May 15, 2004 Letters Letters Diversity So, the entire Florida Bar is off on the road to diversity. Reminds me of the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby movies of comedic knights — errant on their way to some exotic location, except, of course, that Bob and Bing were a lot funnier than The Florida Bar, and had a better idea of where they were going.The Florida Bar leadership has been in lock-step, tooting its diversity horns and banging its diversity drums for the last 20 years, and the parade has gone nowhere. So, that having failed, they have resolved to try more of the same without even remotely considering whether the underlying premise of their errant efforts is sound. Their underlying premise is that somewhere “out there” there is a vast, untapped pool of “incredibly talented” minorities who are all just dying to become lawyers, except that racism, sexism, homophobia, or some other sort of politically incorrect barrier is thwarting their upward ascendancy to the land of esquiredom and billable hours. The removal of those barriers will open the floodgates to a true egalitarian society where what you do is a lot less important than how you appear to the person viewing you; if you look like each other, justice has been achieved.Would any sane person agitate for a society whose members had to be divided up into racial and gender groupings, and then equally distributed among every trade and profession according to the ratio between any such group and the general population? “I’m sorry little boy/girl, you can’t be an astronaut, we need 3.25 percent more left-handed, Latino lathe-operators to make our society just. Get along to shop class, now.” Sound just a little Orwellian?The simple fact is that there is no such vast pool of legal talent “out there,” anymore than there is a vast pool of potential physicists, chemists, engineers, physicians, accountants, architects, or any other professionals, “out there.” Why does The Florida Bar think differently about the availability of legal talent? Because, it will tell you, lawyers and the law are different. Lawyers and the law are the natural born leaders of society and all its institutions. Only we make a difference, only we can change this pathetic society into something grander, and only we have the vision and judgment to discern grandeur. A cursory glance at the next billboard bearing lawyer advertising should dispel that poppycock.You politically correct “leaders” have it backward. Diversity does not need to be achieved; it is already here and has been since the Twelve Tribes split up. It is not by achieving but by overcoming diversity that progress toward a “juster” society is made. When diverse peoples who recognize the legitimacy of different cultures and values nonetheless come together to achieve a common goal, understanding is reached, respect is earned, and progress is made. When we, by our deeds, return the legal profession to a position of respectability in our society, more kids of every race, creed, and culture may, just may, want to become lawyers. There’s your talent pool. Michael H. Davidson TallahasseeThe Florida Bar Board of Governors apparently doesn’t understand the loss of credibility to reputation by its unimaginative methods for involving women and blacks in this law group. Witness the reported selection process for identifying finalists for a public member seat being vacated by a black woman. Three white males, including a man of Hispanic origin, were deemed to be the best qualified for the position. But what were the qualifications?The Bar News described the three as follows: one approaching my near retirement age is an executive in a title company and bank. Another has extensive government and business experience in Canada, and the third is a native of Cuba who owns a court reporting service and serves on a local grievance committee. Those certainly are formidable qualifications, but for what exactly?I wonder which of them is qualified to address the issue of representation of children so near and dear to the heart of the current Bar president? Which of these white men can address issues of racism and gender bias which arise on occasion or even more often in local courts throughout the state? Which has any experience in hiring and retention of blacks who make up a meager 2 percent of the Bar’s membership? The comparable population in the state exceeds 12 percent.As for the self-congratulatory but failed efforts of board members to “recruit minorities and women into Bar leadership positions on committees and commissions,” the historically and predominantly white males on the board seem unwilling to consider that a hard time is had by all because its own professional makeup reflects adversely on the effort. Simply put, more qualified minorities and women might be attracted if there were more qualified minorities and women on the board to attract them. The new qualified public member does not meet that qualification.But we know Floridians can do the right thing, if pushed to do so. A recent cover of Florida Trend magazine reflects a success story in the Florida Blue Key leadership, an organization in which white males reigned exclusive and supreme