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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Dissing Dissent

Mark Vonnegut, in a Dec. 27 column in the Boston Globe: "The outcome in Iraq will not depend on what we believe and how hard we believe it." Vonnegut, a pediatrician in Massachusetts, was writing in defense of his dad, novelist Kurt Vonnegut, who has been criticized as pro-terrorist for saying on national TV that suicide bombers are not crazy people but rather people willing to die for a cause.

The pro-war crowd has been consistently ironic in its denuciation of any dissent as anti-American and pro-terrorist -- ironic because these same people claim we are fighting this "war" to preserve our freedoms, which one can assume includes the First Amendment's freedom of speech and freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Connecting "anti-war" with "anti-American" is wrong, of course, but it serves a useful purpose for the pro-war propagandist. And we all know that this tactic has been largely successful, considering how the media so compliantly repeated, without independent investigation, all of the administration's assertions about Saddam's threat to the US.

The problem is corporate control of the media and the consequential focus on profit over reporting. These media companies are so worried about their bottom lines that they aren't about to rock the boat. Hell, much of the mainstream media is owned by companies that profit from war. For a network to be called anti-American simply means the possible loss of customers for some of the network's advertisers. So they do what needs to be done to prove their support for the war.

Sure, now that the invasion has become such a horrible mess that only gets worse, the media is starting to contest the president, somewhat, but Bush can still drop the "9-1-1" nuke-lar bomb of justifications whenever he wants without any protest from the media.

Robert Fisk, a British journalist who probably knows more about Middle East politics and history than any reporter, had some interesting comments about the use of propaganda here. I suggest you read it. He gives interesting insight into how the media can be twisted over time into abusing language to serve a political agenda. Understanding how this works is the one of the most important things any of us can do in these odd times.

35 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahh, Views for the "Progressive" Community! Now I get it.

10:29 PM

 
Anonymous Chandler Otis said...

Good to see you back. I look forward to seeing more of your comments.

9:57 AM

 
Blogger Van said...

Great Posting. A statement such as "suicide bombers are not crazy people but rather people willing to die for a cause" is so true that it just reaches out and takes hold of you. I think that the critics must lack a rebuttle.

Anyway, wasn't it Jefferson who said, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism"

Van
http://gulfcoastprogressive.blogspot.com

2:20 PM

 
Blogger Suze said...

Colin, apparently I need to wear my glasses...I just posted on your January 26, 2005 blog. Please skip back to it to see me call you a hero :)

Uh-oh...no posts at all Jan 2006. Hope you can see your way through to continuing, as you are sorely needed.

Suze

10:33 PM

 
Anonymous Robert M said...

Please help.

I am now lost as to who to vote for in next weeks Governor race. I was a strong Smith supporter until today when I watched a video of him answering questions about his own home town and the election fraud alleged regarding his friends there (and he represents them in the Senate).

http://freealachua.org/?q=Rod_on_Alachua

I want to elect people who will fix Florida's elections. That is why I was so strong a supporter of Rod Smith when he came out with his election reform platform.

But now I am not sure if I can believe his campaign promises if he can't even fight for fair electiosn in his own town, when he is their Senator, and when he admits his friends are in charge there.

Who can we vote for next week if we want to reform elections and voting?

1:40 AM

 
Anonymous http://surfsideflorida.blogspot.com said...

http://surfsideflorida.blogspot.com/

Former Surfside mayors, Tim Will and Paul Novack, were steadfast advocats for effective growth management in Surfside. In 1992, Surfside residents overwhelmingly supported a referendum to prevent a twenty-story beachfront condominium. For more than a decade until 2004, Mayor Novack and his family, served this small Dade County community for the grand fee of one dollar per year, consistently denying any requests for height and density variances, maintaining heights at twelve stories east of Collins Avenue, and five stories to the west. Nominator Charlotte Greenbarg wrote that, thanks to Mayor Novack, "the town's zoning code has been consistently, fairly and effectively enforced." Besides that, Novack maintained a balanced budget without raising property taxes. On his shift, there was a one-minute emergency police response time, under 3 minute fire & rescue time, and garbage picked up six days a week for a nominal fee.

