[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: October 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Questions For A Real Debate

Sorry for the lack of posts, folks.

However, in an attempt to make up for lost time, below are some questions local political analyst and Channel 10 reporter Michael Putney would like to ask the Miami-Dade candidates for House of Representatives in today's debate forum, but can't.

(A little background for those who may not be aware: Putney was initially going to moderate the forum, but backed out in disgust after learning that the candidates were going to be told of the questions beforehand. Filling in for Putney is NBC6 political reporter Nick Bogert).

For Lincoln Diaz-Balart: According to The Miami Herald, you sponsored earmarks worth $9.2 million for two local defense contractors, Locust USA and Mark Two Engineering, and the executives of those companies and their family members wrote checks to you, your brother and your joint political action committee totaling $41,000. This may have been legal, but was it ethical? Why shouldn't it be seen as a quid pro quo?

For Raul Martinez: Your opponent is running ads about your three corruption trials in the 1990s, and you've called it a ''smear'' campaign. Aren't those trials a legitimate campaign issue, and why do you continue to say you were ''exonerated'' and found ''not guilty'' when your case ended in mistrials and hung juries?

For Mario Diaz-Balart: Explain your relationship to Locust USA and Mark Two Engineering, whose executives have contributed thousands of dollars to your PAC, Democracy Believers. Also explain your relationship to Hunger Orthopedic Group, the Maryland manufacturer of prosthetic devices whose executives contributed $10,000 to your reelection campaign just weeks before you co-sponsored a prosthetics parity bill. Why shouldn't this be seen as doing a questionable favor for a big contributor?

For Joe Garcia: For years you have lived in Miami Beach, far outside the boundaries of the 25th Congressional District, which you hope to represent. Why should voters in the district elect someone who isn't their neighbor and who will move into the district only if he wins?

For Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: The ''wet foot-dry foot'' immigration policy allows any Cuban who reaches U.S. soil to stay, while those picked up at sea are returned to Cuba. One tragic result of this policy has been an exponential increase in human smuggling from Cuba, and the Coast Guard says that in the last year 65 Cubans died while being transported to Florida. Isn't ''wet foot-dry foot'' a policy that has outlived its usefulness, and doesn't it provide an incentive for smugglers to operate and Cuban nationals to risk their lives trying to reach U.S. soil? If ''wet foot-dry foot'' is outdated, what would you replace it with?

For Annette Taddeo: In your TV ads you say that Ros-Lehtinen and President Bush are ''two peas in a pod.'' Explain what you mean. You also accuse your opponent of being ''out of touch'' with her constituents. Cite three significant issues where you believe Ros-Lehtinen is ''out of touch'' with voters in the 18th district and why you are.

Great questions. Alas, we probably won't get to hear most of them.

A quick personal comment: as a long time resident of District 25 (Mario vs Joe Garcia), I echo Putney's question to Garcia questioning his real interests in the district. I would add this question to Mr. Garcia: "As a long time Kendall resident, I am all too familiar with the traffic and congestion that impacts this community. What steps would you take to help remedy this, and how would you use your powerful position as our U.S. representative in order to make sure that our concerns are heard and addressed?"

Let's see then how familiar Joe Garcia is with the Kendall two-step at 8 AM and 5 PM.

You can read Putney full column here.