, answering the call of Howard Dean, are having a reunion at which we will clean up a park. Whoopee! They're doing the Versace Mansion. We're watching out for poison ivy.

The Herald story raised the question: what happened to limits on donations? Tutorial needed.

It was pleasing to see later that two fine Democrats sought to raise a ruckus over this gross excess. Michael Calderin and Christian Chiari, both candidates for the state House of Representatives, pumped out a sharp statement to DailyKos. "While pampered lobbyists wine and dine on a megayacht, millions of Floridians are facing rising property insurance costs. ...etc."

Click here and read the full diary on DailyKos.

There will come a time when this blog and DailyKos and Flapolitics.com and Eye on Miami and others will be our major sources of news and analysis. I read the Herald story waiting to see a little Democratic input -- some fair and balanced input. In vain. Over to the Internet, and a fuller story emerges.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New Cap came in the mail

Source was the People's email network. I forget who sent the link.

What’s this “pandering to dictators?”

It was one of the better questions in the YouTube debate – whether to meet with the bad guys. Meeting with the foe, to my mind, ought to be a judgment call. Are we ready to meet? Can anything good come of it? Be careful of unintended consequences. Favor being bold.

Look at the Cold War. After a lot of cold shoulders, there were thaws and refreezes, some surprise meetings, and finally it came to an end. I had the luck to be a close observer of an unexpected meeting regarding the Middle East: Anwar Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem in November 1977, when I was an Associated Press correspondent based in Israel. The Egyptian leader was welcomed warmly by the Israeli leadership and population; soon there was a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, and Egypt got back all its lost territory. The Palestinians got little from that deal; they also invested little in what was then called the peace process. And today, 30 years later, we are where we are in that region. Many volumes have been written about all the bad stuff that has happened meantime, but Israel and Egypt still have their peace treaty. In 1981 Sadat paid with his life for his temerity (for me, there was a trip to Cairo to help cover his funeral).

In other words, a mixed result from Sadat’s bold move. But it did not happen at the spur of the moment, as it seemed at the time. There had been a great deal of secret diplomacy beforehand, and Sadat and the Israelis had a good understanding of the way they would resolve their issues before CBS guru Walter Cronkite appeared to be the intermediary who got Sadat and Israeli leader Menachem Begin to agree to meet.

The Clinton and Obama campaigns now are trading barbs about what they said – Hillary Clinton more cautious about meeting with such as Fidel Castro, the Iranians and North Koreans; Barack Obama more willing to have a meeting. I like Miami-Dade Democratic Chairman Joe Garcia’s wise comment on the controversy, as reported in an AP roundup:

“Obviously, Hillary’s answer was a seasoned answer within the realm of what we’re doing. But I don’t think Obama was intending to say we want to give legitimacy to dictatorships,” said Garcia, who said he was not affiliated with any of the candidates. Obama speaks to the Miami-Dade Democrats at an Aug. 25 dinner.

On the other hand we have the Republican ideologue’s comment, also from the AP roundup:

“Anything that looks like pandering to dictators is bad politics in South Florida,” said Republican state Rep. David Rivera of Miami. He predicted Obama’s comments would come back to haunt him, particularly if he becomes the Democratic nominee.

There must be some playbook where they get phrases like “pandering to dictators.” Loaded language is their stock in trade. Who panders anymore, anyway? Well, I know where that takes us in their playbook: it’s a word found under C.

An interesting sidelight is that the Miami Herald on Thursday printed three letters about the Clinton-Obama dustup, and all three were against the hard line of the Rivera camp.

Could more people be coming to understand that some bold thinking and action will be required? Our beloved country is in difficult straits. Being stuck with calcified thinking like "pandering to dictators" gives little chance to find a better course.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Other Beach bathhouses

If Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle got in trouble for proposing a quarter-million-dollar john for the beach, wonder what this beach facility costs? Several of them are going up at Haulover Beach, at a Miami-Dade County park, and their true colors are only starting to emerge. Work crew says a veritable rainbow will appear. Drivers on A1A are advised to keep their eyes on the road.

As to Naugle, it wasn't only the cost. Today's Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel tell the tale.

