Week in Review (8/20/17)

What a week. We’ve had Nazis trying to march in Gainesville, Confederate statues coming down, neo-Confederates getting fired for participating in the Charlottesville marches, massive repression of prisoners political organizing, and more. Also, we’ve recorded our first podcast and are set to release it later this week!

Note: The Straw Hat copy editor was unavailable so expect a high number of typos and spelling errors.

Nazi Watch:

  • The University of Florida is not allowing Nazi Richard Spencer to speak on September 12th. The University cited the likelihood of violence as the reason for canceling the event but it’s already being challenged in the courts. Organizers in Gainesville are planning to protest against Spencer if the courts side with him or his supporters show up. (Gainesville Sun) This has everyone on edge. On Thursday the City of Gainesville voted unanimously to allow the Mayor to declare a state of emergency if the white nationalist still show up to protest and the National Guard is mobilizing as if Spencer is still speaking. (Gainesville Sun) Follow the page No Nazi at UF to stay informed.
  • The fallout of the Charlottesville terrorist attack has led to two Gainesville residents being fired. Jim O’Brien  of Gainesville was fired from North American Roofing Services after we was arrested for a concealed weapons violation at the Unite the Right rally. He had also published a blog rationalizing violence against people on the left. (Tampa Bay Times) Geoffrey Grooms is a member of the neo-Confederate group League of the South and was recognized in videos from the infamous tiki torch rally. He was fired was fired on Tuesday (8/15) from Lucky’s in Gainesville (Gainesville Sun) Grooms’ chapter of League of the South was front and center in attacking anti-racist protesters and jumping random people of color. The Southern Poverty Law Center is calling for an investigation into their savage beating of an African American caught on video. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

Confederate Statues:

  • Gainesville took down it’s confederate monument on Monday (8/14). This was a multi year struggle made possible largely by the Alachua County Peace Coalition. (Gainesville Sun) But these aren’t the only confederate monuments in the state. The New Tropic has a good listing of efforts to take down the 30 or so remaining statues but within a quick drive of Gainesville we have:
    • White Springs’ massive confederate flag and monument with an inscription of hundreds of dead confederate soldiers.
    • Trenton has a obelisk that was erected in 2010.
    • Old Town has a veterans memorial that fly a Confederate flag.
    • Lake City has a massive obelisk in front of the Columbia Courthouse.
    • Four Freedoms Park in Madison County has a confederate monument and a monument to the former slaves.
    • Ocala Veteran’s Park has a giant Confederate Soldier.
    • Palatka has an exceptionally offense statue at the Putnam County courthouse which praises the confederacy’s cause.
  • The monument on the old capitol grounds in Tallahassee should be removed but the Governor claims he doesn’t have the authority to do so. He also isn’t taking a position on whether it should stay or go (Miami Herald)
  • Two Pensacola Commissioners have come out in favor of removing the 50 foot tall confederate monument. (Pensacola News Journal)
  • Hillsborough County voted 4-2 to not remove their confederate monument unless half the cost to move it was covered by private donations. It took less than 24 hours for the money to be raised. (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Fivethirtyeight has a breakdown of polling on what Americans think of removing confederate monuments. It’s important to keep in mind that the majority support leaving these statues up but it breaks down by party and race. “Strong democrats” are the most likely to support removing statues with 57% supporting taking them down while “Trump Supporters” were the worst with 90% wanting to keep them up. Also of interest in these polls is that 11% of Tea Party supports agree with the White Nationalist movement (17% agree with the alt-right).  While I and most people reading this blog think these statues need to come down it’s important to remember that some 62% of Americans still want these to stay up. (Fivethirtyeight)
  • In Florida there were 2 active KKK groups in 2014 and it climbed to 8 in 2016 with them being most concentrated in North Florida (Live Oak, Jacksonville, Bushnell). But that’s just a fraction of the 63 known hate groups in Florida.  (McClatchy)

In Non White Supremacist News:

  • Gainesville Commissioner delayed yet again on whether to move City elections from March/April to August/November. Harvey Budd is the swing vote and claims he needs to hear from more people yet he left the chambers as soon as public comment started. He now won’t vote for this until at least November. Commissioner Budd wants to hear from more people and you can email him at BuddHM@cityofgainesville.org and tell him that moving elections saves money and increases turnout. (Gainesville Sun)

Around Florida:

  • US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Miami this week thanking the County for abandoning their “sanctuary county” status that they’ve held for three years. It pays to carry the water for Trump’s anti-immigrant policies as they’ll be receiving hundreds of thousands in federal grants. As a reminder Alachua County is a sanctuary county and we’re only looking to expand protections of our immigrant community. (Miami Herald)
  • Florida Governor Scott wants to add a provision to the state constitution which would make it harder to increase taxes. While there’s no details it would likely require the Florida House and Senate pass any tax increases by a 2/3 majority. If he is successful in getting this on the 2018 ballot it would require 60% of voters to approve. While the merits of this proposal are terrible the ploy is to boost turnout for his US Senate run against Bill Nelson. (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Florida Department of Corrections canceled all visitations and locked down all 97,000 prisons this weekend in retaliation for them organizing for basic rights. The event “Millions for Prisoners’ Human Rights” would have had rallies take place outside of prisons with prisoners organizing on the inside. (Miami Herald)
  • Florida Senator Jack Latvala is officially running for governor. He’s one of the least terrible Republicans in the state. He regularly goes against party leadership to support immigrant rights, workers’ rights, and public education. That said, he still has a lot of terrible politics. (Tampa Bay Time)
  • There’s a new effort to repeal a 1926 era state constitutional provision which bars undocumented immigrants from owning land. The constitutional amendment was passed during in a wave of anti-Asian sentiment in the 20’s and is designed to keep Asian farmers from owning or leasing land. (Orlando Sentinel)

National

  • Trump is undoing an Obama era rule that would have made it easier for the elderly and their families to sue nursing homes. Specifically the rule Obama put into place stopped nursing homes from requiring arbitration for the settlement of disputes which greatly favor the nursing homes. This allows bad actors to continue to take advantage of the elderly and is entirely unjustified. (NYT)
  • Trump’s entire Arts Council resigned in protest to his slow response in condemning Nazis. The letter itself is a thing of gold with the first letter of each paragraph spelling out R-E-S-I-S-T. (AP News). This came after Trump disbanded his manufacturing council in retaliation to high profile resignations. (NYT)
  • Steve Bannon is out of the White House. While he’s a notorious white nationalist he’s not the only one in the White House.(Fivethirtyeight)
  • Trump has lifted the 6 year old ban on selling bottled water in National Parks. (NYT)

Week in Review 8/13/17

I’m relaunching the Straw Hat, a weekly news roundup focusing on news and calls to action in the North Central Florida area. This week Trump threatens funding of GPD, president Fuchs green lights a Nazi to speak at UF, and thousands are set to die from the opioid crisis. Quite a week to start back up. I’ll likely be launching a weekly podcast soon to provide additional commentary and analysis. Stay tuned for updates.


Local:

  • Richard Spencer, a literal Nazi, is slated to speak at the University of Florida’s  Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on September 12th. His talks attract other Nazis who instigate acts of violent, such as the terrorist attack in Charlottesville this past weekend. UF President Fuchs has put out a statement denouncing his rhetoric but supporting his free speech. This is another in a long line of tepid responses to racist incidents on the UF campus. Call 1-866-UF-Facts and tell President Fuchs that there’s no place for Nazi’s at UF. (Gainesville Sun).
  • A proposed giant phosphate mine in Union and Bradford Counties has gained traction again. The process of phosphate mining is highly destructive and would damage the Santa Fe River and our aquifer.  Earlier this year Union County Commissioners put a moratorium on new mines but the Bradford County Commission is moving forward with hiring a consultant on August 17th. You can contact the Bradford County Commission at bocc@bradfordcountyfl.gov or (904) 966-6327 and tell them to put a moratorium on phosphate mining in Bradford County. (link)
  • The City of Gainesville will be voting on the Gainesville Votes initiative on Thursday (8/17), which would move Gainesville city elections from the spring of every year to the fall of every other year. This would save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and at least double the number of voters in city elections. You can email all city commissioners at citycomm@cityofgainesville.org to support further democratizing our local politics.
  • Alachua County fired manager Lee Niblock in a surprise 4-1 vote on Tuesday (8/8). This is a big deal as the manager has a lot of leeway to carry out policies passed by the Commission. Niblock was receptive and cooperative with unions and the living wage movement while at the County but he upset too many commissioners. He angered the African American community with his firing of a prominent worker on her 25 year service award day (she was white but he tried to rally the African American community against her), he upset progressives by proposing retention bonuses for upper management, and he worried the environmentalists for meddling with tree planting funds and having a sloppy history with Plum Creek. (Gainesville Sun)
  • The City of Gainesville Police Department is set to lose $63,771 from a federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grant from the Trump administration for being a so-called sanctuary city. This is silly for a number of reasons but the most obvious is that the City of Gainesville cannot enforce a sanctuary policy. There’s no clear definition to what a sanctuary city is but the most cited definition is that they do not hold undocumented immigrants past their scheduled release date without a judicial order. That is, they don’t violate the 4th amendment of the US Constitution. If the federal government tells the Alachua County Sheriff they have a judge’s order to deport a person they’ll hold them. If not it’d be unconstitutional to hold them past their release date regardless of their immigration status. Seems simple enough but what’s really silly about this is that the Gainesville Police Department doesn’t have anything to do with booking because everyone in the County arrested is processed through the Alachua County Sheriff’s office. Not only is the idea of punishing a so called sanctuary cities laughable; the punishment of the wrong agency is just sloppy politicking. The cherry on top of this poorly thought out Trump policy is that it’s very likely illegal. The National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius ruling which stopped the Medicaid expansion under the ACA says that you cannot use funding cuts to coerce states into adopting federal policy. I’m sure this will be included in the recently filed lawsuit from Chicago against the the administration. Follow Madres Sin Fronteras to get involved in the immigrant rights struggle in Gainesville. (Daily Single)
    • Miami complained to Trump that they were not a sanctuary County so they were removed from the list. I hope Gainesville wears this attack as a badge of honor. (Miami Herald)
  • The Sabal Trail Pipeline sprung a leak in Marion County this week. The trail was protested throughout North Central Florida leading to mass arrests and a death. (WCJB)

State:

  • After the Pulse Club Massacre Governor Scott made closed door promises to outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ+ people by private employers. It’s been over a year since this promise was made and the Governor isn’t responding to requests for updates. (News Journal)
  • Trumpcare may be mostly dead but the uncertainty of healthcare is going to drive costs up. Over the past 2 years premiums in Florida have gone up by double digits and the number of insurers have shrunken from 10 to 6 under the Affordable Care Act. But with Trump threatening to cut subsidies this could mean even higher premiums and increases of over $300 for typical ACA market recipients in Florida (Sun Sentinel)
  • Florida let $20.4 million in federal money for dealing with addiction expire without replacing it. The last year we had a complete picture of the crises was 2015 which saw 3,900 opioid deaths in Florida. The trend has been going up and it is predicted we will reach well over 6,000 deaths in 2017. We are in an epidemic and clinics are going to start closing or turning people away. Gov. Scott did declare a public health emergency which allowed the state to use some $27 million in federal funding to deal with this crisis but that money cannot go towards detox, drug treatments programs, or crisis centers. The federal government has also taken it’s first steps in declaring a nation state of emergency but Trump has hinted that the funds will go towards tougher law enforcement rather than treatment which public health professions believe will actually work (Naples News and Politico)
  • There’s a nursing shortage in Florida. The prediction is that there will be a 50,000 nurse deficit by 2025. We’ve known about it for years and the Florida legislature has been attempting to deal with it since 2009. Their solution was to deregulate nursing schools which doubled the number of programs to ~350 and increased enrollment by 54%. The problem is that these students still have to pass the state license exams and they’re failing at ridiculously high rates. Many of these unregulated and non accredited nursing schools are closing which is leaving students with large debts and little to show for their effort. The best results come from expanding traditional nursing programs like at Santa Fe College and the University of Florida but the state has been reluctant to ditch their ideological drive for privatization. (Sun Sentinel)

National:

  • Trump’s department of interior has repealed an Obama era rule that would have made it harder for energy companies to hide the value of national resources extracted from federal and tribal lands. The rule was put in place because it’s estimated that US taxpayers missed out on $30 billion over the last 30 years due to loose oversight. (Returners)

2017 Florida Legislative Recap

2017 Florida Legislative Recap

 

2017 Florida Legislative Recap

Florida’s House, Senate, and Governor are all Republicans and thank God they don’t get along. This last session had some losses and a few defensive victories for working families. The overarching theme of the session was that of disunity and political bickering. House Speaker Corcoran (R, Land O’Lakes) held many bills and the budget hostage to succesfully push his own agenda while Senate President Negron (R, Palm City) and Governor Scott did their best to save face.

Immigration

In an attempt to ride Trump xenophobic wave, house Republicans attempted to push  9 anti-immigrant bills this year. The most onerous of which threatened to punish sanctuary counties (such as Alachua County) with fines while deputizing all police as ICE agents. These bills were defeated because of the hard work from human rights activists all over the state and through the leadership of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC). (link)

Higher Education:

Santa Fe College got $5.4 million to expand the Blount Center downtown, a controversial project under fire for causing gentrification. This is on top of $2.6 million it got last year from the legislature and over $6 million in private donations. They also got $5 million to hire and retain faculty and staff. UF will receive $120 million more this year which includes funding for the long overdue renovations at Norman Hall and design work for a new music building.

Bright futures Academic Scholars Award will cover 100% of tuition for the first time since the recession. The catch is that all students will be forced into the block tuition program in which everyone is charged for 15 credit hours a semester regardless of how many classes they take. 

Guns:

A slew of pro-gun bills were filed but most failed. Some of the worst ones were open carry, allowing guns in airports, and the elimination of gun-free zones at universities and colleges. What did pass was an expansion the the state’s Stand Your Ground Law. It will now be harder to bring someone claiming self-defense to trial by shifting the burden of proof to the prosecutor.

Environment:

We received $250,000 to help filter water going into Newnans Lake and $500,000 for a rails to trails path connecting High Springs to Newberry. Meanwhile SB 10, which sought to stop the algae blooms in Southwest Florida by creating a recharge south of Lake Okeechobee, was scaled back. Instead of fully funding the project we will now spend $1.25 billion to buy polluted land from Big Sugar while simultaneously relieving them from liability to clean up their mess. (link)

This is part of a larger story related to Florida Forever,  the constitutional referendum passed in  2014 with more than 75% of the vote which forced the government to buy environmentally sensitive land. This year the legislature spent $0 to buy new land and instead voted to spend money cleaning up polluted farmland and eroded beaches. (link)

Workers’ Rights:

The Florida Legislature wasn’t able to agree on the hourly rate lawyers should be allowed to collect from workers’ compensation cases after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the current caps on lawyer fees were unconstitutional. Their reasoning was that low fee caps disuaded lawyers from taking workers comp cases making legal representation unattainable for many workers. A special session to deal with this issue might be called or it will be brought up again next year. (link)

Senator Keith Perry was finally able to pass his anti living wage bill SB 534. This bill nullifies local ordinances that mandate local hiring, higher safety standards, and require certified apprenticeships. After a lot of push back his bill was weakened significantly and will only apply if 50% or more of the funds are coming from state allocated money.  Thankfully, this anti-worker bill will affect very few projects in Alachua County and throughout the state due to these added provisions. 

State workers will now default into a 401k style plan as opposed to the state’s pension. This is part of a strategy to weaken the pension system so that the Legislature has an excuse to do away with it in the future. Currently nearly 60% of state workers default into the pension plan and only 18% choose the 401k style plan. The bill passed in part because it was lumped together with a $1,400 raise for most state workers. (link)

Education:

The Alachua County School Board will see a decrease of $27 per student in funding. This will put us at $492 less funding per student than the highwater mark in 2007-2008. But some students are getting more funding. Charter Schools will have more money diverted into their coffers for buildings. Additionally, students who get vouchers to go to private school will see a 14% increase in their funding. Finally, the Orwellian sounding “Schools of Hope” program received $140 million to promote the charter schools take over of low performing public schools.

The good news is that there will now be 20 minutes of required daily recess and the elimination of a few standardized tests. Also, HB 989 passed allowing parents to question materials used to educate their children. This will most likely be abused by conservative parents who regularly attend School Board meetings to decry the teaching of Islam in history classes.

Healthcare:

The legalization of medical marijuana was passed by voters in 2016 requiring that Florida establishes protocols for a medical marijuana program but the state legislature couldn’t agree on how to do it. The House wanted to ban smokable marijuana and the Senate wouldn’t agree. The Florida Department of Health has now been tasked with creating these policies, however, the Legislature might call a special session to deal with this issue if they’re dissatisfied with the Department’s measures. (link)

The good news is that all seven anti-choice bills filed this year failed!

Odds and Ends:

  • Rep. Clemons (R, Newberry) helped pass Sen Perry’s GRU governance bill. The bill forces GRU residents to vote this November on a referendum which would wrestle control of our utility away from the elected commissioners to an appointment board. (link)
  • A proposed Constitutional Amendment would increase non-school homestead exemption by $25,000. If passed by 60% of voters in November it would punch a $9 million hole in the County coffers which would mean decreased services. It is expected to pass and cities/counties are already implementing hiring freezes in anticipation. (link)
  • The liquor wall is down. HB 423/SB 1040 passed and will allow liquor to be bought in grocery stores.
  • The Competitive Workforce Act (HB 623/SB 666) which would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected class prohibiting discrimination in housing, banking, and employment failed to pass despite increased corporate backing.  In Alachua County we have the Human Rights Ordinance which accomplishes this goal.
  • HB305 passed allowing cops to review body cam footage before writing a report.
  • To conform with US Supreme Court ruling, SB280 was passed which requires a unanimous jury vote to sentence someone to death.
  • Sen. Baxley stopped a slavery memorial from being created in the Florida Capitol (HB 27/SB 1722). The proud descendant of confederate soldiers, he has complained in the past about “cultural cleansing” of confederate symbols and said “it just seems in this age of multiculturalism we can celebrate everyone’s culture but mine”. (link)
  • Some $75 million in tax cuts, mostly to businesses passed. Also, feminine hygiene products will now be tax free.
  • HB 221 preempts local ordinances that have to do with Uber/Lyft.

Week in review 3-25-17

Here’s a week in review of some of the more important things that happened this week with bolded lines as calls to action.


  • Trump released his “Declined Detainer Outcome Report” this week. It’s similar to what the Nazis did with publishing crimes from Jews but this time it’s crimes from undocumented peoples. The report places Alachua County in the top 10 least compliant offices in the USA. Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell has been non complaint with ICE since 2015 due to activism from the Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice. Darnell says she doesn’t hold people for ICE without a warrant because it’s a violation of their 4th amendment rights but that’s just legal cover for her desire not to terrorize this community. (link) There’s been a debate  spinning within the activist circles: Do we aim for sanctuary status and risk bringing the wrath of the Trump regime down upon us or do we seek the so called freedom cities initiative pushed by the ACLU which is sanctuary status in all but name? Well, if Trump and ICE are labeling us a sanctuary county then our goal is to defend that title and strengthen our resolve.
  • HB 373 would further limit the already limited protections for teachers in Florida. In 2011 Gov Scott ended “professional services contracts” (aka tenure) which put all teachers on a yearly contract.  Teachers didn’t know if they’d be working from one year to the next so many the unions negotiated an automatic renewal if they received good evaluations from their principles. The teachers unions in Alachua, Marion, and almost all school districts have passed this common sense contract language. The bill passed it’s final committee in the House but still has a floor vote. Call Rep Chuck Clemons (R, Gainesville) at 352-313-6542 and tell him to VOTE NO on this anti-teacher bill. The Senate version SB 856 has not been heard in a single committee which likely means that this won’t be taken up this year. (link)
  • HB 697, the anti-sanctuary bill passed an important house committee this week. The bill would require law enforcement officers to hold undocumented people for 48 hours at local tax payer expense. The Senate version isn’t moving but it’s a dangerous anti-immigrant bill that should be opposed. Call Rep Chuck Clemons (R, Gainesville) at 352-313-6542 and tell him that
    • local law enforcement are not ICE agents and forcing them to behave as such will only serve to further marginalize this already at risk community.
    • that forcing local agencies to hold people without a warrant is a violation of their 4th amendment rights
    • that this is an unfunded mandate from Tallahassee which will cost millions of dollars to local tax payers. 

      Or better yet. You can tell him in person. Sign up with the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) for the mobilization to Tallahassee. (link)

  • Disney was forced to pay $3.8 in stolen wages to it’s workers. This was due to violations of minimum wage and overtime rules. Wage theft is very, very common and it’s very, very rare that it’s reported. If you work in Alachua County you can use our Wage Recovery Program to help recover your stolen wages.
  • Gov Scott removed State Attorney Ayala, the first African American states attorney in Florida from a high profile case in Orlando because she refused to seek the death penalty. The Florida Legislative Black Caucus is rightfully upset and the NAACP is leading a protest this Thursday at the Capital. (link)
  • The Florida Senate passed SB 436 which will allow students to pray and express their religion more openly. The bill is unnecessary as religious freedom is already protected but the bill goes further by forcing schools to allow students to pray at events. This will likely bring prayer back to games, concerts, and other events. The House version HB 303 is much better and still has to pass a floor vote. Call Rep Chuck Clemons (R, Gainesville) at 352-313-6542 and tell him that this is an unnecessary bill that only seeks to bring religion back into k-12 education(link)
  • The House and Senate will officially be submitting their budgets this week (the Governor did 2 weeks ago) and they’re going to be drastically different. (link)
    • The Senate wants an extra $1 billion for higher education. The House wants $800 million less.
    • Governor Scott wants $618 million in tax cuts while the Senate wants to modestly raise taxes.
    • Governor Scott wants a 3% raise in k-12 spending with the majority coming from an increase taxes paid by homeowners. The House isn’t interested in increasing taxes so they’ll have to find the needed $558 million in their budget.
  • SB10, the bill that would build a reservoir for Lake Okeechobee and stop these terrible algae blooms and fish dies offs is being held hostage by Gov Scott for support in keeping Enterprise Florida alive. This is complicated as House Speaker Corcoran just got the support from House democrats to kill Enterprise Florida giving them a veto proof majority. This is important because Rick Scott is running for Senate in 2018 on the failed corporate welfare policy that is Enterprise Florida and has threatened to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his way. And just this last week Sen Rubio, cashing in his sugar lobby campaign checks, came out against SB 10. Despite the confusion and infighting Sen President Negron is still confident that the bill will more forward. But that isn’t to say that there isn’t local opposition. A local group called “Glades Lives Matter” is organizing protests against the lose of farm jobs that would result from this bill passing.
  • A bill that sought to outlaw shark fin harvesting has been gutted due to pressure from the fishing industry. (link)
  • Sen. Nelson leads Gov Scott in a third consecutive poll. This one from the Florida Chamber of Commerce has Nelson at 48% to Scott’s 42%. Interestingly 80% of Florida Republicans also have a positive view of Trump while 81% of Democrats have a negative view. (link)
  • The Secret Service is asking for an extra $60 million to cover expenses from the lavish lifestyle of Trump. (link)
  • The US Senate voted along party lines to repeal Obama era rules that protected consumer online data from their internet providers. Due to people like Sen Marco Rubio your internet provider will now sell your information to ad agencies, political outfits, government agencies… pretty much anyone willing to buy it. It might be a good time to switch to Tor Browser.  Call Sen Marco Rubio at (904) 398-8586 and ask to look at his and his families full browser history because that’s what he just voted to allow your internet provider to do.(link)
  • Trumpcare died in the US House this week and Trump blamed the Democrats not the ~30 Republicans who refused to vote for it. Congressman Yoho was one of these Republicans and cited the ~3,000 calls against the vote to ~200 calls for the vote as a reason for his stance. Thanks for the encouragement! Call Congressman Yoho at 352-505-0838 and tell him to support HR 676, the Medicare for all act.
  • Trump gave the final go ahead to the Keystone XL pipeline. This was one of his campaign promises along with promises to only approve it if it was made with US steel. It’s not being made with US steel. (link)
  • Check out the Florida AFL-CIO weekly update video they put out each each week on priority legislation. If your not following them on facebook then your missing out.

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)