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What You Missed This Week in La Gaceta

From As We Heard It, by Patrick Manteiga

► Violence once again visited 7th Avenue. This time, it wasn’t the 7th Avenue in Ybor City. It was where 7th Avenue dead ends into the Armature Works complex in Tampa Heights.
On Tuesday afternoon, around 4:00 p.m., two groups of teenage boys/young men exchanged words which quickly escalated to the exchange of gunfire. … The chief wants people to know “this is a disturbance that quickly erupted unnecessarily into gunfire in a family environment.” Well, we’re glad he got it properly labeled.
On Tuesday, the frustrated chief also said, “The lack of concern for the safety of others is not only alarming but disappointing because an incident of this nature does not reflect the true community within the City of Tampa.”
This shooting rises to the bottom threshold of a mass shooting. This would be Tampa’s second mass shooting in less than a year. Over this time, there have been other random shootings. If this happens over and over, it starts to reflect our community.
We live in a state where guns are everywhere. People who have little knowledge and even less focus on the handling and proper secure storage of guns go out and buy guns every day because all their friends have guns. Gun ownership is almost a litmus test of being ‘merican. Why do the governor and Legislature believe gun culture doesn’t affect people who aren’t adults? If mom, dad and grandma carry, shouldn’t junior? … (to read more, buy a paper)

► The South Howard Ave Flood Relief Project is a cure that is far more harmful than the disease according to some residents and businesses in the Parkland Estates/South Howard area.
The project is supposed to help drain rainfall from an area with Swann Avenue as the northern border. Parkland Estates is the western edge and the Selmon Expressway is the eastern edge. It would also drain areas south of the expressway a block or two from each side of Howard Avenue and into Hillsborough Bay.
The project is estimated to cost $64 million. The big issue with the project is that the main element is a six-foot-wide box culvert that would be buried down Parkland Boulevard, Swann Avenue and South Howard Avenue to the bay. There is an alternative route that would run down Parkland Boulevard to S. Lakeview Road and to either Bristol Avenue or W. Morrison Avenue to South Howard Avenue to the Bay. … The neighborhoods would be drastically altered. If it went down Bristol Avenue, all of the old trees in the median would be destroyed and could not be replanted because they wouldn’t replant trees that are over or near the box culvert. Many residents aren’t ready to trade 75 big trees and shade-covered roads to prevent standing storm water in the road for one-to-two hours for 10-to-15 days a year during a downpour. … (to read more, buy a paper)

► We have continued to investigate the City’s proposed contract to hire Police Chief Lee Bercaw as a contract employee the day after his retirement through the DROP program on Sept. 22.
The State DROP program, which language should be used if the City’s program does not have language that addresses a particular issue, is quite clear according to the expert we consulted. An employee who retires with DROP must wait a calendar year from their retirement date to go back to work for the same government without restrictions. The State does allow a DROP retiree to come back in a contractor capacity after six months, but you cannot receive salary and retirement benefits in the same month in months seven through 12 of the year of your retirement. We have asked for the City’s DROP program rules, but government in the sunshine at City Hall seems to be in a full eclipse.
We’ve been told the contract would have the City withhold taxes under the proposed employment agreement, which calls Chief Lee Bercaw’s new status, a “contract employee.”
Nowhere do we find the description of a contract employee as receiving benefits from the employer as this contract lays out or that the employer would withhold taxes as they would a regular employee.
We will wait to hear the city attorney explained to Council how this contract is legal. We don’t believe it is.(to read more, buy a paper)

► We know that Floridians with student loans have got to be happy that Florida’s attorney general – their Attorney General Ashley Moody, is suing the Biden Administration to block his latest effort to help them. Moody wants to block the SAVE Plan, which offers some people with student loans lower monthly payments and an end to interest growth.
Moody says, “This is not government money. This is American taxpayer money. This is Floridian taxpayer money.”
The American taxpayer money part isn’t all true. Undocumented and documented immigrants paid $330.7 billion in federal taxes in 2019 according to a Boundless report.
We also find it interesting that Moody is bothered about a program that is using Floridian taxpayer money to help many Floridians. Shouldn’t she be more worried about the governor spending Floridian taxpayer money to pay for Florida guardsmen and law enforcement officers to patrol the Texas border or fly immigrants from Texas to blue states? That seems to be a more abusive use of Floridian taxpayer money than helping Floridians with their student loans.(to read more, buy a paper)

From Chairman of the Bored, by Gene Siudut

► … I don’t know of a word that means angry and heartbroken at the same time, but that’s what I felt. I was angry with the parents for having the kids in the elements and angry at anyone who felt shipping these people to freezing temperatures as a political tool can call themselves Americans.
Children being used to tug heartstrings is not new, nor is it foreign to Tampa. Just a drive down to the Target on Dale Mabry, just north of Kennedy, will show a father, mother and a few kids braving the heat all year round asking for change. Anytime I drive by there I have the urge to get out of the car and beat the living hell out of that father, but how much more crap do his kids have to witness.
Somehow, to my knowledge, nothing is done about this obvious child abuse. I’ve lamented about that specific family in this column and called the City about it, yet nothing seems to be done.
There did appear to be one big difference between the homeless in Chicago and Tampa. Chicago’s seemed mostly Latino while Tampa’s seem mostly white. Maybe white homeless people have better curb appeal than minorities and are allowed to stick around longer. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From The Reasonable Standard, by Matt Newton

► Just over a month has passed since the Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments concerning the suspension of Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell.
The Governor summarily suspended Ms. Worrell on August 9, 2023, for allegedly “neglecting her duty to faithfully prosecute crime in her jurisdiction.” The governor conveniently executed the move at a time when his presidential campaign’s poll numbers could use a bump.
The suspension’s effects appear to be cascading. Based on the tone and tenor of the Dec. 6, 2023, oral arguments, this selfish political stunt may now be unraveling the entire institution of hometown democracy.
The case relates to a political matter, and who should address it: the State Senate or the Orange County’s voters. … (to read more, buy a paper)

From In Context, by Doris Weatherford

► … It’s also telling that Trump has not led any effort to provide legal aid to the literally thousands of his supporters who have been convicted by juries of their peers of crimes related to the 2021 attack on the Capitol. I see that three Polk County men were charged just this week, but neither Trump nor the Florida Republican Party do anything to help these victims of their demagoguery. Presumably they pay their own legal bills, and their families must survive without the men duped by Trump. And formerly proud boys are shocked that prisons are not the luxury resorts they once believed them to be.
The threat of intimidating mobs was very much on the minds of the men who wrote the Constitution because they had seen it – and a few had encouraged it. What we call the Boston Tea Party was in fact a mob, a bunch of men dressed up as Mohawks who frightened off British tax collectors. The tax was legitimate, as Britain had a right to expect its American colonizers to help pay the costs of its recent victory in the French and Indian War, but like Trumpsters, these folks did not want to pay taxes. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From Silhouettes, an interview with Dontrel Hall, by Tiffany Razzano

► Hillsborough County educator and YMCA staff member Dontrel Hall has a new title to add to his belt: children’s author.
The Pompano Beach native was a student-athlete growing up, which offered him many opportunities, and ever since college, he hoped to one day write a children’s book series to help inspire and motivate other young athletes.
His parents were both “very active” and supportive of his goals. Hall grew up playing football and his mother, a nurse, always stressed that academics came first. Meanwhile, his father, an entrepreneur who owned janitorial and detailing companies, was “a huge football fan” who encouraged his son’s athleticism. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From Líneas de la memoria, por Gabriel Cartaya

► El 15 de enero de 1945 murió en La Habana Dulce María Borrero, a los 61 años de edad. Aunque es una figura imprescindible en la historia de la literatura y pedagogía cubanas, apenas aparece su nombre –y mucho menos sus propuestas pedagógicas– en el ámbito escolar de las últimas décadas, cuando su utilidad formativa debería no solo aprovecharse en su país, sino desbordar sus fronteras.
Probablemente, hacia las décadas de 1970-80 los maestros cubanos escucharon más el nombre de Nadezhda Krúpskaya –ajena a la tradición pedagógica de la Isla– que el de Dulce María Borrero, cuando ella ocupó un lugar muy visible en el ámbito pedagógico de la primera mitad del siglo XX de su país. La también poetisa y bibliógrafa nació en La Habana el 10 de septiembre de 1883, en una familia de reconocidos intelectuales, como lo fue su padre Esteban Borrero (médico, pedagogo, poeta, narrador) y su hermana Juana Borrero (poetisa modernista y pintora).
Dulce María, al nacer en un ambiente en que sus padres simpatizaban con la independencia de la Isla, tuvo que salir al exilio muy temprano y a los 12 años está viviendo en Cayo Hueso, donde se integra a la efervescencia patriótica que caracterizó a sus compatriotas emigrados. Allí, en revistas cubanas dio a conocer sus primeros versos. Más tarde se trasladó con la familia a Costa Rica, donde vivió hasta el regreso a La Habana en 1899, recién concluida la Guerra de Independencia. … (to read more, buy a paper)

From Briznas culturales, por Leonardo Venta

► La ópera Carmen es una de las obras más célebres del compositor francés Georges Bizet. Se trata de una pieza tragicómica en cuatro actos con libreto de Ludovic Halévy y Henri Meilhac, basada en un relato de Prosper Mérimée. Se estrenó sin gran éxito en la Opéra-Cómique de París el 3 de marzo de 1875.
Entre una fábrica de tabacos y un cuerpo de guardia del Regimiento de Alcalá, se inicia la trama. Don José, un apuesto cabo, es embrujado por la hermosura de Carmen, quien hace su entrada triunfal con la interpretación de la célebre habanera, para luego retirarse bajo el acoso de extasiadas miradas.
La atmósfera se torna convulsa. Un grupo de agitadas cigarreras le informan al teniente Zúñiga que Carmen acaba de herir a otra cigarrera en la cara. Don José, obedeciendo órdenes de Zúñiga, la detiene, pero ella le promete que si la deja en libertad se reunirá con él en la Taberna de Lilas Pastia.
Al comenzar el segundo acto, en la susodicha taberna, Carmen se entera de que don José, quien había estado preso por haberle viabilizado la fuga, ya disfruta su libertad. El torero Escamillo, en su primera entrada en escena, queda infatuado con la belleza de Carmen; mientras, cumpliendo a su cita, don José llega a la taberna. Allí, en un diálogo aparte, la cigarrera le propone a don José que se vaya a vivir con ella a la sierra. …(to read more, buy a paper)

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