In order to debug some very odd behavior under the hood, I’ll be doing odd things to the site theme in the next day or two. While it may temporarily change the looks, it shouldn’t change the content.
It is with gratitude and affection for the University that I share with you my decision to step down at the end of the 2014-2015 university year. A long time ago a friend advised me to always leave a job when you still love it. That is certainly the case here.
Despite her reaction to the strike, on balance President Shalala has been an excellent leader for the University of Miami. She will be a very tough act to follow.
In most folks’ opinion, including mine, my brother Dan’s most successful media work was when he blogged about the White House at White House Watch from 2004-2009. Now Dan’s back with an expanded brief at The Intercept.
See the inaugural post, Froomkin Blogs Again: Obama Makes Bushism the New Normal. Lots of good stuff about how Obama doubling down on Bush-era policies that destroy privacy, and sweeping torture under the carpet, will make it harder than ever to eradicate either. Plus, there’s a summary of Dan’s new orientation (which, happily, intersects with some of my scholarly interests):
Even in a flawed press climate, a pretty compelling picture emerges when you connect the dots. I’ll be doing that relentlessly, and with a particular focus on the areas that concern me the most. Among them: National security issues and whistleblowing; the collapse of oversight; media failure; political exploitation of fear; torture; the corrupting influence of money; and the moral bankruptcy of the major political parties.
I’ll be doing original reporting — from the Snowden archive, and elsewhere. I’ll be asking lots of questions. And I intend to serve as a megaphone for sometimes insufficiently heard people who have great ideas — and who have a track record of being proven correct over time, rather than, say, consistently wrong. (Nominees welcome!)
And I’ll be depending on readers to do it all. There’s so much more to keep track of than there was even five years ago — heck, keeping abreast of Twitter lately has been nearly a full-time job — so I’ll need help finding the newest, the most intriguing, the best and the worst. There will be new ways for informed readers to make important contributions to the discussion.
Most significantly, this is a work in progress. The principal goal that seems to be emerging at First Look Media — the umbrella organization financed by Pierre Omidyar that publishes The Intercept — is experimentation in the pursuit of accountability.
It’s great to see Dan back in this harness. Just one cavil: the title of his first post is “Froomkin Blogs Again”? What have I been doing here for the last decade plus?
I think I’ve pretty much got https working on this blog. At present it will serve up both unencrypted or encrypted versions depending what you ask for. The encrypted version is, at least on my computers, noticeably slower to turn up.
So the question is, What do I do now? Should I turn of http and forward all traffic to https? If I do so, should I remove the remaining insecure items, which I take to be the counters and the little map that shows where visitors come from? Is there a free counter somewhere that is https compliant? If I don’t force https, what’s the point of having the encrypted version there if almost no one other than the people running EFF’s great https-everywhere plugin will ever see it?
I’ve purchased a certificate for the blog so it can run on SSL/TLS, ie have an https address.
Little did I know how much grief this would cause. However, I only locked myself out of the blog once, and with the help of of a WordPress https plugin I am gradually reducing the number of mixed-content errors.
Security really shouldn’t be this hard …
Blog migrated to a new server. Many things still flaky.
Along the way I learned that I had 2.2 GB — yes gigabytes — of useless accumulated metadata for comments, caused by getting
1.5 million 2.1 million or so sp*m comments over the last decade. I removed those with the WordPress WP Clean Up plugin which worked like a champ.
Before I got to that point, however, I had to back up my databases, and because of all the cruft they were too large to back up on the old host. Eventually I figured out how to let PHP run for half an hour and I got there.
The transfer to the new service (Dreampress instead of a VPS at Dreamhost) was supposed to be automatic, but it wasn’t. Files didn’t get copied over, permissions were wrong, and doubtless more stuff I don’t know about yet.
Anyway, lots of cleanup and checking left to do.
Gonna do radical stuff under the hood of the blog. Expect flaky behavior until I sound the all clear.
Best case: all goes smoothly tomorrow and blog stops crashing.
Worst case: on Monday I’m back where I started.
Lots of ink gets spilled on the Governor’s race. But the ballot we face in the election on Aug. 26 is complex, and has a lot of important races on it. This post covers the downballot – the judicial elections. I also have a separate post on the primaries and non-political races for the executive branch but if you’re reading this you probably made up your own mind on most of those races. These are more obscure to most voters.
There are eight judicial elections on the August 24, 2010 ballot in Miami-Dade (see your sample ballot here). Unlike most law professors I know, I support the idea of judicial elections at the state level as a reasonable democratic check on what I believe should be the expansive power of judges to interpret the state and federal constitutions. Although as you’ll see below, that opinion is being very sorely tested by one the contests in this election.
As I’ve said before, if it were up to me, I’d have the executive branch pick judges with legislative confirmation, followed by a California-style retention election every few years in which there would be an up or down vote on the incumbent. If the vote was down, the executive would pick a new judge. It seems to me that the right question is “has this judge done a good (enough) job” — something voters might be able to figure out — rather than asking voters to try to guess from electoral statements which of two or more candidates might be the best judge.
Florida’s system, however, pits one or more challengers against the incumbent or else, lacking opposition, the incumbent wins reelection automatically (as happened with many of the judges whose terms expired this year). There are also open seats when the incumbent retires. My personal view is that I will vote for an incumbent judge unless there’s reason to believe they’re doing a bad job. Fortunately, that only happens occasionally – and isn’t an issue this year.
After supporting incumbents, my other rule of thumb in sizing up candidates before even getting to the details of biography and practice experience is that in all but the rarest cases of other important life experience we ought to require at least ten years of legal experience from our lawyers before even considering them as judges. Fifteen years is better. I will very rarely support a judicial candidate fewer than ten years out of law school. It just isn’t enough to get the experience and practical wisdom it takes to be a judge.
Circuit Judge, Group 16
Thomas Cobitz v. Stephen Millan. Open seat. Two candidates with a lot of legal experience. They both sound pretty good. The Herald endorsed Millan (more than 20 years experience) but so too did the Christian Family Coalition. To be honest I don’t know that much about either of them and thus don’t feel confident about this one. Cobitz (UM JD ’89) served years as an administrative traffic hearing officer, was also vice chair of the Dade County Bar Association Criminal Courts Committee, and is a member of the City of Miami Civilian Investigative Panel, which gives him more community chops than Millan. AFAIK, SAVE Dade didn’t endorse in this race. An attorney poll found that slightly more lawyers rated Cobitz Exceptionally Qualified or Qualified than Millan (23/57 to 18/59).
Circuit Judge, Group 26
Judge Rodney Smith is not only the incumbent but by almost all accounts a very good judge. Accept no substitutes. Almost everyone, the Herald, SAVE Dade, Christian Family Coalition included endorses Smith. Even Rumpole likes him. The one negative is the murmuring that he’s too friendly to insurance companies, being a former employee of Untied Auto (a big supporter – expending $227,000 – in independent expenditures in support of his campaign). Indeed, that insurance tie – to a not-very-claims-friendly company – seems to be the main reason some people support challenger Christian Carranana’s campaign (14 years out of law school). Even so, I’m sticking with the incumbent.
Circuit Judge, Group 27
Mary Gomez vs. “Al” Milian. Open seat. Gomez has 19 years courtroom, mostly in Family Law, experience. She has, according to the Herald, a track record of good works in the community. Milian – son of a prominent Cuban exile leader – is not IMHO very impressive. I didn’t care for him at all when he ran against Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle a decade ago – and regular readers will know that I’d be all in for a serious challenger to KFR. He wasn’t it. AFAIK he still isn’t it. The Herald endorsed Gomez and I agree. SAVE Dade endorsed Milian…despite his being famous for a 1993 incident in which he referred to jurors as “lobotomized zombies”(leading to criticism from the 4thDCA) and “buffoons”. OK, 1993 was a long time ago. But still. A judge? Really? The attorney poll put Gomez a bit ahead of Milian (Exceptionally Qualified/Qualified was 13/51 Gomez to 13/41 Milian).
