Jul 26

Questions for Samm Simpson Interview

We are going to have an upcoming interview with congressional candidate (FL-10) Samm Simpson. We need as many of you as possible to submit questions for the interview. E-mail them to me (at quinnelk@hotmail.com) or place them in the comments below.

Simpson is challenging the venerable CW Bill Young. You can check out the race and the candidates here or check out Simpson’s site here.

Posted in Congressional Delegation | 1 Comment
Jul 25

The Aging Political Sphere?

At the Democratic Parties JJ Dinner I heard a rather interesting statement from Senator Nelson. He explained that young people are becoming increasingly rare in modern day politics since the days of John F. Kennedy, but has it just been the youth that have dissapeared from the modern political spectrum…or is it the modern day american?

It has been my experience from doing various campaign activities such as canvassing or phonebanking that people aren’t that interested in politics anymore. They may complain about the President or whine about increasing insurance rates, but truly…for the amount of dismay the polls show there really aren’t that many activists. The majority of members at DEC meetings are mostly well over the age of 50 as well. I’m only 18 so you tell me…has it always been like this? Or did politics used to have young activists in their late or early 20′s?

The people reading this Blog may be interested and the people who work on the various campaigns may be interested, but it seems that most Americans are simply…lazy. They complain…but that’s about it. The amount of people that worked on the Kerry campaign compared to the people that are working on the gubernatorial campaigns has shrunk dramatically. While I understand the Presidential election always interests more people the numbers are still…pathetic.

People must care about their rising insurance rates, the public schools, and the rising housing prices. Do they not realize that the state legislature deals with all of these issues and that the gubernatorial candidates will have to face these issues alongside the legislatures? Apparently they don’t care…

Nelson said that Kennedy made politics appealing…he made it young and made people want to think about it. What we need now is the modern day Kennedy to inspire activists of all ages to get up and fight. Politics might not be as glamorous as things like American Idol, but it’s thousands of times more important.

Maybe we should just have the Presidential Nominees sing a song for the peoples support…that would be interesting.

Posted in Activism | 2 Comments
Jul 24

The Governor’s Race

Daily Kos has a post up today about the competitive governor races around the country for 2006. He doesn’t include Florida on the list because he says it isn’t competitive. Yet all the other races he lists are based on polling numbers. And almost every poll I’ve seen concerning Florida says this is a competitive race. Does Kos know something I don’t know?

Posted in Governor | 8 Comments
Jul 21

Transcript of Alex Sink Interview

Below is a edited transcript of the interview/chat with Florida CFO candidate I conducted earlier today. You can view the original thread at Gather.com. The interview went well, with more than 18 people posing questions or commenting and numerous others viewing the chat live. Feedback was positive both from readers and from the Sink campaign. Below are the exact questions and answers from the chat (unless otherwise noted, all questions were asked by me):

Q: Why should progressive voters support your campaign?

A: Thanks for that question. For the last eight years, Republicans have been completely in charge of Florida government — the Governor’s office, Cabinet, and the Legislature. In 2006, Democrats have a unique opportunity to recapture part of state government, show Floridians that we are the party which knows how to govern best, and then makes strides on progressive goals like improving public education, protecting Florida’s environmental treasures, and improving access to health care.

Q: Your campaign web site discusses ensuring access to affordable health care for all citizens, how will you approach this issue?

A: Kenneth, I am going to use the Chief Financial Officer position to be a strong insurance consumer advocate who aggressively represents the interests of anyone who wants insurance in this state — individuals, families, and businesses. One of the problems we face is that small businesses — which are the backbone of our economy and employ the majority of our workforce — find it very hard to afford health coverage. As Chief Financial Officer, I’m going to look around the country for innovative health care products that would make it easier and more affordable for small businesses to provide health care to their employees.

Q: Laurie Tozier asked: How do you plan to help floridians with the current homeowners insurance crisis? Related to Laurie’s question, what are your plans for dealing with the property insurance crisis in Florida and how is the CFO limited in this area?

A: Hi Laurie, thanks for joining in. (Laurie is one of my neighbors in Thonotosassa)

Kenneth, As you probably remember, the Chief Financial Officer position is a combination of the old Insurance Commissioner and Comptroller jobs. But where the elected Insurance Commissioner directly regulated insurance, that regulatory function is now carried out by an independent commissioner who reports to the Florida Cabinet. So the CFO’s role is more limited.

As Chief Financial Officer, a member of the Cabinet, and a statewide elected official, I’m going to work very hard on this problem. My principles on this issue are:

First, we need to stop creating commissions and start finding solutions. My entire career as a business leader has been about finding solutions to challenges, and I’ll bring that approach to Tallahassee.

Second, it simply isn’t tenable for a state-run agency to be the largest property insurer in Florida. We need a new approach.

Third, as Chief Financial Officer, I’m going to work to bring more private insurers back to the market so that competition can increase availability and stabilize rates.

Fourth, the 2006 Legislature entirely ignored the commercial property insurance crisis. The homeowners’ crisis is bad enough, but many businesses can’t obtain commercial property insurance of any kind. This has the potential to be an economic disaster in Florida. If a business has to go out of business because it has been destroyed by a hurricane, its workers lose their jobs.

Q: What is the CFO’s role in protecting Florida’s environment and what do you see as the most important environmental concerns in the Sunshine State?

