President Obama Archives - Page 6 of 25 - SaintPetersBlog

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.

Mitch Perry Report for 6.8.16 – Common Cause Florida calls for Pam Bondi to come clean

There are now calls for an independent investigation into Pam Bondi’s decision not to investigate consumer complaints against Trump University, the for-profit education company created by Donald Trump that ran a real estate training program from 2005 until at least 2010 – and not just from Democrats.

“Attorney General Pam Bondi owes Floridians a full accounting of her office’s investigation of fraud allegations against Trump University and her acceptance of a $25,000 campaign contribution from a Trump-backed charity,” said Liza McClenaghan, chair of Florida Common Cause. “If she can’t provide it – immediately – Gov. Rick Scott should appoint an independent investigator to do so.”

After several days of reports about Bondi’s office deciding not to pursue charges, coming around the time that she received a $25,000 check from a Trump foundation in 2013, the Tampa native finally spoke out last night, saying that her office was never investigating Trump U.

The Associated Press reported on Monday that Bondi had “nixed” suing Trump. A spokesman for the AG has said that their office received “few complaints” about Trump U, and opted to let the it go and allow the investigation by NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman be the lead agent for disgruntled Trump U customers around the nation.

Although this story has been in the news for months (after Bondi endorsed Trump in Tampa back in March), it was Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell’s recent piece that put it back on the front pages.

Maxwell received more than 8,400 pages of information from Bondi’s office on anything related to Trump U – he read by combing through the documents that in fact there had been 100 complaints from Floridians against the business.

Damningly, he also found that nobody in Bondi’s office seemed very interested in following up on those complaints.

And yes, this all happened at the same time that Bondi had requested and received that $25,000 contribution.

Bondi’s statement last night denied that her office was ever investigating Trump U – that it’s inaccurate to say that it was, and the inference that the financial contribution to her made her office turn course is terribly inaccurate. So I guess the first question I would ask at a news conference is – why is it that you’re so quick to jump on lawsuits going after President Obama regarding the Clean Power act, the Affordable Care Act, or immigration, but not on a consumer affairs issue that affected your constituents?

In other news…

GOP Senate candidate Carlos Beruff visited Cuba in 2011 with members of a group activity trying to end the economic embargo against the Communist island.

An activist group is blasting Marco Rubio for blocking a Barack Obama judicial appointee – and someone initially commended by the Florida senator himself.

Kathy Castor decides to endorse early in a Tampa City Council election that officially hasn’t been declared yet.

Dwight Dudley can’t endorse since the state house Democrat is running for the judiciary in Pinellas County, but his wife can – and has .

An angry Rich Nugent is upset about a Daniel Webster mailer that depicts him and Webster together, saying it implies that he’s endorsing Webster when in fact he’s backing opponent Justin Grabelle.

If you’re interested in giving the Tampa Police Dept. feedback regarding, well anything, you’ve got two more chances this week to do so.

Vern Buchanan praises reauthorization of National Estuary Program

President Obama has signed into law the first reauthorization of the National Estuary Program (NEP) since it expired in 2010, allowing the Environmental Protection Agency and the 28 individual NEPs to continue to support conservation and improvement at estuaries around the United States.

One of those NEPs is Sarasota Bay, prompting Sarasota GOP Congressman Vern Buchanan to praise the legislation, which reauthorizes the NEP through 2021.

“Sarasota Bay is a key contributor to the Suncoast’s economy,” Buchanan said. “In fact, researchers have found that 21,000 jobs depend on the bay. The bay provides crucial habitat for plants and wildlife including the iconic Florida manatee, the bald eagle, osprey, sea turtles, and bottlenose dolphins.”

The legislation signed by Obama on Friday authorizes $132.5 million over five years to help states and local partnerships develop and implement conservation and management plans and address threats to estuaries.

Sarasota Bay is home to more than 1,400 native species of diverse plants and animals, and it contributes nearly $1.8 billion to Florida’s economy, according to the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

 

In GOP Saturday address, Gus Bilirakis blasts lack of adequate reforms at VA

You might have missed it this weekend, but Pasco County-based Congressman Gus Bilirakis addressed the nation to say that the reforms at the Veterans Affairs Department over the past two years have been ineffectual, at best.

