Kelly Benjamin Archives - SaintPetersBlog

‘Women For Trump’ in West Tampa cheer upon news of FBI review of new Hillary Clinton emails

The “Women for Trump” bus tour made a stop at the Trump-Pence headquarters in West Tampa late Friday afternoon.

“Did anyone hear that the FBI just reopened an investigation?” asked Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law of Donald Trump and wife of Trump’s son, Eric.

The crowd erupted in cheers upon hearing that statement, which came about three hours after the news first broke that FBI Director James Comey had written to congressional leaders, saying it is again probing emails that might be related to Hillary Clinton’s private server, reopening a potentially damaging controversy for Clinton just 11 days before Election Day.

Joining Lara Trump was Omarosa Manigault, the breakout star of the first season of Trump’s NBC reality series “The Apprentice,” who was hired in July as the director of African-American outreach for the Trump campaign. She opted not to speak to the crowd, instead chatting briefly with people and taking a slew of selfies.

The other speakers were Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, better known by their stage name Diamond and Silk, the YouTube stars who championed Trump early on in the primary season.

“I’ll tell you, you all look beautiful, the basket of deplorables,” Hardaway began. “OK, so you all know that we are women, we are black, and we are voting for Donald J. Trump!”

Later, it was Richardson’s turn at the mic. “It’s not about ovaries in the Oval Office. It’s about who has the balls to build a wall!”

Needless to say, the crowd erupted in cheers to that statement as well.

Lara Trump said her father-in-law would bring respect back to the country and the White House. She then mentioned President Obama‘s recent trip to China, where authorities failed to initially provide a staircase when he landed.

“We might not agree with his politics, but he is still the president and that is Air Force One and that demands respect!” Trump said. “Do you know what Donald Trump would have done if that was him? He would have said ‘gas it up, we’re going back home.’”

One “Woman for Trump” who was slated to appear but did not was national spokesperson Katrina Pierson.

All told, the event lasted all of 15 minutes or so, after commencing an hour after the scheduled 3 p.m. start.

During the hour interregnum, the presence of liberal activist Kelly Benjamin appeared to unnerve officials, including a security guard who several times asked Benjamin to leave the premises, claiming it was a private event and that he was trespassing. Each time he successfully talked his way into staying, before two Tampa Police Department officers were called in. They ended up walking him out to the front of the sidewalk of the event.


Then, as the women were just about to reboard the bus, Benjamin and two members of Black Lives Matter unfurled a Black Lives Matter flag, and for a minute or so it became tense, as the Trump supporters started shouting back “all lives matter” to the two activists chants of “black lives matter.” And then it ended.

Jill Stein tells Tampa: ‘This is the perfect storm for a voter revolt’

Dr. Jill Stein, the 66-year-old Green Party presidential candidate, brought her campaign to Tampa Wednesday night, where she spoke to a packed house in the second floor ballroom of the Cuban Club in Ybor City.

Stein is currently averaging around 2.5 percent in the national polls, not that dissimilar to the 2.7 percent Ralph Nader ultimately earned in 2000. More than one political observer has noted the similar circumstances of that election and this one — comparing the lackluster enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton among some Democrats to the sentiments towards Al Gore back at the turn of the century, which some contend is why George W. Bush ended up getting more votes in Florida, which decided the 2000 election.

Progressives say they know a Donald Trump presidency would be disastrous, but that’s not stopping about 10 percent of the public — adding in Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s polling numbers — to look beyond the major party candidates when considering their vote for president.

“I would feel terrible if Trump gets elected, but I’ll also feel terrible if Hillary gets elected,” Stein told reporters about an hour before she addressed the Cuban Club crowd. “Hillary actually has a track record. Donald Trump wants to bar Muslims from entering the country, but Hillary Clinton has been busy bombing Muslims.”

Stein said Clinton’s hawkish beliefs helped lead the country to intervene in Libya in 2011, and says that her call for a no-fly zone in Syria to contend with that crisis is tantamount to calling for going to war with Russia. “This is the Cuban missile crisis on steroids, but in reverse,” she charged.

More than a third of voters 18 to 29 said in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll they would vote for either Johnson or Stein. Johnson had the support of 26 percent of those voters, and Stein had 10 percent.

Much of Stein’s appeal is geared towards those millennials — as are her policies, such as her $1.3 trillion bailout plan to eliminate all student debt, which she’d pay for with a 0.5 percent Wall Street financial transactions tax. She calls it the biggest stimulus package imaginable “We came up with $16 trillion to bail out the crooks on Wall Street who crashed the economy. It’s about time to bail out the students who are the way forward, the engine of the new economy for the 21st century.”

Stein is the favorite of many Bernie Sanders supporters, but Bernie is trying to persuade them to support the Democratic nominee. Campaigning with Clinton at the University of New Hampshire Wednesday, the Vermont senator told the student-heavy audience that, “All of you know this is a very tight election and that New Hampshire could decide the outcome. So I am asking you here today not only to vote for Secretary Clinton, but to work to get your uncles and your aunts and to get your friends to vote.”

But Stein says those Bernie supporters need to give her candidacy a shot.

“There is not a new entitlement for big politicians called owning our votes,” Stein said in support of voting for a third-party candidate like herself. “They have to earn our votes, they don’t own them, they have not earned our votes. So I think we want to put the horse before the cart, not the other way around. Let’s empower and inform the American voter to decide which way they want to go, instead of trying to shut off discussion before it’s even been opened. Over 70 percent of voters have no idea about my campaign. They don’t know who I am or what I stand for. I think we owe it to voters to lead the way forward rather than the party operatives and the political pundits who are telling us that they want one candidate over another and the rest of us better just shut up and go home.”

At Wednesday night’s event, Stein was preceded by a number of local speakers discussing a multitude of issues, including Susan Glickman urging the crowd to vote against Amendment One, Donna Davis from Black Lives Matter, Kelly Benjamin with the Fight for $15 movement, and Michelle Cookson from Sunshine Citizens informing the audience about why her group is so strongly opposed to the proposed Tampa Bay Express project.

Stein talks about her “Green New Deal” — an emergency jobs program she says cures the crisis of the part-time, minimum wage economy by focusing on climate change. She says it would require a mobilization similar to going to war, but says it’s worth it to save Florida, because the Sunshine State is “in the target hairs” of the global warming problem.

“You have to err on the safe side and ensure that this magnificent state and the magnificent ecosystem and what you have in your economy is not only alive, but needs to be thriving,” she said.

And Stein said “we need to go back to the drawing board” when it comes to dealing with companies like Mosaic, after the phosphate giant failed to disclose to their neighbors that 215 million gallons of contaminated water had fallen into a sinkhole at their phosphate plant in Mulberry, getting into the Florida aquifer, a source of fresh water for much of the state.

“This is not negotiable. Florida needs a great water supply,” Stein says. “We need a system that puts people first, ahead of profits. We need industries that are sustainable. We can have profits, but profits should not take place of our survival, and Florida’s survival not only as a viable economy, but just as a place that has drinking water, and an ecosystem.”

Stein was at Hofstra University on Long Island on Monday night, the site of the first presidential debate, before escorted off the college campus because of a lack of proper credentials. She said the lackluster discussion of war was why she should have been on that stage.

“Fifty-four percent of our discretionary national budget is going into these wars and this dangerous and bloated military. Almost half your income taxes are paying for it, and what do we have to show for it?” she asked. “Failed states, mass refugee migration and terrorist threats. So there’s another way forward in terms of national security and international peace. We call for a weapons embargo as well as a freeze on the funding of the bank accounts of those countries that are continuing to fund terrorist enterprises around the world, above all the Saudis. … They are the ones bankrolling all of this, so we and our allies have enabled this mess. We can shut it down peacefully, because by bombing it, we create the next wave of terrorism and they keep getting worse, they’re not getting better. So there’s a different way forward.”

Stein continues her Florida campaign tour Thursday. She’ll appear at the Robert L. Taylor Community Center in Sarasota at noon, and at the Flamboyant Banquet Hall at Acacia’s El Centro Borinqueno in Orlando at 6 p.m. 

Bob Buckhorn says he won’t create a civilian review board that wants to ‘do nothing but tear down our community’

Speaking in public for the first time since returning from a trip to Ireland with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn lashed out at activists who have criticized his plan to name the majority of the members of a police Civilian Review Board.

He also said that the City Council’s plans to continue to workshop the idea of giving them the power to name that board will go nowhere.

“We’re going to get a civilian review board that is in the best interest of the community, not the 20 folks that showed up at the Council meeting, because I’ve got to balance the needs of the community, the Police Department and the neighborhoods that they serve,” he said this morning. (There was approximately 40 people who spoke at the Council’s meeting last Thursday.) “I’m not going to permit a board of appointees from the Black Panther Party or any of these other fringe groups that want to do nothing but tear down our community. I’m not going to allow that to happen.”

Kelly Benjamin, an activist involved with the group Tampa for Justice that has presented an alternative proposal for a civilian review board, called the mayor’s comments “disappointing.”

“If he bothered to meet with us and discuss the larger issues with his proposal, he would recognize that this actually IS a large and diverse cross section of the community that he is supposed to represent, and that there are very legitimate reasons to institute an independent police board that isn’t stacked with his hand-picked appointees,” Benjamin said, adding that, “this issue will not go away with his poor attempt to sweep it under the rug and insult the caring people who are speaking up on this important issue. “

“People who care about justice and people who lost loved ones as a result of TPD actions are NOT fringe groups,” said another activist, Bleu Rainer. “Fringe groups, are you kidding? Maybe to the mayor, black people are a fringe group.”
Buckhorn signed an executive order on August 28 that would grant him the powers to name seven of the nine members of the proposed civilian review board. Such an agency would review cases after an internal affairs review was concluded and make recommendations to the police chief.

It’s a concept already present in most major American cities, but the demand for such an agency in Tampa only originated with any force after a Tampa Bay Times report in April that showed that the Tampa Police Department was disproportionately citing blacks for bicycle infractions. Since then, officials with the ACLU, NAACP, CAIR and other community activists have demanded that Tampa create such an agency.

Those groups also say they want a civilian review board that has subpoena power to call witnesses.

Fat chance that will happen, says the mayor.

“My reality is what the Charter says,” Buckhorn said, referring to what is essentially the Constitution for how the city of Tampa government operates. “My reality is what the law says. There cannot be a board that has subpoena power. That is prohibited by law. The policeman’s Bill of Rights trumps whatever happens on a local level, so you cannot create board that has subpoena power.”

The mayor is referring to the Florida Officer’s Bill of Rights. However, as has been cited by the activists, the city of Miami’s Civilian Review Board does have such powers. City of Tampa Attorney Julia Mandell maintains that Tampa’s Charter does not provide adequate authority for the delegation of such powers to such an agency. Mandell also says that the Charter only permits the mayor, and not the City Council, to nominate members to a civilian review board.

Tampa City Council Chairman Frank Reddick contends that Mandell is not an honest broker offering unvarnished information, but actually the mayor’s own attorney, thus creating a conflict of interest. Mandell says she will bring an independent attorney before the Council later this month to determine whether there is that conflict of interest.

“There is no conflict of interest,” Buckhorn said today. He also called City Council Attorney Marty Shelby’s opinion that the Council does have the authority to name members to the civilian review panel “creative at best.”

The Council is poised to engage in a workshop later this month regarding the idea of appointing the majority of members of the CRB. Under Reddick’s proposal that the Council approved last week, the Council would appoint seven members to the nine-member board. Buckhorn said today that they can go ahead and proceed to do so, but that neither he nor Mandell would ever sign such an “illegal” ordinance.

Regarding complaints made by Council last week that his executive order preempted their previously scheduled meeting last week to hear from Police Chief Eric Ward about a review board that worked best for Tampa, the mayor said that he didn’t preempt anything, since “their plan is not permissible.”

“They cannot create this board,” repeated. “Only the mayor can create this board. So in essence I did what they were asking me to do, whether they chose … the credit for it is a whole other thing, but I did exactly what they asked me to do.”

When asked if he might be willing to compromise with the Council regarding the selection of the members of the civilian review board, Buckhorn said he would be open to suggestions, but expressed little sympathy for their issues.

“For some, the Charter’s an inconvenience, and I’m sorry about that, but that’s the law, that’s the governing document that rules how this government works. I can’t change this. That’s not about me, that’s about the structure of the government. If they want to run a government, then run for mayor. I mean it’s that simple. Otherwise, Council has its authority. I don’t intervene in their stuff, and so I would be hopeful that they would respect that Charter.”

SaintPetersBlog contacted three separate City Council members for comment, but none returned our phone call by the time of this posting.

Officials say that a link for people to apply to the civilian review board should be up on the city of Tampa’s website within the next day or so.

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