a publication of Action Together Tampa Bay
Our next Planning Meeting will take place on Saturday, March 4th from 3 -5 pm in Pinellas County at Lake Seminole Park, Shelter #10, 10015 Park Blvd, Seminole. We have planning meetings every other month. This meeting will focus on collaborating, prioritizing and generating ideas. The Training Work Group will be facilitating an exercise on privilege; we'll have a session with some beginner's tips for using Twitter, and a primer on understanding the levels of government, as well as discussions to help us move forward.
You can RSVP on the ATTB Events Calendar! Hope to see you there!
Heads Up! Important! Upcoming!
Charge Up! Political Advocacy
State Representative JW Grant (R) is having a pre-legislative session on Tuesday, February 28th. Representative Grant is from the Florida State 65th District, which includes parts of northern Hillsborough County and northern Pinellas County. This open house is a great opportunity to get the ear of Representative Grant before session starts and let your voice be heard. Details can be found on the Events page on the ATTB FB group page.
WHAT: Public Hearing
WHEN: Wednesday, March 1 (see times below)
WHERE: Board of County Commissioner’s Board Room, 601 E. Kennedy Boulevard, 2nd Floor
On Wednesday, March 1st, the Hillsborough County Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed $812 million transportation plan for unincorporated Hillsborough County.
This 10-year spending plan provides only $350,000 for public transit while investing almost exclusively in roads.
In June of 2016, the Transportation for Economic Development group (TED) recommended spending $145 Million on transit in the unincorporated county over the next decade, after studying the topic over more than 2 years.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that our public transit system is one of the worst in the nation due to the repeated failure of local government to fund our system and followed up with a report about the lack of transit funding in the current plan.
FUND TRANSIT NOW!
Immediately contact your Hillsborough County Commissioners and tell them:
• We need a transportation system -- NOT just more roads, cars and congestion
• The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (“HART”) must be adequately funded
• This plan does nothing for people who do not own or drive a car, but they pay taxes, too
• It’s time to fund transit -- greenways, bikeways, trails, ferries, busses
• CONTINUE THIS PUBLIC HEARING UNTIL YOU HAVE A PLAN TO FUND TRANSIT.
Sandra L. Murman 813-272-5470
Victor D. Crist 813-272-5452
Lesley "Les" Miller, Jr. 813-272-5720
Stacy White 813-272-5740
Ken Hagan 813-272-5725
Pat Kemp 813-272-5730
Al Higginbotham 813-272-5735
Attend in person: This is both a BOCC meeting AND a BOCC public hearing; therefore, both rules below apply:
Public Comment for BOCC Meeting (arrive by 8:45 am)
Commissioners set aside a 45 minute period at the beginning of a Regular BOCC meeting to hear from the public. To sign up to speak, please fill out the Public Comment Form at the sign-in table outside the Boardroom.
The Chairman will call speakers by name. Citizens speaking on scheduled agenda items will be called before those speaking on non-scheduled agenda items.
Up to three minutes are allowed for each speaker. Make at least 11 copies of any handouts for Commissioners, County Administrator, the County Attorney and two for the Clerk.
Public Comment for Public Hearing (arrive by 9:45 am)
When the subject matter public hearing is opened, public comment will be limited to three (3) minutes for each person unless the presiding officer wishes to extend the time limit or unless otherwise provided for by statute or ordinance.
(Special thanks to ATTB member Kimberly O. for drafting this.)
Any and all political advocacy related issues: email us at ATTBPoliticaladvocacy@gmail.com
Sabal Trail Pipeline
The Sabal Trail pipeline is a pipeline that will carry natural gas obtained by hydraulic fracking from central Alabama through southwest Georgia to Orange County, Florida. This venture will threaten the lands, waters (including aquifers, watersheds, rivers, springs, ponds, wetlands), and flora and fauna in these three states. Action Together Tampa Bay member Carmella Guiol has written an article for Creative Loafing about the inaction of Florida’s lawmakers regarding this threat to the environment. Please read the article and look for Calls to Action and other information on this important issue on the ATTB FB group page.
Action Together Tampa Bay now has a Google Calendar for all its events and activities. Go check it out! You can RSVP for any event on the parallel Events calendar on the ATTB Facebook Group page.
To many progressives hoping to see change in the Democratic Party, the race for DNC chair has been spun as a proxy war between the progressive “Bernie” Democrats and the Obama/Clinton establishment Democrats. While the field of candidates was initially pretty crowded, the race quickly became dominated by two frontrunners: Representative Keith Ellison from Minnesota, a prominent progressive and long-time advocate for the working class and Tom Perez, a civil rights attorney who served as Secretary of Labor for President Obama’s cabinet. After a contested race, Tom Perez was named the new DNC chair on Saturday.
It is no secret that there are divisions in the Democratic Party, and progressives and independents who supported Bernie Sanders are still healing from the DNC missteps demonstrated during the primary. Keith Ellison, who famously was an early predictor of a Trump nomination, was seen as the dose of change the party needed to heal the wounds and move forward. I too was a die-hard backer of Keith Ellison because of his commitment to issues that affect working people and his desire to move party operations to grassroots organization and smaller financial donations. However, the more I assess the outcome of this race and the history between Perez and Ellison, I actually think the outcome is phenomenal for progressives and I want to encourage progressives to see this as an opportunity instead of a defeat.
First of all, the DNC chair position requires a major time commitment and it would not be possible for Ellison to take the chair position and also hold his seat in Congress. He was committed to leaving Congress if he had been elected party chair, but now that Perez has the number one position and has named Ellison for a number two spot as Deputy Chair, Ellison can still bring his experience and advice on campaign finance reform and messaging to Perez but also continue to keep the progressive wing of Democrats in the House strong. This puts Ellison in a key position to affect both the messaging in future Democratic campaigns and the Democratic Party members already serving in the House. The establishment Democrats in Congress may hold the party leadership now, but if the grassroots movement continues to grow under Ellison’s leadership, this could position him for a leadership role in the House in the future or at least the empowerment of a more progressive alternative to current minority leader Nancy Pelosi (who I would argue still thinks we are living in the Bush era.)
Let’s also not forget that while Tom Perez does have ties to the Obama Democratic establishment, he is FAR from conservative. He is a civil rights attorney and was actually considered “too progressive” to have a shot at confirmation as Obama’s Attorney General. As Obama’s Labor Secretary, Perez was actually one of the most progressive members of the Obama cabinet and he is exceptional when it comes to managing the daily grind of organizing a large administration which is ultimately what the DNC is -- and what the DNC will need if they return to the 50 State Strategy for which Perez and Ellison have both advocated. With Perez as Chair, he can use his management skills and lean on Deputy Chair Ellison for advice on messaging and fundraising. This lets both men play to their strengths.
I believe that a “Team DNC” partnership between Ellison and Perez was the plan all along. The two have repeatedly talked about working together regardless of the election outcome throughout the DNC chair race and have been friends for many years (no surprise considering they are both civil rights lawyers who care deeply about issues affecting the working class). Check out this photo of them wearing each other’s buttons.
I love this photo and think its the perfect symbol of what the Democratic party needs right now which is unity. Trump himself is already trying to divide Democrats by claiming that the DNC election too was “rigged” despite there being no evidence of that. Division helps our enemies and that is not what we need now. Keith Ellison’s response to the results of the race is, as usual, spot-on:
ELLISON: "If you came here supporting me, wearing a Keith t-shirt, or any t-shirt, I am asking you to give everything you got to support Chairman Perez. You love this country. You love all the people in it. You care about each and every one of them. Urban, rural, suburban, all colors, all cultures, all faiths, everybody. And they are in need of your help. And if we waste even a moment going at it over who supported who, we are not going to be standing up for those people. We don't have the luxury, folks, to walk out of this room divided.
I don’t think we are divided. Ellison is going to have plenty of influence in the new vision of the party and he has the opportunity to continue his role in both the DNC and in Congress. That might not be the symbolic victory progressives wanted, but I would argue it is a far better strategic victory for the party moving forward. Ellison and Perez both have incredible skills to offer the party -- and a team approach to tackling those challenges is exactly what we need. As the constituents behind the grassroots movement, we need to continue to speak out and support both Ellison and Perez in pushing our 50 State progressive grassroots vision. They will lead by following us and so it us up to us as We the People to continue to support progressive action.
Working Groups: ATTB's Next Wave
Buckle up, ATTB - we're shifting into higher gear.
Social Advocacy, Political Advocacy and Admin are teaming up to create Working Groups under the ATTB umbrella. Highly dedicated members interested in focusing their efforts on one particular topic are being invited to join appropriate Working Groups as they open.
The main ATTB group as a whole will continue to function in much the same way, with Calls to Action and information flowing freely, but the Working Groups are designed to reduce distractions. Groups will initially be limited to about 12 members as they ramp up and figure out how best to operate.
Are you passionate about things like gun control or reproductive rights? Racial justice or environmental protection? Researching facts or figures? Writing and blogging about progressive issues? This is a chance to dig in deep. As members leave the working group for whatever reason, including taking a mental health break, members waiting in the wings will be called up.
Please do not feel as though you are obligated to join a Working Group. We value any time you dedicate to The Resistance, even just a few minutes a day... all our efforts collectively are what drive things forward. In fact, the most valuable thing you can do, by far, is keep your eyes open and ears to the ground - finding like-minded individuals and giving them tools to resist (including inviting them into groups like ATTB) are what will turn the tide in the end.
Stay tuned for more announcements about Working Groups as they launch and expand!
The First Amendment is the first revision to the United States Constitution and leads off the Bill of Rights. And it's currently the subject of much talk, debate -- and violation. Number 45 has waged war and propaganda on the media. The Arizona state senate, claiming people are being paid to riot, voted to give police new power to arrest AND seize the assets of anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may go south — even before anything actually happens. The Religious Right repeatedly seeks to declare the US a Christian nation.
Given all that, a refresher on what the First Amendment is -- and is not -- seems necessary, if, like many of us, it's been a long time since civics/social studies/American History class.
In an nutshell, the First Amendment makes it illegal to create a law that
• establishes a national religion
• stops the freedom of speech
• stops people from practicing their religion
• stops the press from printing what they deem necessary; and
• stops people from exercising their right to assemble peacefully/demonstrate against the government.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Freedom of religion: The First Amendment prevents the government from setting up or establishing an official religion of the country. We, as American citizens, have the freedom to attend a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other house of worship of our choice – or not attend any at all. Because of the First Amendment, we can practice our religion however we want and when we want within the confines of the law.
Freedom of speech: The First Amendment prohibits the government from making any laws that can hinder our ability to say what we feel or think. The American people have the right to share their opinions with other people and/or criticize the government.
Things get sticky in this area when the concept of hate speech enters the picture – but note that there’s no provision or exception made for hate speech in the amendment itself. And a discussion of the nuances in this area can wait for another day.
Freedom of the press: The First Amendment prevents the government from interfering with the distribution of information and opinion. It empowers Americans to obtain information from different sources. The government does not have the power to control what is broadcast on TV or radio; what is printed in newspapers, magazines and books; or what is posted online.
Freedom of assembly: The First Amendment gives Americans the right to come together in private and public gatherings. We can create and join groups for myriad reasons: religious, social, recreational, or political; this also supports our right to peacefully protest.
Right to petition: The right to petition the government means that American citizens can ask for adjustments or changes in the government, in addition to expressing their opinions about government action and positions. Contacting one’s elected officials via phone, email or snail mail; collecting signatures on petitions; and lobbying all fall within our right to petition.
Knowledge is power, despite what the current administration and its supporters want -- and want you -- to believe. Familiarity with the First Amendment can only help support arguments and points of view during this time when its intent is being questioned and its power assaulted.
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