Since You Brought It Up, St. Peter ...
Around the State
Any publicity is good publicity in this business, that's always been my theory. So I thank Peter Schorsch, St. Peter himself, for the attention he quickly gave Sunshine State News after my news story on Annette Taddeo and the IRS appeared Friday on our Home page.
And, I did say news story. In spite of Peter's effort to portray it as the writer's rantings ("The headline blares like a guttural scream ..."), I defy him or anyone else to find one Nancy Smith opinion in it, including the headline.
The IRS is investigating a real complaint from a real person close to Charlie Crist's real Democratic lieutenant governor select. Just because I kept the complainant's name out of the story doesn't mean the complaint was anonymous. I have a copy of it, I talked with the individual who filed it.
I don't usually rise to the bait of this kind of commentary. But Peter has opened a door, bless his heart, and I don't want to miss the opportunity to say a few things on the very subjects he mentions.
I'll start with Annette Taddeo.
In his catchy-titled blog, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Sunshine State News" (loved the hot photo illustration with it, by the way), it's as if Peter is saying, how dare you go poking around Annette Taddeo? I hope I'm misreading that, because I'm over here wondering why, with the exception of Leslie Wimes, it seems virtually no other reporters -- mainstream or otherwise -- are poking around themselves. Is Taddeo out of bounds?
He says, "Smith, who ought to know better, is attempting to paint Taddeo as the next Jim Greer."
Why should I know better?
What magic powers do I possess to know what went on in Chairwoman Taddeo's shop? I look, I find 537 Consulting LLC, a company created by her executive director (wink, wink) at virtually the same time she gives that company management of virtually all the fundraising money the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee has. No explanation needed, you think? She gets a free pass?
The question shouldn't be why does Sunshine State News care, but why doesn't the Miami Herald, the Tampa Bay Times and the Orlando Sentinel? Why doesn't the Sun-Sentinel care? Surely they know the Broward Democratic Executive Committee doesn't conduct its business that way.
Taddeo wants to be lieutenant governor. True, most lieutenant governors haven't been much more than window dressers. But if Charlie Crist, a man with chronic wanderlust, wins, Taddeo is one career change, one heartbeat, away from the governor's chair. And the people of Florida know nothing about her.
Do we really want to take the party leadership's word for it that Taddeo was skillful with people and an efficient, problem-solving chairwoman? That she is an accomplished, highly regarded, fiscally prudent business woman? The party gave us Annette Taddeo. Do we trust that the party did a better job of "vetting" Taddeo than it did, say, Allie Braswell? A better job than the scribes in the venerable Florida press can do?
Why, for example, does Taddeo's last disclosure statement say she spent tens of thousands of dollars on office remodeling at her translation business, yet the 800-or-so-square-foot office shows no signs of modernization? Where did the money go? Call it a "wackadoo fixation" if you like, Peter, but I thought all news organizations covering the election would be tailing her by now like a Dashiell Hammett gumshoe.
You won't hear any apology from me.
And there's Charlie Crist.
St. Peter suggests Sunshine State News has marching orders to thump Charlie Crist every chance it gets. "SSN supposedly keeps the doors open by balancing its otherwise respectable coverage with a healthy dose of Crist-bashing," he writes.
Nope. Not even a little bit true. The dedication to devouring Charlie like a shark on chum is all me. Nancy Smith. Charlie Crist-bashing doesn't keep our doors open, it keeps me happy. It is nobody's priority but mine. But please remember, when I write about Charlie, I write as a columnist. Columns are opinions and marked on the page as such.
The first time I saw Charlie in person, he was Education Commissioner Charlie. I listened as he lied to Florida teachers during an address at a school in Fort Pierce; then he lied to me outside in the hall. I've written about the experience. Ever since all I've heard from him are empty platitudes.
I bashed him royally as a Republican, I bashed him through his desperate attempt to save his Senate bid as a "no labels" independent, and now as a born-again Democrat -- same thing again. Every New Year's since 2001 I've resolved to change my ways and write at least one nice thing about him during the year. And I keep looking for something nice to say, honestly I do. But I haven't managed it yet.
My point is, nobody ever had to suggest, ask or order me to write the things I do about Charlie Crist. I was doing it long before Sunshine State News was a glint in its daddy's eye. Regardless what party flag Charlie flies today, this is an empty man consumed only with ambition who should be retired from public service.
The truth is, Peter knows how I feel about Charlie, I've told him before. And though I don't know if Charlie's campaign is one of Peter's clients, or if Peter and the Democratic Party are doing business together, I know Peter and the candidate are friends. I get that. And it helps me understand where his Friday blog is coming from.
Finally, there's Leslie Wimes.
A remarkable woman. A Democrat, a free-thinker, a person of enormous integrity. Leslie is one of the good things to come out of this election season for me -- and it's not because, as Democrats try to paint her, she "sounds so Republican about Charlie Crist."
Leslie Wimes is a rare gem. She has more integrity in her little finger than the whole sour brigade of Allison Tant soldiers at Democratic HQ. Leslie refuses to rewrite Charlie Crist history. She does not believe he has the best interests of the African-American community at heart. And for that crime, she's Public Enemy No. 1 among party leadership, ridiculed for her commitment to Democratic principles rather than Crist and for her support of Charlie's opponent in the August primary, former Sen. Nan Rich.
I was disappointed to see Peter has joined the party's attempt to demonize her. He tweets mercilessly to her and about her. And in his Friday blog he called some of the columns Sunshine State News carries "the incoherent rantings of batsh*t crazy 'writers' like Leslie Weems." I hope misspelling her name was an honest mistake and not a show of disrespect. She doesn't deserve that.
What's his problem with Leslie and her Women on the Move website?
I would have thought Peter would admire Leslie Wimes as much as I do. I've heard him talk about the importance of bringing up his own daughter to be a strong, unafraid, principled woman. That's certainly how I see Leslie -- strong, courageous, wanting to make a difference for her party and her community.
Better and far more correct to accuse me of ranting. I would be guilty as charged. But I don't see "rants" in Leslie's columns. Her writing is fresh, passionate, honest, uncompromising. I happen to think Florida is a better place for Leslie Wimes.
I hope Peter will take a closer look.
I do want to make one thing clear before I end: I've long been a member of the Peter Schorsch fan club. And his blog doesn't change that.
I admire Peter because he makes the Energizer Bunny look like a sea slug, he drives mainstream media almost as crazy as we do, and he "gets" Sunshine State News -- accepts that we've staked out our own territory among Florida political coverage. And on this occasion I'm actually grateful he slammed us -- well, me more than us. It gave me this opportunity to fire back on the Taddeo shots, explain Charlie-bashing and show my support for Leslie Wimes.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423.