ICYMI: Val Demings Interview on Flashpoint

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Photo courtesy of Saintpetersblog.com

I’m pretty late on this one but former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings appeared on the political talk show “Flashpoint” with Tony Pipitone last weekend.

The interview yielded nothing earth shattering as Demings spoke of her reasoning for running for mayor. She was asked about the venues project, the “textgate” scandal, and more.

What I found interesting about her time with Mr. Pipitone is that she never really diverted from her talking points. When Demings was asked about textgate, she castigated Jacobs for her role in the ethics scandal and continued to pound away at her opponent when given the chance.

“When you run on transparency, ethics reform, and greater citizen participation; textgate is the worst, or best example, however you want to look at it, of violating the very principles that she ran on,” said Demings.

Demings didn’t just take off after Jacobs, she jabbed former State Representative Steve Precourt as well. Recently Precourt was picked to head the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, but that appointment fell apart when Orange-Osceola State Attorney Jeff Ashton told the board that they should hold off on hiring him until he completes an investigation into the board’s practices.

Precourt got so mad that he ultimately turned their offer of a month-to-month contract down. That didn’t go unnoticed by Demings.

“The very person, who a few months ago said that they were considering running for Orange County mayor because there was a crisis of leadership in the county, suddenly decides that he’s not going to run, then becomes the frontrunner for the position with the expressway authority. I just think that all of that is very, very interesting.”

For the blue voters of Orange County, the hope is that Demings continues to drop that type of red meat before the election.

Click to view Val Demings on ‘Flashpoint.’

Hat tip to Frank Torres of Orlando-Politics.com for the find.

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The State of the Union and a Year of Action

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

The talk on the importance of closing the gap on income inequality becomes more vexing as the days get longer. During President Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, he talked about raising the minimum wage and providing people with ladders into the middle class.

Since the economy has started to rebound, Wall Street is doing well, home prices are rising, the stock market is vibrant, and corporate profits continue to escalate.

Even with so much financial success being talked about, what about the men and women of the working and middle class?

According to “high ranking administration officials,” the president has declared 2014 as “the year of action.” The White House released a fact sheet of 12 executive actions that President Obama plans to issue this year.

As of yesterday, Obama raised the minimum wage “through executive order to $10.10 for federal contract workers.” While I applaud the president for his action, it seems that this order may be more superficial than hefty.

The increase will only impact about 10 percent of the almost 2.5 million contracted workers, will not start until 2015 and will only cover new contracts, not old ones.

Another action, or order, includes galvanizing “America’s leading CEO’s to help the long-term unemployed” and conducting a “government-wide receive of federal job training programs.”

Again—I applaud the action—but frankly, we just need more.

Another note from the president’s speech on Tuesday night is with education. Obama stated that he’s “going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K they need.”

In addition to his talk about changing how our kids are educated, Obama wants to include the nation’s youngest children in his “Race to the Top” education fund. That detail about increasing access to pre-K could mean additional testing for kids that parents may not be ready to tackle.

So many of our educational standards are based upon standardized testing that this type of move is sure to divide.

By dissecting the State of the Union, we’re merely picking a part a speech steeped in pomp and circumstance. The president hears his name announced, shakes hands, makes a speech, shakes hands and then goes home.

The speech is a night for political junkies to indulge; to practice gluttony without the food.

Still—judging by polls and opinion, the American people want details and action. Not just a speech.

-JH

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: “Sherman is extremely well-spoken.”

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Photo courtesy of http://www.cbssports.com/Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman

From Justin Bieber to Richard Sherman, news is geared to keep us entertained. We’re constantly fed a steady diet of Hollywood glamour and celebrity madness that it is truly a miracle that we receive any type of mental or intellectual exercise.

The arrest and jailing of a singer shouldn’t dominate any news organizations headlines. In fact, if the news channel that your television occupies spends more time on Justin Bieber than the protests in the Ukraine, it may be time to change the channel.

At any rate, outside of Bieber’s arrest, our news has been dominated by the Richard Sherman rant. After his team finished off the San Francisco 49ers to earn a trip to the Super Bowl, Sherman’s emotions were running high and he gave a pretty demonstrative post game interview.

Sherman didn’t curse or use any foul language, but he was accused of being classless and rude.

Once the interview was done and America was fed the playback over and over, his detractors started to settle in for a game of racial hockey. Sherman was knocked around like a puck as he was called every nasty racial epithet that one can conjure.

His interview was eventually deemed a little to over-the-top, so he was pushed to apologize to his teammates and fans of the Seattle Seahawks. Sherman’s forced apology came on the heels of him being called a thug, ignorant, repugnant, and etc…

All of this for an interview he did after winning an emotionally charged game. In fact, Sherman’s play is the reason why his team won, so I would expect for him to be a little fired up.

What I didn’t expect is for the commissioner of the NFL to pile on Sherman as well. When asked about Sherman’s post game behavior, the NFL’s head chief, Roger Goodell, said that he’s “not cheering for that.”

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Photo courtesy of http://www.espn.com/NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

“Sherman is such a great young man. He is extremely well-spoken, does great things off the field, obviously a great player on the field. I want him to present himself in the best possible way and make sure that he is reflecting on himself and his family in a positive way,” Goodell continued.

