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Florence Snyder: Happy 80th to the one and only Sandy D’Alemberte

DAlembertebwTallahassee–Dozens of friends and colleagues of Florida State University President and Law School Dean Emeritus Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte gathered in his namesake D’Alemberte Rotunda yesterday to share cake and memories on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

Some, like former Governor Reubin Askew, served with Sandy in the legislature. Retired Supreme Court justices and big name lawyers swapped Sandy stories with less well-known witnesses to the Atticus Finch qualities that Sandy brings to everything he does as a lawyer, a teacher, and a friend.

Sandy’s still bringin’ it on behalf of clients like Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio. An Eagle Scout and valedictorian at Tampa’s Armwood High School, Godinez-Samperio, now 26, has passed the Florida bar exam but can’t get licensed because his parents overstayed their visitors’ visa when they came here from Mexico when Jose was 9.

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners passed the buck to the Florida Supreme Court which passed the buck to the U.S. Department of Justice. This week, the DOJ took time out from criminalizing journalism to weigh in with a brief advising Florida’s high court to tell Godinez-Samperio to pound sand, citing a 1996 federal law barring undocumented immigrants from receiving “public benefits.”

Godinez-Samperio’s odds are looking about as good as the Spartans at Thermopaylae. But that’s when Sandy pours it on.

Before DOJ’s brief had made it into the court file, Sandy was mustering an army of bar leaders to petition the Court to “defend its prerogatives” under the Florida Constitution and issue the license.

It’s a classic Sandy argument….so elegant, so simple, so gutsy, that hardly anybody else would have even thought of it, let alone rounded up—practically overnight—a group of high-octane lawyers to pull for his cause as easily as a magician pulls rabbits from hats.

Like Bluto in National Lampoon’s Animal House, Sandy works best in hopeless situations. “Nothing is over until [Sandy] says it is.”

Ask anyone, “Who do you think is going to be the next Sandy D’Alemberte?” and behold the blank stares. Like Atticus Finch—and Bluto—Sandy is one of a kind.

Florence Snyder is a corporate and First Amendment lawyer. Contact her at lawyerflo@gmail.com

Breaking news: Senator tells unvarnished truth

“The world is waiting for us to see: Are we going to be Greece in two years or are we going to be grownups? And our problem is our political class in this country refuses to take the responsibility and actually maybe lose an election to do the right thing for the country. And we don’t have that leadership. In either party, it’s how do we protect our own? What we ought to be asking is how do we protect our future.” — Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn (R) on MSNBC’s Morning Joe

Howard Troxler has an opinion on “Leadership Funds” just passed into law by the Florida legislature

Let’s just say he doesn’t like them.

I did a little reading up on the funds, it seems that people say that it is an improvement of transparency because who paid who what goes right up on the internet, whereas when the money goes into political parties, the source is obscure for some period of time. First impression, I’d say that if you’re trying to get people to swallow #?@! it helps it go down if you add a candy-coating, but I’ll without final judgment for a bit more info.

I suppose one question I have is are there limits on the amount of the money that can be donated? And was there a limit when the money might have gone to the parties? Maybe someone else knows. And if this came from a desire to be more transparent, don’t the political parties have access to the internet too? Why did it move the money to legislative leaders to control?

Either way, it is truly hard to ignore what I’d say is the most strongly worded editorial I’ve ever read and from a guy who has been around the Florida political block a time or two (and graduated in my class from my alma mater which everyone on planet earth knows is total cause for all due deference. Of course then again so did Lawrence Taylor).

Read the whole column HERE. (h/t to Florence)

Tallahassee Democrat: Town and Gown relationships in the spotlight

In case you were out enjoying the beautiful sunny weather yesterday, The Tallahassee Democrat talked Town & Gown in yesterday’s paper:

“Is there friction between Tallahassee’s universities and the rest of the community?”

Get a hint at the answer by reading Doug Blackburn’s article in the Democrat HERE. Get the whole answer by attending tomorrow night’s TAG Tallahassee launch at the Challenger Center planetarium from 7 to 9 PM. Get the whole scoop on the Town & Gown project – which will be a series of forums offering many opportunities to our community – HERE.

Tallahassee Democrat: Participate in forum on town-gown

Tallahassee Democrat, We can do better: A great deal of concern is focused on Tallahassee as the state capital, a government town where public sector workers are under great stress. At such times, it’s easy to forget that our community is both a government center and a great college town and there is value in thinking of the two as partners with mutual interests to nurture. Tuesday, the first of a series of public forums on how to enhance and improve town-and-gown relationships will be held downtown at Read all »

Florence Snyder: A little R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the long view in the Sunshine State

None took home a Grammy, but the five young singers who opened Sunday’s recording industry awards show were big, big winners.

Singing side by side, they radiated joy and R-E-S-P-E-C-T as they paid tribute to Aretha Franklin, who watched from Detroit where she is recovering from surgery.
Most of the artists chosen to honor the Queen of Soul—Yolanda Adams, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson and Florence Welch—are young enough to be her granddaughter. Only 45 year-old Martina McBride would have grown up hearing Miss Franklin’s catalogue when it was still new.
All five looked like they would not have traded those ten minutes on stage for a truckload of Grammys.

