Miami-Dade commissioner — and family — targeted over library funding

Someone scrawled ominous messages on newspaper pages and taped them to the front door of Miami-Dade Commissioner Rebeca Sosa’s home.

05/30/2014 6:57 PM

05/30/2014 9:13 PM

A visitor to Rebeca Sosa’s West Miami home Sunday morning was met with an unusual welcome.

The front page of the previous day’s Miami Herald was taped to the door handle, scrawled in ominous red letters.

“You think about blood,” said Sosa, the chairwoman of the Miami-Dade County Commission.

The angry message, written in magic marker: Don’t mess with public libraries.

“A VOTE AGAINST LIBRARIES = A CULT OF IGNORANCE!” the page said. Circled in the bottom right-hand corner was a news story about thousands of students failing the reading portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

It wasn’t only Sosa who was targeted. Her two adult children found the same newspaper page taped to their front doors, too. “TELL MOM,” they read, repeating the library message.

“Usually, family is off limits,” Sosa said Friday. “My grandson didn’t want to sleep after that.”

Late Friday, the Coalition to Save Our Libraries, an advocacy group, issued a statement condemning “any form of intimidation” against Sosa or any other commissioners.

“The Coalition to Save Our Libraries has every respect for Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa and her family,” the statement said, adding that the advocates consider intimidation tactics “completely counterproductive to achieving full funding for Miami-Dade County Public Libraries.”

The Miami-Dade Police Department is investigating the incident, said Det. Alvaro Zabaleta, a spokesman.

“We are looking into the matter in order to determine what the individual’s intentions really are, in order to ensure the commissioner’s safety,” he said.

Sosa was out of town over the long weekend. Someone visiting her elderly mother, who was staying in Sosa’s home along with Sosa’s sister, discovered the message. Sosa’s mother then telephoned Sosa’s daughter and learned that she and her brother had also been targeted, the commissioner said.

One of the commission’s sergeant-at-arms, Sgt. Paul Hernandez, called the police, according to the report filed by the department.

Sosa first revealed the incident on a Spanish-language radio interview Thursday, though she didn’t reveal at the time what the messages said.

The county’s public library system faces a $20 million budget hole that might lead to layoffs or branches closing.

Sosa said she doesn’t know whether it was a library advocate — or someone posing as one — who tried to get her attention with the stunt. She’s willing to listen, she said — if a constituent reaches her at one of her two county offices.

“Anyone is always welcome to express their opinions to me,” she said.

“The problem here is going after my children. I have never in my years in office seen something like that.”

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