Thursday, August 20, 2015

Poet's notebook: Chris Christie in Wonderland

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 2:00 PM

  • jeanne meinke
There once was a turtle 
Whose first name was Myrtle
Swam out to the Jersey shore.

The above words were the first lines of poetry I can remember, because back in the 1930s, when local accents were frowned upon, our grade school teachers in Brooklyn worked hard (“woiked hahd,” we’d say) on erasing ours. Of course, we tended to bloit, “Dere once wuz a toitle…” while the teacher would roll her eyes and ask us to repeat it, slower this time.

In 1945 we moved, against my teen-aged will, to what I called “Noo Joisey,” then governed by Republican Walter Evans Edge, of whom I was totally oblivious, though much later he resurfaced (on TV) as a somewhat shady political pal of Nucky, the crime boss in Boardwalk Empire. This leads, of course, to today’s New Jersey governor, the colorful and only occasionally shady Chris Christie.

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Poet's Notebook: The Bush vs. Clinton redux

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2015 at 2:00 PM

  • Jeanne Meinke
You whom I could not save
Listen to me.
Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another.
I swear, there is in me no mastery of words.
I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.

We’re staring at the probability of another battle between two warring dynasties, Bush vs. Clinton, like the Capulets and Montagues in Romeo and Juliet. Of course, the speeches were a lot better in Shakespeare’s Verona: “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes/A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life” sure beats “Well, I’m not a scientist.” The worse thing is, that while the lovers’ tragedy lasts only two hours and may cost $200, this election cycle will take 16 numbing months, and cost well over the $6.3 billion price tag of the 2012 election. With that kind of money, we could buy Verona, or even fix some of the problems our country faces.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Black lives matter: Pictures from the rally and march through downtown Tampa

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 11:38 AM

  • Chip Weiner

The Bay Area Activist Coalition, the Tampa Dream Defenders, along with the Black Panther Party and other organizations, staged a rally today that began at Curtis Hixon Park, marched down several streets of downtown, and regrouped at Lykes Gaslight Park in front  of the Tampa police station. The peaceful demonstration was organized as a show of solidarity with Baltimore following the death of Freddy Gray, a black man who died in police custody in Baltimore on April 12.

  • Chip Weiner

The rally lasted a couple of hours and had an estimated 75 participants. There was little police presence.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A note from CL's editor: On elections and other changes

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Mitch Perry is headed for another enterprise — or Enterprises.
  • Mitch Perry is headed for another enterprise — or Enterprises.
They lied.

They said Obamacare was a failure. (It isn’t.)

They said Greenlight Pinellas was all about light rail. (It wasn’t.)

They said Amendment 2 would lead lickety-split to marijuana legalization not just for the ailing, but for everybody. (If only.)

And they said ISIS terrorists disguised as Mexican day laborers were going to sneak across the Texas border and leave packets of Ebola virus on Ted Cruz’s doorstep.

Okay, they didn’t say that last one.

But again, if only…

I guess there’s some relief in knowing that we won’t have to listen to all these lies quite so incessantly now that the campaign ad season is over with. Which means that we also won’t ever again have to endure Jeff Brandes’s snide schoolmarm or Bill Young’s laughable attacks on Dwight Dudley.

So there’s that.

And I also take pride in the fact that over the course of this endless and excruciating election cycle, there’s been someone at Creative Loafing working with dogged determination to hear all sides, to follow all the controversies, to make sense of the nonsense.

That person was our News & Politics Editor Mitch Perry, and it’s my bittersweet duty to report that this election was the last that Mitch will cover for us. He has decided to move on to another opportunity, covering local and state politics for Peter Schorsch’s Extensive Enterprises Media, which includes the popular SaintPetersBlog site as well as Florida Politics, Sunburn, Context Florida, and Politics of Pot.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Ask the Locals: Kevin Beckner, Hillsborough trailblazer

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 6:00 PM

  • Photo by Heidi Kurpiela

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner is in his sixth year in office. A financial planner and former police officer from Michigan City, Indiana, the 43-year-old Democrat famously ousted Republican incumbent (and former pro wrestler) Brian Blair in 2008.

The upset was historic for two reasons: Sitting county commissioners rarely get unseated by first-time candidates and Beckner, a relative unknown until his run for office, did it as an openly gay man.

Now in his second term, the commissioner has made good on his promise to champion fiscal responsibility, sustainable growth, government transparency and LGBT equality. In 2013, at Beckner’s urging, the seven-member Board of County Commissioners repealed an 8-year policy banning the promotion of gay pride events in Hillsborough County. (Former Commissioner Ronda Storms, a religious conservative, introduced the policy in 2005.)

Beckner moved to Tampa in 1998 after spending several years working as a financial planner outside of Chicago. He currently serves as chair of the Hillsborough County Community Violence Prevention Collaborative and the Juvenile Justice Task Force, which he created to help provide outreach to at-risk youth and families. He sits on the Environmental Protection Commission, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Public Safety Coordinating Council, among others.

