Opinions Archives - Page 4 of 246 - Florida Politics

Dennis Ross: Giving community banks, credit unions Financial CHOICE

This week, the House of Representatives will consider an important financial reform package, known as the Financial CHOICE Act, which provides desperately needed relief to community financial institutions from the harmful, complex and excessive regulatory environment created by the Dodd-Frank Act.

The Dodd-Frank Act, signed into law by President Obama in July 2010, was more than 2,000 pages long and directed federal regulators to implement more than 400 new rules and regulations to reform our financial system.

When the Dodd-Frank Act was enacted, it was sold to the American people as a solution to the financial crisis that would hold Wall Street banks and bad actors in the financial services arena accountable.

In the years since its enactment, however, big banks have grown larger, and small banks and credit unions across Central Florida and the rest of the country have suffered. In fact, community financial institutions are disappearing at an average rate of one per day. This is because the large Wall Street banks are the only ones with the manpower and resources to navigate the complex Dodd-Frank regulatory environment.

In addition, as a Member of the House Financial Services Committee, I am distressed by the anemic economic growth our country has experienced in the wake of the financial crisis.

In May 2015, the American Action Forum estimated the Dodd-Frank Act would reduce U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $895 billion between 2016 and 2025. In 2016, the U.S. saw only 1.6 percent GDP growth. The impact the Dodd-Frank Act is having on our GDP is not only affecting Wall Street banks and financial institutions, it is harming hard-working blue-collar families across Central Florida and the Tampa Bay Region.

To reverse this trend, and instead grow our economy and provide relief to community banks and credit unions from the crushing burden of over-regulation, I am proud to support the Financial CHOICE Act.

This legislation protects taxpayers, ends bank bailouts, empowers investors and holds government bureaucracies accountable. It makes it easier for hardworking Americans to save and invest for retirement, college and their futures. Importantly, this legislation increases access to, and reduces the cost of, credit for families that want to purchase a home or start a business. Finally, the Financial CHOICE Act holds Wall Street accountable and increases civil and criminal penalties for financial fraud and insider trading to their highest levels in history.

The Financial CHOICE Act is just what we need to jump-start our economy and provide more hope and opportunity for Floridians and all Americans.

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U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross represents Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

Steve Hayes: Tourism industry in jeopardy with House Bill 1A

The Florida House of Representatives has recently espoused a philosophy of not “picking winners and losers,” but House Bill 1A does just that.

As I watched Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, and Speaker Richard Corcoran announce their plans for a special session to discuss tourism funding, I felt hopeful for the fate of Florida’s tourism industry. However, my optimism faded when I read the strict VISIT Florida provisions tucked inside House Bill 1A. Of course, I am deeply appreciative of our lawmakers’ willingness to rethink the issue of VISIT Florida’s funding, but I am concerned the severe restrictions still hinder VISIT Florida’s ability to help smaller communities compete in the increasingly aggressive tourism promotion industry.

VISIT Florida must be able to operate to keep tourists, and revenue, flowing into the Sunshine State. Restoring its funding to $76 million is certainly a critical component to ensuring our tourism industry continues to flourish, but the bureaucratic red tape proposed by HB 1A counteracts the increased budget.

I am a proud member of Pensacola’s tourism industry, so the fund matching provisions found in HB 1A are especially troubling. In its current form, HB 1A could force VISIT Florida to partner only with the larger tourism industry businesses that can match funds, shutting out county destination marketing organization. The small businesses that previously benefited from state tourism promotion efforts by partnering with their local destination marketing organization (DMO), like Visit Pensacola, will no longer be afforded this opportunity — and they are the ones who need tourism promotion the most. Seafood shacks, bed and breakfasts, kayak rentals and numerous other companies do not have a marketing team and therefore rely on their local DMO to partner with VISIT Florida. Similar are the smaller destinations in Northern Florida, without the same brand recognition as some of our state’s larger cities — without cooperation between state and local tourism promotion, many of Florida’s hidden gems would remain a secret.

Like many smaller communities, tourism is Pensacola’s livelihood. The tourism industry employs more than 22,000 residents and relies on Pensacola tourists to feed their families and maintain their way of life. And, those outside of the travel industry benefit from our county tourism promotion efforts as well. For example, every dollar invested in marketing Pensacola creates $3.55 in tax revenue. The money generated by tourism helps improve our roads, maintain our beaches and fund other public projects.

