Author Archives: Michael Froomkin

Terrific Article on the State of US Class Politics

Trump Yard SignI Spent 5 Years With Some of Trump’s Biggest Fans. Here’s What They Won’t Tell You. Don’t be put off by the tabloid tone to the headline that Mother Jones slapped on this article, there’s a lot of smarts here.

This is a key insight:

What the people I interviewed were drawn to was …. [a] deep story … —an account of life as it feels to them. Some such account underlies all beliefs, right or left, I think. The deep story of the right goes like this:

You are patiently standing in the middle of a long line stretching toward the horizon, where the American Dream awaits. But as you wait, you see people cutting in line ahead of you. Many of these line-cutters are black—beneficiaries of affirmative action or welfare. Some are career-driven women pushing into jobs they never had before. Then you see immigrants, Mexicans, Somalis, the Syrian refugees yet to come. As you wait in this unmoving line, you’re being asked to feel sorry for them all. You have a good heart. But who is deciding who you should feel compassion for? Then you see President Barack Hussein Obama waving the line-cutters forward. He’s on their side. In fact, isn’t he a line-cutter too? How did this fatherless black guy pay for Harvard? As you wait your turn, Obama is using the money in your pocket to help the line-cutters. He and his liberal backers have removed the shame from taking. The government has become an instrument for redistributing your money to the undeserving. It’s not your government anymore; it’s theirs.

I checked this distillation with those I interviewed to see if this version of the deep story rang true. Some altered it a bit (“the line-waiters form a new line”) or emphasized a particular point (those in back are paying for the line-cutters). But all of them agreed it was their story. One man said, “I live your analogy.” Another said, “You read my mind.”

A related insight is this:

How wary should a little-bit-higher-up-the-ladder white person now feel about applying for the same benefits that the little-bit-lower-down-the-ladder people had? Shaming the “takers” below had been a precious mark of higher status. What if, as a vulnerable blue-collar white worker, one were now to become a “taker” oneself?

Trump, the King of Shame, has covertly come to the rescue. He has shamed virtually every line-cutting group in the Deep Story—women, people of color, the disabled, immigrants, refugees. But he’s hardly uttered a single bad word about unemployment insurance, food stamps, or Medicaid, or what the tea party calls “big government handouts,” for anyone—including blue-collar white men.

In this feint, Trump solves a white male problem of pride. Benefits? If you need them, okay. He masculinizes it. You can be “high energy” macho—and yet may need to apply for a government benefit. ….

But in another stroke, Trump adds a key proviso: restrict government help to real Americans. White men are counted in, but undocumented Mexicans and Muslims and Syrian refugees are out. Thus, Trump offers the blue-collar white men relief from a taker’s shame: If you make America great again, how can you not be proud?

It fits.

Posted in 2016 Election, 98% | Leave a comment

Quick Links to Election Posts

US Senate: either Grayson (line 15) or Pam Keith (line 16)
US Congress FL-27: Scott Fuhrman (line 33)
State Rep., Dist. 114: Daisy Baez (line 66)
School Board: Modesto “Mo” Abety (line 105)
County Commissioner District 7: Xavier Suarez (line 113)
Mayor: Regalado (line 125)

Circuit Court
Group 9: Jason Edward Bloch (line 80)
Group 34: Renee Gordon (line 83)
Group 52: Carol “Jodie” Breece (line 87)
Group 66: Robert Joshua Luck (line 90)
Group 74: George “Jorge” A Sarduy (line 93)

County Court
Group 5: Milena Abreu (line 94)
Group 7: Ed Newman (line 97)
Group 15: Linda Luce (line 99)
Group 35: Wendell Graham (line 100)

YES on Amendment 4 (line 300)

Posted in 2016 Election, Miami | 1 Comment

Mayor’s Race: The Devil You Know or the Devil You Know?

The Mayor’s race presents a stark choice between an incumbent who does not deserve re-election and a challenger who hasn’t made the case that she would be a good steward (if anything, rather more the opposite).

I really don’t want to vote for Mayor Gimenez to be re-elected. I’m not against measured development, but he’s for anything glitzy-sounding, be it an oversized mega-mall in the north end of the county, or selling a county golf course to Donald Trump.

I wasn’t a fan of the Pets Trust, but the voters voted for it, and Gimenez undermined their decision.

Also, I haven’t forgotten Gimenez’s war on the library system, which I think of as one of the few jewels in Miami-Dade’s civic crown. He lost that one, so no lasting harm was done, but it shows a very poor disposition.

