Chile: Billionaire Beat Leftists, Now Faces Runoff

first_imgBy Dialogo December 14, 2009 Right-wing billionaire Sebastian Pinera beat three leftists in Sunday’s presidential election but failed to obtain a majority, setting up a runoff against a veteran of the coalition that has ruled Chile for two decades of democracy. The Harvard-educated Pinera had 44 percent to 30 percent for the ruling center-left coalition’s candidate, former President Eduardo Frei. Breakaway Socialist Rep. Marco Enriquez-Ominami had 20 percent, and communist Jorge Arrate had 6 percent, with 98 percent of the votes counted. The key question in the Jan. 17 runoff between Pinera and Frei is whether leftists can unify to fend off the most moderate candidate Chile’s right has ever had. A win by Pinera, 60, would install a right-wing government in Chile for the first time since Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship — but only if Pinera persuades enough leftists to take a chance on him. “We have to understand that this win doesn’t belong to us,” Pinera said in a victory speech to his party members. “It belongs to all Chileans, to the humble people, to the poor and the middle class, the people who most need change from their government.” Frei appealed for leftists to come together, saying he would take on his rivals’ ideas as if they were his own, that women and young people would have a prominent place in his government, and that he would push for reforms to end the big alliances’ domination of the political process. “The people have told us that there are things they don’t like, that things must change, and I share this mission,” said Frei, 67. But even though he may be encouraging a right-wing victory, Enriquez-Ominami refused to endorse Frei in his concession speech, instead inviting his followers to vote their consciences. “Eduardo Frei and Sebastian Pinera are too much alike,” he complained. “They don’t represent hope, nor change, nor the future.” Stability and experience are selling points for Frei, who governed from 1994 to 2000. “We don’t want leaps into the unknown, nor do we want to return to the past. We want a government that worries about the people,” he said after voting. “We don’t believe that the power of the market and money should have priority over a society.” But many voters are fed up with having the same government throughout 19 years of democracy following Pinochet. Promising change, Pinera and Enriquez-Ominami challenged the ruling coalition like never before. Outgoing President Michelle Bachelet has 78 percent approval ratings and Chile seems on track to become a first-world nation. Chile’s economy, negligible inflation and stable democracy are the envy of Latin America. Booming copper revenues and prudent fiscal policies have helped the government reduce poverty from 45 percent in 1990 to 13 percent today, raising per capita annual income to $14,000 in the nation of 17 million. But a huge wealth gap between rich and poor and a chronically underfunded education system have many voters feeling more must be done to redistribute Chile’s copper wealth. A study by the World Bank several years ago showed that the poorest 10 percent of Chileans benefit from only 1.3 percent of government revenues, while the richest 10 percent benefit from 40 percent. Pinera ranked No. 701 with $1 billion on the Forbes magazine world’s richest list. He built his fortune bringing credit cards to Chile, and his investments include Chile’s main airline, most popular football team and a leading TV channel. Whether Pinera can apply the same entrepreneurial spirit to the presidency will depend on voters who backed Rep. Enriquez-Ominami, a renegade Socialist and documentary filmmaker whose Communist rebel father was killed by Pinochet’s military in 1973, the year he was born. Some analysts predict that as much as a third of Enriquez-Ominami’s supporters will defect to Pinera, even though his alliance of right-wing parties once helped sustain the dictatorship. “The second round is going to be similar to the last two presidential elections — very tight, with the only difference being that for the first time, the opposition candidate has the advantage,” said Ricardo Israel, a political scientist at the University of Chile. Chileans also elected 120 representatives and half of the 38 senators on Sunday. In exchange for Arrate’s support, Frei promised to help Communists into Congress for the first time since Pinochet’s 1973 coup. Socialist Rep. Isabel Allende, daughter of ousted President Salvador Allende, was voted into the Senate. But Pinochet’s grandson, Rodrigo Garcia Pinochet, lost his congressional race to represent an upscale Santiago suburb.last_img read more

