Negotiations with a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays franchise are still being held behind closed doors by Corrupt County Commissioner Ken Hagan and the Rays have a deadline of December 31 to close a deal. I have been trying to obtain the agenda for the next Board of County Commissioners public meeting on December 5 but, conveniently, the person who posts their agendas is on vacation until Nov. 28. From now until Dec. 5, I will be gathering as much information as I can concerning these illegal secret negotiations and will hopefully create an event aimed at allowing the people of Hillsborough County to voice our objections to this corrupt and illegal process. It is already clear that most of the funding for this new stadium would be obtained from public funds, whether by imposing a new county tax or diverting monies from existing public funds, such as the entertainment tax or tourism tax funds. Either would be stealing funds that were meant to improve conditions for the citizens of Hillsborough and not to enrich land developer friends of Ken Hagan and Rays shareholders. I will keep the readers of the Ybor City Stogie posted.
The energy and enthusiasm surrounding Gillum’s campaign – from the dozens of well-attended rallies to the historic voter turnout – jolted life in the moribund Florida Democratic Party, which typically runs white business centrists for governor. more
On Thanksgiving Day I was in Panama City helping to distribute food along with members of The Poor People's Campaign, The Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Tallahassee Chapter of DSA. Among the devastation from Hurricane Michael, what I didn't see was FEMA. Welcome to The United States disaster relief in 2018. Though Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm, hit Panama City only a few weeks ago, the presence of the Federal Government was minimal and the plight of the residents trying to recover their homes and lives has fallen out of the news cycle. Sadly, this is predictable in the neoliberal era when the Wealthy have effectively stop paying their taxes and the Federal Government devotes more and more of the budget to bloated military spending. Of course , one reason for the lack of press coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Michael is the condition in California where, like in Panama Beach, man made Global Warming is fueling massive wildfires.
There will always be people that will choose to attack me but at the end of the day, what I said can’t be denied - The HCDEC does not treat people of color the same. But unlike others, I was relevant before I ran for office in 2018. I will most definitely remain relevant even if I never choose to run for office again. They say I’m an opportunist? As a community leader and a pastor, I have worked to help those facing the real issues I have been accused of not addressing! Interesting, I have nothing personal or political to gain from exposing the truth. As for this advancing my political career- that is most definitely not accurate because many calls have been made to tell me these are things that can hinder my political career! So, with all these insinuations and inaccurate assessments of who I am and of my character, I would choose to remain focused on the topic which I continue to pursue...that the HCDEC must treat everyone fairly. It’s time for the obstacles which they have created to come crumbling down in order to help advance African American candidates. The process must be improved for how the HCDEC chooses to support and endorse candidates . It must be revamped and looked at with a lens of equity in mind.
Let’s stay focused on the real issues and make the necessary improvements- there’s no debating that favoritism and inequity exists in this organization! These practices have been allowed to go on for years - well before my run for office. It’s time we all work together to get the job done.
This is a response to address racism within the DEC, Elvis Piggot's recent claims, Angela Birdsong, and Asher Edelson assessment of it all. Ok so first out the gate let's address Asher's claims in response to Elvis. Asher took the position that the DEC isn't racist (a claim as a white man in America he has no authority to determine and only shows the tone deafness and white privilege rampant within the Democratic Party as a whole) He goes on to try to compare him having Tourette's and not being treated differently as the same as black members of the DEC, again completely of the mark. This country was built on white supremacy and patriarchy what that means is society and its structures were built to accommodate those systems of oppression. When white people with disabilities try to compare the fair treatment they get and discount discrimination against able bodied black and brown folks not only are they participating in the erasure of black and brown disabled folks, but they are complicit in white supremacy. So, Asher's stance on the DEC and racism was not only incorrect because he is not able to make the determination given his white privilege, but his stance inadvertently shows the real problem with race relations within the party. Angela Birdsong and her valid concerns with the DEC is troubling to say the least. For a great majority of her campaign Angela mostly floated on the fact that she was the only Dem on the ticket. She wasn't a dynamic speaker, very soft spoken at times. She didn't speak about her actual platform enough or even energize voters by speaking on the past of Ken Hagan enough. It was a weak campaign from the beginning but she did make strides more and more towards the end. Elvis' live Facebook videos and new persona as a political truth teller is not only a shock but comical. For months on his campaign trail Elvis became a political minstrel. At one time I was his opponent, not only did he try to paint me as the "Angry Black Lives Matter" candidate who hates white people, he tried to present himself as the better option. A calm, cool, collected alternative. Diet negro if you will. For some reason Pastor Piggot couldn't or wouldn't stop going around letting white democrats know, that not only am I too radical but he prefers the company of white people more than black people because they're more relatable. I was fed up with the slander (from a pastor at that!) and called Elvis to ask him why he would keep trying to manipulate racial issues, why is he lying about me saying he wasn't "black enough", and how he could call himself a pastor while doing it all. I don't think Elvis ever thought he would be confronted for his lies. He hung up flustered after acknowledging his lies, then followed up via text to wish me Merry Christmas. I responded to the text letting it be known if he were to continue to spread untruths about me in hopes of gaining support from white people I would show everyone the screenshots. Elvis is a manipulative opportunist. He's not wrong about the DEC being racist because he wanted to capitalize on it to ostracize me and present himself as the only viable candidate. All in all Elvis isn't wrong about the racism within the DEC and Democratic Party as a whole, but he cares nothing about the injustice or neglect Angela faced. His motives are to create enough buzz to mount another (failed) political run. The DEC is a political machine within America. For those who face oppression under white supremacy they understand what that means. For those who don't, black people and black candidates are not treated the same as white people. Also, it is not the job of black people to recruit more black people to the DEC to cut down on racism by providing more representation. The DEC needs to reach out to black led orgs and PAY THEM to give them classes on racial bias, systemic oppression, and white privilege. The DEC needs to do better. All in all like my granny says "A broke clock is right twice a day". Elvis is right about the DEC and racism. However, he is only "exposing" wrongdoing in this way to draw attention towards himself to further try to make a name for himself. All done.
