Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Fourth Baseball Season - It's Back in Tampa/St. Petersburg Again


WEST COAST        

Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD
In Search of Robin  

Generally, baseball consists of three seasons, there's spring training, the regular season and the playoffs, including the World Series.

However, in Saint Petersburg the Tampa Bay Rays baseball season includes a 4th edition. It's the season of baseball, that asks the question, "How the Rays and their organization want to deal with the Tropicana Field issue and where the team will end up playing."

This 4th baseball season probably most aptly titled, "Where will the Rays really go," plays out as the Rays organization suggests oftentimes strange solutions to the team’s historic low attendance problem.

It's always been amazing how poor the attendance at Tropicana Field continues to be. Regardless of how well the team does or does not do the Rays attendance figures tend to linger significantly below all of baseball's average figures for attendance.

Former Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said decades ago, “This (St. Petersburg) is just not a major-league baseball market.” His words still hang over Tampa Bay Baseball like a dark cloud and especially so if you are being asked to pony up a ton of money for a new stadium.

Suggestions from the Tampa Bay Rays organization have ranged from pleas for a new stadium to the continuing saga of a split season between Montreal and somewhere in Tampa Bay.

Check out from the Tampa Bay Times By Charlie Frago: Tampa Bay Rays seek to open minds on Montreal while clock ticks.

The idea of a split season has been an ongoing saga for the Rays for the last few years.

Now there is a new plan for a site in Tampa, the Kforce site in Ybor city, taking center stage. See the Tampa Bay Times by: Charlie Frago and C.T. Bowen Published Oct. 4 Rays’ ballpark plans focus on former Kforce site in Ybor City.

Once again, as in all these stadium site deals, this one appears pretty interesting. Since the concept now seems to be leaning toward a new stadium in the Bay area along with a new stadium in the Montreal area both open air and both a little bit smaller. Finally, some common sense is starting to prevail.

Referring back to the Bud Selig comment above, the question still lingers is the Bay Area even a 1/2 season Major League Baseball market?

It will be interesting to see, if Hillsborough County, Tampa, and the big-money players in the Bay Area are willing to go along with a 41-game season for the cost of a small stadium.

Regarding the Tropicana Field site in Saint Petersburg, the most interesting development recently has been the sudden interest on the part of the University of South Florida in participating in the redevelopment discussions for the property.

Just in case you missed it, here is a report from the Tampa Bay Times By Divya Kumar USF tells Kriseman it wants a seat at the table for Tropicana Field redevelopment.

In a letter to St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, interim President Rhea Law and regional Chancellor for the St. Petersburg campus, Martin Tadlock said, “The concept of a Tech Campus as part of the development of the Tropicana Site is a major opportunity for our university,” the letter said. “We are committed to working closely with the City of St. Petersburg and the selected developer in the fulfillment of these major economic opportunities. The importance of workforce development, higher education, medical research and innovation are all key factors in our decision to participate in this process.”

I have long been in favor of moving the Tampa Bay Rays out of the Tropicana Field site, and a complete redevelopment of that area focused on the next two or three decades.

There are a lot of competing voices for a piece of the pie in the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site, but those decisions should not be based on attempts to mitigate past social ills but on a significant look to the future.

Saint Petersburg’s new mayor, whomever he may be, needs to think carefully about the approach to the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site. A new fresher look at development options and not just a strict adherence to the plans developed by the current Kriseman administration.

While fraught with political issues from the Board of Regents all the way down to the Saint Pete City Council, the involvement of USF could really put the future look on this development.

I think the last thing Saint Petersburg needs downtown is a meandering district of high-rise condominiums and apartment buildings focused on increasing population density, as opposed to a focus looking at developing a center of commerce, living, and education for the future.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.  

Friday, October 15, 2021

FL Teachers, Volunteers Go Door-to-Door to Get Missing Students Back to Class

 Florida News Connection

Published: October 11, 2021


By: Trimmel Gomes

TAMARAC, Fla. -- Teachers and volunteers in Broward County embarked on a unique canvassing campaign to find up to 11,000 students who either have not reported to class or are chronically absent since the pandemic started.

