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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Caption Contest


The Wild Bush Posted by Hello

Put your best caption idea or two in a comment and I'll post the ones I like best.

My entry: Step into a Slim Jim!

Nov. 2 Election Has Been Moved

According to Ron Cunninghan, chief propaganda writer (Editorial Page editor) for The Gainesville Sun, the Nov. 2 general election has been moved to Nov. 3.

From the Oct. 9 editorial titled, "No on Amendment 1," Cunninghan wrote:
The question voters will face on Nov. 3 is whether the state should interject itself into the family relationship, and carve out a huge exemption to Floridians' privacy rights, by a constitutional mandate. And the answer is no. (emphasis added by me)
Well, everyone makes mistakes, even The Gainesville Sun. Believe it, or not.

As a side note, if you're planning to vote for President Bush this year, then follow Cunningham's advice and show up at the polls on Nov. 3. You'll be doing your country a favor.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Mel's Brain, Too

Salon has an interesting piece about Florida GOP Senate candidate Mel Martinez and how we went from a moderate Republican to a right-wing monster created by Karl Rove, President Bush's Svengali.
Karl Rove's Florida Frankenstein
Did Team Bush turn once-moderate GOP Senate candidate Mel Martinez into a gay-bashing, reactionary ogre?

Here is the campaign narrative that Mel Martinez had once hoped to present to the voters of Florida: Cuban immigrant, sent to America by his parents as a little boy to escape tyranny, grows up to become a successful trial lawyer, mayor of Orlando and a member of the president's Cabinet. Known to all as a "really nice guy," he caps his American dream with a run for governor.

Now here is the narrative that White House political chief Karl Rove, in pursuit of every possible advantage for President Bush in the crucial swing state of Florida, has foisted on Martinez: Cuban immigrant becomes mayor of Orlando (note to Mel: Drop the "trial lawyer" part) and a member of the president's Cabinet. Known for appealing "to the worst in people" with a vicious anti-gay campaign, he caps his American dream with a run -- for U.S. senator.
You can read the entire post even if you are not a Salon subscriber by taking the free day pass at the bottom of the page. But you should subscribe, because Salon posts a lot of interesting material.

Gainesville Debate Parties Make National Headline

Dwayne Robinson, a writer for The Independent Florida Alligator, has a story on CNN's web site today about presidential debate parties in Gainesville.

Pretty boring article, but my favorite part was this:
UF College Republicans congregated at the Po' Boys Creole Café, where some members drank each time a candidate used the words "Iraq" or "terrorism."

"We were having a great time. It was a lot of fun," club president Hunter Williams said.
I didn't realize College Republicans were so masochistic. I don't see how, unless he was lying, that this dude could say it was fun to watch President Bush not only be crushed on the issues but to appear so befuddled and arrogant despite that. I was embarrassed for Bush, and I can't stand the guy.

Well, I guess there is another obvious reason he might said Bush's humiliation was "fun": if he drank beer every time Bush said "Iraq" or "terrorism," it's a wonder he didn't vomit all over the reporter. "Bush was awwwwwe-sommmmee...blechhhhhh."

First Class Knucklehead -- Sean Hannity

Buried in an article about New York Gov. George Pataki being rescheduled to speak in Gainesville Oct. 27, The Independent Florida Alligator reported this:

"Campus rumors that Sean Hannity, the conservative co-host of Fox News Channel’s “Hannity and Colmes,” has offered to speak at UF for free in response to Michael Moore’s appearance should not be taken out of context, Buchalter said. The pundit made the claim on his radio show but did not contact UF and has not responded to Accent calls and e-mails, Buchalter said."

Accent staffers shouldn't hold their breath, and the group better be prepared to shell out some serious dough and a big can of ass kissing. Here's why:
From Media Matters.org: Less than a week before he was scheduled to speak to students at Washington University in St. Louis, ABC Radio Networks host and FOX News Channel host Sean Hannity -- who regularly casts himself as an "average American" while attacking Senator John Kerry's "elitist lifestyle" -- reportedly canceled the appearance because flight arrangements were not made to his liking.

According to an October 6 article in the Washington University magazine Student Life, Hannity "reportedly asked that the media not be informed of his motivations for the decision." The students who had coordinated the event -- who had raised $20,000 to bring Hannity to their campus -- described what happened:

Hannity cited personal reasons for his cancellation, said law student Ruth Hollander after speaking with the right-wing pundit over the phone yesterday. Hannity, Hollander said, requested a private jet to fly him to St. Louis for the speech, but then rejected "several" different jets offered by a private donor. He told Hollander about a "bad experience" with the prominent company that had manufactured all the jets offered for his trip.

