elgin_jones_web_13.jpgPOLITICAL EMBARASSMENTS
The Republican Party is being taken over by a bunch of whackos, period. It began with former Alaska governor-in-disgrace Sarah Palin and now it is spreading throughout the party. You have Rich Lott running in Ohio’s ninth congressional district who unapologetically dresses up in Nazi military uniforms. In Delaware, there is Christine O’Donnell, the pathetic U. S. Senate candidate who was exposed for her past satanic worship. O’Donnell has never disavowed Satanism and her attempts to make light of it with excuses and by merely proclaiming she is not a witch is not working, recent polls show. Republican candidates around the country are imitating these zealots with their ridiculous positions and caustic conduct. rich_iott_bw.jpgThese zealots, along with the Tea Party crowd, are vowing, if elected to shut down the government and to repeal anything President Barack Obama has accomplished or proposes in the future. The reasonable people in the Republican Party are either being pushed out or they are in hiding, afraid to take principled positions — and it’s a shame.

GAY ADOPTIONS
oneal_dozier_bw.jpgFlorida Attorney General Bill McCollum is being urged by conservatives to appeal a ruling from the Court of Appeals that struck down a 1977 Florida law barring gays from adopting children in the state. McCollum is non-committal at this point but activists around the state have begun organizing protests in opposition to the ruling. Rev. O’Neal Dozier, pastor of the Pompano Beach-based Worldwide Christian Center, organized one such protest in front of the Department of Children and Families offices in Fort Lauderdale.

CELL PHONE FRAUD
bill_mccollum_2.jpgIt hasn’t received much attention but Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has reached an agreement with wireless service provider Sprint over its unauthorized billing of consumers for third party extras, through what is known as “cramming.” Ringtones, horoscopes, music and other services were advertised as free but actually added to monthly bills for as much as $19.99. Sprint will also pay $800,000 to reimburse the state for the cost of the investigation. McCollum has reached similar agreements with other wireless companies, including Verizon and AT&T.

Broward County

STEVENS ON THE LOOSE
chaz_stevens_bw_1.jpgChaz Stevens
, the blogger and City Hall watchdog with the offbeat sense of humor, is on the loose. Through his efforts, Deerfield Beach City Hall has been inundated with investigations into alleged abuse and misuse of tax dollars. Stevens has now teamed up with Michael G. Kessler, of the New York auditing firm Kessler International, to begin “The Project.” This will be a non-profit organization that will encourage and assist everyday citizens to identify, investigate and report fraudulent activities taking place in non-profit and governmental organizations.

ACCUSED CANDIDATE
John Howes, a candidate for judge, is being investigated in connection with a hit-and-run accident that took place on Oct. 4 in Fort Lauderdale. Ebony Green, of Lauderhill, reported she was rear-ended by a man and she gave a description of the male driver and the car. She also said she recognized the man from the Broward Main Courthouse, where she works. According to the police report, Green exited her car after it was struck and man drove away from the scene. There were no injuries and the damage was minimal. Howes denies it was he but her description of the man fit him. He owns an older model Corvette, as she described in her police report. Howes is running against John Fry for Broward County Group 1 judge seat. The investigation is continuing.

FORECLOSURE CON GAMES
kenneth_eric_trent_bw_web.jpgThe apparently fraudulent practices of the mortgage servicing industry in which they are accused of fabricating and forging foreclosure documents are getting more attention. Consumer groups are demanding action and hearings are scheduled to take place before a number of congressional committees. One person who deserves credit for bring this to light is Oakland Park attorney Kenneth Trent, who uncovered the practices during a deposition in one foreclosure lawsuit earlier this year. 

Miami-Dade County

FALTERING FLINN
eugene_flinn_bw.jpgMiami-Dade County's county commission District 8 covers Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Kendall, Homestead, unincorporated Redland and portions of Pinecrest. The candidates in this race are Lynda Bell, a Republican and former mayor of Homestead, and Eugene Flinn, a Democrat who is mayor of Palmetto Bay. Bell was mayor in a city that was plagued by mismanagement, ongoing criminal investigations, and racial division. Flinn was mayor of the relatively well-run and quaint village of Palmetto Bay. You would give Flinn the edge but that’s not the case. Bell is out-working Flinn and Republican turnout will be high. Blacks in the district are complaining Flinn is not focusing on poor neighborhoods or conducting meaningful outreach efforts in their precincts. During a meeting with black supporters last month, Flinn was urged to be more visible and to mount an aggressive grassroots effort. Apparently that didn’t happen. His campaign is faltering in the one area which he could have exploited, and that’s with black voters. Many voters remember the position Bell took on the Confederate Flag issue, which ultimately led to her being swept out of office. 

THE SMELL OF FISH
david_rivera_bw.jpgThe testy campaign between Republican state Rep. David Rivera, and Joe Garcia, a Democrat, in Florida’s 25 congressional district has taken a peculiar turn. Rivera has claimed on state required financial disclosure forms for years that his source of income was a consulting contract with the federal government. When contacted, the U.S. Agency for International Development said it had never heard of Rivera or his company. Rivera’s evolving explanation about the issue will give one motion sickness. He has said he was actually a subcontractor but refuses to say for what company. What seemed like a simple issue now has voters wondering what’s going on. Much of the mudslinging in this race on both sides was just political fodder but if Rivera submitted inaccurate or false information on his financial disclosure forms, it could be a serious matter. Rivera must clarify this and quickly because something’s fishy here.

Elgin Jones may be reached at EJones@sfltimes.com.