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Major issues the next president must face B1

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VOLUME 20 NO. 43

special election issue

INSIDE Everything you need to know about voting in 2012 A3 Election myths vs. facts A4 Pros and cons to proposed amendments to Florida’s Constitution A5

‘FORWARD, EVER – BACKWARD, NEVER’ The Florida Courier recommends voting for BARACK OBAMA AND JOE BIDEN; YES for retention of all three Florida Supreme Court judges; and NO to all 12 constitutional amendments. We ignore those candidates who ignore us.


Since the 2000 campaign year, our various media properties, the Daytona Times, the Florida Courier and WPUL-AM 1590, have maintained a consistent editorial policy of not recommending candidates – whether national, state or local and regardless of race or political party – who chose not to promote their candidacies through our media when they have media budgets available. We find it ironic that candidates, their consultants and ad agencies can easily find us when it comes to covering campaign events as news stories or appearing on WPUL’s talk shows. But when it comes to paid advertising, we hear, “We can’t get in contact with you,” or “We are utilizing our campaign resources on something more cost-effective.” It’s also strange to occasionally hear from some candidates’ representatives that “We

Education, health care, jobs: Where Obama and Romney stand on the issues A6 Rundown of Obama’s major achievements as president over the past four years B4



didn’t know you existed.” What does that say about someone’s ability to learn about and represent a sizable Black constituency if they or their support staff don’t even know that East Central Florida is one of the few communities in America that has had its own Black-owned See PRESIDENT, Page A2


Debates end with ‘beatdown’ in Boca

Another GOP power grab Here’s why we say ‘NO’ to all amendments BY THE FLORIDA COURIER EDITORIAL STAFF

The amendments that you will see on this year’s ballot are proposed changes to the Florida Constitution. Our state constitution – similar to the U.S Constitution – establishes rules and basic rights. It covers freedoms such as religion, speech, press, assemblage, work and bearing of arms. There are four ways to amend Florida’s constitution. Two involve regular studies by commissions convened every 10 and 20 years, respectively. Individual citizens can amend the Constitution by getting thousands of signatures and going through an approval process. The Florida Legislature can also amend the Constitution by the vote of 3/5 of each of the House and the Senate.


Patrick Scolaro as “Mitt Romney,” left, and Cory Sullivan as “Barack Obama” playfully duke it out wearing masks at a post-debate concert in Boca Raton on Monday.

Change the rules and change the refs

It’s all politics


All you need to know about this year’s 11 amendments is that all of them came from the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature. None came from citizens, and none came from commissions after public meetings, diligent research, and years of study. All involve political posturing, including an impotent slap against Obamacare (Amendment 1); special tax treatment for the elderly, veterans, and the widows of first responders (Amendments 2, 9, and 11); a tax break ‘payback’ to small business owners, who generally support Re-

We’ve often said about the Republican Party that “99 and a half won’t do” for them. They’ve got to have it all. The latest example? The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) wants to take over the top level of Florida’s judicial branch: the Florida Supreme Court. And despite the fact that the court’s defenders have raised millions of dollars to support them, no one has bothered to speak directly to Black Floridians. We will weigh in here anyway, as the issue is too important to ignore.


How ‘retention’ works In the mid-1970s, Florida changed the

state constitution from corrupt, moneyfilled contested appeals court elections to the current “merit retention” system. Florida appeals court judges and Supreme Court justices are now on the ballot in nonpartisan merit retention elections every six years, so a majority of voters can determine whether they should stay in office. This year, three of the seven Supreme Court justices – R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince – and 15 appeals court judges (out of 61) have merit retention elections. A “YES” vote means you want the judge or justice to stay in office. A “NO” vote means you want the judge or jusSee JUDGES, Page A2


Three justices of the current Florida Supreme Court have been targeted for defeat. Amendment 5 would also change how the court is selected.






What if Mitt Romney wins? With the presidential election right around the corner and most of the pundits saying the race is Barack Obama’s to lose, I have begun to ponder the possibility that Mitt Romney might win and the impact that would have on the Black community. Romney has been polling around zero percent of the Black vote. We all know that the usual Black liberal groups sold out to Obama years ago – the Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, Urban League, etc.

Won’t owe anything Romney, like Bush in 2000, will owe absolutely nothing to Blacks should he win the election. But unlike Bush, I have no illusions that Romney will surround himself with the number of Blacks


that Bush did. Romney will feel compelled to make some token hire, but not much beyond that. This will lead to the above-named liberals to complain that Romney is ignoring Blacks and not being inclusive. But these same groups have yet to raise their voices to criticize Obama on the same issue. Bush had more Blacks in his administration than Obama or Bill Clinton.  How’s that for a White supposed racist Republican? So how can they credibly hold Romney

to a standard that they refused to hold Obama to? Let’s assume that Romney agrees to meet with these liberals and they make their typical leftwing demands: higher minimum wage, amnesty for illegals, homosexual rights, input on hiring decisions, etc. If the current incarnation of Romney shows up, he will not agree to their demands.

What’s their response? How will they respond if Romney says to them, “Why should I do these things when Obama didn’t do them for you? Congressman Cleaver, will you promise not to march on the White House during my administration like you did for Obama?  Mr. Jealous, if I don’t address your annual conference, like Obama,


Surviving spouses of first responders would be given special tax breaks in Florida if Amendment 9 is passed.

AMENDMENTS from A1 publican candidates (Amendment 10); an attempt to cut future government revenues so that Florida’s government will eventually be “small enough to drown in a bathtub,” (Amendments 3 and 4). What else? There’s an attempt to control ‘unruly’ Florida Supreme Court justices who won’t always rule their way (Amendment 5); a move to make it easier to eventually ban abortions in Florida (Amendment 6); a bow to conservative Christians (Amendment 8); and something too minor to deal with (Amendment 12). We’ll take them in numerical order and list the specific reasons we are against them all. (To review the pros and cons, please read Page A5.) Amendment 1: Florida led the legal fight of the states against Obamacare. The GOPdominated state legislature just couldn’t stand the fact that

PRESIDENT from A1 newspaper for almost 35 years and its own Black-owned radio station for almost 25 years, or that the Florida Courier has been the state’s largest Black-owned media outlet since 2006? As a consequence, we make NO RECOMMENDATIONS with regard to races for the U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, the Florida Legislature or local elections in the four zones the Florida Courier reaches around the state. To maintain consistency with our political advertising policy espoused above, we will, however, provide recommendations on the presidential/vice presidential race, statewide judicial retention, and the twelve constitutional amendments. We believe these races are of particular importance to Black Floridians statewide.

YES to Obama-Biden Here’s an excerpt of what we wrote in 2008 when we originally recommended voting for Obama-Biden: It’s time for a thinker, not a gunslinger, to be the face of America on the worldwide stage. It’s time for someone to engage in deliberation before going before the nation to engage in pontification. It’s time for someone who pauses before he speaks to collect his thoughts – but not because he’s unsure of the pronunciation of his next word. Most importantly, it’s time for someone who has lived the average American experience, who

a conservative U.S. Supreme Court generally approved Obamacare. This amendment is the Florida GOP’s way of giving a collective middle finger to both the U.S. Supreme Court and President Obama. It won’t change a thing; Obamacare will still be the law in Florida. Amendment 2 would give special treatment to veterans who are relatively new residents in Florida, but it will cost local governments millions of dollars of tax revenue that they could ill afford to lose. Amendment 3 would limit the way revenue comes into the state government, limiting flexibility for future legislatures. This will be a way Republicans could hamstring future legislatures which may be dominated by Democrats, forcing them to shrink government expenditures to “stay legal” if this amendment is passed. Amendment 4 would ex-

pand tax breaks to property owners and to first-time homebuyers, but at the cost of more than $1 billion over three years, which would result in a cut in state services including public education services. Florida cannot afford this right now. Amendment 5 is an attempt to hijack the Florida Supreme Court, which has refused to go along with many of the Florida Legislatures’ blatant and illegal attempts to cut, privatize or outsource government services and kill unions. This is a failsafe device in case the three state Supreme Court justices targeted for defeat by the Republican Party of Florida are retained by statewide vote. Amendment 6 will take away a woman’s right to privacy given to her under the Florida Constitution if she seeks an abortion. It’s much too expansive. If the issue is whether parents can prevent teenage girls from getting abortions without parental consent, then place that specific proposal on the ballot. Amendment 8 is a deceptive-

didn’t come from an economically privileged background, who’s had to discuss at the family dinner how school loans and living expenses would be paid, and how money would be saved to send two smart daughters to college. Barack Obama has had those average American family experiences – and more. That analysis still holds. It referred to John McCain in 2008; it refers to Mitt Romney in 2012.

