Politics, Government & Law

2019 Greater Miami Links Inc. Book & Author Event features author and political analyst Karine Jean-Pierre

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Karine Jean-Pierre

MIAMI - The Greater Miami Chapter of The Links, Incorporated will present its signature fundraising event Linked in Action Book & Author Luncheon on Sunday, November 17, 2019 at the JW Marriott Marquis in downtown Miami.  

This is the chapter’s fourteenth Book and Author event celebrating accomplished and talented authors such as Ambassador Andrew Young, Judy Smith, Terry McMillan, Natalie Baszile, E. Lynn Harris, Bebe Moore Campbell, Edwidge Danticat and others.
 
This year’s luncheon will feature author and political analyst Karine Jean-Pierre, whose book, Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America, was released today and has been described as astute and insightful. It offers a blueprint for anyone who wants to have an impact on the political landscape. Both influential and inspirational, Ms. Jean-Pierre will have a powerful and timely message for attendees, all of whom will receive a copy of her thought provoking book.  
 
The Links, Incorporated, established in 1946, is an international, not-for-profit organization comprised of nearly 15,000 professional women of color in 288 chapters across 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the United Kingdom. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. 
 
The Greater Miami Chapter was organized in 1955 and has made significant contributions to the South Florida community and beyond through its transformational programming in five facet areas: Services to Youth; The Arts; National Trends and Services; International Trends and Services; and, Health and Human Services. 
 
Proceeds from the Linked in Action Book & Author Luncheon will be used to support the chapter’s charitable and educational programs and benefit The Links Foundation, Incorporated. 
 
Tickets are $150 per person. Doors open at 11:30am with a reception and auction. Please contact greatermiamilinksinc.org for more information.  
 

Urgent and Important Community Conversation: Let People Vote

Let People Vote Town Hall 7-29

Amendment 4 is one of the most significant Florida constitutional amendments in our lifetime. Florida voters overwhelmingly supported restoration of rights for some returning citizens, formerly convicted felons who had served their time and completed probation. 

Unfortunately, shortly after the 2018 General Election, it was clear newly-elected Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican-led 2019 Florida Legislature had other plans. So, the Florida Legislature successfully inserted obstacles to the restoration of rights for many Florida returning citizens. In some cases, there are fines and restitution that must be paid before restoration. There is also a possibility that financial obligations can be waived and there are other means of satisfying requirements for rights restoration. Get an update on Amendment 4 and voter rights restoration in Florida. Don’t miss this important community conversation. Spread the word.  

Conversationalists:
Rep. Kionne McGhee, Minority Leader, Florida House, District 117
Senator Annette Taddeo, Florida Senate, District 40
Rev. Dr. Alphonso Jackson, Sr., Senior Pastor, Second Baptist Church
Desmond Meade, Executive Director, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition
Carlos Martinez, Public Defender, Miami-Dade County
Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney, 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County

 

Let People Vote
Voting Rights Restoration Town Hall
6:30 PM Sharp
Monday, July 29, 2019
Second Baptist Church
11111 Pinkston Drive
Miami, FL 33176

For more information, call Juanita Olvera at (305) 256-6301.

 

@vanessawbyers

 

 


Judge Rodney Smith Receives Lifetime Appointment to Federal Bench

Judge Rodney Smith
The Honorable Rodney Smith, Judge, US District Court for the Southern District of Florida

On June 12, 2019, at 2:43 pm ET, Florida Circuit Court Judge Rodney Smith ascended to the position of judge, US District Court for the Southern District of Florida via confirmation vote of 78-18 by the United States Senate. The position of federal judge is a lifetime appointment.

Smith’s confirmation is reason for many to celebrate throughout Florida and around the nation. He graduated from Miami Northwestern Senior High School, a historically-black public school in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. To complete his undergraduate studies, he attended Florida A&M, a historically-black public university. He continued to reach his educational goals by earning a degree from Michigan State University College of Law, a non-Ivy League law school. 