Political Art

Ha Ha, isn't that funny. Wouldn't it be more correct if the top label was Republicans? What are you doing today to restore the public's trust in the political world?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hey, lighten up

This snip from YouTube showing Mitt Romney failing to say the right thing (Try "I'm sorry that happened") evokes better days of political heckling. This kind of thing has to be planned like an ambush, with one person taking point and the rest of the squad primed to applaud and get it on video. This version comes from MYDD.com.

Radio blogging

Florida progressives are even more widespread than the R-side fears -- now on blog radio. Here's the link to the main website. There's a bunch of programs already up from the first appearance some weeks back. The most recent one, only 15 minutes long, features a Biblical critique of Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle. Access it at this link. There will be laughing. And you don't need a radio to listen. Can be a podcast.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Stuff in our water?

Over at the Eye on Miami blog, deep concern is expressed at the state of the water coming out of our taps. I have to agree: it was shocking to read the Miami Herald a week ago when our watchdog judge, William Hoeveler, ripped everyone for having let stuff get into our tap water. Then I got busy and forgot to raise a ruckus. Mea culpa. Somehow I forgot that this blog is available, too. So, in case anyone is out there reading, here's the link to Eye on Miami's rant.

And here's the story in the Herald from July 14.

While you're writing your letter to the Herald, let's filter some water, OK?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Loyal Bushie gets Bush' back

Probably you wonder why the Valeria Plame case gets thrown out of court, even though it looks open-and-shut, at least to go on to trial. The following factoid rolled in to my inbox from Democrats.com, an activist site, explaining that the judge was a "loyal Bushie."

It said Judge John D. Bates "made his 'bones' with the Bushies as a Whitewater prosecutor under Ken Starr. Bush appointed Bates as a Federal judge in 2001, and a year later he dismissed the GAO lawsuit demanding Cheney's Energy Task Force documents. In 2006, Chief Justice John Roberts put Bates on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to turn a blind eye to Bush's illegal wiretapping of millions of Americans."

Judge Bates sounds like a really useful guy for the Bushies. Anyone remember the "vast right-wing conspiracy?"

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New members at packed meeting

Swearing in new members at DEC July meeting

People are NOT complaining about lack of room at party meetings nowadays -- even though the room can be over-full. Hey, new members are coming in every month, no wonder it's standing-room-only when the Democratic Executive Committee gets together. Even if it's July in Florida? Yes!

At the regular monthly meeting July 16 about a dozen new members were sworn in. I've got to say, that oath needs tuning up, but anyway. And in recent months even larger crowds have been inducted. To say there's a surge of interest in the Democratic Party is a more accurate use of the word surge than we see emanating from the White House/Military Industrial Complex. We are the rising tide here, but the idea is not just to float around but to act, do, work, demonstrate, and be smart about it.

Also present at the meeting were a dozen candidates for office, who each got a snip of time to declare the office they're contending for. Many in the larger crowd were confirmed as delegates to the state convention of the Florida Democratic Party in October. It's not too late to ask to attend: call the office in Doral 305 477-4994.

Cindy Lerner, state committeewoman and former member of the state House of Representatives, reported on another area of growth: Clubs, where four new club organizations are applying. "Our intention is to grow new clubs throughout the county," Lerner said.

This blog also aims to help promote clubs and their news. Email the blog through the link in the right-hand column, and your club news will be posted. And you can look for club info on the calendar at the party website, MiamiDadeDemocrats.com. Click on the bigger calendar there.

Bret Berlin, state committeeman, announced a cleanup work event on July 28, site to be determined. Volunteers will get gold stars for stepping forward!

One of the new clubs, the Cuban-American Democratic Club, was given the task of formulating a resolution about Cuba travel bans, so that Miami-Dade Democrats can go on the record soon on this vexing problem in our current government policy on Cuba.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Local party to benefit from Barack Obama appearance

The news is out: Sen. Barack Obama will join a fund-raising meeting of the Miami-Dade Democrats, and the profits will stay here to strengthen our local party.

Your calendar needs to have a lock on Aug. 25. That Saturday afternoon, the Illinois senator and candidate for the highest nomination will break away from his activities on behalf of his own campaign and help the Miami-Dade Democrats raise funds for their own purposes.