A: I am a strong defender of Florida’s environment. For many years, I have been an active member of the Nature Conservancy, including service as Chair of the Nature Conservancy. I will have oversight over some environmental issues as a member of the Cabinet. For example, the Cabinet oversees the acquisition and subsequent management of all state lands, and will have a big role to play in the extension of the Florida Forever program. I also want to make sure we are doing all we can to protect our shores from oil and natural gas drilling, and all we can to protect other natural treasures around the state, such as the Everglades and our precious rivers, lakes, and wetlands.

Q: Part of the CFO’s job is improving school quality. What exactly is the CFO’s role in education and what areas of our school system can you have the most impact on improving?

A: Actually, the Chief Financial Officer does not have a direct role in education. Education policy is generally shaped by the Legislature and the Governor. However, as the state’s highest-tanking official on financial matters, I will have a very loud bully pulpit to address how the Legislature is spending our hard-earned taxpayer dollars. We need to make sure that Florida is investing enough in students, teachers, and public schools so that we offer the best possible education. If the Legislature and Governor are not doing right by our children, I’m going to loudly ask some very tough questions about it.

Q: What is the CFO’s role in helping out Florida’s veterans, particularly in light of frequent cuts in veterans benefits at the federal level?

A: This is another area where the Chief Financial Officer has some say because of her role on the Florida Cabinet. The Governor and Cabinet appoint the head of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, and I will work hard to ensure that our state government is adequately funding the needs of the department and providing appropriate services to our veterans.

Q: What efforts are you making to reach out to grassroots activists and bloggers?

A: The Internet is having a huge influence on politics, and I have worked hard to make sure that my campaign is reaching out to the many people who use the Internet as their source of political news and their site for political activism.

I look forward to participating in more web chats like this one with bloggers from many different points-of-view.

Back in early June, my campaign unveiled a new website which provides information on my qualifications to be Florida’s next Chief Financial Officer.

I really like the site because it goes beyond traditional web tools and embraces unprecedented ways for me to energize supporters at the grassroots level. For example, at http://www.alexforcfo.com/join/gather.html, it allows supporters to create their own social networks to communicate with other supporters across the state. So we have groups like Lawyers for Alex, Business Women for Alex, and even Republicans for Alex.

My campaign is operating on a budget and the use of the internet is the most cost-effective way to reach a large number of people.

Q: Now we’ll open up the questions to anyone. Please ask them one at a time, though, to give Alex a chance to respond. We also have some reader-submitted questions that I will pass along. Let’s start with Monica’s question from above: Please speak to the qualifications of the CFO for the state of Florida.

A: Kenneth and Monica, Floridians deserve a Chief Financial Officer who has actual financial leadership experience. I have been a business and financial leader in Florida for more than twenty years. For the last seven of those years, I was president of Florida’s largest bank, where I supervised 9,000 employees in 800 branches, representing more than $41 billion in customer assets.

I also have a record of promoting fiscal responsibility and accountability in government. Lawton Chiles appointed me to the Commission on Government Accountability to the People, where I helped lead efforts to make state government more responsive to citizen needs.

I advocated productivity and efficiency in state government as Vice Chair of Tax Watch, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that reviews how Florida collects and spends its tax dollars and has identified more than $6 billion in taxpayer savings since it was founded in 1979.

By the way, I am the only candidate in this race for Chief Financial Officer who has an extensive financial background.

Q: Jim Cassady asked: Many of our Florida state government services have been outsourced/privitized. What is your position on that from an accountability perspective?

A: Jim, Over the past eight years the state has privatized or outsourced a number of services. As CFO, I will hold these companies accountable for achieving the savings they actually promised for the people of Florida. For example, it was recently reported by the state’s auditor that the privatization of foster care has resulted in a $70MM INCREASE in costs to the program, with worse results (more children subject to abuse). We need to be sure that if we privatize, the citizens are actually going to get a better result…

Q: Robert M. asked: Florida’s Republican leadership has been a symbol of the ‘culture of corruption’ and cronyism for far too many years now. What are your plans to change the good-ole-boy atmosphere that is so prevalent throughout Florida’s government?

A: Robert M., I believe in integrity and accountability. as Chief Financial Officer i can oversee the appropriate use of our $70 billion state budget, and ensure that we are getting our money’s worth. We need a Chief Financial Officer in Tallahassee who is “minding the store” and NOT subject to cronyism and political influence when it comes to managing the state’s purse.

Q: Ted W. asked: Alex, the largest state union endorsed Lee this morning. I know your campaign says you have the support of the majority of the people in the AFL-CIO but then why do you think the most dominant union in Florida did not endorse you? It can’t simply be (as they say) because they “just don’t know you well enough” – what’s your take on this?

A: Ted W., I’m very proud to have the support of the overwhelming majority of the labor community in this state; including the AFL-CIO and the Florida Education Association. While I did not get the support of AFSCME, I look forward to continuing to have a strong relationship with members of the labor community. And I look forward to working with them on issues of common concern when I am elected Chief Financial Officer.

