Category Archives: Miami

Who to Vote for in the Coral Gables 2021 Mayoral Election? It’s Not Easy

If I’d written this post a week ago, when I planned to, it would have been a strong endorsement of Vince Lago in the upcoming April 13, 2021 Coral Gables election for Mayor (and two critical Commission seats too).  I’d have mentioned how he’s been a tireless Commissioner, sponsored more new ideas than anyone else I know of in my 20+ years of keeping half an eye on the Commission’s doings. I’d have told you he’d earned the job. But that was then; now things are much more complicated.

Lago is great on the environment, both as a Commissioner and as citizen: installed solar power on his home (just down the street from me, I should note), uses an electric car.  He is famously available to constituents with an open door office and town meetings.  He answers email quickly.  Basically, he’s worked really hard, and been right on most issues: after an initial flirtation with development in reaction to the freeze-everything-in place NIMBY view that predominated before his electoral class changed the balance in the Commission, Lago became the lone voice at times against over-development.

[For context, here’s my current view on the development issue: I was persuaded several years ago that the lid had to come off on our anti-development policies at least a bit in order for Coral Gables to remain, as someone put it, ‘A place where people live and stop, not just a place they drive through.’  At the time South Miami looked like it was trying to eat Miracle Mile’s lunch, and not doing too bad a job of it, and the same could be said for other places South of us too.  So some limited changes seemed needed.  What we got, though, was — I came to believe — far in excess of what we needed or was good for us: big developments on the US 1 corridor, and a giant shopping/living/office thing that I have trouble visualizing but that seems poised to do additional harm to Miracle Mile shops — and whose developers clearly got a steal in terms of minimal offsetting benefit payments for the variances the Commission gave it.]

Had I written this post a week ago, I would have mentioned a couple of negatives, but dismissed them as minor in the grand scheme of things. The biggest negative, I would have said, was that Lago’s a Republican, and that the non-partisan post of Coral Gables Mayor might be a springboard to state or Congressional office — and that he’d be tough to beat in one of those races.  Why create a monster? Another, related, negative, is that my neighbor who flew a Trump flag for weeks, even well after the attempted putsch at the Capitol, has a big Lago sign in front of his house.  I usually think that anyone that neighbor is for should be avoided.  But maybe, I would have said, this is the exception? After all, half the neighborhood seems to have a Lago sign.  Former Mayor Jim Cason endorsed Lago too.  Another negative. But then so did former Mayor Don Slesnick, a positive. In fact a whole bunch of people, some of whom I disagree with a lot, and some of of whom I tend to agree with, all endorsed Lago.

The case for Lago was strengthened by the nature of the opposition.  Jackson “Skip” Holmes is a perennial candidate slightly reminiscent of the UK’s Official Monster Raving Loony Party–right every so often on an issue, but just sort of randomly. (Note to Mr. Holmes: Dutch engineers cannot save South Florida because unlike in the Lowlands, the water comes at us from all six sides, including up from the porous rock; dikes will not work here when the water table rises.)

Pat Keon, the other serious candidate, has not lived up to my (perhaps inflated?) expectations. I’ve heard from people that she’s pretty abrupt with them, although I’ve only experienced a mild form of that myself.

The two big problems with Keon turned out to be on the development issue and on the ethics of campaigning. As I explained above, I’m not against all development; life is change. But I do think the city has gone overboard. Keon, however, has voted for all or most of it and doesn’t think what we got is problematic.

The thing that I would have told you sealed the deal against Keon — and for some reasonable people still could — is the lying dark money campaign supporting her, funded by some development interest. Some group no one ever heard of, an astroturf citizens group, has been papering my mailbox with lying fliers claiming that Lago is the pro-development candidate in the race.  Keon of course says she knows nothing about all this even though “the PAC has the same chairman and treasurer and the same Fort Lauderdale address as the PAC she’s registered to raise funds for”.  But for me it’s pretty much an iron-clad rule to vote against anyone who has lying dark money support.  That movie never ends well.

But wait. All that was then. This is now.

Now we learn something really ugly about Vince Lago, and the question is whether it is disqualifying, indeed more disqualifying than Keon’s electoral practices, or whether the two somehow cancel out and Lago wins on his record after all. It’s not easy.

Here’s what we learned. Back in October, 2020, Lago signed a letter that someone circulated among parents at Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, the prominent local Catholic girls’ school. There’s really no way to sugar-coat this.  The letter is so blind as to current realities faced by Black people (and even, in one, part delusional in a Fox-commentator-talking-point kind of way) that it can fairly be called racist; some people also have suggested that the letter also has an anti-Semitic dog whistle, but that is, in context, a small side-issue.

