Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another Republican Official Racist Email - this Time in Florida

The St. Petersburg Times is reporting on an email forwarded by Hillsborough County Republican Party chairman David Storck that
has critics within the party charging racism
What could be so bad that it even has Republicans criticizing one of their party officials?

According to the Times, the email ws written by Republican Party volunteer Ron Whitley and forwarded by Hillsborough County Republican Party Chairman Storck to about 400 party members. The email states, in relevant part:
I see carloads of black Obama supporters coming from the inner city to cast their votes for Obama. This is their chance to get a black president and they seem to care little that he is at minimum, socialist, and probably Marxist in his core beliefs. After all, he is black -- no experience or accomplishments -- but he is black.
Now Hillsborough is of course the largest county in the Tampa Bay area, at the western end of Florida's infamous "I-4 Corridor". The home of the swing voters in Florida. It is the battleground area of the largest battleground state.

Here is how the GOP Chairman prefaced the forwarded email:
This e-mail was sent to me from one of our Volunteers in the Temple Terrace office. If you think it can help us win this election please pass it on. This election is now in our hands everyone can make a difference.
This is putting country first? To me it is just one more desperate Republican engaging in any despicable act - any despicable act, if they felt it would help them win.

Well, there is one way to make sure that not this time. Get out and vote. Get your family out to vote. Get your neighbors out to vote. We can take our country back!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Save Sales Tax for Transportation

I just read a comment on how someone was planning to vote on the Florida Constitutional amendments that are on the ballot this year. The comment suggested to vote No on 2 and yes to the rest. While I'm all for voting No on 2, the so called Gay Marriage ban amendment, yes to the rest gave me some pause.

You see, there is one other amendment that progressives should consider voting no on. As unlikely as that may seem, that one is Amendment 8, the Local Option Community College Funding amendment. While it might seem counter intuitive for progressives to vote against higher education funding, bear with me while I explain my thinking on this.

First, let me say that I am an ardent supporter of expanding higher education opportunities in Florida. I received an AA degree along my educational trail from a community college, so I understand how important they can be.

I am also an ardent supporter of mass transportation, however, and I see Amendment 8 as a possible impediment to the implementation of viable mass transit systems throughout Florida. The reasoning for this is the way that local commuter and light rail systems are typically funded.

Most rail transit systems, and the ones that are being proposed in Florida, are financed by a partnership between local, state and the federal governments. The Central Florida Commuter Rail Project and the nascent TBARTA effort in the Tampa Bay region will both require local funding sources for completion.

Both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties are considering adding a one cent local option sales tax for mass transit funding. Pinellas already has the Penny for Pinellas local option sales tax as its seventh cent of sales tax. If a community college sales tax penny is added, that would make the transportation penny proposal the NINTH cent of sales tax. I'm very much afraid that would be a penny too far for local voters to swallow.

There are plenty of other options for state of funding community colleges. Local governments are severely limited in their funding sources fortheir portion of mass transit.

If you want to see mass transit in Florida, vote NO on amendment 8.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bloom Off the Palin Rose in Pinellas

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made her debut in Florida's all important I-4 Corridor today. Her morning rally was held in Clearwater's Coachman Park. The park is best known as home of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. Given the Jazz Holiday's long history in the park, it ought to be safe to say that the Clearwater Police Department has a pretty good handle on crowd sizes in the park.

Given all the buzz about the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, it was a little bit shocking to hear that the Clearwater PD estimated today's crowd for Palin at 4,500. Interestingly, the Republican Party continues its pathetic attempt to overstate the size of Palin's crowds:
Clearwater PD estimated 4,500 people attended, though local party says it was more like 10,000.
But those claims are belied by comments like this:
My brother who was at the rally said they moved all the people over to one side so as to make it appear more full so they could take some pictures.

It made him mad because there was plenty of room to stretch out on the other side. It was completely empty (Note: The park holds 12,000 people.)
And this:
Dominic Grillo, 76, of Dunedin, saw Obama when he spoke at Knology Park two weeks ago. (Note: Barack Obama drew 11,000 just up the road in Dunedin). Curiosity caused him to ride his bike down the Pinellas Trail to Clearwater. He said he wouldn't wait in line to see Palin, but when there were no lines, he decided to join the throng.
So, what does this all mean besides some fun ticky tack back and forth stuff about crowd sizes? Pinellas is the western most county of Florida's infamous I-4 Corridor, the real swing area of the state. And Pinellas County is the swing county of the swing area of the state. Pinellas is almost evenly split in voter registrations with about 245 thousand Ds, 237 thousand Rs and 154 thousand independents. When Al Gore won Florida in 2000 he carried Pinellas by 15,000 votes. When George Bush won Florida in 2004, he carried Pinellas by the scant margin of 226 votes.

The fact that the "magnetic" Palin could only scare up 4,500 in this crucial swing area of Florida can not be a good sign for the McCain campaign.