Q: From Robert McNally: Insurance being virtually required of all with a mortgage; raising the cost of a home to discouraging proportions; encourage people to live elsewhere … is it not possible that the Florida Government underwrite policies and make a profit, for surely the insurance companies make a profit…Could the State, in such an undertaking accept less of a profit than the Insurance Companies. Would the State not gain funds from investing premiums in a manner as do the Insurance Companies?

A: Robert, Certainly the system we have now is not working. Private insurers continue to leave the state or reduce their policies. However, some smaller companies are in fact beginning to do business. We need to rethink our approach to this crisis, and your suggestion has been mentioned by several people. In general , I would prefer we have a better market to encourage more private enterprise come to compete for our business rather than have a state run insurance company. However, at this stage, all alternatives ought to be on the table for consideration.

Q: Jackie D asked: Are there some government services that should not be privatized? (Does it make any sense to privatize human resources services? It seems to me — as a former state employee — that human resources worked better when people worked for a particular government agency and understood its needs.)

A: Jackie, Some services should not be privatized. When I was in banking, we were very careful when making outsourcing decisions that would directly impact our customers. We need to take it on a case by case basis, carefully evaluating all the potential negative impacts on people. and most importantly , is it REALLY less expensive to outsource???

Q: Bill B. asked: It’s now 2:00 pm so I assume the chat will be closing soon. When’s the next opportunity to gather?

A: Thanks to everyone for participating. This was my first time in a web chat! I spent yesterday traveling in north Florida, to Live Oak, Lake City, and Jasper, where I found many enthusiastic supporters! The momentum is building, so I hope you will share my story with your friends.

As for the next one, keep in touch with us in this group and sign up for updates on our web site (http://alexforcfo.com) so we can email you with all upcoming activites… Thanks again to everyone. Alex

Other questions were posed and the Sink campaign has said that Alex will get to those in the near future, so hopefully, we will have another post then with more responses.

Posted in CFO | Comments Off
Jul 21

Alex Sink Interview To Begin Shortly

You can tune in to my interview/chat with Florida CFO candidate Alex Sink starting at 1 pm Eastern by going to: http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976768745. For the first half hour, the candidate will answer questions from me, then she will answer questions from site visitors.

Drop on over at 1 (the link will not be live until shortly before then). You may also check back here later for a transcript of the interview.

Posted in CFO | Comments Off
Jul 21

Can a firefighter afford housing
in your community?

The Florida Housing Coalition has prepared a quite remarkable report which lets you compare the price of homes in 18 metro areas to actual wage information for more than 60 occupations.

The report shows how the workforce is “priced out” of the housing market causing communities to suffer from a lack of people relied upon to make every community viable. Teachers, nursing assistants, retail workers, emergency services providers and law enforcement are the backbone of any community, but without affordable housing, they have extreme difficulty living in the very communities they serve.

The report will tell you how much mortgage that occupation can afford, how much government assistance is needed to get them into a particular home and what income would actually be needed to purchase that home.

For example, in Orlando, a firefighter can afford a mortgage of $107,887 and would need $123,513 in government assistance to afford a median-priced home, which cost $231,400 in 2005. A firefighter would have to work 48 hours a weekly to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the market rent of $1,076.

Check out the “Florida Priced Out Report” here.

Cross-posted at the 13th juror.

Posted in General Information | 2 Comments
Jul 20

Phyllis Busansky (FL-09) Respond’s to Cheney’s Fundraising Visit for Opponent

On July 21, Dick Cheney will be coming to Tampa to headline a fundraiser for Gus Bilirakis, son of outgoing Congressman Mike Bilirakis (R) FL-09.

Look who Gus has fundraising for him because, if these people are good enough to headline fundraisers for Gus, there is the implicit assumption that they represent him by association (I have posted similarly elsewhere):

Dick Cheney is hardly the poster-boy for honesty and integrity: draft-dodging, Plamegate, improper political and business ties to Enron, faulty prewar intelligence and the indictment of his chief of staff and presidential adviser, Scooter Libby.

So, his challenger, Phyllis Busansky, Candidate for U.S. Congress (D) FL-09, is holding a Press Conference in response to Vice President Cheney’s Fundraising Visit

WHEN: Friday
July 21, 2006
9:00 A.M.

WHERE: Shell Gas Station
201 North West Shore Blvd.
(One block North of Kennedy and the Wyndham Hotel – West Shore)

Phyllis will discuss the lack of a national energy policy that benefits America’s long-term economic interests and describe why she believes there must be a change in priorities. She will also express her concerns about the inability of the current administration to adequately plan for the future on either the domestic or foreign policy front.

I encourage you all to attend. If you would like some face time with Phyllis, please let me know and I’ll try to arrange it.

BTW, Gus has other friends: Newt Gingrich was here last month and Dennis Hastert comes next.

In the end, you have to question Gus’ views and definitions of “honesty” and “integrity”. Look at the company he keeps.

Posted in House | Comments Off
Jul 19

The Gift That Keeps on Giving — Hurricanes

In the last two years, Florida has been socked with eight hurricanes and countless other heavy and damaging storms. Millions of residents have been hit by these storms and have suffered damage to their homes and businesses. Most climate scientists predict that the frequency of dangerous storms will remain high. Even if it doesn’t, though, there is still a likelihood that at least one major storm will hit Florida every year, as has happened most years in our past.