The back story is a bit complicated, so bear with me. Apparently, in the wake of the George Floyd killing and other national developments, and perhaps (although the school won’t admit it) in response to online anonymous testimony by Carrollton students about the difficulties they’d encountered as Black students in the school, Carrollton tried to take on the racism issue seriously.  As the Miami Herald reported,

Carrollton’s Board of Trustees adopted a Social Justice, Inclusion and Diversity Statement on Aug. 2, 2020. The web page listing Carrollton’s mission and goals also changed after Oct. 31, 2020, according to archives of the website.

Goal III, titled “Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate a social awareness which impels to action,” now includes: “The school, drawing from Catholic Social Teaching, educates students to analyze and work to eradicate social structures, practices, systems, and values that perpetuate racism and other injustices.”

That was too much for some parents. They objected to the decision and claimed it wasn’t appropriate for a “Catholic-based education”.  A letter went around, dated Oct. 23, 2020, and Vince Lago, along with more than 150 parents and alumni who included a number of local political heavyweights, signed it.

The text of the letter that has been posted is not pretty reading. Part of it is a cry against modernity and against thinking, part of it is so tone-deaf about modern racism as to amount to bigotry, and then there’s the bonus shout-out to a nutty theory about anti-racism being a Marxist plot.

The signatories clearly want their girls to be told to memorize stuff and not question it. No modern discussion of problems like abortion or racism please.  (It makes me think of Laura Ingraham’s infamous instruction to LeBron James to ‘shut up and dribble’.)  Reading between the lines, the authors seem to hate the idea that the students, girls, who should it seems be quiet and subordinate and taught “the tools to pursue their faithat a deeper level, and turn to their faith in times of crisis,” had the temerity to criticize the school for not being inclusive — and that rather than smack them on the back of the hand, like in the good old days when nuns ruled with an iron ruler, Carrollton actually listened.

While stating that “racism and any form of discrimination are sins,” the letter suggests that these problems are small and remote. To suggest otherwise is, they say, to adopt a “subversive ideology” and “anti-Catholic indoctrination.”  And all this is due to a “critical theory worldview”: indeed

“[t]erms such as systemic racism; marginalized communities, systemic justice; racial equality; implicit bias, microaggressions, emanate from critical race theory, of of the many offshoots of critical theory, developed at the famous Frankfurt School in Germany in the 1920s.  As a reference, the Frankfurt School was founded with the aim of developing Marxist studies in Germany.”

This is really bad, even if it appears in a footnote. The letter-writers object to a high school discussing systemic racism and systemic justice, implicit bias, microaggressions, and marginalized communities. These terms, we’re told, are just foreign Marxist (fighting words in Miami!) inventions, not realities. But who, looking at the world around us, can seriously suggest that at least the large majority of items on this list are not urgent, contemporary problems?

So it is a very ugly letter.  Is it racist? Blind? Willfully blind? Whatever it is, it’s upsetting, and arguably disqualifying for any candidate running for any office in 2021.

But wait. We’re not quite done yet.

I don’t expect my local politicians to be experts on the Frankfurt School (even if I personally think some of its offshoots are pretty interesting).  I do expect them to read and to be responsible for what they sign, even its footnotes, even if they are not lawyers (Lago isn’t).

Lago’s explanation to the Herald for signing the letter is this:

he signed the letter because he hoped for the school to return to the institution his wife and sister remember, with nuns in the classroom and a stricter adherence to Catholic teachings. He said talking about issues of race is important, but “shouldn’t be the focus of their education.”

“It should be walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ,” said Lago, who proudly noted during a Miami Herald Editorial Board interview that he was the only elected official in the city to kneel with police and protesters during a summer rally that made national headlines.

“My wife and I make significant sacrifices to send our daughters to Carrollton,” he said. “The reason why I signed [the letter] is because I want Carrollton to uphold the value and focus on faith-based education for my daughters.”

In other words, more the authority thing than the race thing. That could be true; it could also be the case that if you are planning to run for Mayor now (and maybe something else later), and your friends in the PTA plus lots of big names in Miami politics ask you to sign a letter demanding a school turn back the clock to some good old days, you do so.  Neither version is very good, and both show some serious deafness to the racial aspects of the letter.

Yet here’s the thing. Lago’s record on racial issues is pretty good. And no one is actually suggesting he’s a racist. As Lago  said, he was part of the Coral Gables BLM demo.  He was also a key figure “in making a long-promised community center in a predominantly Black neighborhood of the Gables a reality.”