DMO’s, like Visit Pensacola, enable smaller, local tourism businesses to participate in VISIT Florida marketing programs they could not afford without local support. The small businesses could maximize their minimal funds by getting a matching contribution from both the state and their local tax-funded tourism bureau. For example, a water sports attraction on the coast can achieve exposure in magazine advertisements by partnering with their local destination marketing organization, reaching millions of potential customers across the country at a significantly reduced cost. Now, local tourism businesses will be excluded from these types of opportunities.

Recently, Gov. Scott announced Florida welcomed a record 31.1 million visitors in the first three months of 2017. This accomplishment is a direct result of last year’s $76 million allowance for tourism promotion, coupled with each county’s investment in publicizing the Sunshine State. Now that counties and other long-term VISIT Florida partners are unable to help fund state marketing programs, the strength of the Florida brand will surely weaken.

We have proven time and time again that investing in tourism promotion is good public policy, and VISIT Florida’s success has been consistent. Small communities and businesses who have been partners since the beginning should not be punished by a shortsighted decision. HB 1A must be modified so that counties both big and small can continue to benefit from VISIT Florida’s tourism promotion efforts. Tourism must work for the entire state — we cannot leave small communities in the dust.

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Steve Hayes is the vice chairman of the Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations (FADMO) and the president of Visit Pensacola.

Joe Henderson: Tallahassee gets special session, the public gets the bill

After the budget compromise reached by Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, the biggest question hanging over the Legislature’s three-day special session this week is whether there is enough time for some lawmakers to grow a backbone.

Only one of two things can happen.

There will either be a full-blown party revolt at how this was handled, followed by points, counterpoints, then fire and pestilence raining down on the state capital as rank-and-file members stand up to their leaders. I’m not betting on that one, by the way.

Or … party leaders will tell members how to vote because this compromise is the greatest thing since craft beer was invented.  After some serious harrumphing in private, those legislators will fall into line, lest their future committee assignments reflect the cost of rebellion.

The latter is the smart wager.

Democrats might as well send their “nay” votes in by Skype because Florida’s one-party system of Republican control has rendered them irrelevant.

In the musical Hamilton, there is a scene that could have doubled for what happened in Tallahassee. Corcoran, Scott and Negron were three key figures in the room where it happened. Decisions were happening, and other leaders need not apply. On Friday, they were kind enough to share news of the deal they reached.

Scott got what he wanted. Corcoran got what he wanted.

What everyone else got was a take-it-or-leave-it deal that smacked of smoke-filled rooms and quid pro quos. Even Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, who chairs the Senate’s budget panel on tourism and economic development, was left out of the conversation.

That led to this cynical tweet from Republican state Senator and possible gubernatorial candidate Jack Latvala: “It’s a shame the House wouldn’t negotiate during the regular session. Now we have to spend $60-70k a day on a special session.”

Write that on the tombstone for this Legislative Session.

Scott salvaged his priorities — more money for tourism promotion and incentives (read: taxpayer cash) for businesses to create jobs here. In the wake of the statewide backlash against the controversial HB 7069, which diverts millions from public schools to charters, Scott got a little more cash for public schools. I sense that will be coming to a U.S. Senate campaign ad next year.

Educators were not impressed.

“The gaping flaws in HB 7069 haven’t changed with this suggested increase in funding,” Florida Education Association President Joanne McCall said in a written statement.

“It doesn’t even pay for the massive giveaway to charter schools included in the bill. The governor and the legislative leaders who cooked up these changes and called for a special session are not addressing the needs of the parents and students in this state.”

This is probably a good time to recall that Corcoran called the union “downright evil” last because it opposed his plan for charter schools.

He added that the union’s stance was tantamount to “attempting to destroy the lives of almost 100,000 children, mostly minority, and all of them poor.”

Corcoran really, really wanted more money for those “Schools of Hope” charters that would otherwise have gone to public schools. Assuming lawmakers go along to get along, Corcoran wins.

Scott wins.

And what do we, the people, receive?

As always, we get the bill.

Welcome to Tallahassee.

Blake Dowling: Dark Data, Dark Web, Dark Side?

Basic human dignity – FAIL.

Let’s see … what should I write about today? Pretending to murder the President of the United States? No, that’s been done.

It was ironic as I was posting my Memorial column about togetherness and unity on Twitter the other day and I see all these Tweets about Kathy Griffin. Let’s see what she is up to, hmmm beheading the President. That is exactly what I was talking about in the piece, people behaving so, so badly that it is beyond comprehension. Odd that it wasn’t on the news yesterday.

You hear a lot of the same rhetoric from right wing media outlets like Drudge Report, Fox News, etc. … “If this had been former President the world would be more outraged, there would be war in the streets,” but it’s a left-wing comedian and it’s Donald so maybe they are right (pun intended)? I watched the news (ABC/NBC) last night, no mention of this.

People forget that celebrities, politicians, athletes are actually human beings.

Like him or hate him, the Donald is a person, too. If you can’t respect the man or the woman, try and respect the office. Jeez, Griffin, humanity sinks deeper into the sea of the pathetic thanks to you. Basic human dignity – FAIL.

 Oh well. For today we are back to technology.

Welcome to the Dark Side. We have pancakes.

There is a company called Lattice Data that Apple just scooped up for about 200 million. Lattice specializes in machine learning and transferring “dark data” into usable information.

What the hell is dark data? Is that what the Emperor keeps on his iPad? (Zing)

Dark data is data that is unstructured and uncharacterized. It could be geographical information on customers, financial information, pictures. Think about some growth analysis, we cranked out 4.4 zettabytes of data in 2013. That is going to grow to a projected 40+ zettabytes by 2020.

Experts say 90 percent of the data in existence was produced in the past two years. This info must be stored somewhere – and data centers are not cheap. Cooling data centers are not cheap.

What do we do with all of this data? Enter Lattice, they take the data and using artificial intelligence they “label” it. So, all of this information that is compiled from everything in our internet of things world could be used in medicine, political campaigning, logistics, genetics even human trafficking.

MEMEX is a program which analyzes mountains of data on sex workers via, online ads, job postings, rates, geographic region, and they can take the data and identify trends which may lead them to a human trafficking ring. This is not just data on the traditional internet, this application also dives into the dark web.

The darknet, dark web or deep web are areas of the internet where search engines do not go and where you must have a specialized browser to get there (like Tor). Users are anonymous and not traceable by IP address on the normal web.

So, guess what happens? It’s like Kathy Griffin day every day on the dark web.

Drugs are for sale, weapons, pornography, hitmen, all those things. I wrote a piece about the online drug emporium, Silk Road last for INFLUENCE Magazine if you want to check it out.

Some say the dark web provides an anonymous place for corporate whistleblowing. I call BS on that one. You can write a letter to the NY Post and not sign it if you really must disclose some sinister corporate shenanigans.

Others say if you buy drugs online you take violent crime out of the drug business; pay with bitcoin, it comes to your home, no gun battles in Compton or elsewhere.

That argument is slightly more valid, but it’s still illegal, in Florida at least. For now. For the People.

Dark website to hire a hitman.

There you have it, darkness everywhere coming at you like the platoon of Storm Troopers on the forest moon of Endor. Thanks for reading.

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

Florence Snyder: A Valentine to Judge Carithers — thank you for being embarrassed

Duval County Circuit Judge Hugh Carithers

An unvarnished, unqualified apology is hard to find these days, so let’s take a moment to thank Duval County Circuit Judge Hugh Carithers for reminding us what it looks like.

Last month, the 1st District Court of Appeal repealed an unfortunate order of a Jacksonville-based hearing officer, and replaced it with a reminder that hearing officers do not have the authority to put people in jail for failing to pay child support.

When the Jacksonville Times-Union came calling for the view from the bench of the judges for whom the errant hearing officer works, Carithers — who heads up the family court division — did not circle the wagons. He did not hide behind flacks. There was no whining about #FakeNews and no babbling about “lessons learned.”

In a narcissistic time when hardly anybody is ever embarrassed about anything, Carithers told the T-U that “It was wrong. It was just wrong what happened to this guy. It’s embarrassing to me. It’s embarrassing to all the family judges.”

