Kathy Castor Archives - Page 7 of 32 - SaintPetersBlog

Pat Kemp talks (about low-paying) jobs before a group of Tampa millennials

A recent Census Bureau report reveals what many people in the Tampa Bay area know all too well – that the area doesn’t pay that well in terms of annual salary compared to other major regions in the nation.

The median household income in Tampa Bay is $48,911. That’s dead last among the top 25 metro regions in the country, and the only region in the top 25 below an average salary of $50,000.

“We have to look at our economy and what we’re doing here because that separates us from so many other places in terms of driving our wages and driving our economy,” recently elected Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp told a group of millennials in Ybor City on Wednesday morning.

Speaking at the Blind Tiger Cafe on 7th Avenue to discuss the economy and how millennials are impacting job creation, Kemp said that she’s just now learning about all the things the county is doing on the economic development front. One of the biggest surprises she says she’s learned in her short time on the board is the fact that there are thousands of Hillsborough County employees making less than $12 an hour. “That’s stunning to me,” she said.

Speaking about a recent tax-incentive deal the county has made with a window manufacturer, Kemp says she’d like to find a way that new jobs that do come to Hillsborough County pay a certain wage.

“I want them to put something in there that’s like a minimum wage of $12 an hour or something before we subsidize,” she said. “I don’t know what models we have for that or if we just create out own, but I’d really like to see that be part of the protocol for that fund.”

She also said that while business and economic leaders in the Tampa Bay area want to attract educated millennials to the region to reach up to the Austin’s and Charlotte’s of the world, the number of people with undergraduate college degrees in the area is twenty-seven percent, under the national average of thirty-five percent, and below areas like Austin and Boston, which are around forty to forty-five percent. Kemp emphasized that the number of people with college degrees was just one measure of measuring the area, but an important element.

A longtime activist, attorney and and aide to lawmakers like Kathy Castor and Sara Romeo, Kemp for the first time holds elective office. That means being accountable to voters.

Andrew Machota, the head of New Town Connections which presented Kemp’s appearance, expressed concerns about how much lower the pay is Tampa Bay than around the rest of the nation, and asked what her vision was to cure that?

Kemp said she didn’t have any immediate answers, but said she knew what she didn’t want to do.

“When we were subsidizing Walmarts and retail which I just think is ludicrous for minimum wage jobs, that they would be here anyway,” she replied. “I’m going to try to support going local, keeping the wealth here and looking at that avenue as a form of prosperity rather than bringing in the chains and retailers who would come here anyway.”

Although the issue has long past, Kemp again brought up her opposition to the awarding of a $6.25 million subsidy in early 2013 by the BOCC to land a Bass Pro Shops, the chain store mecca for hunters and recreational fisherman. “I don’t know why. That was $6 million that could have been used for economic development … .it’s like crazy, right?

Kevin Beckner, Kemp’s predecessor representing District 6, was the only board member to oppose the measure. Commissioner Sandy Murman recently expressed no regrets for her vote, saying that the county’s return on investment will come back within three years.

Kemp said the county and the state has relied too long on low-paying tourism jobs and then segued into criticizing the county for failing to increase transportation impact fees on new development for decades.

Discussion of what is now known as mobility fees then propelled Kemp to drop talking jobs and segue into talking about one of her passions, public transit, which then dominated the rest of her address.

Run-off elections prove fruitful for Tampa Democrats for second straight year

Somewhat lost in the tumult over the infighting within the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee this week is the fact that for the second time in less than two years, a Democrat has been elected to the Tampa City Council in a run-off election after finishing a distant second in the initial election.

Luis Viera’s win by 63 votes in the District 7 race  came four weeks after he finished 2,469 votes behind Jim Davison in the Nov.8 general election.

“We had a great ground game that we’re really proud of,” Viera said on Thursday. “I think that the the closer that people looked at the issues involved in this election, the  more they were able to make an informed choice.”

