So last week, I raised a question that was on the minds of an increasing number of Democratic voters I was running into: Are Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s former Democratic primary rivals going to get out on the campaign trail and stump for him?
It seemed like a rather basic question; but also a strange one given the stakes in this election. A state Democratic party energized by the charismatic Gillum has most supporters — and political observers — truly believing they have a strong chance of retaking the Governor’s Mansion after a 20-year drought. Not only that, of electing the first African-American to statewide office.
I observed that neither former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, West Palm Beach developer Jeff Greene nor former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine had been seen out stumping for Gillum since the early days following his stunning Aug. 28 primary win.
I did mention that Levine stepped up with a press release in defense of Gillum running-mate, Orlando businessman Chris King, over accusations of being anti-Semitic.
Afterwards, former Levine campaign operative Christian Ulvert reached out to let me know that Levine’s done more, and shouldn’t be “lumped in” with the others. Ulvert said that in addition to two private fundraisers, Levine has allowed Gillum’s campaign the use of a few of his former campaign offices around the state.
Noted. Financial support is important to political campaigns these days. Especially when it comes getting the message out via pricey advertising. Very important.
Arguably more important, however, is motivating people to actually vote. (After all, that is how Gillum managed to beat three more well-financed opponents in the primary.)
That’s why we asked in a poll last week: “Should Andrew Gillum’s Democratic primary opponents campaign for him in the general election?”
As of today (Monday), out of some 200 reader votes, about 72 percent gave a resounding “yes.” The post also received nearly 370 Likes on Facebook.
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One of Levine’s private fundraisers for Gillum was with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But Bloomberg went further, and actually stumped with Gillum. Following an Oct. 5 event in Coral Springs on behalf of his Everytown for Gun Safety, the possible 2020 presidential candidate appeared in West Palm Beach Oct. 6 at a Democratic Party fundraiser and then with Gillum Oct. 7 at a Century Village Jewish center in Pembroke Pines.
Voters are fickle. That’s why turnout is so crucial. Maybe it won’t matter to Democratic loyalists and crucial No-Party Affiliation (NPA) voters when they don’t see Gillum’s former rivals out on the stump with him, and they will show up at the polls anyway. Maybe.
And if you haven’t taken our poll yet, you can get to it here.
Serena Williams put on a deeply disappointing display on Saturday. Her unconstrained anger over an umpire’s call ruined the U.S. Open women’s tennis singles final and completely deflated the stunning victory of a 20-year-old champion who has idolized the legendary 36-year-old icon all her life.
Yes, the chair umpire robbed Serena of a game, which basically put the uphill match out of reach for her. But Williams robbed the newcomer Naomi Osaka of something irreplaceable, the joy she should have had in winning her first Grand Slam and the clamor and attention that should now be washing over this rising star.
And yes, I know that double standards based on sexism exist in tennis, and that Palm Beach Gardens’ most famous resident could be absolutely right that umpire Carlos Ramos was excessively hard on her because of that. That’s the view of the incomparable Billie Jean King, who applauded Serena for standing up for women, and of the six-time U.S. Open champ, Boca Raton’s Chris Evert. That’s how it looked to my wife, watching TV with me as the incredible sequence of events unfolded on Saturday afternoon.
Ramos took what began as a minor infraction and turned it into one of the nastiest and most emotional controversies in the history of tennis, all because he couldn’t take a woman speaking sharply to him.
My reaction was different. I was really stunned that Serena exploded — and then wouldn’t let go. Ramos did start things off by making a questionable call: that the struggling champ had been getting signals from her coach in the stands. Ramos penalized her with a warning.
But Serena immediately turned it into a judgment of her honor and character. “I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose,” she pleaded.
Never mind that the infraction was no indictment of her behavior, let alone her character. It was against the coach for gesturing. Ramos might have cooled things down right then if he had pointed that out to her.
Then, a little while later, Serena hit a backhand into the net, an unforced error, and smashed her racket in fury. Sorry, that’s not championship behavior. I hated it when John McEnroe did it, and I hated to see her do it. And she made it no more palatable by dressing it up as an act of sisterhood: Hey, women should have every right to be as obnoxious as the men!
It so happens that Martina Navritalova, no slouch as a warrior for women’s dignity, agrees with me, writing: “We cannot measure ourselves by what we think we should also be able to get away with. In fact, this is the sort of behavior that no one should be engaging in on the court.”
