In Spence-Jones Soap Opera, a One-Month Commercial Break
It's now two strikes for pugnacious Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones. A Miami-Dade County judge today dismissed her temporary injunction against Charlie Crist's suspension, setting February 12 as the day when she'll actually decide if the Governor's action is constitutional.
A half hour later or so at Miami City Hall, Willy Gort was sworn in as District 1 commissioner for his own special election victory last week.
The scene at the Judge Victoria Platzer's chilly courtroom had all the pizazz of a Law & Order promo. There were nearly 20 Spence-Jones supporters on one side of the court, men in bow-ties and pinstripes on the other.
This move was important for Spence-Jones because she fears the City of
Miami commission might select a replacement for her when they meet next
week. But Platzer ruled that Spence-Jones will suffer no
irreparable harm by being out of office for another month. And anyway,
she said, she had a flight to catch to Las Vegas Wednesday.
Spence-Jones told her supporters after the judge ruled that the decision was not a failure.
"We feel very confident we can emerge victorious [in February]," she said.
A spokesman for the Governor reiterated his belief the charges brought against Spence-Jones merit a suspension." Since things are moving
very quickly to trial, we look forward to the proceedings ahead," Sterling Ivey said.
The main point of contention for her attorney, Dennis Bedard, and prosecutor Charles Fahlbusch was the vague language in the state Constitution that gives the Governor authority to suspend an elected official.
Bedard argued the Governor can only suspend after an official has been indicted, and Fahlbusch contended that the language is broad enough to include officials who've only been charged with criminal activity.
One thing proven at today's hearing is that Spence-Jones' supporters are a committed bunch. They came early, sat together, and stared at Fashlbusch with a "bitch, please" attitude. Jackie Bell, a 72-year-old Allapattah resident who rode the bus to get
to the courthouse, said the charges against Spence-Jones were
irrelevant to her. She is among five voters who filed a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida earlier today arguing that they feel disenfranchised by her suspension.
wasn't counted," she said. "I think they did the community a disservice
the first time they suspended her. But you accept it. I am disappointed
the Governor would do it a second time."
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