Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Florida's so-called controversial new election laws have a cheap and satisfactory solution in plain sight that can't be licked; aloof Florida news media STILL rankles

Barbara Jordan, one of the 2011 U.S.P.S. Black Heritage series stamps.
Speaking of the Senate Watergate Committee as I do below, and the House Judiciary Committee that considered Articles of Impeachment against President Nixon, Jordan was a strong voice for reason & logic on that Committee.  

Below for your perusal is an expanded version of the email that I sent on Tuesday to veteran Florida news reporter Steve Bousquet, a former reporter at WLPG-TV/Channel 10 here in Miami, a 17-year veteran at the Miami Herald, including head of the Tallahassee bureau, and more recently, the Capital Bureau Chief for the St. Petersburg Times

He's one of the most-knowledgeable and influential reporters in the Sunshine State, in large part, not just because he remembers people, places and things that others have forgotten -to their peril, as well as to that of their readers/viewers- treats people well, and is very approachable.

Since I returned to South Florida from the Washington, D.C. area in late 2003 after 15 years up there, I've sent Bousquet, literally, dozens of emails with pithy comments, assorted head's-ups about shenanigans I've seen and heard about, as well as notes and articles from other news sources that dealt with subjects he's written about. 
He's responded enough times to satisfy me and seem reasonable, something which can NOT be said is true of 99% of the reporters in Florida who don't know one-tenth of what Steve Bousquet knows.

They don't respond to much of anything, despite whatever their various news organizations may claim on their websites.
In Florida, my personal experience is that the news media, whether print or electronic, is usually as unresponsive if not more so than the local, county and state government they often criticize for secrecy and lack of accountability. 

I and many of my friends who are civic activists in Florida -or bloggers- know that with a degree of certainty that most readers/viewers would be shocked to know.
Especially who some of the worst offenders are.

For those readers/viewers in the dark, though, the logical consequence of that attitude and unwillingness to have a two-way street is, of course, the reason so much of what these days passes for journalism in this state is SO consistently sub-par,  thoroughly unsatisfactory and sometimes worse than doing nothing at all.

In my opinion, there is more bad reporting, biased reporting and factually-inaccurate reporting going on in South Florida than there has ever been since my family moved here in 1968. 

I've expanded the original email to include things that I edited out due to length and to make some points clear for readers.



I think it's very odd that your article today about Dawn Quarles and the state's new voter registration laws... is so sympathetic to her, despite her past history of being either absent-minded (good case) or passive aggressive (worst case).

And seriously, that headline the newspaper's editors chose doesn't do anyone any favors!
Civic-minded teacher snared by new election law http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/elections/civic-minded-teacher-snared-by-new-election-law/1205958

For whatever reason, you choose NOT to quote any of Ms. Quarles' students who put their trust in her -or their parents- people whom I believe she let down by refusing to follow very simple rules.
If I was either a student of her's or a parent of one, I'd be livid.
And if I was the school principal...
Why no comments or quotes from any of them?
It seems counter-intuitive.

I'm someone who registered to vote the day they turned 18 in February of 1979, when the Dade League of Women Voters had a small table near the front of the cafeteria at NMB High School during lunch period, and who had a long-haired, mustachioed FSU grad of a Social Studies teacher at JFK Junior High, Henry Siegendorf, who was the brother of a then-Dade County judge -Arden Siegendorf- and someone whom civic involvement was very important to.

Because of his friendly demeanor, quick intelligence and rather common sense belief that he needed to cultivate our interests while teaching us valuable lessons about how society worked in reality, Mr. Siegendorf was a very popular teacher, and not surprisingly, the object of occasional envious grumbling from other JFK teachers, for whom strictly teaching by rote from the lesson plan was the way to go.
Talk about old -school!

Mr. Siegendorf let us watch the Watergate hearings on TV during portions of class, but unlike teachers who use TVs as babysitters, he required all of us to pay close attention to detail and facts, and not accept either the press' Conventional Wisdom on the story or the take of the members of the Senate Watergate Committee
To drive this point home, he liked to ask questions to test who was and wasn't paying attention to the drama taking place before us on the small tube.

