Monday, September 29, 2014

California D.A.'s say Uber & Lyft represent a "continuing threat" to the public

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 2:46 PM


Kyle Cockream, the executive director of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, appeared a bit perturbed last week after the Tampa Bay Partnership neglected to contact him while inviting representatives from ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft to a transportation summit in St. Petersburg.

The PTC says drivers for those companies are not in compliance with their regulator agency, and PTC agents have issued numerous citations to Uber and Lyft drivers since they began operating in Tampa this spring. Although Cockream has since been in negotiations with representatives from the two companies over the past few months, nothing concrete has resulted from those discussions in terms of them coming into compliance.

The biggest issues here in Tampa and nationally with the ride-sharing companies concern their insurance policies and background checks, issues that state Senator Jeff Brandes brushed aside in a panel discussion at last week's transit summit.

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Mailers urge voters to return absentee ballots that haven't been sent out yet

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 2:11 PM

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Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer has a message for those of you who've received a mailer saying that you're absentee ballot should have already been mailed to you.

No, it shouldn't have.

The specific mailers were sent by Let's Get to Work, a political action group trying to get Rick Scott re-elected, say "Voter Alert! Your Absentee Ballot Should Have Arrived..."

"Has your absentee ballot arrived?,” the back of the mailer read. “By now, you should have received your absentee ballot.”

But the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Office says - not quite yet, thank you.

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D.C. based pro-choice group target Rick Scott as being "obsessed with outlawing abortion"

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 2:04 PM


NARAL Pro-Choice America announced today that it is targeting Rick Scott and two other GOP Governors this election season with mail, online ads and phone calls questioning what they call their anti-choice agenda, as well as making "it a priority above the economic interests voters elected them to address."

Wisconsin's Scott Walker and Kansas' Sam Brownback are the other two Republican governors being targeted by the group.

“7 in 10 voters support a woman’s right to choose and yet, despite the longstanding need for attention to the economic conditions in all three of these states, these Governors have spent a substantial part of their terms figuring out how to deny women access to vital health care," said Sasha Bruce, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Campaigns for NARAL Pro-Choice America in a statement. "We know the more voters learn not only about their extreme positions but, equally as important, also their misplaced priorities they are less likely to support them. From now until Election Day we’ll be reminding voters in these key states about what their governors have cost them.”

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Mitch Perry Report 9.29.14: Tampa Bay Rays' (& MLB's) really long and not so good regular season finally ends

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 8:48 AM


Congratulations this morning to the  Tampa Bay Bucs and their fans, who finally have something to feel good about this season after the Mike Glennon-led Bucs  stunned the Steelers in Pittsburgh yesterday in the final seconds, 27-24.

There probably aren't too many people talking about the Tampa Bay Rays this morning, as they concluded their tremendously disappointing 2014 regular season quietly yesterday,  losing to the Cleveland Indians and finishing their regular season 77-85. They scored only 612 runs all year in the process, the fewest in the American League and the fewest in their 17-year history as a professional organization.

So, the season is over now for the Rays and 19 other Major League Baseball franchises, and finally, the best part of baseball can start with the playoffs, including single-elimination games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights before the best-of-five division series begin in Thursday in the AL, Friday night in the NL.

And while the Rays' regular season was a bust, so was much of Major League Baseball in 2014, I would argue. Yes, you had a spectacular no-hitter thrown in Washington yesterday (one of a record-tying five no-hitters in the National League), you had a nice farewell for Derek Jeter,  and many other fun things throughout the year, but there were far too many warts on this regular season that we can only hope will fade away after the next month of exciting, tense, post-season ball.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Some Democrats AND Republicans say Obama should bring back Congress for vote on ISIS attack

Posted By on Sun, Sep 28, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Tim Kaine
  • Tim Kaine
On Friday, British Prime Minister David Cameron secured parliamentary support for the U.K. to join the U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS, though the Brits are only conducting such airstrikes in Iraq, not Syria. That prompted Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) to say today that it's time for President Obama to do likewise here in America - that is, call in Congress to authorize his military action to "degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS" in Iraq and Syria.

"We're not supposed to start a war without Congress," Kaine told CBS' Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer. "We shouldn't be putting our men and women in harms way without a political consensus that the mission is worth it."

The Obama administration says that they don't necessarily need another vote from Congress, instead citing the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force against al Qaeda for the new ISIS war.

On ABC's This Week, House Speaker John Boehner said that contrary to reports that he doesn't want Congress to go on record until January about the war, he would bring the House back into session immediately - but only if President Obama asks.

More ABC news videos | Latest world news

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

15 Now lays down their goals in St. Petersburg

Posted By on Sat, Sep 27, 2014 at 6:49 PM

Members of 15 Now Tampa Bay
  • Members of 15 Now Tampa Bay

Last week 15 Now, a grassroots organization originally rooted in Seattle, launched their statewide movement in Orlando.

Saturday in St. Petersburg, 15 Now Tampa Bay held their own press conference in front of City Hall. They propose to recruit, mobilize and take action throughout Florida. They want the St. Pete City Council and the Florida Legislature to support and pass a resolution to repeal 218.077(2), passed in 2003, which denies cities the right to set its own minimum wage. 

