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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

UPDATE: Karl Rove Smiles on Florida

Kevin Drum in Washington Monthly magazine sheds some light on the GOP's obsession with suppressing the minority vote. From today's Political Animal posting:
Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio has just finished a survey of 12 battleground states and finds Bush and Kerry tied with 47% of the vote apiece. But when he weights for minority turnout based on the 2000 exit polls, Kerry is ahead 49.2%-45.7%. And when he further updates the weighting to take into account the most recent census results, Kerry is ahead 49.9%-44.7%.

As Fabrizio blandly puts it, "It is clear that minority turnout is a wildcard in this race and represents a huge upside for Sen. Kerry and a considerable challenge for the President's campaign." More accurately, if Fabrizio is right — that Kerry is ahead by 5% overall in the battleground states — Kerry is a sure winner on Nov. 2.
If this does not inspire you to get every Democrat you know out to vote, then nothing will.

Karl Rove Smiles on Florida

The South-Florida Sun-Sentinel reported today that 60,000 absentee ballots mailed to Broward County voters who requested them are missing. The county's election office blames the Postal Service, and that agency claims all ballots it received were promptly mailed.

It's sad when the rest of the world can have elections with fewer problems than we can in the US. If this was an isolated incident, I wouldn't worry, but it is not. There have been several incidents of alleged fraud with voter registrations, including the GOP-funded scam on seven college campuses. There have been breakdowns in the new touch-screen voting machines. And of course Jeb and Co. have been trying to intimidate GOTV operations aimed at minority voters or outright trying to prevent minorities from being able to vote.

Now comes news that the Florida GOP has lists of Florida voters it intends to challenge on election day as wrongly registered or otherwise ineligible to vote. It falls in line with the big picture plan to challenge voters in states with razor-thin margins of victory in hopes that a Bush loss can be turned into a win by disqualifying enough votes. From the BBC:
A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan - possibly in violation of US law - to disrupt voting in the state's African-American voting districts, a BBC Newsnight investigation reveals.

Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington DC, contain a 15-page so-called "caging list".

It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.

An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day."

Ion Sancho, a Democrat, noted that Florida law allows political party operatives inside polling stations to stop voters from obtaining a ballot.
Sad sad sad. I cannot figure out why Republicans are so loyal to this obvious decitful and un-Christian presidential ticket. I think Bush and Cheney have violated just about every commandment, and that's just in the past few days.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Tooting His Own Horn

Alachua County GOP Chair Travis Horn is about as petty and hypocritical as they come. It seems that voter fraud is only important to him when he can accuse Democrats of committing it, and he is obviously willing to level such charges with little to no evidence that any crime or even unethical action occurred.

After the county's election supervisor turned in a GOP-funded group to local prosecutors on suspicion of voter fraud – as reported here -- Horn was silent. The group was caught secretly changing voter's party affiliation to Republican by getting them to sign petitions for fake ballot issues. Election Supervisor Bev Hill, about as moderate and forgiving of campaign mistakes as there is – turned in more than 500 registration forms from the GOP group after complaints from UF students alerted her of the scam. She labeled the case "voter fraud."

Horn was apparently cleaning his assault rifle or whatever and didn't deem the allegations important enough to comment on. He has been quite vocal on other allegations of election misconduct, however, which is surprising because in both cases there simply was no case.

In September he labeled a last-minute write-in candidacy for the Alachua County Commission "voter fraud" because it closed the Aug. 31 primary election to only Democrats. Two Dems were the only other candidates, and if the write-in candidate had not joined the race, all voters would be been eligible to vote in the primary.

However, the write-in candidacy is part of state law and the closing of the primary is in the state constitution. Based on spurious claims no supported by any evidence, Horn accused incumbent County Commissioner Mike Byerly of "colluding" with the write-in candidate to join the race and "disenfranchise" non-Democrat voters.

It was a selective use of words, that's for sure. If my wife and I agree to file our taxes jointly and not separately, you could say we were colluding. Colluding to follow the law, but in collusion nonetheless. And as far as disenfranchising voters, the claim is silly because all voters will be able to vote in that race on Nov. 2.

Think of it this way – if a Republican had filed to run in the County Commission race, that would have closed the primary also. Would Horn accuse that person of trying to disenfranchise non-Democratic voters?

Horn's latest ravings come from the early voting lines at the downtown election office. He claims several Democrats were trying "impeding" voters by lobbying them from legally designated areas. Again, he is accusing people of following the law.
Oh, the humanity….

