Wednesday, October 31, 2007

From the White House to the Court House

I just replied to a comment to my posting on DailyKos about the approval of the FDP Netroots Coalition this weekend. Here is the sequence:
Great job guys! Go kick some sunshine state ass! (2+ / 0-)

I want a blue Florida in 2008!

I'm supporting Chris Dodd, and his plan to create the Rapid Response Reserve

by Skulnick on Wed Oct 31,
2007 at 10:22:39 AM EDT

And my reply:

We are planning on kicking a lot of ass in 2008, from the White House to the Court House, we are going to be kicking Republican ass all over this state in 2008.

So it just struck me that maybe here is an unofficial (and somewhat uncouth) rallying cry for this campaign cycle in Florida:

From the White House to the Court House,

We are going to be kicking Republican ass all over this state in 2008.
Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We're Official!: Florida Democratic Party Netroots Coalition

On Sunday, October 28, 2007, the Florida Democratic Party Central Committee approved the recommendation of the Committee on Clubs, Caucuses and Organizations to grant approval to the charter application of the Florida Democratic Party Netroots Coalition.

We are now an officially recognized organization within the Florida Democratic Party!!!!!

Congratulations to all those who had a hand in this achievement, especially meowmissy, Ken Quinnell, our Presidente, and everyone who worked so hard to get us to this point. I also want to extend a special thanks to Phillip Perry, Internet Technology Director, and Mark Bubriski, Communications Director of the FDP. Thanks also to FDP Chair Karen Thurman who went along with this crazy idea to embrace netroots activists within the party!

Now the real work of the FDP Netroots Coalition begins. We will soon be unveiling our website and will be meeting (online, of course) to map out our goals and objectives for 2008. So for all of you who wish to be an official part of the FDP Netroots Coalition, I have a request of you:


We will soon have a PayPal account available, but for now, the $35 annual dues can be paid by snail mail to the FDP Netroots Coalition at the following address:

FDP Netroots Coalition

P.O. Box 1856

St. Petersburg, FL 33731

Thanks to all of you who already paid at the convention, including Matt Stoller. And yes, Matt, you do owe me an email. That's because for campaign finance reporting purposes, I need your name, and address and just in case you want to contribute more than the $35 annual dues, I also need your occupation.
We have a lot of work to do if we are going to

so I hope to see those checks start rolling in!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Down on the Hustings - More Local Politics

I can't believe it has been over a month since my last post on DKos. But what a month it has been in local politics in the City of St. Petersburg. The last post was a rundown on our City Council elections, which will be on November 6th. Follow me below the jump, and I'll bring you up to date on what has been happening in our little corner of the world.

First let me do a little quick recap and a correction. St. Petersburg, Florida's 4th largest city, is a city of about 250,000 folks on the west coast of Florida. It's eastern boundary is Tampa Bay, so that puts us in the Tampa Bay area, the western terminus of Florida's infamous "I-4 Corridor". Our county, Pinellas, (pop approx 1 million) is the westernmost county in the corridor, Florida's swing area of the state. In 2000, Pinellas went for Al Gore by about 10,000 votes. In 2004, it went for George W Bush. So we are the swing county in the swing region in the swing state of the country. Just a bunch of swingers is what we are.

But St. Petersburg, which occupies the southernmost part of our county, is actually a fairly solid blue city. The map of legislative seats in the southern half of Pinellas County is almost solidly blue. The sole exception to this are the state House and Senate seats (1 each) which also include the beach communities on the barrier islands.

In St. Petersburg, we have a strong Mayor and City Council form of government. While the Mayor, Rick Baker, is a conservative Republican, 5 of the 8 seats on the officially nonpartisan city council are now held by Democrats. There is now one Independent, who most often votes with the Dems and but two Republicans remaining on the Council. To get to my count of Dems on the Council in my previous diary, I miscounted the Independent as a Dem.

This party lineup of 5 Dems, One Independent and two Rs is not likely to change after November 6th unless something (else) really strange happens. I say something else really strange because we have had several really strange happenings in this election cycle in St. Petersburg.

The first really strange thing was the sudden resignation and then suicide of the City Council Chairperson. This occurred on the Friday before the September 11th City Council primary elections. John Bryan was accused in family court of having improper physical contact with his his teen aged adopted daughter. He resigned his City Council seat and committed suicide the following day.