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Official Reports Security Progress in Afghanistan

first_img Calling the operation against al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden “a great step” toward U.S. objectives in Afghanistan, a senior defense official emphasized the importance of continuing to build Afghan security forces and institutions so they can continue this momentum. “Our goal is to deny safe havens to al-Qaida and to deny insurgents the ability to overthrow the Afghan government,” Michael D. Lumpkin, acting assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, said at the Ministry of Defense Advisors Program first-anniversary conference. With bin Laden now out of the picture, he said, U.S., Afghan and coalition forces must continue working together to degrade the Taliban-led insurgency. “Although progress in Afghanistan is substantial and our strategy is on track, significant challenges remain,” Lumpkin said. U.S., Afghan and coalition forces have dislodged insurgents from key strongholds in the south and improved security through much of the northern, western and capital regions, he said. But eastern Afghanistan remains problematic, he acknowledged. There, the physical terrain, culture, geography and presence of safe havens in Pakistan all present “a complex set of challenges” he said are distinct from those in other parts of Afghanistan. “In addition, only after Afghanistan’s security institutions are self-sufficient and self-sustaining will it be possible for the Afghan government to solidify tactical gains earned at such great cost,” he said. While the United States and coalition partners help the Afghans build their security ministries, Lumpkin emphasized the need to “provide time and space for the Afghan national security forces and the Afghan government to assume the lead for Afghanistan’s security nationwide by the end of 2014.” “The key to this responsible, Afghan-led transition is the presence and the capability of 300,000-member strong and growing Afghan national security forces and the development of civilian-led security ministries that can sustain these forces,” he said. The Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police have grown by more than 100,000 troops and police officers since President Barack Obama announced his Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy in December 2009, he noted. By the end of the summer of 2012, when the last of U.S. surge forces have left, another 50,000 Afghans are slated to have joined their national army and police forces, he said. By Dialogo August 17, 2011last_img read more

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Olympics: Félix Sánchez is golden in 400-meter hurdles

first_img Brazil’s Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti: Zanetti, 22, became the first Brazilian gymnast to earn a gold medal when he claimed the top spot in the rings competition. He scored a 15.9 on his routine, just ahead of China’s Chen Yibing (15.8) and Italy’s Matteo Morandi (15.733). Yibing defeated Zanetti at last year’s world championships. “Now I’m No. 1, but I have him to thank for coming this far because it was by training to beat him that I managed to do it,” Zanetti told reporters. “I knew it was very difficult but not impossible and my concentration and all my long years of training paid off.” Men’s basketball: Brazil (4-1) faces Argentina (3-2) in the quarterfinals after rallying for an 88-82 win over Spain (3-2) en route to the Group B title. Argentina, which is coming off a 126-97 loss to the United States (5-0), finished third in Group A. The winner advances to the semifinals on Aug. 10. LONDON – Here’s what you might have missed in recent Olympic action: Dominican Republic’s Félix Sánchez: He claimed gold in the 400 meter hurdles in a blazing 47.63 seconds. Sánchez easily bested the United States’ Michael Tinsley (47.91) and Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson (48.10) to take his place on the top of the medal podium. After the race, Sanchez dedicated his performance to his late grandmother. “I’ve been really emotional all week, thinking about her,” Sánchez told reporters. “All of us do it — you think about winning, you train so hard. You get to this moment and everything has to go right for you to pull it off.” Cuba’s Mijaín López: The heavyweight retained his Olympic title when he claimed gold in the Greco-Roman 120-kilogram (264-pound) class with a victory over Estonia’s Heiki Nabi in the final. López, a four-time world champion who claimed gold four years ago in Beijing, celebrated with a victory lap around the arena with his country’s flag over his shoulders. López also carried Cuba’s flag at the opening ceremony. Here’s what you should keep an eye on Aug. 8: Women’s field hockey: Argentina (3-1-1), which finished atop Group B, is slated to face Great Britain (3-2) in the semifinals. The hosts finished second in Group A. The winner advances to the gold medal game on Aug. 10 against the winner of the Netherlands (5-0) and New Zealand (3-1-1). Men’s volleyball: Brazil (4-1) finished second in Group B and earned a quarterfinal berth against Argentina (3-2), which finished third in Group A. The winner advances to the semifinals on Aug. 10 and will face the winner of the United States (4-1) and Italy (3-2). By Dialogo August 07, 2012last_img read more

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Brazilians Spend Close to 18 Billion Dollars on Private Security

first_img According to the data, this branch of services employed 721,603 people in 2012, compared to 303,038 in 2000. Among these employees, approximately 500,000 are guards and watchmen, a number greater than the total count of all state police officers, not including the number of personnel that work informally. Companies that include services like armored vehicles, residential alarm systems monitoring, security guards, personnel and armed escorts currently have the highest revenue growth recorded. Last year they reached 4.6 billion reais (approx. 2.3 billion dollars), compared to the prior year’s increase of 11%. The business of self defense is another field that has a rising demand, especially in the large urban centers, such as the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. This scenario of almost widespread insecurity derives from several factors ranging from the systematic activities sponsored by criminal organizations such as the Primeiro Comando da Capital (First Capital Command), the Comando Vermelho (Red Command), and the Primeiro Grupo Catarinense (First Santa Catarina Group). The homicide rate of 27.1 for each 100,000 residents is considered epidemic by the UN, and includes crimes such as armed robbery, robbery, and theft, which drove some segments of the Brazilian society to doubt the effectiveness of the government policies for the sector. On the other hand, government spending for public security showed a sharp decline. From the 3.1 billion reais (approx. 1.55 billion dollars) forecast in the federal government’s 2012 budget, only 23.8% of this total was used. Experts indicate that the situation is the result of the increased supervisory control and release of public funds, and also the lack of consistent projects to justify the release of these resources. With the perceived ineffectiveness of the public security and an increased feeling of uncertainty, Brazilian citizens have turned to the private security sector, which is a field that is expanding exponentially in Brazil. Between 2000 and 2009, businesses in this industry grew by 70%, making it a highly lucrative activity. In 2009, they spent a total of 35.85 billion reais (approx. 17.9 billion dollars), equivalent to 0.94% of the Gross Domestic Income, on private security, according to a poll by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA). center_img By Dialogo April 18, 2013 *André Luís Woloszyn, Strategic Intelligence Analystlast_img read more

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The IAAFA: My Story

first_imgI am a Brazilian Air Force lieutenant colonel and pilot, and the first officer from my country to serve as a guest instructor at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA). I’ve had two years of very noteworthy experiences; above all, living with students from the Inter-American Squadron Officer School (ISOS) program. In this program, officials from all over the American continent graduate with a greater ability to serve their country and with an enhanced perspective on being outstanding leaders all throughout their career. As the instructor for such a program, I have been able to directly contribute to the professional development of 43 officials from six countries in Latin America, and 20 officials from the United States. My inspiration for this work has come from two of Brazil’s notable sons and heroes: Ambassador Joaquim Nabuco and Air Force General Casimiro Montenegro. Like me, Brazilian Air Force General Casimiro Montenegro was also a pilot. He founded the Aeronautics Institute of Technology and the Aerospace Technical Center in the 40s and 50s, inspired by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. EMBRAER, the third largest airplane manufacturer in the world, would eventually evolve from these technical facilities. On Veterans Day, I was at Dolph Briscoe Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, where my son is in seventh grade. I would be speaking about joint operations between Brazil and the United States during the Italian Campaign in World War II. I had prepared a presentation with slides and some footage from a movie on the First Fighter Squadron of the Brazilian Air Force, “Senta a Pua”. Thanks to its specialized focus on technical training and professionalism over the course of seven decades, the IAAFA is always invited to showcase its successes in the Building Partner Aviation Capacity Course, or BPACC, at Hurlburt Field Air Force Base in Florida. As a representative of this academy on three occasions, I’ve spoken to dozens of officials from four different continents to promote the cause of harmony and cooperation among nations. Thanks to its specialized focus on technical training and professionalism over the course of seven decades, the IAAFA is always invited to showcase its successes in the Building Partner Aviation Capacity Course, or BPACC, at Hurlburt Field Air Force Base in Florida. As a representative of this academy on three occasions, I’ve spoken to dozens of officials from four different continents to promote the cause of harmony and cooperation among nations. Both men have planted seeds as well as dreams, and have harvested accomplishments of national and international importance that have [always] been based upon a fruitful relationship between Brazil and the United States. These achievements have been signed and sealed in the belief that working with these two giants throughout history has always resulted in peace, stability, progress, freedom, and justice for the American continent and the whole world. On Veterans Day, I was at Dolph Briscoe Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, where my son is in seventh grade. I would be speaking about joint operations between Brazil and the United States during the Italian Campaign in World War II. I had prepared a presentation with slides and some footage from a movie on the First Fighter Squadron of the Brazilian Air Force, “Senta a Pua”. During a break between presentations, I was chatting with one of the teachers from the school. She said that Veterans Day was particularly special to her because of her father’s legacy. He had been a veteran pilot who had participated in the Hump Operation during World War II! I would like to highlight that as part of my work at IAAFA, I was responsible for translating texts and lessons from English to Spanish that would serve as supplemental reading material for ISOS students. One of these texts was very special to me because it was the powerful story of the Hump Airlift Operation, which took place during the Second World War under General Tunner. This can be directly attributed to the IAAFA, its 71 years in existence, and its over 44,000 graduates from every country in the Americas. Likewise, the impact of programs like the ISOS goes well beyond the classroom. I still receive messages from a student who works directly in a combat zone in his particular country and fights drug traffickers. This is proof that the lessons he learned at the IAAFA are being implemented to keep the peace, to ensure public order, and to secure victory for legal forces that battle against the sowers of chaos and misery. I am a Brazilian Air Force lieutenant colonel and pilot, and the first officer from my country to serve as a guest instructor at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA). I’ve had two years of very noteworthy experiences; above all, living with students from the Inter-American Squadron Officer School (ISOS) program. In this program, officials from all over the American continent graduate with a greater ability to serve their country and with an enhanced perspective on being outstanding leaders all throughout their career. As the instructor for such a program, I have been able to directly contribute to the professional development of 43 officials from six countries in Latin America, and 20 officials from the United States. My inspiration for this work has come from two of Brazil’s notable sons and heroes: Ambassador Joaquim Nabuco and Air Force General Casimiro Montenegro. Joaquim Nabuco, a native of the state of Pernambuco, like I am, was Brazil’s ambassador to the United States from 1905 to 1910. In that capacity, he was an ardent supporter of inter-Americanism, which is why he eventually came to preside over the 1906 Pan-American Conference, the seed that would decades later sprout into the creation of the Organization of American States. Like me, Brazilian Air Force General Casimiro Montenegro was also a pilot. He founded the Aeronautics Institute of Technology and the Aerospace Technical Center in the 40s and 50s, inspired by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. EMBRAER, the third largest airplane manufacturer in the world, would eventually evolve from these technical facilities. This can be directly attributed to the IAAFA, its 71 years in existence, and its over 44,000 graduates from every country in the Americas. Likewise, the impact of programs like the ISOS goes well beyond the classroom. I still receive messages from a student who works directly in a combat zone in his particular country and fights drug traffickers. This is proof that the lessons he learned at the IAAFA are being implemented to keep the peace, to ensure public order, and to secure victory for legal forces that battle against the sowers of chaos and misery. By Dialogo April 28, 2015 My main point on such occasions is very simple and direct: Wholly echoing the strategic communication of IAAFA, I inform people that, through training, education, and the exchange of life experiences, we are establishing lasting ties and links between our forces and our countries. Joaquim Nabuco, a native of the state of Pernambuco, like I am, was Brazil’s ambassador to the United States from 1905 to 1910. In that capacity, he was an ardent supporter of inter-Americanism, which is why he eventually came to preside over the 1906 Pan-American Conference, the seed that would decades later sprout into the creation of the Organization of American States. Each student receives one little sunflower seed protected inside a tiny glass box. I end each course as an instructor, session after session, with this symbolic gift. I talk about the importance, the privilege, and the responsibility of leadership: sowing seeds. I talk about the sunflower in particular: it doesn’t matter how dark the skies are, this flower understands that there is a sun that never stops shining. Both men have planted seeds as well as dreams, and have harvested accomplishments of national and international importance that have [always] been based upon a fruitful relationship between Brazil and the United States. These achievements have been signed and sealed in the belief that working with these two giants throughout history has always resulted in peace, stability, progress, freedom, and justice for the American continent and the whole world. That was a memorable day for me. And that’s how it’s been over the last two years. Therefore, I extend my gratitude to Brazil, to the Brazilian Air Force, to the United States, the U. S. Air Force and the IAAFA: gratitude for the opportunity to serve my country by serving the American continent, which contributes to the cause of inter-Americanism, because our capacity for dialogue, respect, and cooperation grows in direct proportion to the liberty, security, and progress in our nations. Each student receives one little sunflower seed protected inside a tiny glass box. I end each course as an instructor, session after session, with this symbolic gift. I talk about the importance, the privilege, and the responsibility of leadership: sowing seeds. I talk about the sunflower in particular: it doesn’t matter how dark the skies are, this flower understands that there is a sun that never stops shining. That was a memorable day for me. And that’s how it’s been over the last two years. Therefore, I extend my gratitude to Brazil, to the Brazilian Air Force, to the United States, the U. S. Air Force and the IAAFA: gratitude for the opportunity to serve my country by serving the American continent, which contributes to the cause of inter-Americanism, because our capacity for dialogue, respect, and cooperation grows in direct proportion to the liberty, security, and progress in our nations. I would like to highlight that as part of my work at IAAFA, I was responsible for translating texts and lessons from English to Spanish that would serve as supplemental reading material for ISOS students. One of these texts was very special to me because it was the powerful story of the Hump Airlift Operation, which took place during the Second World War under General Tunner. Just like a sunflower seed, this is one tiny grain of an idea that deserves to be sown throughout the Americas. During a break between presentations, I was chatting with one of the teachers from the school. She said that Veterans Day was particularly special to her because of her father’s legacy. He had been a veteran pilot who had participated in the Hump Operation during World War II! My main point on such occasions is very simple and direct: Wholly echoing the strategic communication of IAAFA, I inform people that, through training, education, and the exchange of life experiences, we are establishing lasting ties and links between our forces and our countries. Just like a sunflower seed, this is one tiny grain of an idea that deserves to be sown throughout the Americas.last_img read more

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Lima Group Urges Maduro Not to ‘Delay’ Elections in Venezuela

first_imgBy Voice of America/VOA August 12, 2019 On July 23, the Lima Group reiterated its support for the government led by Interim President Juan Guaidó. Representatives of countries taking part in the diplomatic initiative to find solutions to the Venezuelan crisis voiced their support for Guaidó in a joint statement at the conclusion of the group’s 15th meeting in Argentina.The meeting took place six months after Guaidó took over as interim president and was recognized by more than 50 countries worldwide, including the United States.The Lima Group member countries support Guaidó’s decision “to seek a Venezuelan solution to his country’s crisis through ongoing efforts and urge the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro not to use said processes to delay a call for guaranteed presidential elections as soon as possible. If that objective isn’t met, measures to exert pressure and additional sanctions will be imposed,” the statement indicated.Participating leaders listened to Guaidó’s message through a video call and recognized what they consider as his “unyielding leadership” in the fight for recovering democracy through free elections.Argentine Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Faurie read the final statement, which captured the opinion of participating countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. Faurie also highlighted the participation of El Salvador and Ecuador, as observers, and of Enrique Iglesias, the European Union’s special adviser for Venezuela.In their final declaration, member countries reiterated their condemnation of Maduro’s “systematic human rights violations,” alluding to “documented and confirmed” situations in the report the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, released after her visit to Caracas.Representatives decided to forward the report to the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, who already has proceedings under way based on requests various countries submitted against Maduro.The countries consider that the UN High Commissioner’s report “leaves no margin for some countries to continue to support Maduro’s illegitimate regime,” and urged them to join the international community so that “rule of law and democracy can be restored in Venezuela,” since their support of the government in dispute “threatens the entire region’s stability.”The Lima Group also repudiated “the candidacy presented by Maduro’s illegitimate regime on behalf of Venezuela for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, and request that, if elected, the seat be occupied by Venezuela’s legitimate government. Likewise, they express their support for Brazil’s candidacy to said Council.”They also agreed to encourage other states, including the United States and the European Union, to create mechanisms to support the documentation and investigation of incidents of corruption, narcotrafficking, and grave violations against human rights in Venezuela.The group highlighted that the solution to the Venezuelan crisis belongs to the Venezuelans. “That principle is incompatible with the current presence in Venezuela of military, security, and intelligence agents” of countries that support Maduro’s disputed government, members added.Migration was also mentioned in the Lima Group’s final statement, with member countries reiterating concerns about the aggravated exodus of Venezuelans who seek to flee the crisis. The members called for continued regional coordination and requested more financial aid for countries receiving immigrants to provide an effective response to migrants’ needs.“The crisis in Venezuela is of a regional dimension with global impact,” said the group. “The restoration of democracy in Venezuela is a necessary condition for Latin America to declare itself on the path of freedom and prosperity.”last_img read more

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US Charges Venezuelan Chief Justice with Corruption and Money Laundering

