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Bud Garner
Sentry columnist
Copyright 2012

Volume XX Phone (954) 532-2000 Fax 954-532-2002 Editor@flsentry.com
Click Here for Current Edition

Election Recommendations

The General Election will be Tuesday, November 4th, and early voting has already begun. We investigate qualifications and other information regarding candidates for whom voters in Pompano Beach will vote, but some candidates are in county-wide or state-wide elections. Here are my comments and recommendations (and why):

[In the chart below, Bold indicates an endorsement, normal weight indicates a recommendation]

Congressional District 20

Congressional District 22

Governor

Attorney General

Chief Financial Officer

Agricultural Commissioner

State Senator

State Representatives

District 92

District 93

District 96

County Commission District 4

4th District Judges

Circuit Judge Group 16

Circuit Judge Group 27

Pompano City Commission

District 1

District 2

District 3

District 4

District 5

Amendment 1 - Dedicate funds

Amendment 2 - Legalize Marijuana

Amenment 3 - Judicial Appointments

School District Bonds

Doesn’t matter

Paul Spain

Rick Scott

Pam Bondi

No recommendation

Adam Putnam

Ellyn Bogdanoff



No recommendation

No recommendation

No recommendation

Chip LaMarca

Retail All

Rhoda Sokoloff

Claudia Robinson


No recommendation

Charlotte Burrie

No recommendation

Whitney Rawls

No recommendation

No

No

Yes

No

And here’s why:

Congress

District 20 covers some parts of Western Pompano Beach, and the sitting Congressman is Democrat Alcee Hastings. Hastings has a lock on this seat. A vote for the Republican challenger, Jay Bonner, is merely symbolic.

District 22, encompasses a lot of Palm Beach County and most of Pompano Beach, and is now represented by Democrat, Lois Frankel. After redistricting increased the Democrat voter majority in the district, Frankel defeated LtCol Alan West, who was constantly meeting with constituents, and had a world-famous encounter with a local CAIR representative. West rhetorically cleaned the CAIR representative’s clock, but that didn’t endear him to Democrats. Frankel is rarely seen by Broward County voters. Frankel is also viewed as a shoo-in by Democrats, insuring Nancy Pelosi’s leadership of House Democrats next year. Paul Spain has been campaigning hard, and has a credible chance of unseating her. This vote is mainly about the message to Washington. Spain, an asset manager and financial planner, has a history of being active in his community. WE consider Spain to be the better choice, with the added advantage that, being in the majority party, he has the ability to bring benefits to his district and to Florida.

Governor

To the press, this whole race is about Fangate, the confusion at one of the governor debates where Charlie Crist brought a battery-driven fan to the debate, in violation of debate rules. Frankly that kind of focus avoids issues and qualifications, and obfuscates the election.
Incumbent Rick Scott has actually done a great job as governor, and Florida’s economy is far better than that of many other states. Scott has not endeared himself to many Republicans, by appointing Democrat judges. Governors usually appoint judges from their own party (although party labels should be a minor consideration when appointing judges).
Charlie Crist, a former Republican who could not win his party’s support, changed parties, and is now running for Governor as a Democrat, changing his position on political issues in order to conform to Democrat Party positions, most of which are 180° from the positions he held as a Republican.
We refused to recommend or endorse him when he ran for Attorney-General, because we didn’t believe he was qualified. As an administrator he performed adequately, but always seeming to perform in a way to enhance higher political office.
As governor, Crist was close to Scott Rothstein, now serving a lengthy sentence for a Ponzi scheme that bilked billions (not millions, BILLIONS). Rothstein gave considerable money to Crist’s campaign coffers, and bragged that he could control who got appointed to be a judge.
Crist is clearly an opportunist. His position changes with the winds. There are at least indications that judgships were for sale when he was governor, raising suspicions that could happen if he is reelected. No thank you.
Interestingly, Libertarian Adrian Wyllie has taken positions on political issues that, for the most part, would benefit Florida and its citizens. His positions are basically consistent with Republican positions, meaning that if he draws votes, they will likely be from Scott and not from Crist. We like most of his positions, but unfortunately he has the proverbial snowball’s chance of winning. We would really like to see him join a major party (which would obviously be Republican) and run. Even as a Democrat, we could support him.
Twelve other write-in and independent candidates round out an otherwise unimpressive field.

