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Florida Federation of Republican Women Elect New Statewide Leaders

ORLANDO, FL — The Florida Federation of Republican Women elected their 2016-2017 officers and statewide leaders at the FFRW 65th Anniversary and Biennial Convention in Orlando on October 10, 2015.

The common trait among the new statewide leaders is proven GOP activism.

GOP award-winning leader Dena DeCamp of Polk County was elected FFRW President. She is well known and recognized at the state and national level for her campaign leadership. DeCamp has served in FFRW leadership since 2009 as an award-winning local club president, District Manager, and as the Vice Chair of the Polk County Republican Party.

“Women are the majority of the vote here in Florida and nationwide. Fresh off of our 2014 sweeping victories, our Florida women are determined to once again lead the charge for the GOP in the 4th largest state in America. The FFRW is largest statewide political organization for women the members have elected a stellar team to lead our battleground team,” said Dena DeCamp.

Deborah Tamargo, REC Chairman of Hillsboro County, was elected as First VP; Jean Wingo of Walton County was elected as Second VP; Kim Carroll of Seminole County was elected as 3rd VP; Meg Merritt of Pasco County will serve as Secretary; and Suzie Loving of Duval County as Treasurer.

Elected Members at Large are Doris Cortese of Lee County, Patti Febro of Brevard County, and Kate Boland of Martin County. Rounding our the leadership team as FFRW District Executive is Beth Young of Brevard County.

District Representatives include Libby Hill, Okaloosa County; Dotty McPherson, Leon County; Laureen Pagel, Nassau County; Barbara Qualls, Sumter County; Mary Jane Anderson, Volusia County; Jennifer Wagner, Seminole County; Emma Runion, Hillsborough County; Carmen Salomee, Lee County; and Celeste Eliche, Broward County.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA FEDERATION OF REPUBLICAN WOMEN

The Florida Federation of Republican Women is celebrating 65 years of activism and is the largest women’s political organization in the state. Visit their website at: www.ffrw.net

Florida: Muslim leader says the Sunshine state will get 1,000-2,000 Syrian migrants this year

He is guessing on the numbers and basing it on the fact that Florida is one of the top states receiving mostly Muslim Syrians so far. We listed the Top Ten states here.  And, we listed all the cities receiving Syrians (so far) here.

Dr+Doured+Daghistani

Dr. Doured Daghistani

This is from WLRN (Miami) (I sure hope there are a lot of mental health dollars available in Florida!):

According to the State Department, the six states that have housed the most Syrian refugees so far are Texas, California, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona and Florida.

Dr. Doured Daghistani, a pediatric oncologist and board member of the Syrian American Council of South Florida, says the culture shock endured by Syrian refugees arriving here is unlike any other immigrant experience.

“They’re coming with a big psycho-social burden on them,” said Daghistani.

[….]

Last month, President Obama said his administration is preparing to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming budget year. Daghistani said he expects 10-20% of the refugees to relocate to Florida and at least 10% to South Florida.

Recent polls show a majority of Americans are opposed to Obama’s plan, with most believing it poses a threat to national security.

[….]

“I think bringing the Syrian refugees here will help the humanitarian issues and will beef up the diversity of South Florida,” Daghistani said.

Syrian American Council of South Florida Facebook page is here.

What you can do!

I urge all of you in Florida to visit my post yesterday and contact your state’s resettlement agencies.  You will be asking for a schedule of upcoming “quarterly consultations” and the “FY 2016 Abstract” for your city.  Report to me what you find out!

Meeting tomorrow in Orlando

Although not Southern Florida, a reader yesterday told me about a meeting TOMORROW in Orlando.  If you are in the area please attend!

Orlando Area Refugee Task Force Meeting

Event Type:

Public Meeting

Date/Time:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 – 10:00 to 12:00

Location:

Florida Department of Transportation
133 S. Semoran Blvd
Orlando Florida 32807
United States

The purpose of this meeting is to increase awareness of the refugee populations, share best practices, spot trends in refugee populations, build collaborations between agencies, help create good communication among service providers, get informed about upcoming community events, and discuss refugee program service needs and possible solutions to meeting those needs.

I’ve been told that the Florida Dept of Children and Families has other PUBLIC meetings on refugees as well, so Floridians need to find out how to be notified of upcoming opportunities around the state.

RELATED ARTICLE: New members added to Senate Jihad Caucus as legislators tell Obama to speed up screening of Syrians

Florida and Texas Win Again

The far Left’s actions with regard to tax policy rarely match up to their lingo. Whether it’s John Kerry’s tax savings by docking his boat in Rhode Island rather than Massachusetts to dodge the penalty, or the Clinton’s avoidance of a hefty real estate tax bill by using slick accounting, it’s clear that the far-left’s luminaries do not practice what they preach.

As I reported in August when I wrote about the mass exodus from high-tax states toward more profitable areas, a number of blue state residents are following the same “do as I say, not as I do” approach. To be fair, many of those fleeing blue states for more business-friendly environments are conservatives fed up with having their hard-earned money pilfered by the blue state tax-vacuum, but the laws of probability state this exodus cannot be comprised of conservatives alone.

With the release of a new batch of IRS tax migration data for the 2013-2014 filing year, the evidence keeps piling up that Americans are voting with their feet, and their feet are voting for lower-tax, business-friendly states.