"[Hannity's agent] said he thought we should say that because of the short time frame involved, it didn't work out," said Hollander. "I said I didn't think that was the truth, and...I really felt we had met all of our commitments and we were going to be honest when asked."

When Hollander and fellow law student Melinda Gorman failed to locate a jet manufactured by another company, they offered Hannity a first-class ticket on a commercial flight. He refused.

"He was very forceful on the phone," said Hollander. "It was hard to get a word in edgewise with him. He was interrupting me a lot."
Hannity's prima donna behavior has earned him The Gainesville Report's first Knucklehead of the Week award. For readers familiar with my previous work at MOON Magazine, you'll recognize this as a more frequent variation of MOON's Knucklehead of the Month award. KOTW will publish every Friday.

Congrats, Sean.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

How Much Gainesville Spends on War

Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq is costing Gainesville a lot of money. According to the National Priorities Project, Gainesville taxpayers have spent more than $33 million just on the Iraq war expenditures. That's more than $300 for each adult and child.

Gainesville spends even more for its contribution to the annual military budget. Gainesville taxpayers spent about $85 million a year on the military. That's $775 for each man, woman and child.

For perspective, that's almost half of the City of Gainesville's annual budget ($203 million), more than a fourth of the Alachua County School Board budget ($298 million), and almost a third of the county's budget ($217 million).

National Priorities is a group that provides community groups the tools and resources needed to shape federal budget and policy priorities so that they promote social and economic justice. The group’s website offers examples of what the Iraq invasion money could buy, such as health care for all children.

The US has the largest military budget of any nation, by far. In fact, US military spending is almost as much as the combined spending of all other nations. It is the largest part of our federal budget and the reason why such a prosperous nation as ours can’t provide everyone with health care or a decent education.

Elections Should Be About Ideas, Not Dollars

If you are concerned about the way wealthy special interests control government, then you should read the article below. It explains the two local ballot referendums that reform campaign finance laws for county candidates.

The article is written by Susan Wright, a citizen activist who has been the force behind this cause. She unfortunately is battling cancer now and cannot continue her projects while she is being treated, so this issue might not get the exposure it would have otherwise. Please share this article with everyone you know who will be voting in the Nov. 2 election. -- Colin

Alachua County to Vote on Campaign Reform
By Susan Wright
Alachua County residents will have the opportunity to enact their first local campaign finance regulations on Nov. 2. If passed, the reforms would give us a rare chance to reduce the influence of money on elections and, hopefully, on government.

Alachua gained the home rule authority in 2002 to regulate its local campaign finance; but it came with a “use it or lose it” stipulation. To retain this right, Alachua voters must exercise this authority by adopting at least one local campaign finance reform by 2006.

Two local reform measures will appear on the ballot. They are the result of an 18-month study by the county's Campaign Finance Reform Advisory Board (CFRAB). The CFRAB report and recommendations can be viewed at www.AlachuaCampaignReform.org.

If adopted these regulations will apply to candidates running for Alachua county commission, supervisor of elections, property appraiser, sheriff, clerk of court and tax collector beginning with the 2006 elections.

The first ballot item establishes reporting requirements to provide for the auditing and public disclosure of campaign money. It requires financial reports to be submitted in electronic format and provides more time for auditing, correction of mistakes, publication, and public access to the information in the final report before an election.

The second ballot item reduces the amount of money a single contributor may give to a candidate. It does not limit the total amount of money a campaign may raise. It encourages candidates to seek support from a broader base of more modest donations.

Ballot Item 1 – Filing contributor reports
The first ballot item addresses four recommendation made by CFRAB which relate to timely and full public disclosure or transparency of the money behind the campaigns for our local county offices.

CFRAB found that the “current state reporting schedule does not adequately insure public disclosure of campaign finance reports prior to an election; nor does it provide adequate time for auditing of the reported finances; nor the disclosure and remedy of any violations or deficiencies uncovered by an audit prior to the election.”

CFRAB recommended that the last report prior to each election be due 48 hours earlier than currently required by the state. It also recommended the last date by which a candidate may accept money be moved forward accordingly because “In order to provide full public disclosure of the contributions a candidate receives prior to the election, the last date by when a candidate may accept contributions must occur prior to the date that the report is due.”

