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7 posts from July 23, 2013

July 23, 2013

PolitiFact tackles rumor about Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, etc., joining FL boycott

The claim about some high-powered stars aligning with Stevie Wonder's Florida boycott over the "stand your ground" law started on social networks -- IN ALL CAPS, with misspelled names and without sources.

Graphics on Facebook and Instagram name two dozen artists that have canceled tour dates in Florida indefinitely "UNTIL THE LAW IN FLORIDA IS ABOLISHED!" The list is populated with world-famous acts such as Justin Timberlake, Jay Z, Rihanna, Rod Stewart, Patti LaBelle and the Rolling Stones, among other groups. Timberlake is said to have called off a stop in Miami because he refused "TO ENTERTAIN A STATE WHO’S GOVERNMENT ALLOWS PEOPLE TO SHOOT-N-KILL UN-ARMED TEENAGERS!"

Before long, thanks to a little mainstream coverage, it took off like a rocket into the blogosphere.

PolitiFact looked into it and found little to no accuracy in the rumor. Read on for the story and rating.

(Spoiler: the Justin Timberlake + Jay Z show at Sun Life Stadium on Aug. 16 is still a go.)

Dream Defenders on Day 8: We stay until we win

When the young activists known as the Dream Defenders marched into Gov. Rick Scott’s office last week, few observers expected the group to attract much attention.

But seven days later, the Dream Defenders have proven hard to ignore.

What began as a modest protest has morphed into a week-long occupation of the Florida Capitol. The organizers, most of whom are college students and young professionals, say they are prepared to stay for weeks or even months — as long as it takes for Scott to call a special session on racial profiling and the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law.

Nevermind that Scott has refused, making the odds of a special session almost non-existent.

“We stay until we win,” said Gabriel Pendas, one of the group’s co-founders.

Read the story here.

Cutler Bay mayor and Joe Garcia challenger wants special prosecutor in absentee-ballot fraud case


Ed MacDougall, the Cutler Bay mayor challenging U.S. Rep., Joe Garcia, wants a special prosecutor to examine an absentee-ballot fraud case tied to the congressman's former campaign team.

MacDougall said in a press release that the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office isn't acting quickly enough in charging three former campaign workers of Garcia's. Investigators in May raided three locations associated with two of the men.

Garcia's former campaign advisor and chief of staff, Jeffrey Garcia (no relation) took a measure of credit for the scheme and was promptly fired.

Continue reading "Cutler Bay mayor and Joe Garcia challenger wants special prosecutor in absentee-ballot fraud case" »

Sen. Smith vs. Uncle Luke: the perils of black politics, blogging, Stand Your Ground and being Mr. "Smith"


SmithBeware of looking up legislative votes. It's a tricky business. Especially if you're going to go after someone with the last name of Smith.

Luther Campbell, the rapper-turned-media-figure-turned-commentator, learned that Tuesday when he plugged a new Twitter handle, @UncleLukesEmpir, that linked to this scorching blog post on his lukerecord.com website: Barack Obama Needs to Raise Money to Nail Sorry Black Politicians.

The post is a good example of the strong emotions in the black community over George Zimmerman's acquittal in shooting Trayvon Martin, and it underscores a focal point of the outrage: the Stand Your Ground self-defense law. Campbell offered to target those African-American pols who should be on a political "hit list" for having voted for Stand Your Ground in 2005:

"I'll start with U.S. Rep Frederica Wilson and state Sen. Chris Smith, two South Florida African-American pols who voted for the controversial law in 2005. Wilson, who at the time was a state senator, and Smith now claim they would have voted differently because they never imagined someone would invoke Stand Your Ground to kill an unarmed 17-year-old black boy."


Those of us who covered Tallahassee at the time knew there was a problem with that: Smith voted against Stand Your Ground.

So I trolled Uncle Luke on Twitter (repaying the favor for his sometime-Miami Herald bashing) and noted the error by including a link to the vote sheet. Smith was more-circumspect in his Tweet that followed: "Please check your records, I argued against and voted against Stand Your Ground in 2005."

But whoever was manning @UncleLukesEmpir wasn't ready to give in and made the mistake of compounding the error. "Smith is yr name, I see a Y. This is the government site Stop misleading the people," the reply read, providing a link to the state Senate vote.


Wrong chamber. Wrong Smith.

Sen. Smith Tweeted back: "I was in the house of representatives. You are looking at The Senate. Please educate yourself."

The current Fort Lauderdale senator, the Democrats' leader in his chamber, is right.

In 2005, Chris Smith was a state representative. The Smith in the state Senate was Alachua Democrat Rod Smith, who seldom met a gun-rights bill that he didn't back. Smith, who went on to unsuccessfully run for governor and then lieutenant governor and then served as Florida Democratic Party chair, helped persuade his colleagues in the state Senate to vote for the Stand Your Ground bill (which includes now U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson).

