Tuesday, April 15, 2014

David Jolly introduces the "Max Tax" on April 15

Posted by on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 6:49 PM

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On the day when Americans are supposed to have mailed in their tax forms, CD13 Representative David Jolly announced new legislation that would give a tax cut to numerous citizens in California, New York and Hawaii automatically, as well as others throughout the country who for whatever reason, pay more than 50 percent of their total income in taxes (Much of that has to do with paying a state income tax, something that Floridians don't have to endure).

Calling it an “Alternative Maximum Tax”, or “MaxTax”, it would set a maximum total level of taxation that any one individual may be subject to by all governments combined — federal, state, municipalities, and other taxing authorities. That level would not go over 50 percent.

“This is a personal freedom issue. The amount of taxes that any one individual is responsible for providing to government collectively ultimately restricts the individual’s freedom to make their own decisions,” Jolly said in a press release. “We have easily identified over 40 different taxes that individuals are subjected to, each from different taxing authorities, yet there is no ombudsman looking out for the taxpayer to determine what is the appropriate level of total taxation any one person must be responsible for.”

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Divestment petition gathers over 10,000 signatures at USF

Posted by on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 1:36 PM

USF’s Students for Justice in Palestine.
  • USF’s Students for Justice in Palestine.

USF’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has gathered more than 10,000 signatures on a petition that calls for the USF Foundation to withdraw its investments in certain management funds and re-invest in more “ethical” corporations.

The corporations that the SJP wants USF to disassociate itself from include Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, G4S PLC, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, all considered to be suppliers of weapons used by the government of Israel against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories..

"That's one-fourth of the student body," says Malak Fakhoury proudly. She's an SJP member and a sophomore majoring in psychology. Fakhoury says the group will present its petitions to the administration at the Board of Trustees meeting in early June at the Marshall Student Center Ballroom. "That's when we'll make our stand," she says.

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Alex Sink bows out of re-match with David Jolly. Now what?

Posted by on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 11:54 AM

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Exactly five weeks after she lost in the intensely hard-fought CD13 race against David Jolly, Democrat Alex Sink announced this morning she will not be the Democratic nominee challenging Jolly this fall.

“I am so honored and humbled by the outpouring of support our campaign received, but after reflection with my family I have made a personal decision not to run for the 13th Congressional District seat in the 2014 election," Sink said in a statement. "I want to thank every voter, volunteer and donor for their support — we can all be proud of the strong campaign we ran. I look forward to finding new, rewarding avenues where I can continue to effectively serve the people of Florida. In the words of Bill, I look forward to continuing to do good. I remain totally convinced that a Democrat can and will win this congressional seat in the fall, and I look forward to helping the Democratic nominee."

Sink lost by 1.8 percentage points to Jolly, the former lobbyist and aide to longtime CD13 Representative Bill Young. Members of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) said from the day after the March 11 special election that they wanted Sink to run again — thoughts that were amplified by a report by John King on CNN nine days ago.

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Mitch Perry Report 4.15.14: Exposing govt. incompetence gets rewarded

Posted by on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 9:18 AM

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After St. Petersburg passed laws against panhandling several years ago, reports began surfacing of a large increase in panhandling in Tampa and Hillsborough County. This was right in the middle of the Great Recession, and by 2010 was considered such a problem that the Tampa City Council spent months (if not years) discussing and then passing an ordinance cracking down on panhandlers. They went further with that in 2013.

During those discussions, nearly every member of the Council expressed frustrations that the city couldn't do more to help the homeless. But such services were under the jurisdiction of Hillsborough County, not the city, and when it came to doing something new for the homeless, county commissioners appeared to be unengaged, particularly after they succumbed to community outrage about a proposed "tent city" along Eastern Hillsborough Avenue.

But at least the county was already providing services to the homeless, right? Well, sort of, but nobody really knew what a terrible job officials were doing until Tampa Bay Times reporters Michael LaForgia and Will Hobson began detailing the level of incompetence and indifference inside the Homeless Recovery Program last fall.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Tampa Bay Times wins 2014 Pulitzer for Hoe Brown exposé

Posted by on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 5:08 PM

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Reporters Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia of the Tampa Bay Times have taken home the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for their exposé of William "Hoe" Brown, the Tampa Port Authority chairman and Republican fundraiser whose lucrative sideline as a slumlord was essentially subsidized by the county's Homeless Recovery program, which sent clients to live in Brown's squalid properties (and paid him hundreds of thousands in rent) without inspecting property conditions.

"It's shocking. People shouldn't have to live like that," says a code enforcement official about a Brown property in the series' first installment, and he ain't kidding. The evidence amassed by Hobson and LaForgia was genuinely shocking, and led to Brown's resignation from the Port Authority and wholesale changes in Hillsborough's approach to the homeless. Kudos to the reporters, and also a shout-out to photographers Daniel Wallace, Carolina Hidalgo, Eve Edelheit, Chris Zuppa, and Edmund Fountain, whose eye for detail, like that of Hobson and LaForgia, amplified the power of the story. (Favorite juxtaposition, noted in both text and photos: A Hoe Brown for Republican State Committeeman campaign poster being used to cover a broken window in one of his properties, followed by a shot of Brown's own posh $485,000 South Tampa home.)

