South Dade Matters

Looking at the World South of Miami: Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami and Miami-Dade County.

MDC: Is Campaign Pledge a Waste of Money?

According to a Miami Herald report, Commissioner-elect Daniella Levine Cava intends to establish her office at the South Dade Government Center where Commissioner Moss has an office and where former Commissioner Katy Sorenson hung her hat:

In her first full day as an incoming commissioner, Levine Cava laid out her transition plan and confirmed she would be moving District’s 8 office out of rented space in Palmetto Bay and into a county building in the Cutler Bay area.

During the campaign, Levine Cava knocked Bell for moving the district office into a private building, where the rent costs about $62,000 a year, rather than staying with the free space in the county’s South Dade Government Center. Levine Cava said the office will move back to the center. Bell had described the private location as more convenient for the district.

We’re all for the office returning to the government center for efficiency’s sake, but SDM Wonders: Did Ms. Levine Cava check the lease for this office space before deciding to cancel it?

SDM might have waited a tick to see when the lease expires and if there are any cancellation fees associated with moving out. We hope the lease’s term coincides with the election calendar and that any capitalized improvements (i.e., changes to the leased space that are “financed” over the term of the lease) so that we taxpayers don’t take a hit for a campaign promise.

We’ll keep an eye on the issue.

More on the Deteriorating Obama Legacy

From President Obama’s speech to the Clinton Global Initiative on September 25, 2012:

And today, I want to discuss an issue that relates to each of these challenges. It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name — modern slavery.

Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it — in partnership with you. The change we seek will not come easy, but we can draw strength from the movements of the past. For we know that every life saved — in the words of that great Proclamation — is “an act of justice,” worthy of “the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.”

News from the Middle East on ISIS’ slavery of women and girls:

Thousands of Iraq’s Yazidis, driven from their homes by ISIS and trapped in the desperate siege of Mt. Sinjar, have captured the world’s attention and received some relief from U.S. airstrikes and humanitarian aid. But hundreds of Yazidi women taken by ISIS and held in a secret prison where they have been raped and sold off like property are facing an equally dire fate.

Survivors who managed to escape from ISIS say the women held in its prison in Mosul face two fates: Those who convert to Islam are sold as brides to Islamist fighters for prices as low as $25, and ranging up to $150. Those who do not convert face daily rape and a slow death.

Accounts of the prison have come from women who managed to hide their cellular phones, calling relatives to describe their plight. Some imprisoned women have been forced by militants to call their families. The mother of one woman still held captive told The Daily Beast about the call she received from her daughter. She was forced to listen as her daughter detailed being raped by dozens of men over the course of a few hours. Still other women testified that multiple children had been born under these conditions, with the newborns ripped away from their mother’s arms to fates unknown.

If you can take it, read more here.

SDM Wonders: Do the President’s words mean anything?


MDC: Fair Play

The Miami Herald reported today that the county commission will be voting on whether to move the Dade County Youth Fair off of its traditional home and on to a new location.

SDM Says: Bravo, it’s about time. The homeowners near The Fair must be jumping for joy given the traffic snarl it creates each year.

Sure, SDM youngsters went to The Fair, just like the SDMers did. We all had a blast and it is a fine tradition.

But what is more important to those kids and to us? Attending The Fair or growing FIU to allow those same kids access to more programs?

Surely the right answer is to let FIU grow and become a world-class university. FIU is one of a handful of institutions that is critical to our community’s economic future. The Fair, by contrast, is at best a temporary shot in the arm and only redirects internal community spending.

So what to do about The Fair?

Well, there are lots of interesting spots in South Dade (hint, hint, nudge, nudge) that could be great long term locations, though The Fair probably wants a sweetheart deal to give up is current location. According to the Herald, the fair’s lease runs through 2040 with extensions to 2085 and the county would be “on the hook” if it were to break the lease. (Who gives away land better than our local governments? Nobody, we tell ya!)

SDM Says: The fair needs the county and the county needs FIU. Somebody has to broker a “fair” deal and let the parties move on.

PB: Seen at Levine Cava Party

SDM was going through the pictures posted on Eye On Miami and found this picture. The second shot is a close up, cropped version.

party 2


It don’t take a rocket surgeon to identify these folks! Mme. Mayor searching for some coattails to ride.

MDC: District 8 Aftermath

First off, SDM says: Congratulations Ms. Levine Cava for your victory. We wish you all the best and hope you represent South Dade well. (Would that your opponent had sufficient breeding to say the same to you last night.)

