Monday, June 29, 2009

Yesterday there was a coup in Honduras. Armed forces kidnapped the President, throwing the Central-American nation into a politicL crisis. In Iran, anti-government protests continued Sunday, with the opposition leader Moussavi organizing another demonstration in Tehran. This, despite the continued beating, arrest and detention of dissidents, journalists and opposition leaders and sympathizers. Late last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed sweeping climate-change legislation instuting a cap-and-trade system that will spur investment and development of alternative, renewable energy solutions while bringing American greenhouse gas emissions down over 80% by 2050. In North Korea, Kim Jong Il seemed to threaten America with a missile sent toward Hawaii over Independence Day weekend. Also last week, missing Governor Mark Sanford revealed he had not been hiking the Applachian Trail as he reported, but rather was visiting his mistress in Argentina. All this news wa overshadowed by the sudden death of music icon and international celebrity Michael Jackson, who it seemed meant something to everyone. While Jackson will rightfully be missed, I hope Americans will also be aware of the other big news stories going on right now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Governor Mark Sanford: Just Another Conservative Republican Hypocrite

It was all a mystery at first: the case of the missing Governor. What happened to the possible-Presidential-nomination-seeking, stimulus-fund-refusing, moral-values-loving Republican from South Carolina? He vanished without a trace, leaving behind his cell phone; even his wife says she doesn't know where he is. His people had a story: he was hiking the Applachian Trail. Then someone reported seeing him in the airport a few days ago. Turns out he left the country - for Argentina. And what was Governor Mark Sanford doing in Argentina? Escaping from his wife and four sons to visit his mistress.

The Headlines were blaring: "THE ARGENTINE AFFAIR: TEARS, EMAILS, SECRETS. Sanford's South American sweetheart has been a friend for eight years, though apparently things only turned romantic in the past year. His arrogance and hubris were stunning: to visit his Argentinian lover, Sanford reportedly "slipped his security detail, lied to his staff about his whereabouts and neglected to transfer executive power to the lieutenant governor in case of a state emergency." Turns out he took three previous trips to Argentina with taxpayer money in the past. His wife, Jenny, discovered the affair five months ago. They took a trial separation, and Sanford did the only thing a sensible governor should do in such a situation - mysteriously disappear.

At least his unfortunate wife is maintaining her dignity. Not so much for Sanford. His love letters have already hit the net, and the entire media is in a spectacular uproar over the dramatic political hijinks.

In his press conference today admitting the affair, Sanford resigned from his position as chair of the Republican governor's association. This wannabe poster-child for the emergent post-Bush "return to true Conservatism" crowd has given us just another Republican sex scandal by a family-values-touting, Bible-bumping hypocrite. Amazingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly, given your politics), this entire affair comes off the heels of the revelation of another sordid affair: that of Nevada Senator John Ensign, who resigned from his Senate leadership position after admitting to having an affair with the wife of one of his longest-serving staff members and family friends.

Its hard to judge whose prominent national disgrace is more revolting. But it seems to be part of a long pattern of Republicans saying one thing about family values, and then doing things like sleeping with prostitutes, soliciting gay sex in airport bathrooms, and sexually harassing House interns (see Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL)). These holier-than-thous shamefully underscore the serious crisis in leadership facing the Republican party, whose most prominent figures right now include an adulterer (Newt Gingrich), a thrice-married prescription drug addict (Rush Limbaugh). Its time for Conservatives to stop lecturing Americans about family values when they can't even keep themselves in line with what is right.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Inspiration of the Day: Nena Soltani & the Prologue to Demian

