Florida

CALL TO ACTION! - The Shameless Assault on Public Education in Florida Continues with Dirty HB 7055

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Florida's Republican leaders are at it again. If you are not following the shenanigans in Tallahassee during this Legislative Session, please take a moment to listen to comments by Rep. Shevrin Jones (Dist. 101) and Rep. Kionne McGhee (Dist. 117) regarding the very bad education bill — HB 7055. These are just a few points of which we should be aware. Recognize this for what it is. The continued dismantling of public education, redirecting public dollars to private entities, destruction of public schools in predominantly black neighborhoods, and assault on the middle-class and poor in Florida. Please commit to helping concerned parents and citizens put a stop to this madness.   

 

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CALL TO ACTION from the Florida AFL-CIO (adapted). HB 7055 will go before the Florida House on Wednesday, February 7 for questions and Thursday, February 8 for vote and debate.  HB 7055 is a massive last minute education bill full of poorly vetted policies aimed at defunding public education in our state and busting up teachers unions. 

Call 855.235.2469 and enter your zip code NOW to be connected with your local Florida Representative. Leave them with the message that they need to stand up for our public schools, our students, and our teachers by voting NO on HB 7055.

Hidden in this legislation is the same public union-busting language that House leadership rammed through the process last week. HB 7055 specifically strips our state’s educators and staff from having a voice on the job.

HB 7055 also sets up a system that tells children who have been bullied to simply leave their public school and go somewhere else. Rather than focusing on programs that directly combat the problem of bullying in Florida schools, House leaders are using this issue as another means to please their donors and expand the unaccountable for-profit charter school industry in our state.

At over 200 pages, this bill is so big that it also includes provisions to divert hundreds of millions of tax dollars to private, for-profit schools, reduces accountability for student performance, and hurts programs for struggling students.

Call 855.235.2469 NOW and leave your local representative with a message to vote NO on HB 7055. This bill would spell disaster for the future of public education in our state. We need the Florida House to say NO to this massive scheme to bully our students, our schools, and our teachers.

Still Not Convinced? - WATCH THIS

 #SayNOtoHB7055   #SaveOurSchools #Dirty7055

 


Thank You Desmond Meade and the FRRC! Almost 2 Million Floridians Are One Step Closer to Having their Rights Restored!

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Congratulations to Desmond Meade and the team of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition for leading the movement that has gotten 1.68 million disenfranchised Floridians one step closer to having their voting rights restored. Shout out to all of the grassroots organizations and dedicated individuals who made a seemingly unreachable goal a reality. Now the amendment needs at least 60% approval from the voters. Start now encouraging your family and friends to vote YES on  Amendment 4 on the November 2018 ballot. 

On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 6pm until 10 pm, South Florida will celebrate the Second Chances Voting Restoration Amendment making the November 2018 ballot. RSVP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/148648512464863/.

  

#SayYEStoSecondChances   #Redemption

 


The Flores-Braynon Apology: An Unforgettable Start of the 2018 Legislative Session

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Last Tuesday's opening of the 2018 Florida Legislative Session, the last for Gov. Rick Scott, was overshadowed by the joint public apology of Florida Senators Anitere Flores (R-Dist. 39) and Oscar Braynon (D-Dist. 35) for their extramarital affair. Their relationship had been the subject of rumors but was confirmed via an anonymous website which is now inaccessible. 

During last year's Legislative Session, Braynon discovered a hidden camera in the hallway of the sixth floor of the Tennyson condominium in downtown Tallahassee. The Tennyson is the temporary housing choice of many lawmakers during Legislative Session. Flores and Braynon each lived in a unit on the sixth floor. Their units were practically across the hall from each other. It was later determined that the camera had been placed by a private investigator. There is speculation that the surveillance is retribution by Sen. Frank Artiles who was forced to resign last year because of his use of racial slurs. 

While the Flores-Braynon affair is very different from the sexual harassment incidents that ensnared former Senators Jack Latvala and Jeff Clemens, Flores and Braynon have not indicated they would resign. 

 

Related Links:

Florida politicians become surveillance targets as political payback rumors swirl

Smile! Legislators Caught on Hidden Surveillance Cameras Secretly Placed in Condo Building

 

 


NAACP Releases Report Card: Florida Failing in Key Categories

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The NAACP Florida State Conference releases a statewide Economic Development Report Card upon examining the records of cities, counties, school districts and private sector organizations.

FORT LAUDERDALE— Adora Obi Nweze, President of NAACP Florida State Conference and Torey Alston, State Economic Development Chair released a statewide Economic Development Report Card after examining the records of leading public and private organizations over the last several months.

“I am excited to release this year’s Diversity Matters Report Card the records of public agencies from the Panhandle to the Florida Keys,” says Adora Obi Nweze, who also serves as a member of the National Board of the NAACP. “Diversity and inclusion continue to be a challenge in Florida and the NAACP will continue to sound the alarm for equality and fairness for all Floridians.”

