Electorate Energized in the Sunshine State

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Adding to voter antagonism was that which accompanied the rise in taxes: pay increases and the unfreezing of certain benefits for unionized public sector employees, along with substantial raises for members of Mr. Alvarez’s inner circle. The Mayor’s chief of staff, Denis Morales  received an 11% pay raise to over $200,000 dollars per year, and director of policy Vicki Mallette got a 15% pay raise, to over $120,000 dollars per year.  Alvarez defended the raises, claiming those granted to union workers constituted part of a three-year collective bargaining agreement which had also included previous pay cuts, while those for his staff were the result of a heavier workload  created by the increased powers voters gave him in 2007.

As late as Wednesday afternoon the Mayor remained defiant, telling a Spanish radio station that, if he had an opportunity to go back and do it again, he would have approved the same budget.  “I knew the decision was not going to be popular,” Alvarez told WURN-Actualidad 1020 AM. “If I had done what Mr. Braman wanted me to do…I would be facing a recall by the other people whose funding for arts and social services was cut,” he added.

There was also a relatively minor controversy, but one which undoubtedly reinforced the notion of Alvarez’s opponents contention that the mayor was politically tone-deaf. Last May, Alvarez purchased a BMW 550i Grand Turismo sedan subsidized by an $800-a-month car allowance, despite already having two Chevy Suburbans to use for official business. Despite a salary and benefits package which paid him over $325,000, he refused to kill the car allowance, claiming such a gesture was nothing more than “symbolic.”

Voters didn’t buy any of it.  “It’s a farce what he has done,” said Luis Diaz, a 56-year-old airport worker and former Alvarez supporter. “He needed to raise taxes to keep the county running, but he also had to give raises to his friends. “Let him leave office tomorrow (Wednesday).”

That’s precisely what Mr. Alvarez will do, despite spending over $1 million on a blitz of speeches, radio and television appearances and paid advertisements in a futile attempt to save his job.  On Friday that job will end when the election is certified by the county’s three-member canvassing board.  After that, the county commission has 30 days to make a choice between appointing a new mayor or scheduling another special election.

Tuesday’s recall election is the second largest in the nation, topped only by California’s recall of Governor Gray Davis.  And despite being held in the month of March in an off year, voter turnout was reportedly as large as the election in November.  Recall organizer Norman Braman summed up the prevailing mood.  “County voters have demonstrated by their ballot that they are tired of unaccountable officials, of being ignored, and of being over-taxed in this very difficult recessionary time,’’ the auto dealer said Tuesday night. “We’ve empowered the people of this county to take back the government and ask the government to be responsive to the people.”

In a week of cataclysmic events it is understandable that the recall of a city Mayor and a County Commissioner might generate far less light and heat than normal.  But one suspects the kind of discontent which generated almost nine-out-of-ten voters to oust politicians they had previously supported–more than once–is not limited to the Sunshine State.  According to an ABC/Washington Post poll, Americans’ confidence in government has dropped to a thirty-five year low. Such a survey is misleading.  Do Americans lack confidence in the system itself, or the people who inhabit it?  If the vote in Miami is any indication, the system is working quite well.  Politicians running for election or re-election in 2012 would be well-advised to pay attention to something far more important that seems to be in serious decline:  voter apathy.

Arnold Ahlert is a contributing columnist to the conservative website JewishWorldReview.com.


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  • Chezwick_Mac

    "Alvarez raised property taxes, claiming it was the only viable option, other than cutting social services, that could be implemented to close a $444 million budget gap."


    In spite of being a Republican, he opted for the Democratic Party solution (raising taxes instead of cutting spending). He deserved his fate.

    It's sickening how the entire country, even the New York Times, has conceded the unsustainability of our current economic model, yet there are so few willing to tell the people what they absolutely need to hear…that there is just no way out of our fiscal woes without pain and sacrifice?

    All my life I've been an outspoken proponent of Democracy. Now, I'm beginning to wonder how we can possibly lecture dictatorships with a straight face about the virtues of democratic governance when the example we offer them is of a selfish and short-sighted political class (and electorate) that is spending our civilization into bankruptcy.

