Monthly Archives: October 2014

Leon County Guide to County and Special District Elections (November, 2014)

Campaigning in Leon County during 2012 early voting

Campaigning in Leon County during 2012 early voting

Remember to vote early.  Here is a list of all Early Voting Sites in Leon County.

Thank you for visiting the Adventure Lawyer’s “Leon County Guide to County and Special District Elections.”

This guide is intended to help undecided voters throughout Leon County identify relevant information relating to potentially otherwise unknown candidates when deciding which individual most deserves your vote. It lists all candidates for each contested county, judicial, and special district board election appearing on the November 4, 2014 ballot.

Using the Guide

Campaign Websites

Directly under each candidate’s name is a link to their campaign website or their campaign Facebook page.  If a candidate has both, the link generally attaches to their website which will then contains its own link to their campaign Facebook page, if they have one. If I was unable to find a candidate campaign website or a campaign Facebook page, there will be the statement “No Website Found.”

Campaign Finance Records

Directly under each candidate’s link to their campaign website or Facebook page, or the words “No Website Found,” is, when available, a link to each candidate’s most recent campaign finance report as of October 30, 2014. This link is titled “Latest Campaign Finance Report.”  If I was unable to find a posting of their most recent (or any) posting of the candidate’s campaign finance report, instead of a link, you will find the statement “No Campaign Finance Information Found.”

Because whether or not their campaign finance reports are published timely by third parties is beyond the reasonable scope of responsibility of the candidate, it may be appropriate not to hold their status of “No Campaign Finance Information Found” against them.

Political Affiliation

Except for judicial races, the political affiliation of each candidate, as recorded by the Leon County Supervisor of Elections, is stated next to the name of each non-judicial candidate. Though these are non-partisan races this information is provided for voters who are strongly affiliated with a particular political party and wish to vote for members of that party in local non-judicial offices.

In a very few instances I was unable to confirm a candidate’s voter registration status, and therefore, their party affiliation (if any). For those few candidates the words “Could Not Confirm Voter Registration” appear in place of their party affiliation. In almost every case they are probably registered, they just may not have updated a name change or they may have a name submitted for the ballot that is different from their legal name–such as when someone gets married, takes her spouse’s last name, but keeps her maiden name for election purposes due to its familiarity with voters. Also, sometimes, their name has simply been misspelled in the database.

In other words, consider not penalizing the candidate just because we couldn’t divine the universe of possibilities when looking up candidate names through the database.

For those candidates stated as “NPA,” that simply means that their voter registration states that they have “No Party Affiliation.”

Incumbency

Some voters believe that incumbents should be retained if they perceive that the current Commission or Board is doing a good job as a whole. Conversely, dissatisfied voters  may wish to “vote the bums out” (though please consider first making sure that the incumbent on the ballot hasn’t been the one trying to solve the problem.) Therefore, if a candidate is an incumbent, it is so stated next to their names.

Outlier Candidates

For the vast majority of candidates, the only information the Guide provides are their names, party affiliation, and, when available, links to their campaign websites or, as of October 30, 2014, their latest campaign finance reports.  Occasionally, however, there is an outlier candidate worthy of special attention.

Sometimes, it’s a positive highlight members of the general public may not commonly know: Leon Soil and Water Conservation District Two Candidate Stan Peacock is considered by those who work with the board to be one of the most competent, thorough, and committed member that the Board has ever had.

Unfortunately, other times, a candidate may have a noteworthy unorthodox past or demeanor, that those who do not often pay close attention to local politics may not be aware: Leon Soil and Water Conservation District Two Candidate William Helmich‘s sole occupation is as an ultra-right wing conservative consultant, and he can’t even be bothered to file campaign Finance reports. (He has simply not filed his previous four reports even though large amounts of money are being spent.)  Three people, including myself, called the Supervisor’s office to verify this wasn’t just a paperwork snafu.

In the event that a candidate may be an outlier, a small note is made beneath their name, campaign website link, or phrase “No Website Found,” and their Latest Campaign Finance Report or phrase “No Campaign Financial Information Found.” The representations and accusations are not my own, so I include a link to news reports (and one Youtube video) in citation of the statements made. In these cases, I hope you will do further research on your own.

All statements are intended as statements of opinion and are not statements of fact. I have done my best to exclude negative nonsense.

Personal Notes

Because Leon County is where I live and where I base my law practice, I occasionally have worked with, or have a personal relationship with, a candidate for public office. Usually my opinion is a positive one–most people who are active in Leon County politics, whatever their personal beliefs and opinions, are outstanding human beings and truly dedicated to public service. In a very few cases it’s a negative opinion.

In any event, if I have worked with or know the candidate personally, I offer a brief personal note of what I know about them.

Personal notes may not include links, because they are my personal opinions formed through experience and not something I learned through secondhand sources.

Also note that as I am a past chair of the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee–I might be biased!

Media Coverage

When available, I offer a link to the Tallahassee Democrat or WFSU’s analysis of each race.

Senator Bill Nelson at the  National High Magnetic Field Laboratory--Leon County is a place that believes in science.

Senator Bill Nelson at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory–Leon County is a place that believes in science.

First District Court of Appeal Judicial Retention Races

You can find information on the judges who are up for judicial retention at the Florida Bar’s website here.

The Leon County Commission

At-Large, Group Two:

The Tallahassee Democrat endorses Nick Maddox.

Curtis Baynes DEMOCRAT
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Nick Maddox (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Personal Note: Nick has always been one of my favorite Commissioners to work with and he cares deeply about Leon County. He was instrumental in funding the Leon County Mental Health Court and countless other initiatives.

District One:

Bill Proctor talks with the Tallahassee Democrat.

Weser Khufu’s Rebuttal to the Tallahassee Democrat’s Endorsement.

Weser Khufu DEMOCRAT
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Bill Proctor (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Personal Note: I have worked with Commissioner Proctor on several issues, particularly those related to social mobility, mental health, and veteran affairs.  At public meetings he expresses his District’s frustration through bellicose language and tone–he wants to make it clear to his constituents that he is fighting for them–but when the cameras shut off and the crowds disperse, in my experience, Commissioner Proctor works respectfully, pragmatically and diligently with his colleagues and community activists.  He is also one of the most enigmatic folks I have ever (and it was always a pleasure) worked with.

Leon Soil and Water Conservation District

Learn more about the Leon Soil and Water Conservation District here.

Here is WFSU’s coverage of these races.

District Two:

Stan Peacock (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Personal Note: It is my experience that Stan is considered by pretty much everybody who works with the Board to be the most competent, thorough, and committed member that the Board has ever had. He has a degree in biology and a doctorate in Optometry. One of the candidates in the District Four race suggests that there are no science experts on the Board–considering Stan’s eminent qualifications, that is not a fair assessment.

