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Nancy Smith

Broward Democrats Have a Deepening 'Black Problem'

August 17, 2015 - 12:00am

Michael Howson, former operations director of the Democratic Executive Committee of Broward County, has told party insiders he is days away from filing a race discrimination lawsuit against the DEC for firing him because he is black. News of Howson's situation late last week widened the rift between Broward's black community and the party. And now Howson's response -- his decision to fight back -- is spreading quickly through the county.

Forty percent of Broward DEC's members are black.

Howson was the only black member of the office's staff. Now there is none. The only African-American of rank at the Broward DEC is its second vice chair, Christine Jones.

Howson's dismissal from the $22,000-a-year job came almost immediately after Broward Party Chairman Mitch Caesar stepped aside last week to run for Broward clerk of courts. It was Caesar who had hired and groomed Howson.

Cynthia Busch, first vice chair and now the DEC's acting chairwoman, made Howson one of the first orders of business in her new capacity. Democratic insiders say Busch and her state committeemen allies, Ken Evans and Maggie Davidson, have always considered Howson a Ceasar loyalist who is very expendable.

Neither Evans nor Davidson returned Sunshine State News' phone calls Sunday.

But Busch told SSN, "Michael wasn't fired, he was laid off. ... We have a significantly lower operating account this year than last, and we just could no longer fund the position."

She said, "I spoke with the state party, and of course the treasurer, before I made the decision, and in my capacity that's my decision to make -- I'm allowed to make that decision."

She added, "We are absolutely committed to hiring minorities."

And earlier Sunday reported, "Howson is a well-regarded activist in the African-American and LGBT communities. Busch admitted the move angered rank and file Democrats. 'There are people who are friends with him who are Democrats who are upset,' Busch conceded." 

But Corey Shearer, president of the Broward County Democratic Black Caucus, wasn't buying the "just laid off" line. Here's what an impassioned Shearer wrote in an essay emailed to a long list of Democrats and hand-delivered to the party's state committeemen:

"This week, the less expensive, large, Black, openly gay, outspoken but yet still quite service-oriented young man of great experience but also of great youth, was replaced with the more expensive, tall, slender white guy who is more subdued and highly customer service-oriented although seemingly slightly less experienced. This was primarily for budget reasons as the DEC was burning through a lot of money attempting to keep both. The one let go, "The Black Guy" was making considerably less than the one who was retained and will step up into both and all positions, "The White Guy." And, obviously, this stinks for "The Black Guy." But, it also smells funny to the Black community."

"The White Guy" Shearer is talking about is Travis Perron, hired with the help of Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant, for a salary of $30,000 a year. Busch said Howson's and Perron's positions are nor similar, therefore Perron was not hired to "replace" Howson. Perron was hired as the DEC's political director, she said.

Shearer also believes Busch and "others in the firing party" knew full well the ruckus they were causing because they skirted around Second Vice Chair Jones -- not just in the Howson matter but they generally make a habit of excluding her in DEC business matters.

He stated in his essay, Jones "was left out of the discussion on this change in the DEC office. For a while, she didn't even have a key to the office and has been routinely left out of the loop even though she is the direct liaison to the Area Leaders and thus the committee people (the actual DEC) as well. BAD POLITICS."

Insiders say Busch set up her "Howson purge" in a July 23 email to Caesar, state committeemen and FDP leaders, abhoring Howson's rule-breaking practice of consorting with the 501(c)3 group Dream Defenders in the DEC office.

"I am particularly upset that Michael is as of Monday flagrantly disregarding this directive and asserting that he does not wish to follow our policy as the Chair stated it at the meeting," Busch wrote. "He is also winding up members of the Black Caucus and encouraging volunteers in the office to berate our political director and call him a racist for trying to make sure the office is run in a professional manner.
"This is a very serious problem and is possible grounds for punitive action under BDP and FDP bylaws," she wrote.

Shearer did not say in his essay if he would assist Howson in taking a wrongful termination action based on race discrimination against the Broward DEC. He concluded his essay with a plea:

"... We urge that all elected or appointed members of the DEC or its committees/subcommittees be included on issues under their purview and that they never be left out because they may have a passionate response or entrenched opinion on the subject matter. 

"In addition, whenever there is an issue or discussion toward action, the decision-makers should draw from the diverse membership of our party, reflecting "The Big Tent" that the Democratic Party truly is."

Contacted late Sunday, Leslie Wimes, founder of the Florida Democratic African American Women's Caucus, said, "This is all really sad and, frankly, disgusting. But it's what I've been saying for more than two years. The Florida Democratic Party has to clean up its act, end its own racism which it can never admit to, before it can point fingers at the Republicans. This is just another indication of why the DAAWC continues to add disillustioned voters in Broward County to our membership roster and why black voters in Democrat-rich South Florida will keep on underperforming at the polls.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith.  



A new low for SSN . . . . . removing posts that are critical of SSN . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

Will someone here explain what Michael Howson and Travis Perron job responsibilities are / were at the Broward DEC? How many hours per week are they expected to work? Were they hired as full time workers or just part time workers? Did they both accept their positions knowing they were full time employees or just part time employees? Mitch Caesar (Not Caesar) has been a total failure as the head of the Broward DEC. His 32 (?) local clubs have been losing members by up to 40% in the past two years. What have been his solutions? Total silence!!! His local clubs spend thousands upon thousands of dollars yearly so that their members and especially their local club Board members go to free parties 12 months a year. Does Mitch stop this? NOPE!!! Already free to local club members Christmas / Hanukah 2015 holiday dinners at local restaurants have already been set up. Less than 45% of all Broward County registered voters bothered to vote in November 2014. Great job Mitch you achieved in allowing our GOP Governor Rick Scott to be re-elected. No leadership on how to register new Democrats. No leadership for his 32 local clubs to run. No leadership on Early Voting days information. Thank God this joker of a leader Mitch will be leaving! Now his female replacement fired / laid off the only Negro Executive of the Broward DEC. When it snows, it SNOWS!!!!! MS Hillary Clinton will be totally ashamed to visit Broward County in the next 15 months!!!!!

I read all the response it's people like you that is crazy as fuck

"Permalink Submitted by Anonymous on August 17, 2015 - 8:44pm I read all the response it's people like you that is crazy as fuck" Come again? Care to explain what you are trying to say? By your language it shows that you were home schooled by your parents. Everyone: "Anonymous's" parents are brother and sister!!!

What is the total legal cost for the Broward DEC concerning this issue going to be? They are already broke!!!! Let's show the dollar amounts!!!! Mr. Mitch Ceasar (Not Caesar!) is a lawyer. PRO BONO!!!!! How about it Mitch? Willing to show some leadership? HA!

Of course the Broward DEC has no money. So may of its clubs have lost between 25% to 40% of their dues paying members in the last 2 years. There is no leadership from the top. So many clubs did so little in the last November 2014 elections. The Broward DEC fails to remember that POTUS Obama won Florida in 2012 by JUST 0.88% against Romney. Thank GOD new leadership is coming in!!!!!!

He can draw unemployment like 40% of his people!!!

Good one.

This loser is crying that slavery is still illegal.

Do you mean Democrats, LGBT, African Americans or all of the above when you write 40% "his people" are unemployed? Just want to call you by the correct expletive!!!

Hate to defend Stupid Willie (above) but American jails are full of Blacks. In states where there are: "Three Strikes And You Are OFF to Prison" laws; one would think persons with 2 convictions would at least TRY to get their act together!!! DUH!!!!

So....Damocrats have the problem they blame on Republicans and Constitutional Conservatives Hypocrites supreme.

Idiot Bill, all political parties have problems. Just look at The Donald with the GOP. And especially look at Fox News and how they treat Ben Carson with a soft feather: How come no Fox News reporters and commentators ask Americans if they believe that Ben Carson will win the GOP nomination and then become POTUS? Is it because Fox News knows that America will not put up with 12 straight months of a NEGRO living in our White House? They seem fine to ask if America is ready for an old Jewish Bernie as POTUS!

Make that 12 straight YEARS!!!! GOP Perry: "oooopppppss Sorry!"

Florida is a right to work State, employers can fire you for any reason.

Blacks think laws don't apply to them because they' #BlackLiesMatter

Totally agree! And what has Mr. Michael Howson stated that he deserves to keep his job? What has he stated that he has accomplished? I read nothing from him about these two vital issues. Why doesn't he list his job responsibilities and then next to them list all his achievements? Maybe he was originally hired solely because he is Black? Does the words "Affirmative Action" ring a bell? Nothing wrong with getting rid of dead wood. If you don't produce...bye bye!!!!

Remember, blacks can't be accused of under-performing because, according to them, the accusation itself is 'racist'. Anything said about a black (according to their PC Constitution) that is negative is not allowed under article #BlackLiesMatter.001. The fact that they may sue their own party demonstrates how politically savvy they are.

Discriminatory firing is not acceptable or legal.

Would you feel it was 'discriminatory' if the White guy was fired instead of the black?

OK. Show how it was a discriminatory firing. What has he accomplished? What has he succeeded at? What new ideas has he offered? Was he originally hired over a more qualified non-black? Define 'Affirmative Action'. Was that one of the factors he was hired? How many hours did he put into his work per month? Any company should be able to fire any employees that do not live up to their job descriptions and requirements. Saying he is Black is one TERRIBLE defense!!!!

That's their defense, and they're sticking to it. #BlackLiesMatter

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nancy smith
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