Chairman Joe Garcia announced it Monday at the July meeting of the Democratic Executive Committee -- a standing-room-only crowd at the American Legion in Miami. "This is not an endorsement. We don't endorse," Garcia said. Planning for the event is still incomplete, but he described it as a meeting "to show our appreciation" to Sen. Obama.

Whether he becomes the nominee and president or not, "this is going to be one of the most important people in America for the next quarter-century," Garcia said.

Former Congresswoman Elaine Bloom asked whether other candidates could appear at the same meeting, and Garcia said the date had been suggested by the Obama campaign, so other candidates were more than welcome to suggest times for their own separate appearances to benefit the local Democratic Party. Sen. Hillary Clinton has expressed willingness to do a similar event, and the John Edwards campaign also has been approached.

The plan is to keep the required contribution low enough to ensure a big turnout, and some fun for the party faithful and the Obama supporters.

Economics explored, Gilded Age, populism

If you need to buttress your thinking on economic issues, here are a couple of items for your reading. The Monday New York Times rounds up the way the Democratic presidential candidates are taking a more populist approach to economic issues than prevailed under Bill Clinton.

On Sunday, the Times had a big spread on the way the present lavish situation of the super-rich is like the Gilded Age in the second half of the 19th century. Most telling to me were some of the quotes from Warren "Sage of Omaha" Buffet and Robert Crandall, retired head of American Airlines. Crandall on taxes, for instance: "The way our society equalizes incomes is through much higher taxes than we have today. There is no other way." Buffett is in favor of creating abundance first and then concentrating on redistributing it more equitably. Citibank mogul Sanford I. Weill comes off not quite so well by saying he doesn't want his money taken away from him; rather, he wants to give it away himself. The article then focuses on his lavish gift to Carnegie Hall, which -- to me, not the NY Times -- is like giving money to other rich people.

The author of the Sunday Times article is Louis Uchitelle, whose recent book "The Disposable American: Layoffs and their consequences" is one of three covered in a devastatingly logical workup in the New York Review of Books, my personal favorite source of wisdom and analysis. Try this lengthy article if you still are in a reading mood after the long Sunday Times piece.

Tired of Fox?

I heard about GoLeft.tv on Air America during the weekend.

Fox has advertisers, yes? Do you patronize them? What's the obvious conclusion? Look at FoxAttacks.com for suggestions. One video clip therein shows Rupert Murdoch saying it's time for business to work on environmental problems -- juxtaposed against Fox clips saying it's all a hoax.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cuban-American Democratic Club formed

(Corrected email address at bottom)

We have a new Cuban-American Democratic Club. Formed recently but emerging to accept congratulations now in mid-July, the Miami-Dade club is working very closely with state Rep. Luis Garcia to attract new members in the Little Havana area and beyond.

Officers, to be formally installed in the fall, are Hector Caraballo, president; Carl Muller, vice president; Oscar Visiedo, secretary; and Arthur Costa, treasurer.


Members of this club and others are welcome at all times to email news and announcements to this blog. The address is always featured in the right-hand column.

Here's the first announcement:

To join the club and get involved in reaching out to Cuban-American Democrats, please call or email Hector Caraballo at 305-322-4803 or hmanuel05@yahoo.com

Club news at its best

Kudos to the William Lehman Northeast Dade ... oh, heck, the Democratic Club with a real long name deserves praise for a fine spread in Sunday's Miami Herald reporting that it was meeting again for the first time in five months.

And thanks to the fine Democratic leaders in Miami-Dade County who graced that meeting. This blog has heard mentioned state Rep. Dan Gelber, who's running for the state senate; Richard Steinberg, the Miami Beach city commissioner who's running to replace Gelber in the state house; Joe Geller, North Bay Village mayor and also running for Gelber's seat; Gwen Margolis, who's retiring as state senator and endorsing Gelber to replace her; and Joe Garcia, chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. Not to be left out is Ginger Grossman, who has been active now in the Democratic Party for 67 years (not a typo: sixty-seven years), and is president of ... here's the full name, as reported by the Herald, the William Lehman Northeast Dade Involved Democratic Club.

Joe Garcia said over 100 people attended the meeting. Now, that's a whale of a turnout. Does the length of the club's name correspond to turnout? Something to be probed by our outreach organizers.