Smith told The Herald he called Campbell.

"I was like, dude! I’ve got every 2 Live Cru album in my house! Why is Uncle Luke getting into a Twitter war with me?" Smith said.

The real Campbell, Tweeting from his @unclelukereal1 handle, acknowledged the error. First he told me that and said his staff would get "an earful." I noted he'd definitely get us back when we screw up. Campbell's response: "you know I will lol only person over there get the pass is Jackie Charles." (He also referenced "Audra," which probably refers to Audra Burch).

Campbell then manned up some more: "in my blog today I said that representative Smith voted for standing your ground I was incorrect he an 5 others voted no." (Not sure what the "5" is. Six other black House lawmakers were part of the 20 total no votes, all from Democrats.)

Smith appreciated it. Welcome to blogging about national politics, Uncle Luke.

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen bashes UN for honoring Che Guevara's works

From a press release:

(WASHINGTON) – Today U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, commented on the decision by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to include “The Life and Works of Ernesto Che Guevara” in this year’s additions to the Memory of the World Register. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“UNESCO continued its longstanding tradition of making a mockery of its own institution when it opted to venerate and memorialize the life of a blood thirsty, murderous sadist, Che Guevara, by including his works as an entry in its ‘Memory of the World Register.’ This decision is more than an insult to the families of those Cubans who were lined up and summarily executed by Che and his merciless cronies but it also serves as a direct contradiction to the UNESCO ideals of encouraging peace and universal respect for human rights.

“This latest reprehensible action is a microcosm of the existing problems within UNESCO today. There isn’t any semblance of common sense left in that body. From its decision to accept a non-existent state of Palestine into its membership, to glorifying Che’s ruthless crimes against humanity, UNESCO deserves no funding from US taxpayers. The Obama Administration is wrong to continue to seek to restore funding to UNESCO. The Administration must immediately end its push to send $225 million in American taxpayer money to UNESCO that would enable that organization to keep undermining our friend and ally, the democratic Jewish State of Israel, and would insult the memories of those who suffered under Che and continue to suffer under the Castro brothers.”

Joe Garcia 1 year ago: "unequivocally...I’m going to live in the district." Now: I haven't moved yet. Oops.


It has been almost a year since Joe Garcia told The Miami Herald's editorial board that he'd move into the new Key West-to-Miami-Dade Congressional District 26 if he won.

Garcia won. But he hasn't yet moved. His office said the freshman Democrat is in the process of getting a place.

But it's too late as far as the National Republican Congressional Committee is concerned. The NRCC issued the following statement today rapping Garcia for not yet moving and for an absentee-ballot fraud scandal that rocked his office (background here):

“With the on-going voter fraud investigation, Joe Garcia proved he lacks sound judgment to be a Congressman. But now, how could voters really trust Joe Garcia to represent them if he doesn’t even bother to live or vote in the district?”

Note: This isn't unusual for a congressman. Just ask Allen West, who didn't lived in his Broward County-based district and then unsuccessfully ran for another seat even farther away from his homestead. Like Garcia now, West lived in the congressional district of Democratic National Committee Chair and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Not living in your district, however, is a serious no-no for state legislators due to a state constitutional residency requirement that has some legislators in hot water (more here and here).

Still, though Garcia has had typical growing pains for a freshman (finding a place to live in D.C., getting offices up & running), he should have realized that this July 27, 2012 statement to the Herald could come to haunt him seven months into his term:

“What is clear and what I want to state unequivocally is that if I am fortunate enough to be elected by the voters, I’m going to live in the district. And it’s a matter of fact. I know it. I’ve been there. I’ve worked it. And clearly I have a great interest if I’ve dedicated such a huge portion of my life to what happens in the district, living there and growing up there."

Fifth child dies despite warnings to state, father charged with murder, DCF rocked again

Angel VillegasA Homestead man has been charged with shaking his 2-year-old son to death last week — one month after state child welfare administrators gave him custody of the toddler even though he was unemployed, living in a one-bedroom home with eight other children, had been repeatedly accused of domestic violence and had admitted to child-welfare authorities that he had “an anger issue.”

Two-year-old Jayden Antonio Villegas-Morales became the fifth Florida youngster to die since May after having already come to the attention of state child-protection administrators.

The deaths may also have claimed the job of Department of Children & Families Secretary David Wilkins, who had been Gov. Rick Scott’s longest-serving agency head.

Wilkins abruptly resigned last week amid a growing scandal over the deaths of children whose safety had already been investigated by DCF.

Jayden’s father, 29-year-old Angel Luis Villegas,  (photo) was charged Sunday with second-degree murder. More from Carol Marbin Miller