Newcomer Mayor Charles Burkett and his slate of commissioners, including Vice-Mayor Howard Weinberg, an attorney, whose own publicity alludes to connections to Sobonito, the online porn giant, defeated Tim Will in the March 2006 elections, by an average of 150 votes, out of a town of 1223 voters who turned out. The town populace is about 5,600. Surfside residents now face a complete wipeout of their charter and codes including Referendums designed to discourage overdevelopment by calling a town vote for such decisions. The new guys in town started by giving the town manager,WD Higginbotham (Gainsville) a recent hire from the old regime, a 30% raise, firing the 30 yr- tenured town attorney for a firm with a record of being a proponent of skyscrapers and overdevelopment, they have already closed the town's community center pool, have all but stopped town maintainance and code enforcement, installed unpermitted signs renaming parts of the town without county permission, and site high cost for the disrepairs. Choice appointed committee and board members are felons, cronies and non-citizens, their PAC has been given a paying job as tourist director for the town, and we are facing the impending threat of replanning for mixed-zoning in our mainly single family town.

Surfside is in danger of losing its small-town beachside character it has been since its inception in 1938. As a result, adversarial groups have sprung up within the town to follow the underhanded and deceitful events that are transpiring on a daily basis.

Link in and stay tuned to the "Corruption in Surfside Florida? BLOG.

http://surfsideflorida.blogspot.com/

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What is a condominium?
A condominium is a type ownership where certain parts of the property (the units) are owned by individuals, and certain parts (the common elements) are owned in common by the unit owners, all of whom are members of the condominium corporation (the organization responsible for the operation of the condominium). Ownership of a condominium means you own the specific unit plus individual interest in the common property. You have ownership over all space and improvements within the walls of your unit.
It is very important to know that you are buying the condominium building first and then the unit, so make sure you like the building and its financial position. I will assist you with this.
What are condo fees and are there property taxes for condos as well?
A condo fee is a fee that each owner is charged to cover the expenses of the complex and individual unit. For example, in a high-rise condominium, the condo fee includes all utilities, plus building insurance, management and reserve fund contributions. When the plan is registered at Land Titles for a condominium, a separate title is created for each unit. And shown on each title is the owners share in the common property, which is expressed in "unit factors". This "unit factor" can be based on the units proportionate square footage or the initial market price in comparison to the rest of the complex. A budget is prepared for a condominium complex, and the fees are allocated according to the unit factor of each condominium unit.
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3:13 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Florida communities have many bad, and a few good, people who are involved in civic matters. Its all the difference in the world between them. The real facts reveal lots about what is going on today in Florida and what we can expect in the future.

Why on earth would Florida state officials want to reign in the over the top spending of local governments? Why would all taxpayers deserve to have their money saved by themselves rather than wasted by out of control local politicians? There are lots of examples. One can be found in Surfside, Florida, where there used to be outstanding government, but now there is the most wasteful, inefficient, incompetent government ever in the town's 70+ year history. This year they passed the most bloated, fat, wasteful, unproductive town budget ever, serving up a perfect reason for strong state imposed medicine to cure this growing disease.

Here's the factual background.

Surfside 1935: Local residents obtain state approval and create an independent municipality, the Town of Surfside, based on their desire to maintain a community with independence from Miami Beach and to have a small, accountable, and efficient local government to reflect the priorities and well being of its own residents. Over the 7 decades to follow, Surfside has its ups and downs, but generally does a superb job at serving its residents, remaining debt free, and being a widely recognized example for cities and towns and villages all over the nation.

Surfside 1990 - 1992: Mayor Eli Tourgeman enacts foolish budget policies with a 3-2 vote of his Town Commission that put the Town into the red, ending his term with town deficits. Tourgeman supports a number of major zoning variances and tries to break down the zoning code to get approval for a 20 story condo despite a height limit in the code of 12 stories. The voters turned back Tourgeman's approval in a referendum that defeated and reversed the condo project's variance approval. In 1990 he was elected mayor, in 1992 he was voted off of the commission when voters saw his real priorities and he came in last from a field of 10 candidates.

Surfside 1992 - 2004: Mayor Paul Novack and a new Town Commission unanimously enact budget corrections and fiscally responsible policies and every year for 12 years the town operated under balanced, stable and efficient budgets, with production of increased levels of town services, and numerous capital projects undertaken and completed that upgraded the parks, playgrounds, streets, drainage system, business district, Veterans Park, Town Hall, and much more, all with no debt, no bonds, and with the building of significant town surplus funds to serve the town's present and future. The town attracted a new Publix and many new restaurants and shops for the business district and made improvements and expansions to town parking facilities. Plans are made for a new town library and hi-tech information center to go on newly acquired property on the west side of Collins Avenue. The town was internationally recognized as a model community, and in 2003 Novack was honored as the state-wide "Community Steward of the Year" in Tallahassee. Mayor Novack was elected by the voters six times to serve as mayor, not one variance for height or density or setbacks or uses were ever approved during his tenure, and he retired from office in 2004 with official tributes from the Florida House of Representatives, the United States Congressional Record, and many others. Mayor Novack stood consitently and stadfastly for doing the RIGHT thing every time.

Surfside 2004 - 2006: Mayor Tim Will and a new Town Commission operate the town carefully and responsibly with balanced budgets, continued expansion of town surplus funds, obtaining a grant to help pay for the new library project, and making plans for the renovation and upgrading of the Community Center. The project would have made vast improvements to the facilities and would not have involved any closure or reduction in use by residents. There was no debt, no bonds, and yet there were even further enhancements of many town services. The town was honored by statewide organizations for superb levels of municipal accounting and auditing and outstanding transparency and performance with public funds. After several productive terms on the Town Commission, and service on the Town's Planning and Zoning Board, and a term as Mayor, Mayor Will retired from public service.

Surfside 2006 - 2007: Mayor Charles Burkett and a new Town Commission spurs, devises, creates and presides over a new town budget that is the largest and by far the most expensive and bloated budget in the town's history, spending more on lawyers than ever, needlessly paying millions of dollars of town funds to "settle" dubious law suits that objective outside reviews found had no merit at all with payments made to the claimants (Burkett campaign supporters) just before Courts were set to rule in the Town's favor, spending over $300,000 on a town charette to document Burkett's plans to change zoning laws and other pre-conceived notions for the benefit of non-resident commercial interests, hired a large law firm for a minimum annual fee of $600,000, no town projects or improved service levels, serious draining of town surplus funds, hired many new consultants with large fees paid by the town, and initiated plans for a public relations campaign to approve putting the town into deep debt with bond issues for as much as $50 million to substantially raise tax burdens on residents for many years to come. The town newsletter is expanded to include political attacks and misinformation every month at a cost of approximately $100,000 in taxpayers' funds for the one year alone. No projects are undertaken, and the community center pool is closed on a ruse after a pool pump has a minor short that the town fails to repair or replace. During his first year in office many respected town employees leave Surfside including its Police Chief, Town Engineer, Town Comptroller, Tourist Director, Public Works Director, and others, all of whom are replaced with "old friends" and campaign workers of Mayor Burkett. Burkett refuses to release his financial disclosure documents from court cases and his membership on City of Miami Beach boards and committees. Information surfaces that indicates he is really a resident of Miami Beach despite owning a house (one of his many, many properties in Florida) in Surfside. Mayor Burkett seeks to contract out services such as fire service, sanitation services, police services, and administrative services to the City of Miami Beach and private companies. His first year in office ends with a disastrous record of misfeasance, a vastly inflated town budget, and negative results for the community.

10:30 PM

 
Anonymous Surfsider said...

Concerning the Surfside comments above. I have lived in the town for over 20 years and couldn't agree with the above assessment more. The town's charter calls for a strong manager, and guiding commission has been perverted by a "yes sir, no sir, I don't know sir, whatever the mayor wants sir" attitude by the new manager.

Incidentally his name is W.D. Higginbotham jr and comes by way of Gainesville.

Can anyone from G-ville shed some light on this character?

10:13 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WD got fired in Gainsville and had a 5 year hisotry of mismanagement there. Problem after problem. He had lied on his application that he had a college degree and when they found out he didn't have any degree they were to embarrassed to fire him,. One fiasco after another and finally he got a job out in california but wanted severaence pay to quit in Gainesville. The Gainesville council found out he already got the job in ca. and they weren't about to pay him severence to leave. They wound up firing him and the california job found out what he was trying to pull with the severence pay in Gainsville pretending not to have a job with them and refused to hire him after all stating he failed to tell them about his bankruptucy. He couldn't get a job for 16 years with any city in Florida. Then Melbourne Beach hired him by mistake. He lasted about 18 months before getting the job with surfside. Same problem in MB as in surfside with him.

1:57 PM

 
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Government officils still make Florida's situation worse not better. Hypocrisy at all levels and such efforts to pull the wool over the voters' eyes.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett has underbudgeted, mismanaged, overspent, and plundered the town budget. He has sent the town into a financial nosedive. He temporarily reduced tax rates to look good politically but most important he has bloated spending to historic high levels and his fiscal policies have squandered much of the town's reserve and put the operating budgets into risk of going into default in 2008. Burkett's "leadership" has been a disaster for the town but he is an actor and faker and finger pointer and a devilish manipulator.

