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Vote count errors throw New York City mayoral primary into disarray!

New York City Board of Elections Posted All Voters' Names, Addresses and  Party Affiliations On Its Website | WNYC News | WNYC

Dear Commons Community,

New York City’s Board of Elections has had a reputation for mistakes and mismanagement and it showed again yesterday when the Democratic primary for mayor of New York City was thrown into a state of confusion as election officials retracted their latest report on the vote count after realizing it had been corrupted by test data never cleared from a computer system.

The bungle was a black mark on New York City’s first foray into ranked choice voting and seemed to confirm worries that the city’s Board of Elections, which is jointly run by Democrats and Republicans, was unprepared to implement the new system.  As reported by the Associated Press.

The disarray began as evening fell, when the board abruptly withdrew data it had released earlier in the day purporting to be a first round of results from the ranked choice system.

That data had indicated that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former police captain who would be the city’s second Black mayor, had lost much of his lead and was ahead of former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia by fewer than 16,000 votes.

Then the Board of Elections tweeted that it was aware of “a discrepancy” in its report on ranked choice voting results. It didn’t initially explain what that discrepancy was, even as it pulled the data from its website.

Just before 10:30 p.m. it released a statement saying that 135,000 ballot images it had put into its computer system for testing purposes had never been cleared.

“The Board apologizes for the error and has taken immediate measures to ensure the most accurate up to date results are reported,” it said in a statement.

The results initially released Tuesday, and then withdrawn, were incomplete to begin with because they didn’t include any of the nearly 125,000 absentee ballots cast in the Democratic primary.

The Associated Press removed Tuesday’s vote update from its published vote count after the board pulled the results.

Adams’ campaign, which had publicly pointed out the vote discrepancy shortly after the faulty count was released, said in a statement that it remained confident he would ultimately prevail.

The publicized vote totals had included an unexpected jump in the number of ballots counted Tuesday compared to the number counted on the day of the primary.

Garcia said in a late afternoon news conference, before the numbers were withdrawn, that she was confident she had a path to victory, but wasn’t “counting any chickens before they’ve hatched.”

Later, her campaign issued a statement saying “The BOE’s release of incorrect ranked choice votes is deeply troubling and requires a much more transparent and complete explanation. Every ranked choice and absentee vote must be counted accurately so that all New Yorkers have faith in our democracy and our government.”

Elections officials had planned on conducting another round of ranked choice analysis on July 6 that would include absentee ballots. A note posted on the Board of Elections website indicated it would try posting accurate results without absentee ballots Wednesday.

New York City’s primary went into a state of suspended animation a week ago while officials prepared to give the public its first look at results from the city’s new ranked choice voting system.

Under the system, voters could rank up to five candidates in order of preference.

Since no candidate was the first choice of more than 50% of voters, a computer on Tuesday tabulated ballots in a series of rounds that worked like instant run-offs.

In each round, the candidate in last place was eliminated. Votes cast for that person were then redistributed to the surviving candidates, based on whoever voters put next on their ranking list. That process repeated until only two candidates were left. 

Besides Adams and Garcia, civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley was also still within striking distance of victory.

When voting ended June 22, elections officials only released results showing who voters put down as their first choice for the job. In that count, Adams had a lead of around 75,000 votes over Wiley with Garcia close behind in third.

Wiley was critical of the BOE, saying the chaos Tuesday “is not just failure to count votes properly today, it is the result of generations of failures that have gone unaddressed.”

Ahead of the 2016 election, it mistakenly purged tens of thousands of voters from voting rolls. In 2018, voters had to wait in line for several hours at some polling places over equipment issues.

In 2020, it struggled to process applications for absentee ballots and initially sent many voters ballots with return envelopes printed with the wrong people’s names on them.

The Democratic primary winner will be the prohibitive favorite in the general election against Curtis Sliwa, the Republican founder of the Guardian Angels.

Either Adams or Wiley would be the second Black mayor of New York City, and either Garcia or Wiley would be the first woman mayor.

Adams, 60, is a moderate Democrat who opposed the “defund the police” movement and said that under his leadership, the city could find a way to fight crime while also combating a legacy of racial injustice in policing.

