Week in review 3-18-17

Here’s a week in review of some of the more important things that happened this week. I’ve added calls to action in bold to a lot of these items.

Immigration:

  • FSCU is looking to become a sanctuary campus. This follows FSU’s move last month, but besides that I’ve seen very little movement at the other state universities and colleges.  Email UF President Fauchs at kent.fuchs@ufl.edu and tell him it’s about time to declare UF a sanctuary campus. (link)
  • Miami-Dade school board voted to become a sanctuary school district. Specifically they ordered the superintendent to review protocols so that the school district can better defend immigrant students. Email the Alachua County School Board at boardmembers@gm.sbac.edu and tell them to follow suit. (link)
  • HB 83 a bill which would impose harsher sentences for crimes committed by undocumented people passed an important committee last week. But interestingly the House GOP is starting to fall apart on the question of constitutionality. While the bill is undoubtedly unconstitutional many of Republicans want to move ahead and force the Florida Supreme Court to rule on it. It’s a strange situation to be in but it is a contradiction we can exploit. Call Rep. Bill Hager (R, Boca Raton)  chair of the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee at at (561) 470-6607  and tell him not to agenda this unconstitutional bill. (link)
  • Broward County might drop their sanctuary county status because of fear of the Trump regime. They want to keep the policies in place without holding on to the name. A rose by any other name smells the same, right? But caving to Trump is a terrible strategy for progressives. (link)
  • Miami-Dade county was attempting to release the names of people detained by ICE but has stopped doing so since ICE argued their requests are not classified as public information. (link)

Budget Woes:

  • The Florida House is looking to cut some $249 million from hospitals and nursing homes. This is shameful. Call Rep Chuck Clemons (R, Gainesville) at (352) 313-6542 and tell him that pushing cuts to nursing homes and hospitals is unacceptable. (link)
  • The Florida House wants to cut as much as $80 million in state aid to Florida’s public universities. This is in stark contrast to the Senate budget that calls for MORE spending. Call Rep Chuck Clemons (R, Gainesville) at (352) 313-6542 and tell him that the University of Florida needs MORE, not less support from the state. (link)
  • Whoa. “Go home and be with your babies”. Sen Benacquisto (R, Fort Myers) told Sen. Brook (D, Broward) to go home after she showed up unexpectedly for a committee to vote against a bill Benacquisto was pushing. She likely did so at the behest of Sen. Latvala who was in a bitter leadership battle for Senate President last year. There are major cracks opening up in the Senate which is likely to cause problems, especially considering the Senate and House are going to war over the budget and higher education spending. (link)
  • Gov Scott is openly talking about vetoing the budget which could lead to a shutdown of the government on July 1st. (link)

State news

  • Hb581, a bill that would throw 229,000 people (mostly children) off food stamps passed the House Appropriations Committee this week. This is part of a broader welfare reform movement in which racism is used by rich people to cut benefits for the working poor. Call Rep Chuck Clemons (R, Gainesville) at (352) 313-6542 and tell him to vote NO on throwing children, veterans, and seniors off food stamps. (link)
  • Florida is trying to drug test welfare recipients, again. This was passed in 2011 but judges threw it out. The bill (HB 1117) would also require poor people who are applying for food stamps to pay $40 upfront for the drug test. The bills next stop is the Healthcare Appropriations Subcommittee.  Call Rep. Jason Brodeur (R, Sanford) at (407) 302-4800 and tell him that this is a terrible bill that punishes poor people. (link)
  • The revamped Stand Your Ground bill passed the Florida Senate this week. This bill would shift the burden of proof from the defendant to the prosecutor to prove that Stand Your Ground shouldn’t be invoked. This will likely lead to an increase in the use of Stand Your Ground as a defense in cases involving gun violence. (link)
  • SB 1130 which codifies state funding for the Pregnancy Support Services program passed an important senate committee last week. These are the so called crisis pregnancy centers who use dubious information to talk women out of abortions. They’re almost all religious and all are adamantly  anti-choice.  While funding has passed in years past this would make it more permanent. Call Sen. Perry (R, Gainesville) at (352) 264-4040 and tell him to vote no on this anti-choice bill. (link)
  • HB 725, a bill that expands driverless cars, passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday. The bill would remove the requirement that the operator of the car is licensed but instead would license the car. (link)
  • Looks like  SB 80, a bill that would gut our sunshine laws, is all but dead. At least the terrible version of it. A compromise version has been struck and most of the information access advocates have drooped their opposition. (link)
  • A group is suing Florida Governor Rick Scott for his slow rate of granting clemency. Under Scott 2,488 people have had their civil rights restored compared to 155,315 approvals during the four-year term of former Gov. Charlie Crist and 73,508 during the eight years Jeb Bush was governor. (link)
  • Gov. Scott signed a bill that requires juries be unanimous when sentencing people to death. This was mandated by the US Supreme Court. (link)
  • Bright Futures is a wealth transfer of taxpayer money and poor people’s lottery spending to pay for the college education of rich people’s kids. One of the ways poor students are kept out of qualifying for Bright Futures are standardized test score (ACT, SAT) requirements. Call Sen. Perry  (R, Gainesville) at (352) 264-4040 and tell him to review Bright Futures requirements to make young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds eligible . (link)
  • Alachua County is the leader in solar power in the state. The next top contender is DeSoto County with 20,000 fewer kilowatts. (link)
  • A bill working its way through the Florida House right now would allow parents to petition to have material removed from the curriculum. Bill HB 989 is a response to conservative parents protesting over textbooks being “too pro-Islam and not pro-Christian enough”. The bill was written by the conservative Florida Citizens’ Alliance who has long opposed teaching evolution in the classroom. Note: The bill sponsor Rep Donalds has three children that all attend charter schools. Call Rep Chuck Clemons (R, Gainesville) at (352) 313-6542 and tell him to vote NO on this anti-science bill that erodes the separation of church and state.  (link)
  • Florida Colleges are pissed at the Senate budget due to obscene budget cuts which include:
    • $55 million cit in remedial education.
    • $30 million in performance funding.
    • $10 million in cuts to incentive funds for technical industry certifications.
  • Florida spent $237 million on private attorneys without any oversight. This was to do things like defend the welfare drug testing ban and fight Florida Sunshine law requests. There was another $16 million the sate was forced to pay to reimburse lawyers who brought suits against the state. Keep this in mind when Republicans nickle and dime the working poor. (link)
  • Congressman DeSantis (R, Daytona) thinks cancer patients should go to the ER for healthcare. Call him at (386) 756-9798 and let him know he’s wrong. (link)