Poor Paula

The Gainesville Sun's endorsement of Republican Mark Minck over Republican-turned-Democrat Paula DeLaney for Alachua County Commission shows just how tilted against growth management a candidate must be to get The Sun's endorsement.

DeLaney, if you don't already know, was a Gainesville city commissioner for two terms and the town's first elected mayor, a post she had for one term. She was defeated in 2001 when environmentalist Tom Bussing defeated DeLaney in her mayoral re-election bid.

As a daily reader of The Sun and as a reporter who covered the City Commission the entire nine years that DeLaney was in office, I can't recall The Sun singing anything but praises for DeLaney's commitment to economic development.

In this county, when a candidate professes such a commitment, it is code language for opposing strong growth management regulations or any government action that the real estate community does not want. People who make money from growth want growth to happen in as many places as possible, as fast as possible, and with as much taxpayer subsidization of growth as they can wrangle.

Minck is a newcomer to politics, but he has learned the code phrases well. And at least in terms of his campaign promises, he is even less concerned with managing growth than DeLaney. For Minck, it's growth growth growth, tree huggers be damned.

But they are both clearcut from the same cloth. You can count on the winner voting against the environment on a regular basis.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Environment? What Environment?

When The Gainesville Sun endorsed John Kerry for president Sunday, the editorial board included complaints about President Bush’s environmental record as a reason for supporting Kerry.

The paper is certainly correct. We should all be concerned about the Bush administration’s policies that effect the environment. The Sun summed it up well:

Bush has also been the worst environmental president in memory. His administration has rolled back regulations that protect our air, water and national lands. To the extent that he has an energy policy at all, it was written by corporate donors and calls for more of the same; more dependency on foreign oil and less attention to energy conservation and alternative fuel development.

So where was this concern when The Sun was making endorsements in the elections closer to home? In the four endorsement editorials The Sun has published for the two Alachua County Commission races, the word “environment” appeared only once, and even then it was to ensure that voters understood that the candidate would balance the environment with business priorities.

In the endorsement of Democrat Ward Scott over incumbent Mike Byerly, The Sun wrote that Scott “understands the need to better integrate economic and environmental policies.” It’s not that The Sun thought Scott was interested in protecting the environment – just that he had made some vague, happy-sounding promise to integrate environmental and economic policies.

There was another instance in which a variation of the word “environment” was used -- in Saturday’s endorsement of Republican Mark Minck over Republican-turned-Democrat Paula DeLaney. “Minck sees growth and conservation working together for the common good, rather than as adversaries,” wrote The Sun’s editorialists.

Again, it was not that Minck would be a steward of our natural lands or ensure that we had clean air or water to breath – he was lauded because he would not prioritize the environment over business.

The Sun’s intentional avoidance of environmental protection as part of its candidate litmus test was consistent. In the endorsements for DeLaney over her Democrat opponent in the primary did not mention the concept at all; and the environment was not an issue in The Sun’s endorsement of Rodney Long over Jeff McAdams for County Commission.

At the state level, the paper’s endorsements of Dwight Stansel and Ed Jennings., Jr., for state representative also lacked any reference to environmental issues.

This pattern took a strange twist in the endorsements made for the Congressional elections. The Sun did mention the environment when endorsing Democratic incumbent Rep. Corrine Brown over GOP challenger Prince Brown, and when endorsing GOP incumbent Sen. Cliff Stearns over Democratic challenger David Bruderly. However, in both cases The Sun pointed to the challenger’s superior environmental credentials . . . and then endorsed the incumbent.

Does this surprise me? Not really, although The Sun usually pays some lip service to environmental issues when it comes to local elections. This year we’re getting pursed lips.

This does point to a major problem with Gainesville’s daily newspaper. It tries to frame the debate by avoiding one of the most important issues facing local government.

The Sun would prefer we believe that local government is always trying to prevent jobs from being created by making it impossible to open and run a business here, which is a load of crap. For all but four years in history, the County Commission has been dominated by pro-business commissioners who have done everything possible to make life easy on businesses, especially those centered on the real estate development community.

The problem that The Sun has is that most county voters are interested in protecting the environment, which does not mesh with the growth-at-all-costs agenda of The Sun.

Newspapers make money from advertising. Growth means more readers and more businesses. More readers means higher ad rates, and more businesses means more ad buyers. It’s simple math. Elected officials who might stand in the way of any new development over some sissy environmental issue will never get The Sun’s endorsement, and if they do it will be without mentioning the candidate’s environmental views.

Man Knocks Himself Out Stealing Campaign Signs

This guy deserved it.