Gimenez shafted county workers, and it took a costly court battle to set him straight.

And his son is a county lobbyist, with the wrong sort of clients.

The problem is, I’m not at all sure about the challenger, Raquel Regalado. Here’s what I said about her in 2010 when she ran for school board:

Raquel Regalado, 36, is a trademark and patents attorney with a law degree from St. Thomas in 2001. While I do think legal training is a good background for the school board, and it would be nice to have a younger member of the Board, it’s hard to think of many legal specialties less relevant to the job. (Now, a real estate attorney or CPA….) Indeed, the candidate’s resume generally seems rather light on relevant experience. The Herald endorsed Regalado as did the United Teachers of Dade, the teachers’ union. (I would expect better from the Herald. Sadly, I don’t expect better from the UTD.) The elephant in the room, however, is the identity of Regalado’s father, a subject explored in the Miami New Times’s With No Experience and Lots of Cash, Miami Mayor’s Daughter Raquel Regalado Runs For School Board.

Opinions differ about her tenure on the School Board. Her now-former colleagues (Regalado resigned to run for Mayor) say nice things. Her opponents cite her alleged absenteeism or lateness to meetings, which looks high on paper, but her defenders say looks less bad when one considers that (1) she had a live radio show to do (people have to eat); (2) the portions of the meetings she missed were overwhelmingly ceremonial; and (3) in all or most cases the important substantive votes she missed were not close votes where he presence would have made a difference.

No, the real rap on Regalado has two parts: lack of competence (not numerate, not detail-oriented) and likely to sweep in her father’s cronies. Dad is the Mayor of the City of Miami and he, and especially the cronies, are said to meet or exceed Miami’s ordinary quota of corruption.

To quoute the Shark Tank:

Raquel Regalado, who is the daughter of current City of Miami Mayor, Tomas Regalado, has a history of being involved in questionable financial dealings, some of which occurred during the time she was campaign treasurer for her father’s Mayoral race in 2009.

In 2011, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) launched an investigation into Tomas Regalado’s mayoral campaign, where Raquel Regalado served as treasurer, for potentially illegal contributions made in 2009. Raquel Regalado told El Nuevo Herald, that the apparently illegal campaign contributions coming from the Dominican Republic were a simple “oversight” and minimized the illegality of these transactions by claiming the campaign received hundreds of checks for smaller amounts

There was another investigation on the same campaign for campaign-reporting irregularities on a $40,000 increase in total contributions reported on an amended treasurer’s report filed after the campaign. In response to the investigation, Raquel Regalado told The Miami Herald that she believed “the discrepancy could be due to bookkeeping or accounting errors.”

Both Tomas Regalado (recently appeared on the HBO Show “Ballers”) and Raquel Regalado, agreed to pay fines and penalties of $5,000 each for their part in the bookkeeping.

To make things worse, in September 2011, law enforcement officials investigated campaign finance violations by both City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and campaign treasurer Raquel Regalado, revealing that criminal campaign violations that included forging campaign financial reports, were made. A forensic auditor ultimately outlined six violations of Chapter 106 of the Florida Statutes dealing with Campaign Financing, involving the Regalados.

But if things couldn’t get any worse for Regalado.

The Miami Herald reported that back in August 2011, Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado was nine months late in filing her final campaign finance report, leading to a $3,526 fine being accessed against her.

That’s the incompetence angle. Add in the kerfuffle over Regalado’s improper claim for a homested exemption. Her campaign spokesperson calls it just an excusable screwup:

Yes, she moved out of her house and into a rented home. She was in the midst of a contentious divorce and her ex-husband had a claim on the house they had once shared. Meanwhile, the bank was foreclosing because she could not afford, as a newly-single mother, both the mortgage payments and her daughter’s autism therapy. It was not a difficult decision for her to make and any parent can understand. She abandoned the house so that her ex-husband would take up residence and possession of the home he had some rights to, as per the divorce settlement. He had every intention of moving into the home. When he didn’t, the foreclosure moved forward.

She never rented the house to anybody, as is the case with real Homestead exemption fraud cases. Nor did she claim another Homestead exemption on the new home, as other people committing fraud do. She didn’t stay and live in the house for free during the foreclosure. And, in fact, since she wasn’t paying the mortgage, she didn’t continue to pay the taxes on it. Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia said the property taxes for both years that Regalado didn’t live in the house were paid for by the mortgage company that took possession of the home. Foreclosure proceedings take time. Her name was still listed on the property but the home was no longer Raquel’s. The bills were paid by the bank.

So the oversight isn’t even hers! The mortgage company got the tax bill and paid it, failing to make the changes to indicate there was nobody living in the home anymore and that it was in the process of foreclosure.

So, more incompetence, not malice.

Even if that’s right, and who knows, what a great choice to have to make.

It looks as if the developer-financed Mayor is going to win this one, so maybe I’ll just vote Regalado as a protest. But if it looked as it was going to be close it would be a tough one.

Posted in 2016 Election, Miami | 3 Comments

Here We Go Again

5-day cone

It’s supposed to be a busy hurricane season this year. This particular storm is not organized (yet?), and the National Weather Service is being cagey as to whether and when it might become a serious(ish) storm:

Interests in the northwestern Bahamas and Florida should monitor the progress of this disturbance since it is increasing likely that some impacts, at a minimum heavy rains and gusty winds, will occur beginning this weekend. * Formation chance through 48 hours…medium…50 percent * Formation chance through 5 days…high…80 percent

My rule of thumb is that a tropical wave I don’t drive anywhere, but don’t take in the outdoor furniture. Tropical Storm, I take in the furniture. Worse than that, it is time to stock up on hurricane supplies and gas for the generator. Historically, category 1 storms can cause of damage to trees and power lines but our houses are hardened. I can’t think of a Category 2 in recent years, but in theory the area is hardened for those too. Worse than that, time to worry, although my house was rennovated a few years ago, and now is supposed to be able to withstand a Category 3 at least, and maybe more.

Hurricane Andrew was a Category 4 and it was devastating to the community. The biggest damage was caused by tornadoes spun off the hurricane. Unlike in the Midwest, there’s really no way to see them coming due to the giant storm around them. And of course we don’t have basements to hide in either.

A new complication this year is that big storms, even the less destructive ones, leave big pools of standing water behind them. Mosquitoes love those…which means more Zika….

Posted in Global Warming, Miami | Leave a comment

Easy Choices on the Ballot for Aug. 30, 2016

DS200 Voting MachineThere are several easy choices on my ballot (not counting the Circuit Court and County Court judicial elections that I already blogged about).

Summary

US Congress FL-27: Scott Fuhrman (line 33)
State Rep., Dist. 114: Daisy Baez (line 66)
School Board: Modesto “Mo” Abety (line 105)
County Commissioner District 7: Xavier Suarez (line 113)
YES on 4 (line 300)

Quick reasons:

Florida Constitutional Amendment

Amendment 4: Yes. This is the good solar amendment, the one that supports solar power. The bad – very bad – one is Amendment 1, the poison pill that will be on the November ballot.

Democratic Primaries

Congress FL-27: Scott Fuhrman (line 33). He’s taking good Democratic positions on the issues. I know a couple people who like Adam Sackrin, but he wouldn’t stand a chance in the general election–only Fuhrman has the backing to even make IR-L dip into her campaign war chest.

State Rep, District 114: Daisy Baez (line 66). Not only is she good, I think she’ll win the general election.

School Board

School Board, District 7: Modesto “Mo” Abety (line 105). Former CEO of the Children’s Trust; endorsed by all the good government groups. His main opponent, Maria Rojas, must hate trees given how many mailers I’ve gotten from her. She also must have a lot of money donated, which just plays into the narrative that she’s in bed with all the wrong special interests. But then in her case it’s almost literal: she’s the sister-in-law of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

County Commission

County Commissioner District 7: Xavier Suarez (line 113). He’s done a good job; certainly much better than I expected. People who remember “Mayor Loco” from the old days would be surprised.

That just leaves the two hard ones: The US Senate primary, and the Mayor’s race.

Posted in 2016 Election, Miami | Leave a comment

Yikes

New Clinton ad doesn’t mince (Trump’s) words:

Posted in Trumpalooza | Leave a comment

Miami-Dade County Court Election Guide – Aug 30, 2016

Downballot recommendations may be the most important thing I do on this blog these days. This post is about the four County Court races. Please see my previous post, 11th Circuit Court Judicial Election Guide – Aug 30, 2016 Ballot, for full disclosure on how I came to these decisions, and for my recommendations in the five Circuit Court elections.