The Diversity Matters Initiative examined the records of targeted cities, counties, school districts and private corporations statewide.  The NAACP Florida State Conference examined their records on employment, advertising and spending with minority, women and veteran-owned businesses.  The NAACP Florida State Conference conducts this review annually, proposes recommendations and releases its findings to the public. 

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“Our Diversity Matters Report Card is an annual investigation reviewing workforce diversity, local contracting expenditures and advertising budgets in urban, rural and suburban areas,” says Torey Alston, who led this statewide effort on diversity and serves as 3rd Vice-President of the NAACP Florida State Conference. “This year’s report card continues to show cities, counties, school districts, and private companies have diversity and inclusion as the last priority.  While there are some bright spots, there is still much work to be done ensuring diversity and inclusion is reflected in all aspects of government and the private sector.”

Here is the grading scale and methodology used for the report card:

Diversity Metric /Overall Total = Grade

  • A – Excellent (25% and higher): Meets and exceeds diversity and inclusion standards
  • B – Above Average (20% to 24%): Above average performance on diversity and inclusion standards 
  • C – Average (15% to 19%): Average performance on diversity and inclusion standards
  • D – Below Average (14% to 18%): Below average performance on diversity and inclusion standards
  • F – Failing (13% and below): Does not meet diversity and inclusion standards
  • *F – Not Reported

TOTAL

GRADE

#

PERCENTAGE

A

0

0.0%

B

5

12.5%   

C

1

2.5%

D

12

30.0%

F

22

55.0%

Total

40

 

Looking closer at the report card, none of the 40 entities evaluated received a total grade of “A.” Only five entities received a total grade of “B” --- Duval County School District, Hendry County School District, Miami-Dade County School District, City of Fort Walton Beach, and Manatee County Board of Commissioners. One entity, Osceola County Board of Commissioners, received a total grade of “C.” Thirty-four, or 85% of the entities evaluated, received a total grade of “D” or “F.”

There is significant room for improvement in the categories dealing with spending and advertising & marketing. No surprise, is the abysmal failing grade in those areas as several local individuals and organizations have complained of this disparity in contracting with black businesses for many years. All the entities received an “F” in the “Small, Veteran & Minority Business Spending” category except one. Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners received a “D.”

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The NAACP releases report cards every year. Now that this report card has been released, it is crucial that organizations and individuals throughout Florida are relentless in demanding transparency and diversity in how the tax dollars in their respective communities are allocated and spent.

 


Community Leaders on Racist, Sexist Rant by Senator Frank Artiles: Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall

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As a former State Representative of House District 109, it would be impossible for me to sit in a room to create laws that impact our community with someone that has neither regard or respect for those who make those laws with him.

As lawmakers, we make laws for men, women, children, Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, and others who come from all corners of the world. A person who is not respectful to all is not fit to make laws for them, neither should anyone be subjected to sit on a dais with such an individual.

-Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall

Miami-Dade County Public School Board Member
District 2

 

 

#STAYwoke
#ArtilesMustResign
 

UPDATE: Senator Artiles Apologized for his Racist, Sexist Tirade, Stripped of  Committee Chairmanship — Not Enough!  

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From left, Florida Senate President Joe Negron and Senator Frank Artiles

I watched Florida Senate President Joe Negron field interview questions via The Florida Channel online. His responses were a reminder of just how tone deaf, disrespectful and dismissive our elected leaders are here in Florida. Senator Negron seems to feel his job is complete since Senator Artiles apologized from the Senate floor and he stripped Artiles of his committee chairmanship. Tone deaf. Disrespectful. Dismissive.

Senator Frank Artiles must resign. His racist, sexist comments cannot be tolerated and must not be excused by any self-respecting individual, especially those who took an office to represent the people of Miami-Dade County and/or the people of Florida.

As a Black person and a woman, I will not excuse nor accept the apology of Frank Artiles. I am tired of Black people being insulted an apology is later offered and we are supposed to accept it and go away. NO! As a woman, I am tired of men thinking they can treat us like brainless body parts and receptacles and we are supposed to accept that. NO!

How would you feel if Senator Gibson was your wife, sister, mother, cousin or friend? You should be disgusted by how she was treated just because she is a woman.

I am asking you to continue to contact Senator Artiles and Florida Senate President Joe Negron. I am asking all elected officials, especially black elected officials, and women elected officials, to take a stand and demand the resignation of Senator Artiles. 

This is a matter of RESPECT. No excuses. #ArtilesMustResign

 

In the meantime, continue this CALL TO ACTION.

1.  Contact Senator Frank Artiles and ask him to resign. There is no place for his hateful, racist and sexist thinking in American politics. 