He was previously a state senator before becoming Brooklyn’s borough president, a job in which he lacks lawmaking power, but handles some constituent services and discretionary city spending.

Garcia, 51, is a city government veteran who ran as a nonideological crisis manager well-suited to guiding New York out of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Garcia ran the department of sanitation from 2014 until leaving last September to explore a run for mayor. De Blasio also tapped Garcia to run an emergency food distribution program during the coronavirus pandemic after earlier appointing her interim chair of the city’s embattled public housing system.

She earlier served as chief operating officer of the city’s department of environmental protection, responsible for water and sewer systems.

Wiley, 57, served as counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio and previously chaired a civilian panel that investigates complaints of police misconduct. A former legal analyst for MSNBC, she ran as a progressive who would cut $1 billion from the police budget and divert it to other city agencies.

Tony

 

Video: National Football League Proudly Declares: “Football Is Gay”

Dear Commons Community,

In a video shared on Twitter on Monday, the National Football League declared, “Football is gay.”

In white letters on a black background, the word “gay” was then replaced with words including “lesbian,” “beautiful,” “queer,” “transgender,” “power” and “life.”

The video’s final declaration: “Football is for everyone.”  As reported by NBC News.

The NFL released the video in response to Las Vegas Raiders player Carl Nassib coming out last week, league spokesperson Samantha Roth told Outsports. Nassib is the first active NFL player to come out as gay.

In a video shared on Instagram June 21, Nassib said he finally felt comfortable enough to get the announcement “off my chest.”

“I actually hope that one day videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary, but until then, I am going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that is accepting, that is compassionate,” Nassib said, adding that he would donate $100,000 to The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization.

The NFL tweeted support for Nassib after he came out and announced that it would match his donation to The Trevor Project.

The NFL has previously supported The Trevor Project as part of its Pride at NFL campaign, which is a public-facing commitment to better support LGBTQ employees, fans and players. The nonprofit organization’s logo is featured on the Pride at NFL website. The NFL also worked with The Trevor Project for a National Coming Out Day PSA in the fall.

The video posted by the NFL on Monday included a statistic from The Trevor Project’s research: “LGBTQ+ youth with at least one accepting adult have 40% lower risk of attempting suicide,” the full-screen text reads.

NFL diversity director Sam Rapoport told Outsports that the league released the “Football is for everyone” ad to show more support for both Nassib and LGBTQ fans.

“I am proud of the clear message this spot sends to the NFL’s LGBTQ+ fans: This game is unquestionably for you,” Rapoport said. “I will be playing its first line over and over in my head all season.”

On the same day the video dropped, Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, wrote an op-ed for The New York Times calling for managers, coaches, trainers, schools and professional sports associations to “break the silence and stigma around being L.G.B.T.Q. in sports, by fostering a safe, inclusive and affirming climate.”

He wrote that LGBTQ youth “have reported avoiding sports out of fear, rather than lack of interest, citing experiences of locker room bullying and alienation from teammates.”

Paley also shared The Trevor Project statistic featured in the NFL’s video and added, “For many young people, coaches, managers and trainers can be that one adult.”

In response to the NFL’s ad, The Trevor Project wrote on Twitter, “Thank you for supporting LGBTQ youth.”

LGBTQ people responded to the ad in a variety of ways on social media.

Some said the announcement was a big step forward or brought tears to their eyes:

Others accused the NFL of trying to pander to LGBTQ people during Pride Month, and some called attention to the differences in the NFL’s responses to Nassib’s coming out and to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police violence in 2016.

Tim Ellis, the NFL’s chief marketing officer, told Outsports the ad is about “the importance of inclusion” and celebrating Pride.

“It’s imperative that we use our voice and leverage the NFL platform to drive positive change, which includes supporting what our players care about and what they stand for,” he said

This is a positive move by the NFL!

Tony

This Pandemic is not over: Concerns are being raised about the Delta variant!

