Joe Henderson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 6 of 42

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

Joe Henderson: Vitriol at Trump’s Tampa rally latest sign of the times

By now, I imagine most of you have seen the picture of that lady with blazing eyes and an upraised middle finger at the Donald Trump rally in Tampa Tuesday night. She wasn’t trying to tell the world she thinks Trump is No. 1, either.


She was part of the crowd that screamed hatred at the press, especially CNN’s Jim Acosta, because that’s what the president tells them to do.

I wonder, seriously, if some of those people screaming “liar” and worse things at Acosta have ever actually watched him or that network.

I think they listen to the crowd on Fox, especially Sean Hannity, parrot the president’s disdain for CNN and the media in general, and that’s all they need to know.

I asked Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn what he thought about the spectacle.

“Our democracy depends on a press corps that is engaged and relentless in pursuit of the truth,” he said.

“The demonization and discrediting of the media is the hallmark of third-world dictators who find the truth an inconvenience in their pursuit of total authority.”

That whole debacle was yet another pronouncement to the world that Tampa can be one strange city — sophisticated enough to play host to major events like the Super Bowl and the Republican National Convention, redneck enough to display, well, what the nation saw at this rally.

I have lived here for 44 years. Got married here, raised a family here, had a career here. I love the casual lifestyle. I have witnessed many unforgettable positive things. I have met and been friends with some amazing people.

I’ve always known there is another side to this city I love, though. For instance, there is that island-sized Confederate flag flapping at the intersection of I-4 and I-75, about two miles east of where Trump spoke. I cringe every time I pass it.

We’ve had our share of racial problems and squirrelly politicians. We have our portion of people gleeful to let you know what they think through unsigned emails that question your patriotism, salvation, and other less-printable things.

But what we saw this time was something different. That was raw hatred on display during Trump’s visit, and that’s what this president basically stoked since the day he announced he was running. That was bug-eyed irrationality being shared with the world.

No, not every person who supports Trump is like that. I’ve had good conversations with many people who voted for him in 2016 and will do so again. They have their reasons.

But the taunts, vulgarity, harassment, and threats of physical violence coming from his less introspective supporters are the harbinger of a bad moon rising.

What happens if Republicans are swamped in the midterms?

Trump is already setting up a scenario to question the results if that happens. He tweeted recently that Russia is actually helping Democrats in the midterms because they don’t want to deal with him.

You can think that’s balderdash because, well, it is. But the people who were screaming at the media Tuesday night don’t seem like the kind of folks who like to be confused by facts.

I can see that conspiracy theory getting real legs, with Trump tweeting about “fake results” and “crooked Dems” and his followers, the overzealous ones, reacting accordingly.

But the main event comes in 2020.

He knows he can’t win if the country is united because the strong likelihood is that it would be united against him. So he keeps appealing to the almighty base and tells everyone else to take a hike, and the nation’s chasm widens.

If he is voted out, does anyone believe he’ll leave gracefully? Those are the kinds of thoughts that arise after displays like the one we just saw.

If you pinned him down, the president would probably admit he is playing politics to keep his supporters happy.

Division is what put him in the White House, and he isn’t going to change his tactics now because that’s the only thing that can keep him there.

Joe Henderson: That banging sound is just Adam Putnam’s coffin nailed shut

If you heard a pounding sound in the early evening Tuesday that sounded like tap … tap … tap …


Don’t fret.

That was just the sound of the coffin nailed shut on Adam Putnam’s hopes to be Governor of Florida.

The hammer was being swung by President Donald Trump during a rally Tuesday in Tampa at the Florida State Fairgrounds, driving in the nails in Putnam’s campaign at a venue that is under the umbrella of, um, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

But there it was, for an audience of true believers in the president’s agenda.

Trump was effusive in his praise of Ron DeSantis, the darling of Fox News and Putnam’s opponent in the fight to win the Republican nomination for Governor on Aug. 28. Never mind that Putnam is a child of Florida, with a history in Florida, is generally well-liked in Florida, and … oh, never mind.

Fox likes DeSantis.

Ergo: the president endorses DeSantis and, well, that’s that.

Besides that, what could we take away from the president’s in-and-out visit to Tampa?

Same ol’, same ol’ — to be honest.

It was a rally, so we expected Trump to touch all the talking points, and he didn’t fail.

I’ll sum it up: Democrats, BAD!

Me: GOOD! No, wait … GREAT!

