More Ethnic Politics: Judicial Candidate Dumps Hispanic Name

BY BUDDY NEVINS

Question: When does Olga Maria Gonzalez-Levine morph into Olga M. Levine?

Answer: When she is running for office in Broward County.

Levine is the latest judiciary candidate to find a Hispanic name is toxic.  This time the name is her own, not her opponent.

The Florida Bar knows her as Olga Maria Gonzalez-Levine, working in the Broward Public Defender’s Office.

The Supervisor of Elections got the short version Olga M. Levine. 

Olga Levine sounds vaguely eastern European.  The name sounds like a woman who eats blintzes and kreplach, not black beans and rice. It sounds like somebody who could be living in Century Village, not Little Havana.

That’s just the point, isn’t it.

Levine appeares to believe that her Hispanic name is a determent at the polls.  

She is running in the crowded County Court Group 26 race against incumbent Judge Lee Seidman.

As if Seidman isn’t wacky enough, his latest moves against Judge Susan Lebow is a new low.  

Seidman can campaign because he has four opponents.  Lebow’s hands are tied by the Code of Conduct which restricts her because she has no opponent yet.

For instance, Seidman went to the Broward AFL-CIO endorsement interviews over the weekend. Lebow couldn’t attend.

Seidman reportedly told listeners that he wasn’t running for re-election, but was switching seats. 

Seidman’s tactic of not challenging Lebow until the last possible moment is beneath the dignity of the bench.  It is a tactic of a political trickster rather than a judge.

I don’t know what Seidman is worried about anyway.  With four opponents, he has a very good shot at being re-elected. 

Of course, all these judicial candidates might switch to other races between now and when filing closes in late April.

I don’t know if Levine is looking at any other races.  She did not return an e-mail for comment.

Levine is part of  a sad history of Broward candidates avoiding a Hispanic heritage.

Circuit Judge Marina Garcia Wood dropped her middle name when she ran at the urging of political consultant Tony Garguilo.

The late Tony G was right as he usually was.  Wood won.

Wood ran in 2006.  I hate to say it, but Broward hasn’t grown up yet.



15 Responses to “More Ethnic Politics: Judicial Candidate Dumps Hispanic Name”

  1. Letemgo says:

    I think Seidman would be an improvement over Lebow. She is a nice lady, but after she threw out that murder conviction for no reason I dont think she belongs on the bench.

    FROM BUDDY: Despite all the publicity, don’t believe everything you read about that case.

    (1) The prosecutor was unprepared. Is is inexcusable for any lawyer not to be prepared for a case, especially one where a jury has already been chosen. Inexcuseable. No excuse.

    (2) The prosecutor lost it in court in front of the jury. He was red-faced arguing with the judge, I am told. That prejudiced the jury and Judge Lebow had very little choice.

    (3) The defendent isn’t going anywhere. He is already serving a life sentence. This whole exercise was unnecessary.

    Listen, I was in the newspaper biz for over three decades. I know this Lebow story makes a good yarn. Believe me, nothing makes an editor drool more than the vision of a headline: “murderer let go.”

    But Lebow’s side hasn’t been reported because she is forbidden by the Code of Ethics from commenting on the case. Forbidden.

    There are two sides to this story and you haven’t heard both of them….yet.

  2. Lawyer says:

    Buddy, Buddy, Buddy

    Sounds like you don’t know the whole story like Michael Mayo does over at the Sun-Sentinel. Judge Lebow asked Criminal Chief Judge Ilona Holmes what to do. Lebow dismissed the case. Judge Holmes says she never told Lebow to dismiss the case. I believe Holmes. All Lebow had to do was reset case for one day. It’s a murder case. DEATH IS DIFFERENT.
    Ever hear of that Buddy and Susie?

    FROM BUDDY:

    This isn’t criticism of my friend Mike Mayo, who is one of the best journalists at the Sun-Sentinel. But I don’t even see eye-to-eye all the time with my wife, much less Mayo.

    Again, ASA Greg Rossman allowed a jury to be picked and seated without having the evidence to proceed with the trial. It is the responsibility of the prosecutor to be ready for trial and that includes having the evidence.

    There is no excuse.

    Lebow should have held Rossman in contempt. He let the victims down.

    He was ill prepared for a trial that had been scheduled for awhile. It is inexcusable.

    Oh, and by the way — the judge had already delayed the trial once for Rossman because he had a doctor’s apppointment.

  3. sunny skies shady people says:

    Buddy
    Did the State appeal the dismissal to the 4th DCA?