This has lead to a major problem in Florida with insurance. The type of damage that these storms does can only be counteracted by insurance. Individual home and business owners can’t possibly pay for these things themselves and since the scientific evidence is pretty clear that human beings are largely responsible for the increase in high-intensity storms, the government holds a pretty strong responsibility for solving this problem.

Florida’s government has taking some steps to help out, requiring Citizens Property Insurance to provide insurance to homeowners who can’t get it elsewhere. This was a good idea at the time, but it has shown to be little more than the equivalent of placing a band-aid on a gunshot wound.

At this rate, Citizens will become the number one property insurer in Florida before long, as private insurance companies are dropping hundreds of thousands of policy holders and the legislature is allowing private insurers to raise their rates — in some cases by a potential of as much as 142% — pricing many other citizens out of the insurance market. Citizens is also allowed to charge additional assessments when the damage does come. People whose homes are damaged or in danger, it seems, keep getting socked with more and more expenses — after already losing, in many cases, everything thing of value in their lives.

Things are even worse for business owners — particularly the small business owners who are the lifeblood of our economy — since their is no mandated fallback insurance company for businesses and many companies, particularly those in the most dangerous zone of South Florida, have to go without any insurance.

When the next storm hits — and it could happen any day now — homes and businesses could be destroyed forever, devastating lives, ruining careers and decimating our economy.

Who is going do do something about it?

The state’s chief financial officer, who serves as citizens’ advocate when dealing with insurance companies, is one possible answer. This Friday, I’m interviewing the Democratic candidate for this position — Alex Sink. Come participate in the interview/chat this Friday at 1 p.m. You can ask questions yourself if you are a member of Gather.com, or you can post questions in the comments to this post (or you can e-mail questions to me at quinnelk@hotmail.com). We’ll see what Alex says about this issue and other issues close to the hearts of Floridians.

(Read more about the issue at Storming Mad).

Posted in CFO, General Information | Comments Off
Jul 19

The Final Slap in the Face.

Jeb! appears to be saving the final slap in the face to Floridians, another tax cut for the rich-
the intangibles tax on investments, as his final act as Governor. The law passed last spring and Jeb! has yet to
sign it. Perhaps he doesn’t want to sign it too close to the November elections, a move that might anger Democrats already
fed up with his brother’s onerous tax cuts for the wealthy. Or perhaps he sees it as a final crowning glory of catering to the
wealthy at the expense of middle class working families in Florida. The repeal of the tax cut will cost Floridians
about $160 million next year.

Read more about it here.

Crossposted here

Posted in General Information | 2 Comments
Jul 19

Welcome to Nazi Germany

STUNNING!!! In the most egregious example of a violation of someone’s rights,
“a judge has banned Charles Grapski, Democratic candidate for the Florida House of
Representatives in the 23rd District, from entering the city of Alachua – his hometown –
where Grapski had filed a lawsuit alleging election fraud by city officials in a city commissioner’s race.”
WOW!! Absolutely STUNNING!!
Grapski said he now finds himself in an odd situation, being told that he can only be in Alachua to go to and from his home.
“Legally, I’m not allowed to get gas across from where I live,” Grapski said.”

What makes this even worse is that the FDLE, the Governor’s office and the State Attorney’s office refuse to do anything
about this flagrant violation of someone’s rights. Never again will I allow a Republican to mention “activist judges” without slapping them
in the face with this. The City of Alachua is now officially the most corrupt city in the United States, a blight
and scar upon the reputation of justice in Florida. Our representatives don’t have a shred of decency left in their bodies
if they allow this to stand. This is the sort of thing you would expect from a banana republic, not in the good ole U.S. of A., where
honor and decency were things we used to hold in high regard. Shame on you Jeb Bush and shame on every one of the people involved in this
absolutely sickening incident. Not a one of you deserves the respect I would give to Saddam Hussein himself.

If you can stomach it, here’s the story.

…And lest you you think I’m being too partisan here:
Excerpt from Raw Story:
“Grapski faults Spencer Mann, public information officer at the State Attorney’s office, for refusing to accept his assault
and battery charges and for blocking investigation into wrongdoing by Alachua City officials, including accusations of
corruption and election theft.
“The State Attorney’s office has allowed the City of Alachua to operate as a criminal conspiracy,” Grapski said.
“The former State Attorney is Rod Smith, a conservative Democrat, now a State Senator running for Governor. He is from Alachua,
and his family’s property is part of these land deals involving Wal-Mart and other big box stores. In the State Attorney’s office
are a lot of people connected to Alachua and Rod Smith, most significantly Spencer Mann.” Grapski has previously suggested that
Smith was involved in absentee ballot manipulation.”

Note to Mr. Smith- not only will I not be voting for you, I will be actively campaigning against you!

Posted in General Information | 1 Comment
Jul 18

Live Interview with Florida CFO Candidate Alex Sink

This Friday, from 1-2 PM, Democratic candidate for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Alex Sink will be participating in a live interview and chat with the Florida Progressive Coalition on Gather.com.

Sink is the great-granddaughter of the original Siamese twins Chang & Eng and the wife of former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride, but she has made a name for herself in the world of banking and is seeking to make waves in the world of politics as the first Democrat elected to the position of Chief Financial Officer.