Apprehensive about Obama However, in 2008, we also manifested our uneasiness about Obama, which moderated our expectations of how he would perform as president: He sacrificed his surrogate father and one of the best preachers on the planet, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, on the altar of his ambitions. He stood with Wall Street, bailing them out, rather than with those of us who live near Main Street and MLK Boulevard. Financially, he minimally invested in Black-owned media and the established Black community-based political culture, taking Black voters for granted while raising more campaign money than any candidate in American history. To a large extent, he sold out to his White handlers, following their advice with regards to distancing himself from his Black voting base. Not much has changed in that regard. And over four years, we’ve stood opposite the president on many issues, including (but not limited to) the military surge in Afghanistan, the continuation of the George W. Bush-era PATRIOT Act, and Obama’s open

will you give me a pass because my schedule is supposedly full? Members of the CBC, if I tell you to stop complaining like Obama did, will you label me a racist, even though you didn’t call Obama a racist?” If the first Black president ignores the Black community, how can we then make demands on the next White president, regardless of party? This is why having Blacks put all their votes in one party is so dangerous. We have absolutely no leverage if Romney wins the White House. What’s amazing about the groups that claim to represent all Blacks is they all claim to be non-partisan. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

Saying the right things On Election Night, should Romney win, he will say all the right things about wanting to be president for all of America, even those who did not vote for him.

ly named “Religious Freedom” provision that plays on emotions, and pokes a hole in the wall between church and state. It would be a recipe for disaster for small Black churches (with greedy pastors) could apply for and receive state funds, but don’t have the business organization or know-how to prevent funds from being lost, squandered, or embezzled. (Any church that wants to provide services to the state of Florida can do so already by forming a separate organization.) If it passes, Christians need not get mad when Satanists, witches, and ‘non- standard’ religions start providing state services. Amendment 9 involves special treatment for the survivors of first responders, another emotional issue that will reduce the tax base of cities and towns that could ill afford it. Amendment 10: Only businesses in Florida pay personal property taxes. This is a sop for Republican legislators’ campaign contributors. It will cost the state approximately $61 million over three years, and won’t create one new job. Amendment 11 is another tax cut for seniors, which would cause the state an estimated $18.5 million combined over the first two years it is implemented. Ironically, seniors would not be exempted from any resulting cut in state services. Amendment 12 forces students in all state schools to have representation on the State University System’s Board of Governors. A minor issue. Why bother to have this in the Florida Constitution?

Information from League of Women Voters’ 2012 Florida Election & Voter Guide was used in this report.

targeted assassination of nativeborn American citizens – who can be designated ‘terrorists’ upon signature of the president – in violation of their federal constitutional right to due process of law. We’ve criticized him for halfhearted efforts when he’s “led from behind” by leaving critical details to others on big-ticket items like the bank bailout, the stimulus, Obamacare, and financial reform. And unlike some Black organizations, we’ve criticized him about his refusal to specifically address systemic disparate racial treatment in economics, public safety, criminal justice, health care, and other quality of life indicators in America.

Some successes Despite its limitations, Obamacare will have a positive impact on the health of millions of Black Americans who would otherwise be uninsurable due to preexisting medical conditions. There is the billion-dollar Black farmers’ settlement, the narrowing of criminal penalties against crack cocaine versus powder cocaine, more money in Pell grants for college students, and relatively small investments in summer jobs in urban communities. But generally, Obama forms White House level commissions (Black educational excellence), initiatives (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and forums (minority business) to generate ideas on how to solve a few ‘Black’ problems. There’s limited follow-through and limited budgetary support.

But in raw political terms, why should Romney engage with these liberals? They don’t represent the Black mainstream. They have been bought and paid for by the Democratic Party and the likes of George Soros. To the Black community: You must become more politically sophisticated and not continue to allow you and the community to be ignored and taken for granted. To Republicans: Get rid of your silly notion of a color-blind society.  If you can’t see the changing demographics of this country, then you are truly colorblind – blind to people of color.

Raynard Jackson is president and CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his website, www.raynardjackson. com.

JUDGES from A1 tice to be removed from office.

Targeted Conservative activists have launched a campaign to oust Lewis, Pariente and Quince – who happens to be the first and only Black female justice in the court’s history. They form the backbone of what one media outlet called “the court’s left-of-center majority.” And that’s the real problem. They aren’t drunks, incompetents, or crackheads taking naps on the bench while lawyers are pleading their cases. They are sober, well-respected judges who disagree with the GOP-dominated Florida Legislature on too many occasions. And that’s unacceptable to the RPOF, which announced in late September that its executive board had voted to oppose the justices. No sitting Supreme Court justice has ever lost a merit retention race. No state party had ever openly targeted a sitting Florida Supreme Court justice for defeat in a “retention” race.

Gone too far Three Republican state senators broke ranks, urging the part to step back. Sens. Paula Dockery of Lakeland, Rene Garcia of Hialeah, and Dennis Jones of Seminole, issued a joint statement asking Florida’s GOP to reconsider its position. “Each of us has been disappointed in one ruling or another from this and other courts,” the senators wrote. “But the need for a fair and impartial judiciary far outweighs our individual disagreements with any specific opinion.” True words were never spoken. Vote YES to retain all three.

Lost opportunity Had not the Republican Party been hijacked by right-wing nuts, there would be room for a socially moderate, fiscally responsible Republican or a third-party candidate who would be a viable alternative to Obama’s centristright policies that coddle the military, Big Pharma, and Wall Street “banksters” at the expense of the middle class and the federal deficit. Unfortunately, Mitt Romney is not that alternative. Or is he? Who is Romney? Where does he stand? Nobody knows. What we know is that he will say anything, do anything, become anything, to be elected president. A vote for Romney is a vote for cynicism of the worst kind. If he wins, facts in political campaigns would become meaningless “inconvenient things” to be bent and molded at will, and ambitious, amoral politicians from top to bottom will replicate his winning strategy.

We’re over it And so a critical mass of Black voters are left with the disappointing feeling of a “lesser of the evils” 2012 campaign, rather than the euphoric feel of the 2008 push and pull to the polls to vote for “The First.” We should all get over it; we at the Florida Courier already have. From 2008: We’ve written here in the Florida Courier about our mission as Black media owners, and we’ve been “hated on’’ by Obamamanics...“Haterade’’ doesn’t bother us. Analysis from the Black perspective and advocacy for the Black community is what we do.

And we’ll pick up the rhetorical knives, spears, guns or bombs in our media and wield them as necessary to analyze, educate and advocate, as Black-owned media has proudly done for more than 180 years, and as we have done for three decades... But for now, we declare a political cease-fire. The differences are too stark, the future too uncertain, the stakes too high for us not to urge every reader to vote EARLY so that your vote will count, and to assist others to vote. Clearly, that vote...should be cast for Barack Obama.

We’ll remind Obama “Forward, ever; backward, never” is a quotation attributed to Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of the free and independent nation of Ghana, West Africa, which recently celebrated its 50th national birthday. Nkrumah was educated at an HBCU, Lincoln University; was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity; and is acknowledged as the father of the modern nation of Ghana, much like George Washington is here in America. We know Obama visited Ghana; we don’t know if Obama’s “Forward” campaign slogan is related to Nkrumah’s quote. But we will remind President Obama of Nkrumah’s full quotation in the ‘dog days’ of his second term – if he wins one – when things get tough against Republicans who are determined to destroy him. And Nkrumah’s legacy in Ghana of major accomplishments against opposition – and apathy – would be worthy of Obama’s study.

october 26 - november 1, 2012



TAKE THIS PAGE TO THE POLLS WITH YOU! Everything you need to know about voting in the November 2012 election is on the front and back of this page, including a sample ballot of Florida Courier’s recommendations for president, judicial retention, and constitutional amendments. On the back of this page are information on your rights as a voter, election myths vs. facts, absentee and provisional voting procedures, and contacts for your local Supervisor of Elections.


What to BRING PHOTO expect at IDENTIFICATION! order to vote at the polls during early voting or the polls onInElection Day, you must show a photo and signa-

Each registered voter in Florida has the right to: 1. Vote and have his or her vote accurately counted. 2. Cast a vote if he or she is in line at the official closing of the polls in that county. 3. Ask for and receive assistance in voting. 4. Receive up to two replacement ballots if he or she makes a mistake prior to the ballot being cast. 5. Demand an explanation if his or her registration or identity is in question. 6. Cast a provisional ballot if his or her registration or identity is in question.

7. Receive written instructions to use when voting, and, upon request, oral instructions in voting from elections officers. 8. Vote free from coercion or intimidation by elections officers or any other person. 9. Vote on a voting system that is in working condition and that will allow votes to be accurately cast.

Polls will be open on Election Day, Nov. 6, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. local time. Contact your Supervisor of Elections, listed on Page A4, for early voting hours, which may vary between early voting sites. To determine your polling place, check your voter information card or contact your Supervisor of Elections. You may also find your polling place on http://, through the online voter lookup, or on your Supervisor of Elections’ website.

ture identification. Acceptable forms of photo identification include a Florida driver license; a Florida identification card issued by the Department of Highway, Safety and Motor Vehicles; a United States passport; a debit or credit card; a military identification; a student identification; a retirement center identification; a neighborhood association identification; or a public assistance identification. If your photo identification does not contain your signature, you will be required to show an additional form of identification that provides your signature. Once your identity has been established, you will be asked to sign the precinct register or electronic device (or during early voting, the early voting ballot certificate) and then you will be allowed to vote. If you need assistance in marking your ballot, inform the poll worker. If you make a mistake when voting on a paper ballot, ask for a replacement. You may receive up to two replacements, or a total of three ballots.



ELECTION MYTHS VS. FACTS • MYTH: Voters will be turned away if they are wearing campaign apparel. • FACT: Under Florida rules, “Voters may wear campaign buttons, shirts, hats, or any other campaign items when they enter the polling place to vote; voters may not otherwise campaign there.”
 Merely going to the polls wearing campaign paraphernalia is OK, but under Florida law, one cannot solicit voters within 100 foot of the entrance to any polling place. 


• MYTH: The address on the driver license must match the address in the voter registration record in order to be able to vote. • FACT: The address on the driver license does not need to match the address in the voter registration record. If you have moved and haven’t changed your driver license to reflect your new address, that’s okay. What is important is that you vote in the precinct where you currently live, no matter what your driver license says. 