The initial odds for the run-off didn’t seem to favor Viera, the 38-year-old Hunters Green-based attorney running for office for the first time. Not only had Davison taken the most votes in the general, but a poll taken two weeks before the run-off continued to show him with a steady lead. He also received two endorsements from two of the original six candidates (Avis Harrison and Cyril Spiro), while the two other Democrats in the race, Gene Siudut and Orlando Gudes, declined to get behind Viera’s candidacy.

Even though the race was considered “nonpartisan,” it was anything but that. The Hillsborough County Republican party literally tried to shower some support for Davison, the only registered Republican in the race, giving him a $1,000 contribution that ultimately was rejected when it ran afoul of the Tampa City Charter. Meanwhile, Viera was backed by Democrats like Kathy Castor, former District 7 representative Lisa Montelione, and ultimately Bob Buckhorn.

And while Republicans are somewhat of an endangered species at City Hall, District 7 has been their lone sanctuary for a number of years now, with Shawn Harrison and Joseph Caetano holding down the seat for a 12-year run from 1999-2011.

But the two debates in the last week of the race could have been the deciding X factor.

The vast majority of voters in Tuesday night’s election voted by mail, most in advance of the negative fallout that Davison received for saying in both debates that he would not take the issue of New Tampa seceding from the rest of Tampa off the table.

While it may not have been the defining moment of the race, Viera believes it was a break for his campaign.

“When I talk to people in whether its Forest Hills or New Tampa, or anywhere in North Tampa, they rejected the idea of using that, even as leverage,” Viera says. “So that’s something as soon as I heard that I knew that it wasn’t going to be well taken, because it wasn’t well taken by me,I don’t think that’s a productive process that you negotiate for North Tampa. To me that’s a non-starter and I believe that the voters agreed with me.”

Davison thinks that Viera was skillful in “twisting the secession thing,” and said he actually won the majority of votes in New Tampa.

While Viera says he won’t use secession as a negotiating point, he was certainly shared Davison’s sentiments on the trail that District 7 needed a fighter to gets its fair share from the rest of the city government.

“Not in an adversarial way, but in a way to work together to stress the great unique benefits of North Tampa,” he says, “whether it’s the University area, which includes USF, Moffitt, Shriners, etc. Whether it’s the wonderful neighborhoods of New Tampa, whether it’s Forest Hills historic neighborhood. Just to stress to people the benefits of neighborhoods, the people, the industries, the potential to the city and I believe that by doing that…we can get the respect that we deserve in North Tampa.”

In April of 2015, Jackie Toledo received 1,370 more votes than Guido Maniscalco in a three-person race for the Tampa City Council District 6 race general election and nearly won the race outright with 46 percent of the vote. But after the third place finisher, Tommy Castellano backed Maniscalco in the run-off, he ended up beating Toledo by 149 votes, in another case of a Democrat beating a Republican in run-off.

“In Guido’s case he was 17 points down, so I think that the role that we played was bigger,” says Hillsborough County DEC Chair Ione Townsend, who was serving as vice chair of the party back then. “I did organize some events, but for Luis, he had the funding and some pretty key endorsements, and the mayor came in at the end to help him.”

Davison admits that Viera had more money and a bigger machine working for him. “I was taking on the whole Democratic machine. You had Jim Davis, Bob Buckhorn and Tom Scott all making multiple robocalls,” he says.”I had robocalls for three days, but I was using a citizen in New Tampa. Not the mayor or a former congressman.”

Viera did raise more than four times as much campaign cash as Davison did. In fact, Davison raised the least money of the original six candidates, showing that in a small local election, money is not always a deciding factor, though ultimately it was here.

“It takes a lot of money to get that kind of message and explain it to people,” he says about his comments that a new firehouse was needed immediately. “Money I didn’t have.”

“If you examine the metrics of the Tampa Bay Fire Dept., it doesn’t call for another firehouse, ” Davison adds. “It may in the future, but certainly there’s not a need for allocating funds in the next budget or two.”

Davison says he may run against Viera again in 2019, but says that all of the other candidates in the race are formidable in their own right. And he says the issues he was talking about during the race are still there.