Attorney General

Republican incumbent Pam Bondi has done a fine and professional job as attorney-general. There is no reason to change. Democrat challenger George Sheldon’s claim to fame is as acting assistant secretary for children and families in the Department of Health and Human Services, under the Obama administration.

Chief Financial Officer

Jeff Atwater was a bank executive who was elected to the state house in 2000, and the state senate in 2002. In 2008 he was elected president of the senate.

Agricultural Commissioner

Adam Putnam has served four years in that position, and has observed that Florida’s laws on charities need a whole new approach. His beef is that charities take in billions of dollars, and only a fraction gets spent on the supposed beneficiaries. His office also administers a wide range of consumer services, including Florida’s Concealed Weapons licensing (and business has been brisk). His challenger, LtCol Thaddeus Hamilton, has a long history in agriculture. Putnam, however, is doing a fine job. In some cases, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. In this case, it’s working well, and we disagree with the idea that we should take something that works well and fundamentally transform it.

State Senate

Ellyn Bogdanoff served as state senator from 2010 to 2012. Redistricting threw her into the same district as state senator Maria Sachs, who narrowly defeated Bogdanoff in the 2012 election. Both Bogdanoff and Sachs received praise from various local newspapers. Since 2012, each has been the target of the opposing party, anticipating this re-run of a kind of clash of titans. Bogdanoff has been criticized for voting in favor of allowing charter schools, which in a number of cases provide better education than public schools. The Teachers’ Union is not happy with her. I, however, agree with her. Let the charter schools compete. If they don’t do a good job, parents will move their kids, and the charter schools will fail. Thing is, they’re not failing.

Sachs has also been criticized for living outside her district, calling an unoccupied condo her legal residence. It’s all quite legal, but not especially endearing to voters.

State House

District 92 lies mostly between the Turnpike and Dixie Highway. The incumbent is Gwen Clarke-Reed, who faces Republican challenger Kenny Brighton. No recommendation.

District 93 covers the rest of Pompano Beach, and is represented by George Moraitis. Some commentators have slammed Moraitis for voting against Broward’s “living wage ordinance”, which requires governments to pay more than the private market. Moraitis has a reputation among Republicans of untrustworthiness fostered by former supporters who saw Moraitis as a 'RINO', Republican In Name Only. No recommendation.

Democrat challenger Scott Herman, like Charlie Crist, changed parties when he couldn’t get many votes as a Republican. In this campaign he has raised comparatively little money, indicating little support from anyone. One wonders why he even bothered.

Kristin Jacobs is unopposed in District 96 for state house. Jacobs did a poor job representing her district as a career county commissioner. She is known for a nasty temper and a willingness to viciously assault constituents verbally who dare to question her positions. She has a potential write-in candidate opponent.

County Commission

In 2010, Chip LaMarca unseated Democrat Ken Keechl for this seat. Keechl wants his old job back, but LaMarca has done a good job at representing his district. As the only Republican on the County Commission, LaMarca has taken a lot of heat for nearly everything, and there are some legitimate criticisms. But we like the idea of a bipartisan commission. I’ve read the criticisms, and we don’t consider any of them to be deal-killers (he let his home mortgage go into arrears, he said he won’t meet with lobbyists but he meets with people who want his help on things even though they’re not paid lobbyists, he said he would pay back some of his salary to the county – do you think ANY politician actually does ???). The only criticism we buy is that LaMarca (or someone in his campaign) criticized Keechl for wasteful spending by voting for the new Courthouse – something which is badly needed. I’ll still go with LaMarca for now.