years after women and blacks were accepted into the University of Florida, the base of its operations. In the ’70s and ’80s, years after others were doing so, FBK gave grudging if token admission to women and minorities. But it took a major scandal in Gainesville to wake up the university. This year the FBK leadership is all female. Can minorities be far behind?In my younger days. I actually wasted five years of time and money to persuade Florida Bar members who sit as judges that I should not be made to associate with its ilk, in light of historic intolerance to discrete minorities. Older if not wiser 15 years later, I still stand apart from the board’s members who wonder why their Southern charm doesn’t attract, say, people who are not like them. But I smile when I think how little the board has changed despite evidence of increasing diversity elsewhere in Florida.So keep going. Waste your time and money. I no longer care. After all, since the 2000 presidential election, some of us have many more important things on our minds. Gabe Kaimowitz Gainesville May 15, 2004 Letters
THE Guyana team in the South American Junior Championships will be without CARIFTA Games gold medallist Natrena Hooper, after it was confirmed yesterday that the US-based athlete will not be travelling home for the June 3-4 event.Officials said that the 18-year-old was injured during training, and has therefore decided to end her season. A South American Youth Championships silver medallist, Hooper was expected to be one of the leading athletes for the Guyana side.“She’s carrying an ankle injury that she picked up in training. With such a close time to the meet we weren’t quite sure that she would be able to recover from it in time,” said Hooper’s former local coach Julian Edmonds, who is also one of the coaches currently training the Guyana team.The news comes as a blow to the team, with high hopes for Hooper, who clinched her first CARIFTA Games gold medal only two months ago, when she performed in the Girls’ Under-20 triple jump. This was marked improvement from the silver medal she copped at the Games last year.Hooper won the gold with a distance of 13.08m, enjoying a season-best of 13.20m. The lanky athlete is also a competent quarter-miler, and was also expected to lend support in the Girls’ 4x400m relay.“Obviously it’s going to be a big loss to the team, because definitely she was a medal prospect for the triple jump. But I guess now it’s an opportunity for someone else to come to the party,” Edmonds conveyed.Outside of Hooper, however, there will still be youth jumper Chantoba Bright, who has been clearing as far as 12.59m this season. With Guyana allowed two athletes per event, Bright was already being considered to be in this event.To fill Hooper’s void, manager Cornel Rose, has noted that possible back-up athletes include Ruth Sanmoogan.In the 400m, the team will be buoyed by the return of National Schools Championships record-holder Avon Samuels, who has been off the track for the past few months due to injury. However the Running Brave Athletics Club athlete is excited to return with a bang at the Championships.
DES MOINES — The leader of a House committee is promising to block any attempt to adjust the pension benefits awarded through the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System — commonly called IPERS.Republican Representative Bobby Kaufman of Wilton is chairman of the House State Government Committee, the panel that would consider any IPERS policy changes.“There is very simply and unequivocally not going to be changes,” Kaufmann said Tuesday.A Republican state senator introduced a bill last year that would have enrolled future state and local government employees into something like the 401k systems available in the private sector. Kaufmann said if that idea is resurrected in the state senate, it will go nowhere in the Iowa House and groups that are saying otherwise are wrong.“All these groups that are pushing out this crap, after today what you are doing will be completely deceitful, so I want to make it crystal clear,” Kaufmann said. “Republicans never had intentions of taking away or substantively changing your IPERS and going forward over the next two years unequivocally there will be none.”Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, said because Republicans made dramatic changes to Iowa’s collective bargaining law in 2017, there’s a “lack of trust” when Republicans make pledges about public workers’ pensions.“I appreciate the fact that you’re very adamant about making no changes and I think that’s important,” Mascher said during Tuesday’s committee meeting, “but that message needs to be delivered to the senate, because they have been proposing legislation.”Kaufmann replied that no bill becomes law without coming through the Iowa House.“It is absolute that after today, any group that sends out the email scaring our constituents, I’m going to publicly call you a liar,” Kaufmann said.Progress Iowa is one of the group’s Kaufmann specifically cited Tuesday. The group’s executive director in a written statement said retirement security is “too important for us to stay silent” and his group “won’t be bullied by Bobby Kaufmann.”