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Jeremy Ring: Setting the record straight on business background

Jeremy Ring

Appointed Chief Financial Officer and seafood restaurateur Jimmy Patronis lied about using taxpayer resources for his campaign — POLITICO even caught him red-handed — and now he’s lying about my business background. Let’s set the record straight.

I’m an entrepreneur. My opponent isn’t. I’ve started businesses. He hasn’t.

I’ve helped to pioneer industry. I’ve started organizations, grown organizations, and led organizations.

I’ve dealt with personnel challenges, written business plans, worked in mergers and acquisitions, raised capital, invested my own capital, and had shareholder responsibility.

I’ve been held to strong corporate governance standards, negotiated countless deals with countless clients.

I’ve held significant roles in publicly traded companies and private companies; large companies and small companies.

Jimmy Patronis, if he ever started a business, would know what all of that truly means. He doesn’t and hasn’t.

Jimmy Patronis inherited a seafood restaurant. He dropped out of a race for state Senate in favor of a plum position with the Public Service Commission, for which he was hand-selected by Rick Scott for his unique ability to do the Governor’s bidding.

After CFO Jeff Atwater resigned, Scott quickly appointed Jimmy to the role of Chief Financial Officer for the remainder of his term — for the very same reason he was selected for the Public Service Commission. In short, Jimmy is the CFO because he is friends with the Governor, not because he is qualified.

At 25, I opened the first East Coast office of internet company Yahoo! out of my apartment in New York City and over the next five years I helped to turn it into a multibillion-dollar tech leader.

I served in the Florida Senate, where I crafted major bipartisan legislation establishing an innovation economy to help Florida’s entrepreneurs build their ideas and grow jobs right here in Florida.

I created the largest technology incubator in the state, the Gainesville based “Florida Institute of Commercialization,” which in turn has helped start and grow over 75 technology businesses in Florida with over $1 billion in economic impact and an average salary of over $75,000.

I created the Florida Opportunity Fund, a $100 million institutional venture capital fund for Florida companies; last, I was the creator of the Florida Growth Fund, a $1 billion late-stage venture capital fund for technology company’s across the Florida that has returned over 10 percent capital to the beneficiaries of the Florida Retirement System.

In addition to those successes, I also started or invested in a number of businesses here in Florida, companies that Jimmy falsely paints as flops.

Jimmy points to my company Convizion as a prime example of my business failures, and as a reason as to why I cannot be trusted with the State’s finances.

He says that I readily admit to it being a “failure,” even citing an article. The only problem is that the next sentence after the one he cites completely contradicts his argument. It reads, “It was only by being open to new opportunities that he (Ring) and his partners were able to create a success out of their apparent loss.”

And, success there was.

In fact, Convizion shareholders made between two and four times their initial investment. Only someone with zero real business experience would consider that a failure.

Jimmy also points to Strategic Baseball Ventures and Ring Entertainment as “flops” and further proof of me losing money for shareholders. But here again, he is either lying or doesn’t understand basic business — neither is a good quality for the person in charge of Florida’s finances.

Strategic Baseball Ventures was set up in the early 2000s when a partner of mine wanted to investigate buying minor league baseball franchises. We looked at a few deals, didn’t find one we liked and moved on. No one lost any money.

Ring Entertainment was a small endeavor between my brother and I that was a fun family project. It had zero outside capital invested and minimal family capital.

Not everyone is handed a business and not everyone is handed a position to oversee the state treasury. Qualifications matter, as does honesty.

Right now, I am questioning both for the current appointed CFO.

___

Jeremy Ring is a former state Senator and tech startup executive. He is a Democrat running for Florida Chief Financial Officer.

Jean Gonzalez Wingo, Lisa Murano: Everyone wants to help greyhounds

At a time when we can’t seem to agree on anything, there is still an issue that unites Democrats and Republicans: protecting dogs. We are proud to join the many community leaders across the state who support Amendment 13, a humane proposal to phase out greyhound racing.

As a state, we have a proud tradition of leading on animal welfare issues. Our first anti-cruelty law was adopted more than a century ago in 1889, but today we are lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to cruelty inflicted on greyhounds. Commercial dog racing is illegal in 40 states but continues at 11 racetracks across Florida.

At these racetracks, thousands of greyhounds endure lives of confinement, kept in rows of stacked metal cages. They are caged for 20 to 23 hours a day, with only carpet remnants or shredded paper for bedding. When let out of their cages to race, the dogs run the risk of serious injury and death. According to state records, 483 greyhounds have died at Florida tracks since officials began maintaining death data in 2013. These are young dogs that die unnecessarily for a money-losing industry that only exists because of a state mandate that other types of gambling must be coupled with dog racing.

Floridians have already voted with their pocketbooks, and clearly want greyhound racing to end. Gambling on dog races has fallen dramatically in recent years, and racetracks are collectively losing more than $30 million annually on this Depression-era relic. Taxpayers are also getting the short end of the stick. According to a report done for the legislature by Spectrum Gaming, the state is losing as much as $3.3 million annually on dog racing because regulatory costs exceed revenues.

Yet thousands of dogs continue to live in cages in this moribund industry. They die on the track and test positive for serious drugs, including cocaine, all so a handful of greyhound breeders can benefit from a state mandate that puts profits ahead of animal welfare.

This isn’t a complicated issue. Dogs are members of our families, and the racing industry treats greyhounds in a way we should never treat our best friends. Tolerating this cruelty not only causes harm to gentle greyhounds, it also reflects on us. We’re better than that, and it’s time for dog racing to be relegated to the history books.

One ray of hope is the diverse coalition fighting to help greyhounds. Amendment 13 has been endorsed by a vast cross-section of our state’s civic life, including animal welfare groups, animal shelters, animal rescue and adoption groups, veterinarians, dog clubs, current and former elected officials, candidates for office, editorial boards and news organizations, civic organizations, local businesses, environmental groups and churches. Every day, new community leaders join this chorus of support.

No other active issue is supported by the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, the Florida Federation of Republican Women, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Democratic State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

Let’s celebrate this common ground by coming together to vote yes for the dogs on Amendment 13. With our vote, we can help thousands of greyhounds, and once again take the lead on animal welfare.

___

Jean Gonzalez Wingo is first vice president of the Florida Federation of Republican Women. Lisa Murano is secretary of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida.

Joe Henderson: Memo to Al Sharpton — you missed the target

Memo to Al Sharpton.

Bug out, dude.

The decision by Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri not to immediately arrest the shooter in the latest “stand your ground” case in our state has nothing to do with his reluctance to prosecute a crime.

If you want to blame someone for this fiasco, blame the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature. And while you’re at it, kick Florida Democrats upside their frequently self-righteous backsides for their role in for the state’s lopsided gun laws.

They got their tails outflanked as Republicans took complete control of state government over the last 20 years. While the GOP pressed for education “reform,” pro-growth, anti-regulation, anti-public education and tax-schmax laws, nowhere have the state felt the impact of Republican rule more than in gun laws.

Marion Hammer of the National Rifle Association became better-known as a policy manipulator than anyone the Democrats had to offer as a counterbalance. And so we have “stand your ground” rewritten as essentially a license to kill because now a shooter can claim they felt threatened enough in a confrontation to use lethal force.

That nuance of law led Gualtieri to decline to arrest Michael Drejka for fatally shooting Markeis McGlockton in an argument over a parking violation that spiraled out of control.

At a rally in Clearwater, Sharpton said Gualtieri should “give up his badge” for not immediately arresting Drejka, who is white, for shooting McGlockton, who is black, to death.

Nonsense.

The better argument is whether, regardless of color, Drejka felt empowered on some level by the state’s idiotic interpretation of SYG to use lethal force in what should have been a relatively minor scuffle, if that.

A lot of people, including me, warned this type of confrontation was coming once state Republican lawmakers rammed this SYG modification through. I asked Gualtieri on Tuesday night if he would have thought differently about arresting Drejka under the old standard of SYG.

“This is an extremely complicated case,” he told me. “The state statute as I understand it says you can’t arrest without probable cause.”

I believe his interpretation is correct. It’s what GOP lawmakers had in mind when they pushed through the NRA-backed enhancements to SYG. And that, folks, is what Gualtieri is required to enforce.

If outsiders like Al Sharpton really want to make a difference here more than a headline, stop blaming law enforcement officers on the front line for enforcing what legislators forced upon them.

They should stop pretending this is solely a black-white issue. It’s a red issue, as in the blood that is being spilled when lawmakers decide that it’s legal to shoot first and justify later.

That’s what the protest should be about.

Joe Henderson: A warning to the GOP: Parkland isn’t going away

The Parkland kids and their determination to change the culture in Florida is the biggest X-factor in the primaries this month and in the November general election.

That much has become increasingly evident as the campaigns have wound their ways toward the citizens’ right to determine what kind of state we want to be. Parkland’s influence can be seen in the latest ads by Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Philip Levine

It showcased the endorsements the former Miami Beach Mayor received from the parents of Joaquin Oliver and Jaime Guttenberg — students who lost their lives during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

That’s after Democrat Jeff Greene also invoked Parkland in a recent ad, while Democratic front-runner Gwen Graham has promised to issue an executive order as Governor that would ban the sale of assault-style weapons like the one used at Parkland.