“They’re going to have to give Luis something,” he says about what Viera can get for the district when he runs for re-election.

Hillsborough County GOP Chair Deb Tamargo was unavailable for comment, but Jonny Torres, who is challenging her for party chair later this month, didn’t hold back.

“You can’t look at a race like the one in District 7 where we only lost by 65 votes and ask yourself, “what could we have done differently?” If the margin were larger it would be a very different conversation, but we have not been able to gain any ground in local elections for years,” he tells SPB in an email. “While we have been able to hold on to most of our local offices, the changing demographics in the county are not trending in our favor. This only reinforces the need for us to ramp up and expand our visibility, voter registration and engagement in the community to be better prepared for these types of opportunities.”


By only 65 votes, Luis Viera defeats Jim Davison in Tampa City Council special election

By just 65 votes, Luis Viera defeated Jim Davison in the Tampa City Council District 7 special run-off election, taking 50.64 percent to Davison’s 49.36 percent, a difference of only a single percentage point.

Viera received 2,588 votes to Davison’s 2,523, just 65 votes out of 5,120 cast.

The special election was held to succeed Lisa Montelione, who was re-elected without opposition to the North Tampa district seat in early 2015. Last fall, Montelione announced that she would run for the state Legislature, creating the opening for a new candidate.

Turnout for the runoff was low on Election Day, with 815 people voting. The clear majority of those who did participate voted by mail — 3,730. In four days of early voting (Thursday through Sunday), an additional 575 people cast ballots.

Viera’s victory maintains an all-Democratic Tampa City Council. If Davison had won, he would have been the first Republican on the board since Joseph Caetano, a District 7 councilmember defeated by Montelione when he ran for re-election in 2011.

Viera was endorsed by top Tampa area Democrats like Congresswoman Kathy Castor and City Council Chair Mike Suarez, a longtime friend. He also received a late endorsement from Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who said he was irked by Davison’s statement in the last week of the campaign that he would not dismiss the idea of threatening New Tampa secede from the rest of Tampa.

Although some speculated that Buckhorn would have ultimately endorsed Viera anyway, a fellow Democrat, Davison’s “Brexit”-like attitude made for a more dramatic element to the race.

A poll Friday by St. Pete Polls showed the two candidates tied at 39 percent, with 21 percent undecided. Undecideds apparently broke for Viera, if just narrowly.

For the 62-year-old Davison, this is his third loss running for office. He failed at two previous attempts for Hillsborough County Commission in 2002 and 2004.

Davison was also the co-founder of the New Tampa Transportation Task Force and has served on other transportation committees, including the Committee of ’99, which endorsed the idea of a sales tax to pay for transportation improvements.

Viera is a 38-year-old attorney with the downtown Tampa law firm of Ogden & Sullivan. He has been a member of the city of Tampa’s Civil Service Review Board since 2011.

Like Davison, Viera too is a resident of Hunter’s Green in New Tampa.

In the race, Viera raised more than four times the amount of campaign cash as Davison: $107,474 to Davison’s $25,630.

For the first round of voting Nov. 8, Davison won a plurality of votes in a six-person field. Viera came in second, behind by nearly eight percentage points (31-22 percent).

Two of the four remaining candidates – Avis Harrison and Cyril Spiro – endorsed Davison, while the other two Democrats in the contest – retired police officer Orlando Gudes and La Gaceta writer/editor Gene Siudut – opted to stay neutral.

The fact that Viera wasn’t endorsed by competitors “spoke volumes,” Davison charged at a debate in Forest Hills last week.

District 7 includes New Tampa, the University area, Terrace Park, Forest Hills and Temple Crest.

Viera will make $43,139 annually in what is considered a part-time job.

Luis Viera has now raised more than $100K in bid for Tampa City Council seat

With a little more than a week before the run-off election in Tampa’s District 7 City Council race, attorney Luis Viera has now raised more than $100,000 in his bid to succeed Lisa Montelione.

Viera faces Jim Davison in the December 6 special election, and the latest public poll shows Davison leading Viera, 42 percent to 35 percent.

