Friday, September 13, 2013

Miami Dade's Pollyanna and my Defense of Recalls. By Geniusofdespair

In 1913 Eleanor Porter wrote the classic Pollyanna about a little girl with an optimistic outlook. Merriam-Webster defines pollyanna as " a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything".

Former County Commissioner Katy Sorenson, in my view, is Miami Dade County's version of Pollyanna. Don't get me wrong, I love Katy and think she is a great person but I think she is wrong to be against recalls and unrealistic on finding candidates.  She keeps telling me, instead of recall: "Find a good candidate to run against them." I can find the best candidate in the world, but when up against $600,000 in their campaign account  (AND A PAC, Political Action Committee with as much if not more) and an absentee ballot machine (legal or not), my "great candidate" has no chance EVER.

No one will give money against a sitting commissioner. It is unrealistic to expect donors to raise the anger of the sitting commissioners. You can only find vendetta money (like Norman Braman's and that won't cut it, not enough).

Katy won her campaign because of the perfect storm. Larry Hawkins, the sitting commissioner she ran against, had issues...plenty of them.

Katy doesn't believe in recall.  I love recall because it gives us a real chance to oust the offending politician. It is swift and clean. Money doesn't cut it like it does in a campaign.

So, Katy, I give you credit, trying to train these neophytes to be ethical and effective. And I love you for all your good work and your positive attitude but I disagree with you. What you say can't be done. As Carlos Gimenez said to me: "Money is the mother's milk of a campaign." Without money we get more of the same.

Meanwhile my method, I want to slash and burn. All we are doing is settling for mediocrity in local and county government anyway. What is to lose by giving a bad one an extra push out the door? We would never have gotten Seijas out without a recall.  How many years did Dorrin Rolle rape the county and in the process destroy Jesca before we could get him out?  And it was only because of Ron Book and others that he is gone.  It takes a lot to swing the "money changers" of this era away from a sitting commissioner. Rolle is the only one I can remember. Even the lobbyists couldn't justify his candidacy anymore. Meanwhile, your win over Larry Hawkins in 1995 was seen as a fluke:
But for many people Sorenson's victory had far less to do with the quality of her candidacy than it did with the scandal surrounding her opponent. Hawkins had been dogged for months by allegations he had sexually harassed several of his aides. Sorenson was the only woman to challenge him, and she won by a margin of almost two-to-one.
 A failed recall is better than no recall. It taints the Commissioner.


Anonymous said...

It is time to get tough. Will someone else sponsor Bell's recall?

Marco said...

Recall is our only chance at change. Thankfully it is still an option.

Linda said...

When Jimmy Morales had public campaign financing that was easy to access, we had a chance. The Commission killed it. What chance do we have to get our candidates in office? We need public financing again. $15 was too little, maybe change it to $50.

Anonymous said...

Genius this is true and your best yet. I will add something to this the recall that started against Lynda Bell reminds me of the little boy that cried wolf we are all ready to go this idle threat and drama is seen on the court house steps then nothing. I agree totally with you a failed recall is better than calling a recall then backing down. Another point is then next time a recalled is announced "will we take this seriously" or is this another crying wolf.
Let's get serious about RECALL!

Anonymous said...

I don't believe in doing a recall to blackmail someone. But it is our only option for real change. I don't think you are picking on Katy. I like her too but she is naive sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should recall them all until they give us REAL public financing again. That is the key.

Anonymous said...

Would Ross Hancock be a viable candidate for District 8? Don't know where he resides?

Anonymous said...

bravo for calling out Katy. i like her, respect her. she is basically a good person, with smarts.

the issue is she was too dogmatic, too holier than thou, and way too close to the usual suspects at county hall who fight tooth and nail to protect the status quo.

she had a very naive view of county govt, one shaped by the genteel, comfortable surroundings of pinecrest/south gables where she lived.

she's now got a great paying gig at UM. good for her.

Anonymous said...

I must disagree. The bar needs to be set very high. Recalls should only be allowed during circumstances where extreme malfeasance has occurred. Otherwise, they simply become a mechanism where losing candidates get another bite at the apple before the term is complete. The only ones who benefit are the political constants and other parisites.

Katy Sorenson said...

What's interesting about everyone's comments is that no one wants to take responsibility and actually run for office. Much easier to complain. And so courageous to be anonymous!

Genius, as for tainting the recalled, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is doing just fine and has become a national hero of the Right. Last I checked Bruno is still in office and untainted (does anyone remember the recall?) and this week two fine Colorado elected officials were recalled and thrown out of office for daring to take on the NRA.

My beating Hawkins may have been seen as a fluke, but here are the facts: I'd wanted to run for office since 1980 and was biding my time. When I moved to Miami, I joined and then led numerous volunteer organizations. I had experience on a presidential campaign (does anyone remember Walter Mondale?) and I was a great organizer. I worked like a maniac and I had wonderful volunteers.

Grassroots and volunteers CAN beat the money with the right message.

I agree with the last "Anonymous." It's disruptive and destabilizing to our democracy, expensive for the taxpayers and keeps politicians defensive and weak. People should be thrown out of office for malfeasance, criminal behavior or not showing up. Not for voting the way you don't like.

By the way, I raise every dime for my cushy job at UM -- a program I founded to educate elected officials and those thinking about running. To register for Thinking About Running? go to

And Genius, I HATE what you've done with my hair!!