Number of delta variant COVID-19 cases expected to double every two weeks

Dear Commons Community,

The threat of the Delta variant has some health officials rethinking Covid-19 measures, even among vaccinated people. Experts have said vaccines like those from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech provide high amounts of protection against the variant, but some warn breakthroughs could become more likely if the virus becomes more prevalent. Already in Los Angeles County, officials have reinstated mask guidance for public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Other parts of the world are getting even stricter. South Africa has entered at least two weeks of lockdown to combat a third wave of Covid-19 linked to the Delta variant. About 10 million Australians, including residents in four of the country’s eight capital cities, are also under lockdown. 

The World Health Organization’s decision to encourage those who are fully vaccinated to wear masks as a result of the highly transmissible Delta variant is “a good idea,” according to University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix’s Dr. Shad Marvasti

“We don’t want to wait until after the fact and get caught with this thing already ahead of us when we know that masks work,” Marvasti told Yahoo Finance Live. “To put this in context, the Alpha variant, which originated out of the UK, was about 50% more infectious and transmissible. The Delta variant is 60% more infectious than that.”

The Delta variant, which was first identified in India, has now spread to more than 80 countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials warn it will likely become the dominant strain in the U.S. in a matter of weeks as infections attributable to the highly contagious variant spread rapidly nationwide. COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant currently account for about one-fifth of new coronavirus infections in the U.S., according to the CDC.

“The CDC needs to act quickly, without waiting, to follow the WHO guidelines and ask everyone to put the masks back on so we can stay open, protect folks, and keep the economy going,” Marvasti said. “We’re already seeing preliminary numbers out of Israel where fully vaccinated people are getting sick.”

Preliminary findings by Israeli health officials found that about half of adults infected by the Delta variant in the country were fully vaccinated, the Wall Street Journal reported, and as it stands now, the Delta variant is likely causing about 90% of new infections in Israel.

Outbreaks of infections largely driven by the Delta variant have prompted governments from around the world to reimpose coronavirus-related restrictions. South Africa is imposing at least two weeks of lockdowns while about 10 million Australians are also under lockdown. Here in the U.S., Los Angeles County officials are urging all residents to wear masks in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

“We have gotten into this false sense of security thinking it’s okay to take off masks,” warned Marvasti. “The best thing to do is to start putting the masks back on to prevent another surge from happening, and if you’re unvaccinated, now is the time to get vaccinated before this Delta variant comes for you.”

Keep your masks!

Tony

More results expected today in New York City mayoral race – Adams, Wiley and Garcia still in contention!

Polls: Adams leads NYC primary race ahead of Wiley, Garcia

Eric Adams, Maya Wiley, and Kathryn Garcia

Dear Commons Community,

New York City will resume counting votes today in its Democratic mayoral primary, which was suspended a week ago with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams enjoying an early lead.

The city’s Board of Elections plans to announce the latest vote tallies sometime this afternoon, and it will be the public’s first look at results from the city’s new ranked choice voting system, which gives voters a say in who wins even if their top choice for the office doesn’t have enough support.

When voting ended on June 22, Adams, a former police officer, had a lead of 75,000 votes over civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley, with former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia following close behind in third place.

Those vote tallies, though, were highly incomplete. They only included a look at who voters put down as their first choice for the job. New York City’s voting system now allows voters to rank five candidates, in order of preference.

Vote tabulation is done in rounds. In each round, the candidate in last place is eliminated. Votes cast ranking that candidate first are then redistributed to those voters’ second choices.

That process repeats until there are only two candidates left. The one with the most votes wins.

Under that system, it is still possible for Wiley or Garcia to overtake Adams if more voters put them down as their second, third, fourth or even fifth choice in the race.

New York City also plans today to begin counting absentee ballots in the race. At least 124,000 Democrats voted by absentee ballot in the primary, based on ballots received through Sunday.

None of those ballots will be included in the city’s first pass at ranked choice analysis, meaning that there’s a chance results could still change significantly. Elections officials plan on conducting another round of ranked choice analysis on July 6 that includes absentee ballots.

The Democratic primary winner will be the prohibitive favorite in the general election against Curtis Sliwa, the Republican founder of the Guardian Angels.

Either Adams or Wiley would be the second Black mayor of New York City, and either Garcia or Wiley would be the first woman mayor.

Adams, 60, is a moderate Democrat who opposed the “defund the police” movement and said that under his leadership, the city could find a way to fight crime while also combating a legacy of racial injustice in policing.

