Opinions Archives - Page 2 of 298 - Florida Politics

Blake Dowling: Another day, another Facebook breach

Friday evening, I met with a crew from WCTV/CBS in Tallahassee; we talked Facebook.

They wanted some info ASAP as to news of the latest Facebook breach breaking that day, offering to meet me wherever I was. That happened to be a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters at the local bowling alley.

Hold my beer: Team Lucky Strikes (our company bowling team) is making the evening news.

The segment by Katie and her WCTV crew was great; the most intriguing part of this story will most likely break down the road.

More on that in a bit.

First off … what happened?

Last Tuesday, Facebook discovered a vulnerability, where unknown cyber-assailants gained access to 50 million FB accounts.

The following day, the company reported it to law enforcement; by Thursday, Facebook said the vulnerability was no longer an issue.

This specific exposure had to do with bugs in the “view as” feature which allows users to see their profile as someone else might.

Bug No. 1 had a video upload feature in the “view as” section. Bug No. 2 was involved with the auto log-in function and access tokens that allow you not to have to log in every time you visit the site.

So, what’s going on? What was taken? Who did it? All that is not yet known, which is why (as I said earlier) it will be a while before the cyber-dust settles on this one.

Note the bowling alley carpet; very awesome and perfect for any room.

With Cambridge Analytica, Facebook (and a third party), it took a while before the whole story came out. If this was the work of an amateur hacker (or digital prankster) maybe nothing will come up down the road.

However, if this was the work of a nation state who knows what went down? We may not find out until November. Are they looking to mess (or mettle) with the elections?

Or will there be something else more devious next year?

We have seen so much negative press on Facebook, perhaps we are becoming immune to the severity of breaches — there have been so many. To counter people not taking breaches seriously, I offer a conversation from my day yesterday.

A staffer at a statewide Florida association told me about an email she got that said they know her password and that if she does not give them a set amount in bitcoin they will post her browsing history online and expose the adult sites that she visits.

If you have ever received an email like this, it is bogus, with the exception of the criminal who wrote the email actually having an old password in the email.

Where did they get that password? A LinkedIn breach? Equifax? Who knows, but eventually info from all these breaches makes it to the dark web — and hackers.

The bottom line: Don’t use the same password for different sites, social media, financial etc. Use complex passwords; change them every 30 days. This goes for Facebook as well.

This story is most likely just the beginning, so stay tuned for more in 2019.

Now you may return to all things college football, Brett Kavanaugh, and Andrew Gillum versus Ron DeSantis.

Have a great day.

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

Aegis bowling team, the Lucky Strikes.
Big Brothers Big Sisters board of directors and friends.

Steve Crisafulli: Dorothy Hukill leaves legacy in space and lower taxes

This week, we lost a true public servant in state Sen. Dorothy Hukill.

Dorothy cared deeply for her constituents, and she leaves behind an impressive legacy of expanding economic and educational opportunities for all Floridians.

She was a shrewd and effective legislator who served Brevard and Volusia County families well in the Senate. I had the good fortune of knowing Sen. Hukill for the past 10 years. I first met her while serving together in the Florida House. I quickly came to respect Dorothy for her outstanding negotiating skills, sharp wit and passion for service. Dorothy was a friend and a trusted leader in both the House and Senate.

Dorothy began her political career as a councilwoman for Ponce Inlet and later served as mayor of Port Orange in Volusia County. By the time she got to Tallahassee in 2004, she already intimately understood the legislative process and how to effectively advocate for her constituents. She was proud of the communities she represented. She relished the opportunity to see constituents in Tallahassee, welcoming groups with new inventive signs outside her office every day.

When I arrived in Tallahassee in late 2008, Florida was firmly in the midst of the Great Recession. Dorothy Hukill was one of the House members leading the charge to turn our economy around.

Although Dorothy did not represent Brevard County at the time, she strongly supported the aerospace industry and eagerly helped me pass legislation to attract commercial space opportunities to our area. With Dorothy’s help, we strengthened the economic toolkit of Space Florida, reorganized Space Florida’s board of directors to better position the agency for success, and made it easier to develop facilities at the Kennedy Space Center for commercial space purposes. Dorothy also worked to expand economic incentives for aerospace companies, which were critical in reviving Brevard’s economy.

