Homestead: Jeff Porter comes out swinging with both fists
Former Homestead Councilman Jeff Porter may not have as many headlines as the other two viable candidates in the Homestead mayoral race — which could arguably be a good thing. But he came out into the ring this week, with both fists swinging.
Not one to bluff, Porter will see “amateur” Mark Bell‘s two-fer mailer and raise him a suspended, disgraced Steve Bateman.
And here Ladra thought the two-for-one smack-down that a Bell PAC mailed out this week was unique. Turns out it’s a trend.
Doesn't it look like former Vice Mayor Jeff Porter is saying, "You, Mr. Lynda Bell. Bring it!"?
Porter delivered both a mailer and a recorded robocall Thursday that sets out to differentiate him from both Bateman, who was arrested last month on public corruption charges stemming from his secret lobbing job with a company that had business before the city, and Bell, who is best known for being the husband of former mayor and now Miami-Dade Commissioner Lynda Bell.
Knowing how people feel all warm and fuzzy about getting robocalls, Porter — who targeted absentee ballot voters who got their ABs in the mail this week — apologizes as soon as he introduces himself. And lays into the first opposing candidate from the get go.
“I’m sorry to call you with a recorded message, but with the disappointing arrest of Mayor Bateman, I felt compiled to reach out to you.
You may have received your absentee ballot… and it is my hope that you cast your vote for me Jeff Porter.
My other opponent in this race is the husband of former Mayor Bell…he has never held elected office in his life… and this position is too important for on the job training!
Our next Mayor will have to face many obstacles with Steve Bateman’s arrest… I have ten years of experience as your Vice Mayor and Councilman. I will be able to hit the ground running…. and with all due respect to Mark Bell, this is not the time to elect an amateur.”
He ends the call with the address of his website where voters can “learn more about my campaign so we can move Homestead forward.”
But he had me at “amateur.” Or “on the job training.” Or “husband of former Mayor Bell.”
Former Mayor Steve Bateman, pre orange jumpsuit
Because, c’mon, really! This has to be a race between Bell and Porter. If Bateman is elected, Ladra is going to have to question what is in the water down there. Not only is he charged with unlawful compensation for failing to disclose his $125-an-hour gig lobbying city and county officials on behalf of Community Health of South Florida, Inc., and its projects, he has a slew of other investigations and allegations against him as well. Bateman is accused of profiting from the bargain basement sale of city owned downtown property to Miami Dade College. He is accused of using his position to secure the real estate transaction for his realtor wife. He is accused of bullying the city manager and staff that basically sang “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” just a few hours after he was arrested and led off in handcuffs — or was it as the former mayor was standing in court in an orange jumpsuit?
He has to be doomed, doesn’t he?
So, while Bell is hitting Porter by linking him to Bateman, — and Porter says it is because “the Bell camp, they don’t have anything to do except go negative. There are no qualifications or skills Mark brings to the table.” — Porter is directly calling each guy as he sees him. One is at best an amateur, at worst a puppet. The other is at worst a crook, at best really, really stupid.
Porter’s first mail piece hit homes on Thursday also. In it, he talks about the four main issues that voters are concerned about: creating a more business friendly city that will bring jobs, working on traffic congestion by adding access to the Turnpike near Oasis Plaza, police protection, the construction of a no-kill shelter that animal activists voted to fund last year by referendum — which is a hot topic right now — and, one that is all his, planning more aw-shucks community events to bring residents together.
But it still takes a swipe at both his opponents, talking about “restoring honor” and being “the only candidate…who can lead Homestead through this difficult time.”
“Thankfully, I was elected to the city council for ten years and as your Vice Mayor while we rebuilt the city. When I left I felt very good about the progress we made and the direction the city was heading. Unfortunately, now that the Mayor has been arrested, I fear our city is once again looking at dark times and I am stepping forward to our fix the broken trust from our highest elected official,” he says not having to name Bateman.
