Thursday, December 07, 2006

Miami Dade Commisioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz wins his Third "Poopy Head" Hat!

Somehow it escaped MVB that Miami-Dade county commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz introduced two ordinances that basically make it more difficult for citizens to petition their government. The first one is the "anti-lying" ordinance (passed by a 11-2 vote) which makes it a criminal offense for petitioners to intentionally lie to induce voters to sign a petition. On the surface, it seems like a good idea. Digging a little deeper reveals a major flaw: how can you prove the "lying" is intentional. Maybe the petitioner is just ill-informed. Or didn't express him or herself correctly. What really matters is how the petition is worded. MVB believes it puts another undue burden on those who want to petition their government. Besides, there are already state laws giving prosecutors legal means to fight petition fraud.

The other ordinance (passed 12-1) requires a separate piece of paper for every signature and allows people to remove their names after15-days. MVB believes this puts an undue financial and bureaucratic burden upon the petitioning group and, although it may not seem unconstitutional in this third world government, it reeks of unconstitutionality outside it.

Tuesday, commissioner Diaz twisted the knife in a little deeper when he introduced another bill that would allow only registered voters to circulate petitions and collect signatures as well as requiring petitions be translated into Spanish and Creole. Basically, instead of having a choice to hire professional companies to run your petition campaign that reside outside the county, petitioners would be forced to shop from an artificially reduced pool of limited resources that could lead to rising costs for the petitioners, costs that might make your right to petition cost prohibitive and limit your effectiveness. Translating petitions into three languages that require one summary page per signature escalates the cost of everyone's right to petition their government and seems unnecessary and unfair. It also begs the question, where will it stop? There is a large Russian speaking population in northeast Dade. Shouldn't there be a Russian language translation? What about our large Portuguese speaking population? Shouldn't they be included too? It looks like Diaz-- and the commissioners that voted in favor of these ideas-- is hiding behind the appearance of doing the right thing for the people at their expense, i.e., he's smiling perversely when telling you it's for your own good while usurping your rights with a freedom flushing enema. For that, we happily bestow his third "Poopy Head" hat. He now has risen to the "Top o' the Heap" with commissioner Seijas and has been given a new nickname: Jose "Poopy" Diaz.

Because they backed these ideas, the rest of the Miami-Dade county commission also earns another "Poopy Head" hat. The only one "Poopy Head" hat free is Commissioner Katy Sorenson who has managed to refrain from stealing citizen rights by voting against these cockamamied ideas every time they come up. For that, MVB has something special planned because we believe in recognizing the positive as well as the negative when it comes to local politics. Stay tuned.


mkh said...

Hmm, I think you are a little shakier ground with this one, Vert. The three language thing is actually an extension of the county rule that all official notices must be provided in English, Spanish, and Creole. It looks as though they are saying that a petition toward the county government should follow the same policy.

And perhaps the ordinance is poorly worded, but I personally vouch for the need for the anti-lying part. In 2002 (I think) I worked the polls for SAVEDade in a primarily Spanish-speaking (and conservative) district. Anita Bryant's spiritual successors were gathering signatures from voters in the hope of removing the civil rights of the gay community. INstead of simply saying that, they told anyone they could grab that the petition was intended to give additional funding to the Boy Scouts. Strangely, they always gave an English petition to the Spanish voters, and vice versa. If we had been able to call a cop and threaten the collecting grunts with a criminal offense for lying about the nature of the petition there would have been a little less confusion that day. (At least their petition still went down in flames that time.)

The one page/one signature aspect, however, is unquestionably lame.

Verticus said...

MKH, you're right about that-- it was a stretch for us to find fault with the "anti-lying" ordinance but it is as equally a stretch to believe it can be inforced without someone watching every petitioner. Of course, if we had more public officials like commissioner Javier "I'm Watching" Souto, it might conceivably be achievable-- but at considerable public expense. Anyway, who needs to encourage "Big Brother" to find another way to watch us? To us the ordinance at its core is designed for only one reason: to make it more difficult to influence the status quo. As for requiring three languages, call us dinosaurs, but we believe English should be enough. My father was an immigrant and they didn't cut him any slack back in the early fifties when he chose to become a citizen. Before he became a citizen he basically had no rights here. Now everybody no matter who they are or where they come from probably has more rights as a man or woman in the U.S. than the country they came from-- not, as Castanza and Seinfeld would say, there is anything wrong with that.

frank abignale, jr. said...

Concentrated, almost muscular, but stays bright, with lots of almond, anise, peach and mineral flavors that pump through the purely fecal finish. A fine poop . . .

Verticus said...

Frank, tell me you're not an oenophile that savors the darker, thicker varieties because you're way too good at describing it :). Still, your comments add class to this rag and we appreciate it.

Dante said...

Narrow minds!

