Opinion: Andrew Gillum, born to make history

By Gustavo Azócar Alcalá (*)

Things are not going very well for Donald Trump. On November 6, the President of the United States will face his first electoral battle since his arrival at the White House in January 2017. According to nearly all surveys, Trump will lose the majority in the House of Representatives, and a significant number of seats in the Senate.

But that’s not all. Trump is about to lose a Republican electoral stronghold. The State of Florida, one of the most important electoral regions, controlled by Republicans since 1999, could be governed for the first time by an Afro-American: Andrew Gillum, a progressive Democrat who leads among likely voters in the Florida Governor’s election, is four points ahead of Republican competitor Ron DeSantis, who has the backing of the President.

Trump knows he will lose the governorship of Florida. This explains his shameless attack against Gillum, mayor of Florida’s capital city Tallahassee since 2014. DeSantis’ campaign team, using the same attack techniques as Trump, has said that Gillum is a “socialist” and has planted the rumor that if Gillum becomes governor, that he will convert Florida into a second Venezuela.

This is the most ridiculous thing I have heard in my life. Whoever says this definitely does not know Venezuela. The problem in Venezuela has nothing to do with socialism. In fact, in Venezuela there is no socialist government nor even anything resembling one. What there is, in Venezuela, is a gang of criminals, drug traffickers and corrupt military officers who took power in the wake of a coup d’état in 1992. These criminals who so badly govern my country are not socialists: they are killers, thieves, money launderers and cocaine traffickers who hide behind a supposed leftist ideology in order to commit their misdeeds.

Andrew Gillum is “a liberal Democrat in the classic sense, one of those who favors an active government to correct social ills”, according to Eduardo Gamarra, political scientist at Florida International University. I don’t envision Gillum expropriating businesses, taking over farms, closing businesses, jailing journalists, trafficking drugs, or laundering money. That’s what the “leaders” of Venezuela do. And that is not socialism.

I do not personally know Andrew Gillum. I would have liked to meet him. If I lived in Florida, without a doubt I would be working in his electoral campaign. I couldn’t, because among other things, over a year ago, the Trump administration decided to take away the US visa I have had for over 20 years which allowed me to study and obtain a doctorate at the George Washington University in 2013. Maybe this is what Ron DeSantis was trying to say when he spoke to his daughter in a television advertisement: “Build a wall.” The Republican candidate wanted his daughter to believe that any person who comes from the outside is not a good person.

Maybe some Republicans are bothered by the humble origin of Andrew Gillum, who was born to a poor family in Miami. Gillum, the current mayor of Tallahassee, is the son of a bus driver and a construction worker. He is the only candidate for governor who is not a millionaire. Is this background some kind of crime, or an obstacle for becoming governor at this point?

Gillum’s campaign is progressive. His governmental program was designed thinking about workers, the majority of whom are fed up with wages too low to live on, much less pay for medical coverage. Some Republicans accuse Gillum of being a socialist. But Gillum is no socialist. He’s a progressive, which is different. If we had a progressive government in Venezuela, it would be a different story. But in Venezuela, there is no socialism. There is something much worse: militarism with populism, with drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime.

Thousands of professional, honest, decent Venezuelans could not enter the US because they couldn’t get a visa. But in Florida there are numerous corrupt and wealthy ex-Venezuelan officials and revolutionaries who enriched themselves in the murderous regimes of Chávez and Maduro, and now enjoy the profits of their crimes. Republicans have attacked Maduro hard, but have said little about the corrupt government associates, the “boliburgueses” who stole from all Venezuelans and now live in Florida. This is a job which Andrew Gillum should take on.

To fight for the rights of people is not socialist. It is being fair. Florida has among the lowest wages in the US. In Florida, people are being exploited; among them, millions of undocumented people, many from Venezuela. They fled Venezuela to escape from a military dictatorship supported by the Castro brothers and also with the support of Vladimir Putin, who helped Donald Trump win the presidency in 2016.

A survey by the University of North Florida, released some days ago, says that Gillum, a 39-year-old afro-American, mayor of Tallahassee, backed by the Democratic Party, has 47% support from potential Florida voters. This is compared to 43% for former Navy attorney, ex-Iraq soldier, ex-Representative Ron DeSantis.

10 percent of likely voters still haven’t decided who they will vote for in the governorship elections on November 6, coinciding with the midterm elections. According to the UNF survey, Gillum has the support of 85% of Democratic possible voters, but also 11% of Republicans.

