Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hillsborough County taps Les Miller to replace Anne Madden on HART board

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 5:44 PM

Is this how the reconfiguration of the HART board begins?

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) announced today that County Commissioner Les Miller will replace Anne Madden on their board, after Madden announced her departure from the board earlier this month. The significance of this is that Madden was a representative from the community selected by the County Commission. Miller's entrance now brings to four the number of commissioners on the HART board.

Earlier this week Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill announced a comprehensive transportation plan after more than 14 months of meetings with the Transportation Economic Development (TED) policy leadership group. Funding for the proposals would need to come from a one-cent sales tax that would go on the 2016 ballot.

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Annette Taddeo takes in West Tampa in 1st solo campaign appearance in the Bay area

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Annette Taddeo (she's dropped the Goldstein for the campaign) in West Tampa today.
  • Annette Taddeo (she's dropped the Goldstein for the campaign) in West Tampa today.

The importance of the Latino vote in a Florida statewide election has never been more apparent than in this year's gubernatorial contest. Two weeks ago Charlie Crist chose Miami-Dade County Democratic chairwoman Annette Taddeo to be his running mate if he wins next month's Democratic Party primary against Nan Rich. That follows the decision by Rick Scott months earlier to name former Miami-Dade state lawmaker Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a Cuban-American, to become his Lieutenant Governor.

This afternoon Taddeo was actively working the Hispanic vote, coming to the Latin-rich West Tampa area to press the flesh with voters, many who appeared to only speak Spanish, in her first solo campaign appearance since being asked to join the Crist campaign.

At her first stop at La Pequeña Colombia on Armenia Avenue, Taddeo said she was "shocked" when she received a call initially from Crist campaign manager Omar Khan that she was being considered to be the choice for LG, but was ready to say yes when Crist himself called her just two days before he made it official earlier this month.

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The CL Intern Issue: USF ahead of the curve on sexual assault policies

With universities across the U.S. being investigated for violations, USF's programs seem prescient.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 11:14 AM

REAL PEOPLE: Members of USF’s Relationship Equality and Anti-Violence League, which hosts peer education and awareness events.
  • REAL PEOPLE: Members of USF’s Relationship Equality and Anti-Violence League, which hosts peer education and awareness events.

Colleges all across the country are taking heat for the way their administrations deal with sexual assault cases, as more and more students speak up about how such cases are handled.

In early May, the Department of Education released a list of 55 colleges that are now under investigation for potential violations of the federal anti-discrimination law under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The law prohibits gender discrimination at colleges that receive federal funding. Sexual harassment and violations are considered forms of sex discrimination, and Title IX requires colleges and universities that receive federal funds to investigate and resolve any sexual assault claims in a timely and impartial manner.

Florida State University is among the schools being investigated, following complaints over handling of the notorious Jameis Winston case. Others on the list include Vanderbilt University, Emerson College, and the University of Connecticut. Twelve more colleges were added in early July.

But where these and other schools are scrambling to update their sexual assault policies and procedures, school officials at the University of South Florida say they have been ahead of the curve for years. USF has had victim advocacy departments on campus since 1992, said Nanci Newton, director of USF’s Center for Victim Advocacy & Violence Prevention.

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Tim Schock says it's time for new Republicans on Hillsborough County Commission

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:50 AM

On Wednesday morning both Tampa Bay dailies' top story above the fold was on the plan unveiled by Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill for a one-cent sales tax referendum to pay for a new comprehensive transportation plan for roads, buses and light-rail.

But if it does go before voters in 2016, Tim Schock will be voting against it.

"I'm absolutely opposed to the one-cent sales tax for light-rail," Schock repeated to CL on Wednesday. The 41-year-old private equity consultant is running in the GOP primary for the countywide District 7 County Commission seat on August 26, where he's a heavy underdog to quasi-incumbent Al Higginbotham.

"Quasi" in the respect that, while Higginbotham has served on the board for some eight years already, technically he's not an incumbent since he's running for the first time in a different, countywide district seat that's been occupied by Mark Sharpe for the past decade. But Schock says it's definitely time for some new blood on the board. "I really think that we do constantly need a new perspective," he says, adding that if Higginbotham is able to win this year and is re-elected in 2018, that will have been 16 years serving on the BOCC, which he says is an "awfully long time."

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Mitch Perry Report 7.31.14 - Joe Scarborough turns on Israel

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 9:18 AM

Israel's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza is now in its 24th day, and it's getting harder to read and watch what's happening with reports of the IDF killing Palestinians while Hamas continues to shoot off their mostly ineffective rockets (the body count is now 1,370 Palestinians and 56 Israelis). Yesterday U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that “all available evidence” suggested that Israeli artillery had hit a United Nations school in Gaza full of civilians who thought they were in a safe zone.