    The entitlement culture is dead, we just don't have the will or the courage to lay it to rest.

    • StephenD

      "The entitlement culture is dead, we just don't have the will or the courage to lay it to rest."

      Perfectly said. Like when Harry Reid got re-elcted. I wondered aloud what the hell was wrong with the folks in Nevada. There just isn't the courage to lay these folks aside. Too bad for us….

      • Chezwick_Mac

        Unions, Acorn, and illegals…that's what got Harry "the war is lost" Reid re-elected….which was the only repulsive moment in an otherwise joyous night.

  • wemustresist

    Rinos beware!!!!

  • NJK

    They now need to do this with the rogue judge in Wisconsin.

  • Amused

    Tax breaks for the rich at the expense of the middle class , cheap loans for the rich and taxpayers foot the bill …..that's what's going on in Miami . That's what's going oin in Wisconsin and Michigan where Republican Governors are actually facilitating big breaks for those at the top of the economic ladder at the expense of those at the bottom .Expect call for recall there also , now that the people are actually finding out what these Governors are really doing . Cost cutting = screw the working man ….it aint gonna fly .

  • Amused

    These two in Miami are not facing recall because of democratic ideology , but directly due to Republican standard operating proceedure . The phony "austerity " is coming to light .People see [and feel the cuts ] but they also are becoming aware of the giveaways to the rich . Ohio ,Michigan and maine Governors..take note .

  • Chezwick_Mac

    The Republicans have to frame the economic argument along the following lines,…

    The market economy generates NEW wealth, government just consumes EXISTING wealth. To cripple the market economy with a huge regulatory and tax burden will be to the detriment of EVERYONE, because the investment class will 1) be unable to compete with overseas competitors and 2) look to invest their money elsewhere to get a better return. High taxes are not only inflationary (companies just pass the costs onto consumers), they contribute to unemployment (why start or expand a business in such a stultifying environment?). This is where the Dems have it all wrong with their 'tax the rich' mentality.

    The plan of action is simple: CUT entitlements to the poor and middle class (the overwhelming contributor to our debt and deficit problem), END corporate welfare, SIMPLIFY the tax code (and put a whole class of lawyers out of business), and then CUT taxes on business and individuals.

    This is the road to economic revitalization and fiscal solvency.

    • Stephen_Brady

      Chez, I'm willing to vote for you, next year! Are you running?

      Great plan!

      • Chezwick_Mac

        Thanks a lot Steve, but no thanks.

        That's one reason I hold David, Robert Spencer, Gov Walker and a few select others in such high regard…they're willing to get out there and put it all on the line, get dirtied and bloodied, be maligned and slandered, deal with hatred and death threats…while I roar like a lion from the safety and comfort of anonymity.

        In short, I'm a coward.

    • Edward

      Too complicated for a political landscape. Try "The Public Employee Unions will destroy the Middle Class with their greed. They must be stopped."

  • rib/eve

    One more point Chez wick. For some unknown reason the Republicans always seem to let the Democrats frame the argument. Not only that but once the Democrats hit a nerve, like cutting back social security, the Republicans let that dog lie. They never seem to clarify things. So the perception is that Republicans are going to kick little old ladies off of their social security. Republicans need to expose all of the young children and younger adults that are on social security, what those costs are and why they need to be removed.

    Seeing that the Dept of Energy is so anti energy I think shutting it down would be a positive, looking at the FDA as in cutting it back and completely revamping it with ALL new employees. Shut down the dept of homeland security, what is the FBI for if not homeland security? Oh yeah, to get around the constitution, sorry I forgot. And how about the Dept of Agriculture. I am sick to death of how they bully our family farmers.

    To do this we need to be very familiar with our US constitution and our state constitution. I am well aware that we the "people" are very uncomfortable with our authority but we must start exercise our rights now or we will surely loose them. The point of no return is here.

    • Chezwick_Mac

      Interesting comments 'rib'.

      I agree with abolishing (or sharply curtailing) DOE, I disagree with gutting the FDA, I have no qualms about doing away with DHS, and as for DOA, it's not just the bullying of family farmers, it's the damn subsidies. If we're going to end subsidies to the poor and middle-class (an indispensable part of fiscal reform), how can we possibly rationalize continued subsidies to farmers, businesses and corporations.

