Opinions – Page 6 – Florida Politics

Blake Dowling: The new threat … cryptojacking

The latest cyberthreat …

This is a nice sequel to my bitcoin article last month. Everyone loves a sequel right? Except for Smokey and the Bandit 3. (Come on man. Burt wasn’t even in the movie.)

OK, there is a new cyber threat that involves criminals diving into the bitcoin mining world. Part 1 is here.

Just like anything that pops up, criminals are bound to jump in and see how to monetize the situation.

Bitcoin mining is no exception.

If you have kept up to date on mining, it takes a lot of computing horsepower. So, where do criminals fit into the picture? They steal that horsepower from your PC.

Cryptojacking is the name of the process; now it’s a thing.

Basically, to mine bitcoin, you need some serious computing power. So, cryptojacking is defined as the secret use of your computing device to mine currency. You are infected in a much different way than most cyberthreats.

This is not coming to you through an open port on your firewall, not an email with a malicious link; you can get it just by web browsing and not even know it. Hackers even found a way to embed the Showtime website with malicious code and take over computers without either side knowing.

You can read more here.

The English government got hit hard this week, and we are going to see a lot more of this type of thing in 2018. Lots of info here.

How to stop this threat? Consult your IT pro, or if you are a pro, monitor your Task Manager, where you can view CPU and memory usage.

If it is peaking and you have only the Burt Reynolds fan site open (just kidding … but there is one), you may have a problem. There are settings to block this type of threat, but Step 1 is knowing about it.

Be safe out there, and stay away from sequels, except Star Wars of course. Ninety-nine days until Solo. The end.


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

Joshua Simmons: Stop the posturing, do something about assault rifles

Like many of you, I have spent the last two days mourning the tragic loss of life at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a loss of life that was caused by an assault rifle legally purchased in Coral Springs.

This community lost daughters, sons, siblings, husbands, cousins and friends. Feb. 14, 2018, will forever be remembered as the day our collective hearts were shattered by this act of horrific gun violence. But now, it is imperative that the emotions felt on that Wednesday are not forgotten and that the lives lost are not in vain.

When the cameras, media attention, tweets and social media stop, the hurt will remain, and we must continue to be there for the families, students, and faculty who have been affected.

We must be there to support those who face a long road to recovery, both from physical wounds and the invisible trauma from the horror our young people and their families experienced.

Here I am writing, and yet I know that there are absolutely no words that will make these families feel better. No words that will take away their pain.

It is crucial that in addition to our sympathies, speeches and platitudes that we also take real, tangible steps to spare another community from experiencing this tragedy.

People look to their leaders in times of crisis and pain. Now is the time for our leaders to act, and bring about changes that will end to these senseless acts of violence.

We are calling on our leaders to bring us into a future where children and teachers no longer fear entering school grounds, and one where parents do not live in fear that a midday text from their student is a text alerting them to yet another active shooter on campus.

Time and time again, Federal and State Governments have failed to protect our children and teachers when it comes to gun violence and mass shootings.

This is not a partisan issue; it is not a political issue. I am not speaking from a partisan position, I am not speaking as a candidate, I am talking as a heartbroken teacher and resident of Coral Springs.

I am speaking as a football coach, and I am speaking as a friend, neighbor, family member. In the coming days and weeks there will be numerous debates concerning what caused these horrific attacks, and so far there has been one obvious common denominator: The AR-15, a high powered, military-grade assault rifle that has absolutely no reason to be in civilian hands.

Even more surprising to me, is that an AR-15 is easier to acquire than a standard handgun.

For years, the abilities of municipalities across Florida to rid our state of the scourge of gun violence through local measures has been undercut and attacked.

Well, if this isn’t a time to take a stand as the municipality of Coral Springs, I do not know when that time will be.

Our legislature has repeatedly turned a blind eye to mass shooting attacks in this state, and I am done waiting. I call on us to band together and take a stand, now, and am asking other cities to join us.

