Politics: Their Only Hope — A Woman Pope

A good woman is soon to leave County Hall at a time when we desperately need more like her. Infinitely more.

These are Katy Sorenson’s final months as District 8 commissioner. Her constituents, from Pinecrest to Homestead, have seen fit to return her to the Stephen P. Clark Building in three elections since 1994, but she won’t be on their ballots this year.

I had at one time harbored hope that Sorenson would seek the post of county mayor. Despite lacking a Latin surname, I bet she could have run and won. After decades of male mayors with names like Clark, Penelas, and Alvarez, she would have been a refreshing breeze from the old boys network that has held a grip on county politics for too long.

She certainly wasn’t lacking experience: In 16 years on the dais, she championed the strengthening of post-Andrew building codes, the Safe Neighborhood Parks measure that improved community parks and rec centers, the passage of the county’s human rights ordinance banning discrimination and funding increases for Head Start.

But her legacy may well flourish in her efforts to curb urban sprawl and promote “smart growth.” Not an easy task in a region whose real estate development and commercial interest lobbyists have gotten sneakier and more relentless, year after year, in trying to convince the commission to push the urban development boundary ever westward.

They must have never expected that this one lady would stick out her foot and trip them up as she has.

Hers is a legacy that includes sponsoring legislation to cut fuel consumption, promote hybrid vehicles, plan ahead for climate change and spark a “green building revolution” locally.

A mean and spiteful Natacha Seijas lashed out at a band of constituents who dared summon the insolence to topple her in a recall attempt in 2006. Crooked Miriam Alonso was packed off to jail for looting a campaign account. Even the otherwise blemish-free Barbara Carey-Shuler was brought up on ethics violations for conflict of interest votes on programs with which she had worked closely while a former School Board employee. She was eventually cleared.

But Katy was never petty, vindictive, or accused of being on the take.

Knowing when to go and not overstaying your welcome is a trait in rare supply among politicians. This year the commission loses one of its better-regarded and well-admired members, by her colleagues and her public alike. Without naming names (not because I’m deferential; there are just too many to mention), I’d much rather see the departure of some of her colleagues than her.

Sorenson’s welcome was far from exhausted.

“Public service is important work,” she declared in her retirement announcement in February, “and I’ve taken my responsibility as a public servant very seriously.”

Indeed you have, Madam Commissioner. If only others were so dedicated.

We need more women in leadership roles in lots more places than just County Hall. Which leads me to my next topic (drum roll): The present crisis embroiling the Roman Catholic Church.

I feel pretty confident that a lot of this priestly pedophilia would not have arisen were a Mother Superior — rather than a Holy Father — running the Vatican. Were she and a “College of Nuns” (instead of cardinals) in charge, you can almost bet a lot of this perverting of little Catholic children would never have gotten started in the first place, much less risen to the stench it has now.

The cover of a recent magazine asked, “What Would Mary Do?” Well, I can guess what an army of ruler-wielding nuns might do.

Recall Meryl Streep’s hard-as-nails Sister Aloysius in the film Doubt.

Now if there were far more Sister Aloysiuses throughout the Church — including running it — ya think there’d be so many hard-ons underneath those clergical cassocks?

Why not really turn the Church upside down and install a woman pope? Considering its current troubles, it would be an improvement. A vast one.

Imagine the phone conversation Il Papa Donna might have with one of her Vatican advisers:

“He did WHAT to those children? You summon him to Rome. Immediately! He’ll not only be defrocked, I may just castrate the son-of-a-bitch myself (crossing herself), mea culpa. I will not tolerate a repeat of this! Capiche? And whosoever shall commit such transgressions as this… well, God will deal with them in the hereafter, but they’ll have to contend with ME first!”

I doubt Benedict or his predecessor ever once came to terms with this scandal with such resoluteness.  Hence its persistence.

I was tickled with glee that, in the aftermath of John Paul Stevens’ retirement announcement last month, the top three mentioned as his possible replacement were all women. This after the president had already named a woman (Sonia Sotomayor) to the bench last year.