Volunteers including teachers, counselors, principals and school board members recently packed bags with resources and combed through neighborhoods in the Broward School District, going door-to-door to find out why students are falling off the radar.

Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, said with help from the American Federation of Teachers, their goal was simple: to get students back on campus.

"It was successful because we knocked on almost 9,000 doors, reached over 2,000 people to have conversations with," Fusco outlined. "A few hundred have reconnected, coming back to campus"

Fusco noted coordinating the effort was not easy. Broward County Public Schools is the sixth-largest district in the nation, with 204,000 traditional public-school students and about 260,000 students including public charter schools.

Fusco emphasized going door-to-door allowed educators to hear various stories behind the absences, from ongoing concerns with COVID to other issues.

"Some mental-health situations going on, whether it was with the actual student themselves or family members," Fusco explained. "There has been financial situations. There has been deaths, you know, various reasons why they felt still comfortable staying home."

Fusco stressed she hopes parents will get in contact with the district to let them know where the students are and work together on getting them back on campus. She added experience with the pandemic has shown children learn better when they are in front of a teacher.

Content for this Post is provided by Florida News Connection, a Bureau of Public News Service.  Public News Service is a member of the The Trust Project.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Make America Broke Again


Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Tampa Bay Times’ Deceptive & Legally Suspect Fundraising Campaign

 Tampa, Fl    
From: Tampa Bay Guardian

Edited by: Tom Rask          

Posted by TBG2016 on OCTOBER 7, 2021

Florida’s largest newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, has a fundraising campaign this week in which it asks for donations to “fund local news.” However, donations do not go to the Times. Also, they may not be tax deductible, despite the Times unconditionally stating that they are on its fundraising page.  

“You can make a tax-deductible donation – in a favorite journalist’s name,” the Times says on its fundraising page.  But the Tampa Bay Times is a for-profit company, and not an entity listed by the IRS as being eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions, or any other tax-deductible contributions.

The Times also says on its fundraising page that “we [The Tampa Bay Times] rely more and more on…the support of people like you who believe in the importance of local journalism.” Their statement implies that donations go directly to the Times. They do not.

Chris O’Donnell
Times reporter Chris O’Donnell posted a link to the fundraiser on his Facebook page. “Any donations go to the Times through Journalism Funding Partners [JFP], the 501(c)(3) organization that accepts tax-deductible donations for journalism funds,” O’Donnell responded when asked about the fundraising campaign.

To be clear: this Times reporter, who participated in the fundraiser, believes that “any donations go to the Times”…but “through JFP.” As we will see, it is unclear if the donations are actually going to the Times. And if they are, whether they are tax deductible.

O’Donnell also stated what the fund-raising page itself claims, which is that the donations are tax deductible. But are they? Donations going “through” a non-profit earmarked “to” a for-profit company like the Times are unlikely to be tax-deductible. They will likely be seen by the IRS as an impermissible end run around relevant US tax laws governing tax deductible contributions because the donations ultimately are for the benefit of an entity ineligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.

“JFP is providing funds to this news organization for their endeavors in support of this educational purpose,” a statement by JFP says on the Times’  fundraising page. They do not state what that “educational purpose” is, but clearly state that it provides “funds” to the Times. 

We asked JFP if they had obtained a legal opinion from the IRS whether the donations remain tax-deductible. After all, the ultimate beneficiary in this case appears to be a for-profit corporation. A donation to a for-profit entity is allowed under US tax law, but can never be tax deductible.

Rusty Coats
“Journalism Funding Partners (JFP) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization as designated and approved by the IRS,” wrote Rusty Coats, Executive Director of the Sacramento, CA based JFP in an email to the Guardian. Contrary to what Coats wrote, the IRS does not “approve” non-profits. They issue determinations. Coats also did not provide the legal opinion from the IRS that we requested. 