The most recent perpetrator of another mass shooting purchased his AR-15 in Coral Springs, not more than 10 minutes from where I work and live.

I write this to urge the Coral Springs City Commission to ban the sale of all AR-15 weapons within the city limits.

If they see fit, place a ban on all assault rifles, weapons that have been commandeered as an instrument of mass death.

This is not a matter of the left, right or center. This is about protecting our families, our students, and ensuring that every individual that calls our country home, has the opportunity to live out the American dream.

Let’s stop the posturing, and let’s do something.

This is where I stand — for my community, and for the students that I have the privilege of teaching every single day.


Joshua Simmons is a teacher at Coral Springs High School.

Joe Henderson: Can we talk about gun control? Didn’t think so

We hear a lot of talk from NRA-backed lawmakers about protecting the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. As events in South Florida have shown though, they aren’t quite as bullish on gun control that might protect the rights of people to live.

Too harsh? Maybe.

But seriously, how should those politicians expect people to react? They have the power to change the law, but they don’t do it, won’t even seriously talk about it. Yes, many of them take a lot of money from the NRA, but there is another reason.

In 2014, Joe Wurzelbacher — you know him better as Joe The Plumber, the shill Sarah Palin used as an example of the common man — responded to a rampage that left six people dead in Oregon with these now-infamous words: “Your dead kids don’t trump my constitutional rights.”

That, folks, is the mindset that blocks any meaningful attempt even to have a serious conversation about guns.

The NRA has convinced too many of its members that any restriction is an attack on their right to be part of a well-regulated militia — sorry, I mean, own a weapon. They clap their hands and the lawmakers fall in line.

So many people have bought into that crap that even events like we saw at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School don’t penetrate deep enough to say, hey, maybe it’s not a good idea for an 18-year-old with multiple behavioral red flags to legally buy an AR-15 weapon.

Their response, instead, is that everyone ought to protect themselves by matching that firepower. That’s why we see continued pushes in the Florida Legislature to arm teachers and introduce more guns into schools, not less.

That’s crazy.

A big flaw in the NRA nonsense is the assumption anyone who can legally purchase a gun and take a class will be cool enough under stress to use it properly. Can they really tell the good guy from the bad when there is smoke, people screaming and the crack of a weapons discharge echoing through the halls?

I shudder to think how many more kids would have died Wednesday in the confusion if others started firing at anything that moved in the name of defense.

Fred Piccolo, communications director for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, challenged me Thursday after my column on the south Florida nightmare to come up with some ideas for gun control because he said I offered no proposals.

Fair enough.

Florida law prohibits the keeping of any database of individuals who own guns. Why? Privacy? Give me a break. The state keeps records of the houses we own and the cars we drive, but we can’t know if the guy next door has an arsenal in his garage? Change the law.

Florida doesn’t require background checks for private gun sales. Change the law. Period. If we find out someone violated that, both the buyer and seller go to jail and have all their guns confiscated. Permanently.

Florida doesn’t restrict magazine capacity. In mass killings like the one we just saw, that means a shooter can load up as many 30-round magazines as he wants. It takes about two minutes to empty that magazine before snapping in another in. Change the law to cut the capacity. I suggest no more than 10 because that would be sufficient in a self-defense situation.

Florida law allows Tallahassee to pre-empt local restrictions on guns. That’s ridiculous. Change the law. The concerns of a city like Tampa might not line up with those in the Panhandle.

I just named four common-sense changes that would not infringe on the constitutional rights of Joe The Plumber or anyone else. What it would do, though, is maybe pump the brakes just a bit on the madness.

It also might help us avoid more dead kids.

Can we talk?

Didn’t think so.

Joe Henderson: Gun control? Politicians make sure we don’t have a prayer

Gun control? That’s a laugh, given the culture of political complicity created by the National Rifle Association.

In the alternate universe in which NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and his army of lawmakers throughout live, more guns  make America safe and free.