As we now know, U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan has been named the president’s choice to replace Stevens. She would be, if confirmed, the third woman on a nine-judge bench.

A private fantasy of mine is that, one by one, in short order, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito’s judicial careers all come to abrupt, unexpected ends (maybe Scalia’s hunting buddy Dick Cheney could… well, I don’t want to suggest anything misfortunate, but we all know Dick’s aim isn’t so good…) and all are summarily replaced by women, suddenly shattering Hillary Clinton’s glass ceiling in a big and historic way, and handing the high court its first female majority. Wouldn’t that just throw the male-dominated legal profession into a tizzy?

But why stop there? Turn Congress over to women (“A woman’s place is in the House. And the Senate”). The Senate has 17; it needs 34 more for a majority. It would be a taller order for the House, which has 75 women, 143 short of a majority.

Of Miami-Dade’s six-member congressional delegation, two are women (Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Debbie Wasserman Schultz).

Women mayors currently govern in only a handful of the nearly three dozen municipalities in this county (Aventura, Bal Harbour, Biscayne Park, El Portal, Miami Beach, Miami Gardens, Pinecrest).


Alex Sink

If she hadn’t proven such a lousy candidate and been written off already, Florida CFO Alex Sink might have become the state’s first woman guv this fall. But the way things are headed, she could wind up with the ignominious distinction of being half of the only husband-wife duo to lose races for governor. (Hubby Bill McBride failed to topple Jeb Bush in 2002).

How’s this for failure? Becoming the only Florida couple to each have had a crack at rent-free housing in the governor’s mansion, only to screw it up both times. Interesting pillow talk that may make after Election Day in November.

But who knows? Maybe she’ll stop Bill McCollum yet. However, it’s looking more like McCollum might be able to claim what the colorful former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards boasted during his 1983 campaign:

“The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy.”

Much as Obama’s ascension was predicted to lure countless African-Americans into their own runs for public office, Hillary’s candidacy should have had a no-less-inspiring coattail effect on women. So, girls? Get out there and run! Shatter that glass ceiling already.

More women in government is no guarantee of better governance. The old postulate that women in charge would hasten world peace was deflated by, among others, Margaret Thatcher who proved, in taking back the Falklands from Argentina, that a woman can be just as adept a warrior as a man.

But it couldn’t hurt. As some would say, men have been screwing things up for so long, could women perform any worse?

Whichever side of this Arizona illegal-immigration-law debate you fall on, were you intrigued like I was that the Mexican Senate would intrude in our domestic affairs by calling for Arizona to scrap the law? Haven’t they got better things to do — say, tend to long-festering problemas on their own side of the fence?

Last weekend alone, nine Mexicans — one, a 7-year-old boy — had their lives shot out from under them in the border city of Juarez (Juarez is Spanish for “Live here at your own peril”). The week before, 62 others in the city were snuffed out. Juarez, home to 1.5 million, lost more than 2,600 citizens to the narco violence last year; so far this year, the body toll is closing in on 900.

And the bloodbath is not contained to that one city. It’s soaking the rest of the country.

Three men were found with their heads hacked off — an increasingly popular way to discard a body — near the beachside resort of Acapulco, also last weekend. Nationwide, more than 22,000 have been killed since 2006.

No, I don’t recall seeing any news item about the Mexican Senate addressing that ongoing crisis — but, busy me, I may have just overlooked it.

If His Holiness should decide, in the week ahead, to abandon Rome, and the papacy with it —

“Ahhhh! To heck vith it! The controversy’s not vorth it, the criticism’s too much. Besides, I’m homesick for Oktoberfest in Munich, for real German bratvurst and sauerkraut vashed down vith a frosty mug of real German lager.”

— or if the Mexican Senate passes a resolution demanding New Mexico quit using Mexico in its name, and for the rest of us to quit observing Cinco de Mayo, I’ll be sure to comment on that next time we meet.

About Charles Branham-Bailey

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