• MYTH: If your house is under foreclosure, you will not be able to vote. • FACT: A foreclosure notice does not necessarily mean that a person no longer resides in the home, as people often remain in the home after foreclosure begins and are sometimes able to refinance the home. Voters whose homes have been foreclosed but who remain in their homes may continue to vote in their assigned precinct. Voters who have physically moved from their foreclosed residence with no intention of returning to that address as their residence may still vote, but should provide a change of address to your Supervisor of Elections office listed below. You must vote in your correct precinct. 


• MYTH: If you are Florida college student, you have to change your permanent residence to your college address. • FACT: If a college student registers with a legal residence in a Florida county, then no further proof of residency is required, regardless of where the college student’s parents reside or whether the student intends to move back to where the parents are located. 


• MYTH: Provisional ballots are only counted when there is a close race. • FACT: A provisional ballot is always counted when the voter is shown to be registered and eligible, regardless of the closeness of the outcome of the election. A person who votes provisionally simply because he or she forgot ID at the polls will not have to do anything else. If the signatures on that ballot certificate and the voter roll matches, the provisional ballot is counted. 


• MYTH: Absentee ballots are only counted when there is a close race. • FACT: All absentee ballots are counted if they are properly filled out and signed by the voter. 


• MYTH: If a voter owes child support or has pending warrants against him or her, the police will arrest the voter at the polls. • FACT: The voter registration rolls at the polls have no indicators whether a voter owes child support or has outstanding warrants against him or her. Furthermore, law enforcement personnel are not allowed in the polling place without the permission of the election board, so ordinarily there will be not be any law enforcement personnel in the polling place to identify a voter who may have outstanding child support payments due or warrants against him or her. 


• MYTH: If the voter is homeless and has no legal residence, the voter may not vote. • FACT: State registration laws may not discriminate against the homeless in voter registration as long as the homeless applicant for voter registration intends to remain in a locale and has either a place where he can receive messages or an effective mailing address. The homeless person will vote in the precinct where the applicant receives messages (e.g., a rescue mission, homeless shelter, etc.) or the precinct in which the applicant‘s effective mailing address is located.


DO YOU WANT TO CAST AN ABSENTEE BALLOT? Absentee voting refers to voting on a ballot received by mail or picked up by or for a person who is unable or cannot go to the polls to vote during early voting or Election Day. Contact your Supervisor of Elections to request an absentee ballot. How to request an absentee ballot You must request your absentee ballot directly from the Supervisor of Elections online, by written request, in person, by telephone, or by mail. The request can be made by you or if directly instructed to do so, an immediate family member or legal guardian on your behalf. When a request is made, it must include the name of the voter for whom the ballot is being requested; the voter’s address; the voter’s date of birth; and the voter’s signature (if the request is written). If a member of your immediate family or legal guardian is requesting an absentee ballot for you, required information includes the requestor’s address and driver’s license number (if available); the requestor’s relationship to the voter; and the requestor’s signature (if the request is written). A request to receive an absentee ballot by mail must be received by the Supervisor of Elections no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2012. Otherwise, you can obtain an absentee ballot up until and including Election Day. However, it must still be returned by no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day if the voted ballot is to count. Who can pick up an absentee ballot? The voter may pick up an absentee ballot before Nov. 1, 2012 or on Election Day, Nov. 6. The voter may

also designate someone else to pick up the ballot for him or her. A designee may only pick up 2 absentee ballots per election (other than his or her own ballot and ballots for members of his or her immediate family). The designee must submit a completed Affidavit to Pick Up an Absentee Ballot that includes the written authorization from the voter. If the voter did not already request a ballot, the Affidavit must be accompanied by a request. How to vote using an absentee ballot After you mark your ballot, the Supervisor of Elections must receive it no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 6. Other options are available for military members and their families who are absent from their county of residence due to active duty, and for overseas civilians. Do not return the marked ballot to a polling place except if you decide you want or are able to vote in your precinct on Election Day. In that case, you must take the absentee ballot with you to the polls (whether it has been marked or not). Even if you come to the polls without your absentee ballot, you will still be able to vote a regular ballot if the Supervisor of Elections’ office is able to confirm that it has not received your absentee ballot. However, if it is confirmed that you have already voted an absentee ballot, you cannot vote again at the polls. If you think the Supervisor of Elections’ office is wrong about receiving your absentee ballot or if the Supervisor of Elections’ office cannot confirm that you have already voted an absentee ballot, you will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot. How to track your absentee ballot request and your returned ballot Any voter who has requested an absentee ballot can track online the status of his or her absentee ballot. You can either link through the Division of Elections’ Voter Information Lookup at www.elections. or through your Supervisor of Elections’ website listed below.

WHAT IF YOU VOTE A PROVISIONAL BALLOT? If you end up voting a provisional ballot, regardless of the reason, you must be given a written notice of rights that includes: 1. A statement that you have the right to bring further evidence (if you choose) of your eligibility to the Supervisor of Elections. You have until 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, to do so. 2. A statement that if you voted a provisional ballot solely because you did not bring in identification, you do not have to bring in further evidence of eligibility. The local canvassing board will count your ballot if you voted in the right precinct and the signature on the provisional ballot certificate matches the signature on the voter registration record.

HOW TO REPORT ELECTION LAW VIOLATIONS Report violations in writing to the Division of Elections, Room 316, R.A. Gray Building, 500 S. Bronough Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1050, 850-2456200. Complaint forms are available on the Division of Elections’ website at: http://election.dos.state. You can also call the Voter Fraud Hotline at 1-877-VOTERFRAUD. Report violations relating to campaign financing, candidates, committees, or other political activities by sworn written complaint to the Florida Elections Commission, Suite 224 Collins Building, 107 West Gaines Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1050, phone 850-922-4539.

3. A statement that if you voted a provisional ballot because your personal identifying number could not be verified. You can provide in person or by copy through fax, e-mail, or mail a copy of the card with the identifying number to the Supervisor of Elections before 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8. 4. Instructions on how you can find out after the election if your provisional ballot was counted, and if not, the reason(s) why.

HILLSBOROUGH Dr. Earl Lennard, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd, 16th Floor, Tampa, 33602-4932. Phone: 813-272-5850. Fax: 813272-7043. E-mail: Website: MIAMI-DADE Lester Sola, PO Box 521550, Miami, 33152-1550. Phone: 305-499-8683. Fax: 305-468-2507. E-mail: Website: http://elections. ORANGE Bill Cowles, PO Box 562001, Orlando, 328562001. Phone: 407-836-2070. Fax: 407-254-6596. Email: Website: http://www.

CONTACT INFO, SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS (Florida Courier readership area only)

PALM BEACH Susan Bucher, PO Box 22309, West Palm Beach, 33416-2309. Phone: 561-656-6200; Fax: 561-656-6287. E-mail: Website:

BROWARD Dr. Brenda C. Snipes, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Room 102, Fort Lauderdale, 33301-1896. Phone: 954-3577050. Fax: 954-357-7070. E-mail: Website:

PINELLAS Deborah Clark, 13001 Starkey Road, Largo, 33773. Phone: 727-464-6108. Fax: 727-464-6239. E-mail: http://www.votepinellas. com/

DUVAL Jerry Holland, 105 East Monroe Street, Jacksonville, 32202-3215. Phone: 904-630-1414, Fax: 904-630-2920, E-mail: Website:

VOLUSIA Ann McFall, 125 W. New York Ave., DeLand, 327205415. Phone: 386-736-5930. Fax: 386-822-5715. Email: http://www.volusia. org/elections

Sources: Florida Department of Elections; Florida Statutes; Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973; Broward Supervisor of Elections.

october 26 - november 1, 2012



2012 PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO FLORIDA’S CONSTITUTION THE PROS AND THE CONS Editor’s note: Each proposed amendment must pass with 60 percent of the vote to become law.

AMENDMENT NO. 1 HEALTH CARE SERVICES This amendment to the Florida Constitution would prohibit the state from requiring individuals to purchase health insurance. A “yes” vote means you want the Florida Constitution to include a provision that prohibits the government from requiring you to purchase health insurance. A “no” vote means you do not want the Florida Constitution to include a provision that prohibits the government from requiring you to purchase health insurance. Arguments for: The federal government cannot force people to purchase health insurance, and this amendment is an attempt to protect Floridians from that requirement in the federal health care act (“Obamacare”) passed in 2010. Voting for this measure would send a message that Congress overstepped its authority. Arguments against: This proposed amendment would not allow Floridians to opt out of the requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 28, 2012, that the federal requirement to purchase insurance is constitutional.

AMENDMENT NO. 2 VETERANS DISABLED DUE TO COMBAT INJURY; HOMESTEAD PROPERTY TAX DISCOUNT This amendment would allow certain disabled veterans, who were not Florida residents prior to entering military service, to qualify for a discount on their property taxes. The state estimates that this amendment could cost an estimated total of $15 million over the first three years. A “yes” vote means you want the state to give a property tax discount to disabled veterans who moved to Florida after entering the military. A “no” vote means you do not want to extend the tax discount to these veterans. Arguments for: This amendment will benefit older veterans who were injured in combat but did not live in Florida at the time they entered the military. The property tax discount can help with medical bills and may allow veterans to stay in their homes longer as they age. It might also stimulate the housing market by persuading veterans to move to Florida. Arguments against: State and local governments face mounting budget shortfalls in part because of diminished property tax returns brought about by the collapse of the housing market. Schools and local governments need to maintain the tax base or consider cuts to public services.

AMENDMENT NO. 3 STATE GOVERNMENT REVENUE LIMITATION This amendment would set a state revenue limit each year based on a formula that considers population growth and inflation instead of using the current method of calculating the revenue limit based on personal income. A “yes” vote means you want the state to change the way it calculates its revenue limit. A “no” vote means you do not want the state to change the way it calculates its revenue limit. Arguments for: This amendment would ensure that the state budget never grows beyond a family’s ability to pay the taxes and fees needed to fund that growth. It would make government more efficient.