That’s what he said before the NRA’s 2013 meeting in Houston.


I wonder how safe those who attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County will ever feel again. Tell the family, friends and neighbors of the 17 people who died there in Wednesday’s mass shooting that it’s all about freedom and gun control would only make a bad situation worse.

While he’s at it, ask those affected by the deaths of 229 people in 14 mass shootings in the United States since LaPierre declared us safe how they feel about things. Check out the Las Vegas hotel where a shooter murdered 58 people. Drop by the site where 49 people were butchered in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub. Let us know how they’re feeling.

Offer your prayers, President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, for the 74 victims who have died in Florida in five mass killings since the NRA boss declared us safe. Because that’s what you say when you don’t really want to have a conversation about what needs to be done. Thoughts and prayers.


Since Rubio likes to quote the Bible so often, I suggest his verse of the day should come from the book of James: 2:15-17. I’ll save him the trouble of looking it up.

“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?’ ”

The way I interpret that, Jesus is teaching that words are empty unless accompanied by action.

So, Rick Scott, please let us know what the appropriate “time to continue to have these conversations” would be, as you stated following the massacre.

I’m guessing it’s on the current governor and would-be U.S. senator’s calendar for the 12th of Never, but I could be wrong.

Um, no I’m not.

Rubio was in his full NRA damage-control mode by Wednesday evening, telling Fox News that we need to slow down, take our time, before we “jump to conclusions that there’s some law we could have passed that would have prevented it.”

Ah, Marco! Just like LaPierre would have you rehearse it. Don’t “politicize” a tragedy, especially when politics helped create it.

While we’re at it, thanks for the moment of silence on the state House floor over which Speaker Richard Corcoran presided as news of the slaughter spread.

Appropriate, eh? A moment of silence. The Legislature has been nothing but silent for years when it comes to even addressing the concept of tougher gun control laws to regulate the weaponry.

But go ahead.

Lower flags to half-staff.

Declare a day of mourning.

Or two. Or seventeen.

But just understand, we get it. We know who owns you. We know you all are, as gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam so artfully declared himself, proud NRA sellouts. At least he had the nerve to admit it.

We know that down inside, none of you will do anything to meaningfully address this madness.

 You’ll fall back on NRA talking points about freedom and safety, and you’ll keep putting out boogeyman ads like Corcoran’s reprehensible TV spot that basically says all undocumented immigrants are out to kill you.

Many of you will keep pushing the expansion of places where guns can be taken, displayed, and theoretically used because – as LaPierre said after children died at Newtown, Conn. Elementary school, only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.

Keep telling yourself that.

Keep on sending your thoughts.

But if that’s all you’ve got, we don’t have a prayer.

Scott McCoy: Children do not belong in adult jails

More than 1,100 children were prosecuted as adults in Florida last year — taken from their homes, removed from their schools, and locked up in adult jails.

Although children’s brains are still developing, and they cannot fully understand the consequences of their actions, our criminal justice system treats some of them like grown adults. They receive adult punishments that will forever diminish their employment, educational and housing opportunities.

Florida tries more children as adults than any other state; almost all are transferred to the adult criminal justice system at the sole discretion of prosecutors, without the opportunity to even ask a judge to review the decision. Though any child, regardless of age, can be prosecuted as an adult in Florida, most cases involve children who are 14 to 17 years old — mainly high schoolers.

These children should be learning how to drive, applying to colleges, or worrying about who they’ll take to prom. They should not be in the adult criminal justice system, where the primary goal is punishment — not rehabilitation.

Children should be kept in the juvenile justice system — where they belong — so they can benefit from education, counseling and other programs that will make them more likely to succeed.

Jails aren’t equipped to provide these programs, and they particularly don’t offer adequate education. The Southern Poverty Law Center released a report this week titled “Destined to Fail: How Florida Jails Deprive Children of Schooling.” The devastating findings show how children have limited or no access to their legal right of schooling when they are housed in adult jails.