Appeal Judges – 4th District

No reason not to keep them all. Vote to retain.

Circuit Judges

Group 16

This is truly a decision based on which candidate is the least qualified, and both have a run at that dubious distinction. Sokoloff is not thought of highly in legal circles, and Bailey even less so. It sort of comes down to which of the two will bring something – anything – to Broward’s courthouse. Bailey is a criminal lawyer, and we have plenty of criminal judges (and we mean that in the context of judges who sit in the criminal division, not the other interpretation). Sokoloff is a family lawyer, and those are not so plentiful – it’s actually one of the tougher judicial assignments. Bailey has name recognition, because of his highly qualified brother, who is a circuit judge. Sokoloff has some name recognition because this is her third attempt, having lost handily in previous efforts. Regretfully, the third time is likely to be a charm, but only because she can bring a little more to the Courthouse than Bailey can. So [groan], we recommend Sokoloff,

County Judges

Group 27

One thing can be said for incumbent County Judge Ian Richards: he’s a great campaigner. But he comes off in the courthouse as being a little too political. It may be a smart political strategy, but I’m more concerned about what goes on in the courthouse. I’m also unimpressed with the work he does with the Ian Richards Foundation. That does sound a bit narcissistic, and it does appear to be a bit too arrogant. We also was not impressed when he successfully campaigned in 2008 to unseat Judge Claudia Avalos, another incident of ethnicity raising its ugly head as a qualification, or, as we said before, a disqualification. His campaign was largely door-to-door, prompting many to call it a stealth campaign.

Claudia Robinson represented the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), but they declined to endorse her. Interesting, since Robinson worked two years as a public defender and four years as in-house counsel for the PBA, followed by private practice. She graduated from UofF Law School in two and a half years, a rarity which normally requires three years.
As between Richards and Robinson, we lean enough toward Robinson to endorse her.

City Commissioner

District 1. Barry “Doc” Dockswell is well-connected in County Democrat circles as a large Obama contributor. He has served six years on the commission and is seeking his 4th term with few accomplishments.. He was the lone, almost-vitriolic opponent of a lease to benefit the City’s world-famous fishing fleet. The only explanation we could find was a desire to lease the Hillsboro Inlet Marina to one of his affluent neighbors.

His opponent is Angela Hill, an 11 year resident whose husband has a business in the pharmaceutical industry (is that ambiguous enough?). The issues she supports are, for the most part, not objectionable (term limits, fiscal responsibility, CRA management), but also not glaring issues for Pompano. She did not return a call inquiring about her positions, and does not appear to have been involved in City activities (boards, committees).
We’ll pass on this one.

District 2. Charlotte Burrie is probably the most beloved commissioner since Emma Lou Olson (for whom the Civic Center is named). She spends massive time and expends massive efforts to benefit her district, much of which was annexed into Pompano Beach from unincorporated Broward County. She was instrumental in the development of the trailer park adjacent to the ice arena on North Federal Highway and improvements to the adjacent park property. Most residents in her district would like to encourage her to stay on as commissioner as long as possible.

Her opponent is Tom Terwilliger, a “semi-retired” investment banker, who bought his home in Leisureville in 2009. He first challenged her in 2013, making a dismal showing. Terwilliger disagrees with Burrie’s support of economic development. Terwilliger complains about Burrie being soft on crack houses, when the record shows she has turned in more crack houses to BSO than any other commissioner. Could be that Terwilliger’s beef is that his house was burgled, and he’s looking for someone to blame. It also appears that Terwilliger was involved in a contentious divorce proceeding in Kentucky which went all the way to the state Supreme Court. The 2002 court opinion confirmed that Terwilliger engaged in fraud against his ex-wife in the division of marital assets – not exactly an endorsement of someone who would be an elected official.