Davison took the most votes in the November 8 primary, getting 31 percent to Viera’s 22 percent.

Two of the four candidates who also ran in the Nov. 8 election – Avis Harrison and Cyril Spiro – have endorsed Davison. The registered Republican also announced on Monday that he has received the endorsement from the Greater Tampa Realtors.

Viera, a registered Democrat, has received endorsements from the likes of Congresswoman Kathy Castor and former Congressman Jim Davis.

Viera has now raised $101,890 in the race, and had more than $25,000 cash on hand as of late last week.

Davison, on the other hand, has raised a total of $19,740, with just a little more than $3,000 cash on hand.

The two candidates will engage in their only two debates of the runoff period this week, with the first taking place Tuesday evening at the New Tampa Regional Library at 6:30 p.m.


Ralph Fernandez convinced Obama policy on Cuba a major factor in Florida going red

Did President Obama’s latest executive actions regarding Cuba policy in October incite hardline exiles to vote for Donald Trump in large enough numbers to help him win Florida? That belief was pushed by some in the immediate days after the election, and is getting more life from a Hillary Clinton supporter who knows the Cuban exile community very well in the wake of Fidel Castro’s death over the weekend.

Ralph Fernandez is a lifelong Democrat who helped raise money for Clinton’s campaign in Tampa this year. He’s also an attorney who defended many who went up against Castro’s government, and he says the exile community did everything possible to make sure that Clinton didn’t win the state.

“I knew that the efforts from Tampa – Kathy Castor, the presidential announcement, the way that it was carried out – was going to create problems for Hillary in the elections, and it did, because the dinosaurs … came together as they had never done to vote for Trump, a president-elect who will do nothing for Cuba, despite what he promised,” Fernandez said on Saturday.

Obama’s rapprochement with the Castro government began in December 2014, when he announced he had reached a deal with Cuba to begin to normalize relations. Since then, embassies have reopened in both countries, the U.S. has loosened trade and travel restrictions, and Obama visited the island there in March.  His latest foray took place last month,  when he announced that he was removing limits on the import of Cuban cigars and rum. Shortly after that, he ordered U.N. Ambassador Samantha Powers to abstain from a vote condemning the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba. Whether those moves changed opinion among Cuban-Americans in Florida, the fact of the matter is that support for Trump among that demographic shifted from 33 percent in September to 52 percent just before the election, according to a New York Times/Sienna poll.

Although a virulent anti-Castro critic, Fernandez is a Democrat who backed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and raised funds for Clinton in 2016. He also used to be an ally of Castor, but their relationship was fractured after Castor returned from Cuba in 2013 and called for an end to the fifty-year plus economic embargo against the communist island.

“I told her this was only the wrong thing to do, but it was just going to piss off these old Cubans in Miami that were out to pasture already and may have found that it was too hot or too inconvenient to go out that day, too difficult to read through the lengthy ballot and so forth, and it would just decrease the numbers, and decrease the interest,” Fernandez says.

While public opinion polls have shown a generational divide on the president’s moves towards Cuba (and general support overall for the policy change), the older generation of the Cuban-American community in Florida are in many cases single-issue voters regarding Cuba, Fernandez says. “They were constantly being confronted by the issue of the consulate and this and that, and so it just upset them so that their numbers were astronomic.” But he believes that many of those Cuban exile voters who supported Trump will  be solely disappointed by what they end up getting, and says it should have been just as upsetting that the president-elect was attempting to do business in Cuba as well, as alleged by Newsweek and Bloomberg.

“I told many of my friends, ‘can you believe that you are going to support the guy who was trying to do business in Cuba when I was representing the shoot down of the Brothers to The Rescuewhen I spent 1,000 hours on the skyjacking case or when I represented Rene Cruz in the California case with the two other defendants out there, while I was dedicating my life and and thousand of hours pro bono, and I’m nearly a million dollars out of my pocket defending these causes, and we were adamant about anybody violating the Trading with the Enemy Act going to prison, and now this you’re overlooking this?” Fernandez said with exasperation.