      As for "the point of no return is here", I agree completely. Sadly, the tipping point will precede the fall by a decade or more, so those only inured when things get really bad (which is most of us) are missing both the point and the boat. We've got to act now, but my prognosis is that cowardice and sloth will preclude us from doing so,

  • Amused

    If we're going to end subsidies to the poor and middle-class (an indispensable part of fiscal reform), how can we possibly rationalize continued subsidies to farmers, businesses and corporations. —

    You got that much right, if we have to bite the bullet , that means ALL of us , Corporations , the Rich , and the privileged included . This myth of giving taxbreaks to big corporations = more jobs , is just that …a myth . Michigan which offers some of the highest incentives to buisinesses has one of the highest jobless rates in the nation . That's the problem Republicans can seem to get …. Wisconsin's Walker's projected deficit , is such , because it takes into account the lost revenues that will evaporate with his taxbreaks to the rich and corporations , and his plan to make up for it by screwing the middle class , disguised as the REPUBLICAN STAPLE of union busting .In Michigan the governor ,has decided to put the highest tax burden on the lowest income earners , so save all this bullsheet about "fiscal reform " . What happened in the Miami recalls is that the people are wise to this crap .

    • Chezwick_Mac

      "This myth of giving taxbreaks to big corporations = more jobs , is just that …a myth ."

      Why, because YOU say so?

      John Kennedy cut marginal tax rates in 1961, and we averaged 5.2% growth for the next 5 years. Even a liberal historian like Will Durant acknowledges the process over and over in his multi-volume story of civilization. For example, when Louis the 14th raised taxes to fund his foreign ambitions, Durant explains how French capital fled to Switzerland and Holland, starving Louis of the very funds he hoped to raise.

      It's a law of nature, comprehensible to anyone not suffering from left-wing delusions: Capital flows wherever it can get the best return. That's why China has attracted so much foreign investment over the last 18 years…because labor costs were so low.

      Domestically, competitive labor rates are out of the question. Answer: Tax policy. Lower rates, you attract capital investment (and hence jobs, growth and revenue for government); raise taxes and you repel capital, impoverishing everybody.

      • Amused

        No Cherz , not "because I say so " but because that it is historically CORRECT . More jobs is the MYTH , more profit for the bottom line , more dividends for the stockholders = CEO keeps his job …THAT is the REALITY . Just as much a MYTH as " trickle down economics " ….which simply meant Sheet flows downhill , and the people at the bottom get to swim in it . Besides , if it were actuually true , then Michigan should be swimming in jobs . So much for your delerious delusions .

  • Amused

    You call'em RINO's , I call'em Republicans /Conservatives doing what they always have been doing all along WELFARE to the corporations , WELFARE for the Rich , LOOPHOLES to get around taxes , LOOPHOLES for the cheats on Wallstreet…all the while creating new names for their same old practice . The Deficit TRIPLED under Reagan and Big Government grew by about 18 % , and he's held up as the Rep/Conservatice god , again the derficit almost tripled under Bush jr, and his old man got voted out for the economy , while his "famous saying " …"Read my lips -no tax hikes " ……and he snuck in a hundred little hidden taxes .
    WHO are you guys trying to kid ??

    • Chezwick_Mac

      Yes, the debt rose dramatically under Reagan but a) he won the Cold War in the process, b) Democrats controlled congress during his administration and put the break on the domestic spending cuts he wanted and c) Reagan's tax-cuts produced impressive growth-rates throughout the 80s, ended Carter's stagflation, and watched the DOW, which had been stagnate for 15 years, more than double in value over his 8 years in office. In other words, Reagan produced wealth on a scale unimagined in the 70s.

      As for George W, the national debt rose $4.5 trillion in his 8 years, a sorry record to be sure, but comparatively austere next to the almost $3 trillion Obama has added in 2 short years.

      Who are you trying to kid??