Under the state rule reports may be unavailable or inaccessible until the day before election day. This is due in large part because of the weekend immediately following the 5pm Friday due date. In primary elections that follow Labor Day, the reports may not be available or accessible until election day due to the holiday.

Moving the report deadline 48 hours earlier ensures the reports will be received and publicly available three working days rather than 1 working day before the election.

CFRAB found that “timely and accurate auditing and publishing of the campaign finances is severely hampered” by paper formatted reports. Handwritten reports are often illegible. They must be converted to digital format in order to be published in printed media or run though computer analysis programs which assist in the auditing of the reports for compliance with state regulations. Retyping handwritten reports into digital format introduces a significant margin for error, adds significant delay in availability of the information for publication, and incurs labor costs.

The State has required all candidates running for state offices to submit their reports in electronic format for several years. The Alachua County Supervisor of Election has asked for electronic formated reports since July 2002 and has provided the necessary software at no cost to effected candidates. Free use of public computers is also available for candidates. Adoption of this ballot item will insure that this requirement persists under future Supervisors.

Ballot Item 2 – Contribution cap
The second ballot item proposes a $250 contribution cap which is half the $500 maximum amount allowed by the state for local, statewide, congressional district, and multi-county district campaigns. The amount of money that individuals, corporations and political committees such as PACs can contribute to the campaigns of candidates seeking office has long been limited by both federal and state regulations.

CFRAB determined that lowering the contribution cap to as much as $200 would not prohibit or impede a candidate from conducting a viable campaign for local county office, but rather would require the candidate to reach out to a broader base of supporters. CFRAB discussed that this would “not only benefit the candidate's campaign, but would also:
  • engage a larger portion of the community in the election process
  • and at the same time reduce the public perception that wealthy donors have a disproportionate influence on those candidates to whom they contribute
  • and increase public confidence in the election process”
Alachua would not be the first Florida county to reduce its maximum allowable contribution amount if this ballot item is adopted. Sarasota County, Florida, established a $200 limit in 1990, and Miami-Dade adopted a $250 limit in 2000.

In recent campaigns, some local candidates have voluntarily adopted lower contribution caps. In 2002 Commissioner Pinkoson raised $84,000 in his successful campaign for county commission from contributions he limited to $250.

Mean Streets

Advocates for the homeless said Wednesday that Gainesville climbed into the top 20 “meanest” cities for a homeless person to live.
Independent Florida Alligator, Oct. 7

Our Soliders Went to Iraq and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt

"Had we had a few months more, we would have been able to tell both the CIA and others that there were no weapons of mass destruction [at] all the sites that they had given to us."
-- Former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, Washington Post, Oct. 6

The inspectors had to leave Iraq before their work was done because President Bush had decided to invade. It was no longer safe for the inspectors to stay. Bush invaded. More than a year later the country is in chaos and largely out of control. Violence is rampant and attacks on US soldiers are increasing. It gets worse daily, and the prospects of peace are dim.

Every official investigation into the WMD and connection to al Queda claims about Iraq have concluded that:
  • Saddam Hussein did not have and was not making WMDs, because the inspections and sanctions were preventing him from doing so.
  • Hussein was not helping al Qeada.
  • There was no threat to the US.
We've killed more than 13,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, at the most conservative count. Many of those are children -- little kids just like our own. We've maimed and made homeless tens of thousands of others.

For what? Liberation? How many Iraqis do we have to kill before they're free?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

See Dick Run (Away)

Vice-president Dick Cheney visited Gainesville Wednesday, but he didn't want to meet the public. Instead he had a brief, invitation-only meeting with a handful of supporters at a local Harley-Davidson dealership.

Cheney's avoidance of the public is indicative of Bush-Cheney campaign events across the nation. All attendees must be invited and must sign loyalty oaths to Bush before entering.

Loyalty oaths? That sounds like something Saddam Hussein would require. At least the Kerry-Edwards campaign is not requiring this.

Not content to prevent anyone with a shred of opposition to Bush from attending one of his events, Bush has had his secret service agents force any protestors into caged zones often far away from his events.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit for several people who claim the Secret Service denied them their First Amendment rights by allowing Bush supporters to wave signs where Bush could see them but requiring Bush protestors to do so as far as a mile away.

