Wednesday, December 02, 2015

End of the Road: The Seminole Democrat Closes Shop

The Seminole Democrat has been in existence since June 2006. It started as the official blog for the Seminole County Democratic Party, but broke off to be independent a year later.

We have had several very talented writers throughout the years. (Special shoutout to IndieThinker). We've made a lot of people really mad, which is a good thing. We brought attention to issues no one seemed to know about. We had good sponsors. The "My Stupid State" series was wildly popular: the final post for that series was today.

Why leave this blog now? Several reasons: One is, quite frankly, because of This site has become riddled with problems and script errors that just take too long to fix. The second reason is that we have been writing less and less about local issues to justify running an entire blog separate from our posts on DailyKos. Third, the owner of the blog is planning on moving from Florida. (Yup, he's had enough.)

The good news:
1. Ismay will still post on Daily Kos, as will the SemDem.

2. The Facebook and Twitter accounts will still be active.

Special thanks to Florida Politics and Beach Peanuts. Both are good progressive Florida blogs to always get your fix. Special thanks to Progess Florida for continuously featuring us in their Best of Blogs section. Special thanks to Meteor Blades for featuring the work of this blog for the state of Florida.

The blog will remain up for posterity, but there will be no more new posts. Thank you all for reading. Keep fighting for Florida. This is your always has been. We were just a voice.

Until then...

Final Winner: My Stupid State 2015

You. You live here. You make this state whatever the heck you want it to be. The threat isn't rightwing--it never was. It was always apathy. The NRA is a paper tiger. The politicians are only as good as those who put them there. Take up the torch and go.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

My Stupid State Series to End December 2015

The My Stupid State series has been a fixture since early 2011. It documented the tom-foolery of the Tea Party Tallahassee takeover in 2010. (Boom!) It has been wildly successful as far as readership goes, but unsuccessful in stemming the crazy. After all, Rick Scott still won re-election last year. By the way, it's not that Rick Scott has gotten any better, but I haven't been as prolific documenting his misdeeds because he's term-limited, can't be recalled, and the time for action has, frankly, long passed.

Enjoy the quick jaunt down memory lane. We are up to 171 posts. All of those things REALLY did happen to our state.

I might post a few more, as well as the 2015 winner in December. Otherwise, it will remain up for posterity but no new posts will occur after the end of this year.

Really Rick Scott? Secret Contract Payoff to Rap-Star Pitbull with Taxpayer Money

Rick Scott is a huge Pitbull fan. Or at least he says he is. (He's not known for being too friendly with Hispanics, but we’ll take him at his word on this.)

Since early this year, Rick Scott and the FL GOP have showered Pitbull with gifts, presented him a key to the city of Miami, declared Martin Luther King day this year to be "Armando Perez Day" (his given name), and Rick Scott declared him Florida’s Ambassador of the Arts (whatever that means). A GOP state senator and Scott-ally, who also happens to be the president of Doral Collage, also bestowed on Pitbull an honorary degree.

What are the republicans falling all over Pitbull? Or, as this actual title of an article puts it, why are they all over Pitbull’s dick?

To be blunt, it isn’t likely because they suddenly discovered a taste for Latin Hip-Hop music.

For decades, the Florida Cuban-American community has been a reliable conservative voting block. Yet with a new generation shifting towards more open relations with Cuba, coupled with years of GOP insults and racism, has led to a sizable shift towards the Democratic Party.

This trend has been compounded by the rise of Donald Trump in the GOP primary. The FL GOP establishment has been very open about the disaster the Trump campaign has been for the GOP brand in Florida. One state senator pointed out that even if Trump isn’t the nominee, he will still likely get to speak at the GOP convention. Bashing Hispanics might be a winner for deep red states that are mostly white, but diverse states like Florida require a fragile coalition that counts on the Cuban-American vote. The FL GOP can ill afford to lose this group without their house of cards collapsing.

Rick Scott is very worried too. (Well, not worried enough to condemn Trump’s remarks or anything. Rick Scott, in fact, stood up for Trump because, as they say in hip-hop, “haters gotta hate”.)

Man, there has to be SOMETHING the FL GOP can do to win Cuban-Americans that won’t require them to actually change their racist ways or condemn any fascist remark coming out of Trump these days.


Visit Florida, the agency that promotes Florida tourism, received a record $75 million dollars this year. (Rick Scott raised a lot of eyebrows when he asked for $100 million for Visit Florida right after he slashed funding from education and other agencies to the bone.) And now, Rick Scott’s Ambassador of the Arts has become the official Tourism Ambassador of Florida.

And that's all we know.

The reason is because 10 out of the 11 pages of the deal are completely blacked out!! Why? Who the hell knows. The CEO of Visit Florida said because “trade secrets". Some have claimed that Pitbull gave such a great deal that no one can know about it. Others, like myself, who have watched Tallahassee for awhile say-- why the hell do you think they blacked it out?

