Friday, May 22, 2015

Stupefying Kansas screw-the-poor law not long shot in Florida, actually

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 5:57 PM

Kansas has just passed a law limiting ATM withdrawals from public assistance benefits accounts to $25 a day.

Since most ATMS only stock $20 bills, that's really a limit of $20 a day, and out of that $20 customers will likely have to pay ATM fees, too. Kansas lawmakers are, in effect, making it more expensive for poor residents who can't afford to keep a minimum balance in a regular checking account to do things like pay rent and utility bills. Paying a $100 electric bill, for example, would require five trips to an ATM, and, depending on the ATM fees charged, could cost the benefit recipient $15 or more. Oh, by the way, those ATM fees benefit the banks.

Despicable? Yes. But it could never happen here, right? That'd be too low a blow even for Florida legislators to inflict, wouldn't it?

Not really.

The purple states are the most draconian, which means we're actually worse in Kansas. Go us. - SCREEN GRAB
  • screen grab
  • The purple states are the most draconian, which means we're actually worse in Kansas. Go us.

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Lawmakers, nonprofits optimistic governor also thinks selling people is wrong

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 1:56 PM

Tougher penalties for scumbags who deal in human trafficking, and efforts to spread awareness that it's still a problem, could be on Florida's books within weeks, assuming Governor Rick Scott agrees with lawmakers, who overwhelmingly support the policies.

A collection of nonprofits heralded the passage of the bills Thursday, thanked their sponsors and called on Scott to sign the bills once they reach his desk.
State Sen. Jack Latvala talks about why he supports the cause of ending human trafficking: it's kind of a no-brainer. - KATE BRADSHAW
  • kate bradshaw
  • State Sen. Jack Latvala talks about why he supports the cause of ending human trafficking: it's kind of a no-brainer.

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Sh*t happened 5/22/15: EPC, homeless charity sues Tampa and beachy, beachy goodness

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 9:00 AM


Happy Friday! Let us pour a little liquor out for the weekdays that had to die to get us here...

The Hillsborough County Commission selected Janet Dougherty — the candidate for whom intense lobbying on the part of private corporate interests recently drew the public ire of commissioner Al Higginbothamto be the next executive director of the county's Environmental Protection Commission. In a previous bid for a county commission seat, Dougherty raised a considerable amount of money via donations from real estate developers, a readily accessible fact that might lead political cynics (read: those who understand how politics works) to ask FUCKING SERIOUSLY?!

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Scott calls for ban on talk of Medicaid expansion, feds say Florida needs $1 billion to care for poor

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 7:41 PM

Eleven days ahead of the state's special legislative session in which lawmakers are supposed to perform their most basic function — passing a friggin' budget, which they weren't able to do during the regular session — Governor Rick Scott sent a decree outlining what he hopes the session will accomplish.

Among this list of objectives is a provision aiming to bar talk of Medicaid expansion (he's good at making people not talk about stuff, isn't he?).

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ACLU to new Tampa police chief: stop targeting black people on bicycles

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 5:06 PM

In the wake of Tampa City Council's unanimous approval of new Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward earlier today, a decision sparking calls for major policy changes within the department.

Ward, with his predecessor directly behind him, addresses the audience after his recent nomination. - KATE BRADSHAW
  • kate bradshaw
  • Ward, with his predecessor directly behind him, addresses the audience after his recent nomination.

Ward was born and raised in East Tampa, a predominately African-American area, and even spent some of his childhood in public housing. He's a 26-year veteran on the force and served in many roles before succeeding former chief Jane Castor, who retired earlier this month. 

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Transforming Tampa Bay: Our streetcars, and their original Tampa Heights home, are evolving

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 3:47 PM

The vision for what Tampa Heights' Armature Works Building and area could be.
  • The vision for what Tampa Heights' Armature Works Building and area could be.

Tampa’s streetcars were a force in the community’s evolution, sparking investment and affording easy mobility. Fast-forward 100 years, and streetcar-related efforts are again moving things ahead.

An ambitious makeover is underway for the 70,000-square-foot red-brick streetcar barn, located in Tampa Heights adjacent to the Waterfront Park. After the Architectural Review Commission (ARC) blessed their plans on May 4, SoHo Capital developers are moving full speed ahead to create an adaptive reuse of the historic Armature Works Building as a mixed-use event, entertainment and market hall.

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Sh*t happened 5/21/15: Bolts win, Scott loses, Duke postures

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 12:15 PM

Welcome to Thursday, your antidote to Wednesday. In truth, yesterday was not, all told, such a horrible 24 hours in which to exist on this plane of reality. Mostly.

The Lightning hockeyed the shit out of that little round, flat black thing to beat the Rangers 6-5 and take a 2-1 lead in the finals. Can they continue to hockey well enough to out-hockey the other hockeyers? We'll hockey, er, see.

