Florence Snyder - 6/8 - SaintPetersBlog

Florence Snyder

Florence Beth Snyder is a Tallahassee-based lawyer and consultant.

Florence Snyder: A crowd of cousins at The New York Times

The mortality rate for a family business is staggering. Seventy percent of them will fail or be sold before the founders’ children come of age. Just 10 percent remain active, and in family hands when the third generation is old enough to work for a living. The chances are close to zero that a family business will be around to provide employment for a fifth generation.

Somehow, the descendants of newspaperman Arthur Ochs beat the odds.

Ochs founded The New York Times in 1896. This week, his great-great-grandson, Arthur Gregg “A.G.” Sulzberger was named Deputy Publisher; he will soon follow his father, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. into the office where the buck stops at America’s newspaper of record.

Sulzberger, Jr. became Publisher in 1992, a time when most of his fellow Lords of Journalism had not even considered the possibility that emerging technologies and changing consumer tastes would require them to rethink their mid-20th century business models. Family-owned media companies were dropping like flies, but the Ochs folks appear to have some kind of sustainability gene that the rest of us can only dream about.

A.G. was one of three extremely credible Ochs’ heirs to throw a hat into the Aspiring Publisher ring.

Sam Dolnick worked as a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press before moving to the Times newsroom. In 2012, he won the George Polk Award for Justice Reporting for his expose of rape and murder inside New Jersey’s privatized halfway houses.

Following a stint in the fun-and-glory job of deputy sports editor, Dolnick took on the Sisyphean task of figuring out how to win the hearts and eyeballs of readers looking for news on their digital device.  His portfolio today includes podcasting, virtual reality, and other forms of 21st-century storytelling for which the Times is greatly admired.

David Perpich earned praise within the company and in the industry for his work as senior vice president for product, a fancy title for the Herculean task of monetizing content in an era when people think that information is a free gift from Mark Zuckerberg.

A.G. made friends and earned credibility among Times’ readers and newsroom colleagues as a reporter, national correspondent and assistant Metro editor. His rise to the Publisher’s office began in earnest when he was named associate editor for digital strategy.

Titles like that are a dime a dozen in the news business, but in 2014, Sulzberger actually produced a gutsy, influential and widely praised strategy for keeping the Times independent, and profitable. Sulzberger’s “Innovation Report” seems to have tipped the family’s collective judgment in his favor when it came time to vote for which of the 30-somethings would get the job with the highest profile and the highest pressure.

If this were a story told by George R.R. Martin, it would be called A Crowd of Cousins and everybody would end up dead. But Sulzberger, Dolnick and Perpich are said to be friends who will play well with one another and work as a team to maintain the Times as a place where their children will aspire to work.  It’s an impressive contrast to the legions of families where cousins spend very little time together, and wouldn’t like each other if they did.

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Florence Snyder: Notes from the Florida State Archives

florencesnyder-photo-150x150
Florence Snyder

If you want to feel good — really good — about your government, pay a visit to the overworked, underpaid band of public servants who staff Florida’s State Library and Archives.

These are the people who preserve, protect and defend our history from those who would rewrite it for short-term political or financial gain. Florida’s archivists and librarians are paragons of competence. They are bottomless pits of the childlike curiosity and thirst for knowledge that moves a society in the right direction.

Turnover is not an issue at the Library and Archives. The new kids have been around for five years, and the gray-haired eminences were brought on back when Bob Graham was governor.

Just nine archivists tend the vast collection of stuff that tells Florida’s story. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics were important tools of the archivists’ trade long before “STEM” became a ubiquitous acronym.  Without their expertise in chemistry and climatology, priceless treasures like Baptista Boazio‘s Saint Augustine Map, commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I in 1589, would have long ago disintegrated.

The muscular left-brains who labor in the R.A. Gray Building make it possible for legislative staffers, opposition researchers, survivors of Florida’s infamous Dozier School, and generations of writers and students to access parchment and vellum and onion skin papers, along with the Dictabelts and CDs where our history resides.

New material arrives every day, and somehow, this tiny staff manages to keep track of it.

October is American Archives Month, and a good time to drop by the R.A. Gray Building and see your tax dollars working very hard and extremely smart.

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Florence Snyder: And another one gone (-30-)

Editor’s note: Within 24 hours of his layoff, Lloyd Dunkelberger has joined FloridaPolitics.com as a contributor.

***

There was yet another round of layoffs last week at Florida newspapers. Men and women with, collectively, hundreds of years of priceless institutional memory and high-functioning moral compasses were unceremoniously kicked to the curb.

