Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Judges With Hefty War Chests And School District 2 Race Heats Up. By Geniusofdespair

I looked at 3 judges running unopposed. Judges Judy Rubenstein, Beth Bloom and Carroll Kelly all appear to have a load of contributions. Judy has $122,445, Beth has $128,248 and Carroll has $149,190. I thought to myself, developers and lobbyists don’t give judges money, where are they getting it from? Well it seems all three gals made $100,000 loans to their own campaigns. In fact, Judge Judy lent herself $110,000 so she only really raised $12,445. You might ask, why are they all loaning themselves a lot of money? I think they want to scare any competitors from signing up to oppose them. A Hispanic challenger to any of these three would certainly change the ballgame.

On another front, there appears to be a School Board race heating up in District 2, Dr. Solomon C. Stinson's seat. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall (pictured left) has raised $30,893 including a $10,000 loan to herself, Vanessa Woodard Byers has $10,742.22 and Ronda A. Vangates (pictured right) has $48,564.99. I didn’t see a loan on Vangates but I did see that Rev. Victor Curry gave her a $500 donation. That is clout, which I am sure led to church members giving to her campaign. She also has Oscar Braynon behind her, retired NFL Player Barrett N. Green and Stinson himself, who gave her $500 and is said to have anointed her heir to his seat. According to Miami New Times Rhonda does not come without heavy baggage:

"One person who escaped punishment is Ronda Vangates, a high-level district administrator who reports directly to Crew. Vangates is a political heavy hitter. In previous jobs, she served as an aide to county Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler and chief of staff to Miami Mayor Joe Carollo. Crew hired her in 2005 as an administrative assistant and legislative liaison. A Northwestern alum and a nonpracticing attorney, Vangates was promoted last year to director of the district's Civilian Investigative Unit. She earns an annual $95,000 salary.

According to a June 5 Miami-Dade grand jury report on the Northwestern affair, Vangates "made efforts to halt the criminal investigation" into school employees who had covered up the sex allegations. Vangates sent Northwestern's then-Principal Dwight Bernard and other district employees an e-mail asserting she had directed Miami-Dade School Police to cease their probe."

Bendross-Mindingall was a Florida House Representative for House District 109 and she was a school principal. She is very close to the Crapp family, Tony Crapp is Mayor Regalado's chief of staff. She has the backing of Alix Deslume, Richard Dunn, Larry Handfield and the Professional Black Firefighters. Finally, Byers is a longtime school employee and I know very little about her.

My question is: Why are all the heavy hitters in the African American Community supporting Vangates if she has a cloud over her head? Why can't we have squeaky clean candidates at election time? Is that too much to ask?

The Grand Jury Report referenced in Miami New Times article can be accessed from Daily Kos article.


Anonymous said...

Genius, I think you're wrong on this one. I am a big fan of this blog, mostly because of the indepth anaylses you provide. But you should not jump to conclusions about Ms. Vangates.

Ms. Vangates is a person that the ENTIRE Miami-Dade Community should be proud of. The article you mention, does not include the fact that she was cleared (after grand jury report) by both the IG and AG at Miami Dade Schools. Neither does it tell you her role in assisting the family of the victim in the specific case you mention.

I have nothing against Ms. Mindingall, however, I can say that I am proud that the African American community seems to be coalescing behind a new, young, bright leader in our community - Ms. Ronda Vangates!

There is no "cloud" over Ms. Vangates, neither a "blemish" on her record.

As a fan, I ask that you keep your mind open about this wonderful homegrown talent.

Geniusofdespair said...

Squeaky clean...I didn't say anyone was in this race but I'm tired of people that are 'cleared' I want someone who has never had to have been cleared.

Anonymous said...

I agree with God on this one. We can all only wish that candidates start out with sterling records. Why shouldn't that be a goal? If they have made some mistakes, let them go on to a rewarding career in the PRIVATE sector. We should have a higher standard for elected officials. We should demand more.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

6/7/2007 Daily Kos:

6/07/2007 Daily Kos:
"The following February at a Miami-Dade School Board meeting, Larry Costanzo (investigative consultant) criticized Ronda A. Vangates, then the district's director of investigations, for her handling of the case. After the meeting video surveillance cameras record Vangates angrily confronting Costanzo outside in the lobby and had to be dragged away from Costanzo. Costanzo later filed a complaint with police. Vangates temporarily gave up her duties with the investigations department while detectives investigate Costanzo's complaint. (I really wish I could find a video link to this altercation.)"

Geniusofdespair said...

I did look further in Daily Kos as a reader posted an article and I found the Grand Jury Report.

I read the Grand Jury Report. Ronda's name is not mentioned. The report does refer to an 'email' from 'District Administration' and it appears the Grand Jury was NOT happy AT ALL that this email was sent.

I would say we could at least pin VERY BAD JUDGMENT on Ronda.