With the release of a new batch of IRS tax migration data for the 2013-2014 filing year, the evidence keeps piling up that Americans are voting with their feet, and their feet are voting for lower-tax, business-friendly states. This data has to be devastating to tax-and-spend liberals who keep insisting that the economic arc of history bends in their direction, but when the IRS data—along with something as simple as market-based U-Haul rates—conclusively indicate otherwise, it’s time to reevaluate that approach.

So, who are the winners and who are the losers? Again, low-tax, business-friendly, Florida and Texas are the big winners, while the high-tax, big government states like New York, California, Illinois, and New Jersey are the big losers.

Recently released IRS tax migration data from the 2013-2014 year indicate that an astonishing 5.4 billion dollars in taxable income fled the state of New York alone, while 4.2 billion left California (hat tip to Jim Pettit, who has written frequently on this topic, for organizing the data). Where is the money going? Florida enjoyed an influx of 10.6 billion dollars in income and Texas gained 4.9 billion. This is in addition to the 17.5 billion, which flowed into the top four finishers, Florida, Texas, South Carolina and, North Carolina, in the 2012-2013 filing year.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that tax rates are the only reason that people are leaving blue states for lower-tax red states, but it defies common sense to insist that this isn’t a major contributing factor. I even had someone write to me that it’s “the weather” that best accounts for the shifts. Really, the weather? I’ve heard a number of complaints from Californians about things ranging from taxes to traffic, but I’ve rarely heard complaints about the weather.

Adding to this pervasive “do a I say, not as I do” phenomenon—in which liberals vote for higher taxes and then move away from regions where their policies have won the day—is that the migration is happening at the county level as well.

As reported by Andrew Blake in the Washington Times and congressional candidate Frank Howard, Washington D.C. and its surrounding suburbs, which overwhelmingly vote Democratic in local, state, and federal elections, witnessed nearly 2 billion dollars flee from the city and its surrounding bedtime communities.

I witnessed this firsthand during my campaign for Congress.

I witnessed this firsthand during my campaign for Congress. I would knock on doors in Frederick County, MD, a largely conservative county just north on I-270 from Montgomery County, a D.C. bedtime community, which has zero countywide elected Republicans. People in Frederick would tell me that they just moved in. When I inquired, “Where from?” they would often respond: “Montgomery County. You just can’t run a business there.”

There’s a crucial election cycle right around the corner. If you are running for office, or supporting someone who is, please do your future constituents a favor and tell them in a clear and well-thought out message why you are running, and why people are running away from tax-and-spend liberal governance.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the Conservative Review. FULL DISCLOSURE: Frank Howard, referenced herein, served as Dan Bongino’s campaign chairman for a brief period during his 2014 congressional campaign.

Florida: Open Carry Bill Passes 1st House Committee

Tuesday, October 6, 2015,  the House Criminal Justice Committee held a hearing on  HB-163 by Rep. Matt Gaetz.

The bill PASSED by a Vote of 8-4.

HB-163 is a bill to allow persons with a Concealed Weapons & Firearms License to carry firearms concealed or openly.

Sheriff Wayne Ivey (Brevard) and representatives of Sheriff Charlie Creel (Wakulla) expressed support for the bill at a press conference with bill sponsors Sen. Don Gaetz and Rep. Matt Gaetz, before the committee meeting.  Among other sheriffs who have expressed support for open carry are Sheriff Gordon Smith (Bradford) and Sheriff Chris Nocco (Pasco).

Voting FOR the bill were Republican Reps. Carlos Truijillo, Dennis Baxley, Jay Fant, Gayle Harrell, Ray Pilon, Scott Plakon, Ross Spano and Charles Van Zant.

Voting AGAINST the bill were Democrat Reps. Randolph Bracy, Dave Kerner and Sharon Pritchett — Rep. Clovis Watson did not vote.

The only Republican to vote against the bill was Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater).

BACKGROUND:

This bill will prevent CW license holders from being charged with the crime of violating the “Open Carry” law because a concealed firearm, being legally carried, accidentally or inadvertently became visible to another person.

According to our attorneys, allowing license holders to carry openly is the only way to truly keep them from being arrested and/or prosecuted for violating the open carry ban if firearms are accidentally and unintentionally exposed.

IT IS UNFORTUNATELY TRUE that anytime you are carrying a concealed firearm you are in danger of being charged with a crime and treated like a criminal if your firearm accidentally becomes exposed to the sight of another person and law enforcement is called.

In 2011, we attempted to fix that problem.  We supported language that clearly says it is NOT a violation of the open carry ban “for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.”

Not only did that language NOT stop the abuse.  It has gotten worse.

In one case, a young man was arrested when his firearm was accidentally and unintentionally exposed.  Someone saw it and called 911.  It took law enforcement 5 minutes to arrive.  They arrested him because they said 5 minutes wasn’t brief.  It didn’t matter that it was accidental and unintentional.  He was prosecuted and convicted.

In another case a man was arrested, and convicted because the accidental and unintentional exposure of his firearm was for only 2 minutes.

Further, it has been reported that State Attorney Angela Corey’s office in Jacksonville says that exposure isn’t brief, if it is more than an instantaneous glance before being covered up again.

And to make matters worse, there is a case pending on a motion for review before the Florida Supreme Court — because a lower court didn’t think a young man was dressed appropriately to hide a gun when it accidentally became visible.

