Archive for the ‘St. Petersburg Times’ Category
By Spartacus Thrace
David DeCamp, Staff Writer for the St. Petersburg Times, is trying to create the impression of controversy involving Republicans where none exists, as he has in the past.
In a June 7, 2011 article titled “Pinellas Housing Authority land purchase could yield commission for former member,” DeCamp does not state, but strongly suggests without foundation, that members of the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee (PCREC) engaged in illegal or unethical activity involving a proposed real estate purchase. The truth of the matter is clearly and demonstratively otherwise.
The facts are straightforward: The Pinellas County Housing Authority Board of Directors has been looking for land for a housing complex for veterans. Housing Authority Chairman Joseph Triolo asked Jay Beyrouti, a Florida licensed realtor for over a decade, if he knew of any land the Authority could purchase. Beyrouti told Housing Authority Board Executive Director Debbie Johnson about a 13-acre plot on Lake Seminole (about a mile from the Bay Pines Veterans Hospital) owned by Cornerstone Community Bank which had originally been purchased for $4.3 million and for which the bank wanted $2 million. Johnson recommended the purchase to the full Housing Authority board of directors at an open meeting on the record, and the Authority made an offer to the bank of $1.5 million. The bank refused the offer and the land was not purchased. No money — taxpayer or otherwise — changed hands and, if the deal had gone through, any rightfully-earned commission paid to Beyrouti would have been paid by the bank in accordance with standard business practices. Everything was done out in the open and on the record, and there was nothing illegal, unethical, or immoral about anything that any of the persons involved did — period. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the most enduring and effective weapons employed by the radical statists who comprise the mainstream media (MSM) is the political “hatchet job.” Wielded for decades with near-impunity by the MSM against conservatives, Republicans, and other political enemies, the hatchet job has been a potent force for the Left in its efforts to reduce or eliminate political debate at the national, state, and local levels. This article is a primer for conservatives and members of the New Media on what a hatchet job is and how it is employed.
Hatchet Job Defined
A hatchet job is a biased, maliciously destructive, and often cruel written or spoken critique or attack on the character or activities of a person, organization, or institution. In its most common form, a hatchet job comprises a printed attempt disparage, discredit, and ultimately destroy a targeted person’s or organization’s reputation in the eyes of the public and to deny the target public sympathy or support through the use of innuendo, inaccuracies, and misleading statements. It is also used for the inherently undemocratic purpose of intimidating and stifling political opposition or dissent.
The hatchet job is a work of pseudo-journalist art, psychological warfare, and political disinformation. Hatchet jobs are in derogation of the ethical rule that journalists should always be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.1 While some hatchet jobs are one-time efforts, many are part of a sustained political campaign. The smear campaign waged by the MSM against Sarah Palin is an example of the latter. Few are blatant, and most are quite subtle. Sometimes, for example, a direct accusation against the target is merely the carrier for darker and more ominous insinuations. In many more cases, however, factual errors, innuendo, and implications of wrongdoing are placed alongside, and draw plausibility from, scattered truths to create a grossly distorting effect on the reader or viewer. Read the rest of this entry »
By Le Corbeaunoir
It is not every day that someone from the neighborhood makes national news, and it makes sense for a member of the public to think that such an event would attract the attention of the local press. Alas, that is not always the case when it comes to the liberal media.
That having been said, it is remarkable that a 19-month criminal prosecution for voter registration law violations committed by a Pinellas County leftist working for a nationally-scandalized progressive activist group with ties to the Democratic Party has received virtually no coverage in the local press: As a result of this self-imposed news blackout, the recent prosecution of Amy Busefink by the Nevada authorities has made her notorious across the country, yet little is known locally about her and her crimes. That is unfortunate, because this case can be very instructive on the matter of how and why the radicals see voter registration as a key battleground in their class warfare strategy.