We should all be grateful for Dorothy’s commitment to the space industry. Her efforts helped lead us where we are today, with a booming commercial aerospace sector that has replaced the space shuttle program with thousands of high-paying, skilled jobs.

In addition to her advocacy for economic development, Dorothy also believed strongly in lowering taxes. Her legacy on tax issues will appear on the ballot this November as Amendment 2, which seeks to extend the annual cap on property tax increases for non-homestead properties, such as businesses and rental units.

Dorothy was one of the legislators responsible for spearheading the effort to put the original tax limitation for non-homestead properties in the state Constitution in 2010. She recognized that, just like homeowners, business owners, renters, and snowbirds could not afford to be hit with punishing property tax increases year after year.

During her last term in the Senate, Sen. Hukill chaired the Education Committee, overseeing policy decisions affecting students from pre-K through college. Education was a true passion of hers, especially in terms of empowering young people to make good decisions.

Dorothy tirelessly advocated for improving financial literacy education. She wanted our state education standards to include more emphasis on money management in high school so students knew how to balance their checkbooks, pay their bills, and understand financial documents when they graduated.

And she was instrumental in expanding educational opportunities for students by restoring full funding for the Bright Futures Scholarship program and offering more school choice options to parents and students in elementary, middle and high school.

While Dorothy only served Brevard County for two years, I can assure you she was strongly focused on another issue important to us: our water. Dorothy had a solid environmental record. She supported efforts to restore the Everglades, protect sensitive lands and beaches, and fund projects to clean up the Indian River Lagoon.

Dorothy Hukill courageously battled cancer while serving Florida families with integrity, determination and commitment. She loved our state, and she loved helping to improve the lives of her constituents. Dorothy led a life well-lived and leaves behind an impressive legacy of service. Our next state senator will have big shoes to fill, indeed.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Senator Dorothy Hukill and her family. May she rest in peace.

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Republican Steve Crisafulli is a Merritt Island agri-businessman and former speaker of the Florida House.

Joe Henderson: Florida can’t let #MeToo become yesterday’s news

Can it really be a year ago that Harvey Weinstein was exposed as a scumbag and #MeToo became the hashtag to live by? Titans toppled, old scores settled, secrets exposed.

While here in Florida … um, what? Political careers ruined (see Latvala, Jack).

SB 1628 from Democratic Sen. Lauren Book, tried to create the “Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Misconduct.” It cleared the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and then died in the machinery of delay in the Legislature.

“For far too long,” Book said at the time, “bad actions have been able to hide in the shadows of this process.”

She spoke of the “good ol’ boys club” where women knew to go along to get along and keep quiet — or else.

That’s only part of it. And the Parkland high school massacre moved from #MeToo to mourning the dead in the horrific slaughter of innocents.

So, here we are — a year later, with #metoo fading in the public consciousness even after the seemingly nonstop barrage of news from all angles. Bill Cosby is in prison. Al Franken is now a “former” U.S. Senator.

Powerful CBS Entertainment CEO Les Moonves was forced out following multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Actor Kevin Spacey is disgraced. And now, we have come full circle, with the controversy surrounding allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh ripping open the wounds anew.

Democratic Florida state Sen. Jeff Clemens resigned after admitting to an extramarital affair with a lobbyist. Republican State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto joined with Book in a statement that said such misconduct, “whether in action or in spoken word, has no place in our world and certainly not in our places of work nor in the halls of power.”

Adding all that to the backdrop of President Donald Trump and the long-standing allegations of sexual messiness against him, and we were supposed to witness a movement that changed the world.

But has anything really changed in Florida?

It doesn’t seem so.

There have been many public demonstrations of outrage by women, and more women are stepping into the political arena.

But, Democrat Gwen Graham lost her bid to become Florida’s first female Governor when she was defeated in the primary to Andrew Gillum despite leading in the polls into Election Day, suggesting that voters were more motivated to support Gillum’s progressive agenda.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle publicly denounce any form of sexual harassment, but President Trump has argued that you can’t trust female accusers because they might be lying. Thursday’s FBI report on the Kavanaugh SCOTUS investigation was denounced as too quick, too shallow, too political to be taken too seriously.

Yet, it is likely to put a man on the Supreme Court despite the impassioned appeal by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and others that Kavanaugh sexually harassed them. And Trump mocked Ford at a political rally this week to the cheers of the Republican crowd.