This is my story; it is the story of a man, not of an invented, or possible, or idealized, or otherwise absent figure, but of a unique human being of flesh and blood. Yet, what a real living human being is made of seems to be less understood today than at any time before, and men--each one of whom represents a unique and valuable experiment on the part of nature--are therefore shot wholesale nowadays. If we were not something more than unique human beings; if each one of us could really be done away with once and for all by a single bullet, storytelling would lose all purpose. But every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world's phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again. That is why every man's story is important, eternal, sacred; that is why every man, as long as he lives and fulfills the will of nature, is wondrous, and worthy of every consideration. In each individual the spirit has become flesh, in each man the creation suffers, within each one a redeemer is nailed to the cross . . . .
Each man's life represents a road toward himself, an attempt at such a road, the intimation of a path. No man has ever been entirely and completely himself. Yet each one strives to become that--one in an awkward, the other in a more intelligent way, each as best as he can. Each man carries the vestiges of his birth--the slime and eggshells of his primeval past--with him to the end of his days. Some never become human, remaining frog, lizard, ant. Some are human above the waist, fish below. Each represents a gamble on the part of nature in creation of the human. We all share the same origin, our mothers; all of us come in at the same door. But each of us--experiments of the depths--strives toward his own destiny. We can understand one another; but each of us is able to interpret himself to himself alone.

Is This The Best Republicans Can Do?

Haley Barbour? Seriously?

This fat old white man is actually being bandied about CNN as a possible contender for the 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination.

We all know that the Grand Old Party is dominated by cantankerous old clods - see Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh - but does any Republican strategist really foresee a Mississippi Governor taking the Oval Office from President Barack Obama? I don't want to sound too cocky, but its stories like these which make me see two terms for Obama as preordained. Sure it would be a laugh riot to watch him smother Sarah Palin, but a victory over someone like Barbour would be a cakewalk.

Go ahead, Republicans. Nominate this guy for President. I dare you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Obama's Iran Dilemma

This article was originally published on Mother Jones. Today, hundreds of thousands of Iranians engaged in a silent march through the streets of Tehran in support of opposition leader Moussavi. The Grand Ayatollah has called for a re-examination of the voting irregularities, but I believe it is just a strategic move by the regime to co-opt popular anger with the election fraud by making it seem as if a legitimate process will now take place. The regime is just buying time in the hopes that this problem will go away, that the opposition will peter out, and that they will soon use their control of the military and police to recpature their grip on power. Sadly, I believe they will probably succeed. It will take incredible sacrifice and resilience for "the greens" to wrest power from the cabal that currently controls Iran. I fear they will fail, and many will die.

Obama's Iran Dilemma

How far will the Iranian opposition go? And how should the president react to Iran's election crisis?
—By David Corn

The Iranian election fiasco—or coup—poses a challenge for President Barack Obama. How should he continue his policy of engagement with a regime that appears to have stolen an election so brazenly? The United States does routinely deal with autocrats and democracy-suppressers around the world: Egypt, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and others. Few suggest that Washington shouldn't have diplomatic relations with Beijing until China becomes a multi-party state with free elections. But should Obama withhold his support for the movement for reform and democracy in Iran? Could he do so without causing harm by tainting the opposition (Washington is not so popular in Iran)? And could he do so without killing the possibility of reaching any future accommodation with the present leaders of Tehran, who could end up staying in charge for years to come? No doubt, neocons and others who have been calling for a hardline on Iran will exploit Tehran's crackdown on democracy and make the ready-for-cable argument that the West cannot deal with the Iranian regime and there's only one course of action: get tough and tougher and tougher.

On Saturday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs released a statement: "Like the rest of the world, we were impressed by the vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians. We continue to monitor the entire situation closely, including reports of irregularities." This brief statement did not reflect the dilemma faced by Obama.

And that dilemma will be shaped by how the Iranian opposition led by Mir Hossein Mousavi responds to the crisis. With the dust still swirling, there's no telling yet what direction the opposition will take. Will it fade and Ahmadinejad consolidate power? Will it spread and force some sort of societal show-down that threatens the autocrats of Allah?

I subscribe to a listserv run by Middle East expert Gary Sick, and for the past few days analysts who know Iran well have been discussing and debating on this list what could happen in Iran. Below are two takes from participants, which I am reprinting with their permission.