In adult jails, children are sometimes held in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day and are denied access to education. Some children receive nothing more than worksheets — sometimes without a pen or pencil to complete them.

Children who go to adult jails are less likely to receive a high school diploma — further limiting their job opportunities and chances for financial stability. Children tried as adults are also more likely to reoffend than their peers in the juvenile system. This threatens public safety and increases incarceration costs for taxpayers.

Especially troubling is the disparity in the rate of adult prosecutions for black and white children across Florida. While black children make up only 22 percent of the state’s high school student population, they accounted for 64 percent of children sent to the adult criminal justice system last year.

It is time for our lawmakers to intervene. The Legislature is considering bills that would begin to at least limit the number of children who are prosecuted as adults.

SB 936 and HB 509 would set age parameters and reduce the offenses eligible for adult transfer. The proposed legislation would also implement judicial oversight and provide children a way to return to juvenile court.

We cannot throw away the futures of our children and our communities. The adult criminal justice system is no place for a child.


Scott McCoy is the senior policy counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center and is based in Tallahassee.

Steve Schale: The message of Sarasota

Steve Schale

2010 was like a living a broken record.

No matter what candidates said or did, or whether they ran embracing themselves with the president, or running as their own style of Democrat, it just didn’t matter. Voters were looking to send a message, and people who had Democrat on their name tag were the only vessel that existed.

My model for Sarasota going into Election Day said that if Republicans turned out between 2,000 and 2,500 more voters than Democrats during the day, Margaret Good would hold on, but it would be tight.

In terms of turnout, that’s what happened.

If you look at what happened with turnout, in 2010 or 2014, the Republican Party wins easily, in a normal election (do we have any of those) — with this electorate, the Republican Party probably would have won, or the Good would have won a real close one.

But as the margin demonstrated, this wasn’t a normal election.

Yes, Margaret was a good candidate, and yes, candidates and the campaigns they run matter. Yes, it helped that there was a national focus on the race, Vice President Joe Biden endorsing, grassroots money from everywhere — nor did it hurt that Corey Lewandowski came to town to reinforce that message.

All of these things mattered.

In 2010, a lot of fantastic candidates lost, and lost for reasons outside their own control. The lost because voters wanted to send a message, and since the president wasn’t on the ballot, they used the only proxy they could.

Not all special elections are created equal, and not all outcomes matter the same. This one probably matters more than most.

Here’s a few of my reasons why.

First, let’s go back to a little reminder about Florida. Most of Florida mirrors someplace else in America. Why did Donald Trump go to Pensacola to do rallies for Roy Moore? Well, that part of Florida is very similar to the deep south.

Go to a Jets/Dolphins game in Miami, and you might think you are at a Jets home game, or a Steelers/Jaguars game in Duuuval, and in addition to seeing Blake Bortles lead the almost-AFC Champions, you will get a good sense of where a lot of Duval comes from.

Sarasota, like much of Florida from Tampa south to Naples, has a Midwestern feel, a result of migration that came down from the parts of America accessed from I-75.

So, the voters here, in large part, have more in common with voters from suburban communities in the Midwest. In other words, these are the kinds of voters who voted for George W. Bush, voted for Barack Obama — at least in 08, and in many cases, also in 12, then voted for Trump. There are red states and blue states.

There are also Trump Republicans and Old Guard Republicans. These are Old Guard.

This district is very white and has an older average age than most. For evidence, among the voters who voted early, 94 percent were white, and 90 percent were over the age of 50 — two numbers that based on the overwhelming Republican Party advantage on Election Day will likely only rise.

In fact, out of the 27,000+ voters who have already cast a ballot, just over 900 are under 35. In other words, this is not a district where change comes from younger ethnic voters surging, as it has in many other specials around the country. Change comes here two ways: Democrats voting, and swing voters sending a message.