UPDATE: Over at the Florida Politics blog, folks are already wondering about Dan Gelber's next step: could he run against the reeling U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez in 2010? Stay tuned. And if that link doesn't work, try this one to the Orlando Sentinel.

Gut feeling of a different kind

Infamous words by our homeland security chief: Michael Chertoff had a gut feeling that things will go bad, an attack is coming, the sky is falling, whatever he could think of. Miami Herald cartoonist Jim Morin has a different view of almost everything, so here's what he came up with for the Sunday paper.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Here, birdy, birdy. Birdy?

A couple weeks ago the bald eagle appeared in this blog, thanks to a delightful article in the New York Times reporting the majestic birds are living all over Florida -- some in the suburbs. Makes you feel good, doesn't it? The national bird is back. Relax. All's well.

Here's the antidote, which I believe the NY Times also has written about recently, but now it's on the front page of the Friday Miami Herald: our common birds are in a steep decline all over the United States. It's because we're paving over their habitat, and other reasons. So complains the Audubon Society.

So please read them both. This blog is fair and balanced.

A voice in support of Karen Thurman

The Miami Herald's political blog found an editorial backing Karen Thurman, who is apparently still not talking about her lobbying. Read it in Naked Politics for yourself. There's a link there to the editorial in the Ocala Star-Banner. First time I'd read that paper.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Throw away that iPhone during lightning storm

An article in today's Miami Herald struck fear into the heart of this recent buyer of an iPhone -- using such a device can increase your injuries if you get hit by lightning!

It may not seem much to those who survive a lightning hit that in addition to their other injuries, they have fried eardrums or burns along the line of their ear-bud wires. But I'm inspired to strengthen my personal rule not to get hit by lightning.

UPDATE: While writing the above, I had this nagging worry that I was tempting fate. My name, after all, has some thunder in it. Then this evening I was in the parking lot at the Borders in Aventura, with a roiling, black cloud bank off to the west, when there was a tremendous clap of thunder. Well, the iPhone was in my pocket, but the lightning was elsewhere. Whew.

Gelber: Crist in "right direction" on environment

State Rep. Dan Gelber, the minority leader in the House, was on WINZ 940AM this morning preparing to attend the environmental summit where Gov. Charlie Crist is to announce his plan to impose targets to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in Florida. Gelber said it will be "a very big first step in the right direction."

This is not just a Florida story: The NY Times writes it up today, noting the caveat that federal law may not permit Florida to depart from federal rules on auto emissions.

As we've been hearing for some time, the term-limited Gelber will run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Gwen Margolis, who is retiring after a laudable career as a Democrat in elected office. She was in the state House in 1974-1980 and the state Senate 1980-92, and was the first woman to serve as Senate president. After losing a race for the U.S. House of Representatives to E. Clay Shaw in 1992, she was elected to the Dade County commission, and then in 2002 she was elected again to the state Senate from the 35th district.

If you weren't up at 7:24 to listen, click this link to hear what Dan Gelber had to say on the Jim Defede Show.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fred Thompson was Nixon's mole

Here's why those of us of a certain age (I'm talking over 60 here) always get a little memory nudge when the name Fred Thompson comes up. We saw him a lot in 1973, when we were transfixed by Watergate, those televised hearings. Then he fell out of view for a while, and meanwhile his hair fell out, so now he doesn't look like he did back then. The Boston Globe has worked up the story complete with a photo showing our Fred with hair. Remember?

Now would any voter in right mind really want as president someone who in 1973 revealed the existence of the White House taping system but thought it would exonerate Tricky Dick? Wow, there's some bad judgment. It worked out for the best, of course, but this putative presidential candidate of 2007-8 was Nixon's mole.

I ask again: are there a lot of Republicans out there who really want such a background for their candidate?

If he's the Republican nominee, what a gold mine of memories we will have to bring out. It was so long ago that we've mostly forgotten, but still, there is that little memory nudge. What is it about the man? Not his cologne ...

This flood of memories was unleashed by a browse through the blog of Joy-Ann Reid, one of the morning people on Radio 1080, The People's Station in Miami. A bow of thanks to her.

This and that in the news

Here's an item on MYDD today that shows we Democrats already are running a strong campaign to increase our numbers in the next Congress. If the Republican incumbents think they can distance themselves from the stink in the White House, ads already are showing that they stink, too.