When one or more individuals lie in a petition or any other official affair they should be punished, as simple as that, I am sure there are plenty ordinances/laws in that regard.

Why to make it harder for the honest majority that wants and need effective and easy ways to process official affairs that are already difficult enough so most of people don’t even bother any more?

Don’t you think we have too many regulations and bureaucracy enough in our governmental institutions?

A good deal would be to revise all the public processes, petitions, permits, and complaints and make it the easiest possible for all of us; that would be a change!

Anonymous said...

Pepe Diaz is a Crook, First in Sweetwater, now Miami-D. Co. (Miami-Dade (3rd World) County)

Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]
Date: 2009-04-26, 4:06PM EDT

Why does PP Diaz's name keep coming up in these things. Last time it was with his friends the DeCespedes crooks. He is at every freebee function like the one featured in this story. Chauffered at our expense, even though he gets $800/mo for his escalade. No one has even mentioned who (we taxpayers) pays for the black luxury sedans that are used. What a pig. Check it out:

When you're a Miami-Dade commissioner, danger lurks at every ribbon-cutting.

Just ask Jose ''Pepe'' Diaz. His job is so perilous that he often leaves his county-leased Cadillac Escalade parked at home and, instead, has a gun-toting sergeant-at-arms deliver him to official functions.

This happened at least 144 times in 2007 and 2008, at a hefty price to taxpayers.

Diaz doesn't like the term ''chauffeur.'' ''They are there for our protection,'' he said last week.

The sergeants-at-arms are sworn police officers who have been traditionally used to keep order at commission meetings. However, since 2006 the county has paid the officers at least $630,000 in overtime, most of it for driving certain commissioners around in ``dignitary vehicles.''

Sometimes they even escort commissioners on trips out of town. That might sound outrageous to taxpayers unaware of the hidden risks facing local politicians who dare to show their faces in public.

In a memo last week to Commission Chairman Dennis Moss, Diaz maintained that the sergeants-at-arms ''ensure the safety of commissioners'' when they attend ``ceremonies, awards, presentations, political events, galas, etc. . .''

One example of such a combustible situation was the grand reopening of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach last November. Accompanied by Officer Paul Hernandez, Diaz courageously attended the celebrations, which were crawling with glamorous celebrities and other suspicious characters.

On the first night, Heidi Klum was slinking around with two dozen sullen supermodels from Victoria's Secret. Kate Hudson and Gwyneth Paltrow hovered menacingly in the shadows.

Paris Hilton showed up late with her motley entourage, as did the brazen Mariah Carey. Meanwhile, unpredictable Martha Stewart was spotted on a spiral stairway, her intentions unknown.

Despite these eminent threats, Pepe Diaz refused to be intimidated or run off. He'd gone to the Fontainebleau to represent the good citizens of Miami-Dade and, by God, that's what he intended to do.

Late on opening night, long after other elected officials had Breathalyzed themselves and gone home, Diaz fearlessly held his ground. According to the logs, the commissioner's driver didn't clock out until 3 a.m.

In fact, the records show that Officer Hernandez arose early the next morning, a Saturday, and put in another 5.5 hours squiring Diaz here and there. On Sunday the sergeant-at-arms was again stoically behind the wheel, this time for 12 hours.

If Hernandez got paid the usual police overtime rate, he collected more than $1,500 for his eventful Weekend with Pepe.

And there's no question that the officer did a superb job of protecting the commissioner from potential assailants. During all those Fontainebleau festivities, Diaz wasn't kidnapped, accosted or snubbed by a cocktail waiter.

It's quite possible that nobody even recognized him, but remember: All it takes is one disgruntled voter, armed with a toothpick from a cheese puff.

Still, some believe Diaz and other commissioners have a grossly inflated view of their own importance if they think they deserve personal drivers -- especially since the county already gives each of them $800 a month for auto expenses.

Some commissioners, like Moss, drive themselves to public functions. But Diaz, Bruno Barreiro, Audrey Edmonson, Barbara Jordan and others frequently get chauffeured by a sergeant-at arms.

One who has driven Barreiro, Rene Cortinas Lopez, made so much overtime last year that his pay jumped from $79,410 to $141,107. Another officer, Jorge Brito, earned $136,353.

No one seems to know how often the commissioners are using drivers this year because, according to the lead sergeant-at-arms, ``There are no records being kept.''

However, Moss has cut back the number of officers working at the commission, and he promises to resume keeping logs of who's getting chauffeurred and how much it's costing.

The chairman said the new system should reduce the overtime charges substantially. Last month he made a rule banning any of the 13 commissioners from using law-enforcement officers as ``personal chauffeurs.''

No wonder Diaz wants to call them something else. The man needs an armed driver because he's got ribbon-cuttings to attend, and you know what that means: Some fool running around with giant cardboard scissors.

But Pepe will be there anyway, because that's how he rolls.

Danger is his middle name, even when he's riding in the back seat.