With that in mind, this post is intended to help conservatives get a handle on this case, and understand who was involved, what happened, why it happened, and what it means. Read the rest of this entry »
By Spartacus Thrace
It appears that another candidate for the 2012 judicial elections has emerged, almost two years before voting is to begin.
Tom Ramsberger lost the 2010 Sixth Judicial Circuit Court Group 20 race to to Patrice Moore by a vote of 86,704 (51.03%) to 83,200 (48.96%), despite outspending her $59,821.49 to $21,798.20 and having higher name recognition as a result of a brother, Peter Ramsberger, being a serving circuit court judge in Pinellas and Pasco counties. Moore, however, had the endorsement of the St. Petersburg Times and was a more impressive speaker than Ramsberger while out on the stump.
It appears that Ramsberger has not given up and has not shut down his campaign. His content-copyrighted campaign website has now been modified to indicate that he will be running for the seat of an as-yet-unidentified judge who will be retiring in 2012, and to caution visitors not to make contributions until he sets up a campaign finance account later in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »
By Spartacus Thrace
The Sixth Judicial Circuit Group 18 (Pasco and Pinellas counties) runoff election to be determined on November 2, 2010 is a race between experienced attorneys Patricia “Trish” Muscarella and Kathryn Marie Welsh. Muscarella and Welsh were the top vote-getters in the August 24th primary election. In that race, fellow candidate Edward Liebling was the bottom vote-getter and so was disqualified. An analysis of the primary election results for all of the Sixth Circuit judicial candidates has appeared in an earlier post on this blog.
Patricia “Trish” Muscarella
Patricia “Trish” Muscarella, is one of two candidates running for Circuit Court Judge, Sixth Circuit, Group 19 (Pasco and Pinellas Counties). She was born and raised in Pinellas County. Muscarella has been actively involved in community service since she was a student at St. Cecilia Elementary School in Clearwater, where she was a VISTA volunteer in a summer reading program for underprivileged children. She is the daughter of Frank Muscarella, former United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. She is a 1970 graduate of Clearwater High School, a 1975 graduate of the University of Florida (B.A. in Special Education), and a 1984 graduate of Stetson College of Law. On June 7, 1985, she was admitted to the practice of law in Florida.
Muscarella’s only prior experience running for public office was in 1990, when she was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. During her term as State Representative, Muscarella was chosen to be the leader of the 1991 Republican freshman class and served on the Insurance, Natural Resources, Community Affairs, and Ethics and Elections Committees. In 1992, she ran for United States Congress as a moderate, but lost in the Republican primary to incumbent Mike Bilirakis. She thereafter left politics and concentrated on building up her law practice and related businesses. Read the rest of this entry »
By Spartacus Thrace
For those of you who have been frustrated in your efforts to find out the personal philosophies of candidates running for judge, here’s a bit of a tease, with the promise of much more to come.
The Conservative Institute for Public Awareness (CIPA), a group originally created by former U.S. Congressman Mike Bilirakis, hosted a judicial candidates forum on June 1, 2010. The forum was well-attended and was videotaped in its entirety. It was a rare and very informative event but, nonetheless, it did not get much publicity outside the membership of CIPA. Until now.
In the race for Sixth Circuit Court Judge, Group 18 (Pasco and Pinellas counties), the candidates are Patricia “Trish” Muscarella (who came out ahead in the primary and is endorsed by all major law enforcement groups, the State Attorney and the Public Defender) and Kathryn Marie Welsh (who came in second and was endorsed in the primary by the St. Petersburg Times). When asked to name their favorite United States Supreme Court Justice, Muscarella expressed her admiration of Justice Antonin Scalia, but Welsh was almost giddy as she gushed about then-nominee Elena Kagan. Here’s what each said in response to the question (Hat tip to CIPA and Joe Sekula):
The first value of this little clip is that it is unmistakable that Welsh identifies with liberal judicial activism.
