Columns

Believe It: Charlie Crist Was Head to Toe About Racism

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: May 13, 2014 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ

Most of the time, it's easy to be light and sassy about Charlie Crist. Frankly, on almost any occasion, he's good for a laugh.

But last week he finally said something I couldn't laugh and sass about. I tried, couldn't do it. You see, I remember Charlie. I remember how he was on the earliest, hungriest rungs of his career ladder. So when he told Fusion TV's Jorge Ramos that what drove him out of the Republican Party in 2010 was racism, I had to replay what I'd just seen twice. Did I hear correctly?

Charlie didn't leave the party, as Ramos prompted, because he was losing the U.S. Senate race to Marco Rubio? Nope.

He left because "... I couldn't be consistent with myself and my core beliefs and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African-American president."

Consistent with himself and his core beliefs? 

This issue is long gone. It's out of the papers now, I know. It should be out of my mind, too. But I can't let it go. Please indulge me.

What I remember of Charlie's "core beliefs" -- back when he was making a name for himself -- came along in 1995, in the tough-on-crime days, when he served in the Florida Senate.

Sen. Charlie Crist, a Republican lawyer from St. Petersburg, sponsored a chain gang law, the kind of law abandoned in Florida and most states decades earlier. Floridians were terrified of crime and Charlie decided that was the way he could be their champion.

Who did he come up against, but Harry K. Singletary, a Lawton Chiles appointee and Florida's first African-American corrections secretary. Singletary was Crist's reluctant partner in the endeavor.

Crist wanted inmates to be chained together, five at a time. En masse, they're more secure, less apt to attempt escape, he said. Besides, we don't want to go easy on them, they need to be taught a lesson.

Harry K. Singletary

Harry K. Singletary

Singletary countered that so many men lashed together is humiliating, puts them in danger on the highway and renders them inefficient to get any work done. Justice would still be served, he reasoned, if they were chained singly.

Singletary, 49 at the time, hated the idea of chain gangs. He kept it locked up inside, but he hated it, and hated having anything to do with Charlie Crist, until the day he died in 2010.

He had worked in the prison system for 26 years before he got the top job, remembered the sweat boxes and other harsh punishments -- recalled growing up in Tarpon Springs in the 1950s and early 1960s seeing inmates toiling on road crews or cutting down palmettos while leg irons dug into their skin. He knew people personally who had worked on chain gangs.

"This was a legislative initiative, and I can't substitute my personal opinions for the law," he told Meg James, a writer for the Palm Beach Post who traveled with Crist and Singletary 400 miles to the Limestone Correctional Institution in Alabama, to see how that state ran its chain gang program. Her story -- which is not available online -- was printed in the Post and in The Tuscaloosa News of June 16, 1995.

One black inmate, Alonzo Heuhlett, and other black inmates told James chain gangs smack too much of Alabama's days of slavery. "Nearly all of the shotgun-toting guards are white, and about 80 percent of the inmates on the chain gangs are black," he told her.

Frederick Simpson, another black inmate said, "It's just the idea of me being out here in chains, with the man standing on top of me with a shotgun. Why would any other state want to copy this?"

Didn't it bother Crist, standing next to Singletary who was visibly sickened, who saw the similarity between treatment in chain gangs and generations of slavery in America? "Crist said, coming to Alabama was further proof that crime-ridden Florida needs chain gangs," James wrote.

Crist said he wasn't concerned that some call it barbaric, or that working along the highway in shackles endangers prisoners' lives and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Too bad, he said. These are bad men.

"We're targeting criminals," Crist said. "Prison is not supposed to be fun ... We're talking about criminals who have victimized citizens throughout the state of Florida."

James wrote that at one point during the visit, Crist "strode out of Alabama Gov. Fob James Jr.'s office at the state Capitol in Montgomery, smiling and clutching ... a white canvas painter's cap emblazoned with "'ALABAMA CHAIN GANGS.'"

The governor had autographed the cap: "To Sen. Chain Gang Charlie Crist, with warmest personal regards."