Those who would like to ask the candidate questions should post them to this comment thread between now and Friday at 1 p.m. The best questions will be asked of the candidate from 1:30-2:00 during the open question period of the interview. To post questions directly on Gather.com, you must be a member. (Sign up here)

To view the live interview, go to the Floridians for Alex group on Gather.com.

This election will pit Sink against the winner of the Republican Primary, either Randy Johnson or State Senate President Tom Lee. While Johnson and Lee slug it out over who is the more “real” Republican, the citizens of Florida continue to face serious problems that neither of these candidates or current CFO Tom Gallagher seem to want to address.

While few voters seem to know what it is the CFO does, the job is actually quite important. Among the many duties of the CFO are managing the state treasury, fighting waste, fraud and abuse in government, growth management, regulating the funeral and cemetary industry, ensuring access to affordable health insurance, cracking down on insurance fraud, overseeing the workers’ compensation system, promoting fire safety, serving as the state’s accountant, protecting Florida’s environment, improving school quality and helping Florida’s veterans. After eight years of neglect and the pursuit of privatization by the Republicans in Florida, many of these areas — waste, fraud, abuse, education and the environment — are in critical condition and need an dedicated and more progressive champion.

The CFO also helps serve as a check on the governor, something that is particularly important if either of the Jeb Bush-wannabes win the election (Gallagher or Charlie Crist).

Maybe the most important issue the CFO will deal with is the emerging crisis in the area of homeowner’s insurance in the wake of the plague of hurricanes the state has faced in recent years. While the CFO doesn’t directly regulate the insurance industry, the office does serve as the public’s advocate in dealing with the insurance industry.

Sink has embraced the cutting edge of technology in her campaign, with a well-designed web site, an official blog which she actually posts to and this Friday’s interview with the biggest coalition of bloggers in Florida.

The Florida Progressive Coalition is a new group of Florida bloggers and activists dedicated to fighting Republican domination of Florida government and pursuing more progressive policies in the Sunshine State. You can learn more about us here.

Again, those who would like to ask the candidate questions should post them to this comment thread between now and Friday at 1 p.m. The best questions will be asked of the candidate from 1:30-2:00 during the open question period of the interview. To post questions directly on Gather.com, you must be a member. (Sign up here)

To view the live interview, go to the Floridians for Alex group on Gather.com.

And don’t forget to join us Friday to learn more about the Democratic candidate for this important position.

Posted in CFO | 1 Comment
Jul 17

Roveology for Democrats: Eliminating the Republican Base

What has happened to the fight in our local Democratic parties? It seems that on an increasing level Democrats are giving up any hope of converting the conservative population. Why? What is to say that a Republican cannot change their party alignment, is there some sort of grand law that prevents it? Political heavyweights on the right such as Karl Rove understand that party alignments can be swayed, and slowly they have been chipping away at the Democratic base…or at least attempting to. A good example comes from a recent news week article:

The Sunday before the 2004 election, some Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Russia living in the Cleveland area gathered at a suburban party center to eat deviled eggs and dark bread and hear Russian-language exhortations to re-elect George W. Bush. Jews generally vote heavily Democratic, but a few thousand of Greater Cleveland’s immigrant Jews were especially receptive to the appeals of Republicans armed with a database of every Orthodox household in the area.

Democratic grassroots organizations, as well as most other democratic organizations don’t seem to be making as much effort as they could be when it comes to removing some of the Republican base. I believe part of that comes from the unwillingness of the party to compromise on any of its values (Although the Republican Party does not really compromise on things either). I remember a remark from a recent state house debate. One of the candidates remarked that they would work with the Republicans in order to come up with some sort of (Lest I say it) “Moderate” answer to various problems.

The candidate who received the audiences applause however was the one who retorted: “I won’t compromise our values” These are dangerous waters to enter into.

Elections cannot be won without compromising on at least a few of the issues (Or at least without appealing to the right in some way) and there are many issues that Democrats can swing to help them break up the Republican base.

In my opinion the issue of abortion would be the parties easiest bet. Abortion is an extremely charged issue that can force people into one party or the other. By appealing to Pro-Life Republicans (And Pro-Life Democrats) we may be able to gather some new votes…without compromising our values.

The Democratic Party should work for eliminating the need for abortion and offer alternatives to abortion without compromising its legality. Technically the party has already gone down this road by doing things such as appointing Pro-Life Democrat Harry Reid as the Senate Minority Leader. One senator isn’t going to do it all though.

State Commiteewoman Cindy Lerner remarked to me that Democrats had been pushing for alternatives to abortion and ways to slow down the use of abortions in the state legislature, but the Republican majority continued to side step these issues.

Why is the Democratic party not seeking rightful news coverage on these issues? If we push these ideals we’re sure to gain a few votes, while at the same time maintaining a steady pro-choice view. We are protecting the right, but attacking the source of the cause. What a thought!

We can’t have any more candidates like Senator Kerry who will admit that they may believe (In so many words) that abortion is “Murder”, while also saying that they believe it is also a right. There needs to be more to it.

People can’t stay aligned to one party forever, we just need to know where to strike. We can’t be afraid of being turned away at the door, and we can’t be afraid of any issue.

Posted in Activism | 4 Comments
Jul 17

Infrastructure: Activate ActBlue in Florida!