This is part of a larger pattern of secrecy employed by the Bush administration. When President Nixon's former attorney John Dean calls the Bush administration the most secret White House ever, you know that something is wrong.

In Gainesville, Cheney didn’t speak at a rally. He's just breezed through town, taking just enough time to shake hands with a dozen loyalists who apparently have no problem being lied to on a regular basis.

The only bright spot with Cheney's visit is that it might prompt a Kerry/Edwards visit. At their events, all people are invited, and no loyalty oaths are required. Unlike Bush/Cheney, the Kerry/Edwards campaign isn't afraid of dissent.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Broken Record

There goes Ron Cunningham again, taking a right jab at his favorite punching bags, Alachua County commissioners Penny Wheat and Mike Byerly.

Wheat and Byerly are successful public officials. Wheat has won all four of her election campaigns, and Byerly was elected in his first campaign four years ago and is about to be re-elected on Nov. 2.

This gives Ron Cunningham heartburn. As chief propaganda writer (Editorial Page Editor) for The Gainesville Sun, it is his job to support to the costly government subsidy of growth, to parrot the position of the elite power structures, and to oppose citizen control of the community, at least when it comes to managing and paying for growth.

Wheat and Byerly consistently support managing growth and making new growth pay for itself.

This rubs people the wrong way when they make money from new growth – developers, big land owners, realtors, engineers, contractors and such all prefer as little regulation on growth as they can get away with. More importantly, they want the rest of us to pay for it.

New subdivisions and shopping malls create more traffic and eventually clog existing roads, requiring larger roads, sidewalks, traffic signals and such. They require water, sewer and electric facilities, as well as additional police and fire protection.

As more services and infrastructure are added, more growth follows, and again comes the demand for more services and infrastructure, and so on. When an area finally becomes too congested to get any larger, the growth moves further out of town, and the same cycle starts.

The massive costs of those services and infrastructure are mostly borne by the taxpaying public, which may or may not receive any benefit from these expenditures.

Which leads us back to Ron Cunningham and his current thumping of Wheat and Byerly. This time it involves impact fees and their vote against the compromise fee schedule worked out this week between some members of a few environmental and business groups.

Wheat and Byerly wanted to go with the original proposal, which put far more of the cost of new growth on the new developments. That proposal was opposed by two other commissioners, Lee Pinkoson and Cynthia Chestnut, and semi-supported by Commissioner Rodney Long.

Pinkoson and Chestnut would only consider a proposal that would continue having the public pay for most of the costs of new growth. Long went along, and that "compromise" was enacted.

Of course, Cunningham chose to vilify Wheat and Byerly for sticking to their principles, saying that they need to “understand that governing is all about finding the middle ground.” Cunningham admitted the compromise would provide “less money than originally anticipated,” but that something was better than nothing.

That’s an interesting concept. Maybe the next time there is a new subdivision built, the county should only build one lane of traffic or lay water and sewer lines in only half of the development. How’s that for middle ground?

If not for Wheat and Byerly, the County Commission would not have even been discussing impact fees, and the entire cost of new growth would be shouldered by the rest of us. Thanks to them, there was a debate. They're both real smart people, and they decided that the compromise was inadequate.

If you're wondering why The Sun would so eagerly attack these open, honest, obviously well-regarded elected officials, consider two important facts:
  1. As a media company, The Sun makes money from advertising sales, so more growth means more advertisers and readers, and, therefore, more money. Gone are the days when The Sun, or many news publications for that matter, put news ahead of profits. I've worked for The Sun and other publications, and I am in touch with dozens of colleagues who continue to work in the mainstream press all over the nation, and I've witnessed its downfall first hand.
  2. The Sun’s paymasters are the local big business elites – the car dealers, realtors, bankers and big business executives who clamor for more growth to fuel their business interests.
So when a county commissioner has the gall to suggest that these special interests pay their fair share, of course Cunningham’s cell phone starts buzzing, and he goes into attack mode.

I spent considerable time and effort documenting this pattern over the past 14 years. I believe it is important for the public to understand the self-interest The Sun has in this issue. Stay tuned for regular media criticism of the local press.

Ouch

Thanks to the legal effort of the New York Times, we now know which Gainesville businesses have work injury rates that are "considerably greater than the national average."

A federal district court judge in Manhattan ruled two months ago that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration must give The Times records detailing the 2002 health and injury rates at 13,000 work sites with above average injury rates.

