Context Archives - Page 3 of 216 - Florida Politics

TCC serves up coffee, corporate welfare, and confidentiality

At Tallahassee Community College (TCC), they’re serving up a venti cup of corporate welfare with a side order of unnecessary and possibly illegal confidentiality.

The school is shelling out $500K in “unrestricted funds” to peddle coffee — more specifically, Starbucks coffee — at its downtown “Center for Innovation” located just spitting distance from the state Capitol.

TCC’s stated goals include providing students with “hands-on entrepreneurial experience.” You’d think that Starbucks never hired college kids — or high school kids — without a subsidy from their mommies, daddies and college presidents.

TCC began brewing this exercise in innovation and job creation in 2015 when it tried, and failed, to persuade three local coffeehouse proprietors that there was a pony of a business plan inside its under-trafficked downtown location.

The bean counters and bean roasters at Redeye, Lucky Goat and Catalina Café saw only a pile of horse feathers. In an impressive exercise in graciousness, diplomacy and understatement, Lucky Goat’s Ben Pautsch told the Democrat, “The timing and economics didn’t make sense for us as a local business.”

Maybe it would have made sense if the local coffee guys had the kind of high-powered negotiators available to multi-billion dollar players like Starbucks. The Colossus of Caffeine talked TCC into a “confidential nondisclosure agreement” which precludes release of details of its discussion with Starbucks. That’s just as well for House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s blood pressure, considering what the parties are not embarrassed to disclose. In addition to picking up the $488,000 construction tab, TCC paid a $30,000 licensing fee and will be giving Starbucks 7 percent a month off the top once the place opens.

For regular people, a handcrafted mocha choca latte ya ya Creole Lady Marmalade skinny Frappuccino is a very occasional luxury, if that. For TCC trustees, it’s a good reason to raid the stash of “non-restricted money which can be used for non-instructional services.”

Tallahassee is full of local businesses that could use a $500K transfusion. TCC is full of teachers who could use a raise, and students who could use gas money. What TCC trustees could use is better judgment about how they spend the slush funds.

Kevin Hernandez: Donald Trump’s dream team for economic success

The American public has long been yearning for a drastic change to the status quo.

Sadly, the past eight years have brought onto us sluggish economic growth, a wave of overregulation that drastically hurts the viability of our small businesses and, overall, an out-of-touch administration. It’s no surprise that Americans are fed up, and this year’s election proved that.

What has been needed, now more than ever, is for someone to shake up D.C. and repair an inefficient and inflated federal government.

With Republicans retaining the majority of both chambers of Congress, and a Republican president in the White House, it’s now time though to put rhetoric aside and demonstrate that there’s truly “A Better Way” for Washington to govern.

The burdens inflicted upon our nation’s entrepreneurs by an administration infatuated with bigger government, more taxation and overregulation can no longer be dismissed. After all, it’s those same entrepreneurs who are risking their own capital and, most importantly, creating roughly two-thirds of all U.S. jobs.

Thankfully, President-elect Donald Trump’s business acumen and pro-growth agenda has already translated into the outstanding selection of three key members who will serve on his Cabinet. It’s important to also note that these officials will be critically important in complementing the efforts of Speaker Paul Ryan’s Better Way agenda, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady’s efforts on tax reform and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s efforts to roll back the Dodd-Frank Act.

Those key players of Donald Trump’s triangle offense for economic growth and small-business success are:

Steven Mnuchin, secretary, Department of the Treasury

With almost 20 years of experience working as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, Mnuchin will bring a wealth of knowledge regarding economic and financial issues. Mnuchin also brings a particularly keen understanding of the importance of lending and access to capital, which entrepreneurs and business groups alike unequivocally prioritize as a key issue.

Working in lockstep with Hensarling and the president-elect’s pick for the Commerce Department, Wilbur Ross, Mnuchin will play a pivotal role in the rolling back of Dodd-Frank, which has negatively affected small and medium-sized business, along with our vitally important community and regional banks throughout the country. These banks have felt the squeeze caused by the vastly complex web of one-size-fits-all regulations intended for large banks, and have thus been unable to provide the access to capital desperately needed by entrepreneurs.

