Monthly Archives: October 2010

Pam Bondi Video

If the polls are to be believed, the state of Florida is gearing up to elect a dog-napper as its state Attorney General instead of Dan Gelber, the sane candidate endorsed by most newspapers in the state. In the hopes of heading this off, the state Democratic Party has prepared a short video about Pam Bondi and the St. Bernards: The Real Pam Bondi

The only vaguely hopeful part of this story is that suggestion that undecideds break the way of newspaper editorials in down-ticket races. But I'm not feeling confident that it will be enough.

Posted in Politics: 2010 Election | 3 Comments

Brownshirt Latest

A Rand Paul supporter stomped on a protester. Lone wolf, condemned by campaign, right? Well, not quite: Rand Paul's lame response: Won't condemn or disavow assault by supporter, calls it 'unusual situation'.

Posted in Politics: The Party of Sleaze | 13 Comments

Firesheep: A Firefox Network-Sniffing and Hijacking Plugin

This is a big deal: Firefox extension makes social network ID spoofing trivial.

It would, I gather, be a serious violation of the University of Miami acceptable use policies for me to test drive this at work, so I can't report on how it does. But if anyone has tried this out somewhere else, please let me know in the comments if it works as advertised.

The author of the article optimistically suggests that having something like this in the wild will cause a revolution in site security. That may work at the very highest profile sites like Facebook, but overall, that's just a dream, unfortunately.

I just hope that using a VPN protects against this. (I think it will.)

(Thanks to TB for putting me on to this.)

Posted in Software | 2 Comments

Ride To Rally

Here's a nice use of Google Maps: RideToRally.com is geography-based service to allow people seeking rides to Washington, DC for the Stewart/Colbert rallies on October 30 and those offering rides to find each other.

Posted in Internet, Politics: US | Leave a comment

More on the Legal Corps

I've learned a few more (tentative) details about the UM Law Legal Corps. (See Meet the UM Law Legal Corps Fellowship Program.)

  • The law school has identified an office and three staff persons to run the program, which will be housed off-campus in the Legal Services of Greater Miami-Dade building.
  • The Law School expects to identify at least 300 placement opportunities for graduates, far in excess of the number of graduates expected to choose to (or qualify to) participate.
  • Placement opportunities will be national in scope, including posts as supernumerary law clerks for federal judges, state appeals court judges, and trial court judges. These placements will be as additional clerks for the judges, and should not be cause for the judges to reduce their number of paid clerks.
  • There may even be a few international placement opportunities.
  • Nonlocal legal corps members will participate remotely in the professional development sessions. The law school intends to seek CLE credit in the relevant jurisdictions (and it has experience in this since it runs national conferences).

Of course, it's still early days, and it's all a moving target…

Posted in Law School, U.Miami | 1 Comment

Voting Guide

Miami-Dade county provides a service that allows you to see what your ballot looks like. Given our crazy-quilt administrative structure, and the plethora of ballot initiatives, local races, and local ballot questions, this is almost a necessity.

Here's some voting advice on the more generic items on the local ballot. The most exciting stuff is down-ballot, so be sure and read that part.

Senate: This is hard. If Charlie Crist could squeeze out Kendrick Meek, there might be a case for voting for the utterly unprincipled Crist in order to keep out the evil-principled Marco Rubio. But the squeeze, although it is happening, doesn't look like it is big enough (yet). Meek has a fervent Democratic base, and both Meek and Crist played chicken too long, attacking each other in the hopes one would break and start attacking Rubio.

I think I'm going to vote Meek, because only a near-certainty that it might hold off Rubio could persuade me to vote for Crist. But this is why I'm not voting early.

Congress (FL-18): Another tough choice. The Democratic candidate Rolando A. Banciella seems pretty unattractive to me. For example he believes “Social Security is not bankrupt, it is just mismanaged.” It is not bankrupt, true, but it's also one of the best managed agencies in government. He has promoted views on various local issues that have nothing to do with Congress. He believes in term limits for Congress. On the plus side he opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and would bring the troops home.

The incumbent, Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, is a hard-core Republican on pretty much everything except gay rights. She's a leader in the pro-Cuba embargo brigade, and Cuban revanchism generally.

I'm either not going to vote in this one, or vote for Banciella. It doesn't matter. He won't win.

(Of course if you live in FL-25 vote for Joe Garcia! And if you live FL-22 vote for Ron Klein. Both are good candidates running against bad people.)

Governor: Alex Sink is not my kind of Democrat. She's pretty far to the right of the Democratic party. She's sorta boring. But her opponent, mega-millionaire Rick Scott would be a total disaster. Vote for Sink and pray she wins (polls are very close on this one).

Attorney General: Dan Gelber would be a great Attorney General. Pam Bondi would make the Tea Party very happy. She's ahead.

Commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Scott Maddox wants to make something of the job. He's trailing in the polls, but would be the best choice.

State Representative District 111. Incumbent Erik Fresen has voted with the bad guys in Tallahassee. Challenger Cristina Albright has run a spirited campaign and deserves your vote.

Non-partisan Judicial Retention Elections. Three Justices of the Florida Supreme Court and two Judges of the 3rd DCA face retention elections. They all deserve a “YES” vote to retain them.

State Constitutional Amendments

Amendment One

Repeal of Public Campaign Financing Requirement.

Proposing the repeal of the provision in the state constitution that requires public financing of campaigns of candidates for elective statewide office who agree to campaign spending limits.

VOTE NO.

A Yes vote here is a vote for more millionaires and billionaires running for office, as no one will have a hope of answering their domination of the airwaves. No thanks.

Amendment Two

Homestead Ad Valorem Tax Credit For Deployed Military Personnel

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to require the Legislature to provide an additional homestead property tax exemption by law for members of the United States military or military reserves, the United States Coast Guard or its reserves, or the Florida National Guard who receive a homestead exemption and were deployed in the previous year on active duty outside the continental United States, Alaska, or Hawaii in support of military operations designated by the Legislature. The exempt amount will be based upon the number of days in the previous calendar year that the person was deployed on active duty outside the continental United States, Alaska, or Hawaii in support of military operations designated by the Legislature. The amendment is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2011

Vote how you like. This is a perfectly sensible policy idea, but one that has no place in the state constitution. I'm guessing it will pass. I'll probably vote against it on the grounds that state constitutions shouldn't be cluttered with stuff like this, although I'd certainly support it if it were legislation.

Amendment Four

Referenda Required For Adoption And Amendment Of Local Government Comprehensive Land Use Plans

Establishes that before a local government may adopt a new comprehensive land use plan, or amend a comprehensive land use plan, the proposed plan or amendment shall be subject to vote of the electors of the local government by referendum, following preparation by the local planning agency, consideration by the governing body and notice. Provides definitions.

The amendment’s impact on local government expenditures cannot be estimated precisely. Local governments will incur additional costs due to the requirement to conduct referenda in order to adopt comprehensive plans or amendments thereto. The amount of such costs depends upon the frequency, timing and method of the referenda, and includes the costs of ballot preparation, election administration, and associated expenses. The impact on state government expenditures will be insignificant.

Amendment Four has probably generated the most heat. Developers are fervently against it, and have predicted that the world as we know it will end if it passes. In particular, they argue (almost but not quite entirely unconvincingly) that it will create too many obstacles to even routine projects.

Supporters argue, much more convincingly, that too many localities are allowing too much development against the wishes of local citizens because developers are major campaign contributors. Certainly here in South Florida, that pretty much describes the situation. So if we're to have an Everglades, or any sensible development strategy, vote YES on Amendment 4. You can read more about why to vote yes at Eye on Miami.

Amendments Five and Six

Amendments Five and Six go together. They are about banning the pervasive gerrymandering that has turned a more or less 50/50 state into one with a permanent partisan majority. I think they may be the most important state constitutional amendments ever to go on the Florida ballot — certainly the most important since I moved here in 1992.

Amendment Five

Standards For Legislature To Follow In Legislative Redistricting

Legislative districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

The fiscal impact cannot be determined precisely. State government and state courts may incur additional costs if litigation increases beyond the number or complexity of cases which would have occurred in the amendment’s absence.

