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Politics: Luther Campbell, Two-Faced Phony?

[ 0 ] June 16, 2011 | Charles Branham-Bailey

20,000 of You Voted for Him – But Which One of Him?

Will the REAL self-branded leader of the local African-American community (in the way that Wacko Jacko was the self-crowned King of Pop) please step forward?

Luther Campbell, in his Miami New Times column, April 5, 2011:

“Julio Robaina will say just about anything to get elected county mayor….He’s a big, fat liar.”

Luther Campbell, last week, made a joint appearance with the “big, fat liar,” endorsing him for mayor over Carlos Gimenez.

Is the real Luther Campbell the one who leveled this bombshell during the May 16 New Birth Baptist Church candidates debate? –

“In my opinion, I think Mr. Robaina bought off Mr. Bradley,…I think Mr. Bell is bought off by Mr. Robaina as well.  See, ’cause Mr. Robaina got a lot of money.  He can buy off everybody up here but me.”

– or is it instead the Luther Campbell who had this to say at last week’s joint appearance with Robaina, in response to a Jim DeFede hardball (“At the debate…you accused him [Robaina] of paying off African-Americans…and [claimed] that he had a lot of money to buy a lot of people but not you.  Now you’re putting your arm around him and saying this is the candidate for you.  How do you reconcile those two things?”):

“Well, the thing is, is, uh, you know, that’s the campaign, you know, uh, in a campaign there’s going to be some things [said]…I would not be standing here today with him if I thought some of these things were true.”

Are we talking here of the same Luther Campbell who, back in the May debate, spouted, “We have African-American politicians that are paid off by special interest groups, and that is a problem.  So, I’m the only individual that’s gonna step up to ‘em because I’m not a political insider, and I do not take special interest money.”

– or is it the Luther Campbell who, this week, was accused of behaving just like the worst of political insiders by trading his endorsement for an agreement from his new big, fat, lying friend to hire, if elected, a Campbell protege?

Again, from his column, this one from April 28:  More name-calling; this time, Gimenez and Robaina are “soft-money whores” because of the PAC money he alleges they rake in.

Are we to believe the Luther Campbell who as much admitted to his editor, Chuck Strouse, in a videotaped one-on-one that he had indeed broached the subject of a deal –

– or are we to believe the Luther Campbell who backtracked on this version of events in a subsequent Herald interview?

Fret not if you feel mind-boggled; you’re not the only one.

But know this:  A complaint has now been filed against Robaina, one which, hypothetically, could get him booted from the race.  (Deal-making to win an election is a no-no.)

So much for the politically-naive Luke’s first-time stab at public office.  Let’s hope it’s his last, whichever Luther Campbell we’re talking about.

Talk about an experiment gone awry:  How could the staff of the New Times ever have  calculated this strange turn of events?  It was in their offices that the Campbell-for-Mayor campaign was incubated and hatched months ago, a brazen and irreverent attempt to tinker with the local political system by inserting a paper-funded, -fueled, and -driven candidate into the mix of things, the scheme of which was chronicled in a front-cover story in the New Times only weeks ago.  The editors and staff of the paper not only launched their star columnist skyward, they unashamedly bragged and brayed about it:

“Let’s run Luther Campbell for county mayor and write about it.”

“There’s no chance he’d win, but this would be great publicity for the paper and for Luke’s column.”

“Relax!  No African-American has ever won countywide office in Miami-Dade.  We’ll use it to spoof the political process!”

“We could all go work for Luke at county hall.”

What shameless skullduggery.  Sitting around the water cooler at their Biscayne Blvd. lair, the knaves connived to fool us, but it now looks like the fools are they.

New Times writer Francisco Alvarado, on his blog the afternoon of the Robaina endorsement, opined that “endorsing Robaina is definitely a hit to Campbell’s credibility.  I told him so during a phone conversation as he kept the throng of…reporters waiting for his…press conference.  But I understand why he endorsed Robaina, even though I want to throw up.”

Understand, Francisco, it’s next to impossible to now coax the monster your paper created back into his cage after he has escaped the lab and run amok.  Just ask Dr. Frankenstein.

Oh, what strange political bedfellows these are, Robaina and Campbell.  “Big, fat liar?” There aren’t many I know who’d turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to an insult like that, no less one made in print.

Big? Yeah, I’d say Robaina is.  Fat? That’s debatable.  Liar? Hmm.

I myself wouldn’t use that phrase.  Too trite, overused.  After Al Franken so titled his blistering tome some years ago (Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Liar), I think it’s best retired.