He was previously a state senator before becoming Brooklyn’s Borough President, a job in which he lacks lawmaking power, but handles some constituent services and discretionary city spending.

Wiley, 57, served as counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio and previously chaired a civilian panel that investigates complaints of police misconduct.

A former legal analyst for MSNBC, she ran as a progressive who would cut $1 billion from the police budget and divert it to other city agencies.

Garcia, 51, is a city government veteran who ran as a nonideological crisis manager well-suited to guiding New York out of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Garcia ran the department of sanitation from 2014 until leaving last September to explore a run for mayor. De Blasio also tapped Garcia to run an emergency food distribution program during the coronavirus pandemic after earlier appointing her interim chair of the city’s embattled public housing system.

She earlier served as chief operating officer of the city’s department of environmental protection, responsible for water and sewer systems.

It ain’t over until it is over!

Tony

 

Trump Rips Mitch McConnell for Not Being Loyal Enough to Keep Him President!

Dear Commons Community,

Yesterday Donald Trump attacked  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, baselessly saying that the Kentucky Republican could have somehow kept him in office and yet chose not to.

“Had Mitch McConnell fought for the Presidency like he should have, there would right now be Presidential Vetoes on all of the phased Legislation that he has proven to be incapable of stopping,” the former president wrote in a statement. “Not to mention, he lost two Senatorial seats in Georgia, making the Republicans the Minority in the Senate. He never fought for the White House and blew it for the Country.”

By fighting for the White House, Trump is likely referring to McConnell refusing to overturn the 2020 election that handed Joe Biden the presidency. Trump’s efforts to peddle the lie that the election was fraudulent led to the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol carried out by his supporters, who were trying to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote count.

Despite blaming the riot on Trump, McConnell still voted against convicting the former president at his impeachment trial for inciting the insurrection and said in February that he would “absolutely” support Trump in a 2024 presidential race.

In reality, the Senate minority leader and his party have effectively blocked several pieces of important Democratic-led legislation in the Senate by using filibuster rules, in which bills require 60 votes in order to advance. Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan bill in May that would have created a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack and shut down debate earlier this month on a sweeping election bill covering voting rights, campaign finance, redistricting and government ethics.

Trump and McConnell deserve each for their duplicity!

Tony

Loser Trump Has Full Meltdown Over Bill Barr, Mitch McConnell

Dear Common Community,

Donald Trump issued a lengthy and rambling statement (see above) late yesterday attacking two of his staunchest allies during his one term in office.

Trump called former attorney general Bill Barr and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “spineless RINOs” (Republicans in Name Only) after Barr told The Atlantic that Trump’s constant claims of election fraud were “bullshit.” Barr also told the magazine that McConnell urged him to “inject some reality” into Trump as he repeated debunked claims of election fraud and baseless conspiracy theories last winter.

McConnell confirmed that account, the magazine reported. That was enough to trigger the former president.

Trump, who once claimed he would hire only “the best and most serious people,” called Barr a “disappointment in every sense of the word,” much as he has attacked many of the other “best people” he hired, including Jeff Sessions (attorney general), Rex Tillerson (secretary of state), James Mattis (defense secretary) John Bolton (national security advisor), H.R. McMaster (national security advisor) John Kelly (homeland security and chief of staff) and Mike Pence (vice president), just to name a few. 

Trump keeps showing why he was the only sitting president to lose reelection in thirty years.

Tony

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger Slams Trump’s ‘Rally of a Loser President’

Kinzinger Rejects Pence Likening Reagan to Trump: 'No Comparison'

Adam Kinzinger

Dear Commons Community,

During a CNN interview yesterday, Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) criticized former President Donald Trump on Sunday for continuing to recycle the same old talking points about the 2020 election and urged Republican leaders to tell voters the truth.

At a rally in Ohio Saturday, his first since leaving office, Trump reprised his grievances about losing the 2020 election and falsely blamed it on voter fraud.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) likened the spectacle to WWE wrestling, saying it was “entertaining, but not real.”

“I hope he’s right,” Kinzinger said of Romney’s take. “There’s a lot of people, though, that I’ve talked to, you know that are mad at me for just telling the truth, which used to be a pretty basic, you know, low bar, that really truly believe that Donald Trump was elected president again.”