William Helmich REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: Bill Helmich sends out mailers attempting to betray himself as a Democrat when he is actually Vice Chair of the Republican Executive Committee of Leon County. Although he is spending large amounts of money, we don’t know who it’s from, because he hasn’t filed a campaign finance report with the Supervisor of Elections since September in an apparent naked flouting of Florida Campaign Finance Law. (Three people, including myself, called the Supervisor’s Office to verify this claim.) He once tried to create havoc at one of my Democratic Executive Committee meetings by storming in yelling nonsense about yard signs but–oops–choose to try this at meeting dedicated to a Sheriff and State Attorney candidates’ forum. When he abruptly popped in he was confronted by a largely uniformed audience–the protest deescalated quickly. He once sent a letter to my leadership team claiming I broke an election law by quoting a statute but omitting the text that very plainly mangled his argument into nonsense. His letter is here. My response is here. I followed it up by spending 10K on a second round of “If you like Rick Scott, than you’ll love Steve Stweart ads.” I never heard back from him after that. Bill Helmich should not be trusted to supervise our county’s water supply.

District Four:

Ryan Truchelut NPA
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Brian Lee DEMOCRAT
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Personal Note: Brian helps run an alternate-energy/environmental NGO and has demonstrated an ability to persuade conservative legislators and a “I’m not a scientist” Executive Office of Governor to do basic things to prevent the whole of south Florida from being submerged under the ocean before the next fiscal quarter. He has also proven his ability to raise money through both fundraisers and grant applications. He has been volunteering and actively engaged with the community for many years. Brian was also a key player in President Obama’s 2008 north Florida campaign.

Capital Region Community Development District 

Learn more about the Capital Region Community Development District here.

Seat Three:

Eli Nortelus (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Luis Rojas REPUBLICAN 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Note: If you scroll through his campaign contributions list, you might note an issue with where most of his donations are coming from.

Piney Z Community Development District

Learn more about Piney Z Community Development District here.

Seat One:

Delores Ann Pincus REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Hugh Hauck REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Note: Though it is of little relevance to a community development district race, if you care, Mr. Hauck is endorsed by Personhood Florida, a pro-life political action committee. 

Seat Three:

Johnny Patrick Devine DEMOCRAT
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Cheryl Hudson (Inclumbent) REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Rick Scott Rescheduled an Execution so Pam Bondi could go to a Fundraiser

Pieter Bruegel's ("little") Tower of Babel

Pieter Bruegel’s (“little”) Tower of Babel

In August, 2013, Governor Rick Scott rescheduled the execution date of Marshall Lee Gore from September 10th to October 1st.

Marshall Lee Gore raped, strangled, and stabbed Robyn Novick and dumped her body in rural Miami-Dade county. Marshall Lee Gore also killed Susan Roark after a chance encounter at a convenience store.  Susan Roark was 19.

Their names were Robyn Novick and Susan Roark.

Why would Governor Scott delay the execution of a teenage murdering maniac?  Was it because the Supreme Court was concerned that Gore was too mentally ill, thereby reducing his moral culpability and personal agency, (so the argument goes) to execute?

No.

Rick Scott delayed the execution of a rapist-murderer because on the day of the scheduled execution, September 10, 2013, Attorney General Pam Bondi had also scheduled a campaign fundraiser.

There was a conflict in her schedule you see–so she decided to change the date of what she presumably considered the less-important affair–the execution of the murderer of Robyn Novick, 30, and Susan Roark, 19.

It was her kickoff fundraiser, so perhaps she was concerned about the arrangements her wealthier supporters had made? Maybe she felt uncomfortable asking them to rearrange their calendars to accommodate an execution?

I wonder if the families of of Robyn Novick and Susan Roark thought it was inconvenient for themselves to rearrange their calendars to accommodate a political fundraiser? Or, instead, did they think it one further indignity for their loved one’s memory to endure?

It was a parting shot from the state of Florida expressing we don’t really care about you; we just pretend for the cameras. 

Governor Scott says he didn’t know the Attorney General’s reason when she asked for the delay.

I guess Rick Scott didn’t believe that the lives of  Robyn Novick and Susan Roark were even important enough to ask why.

But they were still going to kill somebody over it–provided they could agree on a convenient time.

As somebody who works and researches human rights issues, both domestically and in the field, I believe that a legitimate government should never kill its citizens. However, if there is going to be an execution, this is how it should take place.

Therefore, it’s not that I’m angry that this person lived for another three weeks; I would have been content to have let him breath until his natural death provided it be behind bars. I’m angry about why–this evil who was so evil he didn’t know he was evil–breathed the extra three weeks.

If you do support the death penalty and wonder why the Supreme Court allows appeal after appeal about the Constitution’s “cruel and unusual clause” and the “arbitrary application” argument–this is why.

“The Voting Information Project (VIP), developed by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Google, and election officials nationwide, offers cutting-edge technology tools that give voters access to the customized information they need to cast a ballot on or before Election Day.

VIP is offering free apps and tools that provide polling place locations and ballot information for the 2014 election across a range of technology platforms:”

To learn more about the Voting Information Project, visit here.

Miami-Dade County Guide to Non-Partisan County, Judicial, and Special District Elections

Richard Junnier behind the scenes

Remember to vote early.  Here is a list of all Early Voting Sites in Miami-Dade County.

Thank you for visiting the Adventure Lawyer’s “Miami-Dade County Guide to Non-Partisan County, Judicial, and Special District Elections.”

This guide is intended to help undecided voters throughout Miami-Dade County identify relevant information relating to potentially otherwise unknown candidates when deciding which individual most deserves your vote. It lists all candidates for each contested county, judicial, and special district board election appearing on the November 4, 2014 ballot.

Using the Guide

Campaign Websites

Directly under each candidate’s name is a link to their campaign website or their campaign Facebook page.  If a candidate has both, the link generally attaches to their website which will then contains its own link to their campaign Facebook page, if they have one. If I was unable to find a candidate campaign website or a campaign Facebook page, there will be the statement “No Website Found.”

Campaign Finance Records

Directly under each candidate’s link to their campaign website or Facebook page, or the words “No Website Found,” is, when available, a link to each candidate’s most recent campaign finance report as of October 10, 2014. This link is titled “Latest Campaign Finance Report.”  If I was unable to find a posting of their most recent (or any) posting of the candidate’s campaign finance report, instead of a link, you will find the statement “No Campaign Finance Information Found.”

Because whether or not their campaign finance reports are published timely by third parties is beyond the reasonable scope of responsibility of the candidate, it may be appropriate not to hold their status of “No Campaign Finance Information Found” against them.

Political Affiliation

Except for judicial races, the political affiliation of each candidate, as recorded by the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections, is stated next to the name of each non-judicial candidate.  Though these are non-partisan races this information is provided for voters who are strongly affiliated with a particular political party and wish to vote for members of that party in local non-judicial offices.