2:41 PM

 
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

surfside
florida
town officials
taxpayers
scheme
zoning
overdevelopment
density
ethics violations
city

http://sticksoffire.com/2007/05/23/reality-check/

11:57 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

joegraubart.com

Joe Graubart

Candidate information

Town of Surfside Florida

11:12 PM

 
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Blogger stephanie k. said...

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10:31 AM

 
Anonymous factbook said...

Surfside Florida has gone from model city success status to trash can status because of its recently elected politicians. These guys have lied their way into office and lie every day while in office deceiving the public about public money and public property. Mayor Burkett, Vice Mayor Imberman, Commissioner Howard Weinberg, Commissioner Steve Levine, all PLUNGED their own community into financial DISASTER by taking a healthy sound balanced city budget and savings reserve and SQUANDERING IT for private gain not public good and now the city of Surfside is a financial basketcase in 2008 after just two years of their failed leadership and mismanagement.

8:08 PM

 
Anonymous Garlandite said...

Surfside Florida in DEBT????

BOND ISSUE?
DEBT?
Town LOANS?

Whacked down a terrific Community Center and dumped out town money and leave us all with nothing? This is good government style of Mr. Burkett?

Sickening

1:55 AM

 
Anonymous WantOurPoolBack said...

Mayor Charles Burkett has spent more on lawyers in the last two years than the city of Surfside ever spent in its entire history. He trains city lawyers to do his dirty work and he pays them a fortune to do it. With the support of Howard Weinberg and Marc Imberman and Steve Levine (who wants to be a judge no less) he has crippled the city's finances and made a joke out of its once lofty success. Taxpayers of Surfside will bear the burden of the cost of the Burkett regime for many many many years to come. Bonds. Debt. Loans. Fake financial reporting. Deception all the way. In the short term they get away with it. In the long term, no way. Truth bubbles to the surface every day. Legacy of Burkett and Weinberg and Imberman and Levine? Disaster. Failure. Lies. Disgrace.

10:30 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Former manager Higgenbothem was part of the whole underhanded scheme. He's gone. Took his money and left before truth comes crashing down on his sponsors. Burkett thinks he's brilliant. He thinks he's headed for state then federal elected positions. He's out of his mind with delirium. Truth will derail his selfish plots and soap opera webs of deceit. Surfside owes him a one way ticket back to where he came from. And it owes a lot of good people an apology.

10:37 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vice Mayor Howard Weinberg leading the "charge" to wipe out Surfside Veterans Park and to give away the historic howitzer display and to rename the park and it just such a disgraceful disrespect to America. What is he thinking?

10:21 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a "charge" that never should have even crossed his mind. How dare he? How could Surfside officials listen to Mr. Weinberg and his zeal to get a veterans memorial tossed off of public property?


Word is out about Surfside city officials wanting to bit by bit change a Veterans Park into a Dog Park. Instead of Surfside Veterans Park and Memorial they prefer Surfside Dog Park? Was there an IQ test when they ran for office? Was there a loyalty to the US test? Was there any notion that they should have decency, common sense, and respect for those who have given their LIVES for us?

Surfside officials have lost it. They want to throw away or at least move out of the way a historic howitzer than is just yards away from a veterans memorial monument, both surrounded by tall flag poles flying national, state and local flags. The gall, the outrageous disrespect, that Surfside officials have revealed about themselves through this scheme. Now that they are exposed they are hiding under phony retorts and spins but at town meetings on the record on tape an in their emails they showed what they were really up to and they should be accountable for this irresponsibility.

8:54 PM

 
Anonymous Vero225 said...

So much money pouring in to fool Florida voters about the value of controlled, sane land use instead of the highest-bidder-corrupt-zoning sale mentaility that has been a state virus.

Important all over Florida because of what threatens Surfside now and what Surfside was as an example before, just a few years ago! Florida's coast - preserve home towns or sell out for biggest payday for the few -- Coastal residents already know what the truth was confirmed by Independent state wide review shows in so much such as this Florida community service preservation award


"2003 Community Steward Award–Public Servant—1000 FRIENDS OF FLORIDA - Honors Paul Novack, Mayor, Town of Surfside