Babak Rahimi is a professor of Islamic studies at the University of California, San Diego, who is now in Iran studying the elections. He reports:

As I write this, the echoes of “Allah Akbar” can be heard from the neighboring streets and houses in Tehran, where I have been conducting research on the elections since March. This is the latest innovative method by the pro-Mousavi camp to oppose the results of the election. Such innovation is rooted in the revolutionary tactics of 1979, when symbolic acts of defiance set the stage for a mass uprising that culminated in the toppling of the Pahlavi regime. Revolutionary traditions die hard.

I do not want to suggest that a certain revolution is underway in Iran, but surely a major crisis of legitimacy has taken place here which could potentially become a source of considerable tension for years to come.

With regards to the electoral map, let me challenge some myths that have been articulated by some in the media.

Ahmadinejad won the rural votes: Maybe! We basically do not have hard evidence that the rural regions gave overwhelming support to the current president. Based on my fieldwork, in Bushehr, Khuzestan and Lurestan, I have come across major tensions between provincial officials, especially the local Friday Imams, and Ahmadinejad administrative officials based in Tehran. The Friday Imam of the port-city of Asalooyeh is a case in point. During the president’s final visit to the province of Bushehr, the Imam refused to meet the president, an act of defiance which was praised by many locals.

Also, during my travels in the provinces, I conducted informal interviews in the rural regions. The level of support for Ahmadinejad was considerably lower than I expected. In fact, I heard some of the most ferocious objections to the administration in the rural regions.

This is of course not a scientific survey and does not reflect the view of the entire country. But there is something here that could challenge this common perception advanced by some analysts.

The Mousavi movement is limited to the Northern Tehran: False! True, Ahmadinejad’s populist policies have attracted many from the working class from southern Tehran, but many are also highly frustrated with the regime. During a pro-Mousavi political rally few days ago, I met and interviewed a number of southern Tehrani men who described Mousavi as the man of the "Mostazafin." I have a number of different examples that would reveal class was not (most likely) the determining factor in the election.

Unlike the 2005 elections, nationalism, in its macho-militaristic form, has become more of a central issue to Ahmadinejad supporters. To give an example, two days ago I met a wealthy Iranian, with a British passport, declare his support for the current president. Why? “Ahmadinejad has made Iran a superpower in the region,” he enthusiastically described.

Rahimi seems quasi-optimistic that anti-regime sentiment is widely spread throughout the country and that it will not easily disappear--whatever happens in the coming days.

Wayne White was a top Near East analyst at the State Department for years and is now a scholar at the Middle East Institute. His view is a clear-cut one: the opposition has to turn up the heat or give up the kitchen.

There are reports that election protests are becoming more scattered, despite some continuing clashes here and there. This would be consistent with many scenarios in which a tough-minded authoritarian regime faces a potentially problematic popular reaction, deals with it aggressively and heavy-handedly, and then public manifestations of opposition fade out. This would then be followed by a far more systematic regime effort to seek out and arrest hundreds--even thousands--of apparent ringleaders to use as examples in order to intimidate still further the opposition as power is consolidated once again....

In the face of harsh repression like this, there may only be one real option for the opposition to effect meaningful short-term change: get rough or stand down; confront a coup with a popular countercoup, or wait and hope for better days. I know it is vastly easier for me to sit back here in the States and comment that either the opposition organizes mass street action in which it is willing to inflict and take substantial casualties or it almost inevitably fails in its clearest near-term objective, but that probably is, I fear, the bottom line in this particular instance. The so-called coup itself has demonstrated just how little the emerging new order cares about matters such demonstrations and scuffles (save perhaps especially defiant ones placing many hundreds of thousands on the street, which no longer appears to be happening). That is how the 1979 revolution elbowed its way to power, sacrificing thousands of its people in bloody confrontations with the Shah's security forces.

In today's situation, however, there are complications with even this far more radical and dangerous approach. Many other Iranians would likely take to the streets in support of the security forces to defend the regime and Ahmadinejad. Additionally, it is unknown whether a substantial number among the security forces would change sides in the face of such fierce opposition--a critical aspect of the events of 1979 (or whether major elements of the army would be willing to join the fray in order to counter the Revolutionary Guard). Mousavi & Co. also do not represent the sort of galvanizing--practically messianic--presence that was Khomeini in those heady days of late 1978 and early 1979.

