Letters for February 20, 2003 | Letters | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Letters for February 20, 2003

An old opponent piles on: This is in response to Bob Norman's February 13 article, "Burn, Oliphant, Burn." There are some things in this article that I believe need to be straightened out.

Everything done by Commissioner Lori Parrish, including the Swerdlow deal (which I am personally not happy about), we know about. When State Sen. Skip Campbell offers a bill or an idea (for the record, I thought the plan to identify the fathers of children put up for adoption was terrible), we know about it. But we are only now finding out what Oliphant did with money and ballots. And we are only now finding out because of the September 2002 election fiasco.

Here are a few facts that were omitted from the article: Oliphant hired a woman to whom she rented her house. In a short amount of time, this woman was given almost a 40 percent raise. Let's not forget the purchasing agent who hired her children to do work. Of course, who could forget about Oliphant's sister, who was on television news? Also, according to newspaper reports, Oliphant has hired her sister's live-in boyfriend. How many reprimands has this man gotten so far? Why would he still be working in this office when Bob Cantrell, who had a great evaluation, and Joe Cotter, the hero of the November general election, are gone?

It's good to know that nepotism, cronyism, and patronage are alive and well in the office of the supervisor of elections. I wish every taxpayer in Broward County would read the 50-page audit report. For the record, it was I, in November 2002, who filed the ethics complaint against Oliphant. I am also the person who, in November 2002, contacted the criminal investigation department of the IRS concerning the audit.

The article talks about contracting to minority companies. That is fine, except, please read the audit report. Look at the number of companies that Oliphant paid for not finishing jobs. Look at the goods that she could have gotten at a better price.

The article also talks about trying to wrangle money from firms for voter outreach programs. How about getting the best product for the best price? The article talks about bringing more black voters to the polls. How about an outreach program that goes after all potential voters, regardless of race, religion, party (or nonparty) affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, or handicap?

I know Parrish only as an acquaintance. I have found her to be sensitive and intelligent. I know nothing of her support for Bill Griffin, a Republican, but I would hope Parrish would vote for the best candidate.

I have never met Sen. Campbell, but I personally believe that he is of the highest ethical standards. Yes, he said some foolish things, and he admitted to them. I believe that he is his own man and that he is honest, honorable, decent, and highly principled, and I personally hope that one day, Sen. Campbell will be Gov. Campbell.

When I ran against Oliphant for the School Board in 1992, I believed she was someone who not only lacked intelligence but was also devoid of common sense. Perhaps she believes that this office is her private fiefdom, to do with as she pleases, and maybe we should all begin to refer to her as Princess Oliphant.

The taxpayers and voters be damned -- Oliphant is in, and she's not leaving. I hope that either Commissioner Parrish or Sen. Campbell decide to run for supervisor of elections in 2004.

Andrew Greene

Oakland Park

An FOB (friend of Bob's) defends: I do enjoy Bob Norman's slant on Broward County news, particularly his view of the hypocrisy and the subtle style of smile-in-your-face racism that's more irritating to black folks with enough sense to know than stale greens. Keep up the good work.

Wayne Alexander

Fort Lauderdale

An FOM rues the day he voted: I had the same reaction to Susan Eastman's February 6 story on Ms. Oliphant ("Miriam for President") that I did when I read the Rev. Dozell Varner's opinion piece in the Sun-Sentinel. You are all ignoring the fact that she was voted in by the same people (myself included) who now want her out. Were we prejudiced when we voted for her? I don't think so. We just feel she is doing a substandard job and is making it difficult for us to exercise our voting rights as citizens.

Jon Freeman

Deerfield Beach

Male sex organ: Rebekah Gleaves never verified the cause of half of Daniel Dickey's suspensions ("Ghetto Preppy," January 30); that's three offenses. Doesn't it disturb her to think she might be defending someone who uttered racial slurs, slapped a girl, menacingly cursed at a teacher, etc.? Even assuming the regulations are petty, what does it say of a child who knowingly and repeatedly violates rules he happens not to like, even to his own detriment? One with such little self-control at 16 years of age is behaving just the way juvenile criminals behave: disregarding rules, disrespecting authority, blaming others for the problems that ensue, and taking comfort from liberal apologists.

D. Murtaugh

Deerfield Beach

Only his banker knows for sure: I had the distinct displeasure to have tended to Kingsley Barham's business needs while a bank officer in San Francisco ("Card Shark," Chuck Strouse, January 23). If I were a potential investor (or even a potential acquaintance), I'd pretend he had a restraining order against me -- I'd make sure I never got closer than 50 yards from him. And if he treats his current checking account like he treated his in the 1990s, I'd never accept his check (just ask some of his payees who were knowingly left in the lurch). Do yourself a favor: Don't even think of this guy ever again.

John Schaff

via the Internet

Felon disenfranchisement is a crime: I think Wyatt Olson's December 26 article, "Barred for Life," was outstanding. By preamble: My wife and I are city of Miami retirees, and I am also a retired captain of the U.S. Naval Reserve with more than 35 years of service. We have two sons, ages 35 and 40. Our older son is an attorney here in Miami.

I write to you, however, regarding our younger son. He went "astray" in his latter teenage years, and when he was 20, he was arrested for drug trafficking, having been caught with 0.87 grams of cocaine. He was charged with and convicted of trafficking and conspiracy to traffic. Although he (we) retained a private attorney who came highly recommended by an attorney friend of mine, his legal representation was abysmal, and the judge, as I recall, initially sentenced my son to three years.

It was by pure happenstance that, while sitting in the courtroom, I was reading the Florida Statutes relevant to my son's case and came across a section referring to the youthful offenders. I somewhat maniacally acquired my son's attorney's attention and then brought his attention to the section. He then invited the judge's attention. A few days later, my son went to the "youthful offender" camp in Sumpter. Though he was sentenced to six months, he was released early for good behavior.

During this time, he was also a drilling reservist in the U.S. Naval Reserve. As luck would have it, he missed only two drill weekends and was allowed to make them up. Of course, the naval authorities were not aware of the reason for his absence. This was in 1988. He was still completing his obligated service when Hurricane Andrew hit Miami, and, as a hospital corpsman, he volunteered to help with the post-Andrew recovery efforts. He was awarded the U.S. Navy Achievement Medal for his participation.

He also began working on his associate of arts degree at Miami-Dade Community College, receiving it in 1994, and was subsequently accepted to the University of Florida's College of Business Administration. He received his BS/BA degree in 1994. My son soon became aware of the difficulties in securing employment in Florida given his declared felony conviction (further compounded by his voting disenfranchisement).

We conferred with another attorney friend of ours, and he advised us of many of the same things that Olson brought out in his story. Our son decided to go to Massachusetts and worked for three companies for short periods of time. In all three instances, he was eventually let go -- with the verbal aside that it was the felony conviction that precipitated the discharges.

Finally, on his fourth attempt, about two years ago, he secured a position with his current employer and is doing well. Additionally, he has registered to vote in Massachusetts and has recently passed the Massachusetts contractor's license exam.

What a shame for Florida that the state lost my son to Massachusetts. I want to thank Wyatt Olson for his story and New Times for carrying it. This disenfranchisement is a social travesty. And, finally, I suspect Olson is absolutely correct when he writes, "Gov. Bush, who with a word could clear the path..." If only Illinois Gov. George Ryan could be Florida's governor for a day.

Jon B. Lindeman


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