Here are ways to contact Senator Artiles:

District Office

13501 SW 128th Street

Unit 115A

Miami, FL 33186

(305) 252-4300

 

Tallahassee Office

308 Senate Office Building

404 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

(850) 487-5040

 

Email: artiles.frank@flsenate.gov

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Artiles40

Twitter: @Artiles40 (Use hashtag #ArtilesMustResign.)

 

2.  Contact Senator Joe Negron, President of the Florida Senate, and ask him to have Senator Artiles to resign. 

Here are ways to Contact Senator Negron:

District Office 

3500 Southwest Corporate Parkway

Suite 204

Palm City, FL 34990

(772) 219-1665

Toll-Free (888) 759-0791

 

Tallahassee Office

305 Senate Office Building

404 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

(850) 487-5025

 

Email: negron.joe@flsenate.gov

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joenegronfl/

Twitter: @joenegronfl (Use hashtag #ArtilesMustResign.)

 

3.  Stay tuned as this is an evolving situation. We are expected to react with anger and then go away. Not this time. Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for taking action. 

 

 

Related Post: CALL TO ACTION: Florida Senator Frank Artiles Must Resign After His Racist, Sexist Tirade [WARNING: Profane language] 


CALL TO ACTION: Florida Senator Frank Artiles Must Resign After His Racist, Sexist Tirade [WARNING: Profane language]

 

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From left, Florida Senators Frank Artiles; Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston. Artiles dropped the n-bomb and referred to Gibson as a "fucking asshole," "girl" and "bitch."  He also said six Republican niggas were responsible for Joe Negron becoming Senate President and later referred to Negron as a "pussy." To make matters worse,  Artiles  later tried to justify dropping the n-bomb by saying he's from Hialeah. 

 

 

On Monday evening, Florida Senator Frank Artiles, who represents District 40 here in Miami-Dade County, went on a racist, sexist tirade at the exclusive Governors Club in Tallahassee. Artiles verbally attacked fellow Senator Audrey Gibson from Duval County. Also present was Senator Perry Thurston from Broward County and others. Gibson and Thurston are black.

According to reports from the Miami Herald, Artiles dropped the n-bomb and referred to Senator Gibson as a “fucking asshole” a “girl” and a “bitch.” In this day and time, a male elected official, who is also an ethnic minority, that feels comfortable enough to spew such vile words must not be allowed to represent the people of Florida, especially Miami-Dade County. To make matters worse, Artiles also tried to justify dropping the n-bomb by saying he’s from Hialeah. Really? Hialeah? Hmmm….

As expected, there have been weak condemnations of Artiles’s outburst by his fellow Republicans and an expected announcement of an apology from the Senate floor today. An apology is an insufficient resolution to this situation. Artiles must resign. 

The Florida Democratic Party has called for Artiles to resign. The Black Caucus has called an emergency meeting regarding this matter. 

In the meantime, this CALL TO ACTION is requested.

1.  Contact Senator Frank Artiles and ask him to resign. There is no place for his hateful, racist and sexist thinking in American politics. 

Here are ways to contact Senator Artiles:

District Office

13501 SW 128th Street

Unit 115A

Miami, FL 33186

(305) 252-4300

 

Tallahassee Office

308 Senate Office Building

404 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

(850) 487-5040

 

Email: artiles.frank@flsenate.gov

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Artiles40

Twitter: @Artiles40 (Use hashtag #ArtilesMustResign.)

 

2.  Contact Senator Joe Negron, President of the Florida Senate, and ask him to have Senator Artiles to resign. 

Here are ways to Contact Senator Negron:

District Office 

3500 Southwest Corporate Parkway

Suite 204

Palm City, FL 34990

(772) 219-1665

Toll-Free (888) 759-0791

 

Tallahassee Office

305 Senate Office Building

404 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

(850) 487-5025

 

Email: negron.joe@flsenate.gov

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joenegronfl/

Twitter: @joenegronfl (Use hashtag #ArtilesMustResign.)

 

3.  Stay tuned as this is an evolving situation. We are expected to react with anger and then go away. Not this time. Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for taking action. 

 

This is a matter of RESPECT. This is a teachable moment. Our children are watching how we handle this situation. #ArtilesMustResign

 

 


Lucy McBath, mother of slain teen Jordan Davis, criticizes House passage of Stand Your Ground Expansion

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Lucy McBath, mother of Jordan Davis, criticizes passage of HB 245 by Florida House of Representatives.
 
HB 245 Would Effectively Require Stand Your Ground Defendants to Be Convicted Twice, Once in Front of a Judge and Again in Front of a Jury
 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Lucy McBath, faith and outreach leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety, whose son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in a Florida gas station parking lot in a dispute over loud music, today released the following statement denouncing the House passage of HB 245, legislation that would expand Florida’s already lethal Stand Your Ground law. HB 245 would flip the burden of proof in pretrial immunity hearings to prosecutors, effectively requiring Stand Your Ground defendants to be convicted twice, once in front of a judge and once in front of a jury. The bill heads next to Governor Rick Scott’s desk.


