Voters elected incumbent Rick Kriseman to be mayor of St. Petersburg by a slim margin on Tuesday.
According to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, Kriseman won 51.64 percent of the vote. His opponent, former mayor of St. Petersburg Rick Baker, received 48.36 percent of the vote. Fewer than 2,000 votes separated the two candidates, both of whom have served time as the city’s mayor.
Kriseman campaigned with a platform that supported clean energy and LGBT equality, while openly criticizing President Donald Trump. He also emphasized his commitment to reducing crime and improving infrastructure.
Baker’s campaign also focused on reducing crime and making St. Petersburg more environmentally friendly. His campaign website’s “blueprint” also showed his desire to improve public schools, bring more jobs to the area and revitalize the downtown district.
On paper, both candidates seem to agree on most topics—but they certainly did not act like it. Baker, who was the city’s mayor from 2001 to 2010, repeatedly criticized Kriseman’s administration, blaming it for St. Pete’s “sewage crisis” which was worsened by Hurricane Irma. Kriseman called out Baker for not openly opposing Trump.
While the office is nonpartisan, political parties still play a major role. Kriseman is a Democrat and Baker is a Republican.
A columnist at the Tampa Bay Timesadvocated for Baker to speak publicly about Trump. For John Romano, the writer of that article, knowing a candidate’s political ideology is crucial when deciding who to vote for, and knowing whether Baker supports one of the most polarizing people in America could have swayed voters.
Kriseman won despite the fact that the Tampa Bay Times, the most popular local newspaper, endorsed Baker. The Times traditionally recommends Democrats, and some have questioned the newspaper’s motive for recommending Baker.
It troubles news sources and defenders of the First Amendment that Trump is attacking a fundamental democratic right even though he does not have the power to revoke FCC licenses, and the FCC does not license individual networks, according to their website.
Trump repeatedly criticized the media while campaigning for president, and his attacks have only increased since taking office.
One of his most affecting comments came in February, when he declared the media an enemy.
The media has conducted itself as the fourth estate for centuries. Which means, ethically, it must act as an objective party that keeps checks and balances on the government by always reporting the truth, according to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.
According to the Constitution, the president and Congress has to take an oath of office before representing the country. It states they must support and defend everything in the Constitution. Which includes freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Two separate entities, swearing to act on the public’s behalf.
A CNN poll from August found that three-quarters of all Americans do not trust the majority of information that the White House releases.
Since Gallup began polling Americans, the highest rating of confidence was in 1976 when 72 percent of Americans trusted the media. The public’s trust in the media has steadily declined since 2007, and it dropped heavily in 2015.
However, recent trends indicate that the public has begun to trust the media again, according to the Reynolds Journalism Institute poll.
The Pew Research Center says the highest rating of trust in government (from 1958 until 2017) was in 1964, when 77 percent of Americans reported that they could trust the federal government.
However, trust in government dipped under 20 percent during the Clinton and Obama administrations. Sudden peaks or valleys in these confidence ratings generally occur after a scandal or national event, such as Clinton’s impeachment and 9/11.
The public does not overwhelmingly trust the government or journalists, which should be a concern because the public is the most important audience for each of them.
What does Twitter think?
Both Trump and the media has critics and supporters when it comes to Twitter .
I don’t blame Trump for targeting the media. Media is suppose to relay facts and real news, not fake sources and stories for their agenda!
Jan. 20, 2017, marked Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States. And thus, a movement was ignited.
On Jan. 21, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women, marched on Washington in protest of Trump’s election and the issues he ran on. Spinoff marches took place in many cities around the country and the globe, making the Women’s March the largest single-day protest in U.S. history.
On Wednesday evening, three of the Women’s March organizers spoke with students at the University of South Florida on activism and other issues in an event hosted by USF Divest.
In attendance at the event were Women’s March Co-President Tamika Mallory, Treasurer Carmen Perez and Assistant Treasurer Linda Sarsour.
Mallory is a social justice activist, as well as a leader in a community-based effort to end gun violence in New York City. Her past work includes collaborating with the Obama administration as an advocate for civil rights issues.
Perez is a Latina woman who has spent the past two decades advocating for civil rights issues, highlighting the violence and mass incarceration crisis in America in an effort to solve them. She also served as executive director of the Gathering for Justice, travelling the world to find alternatives to incarceration.
Sarsour is an activist for racial justice and civil rights. She is an outspoken individual who seeks to educate people on intersectional activism. Sarsour prides herself as an unapologetic Palestinian-American Muslim.