In a very few instances I was unable to confirm a candidate’s voter registration status, and therefore, their party affiliation (if any). For those few candidates the words “Could Not Confirm Voter Registration” appear in place of their party affiliation. In almost every case they are probably registered, they just may not have updated a name change or they may have a name submitted for the ballot that is different from their legal name–such as when someone gets married, takes her spouse’s last name, but keeps her maiden name for election purposes due to its familiarity with voters. Also, sometimes, their name has simply been misspelled in the database.

In other words, consider not penalizing the candidate just because we couldn’t divine the universe of possibilities when looking up candidate names through the database.

For those candidates stated as “NPA,” that simply means that their voter registration states that they have “No Party Affiliation.”

Incumbency

Some voters believe that incumbents should be retained if they perceive that the current Commission or Board is doing a good job as a whole. Conversely, dissatisfied voters  may wish to “vote the bums out” (though please consider first making sure that the incumbent on the ballot hasn’t been the one trying to solve the problem.) Therefore, if a candidate is an incumbent, it is so stated next to their names.

Outlier Candidates

For the vast majority of candidates, the only information the Guide provides are their names, party affiliation, and, when available, links to their campaign websites or, as of October 10, 2014, their latest campaign finance reports.  Occasionally, however, there is an outlier candidate worthy of special attention.

Sometimes, it’s a positive highlight members of the general public may not commonly know: Lakes by the Bay South Community Development District Seat 5 candidate William A. Pacetti III has a well documented and long history of commitment to his community.

Unfortunately, other times, a candidate may have a noteworthy unorthodox past or demeanor, that those who do not often pay close attention to local politics may not be aware: The Miami Herald revoked its endorsement of sitting Judge Jacqueline “Jackie” Schwartz after she allegedly behaved inappropriately with a small business owner over a campaign sign–she also allegedly still sends out mailers saying she is endorsed by the Herald.

In the event that a candidate may be an outlier, a small note is made beneath their name, campaign website link, or phrase “No Website Found,” and their Latest Campaign Finance Report or phrase “No Campaign Financial Information Found.” The representations and accusations are not my own, so I include a link to news reports (and one Youtube video) in citation of the statements made. In these cases, I hope you will do further research on your own.

All statements are intended as statements of opinion and are not statements of fact. I have done my best to exclude negative nonsense.

Media Coverage

When available, I offer a link to the Miami Herald’s analysis of each race.

Miami-Dade County Judge
Juez Del Condado

Jij Konte

Group 19:
Grupo 19:
Gwoup 19:

I will not disclose the political affiliation of judicial candidates.

Frank Bocanegra
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Jacqueline “Jackie” Schwartz (Incumbent) 
Campaign Webstie
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: The Miami Herald has retracted its endorsement of her reelection due to questions of her temperament, but reportedly, she is still sending out mailers saying she is endorsed by the Miami Herald.

Miami-Dade Property Appraiser
Tasador De Inmuebles
Evalyate Pwopriyete

Pedro J. Garcia REPUBLICAN
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Eddy Gonzalez REPUBLICAN
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Lakes by the Bay South Community Development District
Distrito De Desarrollo De La Comunidad
Distrik Devlopman Kominote

Seat 5:
Escano 5:
Syej 5:

Danny Dinicola 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

William A. Pacetti III (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
No Website found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Note: 2010 he was given a certificate of appreciation from the Miami-Dade County Commission. 

The view outside "Verde."  It is, I must say, an appropriate artistic expression for Miami politics.  When the new owner of the iconic Miami Herald Building was refused permission to build a casino, he spontaneously exploded half his building to treat tourists with a  perpetual view of what he thought about the government's decision.

The view outside “Verde.” It is, I must say, an appropriate artistic expression for Miami politics. When the new owner of the iconic Miami Herald Building was refused permission to build a casino, he spontaneously exploded half his building to treat tourists with a perpetual view of what he thought about the government’s decision.

Midtown Miami Community Development District
Distrito De Desarrollo De Law Comunidad
Distrik Devlopman Kominote

Seat 1:
Escano 1:
Syej 1:

Luis Baez NPA
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Joseph Padula NPA
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Now wasn’t that last one helpful? Why on Earth is a group that handles $80,000,000 so unknown?

Richard Junnier: Making a legal analysis of Fangate

After watching Charlie Crist accept the Democratic nomination for Florida Governor at his election night party, my friends and I fled the ruckus to a nearby hotel to enjoy a drink in privacy. Apparently we were not alone in this idea.

After watching Charlie Crist accept the Democratic nomination for Florida Governor at his election night party, my friends and I fled the ruckus to a nearby hotel to enjoy a drink in privacy. Apparently we were not alone in this idea.

This My View was originally published with the Tallahassee Democrat.

The organizers of the Oct. 15 gubernatorial debate have accused Charlie Crist of breaking the rules. From a legal standpoint, that simply isn’t true.

A contract is an agreement courts will enforce. To be enforceable, the agreement must be made for a legal purpose (no drug deals), must be mutually agreed to by people (yes, this includes corporations) with capacity (incorporated or 18, sober, and sane) and must include “adequate” consideration (you can’t sell your Ferrari for $1, but you can for $1 and a rug, for reasons better left to a future article). Though not ideal, some contracts can be made orally, while others, like the sale of property, must be written.

A person enters into a contract when he has “accepted” an “offer.” If a person is sent a contract but sends back a signed altered version of it, it is a “counteroffer” and thereby necessarily rejects the original contract. The second person may reject the counteroffer, accept it, or respond with another counteroffer. Under certain circumstances, the second person may accept the counteroffer through omission or inaction.

That is likely the case here:

The organizers sent both the Crist and Rick Scott campaigns an identical debate agreement, which stated that no electronic devices could be used, “including fans.” This was the organizers’ “offer.” Scott’s campaign accepted the offer and the Crist campaign signed the agreement but added the statement “With the understanding that the debate hosts will address any temperature issues with a fan if necessary.”

Florida law would treat the Crist’s altered contract as a “counteroffer” and therefore a rejection of the organizers’ offer. Assuming that the Scott campaign knew about the counteroffer, and the various parties, including the Crist campaign and the debate’s sponsors and organizers began to rely on the agreement by expending money and resources toward promoting and preparing for the debate, the Scott campaign effectively “ratified” the Crist campaign’s “Fan Amendment” through its inaction to object.

(If the organizers failed to notify the Scott campaign of the counteroffer, than the Crist campaign was still entitled to the fan and the Scott campaign’s attorney is also likely entitled to an animated conversation with the debate organizers.)