      • Amused

        LOLOL….." Yes BUT .." so you admit the previous THREE REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATIONS SCREWED UP , and in all the three categories that folks like you are whining about , they doubled or tripled the debt , they "grew big government " and they raised taxes , so WHO are you trying to convince ? Me ? OR YOU ? Reagan didn't "win the Cold War " . He happened to be the sitting U.S. President when the Soviet Union collapsed , a fait-acompli , by decades of American and Western foreign policy , we made them spend themselves into the ground . As for Obama …whatever you wanna blame on him [ btw we are not in 3 trillion debt ] those are at the moment projections , just remember Bush Jr. got us there , the economy collapsed on his watch , bailouts were institutede on his watch , jobs were lost von his watch , houses foreclosed , the real estate bubble perpetuated on his watch ,and his appointed SEC watchdogs failed miserably …ALL on his watch . But hey , I know it makes you guys feel better to pin it all on Obama . What better way to deflect blame away from your own party's failings .

        • Chezwick_Mac

          You're a child trying to argue with an adult.

          1) Reagan WASN'T the sitting President when the Soviet Union collapsed; HW Bush was.

          2) When Reagan assumed the Presidency, the Soviet geo-political ascendancy was at its height; they had attained strategic arms superiority, and had steamrolled through Indo-China and Angola ('75), Ethiopia (77), Nicaragua and South Yemen (78), and Afghanistan (79). Reagan began the arms build-up and support for national liberation movements in the captive countries that together facilitated Soviet exhaustion and, later, collapse.

          3) Idiot…I didn't claim we were 3 trillion in debt, I asserted that Obama had added 3 trillion to our debt

          4) The housing bubble that was at the root of the financial crises in 2008 had its roots in the CRA, passed under Clinton – but I will certainly concede that both parties contributed. Nobody is blaming Obama for the meltdown, but he has prolonged it, and ran up debt at an unprecedented level and speed

          Check mate

          • Amused

            Of course Chez . Check mate ? No , more like -Back peddle

            "but comparatively austere next to the almost $3 trillion Obama has added in 2 short years. "

            "Yes, the debt rose dramatically under Reagan but a) he won the Cold War in the process .."

            you didn't say what ?

          • Chezwick_Mac

            Yes I did. And I backed it up with what I wrote.

            1) The fact that the Soviet empire collapsed a couple of years AFTER he left office doesn't mitigate the fact that it was REAGAN'S policies – arms build-up and funding insurgencies in Soviet (or Soviet-surrogate) occupied Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua and Cambodia – that turned around a Cold War America had been previously losing in the late-70s. Your mistake was a) not knowing the time-line ("He happened to be the sitting U.S. President when the Soviet Union collapsed') and b) attribution of the victory to "decades of American and Western foreign policy." As I adroitly pointed out, the Soviets were WINNING the Cold War by the late 70s. Reagan reversed the trend.

            2) Obama "ADDED" $3 trillion in 2 short years to the existing debt. Get it? The debt is NOT $3 trillion, it's now $14 trillion…but Obama "ADDED" $3 trillion.

            Your reading comprehension is as dense as your politics.

            Again, check mate.

  • Edward

    David H. : The next time a comment of mine is "deleted by the administrator" I'll expect an explanation, either by email or on this site, as to why. Thanks.—-Ed

  • Amused

    "Glasnost and peristroika " came about under Gorbachev in the late 80's .Reagan gave his "tear down this wall " speech in ' 87 , the wall came down in Nov. '89 . The Soviet Union officially dissolved shortly thereafter , but it began it's momentum in the Reagan years , by which time the Soviet Union was broke ,and NOT due to Reagan tripling the deficit in the U.S.A. , contrary to your imbecilic remark . Republicans like to credit their demi-god with bringing down the Soviet Union . Bush was elected and began Jan.'89 , a mere extension of the Reagan Admin . The actual demise came in 1991 but it started in the 60's and 70's, and became imminent in 1989. So you are correct in that Bush was the sitting President [my mistake ] the rest of your post is a crock of sheet .

    • Chezwick_Mac

      "The actual demise came in 1991 but it started in the 60's and 70's, and became imminent in 1989"

      You obviously know nothing of history. From 1975 to '80, the Soviets were rolling up one country conquest after another (documented in an earlier post). They had codified their lead in ICBMs (1600 to 1054) into the SALT agreements…(and unlike you, I don't need to google this stuff, I actually know it). Their chronic economic problems notwithstanding (alleviated by heavy borrowing from Western – mainly German – banks), from a geo-political and military standpoint, they were WINNING the Cold War…until Ronny came along and turned things around.

