Politics

Ben Montgomery
Oct 12, 2021 - Politics

Crist goes from "Chain Gang Charlie" to progressive

Joyce Ward talks with Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) at her vendor booth during the Black Lives Matters Business Expo
Joyce Ward talks with Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) at her vendor booth during the Black Lives Matters Business Expo on June 19, 2020 in St. Petersburg. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

In his campaign to be Florida’s governor again, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist unveiled the first part of a progressive new platform that highlights the St. Pete Democrat’s departure from his conservative political roots.

  • His first priority will be restoring voting rights to felons who have been released from prison regardless of outstanding fines. He also wants to reform and accelerate consideration of clemency requests.
  • The second piece of his agenda aims to reduce gun violence by strengthening communities, requiring universal background checks for gun buyers and banning "large magazines and assault rifles."

Tampa's Columbus Day controversy continues

Fake blood on the base of Tampa’s Christopher Columbus statue, placed there by protesters to symbolize that of Indigenous people. Photo: Dave Decker for Creative Loafing
Fake blood on the base of Tampa’s Christopher Columbus statue, placed there by protesters to symbolize that of Indigenous people. Photo: Dave Decker for Creative Loafing

By now, many people know Christopher Columbus did not discover America, and that he did brutalize Indigenous people into near non-existence. 

  • So why do we still have Columbus Day? And why does Tampa still have a statue and park dedicated to him?
Selene San Felice
Updated Sep 30, 2021 - Politics

How Florida fails those with mental illness

Photo illustration of several images of Mikese Morse, fading from right to left.
Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo courtesy of Khadeeja Morse

After 13 years of living with mental illness and three years battling in court, Mikese Morse is finally getting mental health treatment. The cost: another man’s life.

Why it matters: Mikese’s saga illustrates how Florida treats those in need of involuntary mental health care — as criminals, relying on cops and courts to solve problems that need medical intervention — with potentially tragic results.

Ben Montgomery
Sep 28, 2021 - Politics

Matt Gaetz is preparing for a fight

Matt Gaetz walks through a hallway on Capitol Hill with a binder in one hand.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) leaves a closed door meeting at the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in June. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz hasn't been earning headlines like he did when news broke in March that he was a target in a federal investigation into sex crimes, but legal analysts say the team of New York City lawyers he hired indicates he's ready to fight.

  • The legal team includes Marc Mukasey, who has defended the Trump Organization in high-profile cases, and Isabelle Kirshner, a top Manhattan criminal defense attorney, per the Daily Beast.
  • Plus, Friends of Matt Gaetz retained New York-based trial lawyer Marc Fernich, whose clients include Jeffrey Epstein, Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán and Keith Raniere from the NXIVM cult.
Ben Montgomery
Sep 23, 2021 - Politics

Republicans move to make Florida school boards partisan

Illustration of a school street sign with the Republican Party logo on instead of icons of children.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Partisan politics could be coming to public school boards if a Florida House resolution is approved when the 2022 legislature meets.

  • If passed, HRJ 35, which was filed in August and referred to committee last week, would give voters the chance to change an aspect of the Florida constitution that calls for nonpartisan school board elections.
Fadel Allassan
Sep 23, 2021 - Politics

Federal judge: Florida ban on sanctuary cities racially motivated

DeSantis.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down parts of a Florida law aimed at banning local governments from establishing sanctuary city policies, arguing in part that the law is racially motivated and that it has the support of hate groups.

Why it matters: In a 110-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said the law — signed and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it was adopted with discriminatory motives.

Mayor makes changes to controversial eviction program

Illustration of police badges under a microscope
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Just four days after the Tampa Bay Times released an investigation of a controversial Tampa Police Department program, Mayor Jane Castor announced reforms to it.

The investigation: Journalists Chris O'Donnell and Ian Hodgson reported that a TPD program started under former police chief and current mayor Castor urged landlords to evict hundreds of mostly Black tenants after arrests.

  • But families still were evicted even after charges were dropped.
  • The story leads with a family who was evicted after a 16-year-old stole $4.44 in change, a glove, a flashlight, a hoodie and wireless headphones.
  • The program, intended for "documented violent offenders, gang members or career criminals," led to the eviction.

Tampa Police in Twitter beef with the Times

Illustration of the Twitter logo wrapped in caution tape
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Tampa Police Department claims reporters didn't tell the whole story after the Tampa Bay Times published an investigation into the department.

The investigation: Journalists Chris O'Donnell and Ian Hodgson reported that a TPD program started under former police chief and current mayor Jane Castor urged landlords to evict hundreds of mostly Black tenants after arrests.

  • But families still lost their homes even after charges were dropped.
  • The story opens with a family who lost their home after a 16-year-old stole $4.44 in change, a glove, a flashlight, a hoodie and wireless headphones.
  • The program, meant to target "documented violent offenders, gang members or career criminals" led to the eviction of those with misdemeanors even if charges didn't stick.
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