Sunday, June 14, 2009

Don't Rain On Our Parade!

About eightneen or twenty years ago Scott Galvin and I both ran for North Miami City Council. Back then we had "at large" elections. You had to campaign and win city wide. The wealthier east side precincts near the bay had more money to spend and with few exceptions managed to get their own people elected time after time. The few exceptions were also wealthy people, often living in the old spacious "manor houses" that dot some areas of the central city, dating back to the days when North Miami had pineapple plantations back in the 1920's.

I ran against an established incumbant because the mayor encouraged me to do so, but that's another story. Scott ran because he was young and full of fire and enthusiasm. Too young, a lot of people thought, but he came back about decade later and won. We'd both lost, but not by much, and in my case the incumbant had dropped out but another guy with lots of his own money to spend got elected. Most people now concede that Scott is probably the best person we've ever had on the city council, and they now think that it's a shame that he lost the race back then. We might have had a much better city had he won.

Scott and I started a petition drive to change the city charter back to district elections. We got the signatures but the city council had the final say about putting it on the ballot for a charter change. One councilwoman was arguing against doing it because it would "divide the city", but I could see that the city was changing as more and more "minorities" were buying houses. Sure, a few rednecks were moving out, but it seemed a peaceful enough transition.

As this was being debated by the council I went up to the podium and addressed the council. "You don't want to go to district elections because you're afraid that there wil be a black face sitting up there with you!" The council chambers got really, really quiet, like everybody had stopped breathing. You weren't supposed to say things like that! Not in public anyway. I continued "But I'm telling you that if we don't go to district elections, in four years there won't be a white face up there!"

The council voted to put it on the ballot, the electorate voted to change the charter, and we now have four districts. They're not exactly as Scott and I had envisioned it. The council had managed to draw the boundaries so Scott and I ended up in the same district. A couple of years later Scott ran and got elected. I'd been instrumental in getting a mayor out of office, getting the first woman mayor elected, getting Scott a winnable district, and I decided that it was time to take a break. Let Scott deal with the agravation. He's done a good job.

So here we are, standing in the rain outside the polls. Michael Blynn, an imcumbant from an eastside district got re-elected. Central city resident Michelle Garcia is now awaiting a court hearing because it seems that her competition for the seat, a Haitian, doesn't qualify because he hasn't lived in the city long enough. The Haitian community is now trying to cast this whole thing as racial. I got punched in the face mostly for being white. The woman who punched me doesn't even live in the city. Ma'am, you punched the wrong guy!

I really don't know who that gentleman is that's holding Miahael and Michelle's umbrellas. I got to stand in the rain. The little light colored areas in the photo are caused by raindrops on the lens. They wiped right off and the lens is fine.

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