Addressing Dodd-Frank and reforming our tax code are two of Mnuchin’s immediate priorities that will alleviate some of the burdensome effects of overregulation.

Wilbur Ross, secretary, Department of Commerce

At 79, Ross, a billionaire investor, never imagined he would find himself reporting to someone. That quickly changed when asked to serve his country as the secretary of Commerce under President-elect Trump’s leadership, which he humbly accepted.

Ross will be responsible for working with businesses to promote job creation and economic growth.

His experience and success in turning around failing firms is unparalleled, and so is his approach to addressing these challenging investments. In a 2008 interview with NPR, Ross explained his hands-on approach to reviving a failing steel company by saying, “we got an enormous amount of good ideas from the blue collar workers. That fellow who has been standing behind a machine for 10 years, who knows it better than the people who built it, really knows what to do.”

That very approach that Wilbur Ross has had throughout his career and will soon bring to the Department of Commerce is illustrative of not only the refreshing leadership he will bring to the agency but also of the overall theme and direction of Trump’s wishes as incoming commander in chief.

Ross told CNBC that two of his priorities will be trade reform and increasing U.S. exports abroad.

Small and medium-sized business stand to greatly benefit from trade reform and an increase in exporting as they make up 98 percent of all U.S. companies involved in exporting.

Linda McMahon, administrator, Small Business Administration

McMahon is the underrated Cabinet pick in my opinion. A phenomenal addition to Trump’s team, McMahon will without a doubt bring the necessary experience, mindset and skills to unleash the potential of our country’s small business community, while effectively serving as the leading voice for small business and entrepreneurship.

As the co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., McMahon certainly experienced the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Scaling a company of 13 employees to a now public traded global enterprise with over 800 employees worldwide didn’t happen overnight. Rather, she cut her teeth as one of the country’s top female CEOs by resurrecting a once failing business from its ashes and turning into the global brand that it is today.

Already an advocate for female entrepreneurs with Women’s Leadership Live, an organization she co-founded, there is no doubt Linda McMahon will ensure women, along with minority entrepreneurs, are a top priority in the Trump administration.

The agency she will soon be taking over has a budget of over $10 billion and a loan portfolio of roughly $125 billion. In 2015, the SBA approved over 70,000 government-backed private-sector loans to small business throughout the country. McMahon will without a doubt be the champion we need on behalf of the American entrepreneur.

Our sluggish recovery from the 2008 recession and 2.1 percent average growth between 2010 and 2015 should serve as a lesson that big government policies and overregulation of industries don’t work. It’s time we listen to our small business community’s needs if we want them to continue being the driving force of our economic engine, and President-elect Trump has done just that by nominating Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross and Linda McMahon.

It’s going to be a great four years for economic growth and small businesses.

___

Kevin Hernandez is director of Government Affairs and Policy at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He is also a fellow with the James Madison Institute, Florida’s premier free-market think tank.

 

Nat Hentoff, master of words and music, gone too soon at 91

Nat Hentoff‘s writing was as brilliant, edgy and unpredictable as the music of Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Charles Mingus, and the many other geniuses he worked with in his altogether remarkable life.

Hentoff died Saturday at age 91, mourned by family, free thinkers, jazz junkies, and persons on the lunatic fringe of the First Amendment who will never cease to be amazed and inspired by the half-century of columns, commentary and criticism he leaves behind.

Modern punditry is too often a gassy blend of wasted breath that begins with “Wow!” and ends with “That said, it is what it is.” Hentoff, by contrast, is always “a gas to read …” tweeted POLITICO’s Jack Shafer, himself a newsman with a Hentoff-level ability to slice and dice through “every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

As a kid, Hentoff aspired to a career as a jazz musician, but his ear was good enough and his ego small enough to know that he did not have a gift for the kind of riffing required to make music with the best.  As a speaker and writer, things were different. Hentoff’s mastery of language and ability to marshal facts and mold them into glorious examples of persuasion made him a rare light in a world full of people who think that free speech is for folks who agree with you, and everyone else should be made to pay a high price for going off the sheet music.

Conservatives bashing ‘Hollywood’ depends on which actors do the talking

Meryl Streep must have known what she was in for when she spoke out against Donald Trump at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night.

Conservatives were outraged that, during her acceptance speech for a lifetime of excellence in Hollywood, she referenced Trump’s mocking of a disabled reporter during the campaign. Trump, indeed, emphasized the “bully” part of his public “pulpit” many times during his successful bid for the White House.

Streep used her pulpit to call him out.

“And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing,” she said to a nationwide audience.

Trump responded, as he does, with a tweet, calling her “overrated” (he’s wrong) and a “Hillary flunky.” That was the bugle charge for his supporters to trot the same “Hollywood elite” rap they use whenever someone in Streep’s position takes advantage of a moment to espouse a personal view.

Meghan McCain, daughter of U.S. Sen. John McCain, took to Twitter herself to note: “This Meryl Streep speech is why Trump won. And if people in Hollywood don’t start recognizing why and how — you will help him get re-elected.”

Maybe. We’ll see how it looks in four years.

While we wait, though, it’s worth examining that whole “Hollywood elite” business.

I mean, didn’t Ronald Reagan come out of Hollywood?

I seem to recall an appearance by Clint Eastwood with an empty chair at the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa. I think he qualifies as Hollywood upper crust.

Didn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger make a few big movies before becoming the governor of California?

Jon Voight? I remember talking to with him at that GOP convention. He is conservative to the core.

When he served as president of the NRA, Charlton Heston wrote the 11th Commandment when he challenged Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore to pry his gun “from my cold, dead hands.”

John Wayne was Republican. Loved him in “The Alamo.”

Fred Thompson? Before he became the GOP senator from Tennessee, he was in “Die Hard 2” and “Crimson Tide.”

Bob Hope? Republican.

Chuck Norris? Republican.

Vince Vaughn? Republican.

Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Sly Stallone. GOP-times-three.

There are plenty more examples. Google tells a different tale than what conservatives were sharing on social media Monday.

To be fair, Hollywood — like all of California — trends liberal. No one is saying otherwise.

Liberals got a good laugh at Eastwood because what he did during the convention was, well, ridiculous. They laughed at Reagan, too, but I think the Gipper won that round. I don’t think anyone dared laugh at John Wayne. You can laugh at Chuck Norris if you want; I’ll call him sir.

Back to Ms. Streep.

She is an amazing actress and for Trump to say otherwise, especially in the way he did, simply proved her point about his bullying tactics.

But the same conservatives who say they don’t care what Hollywood folk say about anything would have stopped traffic to listen if Reagan, Eastwood or any of those others I mentioned were doing the talking.

Tech, food and disruption: Hotels on the front lines of innovation

Like Ryan Lochte at a Rio gas station – 2017 is on.

We are 100 percent set for takeoff. Engines are roaring and what should we expect from technology in this grand year? There are three things you can always count on, breaches, innovation and disruption.

Let’s dive into innovation, shall we? (More swimming puns, ha!)

The hotel industry is usually on the front lines of innovation. The W in DC encourages you to use your smartphone as your room key, the Grand Bohemian in Orlando texts you about all things in regards to your stay. The Epicurean in Tampa takes it to the next level. We wheeled in around 6 p.m. and the young man who took our luggage took us to what I thought was the front desk; it was a wine station.

This development was greeted with genuine appreciation from Mrs. Dowling and me as we just got out of evening traffic.

So, pinot noir in hand, I followed the hotel staff member onto the elevator. He told us all about the property and after exiting the elevator, we went straight to room 333.