Well, we’ll see about that come November.

Depending which poll you trust, DeSantis holds a lead that could be double-digits over Putnam. It’s too soon to tell which candidate the Democrats will choose, but all five candidates have been hitting the same talking points — education, environment, gun-law reforms, and, lest we forget, Trump is awful!

DeSantis, if he is nominated, will have to do more than cuddle up to Trump in the general election. He’ll need a plan that goes beyond saying he supports the Trump agenda, whatever that means to the issues that affect everyday Floridians.

And Democrats will have to offer more than just a rejection of the president.

That was true yesterday before Air Force One set down in Tampa.

It’s true today.

That brings us back to the net effect of what happened Tuesday at the state fairgrounds.

It was not that much.

Unless the president came out and said, “Oops, changed my mind, Putnam: 2018” he only reinforced what seems to be an inexorable trend that will put DeSantis on the GOP ticket in November. Oh, he also endorsed Rick Scott for U.S. senator over Bill Nelson. Color me stunned.

Democrats railed about the Trump agenda, which was to be expected. Gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene earned style points for being there, but the basic message reverberated across the blue landscape: Trump, BAD!

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who has prided himself on being able to work across party lines, abandoned any pretense of “Welcome To Tampa, Mr. President” with a tweet that referred to the “Venom and Vitriol Tour” coming to the city.

And it was.

That has been the Trump battle plan since the day he rode down the escalator to announce his candidacy.

Divide. Conquer.

Humiliate. Abuse.

Ridicule. Scorn.

If all else fails, lie.

Usually, that applies to opponents from the other party.

However, this morning Putnam, the reliable Republican who supposedly had paid his dues, may be wondering why he bothered to send out a tweet earlier Tuesday that welcomed Trump to Florida while adding, “I look forward to continuing your success in 2020 by keeping our state a conservative stronghold …”

He’s not in your camp, sir.

He wants the other guy.

That won’t change.

Nothing more to say, really.

Joe Henderson: Vo-Ed supporters plan to make their case to Trump in Tampa

Last week, at venerable Tampa Bay Tech High School in Tampa, a friend of mine counted 27 maintenance trucks from the Hillsborough County School District on site.

Worker bees were painting, fixing, trimming, mowing, mopping, sweeping and, dear Lord please, making sure all the electrical systems were working the way they should. Can’t have the air conditioning going out while President Donald Trump is visiting, now can we?

The president is due to visit TBT this afternoon as part of his quick hop and rally in Tampa. The presence of the maintenance armada seemed appropriate because Trump’s drop-in will highlight increasing awareness in Florida that vocational education is something to be embraced, not looked down on in the way some educators have.

Republicans, particularly Adam Putnam, have been highlighting that issue on the campaign trail and I think it’s a winner for them.

The crazed “math and science, math and science” culture that took over public education in the last couple of decades, overlooked a couple of key facts.

A: Not every job that pays a good wage requires a knowledge of higher-level math.

B: Leaders have suddenly realized we need people who know how to fix things, assemble things, weld things, and keep things running. That’s particularly true in the Hillsborough School District, where the air conditioners keep breaking down, and the state keeps cutting budgets.

Perhaps a course in the creative use of baling wire and tape would be something to consider.

The Tampa Bay Times reported current and former students are holding a demonstration to coincide with Trump’s visit to urge support for vocational education. That’s a good thing.

The whole idea of coming out of high school is to gain some preparation for the adult world. If that world includes the use of calculus, statistics and/or higher-level science, great. Top colleges are still going to require proficiency in those areas, and that’s fine.

But it’s OK to say that not everyone is going to college. It’s expensive, and while the experience can be great, there are a lot of ways to find fulfilling work at a livable wage.

I admit some to some prejudice in this area. It took every ounce of sweat, plus an instructor who scored on a generous curve, to get through basic college algebra. If you put hard numbers in front of me, I can figure out almost anything. But take a few of those numbers out and substitute X or Y and I’m dead meat.

Florida lawmakers have been conflicted on this issue for a long time, dating to when Jeb Bush was Governor and pushed for rigorous academic standards, and soon there were through new high school graduation requirements that included Algebra II, Chemistry and Physics.

Those requirements were dropped in 2013.

Maybe not surprisingly, the state’s graduation rate has steadily improved.

Education is not one size fits all.

People are wired differently.

They process things differently.

It’s time educators and lawmakers accept that, and adapt accordingly.

Joe Henderson: Trump headed to familiar ground in Tampa again

When Donald Trump appears at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa for a rally Tuesday night, he will be on familiar ground.

The president is no stranger to Tampa.

He has visited this city multiple times, both as a candidate and now as president. Even when he isn’t in Tampa, the city’s connections to him run deep. In March, a $250,000-per-plate fundraiser for the president was held at the California home of Ed Glazer, whose family owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The state fairgrounds venue is where he appeared just a few days before his victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. I didn’t attend that rally, but I drove past the fairgrounds that night and was taken by the amount of traffic and packed parking lot.

The polls said Clinton was going to win the election.

Something about that night told me they might be wrong.

I did attend a Trump rally at the University of South Florida before he was the official nominee of the Republican Party. Again, the enthusiasm for the candidate was unmistakable.

I remember a few things about that night besides the way his true believers responded to his message.

He was about an hour late getting started. One memory was how the media was kept basically in a holding area for the entire evening. We couldn’t even leave to use the restroom, even though one was located just a few feet from the entrance to the media area.

Security, they told us.

Well, OK. But it also seemed like a convenient way to keep the then-candidate’s favorite target, those annoying truth-seekers called the media, in an area where he could lob verbal grenades in our direction. And he did.

He wanted people to boo us. He was successful.

I imagine it will be more of the same Tuesday, except that the president will be able to brag about a robust economy. The nation’s gross domestic product grew at 4.1 percent in the second quarter. That’s the economy’s best performance in a decade.

That should make Democrats very nervous.

Trump may be crude, rude, truth-challenged, conflicted, compromised and potentially under indictment. But, damn, the economy is busting tail, and people vote with their pocketbooks.

He will be bragging about the latter part of that statement Tuesday, as you would expect.

He’ll call the other stuff fake, as you also would expect.

He also will be explaining to the crowd that they should vote for Ron DeSantis for Governor in the August primary, which is not good news for Adam Putnam. It actually has been kind of sad to watch Putnam invoke Trump’s name in his ads while all the while the president has been endorsing his opponent.

And then the president will be gone until he returns again — on which you can count. Florida is a vital state politically and always will be.

It will be a lot different landscape here in November than it is now, though.

Democrats are more focused than they have been in years. They have a real shot at winning the Governor’s mansion.

Gun violence will be a major issue in November. The Parkland kids aren’t going away.

Education. Healthcare. Traffic.

Income inequality. Climate change (or, as we like to call it here, science).

None of those problems will be solved before the November midterms.

So, while Tuesday’s rally will be a party for Republicans and should be quite a show, those other issues aren’t fake news. Candidate Trump bragged that he alone could fix them.

Well, any time now …

Joe Henderson: Hillsborough transportation group beats deadline for ballot initiative

Little more than a month ago, a citizens group set out with the goal of placing a sales tax referendum on the November ballot in Hillsborough County to address transportation needs.

The odds of success didn’t seem especially promising.

After all, asking voters to approve something that will cost them money has been a tough sell in recent years. Even when the need is as obvious as the one for an overhaul of the transportation system in Hillsborough, voters and politicians have been firm in their refusal to approve the money.

But on a warm, humid Friday morning, volunteers from the group gathered outside the Supervisor of Elections Office on Falkenburg Road in Brandon to deliver box-loads of signed petitions that pushed the drive past 70,000 signatures — well above the approximately 49,000 needed to get this on the ballot.

It beat the deadline to submit the petitions.

“People have felt powerless, and this proves they are not,” Tyler Hudson, chairman of All For Transportation, said after his group led a petition drive that bypassed the County Commission and went straight to the people.

About six weeks ago, the group began a frantic push to place a one-cent per dollar sales tax increase for 30 years on the ballot in November. The tax, estimated to generate $280 million the first year, will be divvied up among Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit, the county, and the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City for a variety of transportation needs.

Tyler Hudson, chairman of All For Transportation, delivers signed petitions to the elections office to place a sales tax referendum on the November ballot.

The effort was buoyed by $150,000 contributions each from Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, businessman and philanthropist Frank Morsani, the Tampa Bay Partnership business group, and a development firm owned by the family of former Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Patrick Murphy.

The grassroots strategy was used after the County Commission by a 4-3 vote declined to let a transit plan called Go Hillsborough go on the 2016 ballot. The petition drive is a rarely used gambit that will amend the county’s charter, making Commission approval unnecessary.

Without substantial upgrades, the county’s already chronic substandard transportation system could be overwhelmed in a few years as projections call for explosive population growth.

Volunteer Rena Frazier called it a “historic day” and added that while gathering signatures, people stressed that they are tired of choking traffic and want more transportation options.

“People are ready to get this solved,” she said.

Janet Scherberger, vice president of communications at Tampa International Airport, was among the volunteers who worked to secure enough signatures. She said she was acting as a private citizen concerned about the county’s future.

“I am genuinely interested in making sure we have transportation options,” she said.

The elections office has already started the process of verifying that people who signed petitions are registered to vote in Hillsborough, and more than 6,000 of the approximately 50,000 petitions delivered before Friday have been rejected.

The office has 30 days to complete the process, but Communications Director Gerri Kramer said she believes it will take that long.

And when will the work of selling this to the public begin, Hudson was asked?

He answered with one word.


Sales tax increase gets enough signatures for Hillsborough ballot

The head of a citizens group trying to place a sales tax increase before Hillsborough County voters to pay for long-term transportation needs said the goal has been achieved.

“We will be on the ballot in November,” Tyler Hudson, chairman of All For Transportation, said after his citizens’ group led a petition drive that bypassed the County Commission and went straight to the people.

The threshold is about 49,000 valid signatures turned in to the Supervisor of Elections Office by today’s deadline.

Hudson said volunteers have gathered more than 70,000 signed petitions so far and expects to have even more by the end of the day. The signatures will have to be validated by the elections office, but he said he doesn’t believe that will be a problem.

“We try to make sure before we have anyone sign a petition that they’re registered to vote here,” he said.

About six weeks ago, the group began a frantic push to place a one-cent per dollar sales tax increase for 30 years on the ballot in November. The tax, estimated to generate $280 million the first year, will be divvied up among Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit, the county, and the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City for a variety of transportation needs.

The effort was buoyed by $150,000 contributions each from Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, businessman and philanthropist Frank Morsani, the Tampa Bay Partnership business group, and a development firm owned by the family of former Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Patrick Murphy.

The grassroots strategy was used after the County Commission by a 4-3 margin against putting a transit plan called “Go Hillsborough” on the 2016 ballot. The petition drive is a rarely used gambit that will amend the county’s charter, making Commission approval unnecessary.

Without substantial upgrades, the county’s already chronic substandard transportation system could be overwhelmed in a few years as projections call for explosive population growth.

“This is historic,” Hudson said. “To have 70,000 or more signed petitions tells you what people think about this issue.”

Joe Henderson: State Democrats try a new tactic: fighting back

For decades, Republican candidates have been successful in Florida by rarely deviating from a script that labels Democrats as big-spenders, soft on crime, anti-business and anti-gun.

When confronted by these aggressive tactics, Dems generally answered with flustered babble that, roughly translated, was basically “that’s not nice.”

This campaign has been different though. Instead of trying to stay above the fray or pretending no one will be silly enough to listen to those doddering old Republicans, Democrats have saddled up.

Sure, top candidates trying to win a primary have criticized each other along the trail. But their public media is all about making the case to beat Republicans.

I guess two terms of Rick Scott in the Governor’s mansion and total control of the Legislature by Republicans convinced them that it was time to show voters why they would be better.

They have been hitting back hard on Republicans and generally have stayed focused on their main themes: education, health care, standing up to the NRA and overall gun reform, and transportation.

Take the in-your-face mailer from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene, the one that has gotten NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer in such a twist. It’s the mailer that shows cutouts of children being used as target practice at a school slaughter.

In case anyone didn’t get the message, the cutouts are emblazoned with the NRA logo (color Hammer not pleased) and the words AR Practice.  

“As a mother, grandmother and a proud NRA member for decades, I find his mailer repulsive,” Hammer told the Tampa Bay Times in an email.

“It is clear that Jeff Green is bankrupt of ideas and he has to resort to these dumb ideas to try and get attention for himself and his campaign. When people can’t win on fact, they have to resort to cheap stunts like this.”

I think Greene wins the argument there, though, because what’s really repulsive is having 17 people shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. And what made it worse was how Hammer and NRA hard-liners tried to stop the even tepid revisions to Florida’s gun laws in the aftermath of that slaughter.

I don’t think a major Democratic candidate would have responded that way four, eight, or 12 years ago. They would have been wary of NRA backlash and decided that, no, let’s just ease on down that road.

That’s one reason they lose.

You see a different attitude now though.

Gwen Graham has been sharply focused with her points that 20 years of total Republican rule in Tallahassee is enough. When she talks about all the things she believes the common folks in the state have lost because of GOP policies, I think her punch line “we’re gonna take it back” is resonating.

Philip Levine has been hammering hard for better pay for teachers. Other Democrats have been joining in that chorus.

It has even filtered down to the local level.

After serving as House Minority Leader, Janet Cruz of Tampa changed her mind about running for the Hillsborough County Commission to challenge Republican Dana Young in SD 18.

Her motivation was Young’s absence from the Senate floor when the vote was being taken in March on an assault weapons ban. Young, a staunch gun supporter, said she was attending to other business and later recorded her votes.

Cruz has called her a coward for not being on the floor during the emotionally charged debate.

Polls show their race could be a squeaker.

It’s clear Democrats believe the issues are on their side this time and they are charging hard. No matter which candidates emerge from the Aug. 28 primary, in most races he or she will find the battle lines already drawn against a Republican opponent.

That will save them time and money trying to define their opponent.

It’s an unusual position for Democrats to be in, and it’s too early to say it will be successful. But if they lose this time, at least it will be on the issues and not because they just laid down and took a beating.

Joe Henderson: Judge rules for college voting rights over incumbent privilege

Voting in Florida is a right, not a privilege.

And since life today doesn’t run at the same pace as it did back when Ozzie met Harriett (look it up, kids), the government should make it as easy as possible for citizens to exercise that right.

So yes, it was, as League of Women Voters of Florida President Patricia Brigham noted in the following statement: “ … truly a victory for the citizens of Florida” Tuesday when U.S. District Judge Mark Walker granted a preliminary injunction against the state’s prohibition on early voting at college and university campuses.

Why would the state try to prohibit early voting in such locations?

Oh, let’s take a wild guess.

College students generally skew toward more progressive ideas and candidates.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who needs every vote he can get to unseat Democrat Bill Nelson in the race for the U.S. Senate, is not progressive.

Republican gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam are not progressive.

Ergo, logic. 101 would tell us that Republican candidates will lose votes if students can cast early ballots at the place where they go to school and spend most of their time.

It’s not always easy for them to track down a regular polling place, so that’s where the GOP made its stand.


As the judge noted in his ruling, “This Court can conceive of fewer ham-handed efforts to abridge the youth vote than Defendant’s affirmative prohibition of on-campus early voting.”

The hammy hand began its subterfuge in 2014 when Secretary of State Ken Detzner ruled that a building the University of Florida planned to use as an early-voting site didn’t meet guidelines to qualify as a polling place. That led to what Walker called “a stark pattern of discrimination” designed to suppress on-campus voting.

If the injunction becomes permanent, it has the potential to tip statewide elections. Scott twice won the Governor’s race by about 1 percent.

“Across Florida, more than 1.1 million young men and women were enrolled in institutions of higher learning in 2016; nearly 830,000 were enrolled at public colleges or universities,” Walker wrote.

“Almost 107,000 staff members worked at these public institutions. Put another way, the number of people who live and work on Florida’s public college and university campuses is greater than the population of Jacksonville, Florida — or the populations of North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.”

Trying to hold down the turnout from voters likely to support the other candidate is becoming a pattern for Tallahassee Republicans.

In 2011, for instance, Republicans cut the number of early voting days in the state from 14 to eight and eliminated the option of casting a ballot on the final Sunday before Election Day. Black voters were particularly affected because that final Sunday has become known as “Souls to the Polls” in their churches.

Under withering pressure, Scott relented and signed a law in 2013, restoring much of what had been taken away.

The judge did it for him this time, and it has big implications in a year where students, in general, are registering to vote in large numbers, likely as a response to the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

It strains credibility to suggest the state’s resistance to on-campus early voting has nothing to with what kind of building that might be used as a polling place. It has everything to do with the fear young people might get motivated in a way that might not bode well for the incumbents.

Well, as I’ve said before, I’m not a lawyer.

In this case, though, I think it’s possible to succinctly summarize what the judge felt about the state’s argument: Seriously?

And here’s the knockout punch: Students rights proved more important than incumbents’ privilege.

Joe Henderson: Stand Your Ground worked just like lawmakers intended

In Florida now, the rule of law now seems to be shoot first, justify later.