There are bigger issues here about the hiring and training of hearing officers that Jacksonville’s bench and bar will need to sort. Happily, there’s good reason to believe that the local legal community is up to the task under the watchful eye of reporters who check dockets that most newspapers ignore. Carithers did not blink at the uncomfortable truth that “this was a breakdown of the system, and the judges should’ve exercised more oversight.”  Instead of the usual plateful of empty promises to “make sure this never happens again,” Carithers served up a more modest and more credible “I’m pretty sure we’ve righted this ship. … “

At any given time, around 15,000 family court cases are on “the ship” where Carithers and his colleagues serve as captains. Litigants need and deserve judges who aren’t afraid to be embarrassed by mistakes on their watch.

 

Joe Henderson: Sunshine law should remind leaders that people of Florida are citizens, not serfs

The irony of the state Constitutional Revision Commission trying to avoid sunshine laws is almost too rich to describe.

If allowed to happen, that would be a dark day indeed.

But that’s exactly what CRC Chair Carlos Beruff is proposing, even as the commission continues a series of town hall meetings designed to take public input into the process.

Beruff, who ran a bare-knuckles campaign for the Republican nomination in the 2016 U.S. Senate race but ultimately crashed when Marco Rubio decided to get back in the game, proposes to allow two or more members to discuss the commission’s official business in private.

Not only that, Beruff — appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to chair the committee — is pushing for authority to be the sole decision-maker about what measures the 37-member board puts on the ballot in 2018.

That would gut a requirement that a supermajority of 22 members approves all ballot initiatives.

The commission has been frosty to his proposals.

“What is called for is a presider — not a decider,” Commission member and former Senate President Don Gaetz told the Miami Herald.

So, let’s review: Florida has been noted for its landmark Sunshine Law that requires all government and related meetings to be open and with adequate advance public notice. The head of the Constitutional Revision Commission wants to ignore a bedrock principle of Florida law.

Good start, eh?

It’s worth noting that Beruff was a controversial choice to lead the commission.

A little over a year ago, he drew wide criticism last year for remarks at St. John’s County Republican Executive Committee, where he said of President Barack Obama: “Unfortunately, for seven and a half years this animal we call president — because he’s an animal, OK? … has surgically and with thought and very smart, intelligent manner, destroyed this country and dismantled the military under not one, not two, but three secretaries of defenses.”

That doesn’t exactly have the ring of someone interested in building consensus.

Beruff’s current ploy is just continuing an assault on openness that has been taking place for years. There are more than 1,000 exemptions to the law as legislators find increasingly inventive ways to avoid the annoying public scrutiny.

Three members of the South Florida Water Management District were criticized for discussing official business in Facebook chats. Barbara Petersen, head of the nonprofit First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee, told TCPalm.com “this definitely appears to be a violation.”

Yes, it’s much easier to govern in secret, but that’s not how we do it here. You can’t just work things out in private and then inform the masses (maybe) what you have planned for them before you break for lunch. The people of Florida are citizens, not serfs. They have a right to know how decisions affecting their lives are being made. They have a right for input.

What part of that escapes Carlos Beruff?

Then again, why should anyone be surprised? He doesn’t seem like someone much interested in what other people think.

Shevrin Jones: Florida education bill’s path isn’t how the process works

Remember “Schoolhouse Rock”? Many of us remember the process of how a bill becomes a law from that jingle which still rings in our heads. First, there’s an idea. Then this idea becomes a bill, which must be vetted by both legislative chambers and approved through a rigorous process meant to weed out the good ideas from the bad.

This year, we were promised “unprecedented transparency” in how things would be done in Tallahassee. In my heart, I believe the intent, in the beginning, was pure. Unfortunately, as time passed, that promise slipped away from us. Whether due to the crunch of time, or trying to please everyone, nowhere was the notion of transparency abused more than in the development of HB 7069.

When it comes to any piece of legislation, we owe it to you, our constituents, to allow public comment and input before a vote is taken. This principle is even more important when it comes to public education and charting the course for success for our children’s futures.

With HB 7069, at least 55 different bills concerning public education were jammed together at the last minute in a conference report that was sent straight to the floor of the House and by rule could not be amended. Even more concerning, one of the bills included in this giant package was a bill that will make it harder for Florida to retain our highest performing teachers that had been voted down in a Senate committee. This isn’t how the process should work.