His path to the federal judgeship began with the nomination by President Donald J. Trump for the judicial seat. Smith completed an extensive questionnaire and was advanced for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October 2018. He was selected as one of ten finalists for federal judge. As part of the process, the committee sends a blue slip to senators from the home state in which the judicial nomination was received. A senator from the nominee's home state can approve the nominee and advance the nomination to the full Senate or disapprove or take no action regarding the nominee thus ending the process for the nominee becoming a federal judge.

Smith interviewed with Senator Marco Rubio and then Senator Bill Nelson. He also interviewed with White House Counsel’s Office and the Department of Justice. He was formally nominated in May 2018, but upon the adjournment of the 115th Congress in January 2019, Smith’s nomination was returned to the President. He was re-nominated later that month upon the convening of the 116th Congress.

Fifty-one affirmative votes were required for Smith’s confirmation. With a final vote of 78-18, he received many more votes than needed. There was still concern that 2020 presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren were among the 18 senators voting against his confirmation while Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders were among the four senators who did not vote at all.

Smith began his legal career as an Assistant State Attorney in the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office in 1999. He later practiced at several private law firms before joining the Office of the City Attorney for Miami Beach as a Senior Assistant City Attorney in 2007. He was appointed County Court Judge by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2008. In 2012, Smith was appointed circuit court judge by Gov. Rick Scott where he served until his elevation to federal judge.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida includes the following counties: Miami-Dade; Broward; Palm Beach; Monroe; St. Lucie; Martin; Highlands; Indian River and Okeechobee. The Southern district has jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases in those counties that fall under federal law.

Smith is a highly-regarded attorney and highly-respected in the community. He is proof that faith, hard work and a great attitude can take you far in life. He is a member of several organizations including Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity, 100 Black Men of South Florida, Jack & Jill Dads, Boy Scouts of America; FAMU National Alumni Association, and 5000 Role Models of Excellence. Judge Smith and his family are active members of New Birth Baptist Church Cathedral of Faith International.

Smith swearing in
Judge Rodney Smith was sworn by Judge Donald Graham on Monday, June 17, 2019 at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Courthouse in Miami.
Judge Smith 5000 Role Models
Judge Rodney Smith and son with Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson and fellow  5000 Role Models and staff.
Judge Rodney Smith and 100 Black Men
Judge Rodney Smith and fellow members of 100 Black Men of South Florida. From left, Judge Darrin P. Gayles, Stephen Hunter Johnson, Pierre Rutledge and Torrence Phillips. 
Judge Smith with Kappa brothers
Judge Rodney Smith with his brothers of the Miami Alumnae Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity
Kenneth Rodney Tom
Judge Rodney Smith with fellow FAMUans Kenneth Williams and Thomas Jones who are also his Alpha Phi Omega brothers and members of the Miami-Dade Chapter of the FAMU National Alumni Association.
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Friends accompanied Judge Rodney Smith for his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October 2018. From left, Christopher Norwood, Larry Handfield, Hans Ottintot, Samuel Mustipher and Robert Tyler.



 


Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III vie for District 1 County Commission seat

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Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, broke local social media with the announcement of her run for the District 1 commission seat for Miami-Dade County (FL). She also garnered national attention from many media outlets as well as support from award-winning actress and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg from The View. Fulton’s decision disrupted plans of term-limited Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III and his supporters. Gilbert was perceived as a shoo-in for the seat held by Barbara Jordan for the last 16 years. Jordan is ineligible to run again as term-limits kick in for the first group of county commissioners.

Fulton, a former long-time county employee, gained international notoriety because of the fatal shooting of her younger son, Trayvon. Since that horrible incident, she has become a community advocate, author, public speaker, executive producer, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and received an honorary doctorate degree. Although this is Fulton’s first run for elected public office, she checks all the boxes that are most essential regarding electability criteria --- name recognition and likeability.

During his tenure as mayor, Gilbert has been faced with law enforcement, sexual harassment and personal controversies but he is also credited with the business growth of the City of Miami Gardens and the return of the historic Orange Blossom Classic football game. It is also noteworthy that Gilbert has amassed more than $400,000 between his campaign account and political committee. While he faces a formidable opponent in Sybrina Fulton, Gilbert is not likely to shrink into the background. This race will be a battle until the end. 