One could go on and on about the great difficulties involving in mounting a far more determined and almost certainly very violent challenge beyond simply the potentially dreadful sacrifice in lives. Nonetheless, we probably have reaching the point--or are fast approaching it--at which this, essentially, is, again, the bottom line (something in which Ahmadinejad and other regime hardliners doubtless take great comfort). So long as pro-reform or anti-authoritarian forces are unwilling (or effectively incapable) of pressing well beyond the boundaries of dissent--already much-compressed--set for them by those now dominating the regime, they may well be condemned to endure still more. Despite the control of several institutions, a clearer popular mandate, and a far freer press, Khatami failed to effect much lasting change, in large measure because he and his supporters dared not (or did not even wish to) wander into such dangerous territory when boldly countered by the determined and bloodyminded hardliners dominating the regime.

I do not argue that the events of the past two days are without profound impact--possibly so momentous as to set up the eventual collapse of the increasingly authoritarian structure apparently now being put in place. However, quite some time may be required to effect significant change toward that end.

On Monday morning, White emailed me an update of his analysis:

Today, in fact, we are seeing just the sort of call on the part of Mousavi which probably dooms the protests over the long-term: calling off the major protest rally in the face of possible government use of lethal force. Although, again, it is easy for me to prognosticate from the safety of my mountain fortress, a movement (and its leader) determined to wrest power from bloody-minded authoritarian forces must be willing to defy authority even in the face of potentially serious casualties. He apparently feels he must pursue the legal challenge route until exhausted, but its chances of success are extremely remote--and this ruling clique already has shown its own utter contempt for legalities in any case.

I was watching the iPod bit last night in which, what, less than a dozen police on motorcycles with nothing more than batons took on a dense crowd of a thousand or more at close quarters. Instead of largely heading for the hills, such a crowd could easily have closed in behind the police and taken them all down, not just one. The tipping point in many of these situations is when the police become either as fearful as the demonstrators, more so, or even grow thoroughly sickened by the violence they have been ordered to carry out. That crucial moment is far less likely to come if demonstrators stand down or shrink back in the face of the mere threat of violence. In fact, outrageous acts of violence committed by authorities often help mobilize a truly viable & volatile opposition (not to mention further alienating an already-wavering international community).

For one thing, I fear we have in Mousavi another Khatami: a well-meaning reformist who has been himself so much a part of the current system and unused to the tough realities of street politics that he is psychologically unable to break fully with that system--not a thoroughgoing oppositionist determined to go to the limits of defiance.

I should clarify that "wresting power" from the authorities isn't even the goal of much of the opposition at this point, let alone Mousavi. But even to push back effectively against the powers that be so as to make them blink demands more robust and boldy defiant action.

And, as we've seen in situations in the past that began as widespread, heated protests against abusive of power, not revolutions, often further, more brazen abuses of power eventually transform vigorous reform efforts into revolutionary movements.

Yet another apparent weakness in the opposition with respect to the above is leadership: I can see no evidence of any coherent street leadership that can harness the power of the opposition, perhaps even supplanting the more timid Mousavi if necessary to defend the demonstrators and take the bolder measures noted above.

Obama's problem may be that he has to deal with half an opposition in Iran--that is, one that captures global attention but isn't as serious or as competent as movements elsewhere that toppled tyrannical regimes. (Think of the Ukrainian opposition.) In other words, Mousavi is not a good horse to bet on--even if he has the moral high ground. The tricky part for Obama will be figuring out how to use this election--however it ultimately plays out--to his advantage. To do so, his aides ought to be consulting with many of the experts on and off Sick's list, even though there is hardly a consensus among them regarding what will happen in Iran.

David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on twitter.

Heartbreak in Iran

12:30 AM ET -- "We were all together, shouting and chanting... Our hearts were broken." A poetic and heartbreaking email passed along by a reader who wished to remain anonymous:

My dear friend,

I can't say that I wish you were here.... actually I am happy that you are not here to feel our disillusionment and frustration....