This new agreement allowed for Crist to have his fan if he felt the temperature warranted it, and created a duty for both Crist and Scott to appear for the debate. When only Crist appeared, Gov. Scott (in my opinion) was in breach of contract.

Moreover, had he not finally changed his mind after a fun but uncomfortable seven minutes, Scott may have even been liable for the damages caused to the debate sponsors, organizers and the media outlets that spent good money traveling to an event promising two candidates.

Finally, the obligatory caveat. I have seen and read what appear to be the relevant documents, but there may be other applicable documents I am unaware of, so please don’t confuse this My View for a proper legal memorandum.

Richard Junnier is the immediate past chair of the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee and also has served as its special counsel for campaign finance and election law. He practices both election law and contract law throughout Florida. Contact him at rjunnier@junnierlaw.com.

Palm Beach County Guide to Non-Partisan County, School Board, and Special District Elections.

Richard Junnier behind the scenes

Remember to vote early.  Here is a list of all Early Voting Sites in Palm Beach County.

Thank you for visiting the Adventure Lawyer’s “Palm Beach County Guide to Non-Partisan County, School Board, and Special District Elections.”

This guide is intended to help undecided voters throughout Palm Beach County identify relevant information relating to potentially otherwise unknown candidates when deciding which individual most deserves your vote. It lists all candidates for each contested non-partisan county, school board, and special district board election appearing on the November 4, 2014 ballot. For reasons of thoroughness, It also lists the candidates for the partisan Port of Palm Beach Commission Group Five race.

Using the Guide

Campaign Websites

Directly under each candidate’s name is a link to their campaign website or their campaign Facebook page.  If a candidate has both, the link generally attaches to their website which will then contains its own link to their campaign Facebook page, if they have one. If I was unable to find a candidate campaign website or a campaign Facebook page, there will be the statement “No Website Found.”

Campaign Finance Records

Directly under each candidate’s link to their campaign website or Facebook page, or the words “No Website Found,” is, when available, a link to each candidate’s most recent campaign finance report as of October 10, 2014. This link is titled “Latest Campaign Finance Report.”  If I was unable to find a posting of their most recent (or any) posting of the candidate’s campaign finance report, instead of a link, you will find the statement “No Campaign Finance Information Found.”

Because whether or not their campaign finance reports are published timely by third parties is beyond the reasonable scope of responsibility of the candidate, it may be appropriate not to hold their status of “No Campaign Finance Information Found” against them.

Political Affiliation

Except for judicial races, the political affiliation of each candidate, as recorded by the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, is stated next to the name of each non-judicial candidate. Though these are non-partisan races this information is provided for voters who are strongly affiliated with a particular political party and wish to vote for members of that party in local non-judicial offices.

In a very few instances I was unable to confirm a candidate’s voter registration status, and therefore, their party affiliation (if any). For those few candidates the words “Could Not Confirm Voter Registration” appear in place of their party affiliation. In almost every case they are probably registered, they just may not have updated a name change or they may have a name submitted for the ballot that is different from their legal name–such as when someone gets married, takes her spouse’s last name, but keeps her maiden name for election purposes due to its familiarity with voters. Also, sometimes, their name has simply been misspelled in the database.

In other words, consider not penalizing the candidate just because we couldn’t divine the universe of possibilities when looking up candidate names through the database.

For those candidates stated as “NPA,” that simply means that their voter registration states that they have “No Party Affiliation.”

Incumbency

Some voters believe that incumbents should be retained if they perceive that the current Commission or Board is doing a good job as a whole. Conversely, dissatisfied voters  may wish to “vote the bums out” (though please consider first making sure that the incumbent on the ballot hasn’t been the one trying to solve the problem.) Therefore, if a candidate is an incumbent, it is so stated next to their names.

Outlier Candidates

For the vast majority of candidates, the only information the Guide provides are their names, party affiliation, and, when available, links to their campaign websites or, as of October 10, 2014, their latest campaign finance reports.  Occasionally, however, there is an outlier candidate worthy of special attention.

Sometimes, it’s a positive highlight members of the general public may not commonly know: For example, Port of Palm Beach Group 5 Candidate Peyton McArthur, endorsed by the Palm Beach Post, has spent years as the Port’s HR Director and is currently Chief Assistant to Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Paulette Burdick.

Unfortunately, other times, a candidate may have a noteworthy unorthodox past or demeanor, that those who do not often pay close attention to local politics may not be aware: For example, Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation District Group Five Candidate Karl Dickey is a registered Libertarian. While Libertarians, who generally deny the scientific fact of global climate change, have a place in the American political discussion, you probably don’t want to charge them with keeping the public up-to-date on a problem they don’t believe exists. Which is, after all, one of the key responsibilities of the Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation District.

Media Coverage

When available, I offer a link to media analysis of each race.  This is a list of the Palm Beach Post’s endorsements.

Adventuring at Palm Beach's Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. If you have never been, be sure to hit up the cafe--it is very cheap, and the food is authentically great!

Adventuring at Palm Beach’s Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. If you have never been, be sure to hit up the cafe–it is very cheap, and the food is authentically great!

Palm Beach County School Board

District 4:

Tom Sutterfield REPUBLICAN  
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Endorsed by the Palm Beach Post

Erica Whitfield DEMOCRAT
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Port of Palm Beach 

 Group 5 (Partisan):

Peyton McArthur DEMOCRAT
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Particularly High Qualified Candidate: Served 6 years as the Port Authority HR Director and is currently Chief Assistant to Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Paulette Burdick.

Kesnel Theus Jr REPUBLICAN
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report 

Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation District 

Group  5:

Karl Dickey LIBERTARIAN
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Note; The Candidate contacted me concerning the “caution” below and responded that his intentions for the PBSWCD are not represented by the official Libertarian Party of Florida’s platform. He offered a link to a post stating his goals for the PBSWCD. Therefore, in addition to the link to his campaign Facebook page, above, you can find out more about his specific ideas for the PBSWCD here.
Caution: The Environmental Platform of the Libertarian Party of Florida is incongruous with the purpose of the Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation District and states as follows:

X. ENVIRONMENT 1. Aside from public safety, there is no greater concern for the people of Florida than having a safe, healthy environment. We look forward to the day when all property not required for police and court functions are returned to private ownership and control. 2. We call for the restoration of every individual’s ancient, common law standing to sue for trespass any individual, business, government or other group that pollutes his or her property. 3. We oppose creation of new government parks or wilderness and recreation areas. Such parks and areas that already exist should be transferred to non-government ownership. Pending such transfer, their operating costs should be borne by their users rather than by taxpayers. 4. We support efforts to hold all individuals, businesses and governments accountable for the pollution they cause.

Eva S. Webb (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

horse

Indian Trail Improvement District

Here is Town Crier’s Coverage of a Candidates’ Forum. 