“It was a rally of a loser president,” Kinzinger added. “I mean, he’s the first president to lose reelection in decades.”

While Trump did praise Miller, he spent much of the event falsely claiming that the presidential election was rigged against him.

“But the problem is, again, people believe this, they really do. There’s enough people, frighteningly, that believe he’s going to be president in August,” Kinzinger said, referring to a conspiracy theory circulated by Trump supporters that the former president will be reinstated.

Kinzinger called on members of his party to speak up.

“If nobody is taking the role of leader and leading people a certain way, telling them the truth when the Republic is at risk ― which it truly is right now ― then you can’t expect anything but what you saw last night, which is thousands of people that believe the election was stolen because they don’t hear people telling them otherwise,” Kinzinger said. 

“It’s high time that other members of Congress ― any leader, any county official, any Republican official ― say the simple thing that Joe Biden was elected president,” he added. “And work against his reelection, but quit pretending like it was stolen because that’s really, really dangerous.” 

Kinzinger has it right!

Tony

 

 

Video: When High School Valedictorian Bryce Dershem Spoke of His Queer Identity, the Principal Cut Off His Speech!

Dear Commons Community,

Less than a minute into Bryce Dershem’s valedictorian speech (see video above) on June 17, the microphone cut out. He had just told the audience at his New Jersey high school’s graduation ceremony that he came out as queer in his freshman year.

When he made that revelation, the principal, Robert M. Tull, went to the back of the stage and appeared to unplug some cords.

Suddenly, Mr. Dershem, 18, was silenced. Mr. Tull walked onstage and took the microphone from its stand.

When the principal took the microphone, he also took Mr. Dershem’s prepared remarks.

Mr. Tull pointed to another copy of the speech on the podium that did not have any references to sexuality or mental health.

A replacement microphone was brought to Mr. Dershem, but at that point, he said in an interview on Saturday, he was frozen. Then his classmates at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees Township, N.J., cheered for him to continue his speech.   As reported by The New York Times  and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“As it was happening, passion was surging through my veins that, yes, I need to give this speech,” he said, “because this is the exact kind of stigma that I want to fight against.”

Mr. Dershem knew every word of his own version of the speech, because he had been working on his remarks for a month.

“I tried my very best to give the speech from memory, and I was just a mess throughout the whole speech and I was just so vulnerable,” he said.

He spoke about how much he went through before he stood on the graduation stage.

“Beginning September of senior year, I spent six months in treatment for anorexia,” he said in the speech. “For so long, I tried to bend and break and shrink to society’s expectations.”

Mr. Dershem wanted to emphasize to students that their identities are valid, he said.

“From a formerly suicidal, formerly anorexic queer,” he said, he wanted the students to know that one person could save another person’s life.

When he arrived at the ceremony, Mr. Dershem wore a pride flag over his robe. A school administrator wanted him to take it off, but he refused. During the speech, Mr. Dershem suspected the principal was trying to pretend that there were technical difficulties.

Mr. Tull had read Mr. Dershem’s speech before the ceremony and wanted Mr. Dershem to deliver the version that the school administration had approved.

The principal and Mr. Dershem had been debating the contents of the speech for weeks, Mr. Dershem said. The student sent the principal three drafts, he said, because Mr. Tull said his speech was not broad enough for his 500 fellow seniors.

Mr. Tull and the Eastern Camden County Regional School District did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday. The high school is in Voorhees, a township of about 30,000 people, about 20 miles from Philadelphia.

Robert Cloutier, the superintendent of the Eastern Camden County Regional School District, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the district had not asked any students to remove mentions of “their personal identity” from their speeches.

Just days before the ceremony, Mr. Dershem said the principal gave him an ultimatum: He could revise his speech, or he would not be allowed to speak at all. He changed his speech but the principal still did not like it, the student said.

“I felt like I was faced with this choice where I could either honor all the belief systems and virtues that I cultivated,” Mr. Dershem said, “or I could just follow the administration.”

Mr. Dershem talked over the decision with his family and decided that he was going to give the speech he always wanted to.

When his speech was over, the audience gave him a standing ovation. A woman thanked him afterward.