Musicians take the 5th commandment seriously.  They honor their musical fathers and mothers not because they’re old, but because they have things to teach that are worth knowing.  The Beatles’ genius is undeniable, but nobody outside of Liverpool would know had John, Paul, George and Ringo been unwilling to learn from an old guy named George Martin.

Willie “Big Eyes” Smith was just seven years old when he met his musical mentor, Pinetop Perkins. On Sunday, Mr. Smith, now 75, and Mr. Perkins, 97, took home the Grammy for best traditional blues album, the tellingly-titled “Joined at the Hip.”

Musicians understand that you’re never too old to learn, and never too young to teach. Music and most other things worth doing are intergenerational team sports, but that’s a lesson largely lost on the folks who run Florida.
Every four years a new crew comes to town promising to “reinvent government” or “let the sunshine in” or “get to work.” Slogans changed, but Lawton Chiles and Rick Scott and everyone in between didn’t spend a lot of time jamming with their political predecessors; like teenagers who are sure they invented sex, recent administrations came and went thinking they knew everything.  Perhaps that’s why our civic music is so full of sour notes.
Watching the “I can’t believe I’m here!” looks on the young faces of Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers as they played behind their idol and influence, Bob Dylan, I recalled exactly where I was the first time I heard Like a Rolling Stone.

It was July 20, 1965. I was in junior high and just beginning to pay attention to politics, as future Florida political headliners like Reubin Askew and Lou Frey and Sandy D’Alemberte were warming up their acts. They set an example of competence and civility that Florida has not seen in a long, long time.

Florida is full of elder statesmen from a time when things worked better than they do now.  We can hope that Gov. Scott keeps that in mind as he makes up his guest lists for those dinner parties at the Mansion.


Florence Snyder is a corporate and First Amendment lawyer. Contact her at lawyerflo@gmail.com

Photo credit: Sebastiano Pitruzzello

WFSU is airing “Leadership in Tough Times” tonight

Did you miss former Republican Governor Bob Martinez and Democratic Representative Ron Saunders discuss Leadership in Tough Times at the D’Alemberte Rotunda at Florida State University law school? Have no fear: You can listen to the program – presented by LeRoy Collins Institute, co-sponsored by The Village Square and the FSU Center for Study of Democratic Performance, on WFSU tonight at 7PM.

Leadership in Tough Times slideshow

Tonight: Leadership in Tough Times

Tonight, join The LeRoy Collins Institute for “Leadership in Tough Times” featuring former Republican Governor Bob Martinez, Democratic State Representative Ron Saunders and our own Dr. Allison DeFoor as moderator. The event is in the D’Alemberte Rotunda at the FSU Law School. Co-sponsored by FSU’s Center for the Study of Democratic Performance and The Village Square. The event is free but seating is limited so we suggest you make a reservation. Get the whole scoop and reserve your seat HERE. (We have just a few seats open right now…)

(But there are plenty of people trying to get to the front of the parade…)

“I want just one leader to stand up. One leader who has something to lose.” –Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe (He was talking both sides of the aisle… mosque, entitlements, the whole enchilada.)

Village Square First Followers: You

Orrin Hatch on Ted Kennedy’s death

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch eulogized Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy early this morning on news of his passing:

“In the current climate of today’s United States Senate it is rare to find opportunities where both sides can come together and work in the middle to craft a solution for our country’s problems. Ted Kennedy, with all of his ideological verbosity and idealism was a rare person who at times could put aside differences and look for common solutions. Not many ever got to see that side of him, but as peers and colleagues we were able to share some of those moments.”

Allan Katz resigns City Commission seat. He will be missed.

allan katz

Today Village Square founder and board of directors co-chair Allan Katz has announced he is resigning his City Commission seat.

To watch Allan during his many years of service to Tallahassee was to have the pleasure of seeing the consummate citizen in action. Despite the dizzying speed that he moved from one commitment to the next, he was always up on the latest news and working to fully grasp the complexities required to make a good decision for the City of Tallahassee.

For those of us who know Allan best, we know he is brave. And we’re not talking vanilla brave… he is a nerves of steel, emperor has no clothes unflinching kind of brave that is sadly rare among the too many finger-in-the-wind elected officials of our day. Agree with him or not, he has never taken the easy way if it sacrifices what he thinks is the right way. He steadfastly put the best interest of Tallahassee well ahead of how he’d be perceived or whether he’d be re-elected.

When Allan launched an initially one-man effort to oppose buying into the Taylor coal plant, his re-election campaign was right around the corner. While he knew it would be a harder slog because of the coal fight, it wasn’t even a consideration. In the no-nonsense common sense signature characteristic of Allan, he called the coal plant “like buying into the last buggy whip factory.” When he later supported biomass, he set himself against many of his no-coal allies. Didn’t matter, Allan thought it was the right thing for Tallahassee, so he took the steeper climb.

The Village Square was inspired by the way that Allan has done his public service. Despite his devotion to the Democratic party, Allan has never been limited by the ideology or party membership that most of us find ourselves boxed into. He is committed to the world of great ideas, wherever they come from. Allan has deep and meaningful friendships across the aisle which we built on to start our tilting-at-windmills-pie-in-the-sky-civility-in-politics effort.

If The Village Square is even half as successful as Allan was, we’re good.

(Link to Tallahassee Democrat article.)