Concealed Weapons License holders whose firearms are seen by others seem to be targets in some jurisdictions.

This bill will only allow persons who have a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm to carry concealed or openly.  All of the provisions of the concealed carry law apply to those who chose to carry openly. Including:

  • You must have your license on you at all times when carrying and you must show it to a law enforcement officer who asks if you have a license.
  • You cannot carry a long gun — rifle or shotgun — concealed or openly under this law.
  • You cannot carry concealed or openly onto private property of any business or person who chooses to prohibit it.
  • You cannot carry openly in any place where concealed carry is prohibited.

THANK YOU for your email and phone calls to Committee members.  Taking a few moments to communicate with Legislators is very important.

Email addresses of the Committee members are below.

carlos.trujillo@myfloridahouse.gov,
charles.vanzant@myfloridahouse.gov
,
dennis.baxley@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Jay.Fant@myfloridahouse.gov
,
gayle.harrell@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Chris.Latvala@myfloridahouse.gov
,
ray.pilon@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Scott.Plakon@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Ross.Spano@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Randolph.Bracy@myfloridahouse.gov

Dave.Kerner@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Sharon.Pritchett@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Clovis.Watson@myfloridahouse.gov

UPDATE: Rep Gaetz is holding an Open Live Forum Conference on the “Open Carry Bill” that he proposed which passed in the subcommittee. The live event will be
Thursday, Oct 8th at 6:15 pm via telephone. Below is the link to “subscribe” to be able to participate.

https://vekeo.com/event/representativemattgaetz-19481/

Florida must become energy independent by 2020

What will promote human life? What will promote human flourishing — realizing the full potential of life? How do we maximize the years in our life and the life in our years? Answer: cheap and reliable power.

Organic Fossil Fuels are the Lifeblood of Civilization!

Florida’s Governor, Congressional delegation and state legislature must make it their number 1 priority to make the Sunshine State Energy Independent by 2020 or sooner!

Florida:

  1. Imports all of its natural gas and 99.9 % of its oil.
  2. Imports all of its refined petroleum based products (e.g. gasoline).
  3. Is the second largest user of natural gas, Texas being the largest.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

  1. Geologists believe there may be large oil and natural gas deposits in the federal Outer Continental Shelf off of Florida’s western coast.
  2. Florida was second only to Texas in 2014 in net electricity generation from natural gas, which accounted for 61% of Florida’s net generation; coal accounted for almost 23%, the state’s nuclear power plants accounted for 12%, and other resources, including renewable energy, supplied the remaining electricity generation.
  3. Renewable energy accounted for 2.3% of Florida’s total net electricity generation in 2014, and the state ranked 10th in the nation in net generation from utility-scale solar energy.
  4. In part because of high air conditioning use during the hot summer months and the widespread use of electricity for home heating during the winter months, Florida’s retail electricity sales to the residential sector were second in the nation after Texas in 2014.
  5. Electricity accounts for 90% of the site energy consumed by Florida households, and the annual electricity expenditures of $1,900 are 40% higher than the U.S. average, according to EIA’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

Even as human populations have grown dramatically and increased their use of fossil fuels, the world has become a much better place.

As CO2 emissions have risen so too have the GDP per person, life expectancy and the population.

Florida politicians are addicted to the precautionary principle (“better safe than sorry”). It is a maxim embraced by government planners and regulators in the Sunshine state at every level. They do not even want to determine what organic fossil fuels lay off of Florida’s coastlines. The precautionary principle worked to stop the building of nuclear power plants in the United States after the 3 Mile Island incident. Today the same tactic is being used to stop off shore drilling using the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Off shore drilling naysayers use the example of the Deepwater Horizon spill to strike fear into the hearts of Floridians. But as FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  An example of using the fear factor (precautionary principle) is what happened in Japan following the meltdown of a nuclear power plan in Fukushima. The facts are that no one has died from radiation, nor has cancer increased however, 1,600 did die of stress due to the unnecessary evacuation of people from the area.

Fear kills.

What off shore naysayers, fear mongers, don’t tell you is that mother nature is the greatest polluter in the Gulf of Mexico. According to NOAA over 2,500 barrels of oil naturally seeps daily from fissures in the Gulf. This seeping has been going on for tens of thousands of years, yet the Gulf is doing just fine. Would it not be better to capture this oil, and natural gas, than have it continue to seep into the Gulf?

Some argue that even if natural gas is discovered in Florida’s waters that building an on shore natural gas processing plant is not economically feasible or politically doable. There is an answer to this negative with a positive via new technology. Israel is faced with the same concerns about onshore natural gas processing plants. To solve the problem Nobel Energy and Shell Oil have come up with a solution. Process the natural gas using floating plants. According to Robert Sullivan of the New York Times:

It’s called Prelude, and it’s bigger than big. More than 530 yards long and 80 yards wide, it was constructed with 260,000 metric tons of steel, more than was used in the entire original World Trade Center complex, and it’s expected to displace 600,000 metric tons of water, or as much as six aircraft carriers. Even the paint job is huge: Most big vessels dry-dock every five years for a new coat, but Prelude’s paint is supposed to last 25 years. It will produce more natural gas than Hong Kong needs in a year. And it’s so big that you can’t really photograph it, at least not all at once.