The vacancy in the Distrcit 2 Council seat was filled last Thursday when the City Council selected attorney James Kennedy, a Democrat, from among the five applicants for the seat. Again, although officially nonpartisan, the 4 Democrats on the council voted for Kennedy, while the two Republicans and the Independent voted for the lone Republican applicant. Thus, the District 2 seat was flipped to Democratic, as John Bryan had been a Republican (albeit of the moderate, not right wing Christian nut case type). Kennedy will serve out the remaining two years on John Bryan's term. And that's how 4 Dems got to be 5.

The other strange thing happened in the District 5 council race. Incumbent Jamie Bennett won his primary with 67% of the vote and advanced to the general election facing political newcomer Chris Kelly. In St. Petersburg, if more than two candidates file for a seat, a district only primary is held. The top two vote getters then advance to a city wide general election. But here's where things really got weird, as if they weren't weird enough already.

Chris Kelly dropped out of the race claiming exhaustion. It is tough to campaign in Florida in the summer time, but that was just very strange. What happened next is even stranger. A long forgotten provision of City Code declared that Kelly's name would be replaced on the ballot by the phrase "New Election". That's right, "New Election." Had the third person in the primary received 20% of the vote, her name would have gone on the ballot as a replacement for Kelly. But since she received only 14%, the city code dictated "New Election." What this means is if the voters decide not to retain Council Member Bennett in office, they can vote to hold a brand new election for this seat, starting from scratch with a primary.

The result of this is a pretty much straight up or down "throw the bum out" vote. You don't get to see this very often. We actually have a "retention" vote for judges in Florida, but nobody really knows much about them anyway. This is very unusual and it comes at an interesting time. In the state of Florida right now, we have the Republican dominated legislature busy demonizing local governments as tax and spend scoundrels, just wastefully spending away a bonanza in property taxes that had been provided by rising property values in Florida.

No matter that this very same legislature required local school boards to raise property taxes by $500 million this year. At the same time they required county and municipal governments to roll back their property tax rates and have been trying to get a "tax reform" state constitutional amendment on the January 29th Presidential Primary ballot.

This is our legislature's 3rd shot at property tax "reform" this year. They failed to accomplish it during the regular session in the spring. They thought they had something in a special session earlier this year. However, a state judge ruled that the ballot summary our legislature wrote about their proposed constitutional amendment was unconstitutionally vague and misleading. Now they are back at it again. Lord only knows what they will come up with. But through it all, to cover up their failure to provide meaningful property insurance relief, our Republican dominated state legislature has been painting local elected officials as tax and spend villains.

That brings us back to the city council race of Jamie Bennett vs "New Election". Council Member Bennett has been one of the more vocal critics of the legislators meddling with local governments ability to set their own millage rates to meet their communities needs as they see fit. The vilification of local electeds by our legislators did not seem to have a major impact on his primary. As mentioned above, Council Member Bennett got 67% of the vote in his district primary. Perhaps that kind of popularity is why no organized effort for "New Election" has emerged as of this date. Maybe the local voters like the job their local elected officials are doing. Maybe a big win for Jamie Bennett should be a message to our legislators that they are barking up the wrong tree in their so called "tax reform" efforts.

Now if they could only put this amount of energy into truly reforming property insurance in this state...

Full Disclosure: I am a paid fundraiser for Council Member Bennett's campaign, as well as for two other council candidate's campaigns. Part of the reason I have not been on these pages much lately.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Stupidest email yet from Tom Feeney (R-FL-Abramoff)

While I certainly don't enjoy hearing from Tom Feeney in any medium, the sad fact is, he's my Congressman and I need to keep track of what he's up to. I've been subscribed to his email list for a couple years, and when I see his name in my inbox, can always count on being amused, annoyed, disgusted, angered, confused, or some combination of those emotions. Not to mention, he's been known to make factual errors and misrepresentations in these emails (shocking, I know), and I've even been compelled to write back to him with corrections on a couple of occasions. The most recent one was earlier this year when ol' Tom perpetuated the childish misnomer "Democrat Party." I gently informed him that the correct phrase is "Democratic Party" and suggested he have his staff more carefully proofread these emails before they get sent, because otherwise his constituents just might think he's ignorant.

