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Saturday, October 22, 2016


      Half of the people voting in November's election are voting early. In Florida, a million people have already cast their ballots by mail. 
 Two-weeks of early voting begins today (Oct. 24th.)
    Some people have asked me who (and what) I am voting for. There's a lot to say and a lot on the line.  Here are my picks:


I'm with her.  

       Don't consider the  clown.

(Note: My wife, Francesca,  supports the same candidates mentioned here and the amendment issues as well.  I suppose that's one of the reasons we live in the same house)

    Francesca and I met Patrick Murphy at the inauguration four years ago. We liked him immediately.
    It would be a shame to be stuck with the Trump supporting, anti-choice, climate change-denying Marco Rubio again.

We -and the Miami Herald- support Patrick.


    We're crazy about Jose Javier Rodriguez. The Harvard grad, former Peace Corp volunteer and legal services attorney is exactly the type of person we need to keep in Tallahassee. Now he's moving up from the Florida House. Jose is one of the few legislators who have stood up against Big Sugar and FPL. Both of these giants are financing the campaign his opponent, Republican Miguel Diaz de la Portilla.  They are causing anti-Jose postcards to fill our mailboxes.  
Like the solar amendment, they are deceitful, don't believe them.

    Jose is endorsed by the Miami Herald, Ken Russell and yes, the President of the United States.

   Cast your vote for Jose Javier. We know him and, to know him is to love him. 


   I don't know much about the others. My wife and I support all of the candidates mentioned here and most of the amendments below. 
   We will be voting for "others" who are Democrats. The Democratic Party best reflects our values and hopes for the future.
   We try to consider Republican candidates but find most of them lost in Trump/NRA Land. 

    It is important for Jose Javier's seat in the in the state house be replaced with a good person.  That's the Nick Duran (Dem.) /Rosy Palamino (Rep.) race. Looking at the LWV site, Duran seems to have a decent stance on issues, like supporting gun control.  Ms. Palomino did not respond to the League of Women Voters inquiries.

    A friend has asked us to add to our list of recommendations the state house candidate for the Gables area, Daisy Baez (Dem.).  While her opponent, Republican John Couriel, seems like a good person (eagle scout, Harvard grad), we believe we need more women and Democrats in Florida's troubled state legislature. The LWV website (below)  has information on these two and most of the other people running.


ONE (201) 
     Amendment One is designed to deceive voters. Vote NO on this, the "solar amendment".  Do not be deceived by its wording, it is backed by FPL, the Koch brothers, and other utility companies. 
  The Miami Herald discovered one of FPL's operatives this week, bragging about how they had created tricky ballot wording in which you vote "Yes" when it is your intention to vote "No".  Here's something to explain the amendment further,

Remember:  "No" on One

TWO (202)
    This state amendment would allow marijuana to be prescribed to people who are seriously ill.  California has a more lenient version of this in which you can buy ganja to treat everything from a cold and cancer.
    Marijuana can ease pain, I'm voting "Yes".

THREE (203)
   This amendment will require governor Rick Scott to resign from office immediately...
in my dreams.   Okay, what it actually does is exempt first responders from paying property taxes if they are disabled while working.  They are described as police, prison guards, firemen, and paramedics. Spouses of responders killed while working already get an exemption. I have no opinion on this. You can get more information below*.

FOUR (244)
   Vote YES.  This amendment will allow citizens to sue the City of Miami when it fails to follow its own rules (its "charter").  If we had this three years ago, city commissioner Marc Sarnoff would not have been allowed to give Scottys Landing to his developer friends.  As it looks now, Scottys will be replaced by a Shula's Steakhouse next year.

   This one gives more property tax exemptions to old people with limited incomes. It's hard to argue with that. Again, you can find more information below.
    That's it from Palmetto Avenue. 

   Two weeks of early voting begins on Monday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  The Grove is voting early in one of the old buildings across from Viscaya. Park in the science museum parking lot. 

   Sadly, less than 2/3 of the registered votes cast ballots in presidential elections. Happily, most of them are women who have much more sense than their male counterparts. 
   Please vote and encourage your friends to do the same. 

* If you need more information on the candidates and the amendments, go to the League of Women Voters website, . 
They do a great job of explaining the ballot, the candidates, and both sides of issues.
The Democrats website has information as well,

To get s SAMPLE BALLOT click on:
For Early Voting locations click on:

If you need a "Vote Hillary" sign, contact me at

                      Okay, Starting today,
                         You Can Vote!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


     It seems they're building a prison at the end of St. Gaudens Road. The short, South Grove street ends on Biscayne Bay. It's one of a few places where  residents can walk to feel a breeze or see the water.