He produced a tablet from somewhere and zing, mobile check-in; giving us our keys from the comfort of our room. Innovative and awesome. No lines, no hassle, no delay. If lodging is needed on our next visit to Tampa, The Epicurean is the spot.

We had to be at our Outback Bowl tailgate early the next morning for breakfast Budweisers (don’t buy aluminum bottles) and Chicken and Waffles (courtesy of Chef Iverson), but upon our return to the property later in the day we noticed some other innovative twists.

The Epicurean Theater on the ground floor offered guests actual cooking classes with a room looking like a Food Network set, with theater-style seating for attendees.

What a unique experience to dive into the foodie world.

Speaking of culinary delights, the hotel was literally built around food, as Bern’s Steakhouse is across the street. The goal was to provide out of town dining guests a genuinely overnight dining experience. Bern’s offers cut-to-order steaks (in a class of their own), and they have the largest privately held wine collection in the world.

I checked into a property a few days after the recent presidential election and within the mirror in the bathroom was a small, built-in flat-screen TV.

So, you can watch CNBC, Fox News, CNN or Sanford and Son while getting dressed. I must have this for the house very soon. Too cool.

As you travel around the great state of Florida and visit wonderful properties like the Vinoy in St. Pete, Hotel Duval in Tallahassee, the above-mentioned Epicurean, or the Grand Bohemian (check out the art there), make sure you are enjoying the technology at your disposal; it will only enhance your experience.

Happy New Year!

___

Blake Dowling the CEO at Aegis Business Technologies in Tallahassee and he writes columns for several organizations. You can contact him here: dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

 

‘Little’ Marco Rubio holds big cards in Rex Tillerson confirmation

We all remember when presidential candidate Donald Trump stuck Republican opponent Marco Rubio with the label of “Little Marco.”

It’s hard to say if that insult led directly to Trump’s sizable thumping of Rubio in the Florida primary, but it’s worth mentioning because “Little” Marco holds perhaps the biggest card in Trump’s push to confirm Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.

Rubio sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Tillerson is expected to appear Wednesday as part of the formal confirmation process. It’s a 21-person committee, with Republicans holding a one-seat majority.

It’s shaping up as a showdown between principle and politics, and the spotlight is on Rubio.

All 10 Democrats are likely to vote against Tillerson, given the ExxonMobil CEO’s close business ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That relationship has been a problem for Rubio as well, a fact underscored when Florida’s junior senator tweeted last month: “Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a Secretary of State.”

When Trump tabbed Tillerson to what arguably is the most important non-elected position in his cabinet, Rubio responded with a statement that read in part, “I have serious concerns about his nomination. The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America’s interests, and will be a forceful advocate for America’s foreign policy goals.”

For good measure, Rubio also has called Putin a “gangster and a thug.”

If Rubio breaks ranks with fellow Republicans, that would likely mean the committee would reject Tillerson’s nomination by an 11-10 vote. It still would be subject to a full Senate vote, but the impact of a thumbs-down in a GOP-controlled committee could be enough to hand Trump a stinging political defeat.

While Rubio has promised to give the nominee a thorough and fair hearing in the committee, you have to wonder what Tillerson could say that would sway his opinion. Rubio certainly has been feeling the heat in advance of the hearing, including a call from former Vice President Dick Cheney urging him to cast a “yea” vote.

A “no” vote likely would make him a pariah with a new president who has been known to hold a grudge.

Voting to confirm, in view of his past statements on Tillerson, could bring an avalanche of condemnation from critics who would label him as Trump’s puppet – and, by extension, Putin. That could make it difficult to take seriously anything Rubio says going forward.

This is shaping up as the most significant moment in Rubio’s political career. How he handles himself in this hearing could cast his image for years to come.

 

Jan. 20, 2017: A day that will live in infamy

When a family member or another loved one dies of natural causes, we understand that death is the price we pay for life. We must accept it and count on memories to console us.

