Friday, May 27, 2005

Perfect Irony 

The Miami Herald questions Broward County Judge Eileen M. O'Connor's fitness to sit on the bench, even by her own standards.

Judge O'Connor recently sentenced a 19-year-old potential juror to four months in jail for failing to acknowledge a prior arrest on a written questionnaire.

Turns out that the judge did pretty much the same thing, "by answering 'No' in her application for judge to a question asking if she had ever been accused of misconduct."
Judge O'Connor's response on the March 2003 judicial application could have serious consequences. At the time, she was a prosecutor and administrator in the U.S. attorney's office. She wrote "No" to a question asking if anyone had ever filed a complaint or accusation against her alleging misconduct. In an interview with Herald reporters last week, Judge O'Connor repeated that answer. Pressed further, she said: "I've never seen these complaints that you're telling me about, nor have I been served with them."

Investigative records of the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney's office, including some obtained by The Herald, tell a different story. Those records outline accusations of discrimination in 2000 and 2001 by two prosecutors with whom Ms. O'Connor worked.
It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Inquiry or Intimidation? 

Did the director of the Broward County Department of Cultural Affairs intimidate the Broward Art Guild into taking down a sexually-graphic painting of President Bush, part of a exhibit entitled Controversy?

Cultural Affairs director, Mary Becht, says she was just making inquiries after a complaint from another artist.
"It's not every day that you get a call from the director of cultural affairs at your home," said guild director Susan Buzzi. "Of course I took it very seriously."


The piece in question is a painting depicting President Bush being sodomized. Artist Alfred Phillips said images of an oil barrel and a man wearing a Muslim headdress in the work are part of a political statement about the United States being abused by oil companies.

Michael Friedman, the artist who complained to the county, said the painting is offensive and tasteless.

"Something snapped inside," he said. Friedman himself entered a piece depicting Pope Benedict XVI with several swastikas in the background.

"Sodomy in a public forum is not, from my perspective, considered art," he said. "I think somebody has to draw the line somewhere. I like political satire. However, that type of image ... I don't think is artistic."

The exhibit's organizers accepted the Bush painting into the show, saying there was a relevant political message, Buzzi said. The show includes about 45 pieces of art that generally make some kind of social or political statement. Another piece depicts Bush dressed as the Statue of Liberty and holding a tablet with a swastika on it. Yet another piece shows two American soldiers carrying a dead body into a car.
Broward County Vice Mayor Ben Graber questioned the appropriateness of the phone call, "If there's a warning at the door, the county should not be involved. . . . I respect freedom of speech regardless of the issue. It's obviously a political message. I can't see why one should be allowed and not the other. Everyone should have the opportunity."

The Broward Art Guild receives about $14,000 in grant funds from Cultural Affairs.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

You Saw It Here First 

Last week I mentioned that Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs had an important role to play in the Florida Democratic Party.

Now Florida Politics picks her as one of the "ten Democrats who you likely don’t know yet. . . [who have] a bright future in Florida."

Half of them are women.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Turkey Hunt 

The Tallahassee Democrat questions whether Florida Tax Watch is correct in opposing all funding bills that have been "proposed and championed by an individual legislator - and . . . appear to benefit 'only a local area of the state.'"

The editorial points out that if the funding bill addresses an important need it should be supported, no matter how the bill originated.

The effort to eliminate turkeys has more to do with encouraging orderly business in the legislature than with the worthiness of any particular piece of legislation. Procedure is important, but not the final test.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Are We Surprised? 

Flablog points to a St. Petersburg Times editorial taking Governor Bush to task for supporting an initiative for California that he opposes in Florida.

Compassionate Conservatism 

Wilton Dedge spent 22 years - over half his life - in prison for a crime he did not commit. "Even the people who prosecuted him had apologized and said Dedge deserved to be compensated for those lost years."

The Republican-dominated Florida Legislature decided those years of wrongful incarceration were worth, well, nothing.

Friday, May 20, 2005

What Kind of Community do We Want? 

The St. Petersburg Time's Howard Troxler:
Save the Belleview Biltmore!

Or, to be more exact:

Stop the owner, an anonymous pension fund manager who couldn't care less, from selling a unique site listed on the National Register of Historic Places to an equally uncaring and rapacious developer.

Stop it, how?

By any means available. By hook or crook.
Troxler points out that if the old Tampa Bay Hotel, the symbol of Tampa, had been treated the same way it would be long gone.

To most developers, historic sites are just "underperforming assets" that can be profitably replaced by a Wal-Mart or CVS Drugstore. Profitable for the developer, that is.

UPDATE: The Tampa Tribune's Joseph H. Brown looks at the subject.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Keep Your Eye on Her 

While I was gone, the Sun-Sentinel ran an interview with Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs, one of the smartest and most forward-thinking politicians around.

In my opinion, she (and her type) are the future of the Florida Democratic Party.

The 51st State 

Returned from vacation in the back country of Mexico and, of course, everything from work was waiting for me.

In my absence I see that Michael Mayo is proposing secession.
It certainly sounds enticing, a breakaway republic of disaffected southern counties.

Just think of the possibilities. Our new legislature, one that might actually follow the wishes of the electorate, could convene annually in a remote, hard-to-reach corner of the state.

Only instead of Tallahassee, we could make our capital Key West.

That would certainly make covering state politics a lot more bearable.
Mayor proposes that the new State of South Florida be composed of the following counties:Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Glades, Hendry, Collier and Lee.

I'd go for it if Jimmy Buffett would write the state song.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Killing the Goose . . . 

Mitchell Gordon was writing about Philadelphia, but his words apply equally to many Florida cities:
Uniqueness is increasingly becoming an important factor for cities trying to gain a competitive advantage in attracting jobs, talented workers, visitors and residents. More than ever, quirkiness counts, and we need a masterplan to preserve and to produce peculiar attributes and offerings which will further give our area a strong sense of place.
(via Urban Cartography)

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