Oh, yes, and to give some indication of Harry Singletary's character and thoughtfulness, this is what he said to writer Meg James, and how she ends her story:

"Everyone wants a silver bullet, and this is not the silver bullet. This is not the answer to the crime problem. We could have 45,000 people on chain gangs, but if people are still having babies at 13, if we're not educating folks or if there's not enough jobs, then we're still going to have problems. ..."

You might need to go back a little and acquaint yourself with the real Charlie Crist's core beliefs.

Ask yourself, if he was as agonized as he said he was over racism in the GOP, why did it take him so long to say so? Why did it take four years?

And, most of all, if Chain Gang Charlie really wants to talk about race, let him explain why he thought the institution of a chain gang in Florida was a good idea. Let him make more statements about restoring the rights of former felons, now that he's seen the light.

Let's find out how come, if the GOP is all that prejudiced, he lost his 2010 Senate race to a party that voted for the Cuban guy -- clearly a demonstration of their antipathy toward minorities. And why don't we hear anything about African-American Kendrick Meek, a rising star in the Democratic Party four years ago, whom Charlie strong-armed out of the race and did his best to destroy?

Democrats don't have rising stars anymore, and it's easy to see why.

They have leaders who believe they are the sole selection body for all candidates. When did the Democratic establishment decide it no longer adheres to the democratic process and voters no longer have the right to choose for themselves? Are they so thin on the bench that they will continue to punt real progressive candidates like Nan Rich and Manuel Sykes, an African-American, to support non-Dems like Charlie Crist and Ed Jany?

Chain Gang Charlie didn't leave the party because of racism. But he doesn't care and the Democrats don't care. A lot of Florida voters will figure it out before long, if they haven't already. 



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. 


Comments (18)

Chuck
10:50AM MAY 15TH 2014
What did Singletary do to stop it, since he was such a "reluctant" partner, and "visibly sickened" by chain gangs? Oh, nothing?
I see what you did there, Nancy. Who can question a dead man's word?
Crist may be full of it, but at least he seems to have an opinion on racism. By your account, Singletary did nothing to help anyone...
Well, he did help pack the prisons to the brim like a good boy. Plus, he was around for the Glades escape. So that's something.
Nice troll job, Nancy.
Prison guard who was there
4:32PM MAY 15TH 2014
Harry kept those road boys in single chains. If it wasn't for Harry, they would been kept like slaves on the planttation. Harry fought Crist all he could. He was a good man he was the best & nothing you can say will change that. Crist wasnt a man who erned our respect.
just two questions
3:41PM MAY 13TH 2014
Yep! Everyone knows that CharLIE Crist is a full blown piece of excrement. A post turtle lifted into politics by Mel Sembler from Florida Education Commissioner right on up the ladder.

The first question here is if put under oath how many times would CharLIE have to invoke the fifth?

When Rick Scott invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege 75 times in a deposition, he did so and could have only done so for one reason: to avoid incriminating himself for criminal conduct. He had that right, as does everyone protected by our legal system in the United States.

That one reason for invoking the Fifth Amendment, to protect himself from having his testimony used to prove criminal wrongdoing, is at odds with Scott's recent claim that he refused to testify under oath in order to obstruct the fact-finding during an ongoing lawsuit. A manipulation of the legal system, as Scott contends motivated his refusal to tell the truth, is an unacceptable assault on the integrity of the civil justice system, and promotes disrespect for the neutral and impartial court system. It is also likely illegal.

When Scott was deposed under oath about his role as CEO of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., he had an absolute obligation, as does every American, to answer every question completely and truthfully unless his answers tended to subject him to criminal prosecution. Scott's Fifth Amendment plea is certainly understandable, since executives of Columbia/HCA, including Scott, were facing potential criminal charges for a massive Medicare fraud larger than any that had been previously perpetrated on Americans.