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Impending doom: Florida's possible government shutdown and you

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 10:14 AM

Ahead of the June special legislative session in which the state House and Senate plan to fulfill their constitutional duty of passing a budget by the end of the month — kind of important, guys — Governor Rick Scott asked heads of state agencies to prepare plans for how to function barebones in the event of a shutdown, something that’s very rare at the state level (the feds, eh, not so much).

That’s because the two chambers are at odds over whether to accept federal Medicaid money or not, given that the money is part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. It’s a decision that’s especially important this year, because federal money that reimburses some hospitals that treat the poor through the low income pool program is probably going away this summer.

The Bears may be our only hope.
  • The Bears may be our only hope.

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Summer Guide 2015: ReCYCLE - Curbside comes to St. Pete this summer (finally)

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 10:09 AM

Neighborhood by neighborhood, large blue bins are finally showing up on residential curbs in St. Petersburg this month. They mark the start of the city’s first citywide curbside recycling program.

The fact that such a program took so long to institute in St. Pete is not a little ironic, given that the city was the first in the state to be designated a “green city” (which might say something about Florida as a whole in terms of how it defines “green”). It’s unclear why there was such a delay. Cities up north — and in the rest of Florida, for that matter — have long dropped their cans and bottles into city-provided curbside bins.
  • city of St pete flickr

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Local low-wage worker activists in Chicago for massive protest at McDonalds HQ

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 9:57 AM

Believe it or not, people eat at McDonald's. 

A lot of them, actually.
Demonstrators blocking a suburban Chicago street Wednesday. - KELLY BENJAMIN
  • Kelly Benjamin
  • Demonstrators blocking a suburban Chicago street Wednesday.

In order to meet demand for the company's product, McDonald's, which is headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., has to hire people to prepare "food" featured on its menu and collect currency from customers, who then apparently consume it.

The company earns billions of dollars a year doing what it does, and the executives that call the shots are all very rich. But the people whom the company pays to stand in hot kitchens flipping burgers and sweeping up French fry particles make a minuscule fraction of what the executives make. In Florida, for example, someone who starts as a cashier or burger flipper can expect to make $8.05 an hour (though the wages in most franchises are set by the franchisee).

It's why hundreds of people are in Oak Brook this week, a very, very affluent Chicago suburb, urging the mega corporation to grant its workers a $15-an-hour minimum wage as well as greater ability to unionize. This week marks the company's annual shareholder meeting, and the protestors aim to demonstrate their struggles to the company's execs and investors.

The company already plans to offer starting wages that are at least a dollar above the minimum wage in a store's respective state.

 “I'm working right now with some people that are really hard workers," said Tina McElroy, who works at a Tampa Bay area McDonald's store and is taking part of this week's demonstrations. "They're working for $8.05 an hour and it's, like, the hardest job I've ever had." 

And conditions aren't pleasant.

“We're working in a very tiny space," McElroy said. "We're all piled on top of each other. We're constantly moving. We're picking up things, sweeping and mopping. We're just moving nonstop.”

Eight bucks an hour. To put that into perspective for those who have never struggled, that would mean a basic manicure costs three hours of work (after taxes). If you want shellac, it'd cost you about four and a half hours. Want to do eighteen holes at one of the nicer courses in the area? Forget about it.
Activist and McDonald's employee Bleu Rainer demonstrates near the company's international headquarters. - KELLY BENJAMIN
  • Kelly Benjamin
  • Activist and McDonald's employee Bleu Rainer demonstrates near the company's international headquarters.

Needless to say, people who are trying to support themselves on fast food pay probably don't get many manicures or golf at non-municipal courses, and many can't afford to meet their basic needs without government assistance of some kind.

There's the argument that most people who work at McDonald's are students and others who aren't relying on that income stream as a vital means of scraping by. Bleu Rainer, another employee of a Tampa Bay area franchise who's demonstrating in Oak Brook, said that is very much not the case.

“I don't work with any high school students at my McDonald's," he said. "These are all parents, these are all people that are all of the age that they have to depend on government assistance to do the things of everyday life. We're not high school students.”

Rainer, a Tampa resident, is 26. He said there were few job options for him once he graduated high school.

“We come out of high school, we're all young adults at that moment," he said. "Some of the first jobs that are available are fast food jobs. We can't specifically walk into an office that will pay us, you know $23, $26-7. Fast food is the only job that's left, so we take fast food jobs.”

Rainey, McElroy and others bused up to the Chicago area Tuesday, and are yesterday and today protesting at the McDonald's HQ with more than a dozen other McDonald's employees from Florida and hundreds from across the country as part of the Fight for $15 movement. Organizers said they expect 2,000 people to show up when all is said and done.

“It's time," Rainey said. "It's time for them to do the right thing and do right by their employees. It's time to choose people and the economy over these investors and shareholders. It's us, the people, that are keeping this big, $35 billion company.”

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