  • We have no idea how much Pitbull actually got paid. (I’m guessing a million. Sure, it could be less than that—but it could be a heck of a lot more. That would explain why Rick Scott asked for so damn much money!)
  • We have no idea what Pitbull agreed to do for the money.
  • We have no idea who is agent even is.

If this was private money, that would be one thing. But it’s not.

Also, blacking out a public contract with the state is a blatant violation of Florida’s open records law (the “Sunshine Law”). However, since the Rick Scott administration has shown no problem using taxpayer money to pay for over $1 million in legal fees for continued reckless regard for the rule of law, I’m guessing they don't care.

Knowing Pitbull's popularity with the Cuban-American community, the Florida GOP has made no secret about their intense desire for Pitbull to become a republican and support their candidates. For all we know, that could have been part of the deal.

Maybe Visit Florida really and truly thinks that the man the Florida GOP has desperately been courting is the ideal candidate to tell people in other states to visit Disney and Universal. Sure. Or can we just call this contract for what it likely is? A bribe. And a shallow one at that.

After all, a huge payout with our money to an already very wealthy man for favors really does sound like the GOP’s modus operandi. But it’s not going to work. I don't think they could pay Mr. P enough to sacrifice his reputation and street cred to promote a party built on intolerance, hatred for immigrants, and ignorance.

If they bothered to actually listen to his music, they might have gotten a clue and saved their money. His last album was entitled “Climate Change”.

Unfortunately, we are the ones who likely just got burned.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Don't be Dyslexic in Florida

Florida's Personal Learning Scholarships Accounts (PLSA) Program is administered by state-approved nonprofit Scholarship Funding Organizations that are supposed to help meet the individual educational needs of an eligible child.

Just last week, after many years of lobbying, an activist group finally got our state legislature to recognize dyslexia as learning disability. Unfortunately, this new acknowledgement that dyslexia exists does not mean that they are eligible for the PLSA program.

Rick Scott won't even issue an executive order to exempt people with disabilities from having to take Florida's troubled state assessment. He is hardly a champion of the underprivileged and seems to have a particular affinity for hurting people with developmental disabilities.

This special lady is going broke paying for a special tutor just so her son can learn how to read and write. Her crowdrise page is here if you want to see her story.

Most Tallahassee politicians do not have children in the public school system so they don't have a vested interest in helping. True change in Tallahassee will only come if Democrats ever realize there are elections that occur outside of presidential years.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Trump on rising barbarity at his rallies: "I'll be a little more violent..."

Crossposted under SemDem on DKos

To hear Trump tell it, he has simply run out of patience. He's been super nice to the first groups of protestors at these rallies, but no more. It's time to endorse a little violence:

"See the first group, I was nice. Oh, take your time," he said. "The second group, I was pretty nice. The third group, I'll be a little more violent. And the fourth group, I'll say get the hell out of here!"

This follows the latest Trump rally where non-violent protestors were physically attacked. A camera caught just one incident of a protestor being dragged and kicked by a Trump supporter during Trump's visit to my home state. Before that, peaceful protestors were attacked at a Trump rally in Virginia where one protestor was spat upon. Before that, two diehard Trump supporters beat an Hispanic man with a metal pipe and then urinated on him. They told police "Donald Trump was right". Although Trump condemned the attack, he said he admired their passion.

This is the frontrunner for the GOP.

What the living hell is happening to my country?

Although I am proudly a Democrat, I absolutely abhor a one-party system. That only leads to corruption. As an American first, I expect and demand a choice of robust ideas. Everyone should.

But alas, we have just a two-party system, and one of these parties has completely gone off the rails.

One party that used to stand for something has morphed into something very ugly. Its core base has completely given in to fervent nationalism rooted in extreme hatred and bigotry. One party has managed to turn its core supporters into submissives that are prone to follow a horrible, charismatic, and power-hungry demagogue who offers them simple solutions and feeds into their fear and hate.

These are men who claim to be American but don't care about voter suppression or taking rights away from others (even themselves), as long as there is someone strong leading them and stomping their perceived enemies. (In this case, their enemies being completely powerless immigrants and minorities.)

While watching yet another video on youtube where a protestor is physically attacked at a Trump rally, I couldn't help but notice the :35 mark where a Trump supporter yearns for an "Imperial Presidency".

The next step of this de-evolution is organized violence.

It hasn't quite happened yet, but what I am witnessing is beyond disturbing. Trump has taken smalls steps where he tries to justify the violence of his supporters. As horrifying as that is, the worst part of it is that it is being ignored.