While there are undoubtedly good aspects to this bill — including some portions that I had the privilege to give input on such as recess for public school children and the expansion of the Gardiner scholarship for our students who need it most — it is littered with poison pills that teachers, superintendents and parents all oppose. While some argue that charter schools are public schools, this bill contains a massive giveaway to for-profit charter management corporations at the expense of the 90-plus percent of students in Florida who attend traditional public schools.

Let’s also be honest — you can’t develop a 278-page bill in secret and tell us to deal with it. We must do what’s right and start over so that these policies are given a fair examination in the sunshine.

I urge Gov. Scott to veto HB 7069.

You deserve better. Our children deserve better.

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State Rep. Shevrin Jones represents House District 101, which includes southeastern Broward County. He is a ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee.

Bobby DuBose: Rick Scott must veto HB 7069 on behalf of our public schools

One of the great joys of serving as an elected state Representative is the opportunity it provides me to interact with the people of our community and act as a voice on their behalf in Tallahassee. That’s why I’m excited to have been afforded the chance to write an occasional column to fill you in on my view on pending legislation, changes in state law that may affect you or your family, and to share my opinion on issues that may be making waves in the media.

There’s been a lot of talk about a bill, HB 7069, that was passed this session that will be greatly detrimental to the future of public education in the state. I voted against this bill on the floor and I am urging Governor Scott to veto it.

There are many problems with HB 7069, both from a policy and a process standpoint.

Most importantly, I disagree with the idea of creating a $140 million slush fund to give to private, for-profit charter management companies at the expense of our public schools. In a year when per-pupil funding only increased by $24, it is clear that money could be better directed to the 90-plus percent of students who attend traditional public schools.

It is also a fact that Florida ranks in the bottom 10 nationally when it comes to teacher pay, with our valuable teachers making about $9,000 less than the national average. Rather than addressing this directly, instead they are being offered bonuses based on test scores from when they were in high school.

The bill also includes a policy that will undoubtedly hurt our school districts’ ability to retain their highest performing teachers at a time when Florida is experiencing a growing teacher shortage. To make matters worse, that policy was voted down as a standalone bill in a Senate committee.

That’s where we get to the process. The final legislation, a budget conforming bill comprised of at least 55 different bills, was drafted in secret with no public input or oversight. That does a disservice to Floridians who expect their government to function in the sunshine and would set a terrible precedent going forward.

While there may be worthwhile policies within the bill, the good does not outweigh the bad. On your behalf, Governor Scott must veto HB 7069.

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State Rep. Bobby DuBose serves as Democratic Leader Pro Tempore.

Darryl Paulson: Will 2018 bring no change or a political tsunami?

Sometimes political change comes slowly, one drop at a time. That was the 2016 Florida congressional election where Democrats gained a single seat, although the opportunities were everywhere.

Sometimes elections result in a political tsunami, where the political landscape is fundamentally altered, and one party replaces the other party as the dominant political force.

The 2010 and 2014 midterm elections created a tsunami where Republicans wiped out a substantial Democratic majority and won political control of the House.

What will 2018 bring?

Republican gains in 2010 and 2014 were due to Democrat Barack Obama in the White House and the negative public reaction to Obamacare. Now, with a Republican in the White House who has far lower approval ratings than Obama and with the Republican House voting to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that has little public support, will it be the Republicans who get washed away?

Charlie Cook just released his Partisan Voting Index (PVI) which found that only 72 of the 435 congressional districts were really competitive, with a PVI of less than +5 Democrat or Republican. In other words, most districts are safe.

Larry Sabato estimates that 141 congressional districts are safe for Republicans, and 135 are safe for Democrats. That means that 276 of the 435 districts, or 63 percent, are safe. Only 159 districts are competitive, and Republicans hold 100 of those seats and Democrats hold 59.

The following is a quick rundown of Democratic opportunities in Florida in 2018. The seat offers retiring Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is the top priority for Democrats. The seat has a +5 Democratic advantage, and Clinton defeated Trump by 19 percent. The district has trended Democrat by 6.2 percent over the past four years, the sixth greatest swing nationally.

Quite frankly, the seat is a Democratic seat held by Republicans.

The next target is Carlos Curbelo in neighboring Congressional District 26. Curbelo represents a district which has a +6 Democratic PVI and one that Clinton carried by 15 percent. Curbelo’ district has trended Democrat by 4.5 percent over the past four years.

