South Dade Matters

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

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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: 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.

Guest Post by David Singer: Mayoral Candidates Speak

During the election cycle there are few opportunities for the average Palmetto Bay resident to get to know a candidates objective in running for Council. I had an interesting idea, why not request from each candidate a narrative on what their personal goals will be in their first 100 days of their term if they win their respective council seats. Narratives were limited to 250 words and I pledged to all candidates I would not comment or change what was submitted. As promised please find their essays below:

Peter England’s “First Hundred Days”

The highest priority of my administration as Mayor is to restore inclusiveness in Palmetto Bay. Everyone will be heard, everyone respected. We will conduct Council meetings in an atmosphere of respect and openness for residents and Council members alike. Every member of the Council is elected by and represents the entire Village and we will conduct their business accordingly. As Mayor, I preside over Council meetings, but our success will depend on collaboration to achieve our common goals.

One of the first proposals I will put before the Council is to empanel a new Charter Review Committee to assess this document in advance of a referendum in 2015. We must put discriminatory behavior, and the associated litigation, behind us and ensure that every member of our community has equal standing under our law.

We will conduct a thorough review of our Constitutional officers to ensure they are in synch with the direction of the Village Council.

Finally, we will institute a policy of total transparency, so that any resident can easily obtain any document which pertains to Palmetto Bay’s business. The Village’s current policy claims transparency, but does not provide full access to information and often erects egregious barriers to a resident’s ability to obtain what they want. I will work with the Council to fix this.

We have a great Village with enormous unrealized potential. My pledge is to make Palmetto Bay’s government as good as the people it serves.

Patrick Fiore’s “First Hundred Days”

The primary concern for this Village in the first one hundred days is to ensure that all residents are encouraged to participate in their governmental process. By “participate,” I mean that everyone’s opinion will be considered in a respectful manner, without condescension. I, as Mayor, will strictly uphold the provisions of the Citizen’s Bill of Rights, that is listed in our charter.

During the very first council meeting of the new council, I will introduce an agenda item, on dealing with the traffic issues, and excessive speed issues on our interior residential streets, and the process to resolve them.

As Mayor, I would facilitate the flow of the meetings quicker.

I would like to see added importance given to the Committee of the Whole meetings, especially on items where there is limited time to discuss at a regular council meeting.

I plan on proposing more reductions in our permitting fees, although changes were made, there is still more to do.

I will institute a “Mayor for a Day Program”, based much on my “Councilman for a Day” events I have held since 2011, where residents get first hand, close up knowledge of issues within the Village, especially infrastructure/public works, and quality of life issues.

The Mayor, and the Council should work closer together with our County, State, and Federal partners to ensure that Palmetto Bay is aware of all the resources available to assist us on big item issues, like road projects, protecting our natural resources, and environment, outreach would begin as soon as the new council is sworn in.

Patrick Fiore, candidate for Mayor of Palmetto Bay.

Eugene Flinn’s “First Hundred Days”

FDR coined the term, “First 100 Days,” and in that time, he passed fifteen bills which formed the basis of the New Deal. I want my first 100 days to be productive in establishing this community, and I have a solid record of experience in my eight years as Palmetto Bay’s founding mayor to back it up. Working with residents and staff, in my First 100 Days, we will:

• Hold roundtable meetings with officials, residents, and local business owners to identify our mutual goals and give everyone a voice in updating the long-term Master Plan;

• Review the condition of the parks to restore the fun that has been stripped from the play lots. Get the concession stands reopened for regular hours and repair any broken park equipment;

• Conduct a personnel audit to so village government functions at peak efficiency;

• Set committee goals and set up a system to view the goals and minutes of our existing committees, including the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force;

• Create and appoint a youth advisory committee. Reestablish a special events committee, create more events that residents will attend. Why not bringing back an annual Art Show in our village?;

• Reinvigorate the budget and finance committee to identify opportunities to improve spending decisions; and

• Improve the village website for ease of use, improve content and simplify payment features. Keep an accurate and easy to locate document archive. Restore the online services to our village permitting department and WiFi in our parks, which are no longer available for unexplained reasons.

I will maintain an online diary of so everyone can constantly monitor our progress and offer suggestions.

Go to eugeneflinn.com for the full plan.

Mayor Stanczyk’s “First Hundred Days”

1. My first 100 days will begin by working with the unsuccessful candidates on incorporating some of their ideas into Village plans. The efforts and their supporters should be part of the positive direction of our Village.