For throwing the racket, Ramos properly charged Williams with a penalty. This second infraction cost her a point.
The context: We were in the second set. Williams had lost the first set, soundly, 6-2. She was losing this one. She wasn’t moving around the court well. Her serve was failing her. And Osaka had nothing but poise. The young Japanese-American-Haitian who got her training in Fort Lauderdale, now on the Arthur Ashe Stadium stage before a worldwide audience, was firm, focused, fluid and hitting with accuracy.
But Williams couldn’t drop it. She approached the chair and demanded an apology — which, c’mon, was never going to happen. Referees don’t do that, no matter the sport.
Then she went completely off the rails with a rant about being a mother and raising her daughter to “stand for what’s right for her.” Serena now seemed to me like someone carrying too heavy a load, not just a tennis champ chasing records for all-time, but a very self-conscious role model out to show that she could bounce back from a maternity leave, be a standard bearer for a new-model kind of strong, black femininity and perform at the highest level of her sport, all at the same time.
Even after the match resumed, and Osaka won another game, to lead 4-3, Williams resumed the argument and called Ramos a “liar” and “a thief.”
That was it. Penalty number three. Which meant Serena lost a full game. Just like that, it was Osaka, 5-3, and needing to win just one more game for the championship trophy.
Was that fair? Not really. Ramos could, and should, have played it cooler. But the real problem was that Williams should have got hold of her emotions before that final outburst.
It seems to me that you can’t win at anything if you don’t put your emotions on hold and focus on the challenge at hand. (Sure, the anger worked for McEnroe, but he is that unusual psychological type, the person who blows up and then feels calm and rejuvenated, no matter how anyone else around them feels.) Most of us can’t function well at all when we’re clouded by rage.
The fact is, bad calls happen. They even happen to great athletes. The job of the athlete is to compartmentalize it. Put it aside. Put yourself back in the match.
Then, after you’ve lost or won, complain and campaign all you want.
Is this hard to do? Hell, yes. I doubt that I could banish my anger from my mind if I thought my integrity had been impugned. I would be beside myself with rage. But I’m not a champion. She is. You only get to be a champion of Serena Williams’ caliber with very strong mental discipline – which she has had to employ for years, given the umpteen obstacles she was forced to overcome to dominate in such a white person’s sport.
Serena, the six-time U.S. Open champion, did not have that discipline on Saturday. In front of a crowd that really, really wanted to see her regain the crown for the first time since 2014.
All this said, I wonder why women’s tennis doesn’t insist on female umpiring. If pro-male bias is so insidious in this sport, then why not take the decision-making out of men’s hands altogether?
Though they were miles from the gunfire that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four months ago, they have been changed by it nonetheless.
“People are still devastated by these events,” said Donyea James, who just finished her junior year at American Heritage Boca/Delray High School. “It’s always on your mind: ‘What if it happens at my school? What if it would happen if I’m outside, or if I was the bathroom?'”
After the shootings, Keyiela Wilborn said she began checking on friends’ and classmates’ moods. The Palm Beach Lakes High school senior was looking for signs of possibly dangerous disquiet and encouraging them to talk if things are getting them down.
“It’s hard after these events to look at people the exact same way as you did before,” said Wendon Roberts of Spanish River High School. “But instead of thinking, ‘Oh, he’s being weird, I just better stay away from him,’ you have to think of it as, ‘Maybe this person really needs help.’ And that can stop a lot of these problems.”
Six teenagers, referred by the Urban League of Palm Beach County, talked with Rick Christie, editor of the Palm Beach Post Editorial Page, about the impact of gun violence in their communities and on their psyches. The Wednesday evening discussion was broadcast on Facebook Live.
The mass shooting at the Broward County high school spurred activism in the Palm Beach County students: they marched, held vigils, started organizations. “You want to do something not just to raise awareness, but to make a change,” James said.
Sterling Shipp and a friend had started a political science social group in the fall at Palm Beach Gardens High School. After Parkland, gun violence was the subject of every meeting. Attendance swelled. Even teachers came.
“It allowed us to have open dialogue,” Shipp said. “A lot of students came out, because they’re passionate about this.”
Gun violence hit close to home in other ways.