By now, I think most of us have heard of ActBlue. It has been a huge help in pumping money into Democratic candidates across the country (principally at the federal level.) Now ActBlue would like to make itself known at the state and local levels. ActBlue is depending on folks like you and me to raise the $10K needed to start up Florida ActBlue.

ActBlue Florida $
alt="Contribute with ActBlue"
src="http://actblue.com/images/actblue-button.gif "/>

This particular link is to my personal ActBlue page. However, the only thing you can donate to (at the moment) is to ActBlue Florida.

Having a Florida ActBlue will allow ActBlue to focus what has been successful fundraising tactics at the federal level to the state level.

And as someone who works in a campaign, I can tell you that money isn’t everything – but its still pretty damn important.

Posted in Activism, General Information | Comments Off
Jul 17

Rebuild Our DECs: Constituency Councils

Cross posted from Reform Florida’s DECs.This is one of the many ideas that I’ve come up with working with the James Walker campaign.

So far, our discussions about DECs have revolved around structure and procedure. We haven’t focused too much yet on outreach.

There are many constituency or issue groups in many of Florida’s counties. DECs should be making every effort to connect with these groups, network with their leadership and organization(s), and overall forge new community partnerships.

I believe these parnterships can best be formed through Constituency Councils, a group of 5-10 influential or supportive Democrats of a certain constituency or issue group. Here are a few possible Constituency Councils which a DEC can form:

* Small Business/Economic Development Council
* Women’s Council
* African American Council
* Hispanic/Latino Council
* LGBT Council
* Youth Council (or Young Democrats)
* Senior’s Council
* Education Council
* Environmental/Growth/Quality of Life Council
* Healthcare Council
* Families Council
* Worker’s Council (legal issues might be involved here if Union members get involved, not sure though to be honest)
* Religious Council

Not only can these groups be conduits to the communities they represent, they can be extensions of the DEC’s policy and fundraising arms. These groups can be asked to assist in the research for a policy report, or host a fundraiser and use their community contacts to boost attendance and raise needed funds.

The benefits of having a number of Constituency Councils, as alluded to in the previous paragraph, are numerous. Various councils can connect the DEC with the community. Let’s face it, DEC members are very political people, the vast majority of citizens and voters are not. Also, DEC members may not be the greatest cross-section of the county and need outside voices to let the Party know what’s going on on the ground in the community. Therefore, community concerns can be quickly identified and responded to or communicated to the appropriate public officials and bureaucrats by DEC staff or volunteers.

Even with all of these benefits, I think the greatest benefit is a transformation of how the public views its local Democratic Parties. Even though the local party’s main responsibility is electing and reelecting Democratic candidates to public office, the public will increasingly view the Democratic Party as more than that: a community institution devoted to increasing the quality of life for all people.

Posted in Activism, General Information | Comments Off
Jul 17

FL-09: Busansky Beats Bilirakis

Phyllis Busansky, Democratic candidate for the Ninth Congressional District, announced today that she has raised $335,000 in the second quarter of 2006, outpacing Gus Bilirakis her likely opponent, who only received about $265,000.

“No matter where I go people tell me they want a change in priorities. They want someone who will put the American people first,” said Phyllis.

“We have held fundraisers in all corners of the District and I have had the opportunity to talk to many voters. They are all concerned that Congress has forgotten the needs of real people. I share their concerns and will definitely challenge the system and push for change when I go to Congress,” commented Busansky.

“We will continue to gather the resources we need to be financially competitive and to get our message out to the voters. There must be a change in priorities, an end to corruption, and a return to the country being once again proud of its leaders,” stated Busansky.

Phyllis Busansky has lived in the Tampa Bay area for over 25 years. While a County Commissioner, Phyllis developed a nationally recognized health care program that focused on preventive care and kept people out of emergency rooms saving taxpayers $100 million in its first four years. As the first Executive Director of Florida’s welfare-to-work agency, she was recognized nationally for reducing welfare rolls by 80% by moving people into productive jobs.

Phyllis has generated a lot of press lately:

Bilirakis Gets A Run For His Money

Front-runner Gets a Run For His Money

Fight Is On For Legacy Seat

District 9 Shapes Up

And the GOP is taking note. Bilirakis already has had fundraisers headlined by Newt Gingrich. Dennis Hastert and Dick Cheney are next to come to town on behalf of Gus. Look at the company Gus is keeping.

To learn more about Phyllis check this out.

Posted in General Information, House | 1 Comment
Jul 16

Great News About Potential Florida House Gains!

In the Sunday, July 16th Miami Herald appears an article that should remind us all of just how important it is for us to not forget about throwing our full support to progressive candidates who are running for Florida State Legislature. We too often think only of the “big” races for U.S. House and Senate, but the state races are equally important and the Herald article gives a compelling reason why.

The article talks about how last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on redistricting will give more power to states to redraw political maps and, therefore, play a key role in the outcomes of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But most important for all us grassroots workers is the news that this Supreme Court ruling apparently translates out to an advantage to Democrats over Republicans. Said Colorado Senate President Joan Fitzgerald, a Democrat, “Grassroots takes on a whole new meaning when indeed you set the control of Congress. Potentially, in some states, a shift of power means a shift of congressional seats.”