In retrospect, SDM should not be surprised that Ms. Levine Cava is South Dade’s newest political figure. Despite anemic turnout (15.9% in District 8, which was just a tiny bit higher than the countywide figure), Levine Cava secured a 2% victory over a sitting county commissioner. No small feat.

But the reason SDM should not have been surprised can be found in two sets of numbers. First, the ethnic breakdown of District 8: 45.7% of registered D8 voters consider themselves to be Hispanic; White, 35.7%; Black, 11.2%.

The second set of numbers is also important: 40.75% of D8 voters are registered Democrats; 29.65%, registered Republicans; and 28% register as not affiliated with the major parties.

These numbers show that Levine Cava entered the race – all things being equal – with a built-in advantage approaching 20% with ethnic voters (Hispanics + Blacks, who vote North of 90% for Democrats) and an 11% edge with partisan Democrats. One might even go so far as to say that Levine Cava underperformed given her numerical advantages, but saying so when a new candidate topples a well-heeled incumbent seems picky.

SDM Aside: If the Bell campaign consciously turned this race into a partisan test, she deserved to lose.

Of course, incumbency usually grants an enormous edge in money and resources and Lynda Bell certainly milked that cow fully. Time will tell the extent of her financial advantage; SDM has no doubt it will be substantial. But Levine Cava should be acknowledged for keeping the money race close enough for campaign purposes.

Compound all of Ms. Levine Cava’s assets with Mrs. Bell’s well-chronicled faults and the result is a a political earthquake at county hall. We commend to you the postmortems by Eye On Miami and Political Cortadito:

From Eye on Miami: Who are the winners and losers? It is a good day for Good Government, for former county commissioner Katy Sorenson who supported Levine Cava quietly at first but increasingly visible in the final weeks, and for Cindy Lerner, mayor of Pinecrest, a smiling, optimistic and battle-scarred survivor of Florida’s slash and burn politics. Today will be a very low day for any of the campaign advisors and lobbyists who supported Bell.

Political Cortadito named Organized Labor, County Employees, the current commission majority, the Miami-Dade Democrats, the LGBT community as winners, the Pet’s Voice, and Levine Cava’s campaign managers as winners. Losers included Mayor Gimenez, developer Wayne Rosen, and Bell’s staff and campaign advisors.

Here’s SDM’s take on the winners and losers:

Katy Sorenson & Cindy Lerner: Both were early Levine Cava supporters and form an ideological sisterhood with the Commissioner. Both will find open doors at county hall and not just with Ms. Levine Cava.

Bell’s campaign advisors and lobbyists – Both the advisors and lobbyists will find a way back into favor. The same folks who supported Bell will be courted down the road to support Levine Cava and a smart pol will try to keep the advisors off the field next time. The folks at Eye On Miami will look the other way to get her back in office, too. It’s how things work.

Organized Labor – The county unions had a big, big victory yesterday. Levine Cava will be a solid vote for them…or, will she? Think about this fact: Ms. Levine Cava will become the wealthiest person on the county commission when she takes her seat. Once she really sees what’s going on with budget and the abuses by the union, will she remain a loyal soldier? All you have to do is say “no” one time and the unions will be looking to put in the back-up quarterback. Good luck staying on their good side while retaining your ethical center.

County Employees – It’s interesting and telling that Ladra (Political Cortadito’s author) draws a distinction between labor and the employees. In fact, the two groups are not always on the same page and Ms. Levine Cava will learn that lesson during the budget hearings next month. Non-union employees have been getting the shaft for nearly a decade while the unions have been getting rich. We shall see if Ms. Levine Cava cares about non-union staff.

Miami-Dade Democrats – Was it Democrats who won this election? Or, was it the non-affiliated voters? Or, was it White voters (a mix of the three) who dumped Bell? If the Democrats were the difference, then why wasn’t the margin larger?These super-low-turnout elections are so difficult to figure out.

LGBT Community – No argument here from SDM. The LGBT community will find a friendly ear with Levine Cava and rightly so. We don’t buy into the religious right’s intolerance.

Pet’s Voice – Again, SDM agrees with the following caveat: the reason the pet’s trust hasn’t been funded to the level that Pet’s Voice demands is because the county doesn’t have that kind of money, pure and simple. Ms. Levine Cava will learn this uncomfortable fact next month and will have to choose between funding the very worthy cause of animals who face euthanasia and the other worthy causes involving mammals that walk on two legs.

Levine Cava’s campaign team – SDM’s simple response: what have you done for me lately?

Mayor Carlos Gimenez – Understand something about this entry by Ladra: she has flipped 180 degrees on this guy. During Gimenez’s first run, she fawned all over him like he was a rock star. Now, she wants him recalled. Nevertheless, she’s right that Gimenez put his chips on Bell and lost, so he has to do some work to win over Ms. Levine Cava. In the end, politicians find a way to kiss and make up. SDM bets Gimenez will find a way to work with Ms. Levine Cava and vice versa.

Wayne Rosen – SDM agrees, Rosen bet big and lost big. Then again, guys who will write checks of the magnitude Rosen does tend to attract politicians the same way Miami attracts scam artists. So long as Mr. Rosen will contribute big money, someone will take his calls.

Bell’s staff and campaign team – Losing one’s job sucks and SDM hopes they bounce back soon. The campaign team will find other candidates to represent, though the top guys have lost their “wunderkind” status.

SDM Says: To paraphrase a 19th century English statesman: Dade politicians, lobbyists and advisors have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.

MDC: South Dade’s Big Day

Today is election day and SDM voted at the polls. Did you vote?

Please only answer yes if you know WHY you voted for whomever you chose. If you tell SDM you voted for a candidate because of her sign colors, we may send you a digital raspberry.

SDM voted for Lynda Bell today after much soul-searching. In the end, Mrs. Bell votes the right way on fiscal matters and that is the most critical thing for us. Miami-Dade County’s government needs to be constrained and Mrs. Bell has voted to slow its growth.

Like most politicians – who are only people after all – Mrs. Bell is not perfect. She can be intentionally opaque and self-serving, such as when she named a county funded housing complex after her mother. We hope she learned from that fiasco and will be more circumspect in the future.

On the other hand, Daniella Levine Cava is not a sensible alternative if you are a voter who is concerned about the county’s ever-increasing presence.

Ms. Levine Cava comes from the non-profit world where social services rule. Her organization Catalyst (formerly, the Human Services Coalition) advocates for more government spending. As we reported here first, Catalyst was the local non-profit selected by Washington bureaucrats to assist people to sign up for Obamacare.

For those of us who believe that government is out-of-control, the prospect of Ms. Levine Cava becoming the swing vote on the county budget is truly frightening. Combine her natural proclivities with her alliance with government unions and you know what you will get: more and more spending, which we cannot afford.

South Dade voters – for the first time in a long time – have the chance to decide the county’s direction for the next four years. Bell represents a push-back on county spending whereas Levine Cava represents an acceptance of a perpetually growing government and the inevitable tax increases that go with it.

SDM Says: You have the future in your hands. Vote wisely or don’t vote at all.

Mr. Obama’s Legacy

Concern over the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate inundated the media over the weekend after a radicalized Briton murdered a western journalist. Whether ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), is now a threat to the United States is the question that undoubtedly keeps President Barack Obama up at night.

But should the tragic death of a reporter be the cause that escalates Mr. Obama’s concern?

In fact, ISIS has been a malevolent actor on the world stage but for reasons we don’t read much about in the U.S. media.  For example, would you be surprised if SDM told you that ISIS rapes women they capture in the towns they have overrun? Or that they sell women and children into slavery or force women to marry against their will. Consider this report in an Australian magazine:

As ISIS continues to take over more towns in Iraq, at least 500 women believed to be Christians were allegedly kidnapped from Mosul to be sold as “sex slaves.” Reports said the Islamic militants have overrun Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian city. Believers have reportedly flocked to the city to escape the militants.

A spokesman from the Kurdish forces said ISIS has kidnapped Yazidi and Christian women to be turned as “Sabaya” or “war booty slaves.” He added that ISIS also plans to sell the women. According to accounts of witnesses, the most beautiful of the kidnapped women were handed to “ISIS princes.”

Now we know that slavery – and especially sex slavery – is nothing new. But wouldn’t the existence of widespread enslavement of women and children be a sufficient siren call to action?

One wonders whether we as a country have become so war-weary that we choose to bury our heads in the sand, rather than stand up for people who cannot defend themselves. For this President, a man who recognizes the long-term damage done by slavery, covering his eyes at this crucial time in history may be the final act that destroys his legacy.


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