Amendment Six

Standards For Legislature To Follow In Congressional Redistricting

Congressional districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

The fiscal impact cannot be determined precisely. State government and state courts may incur additional costs if litigation increases beyond the number or complexity of cases which would have occurred in the amendment’s absence.

Gerrymandering has thoroughly undermined the representative nature of state government. These Amendments seek no less than to restore representative democracy to the State of Florida.

VOTE YES ON AMENDMENTS 5 & 6.

Amendment Eight

Revision Of The Class Size Requirements For Public Schools

The Florida Constitution currently limits the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in public school classrooms in the following grade groupings: for prekindergarten through grade 3, 18 students; for grades 4 through 8, 22 students; and for grades 9 through 12, 25 students. Under this amendment, the current limits on the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in public school classrooms would become limits on the average number of students assigned per class to each teacher, by specified grade grouping, in each public school. This amendment also adopts new limits on the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in an individual classroom as follows: for prekindergarten through grade 3, 21 students; for grades 4 through 8, 27 students; and for grades 9 through 12, 30 students. This amendment specifies that class size limits do not apply to virtual classes, requires the Legislature to provide sufficient funds to maintain the average number of students required by this amendment, and schedules these revisions to take effect upon approval by the electors of this state and to operate retroactively to the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year.

The Florida Legislature is not committed to public education. (See Gerrymandering above.) A few years ago the voters of Florida passed a class-size amendment designed to force the state to fund enough classrooms and teachers to keep class size down to a manageable size. The Republican establishment hated this, and has fought tooth and nail, year after year, to get out from the obligation to actually pay for schooling for people who can't afford private schools. Jeb Bush tried and tried to undermine it (see Democracy Be Damned: Fla Pols Won't Fund Small Classes for example).

Now the budget crunch seems to provide a chance to knock a piece of the stuffing out the proposal. Instead of capping class size, why not cap the average class size? Then a small AP class of ten can be balanced against that unfortunate general English class with fifty.

This amendment is really about just one thing: cutting state funding for education. Don't fall for it. VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 8.

Non-binding Resolution on Balancing the Federal Budget

A Nonbinding Referendum Calling for an Amendment to the United States Constitution

In order to stop the uncontrolled growth of our national debt and prevent excessive borrowing by the Federal Government, which threatens our economy and national security, should the United States Constitution be amended to require a balanced federal budget without raising taxes?

I have no idea how this even got on the ballot — I didn't know we could have non-binding resolutions in Florida. In any case, this is a brain-dead idea in multiple ways.

To take the simplest, if the US is involved in a war, Congress shouldn't be allowed either to raise or borrow money to defend us? So much for winning WW II.

Or if there's a second Great Depression, Congress shouldn't borrow the money to put the nation back to work, but just let people starve?

VOTE NO on this piece of agitprop.

Home Rule Charter Amendment

Home Rule Charter Amendment Regarding County Commissioner and Administrative Staff Communications

Shall the Charter be amended to allow the County Commissioners to communicate with and ask questions of the County administrative services to assist with the performance of their duties as County Commissioners by removing the Charter requirement that Commissioners shall deal with the administrative service solely through the County Mayor or his or her designee?

I feel least well informed about this one. The Herald thinks it's a bad idea, and so — emphatically — do the very sharp folks at Eye On Miami. In Voter Alert! Vote NO on the local Miami Dade Charter Amendment. By Geniusofdespair they write:

Keeping the commissioners from talking directly to staff is a GOOD thing. They tend to browbeat staff … . The Miami-Dade Home Rule Charter affords staff a little protection by requiring the commissioners to communicate through the Mayor's office. This amendment is a commission POWER GRAB trying to gut the charter provision!!

OK, I'm convinced: Vote NO on the Charter Amendment

Posted in Miami, Politics: 2010 Election | 12 Comments

I’m Giving a Talk

I must be getting better — I'm giving a talk on Monday at the law school at lunch time in Room 110A.

Click for a (much) larger version

You can click it for a larger and clearer .pdf version. The topic (a paper I wrote most of before my heart issues) is an analysis of ICANN's “Affirmation of Commitments.”

Posted in Talks & Conferences | Leave a comment