Democratic candidates Chris King and Andrew Gillum have made similar gun-control pitches as part of their basic platforms. 

At this point, it should be clear to Republicans and their NRA supporters that just shouting “Second Amendment rights” might not cut it this time. The memory of 17 funerals at Parkland, including 14 students, remains fresh and raw.

The backlash put Adam Putnam into full retreat in the Republican gubernatorial race as he sought to distance himself from the dreadful “proud NRA sellout” line. And Ron DeSantis, the current GOP front-runner, has embraced the expansive gun rights agenda championed by the NRA.

While the Second Amendment isn’t on the ballot in November, the emphasis it will be given by state government really is front and center.

Some Republicans, regrettably, have trashed Parkland survivors who spoke out for stronger gun laws in the wake of the slaughter. None were worse than state Rep. Elizabeth Porter of Lake City, who dismissed them as ill-prepared children who should trust the, ahem, “wisdom” of the adults in Tallahassee.

“We’ve been told that we need to listen to the children and do what the children ask,” she said on the state house floor. “Are there any children on this floor? Are there any children making laws?

“Do we allow the children to tell us that we should pass a law that says ’no homework’? Or you finish high school at the age of 12 just because they want it so? No.”

And then, oh dear, she went on to say. “The adults make the laws because we have the age, we have the wisdom, and we have the experience.”

Tell you what, Ms. Porter. These “children” as you so blithely dismiss them have the “experience” and “wisdom” of living through a horrific experience no person should ever have to endure.

They have the “experience” and “wisdom” of attending funerals of their high-school classmates while you slurped at the trough of the NRA.

But it was exactly that kind of “oh child” back-of-the-hand dismissal of the Parkland kids that has led to this showdown. It has been nearly six months since Parkland, and, sadly, in many other events of mass killing that has been more than enough time for the memory to fade from the public consciousness.

Don’t think it’s gonna happen this time, though.

Those kids aren’t going away.

Parkland isn’t going away.

Joe Henderson: Andrew Learned knows about the extra mile

Andrew Learned took time off Sunday from his campaign represent Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

Instead of hanging out or lounging around the house though, Learned competed in the Siesta Key Triathlon. He finished 13th overall.

Supporters shouldn’t fret though. He was back on the trail by midafternoon, tweeting his disdain for President Trump and other political matters.

I mention this because he is a Democrat and the district he wants to represent covers largely conservative parts of eastern Hillsborough and Polk counties and has generally regarded as reliably Republican.

Conventional wisdom says that a Democrat can’t win there.

If politics has shown us nothing else in the last couple of years though, that seems to matter less and less.

For the last year he has been essentially going door-to-door throughout the district, accepting every invitation to meet with civic groups, attending house parties, and building relationships the old-fashioned way — making time, listening, and when asked a question choosing direct answers over talking points.

He is personable, just 32 years old, confident, he has a compelling personal story, too.

He grew up in Valrico and graduated from the University of Tampa, and later interned for a pair of Hillsborough County Commissioners — Republican Mark Sharpe and Democrat Kevin Beckner.

“The first time I met him, I was really impressed,” Sharpe said. “He is a very sharp young man, and I’m not the least bit surprised that he is running for Congress. I’ve been really impressed with him. He has run a very smart campaign. I definitely think he can win.”

Learned was a Republican as a student majoring in economics and political science, but converted because, he said, “the Republican Party left me a long time ago” by its policies on public education, health care, women’s issues, immigration and tax policies that he says hurts the middle class and makes rich guys richer.

“All that money is flying off to the Caymans,” he said.

On his website, he addresses immigration like this:

”Besides the obvious policy of deporting Donald Trump and Stephen Miller, we need a new generation of leaders capable of adding some sanity and common sense to our country’s immigration policy.

“Ripping children from the arms of their parents as a deterrent is abhorrent. We should be striving to keep families together, welcoming our new neighbors, and helping them get on their feet so we can get them to work in our high-demand labor economy.”

That stance might make the hair stand up on the back of the necks of immigration hawks but Learned doesn’t care. If they want to accuse him of being soft on that subject, they should first understand that he is a Navy veteran who had three deployments to the Middle East.

While there, he led small teams on confrontations with Somali pirates. He was the Navy’s surface planner in Bahrain. And as he wryly notes, “It will be hard to beat me because I’m the only person with military experience in this race.”