first_imgBy Dialogo April 17, 2020 Maikel Moreno — the highest-ranking judge in Venezuela — was indicted on separate charges in Miami, Florida for money laundering and corruption on March 26, the same day that Nicolás Maduro and others in his regime were charged with narco-terrorism and other criminal charges.Moreno is believed to have doled out legal favors in exchange for millions of dollars in bribes paid through Miami and foreign bank accounts that he spent on chartered private jets, expensive watches, and other luxury goods in South Florida, federal prosecutors say in their affidavit.One example they cite was Moreno authorizing the Maduro regime’s seizure of a General Motors auto plant in Venezuela rather than keeping it open for thousands of workers.Ariana Fajardo Orshan, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said corrupt Venezuelan leaders like Moreno have for too long used South Florida to launder their money.Former Venezuelan intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal stands during his extradition hearing to U.S. at the High Court in Madrid, Spain, September 12, 2019. (Emilio (Naranjo / Reuters)“Whether it is million-dollar condos, very fancy yachts or private jets — all of this has become a part of our society in southern Florida,” Fajardo said. “This party is coming to an end.”Fajardo also announced that her office had already seized more than $450 million in bank accounts and assets in several cases involving more than a dozen Venezuelan defendants, including a former national treasurer.According to the criminal complaint, in 2014, Moreno told U.S. authorities in a visa application that he earned the equivalent of about $12,000 per year from his work in Venezuela. Yet for a span of four years — from 2012 to 2016 — Moreno’s U.S. bank records show about $3 million in his accounts, primarily from large transfers from shell corporations with foreign bank accounts.Fajardo said Moreno specialized in cases involving fraud and financial crimes so that he could take advantage of deep-pocketed business defendants willing to pay bribes for their freedom. She said the chief justice “received large bribes to authorize the dismissal of charges or the release from custody of multiple Venezuelans who literally stole billions of dollars from Venezuela’s state-owned oil proceeds.”Another former general pondering surrenderMeanwhile Hugo Carvajal, the former chief of Venezuela’s military intelligence unit, is discussing his possible surrender with U.S. authorities. Carvajal was among those charged with Maduro and other top regime officials with narco-terrorism.Carvajal, a former general and ally of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, has been in hiding since a Spanish court in November approved his extradition to the United States. It was unclear when or if he would surrender.The Spanish police arrested the former spy chief in April 2019 at the request of U.S. authorities, but Spain’s High Court initially ruled that he should be released and his extradition request was denied. The court reversed that decision in November, prompting Carvajal to go into hiding. Since leaving Venezuela, Carvajal has denounced Maduro and given his support to Interim President Juan Guaidó.last_img read more

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Proposed Code of Conduct for court system employees

