Monday, July 21, 2014

David Jolly comes out in support of same-sex marriage in Florida

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 7:33 PM

Pinellas County Congressman David Jolly made news Monday night when he announced his support of same-sex marriage in a statement to the Washington Post, making him only the eighth such Republican member of Congress to approve of gay marriage. The newly elected Representative stressed in his statement that while he personally believes in traditional marriage because of his Christian faith, he thinks the government should support both traditional and same-sex marriages.

"As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage," said Jolly in a statement to the Post. "But as a matter of Constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state. Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County Circuit Judge.”

Jolly was asked by the paper to respond to his thoughts on the issue in the wake of last week's ruling in Monroe County by Circuit Judge Luis Garcia to order the county's officials to begin issuing marriage licenses beginning tomorrow. Garcia found that Florida's gay marriage ban approved by voters in 2008 violated the right to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.

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HART board to vote on its future next month

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 1:11 PM

HART chair Mike Suarez says goodbye to outgoing board member Anne Madden on Monday.
  • HART chair Mike Suarez says goodbye to outgoing board member Anne Madden on Monday.

HART board members today voted unanimously to agree to vote at their August 4 meeting on whether or not to support the proposal brought forward in May by Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill to have the transit agency reconfigured. The new organization would be headed by a new group consisting of the entire County Commission as well as the mayors of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace taking over from the current board.

That vote will come a week before that group, known as the Transportation Economic Development group (or TED, though it is sometimes called the Policy Leadership group) meets for the first time since Merrill dropped the bombshell in late May that it should take over for HART and be the main transit agency making decisions as the county prepares for another tax referendum in 2016.

Although the HART board's unanimous vote to decide on their own future came with only seven members present towards the conclusion of the meeting, a quick reading of the tea leaves makes it sound like the majority is not in favor of such a change.

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Cuomo spokesman questions Jeff Atwater's math skills

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 11:14 AM


Florida CFO Jeff Atwater has been watching those television ads asking entrepreneurs and others to come to New York and start a business in the Empire State, and he's not a fan.

"The reality is that New York boasts the highest taxes in America, the highest cost of living in the country, and one of the worst business climates in the nation," Atwater wrote in a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo last Thursday, regarding Cuomo's "START-UP NY" ad campaign.

Sarcastically writing that "Perhaps you should consider the following when you choose to release the next iteration of these ad campaigns," Atwater's letter then lists a series of bullet points comparing New York unfavorably to Florida when it comes to recent economic success, such as citing a CEO magazine report calling Florida the second best place in the country to do business in the U.S, and New York 49th.

Cuomo's office isn't taking Atwater's letter lying down.

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Mitch Perry Report 7.21.14: Kriseman's big moment

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Speculation about who will be the next police chief in St. Petersburg spiked over the weekend after it was reported that all four candidates that had been paraded before the public last month have been eliminated from consideration by Mayor Rick Kriseman.

The mayor is already receiving some criticism from going outside of the process he created, and that's something he has to own up to. But if he's encountered a candidate who didn't initially apply but fits his criteria, well, that's the power of being mayor. Whether it's current Clearwater Chief Tony Holloway (as reported by the Times this morning) or someone else, we look forward to hearing why the new choice was better than the four finalists.

But whatever you think, the man obviously didn't crater to pressure and pick the popular local favorite, Assistant Chief Melanie Bevan.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Tampa residents protest immigration crisis at the border

Posted By on Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 3:06 PM


Around 30 people gathered at the overpass on Hwy. 301 overlooking I-4 in Tampa this afternoon, protesting the recent influx of tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants — mostly children — that have crossed the U.S. border illegally since last October. A similar protest was scheduled in St. Petersburg and in cities around the country today, as the humanitarian crisis taking place in Southwest Texas continues.

"Absolutely!" blurted James McWhirter, 65, when asked if the estimated 57,000 unaccompanied children who have been apprehended at the U.S. border in recent months should all be deported to their native lands. McWhirter, a veteran who lives in Land O' Lakes, said that he didn't buy the narrative that most of these children are escaping from extremely violent situations in Central America.

"A lot of that has been a lie, fostered to con people," he told CL. "Some of them have been subjected to violence, but we have violence in Chicago. Every city in America we have this — we have children who have been shot and everything else, so it's not a valid argument. One call to Mexico would stop this!"

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Jim Davis says Bill Nelson would have been a good candidate, but is prepared to get behind Charlie Crist

Posted By on Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 12:20 PM

A recent poll showed that 89 percent of Democrats want Charlie Crist to debate Nan Rich before the August 26 primary election, and you can include Jim Davis among them. The former Tampa Congressman and 2006 gubernatorial nominee says Crist would be well served to debate going into the fall. "Debate, we as Democrats believe, makes us stronger," he says.

