WTF: Welcome to Florida – Election Boondoggle

I was thinking about using Vote-By-Mail this year to vote in Florida…

However, I started to get apprehensive and changed my mind when I read an ACLU report that Vote-By-Mail ballots have a higher rejection rate than votes cast at precincts on Election Day and through Early Voting. To make matters worse, younger people and minorities seem to be statistically more likely to be rejected.

After seeing the disaster that is the current Florida election recount, I am very happy that I shredded my Vote-By-Mail ballot and decided to Early Vote in person at the polls.

The amount of time it simply took the Supervisor of Elections to mail my ballot to my house would have made it likely that my ballot would have ended up trapped in one of those mail facilities as reported by Miami New Times, never to be counted.

This happens every year to thousands of ballots because Florida does not count the postmark date, but all ballots must arrive to the Supervisor of Elections by Election Day unless you are active military or overseas.

With margins as tight as they are this year (currently Rick Scott leads Bill Nelson by around 12,000 ballots for U.S. Senator and Nikki Fried leads for Commissioner of Agriculture by around 3,000 votes) – one would think the state would prioritize actually counting ballots and think about the voices of the voters.

That isn’t what is happening here though. Lawyers and politicians (including Governor Rick Scott) from the Republican Party are screaming that there is “voter fraud” with no evidence while groups sue each other like crazy in a panic.

This has once again made Florida the laughing stock of the rest of the United States. We might not have a clear winner until December after all the lawsuits are done.

Where is the leadership?

Arizona calmly counted their votes and aimed to have a transparent process as written above by Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey, but can anyone say that has occurred here in Florida?

Florida should make it easier for people to vote and it is now clear that there are numerous problems that make voting both difficult and hard to track in our counties. Watching the recount machines break is not too inspiring. Not to mention some colorful bending of the law.

If the system actually cared about hearing out the voters, maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. Do better Florida.

Travel Tip: Use HART 275LX to travel between Tampa International Airport and City of Tampa

If you are visiting or leaving Tampa and want to save some money on a taxi or Uber consider using HART’s new 275LX bus route.

The limited-stop service route connects Tampa International Airport to Downtown Tampa, University Area (near USF), New Tampa, and Wesley Chapel. If these are your destinations you can get much closer to them like this or grab a ride-share after you get closer to your final destination.

The limited-service should help to get you quicker to your destination and where you’re trying to visit. Downtown Tampa and The Shoppes at Wiregrass also have plenty of restaurants and things to keep you occupied.

Fares are only $2.00 each way and $4.00 a day and $65.00 for 31 days. An Uber or Lyft from Downtown Tampa to TIA would likely run you at least $20. FREE Wi-Fi is available on-board and also at bus stops.

The service operates 7 days a week and connects Hillsborough County and Pasco County.

More info: http://gohart.org/pages/275lx.aspx

Once in Downtown Tampa you also can catch the Pirate Water Taxi to get access to stops along the Hillsborough River and to Seminole Heights which has some of Tampa’s best restaurants and the Lowry Park Zoo.

There is also the TECO Line Streetcar System which connects to Tampa’s Historic Ybor City. The TECO Streetcar will be free to all riders after October 7th. Also don’t miss the Christmas shows at The Shoppes at Wiregrass. Those are great.

Tampa’s Epicurean Hotel hosts Hurricane Florence relief fundraiser September 20th & September 21st

There will be a Hurricane Florence fundraiser on September 20th and September 21st at Elevage inside the Epicurean Hotel in South Tampa. The proceeds will go to the American Red Cross with funds earmarked for Hurricane Florence relief.

Elevage Executive Chef Chad Johnson says, “It may only be a drop in the bucket, but we hope that our friends in Tampa can come share a meal that will help provide a small measure of relief for our friends in the Carolinas.”

The damage from the storm is estimated to be between $17 billion and $22 billion dollars. It is among the 10 costliest hurricanes ever. 32 people have died so far from the storm, many due to flooding and falling trees.

The 3-course Prix-Fixe menu fundraiser will cost $35. Complimentary Valet is available until 7PM. The menu is available Thursday and Friday from 5PM-10PM.

Their sister restaurant Haven will also donate all happy hour sales on Thursday and Friday to the cause.

Menu + Details: http://epicureanhotel.com/events/carolina-cuisine-for-a-cause/

 

 

Red Tide. The cost of ignoring our environment.

Thinking about what to write for my first post, the current red tide problem immediately comes to mind. What is Florida without beaches? It isn’t Florida at all.

This is where we find ourselves now with fish dying all over the western coast and tourists staying away from our ocean shores.

The environment first became a part of the public debate when current Florida Governor Rick Scott passed a law that controls who can access beaches. It emboldened private property owners to claim ownership of our beach sand.

He then repealed enforcement of the law after a massive backlash from Florida residents and tourists as viral videos showed police removing tourists from beaches where they once vacationed.

Unfortunately, this did nothing to stop the controversy that beaches are no longer open to the public.

To make matters worse the beach is now flooded with red tide that is killing fish and making the air difficult to breathe. Businesses are also losing millions of dollars in the hospitality and food business.

Once again Rick Scott is at the center of this after cutting $700 million during his tenure from the state’s water management districts and cutting regulations that protected the waterways from pollutants and contaminants. There are consequences to ignoring our environment.

According to UF:

This year, after heavy spring rains and because of discharges of water from Lake Okeechobee, river runoff in southwest Florida brought a large amount of nutrients into near-shore waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which fueled the large red tide.

Just look at this devastation:

Rick Scott may not believe in climate change, but science is clear here that we have a serious environmental problem in Florida and that there needs to be accountability and action taken to save Florida from this epidemic.

Our dolphins, manatees, and fish are dying and the ecosystem and community that depends on it is also being impacted by this negligence.

Cleaning it up is a first step, but more needs to be done and Rick Scott’s leadership has been to react and not to prevent. Take some responsibility instead of blaming others. People are angry and rightfully so.

Change needs to happen. Now.