Personally, I’ve always been a bit obsessed with this district. Besides being a great community to visit, when I first worked for the legislature, this district was represented by a Democrat, Shirley Brown, and in 2006, when I ran the Florida House Democratic Caucus, winning this seat back was one of my personal goals.

In 2008, we laid down a real marker here during the presidential campaign, putting a real operation on the ground, sending in both Obama and Biden, and almost winning the county for the first time since FDR.

Why? Because if we are doing the things we need to do well here, we are going to do well in a lot of other places.

One other factoid about the district: The last two times the Democrats won this seat in an open seat: 1992, and 2006, both pretty good years.

Last time Republicans won it from a Democratic incumbent: 2010, not exactly a great year for my team. You get the idea.

So, here are a couple of my takeaways.


Largely the story of special elections around the country, women were the story here in Sarasota. Before Election Day, women were driving turnout, and while we don’t have Election Day data yet, I assume this pattern continued. Democratic women make up 19 percent of registered voters, but make up 26 percent of voters so far in this special election.

In fact, while district-wide turnout for the early vote was 21 percent, turnout among Democratic women is 30 percent. And these weren’t just super voters: Good was turning out a lot more Democratic women who had little or no primary voting history.

Swing voters.

I thought Good was up somewhere around 8 points going into Election Day (her pollster told me his model had her up 11, and yes Tom, I said that seemed a little “rosy”) — and that was based on her winning about 15 percent of Republicans and winning a sizable majority of NPA voters.

She ended up ahead after Early Vote by 12 points, which means she had to be winning NPA voters by a margin of close to 2:1. In addition, Republicans had roughly a 16-point advantage on Election Day in terms of voters, and for her to maintain a strong win, she needed to maintain similar margins.

If you go back to 2006 or 2010, one of the signs that the wave was coming was chunks of NPA voters began to really perform as partisans. You’d see it first in the self-ID question in polls, where polling was coming back more Democratic or more Republican than it should, and same in the early voting.

Not all NPA voters are created equal, but if older white NPAs — driven by women turning out — are performing more Democratic, that’s going to be a good sign for 2018.

I’ve argued for some time Trump fundamentally misread his own election (something Democrats have also been guilty of). Trump has been gambling he can be a 40 percent president and appeal to a small segment of hard-right voters and be sustained by them, but last night was just the next proof point that this is toxic for the Republican Party, at least among swing voters.


Nights like this require two things: the “Blue Wave” and the “Red Revolt.” I lived the opposite in 2010, where Republicans came out of the woodwork, and elements of the Democratic coalition either stayed home or sent a message with their vote.

Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 13,000 in this district, and by roughly 2,500 in terms of people who voted in the special election.

Two things — final partisan model will be a few points more Democratic than registration — and several more Democratic than 2016. In other words — Democrats showed up, and Republicans didn’t. But at the same point, in a seat where, again, 2,500 more Republicans voted, Good doesn’t win by winning a sizable number of Republicans.

Putting a finer point on it: On Election Day, Republican voters outnumbered Democrats by over 2,000. They only won the day by 110 votes. A bunch of Republicans chose to revolt today — both by not voting and by voting for Good.

In years like this, when swing voters are frustrated with the incumbent president, their only vehicle to express their frustration is through members of the incumbent party. And in HD 72, that revolt happened with center-right voters — which in some ways, is why this matters more than some other races.

Just as Democrats struggled in 2010 and 2014, when their base voters stayed home, as Obama proved in Florida in both 08 and 12 — and in a lot of states in the Midwest in both cycles, Republicans face real math problems if they can’t run up the score with voters like these.

So yes, this matters. It matters for confidence, but more than anything, it matters because this shows center-right moderates felt the need to send a message — and the only way they could send a message is to vote against the president’s party.

And trust me, having lived through 2010 and 2014, this is the biggest challenge Republicans will face in the coming months, figuring out how to navigate their own base, while still talking to voters who are dissatisfied with the direction of the presidency.

Energy around this race was ridiculous.

