From the Appearance of Impropriety Desk comes this piece of Seminole County fun: On May 8, county Democratic Party leader Chris Lomas filed an ethics complaint against her GOP counterpart, Jason Brodeur. Brodeur, who took over the Seminole Republicans in December, is also a candidate for state representative and a Gov. Charlie Crist-appointed member of the Seminole-Brevard counties' Judicial Nominating Commission, which recommends replacements for retiring judges. Apparently, he has trouble keeping those gigs separate.
On April 13, Brodeur sent out a fundraising e-mail that said, in part: "I am also pleased to announce that the 18th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission is now seeking qualified individuals to fill a circuit court vacancy created by the appointment of Judge James E.C. Perry to the Florida Supreme Court. Our recommendations are due to Governor Crist no later than May 19, so it is moving fast. Please contact me if you are interested in application process details."
And then, in giant letters: "Contribute!"
To the Democrats, this juxtaposition creates the appearance of conflict. Consider that one of the judicial candidates, Melanie Chase, is listed as a Brodeur supporter on his website. (Chase also gave JNC chairwoman Elizabeth Dorworth's husband, state Rep. Chris Dorworth, $500 in 2007.)
Another of the 27 applicants, Michael Rudisill, gave Brodeur $350 last year (not $50, as the Orlando Sentinel reported) and Rep. Dorworth $250 in 2007, according to state records. The Sentinel reported on the donations May 12. Everyone involved told reporter Rene Stutzman this was no big deal (though she didn't mention Lomas' complaint).
Brodeur said the donations would have no impact on his deliberations. On May 14, the JNC announced its six recommendations: Chase didn't make the cut, but Rudisill did, along with five other prospective judges who either didn't contribute to political campaigns or did so in a bipartisan way.
Note to local media: Do not under any circumstances refer to city commissioner Daisy Lynum as "controversial." Doing so means you are a racist who wants to suppress the voice of "an intelligent and articulate strategist and advocate for a community that has been so under-served and under-represented for so many years." Those are Lynum's words, not ours, in case you couldn't tell.
Crazy Daisy™ got her knickers in a twist following a rather innocuous May 7 Orlando Sentinel story on her re-election campaign. Unlike the other two city commissioners up next year, Lynum has drawn challengers — two of them, to be precise — and reporter Mark Schlueb wrote about this: "Controversial Orlando Commissioner Daisy Lynum has drawn two early opponents in next spring's City Council election."
Which prompted Lynum's cork to go "pop."
"I read your article announcing two challengers for the District 5 city council seat in yesterday's paper," she wrote to Schlueb. "Your description of me as controversial is an inaccurate and negative label of me which I do not appreciate or accept."
She then waxed poetic on her awesomeness and impenetrable integrity. "I am effective at the local, state and national levels because of my vision for Orlando, District 5 and its residents, which I am able to articulate very well. I do not believe that there is anything controversial about the entrepreneurial spirit expressed above or advocating for the protection of all individuals' civil rights."
In summary: It is wrong to criticize Daisy.
"I am always concerned when labels are used to describe individuals or groups, particularly when they are assigned by others, when they are negative, punitive, mocking and demeaning. Therefore, I am asking you to cease and desist your labeling of me as anything except as a resident elected to represent her district and who does it very well." (You can read the entire letter at www.orlando weekly.com/blog. Trust us, it's worth it.)
Of course, a reasonable person could conclude that one or two of Lynum's actions over the years have indeed been "controversial." For instance, she once called the police chief after her son was pulled over, then insinuated that the entire department is a den of racists chomping at the bit to shoot a black man `see "Tempest in a traffic stop," June 29, 2006`. That one prompted an ethics investigation. Then there was the time she blew up at a constituent who brought a tape recorder to a public meeting `"The devil his due," Feb. 12, 2004`. Not to mention the many and varied sweet land deals she's landed for her friends at taxpayer expense `"A sucker deal," July 28, 2005; "A bill of goods," Dec. 7, 2006`.
However, Lynum is a woman of integrity; she said so herself. So the Sentinel was forced to walk the story back: "Indeed, he used the word as a short-handed way to describe your style and how some people have responded to you," wrote Sentinel managing editor Mark Russell. "You have taken positions that have sometimes riled the powerful. And, from what I've read and heard since arriving here five years ago, that's been a hallmark of your long, distinguished career."
It's too late for ass-kissing, however. To hear Lynum tell it, her district is rioting in the streets. "My constituents are outraged. Maybe it's cumulative anger about one article after another that they view as unflattering toward me. Thanks for your response. I get it. My achievements are seldom, if ever headlined. But, thanks so much."
Somebody get this lady a mirror! Oh, the vanity!
On May 13, a little ray of rainbow sunshine parted the clouds when a Florida court of appeals unanimously ruled that the state must now recognize second-parent adoptions granted in other states to same-sex couples.
The case came after a nasty lesbian break-up in which two Washington women each gave birth to one child and adopted the other's biological child. They moved to Florida, then split up. One of the women decided to keep the two children, who were raised as siblings, separate.
In terms of legal precedent, the ruling requires Florida to honor the U.S. Constitution's full faith and credit clause, saying, "There are no public policy exceptions to the full faith and credit which is due to judgments entered in another state."
There is a tangential relationship to the current battle over legalizing gay adoption awaiting the Florida Supreme Court. Back in November 2008, the ACLU managed to get a lower court to rule favorably in the case of Frank Martin Gill, who sued for custody of two special-needs kids he and his domestic partner had fostered ("Florida's case against gay adoption," Dec. 18, 2008). The wingnuts, naturally, are fighting back against it, so we'll see about that.
In other gay news, a new report released by eQualityGiving last week showed that Florida ranked number 37 out of 51 (hello, D.C.) in terms of equality. Coincidentally, Billy Manes — who is gay and doesn't use Equal brand artificial sweetener — turns 37 May 22. Spooky!
This week's edition of In These Tough Economic Times has you parking your Buick and sweating alongside our beloved leader, Mayor Buddy Dyer!
That's ride, Joe/Jane Six Pack. On May 22, you will have the opportunity to ride your bicycle to work with Dyer, in celebration of Bike to Work Day; provided, that is, you live somewhere near Infusion Tea, 1600 Edgewater Drive, work somewhere downtown (the ride ends at Buddy's office, not yours) and need to be at work by 9:30 a.m. Otherwise, May 22 is just another day you need to haul your tired ass to work.
If Buddy's schedule coincides with yours, meet him at 8 a.m. He'll be the guy on the Schwinn with the banana seat, streamers on the handlebars and a playing card in the email@example.com