I have read and heard, from Venezuela, almost all of Andrew Gillum’s speeches. These are not the speeches of a socialist, much less a communist. I don’t know where Trump and DeSantis get this idea that Gillum is a “failed socialist”.

What is most likely is that they are saying it to try to get a few points for DeSantis and other Republican candidates. It’s the same strategy they have used to attack the moderate and independent Senator Bill Nelson who was recognized by the Venezuelan community for his support of Venezuelan democracy; and who has called for stronger measures against Maduro.

But for those who know the real situation in Venezuela, the “socialism” line is not going to work. Andrew Gillum represents an historic change for Florida. The Democratic Party has not governed this state since 1999. When I see Gillum on television or on social media, I see in him some traces of many other afro-Americans who were also born to make history. Gillum reminds me of Mohammed Ali and Jackie Robinson. He was nominated as a candidate for governor of Florida on the anniversary date of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

But he also reminds me of Ruby Nell Bridges Hall, born September 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi. She was the first afro-American girl to attend a “white” school in 1960. Ruby caused a break with history. Something very similar will happen when Gillum reaches the governorship of the state of Florida.

(*)  Gustavo Azócar Alcalá was the first Venezuelan journalist imprisoned during Hugo Chávez Frias’ communist revolution in Venezuela. He was jailed on March 6, 2006 for denouncing the corruption of Chávez collaborators. Azócar was imprisoned for a second time in 2010, for his work as an investigative journalist. He was held for 8 months in a jail for regular prisoners. He has written 8 books. His most recent work is titled: Will the US Invade Venezuela? (¿Invadirá EEUU a Venezuela?)

Waking Up From Times of Disbelief

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

“Who controls the past controls the future.  Who controls the present controls the past.”  -George Orwell

Because no matter who you are, red or blue, we should never stop marching  for  humanity, common sense, morality and being a civil person every day. This is for you:

I once read that for every villain there is a héroe.

For every victim there is an oppressor.

Mexicans are not all rapists and drug traffickers, and Latinos are not all Mexicans.

White Americans are not all racists, and racists are not all white.

We watch the insane try to bring down the towers where “our truths are to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

As each in their own mind feels unequal, they slowly break each other down.

Going down and dividing. Familias don’t want to eat Lechón and others stop going to sweet sixteens. So angry that we are blind to puppets dressed as trolls interfering with election ’16

After lock her ups and New York packed.

A pin drop heard.

Election night filled with disbelief.

Silent and mourning, turning Twitter pages black while others yell “Hooray!”

The aftermath?

People feeling torn down rather than building each other up.

We remember MLK. Then we say: “Hey, isint that us?  With modern clothes and even more fed up?”

From being broken, shattered, still unaware of the car that hit us called the indecency of Trump?

Seeing how some of his fellow friends play that book:  they call you liar and then make up lies so that they can get off the hook? As his tweets corrupt our language, and his language corrupts our children’s  thoughts.

Yes, that is us.

The good news?

We are a slowly waking up.

Slowly picking up the pieces.

Youth quickly standing up.

This smell is familiar, as history repeats.  Stronger, bolder, with no shame. We say “NO” to shackles on our feet.

We are stronger when united and we see corruption is not far away–and yes, neither the ability to impeach.

So take you cell phone and fight with facts before you are left in a storm of disbelief.

Protect America’s institutions, its men and women who are there for you and me. The media. The child who can’t speak.

Support those who are for decency and patriotism as the nationalist drum plays its beat.

Do what it takes. Put on your shield and speak with truth. Please do not be violent and behave, because it is time to stop our founding fathers–from rolling in their graves.

Jeb Is In: Let The “Batalla” Begin!

Jeb

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

Jeb Bush wants to make it clear that the Hispanic vote is important to him.  According to a Pew Research Poll, 64% of Hispanics living in the United States are Mexican-Americans like his wife, Columba Bush.  Many Mexican-Americans tend to be Democrats.  And Democrats can’t afford to lose them to Jeb. So here is how the batalla (battle) goes:

Los Demócratas Pegan Duro (Hit Hard)

On Monday, June 15, 2015, Democrats swung hard at a press conference at Florida International University, prior to Jeb Bush’s announcement for president at Miami Dade College in Kendall, Florida. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (a Caucasian Jewish woman and the chair of the Democratic National Committee) punched hard as she stated that “King Jeb” only looks out for himself and for people like him.  She did what Democratic strategists plan to do from here on forward: never stop connecting him to his brother and father and stating that America is still “digging out of the hole” that his brother George W. created.