Good received almost 3,000 contributions in the last month, which is pretty much unheard of in a State House race. I had Democratic friends from literally every corner of the country asking how they could make phone calls or help out.

The folks on the ground did a great job of harnessing grassroots energy. I remember in 08, sometimes it is hard just to guide the mob of supporters in the same direction, and just like in the Miami race, the party folks from House Victory, the FDP, and the rest of the progressive groups are working together, not against each other.

Terrie Rizzo, the FDP Chair; State Rep. Kionne McGhee, the incoming Democratic Leader, and Reggie Cardoza, who runs House Victory, all deserve real credit in sticking the sword in the ground here and seeing it through. In addition, congratulations to one of my best friends, pollster and strategist Tom Eldon, who I think is now 5-1 lifetime in this seat.

And to the GOP team that lost, I’ve been there. In 2010, more often than not, all you could do was never enough.

Nine months out, the win matters for what it says about politics now, but it in some ways, it matters less about Florida than it does about those parts of the country where these Florida voters come from.

But more than anything, I do think we are in this for a while.

Voters keep voting for change, but as long as Washington keeps reading their calls for change as a mandate for one way, just as we’ve seen a lot of this for the last decade, I think we will see more nights like this for some time to come.

Thomas McMillan Jr.: Attack on oil and gas industry is attacking private property rights

Companion bills SB 462 and HB 237 seek to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and other forms of well stimulation in Florida. Supporters of the bills claim that a ban on fracking in Florida would not impact the state’s existing oil and gas industry.

This is simply not true.

If the bills are passed, they would negatively affect Florida’s oil and gas industry, now and in the future, by eliminating jobs for Floridians, lowering state and local revenues and royalty payments to mineral owners — all of which amounts to a massive attack on private property rights.

These bills attempt to solve a problem that does not exist. Hydraulic fracturing — aka fracking — does not occur in Florida. But if it did, Florida would not be unique: The Energy Information Administration recently said that 69 percent of all oil and gas wells in our country are safely completed using hydraulic fracturing.

And after spending tens of millions of dollars and five years studying the issue, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency essentially reached the same conclusion.

In order to develop Florida’s natural resources, which are predominantly oil, the industry has been using well stimulation techniques — although not fracking — safely for decades. And these techniques include the use of chemicals, which are an important, routine and necessary part of the development process that is already strictly regulated to allow operators to safely develop Florida’s oil and gas resources.

The bill’s authors understand that chemicals are used every day by Floridians to maintain their pools and more importantly, by municipalities to clean water wells in Florida. Why else would they specifically direct their bills against the oil and gas industry but expressly exclude all other wells?

The effect of banning routine practices that have been safely used for decades by Florida’s oil and gas industry would be real and immediate. It would stop development of and investment in new wells in its tracks.

With no available method to improve well performance, a ban would cause existing production to drop to nothing over time. Mineral right owners would receive lower payments as production declines. Aggrieved parties would have no other recourse but to turn to the courts for compensation.

This isn’t a possibility or a threat — it is a fact — and anyone claiming that these ban bills aren’t a ploy to stop the oil and gas industry altogether is either lying or incredibly misinformed.

As America’s fourth largest consumer of energy, Florida must do better than banning the development of a resource upon which we rely so heavily.

We have been safely developing Florida’s oil and gas for decades, and hope that you will see this ban as the political ploy by activists that it is.


Thomas E. McMillan Jr. is president of the Florida Independent Petroleum Producers Association, Inc.

Joe Henderson: Sanctuary city debate probably didn’t change minds

I expected House Speaker Richard Corcoran to be cool and smooth in the great sanctuary city debate Tuesday night, and he was.

I thought his opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, would bring the fire from the other side of the issue, and he did.


That probably depends on your politics. Both men made their points about Corcoran’s controversial HB 9, which would ban sanctuary cities in Florida and punish officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents.

