Now it’s the Commission’s Turn: County Set to Vote on Expensive Venue Package

template_header_Logo4-3A shiny new soccer stadium as well as a new Major League Soccer franchise may be on its way to Orange County if a crucial vote on Tuesday afternoon turns out positive for soccer enthusiasts. The Orange County Commission will hold a hearing at 2 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon to vote on a $94 million venue bundle.

The funding deal includes money for renovations to the decaying Citrus Bowl and the Orange County Convention Center, but the major project is the soccer stadium.

For weeks there have been public meetings, town hall sessions, hearings and everything in between for city residents to voice their concerns about this potential deal. If approved, the soccer stadium would sit in the community of Parramore, an economically depressed area of Orlando.

Those who live in Parramore received another chance to speak out about the venue package on Monday night as the NAACP held a town hall session to hear from residents concerned about the potential changes to their community.

But if an article in the Orlando Sentinel is any indicator, the worried voices of Parramore may be muted. The venues deal sailed through the halls of the Orlando City Commission without resistance and it seems that it may do the same in the county.

Lastly, the stadium and larger funding deal concerns the county because $20 million of the county’s tourist tax revenue is needed to construct the soccer field.

For any interested parties, the 2 p.m. will be held in commission chambers on Tuesday, October 23rd within the Orange County Administrative Center at 201 S. Rosalind Avenue.

-JH

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How Fast Food Companies Are Eroding the Working Class

The next time you purchase a McDLT with cheese from McDonalds, it may cost you $7 billion. Ok, that may be an extreme example but according to a new report commissioned by the University of Illinois and University of California, Berkeley, over half of America’s fast food workforce depends upon some form of public assistance.

The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast-Food Industry” states that between 2007 and 2011, Americans spent an average of seven billion dollars providing some form of government aid for fast-food workers.

So, just briefly, this means that some of America’s largest corporations pay their employees enough to eat off of a competitor’s dollar menu.

The report goes on to detail how many workers live at, near, or below the poverty line, how full-time fast-food workers still require public assistance while working 40 plus hours per week, and Medicaid and food stamps make up a large portion of the provided government assistance.

For the fast-food industry, the devil is in the details: Its time to change the way the business operates.

America’s “Great Recession” may have technically ended because the Gross Domestic Product is no longer in a free fall, yet for those workers making minimum wage or a little above, the recession is still real.

That reality slapped many of those workers in the face when it was reported that the government shutdown would potentially jeopardize programs like Head Start, WIC, and TANF to name a few. Each entity was in danger of losing its funding because of the shutdown and its duration.

But even with the shutdown finally over, what is Washington doing to ensure the security of these individuals? With so many complaining that users of government services are a drain on America, shouldn’t companies who fail to pay a living wage to their employees face some sort of reprimand from consumers?

Maybe we’ve reached a point in America where we listen to intently to partisan rhetoric, so much so that we’ve been conditioned to drown out the voices of those who matter.

No way should America tolerate news that workers who serve their subsistence needs are dependant upon the federal government for assistance.

Chew on that the next time you are asked to wait an extra five minutes for the chicken to fry.

-JH

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Take A Listen to the Latest Jason Henry Project Podcast

TJHP logo ROUND TWO - 1Morning! The Project may be a little late this week, but its always on time.

Check out the latest edition of the Jason Henry Project podcast for news and commentary on Florida Governor Rick Scott and his chances for re-election, an adjustment to Social Security that may impact the amount of money you receive on your checks next year, a recap of all NFL action from Sunday, a new poll that should give Congress a wake-up call, and so much more.

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Obama Presidency Most Opaque Since Nixon

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Photo courtesy of http://www.businessinsider.com/President Barack Obama

According to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, President Barack Obama is one of the more obscure presidents in recent history. Well, at least when it comes to the media.

The report was fashioned after the Department of Justice seized the phone and e-mail records of some Associated Press reporters and probed the phone records of Fox News reported James Rosen; two news stories that made headlines and powered the narrative of Obama’s lack of transparency to the forefront.