first_imgHere are the highlights of the proposed Code of Conduct for Court Employees:• Canon 1: A court employee shall uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary and the court employees’s office. “An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. Court employees shall personally observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary are preserved. Court employees shall maintain and observe the highest standards of integrity, honesty, and truthfulness in their professional and personal dealings.”• Canon 2. Court employees shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all their activities. Examples of improper conduct include: trying to get a traffic ticket or parking violation fixed; using official letterhead for private business correspondence; carrying a business card reflecting an official relationship with the courts unless authorized by the appropriate authority; discussing the merits of cases pending before the court with litigants, counsel or other persons who do business with the court in a manner that gives the appearance of preferential treatment.Court employees may not knowingly make false entries on time cards or personnel records; backdate a court document; falsely claim reimbursement for mileage or expenses; misuse the telephone, fax machine, or copying machine; or take supplies home for private use.“Such conduct may be punishable as theft under the criminal statutes,” the proposed code says.• Canon 3: A court employee shall adhere to appropriate standards in performing the duties of the office. Besides carrying out duties in a “courteous and professional manner,” this canon also details that a court employee “shall not publicly comment on the merits of any pending action and should require similar restraint by the court employee’s subordinates. This proscription does not extend to public statements made in the course of official duties or when explaining court procedures.”Additionally, “no court employee shall alter, falsify, destroy, mutilate, backdate or fail to make required entries on any records within the employee’s control.”And court employees shall not “discriminate against or engage in bias or prejudice against another person based upon race, physical or mental disability, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or political affiliation in the conduct of service to the court.”This canon also stresses that “no court employee shall provide legal advice or recommend the names of private attorneys, when acting in the capacity of a court employee.” • Canon 4: No court employee shall disclose confidential information acquired in the course of employment. This canon also requires that if a court employee has knowledge that another court employee has violated this rule to “take appropriate action. No employee shall be disciplined for disclosing such a violation to an appropriate authority.”It asks court administrators to educate court employees about what information is confidential.Court employees are also prohibited from engaging in ex parte communication “from litigants, witnesses or attorneys to judges, jury members or any other person in the decision-making process, except as provided by law or at the direction of the court.” • Canon 5: Every court employee shall avoid conflicts of interest in the performance of professional duties. This canon expects court employees to “regulate outside activities to minimize the risk of conflict with court-related duties. Generally, a conflict of interest exists when the court employee’s objective ability or independence of judgement in the performance of his or her job is impaired or may reasonably appear to be impaired.”In an anti-nepotism section of the canon, no employee may be supervised by a member of the employee’s immediate family, “nor shall there be any assignments as supervisor and subordinate between employees engaged in a dating relationship.”The committee recognized that this restriction may result in a qualified candidate being summarily rejected for a position or represent a hardship to smaller counties.“However, when balanced by the need for actions free of the taint of nepotism both in appearance and fact, this restriction is necessary.”Court employees who have the authority to enter into or approve contracts over $1,500 in the name of the court system must file financial disclosure statements with the chief judge (consistent with that which is required for disclosure under F.S. 112.3145). • Canon 6: A court employee’s professional position shall not be used for private gain. This section deals with the prohibition against soliciting or accepting freebies, whether they are “gifts, loans, gratuities, discounts, hospitality, services or favors directly or indirectly from attorneys, litigants or other persons known to do business with the court.”Additionally, “receiving fees, money or other compensation not provided for by law in return for public services is prohibited and may be punishable under the criminal code.”When is a gift OK?When it’s the holiday season, the giver is an attorney, and the food and refreshments are “of insignificant value.”Gifts may also be exchanged between court employees and judges during the holidays, birthday, or weddings.“The standard to keep in mind is that court employees should always conduct themselves in a manner that inspires public confidence in their role as court employees. After all, when serving the public interest, court employees must be free from the influence of improper outside interests. Also, gifts that cannot properly be accepted may be returned at government expense.”When it comes to outside employment, it is only permitted when the job does not involve “an entity that regularly appears in court or conducts business with the court system and it does not require the court employee to have frequent contact with attorneys who regularly appear in the court system.”If the court employee is also an attorney, he or she may provide “occasional uncompensated legal advice or document drafting for relatives or friends; or as part of pro bono services as recognized by The Florida Bar. However, the attorney may undertake litigation only if it is of a personal or family nature and so long as the litigation does not conflict with” other provisions of the canon.Judge Silverman acknowledged this prohibition may likely require a change in the Rules of Judicial Administration. • Canon 7: A court employee should refrain from inappropriate political activity. Keep the bumper stickers for candidates off your office door, and don’t use the office phone for drumming up support for your favorite judge running for re-election.This canon makes it clear that court employees should separate their political activities from employment duties.No political activity may be carried out during work hours or using government vehicles, equipment or on court property, and this includes telephones, fax machines, computers, network connectivity, copies and stamps.This also means court employees cannot display campaign literature, badges, stickers or endorsement signs on behalf of any party, committee, agency or candidate for political office.Nor may court employees solicit signatures for political candidacy or solicit campaign contributions on the job.Court employees may voluntarily participate in a judge’s or clerk’s campaign activities, including contributing money, but only through a judge’s or clerk’s fund-raising committee. Judges, elected clerks, and court administrators or supervisors may not require subordinate court employees to participate in political activities.“In general, court employees may participate in any political activities that do not give the impression that the judiciary itself endorses political candidates or supports political causes.” July 1, 2002 Regular News Proposed Code of Conduct for court system employeescenter_img Proposed Code of Conduct for court system employeeslast_img read more

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Pro Bono Awards—The Law Firm Commendation