Seat 1:

Michael W Erickson DEMOCRAT
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Jennifer Hager REPUBLICAN
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Seat 3:

Ralph Bair (Incumbent) REPUBLICAN
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Alan Ballweg DEMOCRAT
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Seat 5:

Carol Jacobs (Incumbent) REPUBLICAN
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report 

Betty Argue DEMOCRAT
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report 

You Can Make all those Damn Political Phone Calls and Mailers Stop by Voting Early

As you can see from this picture, I am obviously non-partisan.

As you can see from this picture, I am obviously non-partisan.

Adventure Lawyer’s cocktail party factoid of the day:

If you vote early or return your absentee ballot, all those annoying calls from politicians and political parties and other groups will stop within about 24 hours.

This is because at the end of each day the major political parties request and receive files from each supervisor of elections so that the candidates in each party can update their databases which track which voters have already voted. If you have already voted, they take your name out of their call list because there is no longer an incentive to contact you.

So you have the power to stop those harassing calls today!

Vote Early!

The Division of Elections maintains a list of statewide early voting sites here.

All early voting sites are listed in Spanish here.

Because sometimes the Division of Elections database is slightly out of date, here is where you can vote early by each county in alphabetical order.

Alachua County

Baker County

Bay County

Bradford County

Brevard County

Broward County

Calhoun County

Charlotte County

Citrus County

Clay County

Collier County

Columbia County

DeSoto County

Dixie County

Duval County

Escambia County

Flagler County

Franklin County

Gadsden County

Gilchrist County

Glades County

Gulf County

Hamilton County

Hardee County
Note: Finding the info on this site requires an advanced degree in cryptology from MIT, so, to save you the hassle, Early Voting is at the Supervisor of Elections Office, Monday October 20, 2014 through Saturday November 1, 2014, 8:30am – 5:00pm.)

Hendry County

Hernando County

Highlands County

Hillsborough County

Holmes County

Indian River County

Jackson County

Jefferson County

Lafayette County

Lake County

Lee County

Leon County

Levy County

Liberty County

Madison County

Manatee County

Marion County

Martin County

Miami-Dade County

Monroe County

Nassau County

Okaloosa County

Okeechobee County

Orange County

Osceola County

Palm Beach County

Pasco County

Pinellas County

Polk County

Putnam County

St. Johns County

St. Lucie County

Santa Rosa County

Sarasota County

Seminole County

Sumter County

Suwannee County

Taylor County

Union County

Volusia County

Wakulla County
Note: Apparently the Supervisor of Elections website wants to keep its early voting program a secret. Early voting will be at the SOE Office, 3115‐B Crawfordville Highway, Crawfordville October 25 ‐ November 1, from 8:00 am ‐ 7:00 pm.

Walton County

Washington County

Broward County Guide to Non-Partisan Municipal, County, and Special District Elections

Richard Junnier behind the scenes

Remember to vote early.  Here is a list of all Early Voting Sites in Broward County.

Thank you for visiting the Adventure Lawyer’s “Broward County Guide to Non-Partisan Municipal, County, and Special District Elections.”

This guide is intended to help undecided voters throughout Broward County identify relevant information relating to potentially otherwise unknown candidates when deciding which individual most deserves your vote. It lists all candidates for each contested municipal, judicial, and special district board election appearing on the November 4, 2014 ballot.

Using the Guide

Campaign Websites

Directly under each candidate’s name is a link to their campaign website or their campaign Facebook page.  If a candidate has both, the link generally attaches to their website which will then contains its own link to their campaign Facebook page, if they have one. If I was unable to find a candidate campaign website or a campaign Facebook page, there will be the statement “No Website Found.”

Campaign Finance Records

Campaign Finance Reports for municipal elections are recorded with each municipal clerk.  The Clerks for Cooper City, Coral Springs, Dania Beach, Hallandale Beach, Lauderhill, Margate, Pompano Beach, and Wilton Manors post their candidates’ campaign finance records online. Clerks for Lauderdale Lakes, Oakland Park, Tamarac, and West Park apparently do not. Judicial and Special District candidate campaign finance reports are recorded at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections. For some of the these races the Supervisor posts an updated link to these records (such as in judicial races) and in others the Supervisor does not.

Directly under each candidate’s link to their campaign website or Facebook page, or the words “No Website Found,” is, when available, a link to each candidate’s most recent campaign finance report as of October 10, 2014. This link is titled “Latest Campaign Finance Report.”  If I was unable to find a posting of their most recent (or any) posting of the candidate’s campaign finance report, instead of a link, you will find the statement “No Campaign Finance Information Found.”

Because whether or not their campaign finance reports are published timely by third parties is beyond the reasonable scope of responsibility of the candidate, it may be appropriate not to hold their status of “No Campaign Finance Information Found” against them.

Political Affiliation

Except for judicial races, the political affiliation of each candidate, as recorded by the Broward Supervisor of Elections, is stated next to the name of each non-judicial candidate.  Though these are non-partisan races this information is provided for voters who are strongly affiliated with a particular political party and wish to vote for members of that party in local non-judicial offices.

In a very few instances I was unable to confirm a candidate’s voter registration status, and therefore, their party affiliation (if any). For those few candidates the words “Could Not Confirm Voter Registration” appear in place of their party affiliation. In almost every case they are probably registered, they just may not have updated a name change or they may have a name submitted for the ballot that is different from their legal name–such as when someone gets married, takes her spouse’s last name, but keeps her maiden name for election purposes due to its familiarity with voters. Also, sometimes, their name has simply been misspelled in the database.

In other words, consider not penalizing the candidate just because we couldn’t divine the universe of possibilities when looking up candidate names through the database.

For those candidates stated as “NPA,” that simply means that their voter registration states that they have “No Party Affiliation.”

Incumbency

Some voters believe that incumbents should be retained if they perceive that the current Commission or Board is doing a good job as a whole. Conversely, dissatisfied voters  may wish to “vote the bums out” (though please consider first making sure that the incumbent on the ballot hasn’t been the one trying to solve the problem.) Therefore, if a candidate is an incumbent, it is so stated next to their names.

Outlier Candidates

For the vast majority of candidates, the only information the Guide provides are their names, party affiliation, and, when available, links to their campaign websites or, as of October 10, 2014, their latest campaign finance reports.  Occasionally, however, there is an outlier candidate worthy of special attention.

Sometimes, it’s a positive highlight members of the general public may not commonly know: Coral Springs Mayoral candidate Walter “Skip” Campbell is a former state senator and statewide attorney general nominee, and is an unusually highly qualified candidate. Barry L. Moss  is the only Democratic candidate running in a four way race in wildly liberal Pompano Beach’s Seat 5 race.