Since the administration was criticized for its strong armed tactics against reporters, the DOJ has dialed back its external pressure on the media. Attorney General Eric Holder announced new rules that include a negotiation period between media outlets and the government if the DOJ needs access to records.

In addition, Holder, or any future Attorney General, has to approve search warrants that target the news media.

Holder’s new guidelines would seem to make the environment around the White House and the press less tense, but that’s an inconsistent theory.

Quoted in the Committee’s report is David E. Sanger, a Washington correspondent of The New York Times. He states that the Obama Administrations is “the most closed, control freak administration I’ve ever covered.”

Mesh that information with Obama’s foreign policy on drones, the failed communication tactics from the White House on the Affordable Care Act, the use of the Espionage Act to go after whistleblowers, and we have ourselves the perfect sized skid mark on a white pair of briefs.

Delving deeper into the report, there are more quotes and lines from reporters about their fear of being criminalized for doing their jobs, to some sources getting anxious about giving up information. It all basically details just how paranoid this administration has become and maybe shows an unfortunate sensitivity to criticism.

This administration’s sensitivity to how it’s viewed in the media maybe stems from the way the public, and media, turned on the Bush White House. After 9/11 and America’s invasion of Iraq, once we learned that there were no weapons of mass destruction, the public quickly formed a new opinion on President Bush, and it wasn’t positive.

He was labeled a liar, and his press coverage only had a positive slant when it was from a conservative news outlet.

My belief is that Obama wants to have more control over that narrative with his time in the Oval. Instead of watching the media run with either a false narrative about his presidency or one that he cannot control, he would rather operate under the guise of national security so that he may control his press clippings.

This war on journalism also flies in the face of Obama’s vow to become the most transparent president in history. While campaigning for president, then Senator Obama widely and roundly condemned the secret nature of the Bush White House.

Once he was elected, he wanted to remove the shadow of secrecy from the Office of the President and allow Americans to see how open and honest he can be as Commander in Chief.

Unfortunately, it has not worked out that way. Between leaks and a “desire to control the message,” the Obama White House has unintentionally usurped the Bush years as some of the most secret in Washington since Nixon was dumped.

An unintended or maybe forced consequence of control is losing power of the situation. The Obama White House and its tunnel vision over leaks, sources, journalists and whistleblowers has created a myriad of negative press that this administration wanted to avoid.

To go from wanting to be transparent to being compared to Nixon should show a pretty clear indicator that changes are needed before the train completely falls off the tracks. But at this point, why should change come about if the paranoia keeps them sane?

-JH

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Janet Yellen Picked by Obama to lead Federal Reserve

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Photo courtesy of Business Week/Janet Yellen

The battle for the Federal Reserve is finally coming to a close as President Obama will choose Vice Chairwoman of the Board of Governor of the Federal Reserve System, Janet Yellen.

If confirmed, Yellen would be the first woman picked to lead the Fed and the first Democrat since 1987.

Before Obama chose Ms. Yellen, many believed the first person on the President’s radar was former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers. Elevating, or at least attempting to, was widely panned by those on the left.

Summers played a role in causing the Great Recession and is blamed for having a hand in deregulating Wall Street. Its all in this nifty article titled “Larry Summers: No Regrets on Deregulation.”

Yours truly, and a cavalcade of voices from the left and right, loudly protested a Summers nomination.

But we’re here to talk about Yellen and why she was picked.

On Wall Street and through the halls of Democratic offices on the Hill, Yellen is known as a “dove,” or someone who cares more about employment than inflation.

Some on Wall Street believe that she would continue the Fed’s easy money policy and would not begin to taper. Her Democrat buddies simply would like for the unemployment rate to remain low. Well, lower than what it’s been over the past few years.