While most people in the mainstream television media steadfastly refuse to say or do anything that would be deemed controversial,  MSNBC's Joe Scarborough apparently didn't get the memo this morning, saying that Israel was engaged in "indiscriminate" killing.

“This is asinine,” the former Florida Republican congressman said on Morning Joe. “This continued killing of women and children in a way that appears to be indiscriminate is asinine.”

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The CL Intern Issue: Just do it — millennials find satisfaction in working on their passions

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 1:32 AM

Reuben Pressman of Check I'm Here.
  • Reuben Pressman of Check I'm Here.

The media used to dismiss millennials as lazy, spoiled kids with the attention span of a goldfish. But given the success of people like Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, and Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook — both of whom made their marks well before they turned 30 — older generations are now seeing millennials as “The Entrepreneurial Generation.”

This wave of young entrepreneurial energy has hit Tampa Bay in a big way, as college students and grads start their own businesses and forge their own paths.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rubio joins bipartisan group to co-sponsor bill that aims to curb sexual assaults on campuses

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio joined up with a bipartisan group today to announce his support for a bill that aims to curb on-campus rape that will include an annual survey of students about their experience with sexual assaults.

The introduction of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act comes just weeks after a Senate subcommittee survey showed that 41 percent of 236 American colleges had conducted no investigations of alleged assaults in the last five years. Under the new rules, colleges would be required to assign on-campus “Confidential Advisors” with the task of being a trusted resource for victims of assault. 

A statement issued from Senator Rubio's office said that currently an American woman who attends college is more likely to be a victim of sexual assault than a woman who does not attend college. For whatever reasons, colleges and universities haven't been able to adequately address the problem. Rubio's office says that the the current lax oversight of the federal laws on the books "has the perverse effect of incentivizing colleges to encourage non-reporting, under-reporting, and non-compliance with the already weak standards under current federal law."  

Senator Rubio participated in the news conference introducing the bill today:

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Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Wyllie soon to be at a craft beer brewery near you

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 11:31 AM


The Libertarian Party of Florida is hoping to persuade the bloc of newly registered voters this year — thanks in part to Amendment 2 — to get behind their candidate for governor this year, Adrian Wyllie. Now the party is going after the craft-beer crowd.

Fresh off his best poll rating yet in last week's Quinnipiac gubernatorial survey, Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie has just announced his "30 craft breweries in 30 days" tour, which will see him make several stops in the Bay area, specifically in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Dunedin.

Wyllie says his campaign will focus on craft breweries to show support for a small-business industry that was nearly waylaid by a dubious bill in the Florida Senate that ultimately died before getting a final vote.

“As a small business owner, I know firsthand the obstacles government places in our path, and how they can crush an entire industry with the stroke of a pen,” said Wyllie in a statement. “If we truly want to restore the economy and create real jobs, we first have to get government out of our way... and that’s what I intend to do as governor.”

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Lee Sierra says he's ready to fully engage as Hillsborough County School Board race approaches

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 10:25 AM


There's been more focus than ever on fundraising regarding the three Hillsborough County School Board races that will be decided on August 26. Perhaps too much focus, where the best-known candidate in the crowded District 6 race, April Griffin, has raised just $3,000, compared to Dipa Shaw's prodigious tally of $94,942 so far.

But Griffin has by far the best name recognition of the eight candidates in the race. Certainly much more than Lee Sierra, a 32-year-old Tampa native who currently is employed as a commercial real estate agent, and has raised just a hair more than Griffin at $3,540. But he says he's not worried about that disparity.

"We want to focus our resources on this last big push," Sierra told CL last week, saying he's got a "number" of fundraising events scheduled in the next few weeks when (theoretically) interest in the school board races will be at their highest — though, it being the middle of summer, that theory could be questionable.

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Mitch Perry Report 7.30.14: Do Tampa/Hillsborough leaders have what it takes to pass a transportation tax in 2016?

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 9:03 AM


In Clearwater this Saturday, volunteers for the Greenlight Pinellas initiative are scheduled to knock on doors to advocate for the 1-cent transit tax that will be on the ballot this November in Pinellas County.

The success or failure of that initiative will certainly have an impact on what happens across the Bay in Tampa, where yesterday local officials introduced their ambitious and comprehensive plan to improve transportation in Hillsborough County.  At one point during the news conference, County Administrator Mike Merrill told reporters that he really hasn't been following what's been going on with Greenlight, as he and his cohorts unveiled a huge list of proposed projects that can only be funded if County voters pass a referendum in 2016. But the two are definitely intertwined.

Greenlight has learned from many of the mistakes that were made in 2010 in Hillsborough, and much if not most of the Pinellas County establishment is firmly behind the initiative. All but one of its county commissioners back the measure, as do virtually all of the 24 municipalities (Seminole is one of the exceptions). 

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