After all these efforts, all these street rallies, what happened was that the Islamic Republic of Iran did not count us as human! ..... This is excruciating... especially for us, the youth who did not see the revolution and who have never experienced a crisis like this before... The generation before us can absorb this tragedy much better than we can ...

Yesterday, I was choking on a lump in my throat... I thought I could no longer breath.... We gathered in Vanak circle.... Total strangers were unified... It was an incredible movement.... We were all together, shouting and chanting... Our hearts were broken....

I am not exaggerating...

We were chanting "this is not our vote" "this is not our vote"... tears were coming down my face, other people were much stronger than I was...

We went from Vanak circle to main street "valiaasr".... It was a long way and pedestrians were joining us along the way.... The crowd was growing every second...... Suddenly the revolutionary guard, I am sure you've seen them before, menacing soldiers with black faces and batons, attacked us from behind... In a moment the screaming crowd scattered.... I was terrified.... X was with me but I lost him..... The crowd was shoving me towards the side walk... A hand grabbed me from behind..... It was X.... I felt relieved, nothing was important anymore, we were together... we stood in a corner... people were terrified... then the people attacked the police, they beat them and put their motorcycles on fire... I couldn't believe what I was seeing... I felt I was in Beirut...Everything was very strange...

I was lost in the moment...

Last night my dreams were very disturbing...

I dreamt that I was surrounded by little children, I was playing with them to distract them from what was going on outside.... I burst in to tears... My heart burned for these children because I can not see a future for them...

I burst in to tears...All the children turned and looked at me and I covered my face with my scarf.... I was choking on my sobs......

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Goodbye Orlando - lakers got this

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Violence in Iran, Protests in the Streets

Is anyone surprised that this election was stolen?
The Iranian dictatorship makes a mockery of democracy. I pray the reformers and the young people will prevail, but I am pessimistic.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I am testing out the new feature that allows me to post on my blog from my phone. In court right now doing pretrial conferences. Looking forward to game 4 tonight. Already thinking about what to do this weekend - want to see the hangover. Or up. This is like a long twitter post almost...

Friday, June 05, 2009

RECOUNT UPDATE: 70 Questionable Ballots Could Tip Election In Our Favor!

More news today about my mom's recount, which will take place on Tuesday. Here's how the Recount will work: 5 people will be in a glass enclosed room. The three canvassing board officials and a representative from each campaign will also be present. Everybody else watches from outside and can not make any comments, only watch.

North Miami uses optical scan ballots similar to those used in the Franken/Coleman race in Minnesota. Voters bubble in a circle next to the name of the candidate of their choice. On Election Day, the ballots were fed into a machine which scans them and tallies the votes.

On Tuesday, the officials will feed the ballots through the machine again. All ballots will be recounted. There is no difference between early, absentee , or day of votes. Unfortunately, we will not see the affidavits attached to the "assisted" ballots.

Here is where the plot thickens...

The machine originally spit out 70 ballots as under voted or overvoted. There was one of these that the person voted for both my mom and Blynn.

70 ballots had no vote according to the machine. They were not counted. These ballots will be examined to see if there is clearly a vote.

For example, if a ballot has a bubble for Frank Wolland (one of the two mayoral candidates), and a check for Blynn (our opponent), it would be rejected, because the person knows how to bubble. However, if the voter put a check for mayor and councilperson, or circled, or x'd, the canvassing board would vote if this was a vote for council. Two out of three of the canvassing board officials must vote yes for anyone to get the vote.

So there are potentially 69 more votes. We could still win!

The Miami Herald had an article about the recount in today's paper. Check it out.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Recount Drama After Narrow Defeat

This Tuesday, my mom narrowly lost her bid for a seat on the North Miami City Council, losing by 14 votes. Michael Blynn, the 10-year-incumbent, won 640-626. Based on testimony of people working the polls that day, we have reason to believe there may be some discrepancies and hanky-panky that went on with this election. Today, the North Miami Canvassing Board granted my mother's request for a manual recount of the election. Councilman Scott Galvin, who sat on the board that granted this request, sent this email to his constituents today. It does a nice job of laying out the legal issues going forward.