Arguments against: During tough economic times, when tax revenues drop and there is a greater need for government services, this amendment would make it impossible for agencies to meet demand, even when there is available revenue. This amendment threatens funding for critical government services like health care and education.

AMENDMENT NO. 4 PROPERTY TAX LIMITATIONS; PROPERTY VALUE DECLINE; REDUCTION FOR NON-HOMESTEAD ASSESSMENT INCREASES; DELAY OF SCHEDULED REPEAL This proposal creates an additional homestead exemption for first-time homebuyers for 5 years; protects Floridians from increased property taxes when their property values have declined; and lowers the maximum yearly assessment increase on non-homestead properties, including small businesses, from 10 percent to 5 percent. A “yes” vote means you favor the tax breaks. A “no” vote means you are against the tax breaks. Arguments for: This amendment would make Florida property taxation more equitable, stimulate the housing and commercial real estate markets and attract investors to the state. Arguments against: Opponents say it would create tax disparities and strip an estimated $1 billion from the tax base over the next three years at a time when local governments are struggling to provide basic services.

AMENDMENT NO. 5 STATE COURTS This measure would provide for Florida Senate confirmation of Florida Supreme Court justices; give lawmakers control over changes to the rules governing the court system; and direct the judicial qualifications commission, which investigates judicial misconduct complaints, to make its files available to the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. A “yes” vote means you want the Senate to have confirmation power over Supreme Court appointees, and some authority over changes to the rules that govern the state’s courts. You also want to grant the House access to Judicial Qualifications Commission’s investigative files on judges. A “no” vote means you do not want these proposed changes made. Arguments for: This amendment would make the appellate court system run more efficiently and add a layer of accountability before Supreme Court justices are appointed. Arguments against: The measure is a dangerous attempt to exert political influence over the judicial branch by giving legislators more authority.

AMENDMENT NO. 6 PROHIBITION ON PUBLIC FUNDING OF ABORTIONS; CONSTRUCTION OF ABORTION RIGHTS This amendment would make the existing federal ban on public funding for most abortions part of the state constitution. It would narrow the scope of a state privacy law that is sometimes used in Florida to challenge abortion laws. A “yes” vote means you support putting the existing federal ban on the use of public funds for abortions into the state constitution; and you support eliminating the state’s privacy right with respect to a woman’s right to choose. A “no” vote means you are against placing the existing federal ban

on using public funds for abortions into the state constitution; and you are against eliminating the state’s privacy right with respect to a woman’s right to choose. Arguments for: This amendment makes it clear that Florida prohibits public funding for abortions and gives the public a voice in deciding state abortion law. Arguments against: This amendment discriminates against women, strips away a woman’s fundamental right to choose, and erodes established law, including rights of privacy.



This amendment would remove the prohibition in Florida’s Constitution that prevents religious institutions from receiving taxpayer funding. A “yes” vote means you want to remove from the Florida Constitution a prohibition against the state funding religious institutions and replace it with a provision that prohibits the state from denying funding to institutions based on religious affiliations. A “no” vote means you want to retain the provision in the Florida Constitution that prohibits the state from funding religious institutions. Arguments for: The amendment would allow the state to fund programs that provide a valuable public service but are currently denied that funding because they are affiliated with religious organizations. They also say the current law that denies funding to religious groups was passed in 1885 and is rooted in anti-Catholic bias and should be removed from the state’s constitution. Arguments against: The amendment would eliminate a long-established component of the separation of church and state that prevents the government from funding groups that espouse religious beliefs. They also say the anti-Catholic bias cited by supporters of the amendment was not a motivation for the law’s passage in 1885 and, even if it were, that bias no longer exists and should not be a reason for eliminating the ban on funding religious groups.

AMENDMENT NO. 9 MILITARY VETERAN OR FIRST RESPONDER This would grant a full property tax exemption to the surviving spouses of military veterans who die while on active duty and to the surviving spouses of first responders who die in the line of duty. The state estimates that this amendment would reduce local school and government tax revenues by about $600,000 statewide in the first year it is in effect. A “yes” vote means you want the state to grant the full homestead exemption to the surviving spouses. A “no” vote means you do not want the state to grant the full homestead exemption. Arguments for: It helps the families left behind when a veteran or first responder dies in service to his country or community. Arguments against: It takes a bite out of the tax revenues schools and local governments need to provide services.

AMENDMENT NO. 10 TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION This amendment would double the tangible personal property tax exemption and allow local governments to increase the exemption. The state estimates that this

amendment could cost $61 million combined over the first three years, according to state estimates. A “yes” vote means you want to double the tangible personal property tax exemption and allow cities and counties to expand the exemptions beyond that. A “no” vote means you want to leave the tax exemption on tangible personal property at its current rate, and you do not want to allow cities and counties to expand the exemptions. Arguments for: It would help small businesses and generate jobs. Arguments against: It takes a bite out of the tax revenues schools and local governments need to provide services.

AMENDMENT NO. 11 ADDITIONAL HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN LOW-INCOME SENIORS This amendment would give an additional property tax exemption to low-income seniors who have lived in their home for more than 25 years. A “yes” vote means you think cities and counties should have the authority to grant a full property tax discount to eligible seniors. A “no” vote means you do not think that cities and counties should have the authority to grant a full property tax discount to eligible seniors. The state estimates that this amendment could cost an estimated $18.5 million in combined tax revenues over the first two years of implementation. Arguments for: Elderly residents on fixed incomes will benefit. The property tax discount can help with medical bills and may allow more elderly residents to stay in their homes as they age. Arguments against: State and local governments face mounting budget shortfalls in part because of diminished property tax returns. Schools and local governments need to maintain the tax base.

AMENDMENT NO. 12 APPOINTMENT OF STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT TO BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE STATE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM This amendment would change the way the state selects the student representative on the state university system’s Board of Governors, which oversees the university system. A “yes” vote means you want the state create a new council of university student presidents from which the student representative to the Board of Governors will be chosen. A “no” vote means you want to keep the current system of selecting the student representative to the Board of Governors. Arguments for: This amendment guarantees every university has a chance to have their student body president be named as a representative of the Board of Governors. Arguments against: Opponents say this amendment is unnecessary.

Sources: Florida Department of Elections; Miami-Dade Democratic Party; Collins Center for Public Policy; League of Women Voters of Florida; James Madison Institute; Florida Chamber of Commerce.


Vote YES on Amendments 6 and 8 • Vote YES on Amendment 6 to save the lives of Black babies. Do you want your tax dollars to pay for someone else’s abortion? I think not. Amendment 6 would prohibit spending state tax funds for abortions except for cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother AND would also allow a future Florida Legislature to restore parental consent for an abortion for your minor child. Shouldn’t a parent have to consent for their minor daughter to have an abortion? I think so.

Impact on Blacks You do not see much in the mainstream media or from the abortion lobby about the impact of abortion on the Black community. Thankfully, Black prolife groups such as the National Black Pro-life Union and the Radiance Foundation have brought the tragedy of the disproportionate number of abortions com-


mitted on Black women to the forefront. These Black pro-life advocates estimate that since 1973, over 17 million Black babies have been killed by abortions and more than a thousand Black children continue to die each day by the horrible practice of abortion. Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has said: “Abortion is genocide...Black Americans are being exterminated by the genocidal acts of abortion... we need jobs not abortions.” Rev. Walter Hoye, a Black minister and founder of the Issues for Life Foundation, has pointed out that a Black child is safer on the streets of the worst neigh-

borhoods than in its mother’s womb. As a Black American, Christian, Floridian, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, I am appalled by these numbers – as should be all Black Floridians and Americans!

The abortion lobby smokescreen Floridians, especially Black Floridians, should firmly support Amendment 6. Don’t be fooled by the abortion lobby and their allies – Black or White –who say abortion is a matter of adequate health care and reproductive rights – that’s a smokescreen. The life and welfare of a minor daughter is a family values issue for parents to decide. Perhaps the best statement in support of Amendment 6 came from The Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski, Archbishop of Miami. Writing in the Miami Herald, he said, in part:

“Parental consent is...required for even mildly invasive physical procedures like tattoos or body piercing...a full surgical procedure like an abortion, which can result in permanent health or psychological damage – or even death – to their minor child, is exempted from this requirement… any medical care that might be required as the result of complications from an abortion would be the financial responsibility of the parents…Amendment 6 should be supported by all Floridians whether or not they describe themselves as pro-life or pro-choice.” Amen! • Vote YES on Amendment 8 to help Black churches. Amendment 8 is also a vote for family values – and will benefit Black churches! It provides that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding or other support. It will end denial of tax dollars to religious institutions that will help them provide more social services to the community. This

is especially good for the Black church, which has been the bedrock and foundation of the Black community. Again, I quote Archbishop Wenski: “Florida’s Constitution should not require discrimination against religious institutions simply because we (or ‘they’) are religious. Floridians deserve the opportunity to benefit from programs with a secular purpose run by religious entities…The church and state have worked well together throughout Florida’s history, and must remain free to do so going forward. Vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 8!” Amen again! For these reasons, I am voting YES on Amendments 6 and 8.

Barbara Howard is trade and travel goodwill ambassador to Kenya and Florida state chair of the Congress of Racial Equality and writes a column, “The Politics of Blackness.” Contact her at bhoward11@


TOj A6


On the issues

Where Obama and Romney stand as we head into the 2012 election By Lesley Clark and David Lightman, McClatchy Newspapers

vs. Barack Obama

Mitt Romney

Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

Pledged soon after he took office to cut the nation’s deficit in half by the end of his first term, but said this spring that he was unable to because the depth of the economic downturn was much worse than expected. Has said any efforts to trim the deficit will have to come through new taxes — mostly on the wealthy — and through ending tax breaks and trimming health care costs.