2. Enact a strategic planning process that will provide for efficient resource allocation for Parks improvement, the continued advancement of the Down Town Redevelopment/economic development program, and capital improvements. This will be an inclusive process for residents, Council and staff to share the best information, and incorporate resident input into priority setting and future goals so that the Village will continue to set high standards of service delivery for the next 10 – 20 years.

3. Traffic and speed are the most commonly mentioned concerns. Traffic mitigation is frustrated by County standards. I will renegotiate the County agreement to allow the Village to determine solutions to traffic and speed issues. While traffic always exists, it can be improved.

4. The two Fire Stations found locations. The building, manning and equipping of the stations is a priority that a re-invigorated Fire Board can work to bring to completion.

Our Village is entering a new phase; we are into our second decade. Planning is important to ensure that we continue striving for excellence in service to residents. However, the reasons we incorporated remain true and are the reasons I am running: a safe community, enhanced quality of life, protecting our residential character, great parks, low taxes and control of our zoning. This I will always deliver.

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My disclosure…… I have not endorsed either of the candidates or their positions.

David Singer

PB: Are Stanczyk and Clifford Violating the Charter?

Do As I Say, Not As I Do Edition

In 2012, with much fanfare and ado, Mayor Stanczyk and her cronies on the Palmetto Bay Charter Review Commission foisted the following charter amendment upon us:

8. REQUIRING CANDIDATES TO RUN INDEPENDENTLY [Section 2.3(D)].

The Charter Revision Commission suggests an amendment to the Charter to require each person running for elected office to run independently of any other Village candidate.

Voters, many of whom were whipped into a frenzy by none other than Mme. Mayor, adopted the provision despite warnings from SDM that such a provision violates “our constitutionally protected right of freedom of association.”

Flash forward to August 14, 2014 and we find that Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and candidate Henry Clifford appear to be working together on their campaigns. See these entries in Mrs. Stanczyk’s most recent campaign report:

July 16, 2014: Henry Clifford is reimbursed $64.20 by the Stanczyk for “office supplies.”

July 17, 2014: Henry Clifford (retired) makes a $12 in-kind contribution for “food.”

Let’s just put aside for a moment the question of what kind of “food” costs $12, why is a candidate for Seat 3 making in-kind contributions and being reimbursed for office supplies by the Stanczyk campaign? Hmmm…..

So, SDM’s inquiring mind took a closer look at Stanczyk’s and Clifford’s campaign contributions, we found the following:

On July 17, 2014 – the same day Clifford made an in-kind contribution of food to Stanczyk – both Stanczyk and Clifford received contributions from these usual suspects: Beverly Gerald, Albert Lavoie, Frances Blake and Diane Jarvinen. (Two days later, Clifford reported a check from a person with the address 14140 SW 72 Ave, which address matches a July 17 contribution made by “Pam Gorman,” another usual suspect.)

SDM Helpful Note: Beverly Gerald – former Palmetto Bay candidate – served as Chairperson of the Charter Revision Commission. Mrs. Stanczyk’s contributions note that Ms. Gerald donated both money and “party supplies.” Way to set a good example!

SDM Codebreaker: On July 17, 2014, Mayor Stanczyk and Henry Clifford seem to have held what amounted to a joint fundraiser (probably with shared “party supplies”), which is why the two candidates have all these common contributors on the same or nearly the same day.

Anyone who moves around the village will also note that the campaigns share a color scheme for their signs, which often appear together on various properties around town. Hmmm…

SDM Says: While we think the charter amendment is facially unconstitutional, those who participated in what looks to be a joint campaign activity should be investigated on whether they are running independently. If not, they should be held accountable for violating the charter. SDM can recommend some good lawyers who can defend you Mme. Mayor and Mr. Clifford. :)

Jeb Gets It Wrong

Big story today: Jeb Bush, former super successful Florida Governor and potential candidate for President n 2016, came out swinging against medical marijuana:

Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire… Allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts. I believe it is the right of states to decide this issue, and I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November.

SDM is a big Jeb! fan, but this position smacks of elitism, not to mention a lack of situational awareness.

Mr. Bush, are you saying that your prefer all of the illegal, small-scale pot growing and importing over a reasonably regulated legal market? Or, do you believe that nobody is growing, importing or smoking pot in Florida?

SDM can’t help but wonder where all these elitists on the left and the right get their information. It’s as if they either don’t accept the data or prefer to stick their heads in the sand and ignore Florida’s and America’s reality: People – lots of them – smoke marijuana and our social efforts for more than five decades to stop the practice have failed miserably.

Unfortunately for Jeb! supporters, he seems to insert his moccasins into his maw regularly on big issues. Remember this:

Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love, it’s an act of commitment to your family…I honestly think that is a different kind of crime, that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.