But how do you grieve for your nation? How do you move beyond the death of everything you held sacred about the land of your birth? Whose uniform you wore proudly? Whose virtues you have tried to teach to your children and to anyone else who would listen? When you know that the tragedy owes not to an act of God but to the malice of a man and so many of his supporters? How can you accept this? How can you rationalize it?

For me, Jan. 20 will be the saddest day ever. I don’t think I’m alone in that regard.

Donald Trump is the most undeserving, unqualified, and untrustworthy person ever to seek the presidency, let alone obtain it. He is a clear and present danger to our principles, our economy, our self-respect and our national security.

No one has put that better than J. M. “Mac” Stipanovich, a trusted adviser to two Florida Republican governors, expressed it in a Facebook post earlier this month.

“Ignorant, unprincipled and amoral,” he wrote. That was in reply to a friend who had wearied of “my constant carping” against Trump and had challenged him to state his three “foremost objections” to Trump’s presidency.

There’s no need to try to summarize here the vast evidence of Trump’s unprincipled amorality. Everyone is aware of it, although only some care. In a world bristling with economic rivalries and nuclear-armed powers, Trump’s ignorance is the greater danger than what he might steal.

“I am concerned,” Stipanovich explained, “about what Donald Trump does not know, the fact that he does not know what he does not know and will not listen to those who do know.”

Some Republicans, perhaps most, may relish what Trump will let the Congress do to the Affordable Care Act and to Medicare and Social Security despite his transparently worthless promises to protect them. Some will rejoice in the destruction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Environmental Protection Agency, and in the neutering of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But my hope is that there are still members of both parties who understand that character — defined as integrity, trustworthiness, fidelity to principle and fundamental decency — is what America has assumed in its presidents since the Constitution was written with George Washington in mind. It was to prevent the ascension of someone like Trump that the founders opted against direct election. Ever since, Americans and the world have looked to the presidency of the United States as an avatar of America itself. But what do we see now? What does the world see? A braggart, a bully, a libertine, a cocky ignoramus, an infantile personality in the body of a 70-year-old man who has never cared, even once, about anyone or anything other than himself, who breathes contempt for the four freedoms of the First Amendment, who craved the presidency for self-aggrandizement and whose election was sought and applauded by the most vicious people among us as a license to make America hate again. For the first time, Nazis and Ku Kluxers have helped elect an American president. Think about that.

And if that weren’t enough, he is an apologist and sycophant for a murderous foreign tyrant who means to eliminate the United States as an obstacle to reviving the Soviet empire and dominating Europe. John LeCarré, whose novels envisioned a mole secretly subverting British intelligence, never imagined a scenario as wild as that of the cousins, as he called us, being taken over so openly at the very top. The most unenviable job in the United States today becomes that of an intelligence officer who remains faithful to duty and principles.

I don’t know which is more discouraging — that such a person is actually president or that so many people voted for him knowing what he is. That he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes is some consolation but the awful truth is that he is in the White House and the radical Republicans in Congress no longer have anyone there to check their worst ambitions.

The awful truth is that even with Russia’s assistance Trump would not have won but for the racists who haven’t forgiven the rest of us for twice electing a black man, the misogynists who couldn’t abide the thought of a woman president, the cynical opportunists who saw in Trump a reactionary Supreme Court, and the idiots who swallowed Trump’s absurd lies along with the false equivalency the media assigned to Clinton’s mostly decent record and Trump’s utterly deplorable one. These people are not going away, although more of a few may come to regret their votes when their Medicare is sacrificed to the insurance industry, Social Security is sold out to Wall Street, and they’re forced to wait until they’re 70 to begin collecting what’s left.

Is American democracy dead? Can it be resurrected? The answers depend on those of us who do not celebrate Inauguration Day. What we must do, for love of country and self-respect, is to make ourselves heard every day in Congress, and especially in the Senate, where there are still some grown-ups on the majority side, and which can’t be gerrymandered like the House.

We must never, never give up. The United States of America is too precious to waste.