Signed trade deals in 2011 with Colombia, Panama and Korea, although Republicans accused him of slowing approval of the Colombia deal because of resistance from unions. They’ve also accused him of not being tough enough on China, but he maintains his administration has gone after China at the World Trade Organization more aggressively than the previous administration. In 2010, signed into law the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory system since the Great Depression, and earlier this year sidestepped Republican opposition to appoint a new consumer watchdog whose post was created by the legislation. Democrats say it will prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial industry meltdown, but Republicans warn it creates a new, unwieldy bureaucracy.

Promised on the campaign trail to cut taxes for the middle class and raise them for the richest. He has raised some taxes – including on indoor tanning bed services and cigarettes — and cut others. He angered his progressive base in late 2010 by agreeing to extend all of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for two years. But he’s not been able to convince Congress to raise taxes on the wealthiest.

Campaigned on ending the war in Iraq and said he’d focus more attention on Afghanistan, where he sent a troop surge after taking office. He announced a gradual troop withdrawal in June 2011, months after a successful Navy Seal raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Afghans are worried about continued unrest. Obama says the U.S. is prepared to help with military training and counter-terrorism operations, but will “shift into a support role.”

Has insisted that he wouldn’t hesitate to use force to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, although he has said he believes there is time yet for diplomacy and the economic sanctions the administration has enacted to bring Iran to terms before resorting to force. He’s accused his Republican challengers of politicizing worries over Iran’s nuclear aspirations and “beating the drums of war.”

Favors comprehensive immigration reform and passage of the Dream Act to give children of undocumented immigrants a chance to become U.S. citizens. Issued an executive order in June that will give hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants a two-year deferment to remain and work legally in the U.S. But has frustrated activists for not making immigration reform a priority and for increasing the number of deportations.

Granted 10 states relief from the most restrictive requirements of the No Child Left Behind law, following complaints from teachers and schools. His Race to the Top initiative rewards schools for enacting education practices that the administration supports, including using innovation to improve struggling schools.

The signature achievement of Obama’s first term was a goal that eluded Democrats for decades. The sweeping health care law that requires most individuals either purchase insurance or pay a fee helped fuel the rise of the tea party and the Republican landslide in congressional elections in 2010. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the health care law in June.

Said during debt ceiling negotiations that he would be open to “modest modifications” to the federal entitlement programs, but he’s not proposed a plan for long-term solvency of the two programs.

Would give homeowners current on mortgage payments the opportunity to refinance their home loans at current low rates. The plan would be financed by a proposed fee on the largest financial institutions and calls for streamlining the refinancing process. Has also put forward a “Homeowners Bill of Rights” that includes full disclosure of fees and penalties and right of foreclosure appeal. For homeowners facing foreclosure, the current Making Home Affordable programs offer a variety of mortgage modification options, from foreclosure alternatives to mortgage refinancing.

Would create up to 1.9 million new jobs through short-term efforts to stimulate hiring, pushing jobs in “green technologies” and providing better education for future workers. Proposes cutting payroll taxes for businesses, extending a payroll tax holiday for employers who add jobs or raise wages beyond the prior year’s payroll and allowing companies to deduct the full value of new equipment. Would spend $30 billion to renovate schools and $50 billion to repair critical infrastructure in order to create new construction jobs. Would also provide $5 billion to help localities hire or retain public safety workers and first responders.

Chuck Kennedy/MCT













Aims to bring spending down to 20 percent of gross domestic product, instead of last year’s 24 percent, by the end of his first term. He’d cut nonsecurity discretionary spending, which includes many domestic programs, by 5 percent, and cap such spending below 2008 levels. All that would be difficult in a Congress where lawmakers have long been reluctant to find consensus on serious spending cuts.

Would get tougher with China, including promoting “all unilateral actions within our power to ensure the Chinese adhere to existing agreements.” He’d designate China a “currency manipulator” and impose penalties. Critics contend that a policy that gets too tough could cause a dangerous schism in diplomatic relations.

Would repeal Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulatory changes and replace them with “streamlined, modern regulatory framework.” He’d also review and eliminate all Obama-era regulations that ‘‘unduly burden the economy.” Romney, who cofounded the Bain Capital private investment firm, has been blasted for being too cozy with Wall Street.

Wants to cut marginal income tax rates 20 percent across the board and eliminate taxes on dividends, interest and capital gains for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of less than $200,000. He’d cut the corporate rate, now 35 percent, to 25 percent. Critics say Romney would be increasing already-record deficits; Republicans counter that the cuts would spur economic activity and produce more revenue.

U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in a Romney administration would be based “on conditions on the ground as assessed by our military commanders,” a position critics say is too open-ended. In return for a U.S. commitment, Afghanistan must take strong steps to rid the government of corruption and hold free elections.

Says he would keep the military option “on the table,” a stance that’s drawn strong criticism from many Democrats. But if elected president, Romney says, Iran “will not have a nuclear weapon.” Wants “crippling sanctions” and advocates working with insurgents to promote regime change.

Would complete U.S.-Mexico border fence or high-tech system to keep illegal immigrants out. Would offer no amnesty for illegal immigrants now in U.S. and opposes any policy that would permit undocumented aliens to “cut in line.” Says he’d honor deferments granted under Obama’s executive order for young illegal immigrants but would not issue new ones. Supports giving undocumented immigrants a chance to become citizens if they serve in the military. Insists parents should not be required to send children to a failing school, and wants “increased choice.” Teachers should be rewarded for better performance, and college education should be available to anyone who wants it.

Signed the Massachusetts health care law considered a model for the 2010 federal health care law. But Romney rails against the federal measure, saying he would push for repeal. He’d issue an executive order immediately allowing any state to waive the law’s requirements and urge each state to adopt its own health care overhaul. Consumers would be allowed to buy coverage across state lines.

Would slowly increase the Social Security retirement age and institute a lower benefit growth rate for wealthier recipients for future generations. On Medicare, no change for current beneficiaries or those nearing retirement. For others, backs a “premium support” plan, or vouchers, that gives consumers benefits they can use to buy insurance coverage. Traditional Medicare plans would be offered. Democrats pounce on the plan, saying it would end the program as it’s known, and jeopardize the economic wellbeing of seniors. Calls for selling 200,000 vacant, foreclosed homes owned by the government, a pilot of which the Federal Housing Finance Agency began in February. Also proposes making it easier for struggling homeowners to get foreclosure that would preserve their credit and to help keep those who cannot afford to pay their mortgages in their homes, yet he offers no specifics on how to do that. Promises to revamp housing regulations and reform governmentsponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Promises 12 million new jobs over four years through a revamp of government taxation and spending, plus an easing of federal regulations. Would eliminate taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends for individuals with adjusted gross income below $200,000 and repeal the estate tax. Proposes reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent, raising visa caps for high-skilled foreign workers and granting permanent residency to foreigners pursuing advanced degrees in math, science and engineering. Advocates more aggressive exploitation of energy resources on public lands.


IFE/FAITH Impact of the First Family See page B3



Millennials weigh in on Social Security, Medicare See page B6





No matter who wins, Black America must unceasingly advocate for its own interests.




Even before the 2008 recession, the Black Press was reporting Black male unemployment rates of 50 percent or more in pockets of high-density Black urban areas like New York and Milwaukee. Black unemployment has increased during the Obama administration, and, when the number of people who are no longer looking for jobs is considered, overall Black unemployment easily exceeds 25 percent nationwide. Various studies show that Blackowned firms hire a greater percentage of Black applicants than do otherwise similar White-owned firms. But because small Black business owners have difficulty getting investment capital, many have used home equity loans to start or improve their businesses. With the foreclosure crisis that peaked in 2008 (see HOUSING below), Black entrepreneurs find it more difficult than ever to start or grow their businesses. Government policies must target the disproportionate impact “The Great Recession” has had both on Black workers and on Black businesses. For one thing, the next president must enforce minority business preferences already on the books in federal government procurement – something the Obama administration has rejected. Helping Black businesses succeed will have a direct impact on reducing Black unemployment.


As the Florida Courier reported in September, the racial achievement gap between Black and White students is narrowing, so there’s progress to report. But Black boys are still woefully underperforming academically. Black students continue to be disproportionately disciplined by being suspended or expelled from school, which puts them directly into the school-to-prison pipeline. The level of a person’s education is the single best predictor of economic success in America. Regardless of whether a child attends a public school or a private charter school, the factors of academic excellence are well known: focused, motivated teachers with the tools to get the job done, good administration, parental support, high expectations of students’ abilities, and accountability all around. Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., a professor at Howard University, suggests improving counseling and advisement in predominantly Black high schools; ensuring that every high school has a collegebound curriculum; supporting Black male initiatives in college; advocating for funding for Pell Grants and needsbased scholarships; and advocating for universal access to public institutions of higher education and historically Black colleges and universities. Government can encourage and fund such solutions.