The panel also consisted of local activist and USF alumnus Ahmad Saadaldin as well as journalist Ali Al-Arian, who served as the mediator of the discussion.
Saadaldin is a filmmaker, organizer and small-business owner. Saadaldin founded Peace House University and regularly speaks to high school students about the importance of activism. He is currently running in the Florida District 58 Special Election for State House.
Al-Arian is an award-winning journalist with Al Jazeera English. He was part of the team that launched Palestine Remix, which used interactive tools to tell the story of Palestine. His latest project is a documentary about the boycott, divest and sanctions movement against Israel.
The panelists spoke about the importance of intersectional activism, getting involved and how they organized the Women’s March.
Mallory acknowledged that the Women’s March wasn’t always an intersectional movement. In the beginning stages of its organization, Mallory said, it was very problematic. The original name of the protest, “The Million Women March,” was the name of a protest march organized by black women in 1997. The organizers called Mallory and Perez, looking to include women of color in their planning process in order to rectify such knowledge gaps. The ladies weren’t going to take that offer at face value.
“We immediately said from the beginning that we’re not going to plan a march, we’re not event planners,” said Mallory. “If we’re going to come and meet with you, it was about us being in leadership and helping shape the agenda of the march.”
She decided that she would help them make it intersectional and bring her voice to the table.
“There was no table [for us]. We actually built the table, we stood on the top of the table and made sure that the agenda represented all of women’s issues.”
In an effort to make sure all women and their issues were included in the march, they reached out to multiple individuals who were all experts in their separate fields and asked them to come together to form a list of what they were working on. These points of unity helped to generate a policy platform for the Women’s March.
“It was the most radical policy platform in the history of any march,” she said. “For us, it was making sure that people felt included in the process,” said Perez, adding that although there was a lot of criticism “at the end of the day, a lot of people felt that they saw themselves in this march and that was what we were trying to accomplish.”
Perez also insisted that the march wasn’t targeting Trump alone.
“Trump is only one of the symptoms of what’s happening at a larger scale in this country,” said Perez. “We were fighting systemic racism and oppression.”
Sarsour expressed her surprise at the amount of people who showed up. Having planned for a quarter of a million people, they were not expecting hundreds of thousands of people to show up in Washington. She also was taken aback by the magnitude of the march, in terms of how many spin-off marches resulted around the country and even around the world.
“We are so grateful to look back at that day and know that people stood up in every corner of the country, for women’s rights, for equality and for justice,” said Sarsour.
The women proceeded to explain to the students the importance of activism and the importance of supporting the identities of other people.
Saadaldin, who was instrumental in the divestment movement on campus, discussed how the movement was an intersectional movement.
USF Divest is a diverse coalition made up of students, faculty, and staff on campus with the purpose of raising awareness of USF’s investment policy. They have collected over 10,000 signatures of support in one year.
The peak of their efforts was this past spring, when 89 percent of those who participated in the student body election voted in favor of USF creating a group to oversee the investments of the university. The group is currently in the process of establishing a large student membership on campus.
Although divest originally was founded on Palestinian rights, the leaders realized that their issues were systemic and took shape in different forms in other communities.
“We decided to expand our movement and invite people to join us, calling for private prison divestment and fossil fuel divestment,” said Saadaldin.
Mallory also explained that intersectionality doesn’t mean the tokenization of other identities for the purpose of diversity.
“It’s not transactional,” Mallory said, describing it as being able to look at an issue and caring about it even though it doesn’t directly affect your community.
“Intersectionality looks like you being able to step outside of yourself and say, ‘This may not necessarily impact me…but it impacts us as a greater community and if you aren’t free…how can I be free?’ ” Mallory said.
Sarsour elaborated on Mallory’s point about the non-transactional aspect of intersectionality. She doesn’t ask organizations if they support her causes before she decided to work with them and care about their cause, rather she shows up and gives her support.
“This is how solidarity works,” said Sarsour. “You don’t come into a space and impose your issue on other people. You don’t come into a space and be upset because somebody doesn’t want to talk about your issue. The first question people are going to ask is you is, ‘where have you been? What have you done for our community?’”
Sarsour also encouraged people to realize their own privilege when working with an organization.
“Intersectionality also means the intersections of oppression,” she said. “When people who have been at the receiving end of oppression [are talking], you need to listen to their pain and frustration and not take it personally.”
Following the panel’s discussion, there was a Q&A in which attendees lined up to ask questions. The questions were diverse and covered a lot of aspects on activism. One 12-year-old girl, with her mother by her side, asked how young people can be more involved with activism, to which the organizers applauded her for being interested at such a young age and gave her suggestions.