OSHA had identified almost 13,000 workplaces with the highest occupational injury and illness rates, urging the employers to take action to remove hazards causing the high rates.

Eight Gainesville businesses made the list.
  • Florida Coca-Cola Bottling, Co., 929 E. University Ave.
  • Edencare Senior Living Services Lp, 1415 Fort Clarke Blvd.
  • Shands Teaching Hospital Clinics Inc., 8900 NW 39th Ave.
  • Integrated Health Services, 227 SW 62nd Blvd.
  • Gainesville Health & Rehabilitation, 1311 SW 16th St.
  • Florida Food Service Inc, 5201 NE 40th Terr.
  • Griffis Lumber Inc., 9333 NW 13th St.
  • Pepsi-Cola Metro Bottling Co., Inc., 6335 NW 18th Drive
They made the list because they were identified as workplaces with the highest Days Away from work, Restricted, or Transferred rates, referred to commonly as the DART rate.

For every 100 full-time workers, the 13,000 employers on the list had seven or more injuries or illnesses that resulted in days away from work, restricted work or a job transfer. The national average is 2.8.

When The Times requested this information in 2002, OSHA refused saying it would have to spend too much agency resources to comply with the public records request. OSHA said that the records would include information that could be considered confidential business information, so the agency would have to contact each business and get its permission to release the information.

The judge ruled otherwise, and OSHA released a list of the workplaces, with no specifics on the reasons for being on the list. OSHA’s release also did not rank the companies or distinguish between the worst offenders and those that just barely made the list.

In the letter mailed to the 13,000 workplaces, OSHA wrote: “OSHA recognizes that your elevated DART rate does not necessarily indicate a lack of interest in safety and health. Whatever the cause, a high rate is costly to your company in both personal and financial terms.”

If any of this is news to you Gainesville folks, it is likely because our local newspaper did not report this story. A search of The Gainesville Sun’s archives as posted on the Internet did not reveal any coverage of the story.

The Sun certainly had every opportunity to report this. The Sun is an adopted child of The New York Times, which owns the company that owns The Sun and a few other mid-size and small town newspapers. Children, as we know, rarely listen to their parents.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Wal-Mart in the Park

The amount of local government energy (read “taxpayer money”) that is spent trying to accommodate the world’s richest corporation astounds me.

The latest is in the City of Gainesville. Wal-Mart, having twice been denied approval to build a supercenter on an environmentally sensitive parcel on the southwest corner of US Highway 441 and Northwest 53rd Avenue, now wants to trade that parcel with the city in exchange for Northside Park.

This is an idea that the Gainesville City Commission should immediately dismiss. The city already lacks public park space, and Northside Park is a wonderful asset that has tennis and racquetball courts, a pavilion, and the only public disc golf course in the area. The park is frequently used by many citizens, and the Northwest 53rd Avenue site would be a poor replacement.

Wal-Mart makes more profit in two weeks than the City of Gainesville spends in an entire year. If the company wants to build a supercenter, all it has to do is chose a site that fits the city's growth management plans and zoning regulations and then go through the process like anyone else.

When the city denied Wal-Mart the right to build on the Northwest 53rd Avenue site, it was after lengthy deliberations. The denial was made for good reasons, namely that the site is the headwaters for Hogtown Creek, and the stormwater runoff from a large parking lot full of cars would damage the creek.

Denying a company or individual the ability to build on a particular site is no reason to give up a city park. Northside is a wonderful park.

Wal-Mart can find plenty of places to build a supercenter that will fit either the city or county's regulations.

Please contact the City Commission and ask them to drop this bad idea.

CityComm@ci.gainesville.fl.us

Sunday, October 03, 2004

I Don't Wanna Work, I Just Want to Bang on the (War) Drums All Day

If you saw the first presidential debate, you know that President Bush has a hard job and that defending America is hard work. He must have repeated that 10 times, usually instead of answering a direct question.

But what struck me was how hypocritical it was. Recall that the hardest working man in Washington was vacationing on his Crawford ranch when he received and dismissed as unimportant a memo that warned Osama bin Laden wanted to carry out a massive terror attack in the US.

I thought one of the brilliant moments in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 relates directly to this hypocrisy:
“In his first eight months in office before September 11th, George W. Bush was on vacation, according to the Washington Post, forty-two percent of the time.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I hit every shot good; people would say I wasn't working.

NARRATOR: It was not surprising that Mr. Bush needed some time off. Being President is hard work.

REPORTER #1: Many folks say you're loafing here in Texas, that you're taking too long of a vacation.

PRESIDENT BUSH: They don't understand the definition of work. I'm getting a lot done. Secondly, you don't have to be in Washington to work. It's amazing what can happen with telephones, faxes, and...

REPORTER #2: What are you doing the rest of the day?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Uh, Karen Hughes is comin' over, we're workin' on some things. And uh, she'll be over here, we're workin' on these things. These matters. I'm workin' on some initiatives. We're uh... you'll see. There'll be some decisions I'm gonna make while I'm here and we'll be announcing them as time goes on. (looking around)”

The annoyed, distracted look on Bush’s face during the reporter’s questioning, with people socializing all around him, was the most revealing moment in the movie. It made it crystal clear that Bush was not seriously concerned with the work of being president, and the he was more concerned with his golf game.

Bush was practically a caricature of himself in the first debate. (Man, he does a good Will Ferrell.) Although firm in his conviction that being president was hard work, he seemed often at a loss to explain what how he was going to win the Iraq guerilla war, and he consistently avoided any rebuttal of Kerry’s many criticisms.

That debatin’ is hard work.

Closed Primaries

When Republicans start screaming “voter fraud,” my ears perk up. It’s kinda like an arsonist yelling “fire”. Believe it or not, it happens.

Take local GOP Chair Travis Horn (please). When not busy boxing local Democrats outside the Republican HQ, Horn is convulsing over the last-minute write-in candidacy by Steve Nichtberger, for the Alachua County Commission seat occupied by Democrat Mike Byerly.

Nichtberger’s candidacy, by its nature unassociated with a political party, closed the Aug. 31 primary to Democrats only. Byerly defeated his Democratic opponent, Ward Scott, and faces only Nichtberger in the general election.

Scott, a self-described conservative Democrat, joins Horn in making rather serious-sounding allegations of voter fraud. They claim that Nichtberger and Byerly conspired to prevent non-Democrat voters from voting in the Aug. 31 primary.

The real fraud is the allegation itself. The write-in candidacy is completely legal under state law, which allows anyone to run as a write-in candidate without having to collect the requisite petition signatures or pay the fee -- the hitch is that the candidate’s name does not appear on the ballot.

It is true that without Nichtberger’s write-in candidacy, all voters would have been eligible to vote in the primary, thanks to a relatively new part of the state constitution that says: “If all candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner will have no opposition in the general election, all qualified electors, regardless of party affiliation, may vote in the primary elections for that office.”

Scott has whined to the media that being more conservative than Byerly (true), he would have gotten more votes had Republicans been able to vote in the primary, and therefore could have won. Horn labeled Nichtberger's candidacy "voter fraud".

Talk about elitism. Scott and Horn are equating a citizen’s legal right to run a low-budget write-in campaign with, say, an armed gang preventing voters from entering a polling place. It is as if they believe they have a right to control the voting process by deciding who can run.

We should be encouraging more people to become candidates, because it gives us more choices and can enlarge the debate to other issues than those the elites stick to. It might convince more people to vote.

If Scott wanted Republicans and Democrats to be able to vote for him, he should have run as a Republican and faced Byerly in the Nov. 2 general election. Then he could have campaigned as a conservative Republican, which makes more sense anyway. I think it is safe to say that someone calls himself a “conservative democrat” when he wants to retain the ability to take whichever view is the most politically expedient at the time.

Anyhow, there’s a reason he didn’t run as a Republican -- Alachua County has far more registered Democrats than Republicans, and many people vote along party lines. Conservative candidates usually don’t fare well in county elections when they run as Republicans, so they run as Democrats in hopes of attracting both GOP voters and Democrat voters unaware of their right-wing agenda.

In this case, that strategy failed.

And even if it is true that the Democrats had Nichtberger run just to close the primary to only Dems (I’m not saying it is true, just conceding the claim for argument’s sake), it was just a strategy. A legal, successful strategy.

Who is this guy?

I have been a professional journalist since 1985 and worked at two daily newspapers. In 1990, I helped found MOON Magazine, a news and entertainment monthly in Gainesville, which we published for 12 years. In the news department, we focused on local government, elections and politics, and environmental, labor and civil rights issues. I am politically liberal, although I voted for John McCain in the 2000 presidential primary and then Ralph Nader in the general election (ouch). Nobody's perfect.