One more from MYDD strikes a familiar note: Republicans who balked at reform of immigration law are going to be big targets. This is what we're on about in South Florida, though mostly from the angle of registering new citizens to vote. The MYDD item led me into my first encounter with The Politico blog, which delved into efforts by the National Council of La Raza; it also quotes Simon Rosenberg, head of the New Democratic Network, who has appeared here in Miami-Dade Dems more than once.

Some things have to be said, he said

Crooks and Liars tipped me to this devastating op-ed in the Denver Post by a current lawyer in the U.S. Justice Department. He expects retribution, so this is a good time to take note of the name Koppel, John S. Koppel, DOJ lawyer since 1981, and see if Bush pardons someone for damaging Mr. Koppel in the next year or so. He complains from the inside about how badly we are led. Our beloved country needs more whistle-blowers.

While we're in Crooks and Liars, scroll around and see the withering attack Michael Moore lays on Wolf Blitzer, CNN, the rest of the media and the kitchen sink. It's here.

Good question, Michael Moore: "Why don't you tell the truth to the American people?" Well, that is sort of a rhetorical firestorm. But it has a useful ring to it.

Not receiving CNN on the TV apparatus I bought in Tokyo in 1989, I have to troll around the blogs to find this stuff. The advantage is: No commercials. Well, there are those little ads all over the place. And in fact the TV would gladly show me CNN. I just don't pay for all that cable.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Home-grown progressive radio in Florida

There's yet another progressive radio show in Florida. Not Air America by any means, but heck, it's one more way to hear good guys and the better ideas. Here's a link to the first show.

Now my friends, give the guys a break for the first couple minutes. They were unrehearsed and not radio pros. (Like this blog ...) But after some test test test, they got it rolling.

And if you go to the Florida Progressives' blog you'll see some background to how it got started.

This and that in the news

Regarding immigration, looks like the Roman Catholic church is on our side. At least in Miami this weekend.

Harry Reid sees enough Republican defections to try again and try harder to end the war by Congressional action, according to the New York Times.

Republicans are
said to be tired of Cheney, too. Not to be missed in that article is the quote from Orrin Hatch praising the Veep as a "straight shooter." Is Hatch forgetting something?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Karen Thurman ignites political blog

Finally some excitement in Florida Democratic politics. You may have seen the Herald story the other day about Karen Thurman, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, getting paid by a big Republican for some lobbying. The story migrated over to the Herald political blog, Naked Politics, and I've never seen so much comment -- it looks like the main page of DailyKos. Read and learn, maybe.

UPDATE: And in Saturday's Miami Herald there is one more airing of this story.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

New citizens big in news again

Chairman Joe Garcia (standing) with two tables of volunteers waiting for new citizens to register to vote. June, Miami Beach.

Here’s the lead headline in Thursday’s New York Times (as seen in Florida, anyway): “Sharp Rise Seen in Applications for Citizenship.” First subhead: “A Sign of Hispanic Unease.” If this sounds familiar, check back to the June 22 post here about articles in the Los Angeles Times and Miami Herald about the flood of people taking the oath of citizenship at ceremonies in Miami Beach.

The NY Times piece has a related drift, focusing on a big jump in the numbers of people applying for citizenship. In May 115,175 applied, almost double the 65,782 last December.

What we’ve been doing in Miami-Dade County is to give vigorous help to the non-partisan groups that register new citizens to vote. Thousands of people concentrate in one place to attend these ceremonies, and all we have to do is be there afterward with a clipboard, smile and sign them up. Recently the ratio has strongly favored Democratic registration, sometimes more than 2 ½ to 1 over Republican signups – without overt persuasion.

The Times story adds detail to help explain this bonanza for our D side. It quotes a Californian who hadn’t considered becoming a U.S. citizen until he felt it was time to get politically active because his people were “not getting enough support.” Another said the same thing: “Now if I don’t like the way things are going, I can let the government know my opinion.”

This seems to be a new wrinkle in our country’s long history of immigration. In the past, haven’t most new immigrants concentrated on work and family and kept quiet politically? The NY Times report seems to find budding political activists among the newest citizens – people not willing to wait for the next generation of the U.S.-born to be active in politics. Is anyone surprised that they are unhappy with the way the Republicans are treating them?