Statistics show Black Americans suffer disproportionately across all quality of life indicators. In some areas, progress has been reversed. Government policies – when combined with personal responsibility and collective community action – make a difference. Here are some major issues Black America must force the next president, whomever he is, to address. BY THE FLORIDA COURIER EDITORIAL STAFF


A study by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) cited by the Washington Post found that Whites made up about 56 percent of the 2.5 million foreclosures completed between 2007 and 2009, but that non-White communities had significantly higher foreclosure rates. Blacks and Latinos were more than 70 percent more likely to lose their homes to foreclosure during that period, the study found. Overall, Blacks lost about 240,020 homes to foreclosure between 2005 and 2008, according to the CRL study. A Pew Research study found that “from 2005 to 2009, median wealth fell by 66 percent among Hispanic households and 53 percent among Blacks, compared with 16 percent among Whites. The losses left Hispanic and Black wealth at their lowest levels in at least 25 years,” according to the Christian Science Monitor. The high rates of home foreclosures among African-Americans also damages credit scores, making it harder to borrow money for college, business development, or other beneficial personal investments. The Obama administration’s foreclosure assistance programs were weak and left too much control in the hands of banks who were content to let the foreclosures proceed. There must be a second round of foreclosure assistance targeting distressed homeowners.


America’s failure to deal with jobs, Black business development, education and housing leads directly to racially disproportionate imprisonment. According to the Sentencing Project, there are approximately 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails; more than 60 percent are non-White. Many of the millions who are locked up struggle with mental health issues and drug addiction, low levels of educational attainment, and have histories of unem-

accounted for 70 percent of the estimated new HIV infections among all Blacks more than six and a half times higher than that of White men. Young Black men who have sex with men and young Black women having unprotected heterosexual sex are at particular risk of getting new HIV infections. Again, this issue results from failure to address joblessness, education, incarceration, and housing challenges in Black America. Those socioeconomic issues, including limited access to high-quality health care and HIV prevention education, directly and indirectly increase the risk for HIV infection and affect the health of people living with and at risk for HIV infection. Efforts to combat HIV/ AIDS in Black America must be intensified, and Black community-based institutions must become more involved.


ployment or underemployment. For Black males in their thirties, 1 in every 10 is in prison or jail on any given day. A Black male born in 2001 has a 32 percent chance of spending time in prison at some point in his life; a Hispanic male has a 17 percent chance; a White male has a 6 percent chance. Solutions include changing draconian “three strikes” and minimum mandatory laws, investing in mental health and drug rehab treatment, reinstating parole and community release, and supporting probation and non-imprisonment alternatives.

America is a day late and a dollar short with regard to building strong economic ties to Africa. As America focuses on spending billions of dollars fighting in Afghanistan and maintaining or extending its global military footprint, Chinese, European and Middle Eastern economic interests are spending billions to support nation-building in Africa’s fast-growing economies. Because of longtime historical, political, economic and educational ties to Africa, Black Americans should become the leading economic ambassadors to Africa; such a strategy should become a national priority.



The next president will probably appoint one and possibly two U.S Supreme Court justices. President Obama may have the chance to pick the first Black female justice, with current California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris as the No. 1 contender. The current court has a right-leaning 5 to 4 majority that could be consolidated it if Mitt Romney wins. Right now, affirmative action in education is on the chopping block. Black America has no advocate on the court in the mold of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall. Raceconscious remedies in government procurement may be found illegal and “Citizens United”-type legal decisions favoring big-money interests would probably continue under Romney.


According to Centers for Disease Control statistics, Black Americans face the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ ethnic groups in America. Despite representing only 14 percent of the U.S. population in 2009, African-Americans accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections that year. Black Americans account for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease, from new infections to deaths. In 2009, Black men

Historically, Black communities have borne a disproportionate burden of pollution from landfills, garbage dumps, incinerators, sewage treatment plants, chemical industries and a host of other polluting facilities, with the associated health problems (particularly cancer) that go along with living in proximity to such sites. Efforts to combat environmental racism in America must be greatly intensified.


America’s political system is broken; the next president must be pushed to become part of the solution rather be a political survivor of the dysfunctional status quo. Black Americans should begin to build coalitions with other grassroots organizations that are pushing for term limits for Congress, campaign finance reform, and proportional Electoral College voting, including support of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Though this may not be a typical “Black” issue, it’s clear that the general dysfunction of America’s political system has a major impact on communities that can’t afford lobbyists or are otherwise not sufficiently organized to represent their own interests.

Sources: Florida Courier archives; New York Amsterdam News; Schott Foundation for Public Education; Center for Responsible Lending; National Black Environmental Justice Network;; the Washington Post; The Sentencing Project; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Centers for Disease Control; the Christian Science Monitor; Pew Research.



OCTOBER 26 - november 1, 2012


Sharpton to speak at Operation Lemonade When early voting days were shortened in Florida, Black leaders say it was like handing voters a lemon. “So we’re going to make lemonade,” Victor T. Curry, senior minister at New Birth Baptist Church, told 150 black pastors from South Florida. Thus began Operation Lemonade, a massive vote-turnout operation scheduled to start before the first early in-person voting polls open Saturday, Oct. 27, commencing with the Rev. Al Sharpton speaking at the 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship services on Oct. 28 at New Birth Baptist Church, 2300 NW 135th St. , Miami. The event noted as a “Souls to the Polls” will be held Oct. 27 at various locations around the state.


Matching Grant Program

St. Petersburg: The 15th Annual African-American Health Forum will offer free health screenings on Nov. 3 at Johnnie Ruth Clarke Health Center, 1344 22nd St. South. More than 30 Black doctors will be on hand to answer questions. The forum begins with a “Midtown Walk for Wellness” at 7 a.m. followed by educational workshops at 8 a.m. and free health screenings beginning at 10 a.m. Orlando: Tickets are now on sale for a show featuring B. B. King at the Hard Rock Live Orlando on Jan. 1 at 8 p.m. Anastasia Isle: Jill Scott will be at the St. Augustine Amphitheater Oct. 28 for an 8:30 p.m. show and at the Hard Rock Live Hollywood on Nov. 2 for an 8 p.m. show. Orlando: Rap artist Snoop Dogg makes his way to the University of Central Florida Arena on Oct. 27 for an 8 p.m. show.

The City of Ocoee will award $10,000 in matching grants for neighborhood improvement projects as part of its Most Valuable Partnership (MVP) Matching Grant Program. The maximum grant award is $2,000. Applications will be available beginning Nov. 1 at or at the City Hall reception desk. The deadline to submit applications is Nov. 30. More information: or call 407- 905-3100. St. Petersburg: The Annual International Michael Jackson Thriller Dance, which attracted more than 500 “zombies” in 2011 to the St. Pete Pier, will commence Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. and a sunset dance at 7 p.m. A $150 costume and dance contest will be awarded to the best zombie. Watch a

video last year’s event on youtube at: Vb96K8e73Yg. Tampa: Wiz Khalifa’s The 2050 tour at the USF Sun Dome Dec. 2 for 7:30 p.m. shows. Orlando: Tyler Perry’s “Madea Gets a Job’’ makes a stop at the University of Central Florida Arena in Orlando on Nov. 8 and the American Airlines Arena in Miami Nov. 9-10. Kissimmee: The Freestyle Legends Tour returns to the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee for its fourth flashback into the ’80s and ’90s Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. The old-school lineup features Lisa Lisa, Sugar Hill Gang, Sweet Sensation, Brenda K Starr, C&C Music Factory, Trinere, Charlie Rock, Debbie Dee, Clear Touch, Nayobe, Noel, Corina, Soave and Giggles. St. Petersburg: First Fridays are held in downtown St. Petersburg at 250 Central Ave. between Second and Third Avenues from 5:30 p.m.10:30 p.m. More information: 727-393-3597.





Vote YES to protect Black babies. Vote YES on Amendment 6. Abortion is the number one killer of Black Americans nationwide – more than accidents, heart disease, stroke, crime, and HIV-AIDs combined! And many abortions of Black babies are often paid for by public taxpayer dollars.

Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., says: “I support Amendment 6…taxpayers should not pay for abortions…Black Americans are being exterminated by the genocidal acts of abortion… we need jobs – not abortions.“

Amendment 6 prohibits the use of state tax funds for abortion, and will allow the Florida legislature to restore Parental Consent for any abortion involving a minor. Protect Black babies by voting YES on 6. PAID POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT PAID FOR BY CITIZENS FOR PROTECTING TAXPAYERS AND PARENTAL RIGHTS 2640-A MITCHAM DRIVE, TALLAHASSEE, FL 32308



Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

President-elect Barack Obama, along with his wife Michelle, and daughters Malia, 10 and Sasha, 7, waves to supporters after giving his acceptance speech after it is announced he has won the presidential election at his Election Night Rally in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, November 4, 2008.



Chuck Kennedy/White House/MCT

The official portrait of the Obama family dog “Bo”, a Portuguese water dog, taken on the South Lawn of the White House.

Gabriel B. Tait/MCT

Michelle Obama’s brother Craig Robinson, head coach of Oregon State, left, and their mother Marian Robinson watch the Inaugural Parade in honor of President Barack Obama on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, in Washington, D.C.

North Carolina. Harry E. Walker/MCT

President Barack Obama (2nd row, 2nd from left) is shown with his Kenyan relatives before he took the presidency in this undated photo.

Impact of the First Family Michelle Obama redefined what’s possible for Black women FROM STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

the Age of Michelle Obama.’’