Unfortunately, other times, a candidate may have a noteworthy unorthodox past or demeanor, that those who do not often pay close attention to local politics may not be aware: Wilton Manors City Commission incumbent Ted Galatis made national news by screaming racial epithets during a road rage incident. Though everyone’s favorite unusual candidate seems to be Wilton Manor’s Christopher Warnigwho is 22, been involved in the gay porn industry, and has been twice arrested for impersonating a police officer, and who reportedly responded by buying a bulletproof vest with campaign cash. Not to be outdone, a third Wilton Manors candidate, Boyd Corbin, who I guess just enjoys dressing as a KKK member while assaulting his would-be constituents, well–just yikes! Elsewhere in Broward County, incumbent Cooper City Commissioner John Sims seems to be a venerable cornucopia of hate and alleged domestic violence.  He is so disliked, that the data director of one of the statewide campaigns took the trouble to detail and publicly publish a strategy to ensure he never becomes dog catcher let alone wins reelection. 

Some candidates simply seem clandestine. Walnut Creek CDD Seat 4 candidate, A. Munju, short for Ali Noor Munju, has no website and no campaign finance reports available. In some very low profile races, candidates think they have a chance of winning through the coin-toss model of voting. His opponent, Nicole Stames-DiCorpo, seems to be following precisely the same strategy.

In the event that a candidate may be an outlier, a small note is made beneath their name, campaign website link, or phrase “No Website Found,” and their Latest Campaign Finance Report or phrase “No Campaign Financial Information Found.” The representations and accusations are not my own, so I include a link to news reports (and one Youtube video) in citation of the statements made. In these cases, I hope you will do further research on your own.

All statements are intended as statements of opinion and are not statements of fact. I have done my best to exclude negative nonsense.

Media Coverage

When available, I offer a link to the Sun Sentinel’s analysis of each race.

The "parking lot" at Pier 66, Hollywood, FL

The “parking lot” at Pier 66, Hollywood, FL

Broward County Non-Partisan Municipal Races
(In alphabetical order by city)

Cooper City

City Commission, District 1:

Michael J. de Miranda REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

John Sims (Incumbent) REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: Controversial due to his racist Obama Facebook statuses and also someone on Youtube has put together a montage of his other objectionable behaviors. Anybody looking for a field strategy to unseat him may find it here. 

 Coral Springs

The Sun Sentinel’s coverage of these races may be found here.

Mayor:

Walter “Skip” Campbell DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Particularly High-Qualified Candidate: Former State Senator and Democratic Nominee for Florida Attorney General

Tom Powers REPUBLICAN 
Website Not Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: Mr. Powers is considered by some to be a particularly controversial conservative candidate.

City Commission, Seat 4:

Lou Cimaglia DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Howard Irwin Melamed DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission, Seat 5:

Joy Carter NPA
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Andy Holz REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Laurette Homan REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Dania Beach

 City Commission (elect two)

Charles Camacho Jr. DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Bobbie Grace (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

James Ridgely III (Withdrawn but name will appear on ballot) NPA
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: Ineligible to serve due to 1989 felony conviction.

Marco Salvino Sr. REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Rae Sandler NPA
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: She was escorted out of a commission meeting for being disruptive; you can decide if this was warranted by watching here.

Hallandale Beach

Sun Sentinel Coverage of these races can be found here.

City Commission, Seat 1: 

Gerald Dean DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Ann Pearl Henigson DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Chuck Kulin DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Anthony Sanders (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission, Seat 2: 

Leo Grachow (Incumbent, appointed) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Keith London DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Lauderdale Lakes

Lauderdale Lakes does not appear to publish its candidate’s campaign finance reports, you can call the Clerk directly about this at 954-535-2705.

The Sun Sentinel’s Coverage of this race can be found here.

City Commission, Seat 2:

Sandra Davey DEMOCRAT 
Website

TeAndre Warrior Gomion DEMOCRAT 
Website

Beverly M. Williams DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found

Jeffery L. Williams DEMOCRAT 
Website

Lauderhill

The Sun Sentinel’s coverage of this race can be found here.

City Commission, Seat 4:

Hayward J. Benson, Jr. (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

William Cossio DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: An unusual candidate; you can find his “Go Fund Me” site here.
Note: Candidate may wish to review (Sections 106.143(3) and (5), F.S.) in relationship to his use of his party affiliation stated on his website.

Denise Grant DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Kelvin G.Haynes DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Margate

City Commission, Seat 2: (Decided by August 26, Special Election)

City Commission, Seat 3:

Anthony Caggiano DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Edward A. DeCristofaro DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Lesa Peerman (Incumbant) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Oakland Park

Oakland Park does not appear to publish its candidate’s campaign finance reports, you can call the Clerk directly about this at 954-630-4300.

The Sun Sentinel’s Coverage of this race can be found here.

 City Commission (elect two):

John Adornato III (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website

Steven Arnst REPUBLICAN 
No Website Found
Caution: Opposed lifting housing restrictions disproportionately effecting gay people.

Shari McCartney (Incumbent) REPUBLICAN 
Website

Pompano Beach

The Sun Sentinel’s Coverage for this race can be found here.

City Commission, District 1: 

Barry Dockswell (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Angela Lee Hill REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission, District 2:

Charlotte Burrie (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Thomas Terwilliger REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission, District 3:

Kenneth Alan Campbell REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Rex Hardin (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission, District 4:

Beverly Perkins DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Edward W. Phillips DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: According to the Dolphin Democrats Mr. Phillips opposed marriage equality and gay adoption during his endorsement interview.

Shelton Pooler DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Whitney Rawls DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission, District 5:

John D. Bynoe REPUBLICAN 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Roger Gingerich REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Barry L. Moss DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Insider’s tip: Many Democratic political leaders and strategists are particularly excited about this candidate.

Joan McConnell REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Tamarac

Tamarac does not appear to publish its candidate’s campaign finance reports, you  can call the Clerk directly about this at 954-597-3505.

Mayor:

Harry Dressler (Incumbent, appointed) DEMOCRAT 
Website

Mike Gelin DEMOCRAT
Website

City Commission, District 2:

Michelle J. Gomez (Incumbent, appointed) NPA
Website

Stewart Webster DEMOCRAT 
Website

West Park

West Park does not appear to publish its candidate’s campaign finance reports, you can call the Clerk directly about this at 954-989-2688.

Sun Sentinel’s Coverage for these races are available here.

City Commission, Seat 1: 

Thomas Dorsett (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found

Ronald Bell DEMOCRAT
No Website Found

City Commission, Seat 2: 

Kristine Judeikis DEMOCRAT
No Website Found

Reeta Nielly-Mills DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found

Ruby Seymour-Barr DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found

Wasn’t the analysis of these West Park races useful? 

Wilton Manors

The Sun Sentinel’s Coverage for these races are available here.

Mayor: 

Doug Blevins DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Boyd Corbin DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: Yikes! To learn more about him on his website he encourages you to click his “Arrest” tab. Electing someone accused of anti-gay hate crimes as Wilton Manor’s next Mayor would be an interesting direction for the City to go in.

Gary Resnick (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission (elect two):

Justin Flippen DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Ted Galatis (Incumbent) REPUBLICAN
If he has a website for his reelection, it’s buried under a slew of bad publicity and search engines were unable to find it.
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: This is the Commissioner who thought it was okay to use the “N” word in a road rage incident. He apologized but refused to resign.

Lillie Harris DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Scott Newton (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Naomi Ruth Parker DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Sal Torre DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Christopher Warnig DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: Worked in gay porn and was twice arrested for impersonating a police officer.

Kimber White DEMOCRAT (Has withdrawn from race, but name may still appear on ballot)
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Sunset at the pier in Deerfield Beach

Sunset at the pier in Deerfield Beach

Broward Countywide Non-Partisan Elections

Broward Soil & Water Conservation District, Dist. 4

Gineen Maria Bresso REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
No Campaign Financial Information Available

Douglas Russell, Jr. DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
No Campaign Financial Information Available
Note: Mr Russell is endorsed by the Democratic Nominee for Florida Agriculture Commissioner.

Fred Segal (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Available
Note: Mr. Segal is very active in the community and has a long track record of volunteerism.

17th Judicial Circuit Runoff

I will not disclose the political affiliation of judicial candidates.

Group 16

Dennis Bailey
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Rhoda Sokoloff
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Broward County Court Judicial Runoff 

I will not disclose the political affiliation of judicial candidates.

Group 27:

Ian J. Richards (Incumbent)
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Claudia Robinson
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Broward County Non-Partisan Special District Elections

Monterra CDD

Seat 5:

Scott Barrocas DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Particularly High-Qualified Candidate: He is a Realtor and the Commission Aide to Broward County District One Commissioner Martin David Kiar.

Tina Forssten NPA
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Kevin Wilke 
NPA
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Seat 2:

Susan Elaine Kooiman DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Peter Rost NPA
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found
Possible Caution: Supported the controversial Cooper City Walmart being planned at Stirling and Pine Island Road.

Plantation Acres Improvement District

(Pick three)

Louis (Lou) Flanigan DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

J. Gary McAlpin REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Jennifer E. Nieset DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report 

Edward N. Szerlip REPUBLICAN 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Walnut Creek CDD

Seat 2:

Bette R. Clein DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Betty Ross REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Seat 4:

A. Munju (Short for Ali Noor Munju) DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found
Possible Caution: May be a real estate speculator which could, but may not necessarily, present multiple conflicts of interest.
Possible Caution: Seems to have multiple aliases.

Nicole Stames-DiCorpo REPUBLICAN
No Website Available
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Perez Art Museum Miami

Richard at Perez Art Museum Miami

If I were to indulge in a criticism of south Florida’s status as a major world tourist destination it would be its lacking of a major world art museum.  

Intellectually, I understand that Boston has been around for a very long time and that early European colonists brought their Rembrandts and their Hieronymus Boschs with them. Therefore, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is able to rival most anything Europe has to offer, and the art scene of Miami does not.

But what the Treasure Coast lacks in history, it compensates for with huge sums of money, so I was positively enamored when I heard of plans to move the disastrously located Miami Art Museum into a $131 million dollar building designed by the legendary Swiss architecture powerhouse Herzog & de Meuron. I have been salivating for years during its controversial construction, and for months since its opening, for an opportunity to visit.

The day did not start off well.

My friend was three hours late because he had run a marathon the night before and was understandably more sleepy than his alarm clock was wakeful.

When we got there, we were bamboozled into parking about a half mile away from the building on the south side of the vast and empty Museum Park. 

This really could be "South Florida's front porch" if there were people here.

This really could be “south Florida’s front porch,” if there were people here.

Since we were late we scuttled plans to have lunch at the very nearby and wondrously international Bayside Marketplace food court, instead opting for what we knew was going to be an ambitiously priced museum cafe. Indeed, the proletariat must never find out how much a sandwich costs here as they may respond by burning down the building.

At any art museum cafe there is a certain level of pretension to be expected from the menu, and in this respect, the menu at “Verde” does not disappoint.

(Actually, since the cafe is encased with glass and concrete and offers views of an overpass and the half-demolished Miami Herald building, each obscuring a view of Biscayne Bay, the only association with “green” I could make with the cafe is the vast amounts of it disappearing from patrons’ wallets.)

The view outside "Verde."  It is, I must say, an appropriate artistic expression for Miami politics.  When the new owner of the iconic Miami Herald Building was refused permission to build a casino, he spontaneously exploded half his building to treat tourists with a  perpetual view of what he thought about the government's decision.

The view outside “Verde.” It is, I must say, an appropriate artistic expression for Miami politics. When the new owner of the iconic Miami Herald Building was refused permission to build a casino, he spontaneously exploded half his building to treat tourists with a perennial view of what he thought about the government’s decision.

If you are committed to eating at the restaurant I have two key pieces of advice.

One, make sure someone else, preferably a government or evil international consortium, is paying the bill.

Two, and I cannot be too clear on this point–buy the bottled water.

When they ask you if you want bottled water, treat it with the respect you’d give a mobster asking if your bar wants to participate in their anti-violence campaign. If you say, “no,” all manner of hijinks may occur.

After waiting 15 minutes for a table (there were several free, but they asked if they could “text” us when they were more conceptually prepared to host customers)  we were seated and asked the fateful question:

“Would you gentleman care to buy a bottled water?”

“No, thank you, we’ll drink what you have from the tap.”

He gave me the look of a kidnapper asking me if I wanted to see my son alive again, then promptly disappeared for forty-five minutes–presumably looking for our car so he could cut the breaks. Suddenly, we felt fortunate that we had been tricked into parking in an adjacent county.

This gave us plenty of time to download French dictionaries to try to translate the menu and file the needed paperwork to take out the loans necessary to cover the meal.  After traipsing around outside in the 100 degree humid south Florida weather (and this has apparently never happened there before) I had the audacity to be thirsty. My entreaties for non-bottled water went ignored through three service staff before I finally brought my glass to the Maitre d’. Within a few days a half-cup of water was presented garnished with a lonely single ice-cube.

We were not alone in feeling neglected, others resorted to flash-bangs and flare guns to get their servers’ attention. When unaccountably posh servers did reluctantly present themselves, questions about menu items were greeted with a vacillation of exasperated anger, sarcasm, and outright condescending disdain:

I asked about the serving size of the ceviche listed in the “lighter fare” section.

“‘Lighter fare’ means appetizer; so it’s the size of an appetizer,” one eye expressed concern that I might have a developmental cognitive disability while the other promised that he was still looking for our car.