“Homestead needs to have a leader who will not need on the job training,” he says, not having to name Bell.
Another mailer will land this weekend from Porter’s campaign, and it, too, is aimed at not one but both of the viable candidates running for mayor.
“Electing Bateman or Bell will move Homestead backward. Your vote for Jeff Porter will move us forward,” the mailer says.
“Steve Bateman, was just arrested by the Miami-Dade State Attorney for his involvement in a shady $125 per hour secret deal. Do you want to trust him with your hard-earned tax dollars,” it asks, then turns to Bell.
“Mark Bell, who has never been elected to public office in his life, has no knowledge of how to run a city. Do you want to trust him to oversee the police department, manage your tax dollars, maintain your roads and keep your parks clean and safe?”
“Jeff Porter was our Vice Mayor and City Councilman for ten years. Jeff Porter will ensure that your family is safe, your property taxes are spent properly and that your public utilities and roads are reliable,” the mailer says. “Unlike Mark Bell, who needs on the job training, Jeff Porter will work with businesses to bring much needed jobs to our community.”
On the other side, he talks again about community touchstone issues like jobs, traffic and the no-kill shelter. But he ends that page on the same reform note: “Former Vice Mayor Jeff Porter has the experience to guide Homestead through this difficult period.”
And he doesn’t have to say the name Bateman again because everybody knows what he is talking about.
Candidate Mark Bell
Plus, like Ladra said, Porter is focusing his efforts on Bell.
“Steve Bateman’s got so many problem and Lynda Bell’s people are all but killing him,” Porter told Ladra Friday. “It doesn’t make much sense to pile on after so much is being hit on Steve. By now everybody knows Steve Bateman was arrested for corruption. To continually bash him doesn’t really bear any fruit.”
He said his two-fer was more of a comparison piece. “It was ‘Here’s what the three candidates bring to the table right now.’ But I would hope Homestead is not that naive that they would waste a vote on someone who will be removed the next day,” Porter said, referring to the fact that the governor can suspend Bateman again if he is elected, which I doubt.
So does Porter.
That’s why the mailer to come Monday will have a bean on Bell. Next to a photograph of the hotelier known as Mr. Lynda Bell, there will be a definition of the word inexperienced and a bunch of synonyms: “Inept, naive, ignorant, rookie, amateur, unseasoned, inexpert, wet behind the ears, unskilled, unfamiliar with, sophomoric, untrained, raw.”
But that’s not all. There’s an “election quiz” with a series of questions: Would you pick a stranger off the street to perform surgery on a loved one? Would you let someone with no law degree defend you from a crime you didn’t commit? Would you ask someone who has repeatedly declared bankruptcy to invest your life savings?
And then, “Would you elect a mayor to run Homestead — who controls your hard-earned tax dollars, the police department and the electricity that flows into your home — who has never held an elected position in his life?”
If the answer is no to all the questions, the mailer says, then you have to vote for Jeff Porter. “Please don’t risk your vote on Lynda Bell’s inexperienced husband,” it yells on the other side, where it also mentions Bell’s $25,000 “gift” from the city’s community redevelopment monies for the renovations of his Redland Hotel.
“We cannot compound our city’s problems, created by our crooked mayor, by voting for Mark Bell, who will need on the job training,” the mailer says.
“The pieces are basically to highlight the fact that he has nothing to bring to the table,” Porter told Ladra. “If he wants to see if he can do it, he should start at some other level. If he so desperately wants to get involved in politics, all of a sudden, he should learn and start at a not so critical time and a not so critical place and position.
“And see if you are cut out for it.”
“The bottom line is that if you could just run this race on qualifications there should be no question on who is the most qualified candidate that doesn’t have the extreme baggage that Bateman has. Bateman is qualified. He learned. Unfortunately, he learned how to be dirty,” Porter said.
“But if we were doing this based on a checklist, it should be over.”