Corcoran punctuated his closing statement with three knocks on the podium, symbolizing the knock on the door that he said a parent could receive from law enforcement officers telling them their son or daughter had been murdered by an illegal immigrant.

Theatrical? Obviously. But it did make Corcoran’s point about harboring the undocumented.

But Gillum made his point, too, that the bill (and TV ad) is tantamount to racial profiling, noting that the killer in the ad was dressed in a hoodie like Trayvon Martin.

I think Gillum almost fumbled a wide-open chance to attack the ad much earlier though on that key point, though.

Late in the debate, co-moderator Gary Fineout in a question to Corcoran reminded viewers that the controversial ad misrepresented what actually happened.

The shooter was acquitted and the death, while tragic, was ruled an accident.

Only then did Gillum begin to press Corcoran about the aspect of profiling and the other dog whistles implied in the ad. He should have been pounding that point from the start.

But Corcoran swung and missed too, and not just with the disingenuous TV ad, which he tried to explain was merely asking if the victim, Kate Steinle, would still be alive “if not for the sanctuary policy?”

That killing happened in San Francisco. Corcoran used three other examples of deaths he linked to illegal immigrants. None of those occurred in Florida, either.

And Gillum claimed that there are no sanctuary cities in Florida anyway, so what’s the point of the bill?

There were several dog whistles going off during the debate from both participants. Corcoran kept ramming home the point of “illegal immigrants.”

He also tried to portray the proposed bill as a benign, commonsense measure that anyone should feel comfortable supporting. If that is so, then why has he been promoting it with a wildly inflammatory TV ad designed to scare your pants off if you meet someone on the street who doesn’t look like you?

Gillum dropped words like “police state” into his argument against the bill and noted that people of color could be the ones most likely to face demands to “show their papers” to prove citizenship.

Both men need the exposure this debate allowed. Gillum faces a tough challenge in his campaign to be the Democratic nominee for governor.

If Corcoran jumps into the race as expected for the Republican nomination, polls indicate that the majority of Florida voters don’t even know who he is – despite his high profile and controversial moves.

Face-to-face engagements like this sanctuary city debate are good. The fact it happened at all is the most important thing in an election year.

That was the real win for both men in this exercise because, truth be told, I doubt any minds were changed by what they said.

Joe Henderson: Deep budget cuts to NOAA? Of course!

Memo to all Florida coastal residents: You might want to stock up on canned goods, rafts, and life vests. There’s a big wind comin’ out of Washington and it is aimed right at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – you know it better as NOAA – and this state we all call home.

The Miami Herald reported that President Trump’s proposed 2019 budget slashes funding for the climate research budget at NOAA by 37 percent.

It also cuts the National Weather Service budget by six percent.

Of course it does. With apologies to Bob Dylan, we don’t need a weatherman to know which way this wind is blowing.

Why spend money icky things like trying to save Florida and other states from the ravages of climate change? It’s much easier to dismiss the science behind all that as junk when you’ve cut out most of the science.

What’s next? Blaming the rising sea levels already being felt in some coastal areas on a leaky faucet?

Maybe someone should have warned the president that cutting storm research like this is a bad idea because his prized Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach could be in the path of one of the monster storms like we had last summer.

Bring up this curious lack of awareness about the planet we occupy the next time your Republican friend turns red in the face and screams that the party is NOT anti-science.

Ask them to explain why spending $18 billion on a border wall in the name of security makes sense but combating the verifiable threat of climactic catastrophe is dismissed as wasteful.

This might be a good time to remind the president that he won Florida’s 29 electoral votes in 2016 by just 1.2 percent of nearly 10 million votes that were cast.

We know what can happen here when one of those big storms fires up and takes aim. We saw it last year and the odds are pretty good we’ll it again. Think of NOAA as our early-warning system, and that can literally save lives if a large-scale evacuation is needed.

Of course, the cuts still have to be approved by Congress and I would expected Florida’s representatives to put up a spirited fight. The proposed budget really speaks to the administration’s priorities, though – and apparently weather research and warnings don’t make the cut.

