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Image: Winter Park Police Department’s APC, parked in Hannibal Square during the MLK Unity Fest in January 2020, by Jessica Bryce Young
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Rethinking our relationship to policing


The idea of defunding the police deserves more discussion than is possible in the 74 seconds I have here. But it’s blindingly apparent we need to rethink our relationship to policing. If we as a society give license to certain people to exercise lethal violence — people whose salaries we pay, and whose powers were granted by us, not divine right — shouldn’t we have the right to know everything about them and their work? Those who don’t want the movement to defund police to gain traction should be first to demand radical transparency and disciplinary regimes that make it easy to get rid of not just the bad apples, but the not-so-bad apples that cover for them. For too …
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Generic Unemployment Office Sign. via Bytemarks/Flickr
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: FL House rejected proposed increase to unemployment benefits


Florida House Republicans this week rejected Democratic efforts to increase our notoriously low unemployment assistance. Governor Ron DeSantis had already put a damper on the very idea that Florida might raise benefits, calling the current maximum of $275 a week for 12 weeks “fine,” and adding that classic chestnut “it is what it is,” which everyone knows is a polite way of saying “tough … cookies.” With its dependency on hospitality and tourism, Central Florida has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic with widespread, temporary closures. These industries depend on cheap labor to function, and now they want it back — but they’re having a difficult time re-filling those low-paid, non-insured jobs. House Republicans insinuate those positions are …
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Image: Railway worker, orlandoweekly.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: The American Jobs Plan


One of the longest-running jokes of the Trump Administration was Infrastructure Week. An Infrastructure Week that never arrived was used as a way to distract from some blunder or scandal so many times it eventually became a slang term for an inability to stay on task. So you’d think focusing on America’s infrastructure was an important part of the Republican agenda. But now that President Biden has unveiled the American Jobs Plan, suddenly they’re lukewarm on refurbishing the nation’s highways, bridges, electrical and water systems. Maybe the difference is that the American Jobs Plan is actual policy-making, with a plan for how to pay for its imperatives — whereas the oft-announced “Infrastructure Week” of 2017, 2018 and 2019 was nothing …
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Image: Senator Amy Klobuchar speaks on the Act from inside the Capitol Building, wikipedia.org
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: The Federal For the People Act would be a much-needed check on anti-democracy voting laws


Florida is among several states in the nation whose Republican lawmakers are attempting to retake power by any means possible. The 1965 Voting Rights Act outlawed barriers to voting that were enacted against African Americans. Section 4 required certain areas of the country, which Congress determined had shown “prevalent racial discrimination,” to get approval from the Justice Department before changing voting laws. Fifty-eight years later, a 5-4 Supreme Court struck down that provision and opened the floodgates to a new age of voter discrimination. Across the country, GOP legislators are proposing and passing laws that add pointless but burdensome requirements for mail-in voting, limit the use of ballot dropboxes, and even make it a crime to give water to voters …
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Image: FL Senator Dennis Baxley, twitter.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: FL Senator Dennis Baxley backs off on misguided Bright Futures proposal


Going to college should be more than a four-year job training session. There’s a place for the practical, but the purpose of higher education, in the words of public policy writer Steven Brint, is to develop “human capital.” But State senator Dennis Baxley seems dead set on making it impossible for students who earn Florida’s Bright Futures scholarships to pursue liberal arts degrees. The first iteration of his recent education bill called for eliminating funding for any degree deemed “unlikely to lead to a job.” After a massive outcry from educators, families and students themselves, that part of the bill has been scrapped. Maybe focusing on the “capital” part of “human capital” would settle Baxley’s mind. After all corporate raider …
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Image:  Screen shot from Florida Student Financial Aid website, floridastudentfinancialaid.org
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: A Florida Senate proposal that would cut Bright Futures scholarships for students who choose certain degree programs has been put on hold


A Senate proposal that would cut state-backed Bright Futures scholarships for students who choose certain degree programs has been put on hold. A Senate news release called SB 86 an effort to “maximize value for the student and for Florida taxpayers through a focus on targeted programs that directly lead to employment.” Sen. Dennis Baxley of Ocala sponsored the measure, which would deny eligibility for the state-funded scholarships unless students choose from a list of approved areas of study. Florida’s university Board of Governors and State Board of Education, who are appointed by the governor, will compile the list. A group of prospective college students calling themselves “Save Bright Futures” opposes the bill. They launched a petition titled “Keep Bright …
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