Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16, 2013: What Must Happen Now in Florida

"In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed."
-Barack Obama, March 18, 2008
By Sylvia Gurinsky
There was no question that the acquittal of George Zimmerman was going to open a can of worms on race. It was a can that needed to be opened.
The issue that didn't get addressed within the legal confines of the trial and needs to be dealt with is the "less overt" discrimination that Obama referred to five years ago.
It's that "less overt," coded discrimination resulting in the Stand Your Ground Law that compelled Zimmerman to believe he could shoot an unarmed, 17-year-old, African-American male, Trayvon Martin.
It's that "less overt" discrimination that resulted in other laws made by Governors Jeb Bush, Charlie Crist and Rick Scott, in full harmony with a GOP-controlled Florida Legislature, which have restricted everything from voter rights to the ability of minority students to go to a Florida university.
Singer Stevie Wonder has already announced he will not perform in Florida unless and until Stand Your Ground is repealed. Others are considering boycotts.
The targeted - and successful - boycott that followed Miami and Dade County's refusal to welcome Nelson Mandela in 1990 should be the model for any such protest. That boycott included specific lists of demands for the tourism and hospitality industries.
The repeal of Stand Your Ground would be on the list of demands. Given that the current Florida Legislature and Scott likely won't do it, a petition drive to put the repeal question on the 2014 or 2016 Florida ballot should begin immediately.
There are two other areas in which potential boycotters can make demands from Florida government - voter rights and college access for African-Americans. Both have been seriously affected during the last 15 years of GOP government in the state.
Then there's the 2014 election. Scott and plenty of lawmakers who support Stand Your Ground are up for re-election. That should be an incentive for anyone who disagrees with them to vote, and to register if they haven't already done so.

Most Floridians are fair-minded; they showed it at the polls last year by rejecting ideology-based candidates and amendments. The ballot box is this state's chance to strive toward that "more perfect union."

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12, 2012: TTFN

By Sylvia Gurinsky

To quote the great Andy Rooney, "I'm a writer, and writers never retire." But I am going to take an indefinite break on the Sunshine Statements blog.

I started this blog in 2007 to continue writing full-length commentaries about important issues.

Well, life has taken a different turn. In 2008, I left full-time journalism and took a job at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida (now HistoryMiami). I was at a career crossroad.

I decided to take the road historians travel by. My work as an educator and CityTours guide at HistoryMiami is evolving into a new, enjoyable career. I am examining where that will take me, and I anticipate that writing will be a part of that. For instance, I'm considering a new blog about South Florida's historical sites.

As for journalism, I will continue to write the occasional column about issues of the day for the Jewish Journal and other papers. From time to time, I will continue with #SunStatement Twitter posts (There's too much going on for me to stay silent.).

If matters get dicey enough, I will post here (Heck, Bill Moyers keeps coming back; why can't I?).

I am continuing the YesterTube classic television blog and #YesterTube tweets, and hope to turn that into a successful (read: money-making) venture at some point.

I have enjoyed writing here for six years, and I thank you for your interest and feedback.

So, as the kids say: TTFN (Ta Ta For Now.). And thank you.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday November 5, 2012: I Want My V-O-T-E!!!!

By Sylvia Gurinsky

The anger felt at the stymieing of early voting by Florida's undemocratic brick wall named Rick Scott illustrates that a lot of people are finding their constitutional right very important this year. (Let's hope they find it just as important in 2014, when they have a chance to throw Generalissimo Scott out of the governor's mansion.)

It's also illustrated in the efforts in New York and New Jersey to make sure that those affected by Hurricane Sandy have the ability to cast votes, even if their polling places were damaged or destroyed.

There's no question about what's at stake, on all levels, in every part of the ballot. A presidential election whose candidates present two very different paths. The same with a congressional election. A legislative election that presents an opportunity to make a dent in Florida's one-party rule. A list of amendments that threaten to strip Floridians of basic freedoms.

And local races, resulting in the first line of defense - or despair - for voters.

Yes, it's a long ballot, no matter where you live. Yes, it takes a long time to get through. And yes, lines to vote will still be long tomorrow.

But it is an important constitutional right. Think about people all over the world who have stood for hours in line to get the chance to use that right for the first time.

And use it tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday October 31, 2012: Remembering What We Do

By Sylvia Gurinsky

It took a hurricane.

Late last week, as Hurricane Sandy was headed toward the northeastern United States, the country looked as if it was headed toward a repeat of the contentious 2000 presidential election.

That still might be the case. But because of Sandy's damage in the eastern U.S., passions have been tempered a bit, for now.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been a loyal campaigner for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee. But Christie's main priority now is getting his state rebuilt and New Jersey's citizens into safe situations - regardless of the source. That source is currently President Barack Obama and the federal government.

They are working together toward that goal, as will representatives of New York, Connecticut, West Virginia and other states affected by Sandy.

It is what Americans of all stripes will do as they donate money and resources to help those affected by the storm.

In remarks delivered just a few minutes ago, Obama mentioned Americans pulling together to help others. "It's what we do," he said.

Indeed. And while it's a tragedy that it took a hurricane to do it, Americans remembered that we are one nation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday October 24, 2012: Letter - And Request - From A Marlins Fan

Dear South Florida,

I've been a Marlins fan since July 5, 1991 - the day Major League Baseball officially awarded a franchise to South Florida. I'm part of a family with four generations of Marlins fans, with enough invested energy to have the right to speak out.

I've watched the star-crossed history of this team - the tragedy of its first president, Carl Barger, dying at the 1992 baseball winter meetings, the tragi-comedy of Wayne Huizenga's sell-off of the 1997 world champions, Jeb Bush's "no" to John Henry's efforts to secure financing for a stadium site, Bud Selig's complicity in the mess (including the yanking of the 2000 All Star Game)  and the machinations that resulted in the current Laurel-and-Hardy administration of the Marlins by Jeffrey Loria and David Samson - culminating in this year's disaster.

While Larry Beinfest did engineer trades for Dontrelle Willis and Juan Pierre, Dave Dombrowski - whose Tigers (including former Marlins Miguel Cabrera and Anibal Sanchez) are headed to another World Series - gets a lion's share of the credit for building the Marlins team that won the Series in 2003.

Any hopes for Marlins fans since then have been inevitably crushed. Joe Girardi led a young team to an overachieving 2006 season and won the National League Manager of the Year Award. But he insulted King Jeffrey the First by disagreeing with him, and all Girardi has done is take the New York Yankees to the postseason most years since.

I didn't think much of Fredi Gonzalez as a manager here, but he's done decently with the Atlanta Braves during his first two years there. Maybe it's what he's given to work with.

Beinfest and Mike Hill have gone from decent decisions a few years ago to mediocre/bad ones with most young players recently.

Manager Ozzie Guillen was fired, but Beinfest and Hill should go, too.

So should Loria and Samson, kings of self-denial.

So the request goes to my fellow South Floridians - or at least the few of you who fall into the category of very rich baseball fans.

There must be at least one among you who knows how to run a baseball team properly, to hire the right people and let them do their jobs, and bring a quality team to a quality ballpark (Loria got the "quality ballpark" part right, at least.).

For this fan, for others who are loyal fans despite the circus of the last two decades, please step forward and buy this team.

Always with hope (I'm a baseball fan, after all),

Sylvia Gurinsky

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 11: Vote Yes on Florida Amendments 2, 9 & 11. Vote No on All Others

By Sylvia Gurinsky

The Florida Legislature is up to major mischief with the majority of amendments on the November 6 ballot.

So to keep it simple: Vote Yes only to Amendments 2, 9 & 11 - the amendments that would extend homestead exemptions to military veterans who didn't live in Florida at the time of their deployment (Amendment 2), to surviving spouses of veterans and first responders who die on duty (Amendment 9) and to low-income seniors (Amendment 11).

The rest - Amendment 1, which trashes the Affordable Health Care Act; Amendments 3, 4 & 10, which will further limit the state's ability to raise revenues in tough times; Amendment 5, which encroaches on the powers of the state court system; Amendment 6, which steps on health privacy rights; Amendment 8, which further muddies church-state separation and Amendment 12, which needlessly adds a layer of bureaucracy to the state university system's Board of Governors - should all get a No vote and a trip to the scrap heap.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday September 13, 2012: Let Example of Stevens' Mourners Outshine Haters

By Sylvia Gurinsky

It increasingly looks as if terrorists pre-planned the attacks in Libya and Egypt for the week of September 11 and are using a film made here as an excuse.

But that's not the only pre-planning going on. It's easy to wonder whether Nakoula Basseley Nakoula had a strategy of his own - not only against Muslims, but also against Jews.

The Justice Department identified Nakoula as the filmmaker of an online, anti-Muslim film that's been seen as a trigger for the violence. Nakoula, who is on federal probation for bank fraud charges, has apparently been playing dodgeball over the making of the film.

Initial interviews identified the film director as a "Sam Bacile," supposedly an Israeli-American who got $5 million in financing from other Jews. That identity and money trail has been disproven, but there's no question that the millions of Jews both here and worldwide who will be attending High Holy Days services during the next two weeks have been put at risk by those early reports. That makes this an act of anti-Semitism as well as anti-Islam - and possibly makes the release of the film a hate crime that crosses the limits of free speech.

At the very least, actors who worked on the film have come forward to say they were misled about its intent, so fraud charges might be involved as well.

The fact that the film apparently has an ally in Terry Jones, the anti-Muslim nutcase from Gainesville, makes this plot even thicker.

Such hatred needs an antidote. One can be found in the Libyan people who came out and expressed grief and remorse at the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, who did so much to support that country. Their mourning for a man who exemplified the term "public servant" is cause for hope.