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Saturday, March 12, 2005

Crucifying a Democratic Mayor by Any Means

The Republican Machine is trying to make sure that Florida stays a red state. If it was through legitimate means, that would be fine. However, the Florida Republican Machine is using the official tools of government to further their political cause. Where I’m from, this is called “corruption”.
The problem revolves around Mr. Ezzie Thomas, a retired television repairman and a man of some stature in Orlando’s black community. Last year he made the unfortunate mistake of working for a Democrat – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and his campaign manager Patricia Beatty Phillips. Mr. Thomas was hired by Phillips, with Dyer’s consent, as a GOTV (get out the vote) consultant. His job was to convince Black voters that Dyer was worth waiting in line to cast a vote on election day, or at least worth filling out an absentee vote.
For a bit of history, Dyer took over as mayor when Florida Republican Machine Governor JEB Bush appointed three time mayor Glenda Hood to the vacant Secretary of State position. The position was vacant because Florida Republican Machine lackey Katherine Harris had left her office in the middle of an investigation over how she had illegally used state resources in her position as head of the George W. Bush 2000 campaign. You might recognize another name from this machine – new Senator Mel Martinez who was elevated to HUD Secretary by a thankful George W. Bush.
Martinez and Hood left behind a surprise deficit of $23 million deficit and managed to shift money around, make a few hard cuts, and turned it into a $3.5 million surplus. This should sound familiar because it’s what Democrats have become very good at – fixing Republican screw-ups. It’s actually the reverse of what has happened at the federal level where a Republican turned a surplus into a deficit.
Amazingly, Republicans’ mismanagement cost them the election, with Buddy Dyer getting 234 more votes than were needed for a runoff election. That means he beat his opponent by almost 5,000 votes. Or, to phrase it differently, almost 5,000 more Orlandoans thought a budget surplus rather than a deficit was a good thing. Dyer’s Florida Republican Machine cry-baby opponent immediately filed a complaint and a civil lawsuit against the mayor. He cried so loud that his big brother filed a criminal lawsuit over the same matter. For those of you that are counting, that’s three lawsuits filed over a MAYOR’S election.
The initial investigation was closed due to lack of evidence of wrongdoing – then suddenly reopened this week by Florida Republican Machine special prosecutor (remember Ken Starr) Brad King. Within days, an indictment was handed down, and Florida Republican Machine Governor JEB Bush had suspended Buddy Dyer as Mayor (as is required by Florida law for a public official under indictment) and Florida Republican Machine Councilman and mayor pro tem Ernest Page quickly stated that the council would meet within a week and set a new special election – which Dyer would not be able to participate in because of the indictment.
At issue is whether or not Mr. Thomas (remember Mr. Thomas?) illegally collected absentee ballots. Mayor Dyer has repeatedly stated that he did pay Mr. Thomas $10,000 as a GOTV consultant, but he did not have knowledge or oversee Mr. Thomas’s direct actions. Ms. Phillips concurs. The Florida Republican Machine doesn’t care. They just want to make sure that a Republican gets to be mayor of this town of 186,000 people – even if they have to cheat to do it.
As for Mr. Thomas, he simply says that he did what he was paid to do – help convince Black people to vote for Mayor Dyer. This was the same thing that he was hired by Glenda Hood (former mayor and new Secretary of State – remember?) to do. It is also the same thing he was hired by Senator Mel Martinez to do. The moral of the story – it’s good to work for Republicans and help them get elected, but if you do the same for Democrats we’ll put your butt in jail.
Having some bit of experience around political offices, I’m sure that Mayor Dyer and Ms. Phillips had no direct knowledge of how Mr. Thomas operated. I don’t know if Mr. Thomas violated any laws. Neither does the city-council who will try to oust him and have a jury-rigged election. State law declares that such action should only be taken if Mayor Dyer is convicted. This is nothing but a politically motivated power-grab by the Florida Republican Machine.
If the Democrats had any power in Washington, they could call for a federal investigation. As it is, Floridians must simply sit back and take it. They have to take the Mayor that the Florida Republican Machine decides they should have. This is just another example of how the National Republican Machine is making a move on key localities to shore up its ability to rig the next round of federal elections.

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