The clip is also a valuable indication of Welsh’s aptitude for situational awareness. First of all, one has to wonder if Welsh actually heard the question, which was directed at sitting justices, and not nominees. Regardless, it was an informative answer for those conservative voters concerned over the direction the country is headed. One must, however, wonder if Welsh understood that she was in a room full of conservatives and that she was praising a radical leftist hand-picked by President Obama to protect his statist agenda in the United States Supreme Court, and whose nomination those conservatives to whom Welsh was speaking uniformly and vigorously opposed.
With Trish Muscarella stating her admiration of Justice Scalia, the clip also shows that there is a rare, remarkably clear, choice between the candidates for Circuit Court Judge in Group 18, one that conservatives (and moderates) overlook at their peril.
I live in Florida House District 51 in Seminole, Florida, which is part of Pinellas County. I am a veteran, work a regular job, own the house I and my family live in, pay my taxes, keep my lawn mowed and trimmed, am friendly with my neighbors, and I vote in every election.
The other day, when I was at the computer checking on who was going to be on the ballot in November, I saw that someone named Victoria Torres was running for the House District 51 seat as a TEA Party candidate, along with the Democrat incumbent Janet Long and Republican challenger Larry Ahern.
Victoria Torres? I never heard of her, but I thought, well, if she’s part of the tea party crowd she’s probably as fed up as I am about the way our government is going. I decided to check her out, even though I had pretty much already decided to vote for Larry after meeting him at a local candidates’ night in my neighborhood.
I Googled “Victoria Torres” and, boy, did I get a shock.
There were all kinds of articles linking her to a couple of political scam artists in Orlando, but no sign of a campaign website. Thinking that maybe she had just gotten some bad press lately but might otherwise be OK, I continued to search for her website and any information I could find out about her. It seemed that the longer I looked the less I found, and things just weren’t making sense. This made me even more curious about who this lady was, and why she was running in my district. Read the rest of this entry »
By Le Corbeaunoir
The creation of the TEA Party as a minor political party in Florida in August 2009, its subsequent qualification of federal and state candidates to be on the November 2010 ballot under the TEA Party name, and other activities of people closely connected to that party have sparked a major political row with implications extending to the 2012 presidential election and beyond. At the heart of the controversy is a fight to the finish between members of the new political party and grassroots Tea Party movement organizers over proprietary ownership and control of the name “Tea Party” and other aspects of the Tea Party “brand” in Florida. The controversy is about power, control, and money, and who gets to define what “Tea Party” means in Florida.
FORMATION OF THE BALLOT-QUALIFIED TEA PARTY
The ballot-qualified “TEA Party” and the “Tea Party movement” are not the same thing. They do not share organizations, leaders, or members, and they are ideologically opposed. The movement is decentralized with power diffused among its many factions. The party is centralized, with power concentrated in the hands of a few. The movement has grown spontaneously across the state over the past year-and-a-half or so, while the party was created by a filing with the Florida Secretary of State in August 2009. Read the rest of this entry »
It seems that St. Petersburg Times columnist and resident somnambulist Dan Ruth has a Glenn Beck complex.
As much as I hate to admit it, I did see this coming. It was bad enough when he had his own radio show that didn’t quite achieve the same, shall we say, notoriety that Beck’s did; but I figured that when the Times gave him a column, he’d be a happy enough guy and let bygones be bygones.
Not so, I’m afraid. So in the spirit of bipartisanship, I sent Ruth the following note:
You probably got a flood of e-mail on this already, but I heard Jack Harris on the radio this morning vis-a-vis your latest tirade against Glenn Beck. He basically said you were, shall we say, fabricating a bit with that business about the doughnuts. Having worked in a newsroom myself, I have to come down on Jack’s side here. Newsies don’t get paid enough to turn down free food, even if it’s Kavli wafers and three-day-old cheese. For the interns, it might be the only meal they get all week.
And what’s up with all the hostility, dude? I mean, sure–he once said that your nobody should operate heavy equipment while listening to your old radio show (and I have to admit, the bumper music alone nearly put me out behind the wheel; luckily, I had a copy of Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” on hand to wake me up). But that was years ago! Time to move on, my friend.
