Amendment 4

I have carefully considered the many opinions offered. I must go with my moral compass on this one. I think the amendment came about as a result of abuses by big business. It is a statement that something unfair is going on. As such, no matter how unwieldy it appears to be, there may be options to streamline its effects after it is passed that will also address the abuses that brought about its creation.

For this reason, I am voting for it and am encouraging others to also. It is noteworthy that powerful developers vociferously oppose it.

Grover Lawlis, M.D.

Critical Thinking Required for Amendment 4 (Hometown Democracy)

For some time now, I have been assuming that I will wind up voting against the Hometown Democracy voter initiative, which will be on the ballot this November as Amendment 4. This is the one that would require major land use changes to be submitted to the voters for approval before they can go into effect.

I’ve heard the arguments against it at multiple business and chamber of commerce meetings and from friends who are public officials. Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish is the only elected official I’ve heard speak in favor of it. After I posted a link to Carl Hiassen’s Miami Herald column in support of the measure to my Facebook page, County Commissioner Stacy Ritter gave me an earful about why this amendment was a bad idea.

I thought Hiassen’s perspective was interesting and amusing. Then again, I also enjoy the black comedy of his novels, which are largely built around finding creative ways to kill off venal developers and Chamber of Commerce types. He’s a thoughtful, environmentally minded guy, but I wasn’t sure whether to take his arguments seriously.

The argument against amendment 4 is basically this:

  • It’s an overreaction by people upset about over development. Well intentioned, perhaps, but poorly conceived.
  • Land use changes are too complicated and technical to be handled this way.
  • For every land use change to go to a vote will be unwieldy, requiring very long ballots and expensive special elections.
  • With the economy in such bad shape, cities need the flexibility to bring in business even if it means bending land use plans.

Last week, I heard the argument in favor in detail for the first time. Bett Willett, the South Florida coordinator for Hometown Democracy, gave a presentation to a Coffee Party gathering organized by my friend Ilene Singer.

Her points, in brief:

  • Maybe this wouldn’t be required if public officials were responsive to their communities, but that’s not always true.
  • Not every minor zoning ruling would have to go to a public vote, only those that require changing a community’s master land use plan.
  • Those master land use plans are carefully considered and subject to public discussion, allowing for a mix of types of development in each community. There’s no reason to be in a hurry to change them. No special elections required – let these changes come up for a vote at the next regularly scheduled election.
  • The voters wouldn’t be asked to approve every proposed land use change, only those that have already received the approval of local boards and commissions. If those representatives do their jobs right, there’s no reason these changes should not pass.

Right now, I’m not convinced either way. Bett’s presentation at least made me reconsider whether all the facts that had been presented to me by opponents of the measure were correct and honest.

I expect to hear at least one more presentation from the opponents of Amendment 4 before Election Day. One thing to at least consider is that the campaign against Amendment 4 will without a doubt be better funded. The developers and chambers of commerce are lined up against it. So that you can expect that virtually all the advertising you will see on this issue will be in opposition. That alone is a reason to treat those arguments with some skepticism.

The Hometown Democracy campaign is a grassroots one, and I have a weakness for popular movements. But that doesn’t automatically mean the initiative is good idea, either.

I’d like to see some good fact checking of the arguments for both sides. One analysis that seems to do a pretty good idea of weighing the arguments pro and con comes from an organization called the Collins Center, which you can see here: http://collinscenter.site-ym.com/page/1fFLAmAmend4_MS

The Florida League of Women Voters has its analysis of all the amendments here: http://www.lwvfla.org/pdf_files/FINALlwvPROCON.pdf

This issue is too important to be decided on the basis of your knee jerk reaction for or against development.

Summary of Judicial Endorsements from BlueBroward members, Newspapers

One reason I didn’t make it to early voting is I’ve been dreading sorting out who to back in the judicial races. Fortunately, several BlueBroward members have shared their picks, which I’m sharing along with the editorial board recommendations from the Miami Herald and the Sun-Sentinel (unless I’m missing something, the Sentinel only made recommendations in a handful of the judicial races). I compiled this list largely for my own purposes, to see how much overlap and agreement there was.