So, what happened to Markeis McGlockton last week at a Circle A convenience store in Clearwater is exactly lawmakers had in mind when they widened the range of what’s permissible under Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Surely you have seen the video by now. It made national news. McGlockton was gunned down in plain sight after an argument between Michael Drejka and McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, escalated over whether the van she was in should have been parked in a handicapped spot (it shouldn’t have).

McGlockton, while unarmed, wasn’t blameless.

He charged and then shoved Drejka with what Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri termed “great force.”

“I mean this is a violent push, this isn’t just a push or a shove, this is violent, and he slammed him (Drejka) to the ground,” Gualtieri said at a news conference.

Still on the ground, Dreika pulled a gun, fired, and now McGlockton is dead – killed in front of his 5-year-old son.

“Stand your ground” worked just the way the framers of that law intended.

How vindicated they must have felt when Gualtieri said he couldn’t arrest the shooter because of the law, which was amended in 2017 by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott to make prosecutors prove Drejka didn’t feel threatened.

I’ll say again – prosecutors must prove he DIDN’T feel threatened.


The state attorney’s office will do its own investigation to decide if it agrees with Gualtieri’s decision. I’m not a lawyer, but it will be hard to say the Sheriff is wrong under the existing law.

“The reason why it makes (the shooting) justified, and within the framework of “stand your ground” is because of what Markeis did (with the shove),” Gualtieri said.


This is what the NRA rubber-stamps in the Florida Legislature have unleashed. They have legalized people’s worst impulses in moments of stress – even if evidence later suggests those impulses should have been controlled. Under the law, they don’t have to be.

“I’m a big believer in this adage that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. This case may be an example of that. Nonetheless, we don’t build it, we just sail it. What I mean by that is: I don’t make the law, I enforce the law,” Gualtieri said.

“And I have to apply the facts of every situation to the law, as the Legislature has passed it, and as the Governor has signed bills enacting it. And the law in the state of Florida today is that people have a right to stand their ground, and have a right to defend themselves when they believe that they are in harm.”

Surveillance video appears to show McGlockton backing up slightly after Drejka pulled his gun. Perhaps a cooler head would have let it go at that, but Drejka made a choice in the heat of the moment to fire his weapon.

That is not in dispute.

How can anyone prove Drejka didn’t believe McGlockton was going to come after him again – no matter what the video suggests?

“Nowhere else is there anything like this in criminal law, where somebody asserts something, and the burden then shifts to the other person,” Gualtieri said.

“So, the law is changed dramatically because you’ve got a situation here where ‘stand your ground’ allows for a subjective belief by the person that they are in harm’s way, they are in fear.”

Just like the NRA wanted when it pressured Republicans to make that part of the law.

Even if McGlockton thought he was defending his girlfriend, he shouldn’t have shoved Drejka, or even touched him. Whatever happened to just saying, “Hey man, I’m sorry” and then getting into your car and driving off?

But he didn’t.

The bigger question is whether he should have died for that.

The answer is simple: This is Florida.

When it comes to guns and how people use them, that’s the answer to everything.

All For Transportation closer to goal in Hillsborough

Supporters of a drive to place a sales tax increase on the November ballot in Hillsborough County said Monday they planned to turn in about 10,000 additional signed petitions to the Supervisor of Elections.

That should move backers of the All For Transportation initiative within striking distance of the approximately 49,000 valid petitions they will need by Friday for the initiative to go forward to voters.

“We’ll have a little under 50,000 turned in,” said Tyler Hudson, chairman of All For Transportation. “We had a good weekend haul. We’re excited about what we’re seeing out there. There is a lot of grassroots enthusiasm.”

That represents a significant jump for the group, which had 19,346 valid signatures on file as of 5:20 p.m. Monday, with thousands more awaiting processing. Hudson said that approval number is low because volunteers have been concentrating on gathering signatures as opposed to delivering them to elections officials.

It is generally accepted that about 70 percent of petitions in such drives will be valid. Hudson said his group won’t take any chances.

“We want to get our total up as high as possible,” he said. “We’re confident we can do that. We’re not planning at showing up on 4:59 p.m. Friday with a bunch of petitions. We’re going to work with the Supervisor of Elections office as much as we can. We know they have a lot of things going on now.”

All For Transportation proposes letting voters choose to amend the county charter and allow a 1 percent sales tax increase to eight cents on every dollar spent. The tax would pay for a variety of transportation projects around the city and county.

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