We’re supposed to believe illegal immigrants are roaming the streets in search of prey, but we can do without research on those big red blobs of Category 5 winds headed our way

In her blog on OceanConservancy.org, Addie Haughey, the associate director of government relations, called the cuts “shocking” and noted, “This budget abandons coastal states that are trying to prepare for a changing ocean and increased coastal risks to people and wildlife. If President Trump’s proposal goes through, it will impact hard-working marine mammal first responders that rescue dolphins and manatees.

“It will cut back potentially lifesaving tsunami warnings that alert all our coastal communities. It will impact the ability of coastal regions to seek and determine the best solutions to make them resilient in the face of a rapidly changing climate.”

Ah, if only dolphins and manatees could vote.

Joe Henderson: Public’s bill for Tampa Bay Rays stadium? How about zero?

The long-awaited announcement last Friday that the Tampa Bay Rays have chosen Tampa’s historic Ybor City as the place they’d prefer for a new stadium brought the inevitable question of how much the public should pay for the massive project.

I have an idea: How about nothing?

I am not against professional sports. I love baseball. I am a voter for the baseball Hall of Fame. While with the late, great Tampa Tribune, I covered the ups and downs of this area’s attempt to land a big-league baseball team. It took nearly two decades from concept to first pitch, while this area repeatedly got played by owners looking for sweeter deals from their own towns.

I covered the public fleecing known as Raymond James Stadium, and chronicled much of the pursuit that resulted in building what now is known as Amalie Arena.

It all taught me this: If there is a bad deal and taxpayers get stuck, don’t blame the team owners. Blame your elected officials.

The deal to build Raymond James Stadium for the Buccaneers was a wildly horrible deal for the taxpayers of Tampa and Hillsborough County, but that wasn’t the fault of the late Malcolm Glazer, who owned the Bucs at the time.

I always believed he finally signed a lease because he ran out of things to ask for. That’s not his fault.

St. Petersburg doesn’t get off the hook either. City fathers foolishly built what now is called Tropicana Field long before it had a baseball occupant because they were determined that Tampa would not get the team.

They were left with an eyesore at the far end of the Tampa Bay marketplace while taxpayers were handed the bill for a stadium that was passed without a referendum, and leaders had no leverage on a negotiating a lease.

After multiple failed attempts to lure an existing team or win the first round of expansion, the Devil Rays held all the cards when St. Petersburg was finally “awarded” a club.

That’s when all the warts at the Trop were exposed. I remember thinking “uh oh” when the second game the team ever played failed to sell out.

As seasons went by and the Rays continued to languish at the bottom of MLB’s attendance chart while TV ratings were strong, it was clear fans liked the Rays but were unwilling to make the drive through stifling traffic to catch a weeknight game.

Oh, and fun fact for those who say that won’t be different if a new stadium is built in Ybor (the geographic center of the market): The Lightning have sold out 133 consecutive hockey games (including playoffs) with 19,092 seats at Amalie Arena.

The Rays’ average attendance last year for 80 games at the Trop was 15,670. That was by far the worst in the majors and nearly 3,000 per game less than the next-lowest team, the Oakland A’s.

Do I really believe Rays owner Stu Sternberg will privately finance the whole stadium project?


But he is going to have to do a lot better than his initial offer that amounted to about 18 percent of the estimated cost. After that, it will be time to turn to those in the business community who stand to benefit most. And don’t forget that all of MLB benefits by a healthy franchise here, so it ought to pay its share of the cost too. In 2017, MLB generated more than $10 billion.

Only then should public officials start thinking about ways to bridge the gap. If the gap turns out to be a gulf, oh well.

Officials must demand the Rays come into this deal with transparency and realism. If they are unwilling to do that, it tells us all we need to know.

Upset sports fans can always turn to the Lightning.

That is, if they can get a ticket.

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