Trump-mess

  • Trump revoked a rule from the Federal Family Education Loan Program which barred lenders from collecting more than 16% in fees for those who defaulted on their loans. Shameful. (link)
  • Trump’s proposed budget is most likely worse than you think. Here’s a good video that walks you through where the cuts are going to be (link)
  • Here’s a must read piece from Forbes, Unspeakable Realities Block Universal Health Coverage In America: “Like most of my neighbors I have a good job in the private sector. Ask my neighbors about the cost of the welfare programs they enjoy and you will be greeted by baffled stares. All that we have is “earned” and we perceive no need for government support. Nevertheless, taxpayers fund our retirement saving, health insurance, primary, secondary, and advanced education, daycare, commuter costs, and even our mortgages at a staggering public cost. Socialism for white people is all-enveloping, benevolent, invisible, and insulated by the nasty, deceptive notion that we have earned our benefits by our own hand.” (link)
  • Iowa Republican Rep King is a racist and is tweeting about it. His tweet was praised by white nationalist and condemned by… not enough people. Call him at (202) 225-4426 and tell him his politics are unwelcome. (link)
  • A new poll has 46% of Floridians approving of the Affordable Care Act while 39% disapprove. 39% would like to expand ACA, 14% to keep it as it is, 18% to repeal it, and 29% to replace it. And 73% are concerned they’ll loose their healthcare if the ACA is repealed. Call Congressman Yoho at 352-505-0838 and tell him to vote NO on Trumpcare. (link)
  • Trump is now allowing the CIA to call drone strikes. Call Congressman Yoho at 352-505-0838 and tell him to treat Trump like he treated Obama! Tell him to reign in this executive overreach.  (link)
  • Trump signed a new executive order that would give him the authority to gut the federal branch. He is seeking the elimination of departments and possibly whole agencies (link)
  • Trump is delaying the implementation of an Obama era OSHA regulation around how much Beryillium a worker can be exposed to. The rule would have saved some 100 lives a year. (link)
  • Trump is set to roll back Obama era fuel standards for cars. (link)

Week in review 3-11-17

Here’s a week in review of some of the more important things that happened. Think of it as a sort of abridged digest of things you might have missed.


State Budget

  • House Speaker Corcoran is seeking help from House Democrats in help overcoming a Governor Scott veto on bills gutting Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. I think it’s great that we might kill these corporate welfare programs but I have to ask. Qhat are the Dems getting in return? (link)
    • The House, in one of it’s first floor votes of the year, voted to kill Enterprise Florida and guy funding for Visit Florida. (link)
  • As one of their first acts, the Florida Senate passed a bill that would expend higher education spending by some $1 billion. The bill would also expand 1st generation scholarships, implement block tuition, start the “Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program” streamline the 2 year college to 4 year University path, and a bunch of other things. (link)Meanwhile the House wants to cut millions from Universities and has requested documents showing the excess spending like a $61,000 trip to Paris from the University of Florida. Their goal is to shame Universities and cut them to the bone.  (link)
  • The Florida House budget is terrible. Of the proposed $1.4 billion in cuts (they’re looking for another $0.6 billion) it includes
    • $574 million in cuts to healthcare.
    • $485 million in education cuts.
    • $321.2 million in transportation cuts
      This is just shameful. These cuts disproportionately affect the working people. (link)
  • Who is Florida House speaker Corcoran ? He’s an ideologue who’s in a seat of power and is fighting Governor Scott on his budget… and is likely going to win. What does winning mean to him? It means Scott takes apart his budget and has less to campaign on for US Senate in 2018. And I’m pretty sure Scott won’t do that until the state Government shuts down on July 1st.  (link)