[ … ]

What makes this giant liquefied-natural-gas enterprise feasible, paradoxically enough, is the miniaturization its construction represents. It’s much smaller than landlocked equivalents — imagine shrinking your local refinery until it fits on a barge. Shell Oil, which has the biggest stake in the project, describes Prelude as more environmentally friendly than an onshore site. There are no estuaries under threat, no shorelines to run pipe across and reduced risks to population centers, given the explosiveness of natural gas. And it is designed to ride out extreme weather, thanks to three giant 6,700-horsepower thrusters that can turn it into the wind and waves. “These are the things that the naval architects had to worry through,” says Robert Bea, co-founder of the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, at the University of California, Berkeley. “It works like a big-ass weather vane.”

Read more.

Environmentalists use the fear factor when talking about drilling for natural gas and oil off of Florida’s shores. The same is true for some of Florida’s Congressional delegation, such as Rep. Vern Buchanan. Fear is not good public policy.

What is good public policy is insuring that Floridians have access to cheap and reliable power in the foreseeable future. Now it the time to take action. Waiting is not an option.

If Governor Rick Scott and Republicans are committed to creating jobs, then they must diversify the economy by promoting energy independence. Energy independence will lead to reduced costs for electricity, gasoline and diversify the economy. That is good public policy.

RELATED ARTICLE: Miami-Dade County school district accepts BP oil spill settlement, sets maximum tax rate

Florida: Hillsborough County Schools Loses Both Gates Money and Financial Reserves

In November 2009, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the Hillsborough County (Florida) Public Schools a $100 million grant as part of its “Empowering Effective Teachers” effort:

Hillsborough County Public Schools

Date: November 2009
Purpose: to support Hillsborough County as part of a cohort of Intensive Partnership Sites to improve teacher effectiveness to transform outcomes for low-income, minority students
Amount: $100,000,000
Term: 80
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Tampa, Florida
Grantee Website: http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/

The grant was to be paid in 80 installments; if such installments were monthly, then the grant would be paid over roughly seven years, with the final payment made at the end of the 2015-16 school year.

Of course, Gates had some ideas about how this “teacher effectiveness” business should work. The report linked above has as its second sentence, “A teacher’s effectiveness has more impact on student learning than any other factor under the control of school systems, including class size, school size, and the quality of after-school programs.” When pro-corporate-reform organizations toss around such statements, they never seem to follow it with the fact that factors external to the classroom hold far more sway that does the teacher. (In analyzing the proportion of teacher influence captured via value-added modeling– VAM– the American Statistical Association notes that teacher influence accounts for between 1 and 14 percent of variance in student test scores. Thus, between 86 and 99 percent of a student’s test score is out of the teacher’s control.)

Nevertheless, ignoring that the teacher controls so little of student outcomes in the form of market-driven-reform-loving test scores, in its efforts to try to purchase higher student test scores, the Gates Foundation offered ten school districts nationwide the multi-million-dollar-funded opportunity to prove that teachers could indeed be cajoled into producing better “student achievement” (i.e., ever-higher test scores) when such teachers were measured by their students’ test scores and offered more money for “raising” said scores.

As a 2009 winner of an Empowering Effective Teachers grant, Hillsborough was thrilled (“We’ll be a national model!”). A December 21, 2015 archive of Hillsborough schools’ “Empowering Teachers” webpage includes a number of enthusiastic responses regarding the newly-acquired, $100 million Gates grant. Front and center in these celebratory public statements is then-Hillsborough superintendent, MaryEllen Elia (Then-Governor Charlie Crist: “I commend Superintendent MaryEllen Elia and the Hillsborough County School District for their enthusiasm and commitment to working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation during the next seven years to improve student academic performance through rewarding high quality teachers both professionally and monetarily. The foundation’s generous grant award of $100 million will greatly enhance the work the district has already done in this area.”)

However, part of the Hillsborough-Gates agreement involved Hillsborough’s ponying up money of its own– which ended up eating into the Hillsborough schools’ reserves and threatening its bond rating. As reported in the August 04, 2015, Tampa Bay Tribune, the Empowering Effective Teachers initiative is not the only financial stressor affecting the Hillsborough bond rating, but it is nevertheless noteworthy:

In 2013, the school district was heading into the fourth year of a seven-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help raise the bar among its teaching staff — a major factor, the foundation maintains, in student success.

Under its partnership with the foundation, the district needed a new salary schedule that tied raises more closely to a new system of evaluations — a change adopted statewide soon afterward.

Teachers in their first, second or third year on the job automatically switched to the new scale, which ties raises to evaluations, and those on their fourth year or higher chose whether to move to the new scale or stay on the old one. Because those changes were made mid-year, after the school board receives its yearly budget presentation, the school board never saw the financial effect of moving thousands of teachers to a new pay schedule, [new Superintendent Jeff] Eakins said.

About 10,000 school district employees moved to the new schedule, which meant their paychecks increased from $5,000 to $15,000 that year. The new scale averaged out to a 4 percent raise for each teacher. Last June, the school district used money in the reserve fund to make payroll several times near the end of the school year, Eakins said.

Yes, Hillsborough has a new superintendent. In January 2015, Elia was terminated via a school board vote of 4-3. The drain on Hillsborough’s reserves– down from $360 million to $152 million in about the past five years– happened on Elia’s watch– and allegedly without the knowledge (much less the approval) of the Hillsborough school board:

“The school board had no idea,” chairwoman Susan Valdes said. “We instructed the former superintendent not to touch the fund balance.”

