Letter to Stacy White, County Commissioner

Stacy White, Hillsborough County Commissioner, filed a lawsuit that is preventing Hillsborough County from improving its transportation infrastructure based on a ballot measure that was approved by 57% of voters in November 2018 (more about this here). Here’s the email I recently sent him:

Commissioner White,

I want to let you know that I’m really disappointed in you for filing the lawsuit that has held up improvements to our transportation system in Hillsborough County. I travel regularly for my work to conferences both in the US and around the world. In most major cities, when I arrive at the airport, I can easily hop on a train or subway and get to where I need to go.

I love Tampa’s airport. It’s my favorite airport perhaps in the world (though Zurich’s airport is pretty impressive as well). But I am appalled that we don’t have easy public transit from the airport to downtown Tampa. The transportation tax would have fixed that. And now, because of you, the entire process has been held up in stupid lawsuits.

I sit on the board of a professional organization that chooses where to hold conferences. One of the major factors in our decision-making process is public transit from the airport to the hotel. By not improving our transportation infrastructure, we are losing out on millions of dollars from such conferences every year. I hold you personally responsible for that.

I will be donating money to your opponent in the upcoming election to ensure you don’t have another term in office.

Sincerely,

Ryan Cragun
Hillsborough County Resident

(NOTE: You can submit your own letter here.)

Letter to the Editor: Ashley Moody’s mixed up priorities

I find it more than a little concerning that Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody wants to kill a petition drive to ban assault weapons (Ban Assault Weapons Now) but hasn’t said anything about the secretive effort to restrict constitutional amendments that is possibly being funded by utility companies in Florida. If Moody cared about Floridians and the law more than she did conservative politics and big donors, her actions would be exactly the opposite of what she is doing. She would be calling for the donors of the Keep Our Constitution Clean initiative to be revealed and would be encouraging reform to gun laws. Based on her actions, our chief law enforcement official in Florida is nothing more than a Republican team member defending corporate and Republican interests.

(NOTE: This is another letter I sent to the editor of the Tampa Bay Times that was not published.)

Wagging the Dog – Iran and the 2020 Election

(NOTE: I submitted this to the Tampa Bay Times as an opinion piece on 5/16/2019. They didn’t publish it.)

While no one can predict the future, it looks like we’re about to go to war with Iran so Donald Trump will be re-elected. Of course, skepticism is warranted, but a close reading of history suggests this may be intentional.

In 1964, the USS Maddox engaged in an exchange of munitions with several North Vietnamese torpedo boats. This incident happened because the USS Maddox entered the territorial waters of North Vietnam at the direction of US leaders. In essence, we provoked the North Vietnamese into attacking us. After this incident, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that gave President Lyndon Johnson the authorization to use conventional military force in Southeast Asia. Basically, we tricked North Vietnam into a confrontation in order to drum up support for a war – the Vietnam War.

The recently claimed acts of sabotage on ships in the Persian Gulf that have been blamed on Iran sound eerily familiar to the claims of North Vietnamese aggression. I’m certainly not suggesting we should trust Iran over US intelligence agencies, but Iran is denying involvement and explicitly claiming that this is an effort to provoke them. Remember: Our political leaders have lied before in order to convince the American people to support wars in the Middle East.

Couple the above with the fact that incumbent Presidents do really well during wars (see here) and it now seems as though there is intentionality to what is happening. Whether or not this was devised by Donald Trump or his advisers is uncertain (I’d guess the later), but it appears to me as though we are headed to a direct confrontation with Iran and that we headed down this road as soon as we pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope Iran really is the aggressor and that the American public are not being manipulated into thinking a war with Iran is justified and that President Trump is the person to lead such a war. But history strongly suggests that we are being manipulated by an unpopular administration to enter a conflict with Iran. I doubt that the only motivation is to bolster Trump’s re-election, but that is a likely consequence if a war with Iran does begin.

We’re still fighting an unending war in Afghanistan, the same location that helped bankrupt the Soviet Union. We’re now threatening a war with Iran to what end? Will Iran be the boogie man that wins Trump re-election? I hope the American public and the American media are less gullible when the administration tries to manipulate us into a war this time.

Tampa Mayoral Election – 2019

I often rely on the Tampa Bay Times to provide useful information on local political elections. Their coverage is usually pretty good. But they don’t always cover every election or every candidate. And since I like to do my own research, I figured I’d start blogging about the elections.