I agree with Elvis when he proclaims that more people should join the DEC (Democratic Executive Committee). I also agree that the representation of black people is too low within our ranks, and I would add to that my feelings on there being too few people in the DEC with disabilities. Hell, I’m the only member with Tourette’s, but you won’t see me making a self interested public spectacle about it. He accused the DEC and specific members of racism.
I saw Mr. Piggot on the campaign trail. I didn’t hear all too much about issues, and that for me is a big deal. Being bold on specific issues such as cannabis legalization, standardized education, public transit options, and healthcare as a right should be a standard bearer for our candidates and our Democratic Party. The DEC could and should be louder on the issues, whether it helps encourage increased membership, helps candidates/elected officials to do their jobs, or both. One issue I had with Mr. Piggot’s video was his lack of attention to the issues. He discussed racism in detail, but didn’t go into his views (or the DEC’s lack thereof) on issues like Biking while Black, the War on Drugs, affordable housing, or the justice system. I’m not sitting well with that.
He mentioned my friend, State Committeeman Russ Patterson, making a statement wherein Russ said something to the effect of “In the past I haven’t always supported people due to their ethnicity/linguistics” in an effort to establish moving past that possibility toward supporting a more diverse cast of individuals—such as Jose Vasquez whom Russ was an avid surrogate for during his District 58 race. Mr. Piggot has a problem with this—It’s the case where an earnest man is coming to terms with harsh realities, and using past (not current) experiences to encourage genuine support for a candidate. I refute this as evidence of racism in the DEC or being expressed by Russ.
He mentioned how Chairwoman Ione Townsend spoke with him to encourage him out of the County Commission Election. I’m not sure what Ione’s reasons were for saying these things, but I genuinely doubt they came from a place of racism. Maybe she figured Elvis would fare better in a School Board race, or didn’t want him to sour potential relationships before gaining more political experience. Whatever her reasons, I don’t believe they were racist. Her opinion on Elvis leaving the BOCC election was not an indication that he had to leave, rather it was her opinion, and possibly the opinions of other members. He also mentioned Angela Birdsong not getting as much financial assistance from the DEC Victory Fund. I am not sure why, but I can guess that a decision was made to prioritize the countywide races in order to try and pull the entire county out to vote.
The racism argument that Elvis is making seems a lot like an issue centered around him. He only mentioned Angela and low demographics in the DEC beside issues surrounding himself. A lot of people from various identities have struggled with the DEC, the Roberts Rules, the bureaucracy, etc, but they haven’t made it a direct issue of any “ism” — like my distaste with a lack of disability representation and talk on the issues doesn’t urge me to go on an anti DEC tirade. I form good connections with people and work on a mutual decision to make things better. Still, I would like to see more black, disabled, etc labeled people join the DEC to increase membership diversity. I welcome it! I am NOT denying that racism exists in the DEC, or ableism, or sexism, or any other prejudice. I just disagree with Mr. Piggot’s take on it.
Mr. Piggot is posturing himself for a run in 2020, and possibly on December 10th when the DEC holds its next election. Let’s make something clear; at this time (not officially) I like Sky White and Gwen Miller for BOCC District 3, and Chair Ione Townsend for re-election as DEC Chair.
Andrew Gillum, who exploded onto the national political scene with a meteoric victory in the 2018 Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary, was the immediate favorite to win it all on Nov. 6.
The stars aligned but only briefly. Gillum’s role as favorite evaporated within the first week of the general election campaign and the blame falls squarely on the candidate—not ballot counting snafus, not an FBI investigation, not racial innuendo employed by the opposition.
The ex-mayor of Tallahassee made two fateful decisions: choosing fifth-place primary finisher Chris King, a philosophical clone, as his running mate and allowing the incompetent, impotent Florida Democratic Party to co-opt his campaign apparatus.
This is the monstrosity the Rays franchise plans to build at the west end of Ybor City, just south of the low income apartments. The apartments will ultimately be demolished to make space for hotels and entertainment for the baseball fans and the business establishments along 7th and 8th Avenues will be forced to sell out to national franchises such as Hooters, Beef O'Brady's, Old Navy and Starbucks. The community we know of as Ybor will be gone forever.
As it looks right now, our County Commission may be making this irreversible decision next month.
For years, county commissioner Ken Hagan has been negotiating a new Rays stadium behind closed doors, going so far to preserve secrecy that he refused to turn over public records even when the law required it.
However, the secret details of where Hagan and the Rays were planning to put a new stadium were not secret to every member of the public – one key developer was given access to the information that should have been available to all.
The developer used that information to buy land at a discounted rate, put himself in position to profit off the new stadium announcement, then became a significant contributor to Commissioner Hagan’s re-election campaign. At no time were Hagan’s fellow commissioners – or members of the public who requested the public documents – provided the maps. MORE
"This arrangement to have Ken Hagan represent the entire Commission in negotiations with the Rays was approved by the BOCC before I became a commissioner. After I became a commissioner, I objected to this arrangement and urged that the County Adminstrator represent the BOCC in these negotiations instead. The only other commissioner in support of me was Comm. Stacy White." Pat Kemp