Here are the BlueBroward members who shared their lists, with links to their blog entries. You may want to refer back to their original notes to see which choices they felt most strongly about. Henry Rose also discloses which ones he’s been consulting for, as opposed to recommending purely as a voter.

Circuit Judge Group 2

Gillespie, Kenneth L.  *Incumbent (Recommended by: Rose, Markoff, Steffens, Zucker, Herald, Sun-Sentinel)
Parker, Oliver  (NOP)

Circuit Judge Group 4
Schneider, Alan B. (NOP)
Williams, Elijah H.  *Incumbent (Rose, Markoff, Steffens, Zucker, Herald, Sun-Sentinel)

Circuit Judge Group 6
Goldstein, Frieda M. (NOP)
Rodriguez, Carlos A.  *Incumbent (Recommended by: Markoff, Steffens, Zucker, Herald)

Circuit Judge Group 9
Lebow, Susan   *Incumbent (Markoff, Zucker, Herald)
Rafilovich, Jill Tamkin (Rose)

Circuit Judge Group 15
Destry, Matthew Isaac  *Incumbent (Rose, Herald)
Jakovich, Robert Abraham (Zucker)

Circuit Judge Group 22
Nichols, Robert “Bob” (NOP)
Rebollo, Carlos   *Incumbent (Rose, Steffens, Zucker, Herald)

Circuit Judge Group 23
Bernstein, Alan  (Steffens)
McCarthy, Barbara Anne  *Incumbent (Rose, Markoff, Steffens, Herald)

Circuit Judge Group 24
Levine, Olga  (Rose, Zucker)
Luzzo, John T. (“Jack”)  *Incumbent (Markoff, Steffens, Herald)

Circuit Judge Group 47
Porter, Lisa   *Incumbent (Rose, Markoff, Steffens, Zucker, Herald)
Seidman, Laura Renee (NOP)

Circuit Judge Group 51
Perlman, Sandra  (Rose, Markoff, Steffens, Zucker)
Seidman, Lee Jay (Herald)

Circuit Judge Group 53
O’Connor, Eileen M.  *Incumbent (Rose, Steffens, Zucker, Herald)
Sokoloff, Rhoda  (Markoff)

County Court Judge, Grp. 1

John D. Fry (Herald)
John Robert Howes (Markoff, Zucker)
Jason Allen Rosner

County Court Judge, Grp. 3
Peter Barry Skolnik (Rose, Markoff, Steffens, Zucker, Herald)
Debra L. Steinsaltz (Sentinel)

County Court Judge, Grp. 4
Lloyd Harris Golburgh (Rose, Zucker)
Edward H. Merrigan, Jr. (Sentinel, Markoff, Steffens, Herald)

County Court Judge, Grp. 12
Melissa Beth Minsk Donoho
John “Jay” Hurley (Rose, Markoff, Zucker, Herald)

County Court Judge, Grp. 13
Heidi Berkowitz
Linda R. Pratt (Rose, Markoff, Steffens, Zucker, Herald)

County Court Judge, Grp. 14
Jordan Howard Breslaw
Mary Rudd Robinson (Rose, Markoff, Steffens, Zucker, Herald)

County Court Judge, Grp. 15
Roshawn Banks (Steffens)
Mindy Solomon (Markoff, Zucker, Herald)

County Court Judge, Grp. 20
Kenneth “Ken” Gottlieb (Rose, Markoff)
Steven A. Schaet (Zucker, Herald)

County Court Judge, Grp. 26
Mardi Anne Levey Cohen (Herald)
Nathaniel Adam “Nate” Klitsberg (Rose, Markoff, Zucker)
F. J. McLawrence (Steffens)

Enough with the Mindless Backlashing

Retain Jennifer Gottlieb as our County-wide, District 8 School Board Member

It is tough being an incumbent during hard times.  The sharks see an opportunity to exploit and draw blood, too often without any real solutions or new ideas.  Two candidates for the School Board appear to be just exactly of this ilk that we just don’t need. Spoilers more motivated by the prospect of self-gratification than a willingness to work with the Board member who may best represent their concerns. 