   Now you can enjoy gentle waves while sitting next to a prison-style ten-foot razor wire fence. The  8-acre former Dupont Estate has a new owner, he erected the creepy fence last week. I guess they'll start on the cell blocks soon.
  The city code does not allow this level of ugly.
It states:
3.7.2 Prohibited on Fences and walls
  1. The use of broken glass, projecting nails, coiled razor wire, spikes or similar materials on walls and Fences is prohibited in all Transect Zones.
  2. Barbed wire Fences, or use of barbed wire along the top of a fence or wall, shall be permissible only in D1, D2 and D3, subject to approval by Waiver.      (I doubt he has a "waiver")

       The city apparently has no means to enforce the code. There's nothing I can do.  I have tried.
        For a week I have made over twenty phone calls to try and complain.  I attempted to communicate with the 311 people, the code compliance office, Ken Russell's office, and the NET office to try to get someone's attention.  No one has been responsive.
       Usually no one answers the phone. I leave messages that do not get returned. Twice I spoke with humans that told me to call someone else. 

        I feel like our local government is broken when I am unable to communicate with it.

        So, we're stuck with this slim piece of mismanaged public land on Biscayne Bay. It's the one where 

    -the City allowed its owner, long ago, to extend his property fifty yards out beyond the shoreline (hence this wall jutting out, cutting off half of the bay view while adding two acres to the estate).

    -The property was used as a toxic dump 60 years ago, like Merrie Christmas and Douglas  Road Parks, and

    -Now, the new owner has erected a razor-wire fence to slice up anyone who tries to peer over his wall to see what a toxic dump looks like. 

        Funny place, this Miami.

    Note:  After I posted this blog I got one of my calls returned, from Ken Russell's office. His staff member, Anthony Balzebre, was very helpful.  He told me he would contact the head of code enforcement in the Grove. Let's hope this results in something good.

Monday, October 17, 2016


   This year's election ballot is long and often confusing. You might want to vote early, or, by mail.
    Early voting starts a week from now. The Coconut Grove site has changed, you can not vote at City Hall as we've done in the past.  Now we will be voting in one of the old buildings across from Viscaya.
    Park in the Science Museum parking lot then enter the Viscaya Village gate. Signs will lead you to what they call the "Historic Viscaya Garage".  Try not slipping on the historic grease spots as you enter (just kidding, it used to be a rich guy's car port and now it is a meeting room, no grease at all).

   Early voting begins on Monday, October 24 and ends on November 6. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Grove address is 3250 South Miami Avenue, Miami, 33129.  There are about 25 early voting sites in Dade County. The next closest ones are the Shenandoah and Coral Gables libraries.

   If you'd like to vote by mail you can do so by making a request online with the county's elections office.   You can also get information on that at the county's elections office or the new Democratic Campaign Office in Coconut Grove.


 The Grove's "Hillary" office is on Grand Avenue, a half block west of Douglas Road (SW 32 Ave). Parking is easy.  We found out when we went there to volunteer yesterday. Francesca and I were asked to go "canvassing".
                                    They gave us a list of wealthy voters that live on (or near) the bay south of Mercy Hospital. We found that the more money you have, the less likely you are to give strangers the time of day. 
     In most cases there was a TV camera and an intercom outside the fences, walls, and gates. We smiled our best but rarely could get anyone to acknowledge us. We weren't there to convince voters (our list was registered Democrats) but rather, to encourage them to vote and to answer questions.  
    Two people actually came to their doors, opened them, and joined us in humorous conversations. There is a lot to laugh about in this election (it helps keep us sane).
    We talked about the Hillary, Donald, and the very confusing solar amendment (Vote "No" on Amendment one, please). As we left both of them thanked us for volunteering. That felt good.
     The Hillary offices (there are several in Dade) need more volunteers.  If you'd like to canvas, make phone calls, or enter data, stop by and sign up.  You can also call the office manager, Amory.  His # is 1-802-999-7714.
   It's a fun crowd. You can join our volunteer group as well at the Debate Watching Party Wednesday night at the Grand Avenue office, 8:30 p.m.

Friday, October 14, 2016


     With four weeks to go in the presidential campaign my wife and I thought it was time we did a shout out for the only non-groper running, Hillary Clinton.
   It was a hassle trying to get a Hillary yard sign so I made one myself.
   A few people passing by asked where they could get their own. I told them to come back in a few days, that I'd paint a few more. Now I have a dozen in various colors and designs. They are 100% plastic, made from recycled signs. Priced from $10 to $25, All of the proceeds will go to Hillary's campaign fund.
    If you're interested, send me a FB message, write  ( ),  call 305-448-3775, or just come by our house in the South Grove.
23 Days to go!

if this one sells, the money  still goes to Hillary.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


...And a little child shall lead them.
                                              -Isaiah 11.6

     It's something most Americans don't want to think about, 300 years of slavery in our country.
You'll think about it a lot when visiting the Whitney Plantation. Like many other former southern slave farms, it's on the Mississippi River, 35 miles west of New Orleans. Go there and little children will lead you. They will show you what it was like to be a slave.
      The children are remarkable statues  created by artist, Woodrow Nash. They're set all over the Whitney. Their hollow eyes bear witness to the horrible atrocities inflicted upon them. 

 The South has hundreds of restored plantations, huge farms once worked by slaves. From  Jefferson's Monticello to some in North Florida, they're now residences, parks, and tourist attractions. 

    I've been to a few and have marveled their architecture, gardens, and craftsmanship. Most of what I was admiring was created by indentured servants. Rarely have I seen African Americans visiting these places. Why would they? 
There is usually little mention or evidence of slavery at these plantations. 