In a few weeks, Florida will choose a new Governor; it’s a coin-toss whether it will be Gillum or Republican Ron DeSantis. No matter which man wins, there will be chatter about the direction the new Governor will take the state on vital issues of the environment, education, health care, taxes, and so on.

What about #MeToo?

Let’s just hope it doesn’t become yesterday’s news in the wake of tomorrow’s headlines.

Joe Henderson: Polls show strong voter support for Amendment 4

Florida remains divided on many political issues, but there seems to be strong bipartisan agreement about the issue of restoring voting rights for convicted felons, formally known as Amendment 4.

As Florida Politics reported, a recent poll showed 74 percent support for the constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would strike down voting prohibitions for felons who have completed their sentences and parole or probation requirements. Those convicted of murder or sexual offenses would continue to be banned.

It needs 60 percent to pass.

That bipartisan support I mentioned — 79 percent of independents and 88 percent of Democrats are in support, and even a majority of Republicans (59 percent) said they’re in favor.

Boiled down, this means the people of Florida had to go this route of a grassroots push for a constitutional amendment because Republican-controlled Tallahassee wouldn’t budge — fairness be damned.

Florida is one of only three states — Iowa and Kentucky are the other two — to automatically and permanently bar felons from voting even after their sentences are complete. They can apply to the state for a restoration of rights, but not until five years after their release. Most of the time, the answer is no — and there is a backlog in the thousands of cases waiting to be heard.

Amendment 4, if passed, would restore rights to an estimated 1.5 million people in Florida.

Did we mention that maybe it’s the right thing to do?

When Charlie Crist was Governor, he restored the rights of thousands of nonviolent felons. That changed when Rick Scott took over. That’s when the legislative equivalent of Bob’s Barricades was placed in front of felons to keep them from taking that next step into society and the voting booth.

In a withering decision in February, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker overturned Scott’s policy, saying “disenfranchised citizens must kowtow before a panel of high-level government officials over which Florida’s Governor has absolute veto authority. No standards guide the panel. Its members alone must be satisfied that these citizens deserve restoration.

“Until that moment (if it ever comes), these citizens cannot legally vote for presidents, governors, senators, representatives, mayors, or school-board members. These citizens are subject to the consequences of bills, actions, programs, and policies that their elected leaders enact and enforce.”

Naturally, Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi fought the decision out of respect for “the victims.” Funny, Bondi wasn’t so concerned about “the victims” of Trump University’s money scam while she was receiving a $25,000 campaign check, but are we surprised?

I’m not.

When a person is convicted of a felony in Florida, they already will face a lifetime of obstacles that will remind them daily that society has judged them to be failures. Getting a decent job with a felony on your record can be a problem. That means supporting yourself or a family will be an ongoing struggle.

Yes, they shouldn’t have committed the crime.

But let’s say a felon is sentenced to five years for robbery and serves that time. Society considers the debt paid, but Florida is like a loan shark who just keeps piling up that debt until it becomes unsustainable on the individual.

Politicians then like to say they’re “tough on crime” but what they really are is hardhearted and shortsighted. A person who feels more invested in society — and voting can be a big part of that — is less likely to fall back into trouble.

I wouldn’t expect the lawmakers we have now to embrace that idea, though. It’s easier to demonize and tag people who made a serious mistake with a scarlet “F” for the remainder of their days. That’s why sometimes voters have to take the law into their own hands with things like Amendment 4.

This is one of those times.

Joe Henderson: Winner in Florida U.S. Senate debate? Status quo in runaway

Let us sum up the essence of the Florida U.S. Senate debate Tuesday between Bill Nelson and Rick Scott for the seat Nelson currently holds:

Blah, blah, and furthermore, blah.

Nelson believes Scott is a lying slimeball whose policies have savaged public education, health care, and the environment. We already knew that.

Scott believes Nelson is a do-nothing, accomplish-nothing political hack who exists to raise taxes because it’s fun to do so. Yep, knew that too.

OK, Florida … choose your candidate.

Did anyone learn anything about the hour Nelson and Scott spent telling a statewide Telemundo audience that the other is a horrible person and electing them would mean the end of life as we know it?

I doubt it.

Neither man is an orator of great renown.

Neither man has what anyone would call a charismatic personality.

Both men have been around long enough that we know where they’re coming from, so let’s cut the bull, shall we?

