Miami’s “Awake The State” rally draws hundreds

Public-service unions were strongly represented at the Awake The State rally held Tuesday afternoon at County Hall in downtown Miami. Women’s groups, the disabled, veterans, Democrats, teachers, the unemployed — all found reason to protest the national drift exemplified by the situation in Wisconsin, where a new Republican governor is trying to kill the unions whose members serve the public.

Statewide, dozens of similar events were scheduled. Here’s a statement from the Florida organizers:

What we are seeing throughout Florida today is the result of an organic, grassroots movement of regular, hard working Floridians who are saying no to more devastating budget cuts. Floridians will rally in more than 30 cities and towns from Pensacola to Key West thanks to teachers, firefighters, small business owners, and other community leaders who decided to organize a rally in their community. For some, it was their first time ever organizing such an event. For many Floridians, this will be their first rally.

Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Richard Lydecker was among the crowd of speakers at the Miami rally. He spoke in defense of public-service unions that are unfairly branded as somehow writing their own contracts without any accountability. Elections provide accountability, Lydecker said, as elected officials can lose office if they misuse the public treasury on staff.

While the rally took place, Miami-Dade County residents were taking part in early voting on exactly that sort of issue — a recall vote on whether County Mayor Carlos Alvarez should remain in office.  He’s far down in the polls, and a main reason is assertions that he raised taxes while over-paying his staff.

Democratic Party Chair Richard Lydecker, interviewed by TV before speaking to the rally crowd

Here are two of the active Democrats who attended the rally, Yolanda Escollies and Beatriz Baldan, with their hand-made sign appropriate for Gov. Rick Scott, whose business career included a massive fraud on Medicare.

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