“In the case of the Tampa Bay Times, JFP acts as its Fiscal Sponsor for this campaign, covered by a Fiscal Sponsor Agreement,” Coats also wrote. He did not explain what “Fiscal Sponsor” means, provide a copy of the Fiscal Sponsor Agreement, or confirm that the funds being donated actually go to the Times.

Since Coats did not answer our question about the tax deductibility, we asked him again via email whether the IRS has or other competent legal counsel offered a written opinion to JFP about the tax deductibility of donations under their scheme? We had not received an answer at the time of publication of this article.

We also asked Paul Tash, CEO of Times Publishing Company, what due diligence they had performed on this donation scheme before telling donors that their donations are tax deductible.  We sent Tash two emails, but did not receive a response prior to publication of this article.

As mentioned above, the IRS does not
“approve” 501(c)(3) organizations as Coats stated. The IRS issues letters of determination in which they determine whether organizations like JFP are exempt from federal income tax under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).

The JFP’s determination letter effective June 18, 2019 shows that they began as “McClatchy Journalism Institute.” It is unclear when or why it changed its name to Journalism Funding Partners.

JFP says it prioritizes “coverage-topics that have been particularly reduced by the wholesale declines in local news, including equity, economic mobility, education, health, housing, gun violence and the environment.” This could mean that the funds going from JFP to the Times come with “coverage-topic” strings attached to them.

The Times campaign page included a picture (shown on right), presumably of reporters. The picture raises the question whether Times’ reporters put food in to free pantries, or have been reduced to getting food from such pantries.

The Tampa Bay Times is failing financially, but exactly how bad has it gotten?

That picture was not the only messaging that was muddled. The Times fundraising campaign was called “It’s Your Times,” yet donations do not confer ownership or influence over “your” Times. 

The public was also left with the impression that donations, at least part of them, were going to individual journalists. An example of a donation announcement is shown on the left in which it says that an individual reporter “received a donation” from a named donor.

However, O’Donnell confirmed that donations in fact do not go “to individual reporters” but to JFP. Thus the claim that a reporter “received a donation” is at best misleading.

The largest donor by far to date is Times CEO and Board Chairman Paul Tash. He chose to “credit a team member” when making his donation, that person being reporter Annica Keeler. “Of all your employees,” we asked Tash via email, “why did you choose to credit one employee and why Ms. Keeler?” We did not receive a response.

The campaign looks to fall far short of its stated goal of raising $173,000, which the Times says is “the equivalent of a week’s newsroom budget.” It currently looks like it will reach one fifth or one quarter of that goal.

Is the Times in fact raising money only for JFP while using their own reporters as poster children in that effort? Or is the JFP funneling all or most of the donations to the Times, thereby raising questions about the tax deductibility of those donations? Why does Paul Tash give “credit” to none of his reporters except one?

It’s hard to know the answers to any of these questions when the parties involved won’t answer questions. The irony of journalism industry executives stonewalling journalists when asked about their apparent deception is surely noted by our readers.

As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish articles.

READ THIS POST AT: Tampa Bay Guardian

This post is contributed by the Tampa Bay Guardian. The views expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet or any publications, blogs or social media pages where it may appear.

Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Guardian  

Friday, October 8, 2021

National Business Women’s Week Highlights Need for Credit Equity


Florida News Connection

October 6, 2021

By: Trimmel Gomes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After discovering the healing powers of eating natural, healthy foods, one Jacksonville woman sought to show her community what was possible. However, she lived in a food desert.

That was just one of the challenges for Tyrica Moore, owner of TeaPosh Naturals. It used to be a vegan cafe but transitioned during the pandemic into a retail store for natural herbs and teas. Moore's other challenge was securing financial support to keep her business afloat. She found that at Self-Help Credit Union, a Community Development Financial Institution that serves economically marginalized communities.

"Self-Help then came around and was able to help me to advance myself financially, and get over a huge hump and be able to pivot the business, versus 100% closing the business," she said. "So now, my passion is to help the community do the same thing."