Elia, selected by her peers as one of the top four superintendents in the country, was hired as commissioner of education for the state of New York. Her office said Tuesday she is traveling and could not be reached.

Elia is now in New York, where she runs the risk of jeopardizing her position with parents in New York’s growing opt-out movement. Elia publicly called opting out of standardized testing “unreasonable” and asserted that teacher encouragement of opting out is “unethical.”

But back to Hillsborough and its “Empowering Effective Teachers” Gates grant:

The August 04, 2015, Tampa Tribune article notes, “Next year is the final year of the $100 million Gates Foundation grant, called ‘Empowering Effective Teachers.’” Thus, it appears that Hillsborough believes Gates will follow through on its entire $100 million commitment during the full term of the grant.

Alas, it is not to be.

On September 21, 2015, the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Gates Foundation has only paid $80 million of the $100 million.

The Gates Foundation maintains that it did not agree for certain to fund the entire $100 million:

…Records indicate the relationship between Gates and the district has had some bumps.

Late in the process, the foundation rejected several of the district’s funding requests for Empowering Effective Teachers, which involves evaluating teachers using specially trained peers and bumping their pay with the idea that it would boost student performance.

“Each of the proposals were robustly outlined and presented,” a district report said.

But Gates officials responded by pointing to language in the original agreement saying the foundation had promised “up to” $100 million, not necessarily the whole amount, according to the report.

The district picked up the unpaid costs.

It is not unusual for a nonprofit like the Gates Foundation to require reports of how the grant project is proceeding in order to decide to continue to fund a project. However, a notable issue in this case appears to be “a change in Gates’ philosophy”:

Much of the disagreement [about funding the entire $100 million] amounted to a change in Gates’ philosophy, Brown said. “After a few years of research,” she said, “they believed there was not enough of a connection between performance bonuses and greater student achievement.” …

Gates spokeswoman Mary Beth Lambert said that while the decision on bonus pay is final, the two sides could agree on another funding opportunity later in the year. “It’s an ongoing conversation,” she said. “The door is still open.” [Emphasis added.]

So. The winds have changed. Gates no longer believes in a pay for performance. But there is another notable issue, and it concerns the original terms of the Hillsborough-Gates agreement– terms that Hillsborough schools did not follow through on: Mass firing of teachers, and no pay at all for seniority. As the September 21, 2015, Tampa Bay Times reports:

Since 2009, key components of the Gates program have changed.

The original proposal and a 2010 timeline called for the district to fire 5 percent of its teachers each year for poor performance. That would amount to more than 700 teachers. The thinking was they would be replaced by teachers who earned entry level wages, freeing up money to pay the bonuses for those at the top.

But the mass firings never happened. While an undetermined number of teachers resign out of dissatisfaction or fear that they will be fired, only a handful of terminations happen because of bad evaluations.

Also, while the initial proposal sought to pay teachers based on performance instead of seniority, the actual pay plan does both. Teachers receive pay bumps at three-year intervals and, if they score highly in the ratings system, they get bonus pay.

Evaluators were supposed to serve two-year stints, then cycle back to the classroom. Instead, many stay three and four years.

What strikes me is that Elia and others were so enthusiastic about a grant “opportunity” that would require firing five percent of teachers each year.  (Read Elia’s et al. enthusiastic May and August 2009 letters to all employees here.)

Elia’s cheerleading about a Gates grant requiring constant churn via teacher firings reminds me of something Shirley Jackson would have written in one of her short stories.

As Hillsborough faces the issue of $20 million less from Gates for a grant that initially agreed to fire five percent of teachers per year, Elia is in New York, where the cowering Board of Regents on September 16, 2015, approved Governor Andrew Cuomo’s push to increase teacher evaluation based on test scores to as much as 50 percent— and where numbers of students opting out could well serve as a catalyst for– dare I write it– *empowering* teachers.

However, it is not likely that Gates will take any interest in funding any parent, student, or teacher empowerment that works by defying standardized testing.

Go figure.

Florida: Campus Concealed Carry and School Safety Bills Advance

Bills to remove the prohibition against Concealed Weapons License Holders carrying firearms on college or university campuses were heard in committees in both houses today.

Wednesday, September 16 at 9:00 AM SB-68, Campus Carry by CW License Holders  by Sen. Greg Evers (R- Baker) was heard in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee House and PASSED by a vote of 3-2.  Republican Senators Bradley, Brandes, and Evers voted in Favor of the bill while Democrat Senators Clements and Gibson voted Against it.

On Wednesday, September 16 at 10:30 AM HB-4001, Campus Carry by CW License Holders by Rep. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) was heard in the House Criminal Justice Committee and PASSED by a vote of 8-5.  Republican Reps. Baxley, Fant, Harrell, Latvala, Plakon, Spano, Trujillo and VanZant voted in Favor of the bill while Republican Ray Pilon voted Against it.  Democrats Bracy, Kerner, Pritchett and Watson also voted Against it.

Under this bill, adults 21 years of age or older who have a valid Florida Concealed Weapons or Firearm License will have their rights restored and will be able to carry their concealed firearms on college or university campuses for protection.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson (D) Confronted about his Support for Iran Nuke Deal

A concerned Floridian confronts Sen. Bill Nelson about his SUPPORT of the Obama Iran Deal in Reagan National Airport, on the day after the Stop Iran Deal Rally in Washington, D.C.

Watch his reaction.

RELATED ARTICLES:

The Iran deal bait-and-switch – The Boston Globe

Senate Republicans Doing Nothing to Stop Obama’s Lawless Iran Treaty

An Interactive Timeline of 73 Islamist Terror Plots Since 9/1/2001

This Retired Navy SEAL’s Brother Was Killed by Hezbollah. Why He’s Against the Iran Nuclear Deal

Senate Democrats Block Vote to Reject Iran Nuclear Deal, Handing Obama Victory

VIDEO: What is the U.S. Constitution? Why is it important?

The James Madison Institute recently visited a college campus in Florida, camera in hand, to ask students walking by if they’d like to answer those questions and more.

Yes. You heard that right. We randomly asked students if they would like to do an on-camera interview about the U.S. Constitution and many said, “Sure!”

We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. What we heard was, well, you’ll just have to watch to find out!

Watch the short video. Take a break from your day and hear what these students had to say!

Constitution Day is fast approaching. As part of JMI’s Preston A. Wells, Jr. Center for American Ideals and our Campus Representatives program, we will host several events on college campuses across Florida the week of Sept. 14 to commemorate this important day. This video was created to help promote these events, which are also featured on our website jamesmadison.org.

Please help us share by forwarding this email. You can also visit our Facebook and Twitter pages and share from those social media platforms.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson was against illegal immigration before he was for it

I was sent an interesting email with an attached letter from Florida Senator Bill Nelson sent to Don O’Nesky, one of his constituents, in in May 2006. The subject of the original letter from Senator Nelson was his stand on illegal immigration.

In the letter Senator Nelson states, “I believe the U.S. needs a smart, realistic plan to address illegal immigration – one that protects our borders and insures all immigrants play by the rules.” Nelson in his 2006 letter wanted to “deport” those who don’t “play by the rules.” Sounds somewhat like what Donald Trump is saying today.

In an email to Senator Nelson, reminding him of what he said, O’Nesky notes:

Senator Bill Nelson

FAX: 202-228-2183

Dear Senator Nelson:

Re: Illegal Alien/Immigration Issues

On May 23, 2006 we received the attached letter [below] from you agreeing that we have an illegal alien/immigration problem.  You indicated “we need to enforce our existing laws.”  Plus you pointed out additional things that needed to be done to protect the border.  You implied these items would be on the table when ‘the Senate considers this issue.’

Well, next spring will complete a decade since that letter was sent out and not only has the situation not been fixed, it is much, much worse.

At this rate, in another decade we will not have a border.  And as a reminder a country that does not enforce its border is no longer a free and independent nation.

This is a serious issue that has needed fixing for a very long time and it must be fixed now!

Sincerely,

Don O’Nesky

It seems politicians in general, and Democrats like Senator Nelson in particular, are willing to change their policy positions like the weather in the Sunshine State. With President Obama opening the U.S. borders and allowing increasing numbers of refugees from Muslim countries into local communities, Senator Nelson has reconsidered his position?

Here is the original letter sent to Senator Nelson:letter from fl senator nelson on immigration

Miami: Muslim gets 15 years for conspiring to support jihad mass murderers

Al-Shabaab was behind the Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi several years ago. “Kenyan sentenced to 15 years in prison in US terror case,” by Curt Anderson, Associated Press, August 28, 2015 (thanks to Lookmann):

MIAMI (AP) — A Kenyan man described by U.S. prosecutors as a fundraiser and recruiter for terrorist groups in Africa and the Middle East was sentenced Friday to 15 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro imposed the maximum possible sentence on 27-year-old Mohamed Said. He pleaded guilty in May to charges of conspiring to support to Africa’s violent al-Shabaab organization and al-Qaida affiliates in Syria and elsewhere.

Said’s attorney, Silvia Pinera-Vazquez, had sought a more lenient eight-year sentence because Said never plotted directly against the U.S. and was solely supporting what she described as foreign “insurgents.”

“There is simply no evidence of direct intent to harm the United States,” she said.

Oh, well, then it’s OK? Not quite:

But Ungaro said terrorist groups he supported have an avowed intent to attack the U.S. and its interests overseas.

“It’s not reasonable to say that his conduct did not touch the United States. It did,” Ungaro said.

Said and co-defendant Gufran Mohammed were arrested in 2013 in Saudi Arabia in a case that evolved from undercover FBI monitoring of Internet chat rooms frequented by Islamic extremists. Mohammed, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from India, is already serving a 15-year prison sentence after pleading guilty.

Said, from Mombasa, Kenya, had never been to the U.S. before his arrest. It was his use of the Internet and communications with undercover FBI operatives and Mohammed — who lived in the Los Angeles area — that enabled the U.S. to charge him with federal terrorism support crimes.

Of the two, Said played the more critical role because of his connections to the leadership of the terrorist groups and knowledge of their inner workings, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ricardo Del Toro. The prosecutor noted that al-Shabaab’s most notorious attack was the 2013 assault on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that left 67 people dead.

“He was an insider in al-Shabaab,” Del Toro said. “The goal of these organizations is to murder civilians.”…

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Nora Patterson former Democrat and Planned Parenthood Board Member running for Florida Senate

nora patterson at opening of pp facility in sarasota

Nora Patterson (sixth from the left) at ribbon cutting of largest Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Florida, located in the City of Sarasota.

Career politician Nora Patterson has filed to run for the Florida Senate in District 23. Patterson will be running against Florida State Representative Greg Steube and and former Florida State Representative Doug Holder in the Republican primary in Sarasota County, Florida.

Patterson is a long time supporter and former President of the Board of Directors of the largest Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Florida, located in Rosemary District, a minority area in North Sarasota County.

In 1998, when running for the Sarasota City Commission, Rod Thompson from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that Patterson “has served as president of the board of directors for Planned Parenthood of Southwest Florida” … and she is “very much a supporter of Planned Parenthood.”

john and nora patterson

John and Nora Patterson at the March 2013 Planned Parenthood annual dinner. Source: Gulfshore Media, LLC.

In June, 2006 Patterson, with her husband John who is a partner with Shutt & Bowen, LLP law firm, attended a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. Sarasota Magazine reported on the Ruby Gala and wrote:

At the Ruby gala, big names were everywhere: Cornelia Matson in regal purple, Lee Peterson, Nancy Reinheimer, Betty Schoenbaum, Anita Holec, Caren Lobo, Flori Roberts,Leila Gompertz-too many to name. And husbands galore! Many politicos-Mayor Mary Ann Servian, former Mayor Mollie Cardamone, Commissioner Ken Shelin, School Board members John Lewis and Carol Todd, County Commissioner Nora Patterson and Betty Castor. Alex Sink, and other candidates for office were also there.

In 2007 Sarasota County voted for an $8 million bond to help fund a new Planned Parenthood abortion clinic.

While a Sarasota County Commissioner Patterson was the only one to vote to continue using county taxes to continue funding for Planned Parenthood. Steven Ertlet from LifeNews.com in 2008 reported:

Sarasota County in Florida has cut the money it sends to a local Planned Parenthood abortion business. Officials, citing poor economic conditions and the need to better balance the city budget, removed the second $12,500 of the original $25,000 allocated for Planned Parenthood family planning programs.

[ … ]

Nora Patterson was the only member of the commission to vote to retain the Planned Parenthood funding. The county gave the abortion center a $30,000 grant in 2007 and $28,000 in 2006.

Zac Anderson from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports, “Patterson is viewed as a moderate on a number of issues. She is a former Democrat who supports abortion rights ‘up to a certain point in the pregnancy’ and once served as president of the board of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Florida, although she noted her board stint was before the local affiliate performed abortions.” [Emphasis added]

Patterson’s efforts to distance herself from Planned Parenthood is misrepresenting the fact that she has consistently supported abortions, and the funding thereof, using Sarasota tax dollars ever since she left as President of Southwest Florida Planned Parenthood.

Stephanie Armour from the Wall Street Journal reports:

Three Planned Parenthood Federation of America clinics in Florida were ordered to stop performing second-trimester abortions after an investigation found they didn’t have the proper licenses, the state Agency for Health Care Administration said Wednesday.

The investigation also found one clinic that wasn’t keeping proper logs relating to fetal remains, according to the agency. The state may take additional actions, including administrative sanctions, against the clinics.

“Licenses are in place to protect the patient from unscrupulous operators and the state of Florida will ensure every facility is held accountable for its actions,” the agency said in a news release.

[ … ]

Florida Gov. Rick Scott last month ordered an investigation of Planned Parenthood clinics in the state following an antiabortion group’s release of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the procurement of fetal tissue for research following abortions.

Perhaps Sarasota County voters should judge Nora Patterson on the company she keeps? That company being Planned Parenthood, and the industrial complex that makes a profit off of baby body parts.

Nora Patterson has been a loyal soldier in the war against the innocent and unborn.

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Florida: Stop Iran Demonstration at offices of Rep. Lois Frankel (D- FL 22) [Video]

On Tuesday August 25, 2015 a group of pro-American activists assembled at the office of Florida Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-22) to protest the current Obama deal with Iran and visit with Rep. Frankel to find out where she stands.

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Washington Post Editorial Board Supports Jeb Bush in His Common Core Quandary

On August 17, 2015, the Washington Post editorial board wrote a piece in which it “did not blame Mr. [Jeb] Bush from shying away from the term [Common Core].”

Bush has his political career on his mind, and using the term “Common Core” is “poison” to that career. So, Bush is using a carefully-crafted Common-Core euphemism, saying that he is for “higher standards, state-created, locally implemented, where the federal government has no role in the creation of standards, content or curriculum.”

The Washington Post editorial board sympathizes with Bush, who supposedly was put in this position because of the “bogus premise” that Common Core is a “federal takeover of education.”

In 2009, the federal government used future Race to the Top (RTTT) funding to entice governors to sign their states up for a Common Core that did not yet exist. The 2009 National Governors Association (NGA) Symposium is clear about this in its 16-page document from the Symposium.

However, the intention was not only for there to be a Common Core. Common Core was only one of four interconnected, test-centric reforms known as the Four Assurances (listed here in brief):

1. Common standards and assessments

2. Teacher performance (value-added assessment)

3. “Turnaround” of “low performing” schools

4. Building data systems.

In 2009, the governors of 46 states and three territories signed NGA’s agreement detailing how Common Core was to be developed (note that “states” were being directed by the nonprofit NGA and another nonprofit, the Council of Chief State School Officers, CCSSO, on this “state led” development) and which was intended to lead to unquestioned, automatic Common Core adoption.

Why would so many governors fall for this?

The money. US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was at this 2009 NGA Symposium, and he promised these governors a potential slice of billions of dollars in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA)  funding– but only if they agreed to incorporate all Four Assurances into the education systems of their states. The excerpt below is from the NGA’s 16-page, 2009 report:

Governors have an unprecedented opportunity through the ARRA to make bold reforms in education. With momentum building around the four assurances and the Race to the Top funds, governors may want to consider the following as they move forward with their education reform agendas:

1. The four assurances do not exist in a vacuum. To improve educational outcomes for students in the U.S. and qualify for RTT funding, governors will need to work on all four assurances simultaneously. The issues discussed in this report are all interconnected, and policies which may seem likely to improve one area could have unintended consequences for another area of reform. Joanne Weiss from the U.S. Department of Education explained that when deciding which states will receive awards from the $4.35 billion Race to the Top competitive grant program, the Department will be watching for integrated plans that address all four of the reform areas. Therefore, states must work in concert on improving standards and assessments, increasing teacher effectiveness, providing support for low-performing schools, and strengthening data quality. [Emphasis added.]

At the 2009 NGA Symposium, Duncan made the grand announcement that the feds would cover the costs to get the “common assessments” off of the ground:

At the Symposium, Secretary Duncan made an important announcement regarding these [ARRA] funds: $350 million of the Race to the Top funds has been earmarked to support the development of high-quality common assessments.

These governors were led right into the federal will for state-level education by the promise of federal money. It was just that easy.

The governors traded state autonomy for federal money. And the federal government– US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan backed by President Barack Obama– encouraged them to do so and allowed it to happen.

In its Jeb Bush defense, the Washington Post editorial staff not only downplays the federal enticement; the Washington Post editorial board defends the federal role:

The pressure [Republicans in the presidential race to turn against Common Core] is built on bogus premises. Common Core is not a federal takeover of education. States developed the standards, accepted them voluntarily and implement them with local flexibility. The federal government merely encouraged states to adopt them, as it should have.  [Emphasis added.]

The Washington Post editorial board assumes that the governors who signed on for Common Core did so for some primary reason greater that the federal dollars doing so would possibly bring into their states. However, any governor who really wanted “higher standards” would surely have insisted on some empirical evidence that the resulting standards were indeed “higher” prior to agreeing to adopt them. Yet this common-sense insistence did not happen.

The promise of federal dollars won.

The RTTT competition for federal funding if a state agreed to institute the Four Assurances did happen, as did the federal “competition” to fund two Common Core testing consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced.

Even the pro-Common Core Fordham Institute could not could not construct “evidence” that Common Core was “higher” than the current standards in all 50 states and DC– but it still not only endorsed Common Core but also traveled to states with standards it rated as “higher” than Common Core, only to try to convince these states to settle for Common Core.

However, it was bound to happen that a number of these governors would put their own careers ahead of any Common Core allegiance since their initial commitment was only a superficial, bandwagon commitment to federal money.

And now, we have the Washington Post giving a thumbs-up to Republican Jeb Bush and Democratic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, for “fighting the poison.” However, the Washington Post’s publicly aligning Republican Jeb! with a Democratic governor– and one whose approval rating is at an all-time low (also here)– probably does little to advance Jeb! and his euphemistic “higher standards” before a public that is growing increasingly wise to federally-enticed Common Core.

Planned Parenthood Florida Caught Illegally Doing 2nd Trimester Abortions!

MIAMI – On July 25th, Christian Family Coalition (CFC) Florida called on Florida Governor Rick Scott to investigate Planned Parenthood Florida. Days later he announced an investigation.

State health department inspectors are reporting their results and they found Planned Parenthood abortion clinics are illegally doing 2nd-trimester abortions.  Those are the kinds of abortions that allow Planned Parenthood to gather the body parts of aborted babies for sale.

As the Tampa Bay newspaper reports:

After inspecting all 16 Planned Parenthood clinics in Florida, the state Agency for Health Care Administration announced Wednesday that three have performed procedures outside the scope of their licenses and one has not kept proper records on disposing fetal remains.

“We will take immediate actions against these three facilities for performing second trimester abortions without a proper license,” AHCA spokesperson Shelisha Coleman said in a written statement Wednesday. “These facilities have been notified to immediately cease performing second trimester abortions.”

Clinics in St. Petersburg, Fort Myers and Naples were cited for performing abortions in the second trimester that they are not licensed to do. A Pembroke Pines clinic was cited for improper record-keeping.

Christian Family Coalition (CFC) Florida issued the following statement:

“Unfortunately, we are not surprised by the state’s findings, Planned Parenthood regularly works outside of the bounds of the law.  While they claim to promote women’s health, they do exactly the opposite.  They are the nation’s largest abortion provider, performing 300,000 abortions annually. That’s 20% of all abortions in America every year.  They continuously victimize women and children and do not deserve a dime of taxpayer funds. We are glad they are being exposed and proud of the small part we are playing in this effort.”

Read more.

RELATED ARTICLE: Congress Issues List of Demands for Planned Parenthood, Last One is a Potential Nail in the Coffin