If the alternative were a candidate who I thought wasn’t as good, but didn’t have any ethical issues of her own, I’d agree with the people who’ve withdrawn their endorsement of Lago.  Both the Miami Herald editorial board (after initially changing to a “less enthusiastic” endorsement and then caving to pressure), and also SAVE have done so, although apparently without giving Lago a chance to explain himself.

But we don’t get that easy a choice. I think this was a deeply dumb move, but I’m not convinced it should be fatal, especially when the other major candidate is playing the evil dark money game. (Vince Lago having a big issue just before an election does have a certain rerun feel to it though.)

This race has generally turned ugly and you could defend a vote either way. I don’t know Lago at all well, but I’m betting that this event will make him even more eager to make sure that the views of Blacks and other minority groups get heard if he’s elected.  And so, with trepidation, I’m still planning to vote for him.

Coming up (if I can find the time….):

Group II: I’d suggest a vote for Claudia Miro (#77) (youth, new ideas, a masters in public administration — and a single parent who would, I think, be a new perspective for the Commission), or if that sounds too risky, then vote for Rhonda Andersen (#73) (experience, dues paid, probably knows half the City’s residents by name, committed to transparency, but not by nature a boat-rocker, and supported by much of the old Coral Gables establishment, and by the Miami Herald which has very unreliable instincts in local government).

Group III: Vote for Alex Bucelo (#81), faute de mieux. Yes, he’s young and inexperienced and maybe even under-qualified, but he’s the last man standing after you eliminate all the others, which you should.

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New Bandito In Town

Bandanna-Clad Iguana Spotted Near Melreese Country Club

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Miami-Dade Politics in a Tortilla Shell

In the course of a long essay explaining what’s going in in Florida voting and why it’s going to be a very close race, Steve Schale, long-time guru of the Democratic ground game in Florida, tries to explain Miami-Dade politics to the world:

It is important to remember for those who are tweeting at me about Dade that is basically a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, stuffed into a empanada, doused with hot sauce, and barreling down I-95 at 90mph in a Honda Civic in the emergency lane with the driver leaning out the window holding a couch that is tied to nothing yet somehow balancing on the car roof in a driving rain storm with no windshield wipers, or functioning turn signals.

I get the concern about Dade from Democrats. I also get it is a place that beats to its own drummer. The bad news: GOP turnout rates are higher than Democrats. The reality: that doesn’t overly worry me as a single data point. The GOP machine is very good in Miami – and particularly in the Cuban community, there is a real effort to get people to vote by mail and vote early. And Democrats tend to catch up over time.

Keep in mind a few things: there are more Republican Hispanic registered voters than Democrats. I think folks often forget this. Both parties are turning out a fairly equal percentage of new and sporadic voters – so a lot of their advantage is just a function of their voters voting earlier – just like that is benefiting us elsewhere. Also, I looked at some similar data from 2016 later in this same week – and the registration spreads between the two parties were pretty similar.

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Vote-by-Drop-Box Report

ballot dropboxI dropped off my ballot this morning at the drop box outside the Coral Gables library. It was quick and I never even had to leave my car, although I did have to show ID.

If you go in from the back of the Coral Gables library, on the Segovia side, it’s a straight shot to the little black tent where the drop box shelters, along with two (!) poll workers. One takes your ID and makes notes on a list, the drops your ballot into the box. They even gave me an “I Voted” sticker, which I thought was pretty funny.

Perhaps due to the rain — just a little drizzle when I got there, although it had been pouring earlier — there was only one car in front of me in the car queue, and we were in and out in no time.

The parking lot was pretty full, suggesting maybe there were a lot of voters inside, and there certainly was a ton of volunteers from the various campaigns hoisting signs in the rain, although most of them were staked out on the front side of the library, where early voters (as opposed to people like me with filled-out mail-in ballots) would go. I saw a lot more signage for the local campaigns than the Presidential.

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Waiting for Dropboxes

ballot dropboxApparently, “Of the 627,484 Miami-Dade voters who had absentee or vote-by-mail ballots mailed to them as of Wednesday, a little more than 142,000 have mailed them back. That means that more than three times as many — a total of almost half a million — are still sitting somewhere on kitchen counters, home desks, nightstands and dining room tables from Homestead to Hialeah.”

Speaking as one of those voters, I can tell you what I’m thinking: I’m planning to drop off my ballot in a secure, official, not-California-style dropbox early next week.