Here’s what I’ve found on the Mayoral candidates. The election is March 5th, 2019.

Jane Castor

Campaign website

Job History:
Former Chief of Police of Tampa.

Unique Features:
Castor has been heavily criticized for a policing policy implemented while she was Chief of Police of stopping people on bicycles, as a disproportionate percentage of those people were black.

Tampa Bay Times officially endorsed Jane Castor for Mayor.

Harry Cohen

Campaign website

Job History:
Lawyer turned public servant. Worked as Chief Deputy Clerk of the Circuit Court of Hillsborough County from 2005-2011. Elected to Tampa City Council in 2011 and re-elected in 2015.

Unique Features:
The only candidate to put together a fairly detailed transportation plan for Tampa.

Dick “Dickie” Greco

Campaign website
Job History:
Unique Features:
Dickie Greco is the latest addition to the candidate pool, announcing his candidacy in early January. He is also the son of Dick Greco, who was mayor of Tampa multiple times.
Party Affiliation:
Democrat

Michael Anthony Hazard

Campaign website; Twitter;

Job History:
He’s a Tampa native. His family operates an online human resources and office supply company.

Unique Features:
Hazard is a convicted felon (for bad checks and forgery) who voted illegally in Florida twice (though, this was before the passage of Constitutional Amendment 4 in 2018 that restored the voting rights of felons, which made him eligible to run for Mayor).

Party Affiliation:
Democrat

LaVaughn King

Campaign website

Job History:

Unique Features:
King appears to be the only candidate who is flaunting his religiosity.

Topher Morrison

Campaign website

Job History:

Unique Features:

David Straz

Campaign website

Job History:
Comes from a wealthy family. His mother loaned him the money to buy his first bank.

Unique Features:
I found this quote from an article about a candidate forum interesting, “Straz advocated letting the private sector take the lead on the problem [affordable housing in Tampa] with help from willing banks and city and federal aid. He said he had hired an African-American staffer to “help me in the urban core. So, like Trump, put a black person in charge of poverty because blacks are, presumably, all poor?!? That strikes me as remarkably out of touch… And racist.

Mike Suarez

Campaign website; Twitter;

Job History:

Unique Features:

Ed Turanchik

Campaign website

Job History:

Unique Features:

Polling Information:

July 24th, 2018 – St. Pete Polls put Jane Castor at 41%, almost 30% ahead of the next closest candidate, David Straz, at 11%.

Debates and News Coverage:

October 3rd, 2018 – You can read about the first debate here.
December 11th, 2018 – Here’s the coverage from the Tampa Bay Times on the third debate/candidate forum. Candidate statements from that debate on youtube.
January 9th, 2019 – Fourth debate covered here.
January 15th, 2019 – Another candidate forum.


Campaign finance information for all of the candidates is available here.

Other Items on the Ballot

Tampa Charter Amendments

The Tampa Bay Times details the aims of each of the amendments to the Tampa City Charter here.

District 1

Joseph Citro
Alan Clendenin
David Loos
Craig A. Newman
Walter L. Smith II
Tampa Bay Times recommends Citro.

District 2

John Godwin
Charlie Miranda (no campaign e)
Joe Robinson

Tampa Bay Times recommends Miranda.

District 3

John Dingfelder
Nicholas Glover
Stephen Lytle
Vibha “Ms. V” Shevade

Tampa Bay Times recommends Dingfelder.
This article provides some good background on each of the candidates.

District 6

Guido Maniscalco
Wendy Pepe

This article provides some good background on each of the candidates.

a vote against McCollum for Governor of Florida

Anyone looking for a reason not to vote for Bill McCollum for Governor of Florida? Look no further than an article in today’s St. Petersburg Times noting that, under his direction, the State Attorney General’s office spent over $100,000 on “expert” testimony to hire George Rekers, a homophobic hack who had already been discredited by other courts as having no scientific credibility whatsoever, to defend Florida’s law disallowing gay couples from adopting children.  Ergo, Bill McCollum throws taxpayer money away on hacks to defend religious ideology.

Oh, and George Rekers was recently outed as a closet homosexual – he hired a male prostitute for a 10-day European trip and was caught.  So sad…