Wilborn said that, growing up in West Palm Beach and having relatives in Miami, “we hear about shootings all the time.” She knew a boy, “a wonderful kid, football player,” shot to death about a year and a half ago.
Roberts said that a classmate in 6th grade named Eduardo was killed along with his mother and brother in a domestic-violence shooting.
Christian Morales, just graduated from Suncoast High School, said a close friend and classmate named Brandon was shot and wounded in a drive-by while going for a walk with his brother.
Our state ranks eighth from the bottom in per-pupil spending in elementary-secondary education, according to Census Bureau statistics.
Elementary-secondary teachers in Florida earn an average $49,199. (That’s $9,154 less than the U.S. average.) Teachers are going into their own pockets an average of $479 every year for classroom supplies, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Now the Palm Beach County School Board is considering whether to ask voters this fall to raise their property taxes as much as $153 million a year, primarily to boost teacher pay. The money would also help pay for the 75 more security officers needed to patrol every school in the sprawling district and for more student mental-health services — both in reaction to the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
But in November 2016, voters approved a penny-per-dollar increase in sales tax to pay for maintenance and construction projects for schools and city and county governments.
Is it too soon to ask voters to dip into their wallets again?
UPDATE: President Trump and Chairman Kim signed an agreement to move toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula some time in the next “3-15 years.” Something the North Koreans have agreed to before, by the way. Details are sparse, but Trump apparently wants to stop U.S.-South Korea training exercises — or “war games” — as a precursor to removing U.S. troops altogether. Also, future meetings could be held in Pyongyang and the White House. Bottom line: The only thing historic about this summit right now is a big photo op between a U.S. president and a brutal North Korean dictator.
By the time you read this Tuesday morning, the long-awaited, much-hyped summit between President Donald J. Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has come and gone.
The days of pomp and circumstance that led up to the hours-long meeting of East and West, socialism and capitalism, ego and ego-prime, young and old, basketball and golf is over. There’s nothing left but the Twitter storm to follow.
Well, actually there was to be a 4 a.m. (ET) news conference on Tuesday with Trump, sans Kim.
Kim is on his way back to Pyongyang; and later to Russia to meet with President and fellow dictator Vladimir Putin, who also happens to be a favorite of Trump. We can speculate that Putin, in fact, could serve as the future facilitator of a summit between Trump and Kim — a la President Jimmy Carter with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Although that didn’t turn out too well in the end for Sadat.
As of 7 a.m. Tuesday (ET), Trump is already on his way back to the U.S. aboard Air Force One. The schedule, as of Monday night, has him back at the White House by 8 a.m. Wednesday.
By the time the meeting arrived Monday night (9 p.m. ET), the expectations for the historic face-to-face had already been set so low it is hard to gauge what would likely happen.
Even NBA great and Kim BFF Dennis Rodman was talking down expectations.
“People should not expect so much for the first time,” Rodman said as he emerged from the baggage claim area at Changi airport around midnight Monday. “Hopefully, the doors will open.”
He told reporters he wasn’t sure if he would meet Kim in Singapore.
White House officials have said Rodman will play no official role in the diplomatic negotiations. Trump said last week that Rodman had not been invited to the summit.
We’re kind of left to wonder then whatever happened to the lofty goals of set for this “historic” summit months ago when it was first mentioned.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been saying as late as Sunday that President Trump’s goal is nothing short of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
But try to find one Korea expert that would give that even a remote possibility from this summit. Most said that Kim won’t even entertain talk of such a thing unless the U.S. and other nuclear-powered nations do the same. (Yeah, like that’ll happen.)
Ending the Korean War — basically a paperwork issue — by signing a formal peace treaty was also out there as a major goal. Kim would basically have to do what former North Koreaan president Syngman Rhee wouldn’t do 65 years ago, which is join the U.S. and South Korea and sign the armistice agreement officially ending hostilities.
Of course, it’s not that simple.
The 1953 agreement calls for all sides to hold a political conference “to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea (and) the peaceful settlement of the Korean question.”
That summit, the Geneva Conference of 1954, ended in spectacular failure. Not only did it not produce a peace treaty ending the Korean War, but negotiations over France’s withdrawal from its colonies in Indochina set the stage for the Vietnam War.