first_imgPro Bono Awards—The Law Firm Commendation February 15, 2004 Regular News Pro Bono Awards—The Law Firm Commendation THE LAW FIRM COMMENDATION Presented by the Chief Justice The purpose of the Law Firm Commendation is to recognize, when appropriate, a law firm which has demonstrated a significant contribution in the delivery of legal services to individuals or groups on a pro bono basis.Unlike the Tobias Simon and Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Awards, the Law Firm Commendation is not an annual award. Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, P.A., MiamiKozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, P.A. (KT&T) is an AV rated law firm, which specializes in complex commercial litigation and bankruptcy. KT&T focuses its litigation practice in the areas of complex commercial contract and tort litigation, class actions, and securities fraud. The firm also represents some of the largest companies and lending institutions in the country when they are involved in litigation, workouts, and bankruptcy matters in Florida. KT&T serves as special counsel for a number of South Florida corporations, banks, and prominent individuals. In addition, the firm’s attorneys represent clients in matters involving professional malpractice, lender liability, foreclosure, and intellectual property/unfair competition.The firm was founded 21 years ago, and since has grown from three to 18 attorneys, all of whom have a long-standing commitment to pro bono legal service and community involvement.KT&T has a standing policy that all attorneys receive up to 20 hours a year in credit toward their billing requirement for time spent providing pro bono legal service to the poor. Over the years, KT&T attorneys collectively have spent thousands of hours representing the legal needs of the poor in the South Florida community. KT&T, as a firm and its attorneys individually, wholeheartedly recognize the obligation and opportunity to help those who would otherwise be unable to effectively access the courts because of their financial circumstances.KT&T attorneys also dedicate time to pro bono legal services through bar activities. John Kozyak serves on the American College of Bankruptcy Pro Bono Committee and raises funds for the Put Something Back Program. Laurel Isicoff has served as chair of the Pro Bono Task Force of the Bankruptcy Bar Association of the Southern District of Florida, and helped develop the curriculum for the Bankruptcy Assistance Clinic at St. Thomas University.Isicoff also helped establish and serves as a director and vice president of the Bankruptcy Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) corporation established by the BBASF, which raises funds from the legal community to support pro bono bankruptcy services in the Southern District of Florida. KT&T was an initial donor to the foundation, and through its five- year pledge, helps underwrite the foundation’s efforts.KT&T provides scholarships to minority law students who excel in the litigation skills program at the University of Miami School of Law, partially funded by teaching services donated by Harley Tropin and Ken Hartmann.Kozyak and other KT&T lawyers were instrumental in reviving and expanding the mentoring program for minority law school students at UM School of Law. The law school changed the program’s name to the “John W. Kozyak Minority Mentoring Program.”Kozyak and Isicoff are also leaders in The Florida Bar Equal Opportunities Law Section and have initiated steps within the EOLS to expand the mentoring program to all other law schools in Florida.KT&T lawyers also devote hundreds of hours a year to community service. Several serve on the boards of their synagogues and churches, mentor or teach young children in the community, and serve on citizen advisory committees.While KT&T and its individual attorneys have received public recognition and awards for their service, each continues to devote countless hours, not for recognition, but because they want to. Service has been, continues to be, and will always be, a significant aspect and a defining purpose of KT&T and its attorneys.last_img read more

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Briefs

first_img Briefs THE CUBAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION recently held its 31st Installation Gala, which honored its first president, Mario P. Goderich who, in 1978, became the first Cuban exile to become a circuit court judge in the U.S. Judge Goderich retired as a Third District Court of Appeal judge in December 2004. CABA presented Goderich with its inaugural P.A.V.E.R. award in recognition of his professionalism, achievements, values, excellence, and respect throughout his career. Judge Goderich also received a special tribute and proclamation from Attorney General Charlie Crist. Pictured from the left are CABA’s new president, Antonio C. Castro, Florida Bar President Kelly Overstreet Johnson, and CABA’s immediate past president, Ramon Abadin. Corali “Cori” Lopez-Castro will serve as the organization’s president-elect. Those elected to the 2005 CABA Board of Directors include Elizabeth M. Hernandez, Marlene Quintana, Sergio Mendez, Victoria Del Pino, Roland Sanchez-Medina, Jr., Victoria Mendez, Sandra Ferrera, Maria Rubio, Vivian De Las Cuevas-Diaz, Roberto Pardo, Manuel Garcia-Linares, and Raul Chacon, Jr. THE JOSIAH T. WALLS BAR Association recently presented a check for $1,000 to officials at the Star Academy, a small private school in a lower socioeconomic neighborhood in Gainesville. The funds are for the Tech for Tots/Street Law community project the bar has launched. The funds were provided by the Bar’s Young Lawyers Division as a part of its affiliate outreach grant program. Pictured from the left in the back are Dean Jonathan Reed, YLD President Michael Faehner, project Chair Bonita Young, school director Phyllis Dykes, and Walls Bar President and YLD board member Rhonda Chung-de Cambre. Dictionaries distributed Marion County public school third- graders are receiving free dictionaries this month, thanks to attorney Steve Rogers and contractor Ken Ausley.The Dictionary Project is a national nonprofit organization originating in South Carolina that raises money to buy dictionaries for third-grade students. The goal of the program is to assist third-graders to complete the school year as good writers, active readers, and creative thinkers by providing the students with their own personal dictionaries. Court reporters hook up with Bar Foundation The Florida Court Reporters Association reaffirmed its commitment to greater access to justice by announcing its plans to become more involved with The Florida Bar Foundation.FCRA President-elect Teresa Durando and FCRA President Louise Johnson say they are looking forward to helping spread the word about the Bar Foundation to Florida’s professional court reporters.According to Tina Kautter, FCRA’s executive director, there are approximately 4,000 court reporters in Florida. Briefs February 15, 2005 Regular Newslast_img read more

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