Sunday, June 7, 2020

Are The Republicans Making the Wrong Call On Felon Voter Rights

Reposted from earlier
Tampa Bay, Fl Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD Author:  In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.     
The Republican Party of Florida has long opposed the restoration of felon voting rights.
When the voters passed a referendum restoring felon voting rights, the state legislature passed a bill defining all terms to mean that all fines, fees and restitution connected with a case would have to be paid before a convicted felon regained the right to vote.
Below are a couple of links that should bring you up to date on the Florida voting rights issue.
Florida has already lost a number of legal skirmishes regarding the felon voter rights issue.
This past week US District Court judge Robert Hinkle ruled against a Florida law limiting the scope of amendment 4, which allows most felons the right to vote.
At this point, it is widely suspected that Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis will appeal against the finding.
It seems to me, that the Republicans are chasing the wrong rabbit in the voter rights for felons’ issue.
The people have voted; the constitutional amendment has been approved, and I think the risk the Republicans run is having voters of all parties of good faith begin to see the Republican’s effort as simply a self-serving political gesture.
The Republican political argument is simply a large number of these felons who register, and vote will do so as Democrats. There's no real data to show this or substantiate what is essentially a political fear.
I think it's time for a new Republican strategy. After all, the best political campaign is one that educates the people.
The Florida Republican Party should set up a committee dedicated to educating felons and registering them to vote. This committee should establish mirroring groups at each County GOP organization. The one thing that The Republican Party needs to avoid is driving these new voters to the Democratic Party through a series of efforts to restrict their access to the polls.
It is really time for the Republican Party and the governor to take a big step back from the “approach let's keep them from voting” to a program of “let's get them registered as Republicans.”
If the Republicans don’t change their strategy, the Democratic Party of Florida is going to have a field day signing up and registering Florida's released convicted felons and at the same time probably gaining favor with Republicans, especially sympathetic ones when it comes to voting.
The Republican party's continued efforts to fight felon voting rights for the upcoming presidential election violates one of my grandfather’s primary tenants of life. It simply says, "Never hand them the bat to beat you to death with."
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Ron on 5/31/2020
No, Republicans have not made a mistake. Rather, they have stuck to the law and to their principles. Voting is too precious a privilege (not a right) to allow it to deteriorate into biennial anarchy. By their actions, felons have thumbed their noses at the law. There is no logical in support of granting them a say in making the laws. Praise Republicans for standing up for their beliefs, praise them for having the fortitude to stand up to the left wing media (you, too, apparently), and support them in their long effort to maintain Constitutional democracy in the United States on Felon Voting Rights – Are the Republicans Making a Big Mistake?