He said those same friends didn’t want to hear about that, and instead would shift the conversation about how President Obama had offended them and they were concerned about a Cuban consulate coming to Tampa. “And that’s all you heard in that community,” he says.

Not everyone agrees with Fernandez theory.

A week after the election results, Cuban American communication strategist Giancarlo Sopo’s wrote up an analysis of the Cuban American vote in Florida, and concluded that it was “fiction” to conclude that Obama’s Cuban policy cost Clinton Florida in the election.

In Tampa, agreement that Fidel Castro was one of a kind

There was no harsher a critic of the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba than Ralph Fernandez. Yet the Tampa attorney who represented several former political prisoners in Cuba over the past several decades says that nobody ever challenged the U.S. government as the longtime Cuban leader, who died Friday at the age of 90.

“The guy stood up to America like no one could. He represented a shrimp of a country, just a dot on the map, and he was just in our face, and he became the advocate for an entire Third World,” Fernandez said Saturday morning. “We have to acknowledge that he was the most eloquent, articulate speaker of the Spanish language of all time. He was brilliant. He was evil. He was one of a kind.”

But Fernandez also compares Castro to some of the evilest men who ever walked the earth.

“It’s great news, but it’s way late. Now he’s gone off to spend time with his friends: Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Pol Pot and the rest of the gang, if there’s a hell, he should be there for eternity.”

There is no official registry of the number of victims who were killed during Castro’s reign in power, which lasted from 1959 until he stepped down as president in 2006 because of health issues, ceding power to his brother Raul. An analysis performed by necrometrics.com put it between 5,000-12,000 executions. Fernandez claims it was 30,000, with another 200,000 imprisoned over the years on human rights violations, and “a third” of the population leaving the island to become exiles.

Al Fox is perhaps the best-known advocate in Tampa for advocating for opening relations with the Cuban government. Since creating the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation in 2001, he’s taken more than 100 trips to the Communist island, and he is fierce in criticizing those who deride Castro’s Cuba as a wasteland for its people.

“He took a country that 70 percent of all the land was owned by foreigners, and he gave it to the people,” Fox said. “And he took a country where only the elite were educated, and only the elite had proper medical care, and today you have a country of 11.5 million, and the people of Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras — they all wish they could live like a Cuban lives, but the perception out there is the complete opposite.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been a steadfast critic of the Castro regime, and has refused to join the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Tampa City Council and others who have been calling for a Cuban consulate to be located in Tampa after the breakthrough in diplomatic relations set forth by President Barack Obama in December 2014. In a statement, he said that generations of Cubans have helped build Tampa.

“Many arrived in our City fleeing the totalitarian policies of the Castro government with nothing more that the shirts on their backs and a yearning for freedom,” Buckhorn said. “They have never strayed from the belief that one day Cuba would again be free. The passing of Fidel Castro offers hope that one day the Cuban people will enjoy the benefits of a free and democratic society.”

No Florida lawmaker was more than Marco Rubio, who called Castro an “evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people” and turned Cuba into an “impoverished island prison.”

Although there was cheering in Miami overnight about the news, the mood was more downcast in Havana, according to CNN. Fox says that despite what others say, there are many Cuban people supportive of Castro to this day.

“He is revered in Cuba,” Fox says. “When Saddam Hussein was toppled, the people went dancing in the street, OK? You watch what’s going to happen in Cuba (referring his funeral next week). He was an absolutely revered, but the perception is that he was hated.”

Tampa-area Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor, who after traveling to Cuba in 2013 became the first Florida lawmaker to call for the end of the U.S. imposed sanctions on the Cuban government, said that she fears that Donald Trump will reverse the diplomatic measures that Obama has implemented over the past couple of years.

“Slamming the door shut at this point in time would be disastrous,” she said.” Instead, Fidel Castro’s death should encourage all of us to meet the challenge of better diplomatic relations, economic opportunities for Cubans and Americans, expanded travel, and support for the dignity of the Cuban people.”

On that point, both Fernandez and Fox agree that they do not see Trump reversing much of what Obama has done.

“There will be no wall, Obamacare will not be repealed in toto, and there will be no aggressive positioning in terms of the Cuba situation,” predicts Fernandez. “That genie’s out the bottle,” adds Fox.


Kathy Castor to celebrate Small Business Saturday in Seminole Heights

With the increase in online shopping, manufactured shopping holidays like Black Friday have been losing its luster in recent years. However, there’s still Small Business Saturday to lure shoppers out of their homes.

“We want to encourage people to go out of their ways to support these businesses,” said U.S. Representative Kathy Castor earlier this week. “They are the ones that make our economy grow. They make our economy strong, and those dollars circulate right here in our own economy.”

The shopping day was first conceived of by American Express in 2009 in an effort to help small companies still mired in the recession, and its grown in popularity. In 2012, consumers spent an estimated $5.5 billion at small retailers on Small Business Saturday. By 2015, that amount nearly tripled to $16.2 billion, according to Fortune.

A 2012 study from the research firm Civic Economics found that local retailers return an average of 52 percent of their revenue to the local economy, compared with just 14 percent for chain retailers.

“When our neighbors spend their money in a small business locally owned, those dollars stay in the local area, as opposed to when you go to a big box retail store,” said Castor while standing inside Cleanse Apothecary in Seminole Heights earlier this week. The Congresswoman said that the neighborhood has seen several new businesses open in what used to strictly be an industrial type area in recent years.

“It’s just exploded in the past couple of years,” says David Hanson, co-owner of Urban Bungalow, a retail store and bath and body shop. Hanson says that his business has adapted to the wishes of the neighborhood in recent years, “and that’s part of our success.”

“Being a small business owner, it’s rewarding, it’s hard work, and you really have to love your community, and if you do they’ll love you back,” enthused Leigh Anne Balks, owner of The Disco Dolls, a women’s fashion and hair salon boutique.

“I think all of us can speak to that where were creating spaces where people can not only get their retail fix, and have a little bit of that retail therapy, but also involve themselves in their community and have conversations with the owner and have conversations with the owner and have that unique customer service experience that is totally unique to coming into an owner operated shop,” said Balks. “I get rewarded by my customers, by my community, and I’m able to support a lot of other small businesses with my small business.”

“I watched everybody else grow and we decided we gotta be here too,” says Benny Blanchard, speaking about his decision to locate his  recently opened Heights Cigar Bar in Seminole Heights.

Although problematic issues with businesses getting permitted in Seminole Heights have been legion over the years, none of the small business owners say they’ve had any problems with the city of Tampa since they’ve been in operation. However, Greg Curtis, the owner of Cleanse Apothecary, said he’d like it if Florida Avenue were to become more walkable.

“That’d be a great thing since we’re getting so dense now witih new businesses and seeing people walking in the evenings (and) riding their bikes, so having the core pedestrian friendly would be wonderful,” he says.

The merchants in Seminole Heights are also Small Business Saturday in conjunction with their annual Holiday Shop Hop, which will include 14 locally owned businesses offering sales and prizes.  Shoppers visiting at least six participating businesses and getting their “Shop Hop Passport” stamped will be eligible to win a Local Shopping Spree, which is the grand prize featuring gift certificates for local shops.  

Pat Kemp sworn in as newest Hillsborough County Commissioner

Pat Kemp, Sandy Murman and Les Miller were all official sworn into office on Tuesday to serve on the Hillsborough County Commission for the next four years.

For Miller and Murman, if all goes well they will have spent a full decade in office when their term ends in 2020. Both were elected in 2010, after serving previous stints in the Florida Legislature.

For Kemp, it’s the culmination of her work over the past several years to finally sit on the dais. An attorney and longtime Sierra Club member, she lost a close race for county commission in 2014 to Al Higginbotham before defeating Republican Tim Schock in the open County Commission District 6 earlier this month, where she will succeed Kevin Beckner.

Kemp was accompanied to her swearing-in by three former county commissioners, Betty Castor, Ed Turanchik and Congresswoman Kathy Castor, who administered the oath to Kemp.

“I know when I pulled up my parking spot C6 in the garage and I saw all the tow signs, it was a little surreal and I’m hoping my car will  be there when I get ready to leave today,” Kemp said in describing her feelings of actually being a County Commissioner.

Acting Commission Chair Victor Crist joked that he had forgotten to tell Kemp that as the new member of the board, there had been some changes, and “the parking spot that you parked in? Well, your car won’t be there.”

“I’ll try not to Uber it. Well I guess I can now,” she responded, earning a hearty laugh from Crist, who has spent the past two-and-a-half years working on regulating the popular ridesharing service in Hillsborough County, an achievement that finally took place two weeks ago.

In her remarks, Kemp gave tribute to the female commissioners who have preceded her over the decades, beginning with Sylvia Kimball Rodriguez, Phyllis Busansky, Jan Platt, Pat Frank, Pam Iorio and Fran Davin.

Among the priorities she says she intends to pursue on the board include promoting “good paying 21st Century jobs,” as well as encouraging renewable energy initiatives, transit funding and promoting good growth management.

In welcoming Kemp to the board, Commissioner Stacy White said that while they sit on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum, the two have already proven they can work together when it comes to issues like conservation and growth management.

“A lot of folks from the outside looking in might think that the East Hillsborough conservative on the board and someone who it’s probably fair to say would fit the bill of a progressive Democrat, might not have a lot in common,” he said. “But I think you know that in our work together that we’ve already engaged in, that I think we’re going to work very well together.”

Crist said that he didn’t know Kemp until she contacted him while campaigning to learn more about the county commission and what was important to him. “I think you’re going to be a very functional and assertive member of this board, but I think you will represent your constituency well.”

Murman told Kemp that she welcomed having a second female on the otherwise all male board.

In her other remarks, Murman said she wanted to “finish the job on transportation,” and that the board should concentrate on creating jobs and helping out small businesses. “We still have a big job to do to take care of all the citizens in our community,” she said.


Miller also talked about transportation and jobs as being a focus. “We have a lot of work to do,” he said. Like Murman and the other board members, he said he said it was a very collegial board that he looked forward to working with.

Mitch Perry Report for 11.22.16 — The sad story of Chris Christie

There’s no doubt Rudy Giuliani will get some meaty position in the upcoming Donald Trump administration, because the dude was loyal as hell to the president-elect throughout the past year.

Chris Christie, on the other hand, may be looking at bupkes.

The New Jersey governor was one of the first mainstream Republicans to endorse Trump, which he did after he flamed out in the New Hampshire primary. Since that time, reporters have had a field day blasting the one-time fierce (bullying?) New Jerseyite for being a “manservant” to Trump (there even was an unfortunate rumor that Trump had summoned Christie to fetch him McDonalds).

But things have gone downhill for awhile for Christie in terms of where he’s at with the new leader of the free world. Sure there’s been tension forever between him and Jared Kushner, going back to Christie’s days as a federal prosecutor in the aughts sending Kushner’s pop to prison on charges of tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions, but there also were multiple media reports last month that Trump was not pleased to learn what was unearthed during the Bridgegate trial that saw Bridget Kelly, his former chief of staff, be convicted in federal court for her involvement in the scandal, which could send her to prison for 20 years.

And then there was this, from today’s NY Times:

Mr. Christie’s fall in the Trump circle was weeks in the making. There was already grumbling, particularly from former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, and from Mr. Trump’s children. Mr. Christie, they believed, had gone off-message after an “Access Hollywood” tape was released in which Mr. Trump made vulgar comments about women; the governor first canceled Sunday show appearances, then emerged on the radio the next week to call Mr. Trump’s comments “indefensible.”

No, in that crucial time for Donald Trump, Chris Christie wasn’t the loyal foot soldier Trump apparently demands. If you’ll recall, Giuliani was the only surrogate from the Trump campaign to make the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows less than 48 hours after that story went viral on Oct. 9. Even Kellyanne Conway was MIA from the airwaves that weekend.

But in the case of Christie, maybe, just maybe, he couldn’t look himself in the mirror (or his wife and kids) and try to some how spin anything positive about those stunning remarks, dismissed as “locker room talk” by Trump and his allies.

Team Trump apparently wasn’t too pleased with Christie’s work on the transition pre-Election Day, as many members of that squad were former lobbyists — not the way to start out a new administration from someone who called for “draining the swamp.”

There was also a report of Christie trying to nudge his way into the picture frame when Trump gave his speech after winning the general election, when reportedly he hadn’t been seen helping the campaign for weeks.

So all of that is to say that Christie may not get anything from Trump as he goes about naming his Cabinet. A tragedy? Not really, but still sort of ugly to watch it all play out.

In other news …

Kathy Castor says she will work with President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress if the opportunity presents itself. She’s also mum on whether she’ll vote to retain Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader.

Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg was in Gitmo last week to attend a hearing one of the suspects being held at the U.S. prison in Cuba. He added that the man’s trial is not scheduled for another three years.

And your Florida Legislature is in Tallahassee today — all 160 of them elected earlier this month — if not earlier during the primary season.

Jim Davison blasts the Tampa Bay Times and his opponent in next month’s Tampa City Council District 7 election for its recommendation of Luis Viera.

And Tampa will play host to the National League of Cities annual convention  in 2020.

Kathy Castor says she’ll work with Donald Trump and GOP majority in Congress ‘If there’s an opportunity’

Kathy Castor says the voters in Florida’s 14th Congressional District re-elected her to get things done in Washington and, when she can, she’ll work with the Donald Trump administration and GOP Congress. But she’ll also resist them, depending on what policies they propose.

“People elected me to solve problems and if there’s any opportunity to do that with President Trump and a Republican Congress, that’s what I’m going to do,” she said Monday. “But I’m not going to compromise the values that this community holds dear. Whether that’s taking our Dream Act students and not deporting them, or fighting for higher wages, the Democratic Party is the party of working people and I’m going to continue to stand up for their interests against the system.”

Yet despite that perception, Hillary Clinton’s failure to win rust-belt states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan in the election has led to the accepted perception the Democrats have lost their way with working people.

In Boston on Sunday night, Bernie Sanders said the party has to return its focus to the working class.

“The working class of this country is being decimated — that’s why Donald Trump won,” Sanders said. “And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down.”

“All I know is that every week when I’m in Washington D.C. we’re standing up to moneyed special interests and for some reason that’s not being communicated,” Castor says. “For example, they want to give massive tax breaks to big corporations and the top one percent. That’s not going to help working class people or working people, and what I’m afraid is that the Congress that has passed draconian budgets and tried to keep all the benefits for the wealthiest in the country, that they kind of play on Trump and take advantage of him and the people who elected him. We’re going to be pointing these things out.”

Next week Castor and her Democratic colleagues will vote on whether to retain Nancy Pelosi as their leader, or go in a different direction. Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan has announced his candidacy to challenge Pelosi, the 76-year-old San Francisco congresswoman who leads the Democrats in the House of Representatives.

Castor said she is undecided, but said there’s value in having a female leader.

“The party needs different leaders,” she acknowledges. “It’s time for a younger generation of leaders to run for local office, to get involved in local issues and state issues. But there is one consideration about who is going to be in leadership in Washington. President Trump, Chuck Schumer, Sen. McConnell, Paul Ryan. What do they have all have in common?”

She then answered her own question. “There is a lot of value in having a female leader,” before insisting that she hasn’t made a final decision on who should lead the caucus.

Speaking in Peru Sunday, President Obama said he was reticent to “meddle” in party votes while still in office, but went on to say that he “cannot speak highly enough” of the woman who a decade ago became the first female House speaker. “She combines strong progressive values with just extraordinary political skill, and she does stuff that’s tough, not just stuff that’s easy,” Obama said of Pelosi.

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