The major news networks should be putting the stories of what is going on at Trump rallies front and center. They aren't. The violence is being ignored even though this phenomenon is only happening with Donald Trump. On our side, the GOP routinely sends protestors to Hillary and Bernie rallies. None of them are attacked.

You might have heard a lot about the BLM protest at Bernie's rally a few months ago. Recall that this was covered quite extensively by the MSM. No one protesting was kicked, punched, or dragged across the floor while chanting "U-S-A"! No one was told to go back where they came from. No one was threatened or harmed. Can you even imagine something like that ever happening at a Democratic rally?

OH, but speak up at Trump rally. You could get hurt. Yet this seems to just be accepted practice.

There are two reasons why these incidents of violence aren't getting more press. Either the networks are terrified that Trump will boycott their organization, or perhaps this is becoming so commonplace that they don't think it's news. I frankly don't know which is worse.

It's past time to stop treating Trump as if he's just another clown in the clown parade of the GOP. I don't find any of this funny. He is dangerous and needs to be treated as such. Yes, I am doubtful he will make it all the way; but that is a real possibility we can't ignore. And if it isn't Trump, maybe the next guy will have all the charismatic hatemongering the teapublicans are looking for in a dictator, but actually have the brain power of at least a fifth grader and pull it off.

With the horrors I am witnessing, I realize that it may only be a matter of time. Maybe I can't stop the downward spiral that a large portion of our electorate seems hellbent on taking us down, but I'll be damned if I'm going to be silent about it.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Florida GOP's New Stand Your Ground Expansion: Trayvon's Killer Would Get Paid $200,000

Crossposted under SemDem on DailyKos

As always, I have to begin my posts by pointing out that this is NOT a snark. In the Gunshine state, the NRA doesn't just get laws passed, they write the laws. At a time when the nation despairs over weekly gun massacres, our f*&*ing legislature is currently on track to force our colleges to allow assault-rifle toting gun nuts to roam the campus. (Naturally, guns will still be banned in the Capitol.) But while our state suffers from all the terror that our unchecked NRA has unleashed, including the nation's first so-called "stand Your Ground" law, it's about to get a whole lot worse.

House bill 169 grotesquely flips the burden of proof to anyone arrested for a gun-related crime. In other words, if you knife somebody in the gut, the burden of proof will still be on you as to why you did that. But if you SHOOT somebody in the gut, the burden of proof will be on the guy who got shot to prove IT WAS NOT SELF-DEFENSE!!!

It's like the NRA is actively trying to get more violent crime in our bloody state. Actually, it is exactly what they are doing.

OH, and one more thing.

If you get shot in the gut and you (or more likely, your surviving relatives) should fail to prove that the guy did not act in self-defense, the taxpayers of Florida would have to pay the shooter up to $200,000 for any costs and expenses related to the trial.

From the same article:

That payment part is unprecedented.

"This is a dangerous piece of legislation," said Phil Archer, the gun-toting Republican state attorney for Seminole and Brevard counties. "I don't know how else to say it."

Archer said the law would essentially force prosecutors to try every case twice — once to validate self-defense claims and then again for the actual trial — a costly hurdle for prosecutors "even if it is obviously not a viable self-defense claim. Every defendant in every case is going to ask for it."

The $200,0000 payments would also probably force offices to cut prosecutors, he said, explaining: "There's nothing else to cut."

Our homicide rate increased dramatically under Stand Your Ground... this will make it skyrocket.

Oh, and why did they pick $200,000 as a number, you might ask? It was the amount George Zimmerman wanted the state to reimburse him for all of his "expert witnesses, travel expenses, and transcripts". Seriously.

It's bad enough that he murdered Trayvon in cold blood. NRA legislators supporting this bill in Tallahassee apparently think his parents should also have paid him as well.

With all of the benefits of shooting people, you'd be crazy NOT to have your planned gun rampage here in Florida. (Well, I'd guess you'd be crazy either way.)

I've seen a lot of stupid in this state, but I've never before seen a bill that actively encourages gun massacres. I guess since the GOP's base is now down to just angry, white men, they feel they need to appeal to their fastest growing constituency: the paranoid and violent lone gunmen.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Debate Musings: Winners and Losers

Big winner: America. You clearly learned that you have a functioning, NOT INSANE party that is working for you.

Winners: Hillary and Bernie.

I have to give the edge to Hillary. Bernie did great and did nothing to stop his momentum, but Clinton actually managed to REVERSE her momentum. If she came across stale, unprepped or entitled, Bernie could have built on his mojo to, dare I say, frontrunner status. Yet, now we have an energized frontrunner in Clinton who will, as we are already seeing, be getting a bounce from her performance. Nonetheless, Bernie proved to everyone watching that he wasn't the "crazy old man" the media has tried hard to paint him as. He was intelligent, frisky, and magnanimous. Both did well enough that there is honest debate as to which one "won" the debate. I am just happy and proud we have two good candidates that are clearly ready to be PRESIDENT> Well played, you guys.