“She told me her son hadn’t survived the pandemic due to mental health struggles and she started to cry,” he said. “I thought, this was the one person I made feel less alone. And I knew I did the right thing.”

Michael Dershem, the student’s father, said he could not believe the principal would turn off his son’s microphone, but he said he could not be more proud of his son for regaining his composure and continuing.

“I probably watched the speech I don’t know how many times since then,” Michael Dershem, 56, said. “I’m a pretty tough guy, but, you know, I break down every time I watch it.”

Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said on Twitter on Saturday that he was proud of Mr. Dershem for “speaking truth to power, and for your resilience and courage.”

 Congratulations Mr. Dershem!

Tony

Engineer Report in 2018 showed ‘major’ damage before Florida condo collapse!

Dear Commons Community,

The Associated Press and other media are reporting that the ground-floor pool deck of the oceanfront condominium building that collapsed (see video above) near Miami was resting on a concrete slab that had “major structural damage” and needed to be extensively repaired, according to a 2018 engineering report that also uncovered “abundant cracking and spalling” of concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.

The report was among a series of documents released by the city of Surfside as rescuers continued to dig Saturday through rubble in an effort to find any of the 156 people who remain unaccounted for after the collapse. At least five people were killed.  As reported by the AP:

“While the engineering report from the firm of Morabito Consultants did not warn of imminent danger from the damage — and it is unclear if any of the damage observed was responsible for the collapse — it did note the need for extensive and costly repairs to fix the systemic issues with Champlain Towers South.

The report said the waterproofing under the pool deck had failed and had been improperly laid flat instead of sloped, preventing water from draining off.

“The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replaced the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially,” the report said.

The firm recommended that the damaged slabs be replaced in what would be a major repair.

Some of the damage to the concrete in the parking garage was minor, while other columns had exposed and deteriorating rebar. It also noted that many of the building’s previous attempts to fix the columns and other damage with epoxy were marred by poor workmanship and were failing.

Beneath the pool deck “where the slab had been epoxy-injected, new cracks were radiating from the originally repaired cracks,” the report said.

These were all problems that should have been dealt with quickly, said Gregg Schlesinger, an attorney specializing in construction defects and a former construction project engineer.

“The building speaks to us. It is telling us we have a serious problem,” Schlesinger said in a telephone interview Saturday about the new documents. “They (building managers) kicked the can down the road. The maintenance was improper. These were all red flags that needed to be addressed. They weren’t.”

In a statement Saturday, Morabito Consultants confirmed its report “detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete, which required repairs to ensure the safety of the residents and the public.”

The firm said it was hired again in June 2020 by Champlain Towers South to begin the 40-year recertification process that would detail what work needed to be done.

“At the time of the building collapse, roof repairs were under way, but concrete restoration had not yet begun,” the statement said.

Abi Aghayere, a Drexel University engineering researcher, said the extent of the damage shown in the engineering report was notable. In addition to possible problems under the pool, he said several areas above the entrance drive showing signs of deterioration were worrisome and should have been repaired immediately.

“Were the supporting members deteriorated to the extent that a critical structural element or their connections failed leading to progressive collapse?” he wrote in an email to the AP after reviewing the report. “Were there other areas in the structure that were badly deteriorated and unnoticed?”

The building was in the midst of its 40-year recertification process, which requires detailed structural and electrical inspections. In an interview Friday, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said he wasn’t sure if the inspection had been completed, but he said it may contain vital clues.

“It should have been a very straightforward thing,” Burkett said. “Buildings in America do not just fall down like this. There is a reason. We need to find out what that reason is.”

The 12-story tower’s collapse Thursday morning has also raised questions over whether other similar buildings are in danger.

“This is a wake-up call for folks on the beach,” Schlesinger said. “The scary portion is the other buildings. You think this is unique? No.”

Details of the building’s 40-year recertification inspection will be made public once they are completed, Surfside Town Clerk Sandra McCready said in an email.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a news conference Friday that she has seen no evidence of a sinkhole — much more common in other parts of Florida — or of something criminal, such as a bomb.

“I can tell you that at this time, they haven’t found any evidence of foul play,” she said.