___

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

Ft. Lauderdale massacre caps a miserable week for the military

Last week’s news was overstuffed with upsetting reports about the mental health of military people. And that was before “troubled Army veteran” Esteban Santiago opened fire at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The armed forces have shrunk by 10 percent in recent years, but child abuse and neglect in military families are up. Way up.

Some of our “heroes” will be spending time in the stockade, but at least they’ll have a roof over their heads.

That’s more than we can say for America’s 40,000 homeless veterans. The nation that set and achieved the goal of putting a man on the moon in a decade has been unable to meet a five-year goal of getting homeless veterans out of the woods and into permanent homes.

Miracle workers like Ju’Coby Pittman, the longtime CEO of Jacksonville’s Clara White Mission, have taken a bite out of the problem. You’d think the job of getting veterans off the streets would be easy in a community where the military is omnipresent and everybody professes to “honor our heroes.”  But when it comes to sharing the block with the disabled and the mentally ill, folks in Duval County can be as NIMBY as folks anyplace else.

In Seminole Heights, Laura Sellinger mourns her husband John, another “troubled veteran” who survived deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, but not the “survivor’s guilt” that “exploded” in a rampage, a struggle with Pasco County deputies, and death.

Our country provides a bottomless book of blank checks to the manufacturers of military hardware. The men and women who bear the weight of war must make do with whatever’s left behind in the petty cash drawer.

If Republicans have a better idea to replace Obamacare, let’s hear it

I have a friend who has owned a small restaurant in Tampa for decades. He voted for Donald Trump for two important reasons: Trump isn’t Hillary Clinton, and he hates Obamacare.

Let me rephrase that: He doesn’t like Hillary, but he loathes Obamacare with unyielding venom. Keeping up with its requirements, he said, has been an expensive nightmare. He wants it gone.

Today.

This is a kind and decent man who is all-in on goodness. He is charitable, law-abiding and is happy to lend a hand. So, over several plates of bacon and eggs at his joint, I have deduced that his position can best be summed up like this: He wants his employees and anyone in need to have access to health care, but he despises the bureaucracy and costs imposed by Obamacare.

It looks like he is going to get his way as the Republican-controlled Congress is tripping over itself to defund, defeat and dethrone the signature accomplishment of President Barack Obama’s administration. But then what?

Well, to borrow the infamous quote from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was coming to life, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

That quote was taken out of context and fed to Pelosi for breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with Obama’s vow that people could keep the doctors they liked. That became the rallying cry for opponents, but Trump now basically is saying the same thing – promising Americans that law will be replaced with something great.

While we wait for greatness, consider these Florida statistics from a recent federal Health and Human Services report.

— An estimated 132,000 young Floridians have been able to keep insurance by the provision allowing them to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.

— It claims premiums grew 1.3 percent annually from 2010-2015, far less than the 8.2 percent of the previous decade.

Hold on just a minute there.

The HHS apparently forgot to include the estimated 25 percent premium hike for Floridians this year. There are many factors for that, especially the fact that far fewer people enrolled in Obamacare than the government projected and fewer insurers are offering coverage now that federal backstops against financial losses have been phased out.

All this sets up as a trap for Republicans in their zeal to end the program, though.

With lower enrollments than expected and the end to the safety net for insurance companies, any plan Republicans pass to replace the ACA probably will come up short of what Obamacare offered.

I can see the attack ads now when congressional seats are up for grabs in two years.

Incoming HHS head Tom Price of Georgia, a ferocious critic of Obamacare, has proposed a plan that would include a series of tax credits, health savings accounts, state grants and so on. Analysists have said Price’s proposal, if adopted, could mean reduced coverage and much higher premiums, especially for older Americans.

Republicans have the votes, for now, to move ahead with something. What that is, though, is anyone’s guess – especially Republicans. After barking their hatred for Obamacare for six years, they have, in the words of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, become “the dog that caught the car.”

Now what?

I know my friend would say to get rid of Obamacare and we’ll out the consequences later.