State News

  • Alachua County has the worse achievement gap between white and black students in Florida. On average Alachua County white students over perform state averages and black students under perform state averages. Black students are also nearly 5 times more likely to be suspended. (link )
  • Coaral Gables is the first city in Florida to ban plastic bags. this is on the heels of the cities legal victory defending their ban on Styrofoam containers. (link)
  • A sweeping anti-testing bill is working it’s way through the state legislator. SB 964/HB 1249 would eliminate the majority of high school end of course tests, allow schools to continue to use the paper-and-pencil tests (important as it was an unfunded mandate for school boards to purchase technology), would allow ACT/SAT to be used as in place of many state standardized tests, and pushes all testing to the last few weeks of school. Over all it’s a great step in the right direction and also shows that Republicans and bucking the Jeb Bush pro-testing politic. (link)
  • Congressman Yoho is being targeted with these pro Trumpcare adverts. (link)
  • Florida will vote on a bill that will expand Stand Your Ground laws. The bill, SB 128/H B245 would shift the burden of proof to the prosecutor to prove that Stand Your Ground shouldn’t be invoked, flipping the entire process on it’s head. (link)
  • National Woman Liberation in Gainesville held a solid women’s strike event on Wednesday. (link)
  • Republican Sen Flores will try to stop Sen. Steube’s pro gun bills the most controversial of which would allow guns on college campuses and in airport terminals. If she hold it’s very likely his sweeping 10 bill pro-gun legislation is dead. (link)
  • “Anti local control” Senator Perry is at it again. This time he wants to privatize the Gainesville Regional Utility. (link)
  • Yet another anti-local control bill passed an important Florida Senate committee this week. This one would make it a lot harder for Cities/Counties to pass taxes. Among the provisions would be requiring a 60% vote for referendums and introducing a complicated taxing scheme about when and what taxes can be imposed and under what circumstances. This bill is meant as a way of shielding rich peoples money away from cities and counties. (link)
  • The Senate has three different medical  Marijuana bills out already and the House just released theirs. HB 1397. It’s not as good as the Senate versions. This could be a point of conflict as both have to be identical before being sent to Governor Scott. (link)
  • A bill set to help k-12 Christian students being discriminated against is on the fast track in the Florida Senate. (link)
  • A circuit court ruled that Trump can’t force a county to hold immigrants for ICE. Too bad Miami-Dade folded like a deck chair anyway. (link)
  • White supremacist groups are organizing in college and university campuses throughout the nation and especially in Florida. (link)
  • Broward County k-12 became the first sanctuary school district in Florida. (link)
  • Immigrant Rights activists rallied at the capitol on Wednesday to protest HB 697/SB 786 which would punish sanctuary cities and counties. (link)
  • Trumpcare will hurt Floridan’s who are old, poor, and live in rural areas. (link). It will also bring Medicaid caps which will limit the care hospitals and doctors can give to the poor. (link)

Trump Mess

  • Rep Curbelo (R, Miami) re-filed the “Recognizing America’s Children Act” which would protect the Dreamers from Trump and give a pathway to citizenship. Call Congressman Yoho at (352) 505-0838 and tell him to co-sponsor (link)
  • Swamp swamp swamp. ProPublica has a list of 400 lobbyist, insiders, and BS political hires that the Trump administration installed. (link)
  • Trump is delaying an Obama era rule which would require for profit schools to warn students the schools might close soon because they’re under investigation for being predatory. Trump must have sympathy for these scam schools through his experiences with his own scam school Trump U. (link)
  • Republicans introduced their replacement of the ACA and it’s terrible. Up to 30 million will lose their coverage, 1.2 million people will lose their jobs, preexisting conditions are going to be taxed, and it cuts the supplements for the working poor to buy their own healthcare on the market. (link)
  • The US Supreme Court refused to take up a case involving a trans student. There was hope that this would be the first case to enshrine trans rights on a national level but the Supreme Court wants to wait until they have a full bench to decide on the case. (link)
  • Trump says that Planed Parenthood can keep federal funding is they stop providing abortions. While this is silly because federal funding can’t pay for abortions it’s also telling that Trump is worried he’ll lose this fight. (link)
  • Reince Priebus is likely on his way out as chief of Staff to Trump. (link)
  • Roger Stone admitted to having a back channel to Wikileaks during the 2016 presidential election. Stone worked closely to get Trump elected. (link)
  • Turns out Trump won’t require the Keystone XL pipeline to be made with US steel.   (link)
  • Trump’s budget seeks to cut NOAA, the main researcher into climate change, by 17%. But the brunt of the cuts will for a 26% cut in research and a 22% cut to the satellite data division. He also wants to cut $73 million in Sea Grants which university’s use to conduct coastal research. (link). This includes the widely popular Florida Sea Grant at the University of Florida which sees a $800 return on each $1 invested in it. (link)
  • VP Mike Pence used a private AOL email account while governor. He received secret and sensitive information on it. And it was hacked. Lock him up? (link)
  • Trump plans to separate women from their children who illegally enter the US and are caught. That’s some cold hearted GOP BS. (link)
  • The US Senate reversed an Obama era rule that forced government contractors to release information about their violations of federal labor laws. The vote was 49 to 48 and does nothing but help bad businesses hide abuses to their workers. (link)
  • Trump wants a 14% cut to the Coast Guard, 11% to the STA and 11% to FEMA to pay for hiring 15,00 new ICE agents. (link) This is something that Rubio and Nelson have said they’ll fight. (link)

Week-in-review: 3-4-17

Here’s a news round up from some of the more important things that happened throughout the week.
 