Tom regularly rails against teh ileegul imagrintsOHN0EZ!@@!! and is proud of his anti-SCHIP vote. But this week's email really took the cake. My first reaction on seeing the subject line was, "The hell?" as it made no sense to me whatsoever. Anyway, here it is in all its glory, for your own WTF?ing pleasure:

Member of Congress
24th District, Florida

Financial Services Committee
Judiciary Committee
Science Committee

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

October 11, 2007

Contact: Pepper Pennington

Capitol Architect No Longer Censors Architect of the Universe

(Oviedo, FL) - U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Oviedo) was pleased that the Architect of the Capitol, Mr. Stephen T. Ayers is now allowing "God" on flag certificates. Earlier this week, Rep. Feeney expressed his frustration with reports that flag certificates using the word "God" were being censored by the Architect of the Capitol. Mr. Ayers had reportedly informed several congressional offices that the use of the word “God” violates the Architect’s rules prohibiting religious references on flag certificates.

"I'm pleased that the Architect of the Capitol is no longer censoring the Architect of the Universe. Fortunately, he responded to congressional pressure and public outcry and decided that 'God' may now be used in flag certificates.

"I was outraged earlier this week to learn that Americans are censored because they want to fly a flag over the Capitol and express their faith or even say something as simple as 'for the love of God, family, and Country.'

"I want to thank my colleagues for joining me to sign a letter to Speaker Pelosi that reminds the Architect of his authority and the scope of his office. The Capitol contains many religious symbols and now Speaker Pelosi needs to condemn the censorship," said Feeney.

Rep. Feeney's office offers a flag service to constituents. This is a very popular service where Central Floridians can purchase flags to be flown over the United States Capitol. The flags are also accompanied by certificates from the office of the Architect of the Capitol that details the date and the occasion that the flag was flown.

Rep. Feeney signed a letter to Speaker Pelosi asking for an immediate review of the authority under which the Architect is making these rules, as well as the reversal of this policy which censors our citizens’ right to expressions of their faith.

When I first read that subject line prior to opening his email, all that came to mind was Masters of the Universe. Now, I freely confess to never being a particular fan of the MOTU franchise, but I do at least know He-Man, She-Ra, and Skeletor. But which one was the Architect, and what powers did he possess? Could he speed-read blueprints? Mix thousands of tons of concrete with his bare hands? Keep the nation's infrastructure from collapsing? (That last one certainly would come in handy these days!)

Then I realized, of course, that Tom was talking about God. What a buzzkill, especially after momentarily thinking our crumbling infrastructure would be mysteriously repaired overnight, with the only clue as to whom accomplished this monumental task being "AotU" scrawled into the cement before it dried. (He couldn't have used just "AU," of course, lest the credit mistakenly be ascribed to Americans United.)

It never hurts to remind everyone that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has listed Feeney among its most corrupt Congressmen since practically the day he took office. I'm still supporting Clint Curtis for FL-24, and there's now a DCCC-recruited challenger, former FL state Representative Suzanne Kosmas.

I look forward to one of these candidates winning FL-24 in 2008 and thus relieving me of further WTF? email moments, as least as far as Tom Feeney is concerned. I get too many of those moments without his help.

Race tracker wiki: FL-24

[crossposted to my Daily Kos diary]

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Presidential Primary - Adam: Our Votes WILL Count

Well, Adam Smith is at it again. In a front page article in today's St. Petersburg Times, Adam again makes the assertion:
Florida Democrats stand to be the only voters in America whose votes won't count toward picking a presidential nominee.
This is just not true. Let me be perfectly clear about this, because Adam remains fixated on this. Adam is wrong. Florida's votes will count.

On January 29th, 2008, Florida Democrats will go to the polls and express their preference for the Democratic Presidential Nominee. We will do this before most of the other states have done so. After our votes are counted, and they will be counted, the rest of the country will hear and will be influenced by the Florida results.

That is exactly the goal all Floridians have had in mind when the whole discussion of moving the primary date up began. Floridians were sick and tired of having our nominees selected by small, non diverse states. We were getting stuck with candidates whose plan to win in the South was to win New Hampshire. My apologies to my friends in Massachusetts, but Democrats lost two presidential elections we might have won because these small non diverse states picked nominees who could not win in Florida. Now Floridians are going to have a real voice in who our Party's nominee is going to be.

Here is something else to keep in mind. The Presidential candidates do not go to Iowa and New Hampshire for the massive number of delegates they win by competing there. They go there because these states are first and thus have major influence on the entire process. Florida will now share in that influence.

Our voices will be heard and our votes will count.