Second largest in US history! Second only to the International Medical Centers Medicare Fraud perpetrated by Jeb Bush with his calls to HHS in Washington DC for his partner Miguel Recarey who fled the US and remains a fugitive at large today! The second question is when will Jeb Bush and Rick Scott join him?
W Pond
8:46PM MAY 16TH 2014
Good questions
ctaylor
11:09AM MAY 13TH 2014
My hat is fully tipped to you for articulating this issue so well! I know that there are many out there who could offer up a similar story on each one of the many issues Crist has flip-flopped on. It's just nice that FINALLY someone is calling this guy on his past!
natdj
9:37AM MAY 13TH 2014
Is the Florida Democrat Party really serious about this guy? I know the Republicans are not with Scott. This guy has "core beliefs"?

Crist is in favor of abortion, before he was against it
Crist is in favor of Obamacare, before he was against it
Crist is in favor of gay rights, before he was against it
Crist will now say that he is in favor of not chaining prisoners, before..

What a joke Florida.
Frank
9:53AM MAY 13TH 2014
Yes, Florida is a joke . . . this site demonstrates that every day . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Frank
9:01AM MAY 13TH 2014
To more truthfully paraphrase a partisan shrill voice below: "Any effort to defend SSN's latest Democratic candidate FAUX supportive comments for 'real progressive candidates like Nan Rich and Manuel Sykes' are just fabrications, fairy tales, and plain old BS." . . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
RepublicanConscience
8:36AM MAY 13TH 2014
Any effort to defend Charlie Crist's latest racist comments are just fabrications, fairy tales, and plain old BS. The moral character of the Democrat Party has sunk to the levels so deep that it could not be comprehended since Obama hit the fan.
Frank
9:45AM MAY 13TH 2014
Written like a true tinfoil hat patriot . . . . who likes to observe that "Republicans stain their shorts every time the wind blows against them" . . . calls all government "evil" . . . . . and observes that "The GOP does not want us. I am sick of the GOP reaching out to the gays, Blacks, Hispanics, women, etc." . . . . and so further exudes blatant racism in labeling the first elected black President a "Muslim terriorist" . . . . . . . . yes, such a person clearly knows racist comments . . . . or, at least . . . . . . . . . apparently how to make them . . . .

Pathetic . . . . .
James R.
8:18AM MAY 13TH 2014
Nancy I believe you showed that you are indeed a racist. Your opinion leads readers to believe that the only people "chained" are African-American. They simply is not true and you know it. Major fail once again.
maybe we need chain gangs again
8:02AM MAY 13TH 2014
Just last week in Orlando a man went into a tanning salon in broad daylight and brutally raped one of the workers. He was later killed by police!

A Windemere Police Officer was killed by a young couple. An Orange County Deputy Sheriff was recently killed and just a few years ago another Orange deputy was killed on duty. A female Brevard County Deputy sheriff was killed on duty and her murderer's trail went on for weeks!

Obviously your article is an attempt to divide and therefore conquer the racist history of Charlie Crist in an attempt to help Rick Scott maintain office.

But, let me tell you something. Not only does this massive violence effect our law enforcement officers who face these criminals daily it also effects every one in our society. Even the minorities whom you would like to turn against "chain gang Charlie" for his once firm stand on criminals are tired of wondering if their children will come home alive. They are tired of wondering if their children both male and female will come home having been raped, tortured and beaten within an inch of their lives and scared emotionally forever.

They want someone to fix this hell hole in the streets that forces them to live in locked houses with fenced yards. And they know just like the police know, the criminals have a get out of jail free card. If witnesses dare to testify against them they will be killed for doing so. In Orlando friends and relatives are awaiting the trial of "Okafor" for the murder of a witness over two years ago.

Even minorities who might be liberal in many ways want to be safe, feel safe and they love their families and want to keep them alive and well just like all people do. They know ankle bracelets and home confinement is a joke (another money maker by the well connected friends of bureaucrats) and provides no element of protection for victims of crime.

He might be flawed, but I'll take Chain Gang Charlie the former gov, atty gen and ed commissioner any time over Rick Scott, the former Dallas, Tx Bush family Oil, Gas and Hospital lawyer whose only criminal experiences seems to be running from the law and not prosecuting criminals.

And, why hasn't Rick Scott and his FDLE done anything about Youth Services International? The private juvenile prison operator who in under a Federal lawsuit for allowing their administrator to take boys our of their prison and home to his bedroom? Why is he not in jail? What did the Florida legislature do about this? they rewarded them with more big fat contracts and more millions of dollars!

Yea! I'll take chain gang Charlie in a heat beat over the corporate rading lawyer Rick Scott!
where is the Statewide Grand Jury Report?
7:18AM MAY 13TH 2014
It Was Charlie Crist who called for the Statewide Grand Jury into
PUBLIC CORRUPTION IN FLORIDA – The last chance of the common people of Florida To look into our massive culture of corruption and make their recommendations-

STATE OF FLORIDA -C L, 29 2010 - Case No. SC 09-1910
CLERK. SUPREME COURT BY - NINETEENTH STATEWIDE GRAND JURY
First Interim Report - A STUDY OF PUBLIC CORRUPTION IN FLORIDA
AND RECOMMENDED SOLUTIONS – Dated Dec 29, 2010
And what did Rick Scott do with this Grad Jury report? He totally ignored it
And probably threw his copy in the closest trash can!

In fact maybe it was that trash can that had the suspicious fire!

Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll’s accuser wants FBI probe of trash can fire!

Lawyers for a woman who accused Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll of carrying on a lesbian affair with a female aide is calling on the FBI to investigate a trashcan fire in her office, which she says was set by that aide.

A press release sent out Tuesday by the Steven R. Andrews law firm in Tallahassee, Florida indicates that Cole, who until last fall was a senior staffer to Carroll, believes the trash fire is relevant to Cole’s case, in which she is charged with a third degree felony for sharing an illegally taped conversation between herself and Carroll’s chief of staff with a reporter. Cole was fired last September, after she says she walked in on Carroll and her travel aide, Beatriz Ramos, in a “compromising position” in Carroll’s office, on a night when all were working late.

Cole claims her work environment deteriorated after the incident, particularly after she voiced concerns about the lack of professionalism in the office, many of which were directed at Ramos.

She claims that the hostility from Ramos culminated in a fire that was discovered in her office, which started in the trashcan on St. Patrick’s Day last March.

The 51-year-old, who her attorney said was active in conservative politics before joining the governor’s staff, alleged that the fire that was discovered by the governor’s former chief of staff and put out by another Capitol staffer, was not properly investigated, and that Carroll used her influence to interfere with a thorough probe that could have caused Ramos to be charged with a crime.

Tuesday’s release from the law firm representing Cole’s states that:
The interference to which the letter refers involves the destruction of evidence and the failure of the investigator to record witness statements. Lieutenant Angela Moore, the investigator who was assigned to the case initially, arrived on the scene after the fire had been extinguished by Timmann. She contacted Capitol Police Investigator John Hamilton. An extinguished cigar and burnt match were then found in Cole’s garbage can.
Beatriz Ramos, Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll’s Travel Aide, admitted to putting these items into the trash can—but she maintains that the fire was an accident. Cole’s legal representation points out that this incident took place the day after Ramos and Cole had a heated argument during a staff meeting.

As alleged in court documents, Lieutenant Moore photographed the items, but Investigator Hamilton destroyed them the evening of the investigation. Furthermore, he conducted an interview with the Lt. Governor that he did not record, which is against procedures set by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He also refused Cole’s request to examine her computer, which had been tampered with.

Cole was fired last September from her $42,000-a-year job. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement closed the investigation into the fire after ruling it an accident. Webster says that not only did Hamilton destroy evidence and fail to fully investigate the crime, he later received a recommendation from Lt. Gov. Carroll, for a job that amounted to a promotion.

“Arson would have been first degree felony with [a potential sentence of] 30 years in prison,” Webster said. “I’ve got three pieces of paper” representing the investigation into the trash can fire, and “a stack of papers an inch thick on the recording.”

Obviously they must have burned Grand Jury Report STATE OF FLORIDA -C L, 29 2010 - Case No. SC 09-1910 because they can’t seem to find it and they surely never refer to it! Never did and never will.
W Pond
9:06PM MAY 16TH 2014
What is this post supposed to mean?
Chain Gang Charlie
6:55AM MAY 13TH 2014
WOW Nancy Thanks for reminding everyone about this one. Years do have a way of slipping away don’t they?