Pinellas County has had a home rule charter since 1980, which allows it the ability to address local issues without having to go all the way up the chain to the state Legislature. However, the special statute 218.077(2) states that it is illegal for cities and counties to set their own minimum wage. It also states that employers do not have to provide benefits like paid sick time. The group also wants the City Council to restore home rule. The group believes that the statute is “unconstitutional and immoral.”  

According to the Green Party of Florida, Florida’s own Constitution, Article X, Section 24(a), “promises as public policy that ‘All working Floridians are entitled to be paid a minimum wage that is sufficient to provide a decent and healthy life for them and their families,’ a wage that doesn't ‘force them to rely on taxpayer-funded public services in order to avoid economic hardship,'" says Jeff Roby, 15 Now's community outreach director

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Judithanne McLauchlan explains why she filed for bankruptcy in the late 1990's

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Earlier this week, the Republican Party of Florida went for the jugular in a new television ad that mentioned that Senate District 22 Democratic candidate Judithanne McLauchlan had a) filed for personal bankruptcy, and b) "was part of a group" that supports an income tax in Florida.

McLauchlan immediately responded to the latter charge, calling it "repulsive" and saying that she has always opposed a state income tax in Florida (the ad skillfully and perhaps unfairly did not ever say she supported a tax, but that she was part of a group - The League of Women Voters - who has endorsed creating an income tax).

But she didn't respond to the charge that she had filed for bankruptcy - until now.

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Local deportation attempt brings protest to ICE's Tampa headquarters

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 10:55 AM

David Sanchez addresses those gathered
  • David Sanchez addresses those gathered

Representatives from a number of activist groups like Raíces en Tampa, Young American Dreamers, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Students for a Democratic Society and United We Dream Tampa Bay had planned for a Thursday evening rally outside of ICE's Tampa office to be the climax of their campaign in defense of David Sanchez, a Mexico-born Tampa resident who has lived in the United States since the age of fourteen and was scheduled to be deported Friday morning. However, after an organized call-in which sent more than 200 phone calls to the ICE office in Tampa opposing the deportation, Sanchez was granted an extension of three to six months. As the news spread and more than 70 people arrived on Thursday night, the gathering took on a celebratory air, albeit one that acknowledged that this was only a small victory towards their goal of “Not One More”.

“They're giving him an extension, they're giving him a few more months, and as happy as we are about that, we need to make sure that ICE, Homeland Security, people all across the spectrum need to understand that we don't need these deportations,” said Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, addressing the crowd. “Not today, not tomorrow, not this week, not this month, never! No more deportations!”

Sanchez's story is unique in just how circumstances forced him to within hours of deportation to a country he hasn't seen since his youth. A construction worker in the Tampa area who is married to an American citizen with a daughter born in the United States, Sanchez found himself a target for deportation after a lawyer that he believed was helping him gain American citizenship filed a “voluntary departure” form without Sanchez's knowledge or consent. The lawyer has since been debarred for malpractice. From that point Sanchez was forced to wear a monitoring bracelet as he counted down to September 26, the day he was supposed to be deported.

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Mitch Perry Report: Times reporter Joe Childs's work will live on

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 9:32 AM


The announcement last week by Tampa Bay Times CEO and Chairman Paul Tash that because of a "crisis situation" employees who opted to leave the paper by October 1 would receive their full severance package has led to a number of notable staffers announcing this week that they'll accept a buy-out, none more prominent than features writer Jeff Klinkenberg.

There are other major reporters who are exiting, but I'd like to take the time this morning to give praise to one in particular, Senior Editor/At Large Joe Childs. Along with Tom Tobin, Childs was the reporter who broke a number of stories over the years regarding the Church of Scientology, none bigger than the 2009 expose called "The Truth Rundown," which was a game-changer in terms of how the rest of the national media began covering COS. As the paper itself described it, the stories shed "unprecedented light on the internal workings of a secretive church that counts Clearwater as its spiritual home." It also led to CNN's Anderson Cooper doing his own series of interviews based on those stories called  "Scientology: A History of Violence," which reported competing claims and denials about violence at the top of the hierarchy at the Church. 

Childs's and Tobin's reporting played a major role in Janet Reitman's 2011 expose, Inside Scientology, as well as Lawrence Wright's 2013 book, Going Clear, and their groundbreaking work was acknowledged by both those authors when their books were published.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Scott Orsini says he won't be a "lockstep Democrat" if elected in HD 69 in November

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 2:48 PM

St. Petersburg-based attorney Scott Orsini says he's used to people asking him why he wants to be a member of the Florida House of Representatives, since Democrats are vastly outnumbered by Republicans in the Legislature.

"Nothing changes if nobody tries," says the Titusville native, who moved to St. Pete some 18 years ago. "If Democrats don't run for office, than that [GOP] supermajority is never going to change."

Orsini is challenging Republican incumbent Kathleen Peters, running for her second two-year term in the seat held for the previous six years by Democrat Rick Kriseman.

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