Davis is part of the Florida Democratic Party establishment who has been less than enthusiastic, shall we say, about the former Republican once known as "Chain-gang Charlie" becoming the party's standard-bearer. Davis was one of a number of major figures in the party who spent considerable time attempting to persuade Bill Nelson to enter the primary, a possibility that Nelson himself kept alive over the past 8 months or so before the deadline to enter the race came and went last month.

"I think Sen. Nelson would have been a very strong candidate, a very strong governor," Davis said Thursday afternoon on WMNF's Last Call program (hosted by this reporter). "He knows the state, and he has served us well, but he chose not to run and now it's water under the bridge."

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Raices en Tampa petition to get undocumented workers driver's licenses

Posted By on Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 9:54 AM


Activists in Tampa are working to collect signatures to try to create momentum to overturn a Florida state law that allows undocumented workers without a driver's license to be detained by law enforcement. Activists say a license would help undocumented citizens to legally drive to places such as work, school or a doctor's office.

Raices en Tampa(Roots in Tampa) is a community organization founded by a group of young activists, all of whom have been affected by these regulations. Most are working class citizens who use their free time voluntarily to fight for the undocumented community.  Every Monday Raices en Tampa invites the community to sign a petition in front of El Rey de Oro, a Mexican eatery on Fletcher Avenue. Here, the group collects around 80 supporters every week. 

Alicia Argenal, cofounder of Raices en Tampa, immigrated to Naples after Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras in 1998. She came to the country on a temporary status and temporarily protected basis. This allows her permission to work and a social security number. Due to the temporary status, she must spend $54 to renew her driver's license every six months to a year. The status also requires her to pay $550 every year and a half for status renewal.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Hillsborough County Commission candidates agree on eliminating write-in provision

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Mark Nash, Robin Lester, Don Kruse, Pat Kemp & Al Higginbotham are just some of the County Commission candidates running this August.
  • Mark Nash, Robin Lester, Don Kruse, Pat Kemp & Al Higginbotham are just some of the County Commission candidates running this August.

There are four Hillsborough County Commission seats up for election this year, two of them open seats.  However, only three of those seats are being contested, as the Democrats have failed to procure a live human being to challenge Ken Hagan in his Countywide District 5 seat.

Certainly the most interesting primary election that will be decided next month is who the Democrats will nominate in the Countywide District 7 race between activist Pat Kemp and Eastern Hillsborough resident Mark Nash. Both got into the race relatively late after initial Democratic candidates Mary Mulhern and April Griffin dropped out of the contest earlier this year.

Nash admitted on Friday at a Tampa Tiger Bay Club luncheon held at Maestro's at the Straz Center that Hagan's huge cash buildup (over $300,000 at this point) made him look for another race to try to win, which meant going up against a fellow Democrat in District 7, dividing the party, at least for now.

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Mitch Perry Report 7.18.14 - Same-sex marriage gets closer to becoming a reality in Florida

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 9:39 AM

  • Ana Cruz with her mom, state Representative Janet Cruz
Last night same-sex marriage supporters gathered at the Unity of Tampa Church in South Tampa, one of 14 gathering spots set up in advance by Equality Florida to convene following the ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Monroe County — though Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately announced that the state would be appealing the decision, meaning no marriages in Key West just yet. The decision was made by Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia, appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2000 and re-elected twice since then,

"I think the door has been cracked a little bit, and I think within the year I think it's going to be wide open," said the Reverend Debbie Moss, the senior minister at the Unity of Tampa.

There are two other cases pending in the campaign to make same-sex marriage legal in the Sunshine State, in Tallahassee and Miami-Dade County.  

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Advocates say closing the gender pay gap will improve women’s safety net

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 2:33 PM

click image The Equal Pay Act was signed over 50 years ago, yet women are still fighting for pay equity. - WIKIPEDIA.ORG
  • The Equal Pay Act was signed over 50 years ago, yet women are still fighting for pay equity.
Women are still fighting to be paid equally to men more than 50 years after the enactment of the Equal Pay Act.

Social Security Works representatives and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) held a conference call this morning to discuss how unequal pay has a detrimental effect on women’s economic and retirement security.

After 35 years of work, the average gap between men and women is $434,000 said Stephanie Connolly, Legislative & Policy Associate for Social Security Works.

“There is no doubt that the pay gap threatens women economic security,” Connolly said. “Women's lower earnings limits their ability to save for retirement. Because social security benefits are based on lifetime earnings, the pay gap also lowers women's retirement benefits.”

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