Category Archives: Coral Gables

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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Coral Gables Commission Allows Remote Participation Via Cam or Cell Phone — If You Can Find the Link

According to a recent email newsletter from Coral Gables Commissioner Jorge L. Fors, Jr.,

Live video commenting at City Commission Meetings is now possible. With the support of the City Commission, I passed a resolution that allows any resident with a webcam or smartphone to appear and give public comments at City Commission Meetings via live video feed.

Through technology, this new system further enhances transparency and public access in our City’s governance.

I encourage all wishing to comment remotely to visit our website before Commission Meetings to access the link to the Zoom meeting. (Note: When quasi-judicial items are heard before the City Commission, speakers will need to be physically present if they wish to offer sworn testimony).

I think this is a pretty cool idea. Alas, Commissioner Fors didn’t give a link and I can’t find any relevant info on the City of Coral Gables web site. I did find numerous offers to make an “e-comment” by text, but that comes with the following so-called “Disclaimer”:

Tell us what’s on your mind. Your comments and information will not be read during Commission Meetings, but will become part of the official public record. If you do not want your personal information included in the official record, do not complete that field.

The next Commission meeting is on Feb. 25th, so it can’t be that it’s too soon to have a link, can it? Maybe it’s only visible on the day? But at least they could tell us that. Or maybe I just don’t know where to look, although I tried the general City calendar and what seems to be the agenda for the next meeting of the Commission. (I say “seems to be” because it is hosted at “granicusideas.com” which calls itself “the most trusted marketing [sic] platform for government.)

What am I missing here? Is the idea that there’s some portal only available in real time? Even if that’s the case, they could explain that somewhere, couldn’t they?

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We Had an Earthquake?

Apparently, the earthquake between Jamaica and Cuba this afternoon was so strong (7.7!) it shook up parts of Miami. Various tall buildings downtown were evacuated as a safety precaution.

I didn’t feel a thing in my third-floor office in Coral Gables.

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Coral Gables Falls Prey to Dark Money

The guy supported by the mysterious group that seems to have falsified return addresses on the false and misleading mailers they sent voters, well that guy, Jorge Fors Jr., won the Coral Gables Commission run-off by 173 votes in a race with 26% turnout.

There are four groups you could blame for this:

First, low-information voters who got bamboozled (not all of Fors’s supporters of course, but enough to swing the result). I don’t in fact blame them. Not having to be well informed is a luxury of prosperity and good times. Pity it tends to be self-limiting….

Second, the Florida legislature, which has written campaign rules that it designed to be abused. Filing deadlines are arranged so that dark money groups don’t have to file much or anything in the way of disclosure until after the election, so we can’t tell who is paying for hit jobs on candidates. Even when disclosures are filed, the rules (intentionally) leave open ways to obfuscate the source of funds. I sure do blame them.

And third, of course, whoever it was who paid for and designed the hit mailers on Cabrera that I am sure swing more than 87 votes.

Last, but far from least, I blame the worthies of the Coral Gables establishment who don’t want to have their elections fall at the same time as any other race. That depresses turnout and keeps the election nice and clubby, just they way they want it. I blame the current Mayor, who chaired the most recent Charter Revision Committee, and rejected suggestions to move the date, even though being on the county ballot would save the City significant money. Supporters of the off-year-election status quo argued (1) that if the City were on the county ballot, our election would appear right at the end, and there would be ballot fatigue — but I bet votes cast would still be well over 26%! And they also argued, but very very quietly, (2) that if we had City elections on the main ballot then — horror of horrors! — more students would vote. And we can’t have that riff-raff deciding elections, now can we?

We should run Coral Gables City elections like we do for judges: have the non-partisan races on the day of the primary, and any run-off on the day of the general election. Leaving races to off years as we do not only wastes taxpayer money paying for the election machinery (twice in this case), it also suppresses the vote. But again, in the eyes of our city worthies, that’s a feature not a bug.

But one guy you shouldn’t blame is Ralph Cabrera. He worked hard; indeed he came by my neighborhood at least twice. He didn’t go low in this race. He should look in the mirror in the morning and feel good about that.

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Coral Gables Commission Run-Off: Please Vote Cabrera

We have a run-off on Tuesday April 23rd (i.e., tomorrow if you are reading this Monday night) between the two top vote getters in Group 4.  Sadly, the incumbent Mayor beat Jeannett Slesnick by 123 votes — even fewer than last time.

I wrote previously about why you should vote for Ralph Cabrera, and there’s more where that came from. If you live in Coral Gables it’s important you take a few minutes and vote in this run-off. We really Do Not want some unknown party to buy this election for Jorge Fors. 

Since the election there have been two more sleazy mailers from a shadowy source making false charges against Cabrera. The sordid business is documented, and speculated about, at Political Cortadito’s Secretly funded PAC attacks Ralph Cabrera with mystery mailers, lies.

It’s weird and sad that dark money has come to a small city like Coral Gables, but these are the times we live in. Please don’t let the bad guys win this.

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Thoughts on the Upcoming 2019 Coral Gables Elections

On April 9 Coral Gables will have an election for Mayor and for one of the Commission seats. Coral Gables uses a City Manager system, so the Mayor is only a bit more than first-among-equals, with a substantial ceremonial role. Oddly, Commissioners get a four-year term, but the Mayor only gets a two-year term.

Coral Gables Mayor

The Mayoral race pits incumbent Raul Valdes-Fauli against challenger and former Commissioner Jeannett Slesnick. Slesnick lost by 187 votes the last time they went head-to-head.

I think this is a pretty easy call.

Continue reading

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