Juan Lynum Attempts to Separate Himself From Competition With First Fundraiser

Orlando City Commission candidate Juan Lynum is scheduled to hold his first fundraiser on Thursday night at Draft Global Beer Lounge and Grill.

From the looks of who’s seated on his host committee, Lynum is looking to separate himself from his two opponents, Regina Hill and Cynthia Harris.

While money isn’t an indicator as to who will win any political race, it does give an idea of which candidate may have the most support.

Judging by Lynum’s line-up, a list that includes former Chair of the Downtown Development Board Vernice Atkins-Bradley and Jim Pugh, Chairman of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, his support is coming from high places.

Lynum should have a decent haul of money once the doors close on his fundraising party Thursday night. That number should run north of a few thousand dollars; enough to give him a pretty good start for an election that’s a little more than a month and a half away.

For Regina Hill and Cynthia Harris, their separate money chests may look small compared to what Lynum may come up with, but if they both spend money wisely, this race may get competitive over the next month.

Hill has raised almost $3,000 and Harris comes in a little under $6,000. They’ve both spent the majority of what they have as of the last reporting period, but again, their monetary success is contingent upon how they spend money leading up to Election Day.

Both Hill and Harris have positioned themselves as advocates for the voiceless. Hill has stated that she wants to build up the people of District five instead of more venues and Harris has a list of goals that include “preserving community heritage and encouraging the local economy.”

-JH

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While Attention Is Cast on Race For District 5, Trouble Abounds at the Top

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Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel / Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum

Orlando isn’t necessarily considered a hot bed for political stories, so anytime something alters the status quo in the city, it makes headlines.

Last week, Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum abruptly retired from the seat that she’s held for the last 16 years. She was fighting for her political life as two opponents, Regina Hill and Cynthia Harris, were contesting to take over the role of commissioner for District Five.

In an effort to “continue the legacy of leadership” that Ms. Lynum has constructed over the last decade and a half, her son Juan entered the race this past Friday to try to take her place.

Mr. Lynum noted that he’s running “to sustain the programs and initiatives that Commissioner Daisy Lynum established and for us to build on that foundation.”

While some may disagree with his reasoning for wanting to run, his challengers included, there are issues facing the district that aren’t necessarily the fault of Commissioner Lynum.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was elected back in 2003 and said in his inaugural address that he wants his success as mayor to be measured by his ability to rebuild the community of Parramore; a community represented on the city commission by Ms. Lynum.

Since that speech, Dyer has intently worked to transform Parramore into a contemporary utopia. From the destruction of the old Amway Arena to the recent soccer stadium deal, Parramore is being reconstructed through Dyers vision.

It may not be the Parramore that many who value the history and legacy of the community want, but it surely fits the eye of Mayor Dyer. There hasn’t been a concerted effort put forth by the mayor to preserve Parramore’s history, or the city of Orlando’s history for that matter.

Dyers vision is fixated toward growth without regard to the tattered trail he leaves behind.

In his inaugural speech, Dyer talked about the working poor and a robust living wage. In his latest State of the City speech from February 2013, Dyer didn’t mention the poor. He didn’t talk about attempting to fix Orlando’s ranking as the lowest-paying major metropolitan area in the nation.

Instead he mentioned Sun Rail, building a new soccer stadium, renovating the Citrus Bowl and lowering property crime. Dyer seemed progressive in his first speech, since then, he hasn’t shown much progress toward improving the lives of the working class and working poor.

Commissioner Lynum has been criticized for not voicing enough of an opposition to Dyer’s agenda , failing to create more employment and economic opportunities for the residents of Parramore and not offering respect to her constituents.

That may all be up for debate, but what Dyer has done to the community of Parramore and the city of Orlando seems to be much worse.

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Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel / Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer

According to a recent column by Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel, Dyer wants to give the Orlando Solar Bears, the city’s minor league hockey team, almost $400,000 in fees and revenues; all money the city currently receives.

The team will also receive a $100,000 “advertising payment” from Orlando for at least the next two years.

Maxwell also notes that these deals weren’t confirmed by the city commission.