Election Recount Scheduled
District 2 Council Seat Decided by Only 14 Votes
Dear Friends,

I am writing to let you know that a recount of all ballots in the North Miami City Council District 2 seat will be held. When the election for that seat was held on Tuesday, Michael Blynn defeated Bonnie Schwartzbaum by a mere 14 votes. Florida Statute, an automatic recount of ballots is called for when the difference between candidates is less than 1/2 of 1% of the votes cast. This election, however, does not meet that threshhold. Blynn's victory of 14 votes equals 1.1% of the total.

However, a special provision of the North Miami City Charter allows that, "In its discretion, the city councilmembers serving as the canvassing board may order a recount of the returns of any election prior to the final certification of the results."

Earlier today, Mrs. Schwartzbaum requested a recount under that provision. As the sole City Council member sitting on the 2009 run-off canvassing board, there was no question in my mind that we honor her request. It is of the greatest importance that there be no question that the certified winner, whomever that may be, is valid. The District 2 winner will not be allowed to have a cloud of question hanging over his or her head.

After many conversations between me, the City Attorney's Office, the County Elections Department, and the County Attorney, here are the details of the recount, which will be conducted by the Miami-Dade Elections Department:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009
1:00 pm

Dade Elections Headquarters
2700 NW 87 Avenue
Doral, Florida

The entire recount process is open to the public. Later that day, the winners of the Mayoral and Council contests will be inaugurated at City Hall, 776 NE 125 Street, at 7:00 pm.
Full Text of Mrs. Schwartzbaum's Request for Recount
To North Miami Canvassing Board
June 4, 2009

Respectfully, pursuant to section 6-97(c) of the North Miami City Code, I respectfully invoke the right of a candidate, for good cause to be shown herein, that the canvassing board - prior to its final certification of results - order a manual recount in whole of the election. Further, as proof of good cause, I am prepared to present the actual testimony/sworn affidavit(s) of Marie Samuel, Claudio Sanchez, and Steven Schwartzbaum.

Pursuant to the ability of the canvassing board to order such a recount, despite the final vote count not falling within either ¼ or ½ a percentage point, I request that particular attention be devoted to a review of the absentee ballot certifications/signatures. Based upon information and belief of possible discrepancies.

Further, I respectfully submit a copy of my formal election protest, filed on June 3, with the Supervisor of Elections, for further consideration in having the Canvassing Board order a manual recount of the results in my race.

A mechanism and sufficient time exists for such a manual recount, and such as already been accounted for through the scheduling, on June 10, at 10am, for such a manual recount to commence prior to any official certification.

Full Text of North Miami City Attorney's Request to Lester Sola, Dade Elections Director
Mr. Sola:

Pursuant to your request, and because time is of the essence, I will offer you my opinion in the form of a response to this email.

Section 102.141(7), F.S., provides, in pertinent part, the following:

"If the unofficial returns reflect that a candidate for any office was defeated or eliminated by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast for such office,...the board responsible for certifying the results of the vote on such race or measure shall order a recount of the votes cast with respect to such office or measure." (Emphasis added).

I would agree with you, that in cases where the a results of the unofficial returns reflect one-half of a percent or less, the City of North Miami ("City") is compelled by virtue of the state law to conduct a recount. Under such occurrences, the City would indeed be preempted from acting independently by deciding to deny a recount.

The City, knowing its place, mirrors state law by pronouncing the same requirements. Section 6-97(b) of the City Code, provides in pertinent part, the following:

(b) If the returns for any office reflect that a candidate was defeated or eliminated by one-half ( ½) of a percent or less of the votes cast for such office, ......the canvassing board shall order a recount of the votes cast with respect to such office or issue." (Emphasis added).