Do I start with the comment about Sherman being “well-spoken” or how he’s a bad representation of his family?

Well, first let’s deal with the label of thug. Sherman has talked about his comments enough to fill the Goodyear blimp with air, so I’m sure he’s beyond tired of it by now. But during an interview about what he said and the backlash he’s received, Sherman said that calling him a thug is another way for some to call him the “N” word.

Dare I mention, again, that Sherman didn’t curse or use foul language during his post game interview? He was simply showing emotion.

For America’s definition of a thug, Sherman should either be pulling up to someone’s home to rob it or in a music video rapping about how much he loves drugs, women, and Tupac.

For what its worth, Sherman is considered the best cornerback in the league. He also graduated from Stanford with his degree in communications and began working on his Master’s degree during his last year of eligibility.

Next, I’m sure that Sherman’s family is just fine with his representation of their last name. He is a product of Compton, California, has a college degree and started his own foundation.

Lastly, can we please kill the “he’s so well-spoken” talking point? Telling a black man or woman how well-spoken he or she may be is like telling a Mexican co-worker that you’re surprised he doesn’t drive an astro van filled with relatives.

These comments are rooted in bigotry.

Also, forgive me for failing to mention Sherman’s appearance. He’s a tall, dark skinned black man with long, scary dreadlocks. Let’s keep feeding the negative narrative about black men, ok Goodell?

At this point, I’m just tired of hearing about Sherman’s rant. Whether you agree or disagree with it, who cares? My main issue was that we made such an issue out of it.

Now that Goodell has given his useless two cents about Sherman, it just further exasperates a tired situation.

I get that racism and bigotry will always exist in this country, but it takes moments like Sherman’s post game ran to remind me how tone deaf Americans can be.

-JH

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What We Can Learn From King, Hoover, and Snowden

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Photo courtesy of http://www.wisn.com

As we continue to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is important that we slow down to recognize how his life parallels to where we are now.

Last year, Americans were semi-rocked with booming revelations that we were possibly being spied upon by the National Security Agency. When the spying documents were leaked to varied media outlets by former NSA employee Edward Snowden, a lot of black Americans simply shrugged their shoulders.

Not because it wasn’t a big deal or that they didn’t care, well some of them probably didn’t care, but I believe it was due to the fact that many African-Americans have been subjected to some form of government scrutiny at some point during their lives.

While I can attest and empathize with that sentiment, I still believe that black Americans, in fact all Americans, should stand and pay attention to what the NSA is doing with your personal data.

Here’s an example. In August of last year, the Washington Post reported that the NSA was giving data to the DEA and that a massive cover-up was taking place. The DEA would receive “tips” from the NSA that would allow the DEA to potentially establish probable cause for the arrest of a potential suspect.

Because the DEA may have been given the information illegally, the DEA has to create a faux story as to how probable cause was established.

Does that give you the shivers?

The United States government is no stranger to infiltrating the personal lives of Americans and potentially fabricating stories to create a negative narrative: See Dr. King.

In a new book by journalist Betty Medsger titled “The Burglary: the Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI,” Medsger details the former FBI chief’s obsession with Dr. King.

Hoover, with the permission of then Attorney General Robert Kennedy, tapped King’s phone and bugged everything from his home to his hotel rooms to prove that he was a communist.

He wasn’t able to corroborate the communist story, but Hoover and the FBI did hear of King’s extra marital affairs. With that information in hand, Hoover attempted to use it to break the civil right’s leader’s personal life.

Hoover’s dissonance to King is why more black Americans should pay attention to the happenings of the NSA.

Last week President Obama gave a major speech about privacy and the NSA. He talked of reforming some of the agencies collecting practices as well as other things.

Some of the reforms he suggested were put forth by a presidential task force on changing the NSA, and some of them will need Congressional approval before they are able to move forward.

We try to learn something new about King’s life each year that we celebrate his birth. We play his speeches, march in parades with his name, attend lunches and dinners in his honor, and recite the same tired lines from his “I Have a Dream” speech.

But what are we truly learning? What lessons have we received from viewing his life and how he was treated? Sure, black folk have a shaky history with the government, but does that mean that excuses can be made as to why we fail to pay attention to what’s being done us?

J. Edgar Hoover was the caution, Edward Snowden is the warning, who or what will represent the final blow?

-JH

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Will Carlos Lopez-Cantera Help Keep Rick Scott in the Governor’s Mansion?

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Photo courtesy of http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera

Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera was introduced as Governor Rick Scott’s lieutenant governor on Tuesday. Lopez-Cantera is a former legislator who served when Senator Marco Rubio was only known as House Speaker.

Lopez-Cantera is the state’s first Hispanic lieutenant governor and will serve as a bridge to the Hispanic community for Governor Scott.

While Lopez-Cantera may be qualified to serve as Scott’s number two, his pick underscores why the Republican Party continues to struggle in every area but white.

According to the Miami Herald, when asked about immigration and “other policies,” Lopez-Cantera decided not to answer. He instead leaned on the ceremonial nature of the day as his excuse.

Eventually he’ll have to take a position on things like immigration and Medicaid expansion, but I’m sure whatever that position is, it will fall in line with Governor Scott’s history and politics.

Overall, Scott is banking on Lopez-Cantera’s ethnicity and charisma to push him toward another term.

Scott’s potential opponent, former Republican and Florida Governor Charlie Crist, will have money and a swell of anti-Scott support behind him.

Scott can combat any monetary support that Crist will have because his funds are limitless, but will he bank on voters hanging on the superficial nature of Lopez-Cantera’s skin color?

Instead, at least this is my hope, voters will want to know how Lopez-Cantera will aid in growing Florida’s economy, altering or fixing our education system, his stance on crime, recidivism, privatization of our public services and etc…

If Lt. Lopez-Cantera can help Scott fix those problems, and articulate it to Florida’s voters, then maybe Scott has a shot at remaining Florida’s top politician.

-JH

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The Congressional Millionaires Club

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Photo courtesy of lovemmclub.com

Political season has officially arrived. That cold weather that dipped into Florida earlier this week that forced you to cover your plants with those old colored fitted sheets, that brisk puff of cold air was actually the emptied souls left behind from political seasons past.

It had nothing to do with the so-called “polar vortex,” so don’t believe the weatherman.

Tis the season to go knocking, right? When those politicians, and want-to-be politicians, come knocking at your door asking for your vote, and they tell you that D.C. is broken, tell them to kick rocks.

According to a new report issued by the Center for Responsive Politics, just about half of all members of Congress are millionaires. Those same lawmakers who claim to represent the least of the; those same men and women who either want less government for the good of the country or a little more for the good of the country are delivering that message from an ivory tower.

Take the sometimes pompous chair of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa. He recently said that the testimony that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave to the committee was false. That has little to do with his ability to connect with voters and more to do with his disdain for the Affordable Care Act, but I digress.

Superficially, wouldn’t Issa’s words sound better if his political affiliation was different and he wasn’t reportedly worth almost $600 million?

For any member of Congress, that’s a lot of dough. Doesn’t take away from Issa’s ability to govern or look after his constituents, just shows that there may be a disconnect.

“Washington D.C. is broken” is the narrative that we’ve heard for a long time now. President Barack Obama was swept into office promising to change the culture in D.C. because the politicians there were so out-of-touch.

So what does this financial report prove?

I’ll give you a hint. Last year, Speaker of the House John Boehner said that “when you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it.”

Translation is that he and the majority of his Republican colleagues do not support an increase.

Now I understand that the argument against or for an increase in the minimum wage isn’t simple, but hearing that those who oppose it make at least $900,000 a year is a little sickening.

This all just means that the gap between the haves and the have nots has turned into a gulf.

Oh, and one of the richest members of Congress resides in Florida. Vernon Buchanan is a Republican who represents Florida’s 16th is potentially worth a cool $235 million.

Good luck finding him at the local Winn-Dixie picking through the good grapes.

-JH

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Will Val Demings Do More For the Working and Middle Class Than Jacobs?

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Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel/Former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings

Former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings announced her intention to run for Mayor of Orange County on Tuesday. Demings said that she decided to challenge Jacobs because she’s “not about representing the privileged few. It’s about representing everyone who lives and works in Orange County.”

In citing her reasons for running, Demings pointed out Jacobs’ failure to deliver on promises of running an open and ethical government, something that Mayor Jacobs refuted by saying that she looks forward to having an open discussion about the future of Orange County.

Jacobs continued her counterattack of Demings by saying that she “would not run for sheriff because I know I’m not qualified to be sheriff and I think qualification is an issue and it will be an issue in this race.”

While Jacobs may have a smug response to Demings characterization of her time in office, she shouldn’t take the former police chief’s run lightly.

In 2012, Demings ran for political office for the first time as she attempted to unseat Congressman Dan Webster. She didn’t win but the contest was so close, and bitter according to Webster, that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent over $1 million to help defeat Webster.

With her rookie run out of the way and an economic tomb of supporters in her pocket, can Demings really unseat the popular incumbent?

Ehh, maybe.

No political seat is un-winnable and Jacobs isn’t as popular as she used to be. As Demings alluded to in her announcement to run, Jacobs record on ethics isn’t exactly shiny.

Jacobs angered more than just Orange County Dems when she attempted to wash her hands of the paid sick time ballot measure. Then there’s “text gate” and her change of heart about the soccer stadium in Parramore. She isn’t a first time politician, so she should know that her record will be dissected with a fine tooth comb.

Still—Jacobs record and Demings attack of it aren’t really the issues that may get Demings elected. It’s what she said in her announcement about running to represent everyone that will resonate.

Will Demings talk more about the middle and working class? What about the poor and disenfranchised? Will she talk about improving the economic conditions for young people in the county? Remember when The Daily Beast ranked Orlando as the worst city for young adults?

I’m sure that Demings has wagons full of supporters ready to pull the lever in her favor come election day. But whether its Jacobs or Demings, we need to hear more about who will do more for working and lower class citizens.

-JH

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