Susan Madori is a Tea Party carpet-bagger from California just arriving in Plantation in 2002 with a background in real estate. Divorced, no children and never ran for public office. Is there a qualification here? She does have a pocketful of catch phrases and she wants us to have better text books to teach American history. I can only imagine….  Enough said about this one.

Nick Sakhnovsky is the union backed representative. Coming off the near likelihood of teacher layoffs, I can imagine that the union wanted their own white night. Mr. Sakhnovsky seems to be running for the position of union toady on the School Board. The little that I have been able to glean from the writings about Nick is that he wants to attack the school board that he seeks to join: “more sunshine!”; “more accountability with teeth!”. Gee, such a new and innovative campaign issue for Broward politics. The creativity and lack of self interest is just so refreshing (not!).

It is a pure truth that all three candidates, Gottlieb, Midori and Sakhnovsky oppose the prospects of cuts to elective programs that are the heart and soul of a good well rounded education. These programs include art, music, physical education and librarians. Gottlieb, with two young boys in the public schools knows the importance of these programs very well. She went to Tallahassee to fight the Legislature’s budget cuts and the cap on School Board taxing authority. 

If there is blame for the  $140 million in budget cuts for the education of  our children, look to our State Legislature. The injustice is in having to make decisions that will create a balanced budget that necessarily will diminish the quality of education that our children will receive. Jennifer Gottlieb has been there to fight for our kids  as teacher, parent and advocate.

The difference between Jennifer Gottlieb and her opponents is that she has been out there as a public figure and current School Board Chair to serve the needs of our community. It is that public presence and leadership role that makes her an attractive target for any nuts or opportunists who may seek their day in the sun. Her support over the years for a strong program of innovative and effective public education is well known.

Put aside the current political blood lust that will deprive us of a very competent educator/advocate. Jennifer Gottlieb has been highly respected for her dedication to Broward County education and for her role of public service as a member of the Broward County School Board. Retain Jennifer Gottlieb as our County-wide, District 8 School Board Member

My Voting Recommendations

Early Voting  is over and Election Day starts in less than 48 hours, so as a political activist and since I’m involved in eight campaigns, and I’ve gotten to meet many of the candidates in a lot of the races, I’m sharing my “palm card”…for anyone who cares, or hasn’t had time to meet or research the candidates.

Full Disclosure: while I only support candidates I believe in, I’m the campaign manager, consultant, advisor, web designer, event planner, etc. for the following seven candidates on the Primary ballot –

Attorney General – Dan Gelber
County Commission, District 8 – Angelo Castillo
Circuit Judge, Group 22 – Carlos Rebollo
Circuit Judge, Group 24 – Olga Levine
County Judge, Group 3 – Peter Barry Skolnik
County Judge, Group 14 – Mary Rudd Robinson
School Board, District 2 – Patti Good

I also encourage you to vote for:

Representative in Congress, District 17 – Scott Galvin
Governor – Alex Sink
County Commission, District 6 – Steven A. (Steve) Geller
Circuit Judge, Group 2 – Kenneth L. Gillespie
Circuit Judge, Group 4 – Elijah H. Williams
Circuit Judge, Group 9 – Jill Tamkin Rafilovich
Circuit Judge, Group 15 – Matthew Isaac Destry
Circuit Judge, Group 23 – Barbara Anne McCarthy
Circuit Judge, Group 47 – Lisa Porter
Circuit Judge, Group 51 – Sandra Perlman
Circuit Judge, Group 53 – Eileen M. O’Connor
County Judge, Group 4 – Lloyd Harris Golburgh
County Judge, Group 12 – John “Jay” Hurley
County Judge, Group 13 – Linda R. Pratt
County Judge, Group 20 – Kenneth “Ken” Gottlieb
County Judge, Group 26 – Nathaniel Adam “Nate” Klitsberg

Remember to vote on Tuesday, August 24th or be sure to get your absentee ballot delivered in time.