STATEMENT FROM LUCY MCBATH, FAITH AND OUTREACH LEADER FOR EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY AND MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA:


“...Florida takes one step closer to becoming one of the few states to expand or enact a Stand Your Ground law since the senseless killings of my son, Jordan Davis, and Trayvon Martin. Expanding the already deadly Stand Your Ground law in Florida will lead to even more families having their loved ones killed by gun violence, particularly families of color. Our lawmakers should focus on legislation that helps keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, not on measures that place targets on our children’s backs. We must continue to fight for the safety of our communities and we must hold Governor Rick Scott and other elected officials accountable for their support of legislation that will jeopardize public safety.”
 
 
 
 
Photo:  Moms Demand Action
 
 

Folk Heritage Award Recipient William “Billy the Kid” Emerson Honored in Ceremony in Tarpon Springs

TALLAHASSEE— The Florida Folklife Program and the City of Tarpon Springs recognized 2017 Florida Folk Heritage Award recipient, William “Billy the Kid” Emerson, in a special ceremony today hosted at the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum. This ceremony honored Mr. Emerson for his lifelong contributions as a songwriter and producer.

William Emerson was born in Tarpon Springs in 1925, where he learned to play piano in church. Following in the footsteps of his uncle George Hannah, Emerson began performing publicly throughout the area. He joined the Navy in 1943, and after the war, resumed performing with Tampa area acts including Ivory Mitchell, the Billy Battle Band, and Alfonso Brown Band. He acquired the nickname “Billy the Kid” while playing with a band that dressed like cowboys.

Also a talented athlete, Emerson attended Florida A&M University on an athletic scholarship but left to serve in the Air Force during the Korean War. He later met Ike Turner and after being discharged, joined Turner’s Kings of Rhythm band. In 1954, he signed a contract with Sam Phillips and wrote and recorded hits for Sun Records including “When It Rains It Really Pours” (later recorded by Elvis Presley) and “Red Hot.” In 1955, he joined Vee-Jay Records, where he released “Every Woman I know (Crazy ‘Bout Automobiles).” Shortly after, he joined Chess Records as their recording manager. Emerson later formed Tarpon Records, and continued to record and perform rhythm & blues both internationally and abroad.

In 1978, Mr. Emerson rededicated himself to his faith, became a pastor and returned to Tarpon Springs where he continues to serve his congregation and compose sacred music. Although he no longer performs secular music, the compilation album, Red Hot: The Sun Years, was released in 2009, and Mr. Emerson was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

 

William Emerson
William Emerson publicity photo

The Florida Department of State presents Florida Folk Heritage Awards annually to citizens who have made long-standing contributions to Florida’s cultural heritage by perpetuating community traditions. Like the National Heritage Fellowships, the Florida Folk Heritage Awards honor the state’s most influential tradition bearers for excellence, significance and authenticity as folk artists or folklife advocates. Information on how to make a nomination is available here and additional information regarding past recipients, including photos and bios, is available here.

The Florida Folklife Program is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts’ Folk and Traditional Arts Program. For further information about the Florida Folklife Program, contact State Folklorist Amanda Hardeman at 850.245.6427 or visit flheritage.com/preservation/folklife.

 


Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson on direction of education under Trump and DeVos

 

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Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson released the following statement in response to President Trump’s Visit to Florida to Promote School Choice:

“I am very concerned about the direction in which President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos want to take the nation’s education system. Earlier this week, in his first address before a joint session of Congress, Mr. Trump urged lawmakers to pass legislation to fund school choice programs. Today he and his education secretary traveled to my home state to tour Orlando’s St. Andrew Catholic School and hail it as an example of how voucher programs can benefit disadvantaged and minority children.

“What both the president and Secretary DeVos failed to acknowledge is that programs like the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship do not cover the full cost of tuition and other expenses that are required when one sends a child to private school, such as books and supplies, transportation, and extracurricular activities.

“More important, vouchers drain public school systems of badly needed funding. Some of the so-called private schools that accept vouchers lack accountability and have not demonstrated the kinds of academic gains that justify siphoning taxpayer dollars out of the public school system, leaving our most disadvantaged students even further behind in underfunded schools with even fewer resources.

“Since 90 percent of American students attend public schools, children in disadvantaged communities would benefit so much more if President Trump and Secretary Devos would focus on how to provide them with high-quality schools that are equitable to those attended by children in middle- and upper-income communities, instead of superficial alternatives like voucher programs.

“I am hopeful, however, that Secretary DeVos and the president will be willing to work with Democrats on ways in which we can strengthen our nation’s public school system, without focusing exclusively on superficial alternatives like school choice programs.”