He lives in Citrus Park with his husband, Hillsborough County Sgt. Gil Sainz. The couple has been together for 15 years and married for nine years.

Favorite Sunday excursion: Wat Mongkolratanaram Thai Temple. “They have quality Thai food at a reasonable price and the outdoor atmosphere makes for a perfect place for a couple or family to get away. More and more people are finding out about the place, so it seems you have to get there earlier and earlier before they run out of food.”

Favorite Asian staple: Yummy House. “Their combination of chicken and broccoli is one of my favorites. The fresh rolls with peanut sauce and a big bowl of wonton soup absolutely hit the spot.”

Favorite guilt-free eating: Seasons 52. “All of their dishes are supposed to be under 500 calories and the menu constantly changes to reflect what’s in season. My favorite is the garlic chicken flatbread. If you’re a fish eater, the plank-roasted salmon is incredible.”

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Ask the Locals: Ken Welch, Pinellas politico

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 5:54 PM

  • Photo by Heidi Kurpiela

Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch grew up in South St. Petersburg. His grandmother lived off 22nd Street South, a historic business district that was a mecca for famous jazz musicians and African American business owners and leaders back in Welch’s parents’ day.

Welch, 49, graduated from Lakewood Senior High School, where he says he was “a band brat” who swapped his disco albums for rock albums with a red-haired classmate named Rod. His father was David Welch, the second black man elected to the St. Pete City Council, who served three four-year terms during a time of marked racial tension and redevelopment in the city.

The father of two studied accounting at the University of South Florida and got his Master’s in business administration from Florida A&M University. He spent 14 years at Florida Power Corporation (now Duke Energy) and has been involved in Pinellas County politics for well over a decade.

In 2000, he was elected to the District 7 seat of the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners. He was re-elected in 2004, 2008 and 2012. He serves on several boards and committees, including the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Pinellas County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, Pinellas County Business Technology Services Board and Pinellas Metropolitan Planning Organization. He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Donna for 23 years.

Best place to fill your belly: Sylvia’s Restaurant. “It’s authentic soul food, real Southern stuff, like the kind of food your mama used to make.”

Most essential St. Pete eatery: The Chattaway. “They’ve got outstanding hamburgers, outdoor Florida ambience and jazz music. It’s a homey atmosphere.”

Best place to talk politics: Kahwa South. “It’s a real political hangout. Darden Rice is there every morning and a lot of business people. You’ve got the folks from the Times coming and going. It’s a hot spot.”

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Charlie Crist Opens New Campaign Office in St. Pete

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 6:05 PM

If Charlie Crist is re-elected governor this year he promises to reconvene two environmental summits that were held during the first two years of his previous term as governor. Crist made those comments in front of around 100 or so fervent supporters were on hand last Saturday to help launch a new St. Petersburg campaign office.

The beginning of Crist's governorship, in 2007 and 2008 respectively, saw him convening what were touted as being annual summits on global climate change. However, during his last two years as governor these global summits were halted without any fanfare or scrutiny. This past Saturday Crist unequivocally stated that he will reinstitute climate summits on the Everglades and climate change.


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Monday, April 28, 2014

Former diplomat pessimistic about a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace

Posted By on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 10:14 AM

The former ambassador to Bosnia Herzegovina and foreign affairs expert, Douglas McElhaney, was the keynote speaker at last Saturday's 4th annual Human Rights Conference on the University of Tampa. The all day event was held at the Vaughn Center; the campus' student union. Despite a small turn out of roughly 50 people consisting of students, faculty, United Nations Association of Tampa members and a guest speaker from Canada, the presentations and discussions were as weighty as the topic would dictate.


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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Bloomingdale Big Box theatre of the absurd gets panned

Posted By on Sat, Feb 8, 2014 at 6:41 AM


Hillsborough's Big Box scam continues. Remember in 2013 when local residents in east Hillsborough suddenly learned that that they were going to get a super Big Box/apartment complex/strip mall along the already overstuffed Bloomingdale Ave roadway?

The latest chapter in this saga involves the county's travelling theatre troupe, a/k/a public works, doing a one act play, portraying a county that really cares...a county that wants to make things right...a county that wants to use whatever resources it can to fix the problems created when they gave the Bloomingdale Big Box retail developers what they wanted without citizen input.

This latest performance took place in the auditorium at Bloomingdale HS on Tuesday, February 4, 2014. The playbill said they wanted to hear what citizens had to say about fixing the traffic problems in the Bloomingdale area.

As hard as they tried, the play got panned by local residents. Why? Because the Hillsborough theater troupe showed up with nothing more than a blank script.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Will $100 million buy the governor's race?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 12:09 PM

The projected cost of Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election bid: $100 million.

The value of grassroots mobilizing to put Charlie Crist back in the governor’s office: Priceless.

That is how Democratic organizers see Crist's challenge in trying to take back the governor's office in Florida. Whether big organizing can trump big money remains to be seen.

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