Why next week and not now? Because early voting doesn’t start until Monday, and the dropboxes are only available at early voting sites (or way downtown at the Board of Elections).

Incidentally, there are some moderately strict rules about how a vote-by-mail ballot may be returned:

Vote-by-Mail ballots must be returned as follows:

  1. IN PERSON – A voter who received a vote-by-mail ballot by mail may return his or her own ballot to the Miami-Dade Elections Department at 2700 NW 87th Avenue, Miami, FL 33172 or to the Elections Department’s Branch Office (located in the lobby of the Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW 1st Street, Miami, FL 33128) no later than 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.
    ON THE MONDAY BEFORE ELECTION DAY AND ELECTION DAY (During countywide elections only): Two additional locations are available for a voter to return their vote-by-mail ballot: North Dade Regional Library at 2455 NW 183rd Street, Miami Gardens, FL 33056 or South Dade Regional Library at 10750 SW 211th Street, Cutler Bay, FL 33189 from 7am to 7pm.
  2. BY MAIL – A vote-by-mail ballot may be returned by delivery through the United States Postal Service.
  3. BY VOTER’S DESIGNEE(Limited to two ballots per election, only one of which may be from a voter who is not the spouse, parent, child, grandparent or sibling of the designee). A vote-by-mail ballot may be returned by the voter’s designee at 2700 NW 87th Avenue, Miami, FL 33172 or to the Elections Department’s Branch Office (located in the lobby of the Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW 1st Street, Miami, FL 33128), on the day prior to and the day of the election if the person designated by the voter is an immediate family member and only on the day of the election if the designee is not an immediate family member. Picture identification of the designee must be presented along with a written statement from the voter containing the following information:
    1. Printed name of voter
    2. Voter’s daytime phone number
    3. Voter’s date of birth
    4. d. Voter’s registration number (optional)
    5. Name of person returning the vote-by-mail ballot
    6. If the voter is a member of the designee’s immediate family, reason why the voter must have someone else return the vote-by-mail ballot
    7. If the voter is not a member of the designee’s immediate family, the designee must also present a statement signed by a physician on that physician’s stationery that, due to a medical emergency involving the voter or voter’s dependent, the named voter is unable to vote at the polls and is unable to return a vote-by-mail ballot in person
    8. Signature of voter
  4. AT EARLY VOTING – A voter who has received a vote-by-mail ballot may return their voted vote-by-mail ballot to any early voting location by placing it in a secure drop box.
  5. AT THE POLLS – A voter who desires to vote in person may return a voted or unvoted vote-by-mail ballot to the voter’s precinct. The returned ballot will be marked “canceled” by the election board. A voter who desires to vote in person, but does not return the ballot to the precinct, may vote only under the following conditions: (Do not return anyone else’s ballot at the polls. Under State Law, this ballot will not be counted.)
    1. The election board confirms the voter’s vote-by-mail ballot has not been received and
    2. If the election board cannot determine whether the voter’s vote-by-mail ballot has been received, the voter may vote a provisional ballot.

To track the status of your vote-by-mail ballot, go to https://www8.miamidade.gov/elections/votebymail-status.

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Voters’ Guide to the November 2020 Miami-Dade Ballot, Part III: State Constitutional and Charter Amendments

This is the last installment of my three-part Miami-Dade voters’ guide for the November 2020 election. This part concerns the very important proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution, and also three Miami-Dade charter Amendments. It follows on the heels of my Voters’ Guide to the November 2020 Miami-Dade Ballot, Part I — The Easy Part and Voters’ Guide to the November 2020 Miami-Dade Ballot, Part II: Judicial Retention Elections. There’s also a handy summary.

Florida Constitutional Amendments

There are six Florida Constitutional Amendments on our November 2020 ballot. They run the range from cynical to evil and then (in one case) back to good. I’ve taken them in the order they appear on the ballot; links are to the full text of the Amendments, not the ballot summaries:

Amendment 1

Amendment 1 – Citizenship & Age – NO – line 201

This amendment changes two words in the state Constitution: “Every citizen” over 18 may vote is replaced with “Only a” citizen over 18 may vote in a Florida election. There are two problems with Amendment 1. The first is that it is solving a non-problem: that is already the law, and there are no plans that I know of at either the state or local level in Florida to change it. The entire purpose of the amendment is a cynical ploy to get nativists to the polls. This should not be encouraged, and that’s why we should vote NO. Just to be clear here: a NO vote will not make the requirement to vote anything other than what it is already: 18 years old and a citizen. Amendment 1–whether it passes or fails–will have no effect on current law whatsoever.

