Category Archives: Miami

It Was New to Me

Rumpole retells “the old joke”:

How many Miami Beach police officers does it take to throw a defendant down a flight of stairs? None. He fell on his own. Repeatedly.

(In reference to this horrible story.)

Posted in Miami | Leave a comment

The Herald Thinks a Taser Death a Week is the “Rarest” Case

I sent an email to two reporters yesterday (not a letter to the editor):

I was somewhat surprised to see it asserted (without attribution) in your otherwise fine article today (“Tasered Artist Laid to Rest”) that tasers result in deaths in the US only “rarely”. They are and have been sufficiently frequent for Amnesty International to have issued a report condemning the frequency of them as far back as 2004. A later report put the death rate at 350 over a seven year period. Is 50 utterly unnecessary deaths per year at the hands of police considered “rare”? I hope not. I’d call it shockingly frequent.

(Other private estimates come up with even larger numbers for more recent periods. See for example http://electronicvillage.blogspot.com/2009/05/taser-related-deaths-in-united-states.html)

The issue of the extent to which deaths depend on pre-existing condition is somewhat debated, but in any case it is also a distraction. Your article presents it as something of an excuse for taser deaths, but in fact if some part of the population is statistically likely to be killed by tasers, that is just another reason why they should not be used, not an excuse for taking lives.

I wonder if you would please consider running a correction, at least as regards the frequency of taser deaths in the US, and in particular if your future coverage could please be less dismissive of 50+ annual cases of what, if it happened elsewhere, we would call state-sponsored killings.

As for whoever told you taser deaths are rare: stop trusting them.

Incidentally, the online version of the article has a different text from the printed version, it says “Tasers result in death in only the rarest of cases.”

Personally, I don’t see how an average of a death a week can be called the “rarest of cases” but I’m not a hardened journalist.

Posted in Miami, The Media | 1 Comment

Save the Libraries

I’ve been meaning to write something about the terrible proposed cuts to the local library system in Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s proposed budget. Basically, a civic jewel is to be sacrificed on the altar of the millage rate.

But procrastination has its rewards. A guest poster at Eye on Miami has written the save the libraries post, so I don’t have to: See The Tragedy of the Miami-Dade County Budget. Guest Blog By Santiago Leon. And if you live in Miami-Dade county, write or email the Mayor and especially your Commissioner.

[Thanks to 'a reader' for pointing out the typo, which I've corrected.]

Posted in Miami | 1 Comment

Phone Poll on Local Issues

I just got robo-polled by phone by “AI advisory“. The survey was about the Miami-Dade budget and the Mayor.

These were the questions:

  • Do I approve/disapprove of Mayor Alvarez?
  • What is the most important issue facing M-D county: crime, public corruption, or taxes.
  • Do I support or oppose of each of the following (I’m paraphrasing):
    • requiring county employees to continue paying 5% in health contributions to avoid tax increases
    • increasing animal services funding by 40% without raising taxes in order to implement the recent popular initiative [I hated this question – my view is that it was underfunded - is that support or disapproval???]
    • cutting fire rescue which might cause firing 149 firefighters
    • the county plan to close up to 22 libraries and fire some large number of workers in order not to raise taxes [Boy is that an awful idea.]
    • the planned overhaul of taxicab services, including rules on cleanliness and training [first I had heard of it]
  • What is my preferred source for local info: The Miami Herald, TV, Radio, the Internet, or other?
  • Demographic stuff: Male/female, age group, race, political party.
Posted in Miami | 1 Comment

Presidential Commission on Election Administration Meeting a UMiami Tomorrow (6/28)

There’s going to be a big meeting on Election rules at U.Miami tomorrow. Here’s the announcement from the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

PCEA Announces Public Meeting on Friday, June 28, 2013

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2013 — The Presidential Commission on Election Administration will convene a public meeting on June 28, 2013, in the Hurricane Room at the BankUnited Center, University of Miami, 1245 Dauer Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146, beginning at 9:00 a.m. eastern time, ending no later than 5:00 p.m.

The Meeting notice has been published in the Federal Register and is available to view here: *The Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA); Upcoming Public Advisory Meeting. *Note the location has changed from what is posted in the Federal Register. The meeting will be held in the Hurricane Room at the BankUnited Center on the campus of the University of Miami.

For more information, contact:
Mr. Mark Nejbauer
Designated Federal Officer
Presidential Commission on Election Administration
mark.nejbauer@supportthevoter.gov

I wonder why they moved it?

Unfortunately, I can’t make it, but if anyone reading this is going, would you consider live Tweeting it? (Let us know your Twitter handle or hashtag in the comments.) Or if you prefer, send in periodic reports as comments below.

Posted in Coral Gables, Law: Elections, Miami, U.Miami | Leave a comment

Oh Dear, Miami

Eye on Miami has the scoop on Goodbye, Miami, Rolling Stone’s big Miami story due out tomorrow. It’s a recounting of Miami’s difficult future if/when sea levels rise, and the ostrich-like head-in-the-sand approach to planning by local, mostly Republican, elected officials. There’s also a major cameo by our local power executives, who not only have aging nuclear reactors in a future flood zone but want to build more.

