Friday, May 22, 2015

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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Thursday, May 21, 2015

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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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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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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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bondi announcement anticlimactic, nothing "major"

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 10:18 AM

Well, with a 2016 Senate run off the table for months and 2018 way too far out for none but the kookiest of candidates to announce a run, we weren't really sure what Attorney General Pam Bondi was going to announce when we made jokes about it earlier this week.
What? Me? Run?
  • What? Me? Run?

She was the guest of honor last night at a $250-minimum fundraiser at the Columbia Restaurant's museum in Ybor, the guest list was a who's-who of prominent local Republicans, and supposedly a "major announcement" was afoot.

As it turns out, "major" was a bit of a stretch.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Bondi to announce something Tuesday at huge fundraiser in Tampa...but what?

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 9:45 PM

Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday will be the beneficiary of a fundraiser put on by the people of Maggie's List, the anti-Emily's list, and kind of an Angie's list for conservative lady politicians, SaintPetersBlog reported a few weeks back.
  • tokeofthetown.com

The event's public portion begins at 5:30 in the evening at the Columbia Restaurant's museum in Ybor City.

Arguably more important than the amount of dough she raises, Bondi—remember her?—is reportedly going to tell people what she's raising it for via a "special announcement."

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Why we're going to see Mad Max: Fury Road this weekend

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 3:17 PM

Big-budget blockbusters with lots of explosions aren't really our thing, but we may have to make an exception for the new Mad Max remake.

Sure, it's getting phenomenal reviews and we find the post-apocalyptic milieu appealing. 

  • indiewire.com

But what really makes us want to head to SunDial to see the flick (after a few beverages at Locale, probably) is that it's pissing off those sad woman haters that live in dark caves deep within the Internet.

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Rick Scott has 15 seconds of coolness for signing growler bill, but then...

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 10:10 AM

When State Rep. Chris Sprowls and State Sen. Jack Latvala filed bills in their respective chambers last December that would make it legal for craft brewers to sell 64-ounce growlers, as is legal in every single other non-Utah state, we were admittedly skeptical.
Oh, beer. We could never be mad at you. - THEBERRGROWLER.NET
  • theberrgrowler.net
  • Oh, beer. We could never be mad at you.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Times calls Gov. Scott a socialist

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 1:30 PM

If you're looking for Governor Rick Scott, you can probably find him in the Burn Ward today.

That's because the Tampa Bay Times zinged him so hard in an editorial entitled "Rick Scott, Florida's Socialist Governor."
Well, he does look a tad like the chap on the left.
  • Well, he does look a tad like the chap on the left.

Not a nice thing to say, given that Governor Scott hate, hate, hates socialism. In fact, the Affordable Care Act (fine, Obamacare) was the "reason" he bought the governorship, he told this reporter in 2010 during a campaign stop in St. Pete.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Buckhorn says "shame" on Rick Scott; Scott remains shameless

Posted By on Tue, May 12, 2015 at 10:12 PM

  • Flickr user gage skid more
At an event in Tampa today, Tampa Mayor (and possible Democratic contender for governor in 2018) Bob Buckhorn  said Governor Rick Scott should feel bad about not supporting Medicaid expansion in Florida, Tampa Bay Times columnist Sue Carlton wrote earlier.

"Shame on this governor," Buckhorn said. "Shame on this Legislature. They need to get back to work."

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