  4. Letemgo says:

    Buddy
    you are wrong, I know more about that case than you do. Did the prosecutor “lose it”? Yes he did, after lebow refused to allow him one extra day to get the evidence from the clerk in WPB. She had allowed the defense plenty of time and no one(not even the defense) objected to a one day continuance. She made the victims family leave the courtroom before she dismissed the case. Hopefully the VOP will stick on appeal. The right thing for her to do if she was upset at the prosecutor was hold him in contempt, not dismiss a murder charge- she absolutely did not have to do that. She is known as “let em go lebow” for a reason buddy- do some research into her sentencings.

  5. mardi is back says:

    I figured mardi had a deal with backman to eventually get out of the race. Not one blog postt or negative comment about jeff. She is in her new race a week and the mud is flying. That’s the Mardi we know. Come on Buddy we all know Mardi gave you this story.

  6. Forgive the ignorant says:

    Guess who commented on numbers 1, 2 & 4 above?
    Hmmmmm. You get five guesses and the first three won’t count.

  7. The Carolina Cowboy says:

    #1, #2, and #4 above…….blogging so obviously shows poor judgment.

  8. Scrappy Dont says:

    So may I infer from your article that Seidman says he is running against Judge Lebo? If that is true, why would a sitting judge run against another sitting judge? There must be more to that part of the story.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Reason number one — She is in circuit court and he is in county court. Technically, its a promotion.

    Reason number two — He believes he can beat Lebow, but would have a more difficult time being re-elected to his seat.

    Reason number three — Lawyers and other judges tell me that Seidman might have other, Machiavellian personal motives. After all, this is a judge who’s wife Laura Seidman is already running against another one of his colleagues — Circuit Judge Lisa Porter

    Since he is not forthcoming or friendly with a lot of folks in the courthouse, he is a mystery to many.

  9. Ghost of E.B White says:

    Should be forthcoming or.

    No “e” and the usage of “nor” is inappropriate.

    I will continue to haunt you Buddy — although you are about 99% better than any of your former colleagues would be under similar circumstances (i.e., working without an editor).

    Booooooooo.

    FROM BUDDY: Typos. Thanks for pointing them out.

  10. Forthcoming or Friendly says:

    Neither forthcoming nor friendly is the sweetest description anyone has ever used for Lee Seidman in over 25 years of working in that Courthouse.

    Just go to any of the local courthouse pubs on any given Friday evening and listen to some of his former colleagues speak of him.

    You’ll not hear “forthcoming” or “friendly” in their descriptions, but you’ll hear PLENTY more that start with “F”.

    FROM BUDDY:
    I’m trying to put Mr. Seidman in the best light. I’ve never met him.

  11. The Lebow Fakeout says:

    Too all the lefty criminal defense types — don’t you fret, Seidman ain’t running against Lebow.

    Buddy, I choose door #3 on your options.

  12. Letemgo says:

    I find it funny that people assume that I am the judge… Well whatever I’m not. I’m just someone who has been in the courthouse and tried cases with both judges. Lebow is a very nice lady, but when she did that on a homicide case she lost a lot of credibility. Is Seidman not that friendly? Yes, he is not a very social fellow- but he is a fair judge. He gives a fair trial- and he NEVER would have dismissed a murder case like that. He might have put the lawyer in jail, but he wouldn’t have taken out on some innocent victims of a crime, that have nothing to do with the huge egos in the courthouse

  13. Kevin says:

    Buddy,

    you do know that the opposite happens in Dade, right? “Joe Schwartz” would change his name to “Jose Negron”.

    In about 20 years, the same thing will happen in Broward.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Absolutely true. I ran the Sun-Sentinel Miami bureau for seven years and I can back up this reader. Thanks for reminding us.

  14. Broward Lawyer says:

    @ Kevin and Buddy:

    Neither of you know what you are talking about. Miami-Dade has prominent attorneys heavily involved in the judicial process with focus on qualifications not names. Example: Milton Hirsh is running for an open seat unopposed. There are only 3 contested elections in Miami-Dade right now. Broward doesn’t have that leadership. What Dale Ross did for years protecting incumbents was wrong, but what Kevin Kulik and Howard Finkelstein are doing is also wrong. They don’t promote a qualified Judiciary, they promote their own selfish interests. Broward is going back instead of forward and I don’t see a bright future for its judiciary. We have clowns replacing clowns and we will probably lose more good judges like Julio Gonzalez who lost to Ellen Feld because of the name game. Broward leadership in this regards is severely lacking. Buddy I strongly suggest you research the judicial process in Miami-Dade before you agree with ignorant remarks like Joe Schwartz
    changes his name to Jose Negron to win a judiical election. You’d be very surprised at what you will find. Do your homework Buddy.

  15. Mallory says:

    I know Olga and to know her is to know she does NOT hide her ‘full name’ or her heritage. It is we the public who shortened her name. Not Olga. This woman is proud,…intelligent,…warm,..strong, and in my opinion the best person for the seat. Know someone before you dismiss them!

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