State News:

  • A state law preventing cities from banning Styrofoam was ruled unconstitutional. This should open the door for more cities and counties banning it. (link)
  • The budget is one of the biggest issues facing the Florida legislative session. The House and Governor are at war right now over two corporate welfare programs: Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. If you’re interested here’s a fact check on the claims from the two sides but the most important thing to know is that there’s contractions and progressives should exploit them.
  • Tallahassee Mayor Gillum is officially running for Florida governor in 2018. He’s a pretty cool guy. (link)
  • The Florida Supreme Court upheld a law banning open carry in the state. (link)
  • Florida State Sen Perry is doing mental gymnastics to over his desire to knee cap the state and national Supreme Courts. (link)
  • The Lowell Correction Facility, the largest private women prison is under attack for the widespread rape and sexual violence happening. (link)
  • Ever wonder why you can’t buy liquor in a grocery store? ABC liquor has been blocking legislation saying that their model helps keep alcohol out of the hands of minors. That and tons of money it uses to buy influence. (link)
  • Congressman Yoho held a town hall on Saturday. About 300 people were inside with a 3 to 1 breakdown of anti-vs pro. Outside some 500 anti-Yoho people and 30 pro yoho people protested. Yoho dodged questions and answered answered “you can vote me out in two years” numerous times. (link)

Florida Hate Watch

  • Swastikas were etched on cars and more bomb threats rocked the South Florida Jewish community again this week.  (link)
  • A Trump supporter in Key West attacked two gay men on February 23. The man yelled homophobic slurs saying that “you live in Trump country now” before knocking one off his bike. (link)
  • Chief  of police of Green Cove Springs (Clay County) resigned after his only black officer complained about racist language the Chief regularly used. (link)
  • President Trump hinted that a lot of these hate crimes are falsely being made to make him look bad. (link)

Trump mess

    • Trump is seeking a full renewal of FISA which could result in a showdown with congress who want to add in more privacy protections. FISA authorizes Prism and Upstream which collect and store all web traffic data which we know because of the Snowden files. (link)
    • March 4 Trump rallies were held in 28 states this week. Thy were mostly small and sparsely attended. (link)
    • Trump gave his first speech to a joint session of Congress. Out of 61 statements he made 51 of them were false. (link)
    • Attorney General Sessions said he won’t go after police departments for civil rights violations. (link)
    • US Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with the top spy recruiter from Russia twice last year and lied to congress about it. Where does the line between perjury end and treason start? (link)
    • Daniela Vargas is a 22 year old Dreamer who was arrested by ICE after speaking out against Trumps immigration policies at a rally. The administration is seeking to rapidly deport her. (link)
  • Trump thinks Obama is behind the town hall protests. (link)
  • The Father of Ryan Owens, the Marien killed in Trumps botched action in Yemen last month is calling for an investigation into the planning to execution of the mission. He’s refusing to meet with Trump too. (link) Report after report is stating clearly that there was no significant intelligence gained from the operation. (link)
  • Trump seeks a 10% increase to defense spending and sharp cuts to social and environmental programs. This is the largest peace time increase to defense spending and will create the largest peace time defense budget in US history. Remember, the pentagon didn’t ask for this, this will result in more surplus equipment in the hands of law enforcement, and ever dollar spent on bombs is a dollar taken away from healthcare, books, etc. (link)
    • The budget includes a 24% cut in EPA spending (link)
    • A 37% cut to the state department (link)
  • Trump called for rallies on Monday (2/27) in support of him. It was a flop. Sad. (link)
  • Trump announced he’s creating an office in the Department of Homeland Security for the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE).It’s the same thing the Nazis did.  (link)
  • Trump dropping challenge to an anti-minority voter ID law from Texas. A major signal of how the Republicans plan to keep control in 2018. (link)
  • Here’s a good read on why the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVo’s pro voucher stand is BS. The tl;dr is that study after study shows lower student performance in voucher programs (link)

Week in review 2-25-17

Here’s a week in review of some of the more important things that happened in the last week.


  • Perez is the new chair of the Democratic Party. He was the Labor Secretary under Obama and is overall much, much more progressive than anyone who’s ever been in charge of the party. But he was the pick from the so called establishment. The Bernie supporters and people who were looking to reform the party from the ground up were backing Ellison. This is likely the closest vote in the history of the party. And both of the candidates have similar policies and ran on nearly the same platform. Nonetheless someone was going to rage quit the Democratic Party over this. Would it be the so called establishment or the new comers? Let’s now watch as the Bernie crowd takes their energy elsewhere. Fivethirtyeight has a decent read on this. (link)

Florida News:

  • MCI Maps has a great data heavy read on what the Florida Senate races were all about compared to Clinton. SD8 was lost because Rod Smith under preformed in Alachua County. A common strategy from the Democrats had been to appeal to moderates in Putnam County and win the progressives in Alachua by default. Didn’t work here or elsewhere. (link)
  • Sen Gainer out of the Pan Handle filed a bill that would make it a second degree misdemeanor to block traffic during a protest. The bill,  SB 1096 would also make drivers not liable for unintentionally killing these protesters. (link)
  • HJR 321 would up the threshold for getting a referendum passed from 60% to 66%. It was increased to 60% from 50% in 2006. (link)
  • Miami made marijuana possession a citation as opposed to a criminal offense due to the deportation threat faced by undocumented people under Trump (link)
  • Rick Scott is now the Vice Chair of the powerful Republican Governors Association. This is yet another important key to his 2018 US Senate run. (link)
  • Around 300 protesters packed a meeting to save Rainbow River. The dispute is over how much water should be allowed to be removed. (link)
  • Two protesters wedged themselves inside a 3 foot pipe in Marion County. The pipe is part of the controversial Sabal Pipeline. (link)
  • HB871 would create an animal abuse registry that would help block repeat abusers. There’s no companion in the Senate yet and I get the feeling this is going to be a multiyear effort.  (link)
  • There’s 11 so called pro-gun bills filed by Republicans and gun control bills filed by Democrats. Because Republicans have majorities in the House, Senate, and have the Governor it’s unlikely any of the gun control measures will pass. Instead the focus is on stopping the expansion of these pro-gun bills. (link)
  • UPS is testing Drone delivery in Florida. (link)
  • SB 90, which creates incentives for solar energy, is moving forward in the Senate. (link)
  • Good news. We counted more manatees this year than since we started doing our annual survey. (link) We also counted more Florida panthers than last year. (link)
  • Corcoran-care is the name of the sickness you’ll likely be facing in the next year. In anticipation of the federal government creating a block grant Medicaid scheme. This program would create private prepaid plans for Medicaid people. Can’t we have single payer already? (link)

Town Hall Madness!

  • Rubio refuses to have a town hall because he’s scared. It’s gotten to the point that people are printing missing Rubio stickers and putting them on milk cartons. They’re even dogging him nonstop every chance they get like on 2/23 at FIU.
  • Congressman Webster in Lake County left his town hall early and refused to take questions. (link)
  • Congressman Dunn ran a red light in Tallahassee to avoid talking to protesters. (link)
  • Rep Rooney from Collier County was a no show so about 200 protesters rallied outside his office instead. (link)
  • Rep Bilirakis from New Port Richey who had a town hall on 2/11 in which a supporter called Obamacare death panels said he’s still for a full repeal. He hasn’t and likely won’t have another town hall (link).

Trump Mess:

  • Trumps approval rating is at 38%. But 83% of Republicans still approve of him. (link)
  • Trump is likely going to start enforcing Federal marijuana laws. (link)
  • If you were curious why private prison companies stocks shot up after Trump was elected you know now. Trump cancels an Obama era order to phase out their use this week. (link)
  • Trump rolled back Obama era protections for trans youth. Apparently Attorney General Sessions pushed this and Secretary of Education DeVos said no. She said this would harm trans youth but she was given an ultimatum to either drop her opposition of resign. She folded. (link)
  • VP Mike Pence helped clean up a vandalized Jewish cemetery. What’s the over under on when he’s sworn in as president? (link)
  • Trump is set to roll back an Obama era landmark EPA ruling that expanded the number of streams and waterways protested. Being able to pollute these waterways is a major priority for manufacturing companies. (link)
  • The Winter White House is a mess. Over last the weekend 12 plans violated the restricted airspace with 5 of them being buzzed by military aircraft. He’s spent a full 25% of his presidency in Mar-a-Largo. His 3 trips have cost over $10 million for travel alone.
  • Trump has put the Obama deportation machine into overdrive. The overarching theme from Trump is that undocumented people are violent and should be treated inhumanly. The desired result isn’t a nation free of undocumented people. It’s a nation full of more fearful undocumented people. People less likely to complain about their mistreatment and more easily exploited by 1%ers like Trump.(link)

Week in Review 2/18/2017

Here’s a news round up of some of the things you might have missed this past week.

State News:

  • Teachers around the state are having problems passing their certification test. The test is terrible, not these teachers. (link)
  • Marion County retrains and secludes more mentally challenged students than the state average. By a lot. (link)
  • There’s a bunch of bills working their way through the Senate in support of guns. One of the worse is SB646 which would make it a non-criminal offense to briefly show off your gun. (link)
  • Good news for Governor Scott. His drug testing of welfare recipients, in which his company was set to profit on, is being allowed again under a GOP Trump administration. (link)
  • A good bill (SB544) would let people correct their signature mismatches for vote-by-mail ballots. (link)
  • The bill that banned doctors from talking about guns got overturned. (link)

State Budget:

  • Florida House Speaker Corcoran might sue Governor Scott over a lottery contract. On it’s own it looks silly but put into context over the massive disagreements on the budget and Visit Florida this is a big deal in an escalating battle that could very well lead to a government shutdown. (link)
  • The Republicans Governor Rick Scott’s fight over the budget is getting ridiculous. He sent out robo-calls in Republican lawmakers who oppose his jobs plan districts this week. A state government shutdown is getting more and more likely each week. (link)

Immigration:

  • Palm Beach County saw hundreds, maybe even thousands of students stay home in protest of Trumps migration laws as part of “a day without an immigrant”. Some school had as much as 35% of their student body stay home. (link)
  • An undocumented woman went to court to get a restraining order on her abusive boyfriend. She get’s arrested by ICE. The point of all of this isn’t to stop undocumented people from living in the USA. It’s to scare them. Undocumented people will be much less likely to seek redress for domestic abuse, or any crimes committed against them, because of actions like this. (link)
  • Daniel Ramirez Medina is a 23 year old DACA recipient who was detained by ICE. His lawyers are hoping it was a mistake and not part of a Trump policy of disregarding DACA. (link)
  • Changes to NAFTA could affect farms in Florida as the winter growing season coincides with Mexico’s and their cheap labor/lax labor laws make their imports cheaper. I don’t care so much about Florida farm owners but more so for Florida farm workers like those in the Fair Food Standards Council who are having their gains threatened by outsourcing to Mexico. (link)
  • Miami-Dade County voted 9-3 to affirm the Mayors move against being a sanctuary County. While most places in Florida and around the nation are standing strong or even reinforcing their commitment towards immigrants, Miami-Dade is in full Trump retreat. Shameful. (link)
  • A Florida House committee voted 9-5 along party lines to withdraw from the federal refugee program. This bill likely won’t go much farther, and it’s not very legal, but it shows that heartless Republican partisans aren’t just in DC. (link)
  • Trump was considering mobilizing 100,000 national guards to round up undocumented people. It looks like the leaked memo was considered but decided against. (link)

Random Trump mess:

  • Trump has nominated Alexander Acosta as Secretary of Labor. In 2008 he helped get pedophile and political ally Jeffery Epsetein a sweetheart plea deal (link)
    • Andrew Pizder withdrew his nomination to be Labor Secretary. Like rats leaving a sinking ship. (link)
  • The Republicans have half rolled out their ACA replacement. It’ll cut by about 50% the money paid to states who expanded medicaid, will let people buy crap insurance, convert medicaid to block grants for states, and is would most certainly kick millions of people off insurance while forcing millions more to buy crap plans. (link)
  • Dems are trying to use an obscure law to force Trump to release his tax returns. The Republicans are blocking the measure but they’ll keep trying. You can call the chair of the committee Rep. Brady at (202) 225-4901 to pressure him to release Trumps tax returns. (link)
  • Trump claimed there was a terrorist attack in Sweden at a campaign rally in Florida. Most media said there was no terrorist attack but there actually was one in January. A few neo-Nazis bombed a refugee center. (link)
    • Here’s a more full listing of the lies he said at the rally. (link)
  • Here’s a primer for a constitutional crisis free non-Trump presidency. (link)
  • Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is upset people are being mean to her. Turns out she didn’t realize that she can’t purchase the support of people who use public education like she did to the GOP. (link)
  • Palm Beach County isn’t liking the Winter White House. (link, link2)
  • Michael Flynn famously said he’d be in jail if he did a 10th of what Clinton did. Will we hear chants of “lock him up” anytime soon? (link)
  • Trump is looking to send ground troops into Syria. (link)
  • Turns out Trump’s campaign team talked with Russia. A lot. (link)
  • Trump officially abandoned a two state solution with Israel and Palestine. Unofficially the US had abandoned it in all but words years ago. (link)
  • Trump repealed an Obama executive order limiting how much pollution coal companies can put into rivers and streams. Is American great again yet? (link)

Gainesville Voter Guide – 2017

Gainesville’s city elections are on March 14th in which At-Large 2, District-2, and District-3 commissioners will be elected.

These elections have a low turnout. The last three comparable elections had ~15% turnout. Hell, Commissioner Warren won her run off by 128 votes in 2014. In the same year, Commissioner Carter won with 180 votes. These elections have such low turnout that individual voters and their social networks can easily sway an election. All the more reason for you to go out and vote.

For the upcoming city elections I recommend: 

  • Jenn Powell for AL-2
  • Harvey Ward for D-2
  • David Arreola for D-3

You have to live in the district to vote for Ward and Arreola but anyone in the City can vote for Powell. Here’s an easy voter guide you can take to the polls with you.

Vote-by-mail ballots are already out and early voting is from Monday, March 6th through Saturday, March 11. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 AM – 5 PM. Tuesday and  Thursday from 10 AM – 6 PM at the Supervisor of Elections Office, the Millhopper Branch Library, and the Cone Park Library.  Election day voting is on Tuesday, March 14th from 7AM – 7PM.  You can find your voting location here.

At Large Two:

Gainesville is a progressive town and deserves progressive leaders. Helen Warren was elected on razor thin margins in 2014 against Annie Orlando. A major distinguishing factor between Orlando and Warren surrounded the biomass plant. Different camps flocked to each of these candidates with most conservative voices and some progressives surrounding Orlando in an odd coalition. Orlando had the support of the  Chamber of Commerce and the Sierra Club. The AFL-CIO and Equality Florida were firmly behind Warren in 2014.

Warren as a commissioner has been a disappointment. She’s a great person who has the potential to be a great commissioner; but has currently fallen short. What motions has she made to champion progressive causes? What plans has she rolled out to address inequality? Homelessness? Discrimination? After thee years on the commission what accomplishments can she point to? Whatever she has done has earned her the support of the Chamber of Commerce and lost her the support of the AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club.

