Steven Geller, former senator, Florida

Steve Geller, former Florida Senator

Last week: I see the big story for last week and the future as the same story… the 50th Anniversary of the MLK “I Have a Dream” speech. The anniversary reminds us of how far we’ve come as a country. Major advancements in minority voting, reductions in legal and economic barriers, a Person of Color as President of the United States! It also reminds us how far we still have to go to eliminate the continuing disparity. I am dismayed at the new wave of legislation making it more difficult for minorities to vote. Dr. King would have fought this.

Aug. 18

Last week: Although I’m a Democrat, it’s important to give credit where deserved, regardless of party. Last week, Republican Former Sen. Mike Fasano was appointed Tax Collector for Pasco County, giving up his seat in the Legislature. During his long tenure in the Legislature, Fasano evolved from a predictable conservative vote into a true advocate for consumers.

Looking ahead: The events in Egypt will be the story for weeks.  Egypt is the most populous country in the Middle East, and events there affect us.  The peace treaty with Israel, the burning of Christian churches, etc., are important to America. However, I fear a knee-jerk reaction that America “must do something!”  The military aid that we give to Egypt is part of the Camp David Accords, and tied to the Egypt-Israel Peace treaty. Whatever actions we take or don’t take must be carefully thought out and in America’s best interests, and not just done to be seen as “doing something.”

Aug. 4

Last week: The divisions in the different wings of the Republican Party have become even more evident over the last few weeks.  Last week, Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie engaged in a very public disagreement over a variety of issues, including National Defense and government spending.  While united in their opposition to "Obamacare," other National Republican leaders argued over whether the Federal Government should be shut down over the funding.  These arguments reflect what appears to be a growing divide between the pro-business traditional Republican Leadership and the Tea Party/Libertarian wing of the party.

Looking ahead: The race for Governor should start to pick up steam shortly.  The primary election is only about 1 year away, and while Governor Scott will almost certainly not have any opponent in a Republican primary, Governor Crist may have competition in the Democratic primary, although Crist looks like the overwhelming favorite today.  Many of us expect Crist to open his campaign in October.   Although I have seen Crist's overwhelming popularity and charisma in many settings, from Chambers of Commerce leaders to convenience store customers, an election between the current Governor and the former Governor will be close, polarizing, and expensive.

July 28

Last week: The Martin/Zimmerman trial is the story of much more than one week. It is important to see how this case is viewed from different perspectives. Many white citizens examine this from a particular case viewpoint, and say that under the specific facts, Zimmerman was not guilty. Many minority citizens examine this from a more global viewpoint, and see another dead minority teenager. Regardless of whether people view the Zimmerman verdict as correct, the case should force us to look at the much bigger problem involving race relations in America.

Looking ahead: The continued acceleration of weather problems across the country and world. It seems that every year, we read about record-breaking heat waves. Much of the damage of global warming has already occurred, and will worsen no matter what we do. Some of the damage can still be minimized. We must look at this from both the viewpoint of preventing the disease (global warming), and treating the symptoms (building codes, trying to figure out ways of preventing our coastal areas from submerging, etc.)

July 14

Last week: The Florida Legislature issued the long-awaited report on gambling in the State of Florida.  This report is hundreds of pages long, and discusses the current situation, without any recomendations.  The issue of what the state will do about gambling is critically important to South Florida in particular.

 

Looking ahead: I believe that the Jury will be issuing its verdict in the Zimmerman/Martin trial this week.  Whichever way the ruling goes, it will be controversial.  Although the “Stand your Ground” law was not used as a defense herein, I believe that this case is one of many showing the necessity for reexamining this law.

 

June 30

Looking ahead: I believe the issue of Florida accepting tens of billions of Medicaid dollars under “Obama Care” will not go away, and may continue to grow. The Broward Legislative Delegation held a standing-room only meeting on this.  The sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of accepting the money. The Business and  Medical communities both support this. This could become a major issue in the 2014 elections, particularly in the governor’s race. Gov. Scott supported taking the money, but questions may arise as to how hard he tried to persuade the Republican House, including his failure to call a Legislative Special Session.  

Last week: "Two recent US Supreme Court rulings. The ruling on the Voting Rights Act will have a major impact.  The pre-clearance language kept the Republican Majority in Tallahassee from having free rein on some of the voter suppression attempts.  They were not racist; they were attempts to suppress Democratic votes. The ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act is important, but not as broad as supporters claim, or opponents fear.  The ruling says that Federal law should not supersede State law on the definition of what is a legal marriage.  The ruling does not mention with whether States can prohibit same-sex marriages.

July 23

Last Week: Miami Heat basketball - the only thing that everyone in South Florida seems to agree on.

Looking Ahead: Windstorm insurance , rates, are the takeout companies solvent, etc.