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It still could happen. But since China and the U.S. were both major combatants on both sides of the war, both would need to be there for an official ending. (Right, there’s no China in Singapore.)
Take our poll, and tell us what you would be happy with coming out of the Trump-Kim summit.
When have you ever heard of the president of the United States telling the Super Bowl champions that they’re not welcome at the White House? But, then, when have we had a dis-uniting presidency like Donald Trump’s?
Last night, amid reports that fewer than 10 of the Philadelphia Eagles planned to attend a South Lawn ceremony this afternoon in the team’s honor, Trump abruptly canceled the event.
Trump, keeping up the drum beat he started last fall, said the players “disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”
However, not one player on the Eagles took a knee during the playing of national anthem during this year’s regular season or playoffs.
That fact didn’t stop Fox News from airing images of several Eagles players kneeling, as if to illustrate the president’s point about unpatriotic players. In reality, the players were not kneeling in protest, nor during the national anthem. They were praying.
One of those kneeling Eagles players, Zach Ertz, denounced the Fox News segment as “propaganda.” Teammate Chris Long also slammed the network:
While the Eagles player may not have taken a knee, it’s true that many strongly side with the protests against racial injustice and police brutality that were sparked by former San Francisco QB Colin Kapaernick — which Trump soon twisted into a purported test of patriotism. And many objected to the recently announced NFL policy to fine teams whose players who kneel during the “Star Spangled Banner,” which was followed by Trump saying that if you “don’t stand proudly for the national anthem,” then “maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”
In Philadelphia, a city that voted 82 percent for Hillary Clinton, many heaped scorn on Trump for his handling of the situation.
Mayor Jim Kenney said that disinviting the Eagles from the White House “only proves that our president is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.”
Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist Marcus Hayes wrote that size-obsessed Trump cancelled the event because, “in the end, he couldn’t stand the thought of another tiny crowd.”
The NFL protests have stirred no end of controversy. On Sunday, the Palm Beach Post Editorial Page devoted its entire letters column to letters taking passionate positions on all sides of the issue.
In my view, Trump has repeatedly and intentionally inflamed the situation by ignoring the players’ intent to protest police shootings of unarmed black men, and painting the players as unpatriotic pariahs.
He has had plenty of opportunity to try to find common ground and heal the divisions among us. A greater man might have sought out the players who balked at coming to the White House, and invited them to sit down together to talk out their differences.
But no. He pouts. He cancels. Telling the team to stay off his White House lawn is just his latest way of saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field!”
And Materio is back for Round 2. According to the Post’s Tony Doris, she has filed three complaints with the Florida Elections Commission alleging that three shell companies were created to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars for political purposes without declaring themselves political organizations — which are required to identify contributors.
The political purpose? Electing Lambert.
The contributors? Voters don’t know. But shouldn’t they, for the sake of transparency?
Lambert, a newcomer with business community ties, managed to knock off the more seasoned Materio mainly because she had the money. She also had in her corner Rick Asnani, one of the county’s top political consultants.
That’s all good. Lambert won the seat, and is ensconced on the commission. Ready to vote, among other things, on a rejuvenated plan to create the Okeechobee Business District (OBD). Yep, the same OBD that would allow the construction of the 25-story One Flagler office building pretty much on Flagler Drive.
That’s not all good. A number of city residents — vocal city residents — don’t like the idea of building the tower on an already traffic-clogged Okeechobee Boulevard. They especially don’t like the fact that the issue seemed dead after it was defeated when it came before the commission in September.
“Ms. Materio used a campaign committee that was established in the month of February 2018, just one month before the election, and ran $23,000 in donations through the entity to help her campaign while hiding the donors,” Asnani told the Post. “Prior to that, Materio used a different political committee to send out a mailing that is being investigated by the Florida Elections Commission for potential illegal donations.”
Political operative Bill Newgent, for his part, filed complaints about a series of alleged misfilings and a missed deadline regarding Materio’s campaign documentation, Doris wrote.
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Election campaigns laws exist for a reason. The primary one being so that voters know who is influencing or attempting to influence candidates that are vying to represent constituents.
We know that transparency is a good thing… and “democracy dies in the darkness.”
But this long after the election, is there value in Materio’s insistence on knowing the names of the people or entities that contributed to those three mysterious shell companies created by Asnani?
