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Lectors Return to Ybor City at J.C. Newman Factory

From “As We Heard It” by Patrick Manteiga in the April 2, 2021 edition

Eric Newman reads about his family’s history at the J.C. Newman Cigar Factory.

The J.C. Newman El Reloj Cigar Factory turned 111 years old on Wednesday, March 31. When it opened in 1910, the Tampa Tribune described it as the “largest and finest cigar factory in the world.”
As part of the celebration, the Newman family invited several people to be lectors and read to the workers in the hand-rolling section of the factory.
The lectors of old were hired by a committee of workers to read news and literature during the work day as a form of entertainment.
The lectors were as vital a part of the cigar factory as the tobacco. The lector system was a hard-won workers’ right and strikes would ensue if that right was challenged. In 1931, after a bitter strike, the lector system in Tampa was finally dismantled as manufacturers blamed them for inciting workers to strike.
My grandfather, Victoriano Manteiga, came to America from Cuba in 1914 to accepted a job as the lector for the Morgan Cigar Factory and remained there until 1920 or 1921.
In a moment that could only happen in Tampa, on Wednesday, when I was reading at El Reloj, Maura Barrios was sitting in the audience listening to my voice. Her family – grandfather and grandmother – worked at the Morgan Cigar Factory during the period when my grandfather was lector. It gave me goosebumps to think as I was reading to her in a cigar factory over 100 years after my grandfather Victoriano read to her ancestors in the Morgan Cigar Factory. Once again, only in Tampa and only within Tampa’s Latin community could this happen.
We appreciate the Newman family for giving us the opportunity to participate and, at least for a moment, stand in my grandfather’s shoes.
The other guest lectors were Eric and Bobby Newman, Mario Nuñez from the “Tampa Natives Show,” Manny Leto from Tampa Bay History Center, historian Maura Barrios, Ybor City Museum Society President Chantal Hevia and Columbia Restaurant Group patron Richard Gonzmart.
The Newmans have done a fantastic job of restoring the building. It’s a working museum with a beautiful gift shop. If you haven’t made it there yet, you should take one of the guided tours, which are offered Monday, Tuesday Thursday and Friday mornings at 9:30 and 11:30. The hour-and-15-minute tour is $15 for adults and $12 for seniors, students and veterans and can be booked at jcnewman.com.

La Gaceta endorses Cohen for County Commission District 1.

From “As We Heard It,” by Patrick Manteiga, Sept. 25, 2020

This is an open seat, having been held by Sandy Murman, who was term-limited out. Former City Councilman Harry Cohen is running as the Democratic nominee. Scott Levinson is the Republican nominee.
Levinson is frustrated with government but doesn’t offer a clear path to make it better.
Cohen is seasoned and smart. He knows COVID will require the County to do better in prioritizing its needs as revenue decreases. He is strong on the environment, controlling growth, improving transportation and increasing the supply of affordable housing. We need someone who can help make this county better. Cohen is our pick.
La Gaceta endorses Harry Cohen for County Commission District 1.

La Gaceta endorses to retain all four judges on District Court of Appeal

From “As We Heard It,” by Patrick Manteiga, Sept. 18, 2020

There are four judges up for retention – Judge Drew Atkinson, Judge Morris Silberman, Judge Daniel Sleet and Judge Andrea Teves Smith.
Silberman and Sleet are well-respected and well-liked. Atkinson was appointed to the court in 2018 and Smith served on the circuit bench from 2013 to 2019 and was appointed to the appellate court in February 2019.
All four judges have served with honor.
La Gaceta endorses a YES vote to retain all four judges – Atkinson, Silberman, Sleet and Smith.

La Gaceta endorses a YES vote to retain Carlos Muñiz on Florida Supreme Court

From “As We Heard It,” by Patrick Manteiga, Sept. 18, 2020

Voters can choose to retain Florida Supreme Court Justice Carlos G. Muñiz or to get rid of him. He has only served since January 2019 and was appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis. Muñiz is a Yale graduate, served as general counsel of the U.S. Department of Education and until the appointment, had never been a judge.
While he is not our cup of tea, Muñiz has been professional and shown some independence in his rulings against DeSantis’ appointment of Renatha Francis.
La Gaceta endorses a YES vote to retain Carlos Muñiz.

La Gaceta endorses Good for Congress District 16.

From “As We Heard It,” by Patrick Manteiga, Sept. 18, 2020

Democrat State Representative Margaret Good is challenging incumbent Republican Vern Buchanan for District 16, which covers south Hillsborough, Manatee and parts of Sarasota County.
Good is a lawyer who is serving her first term in the Florida House. She is a big proponent of the environment and fights to protect our waters. She is also big on renewable energy.
Buchanan owns car dealerships and has held his congressional office since 2007. He is one of the wealthiest members of Congress. He has a bad environmental record, even as he represents a district that has bays, estuaries and rivers that need protection from pollution and unbridled growth.
La Gaceta endorses Margaret Good for Congress District 16.

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