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Castor, Danish & PTA members call for public school equity on PECO funds

Posted by on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Voucher supporters (Julisse Levy, Glen Gildean and Catherine Durkin Robinson in the middle) greet Congresswoman Kathy Castor before her press conference
  • Voucher supporters (Julisse Levy, Glen Gildean and Catherine Durkin Robinson in the middle) greet Congresswoman Kathy Castor before her press conference
“Were here today to report a theft," Tampa-area Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor said at the beginning of her press conference this morning in front of  Wilson Middle School in South Tampa. "There has been a theft of tax dollars from our public schools."

Specifically Castor was alluding to the Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) trust fund that is dedicated towards maintaining public school buildings in Florida. According to the Miami Herald, Last year, charter schools received $91 million from the PECO fund, while for the third year in a row, traditional public schools received nothing.

A proposal in the state House of Representatives would be a little better for public schools. It would provide $100 million in PECO funds for charter schools and $50 million for traditional public schools. The Senate plan is much more equitable - it will give charters $50 million and public schools $40 million.

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Pat Kemp to challenge Al Higginbotham in Hillsborough County Commission District 7 race

Posted by on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Pat Kemp. - MITCH PERRY
  • Mitch Perry
  • Pat Kemp.

Hillsborough Democrats who thought they had a decent chance of taking the open District 7 countywide seat were crestfallen earlier this year when Tampa City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern dropped out of the contest due to health concerns. But they're feeling a bit more revived today after the announcement that former Hillsborough County Democratic Party chair Pat Kemp is now in the contest to challenge Republican Al Higginbotham.

Higginbotham has had a substantial head start in raising money, having collected over $164,000. Kemp is under no illusions that she'll be able to match him on that front, but says that neither of them has run countywide, and she brings up the strong unrest that's been percolating for nearly a year in Higginbotham's District 4,  where a big-box development along Bloomingdale Road has fired up residents.

"The people out there are very, very upset to the point where they collected $5,000 to sue their own County Commission, which is kind of an amazing thing for a neighborhood to do," she says, referring to the Coordinated Active Neighborhoods for Development Organization, or CAN-DO, the eastern Hillsborough County group formed last year in the wake of its collective anger about that development.

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Sean Shaw kicks off stretch run of District 61 campaign

Posted by on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Sean Shaw talks with supporters
  • Sean Shaw talks with supporters
Sean Shaw, candidate for the State House of Representatives District 61, celebrated the opening of his new campaign headquarters by hosting a community Bar-B-Q Saturday. The event served as a launching point for the District 61 seat, which encompasses Tampa Heights, Seminole Heights and the Temple Crest neighborhoods. In this Democratic stronghold, the winner of the Democratic primary generally advances to Tallahassee. His competition for the seat, being vacated by Betty Reed due to term limits, will be Ed Narain, Sharon Carter and Tatiana Denson.

“It’s an open democratic primary, so you know it’s a knife fight,” said Shaw of the upcoming election. “All of us believe in the same thing, we all believe in Medicaid expansion, we all believe in public education being adequately funded. It’s just how you can get it done and I believe that I am the best candidate that has the experience to get it done in Tallahassee.”

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Mitch Perry Report 4.14.14 - Uber enters the Tampa Bay area market

Posted by on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 9:25 AM

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Well, so much for going through the Legislature. On Friday, Uber, the popular ride-sharing service, began operating in Tampa and St. Petersburg, and for a limited time, offering their service on their own dime.

Since I was not in need of car service this weekend, I didn't take advantage of the offer, but I'd be curious to learn how the UberX experience was for anyone else out there. On the site's Florida blog, we're told that free rides are available in Tampa and St. Pete (up to $50 per ride) for the next couple of weeks, and that "If you don't see an uberX at first, don’t worry! Since Uber is still in testing phase, there may be times when availability is limited. Just refresh your Uber app again after a few minutes to request a ride and you’ll be on your way."

The preemptive move is in direct violation of the Hillsborough County's Public Transportation Commission, where the $50 minimum fare rate had been considered a deal-breaker for the service after it tried to get into the Tampa market during the 2012 RNC.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Preston Rudie says working for David Jolly was an opportunity he couldn't pass up

Posted by on Sun, Apr 13, 2014 at 1:38 PM

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Leaving a successful career as a top television news reporter to work for a newly elected congressman who could be out of a job by the end of this year may sound like bit of a risk. But Preston Rudie says there's no guarantee of anything in this world, and the upside was too good for him to turn down.

Rudie announced officially on Thursday that he would be stepping down from his position at WTSP-10 News at the end of this week to go to work as newly elected Congressman David Jolly's director of communications, based in Jolly's district office in Seminole.

"I think with everything in life there’s a degree of risk. There’ s always a risk that my contract wouldn’t be renewed at 10 News," he told CL on Friday afternoon. Although he says such a prospect was unlikely, he has dismissed any concerns that he might have to look for a new job after this year's election, which could be one of the most fiercely contested congressional races in the country. It's a swing district that Jolly carried by less than two percentage points last month over Democrat Alex Sink (who remains undecided on whether she'll run for the seat again).

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