DHCFWS

The chair of the DNC was accompanied by the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida, a group of volunteers who are doing the job of being very present in the community and being a voice that shows that Democrats care for Hispanics. On the other hand, the Florida Democratic Party says they do not have the budget to focus on Hispanics.

The Army of the United Colors of Benneton, Just Better Dressed

At Jeb’s presidential announcement, never in my life had I seen so many outfits on women that I wanted in my closet, so many media outlets, so many Asian-Americans at a rally and people in media showing their spicy moves (see reporter dancing behind me in video)

According to University of South Florida political scientist, Dr. Susan MacManus, Asian-Americans are the fastest growing minority group in Florida, even surpassing Hispanics.  They tend to be Independent.  They supported Obama in the past, and they have also supported Republicans, which makes them a potential swing vote.

Asiansforjeb

One thing is certain, Jeb made sure that when he announced his candidacy for president, the moment would be about him, his beliefs and about his multicultural army.  He wanted for everyone to have not one bit of doubt that he can attract people of all communities— Helen Aguirre Ferre, the first woman to chair of the Board of Trustees of Miami Dade College gave an amazing speech filled with vigor and bilingualism.  Toni Jennings, a Republican and the first female Lieutenant Governor of Florida talked about her times with Jeb and about the Hurricane days.  The whole room had chills when the African-American Reverend R.B. Holmes Jr. of Tallahassee, Florida gave a speech that had a Martin Luther King Jr. tune and words that supported a Republican.

Adios “Bush”

Jeb, who wished to be seen as his own person, has decided to leave the name “Bush” in the past by deleting it from his campaign, focusing on his immediate family, and his mom; Barbara Bush who ties with Hillary Clinton as the most admired First Lady in the United States according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll.

George the father and George W. the brother were not present.  And as we talk about political battles, the reminder of war and extreme spending was not an issue that I am sure Jeb wanted to make present.  When I asked Laura Hinojosa, a 36 year old, Colombian-American Democrat who lives in Delray Beach, Florida what she thought about Governor Bush.  She said: “For me the problem is that when I hear the name “Bush” all I can think of are the useless wars and spending they got this country into.  We have always gone to war for interests such as petroleum and in places where it should not be our war.  Why are we not in war in places where there are truly human violations and people are dying of hunger?  I have not analyzed him.  However at the end of the day, he is a “Bush”.  Interesting, the Pew Research Center has not polled Hispanics on their position on war since 2007.  I cannot find any major pollster asking Hispanics what they think about going back to war.

Yes, Jeb is a White Caucasian Male

Over and over I saw that in terms of the organization of the event, every single candidate was slapped on their face with a white glove.  However, some critics say that Jeb let everyone speak, but the white male which people state Jeb is doing so poorly with.  Due to so much Latin “sabor” (flavor), have people forgotten that he is a white male?    Some say that he should have paid a little more attention to the white vote at the event or have included a white male for that reason.  He does need the white vote to win.  Romney had 59% of the white vote in 2012.  Yet, in order for any candidate to win, everyone is aware that they will need a slice of each community to be victorious.

The Undeniable Latino Strategy:

What better surrogates than your own good-looking (in my humble opinion) sons.  As I stood with the media, the moment when I heard the cameras click out of control was when “46” as some Republicans like to call George P. Bush and Jeb’s son took the microphone.  George P looked right into the camera, and in perfect Spanish said: “Tu vales muchisimo. Tu hermano hispano.””You matter so much, you, Hispanic brother.”  They were powerful words that touched the pain of many who feel disrespected, forgotten and racially harassed in “the land of the free”.

46

Yet, Democrats continue to say to be careful.  “In spite of his rhetoric, Jeb Bush is no friend of the Latino community.” said Maurizio Passariello, the recently named South Florida Public Relations Director for the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida. “His lack of support for President Obama’s efforts to offer relief to undocumented immigrants and keep families together.  His indifference to the plight of Latinas working full time, who are making 56 cents for every dollar paid to a white non-Hispanic male and his plans to gut education spending, from early education through Pell Grants, clearly demonstrate that.  He may speak our language, but he certainly does not understand our priorities.”

Are Hispanics Truly in The Democrat’s Pocket?