    The 200-year old plantations focus on "the good life" enjoyed by the former slave owners. Those days may be gone with the wind but they come back briefly in plantation weddings, reunions, and other genteel affairs. 

   These places rarely mention  "the bad life", the history of horrors experienced by most of the people who lived on the slave farms, the ones who were whipped, brutalized, and sold like cattle.

     But now we have the Whitney, a plantation that does just that.  It is our country's first slavery museum. Visiting is not unlike touring Washington, DC's Holocaust Museum. You experience what it was like to be a slave.

     Your visit begins in a new, museum-like building.  Visitors are given slave identities (worn around the neck). Mine was Francis Doby, a former slave who was interviewed many years ago.  Reading her oral history I learned how she had spent her life working the fields and making babies. When she was too old she minded children while their mothers worked the fields. 

   An exhibit traces the history of slavery in America.  I learned that Columbus himself brought the first African slaves to our side of the Atlantic.

      Visitors are taken on a 90-minute tour of the sugar cane plantation.  My group was led by a native who knew this area well.   

                             Names are etched on dark marble in the "Field of Honor". Most are first names, the only ones known for the 107,000 slaves brought to the Louisiana Territory. 
   Fragments of their oral histories were there as well. Said former slave John McDonnell, "We were not allowed to read or write. If the boss man  caught me with pencil and paper I'd get 25 lashes."

    Below my group visits one of the slave quarters. We imagined what it was like for the twelve or more people who once lived there.
    Our country was built on the backs of slaves and Miami has it own history. In downtown's Lummus Park we have former slaves quarters as well.
      The cabin above, like most plantation buildings, was built by slaves. After the Civil War, former slave craftsmen were able to create their own buildings. One example is the Antioch Baptist Church built nearby in 1885.  It was moved to the Whitney several years ago.  

  The Whitney Plantation was founded by New Orleans native John Cummings. I had the pleasure of meeting the trial attorney on my visit. When I told him that I was a recovering lawyer, he laughed and said, "You're a recovering racist too. We all are".
      I suppose that's why he created this country's first slavery museum, to help us "recover" some of our lost ideals and better understand our past.

     I learned about the Whitney while watching TV. CBS This Morning did an excellent segment on the plantation when it opened in December, 2014. John told me 16 million people have seen it. The link is, .

       All of us can learn from the museum that John built. Of the 35,000 people visiting the first year, forty percent were African-Americans. As a plaque at the entrance says, we're all in this boat together. Let's hope we learn to resolve the problems that Christopher Columbus started.


The Whitney Plantation's website is .

John Cummings' interview is at . 

A New York Times article is at

Isaiah 11.6, "The wolf shall live with the lamb..." biblical prophecy about a future kingdom of peace.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016


    Scratch that one off my list, I saw my first real magic show last night. 
"The Illusionists-Live From Broadway" is playing at the Arsht Center this week. It'll run through Sunday, October 16th.
     It showcases seven of the world's best in a non-stop, spectacular procession. 
The magicians range from the

                                           and goth,

to hilarious.
              There was also a smooth operator

and Colin Cloud, the Scotsman who did not
blow your mind but, he certainly could read it. 

  Often people from the audience were brought up on stage to join the fun. Thank God I wasn't chosen but the guy in front of me wasn't so lucky.
     Francesca and I saw manikins turn into people, people created from nothing, and twisted paper transformed into long stemmed roses. It was terrific, something the whole family will enjoy. Tickets start at $37 and if you can't afford front row seats,
 there's a large overhead screen to bring the fun up close.
      You've got four more days to see the The Illusionists.  Go. It's magic!

Monday, October 10, 2016


Note:  I cut my cross-country trip short to return home for the hurricane. In the next week I'll be writing about a few of the unique places I visited after leaving Texas.     

    Natchitoches, Louisiana, is one of the nicest little towns you never heard of.  The state's oldest settlement (1714), it is nestled along the Cane River in plantation country. It's a tiny New Orleans echoing the old south with its restaurants, jazz bars, and
 riverfront slave farms (plantations). I has stopped by for a quick meal but ended up staying much longer (party invitations can do that).





The Louisiana
Sports Hall of Fame was having its grand opening.
      I was invited to tour this new, modern building, to learn about the state's history of sports worship, and to enjoy conversing over endless glasses of dark stout.

    The locals and I talked about LSU's "Pistol Pete" Maravitch, Billy Cannon, and popular Shreveport native, Terry Bradshaw. There is an entire exhibit devoted to the NFL's Steve Gleason. The former Saints player is now fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease. It includes the special wheelchair that two teammates used to push him up the trail to Machu Pichu.
   And there was this fantastic car, "Hell on Wheels". A local mechanic built it out of a '56 Thunderbird and set a world speed record. He is a Louisiana sports hero too.    

    If you go there, bend you mind into pronouncing "Natchetoches" as "Nack-a-tish". It's how the locals say it and if you don't, they'll never stop correcting you.  Like the town or its southern belles, it's unusual and kind of cute, a southern thing.  
     The following day I headed southeast again.  My next stop would be something novel that also opened recently, our country's first slavery museum.