No change: O' Malley. There was a time he was supposed to be the "anti-Hillary" before anyone thought of Bernie. Yet his uninspiring campaign continues with an uninspiring performance at the debate. He had a few good applause lines, and he was smart to contrast the tone of the GOP and Democratic debate. However, he was a longshot candidate going in and this debate did absolutely nothing to change that. At this point, I don't even think he'll be considered for veep.

Loser: Joe Biden. Sorry Joe, I love ya, but it's over. It appears we have what we need in our two frontrunners. Your services are no longer required.

Big Losers: Webb and Chafee. They needed to hit it out the park, and instead practically threw the game for the other side. Webb showed he is a horrible republican and an even worse democrat. His whining became an internet meme, and his awkward joke may go down as a low point in primary debate history. Frankly, he was just plain unlikable. On the other hand, Chafee was just one unprepared goofball. You know it was bad when he had to do damage control on CNN, and even Wolf Blitzer had to ask what the heck he was doing. At least O'Malley won't tarnish his legacy when he inevitably drops out, but these two worked hard seemingly to make themselves look worse. Good riddance to both of them.

Biggest loser: GOP. While one debate featured assaults on women (both figurative and personal), utter hatred for foreigners and immigrants, and discussions on how ugly several people's faces are; this one had real questions about foreign and domestic policy as well as a vigorous, substantive exchange of ideas concerning actual issues facing everyday Americans. In OUR debate, we could point to our frontrunner candidates as people we want to show off instead of being embarrassed by. OUR candidates were intellectual, inspiring, and mature. All of this reminds America to take heart--we really do have grown-ups ready to lead.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Jeb-Appointed Fl Judge (my own Seminole Co) Makes National News for being a Monster

It's never a good thing when you see the Seminole County courthouse on the frontpage of anything.

The last time you saw it featured so prominently was because of the Trayvoyn Martin trial, (which allowed a homicidal racist to go free to kill again).

Today, on the front page of MSN, I see it once again. This time it is because of one of our judges. Seminole County Judge Jerri Collins "heartlessly" rebuked a domestic violence victim for not being able to appear at her abuser's trial.

Judge Collins threw her in jail.

The woman pleaded several times, explaining her situation. She could not face that man--she was terrified, she is homeless, and this:

"Judge, I'll do anything ... I have a 1-year-old son, and I'm trying to take care of him by myself. I'm begging you, please, please don't," she said.

"Turn around," the judge responds. "You should have showed up. I've already issued my order."

Each desperate plea was met with a harsher rebuke from the judge .

Ironically, her abuser, who violently choked her and held her with a knife, only received a few more days in jail than his terrified victim!

"It was pretty brutal. It got to my heart," Safehouse of Seminole CEO Jeanne Gold told the Daily News. "I thought she will never ever call the police again. She'll never look for help again. It's so sad."

Judge Collins, who earns $138,000 a year as a judge, is a staunch conservative who was rewarded with an appointment by then-Florida Governor Jeb Bush to the Seminole County Court despite her reputation as being quite nasty. Several people who have appeared before have little nice to say about her:

She is the worst judge I have ever appeared in front of. She is completely bias towards the state and does not try to hide it one bit. She is nasty to the attorneys and defendants that appear in front of her and has no business on the bench.”

And this nugget:

My name is Patricia Tommaso, and I am using my husband’s email address. I was in front of Judge Collins this morning. This is a very nasty person; she issued a summary judgement in a pre-trial conference, which my papers said could not happen. My husband tried to talk for me, but she told him to shut up and would have had him removed from the courtroom. My husband is a well-educated individual, and I was crying, and he was just trying to talk for me. She made fun of his medical condition (he is close to being terminal), she found that funny. She is a terrible individual in my opinion, and I will be filing a complaint with the JQC. I am a businessperson (for 30 years) in Central Florida, and I will do everything that I can do at the next election to get her voted out.

This woman who was thrown in jail has an anxiety disorder (which, given her circumstances, one should understand.)

Judge Collins told her "You haven't even seen anxiety!" before putting her in jail.

I had asked my fellow Seminole citizens to vote for Sandra Rivera in the last election instead of this horrible person, but as always, the turnout was very low and the rightwing Jerri Collins won. We are stuck with her until 2021.

I called Judge Collins office (407-665-4982--it goes to voicemail) and respectfully asked that she show some compassion for the victims of violent crime next time. She told the Orlando Sentinel editorial board that she always had a "positive impact" on people who came before her when she was running for office--but I challenge anyone to find the positive impact on that poor woman who is sitting in jail right now without her baby.