OGIII -bbm

Unfortunately, there are already signs that this race will likely be very negative. In social media exchanges, supporters of both candidates are trying to have the last word in a situation that will be decided by the voters of District 1 in August 2020. The public discourse is expected. Politics is a contact sport and Miami politics can be particularly dirty. Stay tuned; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 


Broward County Elections Supervisor Dr. Brenda Snipes Suspended Without Pay by Gov. Rick Scott

Scott and Snipes

On Friday, November 30, 2018, twelve days after embattled Broward County Supervisor of Elections (SOE), Dr. Brenda Snipes, submitted her letter of resignation — effective January 4, 2019 — Florida governor and US Senator-elect Rick Scott issued an executive order suspending her from office. Scott’s Order cites reasons for the suspension; prohibits Snipes from receiving any pay or allowance; and appoints her replacement, Peter Antonacci.

 

Scott Exec Order
Page 5 of 5 of Executive Order filed by Florida Governor Rick Scott suspending Broward Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes and naming her replacement, Peter Antonacci.

 

Scott could have allowed Snipes to leave her position quietly, but no. Snipes has not been publicly humiliated enough for him; Scott wants her punished. During the midterm elections, Snipes became the face of election fraud, corruption and incompetence depending on to whom one spoke. After Scott quickly accused Snipes of fraud, without any proof, Republicans, the far right and some Democrats called for her to be jailed or fired. Snipes was accused of sabotaging Senator Bill Nelson, whom Scott defeated, and also being a double agent working for the Republicans.

Dr. Snipes and her legal team held a press conference yesterday. It was attended by a few black elected officials, some black ministers and several black women dressed in red as identified by mainstream media. For the record, the ladies in red and Snipes are members of Delta Sigma Theta, a black Greek-letter sorority. During the press conference, attorneys Burnadette Norris-Weeks and Michelle Austin Pamies refuted the claims outlined in Gov. Scott’s executive order. The suspension of Dr. Brenda Snipes is on the verge of becoming a one-dimensional racial issue when it is that and more. The suspension of Brenda Snipes is a power play. For whatever reason, white critics of Gov. Scott’s executive order were conspicuously missing.

 

Not condoning any missteps by Snipes and her staff, recognize what’s at play by targeting her and heavily-Democratic Broward County. The new Broward SOE has the power to easily suppress the vote just in time to deliver Florida and the presidential election to Donald Trump and other down-ballot Republicans in 2020. The SOE determines the early voting sites, hours, precinct staffing, etc.

Lest we forget, Dr. Brenda Snipes was appointed SOE in November 2003 by then Gov. Jeb Bush. She was subsequently elected in 2004 and overwhelmingly re-elected in 2008, 2012 and 2016. Does Gov. Scott not respect for the will of the people of Broward County? If the people were not satisfied with her performance, there were several opportunities to elect one of her opponents. As a candidate on the ballot, Scott really should not have made the inflammatory and potentially slanderous statements about her.

The immediate suspension of Dr. Snipes by Gov. Scott placed the final decision on her removal from office on the agenda of the Florida Senate and prolonging this unpleasant situation. Gov. Scott’s decision to suspend Dr. Snipes after she had already submitted her resignation demonstrates poor leadership. Suspending Dr. Snipes and withholding her pay is the height of pettiness and maliciousness.

 

@vanessawbyers

 

Related Link: Executive Order of Suspension 

 


Miami Kappas Get Out the Vote Saturday 10/27

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The men of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity will be hosting voter mobilization and education events across Florida on Saturday, October 27. The Miami Alumni Chapter’s event will be held at Miami Dade College North Campus, 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Come out and learn more about the ballot, cast your vote and fellowship with the brothers of the frat so nice they had to name it twice. Don’t miss the free food, entertainment, games and much more. For more info, visit #ItsAKappaPartyFL on Facebook! 

 

Va-va signature with butterflies

@vanessawbyers
 

 


It's voting time! No excuses. Let's Go!

Wakanda the vote-2
Citizens of Wakanda, election season is upon us. Primary election day is August 28, 2018. If you are registered to vote in Florida, remember that you can vote by mail, vote early at any early voting site in your county or vote at your precinct on election day. See relevant information on the Miami-Dade County Elections site

Please see these resources from the League of Women Voters: BeReadyToVote.org and Vote411.org. Remember that the people who run things are those who vote. Blacks in Miami-Dade County are not expected to vote in significant numbers as long as Barack Obama is not on the ballot. Don't get mad, just vote. Wakanda Forever! 

This is how we should roll up in the polls to vote. #SquadGoals

Hidden figures

 Always remembering this:

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Choosing not to vote
 

 

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@vanessawbyers

 #InMyBlackPantherFeelings

 


Judicial Candidate Forum, Mon. Aug. 6 at New Birth

GSCBWLA Judicial Candidates Forum 2018

The Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association (GSCBWLA), the Dade County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the South Florida Chapter of the National Action Network, the League of Women Voters, the ACLU of Florida, and the Miami Chapter of Jack and Jill of America are hosting a free community Judicial Candidates Forum on Monday, August 6, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. at New Birth Baptist Cathedral of Faith International, located at 2300 Northwest 135th Street, in Miami, Florida 33167. 

All of the Miami-Dade County judicial candidates, who will be on the August 2018 Primary Election ballot, have been invited to this Forum.  During the August Primary Election, there will be two (2) contested circuit judge seats and five (5) contested county court seats on the ballot.  In addition to presenting the candidates, we will also be presenting a Judicial Candidate Resource Guide for voters. 


Hot Talk and Civics Lesson on Last Sunday’s Episode of Hot Talk with Jill Tracey

hot talk with jill tracey
Last Sunday night's episode of Hot Talk with Jill Tracey was the personification of HOT. It was LIT! Click Jill's photo to listen. The fireworks start about 56:15.

Last Sunday night’s episode of Hot Talk with Jill Tracey was smoking hot and took an odd turn when the anticipated discussion between the candidates in the upcoming Florida Senate District 38 race, incumbent Daphne Campbell and challenger Jason Pizzo, turned into a bickering session and civics lesson but not the way one would have anticipated.

Campbell-Pizzo

Campbell was a no-show. She sent Brian Dennis to serve as her surrogate. Dennis said her son fell and hurt himself and she decided to stay home with him. Maybe not the best move and does not convey the best message to her constituents but that's what was said. Dennis, a minister, is a well-known community activist and columnist for The Miami Times. After the explanation of Campbell’s absence, there was some levity regarding children being closer to their mother. Then, as Dennis was asked about Campbell’s platform, the conversation went downhill rapidly. Dennis accused State Rep. Roy Hardemon of not giving Campbell credit for the $2 million in funding garnered for the Poinciana Industrial Park. Dennis said the bill was vetoed but Campbell brought it back. He also referenced a Miami Times article on the funding that features Hardemon, Dr. Mae Christian, author of the bill and “Broadway” Cuthbert Harewood, a local businessman and community organizer. Dennis took issue with Campbell being excluded from the photo and media coverage regarding funding for the industrial park. 

Min. Brian Dennis on Hot Talk
Min. Brian Dennis speaks on behalf of State Sen. Daphne Campbell.
miami times poinciana industrial park
From left, "Broadway" Cuthbert Harewood, Dr. Mae Christian and State Rep. Roy Hardemon in photo from the March 22, 2018 edition of The Miami Times show the $2 million appropriation for the Poinciana Industrial Park in the 2018-19 State Budget. Min. Brian Dennis said Senator Daphne Campbell helped secure the funding but was not credited by Hardemon and was unfairly excluded from the photo.

Hardemon called in to give his take on the Poinciana Park funding issue and the bill that was approved during the last Legislative Session. Christian also called in. She reiterated that she is the author of the bill. She said she doesn’t have a problem with Campbell and accused Dennis of trying to cause trouble. The bickering denigrated to the point that Christian called Dennis a liar. She went on to disclose that the money has not been received. It was supposed to be handled by the City of Miami but the property on which the transport center is to be built is in Miami-Dade County. Christian said they have been unsuccessful in getting a meeting with County budget director Jennifer Moon-Glazer. She also mentioned other funds of more substantial amounts that Dennis should be looking into rather than only focusing on the $2 million for the Poinciana Industrial Park.

Jason Pizzo interjected with an analogy that basically explained that both chambers of the Legislature (House and Senate) are required to get a bill passed. A bill beginning with HB identifies it as a House Bill and SB means a bill originated in the Senate. Dennis promised to provide Jill with e-mails supporting his position. He also promised to look into the status of the funding. Community activist Tangela Sears also called in. She explained that Legislators in different chambers do not share publicity with the sponsors of their companion bills. It’s not a slight to the legislator in the other chamber, that is just the way things are done.

Hb2767

Without getting caught up on who got the credit for funding, there are indeed questions that need to be answered about the process and the funding for the Poinciana Industrial Park Intermodal Logistics Center. Researching myfloridahouse.gov shows that there might be some validity to the points Brian Dennis made. Hardemon’s HB 2767 indicates "indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration" on March 10 but included in the Appropriations Act, or State Budget, on March 11. That seems strange. Please note that there is no indication of a companion "Senate Bill" for Hardemon’s House Bill but Senator Campbell did submit a Local Funding Initiative Request via Senate form 1203. Folks more knowledgeable in the legislative appropriations process are following up on what happened.  [Download FY2018-19_S1203]

 

Hb 2767 status
Highlighted language of the history of HB 2767 shows it was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration on 03/10/2018 but included in the State Budget on the following day.
GAA
This is how the funding for the Poinciana Industrial Parl Intermodal Logistics Center is listed in the State 2018-19 General Appropriations Act (State Budget). Please note that the original request was for $25 million.

 

Here is a link to the show. Please take the time to listen to the entire show as it shares crucial information about the New Florida Vision PAC and the push to elect Andrew Gillum governor of Florida, the grand opening of Jonathan Spikes’ AFFIRMing Youth Center, comments on Pumps Pearls & Politics 2018 and other important topics. The heated discussion starts about 56:15 of the recording after Jill introduces the folks in the studio.

At the end of the day, most people will listen to the July 29, 2018 episode of Hot Talk because of the bickering. Let’s look at it as a teachable lesson and a learning opportunity. Most of us have a lot to learn about the detailed machinations of our government and laws. Let’s take the time to do so and hold our elected officials responsible for communicating with us about the laws they approve or disapprove. It is also crucial to note that the original funding request for the Poinciana Industrial Park Intermodal Logistics Center was for $25 million. How effective will the project be for $2 million? Or will it be another project in which funds are squandered in the Black community? #STAYwoke

 

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@vanessawbyers
 

 


Monday, July 30, 2018 is the Deadline to Register to Vote or Update Voter Information

 

Register to vote

Monday, July 30, 2018, is the deadline to register to vote or to update voter information for the upcoming August 28, 2018 Primary Election in Florida. If you are a registered independent voter and you want to vote for a Democrat or a Republican gubernatorial candidate in the Primary, you must change your Party affiliation by tomorrow also because Florida is a closed primary election state.

(from Florida Division of Elections)

Only voters who are registered members of political parties may vote for respective party candidates or nominees for an office in a primary election including a presidential preference primary election.

However, there are times when all registered voters can vote in a primary election, regardless of which major or minor political party they are registered or even if they are registered without a specific party affiliation:

  1. If all the candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner of the primary election will not face any opposition in the general election (i.e. no write-in candidates have qualified), then all registered voters can vote for any of the candidates for that office in the primary election.
  2. If races for nonpartisan (i.e., free from party affiliation) judicial and school board offices, nonpartisan special districts or local referendum questions are on the primary election ballot, then all registered voters, including those without party affiliation are entitled to vote those races on the ballot.

At a general election, all registered voters receive the same ballot and may vote for any candidate or question on the ballot. If there are write-in candidates who have qualified for a particular office, a space will be left on the ballot where their name can be written.

Click here if you live in Miami-Dade County and here if you live in another Florida county.

Remember that you can vote by mail or you can early vote or you can vote at your polling site on August 28, 2018.