Jenn Powell has very little experience as a politician. She was a delegate from Alachua County for Bernie Sanders to the Democratic National Convention. She was a pivotal member of the “Bern Unit” that brought Sanders to Gainesville in 2016. Her coalition is made up of Bernie supporters, former Warren supporters, environmentalists, union activists, and most of the progressives that supported Orlando in 2014.

I’ve heard a lot of criticisms of Powell being too new, unrefined, and unready. Oddly enough these are similar criticisms made of Warren in 2014. Powell is a true working-class person who will bring this needed perspective to the commission. Please lookout for classism when you hear people talking about Powell’s ability to serve on the commission. I’ve had to call out more than a few people for their comments. (side note: you probably shouldn’t joke about a person’s class to a labor rights activist)

I’ve talked to some people who are staying out of this race because they don’t think Powell can win, but a few factors point otherwise. A lot of Warren’s 2014 coalition feels isolated by her and will either stay home or vote for Powell. Powell also has a network of sporadic voters who will cast their first City ballot this March. There is also likely to be a higher turnout due to the heightened political environment. When elections are decided by such few votes these changes can equal a win for Powell.

I’m supporting Powell for At-Large 2 because she’ll be a strong, consistent voice for working people in Gainesville

District Two:

D-2 is the most conservative district in Gainesville. Of course, by most conservative I mean it’s 51% Democrat and 26% Republican. This seat is being vacated by soon to be former commissioner Todd Chase who is termed out. Chase has been a consistent detractor against progressive causes on the commission. This seat has been occupied by a Republican ever since then D-2 Commissioner Lauren Poe lost in 2011 by ~400 votes.

There are three people running in this election so there’s a chance that it will go to a run off on April 11th as a candidate needs 50% plus 1 to win outright.

Harvey Ward is a progressive through and through. Even before he was running for office he was a common sight at progressive events. He never showed up for face time with voters or for a quote in the media but to be part of the movement. He’s tabled for the Alachua County Labor Coalition, gathered signatures for a living wage, and lent his voice and time lobbying for  progressive causes. In short, Harvey Ward is one of our own and has earned your vote.

Perry Clawson is a Republican who has been endorsed by Commissioner Chase. He’s been very reasonable in all the interactions I’ve had with him. I’d even go as far as to say that his politics are to the left of Chase and he’d likely be a Carter style Republican. What makes him unelectable is his violent past. In ’92 he was picked up for Battery/Theft in Orange County, in ’03 for Batter/Domestic Violence in Seminole County, and in ’10 for stabbing a man in the stomach in South Carolina.

The most disturbing to me is the domestic violence case in which the police officer wrote:

At some point she fell out of the bed onto the floor. When asked, Mr. Clawson denied ever touching his wife. Mrs. Clawson suffered a bruise to her bottom lip and an abrasion to her left knee.

When Deputy Gamber and I arrived on scene, Mrs. Clawson became was visibly upset declaring nothing was wrong and that her husband did nothing to her. Mr. Clawson advised that it was his wife who set off the alarm signaling violence within the home.

He further advised that at no time did he touch his wife, but could not answer as to how she received the bruises.

The 2010 case in South Carolina was dismissed because of a mistrial but I believe a civil case is still ongoing. I’ve yet to hear him respond to this in its totality, only the domestic violence incident. In that instance he points out that it was investigated by multiple agencies, he was cleared of any wrong doing, and that he was able to keep his top secret military clearance. This is still highly concerning and should give everyone pause.

Sheryl Eddie is running for the second time in this district. She’s a solid candidate with good politics. She’d definitely be an important added voice to the mostly boys’ club that is the City Commission. The one qualm I have with her is that she claims she gets along with everyone, including the Chamber of Commerce and groups I don’t agree with. As a general rule I don’t want a commissioner to get along with the Chamber or any groups that consistently work to undermine working people’s issues. Mostly, I’m not supporting Eddie for this seat is because Ward is running. If you are split between Ward and Eddie I’d recommend casting your ballot for Ward. If Ward can get 50% +1 we can avoid an April run off.

District Three:

David Arreola is seen as a long shot to take out the incumbent Craig Carter in D-3. Arreola is young (26 years old) and has a lot less money than Carter. He would be the first Latino to serve on the commission adding much needed diversity to a Commission that’s 6 white and 1 African American.

Arreola’s politics are solid and he would make a great commissioner but getting him elected is the trouble. Carter, while a Republican that I butt heads with frequently, is very accessible. He has also moved away from his conservative positions and voted for progressive causes. He voted for the City to stop using mountain top removal coal and came out in support of the wild spaces public spaces tax. Carter also made the motion to increase workers’ pay to $12.25 an hour last year which is the the only reason it passed. Two sitting democrats voted against this motion the month before.