Circuit Judge, Group 58
Open seat. Martin Zilber v. Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts. Both are in their early 50s. Zilber is in private practice. Rodriguez-Fonts is a former assistant city of Miami attorney and Miami-Dade public defender. Both the Herald and SAVE Dade endorsed Zilber. I’ll go along with the crowd here.
Circuit Judge, Group 67
Judge Fleur Jeannine Lobre is the incumbent, but was appointed to fill out a term so she’s yet to win an election in her own right. The cognoscenti think she’ll lose becasue voters think she has a funny name, and the challenger, Mavel Ruiz, 53, a criminal defense attorney and former assistant public defender, doesn’t. While word among lawyers on Judge Lobre is not as wildly positive as the word about Judge Smith in group 26, it’s fairly positive on balance, and certainly doesn’t rise anywhere near to the level that gets me to vote against an incumbent judge. (I promise this isn’t because Lobre is a UM Law Grad!) Both the Herald and SAVE Dade endorsed Lobre.
Circuit Judge, Group 70
This race is the main reason why I’ve delayed writing this guide so long. I really don’t like either candidate. On one side we have Renier Diaz de la Portiilla, charmingly slimed by his detractors as the Fredo of his very political family. On the other side we have Veronica Diaz, from the Miami City Attorney’s office, who is also the subject of a slime campaign. Both sides have been working the bloggers and working the mailers to voters. I got a handful.
Trouble is, both candidates have biographies that provide material. Diaz has more experience as a lawyer but the ethics mud sorta sticks. Renier Diaz de la Portiilla is a former member of the Miami-Dade School Board, where his tenure is remembered for his proposal that the public schools offer Bible study. He followed that with a plan to drug test students – that one passed. In a sign of the electorate’s good sense, he’s been an unsuccessful candidate for other political offices since then. He’s been late to file various electoral-related papers such as a campaign finance report. A somewhat debatable ethics complaint just got filed against him – almost certainly by people associated with the Diaz campaign. And his current employment as a lawyer – with well less than a decade’s experience – has been notable for its very low earnings of under $40k/ year, suggesting a certain lack of free-market demand for his services. Diaz on the other hand has some sleazy items in her biography. She was one of many public employees to accept free VIP tickets ($900 face value) from the Ultra festival – a firm that did business with her employer. She also escaped censure on allegations that she got a third party to send city work to her fiancé’s law firm – in substantial part because the county code does not consider a fiancé to be an immediate family member subject to its anti-nepotism rules.
This really is a sorry choice. It makes the case for appointing Judges about as strongly as any Judicial race in recent memory. The bar poll is a sorry sight: Exceptionally Qualified/Qualified is 14/34 for Diaz with 54% saying unqualified. But RDLP’s scores were 8/29 with 62% (!!!!) saying ‘unqualified’. Yes, even worse than Diaz.
The Herald endorsed RDLP, althought it admitted that he “doesn’t necessarily inspire the confidence of having deep and broad experience that voters should have in those they send to the bench.” SAVE Dade endorsed Diaz. I’ve gone back and forth, back and forth on this one, and finally ended up, I think, resolved to vote for Diaz, mostly on the basis that she’s at least more likely to know how to run a courtroom while RDLP himself only claims to have litigated a few cases. But what a choice to have to make.
County Judge, Group 19
There are three candidates. Jacqueline Schwartz is the incumbent. She’s endorsed by the Herald – and by the Christian Family coalition. The challengers are Rachel Glorioso Dooley (17 years experience) and Frank Bocanegra (six (!) years experience). Again, I’m voting incumbent. Then again, Dooley has support in the bar and outpolled Swartz on competence: 39% saying Schwarz was not qualified but only 21% saying that of Dooley. Dooley was endorsed by the league of prosecutors. There’s some case for a change here, but not quite enough for me.
County Judge, Group 36
Nuria Saenz is the incumbent. Victoria Ferrer (only 9 years experience) is the challenger. I don’t know much about Saenz, but most of what I know is positive and her bar poll scores were better than Ferrer’s, of whom 42% of the lawyers polled said she was unqualified. The Herald endorsed Saenz. The Christian Family Coalition endorsed Ferrer. From my point of view this is no contest: a competent incumbent vs. a lawyer without enough experience. (Saenz does get criticized for having strong support from United Auto while having many cases involving it on her docket. But that’s how our system works when we have elected judges.)
There’s an election in Miami-Dade today.
In case you care about my views on the top of the ballot here they are. I find, though, that people are usually more interested in my comments on the judicial elections. My Miami-Dade 2014 downballot recommendations are in a separate post.
Governor – Democratic Primary
This unusual primary pits a Democrat against a DINO. I plan to vote for Nan Rich – a candidate so qualified that at least one of my Republican friends who has worked with her says he’d vote her against any Republican. I was very disappointed to see SAVE Dade endorse Charlie Crist when Rich’s record on rights is loads better. Can’t trust anybody these days.
Attorney General – Democratic Primary
George Sheldon v. Perry Thurston has been a somewhat under-the-radar race. Both candidates seem to have virtues. I’m voting Thurston, the outgoing Democratic minority leader in the Florida House of Representatives, primarily because I agree with his critique of Pam Bondi’s conduct in office. This has nothing to do with it. Really. The Herald endorsed Sheldon, and he’d be good too, as he has lots of relevant experience from his years as deputy attorney general under Bob Butterworth as well as national experience from his two years at HHS. (I can’t say, though, that I see his tenure at the DFC under Gov. Crist as much of a recommendation.)
Miami-Dade Property Appraiser
A real head-scratcher. There are five candidates, and a run-off is likely on Nov. 4 if no one gets a majority. The candidates are:
- Albert Armada, a professional appraiser;
- Alex Dominguez, a pharmaceutical sales representative and former appraiser;
- former Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia, who lost the job to Lopez-Cantera in 2012 and wants it back now that Lopez-Canera has been appointed Lt. Governor;
- Carlos Gobel, a real-estate consultant, MBA who claims to be the only candidate in the race with an “active office”.
- State Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, a Hialeah Republican who is term-limited in Tallahassee. He’s got the most money, but seems unattractive as a candidate for this job to which he brings little relevant in the way of knowledge or experience.
I went to a debate a couple of weeks ago sponsored by Salad – the Spanish-American League Against Discrimination. Gonzales didn’t show. The others presented a confusing picture, partly because this isn’t an office well-suited to being elected. The challenge to candidates is that voters presumably want lower property taxes, i.e. lower appraised house values. But to promise this directly would be to pander in such a disgusting way as to disqualify oneself for office. What to do? The better candidates talked about management — and persuaded me that there’s lots of scope for improvement.
I would say that Dominguez and Gobel were the more impressive of the four. Dominguez was a surprise as my expectations were low – he has the least directly relevant experience as an appraiser, and is a two-time loser for public office. But he spun that to his advantage, suggesting he had relevant experience as a manger and wouldn’t be out there valuing property anyway – the Appraiser runs a big office. And he was pretty good at selling his desire to serve in public office as a desire to serve, rather than as pure ambition. Both he and Gobel seemed well-informed. Dominguez had great charts and data designed to emphasize key points about what needed fixing. Gobel separated himself from Dominguez by saying that he, Gobel, had no ambitions for any other office. My notes of the event suggest, however, that I found Dominguez the most persuasive, something that still surprises me after the fact. On paper he didn’t seem like close to the best choice but in person he seemed very well informed at least about the big picture issues.
The Herald endorsed Armada which is also a surprise: in the debate I attended he was the one pandering, saying that if he was in charge the office would go “to the lower end of the value range” to establish market value. “We should always assess towards the lower end of range.” That sort of pandering is enough to disqualify him for my vote. He recovered a bit, saying the real money was in commercial property, but I was not soothed.
I would advise against voting for Gonzalez or for Garcia (who despite his passion and pure heart, didn’t do such a great job in his first term). As I said above, I think Armada crossed the line into pandering too much for my taste. That leaves a choice: a highly credentialed professional appraiser in Gobel or a guy who may be on the make, or may just be what it takes to shake up the office (or may be both), in Dominguez. My notes say that I didn’t much like Gobel’s tone, but when I review what I wrote about what he actually said, it all sounds very reasonable (including his dig at Armada, ‘don’t promise to under-assess – that hurts tax collection’). I just might vote for Dominguez.
County Commission District 8
This ostensibly non-partisan race pits exemplary candidate Daniella Levine Cava against incumbent Lynda Bell. It’s hard to bring oneself to describe all the awfulness that is Bell. She is shifty. She lies. She votes to benefit her relatives rather than recuse herself. I donated to the Cava campaign even though I don’t live in the 8th District. Boy do I hope she wins.
Next: The Judges
Amazing Whitepaper by ArchCity Defenders, a legal aid organization representing indigent defendants in the St. Louis metropolitan area, on how Ferguson police/prosecutors/judiciary are in league to milk poor defendants of large fines on the basis of petty offenses.
Among the shocking bits — yes it’s still possible to be shocked — are
- Plea bargains offered to defendants rich enough to hire lawyers, but not to pro se defendants
- the systematic closing of courtrooms to the public,
- prohibiting defendants from bringing their children to court (and in at least one case charging the defendant for child neglect for leaving the child outside)
- starting trials 30 minutes before time on summons and locking doors to court five minutes after the official hour, “a practice that could easily lead a defendant arriving even slightly late to receive an additional charge for failure to appear.”
There’s actually a lot more – well worth a read. Note in particular that Ferguson was one of only three municipalities in the greater St. Louis metro area singled out by Arch City Defenders for a particularly abusive practices; this is not business as usual but nor is it an isolated phenomenon.
(Spotted via Daily Kos).
Jotwell, the online journal of reviews of recent faculty scholarship relating to the law, needs a third student editor. The ideal candidate will be organized, a careful editor, and enjoy reading legal scholarship. The workload typically runs 7-10 hours per week (maybe a little more right at the start), and is paid at the law school’s research assistant scale, which in most cases is $13/hr. Jotwell uses WordPress to publish, but it is easy to learn, so no experience needed.
If you are interested, please email me your c.v. (aka “your résumé”) and a copy (unofficial is fine) of your transcript. If you have a non-legal writing sample, please include that too.
Our law school hosts an annual welcome event for incoming students. The dress code was “business casual.” I know how to do that. This year, for the first time, it’s a brunch. The invite from the Dean’s Office says the dress code is “resort casual”.
Oh well, that’s why we have Google.
The first link — to couples.com — has a box around it, so I’m assuming it is sponsored, although it doesn’t say so (naughty Google). The next link is to USA Today’s What Is Resort Casual Wear?. Ok, that’s a bit MOR but let’s roll with it:
The phrase “resort casual wear” causes anxiety in many a cruise attendee with its seemingly oxymoronic nature. Is it casual? Is it formal? What kind of shoes can I wear? How long should my skirt be? While the exact rules may vary by specific resort or cruise, simply imagine that you are going to a country club with your grandmother.
As one commonly does?
Country clubs naturally conjure up visions of polo shirts, khaki pants and loafers, and these items are 100 percent appropriate for resort casual wear. Collared shirts are a must, whether polo shirts or button-downs. Although there is little limitation in terms of color or pattern, use your judgment and avoid oversized logos or text. Although khakis or linen pants are a nature resort casual choice for day wear, slacks are a smart choice for dinners and other evening events. Avoid sandals and other shoes that shoe more bare foot than a loafer or boat shoe would.