We understand your point, Mr. Bush, but you just sound like you’ve been living in an alternate universe when you utter these kinds of statements.

SDM Says: Dear Mr. Bush, please look at the world as it is and not as you may want it to be. Adults in this country should be permitted broad latitude when it comes to their preferences – sexual, social, physical – so long as they are responsible and not endangering others. We libertarians would like you to back off the marijuana debate and focus your immense talents on solving the world’s important problems. If you cannot bring yourself to do so on policy grounds, do it to save your political future. You are on the wrong side of history on this one.

 

MDC: 400 Police May Pay The Ultimate “Union Dues”

The Miami Herald broke the news yesterday that as many as 400 county police department employees may face layoffs as Miami-Dade County struggles to contain the spending beast. The layoffs touch all corners of the department:

The list stretches on for nine pages, and includes 19 lieutenants, 69 sergeants, about 250 police officers and 60 civilian workers. With a $470 million payroll, the police department represents the largest agency in Miami-Dade in terms of staffing. The department’s payroll costs would drop $9.5 million next year, a 2 percent decline, according to budget documents.

SDM Aside: An item in the article struck us as a little odd. The police department is holding a session at the FIU football stadium to advise the affected employees on matters like “contacting creditors and mortgage holders.” We have been laid off before and usually we get a long letter. Perhaps the point of bringing all these people is to provide a made-for-television moment for the media? The Mayor ought to put the kibosh on this bad idea right away.

Police Benevolent Association leaders conceded nothing, even as their fellow workers face the most disruptive life-change any person can experience:

“The public needs to know that this list represents a complete breakdown of this community’s safety. Each name represents one less officer working to keep the public safe,” John Rivera, head of the Police Benevolent Association union, wrote in an e-mail Tuesday. “We are short as it is and this just shows how reckless the Mayor is when it comes to protecting the public.”

Why haven’t the union and the county come to some agreement that will prevent layoffs? Again, according to the Herald, one reason may be the union’s decision to protest “Miami-Dade’s tapping the labor group’s former lawyer to represent the county in the negotiations.”

So now the PBA gets to decide who negotiates on behalf of tax payers? No doubt the PBA would like the county to send an intern into the fray, rather than a seasoned negotiator who knows all of the contract’s cubby holes. SDM declines the invitation.

SDM would prefer that the police force be culled wisely, based on merit, but the union contract doesn’t permit customary management practices. So, we the people are left with budgeting by broadsword – or – the union’s alternative: annual property tax rate hikes.

Let SDM let you in on a little secret, which the police union, especially, hates to discuss: The PBA will take every new tax dollar in perpetuity even doing so means starving every other county department to death.

So, when you are asked by the police union to sacrifice just a few more of your tax dollars, you might want to ask them what they are willing to sacrifice to protect the parks, beaches, animal services, public housing and the hundreds of other services that are not counted under the “public safety” umbrella. When pressed, their answer will be “nothing.”

SDM Says: Bravo Mayor Carlos Gimenez for not kowtowing to the thuggish element of the police union. There are good reasons to avoid laying off beat cops and specialists, not the least of which is that we’ve already paid to train many of them. Nevertheless, we can’t continue to blow out the budget, year after year, on bloated salaries and benefits, regardless of the predictable hyperbole from highly compensated union brass.

P.S. to Palmetto Bay Candidates:  If you think the union contract doesn’t affect Palmetto Bay, think again. The costs of these officers to Palmetto Bay is based on the cost to the county, which is derived from the union contract. There are no free rides here.

“Republicans need to reach out to”

If you Google the title of this post exactly as we wrote it, meaning in quotation marks, you will get something like 197,000 hits. It’s a popular topic.

SDM decided to Google the phrase after listening to the umpteenth political commentator suggest that “Republicans need to reach out to”: insert your favorite sub-group of Americans. You know the list so we aren’t going to go over it here.

SDM is sick of hearing this mantra, particularly because it is dead wrong.

A political party ought to be a big tent – meaning everyone is invited to participate – but those expressing an affinity for the party ought to base that decision on philosophy, rather than whether one is a union members, a Northerner, or person of a particular ethnicity.

And, we as voters and party participants, should punish those elected and non-elected officials who want to frame a political organization by sect. We’re all Americans.

So here is SDM’s response – usually shouted at the radio – to the phrase “Republicans need to reach out to”: like-minded people. When we say like-minded, we don’t mean sycophants or lackeys and we don’t mean exactly-the-same-minded.

Thank you for letting us vent.

Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!

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Anyone want to comment on the candidates’ forum?

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