In the end, Yellen will likely have an easy confirmation. She lacks the controversial nature of Larry Summers and hasn’t angered or pissed enough people off along the way to have her nomination blocked.

I’m not sure if Yellen is right for the job as we are only able to judge based off of past practices and what we hear. Yellen isn’t holding the golden ticket to unlock a hidden American economy bursting at the seams with financial opportunity for all. She’s simply the first woman to lead America’s most important bank and will set its financial policies.

No big deal, right?

Let’s pay attention to what she says once she’s installed as the new chair, or if and when she’s confirmed, and if her dove nature soon morphs into that of a hawk.

-JH

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WIC Funding Running Low in Florida as Government Shutdown Continues

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Photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Health

For those wondering if the government shutdown is just another faux crisis put forth by Congress, it may be time to adjust your glasses.

According to an article via Forbes.com, the government ceased funding to WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, this past Tuesday

This means that some states are no longer accepting new participants as funds run low. A USDA report states that should the government shutdown continue through the month of October, “federal WIC funding may not be sufficient to cover benefits.”

While that may not seem dire to many, it is for those living in Utah. Yesterday the United States Department of Agriculture gave the Utah WIC office $2.5 million in emergency funds to re-open the program. Since the shutdown began, some families who depend on WIC for sustenance were unable to receive October vouchers.

The partial funding for Utah will take them through the end of the month, but if the shutdown extends through that time frame, the state will come full circle with an inability to provide for those who need assistance the most.

For Florida, the situation is tight and indistinct. The state’s WIC office isn’t quite sure when their funds will run out as they are trying to figure out a plan of emergency should the shutdown continue.

In the interim for those living in Florida, if you have not picked up your October vouchers, please do so. If anyone has put off applying for WIC, go ahead and do so now.

The shutdown isn’t projected to last through the month of October, but with political gridlock securing economic uncertainty for many, depending on Congress to act on behalf of the best interest for the working class and poor is a pretty bad decision.

-JH

Note: Over 34,000 Orange County residents receive WIC funding each month.

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As Income Inequality Rises, What’s Next for the American Economy?

Income-inequality

Photo courtesy of EduSolution Blog

Early last month, National Public Radio did a brief story about income inequality in America. NPR’s story isn’t new, exclusive or even special; it was one story in a pile of many about how the top one to 10 percent of American’s earn more than those at the bottom.

One of the more interesting parts of the story talks about how income equality has grown over the past few decades, not just the last few years. Many believe, and not by ignorance, that the canal between the top earners in this nation and those of the working class and poor was created when the great recession descended on America.

The NPR piece suggests that financial disparity has been on the rise since the 1970’s. It may have been accelerated when the housing bubble finally popped a few years ago, but the way we’ve compensated low-wage earners in this nation is pretty appalling.

Next, the report has a fascinating tidbit of information on the top one percent, or just wealthy Americans. They were actually hit the hardest economically by the recession. These individuals felt the brunt of the burst as their incomes dipped by almost 40 percent.

The caveat to that is that they recovered faster than the 99 percent and nearly 95 percent of financial gains since the end of the recession in 2009 went to the rich.

Take this into account: Since 2000, American wage growth has been futile. According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute, individuals with a college degree saw no growth in wages…at all.

Moreover, productivity has increased significantly since 2000 but compensation failed to grow with it.

So to recap, the working class and poor Americans are being asked to do more at work with little to no compensation as a reward. The top one percent had a hike of 20 percent in income in 2012 compared to less than one percent for the 99 percent.

Simply put, Americans aren’t being paid enough. If we want a lift into the middle class, wages have to rise.

But what do we do with so much vital information on how most Americans are compensated? It’s easy to place blame as it involves no heavy lifting, but what can we do to reverse this trend?

Is it a change in policy? A focus on new job training programs for those in the working class looking for promotion? How about more education subsidies for folks who want to go back to school?

As we sit in a time of political gridlock and unrest, what does that mean for an American economy that seems to favor the rich?

-JH

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