Paul Novack received the Community Steward Award for his steadfast advocacy for effective growth management in Surfside. In 1992, Surfside residents overwhelmingly supported a referendum to prevent a twenty-story beachfront condominium. For more than a decade since then, Novack has served as mayor of this small Dade County community for the grand fee of one dollar per year. Throughout his tenure, Novack and the town's commissioners have consistently denied any requests for height and density variances, maintaining heights at twelve stories east of Collins Avenue, and five stories to the west. Nominator Charlotte Greenbarg wrote that, thanks to Mayor Novack, "the town's zoning code has been consistently, fairly and effectively enforced." Besides that, Novack has maintained a balanced budget without raising property taxes, there is a one-minute emergency police response time, and garbage is picked up six days a week for a nominal fee. During the selection process, 1000 Friends was impressed with Mayor Novack's steadfast determination to uphold the planning and development standards needed to maintain Surfside's distinctive character and scale, noted Pattison. "With his dynamic leadership abilities, commitment to sound planning, and concern for the residents of Surfside, Mayor Novack exemplifies the qualities of a true community steward."

11:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett and Vice Mayor Howard Weinberg have accomplished a lot! Surfside is now the number one consumer of red ink! Deficits, that is! Burning through surplus and savings accounts. Skipping audits and disclosures! Losing out on a bond issue bailout vote! Now planning to do another bond issue bailout vote promising a new community center, by magic at half the initially promised cost! Magic! HOCUS POCUS!!! Surfside Spiraling Financial Disaster Town Government Wasting and Selling Out

11:32 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

over two dozen residents have already complained to State officials. Florida Attorney General. Florida Auditor General. Florida Inspector General. Florida Dept of Community Affairs.

Taxpayers deserve honest and efficient government and none of that is happening now in Surfside and who is going to help clean it up

1:16 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Higgenbotham
Weinberg
Burkett

Unholy partnership.

http://restoresurfsideshonor.blogspot.com/

10:15 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now Charlie Burkett and Howie Weinberg have a new pact: to target County Commissioner Sally Heyman. Mudslingers and liars partnership retakes the stage.

9:30 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such fakers.
Deceivers.
Ego maniacs.
But they just can't cover it up for long.

Charles Burkett, Howard Weinberg, Marq Imberman, Steve Levine, Elizabeth Calderon. Shame, shame, shame. Came into a financially strong, beautiful, great community. Took it down the drain. Now its a financial basketcase, ugly with no enforcement of any standards, they demolished the fantastic Surfside Community Center, and they seek only what is good for themselves, the five officials, instead of what is good for the community. Sick. Shameful.



These officials made a series of horrendous decisions over the last few years and now they want to bail themselves out with a bond issue and charter changes that would expand their power over the future of Surfside, raise taxes, and sink the town into a deep hole of debt. Town officials are scheming to put bond debt and charter changes onto a unique summer election – when many residents will be unaware of the election or out of town. And they are rushing to get it all set up as quietly as possible. Town officials with personal agendas that are ruining the community with shady plots and deals.



Town residents are struggling to make ends meet. Surfside officials are so out of touch with the residents and taxpayers that they continue to siphon off the town’s savings and push ahead with plans that harm rather than serve the public interest. Town officials remain oblivious to the economic crisis. While other cities are scaling back capital projects and non-essential expenses, Surfside officials are spending more and more even though many town departments are already running into red ink. They cover it up but many departments are already in deficit. No wonder the 5 looks for a bond bailout. Its part of the coverup. There should be a forensic audit to find out why and how this group of town officials have taken a financially strong and stable community and crashed its finances into the ground … where did it all go? – its disgusting.



Surfside’s spending on projects that show no results, and its incredible legal fees, consultants, and dozens of quiet, no-bid, big money contracts, are a lead weight that is sinking the town. Current town officials created the biggest & most bloated budget in town history. They constantly try to impose debt upon the residents, change the charter to up their own power, and change the zoning code to open Surfside to overdevelopment.



After raising combined taxes, water, sewer and garbage bills this year to the highest level ever and decreasing service levels (pay more & get less) town officials now plan to deplete the remaining reserve funds that were saved up over many years – and plunge the town into tens of millions of dollars of debt that will raise taxes and the burden on residents for decades to come. Surfside has never had any debt! And once they get approval for the first bond, the hook is in, and cost “overruns”, staffing, insurance, furniture, equipment, utilities, etc. will force the town into additional debt just to try to finish the project. It’s a sink hole!



The Community Center bond scheme does NOT disclose the expense of the bond issue (fees and expenses and commissions) and it does NOT disclose the amount needed to insure, staff and operate any new Community Center and it is an iceberg with most of it hidden from the public by ---- public officials.

7:46 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For more on your favorite son W.D. Higginbotham, check out www.restoresurfsideshonor.blogspot.com

scroll to Higginbotham's Public Records

Adios Amegos!

5:26 PM

 
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