Neither cynical nor a push-over, he also strongly discouraged his students from overly romanticizing the roles of either Sen. Howard BakerSen. Sam Ervin, or the two-headed journalism tag-team of Woodward and BernsteinWhy?
Because people will let you down -a smart precursor to Reagan's "Trust but verified" that I took to heart then and keep in mind always.

As to AP teacher Quarles, who from your article seems to imagine that her good intentions could not possibly be criticized, the very idea that some third-party, much less, a public school teacher, could, if they chose, intentionally take advantage of others in a dependent position by NOT complying with simple rules and laws, much less, foolishly think they were above punishment, is precisely why the new laws makes sense to me.

In this case, it seems to me that you have to punish her to set an example, to drive home the point that nobody-but-nobody is above the law when it comes to someone's right to vote.
Frankly, it almost seems to me as if the teacher did this intentionally to set up a lawsuit of some sort.

A Florida version of the Scopes Monkey Trial, since as I'm sure you know, the Tennessee teacher involved in that case almost 100 years ago intentionally did what they did so as to give the ACLU a legal pretext to get involved in the case and test the law about teaching evolution.
The teacher was NOT an innocent victim, as many believe to be the case, so much as a willing sacrifice or victim for the cause.
The ACLU did a variation of forum-shopping, looking to find the perfect set of circumstances and environment where could write a narrative that would expose the law to ridicule and have a clean-cut plaintiff who was worthy of public support.

Generally speaking, I'm always in favor of eliminating the idiot-factor by dumbing the rules down to the point where anyone, even school teachers, should be able to follow it.
And yet... some choose to do otherwise.

(In the case of the new election laws, the League of Women Voters is on the wrong side, and their disconnect to other public policy issues is becoming increasingly apparent to me here in Broward County, where they did zero in the way of public education or outreach before the recent state redistricting meetings -in Davie!- as I wrote on the blog at the time.
The Fair Districts people REALLY dropped the ball even more than the LWV.

Though I publicly supported them and wrote many posts with info on the subject, the Fair Districts NEVER responded to any of several emails of mine or those of friends imploring them to host or co-host such forums.
Just like the LWV, whose top people in Broward I contacted, with nothing to show for it.
In the case of Fair Districts, they totally ignored us even while they kept sending us fundraising appeal emails.)

Why is it that so many traditional liberal groups that, for almost every other issue, always play the (latent) conspiracy card, and say that you can't trust others intent or requirement to follow the law, NOW, are so suddenly willing to let others decide whether or not THEY will comply with the law and turn in YOUR registration paperwork, so it's properly processed so YOU are not disenfranchised.

As to the Early Voting changes, it's the 21st Century, and first-class stamp solves all the problems, including the ban on Early Voting on the Sunday before the election, with marches to the polls that lots of African-American churches are reported to have done regularly, though when did you actually ever see it mentioned in the Miami Herald or on local Miami TV newscasts if it was so common?

In any case, using stamps reduces the costs of govt. personnel, too, which is not an unimportant consideration given the FACT that so few people actually used the opportunity to vote in person early that first week of the old two week period.

But it's clear that at least some of the the groups complaining about the new laws want it to be a problem so they have something to argue about, like the national Democrats have done since the early '80's with Medicare and Social Security -create an issue to scare seniors with.

Rep. Barbara Jordan of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on the historical significance and meaning of Impeachment within the U.S. Constitution, and the task at hand for the committee; two weeks later, President Nixon resigned. July 25, 1974  http://youtu.be/CDcYiyF5eLc

The answer to the complaints about changing Early Voting is to go turbo and make Florida the largest state in the country to have ALL elections -primaries, general elections and special elections- done by mail.
Voting by Mail makes more sense than ever.

No more money wasted by political parties or candidates on GOTV.
If the parties or candidates want to spend that money dispensing first class stamps instead of providing free transportation to the polls, great, but otherwise, the new laws are very practical.

By the way, I'm sure I'm not telling you something you don't already hear dozens of times a week, but over the past few months, The Buzz blog's reader comments has quickly descended to Lowest Common Denominator territory, and become a hangout for what seem to be chronic ideologues.

As someone who has commented there maybe six times this year, I'd almost prefer that you didn't allow comments, because the sensible comments are SO overwhelmed by the armies of agit-prop/chaff.




Tex Parte blog of Texas Lawyer magazine
Barbara Jordan is the 2011 Black Heritage stamp honoree


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