Beyond that, much focus is on ocean water, which is rising in South Florida and elsewhere because of climate change. Last year, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure that would require developers to complete sea-level rise studies before beginning publicly funded projects.

One theory is that the saltwater ubiquitous in the area, which is subject to flooding during so-called King Tide events, intruded into concrete supports, corroding the steel-reinforcing rebar inside and weakening the concrete.

Meanwhile, the land on which Champlain Towers sat has been gradually sinking, according to a study published last year by an environmental professor at Florida International University.

But the professor, Shimon Wdowinski, cautioned against blaming the collapse on the caving ground.

“In most cases, these buildings just move,” he said in a video interview released by the university. “There’s no catastrophic collapse like in the case in Surfside, which was very unfortunate.”

Surfside officials say roof work was ongoing at the now-collapsed tower but have downplayed the possibility that work was a cause. Barry Cohen, a lawyer who escaped the crippled building with his wife, said the roof work could be part of a “perfect storm” of causes that combined to bring down the structure.

“They were doing a new roof. And I think, all day long, the building was pounding and pounding and pounding. They’ve been doing it for over a month,” Cohen said.

Another issue is whether nearby construction might have caused vibrations that weakened Champlain Towers. Cohen said he raised concerns previously that the work was possibly causing cracked pavers on the pool deck.

The collapse is already drawing lawsuits, including one filed hours after the collapse by attorney Brad Sohn against the condo’s homeowners association seeking damages for negligence and other reasons for all of the tower’s residents.

The association, the lawsuit contends, “could have prevented the collapse of Champlain Towers South through the exercise of ordinary care, safety measures and oversight.”

What a tragedy!

Tony

How Do You Move a 30-Ton Diego Rivera Fresco? Very Carefully!

Click to enlarge.

Diego Rivera painted the “Pan American Unity” fresco at the 1940 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island. Credit…Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico D.F./Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, via City College of San Francisco.

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times has a featured article this morning reporting on a project to move a massive Diego Rivera mural across San Francisco for an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).  For decades the monumental 10-panel fresco by Diego Rivera depicting a continent linked by creativity has been mounted in the lobby of a theater at City College of San Francisco. There, somewhat tucked away from the art world, it has been cared for as a labor of love by a de facto guardian who has long dreamed of finding a way to allow more people to experience it.

Now, after a four-year, multi-million-dollar undertaking involving mechanical engineers, architects, art historians, fresco experts, art handlers and riggers from the United States and Mexico, the 30-ton, 74-foot-wide-by-22-foot mural has been carefully extracted and moved to the SFMOMA, where it will go on display on June 28.

“Diego was building a metaphoric bridge between the Mexican culture and the tech culture of the United States,” said Will Maynez, the former lab manager of the physics department at City College, who became the unlikely guardian of the work, which is owned by the College.

Maynez, who is Mexican American, has spent 25 years researching and promoting the fresco, “Pan American Unity.” Its panels are a kaleidoscope of Rivera’s thoughts: the looming goddess of earth, Coatlicue; Mexican artisans; American industrialists; historical leaders of both nations; dictators; Rivera’s wife, Frida Kahlo, and himself. Its full title is “The Marriage of the Artistic Expression of the North and of the South on This Continent.”

Moving the fresco to SFMOMA was a mammoth undertaking.

“This is one of the most ambitious things this museum has ever done — to move something this large, this fragile and this important,” said Neal Benezra, the director of the museum. Paco Link, the project manager for the fresco, likened the fresco to “a 70-foot eggshell.” (The work will be exhibited in a free gallery on the first floor of the museum as it prepares for its “Diego Rivera’s America” exhibition, which opens next year; the mural will remain on view at the museum until sometime in 2023 and will then be returned to the college. A new performing arts center, funded by a voter-approved bond measure, will house the fresco.

It is not the first time the giant fresco has been moved.

Thousands of people watched Rivera paint it at the 1940 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island. Plans to expand the mural and make it the centerpiece of a library at the college were derailed by World War II. For years, it was stashed in a shed at the college. In 1961 it was moved to the campus theater building, now called Diego Rivera Theater (at 50 Frida Kahlo Way).

Most interesting and a gift for Diego Rivera fans!

Tony