Scott is running on his record of job creation after two terms as Florida’s Governor. He is also running a campaign that shifts the blame for all the problems that environmental problems that cropped up during his reign (see Tide, Red) on Nelson because Washington didn’t act to keep dead fish from populating Florida’s shores.

After absorbing Scott’s attacks that blamed him for everything wrong on Planet Earth, perhaps even including the Tampa Bay Bucs 48-10 loss at Chicago, Nelson whipped out the white glove and said, “We would call that a whopper because it’s totally disjointed from the truth.”

Ouch. That hurts.

Do you bite your thumb, sir?

In this political climate though, the truth is whatever anyone chooses to believe, so what I would sum it up like this:

Status quo was the runaway winner in this debate.

If you liked what Scott has done for this state, you probably think he won.

If you think Nelson deserves a fourth term in the U.S. Senate, nothing happened Tuesday to change your mind.

It was boring.

It was safe.

It was repetitive.

It lacked substance.

I doubt this debate got anyone excited.

This was nothing but Talking Points 2.0.

Scott has been following an effective strategy throughout the campaign of attacking his opponent while not exactly saying what he would do if elected, other than his “promise” to go to “give ‘em hell” in Washington.

Yeah, like a freshman Senator, just one in a body of 100, would do anything except say, “How would you like me to vote on this, Sen. Mitch McConnell?”

But the reverse is true as well. Democrats are desperate for Nelson to hold on to his seat because they need every vote against President Trump, especially if Republicans continue to control the Senate after the midterms. Nelson won’t be that mythological “independent’ voice in Washington. He will be what he has been — reliably Democratic.

So, all of this back and forth is nothing but “R” versus “D” repetitive drivel.

This debate was characterized by many as nasty.

Shoot, folks … it was already nasty. It has been nasty for a long time.

We already know what they’re going to say. We knew it before either Scott or Nelson said it. Whichever man you like you like now, you will like in November. Nothing happened in this debate to change that.

The strong likelihood is that nothing is going to change, either.

They are what they are.

And what they are won’t excite anyone to do anything but what they were already going to do: vote against the other guy.

Thomas Kennedy: The most important election of your life

Every election it seems like we are told that it’s the most important election of our lifetime. We as voters hear this line so much, it’s become a bit of a cliche, something to shrug off as we head to the polls.

Taking that into account, I’m here to tell you that this is indeed, the most important election of your life. Especially if you live in Florida!

If you want to shrug this off, just think about what’s at stake.

Our waterways are currently a mess, largely thanks to Gov. Rick Scott, with toxic green algae and red tide making our beaches a health hazard to the public and killing marine wildlife.

Our minimum wage is currently at an abysmal $8.25.

Republicans in the state Legislature continue to reject Medicaid expansion, leaving around 660,000 Floridians who would qualify uninsured.

Public education is increasingly defunded as charter schools continue to raid taxpayer funds with the aid of Tallahassee lawmakers.

No meaningful action has been taken to prevent more senseless gun violence, even though the state has had fifty-one shootings since the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

Millions of Floridians are disenfranchised through various methods of voter suppression.

I could keep listing the many ways in which working-class families in Florida badly need a change of leadership in Tallahassee, but I think you get the point.

The historical implications of these midterm elections on everyday Floridians are huge. We have the opportunity to elect the first black governor in the history of the state in Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and pass Amendment 4, which would restore the vote to over 1.4 million Floridians who have served their time yet are currently disenfranchised due to prior felony convictions. People who have paid their debt to society should not be punished for a lifetime.

One out of five black citizens can’t vote because of this form of voter suppression and ensuring its passage would be a blow to the legacy of Jim Crow in the South.

That’s all without addressing what’s going at the federal level. Immigrant children are still being put in cages, in fact, hundreds of them have been moved under the cover of nighttime from detention centers to a tent city in what could accurately be described as a concentration camp in Tornillo, Texas.

The Kavanaugh hearings have been a national disgrace, with Republicans in Washington refusing to take seriously sexual assault allegations leveled against a man whose entire political career has been a war on women, and working-class people for that matter.

The Trump administration continues to be corrupt and lawless, with five presidential aides convicted of breaking the law.

Luckily there is a way for you to address all these injustices and hold accountable those who refuse to stand up for you and your loved ones.

You can vote.

In Florida, the voter registration deadline is Oct. 9. That means that you only have a few days to get it done if you are planning on voting. Once you do get registered, early voting across the state is Oct. 27 to Nov. 4, although you should check with your supervisor of elections office since they can provide additional early voting days if they choose to.

Election Day is Nov. 6. Get out there and make your voice heard.

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Thomas Kennedy is the Political Director for FLIC Votes and a communications fellow for the Center for Community Change Action. He tweets from @Tomaskenn.

Mark Mileusnic: Three keys to world-class customer service

The beginning of October marks National Customer Service Week, which recognizes the important role that customer relationships play in virtually every industry. After all, customers are at the heart of every business’s success and their satisfaction must be a top priority.

Each year, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) receives more than 500,000 phone calls and 60,000 emails into our call center from insurance agents and carriers around the nation who are looking to get information to complete their insurance transactions.

What we’ve learned is that achieving impressive results starts with great people. At NCCI, we pair our talented customer-focused team members — more than 100 employees based at our headquarters in Boca Raton — with technology and training in order to provide the very best customer service.

But it’s NCCI’s customers, and yours, who define what great service means to them.

To ensure that we’re delivering for our customers and addressing their needs, NCCI regularly collects anecdotal and numerical survey feedback to identify the specific performance attributes that translate into great customer service. Because of our focus and dedication to excellence, NCCI’s award-winning call center has earned satisfaction scores of 9.5 out of 10 in those customer surveys.

Our surveys have also identified three top attributes for success that are just as applicable to your company call center as they are to NCCI’s:

— Efficient, attentive service — Customers repeatedly identify responsiveness as one of their top priorities.

NCCI’s call center resolves approximately 75 percent of its calls without putting a customer on hold.

Just 11 seconds is the average wait time to speak with an NCCI specialist.

— Accomplishing the purpose of the call — Resolving a customer’s need on that first call not only makes for a happy customer, but also contributes to the overall efficiency of the call center, reducing the need for follow-up calls.

NCCI’s call center resolves 97 percent of its calls during the first phone call.

NCCI staff are focused on getting the right answer and achieving a successful outcome as opposed to moving on to the next call.

— Knowledgeable specialists — Customers expect the person they’re speaking with to know what they’re doing … and it’s all too obvious when this is not the case.

NCCI’s call center is located within its home office — this proximity creates a direct line of knowledge to subject-matter experts and facilitates growth and training opportunities for staff.

NCCI’s staff development includes six to eight weeks of initial training as well as ongoing development.

NCCI adds customer value by staying focused on these three attributes — and your company can too. When customers quickly get the answers they are looking for from a friendly and knowledgeable team, they are more likely to be satisfied with their experience and with the company they are doing business with.

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Mark Mileusnic is Chief Customer Operations Officer of the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).

Deborah Thompson: Elections have consequences, like boosting Tallahassee real estate

No matter your political beliefs or party registration, and regardless of who your favorite candidates are in this 2018 election season, you have an opportunity to be one of the biggest winners if you’re getting ready to put your home up for sale in the Tallahassee.

The reason is simple: we’re going to have a major turnover of top political figures in Florida’s statewide election for Governor, Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture and Chief Financial Officer. There will also be some new state legislators and staff hired to support their work. So, there will be a corresponding massive turnover of hundreds of key senior level employees in state government offices throughout the capital city.

It’s likely that many people will be recruited for important jobs from outside of Tallahassee — and when they’re set to move here to start work at the end of this year or early in 2019, they’ll need a place to live. For many, that could mean the purchase or long-term rental of a home.

This election-year real estate reality creates a special boost period to our local residential sales market — and a meaningful opportunity for homeowners who want to sell or rent their home to win in this election. But to earn that ‘victory,’ it’s smart to immediately undertake the kind of ‘campaign’ necessary to win.

Speak to a Realtor before you start preparing to sell your home. A Realtor can offer you helpful advice on preparing your home for sale as well as help determine the best sale price value of your home.

Consider having a pre-listing inspection to determine if repairs are necessary — and make the repairs, as appropriate. Curb appeal is so important for your home to go on the market and stand out. You want buyers to feel invited to come in — so they can imagine it as their home. Ask a friend to stand with you on the street outside your home, as if you are the buyers, and to share candid impressions from that angle and others about how your home looks.