They will be replaced, if at all, by younger, cheaper bodies who have not necessarily been taught the difference between putting bylines on news releases and honest reporting.

Serving up the pink slips at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune was Publisher Patrick Dorsey. Dorsey previously held the same title at the Tallahassee Democrat, where his principal achievements were getting to the gym at 6:30 a.m. and cozying up to shills for bad actors in the public and private sector; Chamber of Commerce cronies; and Chamber of Commerce cronies who also worked as shills for bad actors in the public and private sector.

Among the casualties of Dorsey’s latest exercise in “reduction in (work)force” is ink-stained eminence grise Lloyd Dunkelberger.

As a newly minted University of Florida College of Journalism graduate, Dunkelberger walked out of the 1977 graduation exercises and into the newsroom at the Ocala Star-Banner. His mother was very proud, as well she should have been.

The Star-Banner, along with The Gainesville Sun; the Lakeland Ledger, and the Herald-Tribune were owned by the Sulzberger family and they lavished almost as much love and attention on those properties as on their flagship newspaper, The New York Times.

Dunkelberger was hired by the late Don Meiklejohn, a “prototypical mean-ass editor” and assigned to cover the Marion County Commission, with its weekly marathon meetings. Dunkelberger would sit through the first few hours and go back to the smoke-filled newsroom to pound out a story for the afternoon paper. Then it was back to the meeting, where he stayed for as long as it lasted.

Tutored and occasionally terrorized by editors and publishers who were paying attention to everything, every day, Dunkelberger passed the audition and would spend the next 39 years serving Florida citizens and taxpayers at papers the Sulzbergers had nurtured.

Meiklejohn said Dunkelberger was the “best damn records-checker” he’d ever worked with, and was both proud and sorry when the Times Company moved the young newsman to the Ledger. In Lakeland, Dunkelberger served as assistant city editor and was soon promoted to the demanding — and in those days prestigious — post of capital correspondent for The New York Times Regional Newspapers.

Dunkelberger’s experience served the public well during the circus known as the 2000 Recount. The New York Times sent a team of seven to Tallahassee including Todd Purdham (now with Vanity Fair as National Editor) who cited Dunkelberger’s steady hand as a significant contribution to the Times’ definitive recount coverage.

Dunkelberger earned the gratitude of generations of Florida journalists for his extraordinary generosity. He didn’t cherry-pick the good stories, leaving the boring or minor topics for the underlings. He freely shares knowledge with newcomers and arcane bits of information with his peers.

Some of the brightest names in what’s left of Florida journalism cycled through his office. He gave his office manager, Dara Kam, a shot at reporting. Today, she’s a Senior Writer for The News Service of Florida. The famously ferocious Gary Fineout, now with The Associated Press, flourished professionally under Dunkelberger, who was neither threatened nor intimidated by Fineout’s outsized personality.

Dunkelberger’s ethics have never been questioned. He stays out of his stories and lets the work speak for itself. He does not preen, fawn, or discuss his adult beverage preferences in cyberspace.

The New York Times Co. fell on hard times and pulled up stakes in 2011, abandoning the Florida properties to investors who knew little and cared less about journalism.  With the writing on the wall, old timers headed for the lifeboats. Diane McFarlin, Dorsey’s predecessor in the Sarasota publisher’s office and a Florida newswoman to the core, now serves as Dean of the UF journalism school where she does what she can to produce good journalists in a world that treats good journalists very poorly.

Dunkelberger kept his nose to the grindstone, and went down with the ship, his integrity intact.

___

Florence Beth Snyder is a Tallahassee-based lawyer and consultant.

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Florence Snyder: Where the Sun don’t shine

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is not the worst offender in Florida’s never-ending War on Open Government.

It just gets caught in the act more often than fellow offenders at the state, county and municipal levels.

That’s because DCF is one of the few agencies left which ever has to contend with watchdog journalism.

DCF chieftains, lawyers and flacks are well-acquainted with the well-oiled BS detector of the Miami Herald’s Carol Marbin Miller, a veteran investigative reporter who knows the difference between transparency, and transparent nonsense.

But they keep trying to buffalo her, anyway.

The latest example involves the case of Sophia Hines. She’s currently residing in the Broward County jail, charged with suffocating her infant son and toddler daughter. Hines, a resident of Pennsylvania, had been receiving services from that state’s child welfare authorities.