Best regards to all,

Anonymous said...

Class act. Watch the politician who is in office like a hawk, (essentially this blog) and shed light on every action. Even vast amounts of money won't overcome public distaste. Linda Bell is an extreme. The time to find the opposing candidate is now. Social media and the right message can create a mountain of momentum.

I wish my comment didn't follow after Katy Sorenson's piece. I'd like to give her the last word.

Anonymous said...

I love Sorenson! She always kept VNS on her toes!

Geniusofdespair said...

Katy--That was Halley Mills hair. I didn't like it either. Thanks for being a good sport. We agree to disagree.

Al Crespo said...

Go look at the list of volunteers included on Ms. Sorenson's Good Government organization website.

How many of those folks have been the subject of stories involving corruption, nasty politics, and ass kissing, weaselism by folks like you, me, and other bloggers?

Katy Sorenson's has managed to milk her Pollyanna view of politics into a cushy job that allows her to portray herself as a champion of reform.

The only problem is that the level of corruption in this community has become so ingrained into the culture and the politicians have been so corrupted by the process, that when she quotesholds Katherine Fernandez-Rundle up as a champion of good government and quotes her about corruption in Miami-Dade County as she did tonight on PBS, you realize that if Ms. Sorenson is not clueless to the criminal class that has taken over much of local government, then she is self-servingly devious.

She always struck me as one of those sanctimonious people who would rather sit in shit, than let that word pass her lips, and therefore she's part of the problem, and not part of the solution, no matter how many people will clamor - for their own personal gain - to come to her defense.

Al Crespo

Anonymous said...

I like Katy.. But... I have to agree with Mr. Crespo. Having Raquel Regalado and Steve Marin address your next class on Oct 4th for Good Government initiative is a stretch. Raquel,should be in jail,for losing $40000 from her dads campaign and Marin is the master puppeteer in this city. I won't even mention Braman who thinks he is the kingmaker in our elections. No honor among thieves..

Geniusofdespair said...

Al- a little harsh? I think Katy is committed to good government.

Al Crespo said...

Of course she is. Everyone's committed to good government. You're committed, I'm committed to good government. Everybody's committed, most especially the crooks and scammers who are screwing the public every day they collect a pay check from government.

And while we're all standing around the campfire singing America The Beautiful, the Barbarians are at the gate, plundering and pillaging, starting with the corrupt Miami-Dade State Attorney - The Queen of Swag - Katherine Fernandez Rundle, and going right down the list of Mayors, City Commissioners, County Commissioners, and the unethical Ethics Commission.

Yet, Katy doesn't really want to fight that fight. No, she says, hey, if you want better government then run for office and make a difference.

Well, that's all fine if this was a place that resembled a textbook version of democratic values and not a venally corrupt Banana Republic.

The corruption, at ALL levels of government is astounding, and has become ingrained into the very fabric of the culture of this community!

When the members of the Ethics Commission - as I was able to show with a BOTH avideo and photos - violates Florida's Sunshine Law in the midst of an ethics hearing on an abuse of power complaint against a Miami City Commissioner - something that NOT one single media outlet in attendance either caught as it was happening, or reported on since I revealed it, tells you that having Katy Sorenson making nice sounding generalities on PBS last Friday about fighting corruption is just absolute bullshit!!!

Here's something that I'm willing to bet Katy Sorenson will never do - debate ME about public corruption in Miami!

I promise not to use one bad word, but I do promise that I will name names, including some of the graduates of her "Good Government" program and how they've broken the law, screwed the taxpayers and generally demonstrated a lack of respect for good government!

So no, I'm not harsh at all. I'm a realist in the trenches whose spent the last 3 1/2 years digging in the garbage dump.

Al Crespo

Anonymous said...

Miami-Dade: The Banana Republic
Posted on September 14, 2013

"The degree of lawlessness with respect to public records access in Miami-Dade County was stunning. I’ve been there to conduct audits many times before, but it seems like things are getting worse. I guess it’s time for Education through Litigation…again." -

Anonymous said...

I was really surprised to read about Katy Sorensen's remark since I vividly recall asking her to run for Congress (against IRL) while she was still on the Commission, and her answer was "find me $1 million to fund the campaign and I will." I wasn't happy with that answer but I understood it. I don't understand why that answer isn't effective for other people too.

Anonymous said...

Good Government class alumni mayor Shelley Stanczyk is being investigated and sued for slanderous comments made during the 2012 Palmetto Bay election.

This year's class includes Cutler Ridge councilwoman Peggy Bell. Bell and alumni Loyzelle, have refused to have a hearing on a violation of the charter made by the city's lobbyist. The current class also includes Palmetto Bay's John DuBois, who has been said to cut mangroves on his waterfront property illegally.

Public officials appear to be using Sorenson's class to feign being ethical and pad their reelection resumes.

Marlin Ebbert said...

I took Katy's class "Thinking of Running" last fall. I ran. I lost. The class was informative and gave prospective candidates the nuts and bolts of managing a campaign.

I admire Katy Sorenson immensely. I have no idea if it was a fluke and the "perfect" climate for her when she first ran - I do not live in her district. But she was re-elected repeatedly so she must have been doing something right! She kept her nose clean and her head above the muddy waters of Miami government - apparently a tough feat.

Marlin Ebbert