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Luther Campbell, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke gloats about the dropping of criminal charges against African-American Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones.
When Michelle Spence-Jones was being found guilty in the court of public opinion, I was the only columnist in South Florida to say she was innocent. I had to put up with readers who believe anything the Miami Herald writes and whatever Michael Putney says. They ridiculed me on the Miami New Times blog. All you Spence-Jones haters can eat your words. All the criminal charges against her turned out to be bullshit, just like I called it. ("You have to be the pope to be commissioner in District 5," I wrote this past March 18.)
Five months ago, a jury found her innocent of soliciting a bribe. Last week, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office dropped the grand theft charge against her. They had accused her of using former county Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler's name to solicit money. They had no case.
The dropping of these charges reminds me why we live in the United States of America. Here there is a thing called due process. Just because some pretty lady or handsome man on the TV news tells you someone is accused of a crime, it doesn't mean the person is guilty.
That's how news networks like to shape public opinion: They find good-looking people who look believable to suck in gullible viewers. Then you have mainstream newspapers that use fair-skinned columnists like Fred Grimm to pass moral judgment on everybody else. But I wasn't fooled. I knew Spence-Jones would beat the charges because she is one of the few African-American politicians in Miami who are not bought and paid for by the lobbyists and special interests.
When she wraps up her second term as a city commissioner, I hope Spence-Jones goes after Audrey Edmonson's county commission seat. Edmonson has been horrible. Spence-Jones is really about helping the people in her district, which includes most of Liberty City and Overtown. I spoke to her last week when the rumblings about the charges getting dropped began to get louder.
I asked if she was going to stick it to Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, her biggest opponents at city hall. She told me she has no plans to play the role of the angry black woman looking for payback. She said she is going to play it cool. Good for her.
Now it's time for the public to respect the fact that Spence-Jones is back.