Mitch Perry Report

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mitch Perry Report 12.18.13: Bid to get medical marijuana on ballot making a comeback?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 8:10 AM

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A lot of our readers are paying intense attention to the push to get medical marijuana legalized in Florida. If the voters get a chance to weigh in on the matter, polls show there's little question the state would become the 21st in the nation to legalize medical pot.

But it is by no means a sure thing that Florida voters will even get the chance to vote on it next year. The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments against putting it on the ballot earlier this month from Attorney General Pam Bondi, who said the because of how the amendment is presented, its true scope and effect remain hidden. The Court has until next April to decide on that.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mitch Perry Report 12.17.13 - Will judge's ruling finally rein in NSA surveillance?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 7:31 AM

It was exactly nine years ago yesterday, December 16, 2005, when the New York Times revealed that George W. Bush had secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying.

As we've learned since then (thanks mostly to Edward Snowden), the surveillance begun under President Bush has only escalated under President Obama and hasn't slowed down at all, despite concerns from civil libertarians, members of Congress, world leaders and others.

But that may end now. Yesterday a federal judge ruled that the NSA's daily collection of virtually all Americans’ phone records is almost certainly unconstitutional.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” said Richard Leon, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment."

This is the first time a judge has ruled against the NSA in their surveillance campaign. Then again, it hasn't exactly been a fair legal fight, has it? The previous courts who have ruled in favor of the NSA (the FISA court) have only had to hear the government's side of those cases.

By the way, the ruling comes the day after CBS' 60 Minutes lost some more credibility as our finest news program, giving NSA officials a broad platform to tell "their side" of the story, in a report that has been maligned by national security reporters from across the country.

In other news: The Tampa Bay Times this morning endorsed Kathleen Peters in the CD13 Republican race for Congress that takes place next month. The endorsement comes after a Washington political website reported that Peters and her husband were late in paying their taxes 10 times in 15 years. But what caught our attention to the story was the comment made by Peters' spokesperson.

And a second report on what would happen if the transit agencies of Hillsborough County (HART) and Pinellas County (PSTA) were to merge is being prepared right now, bringing out familiar criticisms and concerns from HART board members who think the whole idea is a big mistake.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Mitch Perry Report: Surprising love for the 49ers at Raymond James Stadium

Posted By on Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 8:02 AM

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued their desultory season yesterday by losing to the San Francisco 49ers, 33-14. Even though it seemed as if the Niners dominated most of the afternoon in terms of who was in control of the game, the fact of the matter was that the Bucs were still in the game early in the 4th quarter after a touchdown, trailing just 20-14. That's when Colin Kaepernick, the Niners' much maligned second-year starter, took San Francisco methodically down the field and made several great plays during a masterful 10-minute drive that culminated with a field goal by Phil Dawson. That put San Fran up by nine points with just 4:27 to play. A subsequent Bucs fumble on the ensuing kick-off led to another Niner touchdown and the lopsided final score.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Mitch Perry Report 12.13.13: Boehner's boiling point

Posted By on Fri, Dec 13, 2013 at 8:31 AM

I know it seems like ancient history to remind Americans about the 16-day government shutdown back in October, but how about this statistic: According to an initial analysis from Standard & Poor's, that shutdown took a $24 billion chunk out of the U.S. economy. That's something that House Speaker John Boehner and others in House Republican leadership certainly haven't forgotten. Nor have they forgotten the horrific public polling that blamed them for what is now generally considered a debacle that should never have occurred.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mitch Perry Report: Rick Scott bemoans those losing health insurance, forgets his own culpability

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 8:03 AM

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Republicans in the Florida Legislature have their reasons for rejecting the federal government's money to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. Though the argument that the feds don't live up to their obligations always seemed like a flimsy one, you could argue (as Pinellas Representative Kathleen Peters has) that the system currently is struggling, with many doctors refusing to see such patients already. Add 800,000 more to the rolls, they say, and the infrastructure won't be able to support it.

But Rick Scott disagreed. That's why in February he announced that he wanted the state to take the feds money. In that regard, he was like several other Republican governors throughout the country who faced resistance to buying into the ACA. But unlike Arizona's Jan Brewer, Ohio's John Kasich and Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett, Scott failed to lift a finger in advocating that his legislature support it this past spring. That's not a criticism, per se. That's simply a fact.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mitch Perry Report 12.11.13: It's official: Pinellas residents to vote on light-rail measure next year

Posted By on Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 7:56 AM

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37 months after Hillsborough County voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to raise the sales tax by a penny to fund the construction of a light-rail system, the Pinellas County Commission late last night approved a measure that would give their residents that same opportunity in November of 2014.

In approving the ballot language last night, Pinellas legislators again demonstrated how much they've learned from Hillsborough's failure in 2010. For one thing, the Hillsborough board didn't approve such language for their ballot measure until May of that year, a little less than six months before voters would go to the polls. Pinellas registered voters won't cast a ballot on the measure for nearly 11 more months.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mitch Perry Report: How can Edward Snowden NOT be Time's Person of the Year?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 8:18 AM

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Time magazine names its Person of the Year on Wednesday. Among the finalists are Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Iran's new president Hassan Rouhan, gay rights activist Edith Windsor, Pope Francis and Ted Cruz.

But is there seriously any doubt that the Person of the Year in terms of making news and an impact on the world is NSA leaker Edward Snowden? As a Honolulu-based employee of Booz Allen Hamilton doing contract work for the NSA, Snowden became disaffected about how the U.S. was using (and in his mind, abusing) surveillance tactics in the need for security. The data he then accessed and distributed through some thumb drives still are having repercussions, nearly half a year after Glenn Greenwald posted his first stories for The Guardian on the NSA.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Mitch Perry Report 12.9.13 - The Tampa Bay Bucs: The best 4-9 team in the NFL?

Posted By on Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 8:00 AM

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Now that the official regular season of college football is over, football fans just have the NFL to enjoy before the Bowl season kicks into gear in a few weeks. And for my mind, yesterday was by far the most entertaining day of professional football this season. Adding to the drama was the fact that there were five games going on simultaneously in snowy conditions, the most for one Sunday since 1991.

Congrats to the Tampa Bay Bucs, the best worst team in the game. Led by stud linebacker Lavonte David, they cruised over the miserable Buffalo Bills in a dragged out sloppy as all-all heck game in ridiculously warm December weather yesterday, prevailing 27-6. Now the Bucs host my favorite team, the still-alive-for-a-Super Bowl San Francisco 49ers next Sunday at Raymond James at 1:00 p.m. The Niners manned up and squeezed by the best team in the NFL this season, Seattle, 19-17, in the last regular Sunday season game at Candlestick Park yesterday (though those who took the Seahawks and the 2.5 points cleaned up).

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Mitch Perry Report 12.6.13 - R.I.P. Nelson Mandela

Posted By on Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 5:29 AM

I was attending San Francisco State University in 1985 when shantytowns were created on the campus, a form of continuing anti-apartheid protests that rocked college campuses across the country opposing the U.S's support of the racist policies of the South African government. I'm not even sure why it took until that year for the resistance to break out in America, but it did in a big way, and it was an electrifying moment for our generation, many of whom were looking for a cause greater than themselves.

Full divestment was the term used back then, and slowly but surely, university systems began divesting their investment portfolios that included stock in companies that did business with the P. W. Botha-led government.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mitch Perry Report 12.5.13: Elizabeth Warren says she will NOT run against Hillary Clinton in 2016

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 7:54 AM

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Despite the inevitable tag hoisted around Hillary Clinton, believe it or not, not every Democrat supports her candidacy in 2016. So just like the case around six years ago, there are those in the party looking for the "anti-Hillary," if you will. For many, Elizabeth Warren was the ideal candidate to take her on.

But that won't be happening. Or probably not. The freshman U.S. Senator from Massachusetts announced yesterday that she has no intention for running for higher office, at least not until she finishes up her first term, which isn't for five more years.

But as every article reporting on this development adds, a guy by the name of Barack Obama said the same thing early into his one and only term as Senator.

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