The article then goes on to point out how Republicans lead Democrats for control of state legislatures by the slimmest of margins – 20 to 19 – with 10 state legislatures split. Furthermore, there could be a change of power in one or both chambers in 20 states this Fall, with a shift of only five or fewer seats. With public sentiment overwhelmingly in favor of change, this is an opportunity we cannot afford to ignore.

This news should not only be tremendously encouraging to us, but it should sound a clarion call to get out and support our candidates who are running in state races. Let’s show that support by donating not only our money, but our time as well. And let’s not forget to put out yard signs for these candidates.

Posted in General Information | 2 Comments
Jul 16

New FPC Logo

Thanks to new member Robert M., the Florida Progressive Coalition now has a new logo. Please download this and add it to your site to help promote the organization and to help improve the political system in Florida.

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Jul 15

… but will Wal-Mart
really change anything in Florida?

Abandoning its zero-tolerance policy, Wal-Mart reportedly has told workers not to stop shoplifters for items under $25. Read more here.

Is the policy shift evidence that Wal-Mart has a heart? Not exactly. Wal-Mart’s loss prevention director admits the change is a cost-saving measure. “If I have somebody being paid $12 an hour processing a $5 theft, I have just lost money,” said J.P. Suarez. “I have also lost the time to catch somebody stealing $100 or an organized group stealing $3,000.”

Florida has a statute called “Civil remedy for theft or exploitation” which allows people to file civil lawsuits seeking to recover losses from criminal activities. But it’s a sword-and-shield kind of thing, as we lawyers say. It does provide protection for some people, but a lot of retail businesses have used it as a weapon.

Because the minimum damages are $200, the penalty can be 10 times the value of a stolen CD. The store got the item back when the kid was caught, but still was looking for the $200 in so-called damages. When they got the “civil demand letter,” many parents paid, of course, to keep their child out of juvenile court.

It’s ugly, but it’s profitable. So will Wal-Mart stop this exploitation, too?

Cross-posted from the 13th juror.

Posted in General Information | 2 Comments
Jul 12

The Plan, Part 2

This is the second in a series of posts to explain what we are attempting to do with the Florida Progressive Coalition. Subsequent posts will follow in the next few days.

Last time I talked about how I believe Florida is truly a blue state and how the first step toward turning that observation into electoral reality was building a progressive infrastructure. This time I want to talk about helping the activists in the universe of Florida Progressives become more successful.

There are a lot of intelligent and knowledgeable activists around the state (and around the nation). Many of them have been very successful and have a lot of experience in doing everything that we need done to improve our state and our world. Many others, though, don’t know how to do those very same things. That’s why we’ve created a “How-To” section, that will gather as much information as possible on how to do everything that needs to be done — from running a meeting to recruting new activists to contacting members of the legislature to lobbying to winning elections. These “How-Tos” will include step-by-step instructions on how do do each of these things (and many more). They’ll include strategies and personal accounts of past successes. They’ll include new ideas and old classics. In short, they’ll include everything you need to be an activist who makes a difference.

You can help us out. Go to our How-To page and take a look around. We’ve added quite a few links and written a few original How-Tos. We want more. We want anything that applies to how to do anything related to activism. And this page isn’t just limited to Florida, some of the links go to information from other states and all of the information, we think, can be adapted to other states. So help us out in populating the page and help yourself to the links we already have.

If you are interested in helping out, leave a comment or send me an e-mail at quinnelk@hotmail.com. I’ll be in touch with you as soon as possible.

Posted in Activism | 1 Comment
Jul 11

FDP Out of Debt

A little birdie told me that the Florida Democratic Party has worked their way out of the financial problems they’ve had in recent years. A lot of people’s hard work went into making that the case and Karen Thurman is at the top of the list. Congratulations. Now maybe they can focus their efforts on winning elections instead of cleaning up old messes.

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Jul 11

Racism in Florida

It’s always good when Florida makes it to the national news. Oh wait, no it isn’t, it pretty much always sucks. There are a lot of great things about Florida, but it is stuff like this (and the Dollars and Jessica Lunsford) that make the news:

Tom Macklin, the mayor of this faded city deep in Florida’s citrus belt, heard the idea on talk radio and latched on with relish.

A city up north, Hazleton, Pa., planned to root out and punish landlords who rented to illegal immigrants, fining them $1,000 for every such tenant. Mr. Macklin, whose own small city has swelled with immigrants from Mexico, Haiti and Jamaica over the past decade, swiftly proposed the same for Avon Park.

“It was almost as if I was sitting in church at a revival and he was preaching to me,” Mr. Macklin said of Mayor Lou Barletta of Hazleton, whom he heard promoting that city’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act on the radio show last month. “If we address the housing issue — make it as difficult as possible for illegals to find safe haven in Avon Park — then they are going to have to find someplace else to go.”

Like Hazleton’s proposal, Avon Park’s would deny business permits to companies that knowingly hired illegal immigrants. The ordinance, which states that illegal immigration “destroys our neighborhoods and diminishes our overall quality of life,” would also make English the official language of Avon Park, removing Spanish from all city documents, signs and automated phone messages.

Typical traditional right-wing reaction to a perceived problem. People in Avon Park seem to think that their local situation has deteriorated and maybe it has. But rather than doing something to actually improve the situation, instead they’ve decided to find a minority group that is exotic and has little power to fight back and scapegoat them for all the society’s problems. Don’t think racism is behind this? Check out some more quotes:

“I think it’s long overdue,” Mr. Koch said of the proposal. “If you don’t put a cap on it, it just gets out of hand.”