Stories such as Moore's will be spotlighted for National Business Women's Week, which begins Oct. 17. One goal is to close a financing gap of $300 billion for woman-owned small businesses globally. According to the International Finance Corp., many have limited or no access to financial services.

Ebony Perkins, Self-Help Credit Union's national resource manager, said empowering women to secure credit and be financially independent sets examples within families, as they pass financial values on to their children.

"Our mission is to provide economic opportunity for all people," she said, "and historically in America, women have been underserved and kept out of the financial conversation."

Perkins added that Community Banks and Credit Development Credit Unions offer low account minimums, so more people can use their services -- people who are capable, but often overlooked by large financial institutions.

Content for this Post is provided by Florida News Connection, a Bureau of Public News Service.  Public News Service is a member of the The Trust Project.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Florida OK'd for More than $1B in P-EBT Funding for Children


Florida News Connection

October 1, 2021

By:Trimmel Gomes

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- After weeks of pressuring Gov. Ron DeSantis to apply for a one-time
pandemic food-stamp program, this week Florida became the last state to apply and get approval for more than a billion dollars in Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) federal funding.

The program was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in April to aid those children that depend on the school meals distributed during the summer. More than 30 Democratic state lawmakers and 80 advocacy groups urged the governor to apply for the program.

Niki Fried, Florida agriculture commissioner, said it was shameful for the state to take so long to apply.

"I don't know if it was politically motivated, I don't know if DCF dropped the ball, and then when we called them out on it, they had to come up with some excuse," Fried asserted. "But regardless, at the end of the day, the money is coming down to our families across the state."

A spokesperson for the governor once said Floridians did not need the program because kids were back in school. The program is aimed at helping an estimated 2.7 million children in Florida. Families with children in poverty will receive an additional $375 in benefits over a 30-day period beginning Nov. 15.

Fried said every penny counts for those who are food insecure.

"$375 may not sound like a lot to some people, but for many Floridians, it will make all the difference in the world," Fried contended. "Providing money to shop for groceries, so this week's paychecks can cover rent or car payments."

Children younger than age six who went to child care and whose families already were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), can also apply for the added benefit.

Content for this Post is provided by Florida News Connection, a Bureau of Public News Service.  Public News Service is a member of the The Trust Project.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Is The Petroleum Industry Driving People to Electric Vehicles?


WEST COAST        

Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD
In Search of Robin  

The petroleum industry is continuing to approach the retail distribution of motor fuel as a long range given.

Even as electric vehicles, cars and trucks, production is ramping up, the motor fuel retailers large and small are continuing to do business as usual.

Have you ever wondered why the retail price of gasoline at almost all gas stations is the same?

The short answer is the petroleum industry eliminated competition for gasoline prices long ago as a method to control prices and manipulate revenue. This marketing approach also allowed an “even” distribution of supply and revenue.

As the number of electric vehicle's increases, the demand for gasoline, and more importantly crude oil, will drop significantly.

It is anticipated; this drop in demand will cause a glut of crude oil forcing prices down. In the past, crude oil producers have simply reduced output causing prices to rise to the levels, they need to sustain operations.

The problem is this downward trend in demand is not a one time or short-term event it will be a continuing downward spiral. The geopolitical impact of rapidly declining oil revenues globally will cause significant economic and political disruption.

As of now the petroleum industry is not addressing this problem at any significant level.

Take retail gasoline prices, for example. The industry continues to allow retail prices to fluctuate wildly, often based on unclear reasons. Consumers see their cost at the pump go up with no clear reason only to drop suddenly. There also is no competitive option in gasoline allowing the consumer to “shop” for fuel at a lower cost.

The uncertainty of available, reasonably priced fuel is a concern to most motorists.

Continuing to allow gasoline prices to fluctuate significantly in a price-controlled environment is becoming a factor as consumers consider the electric vehicle option.

Fuel prices are already a prime driver of the electric vehicle purchase decision.

The predictions of doom in the oil business, may become a self-fulfilling prophecy if the industry does not take a consumer look at how the pricing and marketing of gasoline are done.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.