First Lady Michelle Obama’s popularity is on par with that of Barbara Bush (73 percent) and Laura Bush (66 percent) during their husband’s re-election campaigns. And it surpasses Hillary Clinton’s 47 percent approval rating in 1996. Mrs. Obama’s 69 percent approval rating is unchanged from earlier this year. And that number isn’t the best she’s seen. Her favorability ratings hit 76 percent in March 2009. As first lady, she has pursued a relatively controversy-free agenda aimed at reducing childhood obesity and supporting military families. Those initiatives have made her a staple of daytime television and latenight television to boost her projects and her husband’s campaign. But for African-American women and for many Blacks and women in general, the numbers don’t define her impact. “I still pinch myself every time I see her. I still well up with tears every time she walks into a room. I stand taller, with a smile, every time she delivers a passionate speech about her deep love for her country or her commitment to the families of our military,’’ says Sophia A. Nelson, author of “Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in

Warm and bold Nelson says Mrs. Obama has “effortlessly destroyed harsh stereotypes about who Black women are, and made us something we rarely ever get to be in public: feminine, soft, vulnerable, loving, warm, proud, compassionate, smart, affirmed, dynamic, bold, reflective, humble, and fun all at once. “As first lady of the United States, she represents everyone. She did not have to mention race, nor need to: Her very essence reminds us that she is a powerful, brilliant Black woman. What is a game changer for America is that this country, with all of its challenges and “isms,” embraces her as its first lady. “Television pundits have called her the most popular woman in America. Americans do not define her as the fist-bumping, machine gun-toting, Afro-wearing angry Black woman she was once portrayed as in 2008.’’ Added Nelson, “Michelle Obama has changed the game for women of color, and redefined what is possible for Black women.’’

Marian Robinson shares insight on her son-in-law

Essence Magazine

Marian Robinson, left, is seated beside daughter and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House in this 2009 photo.

Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, who lives in the White House, has taken a rare step into the political spotlight with a commentary she has written for the latest edition of Essence magazine. She writes about why her son-in-law should be re-elected: “I admire how hard Barack works. And I know that he does it because he wants to make sure that this country is still a place where you can make it if you try. He wants to make sure that a college education is affordable and attainable so that all parents can encourage their kids to reach for it, just like Fraser (husband, now deceased) and I did. “He wants to make sure that moms and dads can provide for their families, and folks my age can retire with dignity and security. And he wants every child to believe that they can achieve their dreams, no matter where they come from, what they look like or how much money their parents make,’’ she added. “That’s what makes him work so hard. I’ve seen it from him and I’ve heard it from him.’’

President Barack Obama is joined on stage by his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia, right, and Sasha at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Times Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C.

Sasha and Malia have made their parents, country proud ASSOCIATED PRESS

Who are those willowy young women with Barack and Michelle Obama – and where’d they hide little Sasha and Malia? Four years is a long time when it’s a half or a third of your life, and so TV viewers who hadn’t seen the Obama girls much since 2008 might have been truly startled recently at just how much they’d grown when they appeared onstage with their parents last month during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Malia is now 14, and in high school. Sasha is 11, now in sixth grade. Malia is nearly as tall as her parents: “Even though she’s 5-9, she’s still my baby,” Obama said two years ago. As for Sasha, her parents told People in August that she’s grown a foot in the last year, and suddenly resists cuddling. It’s hard to believe that only four years ago, at the 2008 convention in Denver, Sasha, then 7, fidgeted in her purple frock, little white barrettes on either side of her head. “Daddy, what city are you in?” she called out in a highpitched voice as her dad appeared on a huge video screen the night of Michelle Obama’s speech. “I love you, Daddy!” called out Malia, 10, looking a bit older in a two-toned dress with straps.

Shielded from spotlight For the president and first lady, protecting their privacy was an evolving skill. Candidate Obama quickly regretted, for example, an all-family interview granted to the TV show “Access Hollywood.” Once the family arrived at the White House, strict arrangements were in place. The news media traditionally respects the privacy of a president’s young children and doesn’t photograph or report on them unless they are in a public setting with their parents. Yet the couple constantly talks about their kids. At times the president has embarrassed them, as when he told an audience that Malia once got a 73 on a science test. (He later apologized.) Two years ago, when Malia first went to summer camp, the White House discouraged mention of it in the media, even though Obama mentioned

Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/MCT

President-elect Barack Obama takes his daughters Malia, left, and Sasha to the University of Chicago Lab School in Chicago, Illinois, on Monday, November 10, 2008. it in interviews. And recently he revealed the state where both daughters had just spent a month at camp – New Hampshire.

No scandal “They just love talking about their girls,” says says Sandra Sobieraj, a correspondent for People magazine who has long covered first families. “They get genuine joy from them, and so they talk about it.’’ Whereas many White House children through history seem to suffer some sort of embarrassment or scandal, the Obama girls have had none. “Compared to other White House families, this is clearly the most functional,” says Doug Wead, who chronicles a host of misfortunes of past White House kids in his book, “All the President’s Children.” (He’s now working on a book about White House siblings.) “This has been one of the most successful stories.” An article in the New York Times last month mentions that there has not been “a gaffe or an embarrassing moment’’ about the Obama girls, which is a rarity for such well-known figures, especially when it comes to presidential children. Chelsea Clinton was tormented as an adolescent for having freckles and frizzy hair. Barbara and Jenna Bush suffered brief careers as tabloid fodder for their nighttime adventures, though they have recently been far outmatched by Britain’s Prince Harry. “Malia and Sasha, meanwhile, publicly appear composed, polite and content,’’ the New York Times stated.

This is a version of a story compiled last month by the Associated Press.

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President Barack Obama signs the health insurance reform bill on March 23, 2010. The president also paid tribute to then-11-year-old Marcelas Owens, whose mother died because she didn’t have insurance and couldn’t get the care she needed.

What Obama accomplished Here are some of President Barack Obama’s achievements over his past four years as president. This list was compiled earlier this year by the Washington Monthly, a publication based in Washington, D.C. 1. Passed health care reform After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth, the No. 1 cause of America’s long-term fiscal problems.

2. Passed the stimulus Obama signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after the stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so. (Millions of new private-sector jobs have been created.)

3. Passed Wall Street Reform The president signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The new law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, mandates that large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit, and creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to crack down on abusive lending products and companies.

4. Ended the war in Iraq Obama ordered all U.S. military forces out of the country. The last troops left on Dec. 18, 2011.

5. Began drawdown of the war in Afghanistan From a peak of 101,000 troops in June 2011, U.S. forces were down to 91,000 (in April), with 23,000 slated to leave by the end of September 2012. According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the combat mission there will be over by next year.

6. Eliminated Osama bin laden In 2011, Obama ordered the special forces raid of secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and a trove of al-Qaeda documents was discovered.

7. Turned around U.S. auto industry In 2009, $62 billion in federal money (on top of $13.4 billion in loans from the Bush administration) was injected into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than 100,000 jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades. The government expects to lose $16 billion of its investment, less if the price of the GM stock it still owns increases.

8. Recapitalized banks In the midst of financial crisis, a controversial Treasury Department plan was approved to lure private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” of their balance sheets and a publicprivate fund to buy their “toxic” assets. Banks got back on their feet at essentially zero cost to the government.

9. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” The Obama administration ended 1990s-era restriction and formalized new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.

10. Toppled Moammar Gaddafi In March 2011, the U.S. joined a coalition of European and Arab governments in military action, including air power and naval blockade, against Gaddafi regime to defend Libyan civilians and support rebel troops. Gaddafi’s 42-year rule ended when the dictator was overthrown and killed by rebels on Oct. 20, 2011. No American lives were lost.

For Washington Monthly’s complete list of 50 Obama accomplishments, visit 2012/features/obamas_top_50_accomplishments035755.php.


President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House on May 1, 2011. Seated, from left, are: Brigadier General Marshall B. “Brad” Webb, Assistant Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command; Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Standing, from left, are: Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; Chief of Staff Bill Daley; Tony Binken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; Audrey Tomason Director for Counterterrorism; John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. E3 Jonathan Castillo, 22, of New York, hugs PFC Adam Joseph, 23, of Georgia after crossing into Kuwait to end their time in Iraq. Members of the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Calvary are the last U.S. troops to leave Iraq as they cross the border into Kuwait on Dec. 18, 2011. CAROLYN COLE/ LOS ANGELES TIMES/MCT


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Fox News: Most trusted, least trusted, most watched BY DAVID HILTBRAND THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (MCT)

PHILADELPHIA — In a survey conducted by North Carolina’s Public Policy Polling this year, Fox News Channel earned the paradoxical distinction of being America’s most trusted news source and its least trusted news source. Nielsen data would give Fox a clearer, indisputable title: Most watched. More than 11 million viewers watched last week’s second presidential debate from Hofstra University on Fox anchored by Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier. That’s more than the audiences for Fox’s cable competitors CNN and MSNBC combined. The week before, more people watched the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan on Fox News Channel than on any of the broadcast networks. These numbers aren’t just significant. They’re seismic. How did Fox News Channel (FCN) go from a niche player at its founding 16 years ago to being a dominant TV force? Many media analysts see purity of message as the key to FNC’s rise.

Mainstream appeal “They are the only one offering news that very conservative voters want to see,” says Joe Angotti, visiting distinguished professor of communication at Illinois’ Monmouth College. “If you’re liberal or independent you have so many places to go — CNN, MSNBC, the networks — and your audience is fractured. There’s only one place for ultraconservatives. Fox News has a lock on their audience.” But as the channel’s ratings continue to mushroom — during this election cycle according to Nielsen it is averaging 65 percent more viewers than CNN and 58 percent more than MSNBC — it’s clear Fox is gaining a measure of mainstream appeal.

Sarah Palin is shown as a Fox News Channel contributor on “The O’Reilly Factor’’ with Bill O’Reilly. “In the election season and on big nights, our overall audience expands in ways our critics and competitors wouldn’t expect,” says Bill Shine, Fox News’ executive vice president of programming. “We will have more independents watching than any cable outlet or network.” If success hasn’t spoiled Fox News Channel, it has mellowed it in subtle ways. TV is a crass numbers game where the quality of the guests you can book is based entirely on your ratings.

Changed markedly Fox has come a long way from the bunkered atmosphere that hung over it in its earlier, more marginal days. It has become an increasingly mandatory stop for politicos, policy makers, and even celebrities of all stripes. And that inevitably results in a less adversarial climate. Fox News’ executive vice president of news, Michael Clemente, came to the channel in 2009 after 27 years at ABC News, having heard the stories about the bad old days of limited access for Fox. “Even in 3 1/2 years, it’s changed markedly,” he says. “There are many more people of all persuasions, not just the left and

pressing a point of view. That doesn’t make it illegitimate. It makes it a commentary show. “They’re not pretending these are news shows. They’re very clear these shows have a clear point of view and are engaged in advocacy.” As long as this partisanship is openly acknowledged, it’s healthy for the democratic process, Jamieson argues. “Fox and MSNBC serve a useful function for their viewers,” she says. “They rigorously scrutinize what the candidate on the other side says. I’m referring to the advocacy shows, not the news shows. You do become more knowledgeable, albeit more one-sided.”

History of bias

the right but on health issues and foreign policy. “People can write about Sean Hannity. He’s a declared right-winger and proud of it. Yes, Karl Rove works here. We got all that attention for hiring Sarah Palin. Well, Geraldine Ferraro, bless her soul, worked here for years. “You’d be surprised at the number of people who want to come on,” Clemente continues. “We’re where the audience is. Leave out the declared left and the declared right and just leave the middle. When the dust has cleared, we have more of that than the other guys do.”

Plenty of opinions One of the primary efforts in manufacturing a more neutral image for Fox

has been seeking to establish a firewall between its news shows (anchored by Brit Hume, Chris Wallace and others) and its primetime opinions shows (hosted by Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the like). As Kathleen Hall Jamieson, professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, points out, this format mirrors that of MSNBC. “Both have a partisan press model and a traditional journalistic model. So for example you have Bret Baier on Fox and Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC where the anchors are not expressing a point of view,” she says. “Then you’ve got Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow where the hosts most definitely are ex-

Conservatives staunchly maintain that Fox News Channel is a long overdue corrective, a counterbalance to the insidious unspoken hold that liberals have had on American media, academia and culture for decades. “I don’t have a problem in the world with bias — as long as it’s acknowledged,” says Brent Bozell, founder and president of the Media Research Center. “I have a real problem with people who demand to be considered objective journalists and are nothing of the sort. You want to be a commentator, be a commentator. You want to be an analyst, be an analyst. But don’t claim to be a reporter and then be a commentator. “When you catch networks purposely editing footage and getting caught in the act and then doing it over and over again,” Bozell says, “this is journalism that’s out of control.” That outrage, of being the victim of a secret leftwing conspiracy, is the mustard seed of FNC, according to TV news analyst Andrew Tyndall. “The media bias war has a long history going back to (Vice President) Spiro Agnew,” he says. “There’s a tradition of activists on the

right wing of the American political spectrum who consider the news media to be antagonistically engaged participants in the political process.”

Fair and balanced? Fox News Channel founder Roger Ailes, “going back to the Nixon White House, is thoroughly immersed in that worldview,” Tyndall says. “There are a number of ways going back 16 years that Fox has articulated its distrust of the mainstream media, beginning with its slogan, ‘Fair and balanced.’ “Fair and balanced means that everyone else was unfair and imbalanced. Everyone else is antagonistic and un-American: ‘We are the only ones standing for what is right.’ From the very start, they were differentiating themselves from the rest of the media.” That’s a far trickier distinction to make when you’re top dog. And juggling news responsibilities and partisan interests can be challenging, because this is politics, and someone’s ox is always being, um, gored. What does Penn professor Jamieson consider the high point of Fox’s year? “People who follow politics closely who didn’t watch the Republican primary coverage on Fox missed some very good journalism,” she says. “Fox held the candidates to task very closely for their statements and their misstatements. The process was well served by those tough interviews on Fox.” Watching that same coverage, conservative spokesman Bozell was convinced that Fox had lost its mandate, if not its mind. “I didn’t like that they fell into the same trap of the other networks, playing ‘gotcha’ during the Republican primaries, coming up with questions to trip up the candidates,” Bozell says. “That’s not your job! I think that was foolish, and I’m glad they left that behind.”

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Millennials weigh in on Social Security, Medicare Young voters crave intelligent discussion about entitlements BY BRIAN M. ROSENTHAL THE SEATTLE TIMES (MCT)

SEATTLE – Jonathan Assink is a lifelong Democrat and unabashed supporter of Barack Obama. But asked about the president’s plans for Social Security and Medicare, the 29-year-old shakes his head. “There’s nothing there. It’s just, ‘We’ll protect it.’ Well, great, thanks. How?” said Assink, who lives in Edmonds and works as a barista in Seattle. “At least the other side talks about it.” Assink is part of the generation with perhaps the most at stake and the least say in the future of entitlement programs that have long protected senior citizens but may run out of money to do so at the same level for future retirees. Already disproportionately suffering from a weak economy, young Americans say they’re not counting on post-retirement government help. And they are not surprised that the debate over the programs is being driven largely by older people who wouldn’t suffer under the most serious proposals under consideration anyway.

Support private accounts If politicians did listen, they might be surprised: Recent survey data indicate that Americans ages 18-29, despite being overwhelmingly liberal, support some conservative ideas for changing the structure of entitlement programs. Roughly 86 percent of

them favor allowing workers to put their Social Security taxes into a private account, as some Republicans have proposed, according to a November 2011 survey by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center. That’s much more than the 52 percent of seniors who support the idea. The Pew “Generation Gap and the 2012 election” study also found that 74 percent of millennials support allowing Medicare participants to “use benefits toward purchasing private insurance,” another GOP idea, which got backing from just 48 percent of those 65 and older. It’s unclear if the youngest voting generation’s views on entitlements will affect this year’s presidential election.

Social Security primer Interviews with Western Washington millennials indicate that most are not basing their votes on entitlements this time around. And surveys, contradictorily, have found that despite their specific policy views, young people still say they trust Democrats on the issue. The surveys also say that young people are among the most confused about exactly how Social Security and Medicare work. So here’s a primer: Social Security, established in 1935 as part of the New Deal, is a support system for retirees, funded primarily by a payroll tax on wages up to $110,000 (employers and employees each pay 6.2 percent, although the employee share is temporarily 4.2 percent). Because more people are retiring and fewer are working, the program is operating at a loss but still

Chandrashekhar, who is studying urban planning, said he doesn’t think either side is discussing entitlement issues intelligently. “The attack ads that we’ve seen against Paul Ryan about ending Medicare as we know it, they seem cheap,” he said. “We need to have a real discussion.”

Varying views


Chetan Chandrashekhar, a University of Washington freshman who describes himself as a moderate Democrat, said he supports a mix of changes to Social Security, including raising the tax cap and the retirement age, an approach commonly cited by local millennials. maintaining benefits due to its reserves. Those reserves are projected to run out in 2033, meaning the program will pay out less in benefits unless something changes. Two of the most commonly discussed ways to avoid that are lifting the tax cap, from $110,000 to a higher wage amount, a more liberal idea, or raising the age at which seniors can access benefits, a more conservative idea. Other proposals include raising the tax level, lowering benefits for some or all beneficiaries, or putting the money into private accounts.

About Medicare Medicare, on the other hand, was created in 1965 as part of the Great Society. It is a health insurance program for those 65 and older, with certain types of care provided, and is fi-



nanced by a 2.9 percent payroll tax and congressional expenditures. But with the same generational dynamics at play in addition to skyrocketing health-care costs, the program is expected to run out of its reserves by 2024. The solutions to Medicare are more complicated. But the idea that has stirred the most discussion was championed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Ryan, now the Republican vice presidential nominee, proposed replacing Medicare with a voucher system in which beneficiaries receive a credit toward purchasing private insurance. Critics fear that wouldn’t cover all of a recipient’s needs, however. The Ryan proposal, like all of the serious proposals, would not affect current Medicare recipients or those approaching retirement. Ryan’s running mate,

Mitt Romney, has been more centrist. On Social Security, he wants to raise the retirement age and slow the rate of increase in benefits for wealthy individuals. He would give Medicare recipients the option of choosing a private plan, although they could also choose the current system.

Want real discussion Obama has been less specific. He says he is open to raising the Social Security tax cap, and wants to make Medicare more efficient, with wealthy recipients perhaps paying higher premiums. He accuses Romney and Ryan of seeking to “end Medicare as we know it.” It’s that type of rhetoric that is maddening to Chetan Chandrashekhar, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Washington.

Bret Meaker, a Seattle accountant, said young people want major changes. “The entire system needs to be overhauled,” the 33-year-old said. While Meaker cautioned that her generation has varying views on entitlements, she said most agree on one thing: Social Security and Medicare are unlikely to provide them the same safety net that exists for seniors today. “I think that if they are there, it will be in a very, very limited scope,” she said. “I’m not counting on either.” The uncertainty in the future is a hallmark of the generation in general, said Nathan Bowling, a history teacher at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School. A combination of the recession, fear over entitlements and other factors will make millennials more frugal than others, the 33-year-old predicted. Still, there are indications that young people’s cynicism may be misplaced: Despite the muchdiscussed projections, there are still many available policy options. “Young people do seem to think it won’t be there at all,” said Hilary Pennington, director of The Generations Initiative, a new Seattle think tank focused on generational issues. “But it’s simply not true, and it could be highly influenced by what we do now.”



I promised to be a President who would build a better future; who would move this nation forward; who would ensure that this generation—your generation—had the same chances and the same opportunities that our parents gave us. That’s what I’m here to do. That’s why I ran for President of the United States of America.


Florida Courier - October 26, 2012  

Florida Courier - Sharing Black Life, Statewide

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