The latest round of bad news for Mayor Dyer is that he wants to tear down historic Tinker Field to make way for the reconstruction of the Citrus Bowl. The only problem with that is he didn’t warn or tell the commission that he planned to tear it down. In talking about the expected demolition of the field, Commissioner Sam Ings called Dyer’s blatant disregard for the field as “malfeasance.”

Where is the outrage over Dyer’s behavior compared to that of Commissioner Lynum?

Understandably, there is anger at Commissioner Lynum. She’s the proxy for the voters of district five and many believe that the voters of that district deserve someone better. Parramore seems to be dying a slow death and many of the residents are considered working poor or just poor.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Parramore won’t be fixed in one. While Commissioner Lynum shoulders some of the blame for what’s happened in her district, Dyers takes the king’s ransom.

Orlando may look good on the outside because of its tall buildings, new venues, shiny sports teams and progressive tint. On the inside it has a deep void; a legacy of gating residents off from city commissioned events, a sinking working class, a rising rate of disgruntled voters, and a mayor with a history of being politically nonchalant to the voters who matter the least.

For the voters of District Five, choose the candidate who will best represent the interests of the community at City Hall. Once that is done, turn your ire toward the politician who is tearing a part the community and changing it into something unrecognizable.

Until some of the anger and outrage is focused and pointed, everything that’s being fought over right now is for naught.

-JH

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Rep. Jimmie T. Smith: “Stand your ground is core to the American way of life.”

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Photo courtesy of http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Rep. Jimmie T. Smith

Last week, the Dream Defenders and a number of Floridians against the state’s self-defense law commonly known as “stand your ground” fled to Tallahassee to fight for repealing SYG or at least changing it.

A House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice voted against repealing or changing the law all together, opting instead to expand the scope of it.

Once the hearing was over, Florida Representative Jimmie T. Smith talked about why the law was so important and why it’s still needed.

“Stand your ground is core to the American way of life.”

For Smith, and those who believe in SYG, his comments encapsulate an antiquated political way of thinking.

What exactly is the American way of life and where is the core? Let’s try this on as an example.

On November 1st, many Floridians who rely on food stamps were impacted by a cut to the program aimed at reigning in America’s spiraling debt. The cut will impact over one million children and about 700,000 elderly and disabled.

To combat an economic problem in America, many politicians in Washington D.C., Democrats and Republicans, decided to cut a food program that serves the poor, the elderly, and America’s children. Doesn’t that sound backwards?

So for many who are against SYG and saw the case of George Zimmerman as one reason why the law needs adjusting, hearing Smith make such a statement may sound callous.

Since 2005, justifiable homicides are up by 200 percent in Florida and due to the convoluted language included in SYG, the Sanford police department decided against arresting Zimmerman and it altered the jury instructions when Zimmerman went to trial.

Coupling the two, doubling down on cuts to social programs to reign in debt when America’s economy is still bad for many, and expanding, at least on the surface, a law that has aided in the increase of justifiable homicides seems backwards.

Is that what Smith means when he references America’s core? A law that only furthers America’s gun culture or the idea that Americans have the right to self-defense?

At time of publish, Rep. Smith had not responded to my request for clarification on his statements.

For me, his comments seem outdated; almost a representation of why the Republican Party is dying a slow and painful death. It’s a failure to embrace change or progress, just like those who believe that cutting food stamps for the poor punishes those who abuse the system or will save America’s dying economy.

Is this the core that we are protecting?

-JH

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Is House Minority Leader Perry Thurston Another Black, Political Sacrificial Lamb?

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House Minority Leader Perry Thurston/Photo courtesy of mediatrackers.org

House Minority Leader Perry Thurston announced a couple of weeks ago that he will run to unseat Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Thurston is term limited in 2014 and many believed that he would either slide back to the private sector or take some time off to explore future political options.

Not many received the impression that Thurston would run for attorney general in 2014.

Thurston has been decently effective as House minority leader for the Democratic Party. There’s not much one can do when the GOP had a super majority in Tallahassee but make noise, try to develop strategy that will have an impact and aid in building a strong bench.

Without going into grand detail about the party’s failure to develop a political bench, I’ll move to Thurston’s choice to fight the GOP and AG Pam Bondi.

So far this year, Bondi has raised over $600,000 for her re-election campaign and has over $800,000 in a separate PAC. No matter who the individual from the other side turns out to be, they will have to raise a hefty amount of money just to compete with Bondi.

For Mr. Thurston, when he made his announcement to run, he stated that he has a proven track record of raising money and winning. In looking at some of Thurston’s campaign fund raising history, his healthiest year came in 2006 when he was able to raise over $140,000.

No diss to Thurston, but that’s probably how much Bondi makes in one fund raiser.

But is the Florida Democratic Party using Thurston to drive turnout for former Governor Charlie Crist in next year’s race for the governor’s mansion?

Crist is due to formally make an announcement on Monday morning that he will, again, run for governor of Florida. In a bid to unseat incumbent Rick Scott, Crist has aligned himself with the Democratic Party, a group of individuals he once despised politically.

Now that FDP has its sights set on reclaiming what was once theirs some years ago, they are hoping that pushing Crist as its main candidate will snatch away some of the GOP’s political stronghold on the state.

The hope in running Thurston against Bondi is that enough black people will turn out to vote for him in Broward that it will help in pushing Crist over the top of Scott. Privately, there’s not much hope that Thurston can win but that his presence on a potential ticket will push the party toward a much needed political victory.

If this is the case, should more minority political minds be upset over this decision? If Thurston actually wins the primary and beats Bondi, then that’s great news for FDP and minorities across the state. But if he doesn’t and ends up being throttled by the GOP, what good did it serve besides the best interest of a political party?

If Crist is able to win a primary against the Democratic Party’s other contender for governor, Nan Rich, the strategy is still missing. Crist is a force on his own without FDP. What if he decided to sit on the sidelines and remain independent? Who would the party turn to for governor?

For black people statewide, this should serve as another reminder that an allegiance to a political party equals political irrelevance.

I just hope that Thurston’s bid for attorney general turns out to be more than a back scratch or a lamb being led to slaughter for the so-called greater political good.

-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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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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House Republicans Vote To Slash Billions From Food Stamp Program

Photo courtesy of Politico.com

Congressman Daniel Webster/Photo courtesy of Politico.com

Maybe it’s time that someone SNAP on the House Republicans who voted to cut almost $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

That joke was flat and off key, but I’m just emulating Republican leadership.

As reported by the USDA, 14.5 percent of Americans are considered to lack food security. That means that many families do not have the financial means to purchase “enough food for active, healthy living.”

In an attempt to fill that hole, some families depend on SNAP, the program formerly known to many as food stamps.

Since the financial crisis of 2007, some Americans have been forced to apply for SNAP benefits. Without it, America’s food insecurity rate would likely triple. In 2011 alone, 18 million households were considered to be food insecure.

Taking that statistic further, four of the seven states with the highest food insecurity rates in America are in the south. That’s Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Georgia. Add North Carolina and Texas for good measure, and that just about makes up the entire list.

Oh, did I also mention that almost 85 percent of SNAP households have incomes at or below the poverty level?

Getting down to it, I could rattle off more statistics about why this vote was wrong, and how I believe Republicans are bad for America, but I won’t. The good thing about this vote is that it was just symbolic.

As Senator Debbie Stabenow said after the vote in the House, that version of the bill “will never see the light of day in the Senate.” There is still a chance that there may be cuts to this program, but a Jason from Friday the 13th type of slash probably won’t happen.

If this irks the nerves, which I hope it does, scream and yell at the Republican Congress person in one of the 50 states for voting for this bill. If they did, I suspect that they are bereft of empathy, comprehension, insight, and etc…

Maybe House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, one of the worst in the House, said it best when talking about the vote. According to NPR, Cantor stated that the system is being abused, and that it’s wrong to make hard working Americans pay for that exploitation.

Never mind the fact that Cantor failed to point to any specific abuse, or that his party could not produce pointed statistics about misuse of the food assistance program.

This just smells like an attempt to further marginalize the poor and working class.

I’ve never been a fan of Republicans, and that won’t change. Today’s vote on cutting government funded food assistance for the least of us just proves how much the party of Reagan really loves this country.

P.S. but not really: 15 Republicans voted against this nonsensical bill, and none take residence in Florida.

-JH

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