Charlie Crist even as a Republican was a long time member of the NAACP. And as Attorney General of Florida announced his findings in a long ago forgotten and barbaric murder plot.
The Christmas Day 1951 murders of Harriette Vyda Simms Moore the wife of Harry T. Moore, who founded the first branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Brevard County, Florida. The Moore’s were fatally injured at home by a bomb that went off beneath their house. It was their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Harry died on the way to the hospital in Mims, Florida. Harriette died from her injuries nine days later. Although the state called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate, no one was indicted for the bombing and murders of the Moore’s. It was Charlie Crist, In 2005, the Florida Attorney General, who re-opened the investigation 54 years after the murders, at the request of the Moore family.

On August 16, 2006, Crist announced the results of the work of the state Office of Civil Rights and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Rumors which had linked others to the crime for over fifty years were proven false. Based on extensive evidence, In its 2005-2006 re-investigation, the State of Florida concluded that the murder of the Moores by bombing their home had been the work of violent members of a central Florida Ku Klux Klan group and it named the chief suspects; Earl J. Brooklyn, Tillman H. Belvin, Joseph Neville Cox and as he lay dying of cancer, Klansman Edward L. Spivey claimed to have been at the crime scene in 1951, and he implicated Cox in the attack. There were eleven other bombings against black families in Florida the year that the Moore’s were killed.
As for Chain Gang Charlie; what would he have done if he’d been able to solve these horrific murders in their day? He would have given these criminals a fair trial and “these are bad men” would have met “old sparky” like other “criminals who have victimized citizens throughout the state of Florida." Instead some of them chose to take their crimes to their graves. Why?
Obstruction to freedom and civil rights for black people was nothing new for the Democrats. The KKK was largely populated by Southern Democrats. Ralph Byrd, U.S. Senator for Virginia from 1965–1983 famously admitted he had belonged to the KKK.

Well, it may have gotten the Democrats black votes, but in the decades since the days of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, Democrat policies, with the aid of liberal Republicans, have led the black community to untold social instability, generational welfare and indigence, disintegration of families, illegitimacy, and astonishing rates of crime and imprisonment among black men, which have led them away from prosperity, their families and responsible behavior in the community. It has also led many black people to segregate themselves from whites according to attitude. Through the words and deeds of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, Eric holder and Barack Obama, to name only a few of the race-baiters among us, black people have too often been encouraged to develop and expect racist attitudes toward and from white people.

None of this was part of the dream spoken of in 1963 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King's dream was that black people would be free to work and achieve according to their ethics and honesty and to take their place as free people side by side with people of all races. In fact, under King's sane leadership, black people were already on the way to achieving freedom from past injustices, and were experiencing prosperity and growth. But, remember that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican, who had opposed the unfair treatment of black people by Democrats. One wonders if this is the real reason he was murdered. And, by the way, perhaps if Chain Gang Charlie was in authority he would announce his findings relative to the untimely death of MLK – A death which ultimately took
a civil lawsuit by his family to bring forth the truth and put to sleep the myths!
Research “ the 1998, the King family wrongful death lawsuit against Lloyd Jowers!” But, you won’t find any truths about this in the in lame stream media!

“Crist said he wasn't concerned that some call it barbaric, or that working along the highway in shackles endangers prisoners' lives and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Too bad, he said. These are bad men.”

"We're targeting criminals," Crist said. "Prison is not supposed to be fun ... We're talking about criminals who have victimized citizens throughout the state of Florida."

Which is more barbaric, bringing criminals to justice and demanding fair trials and honest sentencing’s to pay for their crimes or gaming the system, arresting, releasing, re-arresting, re-releasing these criminals over and over as they murder a maim the people of Florida.
Every time someone rapes and murders a child – that person has a “rap sheet” a mile long. That person has been played by the system for every dime they can squeeze beginning with the bondman who gets 10% of the bond amount to guarantee the convict will appear in court! Over and over and over these bondsmen collect 10% to turn these criminals back on the streets to commit more and more crimes!
After years of gaming the system Donald James Smith committed the ultimate act, now, prosecutors want to execute him for the rape and murder of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle.