All that said, there is another subtler reason to vote against this amendment. Some jurisdictions around the world are experimenting with letting 16-year-olds vote, either in municipal elections or more generally. There have been some suggestions in Congress and elsewhere that maybe if you are old enough to drive a death machine – a car – then maybe we should trust you to vote also. I don’t see why we should strangle those ideas before they have a chance to be debated. The old wording would permit such experiments; the new wording will not.

Amendment 2

Amendment 2 – Raise Minimum Wage – YES – line 202

Amendment 2 raises the state minimum wage to $10 effective about a year from now, and a dollar a year thereafter until it hits $15 a year. It is currently $8.56 at the state level, which is higher than the federal minimum.

In principle I don’t think this is the sort of thing we should put in the State Constitution. Suppose, for example, there were a major depression and the entire price and wage level cratered. Having the minimum wage be this inflexible, beyond legislative adjustment in economic emergencies, doesn’t seem like a smart move. On the other hand, our legislature is so hopelessly gerrymandered that even though Florida is the classic 50/50 state, both houses have large GOP majorities, and they have no interest at all in helping working people. So if we are going to get a living wage, it’s this or federal action. Since we can’t count on federal action, it’s this.

We don’t live in a perfect world, and given its imperfections amendments like this are pretty much the only way we get anything progressive at the state level in Florida these days. So I’m voting YES.

Amendment 3

Amendment 3 – Jungle Primary – NO – line 205.

Amendment 3 would abolish the primary system as we know it for races for Governor, Cabinet, and both houses of the legislature. Currently, we are a ‘closed primary’ state: voters have until about a month before the election to register and (optionally) select a party affiliation. If already registered, voters can change party affiliation any time before the close of the registration period. Everyone votes the same in the general election, and also for ‘non-partisan’ offices such as Miami-Dade County Mayor. But for Governor and legislature, only Democrats vote in the Democratic primary, and only Republicans vote in the Republican primary, and so too for any other qualifying party.

The (alleged) case for Amendment 3 is that it fixes the following problem: In many legislative districts—particularly in this age of gerrymandering–the real battle is in a party primary and whoever wins the nomination in the party that dominates the area then cruises to victory, and that disenfranchises independent (no-party) registrants, who only get to vote in the less meaningful general election. A stronger form of the argument says that even for statewide offices, it’s wrong to keep non-party members from having a say as to who ends up on the general election ballot. Why not let everyone vote in one big (so-called “jungle” primary)?

To begin with, let me point out that the amendment isn’t even congruent with the problem it most plausibly claims to solve, as it covers “all elections for the Florida legislature, governor and cabinet”. To the extent the biggest problem exists, it’s legislative and local, not statewide. Why then undermine the parties at the state level?
To ask the question is to answer it: this is an attempt to undermine parties—especially the Democratic party—at the state level. An ‘open,’ ‘single’, or ‘jungle’ (as it’s best known) primary means that it is easier to split the vote for less organized parties – like Democrats. Worse—much worse—the jungle primary empowers extremists.

Another point: it is very easy to change one’s party registration tactically, up to a month before the election. If non-party voters strongly want to support a candidate in a primary, it’s quite easy to join the party to vote in it, and then change one’s registration back afterwards. There is no limit, in fact, on the number of switches a voter is allowed. So the plight of the no-party voter is actually within that voter’s power to cure, with only a little effort.

As I’ve argued previously, the best solution to all these problems would be to use ‘instant run-off voting’, but alas that’s not on offer. Meanwhile, no point in making things worse!

Not convinced yet? Here’s another very serious problem with the proposal. Under this plan, the two candidates with the highest vote totals go to a run-off. That opens the door to extremist candidates in a multi-candidate election. Let’s suppose, for the sake of the argument that there are four credible Democrats, and four credible republicans in the race, but that 15% of the electorate that supports an extremist – think of it as the Q-Anon, Trotskyite, or Proud Boys candidate as you wish. Assume also that all the Democrats voting would prefer any of their four candidates to any of the five others, and assume the same thing about the Republicans. Assume also that all non-extremist voters prefer anyone to the extremist.

Depending on how the votes fall out among either of the parties, it’s possible that each of their candidates will get less than 15% personally – opening the door for the extremist to go into the run-off against one of the major party candidates, when the electorate would have much rather had a choice between two of them. Indeed if we assume that one of the major parties is bigger than the other, but the smaller party is less disunited, it’s possible that the smaller party candidate ends up facing the extremist in the run-off, when in fact a majority of the electorate would have preferred any of the candidates from the more splintered (read, usually, “Democratic”) party.

So – NO – on Amendment 3.

Amendment 4

Amendment 4 – Require 2 ballots for future amendments – NO – line 207

The secret to decoding what is going on here is to understand that although the people of Florida are pretty much 50/50 in terms of party preference, on a number of individual issues – like health care, marijuana decriminalization, felon rights, or the minimum wage – the state skews strongly towards the so-called ‘liberal’ position (I’m actually not sure that’s a correct description of voting rights or decriminalization in theoretical terms, that’s how politicians see the issues since they are supported by the Democratic party and opposed by Republicans.)

Our legislature, however, is expertly gerrymandered to bake in a large, strong, Republican majority. And, to be fair, the state democratic party is in the main spineless and deeply incompetent. The one way that we get anything progressive in this state – like the small class-size rule, or the felon enfranchisement, or (this year) an increase in the minimum wage – is by getting it on the ballot for a Florida Constitutional Amendment. That is far from ideal, but needs must. The state already raised the requirements for getting amendments passed a few years ago, but that only dented and did not extinguish the progressive use this last-ditch method of achieving popular social goals. So here comes the state GOP again with another proposal to make popular change even more difficult.

Amendment 4 would require an issue (such as restoration of felons rights) to be on the ballot twice and get 60% of all Floridians to vote “yes” in two separate elections in order to pass. As each ballot campaign takes years and a lot of money this will inevitably undermine grassroots initiatives by increasing the amount of effort and money needed to pass a constitutional amendment. In effect, it will mean that groups with a lot of money would be able to amend the Florida Constitution. And it will make progressive change like the small class size requirement and former felon voting rights that much harder to achieve.

Vote NO on Amendment 4.

Amendment 5

Amendment 5 – Extend time for ‘Save-our-homes’ carryover – Yes – line 208 (corrected)

This is, frankly, a low-stakes amendment. In normal times I’d be against it on the grounds that its goals could be achieved by legislation. I wouldn’t blame anyone who voted against this minor raid on local government tax revenues. But in a year of COIVD, where everything is difficult, it’s hard to be against a rule that extends the time for rolling over homestead exemptions.

I’m voting YES on Amendment 5 (but feel free to vote NO if you are a purist).

Amendment 6

Amendment 6 – Extend homestead exemption for spouses of deceased disabled veterans – NO – line 211

This one is just silly. We’re talking about a tiny group of people—widows and widowers of disabled veterans. There just isn’t any point to putting this sort of thing in the Florida Constitution. It belongs in legislation.

Vote NO on Amendment 6. But go ahead and vote for it if you want to encourage the legislature to push more stuff like this in front of voters.

Miami-Dade Charter Amendments

Referendum 1 – Create office of Inspector General – Yes – line 212

Given the Augean Stables of corruption that is Miami-Dade, having an independent Inspector General cannot hurt, although I’m not deeply optimistic about how much it will help, either. I’m voting YES.

Referendum 2 – Delay elections to replace ‘resign to run’ officials to general election – Yes – line 214

There really are two sides to this one. The case for Ref 2 is that when politicians resign to run for other office, as required by Florida state law, the resulting special election to fill their seats is costly, participation is often poor, and the resulting term is usually quite short. So it’s not value for money.

The case against Ref 2 is that it means the office(s) in question will be vacant longer, leaving the constituency without the representation to which it is entitled.

You really could go either way on this one. On balance, I think the savings outweigh the democratic gains, especially given the fact that turnout is often very light in special elections. So I’m voting Yes; I wouldn’t blame anyone who voted No.

Referendum 3 – Nonpartisan election of Sheriff, Appraiser, etc – No – 217

This is, to me, the most important of the three referendum questions. Basically, what it does is force the equivalent of a jungle primary (see discussion of Constitutional Amendment 3 above) on major local offices not covered by the Amendment. The only practical difference is that while the Amendment would allow parties to endorse and candidates to state party affiliations on the ballot, this charter amendment would not even do that.

Again, I would be fine with a ‘non-partisan’ ballot if it were organized in a way that didn’t open the door to fringe candidates squeaking through to the run-off or various other machinations that could fail to reflect what people actually want. The way to do that is to follow the State of Maine’s example and use ranked-choice voting. But this is a step backwards, not forwards.

Posted in 2020 Election, Law: Everything Else, Miami | 11 Comments