Summary of County Court recommendations

Group 5: Milena Abreu (line 94)
Group 7: Ed Newman (line 97)
Group 15: Linda Luce (line 99)
Group 35: Wendell Graham (line 100)

County Court Judges

Group 5

Judge Fred Seraphin (FSU Law) is being challenged by Milena Abreu (Loyola Law School, New Orleans). Judge Seraphim is notable for being the first Haitian-American Judge in Miami-Dade County; he’s also notable for being the judge who wouldn’t let an assistant public defender take a 15 minute break every few hours during a trial to pump breast milk. I find that pretty incredible, although in an interview with the Daily Business Review (now behind a paywall), Judge Seraphin claimed that this was simply a “miscommunication.” Ms. Abreu is a fairly credible opponent, with 15 years experience split between the PD’s office and private practice.

Despite several stories of being inconsiderate about lawyers’ lives or illnesses, Judge Seraphim’s bar poll numbers were good (42% exceptionally qualified, 47% qualified). Ms. Abreau only managed 23% and 54%, which isn’t bad either, but isn’t as good.

Judge Seraphim has a striking personal story, which he features on his web page; being the victim of injustice, he says, has helped him understand justice. It’s a powerful pitch.

A spokesman for the Caribbean Bar Association told the Daily Business Review on Dec 4, 2015 that,

“One of our purposes is to have more Caribbean judges, so it is a concern,” said Devona Reynolds-Perez, president-elect of the Caribbean Bar Association. “It impacts the current diversity on the bench, which is in a sorry state. So we’re sorry to hear that he drew opposition. His appointment to the bench was a historic landmark, so it would be very sad and disappointing to see him lose that seat.

Yet could it be that he deserves to lose? The Herald, unsurprisingly, endorsed the incumbent. I’m not so sure – if a judge who wasn’t an historic first had behaved like that, would we retain him? What does it mean to ‘understand justice’ if you are cruel or unfeeling to advocates in the courtroom?

I can see why a reasonable person would go with experience and a compelling life story, and vote to keep Judge Seraphim – and it is a close call – but I think I’m voting Milena Abreu (line 94) even though it will contribute to the narrative that ‘Hispanic names,’ and especially women with Hispanic names, win judicial elections in Miami-Dade.

Group 7

Incumbent Ed Newman (J.D. UM) (38% exceptionally qualified, 46% qualified) is being challenged by Lizzet Martinez (J.D. Drake University) (13% exceptionally qualified, 43% qualified). For a puff piece about Judge Newman, see this Herald article about his former Dolphin teammate and baliff, Tony Nathan. I also endorsed Judge Newman when he was last up for election in 2010.

I’ve seen Judge Newman in action, and I liked what I saw. I would not call him a brilliant Judge, just a careful and fair one who ran a good courtroom. I’m voting to retain him. (Line 97.)

Group 15

This is an open seat.

The candidates are Ruben Alcoba [Warning: LOUD video will start automatically] (J.D. U.M, LL.M in Tax, Thomas Jefferson School of Law) and Linda Luce (J.D. U. Puerto Rico).

Mr. Alcoba is a sole practitioner who focuses mainly on patent, trademark and immigration law. Ms. Luce has worked for Department of Children & Families juvenile delinquency unit and is now in private practice doing civil and family law. She has experience as a mediator.

The response rate on the bar poll for Mr. Alcoa was so low as to make his otherwise low score of 9% exceptionally qualified and 28% qualified almost meaningless. Ms. Luce got more respectable scores (22% and 55%) but that also was on a quite small response rate.

I confess to being less informed about this race than I’d like, but on paper Ms. Luce (line 99) has more, and more relevant, experience. That the Herald said the same thing in its endorsement of Ms. Luce makes me nervous, but there it is.

Group 35

Judge Wendell Graham (J.D. UM) is being challenged, by Antonio Jimenez (J.D. Stetson).

Mr. Jimenez is a Navy veteran; his bio states that he has a couple of Masters degrees (Master of Forensic Science Degree from National University which I never heard of before, and a Master of Criminal Justice from Boston University–-I’ve heard of that).

The 35-year-old challenger only has about ten years practice experience, two and a half the Herald says as an ASA, and eight in private practice. Even though his web site boasts that “his unique background has given Mr. Jimenez the unique opportunity to understand every legal matter” (yes, every legal matter!), I don’t see why I’d prefer him to an experienced judge with good ratings from the bar (39% exceptionally qualified, 49% qualified). If the Herald is right about the two and a half years as an ASA I’d also like to know why he didn’t finish out the three years which is the ordinary commitment for an ASA. Did he jump or was he pushed? Neither is a great answer.

In any event, the case for re-electing Judge Wendell Graham (line 100) seems overwhelming.

Posted in 2016 Election, Law: Everything Else, Miami | 1 Comment