One thing we’ve learned about Robaina in the last week is that he apparently has a thick skin on that big and debatably fat torso of his.  The resolve to defeat your opponent and win an election will drive a man to ignore all sorts of insults.

Hell, if this forgive-and-forget becomes routine, might I expect a call from Governor Train Wreck’s office any day now inviting me to become his next press secretary?  Lordy, galordy, I can hardly wait.

The Gimenez camp ought look at the Robaina endorsement from a positive angle:  At least they don’t have the embarrassment of a loose cannon like Campbell on their side.

The notion of a Campbell mayoralty was, even before Election Day, not a prospect taken seriously.  Now, in retrospect, and since the debacle of last week’s endorsement (“the endorsement from hell,” as the Reid Report put it), the thought of him ever being in charge at County Hall – this year or any year – seems just downright ludicrous.  Laughable.  Lunatic.

Here’s another quote from “Uncle Luke”, this one from his May 24 election night concession speech:

“We wanted to stay true to the people, and that’s what it’s all about, staying true to the people.”

Which people – and from which Luther Campbell – would that be, Luther?  Hmm?

When Campbell gazes into his mirror this week, which Campbell does he see staring back at him?  And does he pay even slight recall to the lyrics of his former band’s rap, “Revelation”?

You have sell-out brothers who will sell their heart

For fame and fortune or to get a head start

But in the long run they will see

That they are nothin’ else but victims of prophecy.

I’ll have plenty more to say on the Campbell fiasco – including what his editor told me – next week.


Narces Benoit’s now-famous cellphone video of the Collins Ave. shooting Memorial Day weekend – and the as-famous controversy swirling around what the police did or didn’t do to his phone (was it damaged or not?) – prompted the MBPD to issue a response (as reported in last week’s SunPost by reporter John Zur) that the department considers “any and all video of the incident [as] crucial to the investigation, and it is not unusual for police to secure any video that may have evidentiary value.”

Several other phones, the MBPD said, were also “secured during the course of the investigation.”

Secured.  It peeves me when euphemisms – particularly when deployed by Big Brother-ish government people and agencies – start creeping into official vernacular.

Keep to confiscated.  Or seized.  Or impounded.

Secured in this instance makes it sound like the department was safeguarding the public from a danger – when, in fact, the very danger here may have been a police department zealously desirous of preventing questionable actions of its officers from being video-recorded by citizen eyewitnesses.


Corporate espionage – one company spying on another in order to steal trade secrets or gain a market advantage – is quite commonplace, we all know.  What I wasn’t aware of until recently is that it goes on even between municipalities.

The following intercepted email came to me by way of a trusted spy (yes, newspaper people use them, too).  Apparently, as becomes evident when reading through this “confidential” memo, another U.S. city wanted to gauge the prudence of wooing away Urban Beach Weekend from Miami Beach, going so far as to dispatch its economic development director to lurk among the sea oats and peek from behind our Romero Britto public art pieces, to spy on the partiers that swelled our city to several times its population.

(Unfortunately, the name of that city got bled off the paper when my source inadvertently sat a perspiring bottle of ice cold beer on it, so I’m unable to reveal its identity.)

“Dear Mayor:

What a weekend in Miami Beach this has been!  When you and the city council sent me here to determine the feasibility of stealing away Urban Beach Weekend from MB, I had no idea what an eyeful I was going to get.

The litter!  The public urination!  The traffic tie-ups!  The drunk-and-disorderlies!  The arrests!  And in the wee hours of Sunday morning, a shoot-out on the main thoroughfare!  Perhaps you saw it on TV or YouTube.

I conducted an informal, unscientific poll of some residents I randomly encountered.  Some of them are fit to descend upon their City Hall once this is over.  Things may get ugly yet.  The local citizenry is more riled than a stirred-up hornets nest.  The Beach mayor is up for reelection this year.  Can’t imagine she’s gonna find it a cake walk with residents who’ll hold this against the city leadership.

As your economic development director, I must strongly advise you and the council discard any further interest in this matter.  This holiday event isn’t something we want to take on.  Booking a Hell’s Angels convention seems tamer stuff.  Leave Urban Beach Weekend to MB.  This is a hot potato we shouldn’t touch.  My instinct tells me that it’s about to blow up and burn MB’s hands.

Trust me – our city’s economy doesn’t need this kind of stimulus.”


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About Charles Branham-Bailey: View author profile.

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