The CD 12 Republican was chosen to given the GOP response to President Obama’s Saturday-morning address, and spent three minutes addressing the crisis at the VA, and his dissatisfaction about what hasn’t been done to address the problems there.

It was almost exactly two years ago when Eric Shinseki resigned as the head of the VA. It followed a firestorm of criticism and calls for him to step down following damaging revelations of sometimes deadly delays for veterans waiting for care at VA hospitals.

Bilirakis said that the problems with the agency haven’t been fixed since Shinseki’s ouster, and he questioned if it’s a priority for President Obama on Saturday.

“Despite receiving more funding, the VA is still taking too long to process claims,” Bilirakis said in his address. “Wait times are even worse. Despite receiving more authority to clean up the bureaucracy, the VA has held almost nobody accountable for manipulating wait times.”

Bilirakis, the Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said that for veterans, these are life and death issues, but it seems to be business as usual with the VA.

“We cannot accept that,” he said, adding that committees in both the House and Senate are working on legislative reforms to boost accountability and improve care.

The major vehicle for such reforms is being called the Veterans First Act, and it would allow VA leaders to be able to more easily hire and fire department senior executives, changing the employment policies to rules closer to private-sector contracts. It also limits the amount of time any VA employee can be placed on administrative leave, blocking bonuses for some workers, and allowing any VA employee to be fired for misconduct with more limited appeals and a quicker timeline.

“We need real and meaningful reforms at the VA,” the congressman concludes in his address. “And we need President Obama to keep his word to you and make it his top priority to fix the problems at the VA. We will not rest until he does. That’s the least we can do.”

Mitch Perry Report for 5.18.16 — D.C. Republicans at odds with each other on Zika funding

The U.S. Senate advanced a $1.1 billion bill to help public officials battle the Zika virus Tuesday as it begins to threaten America.

That’s $800 million less than the $1.9 billion that President Obama has been calling for since February, but it is more than the $622 million that the GOP-led House passed on Monday. Much of it would come from money that was approved to fight the Ebola virus and that health officials say is still needed for that purpose.

That angered Florida House Democrats like Gwen Graham, Kathy Castor and Patrick Murphy.

“If this Republican-led Congress continues to ignore this public health threat, I’m very afraid and many across the business community are afraid for the disaster this could mean for our economy, jobs and Florida’s tourism-based economy,” Castor said Tuesday.

“There have already been more than 100 Zika cases reported in Florida, and as summer approaches, the situation will likely worsen,” said Graham. “Floridians can’t wait any longer — lives are at risk. It’s time for Republicans to quit stalling and end their political games. We must fully fund research, prevention and response efforts to fight this deadly virus.”

Marco Rubio is also calling on his colleagues in the House that they need to cough up more money, alienating him with some conservatives.

C.D.C. director Thomas Frieden tells The New York Times why he needs the higher figure to try to stem the virus.

“We’re scraping together dollars to try to move as quickly as possible,” he said. “We’re borrowing money from other programs. We’re writing short-term contracts. We can’t make long-term contracts with families to follow their kids. We can’t do long-term studies on how to stop the mosquito. We want to put together a whole package on how to kill inside, outside, how to kill larvae, how to do what works best. And it’s not possible under the House version.”

In other news …

There’s serious bad blood between Bernie Sanders and the rest of the world inside the Democratic Party. 

Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood came to Tampa Tuesday to talk driverless cars. The region has received a grant to have the Selmon Expressway be a “test bed” for such vehicles.

GOP senate candidate Todd Wilcox sounds off in an interview conducted during last weekend’s Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting in Tampa.

New College political science professor and TV pundit Frank Alcock is now a candidate for the state Senate in the Sarasota area.

Alex Sink has endorsed Pinellas newcomer Jennifer Webb in the HD 69 race in Pinellas County.

Every major senate candidate has criticized Carlos Beruff for referring to President Obama last week as an “animal.” Well, almost every candidate.

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