Week in review 1/21/17

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Trump was sworn in yesterday. There’s a lot of news on that and the protests, but I’m not going to write about it. Below is some news from the past week that’s important but a lot less widely shared.

Week in review (1/21/17):

  • Bittel is the chair of the Florida Democratic Party. The so called establishment was supporting him due to his ability to raise lots of money. There’s a lot of nuance here but the short and long of it is that nothing much will change. The people who supported the current chair, Allison Tant, are the same people who supported Bittel. Hopefully he’s more responsive to the progressive voices in the FDP even though the didn’t support him. (link)
  • The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is failing according to a report  released by the US government. DCF was privatized in 2005 and we were told it would save money and provide better service. Children are literally dying because of this this rabid privatization ideology. (link)
  • The Florida Supreme Court refused to take up the teachers unions lawsuit about the school voucher program. This program siphons off tax payer money (up to $560 million a year) and gives it to parents to send their kids to private, mostly religious schools. This isn’t a ruling and the constitutionality of the program is still not resolved. What the Supreme Court did was keep in place the lower court ruling that the union didn’t have standing. The NAACP, parents, teachers… a lot of people were co-plaintiffs on this lawsuit. If non of them have standing then who does? (link)
  • Turnout in Florida went up ~4% in November 2016. In 2012 turnout was 73.1% and in 2016 it was 77.1%. Hispanic turnout went from 63.1% in 2012 to 68.9% in 2016. Black turnout dropped from 72.3% in 2012 to 69% in 2016. The overall result was a less white electorate. In 2012 the vote share for whites was 68.4% in 2012 and 66.8% in 2016. (link)
  • Former President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning on Tuesday. (link)
  • Here’s two good reads on Betsy DeVos, Trumps pick for Secretary of Education. She’s on the board of Focus on the Family, pro private school voucher, pro guns on campus, pro-charter school, and she has a host of finical conflicts. People are also worried she’ll roll back protections to trans students. (link1) (link2)
  • The Sabal Trail pipeline is growing as a flash point in the environmental movement. The natural gas pipeline stretches over 500 miles through Alabama and down Florida and crosses the Suwannee River near Live Oak. Last Saturday a couple hundred protesters staged a massive protest and 8 people were arrested on Monday. Acts of civil disobedience are going to continue over the next few weeks. (link1) (link2)
  • Florida is a human trafficking hub. The state had 1,892 reported cases last year. (link)
  • 43% of the 165,000 out of school suspensions in ’14-’15 were black students even though they only make up 23% of enrolled students. A lot of people/organizations say they’re doing something to address this but it’s usually just hot air. (link)
  • Florida is the 12th worse state to establish a family, according to WalletHub. The reasons? We’re 45th in child care costs, 43rd in housing affordability, 40th in median family salary, and 34th in percent of families below the poverty level.  (link)
  • Florida is attempting to beef up it’s already problematic Stand Your Ground law. This controversial law was under fire during the shooting of unarmed teenage Trayvon Martin. The law kicks in under pretrial evidentiary hearings and shields the shooter from prosecution. Under the bill filed by Sen Bradley the burden of proof will shift from the defendant to the prosecutor making it all the harder to even have a trial. Here’s a comprehensive list of the gun related bills in the Florida House/Senate. (link)
  • Florida will likely be trying to repeal the “certificate of need” requirement for new hospitals. Essentially this regulation forces hospitals to show a need before being built. The repeal is part of a free market, supply side approach to heath care. Also being considered is direct primary care in which a person or employer contracts with a physician (or group of physicians) for healthcare. (link)
  • Florida Gov. Scott went all out for Trump’s inauguration by hosting a ball and attending events. He’s using his “Let’s Get to Work” political committee money to fund it all. This is all about his 2018 US senate bid. (link)
  • The repeal of the wet-foot dry-foot policy has Cubans feeling like immigrants. (link)
  • Republicans in DC are going to attempt to roll back, if not fully repeal, the endangered species act. (link)

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