Being that Jeb Bush is from Florida and Hispanics in Florida had largest voter turnout from any state in the nation in 2012, it is time for the campaigns to take the Latino vote seriously.  Just because so many Hispanics are Democrats, it does not mean they are faithful to the party.  At the end of the day, they will pick who they like the most.

Jason Rubinstein, is an Ecuadorian-American Democrat with Jewish roots and Catholic upbringing who has placed an Obama sign in his front yard in the past.  He has a master’s degree, an excellent job, speaks perfect English, and is the son of a former diplomat.    He also was one of the many who signed a petition that asked the Florida parties to give the community a bilingual Communications Director. This time, he says that Jeb has his vote, depending on who is his VP.  He hopes it will be someone from the minority community and hopefully a woman.  It is one of those moments, where you look at what just happened and then you look a second time in disbelief.  My reaction is exactly what can happen to the Democrats in 2016 if they do not get a bit more serious and start hiring Hispanics to be a fundamental part of their organization.  I am not just talking about Hillary Clinton who has done an excellent job doing so.  I am talking about involving Hispanic professionals (and paying them a just amount) in all campaigns where there is a large Hispanic population.  It shows that the Democratic Party should not believe that Hispanic Democrats are in their pocket.

Why is Jason voting for Jeb? 

“I think this a good alternative for the Democrats and for people like me who are not left wing nut jobs.”  Says the Tampa native as we speak in Spanish.   “Por mas Bush que sea” (Even though he is a Bush), I believe he is different from his brother.  More open to the immigration issue which hits home.  Due to the terrible situation that Ecuador lives in, I know people who are here undocumented.  I could never support a person who does not support these people.  It would be to go against “my people”.  What I admire the most about him is that he had “los huevos” (the balls) to be of the ultra-conservative American aristocracy and that he would have married a Mexican girl with no money.  Imagine what that must have been for them 40 years ago.  “Tienes que tener bien puesto los pantalones para hacer eso, no te parece?”  “You need to have guts to do something like that, don’t you think?”

It is true.  According to a NY Mag article, after Reagan-Bush won the White House ticket, Jeb moved to Florida due to his wife experiencing racism among their white, Republican circles in Houston.  When he was asked about it, according to the article, he said: “Subtle, sublte.  It’s very different now, very welcoming, very open, particularly the big open areas.”  Yet still not in places like Charleston, South Carolina, I suppose.

Think Again

Jeb being in the race is a “batalla” to definitely not take for granted.  We live in a time where you can no longer win with the white vote alone.  The parties need to get serious which means investing in our communities and not expect for us to do everything for free while they pay hefty sums to others. We are aware of the racism that exists.  We are aware because of the current positions we continue to have in terms of leadership.  It definitely is not due to lack of leadership and expertise within all minority communities.  As a community, you do not need to say anything, and we know it.  We know when we are being pandered to.  We know when we are being disrespected.  Yet we remain quiet sometimes for fear of losing those promises that never happen.  Those days are over, and if you do not pay attention, if you do not show respect for what makes America beautiful, and come to the realization that we are part of that beauty… you will lose the battle.  A battle that Jeb seems to clearly understand.

Underestimating Marco Rubio’s Diversity Factor?

SenatorRubio By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

 

As U.S. Florida Senator Marco Rubio trails Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in white votes 43%-45% according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll, the Democrats say that Rubio still does not have a chance of winning due to his stance on rapprochement with Cuba and also his position on immigration reform.  The Republicans seem to believe that if he continues targeting the middle class and poor through his personal stories, and focuses on the Latinos who think just like them, he has a chance of getting that 35% percent of the Hispanic vote that he needs.  The strategy is that he does not need to convince all Hispanics, just the conservative ones that support his cause.

On Monday, April 13th, I had the opportunity to view the diversity of individuals from outside of the iconic Freedom Tower in Miami at Marco Rubio’s announcement for President of the United States.

Los Cubano-Americanos  (The Cuban-Americans)

While only 5% of Latino populations in the U.S. are Cuban-American, the majority in favor of Rubio (if not faithful to Jeb Bush) are conservative Cuban-Americans.  We had the Sugar King Jose Pepe Fanjul (Fan-Yul in English, Fan-hul in Spanish) present at Rubio’s announcement and who a couple weeks later will have a fundraiser for him in West Palm Beach.  Like in many families, there is a brother that is a Democrat and one who is a Republican–Pepe Jr. is the Republican.   At the event we also saw proud Cuban-American women holding the Cuban flag, and wearing not one, but two lapel pins with Rubio’s handsome (according to Latinas between the ages of 35-80) face on them. Four Cuban-Americans who were hyped after Rubio’s announcement, stood in front of freedom tower (one with pink pants, white shoes and without socks) screaming at the climate change protestors: “Comunistas!” while reporter Michael Putney from Channel 10 was interviewing a Jewish man who supported Rubio.

 

 Los Latinos (Self explanatory)

There was a bilingual Hispanic man (not Cuban) holding Marco’ Rubio’s book while his baby son wore a shirt that said “Future President of The United States”. Venezuelan-American conservatives, who also carry a similar pain as many conservative Cuban-Americans, support Rubio.   We saw people like Mayor of the City of Doral, Luigi Boria.   Also present was the well known Colombian-American Fabio Andrade, who moves the Latin-American masses in South Florida and who strongly says: “Si, yo estoy con el” (yes, I am with him).  Fabio has worked with Bush before.  May we not forget that Marco’s wife, Jeannette Dousdebes is Colombian-American.

Los Jovenes (The Youth)

A young generation of white Anglo Saxon teenage kids were also in full support. One caught my eye as he was wearing a t-shirt with the American eagle on it as he screamed “Whoo!” for Rubio and watched the speech on the Jumbo Tron.  Behind them were the DACA kids or who we also call the “DREAMers” protesting and asking Rubio “What about my dream?!” as the senator continued to say that his father stood behind a bar in the back of the room so that he could stand behind a podium, in front of the room he was in.

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Los Espirituales (The Spiritual Ones)

As Senator Rubio’s guests left with smiles on their face, I saw a priest walk calmly out of the tower as he contently watched the different people who surrounded him.  I asked him if I could interview him.  He complied with a cool demeanor.  According to the priest, a protestant pastor prayed for Senator Rubio, before his announcement, yet Father Dan Beeman lives in Virginia and was the priest who prayed for Rubio after he announced he would run for President of the United States.  As you see in the video, he mentions how impressed he was by the diversity of the crowd. From his Twitter account, this priest seems to know how to bring back Catholicism in a cool light to Millenials as he drinks beer with the Marco Team and says on Twitter that the most difficult thing of Marco’s event was not screaming “Polo”.   According to The Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion, 55% of the nation’s 34.5 million Hispanics identify as Catholic.

Here is Father Beeman who you can find on Twitter:

En Español (You get this one too)

At his announcement for president, Rubio also targeted the Spanish-speaking abuela who usually goes unnoticed, living in the English-spoken home of her daughter or son, yet Marco spoke to her on TV as he mentioned the words his father said to him all “en español”.

Que Va A Importar? (What Will Matter?)

In the day and age where our youth are not in touch with the policies of the candidate, all they will see and be attracted to is the youth that Rubio brings to the table.  However, the Clinton campaign believes that if they get the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro to be her Vice-President, they will cover this demographic also.  Castro is Hispanic, yet he does not speak Spanish.  However it seems that this is the conversation that they will have with the guy  who produces the commercial: “It’s all good, man.  He is a Latino.  What we are going to do is have a guy 20 years older than him translate what he is saying in Spanish, and it will work out perfectly.” This is where Democrats need to seriously ask themselves if having a Hispanic on the ticket, even though he does not speak Spanish will be enough.  Hillary may run against two potential candidates that have this gift (Bush or Rubio).

According to a quote Rice University political scientist Mark Jones gave to the Texas Tribune: “Any Hispanic politician that doesn’t have that skill set is disadvantaged, in part, because they don’t have the ability connect in the same way with a key segment of the voting public.   Language helps demonstrate commitment and a level of connection that is important with many voters whose dominant language is Spanish.”  It is definitely something that the other candidates might underestimate of Rubio and something to seriously think about for 2016.

The Power of Rubio’s Message

As I hear Democrats and Republicans talk about the fact that Marco Rubio does not have a chance.   At his event he showed the power he has to bring people together from different communities—it is something no candidate should take for granted.

Marco reached out to Millennials with his Pitbull music playing (which he knows personally and on first name basis) and painting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as someone from “yesterday” very similarly as the young Bill Clinton did in his campaign when he spoke about George H. Bush.