District 3. Rex Hardin served as a City Commissioner for one term back in 1998. We became critical of his service, because he took the position that he was elected to make decisions for the people, and not to represent them. He was unelected by the Firefighters union which he attempted to ignore while on the Commission the first time. After being defeated by former State Representative Bob Shelley, the hapless Harding was forced to grovel publicly to get the union's support for re-election. He has been very careful not to annoy union leaders ever since.

Ken Campbell, a former member of Pompano’s Budget Review Committee is challenging him. Campbell served well on that committee, but it appears he has a beef with the City Manager. My sources indicate Campbell wanted the City to develop a strategic plan, and so informed the City Manager. Naturally, he was ignored.

District 4. This is frequently a politically contentious district that was dominated in earlier years by E. Pat Larkins. Fortunately, in recent years Woody Poitier has served the district, but has decided to retire. He wants Rev. Whitney Rawls to be his successor. Rawls wants to focus on economic and job creation in the Northwest district, where unemployment remains high. He serves on the NW Community Development Agency Advisory Board and the City’s Economic Development Agency. His past service includes a number of County boards and agencies.

He is challenged by Beverly Perkins, a longtime member of the Alcee Hastings team; one-term former city commissioner and insurance salesman, Ed Phillips; and Shelton Pooler, owner of a pest control company.

District 5. This District was controlled by the Palm-Aire condominiums and their long time political leader, Herb Skolnick even after his death. Skolnick ruled with an iron fist and used his position to threaten outspoken locals and other politicians with potential charges of anti-Semitism. Skolnick switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat in the face of threats by prominent Democrats to run opponents against him. Skolnick was replaced by his most prominent minion, George Brummer whose often wandering and windy self aggrandizing speeches will not be missed.

Roger Gingerich is an accountant who has his own tax company. He has challenged incumbents in the past, a losing proposition given District 5’s history. This time he has the shot, and his financial background should be a plus for the City. He is up against three others.

John Bynoe is retired from the Florida Department of Transportation. Joan McConnell wants to promote tourism and protect the environment. Barry Moss, who has served on the Parks and Recreation Committee, dislikes the City’s plan for the new Civic Center adjacent to City Hall.

Rumor has it that Moss is the front runner.

Other Races No Recommendations

Constitutional Amendments

1. Dedicate Funds to Conservation and Recreation. This amendment is being marketed as a no-additional-taxes way to allocate funds that the Legislature has declined to do. It requires that one third of excise taxes be dedicated to conservation and recreation. Problem is that the state will have to replace fund shifted by this amendment, and that will result in more taxes. The marketing of this Amendment is truly deceptive. Vote NO.

2. Legalize Medical Marijuana. If you think this will limit the legalization of marijuana to strictly medical uses, you are naive. Colorado allows both medical and recreational marijuana. Their rationale was the recreational marijuana would bring huge revenues to state coffers, but it didn’t happen. Prescriptions are being written for the flimsiest of reasons, and so there is a medical mask on recreational use. Anything goes. Colorado also is experiencing dramatic increases in impaired driving incidents. California allows medical marijuana, and it is available everywhere, even for food stamps. We don’t need their problems here. Vote NO.

3. Judicial Appointments. This is basically a fix for situations where a judge submits a delayed resignation, and allows the governor to appoint a replacement without having to wait for an election. It’s a needed fix. Vote YES.

School Bonds

We spend huge amounts of money on education, and much of the funding goes to upper and middle management, and facilities for the School Board and middle management. We need the School Board to get its act together, eliminate a lot of waste, and get funding to the teaching level, where it belongs. Until they can prove fiscal responsibility, I’m opposed to giving them more money. Vote NO.

The election is Tuesday, November 4th. Early voting has already begun. In Pompano you can vote at the Emma Lou Olson Center, 801 NE 6 Street; E. Pat Larkins Center, 520 Martin Luther King Blvd. If you’re headed downtown, try the Fort Lauderdale Branch Library, 1350 East Sunrise Blvd., Room 130.

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