Off the Desk
Council Member Danny Thomas opposes secret negotiations and any deal that would give Stratus rights to develop Mueller in exchange for less development over the Aquifer. In a Dec. 5 letter, Thomas quotes the Mueller Airport Redevelopment and Reuse Plan, which guarantees the city control of "the quality and character of development at the airport." According to Thomas, adhering to the plan will ensure that neighborhoods adjacent to the airport have a say in its development. Thomas writes that protecting the aquifer and developing the old airport are separate issues. A proposed trade with Stratus, he writes, will achieve neither. Thursday's council meeting will be held at 4:30pm at the LCRA Bldg. at 3700 Lake Austin Blvd....
Local consumer advocate Paul Robbins has learned that Florida law permits anyone to examine ballots after an election. In fact, publications and groups are already getting in line. The Washington Post, The Nation, and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel are among nine papers and groups to request access to Florida ballots. Robbins suggests that some group recount them -- a daunting task considering that six million votes were cast in Florida, and standing between the ballots and counters is Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, now a household face.
But some Florida votes will never be counted, because they were never cast, according to Gregory Palast's Dec. 6 story in the online magazine Salon (www.salon.com). It seems the Florida secretary of state hired an Atlanta-based firm, ChoicePoint, to prepare a "scrub list" to purge voter rolls of felons. Using the list, 173,000 potential voters were kept from the polls. But not all were felons (see "Margin of Error," p.28). Some Florida counties refused to use the purge list because as many as 15% of the names ChoicePoint provided were incorrectly identified as felons. One Florida "felon" was Linda Howell, who discovered the error because she is elections supervisor of Madison County. (Howell decided that the lists would not be used in Madison County.) There was also a racial bias in the purge list. A Hillsborough Co. statistician found that African-Americans made up 54% of the county purge list, though they represent only 11.6%of the county population. (One ChoicePoint felon is a Hillsborough Co. judge.) ChoicePoint refused to provide the county with verification and information about methods used in compiling the lists.
Despite a flurry of negative publicity, ChoicePoint remains optimistic. Spokesman Martin Fagin told Salon that "given the outcome of our work in Florida, and with a new president in place, we think we will see our services expand across the country." ChoicePoint's board of directors and list of executives include Ken Langone, who was chair of Rudy Giuliani's campaign against Hillary Clinton, and Giuliani's former police commissioner, Howard Safir. GOP lobbyist Vin Weber is also on the board, according to reports in Salon.