Archive for the ‘St. Petersburg Times’ Category
Commentary by GH Khan
The nonpartisan race for Mayor of St. Petersburg matters, and the time has come for conservatives of all stripes to fully and without reservation back the re-election of Bill Foster for Mayor of St. Petersburg.
That is the message emerging from a series of polls that show Foster trailing challengers Kathleen Ford and Rick Kriseman in the run-up to the August 27 St. Petersburg primary. Conservatives need to set aside their disappointments with Foster over his often folksy, rather ambiguous, and sometimes downright mushy approach to many of the issues facing our fair city. In particular, conservatives will have to overlook His Honor’s deficient leadership over issues surrounding The Pier.
This is a nonpartisan race with far-ranging consequences. The chief executive of Florida’s third-largest city has influence far beyond City Hall, and far beyond the city limits. This means that the more conservative the mayor is the more favorable the political environment will be for conservatives and their ideas, and that is why this race matters to conservatives.
It is extremely unlikely at this point that any candidate in the mayor’s race will receive the required 50% of the vote plus one to win the race in the August 27 St. Petersburg Primary, which means that there will be a November run-off between the two top vote getters. The two biggest threats to Foster’s re-election are Ford and Kriseman. The other two candidates in the race, Anthony Cates and Paul Congemi, are unlikely to have any statistically significant impact on the race. Ford and Kriseman each show stronger polling strength than Foster, and Foster will have to beat at least one of them in the primary in order to be in the running in the November election. Kriseman, an unremarkable garden-variety liberal Democrat, is seen by some as more beatable by Foster in November than remarkable progressive Democrat Ford would be, making Ford the candidate Foster must best in the primary.
To know Bill Foster is to like him. The Mayor has done a lot of good campaigning to date, and has garnered a lot of important endorsements, but there is a lot more to be done. Foster needs to shore up his base and, to the extent possible, expand his appeal to other voters. He needs to send to voters a sharp, clear message of accomplishments and the path he will take to further accomplishments in his next term. He needs to define his candidacy and the issues of the election, and not cede the initiative to his challengers to define things for him: E.g., The Pier is only one of many issues facing St. Petersburg voters, and not the most important one in this election. No more muddled, ambiguous pandering that appeals to all and satisfies none. He needs to reconnect to social conservatives of all types, and not just the local Republican hierarchy (Foster is a Republican). He badly needs to repair his relationship with St. Petersburg’s African-American community, which has a history of being very forgiving of political trespassing. He needs to raise a boatload of money and use it to saturate the available media with his improved message. Perhaps Foster also needs a new consultant, one who has an intimate understanding of the politics of The Burg and can generate a winning strategy that will get Foster through the primary and on to victory in November.
So, what’s not to like about Ford?
Kathleen Ford has unsuccessfully run for Mayor of St. Petersburg twice previously, losing the first time to Rick Baker and losing the second time to Bill Foster. She has previously served on the City Council. Ford is presently riding a wave of notoriety arising from her litigation over The Pier. This will give her an edge with many of the voters who will be voting on The Pier in the August primary. This popularity is, however, very thin and is undercut by several of Ford’s strong negatives. To know Kathleen Ford is to have strong feelings about her; indeed, one of the jokes going around town lately is that “Will Rogers never met Kathleen Ford.”* Ford has been described as being self-righteous, condescending and rude to those who disagrees with her. She also has been criticized for being reluctant to admit when she is wrong, and being given to blame others for her failings, as when in her 2009 campaign for mayor she disingenuously tried to blame her use of the racially offensive term “HNIC” on the radio host who was interviewing her when she used it. It was this insensitivity and ignorance that earned Ford condemnation from distinguished St. Petersburg Times columnist Bill Maxwell and effectively destroyed her bid for mayor that year. Her overall judgment and competency as an attorney is also questionable in light of the debacle she made of her lawsuit against the City of St. Petersburg over the closing of The Pier, in which she made an ill-fated attempt to join as “indispensable parties” in the suit the more than 15,000 persons who signed the petition to get The Pier on the August ballot.
Ford also has been accused of being self-serving, and some have opined that Ford’s initiation of this ill-fated lawsuit was just a gimmick to get her name in the press and heighten her visibility prior to her run for mayor. She also has been accused of being a loose cannon, which is one of the main reasons that the pro-abortion group Ruth’s List Florida will not back her in this election, despite her credentials as a progressive.For conservatives, there is a lot about Ford to dislike. During the June 28 mayoral candidate debate sponsored by the NAACP, Ford prattled on about, among other things, the need for “affordable” (read: taxpayer-funded) housing, her opposition to police chases, and her belief in (Republican) voter suppression. In past elections Ford has been enthusiastically supported by the SEIU, the Suncoast Sierra Club, and the Florida National Organization of Women Political Action Committee. Ford can fairly be described as a pandering progressive who favors big government with an authoritarian bent, making it very unlikely that she would be willing to work with members of the City Council to forge the sort of consensus that allows city government to serve its citizens effectively.
There is not much time left for conservatives to get in the game. St. Petersburg has chosen not to do early voting, but voting by mail is an option. The deadline to mail ballots to overseas and absent military voters is July 13; the deadline to begin to mail ballots to domestic voters is July 23. The voter registration deadline is July 27. The polls open on August 27 at 7:00 AM and close at 7:00 PM. Don’t forget to bring some identification.
* American humorist Will Rogers is famously quoted as having said that he never met a man he didn’t like.
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.