A television network stood up for decency today. With head-spinning speed, ABC canceled its hit revival “Roseanne,” just hours after its titular star tweeted a crude racist remark about former Obama presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett.
Robert Iger, Disney CEO, tweeted “there was only one thing to do.”
The quick axing was a necessary corrective in this age of Trump, when the dog whistles from the White House have awakened many an inner racist. When you have a president who says there are “some fine people” amid the neo-Nazis at Charlottesville, who talks about “shithole countries,” you’re going to see an uptick in hate speech. You’re going to get what Roseanne Barr called her “bad joke” about Jarrett’s “politics and her looks.”
You can’t separate President Donald Trump from this story. Indeed, Trump has celebrated “Roseanne”‘s high ratings as a powerful endorsement of himself and his followers.
In the revival of the show, the title character returned to the air after a 21-year absence as, explicitly, a Trump supporter — just like Barr, the mouthy comedienne who plays her. The sitcom was seen as smart counter-programming on a network that has made a specialty of minority-themed comedies with a liberal bent, like “Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat.”
ABC seemed, in fact, to be smelling the makings of a trend. There was talk of developing more shows to cater to conservative, Trump-admiring audiences. And why not, if the shows could deal with our divisions with humor and wisdom — and not compound our divisions?
The network seemed OK with its hard-to-control star, even when she filled her Twitter account with wildly fact-free conspiracy theories.
But raw racism — such as comparing an African-American woman (even a woman as accomplished as Jarrett) to a simian — has no place in American society. We cannot go back to a time when it was considered OK for many white Americans to look upon people of other races, cultures or religions as less than fully American — nay, less than human.
When that attitude surfaces, it must be confronted and repudiated.
By doing so in such a swift and forceful manner, ABC has done us all a favor. It has helped steer America’s course back towards its true north.
The National Football League, under pressure from many fans and the man in the White House, announced rules meant to remove the spectacle of players kneeling in protest during the playing of the national anthem.
Team owners voted Wednesday to require all team and league personnel who are on the field during the anthem to “stand and show respect” for the flag and the song. Those who choose not to stand for the anthem can stay in the locker room or away from the field, although each club can adopt its own additional rules.
Rick Christie, editor of the Palm Beach Post’s Editorial Page, says the owners are ordering players to subdue their protests against racial injustice: “In other words: Don’t demonstrate downtown, I have shopping to do. Don’t demonstrate at a sporting event because you take away from my entertainment. Why can’t you all just shut up and dribble?”
We’ve been beating the drum on the issue for weeks now: The message that there is no graver threat to the future of South Florida than the accelerating pace of sea-level rise. By 2060, the sea is predicted to rise another 2 feet, with no sign of slowing down.
The editorial boards of The Palm Beach Post, South Florida Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald — with reporting help from WLRN Public Media — have joined hands in an unprecedented collaboration this election year to raise awareness about the threat facing South Florida from sea-level rise. Our goal is to inform, engage, provoke and build momentum to address the slow-motion tidal wave coming our way.
To that end, we (Post Editorial writer Howard Goodman and me) went on WPTV-Channel 5‘s “To the Point” to discuss the threat of sea level rise with host Michael Williams.
As we’ve said previously, most South Floridians get it. The Yale Climate Opinion Maps show 75 percent of us believe global warming is happening, even if we don’t all agree on the cause. We understand that when water gets hotter, it expands. And warmer waters are melting the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. If all of Greenland’s ice were to melt — and make no mistake, it’s melting at an increasing clip — scientists say ocean waters could rise 20 feet.
The problem is, too few of us are convinced sea-level rise will personally harm us in our lifetimes. We’ve got to change that mind-set because it already is. Lila Young, who has lived on the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach for 30 years, said she’s seen the king tides progressively getting higher and flooding her neighborhood more often.
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Palm Beach County is fortunate to have a slightly higher elevation, which means the risks aren’t quite so acute here as for our neighbors to the south. Still, the high-priced real estate on the barrier islands is equally vulnerable, along with the low-lying mainland along much of West Palm Beach’s Flagler Drive. As the sea level rises, the agricultural area south of Lake Okeechobee will drain more and more slowly after a major rainfall. And when significant hurricanes and floods hit farther south, we may see a sudden flood of people from Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Are we ready? Are we taking the threat of sea-level rise seriously enough?