The opportunity to participate in the early voting process will come to an end this Sunday. Make no mistake, lines will be long, and there will be chaos on Election Day, Nov. 4. If you have not already done so, go and vote early. I know everyone is captivated with the presidential race, but in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties; there are numerous constitutional questions on the ballot. There are also races for judges, sheriff and countless municipal races. Be sure to read the ballot carefully and ask questions if you are not sure, because most ballots consist of several pages, both front and back. There are forces that do not want to see common folks vote and participate in the election process, so take it seriously, because your vote is worth the time.
I’m not sure when the organization’s elections will take place, but I got an obscure call this week from a person I consider (or at least I did consider) to be credible. This person insists that there is a push for retiring Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Carlton Moore to run for president of the Fort Lauderdale NAACP. Moore is a past president of the organization. It is unlikely this will happen, but let’s see: Frankly, I think rumors that Moore may challenge Perry E. Thurston for his District 93 state house seat represent a greater possibility than his attempting to return to the civil rights organization.
Perhaps those knuckleheads in Washington, D.C. read my column from two weeks ago, but I doubt it. Anyway, there is growing talk in D.C. about passing a new economic stimulus package that would put money into the pockets of the people, instead of another bailout of rogue financial institutions. While some of us were consumed with that “Joe the Plumber’’ nonsense, we should have been making it clear to President G.W. Bush, as well as presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain, that they should get to work on this ASAP. There have been discussions about taking up this issue next April, after a new administration is in place, which is hogwash. Any such delay means a slow holiday season, and that could put some small firms out of businesses. It also means fewer jobs during the holidays.
Over the past few weeks, Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion has been heard in radio ads stating, “…the Black Elected Officials of Broward County wholeheartedly endorse Democrat Scott Israel for our next sheriff of Broward County.” Now, Eggelletion is likely being slick with his words, but it’s clear the ad is intended to make voters believe the non-profit Broward Black Elected Officials, Inc. (BBEO) organization is supporting a candidate. The campaign of Israel’s opponent, Sheriff Al Lamberti, is not pleased because generally, non-profit organizations are not allowed to take stands on political issues, or endorse candidates for office. The BBEO has been embroiled in countless controversies and other scandals, and if the group is to regain any credibility, it should repudiate this act on the part of Eggelletion. Some black elected officials, such as Deerfield Beach City Commissioner Sylvia Poitier, are supporting Lamberti and had no knowledge of the ad.
Miami-Dade County’s Chief Judge Joseph Farina has announced his pending retirement when his term expires at the end of June 2009. The chief judge oversees other judges and their case assignments. An election for his replacement will take place in January 2009, but he will continue as a trial judge.
While Gov. Charlie Crist was out campaigning with Sen. John McCain, tens of thousands of Florida voters were waiting in long lines around the state for early voting. No one can blame Crist for cozying up to, or seeking a cabinet appointment in, a possible McCain administration. But the people of Florida would have been better served if he had issued an order to extend early voting hours and locations in the state last week. That didn’t happen, and it’s a shame. However, amid criticism and mounting pressure, Crist did finally do the right thing on Tuesday of this week by issuing an order to extend the hours from eight hours to 12 hours each day. I guess late is better than never.
David Shelby, 59, of Margate, was arrested and charged with computer child exploitation and five counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition. Investigators with the Broward Sheriff’s Office allege Shelby engaged in cyber contact with a person he thought was an underage girl for months, and even exposed himself over the Internet. Shelby was a teacher at Gables Senior High School in Miami-Dade County. He was fired after investigators seized his personal and school-issued computers from his home. He has been released on $51,000 bail. Book’em, Dano!
Several neighborhoods in Pompano Beach are in the grips of a gang war, and drive-by shootings are as common as the mail being delivered. There were two just last week in the Kendall Green and Cresthaven communities. These disgraceful and cowardly acts should be dealt with forcefully. Arguably, it is safer in some Iraqi cities than it is in Pompano Beach, and this mess has to stop.
MURDER AND RUN
Emmanuel Carry, 42, is in custody over allegations he intentionally hit Patrick Dameus, 48, several times with his car and then drove over him, dragging his body for several miles before it was dislodged from underneath his car. The incident occurred while the two had a fight in the parking lot of a Coral Springs apartment complex on Sunday, Oct. 26. Carry was arrested without incident in Miami a few days later, and is awaiting extradition back to Broward County to face charges.
The city of Fort Lauderdale’s Office of Professional Standards (OPS) is investigating allegations of quotas being placed on police officers. The quotas allegedly require officers to write a certain number of traffic tickets. Not only is this odd, it’s downright ridiculous. Robert Bates, the director of the city’s OPS, works for City Manager George Gretsas, whose administration has implemented the requirements. Therefore, the chances they will find any fault are slim at best. What should happen is that city commissioners should end their obvious fear of Gretsas, and begin behaving like the policymakers they were elected to be. Commissioners should have the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conduct a neutral probe, and be done with it, because OPS has proven itself a joke.
Jimmy E. Lopez, 18, is being held with no bond on attempted premeditated murder and other charges after he allegedly shot another patron at the Port Royal Seafood & Grill this week. The incident unfolded after a group of people argued inside the bar and later in the parking lot, where several guns were pulled and numerous shots were fired. Lopez is believed to have fired the shot that struck the 17-year-old victim in the arm, and he is expected to survive his injuries. The investigation is continuing, and police are seeking other witnesses and participants.
Deerfield Beach City Manager Mike Mahaney has confirmed he has asked the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) to investigate funds that are believed to have been skimmed from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department proceeds. Mahaney would not disclose any numbers, but according to sources close to the situation, the amount of money is thousands of dollars, which came from revenue generated at different parks throughout the city.