“I feel very confident that what we’re doing is not only legal, but the right thing to do. I can’t sit back and watch my city being destroyed.”

“When people come to our area,” he said, “they see degrading neighborhoods, homes falling down among themselves, four or five vehicles parked in yards. There’s a perception for those that come to this area — looking to perhaps expand a business, move here — that it might not necessarily be where they want to be.”

“They’re saying they’re not even going to let people in grocery stores,” Ms. Neff said. “How is that fair? Even a lot of the people who are legal citizens prefer to speak Spanish because it comes easier to them.”

This week, Ms. Santana said, a sales clerk refused to sell her sister beer because she had a Puerto Rico driver’s license, and the clerk said, “I can’t read it.”

It’s clear, there are too many of “them” coming to Avon Park and the local whites don’t like it, so they blame the Spanish-speaking people for all of the town’s problems. Will this law, which is almost certainly in violation of several parts of the Constitution and numerous federal laws, actually solve these problems. Absolutely not. It’s a way for a incompetent local official to rally his right-wing base by appealing to fear and hate. Will it work? Probably. At least in the short term.

But Hispanics across the state (and country) should pay attention, as should anyone who cares about equality, rule of law and the Constitution. This is what Republicans really think of you. They’ve been in power long enough they think they can do anything they want and they are now doing the things they really want to do — like attack minorities. Voting for Republicans, in large part, is voting for policies like this that explicitly endorse hate or similar policies that implicitly do so. And Cubans, I know you are still upset about the Bay of Pigs, but the Republicans are just exploiting you, too. They don’t really care about you other than the power you can help them get.

Personally, I don’t think Hispanics are falling for it. This is the fastest growing group of new voters and Republicans are doing whatever they can to alienate them. If they don’t change their tune, things are going to get really bad for them. Democrats, on the other hand, stand for equality and fairness. Who are you going to side with?

Posted in Overviews and Breakdowns | Comments Off
Jul 08

A Couple of Action Alerts

Tell the FCC to Stop Big Media (from Stop Big Media)

Also, (from the Humanists of Florida Association):

“Action Requested:
Religious conservatives in the U.S. Congress are once again trying to
inflict their prejudices on America with the proposed Marriage Protection
Amendment (H.J. Resolution 88), which would deny gays and lesbians the
right to marry. It is crucial that you call or pay a district visit to
your Representative to let them know that you will not stand for this
action. Tell them that you oppose the Marriage Protection Amendment and
that you urge him/her to oppose this legislation. Tell them the MPA harms
American families. Tell them that constitutional amendments have
historically been about protecting and expanding individual rights, not
about expanding governmental powers and not about discrimination. Also,
please urge your Representative to attend the hearing slated for the week
of July 17.

You can call the Capitol Switchboard toll-free at 1.877.762.8762 and ask
to speak with your Representative’s office to ask them to oppose this bill
before the hearing July 17th 2006.

Background Information:
In the last month, progressive Americans rallied to block the Marriage
Protection Act (S.J. Resolution 1), which actually lost supporters in its
defeated Senate vote. However, despite the failure of the Senate
resolution, an identical bill is slated for debate in the House after the
Congressional recess and is currently scheduled for a vote around July 17.
Do not let conservatives erode our freedoms and force their religious
values into the Constitution! The House bill must be defeated just as
soundly as the Senate vote to send a clear message to our elected leaders
that we will not codify discrimination and that this round of action must
be the end of these bills.

The Marriage Protection Amendment blatantly deprives committed same-sex
couples and their families of legal protections that marriage provides.
The proposed constitutional amendment states “Marriage in the United
States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this
Constitution, nor the Constitution of any State, nor State or Federal law,
shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents
thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”

The benefits of marriage should be available to all Americans equally
under the law. Government and state and federal constitutions should not
be used as weapons. All American couples, whether same-sex or different
sex, should be free to contribute to our nation and communities, love and
care for families, and exercise their inalienable rights to life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness.

If this amendment passes 594,000 households headed by same-sex partners
with children under the age of 18 (according to 2000 U.S. Census data and
considered conservative by many experts) will be denied over 1,000 legal
protections such as health insurance coverage, hospital visitation rights,
pension benefits, and inheritance rights.”

(via FLPIN)

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Jul 07

Environmental Groups (Help Us Out, Part 2)

The Florida Progressive Coalition is looking to come up with a list of all the progressive environmental groups in Florida. What we are looking for is the name of the organization and contact information (e-mail and/or phone number). If they have a web site of some sort, that would be useful, too. We’ll be adding your responses to the wiki. Thanks.

(See also Part 1)

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Jul 05

Labor Unions (Help Us Out, Part 1)

The Florida Progressive Coalition is looking to come up with a list of all the labor unions in Florida. What we are looking for is the name of the organization and contact information (e-mail and/or phone number). If they have a web site of some sort, that would be useful, too. We are basically trying to list all unions active in the state, although if there are any right-wing anti-worker unions out there, we don’t really care to add them to the list. We’ll be adding your responses to the wiki. Thanks.

Posted in Activism, General Information | 1 Comment