Marbin Miller “cobbled together” some of the sad story of how Hines ended up in Florida and the children ended up dead, but only after days of being diddled by DCF while its lawyers tried and failed to come up with a good excuse to keep secrets on Pennsylvania’s behalf.

“Though child protection records remain sealed in Pennsylvania, they are considered public record in Florida when a youngster dies from abuse or neglect,” Marbin Miller reports in her June 25 front-page story. “For about two weeks, the Florida Department of Children & Families sought to shield records of the Hines children from disclosure, saying Pennsylvania’s confidentiality extended to Florida, a claim First Amendment lawyers disputed. DCF ultimately relented, and released all of the records to the Herald Friday.”

State agencies employ an army of well-paid lawyers and “communications professionals” to play public records keep-away. They do it — with our money — because they can.

It’s been decades since Florida had an elected statewide official who paid much more than lip service to open government.

In 1992, Florida voters passed, by an 83 percent majority, Amendment 24 to Article 1 of the state constitution. Nicknamed the Sunshine Amendment, it was supposed to drench existing open government laws in a thick coat of permanent sunlight.

Almost immediately, the Legislature began throwing shade and thumbing its nose at voters.

The First Amendment Foundation, which has the depressing task of keeping track, reports that since 1995, the Legislature has passed 240 bills creating exemptions to our open government laws.

The contempt for open government is entirely bipartisan; more than half those bills were approved unanimously by both Legislative chambers. The Senate, which loves to call itself the more “deliberative” chamber, has approved exemptions unanimously 151 times.

Florida’s current attorney general, Pam Bondi, spends a lot of public money in court and a lot of time on cable news “defending” gun rights and gay marriage bans. She insists she’s just doing her job, protecting Florida’s Constitution and guarding against “federal overreach.”

Bondi is far less aggressive when it comes to protecting Florida’s constitutional right of access to public records and meetings. Like most of her recent predecessors, Democrat and Republican alike, Bondi has treated the Sunshine Amendment as an unloved, unwanted poor relation. Think Catelyn Stark and Jon Snow.

In the wake of the June 12 mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, reporters requested documents about the killer and the police response — which are plainly public record under Florida law.

Bondi said nothing and did nothing, as federal and local officials told the press to pound sand.

On June 15, Florida Politics’ reporter Jim Rosica asked Bondi for an explanation. She has yet to answer, perhaps because there is no principled answer to be given by an attorney general who claims to be a defender of Florida’s faith in Florida’s Constitution.

___

Florence Beth Snyder is a Tallahassee-based lawyer and consultant.

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Florence Snyder: Church scandal underscores importance of press

At long last, there’s an edge-of-seat movie about journalism where the woman on the I-Team is not sleeping with her boss or her source.

That’s just one of a million things to love about “Spotlight.” It’s a two-hour cinematic distillation of two years in the lives of Boston Globe reporters as they piece together the big picture of the Catholic Church’s cover-up of pedophile priests harbored and enabled by Cardinal Bernard Law. Audiences burst into applause as the end credits roll.

Forbes Magazine calls the film “a superb love letter to journalistic competence.”  Indeed, it’s a video textbook.

Reporters knocking on doors. Reporters getting doors slammed in their faces.  Reporters unfazed by the dead rat decaying in a dusty storage room where they discover old church directories. Reporters turning old church directories into proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

All in a day’s work for journalists who get their stories from people who aren’t being paid to talk to them – and whose documents are hard to get and harder still to assemble into a damning database. In one particularly satisfying scene, reporter Mark Rezendes refuses to be stonewalled by a smarmy court clerk who won’t give him a public file full of smoking guns. Rezendes goes straight to the duty judge and politely but firmly insists that the law be followed.

Like most jaw-dropping scandals, the Catholic Church sex abuse story hid in plain sight for a very long time.

Small stories that should have made reporting radar light up had been published in the Globe. Victims had approached the paper years earlier and couldn’t get the time of day. Eventually, some found their way to the Boston Phoenix’s Kristen Lombardi.

Lombardi, now with the Center for Public Integrity, is a fearless and highly decorated investigative reporter, but an alt-weekly was no match for Cardinal Law’s decades of experience at running a conspiracy of silence.

The paradigm shifted when Martin Baron arrived for his first day of work as editor of the Globe. Baron had held the same job at the Miami Herald, and no one who worked with him there was the least bit surprised when the movie-Baron ordered his startled staff to push past the omerta that prevailed in the church, the courts, and the community.

The real Baron told the real backstory to WGBH’s Emily Rooney in 2011:

“When I first came, before I even came, I was reading stories in the Globe about Father Geoghan and that he was alleged to have abused 80 children. It was an extraordinary story and I thought, what could be done with that? I read a column by Eileen McNamara who was a columnist for us at the time, who had said these documents were under seal and perhaps the truth would never be known.

“It came up at my first news meeting here. I raised the question of what we could do …”

In the beginning, the Spotlight team could think of plenty of reasons to do something else. They’d all been raised Catholic, and nobody wants to tell Grandma that her trusted spiritual advisers are not really doing the Lord’s work

To Baron, “perhaps the truth would never be known” was an unacceptable place for a local newspaper to be.

The Spotlight reporters warm to the story as they pursue the hard task of thawing out sources who understandably believe the Globe is in the tank for the church.  Slowly, the traumatized victims come around.

At the movies, and in real life, the payoff goes like this:

Source: You can use my name if you want.

Reporter: Thanks, Patrick.

Source: Don’t thank me. Just get the assholes.

Florence Beth Snyder is a Tallahassee-based lawyer and consultant.

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Florence Snyder: Postcard from ‘Iris’

Take some incredibly good advice, Tallahassee, and see Iris, which played to full houses last weekend at the All Saints Cinema and is held over for three more showings.

The movie made its debut last October at the New York Film Festival and was shot by noted documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Gray Gardens), who died in March at age 88.

Maysles’ subject is 93-year-old Iris Apfel. If you’ve never heard of her, it’s because you don’t live in New York City, so you missed the Bergdorf-Goodman window filled with Iris mannequins, each wearing her signature glasses with frames the size of beer can bottoms.

Iris and husband Carl Apfel, whose 100th birthday party is among the many highlights of the film, started a textile company in 1950.  Doing business as Old World Weavers, Iris, a decorator, worked on design restoration projects in the White House during the administrations of every president from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton.

The Apfels closed the firm in 1992, and Carl was hoping that the wife he plainly adores might take life a little easier.

But Iris was just warming up.

As a personal shopper to the great historic homes, museums, and residences of the most prominent Old Money people in the world, Iris had to keep a lid on her opinions. A consummate professional, Iris honors her obligations to long-dead clients like Jackie Kennedy, giving Carl a loving, but firm smack on the knee as he begins to tell Maysles that “Jackie was a difficult client.”

Now in business for herself as a consultant, a visiting professor at the University of Texas, and fulltime “rare bird of fashion,” Iris has wise and witty opinions on everything, and she’s not afraid to express them.

The camera lingers on the Apfels’ Park Avenue apartments and their warehouse in Long Island City.  To the untrained eye, it looks like something out of those reality shows about hoarding.  To the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, it looked like great material for an exhibition.

Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel opened in the fall of 2005 and was so successful that they took it on the road to some highly regarded regional museums, including the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach.

It is hard to imagine a more interesting woman of any age than Iris, unless you know Agnes Ash, Iris’ friend and fellow nonagenarian. Aggie, as her army of admirers call her, got to know Iris in her decades covering the beautiful people for The New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, and as publisher of the Palm Beach Daily News and Palm Beach Life Magazine.

It was Aggie who introduced her daughter to Iris decades ago. That daughter grew up to be filmmaker Jennifer Ash Rudick, an executive producer of Iris, and producer-director of last year’s Diner en Blanc, a documentary about the world’s largest dinner party. Rudick has a rare gift for storytelling, and an even rarer knack for finding real wisdom in unexpected places.

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Florence Snyder: What dads really want for Father’s Day is your time

Hey kids! Just two more shopping days until Father’s Day. Step away from the tie counter, please, because your father does not want another tie, unless it’s the one Jim Morrison wore at his high school graduation.

Here are some other things your father does not want: belts, bathrobes, T-shirts, cuff links, coffee mugs, and electronic devices that were on the shelves before Mother’s Day and cost less than $500.

If you’re old enough to be reading this, you’re old enough to get it through your head that what you father wants from you is time.

Give him as much of that as you can spare, because God counts the years, and you never know when his number — or yours — will be up.

Here’s some stuff your father wants you to ask about:

What’s the first thing you remember?

When did you decide to become a butcher (or baker or candlestick maker)?

What’s your favorite movie?

What are you most proud of?

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?

If you could do anything, what would you do?

For best results, have these conversations in person, and remember to shut off your father’s device, as well as your own.

And kids, while you’re home, don’t forget to clean up your room. Your father is very tired of hearing your mother wringing her hands about whether it would be OK to give away your stuffed animals.