      You're a lightweight, buddy.

  • Amused

    And you're light upstairs Chez , if you're gonna say something , stupid or not , dont go coming back denying you said it , by changing the sentence a little . You must do real well brow-beating 3rd graders .

    • Chezwick_Mac

      Listen friend, I didn't back-track over a single thing. Your reading comprehension is extremely limited….

      1) I wrote clearly that Obama "ADDED $3 trillion to the debt",…you somehow extrapolated then that I claimed the debt itself was $3 trillion. Ludicrous!

      2) I wrote that Reagan won the Cold War. I documented the Soviet geo-political ascendancy in the mid-late 70s and their ICBM superiority. All you offered was opinion unsupported by fact.

      Meanwhile, the fact that the actual Soviet collapse happened on the watch of Reagan's successor in no way diminishes his (Reagan's) responsibility for the outcome. You yourself have admitted that Bush I was a "mere extension of the Reagan Admin."

      If I've been hard on you, it's because you're bellicose without being bright (or right). Dialectics is the art of disputation. You need to work on your art. The only way to do so is to read, learn and grow wiser. Once you've actually mastered the facts, then you might not feel the compulsion in the future to inadvertently draw an analogy between yourself and a third grader.

  • Amused

    Now you're changing the meaning of what youy said . You must live in a vacuum where ther king is YOU .
    YOU MADE THE STATEMENT THAT REAGAN WON THE COLD WAR – when in reality it was won by all previous Administrations and by the sacrifice of all Americans over the period ending WW2 until the official disolution in 1991 .
    In addition now you position yourself as a LIAR , aas well as being unable to seperate opinion from fact . Third graders in THAT respect are your superiors, as they have not yet learned to be deceptive liars .

    • Chezwick_Mac

      My God…you are truly dense.

      Yes, I wrote Obama ADDED $3 trillion TO the debt. ADDED!!! TO!!! Can you say the word "added"? Can you say "to"? Asserting that Obama ADDED $3 trillion TO the debt is in no way tantamount to saying the national debt is $3 trillion. I hope this clears up your seemingly perpetual confusion.

      Yes, I wrote REAGAN WON THE COLD WAR! I documented the Soviet strategic and geo-political superiority in the late 70s. You offered no refutation to these facts, just a lame restating of your opinion. According to your dense logic, Jimmy Carter was as pivotal as Reagan in winning the Cold War. It's total nonsense…but why let facts get in your way.

      Your feelings are obviously hurt. Why else would you keep arguing when you've been so thoroughly bested? I'm sorry I exposed your ignorance to one and all, but it really had to be done. I could have handled you with kid gloves, but your bellicose personality precluded such an approach. Hopefully you've learned something.

      There's nothing more I can add.

  • Amused

    You've already "added " too much . You diminished yourself , by lieing , backpeddling , and not having the balls to admit you mispoke …add cowardice to your ever growing list of debating defects . Only in your narrow mind habve done all those things to me , exposing another defect of character narcisism and self agrandizing arrogance . I'm sure you've found a home here . I've also noticed some obvious big time arse kissing in one of your posts to Horowitz .
    Don't contemplate "handling" me in any fashion , you can't handle yourself . You display an ignorance of any sense of history , you are shortsighted and opinionated , and most likely still wet behind the ears . ALL Amereican Presidents as well as the majority of American people stood firm against the USSR and Communism since 1945 . It was a stalwart of ALL American foreign policy . The cumulative effect after 4 decades of this as well as our western allies ultimately brought down the Soviet Union ……no one Administration more than the other .

  • Amused

    So , keep on talking Chez , as you expose yet another defect , which is a superiority complex and self aggrandizing narcissism. As you continue to disguise your bruised ego and growing hysterical anger with two bit words and the self-delusion that you are "humiliating " anyone other than yourself.
    Do continue Chez , you are really beginning to amuse me now , as you are incapable of any credible refutes or rebuttals .