Florida has a civil law allowing the incarceration of predators like Donald James Smith be committed if they are believed by experts to be dangerous to society. Why in the hell wasn’t his man incarcerated?

Exactly the same for John Couey! But he gamed the system over and over until he killed Jessica Junsford in Citrus County Florida. Couey is said to have been frequenting Coggin’s Farms, the pedophile farm run by some powerful Republicans in Valdosta Georgia before he kidnapped and killed Jessica – who now has a law named in her memory called “Jessica’s Law.” Florida officials pay just as much attention to that law as they do the sexual predator civil confinement law too!
The truth is the people of Florida deserve what they get! They refuse to band together and demand honest elections and stop the culture of corruption that like the cancer it is continues to devour this state, its counties and cities until we will look like the city of Detroit. As for choice for governor of Florida as in 2010 GOP Chairman Jim Greer refused to support a party primary saying we can’t afford it! Along comes Rick Scott with $70 million in dollars from heaven to topple the GOP favorite Bill McCollum. Scott fooled a lot of people with all that money in TV ads about momma and the donut shops while failing to mention his Lawyer days in Dallas and connections to Tom Hicks, George Bush and Richard Rainwater with whom he was able to create Columbia/ HCA from the spoils of Jeb Bush’s partner Miguel Recarey (IMC). But, now we can see the connections just as we can see the connections of Jeb Bush to the far left and his charter schools movements (many with Muslim connections such as Gulen) and Common Core mantra.
And Chain Gang Charlie, is far from perfect as well. He got his start from “SEED” and the Mel Sembler organizations that followed like STRAIGHT, INC. These evolved into houses of horror like The Green Isle Ranch (home of the hidden rapes of boys) in Lake County run by the local sheriff and Bridges of America. Sembler from Pinellas County twice appointed by a Bush as a US Ambassador and major Republican donor expects a return on that money and he get’s it with interest every time!
Everyone deserves an opportunity for repentance. I can not vision Rick Scott standing on his own two feet and severing the strings that bind him. And, I can’t imagine that Mel Sembler would still support Charlie Crist and invite him to his home for a fund raiser like he recently did Rick Scott.
So, at least if Charlie Crist has severed his ties with Mel Sembler that is a good start, but an even better start would have been Jim Greer’s book loaded with the truths of the last years of his RPOF Chairmanship. We all know that is not going to happen – there are not enough jails to hold all the real criminals and they know that!

As long as the people of Florida allow the Republican’s to determine whether they can afford primary elections or not and chose their anointed ones for office their will be public discourse.
It was George W. Bush who said “you can fool all of the people some of the time and those are the ones we want to concentrate on.” But, while they can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, they can not fool all of the people all of the time” and those are the ones they had better be concerned with.

Brought to you by: Al Gore’s revenge (the Internet)
Jan
6:53AM MAY 13TH 2014
Charlie Crist is a top notch jerk. He will say or do anything that he thinks might help and lies are his biggest asset. He is one sick person.
U are right
7:29AM MAY 13TH 2014
And CharLIE is LEFT...............

But remember he was trained by the master of lies. He was a Jeb Bush insiders a graduate of the Karl Rove University of Frauds!

But comparing a "top notch jerk" to Rick Scott who along with the help of Jeb Bush and the organizations of Miguel Recarey (International Medical Centers) the first largest Medicare Fraud committed in the USA was able to pull off the second largest Medicare Fraud scheme and wak off "scot free" again with the help of Jeb Bush and his family connections.

Politics does not attract honest, moral candidates for public office. Of it's nature politics attracts the scum of the earth. Therefore voters only choice is what they believe to be the lesser of the evils. Herein I will be forced to vote for CharLIE Crist because our Elitist system only allows two parties. Nan Rich don't stand a chance and neither does the third party candidate.

Why do they only allow two parties? Because two is a couple and three is a crowd that results in s shouting match!

Therefore this time CharLIE will be my horse if he never wins a race!
Jackie Grant
6:37AM MAY 13TH 2014
Thank you Nancy Smith for telling it like it really is!!!

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