And as he said to me with a big smile when we met recently at a Valrico Starbucks, “I got an F-rating from the NRA!”

He also has the support of several Democratic Party officials, including U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who has helped him in fundraising.

Even so, winning the nomination in the Aug. 28 primary won’t be easy.

Lakeland attorney Kristen Carlson jumped into the race just before the filing deadline in May. She has been endorsed by EMILY’S List, a group pushing for women to be elected to Congress and state legislatures, and that helped her jump into the fundraising lead. The Cook Political Report has tabbed her as the favorite among Democrats.

And while it said the district could go blue this fall, the report said it is still leaning Republican.

But Learned is not deterred.

He talks about his army of volunteers, contacting each eligible voter in the primary to tell his story. While we were talking, people were stopping by the outdoor table where we sat to shake his hand and just say hello.

Will it be enough?

We won’t know that until Aug. 28.

Here’s what we do know though. Even in a district that has been represented by Republican Dennis Ross, skeptics better beware before jumping to conclusions and thinking things can’t change.

Learned is in this race to win, and he knows something about going the extra mile.

Blake Dowling: Elections and tech

I voted by mail this week. Done.

Neither Russians nor Scientologists, nor Canadians were able to influence or meddle with my selections.

What did those groups behind the headlines do to our electoral process? They created discord and a lack of faith in some areas — certainly one of their goals.

The last administration told the Russians to “cut it out” which they did not, and right now we have a very mixed message from the White House — I say mixed as the President and his team doesn’t always seem to be on the same page.

After last month’s Helsinki talks, the President said: “I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

However, right now, the White House (via intelligence director Dan Coats) is saying about Russia: “We acknowledge the threat, it is real, it is continuing, and we’re doing everything we can to have a legitimate election.”

Meanwhile, this week in cyberland: Facebook said it uncovered a brand-new coordinated political influence campaign, designed to mislead its users and sow dissension among American voters ahead of congressional elections.

More than 9,500 posts from now-removed pages — including “Mindful Being” and “Aztlan Warriors” — were among those accounts listed.

“We think it’s inevitable that we will find evidence, and we will find other actors, whether these are from Russia, from other countries, or domestic actors that are looking to try and abuse the platform,” said Nathan Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity.

The Russians are not going to cut it out, and they clearly are involved in meddling in some way. So, what do we do?

Stay calm. Get out and vote, trust the process.

There will always be attempts at shenanigans, and with the internet of things, it is expected.

Hackers and Cyber Clowns across the globe are trying to steal, delete, break, disrupt … everything. From power grids to elections to the Sports Book at the Rio. This is not new, this is to be expected. Fear is not needed.

Here in Florida, our government is beefing up security across the state to make sure we are battle-ready.

Handed out will be $10.3 million, but not to Duval or Dade. Sorry guys. Funds will go to training and cybersecurity solutions to make sure all is well come November.

Also, people need to remember it is not just social media and hacking attempts that these folks are into. They engage in targeted call campaigns, staging protests, hiring actors, sending bogus mailers, etc.

Don’t be afraid to report any wrongdoings to the authorities.

So, overcome your voter anguish, get out and vote. Our Democracy will once again set the bar for the world.

And to anyone that stands in our way — they’d better cut it out.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

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.

Nope.

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 …

BANG!

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.

Ashley-Britt Hanson: Avoid unnecessary risks on health care — keep fixing the ACA

While the idea of a “Medicare for All” health care system may sound appealing to Floridians in theory, I fully recognize that the only legitimate path to improving our broken health care system in the immediate future is to amend the already existing legislation known as the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats and Republicans should be focusing on practical, patient-centered solutions, not tearing down our health care system and starting from scratch.

As an attorney in Florida, one of the biggest complaints I hear from my clients regarding health care is a lack of stability.

Millions of Americans may have access to health care as a result of the Affordable Care Act, but inaction by politicians in Washington have led to higher premiums and instability in the marketplace. With so many Americans depending on the protections provided by the ACA, inaction is political malpractice.

Floridians want to be able to predict and plan for their health care costs. The continued instability in Washington makes it practically impossible for families to prepare a realistic budget. Without the ability to project health care costs, families are left to guess, which is an unnecessary risk.

It’s well past time for our elected leaders to put partisanship aside and get to work on improving the Affordable Care Act. Floridians can’t afford to sit by and listen to theoretical debates about health care, while Washington ignores the real-world consequences of their inaction.

 ___

Ashley-Britt Hanson is an appeals attorney in Jacksonville.

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.

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