There are definitely some clear differences in policy between Bush, Clinton and Rubio that affects us as Latinos.  Yet, in the day and age where most voters do not look at the policies of a candidate, but in how much they like him, Rubio has that in for him also.  The big pocket Koch Brothers definitely understand this and that is why the plan to back him.  Which means that Senator Rubio will have unimaginable amounts of money to give a bilingual message.

Truly, we all know that the physical attractiveness of the person should not be the basis of any campaign, but sadly that is what politics has come down to. How much can an ad convince you that he or she is the one?  How much can they bring to life through words your vision for America?  How much can you bear looking at them for the next four or eight years?  If he only had the skills to play the saxophone on a late night show.  The diversity that Rubio brings is definitely something not to underestimate.

Media Does Not Attend A Press Conference Regarding Hispanics In State Capitol

Lobby Days

DHCF meet at Florida Turnpike to head to Tallahassee to advocate for issues that affect Hispanics.

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

Members of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida visited Tallahassee today to lobby legislators on issues  they believe are important to Hispanics in Florida.

“Today, the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida is in the State Capitol advocating for our Latino community in the issues that will improve their quality of life such as state minimum wage, driver license requirements, employment discrimination and many other bills that will lead to a positive change for our community,” said Vivian Rodriguez, President of the DHCF  “We will be lobbying on behalf of the countless Hispanic voices that need to be heard in Tallahassee”

Yet, when the DHCF scheduled a press conference for Wednesday, March 25, at 11:45 am in front of the Senate Chamber to report on its progress, forty people were left standing behind a podium with no one to share their efforts with.  Media did not attend or cover the event–The question is Why?

DHCF at Lobby Days.  March 25, 2015

DHCF at Lobby Days. March 25, 2015

This was the second year that the DHCF visits the state capital to try to influence its representatives on the following bills:

HB 25 – Employment Discrimination

Designates act as “Helen Gordon Davis Fair Pay Protection Act”; provides legislative findings & intent relating to equal pay for equal work for women; recognizes importance of DEO & FHRC in ensuring fair pay; provides for duties of department & commission; creates Governor’s Recognition Award for Pay Equity in Workplace.

SB 98: Employment Discrimination

Creating the Helen Gordon Davis Fair Pay Protection Act; recognizing the importance of the Department of Economic Opportunity and the Florida Commission on Human Relations in ensuring fair pay; creating the Governor’s Recognition Award for Pay Equity in the Workplace; requiring that the award be given annually to employers in this state which have engaged in activities that eliminate the barriers to equal pay for equal work for women, etc.

Support

HB 33 – Prohibited Discrimination

General Bill by Raschein (CO-SPONSORS) Edwards; Hager; Jenne; Jones, S.; Moskowitz; Richardson; Stark

Creates “Florida Competitive Workforce Act”; prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation & gender identity or expression; defines terms; provides exceptions for constitutionally protected free exercise of religion.

SB 156: Prohibited Discrimination

GENERAL BILL by Abruzzo

Creating the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act”; revising provisions to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression and the perception of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, handicap, or marital status as impermissible grounds for discrimination; adding sexual orientation and gender identity or expression as impermissible grounds for discrimination, etc.

Support

SB 300: Driver Licenses and Identification Cards

GENERAL BILL by Garcia ; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Bullard

Driver Licenses and Identification Cards; Requiring proof of a taxpayer identification number or other specified identification number for certain applicants for a driver license; authorizing additional specified documents that are issued by foreign governments to satisfy proof of identity requirements; prohibiting the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to waive certain tests for applicants who provide specified proof of identity documents; requiring the department to mark licenses to indicate compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005 under specified circumstances, etc.

SB 364: Driver License Requirements

GENERAL BILL by Soto

Including notice of the approval of an application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as valid proof of identity for purposes of applying for a driver license, etc.

Support

HB 47 – State Minimum Wage

General Bill by Stafford (CO-SPONSORS) Cortes, J.; Watson, B.

Increases state minimum wage; provides that an employer may not pay employee at rate less than state minimum wage; deletes requirement that only individuals entitled to receive federal minimum wage are eligible to receive state minimum wage.

SB 114: State Minimum Wage

GENERAL BILL by Bullard

Increasing the state minimum wage; prohibiting an employer from paying an employee at a rate less than the state minimum wage; deleting the requirement that only individuals entitled to receive the federal minimum wage are eligible to receive the state minimum wage, etc.