However, that is neither the case nor the issue before us. The issue here is whether the City may, at its discretion, request a recount in cases where a candidate was defeated or eliminated by an amount in excess of ½ of a percent of the votes cast for such office. While the statute compels the City to conduct a recount for numbers equating to ½ of a percent or less of the votes cast, the statute does not prohibit or disallow the City to otherwise conduct a recount, when the limiting threshold of ½ of one percent is exceeded.

The City's discretion to authorize a recount originates under Section 6-97(a) of the City Code, which states:

"In its discretion, the city council members serving as the canvassing board may order a recount of the returns of any election prior to the final certification of the results."

Furthermore, Section 6-97(c) of the City Code, provides:

"Upon request of any candidate for good cause shown, the canvassing board may prior to the final certification of results, order a recount in whole of the election in which that candidate participated."

Had the state intended to preempt such discretion on the part of a municipality, the state would have clearly stated so. In reference to the case you provided, it differs from our current situation, i.e., a request to conduct a recount at the expense of the City. Rather than a recount as allowed by municipal code Browning v. Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections, concerns amendments to the Sarasota County Charter that conflict with the Florida Election Code. The amendments include voter verified paper ballots, mandatory audits and certification of election results.

Unlike Browning, the pertinent City Codes are not in conflict with the Florida law. In addition, the court in the Browning case, certified the question of preemption to the Florida Supreme Court, as an issue of first impression adding doubt to its conclusion. The Supreme Court's decision on this matter appears to be pending.

I trust that this response is sufficient to address your concern.

Thank you.
Roland Galdos
Deputy City Attorney
City ofNorth Miami

North Miami Code

Sec. 6-97. Recounts.
(a) In its discretion, the city councilmembers serving as the canvassing board may order a recount of the returns of any election prior to the final certification of the results.
(b) If the returns for any office reflect that a candidate was defeated or eliminated by one-half ( 1/2) of a percent or less of the votes cast for such office, that a council member subject to recall was retained or not retained by one-half ( 1/2) of a percent or less of the votes cast on the question of recall, or that an issue appearing on the ballot was approved or rejected by one-half ( 1/2) of a percent or less of the votes cast on such measure, the canvassing board shall order a recount of the votes cast with respect to such office or issue. A recount need not be ordered with respect to the returns for any office, if the candidate or candidates defeated, recalled or eliminated form [from] contention for such office by one-half ( 1/2) of a percent or less of the votes cast for such office request in writing that a recount not be made. The canvassing board shall examine the counters on the machines or the tabulation of the ballots cast in each district in which the office or issue appearing on the ballot and determine whether the returns correctly reflect the votes cast. If there is a discrepancy between the returns and the counters of the machines or the tabulation of the ballots cast, the counters of such machines or the tabulation of the ballots cast shall be presumed correct and such votes shall be canvassed accordingly.
(c) Upon request of any candidate for good cause shown, the canvassing board may prior to the final certification of results, order a recount in whole of the election in which that candidate participated. Upon request of any elector for good cause shown, the canvassing board may, prior to final certification of results, order a recount of any issue election.
(Code 1958, § 8-71; Ord. No. 1076, § 2, 1-23-01)

Sec. 6-98. Protest.
A candidate or any elector qualified to vote in the election related to such candidacy may file a protest of the election returns pursuant to F.S. § 102.166 in the form prescribed in F.S. § 102.167. The canvassing board shall consider the protest as provided in F.S. § 102.166(1) if filed with the board.
(Code 1958, § 8-72)

Sec. 6-99. Contest.
(a) An unsuccessful candidate may contest the results of the election in which he or she participated as provided in F.S. § 102.168.
(b) A taxpayer of the city may contest the results of any question or issue submitted to a vote of the electors as provided in F.S. § 102.168.
(c) If the unsuccessful candidate filing a contest is determined to be entitled to the office, and some other individual has been issued a certificate of election or entered upon the duties of the office, a judgment of ouster may be entered by the circuit court and the contestant shall assume that office.
(d) If a judgment is entered setting aside an issue election, the election shall be regarded as having been void.
(Code 1958, § 8-73)
Secs. 6-100--6-110. Reserved.

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