I am so excited about the upcoming 2010. So, for the new year, here is my list of 10 things that I hope to see a positive change in:
10. Dirty drinking water. It may surprise you to know that despite Charlie Crist's boat rides throught the everglades with John McCain, that Florida has some of the worst water contamination in the United States. Our governor has repeatedly attempted to market himself as having concern for the environment but there is absolutely no evidence to back it up. In fact, cities where Crist garnered most of his votes (like Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Pensacola) all rank in the bottom 50 US cities for water cleanliness. Pensacola Florida has the absolute worst water quality in the USA. We need to clean up Floridas waters and stop dumping pollution into them.
09. Hurricane madness. Every time there is a hurricane in Florida, our entire state goes topsy-turvy with panicked media reporting, price gouging, and bizarre "emergency preparedness" marketing gimmicks. Just settle down, people. Every thunderstorm is not Hurricane Andrew. Just board up your windows, buy a few candles and remember the serenity prayer: God help me to accept the things I cannot change. Check out one of the hilarious parodies of Florida's weather reports on YouTube.
08. De-funding of rehabilitation programs in Broward. This one lands squarely on the shoulders of our Republican Sheriff Al Lamberti. He promised Broward's voters that he would cut the budget as Sheriff. Many of us believed this would be a good thing as there seems to be 2 Sheriff's officers for every citizen out on the streets here. It's a total police state. But Lamberti has gone and exacerbated many of our problems here in Broward by cutting the most essential programs associated with his department - the ones that keep criminals from returning to the streets with a chip on their shoulder. Furthermore, rumor has it with all the new cops he's put on the streets and a refusal to "just say no" to the PBA, he's actually increased the budget, not reduced it. One officer proudly showed me the computer games he had installed on his laptop in his squad car, which he admittedly plays all the time on his "boring" nights of patrol - paid for courtesy of the PBA. And I can still point to half a dozen obvious crack houses in my community that nobody has busted - including the corner dealer who slings his rock just one block south of the Sheriff's office building. Total shame! (And this assessment is coming from a guy who voted for Lamberti...)
07. Charlie Crist. This guy ran as a moderate and turned into someone so repulsive and pandering that even teabaggers think he's crazy. He's not managed to do much of anything except to strike a severe blow to gay rights and get married to some chick in a shotgun attempt to prove he's not gay himself. Florida Agenda editor, Dan Renzi wrote a tongue-in-cheek endorsement of Crists ultra-conservative opponent in the upcoming US Senate race in which he stated "Personally, I am rooting for [Marco] Rubio to win the Republican nomination... Crist has sold his soul for conservative votes just to benefit his own career." It must be noted here, that Renzi's "endorsement" of Rubio is at least sarcastic and at most, a hope to see Republicans back themselves into their own corner of shame. The Florida Agenda is a gay newspaper and Rubio is running an anti-gay campaign. But Florida's gays have lost all respect for Charlie Crist because of his support for Amendment 2 and seeing him lose another race to the very people whom he panders to would be bitter-sweet irony.
06. Gay Adoption Ban. Florida is the only state in the USA with a ban on adoption that specifically targets gays and lesbians. It's unconstitutional, it's wrong and it's hateful. Gay families all over the USA live in fear of this bill becoming a prototype for Nazi-esque family management laws all over the country.
05. Parking issues in South Beach. Every time there is a convention in Miami or South Beach, you are bound to pay hundreds of dollars in tickets, fees or to get your car out of towing (or all 3 simultaneously). City officials have been terrorizing visitors to their lovely haven with the threat of losing their transportation and income to "the system" for far too long. If you want your precious tourism to return, you had better take it easy on us and give us an affordable way to get there.
04. Public officials who live outside their jurisdictions. This issue was brought to my attention by a candidate for mayor of Fort Lauderdale who eventually lost, Earl Rynerson. A great number of city officials in metropolitan areas of Florida do not actually live in the areas that they preside over. This "take the money and run" approach to government is bleeding our cities dry and decreasing the liklihood that our legislators feel any allegiance to the communities which they supposedly represent. I am currently working on a list of income levels and places of residence for city officials in Fort Lauderdale and I would encourage other Florida bloggers and journalists to keep track of this disparity as well.
03. Hate Crimes. Florida is well on it's way to becoming the Hate Crime Capitol of the nation. Everything from the murder of Ryan Skipper to the police tasering of an unarmed African American bicyclist in North Florida to the States Attorneys and Sheriffs who flippantly refuse to prosecute hate crimes as such in spite of the new Federal law, The Mathew Shepard Act. For more information, visit Gay American Heroes.
02. Amendment 2. The state of Florida has more targeted anti-gay laws on its books than any other state in the USA - which is ironic considering the number of gays and lesbians who live and vacation here. Gay and Lesbian, NY and European tourism is declining at warp speed from South Florida, the small two-city patch of Florida from which we derive the upper 35% of our total tax revenue. Businesses are closing and restaurant workers are taking home fewer tips. One major reason for this is because Fort Lauderdale is no longer "where the boys are". Florida has been getting a nasty reputation as the only state that has specifically outlawed both gay adoption and civil unions. Amendment 2, despite the hype from an ultra-conservative group who put it on the ballot, goes far beyond protecting marriage and is a full-scale assault on gays and lesbians. It's much worse than California's Proposition 8 because it outlaws the recognition of civil unions and mandates it's own permanency by requiring that only a super-majority of voters can overturn it. The areas of Florida that voted for Amendment 2 by the highest majority also happen to be the areas from which we recieve the measley lowest amount of tax revenue in the state.
01. Gerrymandering. Here's where I introduce the light at the end of the tunnel. More Floridians (both conservative and liberal) are warming up to the idea of a ballot measure introduced by Fair Districts Florida which would effectively end Gerrymandering in the sunshine state. The current re-districting policies are probably the one link between all of the 9 problems listed above and a whole slew of other problems including corruption and cronyism. We can all agree that Florida is sick of hateful Republicans and corrupt Democrats. The Fair Districts Florida ballot measure is a way for us to give power back to the voters and to restore confidence in our swing state. We used to be the spotlight of the nation during our elections and our impact on the USA was envied. But in the last few elections we were an embarrassment to our country. We allowed George HW Bush's Supreme Court to elect his son to the Presidency in 2000 and we allowed our state legislators to take away our ability to participate in the Presidential primary election of '08. It's time to take back our state and tell our legislators that we would like to stop being forced to vote for the lesser of two evils in every election. The Fair Districts Florida ballot measure is the way to go!