Vote for Dan Gelber for Attorney General by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Hello BlueBroward.org! This is my first posting to this blog. It is so great to see all of my good Democratic friends communicating and spreading the word about Democratic candidates in Broward County!

I would like to encourage all of you to join me in support of my friend, former colleague and the most qualified candidate in the race for Attorney General, Dan Gelber.  Dan has an impeccable and significant legal background. He spent ten years as a federal prosecutor and served as the Democratic Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the U.S.  Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, the most prestigious standing committee in the Senate.

More importantly, Dan is a compassionate and committed public servant and a good friend. He has the integrity, the honesty, the vision and the moxie that Florida needs in our next Attorney General.

I generally don’t get involved in Democratic primaries, particularly between two friends of mine, both of whom I served with in the Legislature. However, I made an exception because who we choose as our state’s next Chief Legal Officer is a big deal. Experience matters. Dan has been endorsed by all ten major Florida newspapers who have endorsed in this race so far. They recognized that he has the experience that Florida needs. Most of all, in these difficult times, Floridians  need an Attorney General in whom they can have confidence. We need a strong leader.  Dan Gelber is the type of public servant who will inspire that confidence.  I wholeheartedly endorse him and encourage all BlueBroward.org readers to vote for him during early voting leading up to the August 24th primary.

Thank you for the confidence that you all have placed in me for the past 18 years. It is a privilege to represent our community in Washington, DC.  I’ll be back to post on other occasions! Until then,

Best Wishes,

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Advertising and Paying the Bills

I just reactivated the Google ads that appear on BlueBroward.org, and immediately up popped ads to vote for Rick Scott and Jeff Greene.

Rick Scott ad
Yikes! Cheek to Jowl with Rick Scott

This is through the Google Adsense program, which is supposed to match advertisements with relevant comment. Apparently the software figured out this was a political site pretty quickly, but not necessarily what partisan frequency it’s on.

Mismatch or not, the ads will remain, for now as I need to try to raise a little money to cover the cost of the email broadcast service I’m using and a few other expenses. BlueBroward isn’t a moneymaking venture, but I don’t want to lose money on it, either. This kind of advertising doesn’t necessarily bring in a lot of money, but at this point I’ll take what I can get. Also open to a sponsorship for the BlueBroward Sunday email – although I would prefer to sell it to a business, rather than a campaign.

After mulling it over, I decided to move the ads to the bottom of the page so they wouldn’t be quite as prominent (and I wouldn’t have to look at Rick Scott’s bald head popping up right next to my face).

Meanwhile, feel free to click on Jeff Greene and Rick Scott ads to drain some dollars from their campaign accounts. Just don’t vote for those guys.

My primary recommendations

School Board

School Board Seat 4: Robert Mayersohn*

School Board Seat 6: Laurie Rich Levinson

School Board Seat 7: Nora Rupert

School Board Seat 8 (At-Large): Nick Sakhnovsky*

Federal Elections

US Senate: Kendrick Meek

US Congress – District 22: Ron Klein

Statewide Elections

Governor: Alex Sink

Attorney General: Dan Gelber*

County Commission

Seat 6 – Suzanne “Sue” Gunzburger

County Court Judges:

Peter Barry Skolnik

Edward H. Merrigan, Jr.

Linda R Pratt

Mary Rudd Robinson*

Roshawn Banks

F.J. McLawrence

Circuit Judges:

Kenneth L Gillespie

Elijah H Williams*

Carlos A Rodriguez

Carlos Rebollo

Alan Bernstein

John Luzzo

Lisa Porter

Sandra Perlman

Eileen M O’Connor

The candidates with the * indicate that these are my extreme preferences, either because they are outstanding candidates or their opponent does not deserve election and/or is not qualified. There are several judicial races that I have not recommended and, again, can discuss that with you personally or by message.

