Category Archives: The Democratic Party

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.

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

My Comment to the FSU Board of Trustees on their Potential Appointment of a Creationist President

Junnier Law, P.A., Richard Junnier, Esq.

Junnier Law, P.A., Richard Junnier, Esq.

September 17, 2014

Dear Honorable Florida State University Board of Trustees:

I believe it is wholly inappropriate to appoint an individual who neither believes in evolution nor climate change President of a Carnegie One Research University.

Today, FSU is known for being on the cutting edge of cancer research, hosting a Nobel Laureate who helms the world’s largest electromagnet, and, ironically, producing a meteorology program that is one of the world leaders at studying climate change.

I fear that if Mr. Thrasher is appointed–virtually overnight–with the assistance of sensationalist news outlets and blogs, the hyperbole of the Daily Show, a well-deserved sardonic interview aired on the Colbert Report, and being the punchline of a succession of jokes on late night monologues–we will instead be known singularly as the University with a creationist President.

It’ll just be another jab at a state that appears to get nothing right.

Beyond that, there is his temperament to consider.

His conduct during his campus student-faculty discussion evidenced an individual not responsive to questions or criticism. When two students–quite appropriately–laughed at his “I’m not a scientist” answer to a question about the existence of climate change, he threatened to discontinue the proceedings.

That is unlikely the optimal attitude necessary to foster debate and discuss diverse ideas among a group of wily and confidently opinionated faculty and students. When I interview candidates and they threaten to leave the employment interview, as a rule, I move on to the next applicant.

He also obfuscated a series of questions including those as basic as quizzing his knowledge of the scientific method and evolution. A President should be able to offer concise and responsive answers to complicated questions let alone basic ones. It is embarrassing that students and faculty even thought such questions were necessary–but apparently they were.

If Mr. Thrasher is appointed, I easily imagine our university’s top talent will get their CVs in order and high school students interested in science and engineering will look elsewhere for their college education. Sure, he can probably fund raise $1 Billion; but our reputation is worth far more than that.

Bill Nye (the Science Guy) appeared at FSU last night to give a lecture. During the Q&A he was asked about the prospects of potentially having a creationist university president: “Well, I find it heartbreaking.”

I do too.

Respectfully,

Richard Junnier, Esq.
Junnier Law, P.A.

Excerpt from my “Behind the Stage of a Florida Political Event”

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.

Here’s an excerpt from my “Behind the Stage of a Florida Political Event:”

“On August 26, 2014, Charlie Crist hosted an election watch party at Fort Lauderdale’s swanky Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel. . . .

No doubt wanting to set a positive example, the buffet was overflowing with a disappointingly healthy selection of nuts, berries, raw vegetables, and a sundry collection of cheeses. This always happens at hyper-conscious south Florida democratic events. What was missing was a gift bag filled with oranges.

In Tallahassee we do it right.

We deep fry the whole pig while it is still alive. This guarantees freshness.

This is accompanied with a capillary-exploding volume of fried shrimp, fried chicken, fried mullet, fried catfish, fried okra, fried potatoes, fried cheese, fried funnel cakes, fried Oreos, and a deep-fried breaded brick of butter.

Not everything is fried.

The venerable smorgasbord of bacon-beans and cheesy macaroni are baked and the mayonnaise-drowned coleslaw is served by the bucket. Everybody has their own family recipe for deviled eggs. We carb up our bread by cooking it in creamed corn and you can dunk it into the residual fleshy grease of the deep fryer for additional flavor.

Those brave enough to smuggle broccoli and carrots into a north Florida Democratic Party event had better accompany such unwelcome produce with barrels of homemade extra-fat ranch dressing.

Attendees are usually generous in sharing their garage-distilled hooch, but a few crucial calories can be shaved by mixing Alma’s moonshine with diet coke. . . .

Meanwhile, why do we traditionally make our candidates for school board hoist a writhing rabid opossum in the air during parades?

Because we can.”

A Brief Note about the Florida Democratic Party’s Primary for Attorney General:

BillClintonVisit

If you are undecided in the Florida Democratic Party’s Primary for Attorney General, please consider voting for George Sheldon.

I don’t have a single negative comment about his opponent, but George’s experience is transcendent. His problem solving skills and ability to create consensus have been repeatedly demonstrated during his service in senior posts at both the state and national level, working under both Republicans and Democrats. He has dedicated his entire public service career to advancing the cause of human rights (by breaking up human trafficking rings), protecting the defenseless (particularly abused children), and uplifting the oppressed (by reducing the error-rates in welfare and food stamp distribution).

He spent a career working for previous attorney generals, ultimately becoming chief deputy (for central Florida) to beloved Bob Butterworth. When the Department of Children and Families was in shambles–then Governor Charlie Crist tasked him with fixing it. He has also served as a senior official in the Obama administration. Prior to serving in the executive branch, George spent 8 years in the Florida House of Representatives.

You can learn more about this extraordinary human being here.

You can compare George’s record with his, also qualified, opponent’s here. 

To express my gratitude, here is a hamster looking cute.

 

 

MeelectionnightWhich Adventure Lawyer essay do you think got the most views?

a) Random picture of a hamster looking cute
b) What to do When Attacked by a Jaguar
c) Welcome to the Revolution
d) Recommendations for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit and Broward County Judicial Bench

If you guessed “hamster,” I like the way you think.

But more than 1,200 people reviewed my “Recommendations for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit and Broward County Judicial Bench,” dwarfing any interest in my actual adventure writing. If you also combine my recommendations for the 15th and 11th judicial circuits, my judicial political essays have attracted more than half of my blog’s traffic this month.

Either I can make voting for judge as exciting as a jaguar attack and fleeing Thai separatists in Yala, or I can make a jaguar attack and fleeing Thai separatists in Yala as boring as voting for judge.

Either way, thanks for the 3,000 views!

To express my gratitude, here is a hamster looking cute.

White House Florida Leadership Work Group

Outside of the Eisenhower Executive Building.

Outside of the Eisenhower Executive Building

 

In November of 2012 I was invited to the White House as part of a Florida Leadership Work Group. Our task was to discuss and organize grassroots opposition to the Sequester, the Fiscal Cliff, and the impending federal debt default. I will not bore you about the discussion, what we organized, or about ultimate success during a surreal moment of political-economic history. Instead, I thought I would share what it is like to be asked to the White House as a political advocate.

The Invitation is by email.

It is in a forwarded email actually–transitionally sent through someone more important than the ultimate recipient–which requests that an RSVP be made to a third-person, who is also more important. The ultimate invitation is signed by yet a fourth person of consequence, on behalf of his boss who is so consequential she doesn’t even send her own emails. It is she who will be the host and President’s representative at the meeting.

At the time, I was Leon County’s DEC chief, and my invitation was sent courtesy of the Vice Chair of the Florida Democratic Party. I was requested to respond to the ex-director of the President’s Florida Campaign (who was the organizer of the event) and the actual invitation was from the White House Office of Public Engagement. Our host would be Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States.

Yes, it was impersonal; yes, the date was unfeasible, (the meeting was scheduled for the Monday after Thanksgiving, which was only a few days away); yes, there was a dress code problem (I was visiting family in south Florida and my suits were in Tallahassee)–never-the-less, after rereading the email several times trying to discern whether it might be a prank or I might be misunderstanding something–I excitedly picked up the phone to friends and family: “I’ve been invited to the White House!”

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States

“White House” really means the Eisenhower Executive Building.

“White House,” it turned out, unless you are an ambassador, cabinet member, or medal of honor recipient–means “Eisenhower Executive Building.” They do not tell you this in the invitation or the numerous follow-up emails and conference calls until you are in Washington. (Perhaps an invitation to “White House adjacent” would be less inspiring in getting guests to ditch their families during a holiday and travel last minute at great personal expense to discuss economics with policy wonks.)

Any suggestion, even if done with humor, that the Eisenhower Executive Building is not the White House, will be met with aggressive dissent by staffers who work at the Eisenhower Executive Building but apparently explain to friends and family that they work at the White House.

Indeed, the Presidential standard and crests are everywhere. Our huge meeting room, decorated with photos of more important people in more important meeting rooms, even came stocked with the obligatory dark blue curtain for press conferences and podium, each marked with the White House’s official crest. Our invitation, the agenda, the souvenir “thank you” note casually signed “Barack Obama,” every stick of stationary proudly reads: “The White House.” A high-school projector at the fore illuminates the opening slide with “Welcome to the White House.” A similar greeting awaited at the double-oak door in the form of a large sign accompanying a buoying voice from a government employee.

I found out the fun way what happens when you walk through those doors! You are very enthusiastically told  by the Secret Service that this is not the "exit" you wanted.

I found out the fun way what happens when you walk through those doors! You are very enthusiastically told by the Secret Service that this is not the “exit” you wanted.

The signage is necessary.

Like many of our most-protected buildings, the publicly-apparent security apparatus of the EEB is designed primarily to keep unauthorized people out. There are multiple outer-compound checkpoints guarded by very serious, but extremely polite, police and Secret Service. (I suppose politeness is a prerequisite since they know your experience with them is immediately followed by a meeting with a head of government.) But once you are in, you are in. You have a bright green “V” pass and, as long as you don’t do something objectively stupid like open a door marked “National Security Agency Only,” you pretty much have free reign over the place, and aside from subtle markings like “Presidential Council of Economic Advisors” or “Remote Nuclear Command” everything on every floor looks the same.

Getting lost, I had to ask someone who clearly had Jack Bauer’s job to show me to the bathroom. (He was super-nice about it; I swear everyone who works at the EEB must have been sent for customer service training at the Ritz Carlton.)

Before the White House asks for your advice; you are sent to their partisan think-tank to be told what your advice will be.

When you are invited to the White House as part of an issue-specific problem work group, before the “discussion,” you are first diverted for hours of seminars and lectures at their public policy think-tank. They tell you that you are there for lunch, but its really more like accepting the free Disney weekend invitation from a timeshare realtor. It’s not “mandatory,” but seeing as they physically walk you from their downtown building to the EEB Secret Service check-in station, attendance is “highly encouraged.”

The lunch itself was buffet–sandwiches, fruit, salad, fancy lemon water–the sort of nightmare scenario that keeps tea-partiers awake when Fox tells them that the First Lady is conspiring to take over the cafeterias of public schools. I think Michael Bloomberg catered.

The lectures and seminars were presented by some of the top intellectuals in taxation and economics, and since I have relevant post-graduate degrees in what they were explaining, I was very entertained as I watched political operatives try to argue and object to peer-reviewed empirical information. After silently laughing for two hours, in an effort to be productive, I began asking friendly leading questions so the experts were able to connect to the operatives in a language they could understand. I’m a little ashamed to admit that there were a few people in the room who apparently didn’t know such basic things as the difference between “debt” and a “deficit.” The reader might not know either, but the reader probably wasn’t asked to advise the Obama administration on economic matters during a national crisis.

With school over, we were escorted the half mile to the conspicuously guarded entrance to the White House-EEB Complex.

You are divided into geographically overlapping groups, told to disclose your political resources, and collectively come up with a plan.

I was a part of the north Florida group which consisted of two representatives from Jacksonville (an influential banker and the director of the Jacksonville Field Office, I think), the Chair of the Franklin County DEC (representing rural counties), and a God of north Florida fundraising (representing the 2nd Congressional District), and myself. For those who care about such things, of the three women and two men, two were African-American and three were Caucasian, with one representing the GLBTA Community.

To begin, there were warm-up, team-building, nonsense exercises reminiscent of mandatory corporate retreats–where there is a lovely park or golf course but you cannot go because you are too busy falling backward into a colleague you wouldn’t trust to refrain from stabbing you in the back let alone catch you.

Time passed. Once we came up with our plan, we presented it to the group at large for comments and suggestions. Then we listened to the other plans and made comments and suggestions. A part of the plan required the participation of elected officials who, theoretically–very theoretically–would listen to me as the Chair of (and chief fundraiser for) their county’s political executive committee.

This gave rise to the most fun series of phone calls I have ever made in my life.

Obviously the response I got from various leaders is of the deepest confidentiality, but I think its important to make one broad note:  The most accommodating, unhesitating, and helpful, leaders--by far--were those publicly perceived as being very conservative.  They made no demands, no nuance, and no complaints. They did their work quietly. They asked for no credit.

Obviously the response I got from various leaders is of the deepest confidentiality, but I think its important to make one broad note: The most accommodating, unhesitating, and helpful, leaders–by far–were those publicly perceived as being very conservative. They made no demands, no nuance, and no complaints. They did their work quietly. They asked for no credit.

“Hi, this is Richard. I’m calling from the White House.”

Generally, I don’t have difficultly getting a local or regional elected official to take my call. If they’re very busy they might call back in a few hours or text me that they’re in the middle of something.

But there is a unique urgency implied when you leave a message on their cell phone–or even more fun–with their assistant, that you:

  1. are calling from the White House;
  2. after an hours long meeting helmed by the President’s chief advisor; and
  3. the Leader of the whole freaking Free World, the most powerful person on Earth, a human being so exalted and important that hundreds of people are trained for the full-time employment of dying for him if necessary–he, the President of the United States, is tasking YOU with an assignment.

Public meetings were disrupted, private meetings were abruptly ended, at one point I had a majority of a local commission returning my call at the same time.

Influence and access has never been something I have cared much about, aside from how it effects my ability to advocate, but I have to admit, this was about the most fun you can have while wearing a suit. To add to the ambiance, as I made the calls, I was energetically pacing the outside halls.

It was all very “West Wing.” 

Follow-up Meetings and Status Sessions were done telephonically.

Obviously the response I got from various leaders is of the deepest confidentiality, but I think its important to make one broad note: The most accommodating, unhesitating, and helpful, leaders–by far–were those publicly perceived as being very conservative. They made no demands, no nuance, and no complaints. They did their work quietly. They were successful. They asked for no credit.

Perhaps it was because they were retired military, merely out of habit, unconditionally heeding the call to action from the Commander-in-chief.