Friday, June 5, 2020

The News Media Too Much Riot Coverage

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author:  In Search of Robin
, So You Want to Blog.     
Like a lot of you over the weekend, I watched and read a great deal about the riots and the looting in Minneapolis and locally in Tampa, Saint Petersburg and around the country.
It was a seemingly endless stream of the same clips on TV played over and over and over and over. Sunday, some of the newer channel 13 news reporters seem to drift more from reporting to opine their opinions.
With local news cycles now starting at 4:00 PM and running in some cases until 8:00 PM, multiple hours of continuous reporting about these horrific negative events seemed to be almost pointless even to the excess of encouraging the very actions they are deriding in their coverage.
I have frequently been involved in conversations where the subject is: at times like these, does the media contribute to the violence?  I have often heard the question asked, "Would demonstrators be there if the cameras were not?"
For some insight, check out this article:
From the CONVERSATION by Danielle K. Kilgo, Assistant Professor of Journalism, Indiana University: Riot or resistance? How media frames unrest in Minneapolis will shape public’s view of protest.
From Dr. Kilgo’s article. “The general public’s opinions about protests and the social movements behind them are formed in large part by what they read or see in the media. This gives journalists a lot of power when it comes to driving the narrative of a demonstration.”
While portal to portal coverage on national and local TV is the prime objective of those who insight these events, the power and reach of social media have created a new opportunity to fuel the public demonstration machine.
From my point of view, it is time for the national and local news media, and especially the local news media, to dial it back a bit. News editors and directors need to rethink their coverage of these events and resist the temptation to sensationalize the negative parts of a serious issue.
There's a lot going on in this world from the CORNA19 virus to the space program to a lot of good things that go on in our community, and I think a four-hour  newscast that focuses primarily on a comparatively small group of people protesting with some committing outwardly violent and illegal acts is just simply counterproductive.
After the first 30 minutes or so, it is not news anymore it is just simply tabloid sensationalism. Every major news outlet in the Bay Area is guilty. And the Tampa Bay Times doesn't get a free ride on this one either.
It also seems to me, that local assignment editors need to reign in their new recruits, so they don't get carried away with the moment when they're out on the street, and people are breaking out windows, tear gas is floating in the air, and things are really getting ramped up.
When I was in college, I spent quite a bit of time driving the mobile news unit for a local radio station in the town where I lived. I remember my assignment editor telling me over and over and over again, “Just report what you see and keep your opinion to yourself.” That was good advice then, about 50 years ago, and it is still good advice now.
My final thought, too much of a bad thing is not news, it is just too much.
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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Fiscally Distressed PSTA: No Bailouts, Shut Down the Central Ave BRT Boondoggle and Hire a New CEO

Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert

Pinellas County's transit agency PSTA is a fiscal mess. PSTA's financial position has been declining for years and their fiscal distress began long before the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether thru incompetence or willful neglect, PSTA has refused to address their fiscal mess. The pandemic has devastated PSTA's ridership even more causing their financial position to worsen. The State or the Feds should not be handing out bailouts to PSTA that will mask or cover up PSTA's own incompetence and/or neglect.

PSTA's CFO presented their 2019 Comprehensive Financial Annual Report (CAFR) at yesterday's (May 27) PSTA Board meeting. PSTA's financial picture is not good but the PSTA Board rubber stamped their approval of the CAFR with no discussion about it or any questions asked.

PSTA's CAFR for the FY ending September 30, 2019 reflects fare box revenue continues to decline due to tanking ridership while operating expenses continues to rise. In FY2019, PSTA's fare box recovery was 12.58% and taxpayers subsidized 87.42% of PSTA's
operating costs.

From PSTA 2019 CAFR
(click to enlarge)
PSTA's Administrative and Finance costs continue going up. Those costs increased from $10.98 million in 2010 to $16.68 million - an increase of 52% in a 10 year period of low inflation.

The number of PSTA employees increased from 576 in 2010 to 621 in 2019, an increase of 45 employees while PSTA's ridership and financial position continued declining.

PSTA had an unsustainable operating model before the pandemic devastated PSTA's ridership even more. The PSTA Board, who is supposed to provide proper oversight, refuses to publicly discuss, ask questions or publicly acknowledges PSTA's fiscal mess as if they do not exist.

PSTA promised the public and taxpayers they would address their financial issues after the Greenlight Pinellas rail tax was defeated in 2014. But they refused. Instead, as we posted here, PSTA uses taxpayer dollars to hire well connected State and Federal lobbyists to pursue more taxpayer dollars.

Harry Glenn, PSTA's Federal lobbyist is pursuing the FTA (Federal Transit Administration) grant for PSTA's notoriously deceptive $45 million Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (CA BRT). The project is so bad that two of the three municipalities along the CA BRT route (St. Pete Beach and S Pasadena) have voted unanimously to oppose the project.

Glenn told PSTA that he has spoken to the FTA and the FTA says they have everything they need for the project and are reviewing all the paperwork. Glenn also stated he expects a final decision by the Feds by mid-year - which is now just a few days away.

But Glenn has made erroneous statements before. As this February Tampa Bay Guardian article reported, Glenn erroneously stated the FTA grant program was "not a competitively awarded program" but "you work through the process and as you check off the boxes, funding will become available to you.”
Posted by Sharon Calvert at 6:34 PM 

This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the blog publisher's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet.

Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay