Saturday, February 25, 2006
I picked up this little gem via First-Draft where Athenae found a Ft. Lauderdale publication fingering the Orlando Sun Sentinel’s true corporate colors. Tsk-tsk-tak:
The Lauderdale Beach Republican Club had a problem: There was a Democrat in the house.
Or in the resort, to be specific. The Clarion Beach Resort in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Club founder Bob Wolfe invited Sun-Sentinel political reporter Buddy Nevins to address the flock at its monthly meeting on February 6 at Damon's Grill, a restaurant in the resort. But other club leaders balked. Nevins was a Democrat, they claimed, and GOP bylaws forbid anybody but Republicans from speaking at their meetings.
To make things kosher, Wolfe decided not to officially start the meeting until Nevins had finished speaking. After 30 minutes of idle chat, hors d'oeuvres, and cocktails, Nevins walked up to the little podium at Damon's Grill. Then he made several remarks that should end his career as a political reporter.
First, he held up a piece of paper to the 40-or-so attendees in the room and told them it was from the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office. He had changed political parties.
"I'm a Republican," Nevins announced to the partisan crowd. "It's official."
An uncomfortable, slightly stunned silence filled the room before Margaret Hostetter, a former congressional candidate and current vice president of the Davie's GOP club, stood up and began applauding. Others followed Hostetter's lead until Nevins was awash in cheers and a standing ovation.
Nevins' announcement by itself was a highly questionable act by a supposedly unbiased reporter. Unprofessional and reckless are two words to describe it. But Nevins, a longtime player in the political scene who began his reporting career in South Florida 31 years ago at the old Fort Lauderdale News, was just getting warmed up. Several witnesses tell me that when a club member asked him why he left the Democratic Party, he responded, "To vote for Charlie Crist in the Republican primary."
OK, hold up. Nevins covers the governor's race. Now he has endorsed a candidate and proven he's no buddy to Republican challenger Tom Gallagher or the Democratic hopefuls.
And he still wasn't finished. As he stood up there basking in the glow of his new political brethren, he began trashing the Democratic Party, says Hostetter, who took notes during Nevins' talk.
"He said that the Democratic Party isn't his grandfather's party," says Hostetter, a massively active Republican activist. "He said it was the party of 'no.' No ideas. No leadership. Just more taxes. And he said that Broward County is bought and controlled by the Democratic Party and its corruption."
I went over to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel’s web site and did a little snooping around and found a couple of interesting data points in their archive search engine. First, Mr. Nevins has contributed 25 articles to the Sun-Sentinel since January 1st of this year. All the articles he’s contributed specifically about party news in general, with the exception of one, was about the GOP. Two of the articles concerned Mr. Nevins covering the dust up in Broward County’s GOP ranks where a Crist endorsement seems to have rankled a few feathers:
“The Broward party is alleged to have violated guidelines that call for 10 days' notice to party committee members before an endorsement is voted on and that require inviting candidates to speak at the meeting.
The move to give the party's endorsement to Crist was introduced without prior announcement at a January meeting. After the vote, supporters of gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher accused a handful of Crist backers in key party positions of steamrolling the endorsement. One of them, general counsel Levi Williams, had advised the vote was legal."It was done very quickly. We didn't know it was coming, and we were not prepared," said Barbara Collier, chairwoman of the Gallagher campaign in Broward, who filed one grievance."The unannounced voice vote clearly violated the rules," said state Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican representing southwest Broward who filed another grievance."