“Are the pizzas big enough to share?”

“The pizzas are appropriately sized for personal consumption to the individual ordering it,” he bellowed cryptically with an enigmatic arrogance.

Even by Miami’s apathetic to antagonistic customer service standards–this was a very special place.

We both ordered a pizza involving prosciutto and arugula.  Each turned out to be the size of Texas, and were objectively very good–they don’t skimp on the fancy ingredients and the food is presented with a fulgent exuberance. It was ironically salty, however, and there was no more water forthcoming absent a trip to the bathroom sink.

The patrons surrounding us got steaks and fresh fish and in every case the portions appeared generous and gorgeously exhibited.

We were way to angry to enjoy it. I am usually as docile as a Hindu cow content to block traffic in Agra, and my friend successfully offered to pay the bill to quell my rather noticeable frustration.

Attitude reset, we toured the museum’s collection.

Dangling garden

The building is one of the finest in the world.

100,000,000 building

The collection, meanwhile, is underwhelming.

It’s not bad, it’s not mediocre, it’s just underwhelming.

Previous perceptions of the universe are not shattered. Personal philosophy is not challenged. There are no emotional experiences to be had. One’s life struggles are not prompted to be rethought by canvas, photograph, video, or sound.

Being billed as a contemporary art museum, I had been hoping for a pitch black room where audio of a woman screaming would be replayed until an abrupt lighting scheme transformed the room alight with pink–as a reminder of breast cancer awareness–but the strange and the uncomfortable were not even available.

But there was some fun and idiosyncratic displays and the admission charge ($16) is well earned by simply entering the building itself.

The first exhibit that engaged me was appropriate to the curator’s decision to  relate most of the collection to the uniqueness of Miami–it is called “cocaine paraphernalia.”

What could be more Miami than this exhibit: "cocaine paraphernalia."

What could be more Miami than this exhibit: “cocaine paraphernalia.”

My favorite piece was a photograph of a lone man standing in an abandoned suburb of  post-Katrina New Orleans holding a sign with the words “A Country Road – a Tree – Evening” which are the opening austere stage directions from Act One of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” In the play, Godot, who represents God, keeps sending a messenger to a pessimistic pair who keep waiting for him day after day while they vaguely know he will never come because he does not exist.   Presumably, the photographer was giving his opinion of when FEMA aid would come to this particular New Orleans neighborhood.  Creative, brilliant, funny.

Waiting for FEMA in New Orleans

Waiting for FEMA funds in New Orleans

I also enjoyed several Thai-protest sketches from Rirkrit Tiravanija which mostly reminded me of my time in Thailand during the recent political instability.

Mr. Thaksin is not popular among many of the Bangkok middle class and elites.

Mr. Thaksin is not popular among many of the Bangkok middle class and elite.

The World tents to perceive the Thais as polite and peaceful with their protests.

The World tends to perceive the Thais as polite and peaceful with their protests.

I threw this one in as a shout out to my Singapore friends!

I threw this one in as a shout-out to my Singapore friends!

Less intrinsically personal, but curiously engaging works, also abound.

I don't know what it means but I like it. I think I'd call it "purple" to add an enigmatically ambiguous layer of meaning to the work.

I don’t know what it means but I like it. I think I’d call it “purple” to add an enigmatically ambiguous dimension to the work.

I also liked, but failed to understand, other pieces.

painting 2

Something about transportation and art? Questioning the decadence of modern culture borne out of genocide and an ignored collective suffering? Why are the windows of the building with the “do not enter” symbol painted different colors and what does it have to do with a wagon wheel? I don’t know, but I paid attention and took a picture of it.

Longboat houses in Malaysia haphazardly expanding under increasing hardship?

Longboat houses in Malaysia haphazardly expanding under increasing hardship?

Sarah Morris, Le Meridien [Rio], 2012. Collection of Pérez

Sarah Morris, Le Meridien [Rio], 2012. Collection of Pérez

The one artist displayed anyone in the developed world would immediately be able to identify--but there's not much to do after staring at it for thirty seconds, nodding, and moving on to the next work.

The one artist displayed anyone in the developed world would immediately be able to identify–but there’s not much to do after staring at it for thirty seconds, nodding, and moving on to the next work.

Then there were some sculpture installations. I think everyone who toured the museum took special interest in this space module shaped backyard shed.

Exterior of repurposed aluminum space module.

Exterior of repurposed aluminum space module.

Interior of repurposed aluminum space module.

Interior of repurposed aluminum space module.

This more critical piece seemed largely ignored.

A brief, and unpleasent, history of colonialism

A brief, and unpleasent, history of colonialism

Equally subtle was this artist/sculptor’s opinion of Miami politics:

hmmm. . . not a pleased voter.

hmmm. . . not a pleased voter.

The museum’s premiere exhibit was Leonor Antunes’ “a [sic] secluded and pleasant land. in [sic] this land I wish to dwell.”

I haven't read it yet, but I did take one of the two-thousand word brochures explaining the exhibit.

I haven’t read it yet, but I did take one of the two-thousand word brochures explaining the exhibit.

I will try to return to The Perez when they schedule some  performance art in its uniquely designed two-tiered stage theater which separates the first and second floor galleries.

The  seating is as aesthetically amazing as it is pragmatically uncomfortable.

The seating is as aesthetically amazing as it is pragmatically uncomfortable.

But I may wait a while.

In 2016 the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science will open adjacent to the Perez and promises to be one of the great and elaborate science museums of the world. It is intended to rival the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

When that opens the adjacent-bayside should fulfill its promised epithet of “Front Porch of south Florida.”

If only there were people. . .

If only there were more people. . .

Let’s also maybe get some food trucks and street performers out there.

In the meantime, if you are a foreign tourist only visiting for three days, your time might be more enjoyably spent strolling and swimming on South Beach, shopping at the nearby Bayside Marketplace, partying in Coral Gables, treating yourself to high tea at the Biltmore, vaporizing into Collins Avenue, or looking at lawfully naked beautiful people at Haulover Park.

Miami will eventually be one of the world’s cultural epicenters, but it isn’t there yet.  It is still, however, one of the most agreeable travel destinations in the Americas.

Logistics

Perez Art Museum Miami
Museum Park at 1103 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132

Closed Mondays, 10AM – 6PM Tuesday-Sunday; open until 9PM on Thursday.

Adults $16
Discounted admission $12
Active duty military and children under 6 are admitted free.

The museum can be easily reached by public transport, take the metromover to “Museum Park” station. Have lunch one stop further at Bayside Marketplace. If the food court doesn’t appeal to you, consider the spectacular Argentine steakhouse buffet at the provocatively titled “The Knife.”

Allow two hours for a thorough viewing of the collection, or six hours, if you wish to eat at the museum.

In either case, bring money.