So if someone stands up at the next county party meeting and urges that we redouble our efforts to register new citizens to vote, I’ll second that motion.

Beyond that, the NY Times story mentioned an initiative financed by the Illinois state government to help immigrants learn English and prepare for the citizenship test. It’s called the New Americans Initiative. Do we have something like that in immigrant-rich Florida?

Good tips on promoting party events

Over on the Florida Netroots blog there's a fine post on steps to boost awareness of Democratic events. We in Miami-Dade have a good calendar online and vigorous emailing of reminders of events. What about those who don't get email? Sid Gersh, for instance. (Sid -- Call the Geek Squad already!) Sid says the party headquarters advises him of events by regular mail.

Maybe we should make it a regular practice when signing people in to DEC meetings to make a special roster of those without email, so that they never have an excuse for missing a meeting.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Read my lips ( I said nothing about tolls)

A few years ago they were thinking of stopping toll collection on the 836 expressway – remember? Then something happened (Who remembers what?) and instead the tolls there went up. Now there’s a weak imitation of exciting architecture at the toll plaza there (Calatrava on the cheap, costs too much to go to Milwaukee and see how it’s really done), and the SunPass reigns almost supreme. Tolls collected automatically. Painless! A new stretch of the Miami-Dade Expressway system opened this week, and there’s no way to pay cash. You have to use the SunPass. Wow! SunPasses flying off the shelves, according to the Sunday Miami Herald.

What’s really going on?

Well, here’s today’s Economix column in the NY Times. It reveals that the automatic collection of tolls is a way to keep raising the tolls. No one will notice, they think. The column points out that in New Jersey the tolls on one major expressway are the same as they’ve always been. Except that now the governor is thinking of a big increase.

The bottom line, according to an economist’s research on highway tolls: “After an electronic system is put in place, tolls start rising sharply.”

Chapter Two

Here's a little surprise: Four members of the expressway authority resign rather than continue with tougher financial disclosure rules. It's in Tuesday's Herald here.

Stay tuned. This looks like the start of a saga.

Monday, July 02, 2007

DFA training nuggets; robocalls explained

Selene Hofer-Shall trains us on campaign finance

Democracy for America had one of its training academies this past weekend, and your blogger was among four people who went from Miami. Wendy Sejour, Michael Calderin and Georgi Blumenthal and I now are much better campaigners! There were over 120 people in Tampa from around Florida for two long days of sessions plus a social event Saturday night where DFA national head Jim Dean gave an inspiring talk.

Down among the nuts and bolts of the training were these rules for when to do phone-banking and when to canvass. Anyone dispute this experienced-based wisdom?


  • Monday-Thursday, 9a-noon, 4p-9p
  • Saturday, 10a-2p
  • Sunday, 1p-5p.


  • Monday-Thursday, 4p-dark
  • Saturday, 10a-2p
  • Sunday, 1p-5p.

The trainer, Helen Strain, didn’t recommend Friday at all. Phone-banking helps reach people in rural areas and gated communities. Do the walking canvass where you actually reach people by knocking on doors. And that’s what works: direct voter contact.

Asked about robocalls, she preferred to use them only in calling to answering machines. Many of us trainees were surprised to hear that robocall technology can cut off the call when a real person answers – to avoid the annoyance factor. (This may explain those calls that hang up as soon as you speak.) An exception might be when there’s a need to respond to the opponent’s negative robocall; then you hope for a live listener to your response.

All the pro trainers seemed to have the same rule of thumb: if you need 20 volunteers, you have to get 40 to say yes. And maybe means no. Are we such an inconstant crowd? They also were quite negative about yard signs and honk-and-waves. “Signs don’t vote,” they said, and, “Is that a Democratic highway?” Food for thought.

If you ever have a chance, take the DFA Training Academy. If nothing else, the dynamo Arshad Hasan is a great training director. And if you can’t spare a weekend for it, there are the online sessions, which will be starting up again in the fall. Here's the link to DFA Nightschool.

Beyond that, for training, call 305 477-4994 and ask for BJ Chiszar. He'll come and train you at home if that's what you need.

Click here for an article in the St. Pete Times covering the event.