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Florence Snyder: Postcard from Alzheimer’s

“We take that very seriously,” is quite possibly the biggest of the big lies they tell in Tallahassee.

There’s a ribbon and a 5K walk and a proclamation for everything, but precious little cash on the barrel head for families collapsing under the weight of caring for a loved one whose needs exceed the family’s resources.

The Florida Department of Taking Things Seriously is great with the flashy gesture. We saw that Tuesday when they bathed the Old Capitol in purple light from dusk to dawn to show how seriously they take Alzheimer’s disease.

Right now, a half a million Floridians suffer from this cruel illness that robs its victims of their personhood and bankrupts their families financially and emotionally.

That number will go up. Way up. And as the Baby Boomers are rapidly learning, “hope I die before I get old” and “have children and pray that they like you” are not effective retirement plans for people who will be spending quite a few of their golden years unable to find their own way to the bathroom.

While the Legislature was “shedding light” on the Capitol, if not the actual problem, the Tallahassee Alzheimer’s Project and AARP’s “Films for Grown Ups” teamed up with the Tallahassee Film Society for a free screening of “Still Alice” at the All Saints Cinema.

Julianne Moore won an Oscar for her gut-wrenching portrayal of a beautiful and beloved wife, mother and brilliant Columbia University professor of linguistics who loses all of that to Alzheimer’s.

Moore’s fictional professor will be cared for at home by her youngest daughter, who gives up her own career to do it. When it’s no longer possible to manage at home, Moore’s fictional doctor husband has plenty of money for a “facility” that functions more like a Ritz-Carlton than like those places the Miami Herald wrote about in 2011, where Moore’s character would have an excellent chance of dying of bedsores long before the Alzheimer’s killed her.

The Palm Beach Post‘s John Kennedy gave some needed context to the purple lights story, reporting that this year, “Lawmakers are setting aside $1.7 million for services, which analysts say is enough to take 230 people off a wait list now crowded with 2,777 Alzheimer’s patients. That’s down from $4 million in state funding last year.”

It’s a spending plan that “… not only shorts Alzheimer’s funding, it also reduces community care for the elderly from $5 million last year to $2 million, providing enough only to extend care to 275 more people from a wait list topping 34,000 Floridians.”

In lieu of putting its old folks out on ice floes, Tallahassee turns to people like James Smith, LCSW, who serves as the Alzheimer’s Project’s clinical director.  He lingered long after the film was over to patiently answer questions he’s patiently answered a million times before.

All over Florida, there are wonderful young professionals like Smith. Armed only with glue, chewing gum, and grit, they make it possible for some lucky few families to bear the otherwise unbearable.

Imagine what they could do if the Legislature really did take the needs of Floridians with Alzheimer’s “very seriously.”

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Postcard from a Tesla P85D

If only the Legislature could get it up as fast as a car made by Elon Musk.

“Holy s$#@, where’s my heart monitor?!” said Tallahassee Magazine Editor Rosanne Dunkelberger, a full ten minutes after our test drive ended.

In the driver’s seat was Orlando-based Tesla representative Kevin Leyva.  His mother can be very proud of him. Leyva surely could tell by looking that his passengers were not “in the demographic;” he spoke slowly and used small words so as not to make us feel stupid as he explained why the car had no transmission, no gears, and an engine that looks like an empty trunk.

No words were necessary — or even possible — as Leyva took us 1.2 miles from the Hotel Formerly Known as the Prince Murat to the Whole Foods Plaza in the nanosecond it takes for the P85D to accelerate from zero to the mode Tesla calls “insane.”

This is not a car for the old, the poor, or the faint of heart.

But it’s pretty darn perfect for a chauffeured Saturday morning joyride on a near-deserted Thomasville Road.

tesla 1 tesla 2 image1

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Florence Snyder: Impossible to miss racist content in Matt Gaetz tweet

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Ft. Walton Beach, isn’t the only Tallahassee twerp to publicly disrespect his elders and betters, but he’s the first in memory to be called to account in the court of public opinion.

Gaetz, 31, got his law license all of seven years ago and doesn’t have much to show in the way of legislative achievements for his five years in the House. He is better known as a master of the Twitterverse, where he spends a lot of time burnishing his credentials as the Eric Cartman of the lower chamber.

Gaetz cemented that reputation last week when his cyber-snark morphed into something much uglier as the House hyperventilated and finally imploded in a snit with the Senate over Medicaid expansion.

Last Tuesday, House speaker and one man public policy death panel Steve Crisafulli, R- Merritt Island, surprised the Senate and 20 million Floridians by pulling the plug on the legislative session rather than negotiate a budget.

