The Creepy Side of Politics – Helping Elect Obama

Postcard mailed to me during elections

I  posted this letter in the Sarasota Herald Tribune on Oct. 14, 2012

“I live in the Sapphire Shores neighborhood on the north end of the county. I finally made it down to the Democratic Headquarters to pick up my Obama and Fitzgerald yard signs that I proudly displayed on the corner of Bay Shore Rd., a well traveled thoroughfare. As I pounded them in I remembered what happened four years ago. Several days after their appearance they were ripped to shreds, stuffed in my mailbox and burned. That’s vandalism, but I didn’t call the police. It surely wouldn’t happen again, I thought, as a friend and neighbor drove by waving and calling,” They’re too close to the road . Somebody’s gonna steal em.” I laughed and waved her on.

Two days later she proved right. They were gone, as were most of the Democratic signs in the neighborhood. It was a raid. Okay. First I called the Democratic headquarters and they told me to call the police dept. This time I did. I was directed from place to place and finally told I needed the front desk. After holding for 20 min. I called back to the non-emergency number. The woman was pleasant, but said keep trying. I did for almost an hour, when I called her back again just to let her know I couldn’t get through, she took all my information about the theft and said she’d pass it on. “Did you leave a message?” she asked.

“That wasn’t an option.”

‘Try again later. They must be awful busy.”

“No. Why don’t you try to get through?”

She actually called later and left a message saying she couldn’t get through either and why didn’t I try the next day.

What? This is really a non-emergency number. I sat down and picked up the Sarasota Herald Tribune and began reading Tom Lyons article, A non-emergency and phone etiquette. What a coincidence! I never called the police back, and they never called me or came to my door; the options she gave me.

You’re right, this was no emergency, but it is a sad state of affairs. Tom Lyons, things are getting worse.”

Creepy postcard - back

The day after my letter came out in the paper, I went down to Keith Fitzgerald’s U.S. Senate campaign headquarters to pick up more signs, this time placing them closer to my front door. Alas! Gone again. I was getting nervous, but I forgot about it in the frenzy of last minute politics and packing for a trip to Costa Rica. I whistled down to the mailbox the next day and found another political postcard. This one was different and scared the shit out of me.

Because of the creepy and threatening nature of some nut calling himself Bat Masterson, and me inane and too stupid to get out of the rain, I figured it was time to get the press involved.

Sarasota Patch a local online newspaper broke the story which was then picked up by ABC Channel 7 News, and headlined the evening news the night before and day of the election. Both stories went pretty viral because of the odd and scary possibilities.

I believe I played a small but crucial part in re-electing Barack Obama President of the United States of America. Yea!!!!!

I’d like to apologize for my costajill website being down for awhile, but it’s all fixed now. Please check back to my last post – the next episode of my memoir Life and Deaf. And keep reading.


Shawn Tyson Found Guilty! In One Week?

British tourist murders: Two men at scene; one conviction


Photo from the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

I made some errors in thinking in my last blog while I was contemplating my feelings of missing my jury summons to the Tyson trial where a black man is quickly convicted in killing white men.

  • I didn’t have to worry about being kept off the jury because of my views against capital punishment. They were only asking for life in prison.
  • With the international media blitz given this crime, it only lasted one week? I wouldn’t have missed my vacation after all.

Whether Tyson was guilty or not, he did not have a fair trial. Plea bargaining (bribery to me, whether legal or not) brought in 5 witnesses to testify for the prosecution and they were fully believed by the jury even though they were adept at lying, crime and jail time themselves. What happened to the defense? I read the accounts. There wasn’t one. There are so many unanswered questions like:

  • What were two tourists doing in Newtown? It wasn’t easy to find their way to Gregg Ct. Were they looking for drugs? Women?
  • Why were their shirts off? Their pants down?
  • Wasn’t there possibly an accomplice?
  • How come there was only one black person on the jury?
  • Why hadn’t the public defender demanded a more racially fair jury?



Of course I have to compare this trial with the killing of Trayvon Martin, a black man by George Zimmerman, a white/latino man in Sanford, Fl., a little town with  a legacy of racism. He hasn’t even been arrested, in spite of nationwide outrage, hoodied protests and accusations of injustice.

The news in Florida has finally taken over the nation’s front pages, for better or worse.

JURY SUMMONS for the Shawn Tyson Murder Trial


March 20 – Back from Costa Rica and after a few days I’m able to attack the 2 month pile of mail. Glaring in big red letters is JURY SUMMONS March 20 8 am.” Oh shit! That’s today. I’ve missed it by hours’. First I’m kind of glad. I fill out the back with my usual excuse: ‘Just returned from Costa Rica where I live for six months a year and received the summons too late. Sorry.’

March 21 – I read the Sarasota Herald Tribune and realize I would have been one of the prospective jurors for the trial of Shawn Tyson, accused of murdering British tourists J. Cooper and J. Kouzaris. Because of the huge media blitz in the notorious Brit tabloids this trial is being watched around the world and Florida tourism is not happy.

Thoughts rush and tumble through my mind:

  1. I would have liked to be on this jury. Not like my last experience as a juror, which was a typical whiplash scam.
  2. They’d never have chosen me anyway: A. I don’t believe in capital punishment. B. Too pro black with my experience teaching in the black community and having close black friends.
  3. The trial could last a really long time and I’d miss a visit from my California/Costa Rican boyfriend who’s already got a ticket to Florida for the Wannee Festival.

March 22 – Headline reads “Witnesses could present obstacle.” The jury is seated, but prosecutors asked questions like: “What do you think about a witness who receives benefit for testifying?” What? I turn the page and there they are – four witnesses who have already received something for their future testimony: avoided 10 years in prison, received a reduced charge, received a housing waver to move to a safer home or avoided being charged as an accessory. What again? Isn’t this bribery?

from Wikipedia: “The bribe is the gift bestowed to influence the recipient’s conduct. It may be any moneygoodright in actionpropertyprefermentprivilege,emolument, object of value, advantage, or merely a promise or undertaking to induce or influence the action, vote, or influence of a person in an official or public capacity.

Hmmmm. So this is our democratic system and a right to a fair trial? I always knew this happened – plea bargaining – but this is going too far. Sounds like our judicial system has gone the way of our political system.

And the other murder here in Florida will be the subject of my next blog (which I’ve neglected way too long) – unarmed and black Trayvon Martin being gunned down by neighborhood watcher George Zimmerman. And he’s still not been arrested because of a self defense charge. Huh? Martin only had some Skittles and a bottle of iced tea on him. At least this one has lots of protests.

Discrimination – Then, Now and Forever?

What made the recent Herald Tribune article about the Sarasota High class of 1970’s 40th reunion newsworthy, was the fact that it was the first time in all those years that the rift of racial conflict between the black and white alumni was finally mended. The article calls it “a benchmark of social progress,” and continues, “The reunions have been mostly segregated for the last four decades.”

This statement shocked me into a tumble of mixed emotions and old memories. The first was shame. Forty years this segregation has continued, though the schools were integrated in 1967? I graduated in 1961 from Venice High and lived without any real consciousness that my contemporary black students from Venice were bused to Booker High in Sarasota. As I look back at the conservative 50’s, I think of myself as one of the naive sheep following the herd over the cliff. It wasn’t the Age of Aquarius yet, but ‘times they were a changin’. Why has it taken so long?

The second was pride. In the 80’s, black students were still being bused out of their home districts. My deaf son was attending the re-opened magnet school – Booker High, which he loved. His junior year he chose to attend Riverview for two reasons: one, it had the only resource teacher for the deaf, and two, he wanted to experience a larger school population and choice of subjects, to see if he could compete with his hearing peers. He could and did, but not before going through reverse discrimination. He was the only white kid on the bus and deaf to boot. He fought back, on his own, on all fronts and stuck with it until, by the end of the school year, the riders respected each other’s challenges and became good friends.

Now in my 60’s, I’ve had the opportunity to travel, teach and volunteer in both the United States and around the world and I still see the horrible inequities of life surrounding us. I was lucky to have grown up in the United States and, being an eternal optimist, I still have hope for freedom and peace worldwide. But, baby, we’ve got a long way to go.