I’d also suggest going a little lighter on the metaphors in the next column. While I appreciate a “Blazing Saddles” reference as much as the next guy, I would’ve gone with something from “Caddyshack” instead (perhaps with Beck as Judge Smails–pure gold, if you ask me). And tone down the vitriol, for Pete’s sake. You sound like a middle-aged Twilight harpie throwing down with a tween over who’s hotter, Edward or Jacob. Happy warriors are far more fun, not to mention convincing. Believe me, I say this out of nothing but love and respect–even if you are a political southpaw.
Fondly,Your Friendly Neighborhood Right-Wing Zealot (With Libertarian Tendencies)
Thanks so much for the generous note of support.
By Spartacus Thrace
The results for the judicial candidates in the August 24th primary election for Pinellas County and the Sixth Judicial Circuit (comprising Pasco and Pinellas counties) are in, and they are revealing. The following information was derived from data provided by the supervisors of elections for Pasco and Pinellas counties, and by the Florida Secretary of State’s Division of Elections:
As of election day, there were 897,503 registered voters in the Sixth Circuit divided into 334,874 Republicans (219,890 in Pinellas and 114,984 in Pasco); 339,532 Democrats (231,044 in Pinellas and 108,488 in Pasco), and 223,097 “other” (150,202 in Pinellas and 72,895 in Pasco). A total of 202,943 votes were cast in this election, 147,315 in Pinellas and 55,628 in Pasco (33,788 Republicans, 18,088 Democrats, and 3,752 “other”).
In the Circuit Court Group 18 contest 173,417 votes were cast. The vote tally was Edward J. Liebling 42,719 (24.63%), Patricia “Trish” Muscarella 68,593 (39.55%), and Kathryn Welsh 62,105 (35.81%). As no one received more than 50% of the vote, Liebling is out of the race and Muscarella and Welsh face a run-off election on November 2, 2010. Total campaign expenditures were $38,108.69 for Liebling, $56,456.19 for Muscarella, and $25,946.16 for Welsh. Welsh had the endorsement of the St. Petersburg Times.
In the Circuit Court Group 20 contest 169,904 votes were cast. The vote tally was Patrice Moore 86,704 (51.03%) and Tom Ramsberger 83,200 (48.96%). Moore was endorsed by the St. Petersburg Times. Total campaign expenditures were $21,798.20 for Moore and $59,821.49 for Ramsberger.
In the Circuit Court Group 27 contest 168,303 votes were cast. The vote tally was LeAnne Lake 28,640 (17.01%), Kelly Ann McKnight 42,193 (25.06%), Keith Meyer 52,287 (31.06%), and Jeff O’Brien 45,183 (26.84%). As no one received more than 50% of the vote, Lake and McKnight are out of the race and Meyer and O’Brien face a run-off election on November 2, 2010. In this race, the St. Petersburg Times endorsed Keith Meyer. Total campaign expenditures were $12,065.48 for Lake, $14,043.83 for McKnight, $43,527.34 for Meyer, and $13,339.41 for O’Brien.
In the Circuit Court Group 29 contest 170,673 votes were cast. The vote tally was incumbent Hon. Michael Francis Andrews 91,773 (53.77%) and Deborah Moss 78,900 (46.22%). The St. Petersburg Times endorsed Andrews. Total campaign expenditures were $88,657.85 for Andrews and $41,990.44 for Moss.
In the Circuit Group 30 contest 166,982 votes were cast. The vote tally was Susan St. John 76,726 (45.94%) and Kimberly “Kim” Todd 90,256 (54.05%). The St. Petersburg Times endorsed Todd. Total campaign expenditures were $15,390.31 for St. John and $47,423.46 for Todd. This race is remarkable for several reasons, including the facts that Todd overcame a ballot order effect that favored her opponent, and was the second-highest vote-getter (90,256) after Andrews (91,773) despite being in a judicial race with a turnout that was 3,691 votes smaller than the Andrews-Moss turnout. Todd’s defeat of St. John was so uniform and complete that, in Pinellas County for example, St. John was able to out-poll Todd in only 31 precincts out of a total of 376.