Not all that helpful. Back to Google, which offers some illustrative images:
Somehow, I’m not finding that helpful either.
Guess I’m just going to assume it means jacket and no tie.
If these Tile bluetooth tell-your-phone where it last was things worked for Android, which they don’t, I would put one in my sunglasses case.
That said, they seem a bit pricey? $20/year/tracker?
I’d buy the stock if it were available, though.
(Wait a minute: the “use other people’s participation to track your lost stuff” aspect might be a real privacy nightmare once the government starts subpoenaing the records.)
University of Miami President Donna Shalala is probably doing the Presidential equivalent of the victory dance today: U.M. is not listed among the Princeton Review’s 20 top party schools — and the University of Florida is.
That means we’ve found the sweet spot between Bacchanalia and infamy.
The only thing that might dampen the celebration is that #11 on the list is “Miami University.” That’s actually Miami (Ohio) University — but lots of people might be confused.
TL/DR: Why is al Jazeera’s feed absent from HTC’s Blinkfeed? It’s a mystery.
After writing up my review of the HTC One (M8) the other day, I thought maybe I ought to give Blinkfeed a try.
For those of you who don’t have an HTC phone — and it’s a somewhat specialist taste if reports of declining market share are to believed — Blinkfeed is an HTC-curated/controlled news feed (now available to all Android users). It provides an elegant magazine-like interface made up of user-selected content from among the news sources provided by HTC, and also from one’s social media. Most of the major social media choices you would expect seem to be on the available list, but the provision of news sources is somewhat erratic. There is something from just about every part of the globe, but often not much; there are two wire services, and Huffington Post but no US newspapers. If the US choices are rather spotty in news, they are somewhat heavier in sports and entertainment and various other web-based frills. Many of the news feeds on offer seem rather heavy on gorgeous photos, particularly of landscapes and animals, which I think skews the content of the feed somewhat…although as my test is only a couple of days old it might also reflect that August is the silly season for many news media.
The good news is that Blinkfeed’s options include news from many regions in their home language, so I can get the French news is in French, which I like. And even though you get other languages by changing your “edition,” which isn’t totally intuitive, it’s possible to meld feeds from different languages, so I don’t have to have my US news in French just to get the French news in French.
The bad news is that Blinkfeed is a closed system: I can’t add an RSS feed of my choice, an option that would have made Blinkfeed actually useful.
But, at least, though I, there’s Al Jazeera. Given all the turmoil in the Middle East at present, I thought it would be useful part of my media diet. Except, at least for the last three days, there isn’t any Al Jazeera in my feed. And when I go to the al Jazeera button all it says is “NO CONTENT Pull down to refresh.” Swiping down just repeats the update/nothing-happens cycle.
A Google search got me nowhere. There are plenty of links in which HTC brags about all the content deals it has signed. (I’m guessing people pay HTC for the privilege of being in their sandbox, which is why it’s such an anemic little sandbox.) And even some about HTC adding al Jazeera. But there’s nothing I can find in which HTC says it has dropped al Jazeera.
So I called it in to HTC customer support. I’d had a very good experience with them the last time I called, and no good deed goes unpunished. The support guy I got was understandably skeptical at first. He had me remove everything else from my feed. He had me reboot the phone. No change. Finally he put me on hold for a long static-filled wait. When he came back he explained he’d “gone to the lab” and gotten one of their HTC One (M8) test models, and replicated my problem.
The good news: he now totally believed me.
The bad news: he didn’t have any better ideas than I did about what to do about it.
Apparently, there’s nothing on the HTC internal system about them dropping al Jazeera. No one on the floor at the help center had heard anything like that. So all he could suggest is that I call back tomorrow during regular business hours and ask to be escalated — apparently the escalation team doesn’t work late at night.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll find out if this is a case of broken RSS (or whatever) feed, or a case of political censorship. Right now it’s just a bug report.