For some time, it’s been manifestly obvious that South Florida isn’t yet ready for prime time, meaningful democracy. Perhaps Haiti should be the model until Broward and Dade-Miami counties are comfortable with the nuances of the home-grown version. Like voting and vote-counting.
But now, long after we’ve sworn we’ve seen it all from that electoral abyss, we’re seeing more absurdity. Black leaders in Broward have been rallying behind Elections Supervisor Miriam Oliphant, the poster pol for incompetence and arrogance. Obviously of more relevance, however, is that she is the only county-wide black elected official.
Black leaders have claimed that calls for her removal are racially motivated. Ironically, Gov. Jeb Bush probably would have removed her had she NOT been black. He knew a blacklash would result. One resulted anyhow.
The publisher of a black-oriented weekly newspaper called the frenzy over Oliphant’s role in the primary debacle a “modern day lynching.”
U.S Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, noted that to his knowledge Oliphant hadn’t done “anything illegal, immoral or unethical.” He’s probably right unless you consider paying Oliphant $122,446 a year highway robbery.
But the issue is incompetence. It’s that black and white. You can only blame so much on racism and redistricting.
And for those in the know, none of this was altogether shocking. Her election two years ago was notable for its racial precedent, not electorate savvy. She trashed her predecessor, a 30-year veteran, and lost the loyalty of staffers and volunteers. She fired anyone who knew what they were doing.
She then scrambled to hire the less experienced, less competent and less punctual — some of them cronies. She got what she — but not the voters — deserved. Chaos.
Poorly trained poll workers took too long to start touch-screen machines. They compounded this by keeping polls closed until the machines were ready, neglecting to offer voters a paper ballot. At day’s end, they didn’t properly harvest the votes.
And then there were poll workers who didn’t screw up because they never showed up. Some 300 of them. And a bunch who refused to work late after Bush was forced to extend voting hours.
Then the criticism.
Then calls to the Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to help rally support for Oliphant.
As it turns out, however, a last-minute compromise has been reached in which Oliphant signed a contract ceding virtually all control over her office to someone else. To the person, ironically enough, who used to run the office’s day-to-day operations under Oliphant’s predecessor.
The deal leaves Oliphant with another precedent to her credit. She now gets $122,446 for doing virtually nothing.
Suppose anyone would want to rail — or maybe rally — against that? Meanwhile, Sharpton and Jackson can devote more time to inciting political correctness over the movie Barbershop .
But this just in.
Andy Ingraham, president of Sharpton’s National Action Network in Florida, does have a problem with this scenario. “She’s abdicating all of her power,” said Ingraham. “To me, it is a modern-day coup d’etat .”
Perhaps the Haitian model would apply.