In the race for Pinellas County Court Judge, Group 8 a total of 121,236 votes were cast. Incumbent Hon. Thomas B. Freeman trounced his opponent Wayne C. Mineo, with 83,317 votes (68.72%) going to Freeman and 37,919 (31.28%) to Mineo. The St. Petersburg Times endorsed Freeman. Total campaign expenditures were $42,745.26 for Freeman and $10,973.13 for Mineo.
Female Judicial Candidate Superiority
This results of this election may have finally put to rest the local myth of superiority of female judicial candidates over male judicial candidates that arose in the wake of Susan Gardner’s 2008 defeat of Angus Williams 346,717 to 190,136 in the Sixth Circuit Judge Group 8 race, despite Williams having the endorsement of the St. Petersburg Times and his outspending Gardner more than 8.6 to 1 in the campaign. Although Muscarella and Welsh did out-poll Liebling who was at the top of the ballot in the Group 18 race, Meyer and O’Brien out-polled both Lake and McKnight who appeared on the ballot above their names. It now appears in retrospect that Gardner, who expended a total of $15,199.44 in her campaign, used the combined advantages of ballot order effect and outworking her opponent to overcome Williams, who expended a total of $131,989.71 in his campaign.
Endorsement by the St. Petersburg Times may have also played a small, but important, role these elections. The “newspaper effect”, by which voter preference is influenced approximately 3% in favor of the candidate endorsed by the local newspaper, in combination with other effects, seemed to be apparent in the fact that every candidate endorsed by the St. Petersburg Times either won outright (Moore, Andrews, Todd, and Freeman) or made it into the runoffs (Meyer and Welsh).
Ballot Order Effect
At least two of the candidates, McKnight and St. John, chose races in which their names would appear ahead of other candidates already in the race, apparently banking on the “ballot order effect” to improve their chances of success. The ballot order effect is based on the notion that candidates appearing at or near the top of a set of candidates will garner more votes than those whose names appear afterward. Theoretically the effect increases from approximately 2% at the top of the ballot to as much as 5% as the voter goes down-ballot. As the judicial candidates all appeared down-ballot in relation to most of the other candidates on the August 24th ballot, all of the top-listed judicial candidates should have had a significant edge over their lower-listed opponents. As born out by the results in the Circuit Court Group 18, 27, and 30 races, any such advantage can be overcome by outworking the opposition or other effects.
Use of the Internet for Messaging
Another, somewhat intangible effect, in this was the use of the internet to distribute the candidate’s message. The impetus for this is the relatively meager coverage the mainstream media gives judicial races. Those who made the most extensive and effective use of the internet, including email, social networking sites such as Facebook, and YouTube, tended to have somewhat stronger support at the polls due to the efforts of those who felt that they had a personal connection with their candidate. One of the candidates, Kimberly Todd, made extensive use of the internet to promote her “brand” and distinguish herself from her opponent. This may have contributed to the result that the point spread between Todd and her opponent was greater than in any of the other circuit court races.
An examination of the various judicial campaigns reviewed in this article reveals that the biggest factors in electability of a judicial candidate are name recognition and a personal connection to voters. Much of this is driven by the candidate’s personality, energy, and creativity, but external factors such as financial resources, quality and frequency of campaign consultation and advice from experts, number and quality of prominent endorsements, and the ability to conduct a long, grueling campaign without making embarrassing mistakes (especially when it comes to public statements and campaign financing). Judicial campaigns are fraught with risk, but the risks can be manageable by a competent candidate who prepares in detail for the campaign. The successful candidate thus can “see” the campaign all the way to Election Day and more effectively accumulates and manages the required resources to accomplish the mission than his or her opponent, while the unsuccessful one does not, and that appears to be what separated the winners and losers in these races.