Fellow Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart in Florida’s 25th Congressional District does have a narrow Republican PVI of +4, but it has trended Democrat by 5.6 percent over the past four years, the 10th greatest swing in the nation.

Other Republicans on the Democratic target list include Republican newcomer Brian Mast in District 18, who won the seat previously held by Democrat Patrick Murphy. Murphy gave up the seat in his unsuccessful bid to win the U.S. Senate seat held by Marco Rubio. The district has a +5 Republican PVI.

Republican Ron DeSantis in Florida’s 6th Congressional District is another Democratic target. The district has a PVI of +7 Republican, but DeSantis narrowly won in 2016.

Finally, Democrats have made Republican Vern Buchanan in Florida’s 16th Congressional District as their second highest priority on the hit list. Buchanan has had only one serious challenge, and that was in his first race against Christine Jennings. Buchanan won by 369 votes.

Sarasota Republican Party Chair Joe Gruters claims that “the Democrats have zero chance of winning this seat.” Keith Fitzgerald, a former challenger of Buchanan, argues that the Democratic Party wants “qualified candidates in place in advance of a wave election.”

Will 2018 bring a tidal wave to the Florida political landscape, or will it be another status quo election?  Stay tuned.

Blake Dowling: This Memorial Day had me looking for unity

I was looking at some pictures of my great uncle on Memorial Day (Captain Alex Hood Dowling), thinking about his sacrifice for our country, as well as those of so many others.

Our family watched the PBS Memorial Day special and heard some wonderful and heartbreaking stories of those that made the ultimate sacrifice. It really made me sad for our nation, as we seem to be more divided than normal.

Protestors on every side of the issue disgracing the flag, famous athletes disrespecting the national anthem; the list goes on and on.

We have the right to act like lunatics because of the commitment, and loyalty of so many.

Captain Dowling (far right) enjoying some high-powered refreshments with my grandfather and other friends. And, no, that is not Hitler doing a shot of whiskey (far left).

I believe 1 percent of our nation serves in the Armed Forces. This is the 1 percent that people need to be talking about, the 1 percent who represent us all.

We in Florida will select a new Governor next year. Who will be the right choice? Putnam? Graham? We heard a lot of talk from John Morgan during Session, but then nothing since he complained about weed bills.

I would encourage all candidates to run on a platform of unity. While we fight internally about nearly everything, parts of the world seek to eradicate our country (and our way of life) from the map.

We experienced ISIS in our state at the Pulse nightclub, and watch as North Korea escalates the situation in that part of the world with more missile tests. President Vladimir Putin, he watches and waits.

It’s looking like a big mess, and most of the news focuses on big messes — as big messes sell.

So, I thought I would highlight some greatness here and around the world so that we remember the power of unification, the power of putting our differences aside and pushing forward together.

In Gainesville, a police officer responded to a noise complaint in a local neighborhood last year. Instead of citing the young persons for any violation of the law, he played ball with them. A week later, he brought NBA legend Shaq to play ball with them. Thanks to the video going viral (17 million Facebook views) they formed a foundation to help children who need it, and open the dialogue with law enforcement and local communities.

We all know what happened in Manchester recently; Ariana Grande is returning for a benefit concert and bringing Coldplay, Katy Perry and crazy Miley Cyrus. They all want to help.

Consider the effort Heineken put toward its latest campaign. It was pretty bold for a beer company — but bold ideas for confronting our problems are what the world is all about. They place 2 people in a room with different viewpoints on a subject (they were not aware they have different viewpoints) and, over a beer, make them discuss the topic at hand.

Man, well played folks, bring people together, have a dialogue. Don’t Mace people in the face at a public event.

Pepsi tried to do the same thing; God bless them for trying, but the attempt imploded spectacularly — like the TV show “Saved by the Bell: The College Years.”

No offense to the original, but I wasted a solid year watching that show, as well as another in the genre called “California Dreams.” Amazingly watchable bad TV.

Perhaps, if we just focus on what unites us, versus what separates us, we can rise up as a society. These are some heavy ideas, but I figured I would do my part and deliver a positive message in hopes that we can remember our countrymen are not our enemy.

Over the past 10 years, I recall seeing pictures several times on social media of people shooting the bird at the White House while Barack Obama was in charge. Now, with Donald occupying the White House, I’ve seen the same.

While they certainly have the right, I wonder what those who died for our country would think about that.

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

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