On Thursday, 13 members of the Senate Democratic caucus challenged Crisafulli’s temper tantrum in the Florida Supreme Court.

The senators argued – and late Friday, five justices agreed – that the House violated the Florida Constitution by adjourning early with the people’s business unfinished.

The senators were represented in the case by Mark Herron, a highly successful and respected white male lawyer who has practiced Florida constitutional law since before Gaetz was born. Like a lot of hastily-produced legal documents, Herron’s Supreme Court filing contained some typographical errors.

Gaetz quickly rendered his opinion on Twitter, saying, “The lawsuit reads like it was researched and drafted by Sen. Joyner and spell checked by Sen. Bullard.”

The Internet correctly believes that the obvious conclusion is usually the right one, and cyberspace immediately took note that Arthenia Joyner, a practicing lawyer since 1969, and Dwight Bullard, who teaches social studies at Miami Coral Reef Senior High School, were singled out by Gaetz to be mocked as stupid and possibly illiterate because and only because they are African-American.

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, was the first power player to tweet the obvious: “This is absolutely disgraceful for a public official to say.”As Master of the House, Crisafulli might have taken a cue from Latvala and ordered Gaetz to join him in personally delivering a truckload of olive branches to Joyner, Bullard, and the millions of Floridians of all colors and political points of view who wholeheartedly agree with Latvala.

Instead, Crisafulli made things worse by apologizing “to those offended” and then retracting the apology with this Twitter instant classic: “I don’t condone the Tweet by @MattGaetz. He is an agitator, yes, but not a racist. Please accept my apology to those offended.”

Joyner, 72, risked her life in the mid-20th century struggles for civil rights. She has decades of experience staying classy, no matter what the physical threat or verbal provocation. This time, and at long last, Joyner did not turn the other cheek.

In a response more measured and thoughtful than Gaetz deserved, Joyner wrote:

“Let me begin by saying I am deeply grateful to Senator Latvala and the many others who immediately spoke out against the disgraceful tweet by Rep. Gaetz. Your support made the sting of such hurtful remarks less biting and I truly appreciate your having my back.

“But there are two things that remain deeply troubling to me, as they should to most Floridians. First, there has been no apology from Rep. Gaetz. There were some additional tweets, one attacking liberals and Obamacare, but the silence addressing his disparaging remarks has been deafening.

“In fact, I believe they underscored what myself and others have long suspected, namely that this fierce battle launched by the House Republicans against the Senate’s good healthcare expansion bill had nothing to do with taking federal money.

“In our current budget, the one the House bragged about after its passage last year, more than one-third of the money in that budget – the one paying our expenses right now – came from Washington, D.C. Yet, while Representatives like Gaetz and Corcoran and Speaker Crisafulli were ranting and declaring war and jumping up and down over the evils of taking federal money for Medicaid expansion, not one of them – not one! – ever suggested or offered to return a penny of the federal money they’re relying on now or what they have every intention of grabbing for the budget to come.

“So you have to wonder. What makes some federal dollars ok, and others not?

“Could it be because some have the name ‘Obamacare’ stamped on them? Could it be that far from an isolated moment of judgment lapse on Twitter by Rep. Gaetz, the real source of his anger was unveiled?

“Because the only difference in the federal money they choose to accept or reject lays in the hand that’s extending it. The only difference in the members of the Senate Democrats involved in bringing the lawsuit he chose to attack or ignore in his Twitter rant is the color of our skin.

“And so while the Speaker may try his best to walk back the motive of his member, he cannot walk back the 140 characters of Rep. Gaetz’s racist barb. His words are the kind I have fought against my entire life, the relic of days through which I lived and hope never to live through again.

“So when the fight is resumed against a black U.S. President’s efforts to help all Americans, all Floridians – no matter their color – get affordable healthcare, don’t insult us by telling us it’s about a deficit, or a broken system, or any other excuse other than the real one that’s driving this.”

Latvala is not the only Republican who understands that Gaetz’ overt racism is bad for party business. Jacksonville Times-Union Bureau Chief Tia Mitchell reports Gaetz received “repeated requests from colleagues and advisers” to “smooth things over.”

Gaetz’ idea of smoothing things over was a tweet that said, “My criticisms of ObamaCare Expansion and it’s [sic] supporters are based solely on the facts. Deeply sorry if anyone read more into it than that.”

Then, he was off to Kentucky for the Derby. What he really needs is 21 days in a racism rehab.

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