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Mitch Perry Report for 7.11.16 — Donald Trump gets closer to naming his VP choice

We’re just a week out from the Republican National Convention, which means we’re just days away from learning who will be Donald Trump‘s vice presidential choice.

Of all the issues that make Americans fear a Trump presidency, the fact that he would have access to the nuclear codes is probably the most dominant concern, which is why it makes some sense if he were to nominate someone from the military.

Enter retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. The 57-year-old Flynn is a 33-year Army veteran who served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, but his tenure was reportedly cut short over clashes with top Obama administration officials. He’s been serving as an informal adviser to Trump during this campaign season.

Flynn went on ABC’s This Week with Martha Raddatz on Sunday, where he may have alienated some social conservatives with his stances on abortion and same-sex marriage.

”What people do in their private lives, these are not big issues that our country is dealing with that will cause our country to collapse,” Flynn told Raddatz. “I’m more concerned that our country could collapse because we are not dealing with education issues, immigration issues.”

Flynn says he grew up in a family that supported the Democratic Party, but he doesn’t recognize that party now.

On abortion, he said, “I think it’s a — I think for women — and these are difficult issues, but I think women have to be able to choose what they — you know, sort of the right of choice, but I think that that’s a difficult legal decision that — and I think that women are so important in that decision-making process.”

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are reportedly also thick in the mix for Trump. Either way, we should know who his No. 2 is within the next few days.

In other news …

There was no time off for this reporter this week. Jennifer Granholm headlined the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee’s annual fundraising event on Saturday night in Clearwater.

Ed Narain went after Augie Ribeiro at an SD 19 candidates forum in South St. Pete, also on Saturday.

Before the weekend, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Police Chief Eric Ward addressed the traumatic week of violence between police and the public in Dallas, Baton Rouge and suburban St. Paul.

In response to Dallas, conservative Florida Republicans Neil Combee and Dennis Baxley say they’ll introduce a “Blue Lives Matter” proposal in the Legislature if they make it back to office this November.

And outspoken conservative talk-show host Joe Walsh has somehow become an issue in the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s race, after his incendiary tweet about President Obama after the Dallas shootings.

Bob Henriquez wants Todd Jones to renounce Joe Walsh endorsement in Hillsborough Property appraiser race

Inexplicably, controversial conservative talk-show host and former Illinois GOP Congressman Joe Walsh has become an issue in the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s race.

Walsh lit up a firestorm on social media Thursday night when he tweeted after five Dallas police officers were killed during a Black Lives Matter protest that, “This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you” (the tweet has since been deleted).

Walsh also sent out subsequent tweets, once of which read, “You did this Obama. You did this liberals. You did this #BLM.”

Walsh was in Tampa a few months ago, where he endorsed Todd Jones, the Republican challenging Bob Henriquez in the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s race in November. Now Henriquez is calling on Jones to repudiate Walsh’s comments and reject that endorsement.

“I’ve always gone by the axiom my mother told me: tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are,” Henriquez said Friday afternoon. While acknowledging that candidates cannot be responsible for everything their supporters say or do, Henriquez says that a basic Google search should have been good enough for Jones to understand how controversial Walsh has been with some of his remarks since first getting elected in the big Tea Party explosion of 2010.

Walsh’s time in Congress was limited to a single term after his district was altered in 2012. He ended up losing that year to Democrat Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both her legs in a helicopter crash. During that campaign, he accused her of talking too much about her military service, and ultimately lost to her by 10 percentage points.

Walsh now hosts a talk-show in Chicago that is syndicated by Salem Media.

“I don’t know anybody who would want to be associated with him,” Henriquez says, adding that Jones has run as a “purple candidate” who says the job should be above politics.

Jones said he had no problem repudiating the tweet by Walsh, calling it “an undisciplined emotional reaction to a truly tragic incident.”

Unlike Henriquez, who served in the Florida Legislature for eight years, Jones is a political novice. A lifelong property appraiser, he’s running for office for the first time, and has said on the campaign trail that the position should be about who has the best qualifications for the job.

Saying that he’s “green to politics,” Jones said he’d have to “think about that a little bit” when asked if he would disavow the Walsh endorsement, which he said he was flattered to receive after the two met at an event at the University of Tampa. Jones said he had never met Walsh before that event, and hasn’t spoken to him since.

Jones initially spoke to this reporter while he was driving. A few minutes after our initial conversation, he blasted Henriquez for politicizing the events out of Dallas.

“Shame on Bob for exploiting such a tragedy for political gain,” he said. “I’m sorry, the congressman’s comments are obviously reprehensible and inappropriate and don’t help the situation, but Bob ’s motivation is pretty clear and I think it’s sad.”

Mitch Perry Report for 7.8.16 – America in crisis

The world awoke to the news this morning that five police officers in Dallas were killed at a police protest last night, with another six wounded. It’s the worst attack on law enforcement officers since 9/11. As I write this morning, CBS News reports that there were three and maybe four snipers involved. There’s been no other information reported on them at this point.

Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown said the officers were shot by two snipers in “elevated positions” near the protests and said the department believes the attackers coordinated the ambush. “How would you know to post up there?” he said, referring to the elevated position the snipers were in.

“We have yet to determine whether or not there was some complicity with the planning of this, but we will be pursuing that.”

In Warsaw, Poland, President Barack Obama called the shootings a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.”

The incident comes after the two shooting deaths of black men in suburban St. Paul and Baton Rouge earlier this week by the police, and has led many in the black community saying they are sick and tired of such incidents continuing to occur in this country.

The Washington Post reports this morning that the number of fatal shootings by officers has increased from 465 in the first six months of last year to 491 for the same period this year. They also report that this year has also seen more officers shot and killed in the line of duty and more officers prosecuted for questionable shootings.

One of the things that seems to be a consensus is that there needs to be more training of the police. The Post reports that while police chiefs around the nation have embraced such reforms, with 18,000 police departments in the country, many with their own training academies and unions, “making it impossible for them to move in lockstep.”

One of the legislative reforms that has come out of the police shootings in 2014 was the increase in body cameras for officers. However, the footage in Baton Rouge and suburban St. Paul from cellphones this week shows that the number of instances of deadly force haven’t been reduced at all.

In other news…

Today is the deadline for two media organizations in Florida who say they’re waiting on Patrick Murphy on whether or not they will hold a senate primary debate before voters go to the polls at the end of next month.

Murphy, incidentally, raised more than $2 million in the past 3 three months in his bid for the senate.

Marco Rubio joined nine other GOP senators early yesterday in calling for Sec. of State John Kerry to deny Hillary Clinton and her top aides access to national security information, following Jim Comey’s statement on Tuesday that she was “reckless” in handling classified material.

The Tampa Bay Times investigative editor, Chris Davis, has earned a promotion as the man now leading the investigative team at USA Today.

Avis Harrison becomes the sixth candidate (and first woman) to enter the Tampa City Council election to succeed Lisa Montelione.

Tim Canova has raised more than $2.25 million in his insurgent campaign against DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

House District 61 Democratic candidates in Tampa discuss their financial disclosure forms.

Mitch Perry Report for 7.5.16 – Bernie Sanders says the DNC’s platform still needs work

The Democratic Party platform’s most recent draft was published Friday, and is ready for your reading enjoyment, before it’s reviewed and ultimately approved this coming weekend in Orlando.

With Bernie Sanders‘ only leverage these days to exert as much of his influence as possible on this hallowed document, it is instructive to learn the Bernster thinks it’s a good start but needs more work, according to a piece he wrote on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s website Sunday.

On the issue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Democrats have a bit of a problem. That’s because their leader, Barack Obama, is 100 percent behind it, as are a number of Democrats.

Hillary Clinton used to be one of those Democrats, but no longer, undoubtedly pushed to oppose something she formerly called a “model” agreement by Sanders. Donald Trump rails against it daily as well, but the language in the platform says only there are “a diversity of views in the party.”

Sanders doesn’t understand that, since both he and Hillary oppose it. “If both Clinton and I agree that the TPP should not get to the floor of Congress this year, it’s hard to understand why an amendment saying so would not be overwhelmingly passed,” he writes, forgetting about Obama’s stance on the issue.

On the minimum wage, the DNC says they do support calls for raising it to $15, but support what Governors [Jerry] Brown in California and [Andrew] Cuomo in New York have proposed — doing it incrementally, year-by-year.

On Social Security, the platform calls for taxing “some of the income of people above $250,000.”

Regarding Wall Street, the platform says “we acknowledged that there is room within our party for a diversity of views on a broader financial transaction tax.”

On campaign finance, the platform calls for reversing not only 2010’s Citizens United decision, but also the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, which equated speech with money.

Bernie’s thoughts on the rest?

“We need to have very clear language that raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour, ensures that the promised pensions of millions of Americans will not be cut, establishes a tax on carbon, and creates a ban on fracking,” he writes. Currently, there is no ban on fracking, nor anything at all about a carbon tax.

Sanders says amendments on those items will be introduced in Orlando, so stay tuned.

In other news …

Well, the only thing we’ve reported on since last week was the fact that Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick has endorsed Betty Reed in Senate District 19 race, which may move some votes Ms. Reed’s way.

Justice Dept. adopts USF professor’s training program that hopes to reduce law enforcement bias

The U.S. Department of Justice announced this week that it will now train all of its law enforcement agents and prosecutors to recognize and address implicit bias as part of its regular training curricula, using a program developed by USF Associate Professor of Criminology, Lorie Fridell.

The demand for such programs has spread in the wake of a series of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers in recent years.

It comes after the DOJ was criticized for not developing its own policies to combat bias after recommending local police do so after the riots in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. The department actually held a two-day training with St. Louis area police on implicit racial bias and fair and impartial policing as it continued its civil rights probe into the killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a white Ferguson, Missouri police officer and the department’s broader investigation of the Ferguson police department (Fridell conducted a seminar with the Tampa Police Dept. in 2014).

“Our officers are more effective and our communities are more secure when law enforcement has the tools and training they need to address today’s public safety challenges,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced in a statement on Monday. “At the Department of Justice, we are committed to ensuring that our own personnel are well trained in the core principles and best practices of community policing.  Today’s announcement is an important step in our ongoing efforts to promote fairness, eliminate bias and build the stronger, safer, more just society that all Americans deserve.”

In the next month, more than 23,000 FBI, DEA, ATF and U.S. Marshals Service agents will begin receiving the Implicit Bias Training Program, as will the approximately 5,800 attorneys working in the 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices around the country.

“The science-based training program is designed to help people understand how implicit biases can impact their lives and work,” says Fridell, adding that social science has shown that we all have biases. “It also helps participants make these discoveries in a blame-free environment, one that recognizes that even the most well-intentioned officers and agents can experience unconscious biases.”

A faculty member in the USF College of Community and Behavioral Sciences, Fridell says that stereotypes associated with different groups of people can influence the interactions and decisions of those in law enforcement as they carry out their responsibilities.  And she says these stereotypes may be based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, or other factors.

“I have had officers tell me that this training has ‘opened their eyes’ and ‘made them think’,” says Fridell. “It is something they say now is in the back of their minds every day.”

In the DOJ statement, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates says that the dept. has a responsibility to do everything possible to ensure that the criminal justice system is fair and impartial. “Given that the research is clear that most people experience some degree of unconscious bias, and that the effects of that bias can be countered by acknowledging its existence and utilizing response strategies, it is essential that we provide implicit bias training to all of our prosecutors and law enforcement agents,” she said.

Fridley is the former Director of Research at the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), and the author of several books on law enforcement, including 2001’s “Racially Biased Policing: A Principled Response.”

Martin Dyckman: With ‘colossal liar’ Donald Trump, nightmares could become reality

Donald Trump has audacious proposals to wall off Mexico and bar Muslim immigrants, but he hasn’t said how he would stop people from sneaking around the barriers or overstaying visas.

How might he manage that? Let’s surmise one way.

He could be planning to implant every lawful resident with an identification chip like those the veterinarian offers to your dog or cat. The process is relatively painless and doesn’t cost much.

Newborns and legitimate visitors would be first. Others would have their turn in order to renew their drivers’ licenses, receive a tax refund, or show up to vote. Strategically placed surveillance devices would detect people without chips to be held for questioning.

“We have no choice,” he would say.

Stop. Roll back. This is fiction. I have absolutely no evidence that anything of the sort has occurred even to Trump. Identity chips have been the fantasy only of some folks on the far right who enjoy suspecting that their own government is out to get them.

They’re probably huge Trump fans. They’re susceptible to believing anything bad about their country’s leadership, and that’s what he trades on.

They’d better be careful, though. With Trump, one of their nightmares could become reality.

As Trump himself would say, who knows?

Stop. Roll back. I say again, this is fiction.

But it’s no more false, fanciful or outrageous than the paranoid fables that Trump persistently passes off as casually as you or I might say, “How’s it going today?”

After the slaughter at Orlando, Trump had the gall to imply that President Obama was somehow responsible.

Proof?

“There’s something going on,” Trump said.

That’s not proof.

He prepared for his campaign by flogging the birther nonsense even after all but a few certifiable lunatics had accepted the redundant evidence of Barack Obama’s native-born citizenship.

He has been digging into his party’s dry-as-dust Benghazi well by charging that Hillary Clinton was asleep rather than answering the phone when the American consulate was under attack. That’s a takeoff on her campaign question, “Who do you want in the White House when the phone rings at 3 a.m.?”

The trouble with Trump’s attempt to exploit Benghazi in that regard is that while the assault took place at nighttime in Libya, it was full daylight in the United States. The secretary of state was not napping. After verifying that she was in her Washington office, PolitiFact rated Trump’s claim “false.”

Pressed repeatedly on the insinuation, Trump finally admitted on NBC News that it might not be true.

“It happened all during the day and was going on for a long period of time — it was going on for a long period of time and she was asleep at the wheel, whether she was sleeping or not, who knows if she was sleeping?” he said.

Who knows?

If such speculative claptrap is legitimate politicking, here are a few other possibilities:

Is Trump insane?

Who knows?

Does he maintain a secret harem somewhere?

Who knows?

Does he have a fortune stashed in Russian banks, and is that why he’s refusing to divulge his income tax returns?

Who knows?

Trump continues to remind us that the Republican Party is about to nominate, for the most important office in the world, someone who doesn’t care even in the slightest whether there’s any truth to what he says.

He is a deliberate liar who’s as eager to deceive everyone in the same way he took advantage of people expecting to learn something useful from the so-called Trump University. The lesson that most learned was to not be swindled again.

And when Trump accuses Clinton of being the most corrupt presidential candidate ever, she must know what it’s like to be called ugly by a frog. Trump should look in the mirror.

He is as corrupt, if not more so, than any individual who has ever run for any office in the United States.

To tell lies and willfully repeat them after they have been exposed is a profound form of corruption.

To lure hard-working Americans into seminars on the premise that they will learn to be rich and then stiff them for ever-costlier upgrades they can’t afford is a profound form of corruption.

To habitually take corporations into bankruptcy, enriching oneself while leaving creditors and investors with little or nothing, is corruption. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, once can be the failure of good intentions. But at the old saying goes, “Fool me once, your fault. Fool me twice, my fault.”

The presidency of the United States — the leadership of the free world — is not on the order of a gambling casino or a golf course. We don’t dare be fooled even once.

Especially not by so colossal a liar as Donald Trump.

___

Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the newspaper now known as the Tampa Bay Times. He lives in suburban Asheville, North Carolina.

Charlie Crist endorsed by President Obama in CD 13 contest

President Obama endorsed Charlie Crist in his race for Congress in Florida’s 13th District.

“Governor Charlie Crist has always put people above politics – and we need more of that in Washington,” said Obama on a statement issued on Monday. “As Governor, in the face of partisan attacks, he had the courage to save jobs and lead his state into economic recovery. He had the wisdom to recognize that climate change is real and act to fight it. And he had the decency to expand, not restrict, our right to vote. I know he’ll bring the people’s voice to Congress, and I’ve got his back.”

Crist’s literal embrace of Obama when the president traveled to Lee County back in the spring of 2009 became one of the most famous hugs in recent political times, as Republicans used it against the former Governor when he unsuccessfully for Senate back in 2010, losing out to Marco Rubio.

“I’m humbled and honored that President Obama, one of the greatest leaders in our nation’s history, has my back,” said Crist. “Outside of the voters of Pinellas County, no endorsement means more to me. He’s done so much for our beautiful Florida  – guiding us out of the recession, and working for greater equality, opportunity, and prosperity. He’s a great friend.”

While the endorsement is a nice pickup for Crist, it’s not unexpected now he is running unopposed in the Democratic primary on Aug. 30.

Another move that Florida Republican criticized Crist for when he was governor was when he extended early voting hours in 2008 when Democrats, especially African-Americans, turned out in unprecedented numbers for President Obama, many of them waiting hours in line to cast a vote.

After he ran as an independent in 2010 and left the Republican Party, Crist was invited to give a speech touting Obama’s record at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in 2012. A few months later at a visit to the White House, he officially announced that he had become a Democrat.

Crist is now engaged in what could be an intense battle for the CD 13 seat in Florida, with GOP incumbent David Jolly reentering the race last Friday. Two private polls that were made public on Monday show that the race is extremely competitive.

A Public Policy Polling survey has Crist up by three points, while a survey done by McLaughlin & Associates has Jolly up by 12 percentage points over Crist.

President Obama cuts radio ad for Patrick Murphy

Democrats nationally are putting all their chips on Patrick Murphy in the U.S. Senate contest this year, and none other than President Obama is featured in a new radio ad that will begin airing today throughout the Sunshine State, promoting the Jupiter Representative.

“In Congress, I could always count on Patrick to have my back. He’s been there for me when I needed him,” Obama says in the ad, paid for by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

The President touts Murphy’s support for Social Security and Medicare, gun control and the Affordable Care Act in the ad.

“Now I need Patrick Murphy in the Senate,” he says, “to create good paying jobs, make sure corporations pay their fair share, and grow an economy that works for all of us. with equal pay for equal work.”

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced their support for Murphy in March, taking sides in the Democratic Primary, where Murphy is running against Orlando area Congressman Alan Grayson and former Navy JAG officer Pam Keith.

Listen below:

Tampa women attend White House’s United State of Women Summit

On Tuesday, five thousand women from around the country came to the White House for the United State of Women conference, where they heard from a series of big-time speakers, such as President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, among others.

Issues such as violence and rape culture to the wage gap and absence of educational opportunities for women around the world were all on the agenda.

One of the major initiatives is the new White House Equal Pay Pledge, through which companies promise to conduct an annual gender pay analysis and reassess their hiring and promoting processes to ensure equity.

Among those in attendance were Tampa’s own Brunelda Montoya and Nadaije Paul Jajoute.

Both women are child care workers involved in the “Fight for 15!” movement coordinated by the Florida Service Employees International Union that is pushing for a raise in the wages of fast food workers, health home care workers, child care workers and adjunct professors.

Paul Jajoute says that of all the high profile personalities at the event, it was Julie Hanna, the board chairman for Kiva, the peer to peer lending pioneer and the world’s largest crowdlending marketplace for global entrepreneurs.

“They give out loans, not thru banks, not thru wealthy financial people, private investors, it’s to people like me and you, ” she says. “Anyone who wants to can donate money, and you chose where you want that money. Anyone in the world can be a borrower, anyone can be a lender, and what was so amazing about this it shows how women about the community that they’re in.”

Nadaije Paul Jajoute also says she was blown away by Biden’s speech, which addressed rape culture in the U.S. “It affected my heart so deeply,” she says. “It was amazing.”

Those of us who find this action reprehensible, the talk reprehensible, you have to be heard,”Biden said. “You are the ones who are going to impact the change in the culture.”

“Most inspiring was that the government knows what we are going through right now, and are taking the initiative to try to change things,” said Montoya about the summit. “It has to start from the top.”

Montoya and Nadaije Paul Jajoute are childcare workers, and don’t make that money. Both have doing the same work for decades, and Paul Jajoute says she still only makes $9.50 an hour.

“It was overwhelming and surprisingly way better than I thought it was going to be,” says Paul Jajoute. “It gave me a lot of  hope. It surprised me, it made me want to keep going. I felt that there was still love in the world.”

Rick Scott says money set aside for Orlando efforts

Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday state agencies were setting aside millions of dollars for the Orlando area in the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub there.

Also Wednesday, his office revealed Scott and President Obama finally had a one-on-one phone conversation in advance of the president’s scheduled Thursday visit to the area.

In a press release, Scott’s office said the Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) “set aside more than $520,000 in residual Justice Assistance Grant funds for the City of Orlando and Orange County to be used for overtime pay for law enforcement and equipment associated with the terror attack.”

The department also asked for “$2 million in emergency funds from the Department of Justice to help with similar costs.”

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) also is “directing $500,000 in funding to local providers for crisis counseling services which include grief counseling, trauma support, and emotional support for victims and their families and loved ones,” the release said.

“We will continue to do all we can to help Orlando heal, and our state agencies are doing everything possible to provide assistance to those impacted by this horrific tragedy,” Scott said.

At around 3 p.m., his press office released a revised daily schedule for the governor, who is still in Orlando, showing he and Obama spoke on the phone at 12:40 p.m.

Scott had previously complained the president had not reached out to him directly after the shooting, which claimed 49 lives.

Spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said the president “expressed his condolences” in the roughly five-minute call.

Scott also followed up on his request for a federal emergency declaration and was told the Obama administration is “still reviewing it,” she said. Such a declaration would authorize up to $5 million in aid from federal agencies.

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