However, there were a few hecklers who came with the intent to disrupt the organizers.
Some attempted to condemn Sarsour and Islam as a whole but were shut down by the panel. Sarsour said that she developed thick skin to people who used Islam to attack her because they didn’t have a proper understanding of what Islam is.
The event ended peacefully with the last words of Sarsour inviting people to be organized and involved.
“Don’t be ambitious, don’t try to change the world,” she said. “Take baby steps and baby steps.”
TAMPA – NFL fans are torn between their political and sports allegiances after President Donald Trump called on teams to fire players who kneel during the national anthem.
Trump tweeted dozens of times about the NFL and its players over the past few weeks. His comments come after several players from multiple teams decided to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!
One of his more controversial comments came when he spoke in Alabama.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say: “Get that son of a b—- off the field right now,” said Trump.
Same story, new players
Anthem protests in the NFL are not new, however, the movement has grown since last year. It started with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled to protest police brutality. Now, Kaepernick no longer has a job in the NFL, and several other players have decided to take a knee or lock arms during the national anthem.
Travis Bell, an expert in sports media and professor at the University of South Florida, believes that the anthem protests have recently become a bigger deal because of Trump’s involvements.
“I definitely think that the flashpoint for this bringing it into the mainstream conversation is because of the president’s involvement in it,” said Bell.
What did he call us?
Several players took offense to Trump’s comments, and the following Sunday, players continued to protest. Some teams’ owners joined the players on the field to show solidarity.
This love for burning jerseys has seemed to spread to the NFL, as many fans have filmed themselves burning jerseys of players who have decided to protest during the anthem. Fans also burned season tickets, hats and other memorabilia. They even went on Twitter and started #BurnTheNFL, which encourages people to no longer support the NFL.
People who disagree with the protests often say that sports and politics should remain separate, and that politics are ruining sports. Many others, however, would argue that there is not a clear divide between sports and politics.
“People always want to hold sports as some separate, fun, social entity, and we don’t want to politicize things, and when politics gets involved in the sports arena, it sort of clouds that popular notion that sports is sort of just this untainted space, and clearly it’s not,” said Bell.
Others choose to take a knee
While some fans have been burning their jerseys, others have been applauding the players for taking a stand on what they believe is an important issue. Supporters on Twitter started #TakeAKnee to show solidarity with the players who protest.
As the NFL remains busy trying to keep its name out of headlines, it has failed to find a solution to either the player’s protests or people’s protest of the NFL. This may be because they do not have many options.
According to Alan Balfour, an expert in employment relations and union-management relations, it is not in the NFL’s best interests to force players to stop protesting, no matter what rights they have or do not have guaranteed in their contracts.
“I doubt that anyone will treat this as a contract issue,” said Balfour. “It is perceived by everyone–players, owners and fans–as a moral issue. If the contract permits, owners could force players to stand or face discipline.”
Balfour does not believe that will happen.
“Invoking the contract would only polarize matters worse and expand the range of disagreement,” said Balfour.
He does, however, point out that NFL teams are within their rights by not signing Kaepernick, whether those reasons are related to his performance as a football player or not.
“I have always said, back when this was just about Colin Kaepernick that boycotting him as a potential employee was well within the individual rights of every owner and his employability would depend, not on his ability to help a team as a second-string quarterback, but on what he, or anyone, can contribute to attendance, merchandise sales and the TV contract,” said Balfour.” The obvious answer was his contribution is negative. I can understand why no team or owner wants him–he will hurt the bottom line and, believe me, this is a business.”
Therefore, if any owner refused to sign a player because of his political views, he/she would be well within his/her rights.
Additionally, NFL viewership is down 11 percent from last year, according to Nielsen ratings. Bell points out, however, that this could be for a number of reasons, including the discovery of traumatic brain injuries occurring from playing football. Bell believes it is too early to tell how the protests have affected the NFL’s brand, but that it could negatively impact the NFL’s business in the future.
“I definitely think there’s some potential for fallout, but I don’t think it’s going to be you know, an immediate drop off the cliff,” said Bell.
Americans stand divided
While people have been vocal on social media, what’s trending on Twitter does not always reflect how most Americans feel. CNN and USA Today both conducted polls to find out how the public truly feels about the protests.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
This quote is normally attributed to the philosopher Voltaire, but it was actually written by his biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall. It seems that Americans seem to agree with this sentiment. While players may not have the constitutional right to take a knee, most Americans believe that they should not be fired for their beliefs.
Some veterans have echoed this idea as well, and they argue that the reason soldiers fight is to protect democracy. It is not unexpected that people living in a country that touts freedom of speech in its First Amendment disagree with Trump’s comments. Most people would not want to be fired for their political beliefs, though it is not against the law for employers to do so.
Even if the majority cannot agree on kneeling during the anthem, perhaps it is a small victory for Americans to agree on the principle in the Constitution. Or, perhaps this agreement is not a reason to celebrate. Balfour believes that Americans may not be equipped to handle these discussions.
“Thomas Jefferson’s fear of the tyranny of the majority is, I believe, well-founded,” said Balfour. “I don’t observe the current public being very good at thoughtful consideration of disagreement.”
Following Republican Dan Raulerson’s resignation from the House of Representatives, a special election to find someone to fill his seat is scheduled for Dec. 19. While much of the focus for these types of elections typically incline towards the Democrat and Republican candidates, a surprising third-party candidate might mix things up.
27-year-old, Ahmad Hussam Saadaldin, a Muslim, Mass Communications graduate of the University of South Florida (USF) is running as a non-party-affiliated candidate for the House District 58 special election. This isn’t an impromptu decision for Saadaldin, who has been interested and involved in politics for much of his young life.
“I was intending to run for this district next year, but the Republican resigned and it prompted a special election,” said Saadaldin.
During his time at USF, Saadaldin was heavily involved in activism and politics. He was the president of Students for Justice in Palestine. He was also one of the original founders of the divestment effort on the USF-Tampa campus, which asks USF to dis-invest from companies that violate human rights, such as the private prison industry, and those that harm the environment. These sentiments are not forgotten by him in his political agenda.
“We want to divest from oil companies,” said Saadaldin, reiterating one of the main focuses of the divestment effort on campus.
Saadaldin is consistent with a liberal agenda regarding his stance on other prominent issues.
“I’m running on ‘The Three E’s’: education, economy and environment,” said Saadaldin.
He wants to keep public money in public education, raise the minimum wage to $15, and put in policies that can help the environment and prevent climate change, such as transitioning from non-renewable energy to renewable energies.
Comparing himself to other political candidates, Saadaldin aligns himself most to Bernie Sanders.
“I’m like Bernie Sanders on a much more local level,” said Saadaldin. “I want to incorporate his universal health care policies on a local level, in the state of Florida.”
On Sunday, Saadaldin and a group of volunteers went knocking door-to-door in an effort to increase the public knowledge of his campaign and gain more voters.
“We have to inspire people to the polls,” said Saadaldin to his band of canvassers. “A special election means that not many voters are going to come out; if we can get more people to the polls…we have a real chance.”
His target demographic is registered independent voters, whom he tracks through the app Ten More Voters. He admitted that, though the app has its kinks, it’s effective in determining who he would have most luck contacting and tracking who has already been contacted.
An issue Saadaldin has with the current system, and something that prompted him to run was the manner in which most political candidates who receive money from big corporations ended up being controlled by those same companies. He felt that this interfered with the integrity of the candidates as well as who they were going to fight for, should they win.
“(My campaign is) not taking any money from the corporations – not today, not ever,” said Saadaldin. “So you can be sure that we’re going to represent the issues and the people, not the powerful.”
Following the 2016 presidential election, there were critics who credited the electoral loss of Hillary Clinton to third-party voters who cast their ballots outside of the two main political parties, Republican and Democrat. Saadaldin doesn’t see that as the issue.
“We need people to run outside of the two-party system because we need more options,” said Saadaldin. “If we don’t do this now, we’ll never do it, and we’ll never actually make change.”
The young adult recognizes that his youth is something that separates himself from most candidates, but he sees that as a positive quality.
“Age means nothing,” said Saadaldin. “We have to live on earth longer than these people representing us. If you want change to come, you have to bring it yourself.”
Featured image courtesy permission to use by Nick Armero
TAMPA – Dozens of students showed up at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza Thursday in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, commonly known as DACA.
In 2012, former President Barack Obama issued an executive order that prevented deportation of children under the age of 16 who immigrated to the United States illegally. While DACA is not a permanent solution for those who are eligible to apply, it gives them more time to work or receive an education in the United States. According to Pew Research Center, an estimated 790,000 unauthorized immigrants have been protected under DACA.
Last week, President Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, announced that the administration will end the program in six months. As of now, no new DACA applications will be considered.
Trump’s presidential campaign focused on decreasing the number of immigrants to the United States, along with deporting those who are not here legally. Almost immediately after being sworn in, Trump began to follow through on his promise to be tough on undocumented immigrants.
Since the DACA announcement, congressional Democrats have been scrambling to make a deal in order to protect DACA immigrants from deportation.
Many DACA recipients are now in college, and they fear that they may be deported before being able to finish their education. Stephanie Garza, one of the organizers for the on campus DACA rally, explains why Session’s announcement is personal for some USF students.
“We know that here at USF, the estimate is between 70-100 DACA students are part of the USF community,” said Garza.
Several organizations helped plan and support the event, including College Democrats, Mi Familia Vota, For Our Future and UndocUnited. Students like Jose Flores who participated in the event wanted to show the Trump administration that college campuses support DACA students.
“We wanted to show that the community will organize and protect their own, and you know, just basically show that USF opposes the decision,” said Flores. “We hope that if other people follow in our footsteps, or, you know, we all come together, if other universities have their rallies too, together we’ll, you know, amplify our voices and we’ll be heard.”
The issue of immigration hits close to home with many people who attended the event.
“Personally, I know a lot of people who are immigrants, documented, undocumented, and you know, I see how their lives could change if something was passed, and how their lives are different than other people’s because sometimes they don’t have the same opportunities as those people,” said Michelle Joseph, who is with the organization Mi Familia Vota. “So, we’re here to support the passing of the DREAM Act, and that would mean that people would get to live normal lives kind of thing, not worry about whether they’re going to be kicked out of the country kind of thing.”
Different people spoke during the event, some of whom will be directly affected by the elimination of DACA.
“My favorite part was that some people felt empowered enough to go up and speak, even though they were not listed to speak, you know, they were motivated enough to come out and say a few words,” said Flores. “Each person that comes up and speaks up only adds to the slew of voices that are coming up, that are speaking out against this kind of you know, behavior, actions from the administration.”
DACA recipients will be in limbo until Congress decides if it is going to instate a new program to help young unauthorized immigrants. Some are trying to renew their DACA before the Oct 5. deadline set by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Applying for a renewal, however, does not ensure that they will be able to stay in the United States for the remainder of their DACA eligibility if Congress fails to create a new program.
For many, this is frustrating and alarming.
“If you’re not upset, if you’re not enraged, then you’re not paying attention,” said Flores.
Millennials get a bad rep and have been called the “narcissistic generation.” Campaigns do not depend on the millennial vote although they could actually be one of the most important demographics to target. The rising cost of college education and the labor market affects this generation, causing millennials to be concerned about their futures.
According to the Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, 22-23 million young Americans voted in the 2012 presidential election Millennials currently make up the same proportion of the U.S. voting-age population as the baby boomers.
“That’s why Romney lost because Romney lost the youth vote and so, therefore, lost the general election,” said Chairman of the USF Republicans, Georgia Pevy. “We’re a big swing category. If people don’t focus on us, then they’re not going to win.”
More than ever, politics are gaining popularity on social media as candidates are trying to reach young voters, and while there has been the notion that millennials are apathetic towards public affairs, they are projected to make up 40 percent of the eligible voters by 2020, as per the Center for American Progress.
eVolunteers and polling center employees encourage voter participation and give a rousing ovation to first time voters.
The 22-23 million millennials who voted in 2012 make up nearly half of eligible young people. This year more is expected to take part and engage in the elections.
“There’s a lot of them, and if they did turn out, it would be a big deal,” Pevy said.
With the Florida primaries just four weeks away, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump made his first visit to the Bay area.
Trump held a rally at the University of South Florida’s Sundome in front of a sellout crowd of 11,000. Many of those in attendance were students.
Mark Stutzman, a graduate student at USF, was one of the first in line at the rally, arriving nearly eight hours before doors opened.
“We’re here to see the next President of the United States.” Stutzman said. “I like the excitement he brings to the political process. We’ve had the same type of people running over and over again that make empty promises.”
Trump’s visit came just three days after his win in the New Hampshire primary. He focused on many of the issues that have kept him atop the polls in nearly every state.
His visit was met with opposition, however, as hundreds gathered outside the venue in protest of Trump’s visit. One protester made their way inside and briefly interrupted the rally. They were quickly removed from the building at the direction of Trump.
Trump spoke for nearly an hour. He concluded with a signature Trump message.
“We’re gonna make America great again. We’re gonna win all the time. We’re gonna bring our country back and we’re gonna be proud, once again, to be citizens of this great country.” Trump said.