Even though, as EoM notes, none of this is news if you’ve been paying attention, that doesn’t make it any less of a likely/possible mess. But as most of the most likely scenarios put the really serious stuff more than 20 years out, that puts it outside the time horizon of Miami’s endlessly short-term planners.

May I suggest a soundtrack for reading the Rolling Stone article? Try Róisín Murphy’s ‘Dear Miami’, my favorite Miami-themed song. And very appropriate, as it includes the lyric “Dear Miami, you’re the first to go, disappearing under melting snow”.

Posted in Global Warming, Miami | Leave a comment

The Garcia ‘Phantom Ballot’ Scandal — What We Know and Don’t Know (Updated)

The Herald splashed it as a five-column lead across the front page this morning: Top Garcia aide quits over ballot plot.

Here’s what we know so far:

  1. Cops raided the homes of two Joe Garcia campaign operatives: Giancarlo Sopo, 30, now Joe Garcia’s communications director and John Estes, 26, formerly his campaign manager for the 2012 election. The raids were in search of electronic evidence of fake absentee ballot requests.
  2. The ‘plot’ consisted of someone sending hundreds of electronic requests for absentee ballots for the 2012 Democratic primary, so-called phantom ballot requests. The bulk of the requests were masked by foreign IP addresses. The Miami Herald found that 2,552 fraudulent requests for the Aug. 14 primaries originated from Internet Protocol addresses in Miami, and got the prosecutors to re-open the case, leading to yesterday’s raids. Incidentally, although today’s Herald article calls the automated e-requests a “sophisticated scheme to manipulate the election” an earlier article by the same reporter stated that “no special skills” were needed. Unfortunately, the first article was right — since the ballots would have gone to the voters’ registered postal addresses, it didn’t take much to fill in the online ballot request forms: “any moderately or even marginally skilled programmer could have done this,” as Patricia Mazzei’s first article reported.
  3. Regardless, requesting ballots for others in this manner is illegal: only the voter or a family member can request an absentee ballot.
  4. The Elections Department flagged the requests as suspicious, and didn’t send the ballots, so none of this affected the primary (between Joe Garcia and fraudulent candidate Justin Lamar Sternad), much less the general election.
  5. According to the Miami Herald, Joe Garcia’s chief of staff, Jeff Garcia (no relation to the Congressman), “took responsibility” (despite not having been the campaign manager for the 2012 campaign) and Joe Garcia asked for his resignation. Thus the headline. Sopo is on administrative leave for now.
  6. There’s no sign that Congressman Joe Garcia himself knew anything about any of this (although the Herald doesn’t report this fact):

    Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told The Associated Press that Congressman Garcia is cooperating with her office, and prosecutors don’t believe he knew anything about the fraud.

  7. Meanwhile, there’s a separate “ongoing investigation targeting multiple individuals involving alleged absentee ballot fraud” (per NBC Miami) — but that investigation does not involve Joe Garcia, either. That, I take it, is about the really serious stuff, where people collected actual ballots from the old and infirm, and filled them out and/or mailed them in batches (both illegal). Indeed, the ‘boletera’ operation has been a staple of the local Republican machine, which worked it hard to defeat Joe Garcia in 2008 and 2010.
  8. None of this has to do with the even zanier investigation into ex-Congressman David Rivera, complete with a key witness hiding out in Nicaragua.

There are some key details we don’t know:

  • Why did the computer-generated ‘phantom ballot requests’ target both registered Democrats and Republicans? Was someone trying to cover tracks? Incompetent? Running a false-flag op? Were the domestic and foreign-origin phantom requests part of the same operation, or different one?
  • Was there actually a ‘plot’? Or is this a one-man show?
  • What is it that Jeff Garcia (Joe Garcia’s chief of staff) actually did, if anything? Is he just resigning because he should have known, or because he did know (before or after the fact), or because he participated in some way? Based on what we know now, the direct participation seems unlikely as the cops apparently didn’t raid him looking for computer evidence.
  • Did the domestic IP numbers lead to either staff member’s home? Both? What, if anything, did the raids find after all this time? Who, if anyone, will be charged?

OBDisclosure: I know all three of the staffers mentioned above. My son volunteered full-time for the Garcia campaign in 2010, although not in 2012 (when this stuff allegedly occurred). He began interning in Garcia’s DC office this week. He knows all three men better than I do and says he was was shocked at the allegation that any of them would be involved.

UPDATE 1: Reports of this morning’s press conference are now online. Biggest new thing I learned from the Herald’s write-up is that Giancarlo Sopo “denied taking part” in the “plot”. As to Jeff Garcia’s role, the Herald, without any quotes, says he was dismissed “for apparently orchestrating a scheme to submit hundreds of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests.” Apparently? Did he or didn’t he?

UPDATE 2: Here it comes: Local GOP asking, ‘What did Garcia know and when did he know it’?

UPDATE 3: Political Cortadito weighs in with several theories including this one: “The other possibility is that it was a third party vendor who did it. Sure, [Jeff] Garcia has to take responsibility. He was Joe Garcia’s campaign manager. But this is not like him. This doesn’t sound like his baby. This sounds like something that was offered to him by someone else.”

Posted in 2012 Election, Miami, Politics: FL-25/FL-27 | Leave a comment