(this is from the Grand Jury report):

Miami-Dade Schools Police was in the process of conducting interviews when
District administration ordered it to cease its investigation. Although the criminal
investigation was incomplete, Miami-Dade Schools Police, for some unfathomable
reason, actually acquiesced and stopped its investigation. While we were repeatedly told
that absolutely no one within the District has the authority to stop a criminal
investigation, such did not hold true in this case.
The missive that had the power to stop the ongoing active criminal investigation
was an e-mail. It had been sent to various individuals, including Principal Dwight
Bernard, and various members of the District Administration and the Miami-Dade
Schools Police. The email, addressed to Principal Bernard, reads as follows:
“As we discussed last week and earlier today, please move forward with a
concise, fair and timely Administrative Review regarding the allegations
regarding two students (lewd/battery). GIU will cease its investigation
until such time that you submit your report to Mr. Nunez and Principal
Woodard. If you should need any guidance or assistance during this time,
please feel free to call on me!”
In the e-mail, Principal Bernard was instructed to continue his “Administrative
Review” and the Miami-Dade Schools Police was directed to cease its criminal
investigation. An “Administrative Review” is usually a non-criminal administrative review of some action that has taken place involving school employees.12 If the matter
has any criminal aspects, the administrative review is conducted after the criminal
investigation is completed.
When an allegation is made, the first step under PIM is to determine whether the
allegation is criminal in nature. This determination is to be made by the Miami-Dade
Schools Police, not school or District Administration. Obviously here, the allegations
were both serious and, more importantly, criminal. In this situation, the District clearly
violated PIM by ordering an administrative review. This is particularly troubling because
PIM was (and remains) District’s policy and was implemented by a high level District
Throughout the District, at the school level as well as the Administrative level, it
is widely known that failure to report is a crime. To a person, all witnesses admitted
knowledge of this fact. How then was an e-mail sent ordering the shutdown of what was
clearly an investigation into criminal activity? Despite the denials we have heard and the
statements that the high level District administrator did not know this was a criminal
investigation, we cannot overlook the fact that everyone admitted that they knew “failure
to report” was a crime. How could this same individual, who stated unequivocally that it
was personally known that failure to report was a crime, claim that it was not known that
the police investigation was criminal? It should be noted that the Miami-Dade Schools
Police does conduct administrative investigations as an aspect of its Department’s duties.
But nevertheless, we find it unreasonable and unbelievable that it was not known this was
a criminal investigation. Let us assume for one brief moment that it was not known.
Surely the thought must have occurred. The passage of time alone should have raised this

Silver said...

Please don't encourage anyone to run against the three sitting judges you mentioned. While normally I think lots of people running (and term limits) is for the betterment of all, these judges, especially Bloom and Kelly really are some of the best we have currently on the bench.

Geniusofdespair said...

No. Not encouraging, just making observations on campaign coffers.

Anonymous said...

Rhonda Vangates used to be a "bitch" for Arthur Teele. When Teele needed some nasty deal done he would tell Rhonda Vangates to do it. Eventually she left the City of Miami and of course, facing multiple charges of public corruption, Teele shot himself in the head.

Anonymous said...

Wow! So sad that you would use such languauge about someone and be so wrong. It is clear by your comment that you have no idea who Ronda Vangates is.

Maybe you have her confused with a close female realtive of yours.

CATO said...

If I lived in the district I'd vote for D B-M, I'd really miss her and her threads if she lost.

South Florida Lawyers said...

I have to echo Silver on this one -- Bloom and Kelly are tops.

Anonymous said...

Dorothy, isn't she the one that turned-off her e-mail while she was a state rep? I e-mailed her many times on different issues and it always bounced back. Sorta like the Vile One.

Anonymous said...

Video of confontation with School Police over sex with a minor in a school bathroom.

Not a blemish?

Yeah, kind of like Noriega. Not a blemish.


The Avenging Angel said...

Ronda Vangates and Steve Gallon are birds of a feather. So check this out before you vote her onto the School Board.


Anonymous said...

Rhonda Vangates is more of the same. Ick.

Anonymous said...

When Rhonda Vangates was pushing schemes for disgraced commissioner Art Teele she would kick opponents out of rooms so others could avoid learning the truth. Truth that might have saved the city from mistakes. Teele eventually shot himself in the head.

newsa said...

The media should interview Rev. Victor Curry about why he us supporting VanGates. They should ask him how she will serve the public is she helped cover-up a rape in the school bathrooms. And then she assualted someone who asked her about it and used foul language as a high ranking school employee. Isn't this a red light on how she will make decisions when in office? Bendross Mindingall is also a friend of stinson's and will just keep the nepotism/Cronyism going on in the school system. Even NY knows about us. See this: http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/shame/school-superintendent-hiring-practices-100210

Harold Alexander Silva said...

how about the other candidates?