A little about me: I am an attorney who lives in Parkland with an office in Coral Springs.  I am a PROGRESSIVE Democrat.  I am also a board member of the Coral Springs/Parkland Democratic Club.  Here are my primary recommendations:

School Board

School Board Seat 4: Robert Mayersohn*

School Board Seat 6: Laurie Rich Levinson

School Board Seat 7: Nora Rupert

School Board Seat 8 (At-Large): Nick Sakhnovsky*

Federal Elections

US Senate: Kendrick Meek

US Congress – District 22: Ron Klein

Statewide Elections

Governor: Alex Sink

Attorney General: Dan Gelber*

County Commission

Seat 6 – Suzanne “Sue” Gunzburger

County Court Judges:

Peter Barry Skolnik

Edward H. Merrigan, Jr.

Linda R Pratt

Mary Rudd Robinson*

Roshawn Banks

F.J. McLawrence

Circuit Judges:

Kenneth L Gillespie

Elijah H Williams*

Carlos A Rodriguez

Carlos Rebollo

Alan Bernstein

John Luzzo

Lisa Porter

Sandra Perlman

Eileen M O’Connor

The candidates with the * indicate that these are my extreme preferences, either because they are outstanding candidates or their opponent does not deserve election and/or is not qualified. There are several judicial races that I have not recommended and, again, can discuss that with you personally or by message.

Marleine Bastien for Congress Volunteer Needs

I did some consulting for Marleine on the initial setup of her website and am cheering for her in the tough race to replace Kendrick Meek.

Passing this along on behalf of campaign manager Matt De Vlieger, Bastien for Congress <matt@votebastien.com>

Dear Supporters,

By now, you’ve heard that Marleine has a slight statistical lead over her 8 competitors. And you may have seen her at one of the debates, where she consistently shines as the only true people’s candidate in this race.  You’ve cheered Marleine on throughout the campaign, and now we need you to lend the full extent of your support in these last 10 days before the Aug. 24 election.

In order to help Marleine keep the lead, please make a contribution to our campaign today and plan a time to come to our headquarters to help Marleine reach voters and earn their votes.

For those of you who were unable to make it today, we are hosting another meeting in Miami Gardens tomorrow morning and we will be open at Libreri Mapou in Little Haiti in the afternoon.


Here’s the information for tomorrow, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010, at our two locations:

11:00AM-8:00PM

Bastien for Congress
Campaign Headquarters
111 NW 183 St, #408
Miami Gardens, FL 33169
305.454.9553

1:00PM-4:00PM

Libreri Mapou
5919 Northeast 2nd Avenue
Miami, FL 33137

Please call or email Jesus with RSVP or questions, jesus@votebastien.com or 305.992.6289.

Tomorrow we will be discussing our strategy and training you for:

  • Making phone calls to targeted voters to earn their votes
  • Walking door-to-door to earn new votes for Marleine
  • Managing precincts and polling locations on election day
  • Helping voters to the polls for early voting and election day

Please bring your cell phone, clothes that are suitable for outside in the Florida summer, if needed, and be ready to get to work to get Marleine elected.

See you here!!

Sincerely,

Matt De Vlieger
Campaign Manager,
Marleine Bastien for Congress
matt@votebastien.com
www.votebastien.com

Creating a Facebook Page for Your Campaign or Cause

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This post from the blog of my consulting firm was written for a business audience but applies just as much to political campaigns and organizations:

How to Create a Facebook Page: The Simple Steps Are The Most Important

Creating a Facebook page, also known as a Facebook business page or Facebook fan page, is probably one of the best things you can do right now to boost your brand, small business, non-profit, or political campaign. Some marketing experts believe capturing your Facebook page name (along with your Twitter URL) is proving almost as important as capturing your Internet domain name. And best of all, it’s free to get started. (Read the rest at carrcommunications.com)