My take is a little different. I know this makes some people cringe, but I think health care is a right in a civilized society. It’s not something only those who can afford it should have. If Republicans have a better idea, let’s hear it.

After all, as Schumer said, they caught the car. They need to do more than just pee on the tires.

 

Mitch Perry Report for 1.6.16 – Big time college athletics parks in Tampa this weekend

Big time college sports makes its way to Tampa this weekend with the college football championship slated for 8 p.m. Monday evening at Raymond James Stadium.

Both teams will be arriving at Tampa International Airport this afternoon, with Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney slated to headline a press conference tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. at the Tampa Convention Center.

Don’t expect any sparking quotes from Coach Saban, who is in rarefied air as one of the greatest coaches in college football history, but seems to never enjoy any part of that success. Do sit back and watch him provide a torturous response when asked what went down with his now former offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin.

These are college students, first and foremost, though you won’t hear that much about that this weekend. Clemson graduated 84 percent of their players in 2016, and Alabama graduated 80 percent, according to the latest graduation rates released last month by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida.

There is a lot of discussion in the local media how crazy traffic conditions will be in downtown Tampa because of all the activity beginning today, but it really isn’t that big of a deal, unless you work downtown. For the rest of us, it’s a choice to come down to be part of the festivities (just don’t drive a car to get down there) unless you want to pay the rates you’d pay in New York City or Chicago for a few hours.

What I’m curious to see is how many people use the Cross-Bay Ferry, which was touted by its advocates last year to be a great transit option during this busy weekend.

Oh, wait. Nobody gets to use it tomorrow, apparently.

“Due to increased boat traffic by the convention center this weekend, the dock the ferry typically uses is not available on Saturday,” Rich Mullins, a spokesman for the ferry, told the Tampa Bay Times Rick Danielson yesterday. “A backup dock was also not available due to other operations. The online ticket system has a note that alerts travelers to the change. All other runs are still on schedule: Friday, Sunday and Monday.”

This excitement for a major football event makes me nostalgic for an event that Tampa does really well – hosting a Super Bowl. It’s been eight long years since the Cigar City hosted the ultimate game, and it may be that many years in the future before the city gets to do so again, sadly.

Last May, the NFL announced that Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles would be awarded the games for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021. Minneapolis had already been awarded the game in 2018. What do they all have in common? Well, with the exception of Miami, they’re brand new stadiums, which with the average cost these days being around $1 billion, the league has essentially rewarded those cities with the Super Bowl as a prize.

It was reported that Miami beat out Tampa for the 2020 game. While Tampa has put in approximately $100 million in stadium improvements, Miami “enhanced” their stadium to the tune of $450 million.

In other news..

Rick Kriseman has filed for re-election for mayor of St. Petersburg. The mayor is looking good in the polls to get four more  years for the public, though it could be a donnybrook if former Mayor Rick Baker chooses to re-enter into electoral politics.

Republicans dominate in Florida electoral politics, but Blaise Ingoglia wants more. The state part chairman is calling for a plan that calls for the party to overtake the Democrats in terms of party registration, where the Dems still lead the R’s by approximately 200,000 voters.

Dwight Bullard lays out his agenda for Florida Democratic Party chair. It includes a proposal to replace at least half of the FDP fundraising with donors who give less than $100 annually.

South Florida Democratic Representative Ted Deutch is calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

And the House of Representatives rejected Kathy Castor’s proposal to maintain some of the consumer friendly provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The GOP House may ultimately retain those provisions in their own replacement model, whatever year that happens to take place.

P.S. We’re shutting down MPR after today. It was originally created while this reporter was at Creative Loafing newspaper, and when I switched over to Extensive Enterprises Media in 2014, it was undecided whether we would continue the practice of having a column that was a place to hold our previous day’s stories. More than two years later, management is going to allow me a little more free time in the morning before going out and reporting on the news of the day in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Tallahassee, and all points beyond. Keep on reading!

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons