TFS Endorsement – Ross Hancock for State House District 114


Miami-Dade County’s demographics are shifting rapidly — in favor of the Democrats. Since 2008, the swings have become more pronounced as areas that were long untouchable in legislative elections have very quickly become winnable for Dems. One such district is House 114 where incumbent Erik Fresen, the poster child for the school “choice” movement in the state of Florida, faces two Democratic challengers. Both Ross Hancock and Daisy Baez would be major improvements in Tallahassee over Fresen, but Hancock stands out as the better choice.

For a party whose sole ideology sometimes seems to be “We are not the other guys,” Hancock will be a different type of legislator, someone who places thoughtful progressive policy ideas and issue positions over partisan rhetoric and party-oriented political games. Hancock believes in framing issues in a direct fashion and has staked out strong positions in favor of protecting the Everglades and south Florida’s water supply, against an expansion of gambling, and in advocating for what he calls a “progressive fiscal responsibility.”

Hancock came within a sliver of defeating Fresen in 2012, losing 51-49 to in a  race where he was massively outspent. He was an OFA Neighborhood Team Leader in Coral Gables who filed to run against Fresen as qualifying approached and several other local activists advised him to not leave the Republican incumbent unopposed. The state and local parties took no interest in targeting the seat despite a clear trend line in the area that was favoring the Democrats. In fact, House Victory circulated a memo around this time  regarding Miami-Dade House seats which referred to HD 114 as a safe GOP seat and demonstrated no awareness of the Hancock campaign. Hancock adapted his OFA canvassing skills to launch a low-cost door-to-door campaign with a voter file on an iPad. He collected petitions and targeted NPA voters on their doorsteps. Hancock defined himself as an environmental candidate and was well-received by Dem and independent homeowners in this bay-front, environmentally conscious district.

Hancock has continued working with coalitions in environmental, progressive, senior, and LGBT organizations as well as local municipal candidates. His success in nearly ousting Fresen finally convinced Democratic leaders to target the seat.

Continue reading

Samantha Power: Global Superstar

428px-Samantha_power_harvard_law_2010I have had thirty some odd years of following foreign policy, first as a kid that was fascinated with politics, the nightly newscasts and travel then as a teenager partaking in Model UN competitions than as a well-traveled political animal in adulthood. In all that time I have observed American foreign policy leaders both good and bad, conservative and liberal.

Through the years we have  had some foreign policy standouts and those that have been well over their head in this realm, with both parties producing good and bad. But today, in US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power we have perhaps the most intellectually honest, well-studied and yet forcefully effective foreign policy leader in a generation.

Born in Ireland, educated at Yale and Harvard, with a background as a foreign correspondent, a Pulitzer Prize to her name and a scholar on human rights, few Americans had Power’s background when she joined Then Senator Obama’s Presidential campaign in 2007.

Continue reading

Charles Schwab Sells Customers Down High Frequency River

The Charles Schwab Corporation is all about accountability. Just ask them.

In a commercial, Chairman, Charles Schwab, explains, “the most principled people are the people who frankly can stand by their promises.” Schwab promises a “commitment to providing the most ethical financial services” including an “accountability guarantee.”

The accountability business appears to be booming. In 2013, Charles Schwab personally received a 24 percent raise with compensation of more than $8 million. A corporate statement justified the raise by explaining the company was no longer limited to making money from “inexpensive stock commissions” as it had tapped into a “broader range of services.”

A broader range of services

UBS paid Charles Schwab to execute its customers’ buy and sell orders. Although this provided no benefits to Schwab’s customers, who still had to pay commissions, it added $285 million to Schwab’s bottom line for its shareholders and executives.

Why would another company pay to execute trades for Charles Schwab? A cab driver does not pay the customer for the ride.

According to the Wall Street Journal, UBS paid for Schwab’s information to, “earn profits by taking the first crack at trading on these orders.”

Through “electronic front-running” high-frequency (HF) trading firms can buy a share of stock before Charles Schwab’s retail customers. When the actual retail orders come though, a HF trader can mark up the price to make the profit from the difference.

In an interview for his latest book, Flash Boys, Michael Lewis, explains, “They’re able to see your order and play it against other orders in ways that you don’t understand. They’re able to front run your order.”

How much did Charles Schwab customers loose from this trading? According to an analysis in Flash Boys, “Schwab left at least a billion dollars on the table.” Add this to the $285 million the company was paid to sell out its customers and it starts to look like real money.

Continue reading

Another milestone for the Tampa Bay Times

The Tampa Bay Times  was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting yesterday.

Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia of Tampa Bay Times won the award for “their relentless investigation into the squalid conditions that marked housing for the city’s substantial homeless population, leading to swift reforms.”

For years, The Tampa Bay Times has been considered one of the top local papers in the nation. This is in addition to the paper’s long standing reputation as the newspaper of record in the state of Florida.

This is the tenth Pulitzer the paper has won, a milestone for any publication.


FDP’s Democratic Black Caucus apparently in disarray

For several months we have been hearing of the troubles in a few of the clubs and caucuses of the Florida Democratic Party. For sometime now many leading African-American and Caribbean-American activists have been complaining about the way the caucus and state party is handling its affairs. We’ve also heard from some people who have defended the state party’s stand claiming the caucuses needed to be reformed significantly.

This morning, we are hearing preliminary reports about a particularly argumentative meeting where multiple long-time activists walked out early in anger. We will be working to follow up on this story as it develops. Based on what we are hearing initially it is quite possible that more will be reported.

Video: Medical Marijuana Proposals Broken Down

Check out this excellent video from Sayfie Review’s Forum Telecast regarding the future of medical cannabis and the current legislative climate. We know this issue is of particular concern to many of our readers so please watch the video below and leave any questions/comments (respectful please!) in the comments section.



Daily Kos: Rick Scott still feeding at the public trough

Great piece this weekend from the Daily Kos which besides being the top liberal blogsite nationally has increased its focus on Governor Rick Scott in recent months.

The questions asked in the article are worth pondering as a pattern of crony capitalism  particularly in Health Care continues to emerge from this Governor’s office.

These sorts of revelations make you wonder if Health Care will really be a winning issue for the GOP this fall in Florida. Some Democrats have over reacted to the results of the Alex Sink special election defeat, forgetting that the theme cronyism and Governor Scott fits nicely into a narrative about Health Care.



Flashback Friday: Florida, Fair Housing and the Civil Rights Act of 1968

This week, in 1968 following the assassination of  Rev. Martin Luther King, a stalled civil rights measure made its way to the House floor. Essentially a fair housing measure the act was much more controversial nationally than the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the entire Florida Delegation only Congressmen Claude Pepper and Dante Fascell both from liberal (Miami) Dade County voted for the measure.

The legislation did the following.

  • Banned the refusal to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of his/her race, color, religion or national origin.
  • Made unlawful the discrimination against a person in the terms, conditions or privilege of the sale or rental.
  • Banned the advertising the sale or rental of a dwelling which indicated a preference of discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin
  • Banned the coercing, threatening, intimidating, or interfering with a person’s enjoyment or exercise of housing rights based on discriminatory reasons or retaliating against a person or organization that aids or encourages the exercise or enjoyment of [fair housing] rights.

The measure passed both bodies in the wake of the MLK Assassination but found little support in Florida. Full Roll Call vote of the Florida Delegation is below.

Continue reading

TFS Announces 2014 Election Project and Google Hangout Plan

flsqueeze5Having recently completed Blue With Envy: My American Journey with Manchester City and been offered the opportunity to write another book (this time in monograph form) on a historical topic, I have developed a longer-form writing and research bug which I would like to translate to Florida-related subjects.

With this in mind The Florida Squeeze has decided to announce that we will be publishing our own ebooks, including a work by myself and Ryan Ray looking at the inner workings of the Florida Democratic Party and its impact on the 2014 gubernatorial, cabinet and legislative elections. Other topics related to Florida political history and economics are being explored by our writers.

Today we are also announcing that we’ll be hosting periodical live Google Hangouts (which will instantly upload to YouTube for on-demand viewing) during the election season bringing together academics, activists and elected officials to discuss the pertinent political and policy issues of the time.

In the last six months I have hosted or participated in multiple Google Hangouts. What I have discovered in the process is that it is the most interactive way to create live and on demand programming that can appeal to a broad audience and engage the viewers. Check out the TFS Google +  page, which we will also begin to use to distribute videos and photos from third party sites that do not require a full news story.

Continue reading

Vouchers: Is this it?

Image courtesy Eye on Miami

Image courtesy Eye on Miami

Republicans in the House are still doggedly pushing forward this year’s educational “choice” initiatives, despite Senate enthusiasm for voucher expansion resembling the fevered excitement of a 12-year-old picking at a limpid beef bolognese.

On the eve of the final vote on HB 7167, what remains of Speaker Weatherford’s priority legislation is little more than a symbolic effort to save face. With the tax credit cap increase off the table, only an increase in per-student spending, now conjoined with a provision to create “personal learning scholarship accounts” remains active in the bill. The scholarship accounts, designed for special-needs students, would fund extracurricular services or private school attendance, outside of the public-school system. Yet another back-door attempt at diverting Florida tax-dollars away from public-schools, using once more as canon fodder, the less fortunate and underprivileged to pull Dems into a hard vote.

Erik “Ethics?” Fresen has the dubious honor of carrying this tepid water. His highly questionable connections to the for-profit charter company Academica have been chronicled here in past posts. Despite the impending death this bill awaits, he seemed to exact some small amount of pleasure in leading efforts to vote down, during the bill’s 2nd reading on Wednesday, the multiple, good-faith efforts by House Democrats to infuse a modicum of accountability and transparency to this wildly unregulated system.

Most surprising was the House’s steadfast refusal to approve Rep. Karen Castor Dentel’s amendment, which would have mandated public school-equivalent testing standards for voucher students. Senate President Gaetz has made it profoundly known over the course of this session that voucher expansion would only clear the Senate if a testing provision was included. Even Sen. Bill Galvano, despite receiving the largest single contribution from Charter Schools USA in 2014, spiked his own Tax Credit Expansion bill due to it lacking a testing/accountability provision.

While we at the Squeeze are busily attempting to run House Republican’s curious strategic decision making capacity through our Game Theory calculator, we’re going to chalk this up to a history of involuntary stubbornness by the Majority.

Yet we’re greatly encouraged by the tenacity the back row members embodied Wednesday. Led by rising Rep. Joe Saunders, the amendments were straightforward attempts at turning this lemon of a bill into something resembling lemonade. Also party to this effort were Reps. Danish, Stafford, Clarke-Reed, and Pafford, giving us a glimmer of a new progressive coalition within a caucus that has shown past difficulty in uniting over issues of voucher and charter school expansion.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,951 other followers