Fresh mulch, edging, weeding, pruning and fresh flowers can work miracles for both front and backyards. Don’t forget to check your front door stain or paint as well as your exterior lights.

The interior of your home requires a very critical eye. Your home needs to be very clean. What’s the appearance of your light fixtures, blinds, baseboards, the space around light switch plates, cabinet fronts, etc.? Consider having a professional cleaning company come in to buff from top to bottom — because what it costs is well worth what it may save.

Less is more. Declutter and depersonalize — until it hurts. Don’t forget closets, cabinets and walls. Consider removing wallpaper and neutralize strong wall paint colors. Neutralizing doesn’t mean white walls. Fresh interior paint is a great way to give your home a fresh look.

Consult your Realtor or ask for a recommendation for a staging professional to help with furniture and accessory placement. If you are changing interior colors, a staging professional can be a great asset.

Depending on the needs, it can take several weeks to get your home ready. Don’t wait until the last minute to meet with your agent — and to begin your ‘campaign’ to win. You and your Realtor should work as ‘running mates’ to win the victory that matters most in this election: the sale of your home, at the best and right price.

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Deborah Thompson is a Certified Residential Specialist at Coldwell Banker Hartung & Noblin. She may be reached at deborahthompson.realtor@gmail.com.

Blake Dowling: An expensive lesson in ransomware wreaking havoc

Imagine you’re Joe-Bob-Sally Democrat politician; you are ready to surf the “blue wave” (and avoid the red tide) that may (or may not) be on its way and … Oops.

Your entire campaign just got rocked by an IT disaster.

It wasn’t Russian’s hacking or faulty hardware. It was another example of ransomware wreaking havoc in the process.

In this case, cybercriminals brought a big box of digital chaos to the state of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.

So far, it’s unclear if this attack came from weak infrastructure (air conditioning with a mobile app control but without a password is just one example) or through a socially engineered email campaign.

Nevertheless, the attack came through, locking up every file in the system, along with a request for 28 bitcoins (about $30K) for the encryption key to get the files back.

They said “no, thank you” to being held hostage and built everything back from scratch.

And for their effort? A whopping $700,000 bill from Microsoft.

Just a helpful tip, if you want to pay the most money for a job, hire Microsoft. Who does that? The government, I guess.

Most people would simply hire a regional/local technology company that specializes in this type of engagement. Just a thought. Would you hire Mercedes-Benz to get a nail out of your tire?

While our elected officials are pushing legislation to help stop these threats, it’s really easy to get in this business. And tracking down the perps? Not so easy.

In Michigan Public Act 95 of 2018, it’s a crime to possess such software. So how does find this type of tool? Go on the dark web, buy a tool like AKBuilder and soon you ready to begin sending out emails embedded with nastiness.

You have now become a criminal.

Once someone clicks on one of your emails and pays the ransom (which you split with the software creator), that’s how it works.

In the Sunshine State, we are not immune to this type of threat. I recently took a call from an attorney who was getting a weird email from the Florida Bar, asking if I could look.

I found it was completely bogus, but it also contained malicious content. There was a whirlwind of calls and scrambling as the attack was smart.

All the email said was your membership is past due, and it was made to look as if it was from the Florida Bar — just click here to make a payment.

Some clicked. Many did not.

When anyone asks for personal info, money, birthday, etc. the first thought should be DO NOT CLICK!

Always have someone call and verify. Banks, Microsoft, and the like never ask for personal info via email.

This concludes today’s cybersecurity lesson.

As the Facebook sage continues, there is going to be a lot of focus on the upcoming elections and worrying, all of which are valid.

In fact, there was more drama in the Facebook camp this as the Instagram founders quit on the job, as well as hundreds of additional sites removed that had ties to nation-states that do not play nice with others. But Facebook insists that they have everything under control.

We shall see.

Perhaps, we have better security protocols in our great state, or maybe we are just lucky since whenever I look for instances of cyber-mischief in Florida, most searches spit out something I wrote previously.

If you have read this far, contact your security expert ASAP to make sure you have your security protocols locked down. And change your password every month to something like “Fl@ridaP@litcsRoolz!”

A strong password is your front line of defense.

Thanks for reading, enjoy the Fall and be safe out there.

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

Anna Eskamani: Yes, I am a woman running for office, and yes, I curse

The Republican Party of Florida wants you to know that I curse.

So much so, that they’ve created television ads and sent three mailers into my district stating that I am “vulgar,” and that I am “everything wrong with politics today.” The mailer includes quotes from me at rallies and public events, where I spoke truth to power, and occasionally integrated words like “shit” and “damn” into my remarks for emphasis. Once at a public storytelling event I proclaimed “fuck the patriarchy” and at the 2017 Women’s March I said, “P*ssy Power” as I was reading it off an attendee’s sign.

Apparently, all of this is just too much for the Republican Party to handle, as the mailer reads: “Ask yourself, is this the example our leaders should be setting for our children?”, concluding, “Anna Eskamani: Extremely Partisan. Extremely Vulgar. Extremely Wrong for Central Florida.”

The irony is palpable, and the cognitive dissonance clear. The Party of Trump thinks I am vulgar? President Trump can grab women by the p*ssy, and use language that is demeaning towards women, people of color, immigrants, and the disabled. But when I reclaim terms that have historically been used to belittle women, than I am the one who is being vulgar?

Let’s be real: the Republican Party could care less about cursing. Party leaders only care because I’m a woman who curses, and they think that can be weaponized against me.

Despite achievements made by women in our country, we still face deep double standards in government, business, tech, sports, academics, and entertainment. Double standards are defined as a rule or principle that is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups. In the case of women, we are often evaluated against different harsher standards when compared to male counterparts. Examples exist in all fields, and especially in politics.

Recently I had my first ever debate with my Republican opponent. So far, it’s the only debate he has agreed to, and chances are since it was hosted by our local Chamber of Commerce, he assumed that this young woman of color and Democrat would not perform well in a business-focused space.

The attack mail calling me vulgar had begun that same week, and I knew it was an intentional effort to damage my character before I even walked into the room.

I was up till 6:00 a.m. preparing for this debate, crafting a thirty-page binder of policy notes, reviewing statistics, theories, and budget allocations. One double standard that women face — and especially women of color — is that you only get one chance to get it right. I knew this moment mattered, and refused to take it for granted.

With one hour of sleep, I walked into the debate and demonstrated a grasp of the issues, had the courage to hold my opponent accountable to his lies, and relayed a message of hope for our state that leaves no one behind.

Many had said I won the debate, and when the forum ended I felt like we had done our job in painting a brighter future for Florida. Later, when I looked at the Facebook live stream, and read the comments left by those watching, I could not help but notice people who oppose me comment on my “valley girl” voice, speak to my opponents lack of detailed responses as being his “strength”, and continue to call me “too vulgar” to support.

Later in the week, a former elected official would troll me on my personal Facebook page and say that he “observed me” at the debate, thought that I was “charming” but that I was “insincere, just playing to the audience.”

Tossing aside women you disagree with, commenting on superficial elements, and labeling them as liars is another double standard. Just ask President Trump and Brett Kavanaugh. They’re both very good at it.

Running for office takes being yourself. It takes remembering where you come from and who you are. It takes grit and grace. It takes asking for guidance, but also trusting your gut. The recent attacks that I have faced are insignificant when compared to the attacks faced by hardworking Florida families each and every day. These personal attacks mean nothing when I reflect upon the importance of protecting public education and our environment. In fact, it’s hard not to swear when I think about Florida politicians never expanding Medicaid, a decision that has left nearly 800,000 people in our state without access to health care.

I know all too well that more attacks by my opponent and Republican leadership are yet to come. Next will be my traffic citations plastered on mail, my past work at Planned Parenthood, and no doubt efforts to tie my cultural identity as an Iranian-American to terrorism. Each will be seen across our district, designed to hurt me and the movement we are building.

It won’t work. Our voters are too smart, our team too committed, and my track record too strong.

Because we are authentic to the members of our district we have inspired Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike to stand with us in demanding a collaborative and ethical approach to problem solving, one that celebrates diversity and operates free of special interests. Our campaign is less about winning an election and more about setting a new tone for the America we love, and fight for.

Yes, I am a woman who curses. But no, I am not what’s wrong with politics today. I am the sum of those around me, a facilitator for change, a challenger of the status quo, and someone who is damn ready to serve the great people of Florida State House District 47.

Anna V. Eskamani is an Orlando native and daughter of working class immigrants from Iran. She is pursuing a PhD at the University of Central Florida and is a first time candidate, running for Florida State House District 47. 

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