Support

SB 128: New Small Business Tax Credit

GENERAL BILL by Soto

Providing a tax credit to new small businesses in a specified amount for qualified employees; limiting the total amount of tax credit that may be taken as a deduction; prohibiting receipt of the tax credit through a refund of taxes previously paid; requiring a business to apply to the Department of Revenue for tax credit approval; authorizing an unused amount of tax credit to be carried forward for a specified period under certain circumstances, etc.

Support

SB 228: Online Voter Application

GENERAL BILL by Clemens

Requiring the Division of Elections of the Department of State to develop an online voter registration system; requiring the system to compare information submitted online with Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles records, etc.

Support

SB 280: Teacher Salaries

GENERAL BILL by Soto ; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Bullard

Citing this act as the “Florida Teacher Fair Pay Act”; requiring the Legislature to fund the Florida Education Finance Program at a level that ensures a guaranteed minimum annual starting salary for instructional personnel; requiring the Department of Education to annually adjust the minimum starting salary; providing a formula for calculating such adjustment; requiring district school boards to adjust the minimum starting salary determined by the department by applying the district cost differential; providing that such adjustment may not reduce starting salaries below the statewide minimum, etc.

Support

HB 4005 – Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons or Firearms

General Bill by Steube (CO-SPONSORS) Baxley; Combee; Diaz, M.; Eagle; Hutson; Stone; Van Zant Deletes provision prohibiting concealed carry licensees from openly carrying handgun or carrying concealed weapon or firearm into college or university facility.

Oppose

I want to congratulate the DHCF and the Hispanic leaders who traveled statewide to advocate for what they believe is important for the Hispanic community.

Let’s hope next time people of influence will help this be made known to our community, and to Floridians by sharing with their media contacts.  Let’s hope that next time, media believes it is important enough for them to cover.  It is a winning message that Hispanics do matter in Florida.  When no one speaks, the message received is that it is okay to ignore us.

Campaigns and Political Parties Need to Spice it Up

Domino Effect English

 By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hispanics or Latinos. Most of us are known to be warm individuals, amicable and culturally engaging. We do not tend to be a society that is reluctant to open up to those who approach us. Quite the opposite. We are that weird family inviting you over to our house without hardly even knowing you and trying to make you drink one more tequila as we try to “enchilarte” (make you eat something spicy that you can’t handle) for our entertainment. At least that is how it is in our Mexican-Colombian household. Like we would say in Spanish: “Entre mas amigos, mejor.” Translated to English; “the more friends we have, the better it is for us”.

With our culture in mind, it is mind boggling how such a great political force is not being engaged by those in political power. There is no turning back my friends. You cannot wait six months before the 2016 or 2018 election to come knocking on our door. You cannot turn away the opportunity of having a debate in a national TV channel in Spanish. You need to get to know us, and allow us to know you.  You need to gain our trust and tell us why we are so important to you, to our state and to this country.

Not engaging the Hispanic/Latino community

According to Latino Decisions, a leader in Latino political opinion research, in 2014, 55% of Latinos that were polled said they were not contacted by a campaign, political party or community organization in the final months before the election. The polls they have reported over the years document the consistently low rates of campaign engagement of Latinos/Hispanics eligible to vote.

In Florida, a state where the largest minority of registered voters is Hispanic, the 2014 gubernatorial candidate won by about 1 percentage point-a 61,000 vote difference. In 2012, Latino Decisions reported that 48 percent of registered Latinos voted nationwide. According to numbers shared by Miami Herald’s political reporter Marc Caputo, 64 percent (over 1 million) of registered Latinos voted in the 2012 Florida General Election.  As stated by different analysts and even supervisors of elections, people go out to vote based on the inertia that the campaigns and the political parties place into the election. After having conversations with both Latino Democrats and Republicans around the state of Florida, here are some observations:

We do not know who to vote for

The domino effect in reference to Hispanics and politicos is that Hispanics do not get involved due to not knowing who to vote for. Also, according to those individuals who are engaging our community, many Latinos do not know what each political party represents. To their dismay, political parties and campaigns do not take the time to invest in them.

Wait for the “big honchos” to infiltrate the state

2016 is on its way and what seems to be the tendency for political parties and campaigns to do here in Florida is to wait for the national party team to bring in their “movers and shakers” in order for them to win Florida. Many do not know the community in Florida, they just see numbers. Every 4 years a new group of people come in and have to start practically from scratch trying to figure out how to reach our community. Those Hispanics/Latinos who know the community and who are from Florida are not included and their knowledge is underestimated.

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