But can Arreola win? I think he can for a few reasons:

  1. The district is a bit different than it was in 2014. The district is now 50% Democrat and 23% Republican. And it’s 60% Democrat for those 65+ who are the most likely to vote. Party ID is going to be key in this “non-partisan” race.
  2. This is a student heavy district and students don’t normally vote in city elections. But I’m expecting a higher turnout in this election due to the heightened political climate. Also, a lot of these young people voted in November so their records should be up to date.
  3. Craig Carter has isolated himself from his base. While I’ve been shocked and happy with his progressive votes his coalition has not been thrilled. How many of his people will stay home because he went against the Chamber and supported the Wild Spaces tax? A dozen? How many more will leave their ballot blank in protest against his living wage motion? Another dozen or so? Keep in mind that Carter was elected in 2014 with only 180 votes.

Arreola has a real shot at winning this election. While Carter has been good on some issues (and terrible on others) I’d rather have a reliable progressive vote than a compassionate conservative as a commissioner.

Week in Review 2/11/2017

Here’s a weekly news roundup of some of the more interesting and/or under-reported things that happened this last week.

State News:

  • Florida might have a government shut down because the Republican House, Republican Senate, and Republican Governor can’t get along.(link)
  • “Alligator Ron” Bergeron might run for Florida Governor in 2018. This rich guy is really excentric saying that he’d have to put a hitching post to the governors Manson for his horse. Can you imagine him vs John Morgan? (link)
  • State Sen. Randolph Bracy might primary Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018. I’m not sure how to feel about this. (link)
  • SB 80, a Florida bill that would gut access to public records passed an important committee this week. (link)
  • Big sugar is trying to hold up a massive bill to clean up lake Okeechobee. It’s polluted discharges lead to massive die offs last year. (link)
  • Marco Rubio might have received hundreds  of thousands of calls urging him to oppose Devos for Education Secretary but that’s nothing compared to the 100,000 + she game him. (link)
  • HB19, the bill that would let people sue abortion doctors for emotional distress, passed a house panel last week. (link)
  • Turns out a bunch of State lawmakers are also employed by lobbyist. Naked corruption. (link)

Immigration:

  • University and college campuses are hesitating on becoming Sanctuary Campuses. (link)
  • Miami-Dade turned over 11 people to ICE in the week since Mayor Carlos Gimenez withdrew the county as a sanctuary city. (link)
  • The chair of the Miami-Dade’s Dem Party got thrown out of a commission meeting for asking about the move away from being a sanctuary city. This is just a taste of what’s to come. (link)
  • And so the raids start. Trump promised to deport undocumented immigrants who commit crimes and that includes Guadalupe García de Rayos. She was found using a fake Social Security number in 2008 and has met with ICE regularly to update her case. The Obama administration prioritized violent offenses for deportation which encouraged people like Guadalupe to cooperate with ICE. During a scheduled meeting she was arrested and deported. Actions like this will push the undocumented community further into the shadows. And just to be clear, that’s the point. Beyond the racism and xenophobia the 1% want a fearful class of non-citizens whose labor they can more easily exploit. And Trumps agenda feeds into this. (link)

Trump Mess:

  • Trumps approval rating in Florida is 34%. It’s a 73% approval rating among Florida Republicans  and an 8% among Florida Dems . The majority (52% ) also don’t want to cut off funding to Sanctuary cities and 56% oppose building a wall. (link)
  • Fivethirtyeight has a good read on the next steps on Trumps travel ban. They will likely make an emergency application with the Supreme Court with a decision as soon as next week. Alternatively, filing a petition for ceriorari would allow time for Trumps  nominee Neil Gorsuch to be appointed. They could also do nothing and wait for the lower courts to rule on the issue. What will Trump do? I’m not even sure if he knows. (link)
  • A bill in the Congress has been filed that will make salting illegal. Essentially this bill would allow a boss to not hire someone if they have a desire to organize the shop into a union. (link)
  • Trumps approval rating in Florida is 34%. It’s a 73% approval rating among Florida Republicans  and an 8% among Florida Dems . The majority (52% ) also don’t want to cut off funding to Sanctuary cities and 56% oppose building a wall. (link)
  • Trump is set to issue a directive shielding companies from disclosing if their products contain conflict minerals. (link)
  • Devos was confirmed as Education Secretary 51-50 (Pence casting tie breaker) and Sessions as Attorney General 47-52 (one democratic breaking ranks). This isn’t normal. These appointments are usually not this contentious. It’s not that the Dems are being whiny, it’s that these are some of the most divisive people to ever be nominated to a cabinet.
  • A bill in the Congress has been filed that will make salting illegal. Essentially this bill would allow a boss to not hire someone if they have a desire to organize the shop into a union. (link)
  • Attorney General Sessions has his priorities. One of the first things he’s doing is undoing the Obama era protections from transgender students. (link)

Hate Watch:

  • Remember that guy who set that mosque in Orlando? He’s going to jail for 30 years. (link). On a similar note, a Fort Myers man is facing 11 years in prison and a $350,000 fine after making threats to two Muslin grocers. (link)
  • Anderson Hall at UF was marked up with pro-Trump and racist messages this week. This follows an a noose being found on a teachers desk, Nazis protests on Holocost remembernce day, and white nationalist flyers being posted around campus. UF President Fuchs released a statement, like he has for the other events but doesn’t seem willing to do much action.
  • Brevard fired an assistant public defender for wearing a Black Lives Matter tie (among other things). (link)