Monthly Archives: February 2015

Coral Gables Candidates Forums

The Coral Gables Forum (previously known as the Ponce Business Association) will be running candidate debates for the upcoming Coral Gables Commission election. According to the calendar at their web page, this is the planned schedule:

  • March 2, 2015 – Candidate Forum for City Commission Seat
    Group V – Coral Gables Congregational Church 7:00pm
  • March 9, 2015 – Candidate Forum for Mayor Seat
    Coral Gables Congregational Church 7:00pm
  • March 16, 2015 – Candidate Forum for City Commission Seat
    Group IV – Coral Gables Congregational Church 7:00pm

According to an announcement reprinted at the Watchdog Report,

events will be held at the Coral Gables Congregational Church (3010 DeSoto Boulevard) from 7:00pm to 8:30pm.The doors will be open at 6:45pm so audience members can submit questions to ask the candidates. Our moderator will be Eliott Rodriguez of CBS WFOR-TV. If you have any questions please contact us at more information on the Candidates Forum and future events please visit our website at

I attempted to find out yesterday if the events will be televised on Coral Gables TV, but was unsuccessful. All I could learn is that they haven’t decided yet. (I sure hope so – I’m going to be out of town on the 9th; anyone available to video it for me if need be?)

There will also be a Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce event, held on the UM Campus a location TBA, but according to the charming lady who answers their phone, they haven’t set a date yet. When they do, it will appear either on the front page of their web site or events page. Last time it was in the fieldhouse on the UM campus.

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Warring Columba Bush Profiles

Amazing contrast between today’s NYT and today’s WaPo treatments of Jeb Bush’s wife, Columba. And surprisingly, it’s the NYT that does the puff piece, so puffy as to be a whitewash. And it’s the Post that does the journalism.

In the very long NYT article, you get down about 2/3 of the article — a long way from its front-page start — before you read this sympathetic portrayal of smuggling:

But Mrs. Bush also found the public spotlight searing. Returning to the United States in 1999 from one of her regular trips to Europe, Mrs. Bush lied to customs officials about her overseas purchases: She said she had spent only $500, but receipts were found for $19,000 in clothes and jewelry. A spokesman for Mr. Bush said at the time that she had underreported the goods because she did not want Mr. Bush to know how much she had spent. (Mr. Bush is known among his friends as frugal with his own clothing, at least.)

The episode only increased Mrs. Bush’s reluctance to deal with reporters, and her desire to withdraw from public scrutiny.

And then it’s back to all her charitable works and home making — which, oddly, doesn’t include cooking as the article mentions, literally in passing, “Mr. Bush usually made the family dinners, because she rarely cooks.”

Contrast this to the Post, which leads with this,

In 1999, Columba Bush, the famously private wife of then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, was detained and fined by federal customs officials for misrepresenting the amount of clothing and jewelry she had bought while on a solo five-day shopping spree in Paris.

The incident left the Florida first lady deeply mortified and her husband politically chagrined. Jeb Bush said the first lady had misled customs officials because she did not want him to know that she had spent about $19,000 on the trip.

“The embarrassment I felt made me ashamed to face my family and friends,” Columba Bush said in a July 1999 speech to the Central Florida Make-a-Wish Foundation, not long after the incident. “It was the worst feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”

The ordeal did not stop her from spending freely, however. Less than a year later, she took out a loan to buy $42,311.70 worth of jewelry on a single day, according to records filed with the state of Florida by Mayors Jewelers.

That purchase was part of a pattern by Columba Bush of borrowing to buy tens of thousands of dollars of jewelry at a time from the South Florida store over a 14-year period.

Paging Newt Gingrich.

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Contested Race in Group IV

Democracy is saved! Frank Quesada has drawn an opponent in Coral Gables Commission Group IV: Enrique Lopez, alternately described as a brilliant man and a “crony” of former Mayor Don Slesnick.

Not that there seems any groundswell to replace Quesada, but it’s still good to have a contest. Even good representatives should have to justify themselves to voters periodically. If, as George Volsky suggests, Lopez is allied with Slesnick, and given that Jeannett Slesnick is very much a candidate in Group V in her own right, it looks as if the sub-text, or maybe the actual text, of the election may shape up to be Casonites v. Slesnickites.

That could get heated.

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And Then There Were 6

Official City of Coral Gables : Candidates page now shows six candidates — perennial candidate Jackson Rip Holmes is back in the fray.

With this many candidates every candidate’s event is certain to be unsatisfying since they will just get a chance to soundbite, and there will little substance and less back-and-forth. Unless of course the people organizing the events change the round-robin format, and that is Not Gonna Happen…

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Fifth Candidate in CG Commission Race Group V

Already?.) If I’m reading the election info page correctly, today is the last day to qualify, so unless someone else files today, this is the full field.

Meanwhile I’ve gotten some campaign mailers and leaflets. So far they vary along a continuum from bland (Ariel Fernandez) to vaguely repulsive (Sandra Murado). To the limited extent they discuss issues, they all are for trees and city beautification, and against crime, road congestion, and high taxes. Where they differ is the extent to which they have demonstrated a zeal to cut city workers’ pensions. Personally, I’m not real impressed by a candidate whose claim to fame is chomping on the hides of city workers, most of whom don’t get high salaries.

Other than pension “reform” will there be any actual issues in this campaign, or will it be one of personalities and track records? Not that in fairly good times (we have a great new City Manager) there’s necessarily anything wrong with that: It could be that for small-city government, when there’s no crisis personality is a reasonable basic litmus test. But for folks like me who don’t pay attention except briefly every two years, that makes it just that much tougher to figure out who to vote for.

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Florida Matters

“You cannot draw a map that a Republican can win the presidency without Florida. It can’t be done. You can draw a map that the Democrats can win without winning Florida, but not very often…Florida is Ohio on steroids. Ohio is 18 (electoral votes), Florida is 29…They’re not comparable swing states any more.”

James Carville | Tampa Bay Times.

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