Sanders, Clinton And Trump Scenarios

* While Hillary Clinton looks virtually assured of her party’s nomination, it’s far from certain who all will have her partisan back in the general election. In short, will the “Bern, baby, Bern” crowd become sore losers or throw in with an erstwhile adversary for the sake of party unity, Obama continuity and a GOP loss, possibly a HUGE one, in November?

Democrats cringe at how some of the Bernie Sanders campaign’s anti-Clinton rhetoric will play in Republican ads in the fall. The closed-door, big-dollar, big-bank speeches, the bad call on the Iraq invasion, the less-than-veiled “entitlement” references could haunt.

Many of Bernie’s brigades were attracted by the rhetoric of “revolution,” something we haven’t heard a lot of since colonial times. But it’s been an effective rallying cry. Nothing on the hustings says anti-establishment and not-political-business-as-usual like “revolution.”

It’s problematic, however, that those rallying around revolutionary rhetoric–make Wall Street speculation underwrite free college tuition and tax carbon dioxide emissions–would see compromise as a back-up plan. One manifested in electoral activism and votes for Clinton.  .

Maybe there’s a piece of advice that could apply equally to both Sanders’ supporters and Republicans repelled by the prospect of a Hobson’s Trump-Cruz choice. Take one for your country. Vote for Clinton.

* I’d like to think that Donald Trump’s most recent comments on bathrooms and transgender people–“use the ones they want”–presaged a more professional, worthy-of-America approach to the rest of the campaign season.

But I doubt it.

First, Trump is Trump. A scorpion doesn’t change. Second, he’s not looking for a tempest in a toilet when there are so many other polarizing issues to take advantage of. And, third, he told Sean Hannity the other night that this was not a federal issue anyhow. This was something best left to the states.

From George Wallace to Marco Rubio, from segregation to the definition of marriage, “states’ rights” has a well-chronicled, coded history. In Trump’s case, I would think his base can give him a (bathroom) pass–while perceiving a “wink and a nod” approach to this societal issue.

* Donald Trump’s New York primary win was decisive and momentum regaining. He won 61 of the state’s 62 counties. John Kasich won the other one, which was, ironically, Trump’s home borough of Manhattan, where voters presumably know him best.

* Anyone else think this whenever RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is referenced?  Still sounds like a Toyota. Still looks like Forrest Gump

The Felon Vote

While there’s no escaping the political implications of what Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe did in his executive order restoring the voting rights of some 200,000 convicted felons, most of them African-Americans, it should not be understated that he also did the right thing. This applies to felons who have served their prison time and finished parole or probation.

Public safety, although overlooked in this context, is a key factor. The rate of recidivism is notably less among felons who have served their time and regained their rights: such as voting and sitting on juries. Not surprisingly, statistics show that non-stigmatized, former prisoners who have had their rights restored re-offend at one-third the rate of other inmates who had completed their sentences. Societal reintegration is in everybody’s collective, vested interest

What McAuliffe should reconsider in his blanket order, however, is that it applies no less to those convicted of violent crimes, including murder and rape, because they have “paid their debt to society.”

Two points. That debt may be a product of a plea deal and regardless of victim “closure,” there is no unscarring of the scarred. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to require further proof of reform and societal-re-entry worth–both as an inmate and as an ex-prisoner. It’s fair to ask for a good-faith track record for a reasonable post-release time from those who were violent felons.

Media Matters

* Major shout-out to Laura Reiley of the Tampa Bay Times for her in-depth investigation and subsequent writing of the two-part series, “Farm to Table.” This has journalism award written all over it. No, the California Culinary Academy grad is not your basic food critic.

* This media market lost one of its good guys last week with the retirement of Dave Wirth, the WTSP-Ch. 10 sports reporter and anchor. More solid and friendly than flashy, Wirth, 61, had been at Channel 10 since 1984.

Sports Shorts

* MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is in a tough marketing position.

The nature of his game is to be relatively pedestrian paced–and video replay (more on that later) hasn’t helped. Baseball isn’t perceived by younger demographics to be as “cool” as basketball and football, although modern players have been injecting more personality and publicity of late.

It has to do with “bat flips” and various, emotional on-field gestures that have prompted some older fans and Hall of Famers to criticize some modern players. As in “disgrace to the game.”

Manfred stood by his younger players. “I suspect that you will see more exuberance from our players on the field,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing.”

Manfred said what he had to say–given baseball’s challenge to market to a younger, more diverse audience that doesn’t relate to how the game used to be played. But he also needs to differentiate between “exuberance” for the game and respect for the game. Call it the difference between self-confidence and “swagger,” or among showing animation, showing off and showing up your opponent. We know it when we see it. Regardless of generational lens.

* Brian Anderson does color for the Rays, and is one of the best in the business. He knows the game, has a sense of humor and enjoys great chemistry with play-by-play partner Dewayne Staats. He also has a way of candidly channeling viewers thoughts and comments. To wit: “You’re destroying this ball game.”

He said that during a recent Rays-Red Sox game that involved multiple, lengthy video-replay delays. The kind that ironically reminds you that baseball, of all games, truly needs speeding up–not slowing down. And in the end, in this instance, it wasn’t clear whether the call on the field was right or not. There was no MLB political correctness on Anderson’s part. He explained what the video showed–and didn’t show–and dialed directly into the fan frustration. He did his job; I kept watching.

* Former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel has made embarrassing headlines, been cut by the Cleveland Browns and been indicted for misdemeanor assault. But arguably, he just hit a new low. He was officially dropped by agent Drew Rosenhaus.

Rosenhaus is one of the top agents in the game. He chooses clients carefully and goes to the mattresses for them in hard bargaining with management. He’s been doing this for 27 years and had never terminated a contract with a player–until Manziel.

* Is there a better custom in professional sports than the formal handshake line at the end of a best-of-seven NHL series?


* “We are in a race against time.”–United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, as 175 countries signed an international agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

* “What we would like to do is to orbit Mars, make a landing, and rove around for reconnaissance in one mission, which is quite a challenge.”–China National Space Administration he Xu Dazhe, on China’s plans for a Mars mission in 2020.

* “Given the ongoing trends in the region, the United States will continue to increase our secure cooperation with our partners in the region, including increasing their own ability to defend themselves.”–President Barack Obama, at the summit meeting in Saudi Arabia with Persian Gulf allies.

* “It was hard to find any country that wishes Britain well that wants us to leave the EU.”–British Prime Minister David Cameron.

* “The world is changing Cuba faster than the Cuban state can cope. … The leaders are trying to square the mother of all circles–to have a rich society but without rich people; to have an entrepreneurial class but without losing the egalitarian solidarity; to have revolutionary socialism and also outside investment and growth, risk-taking and enterprise. —David Brooks, New York Times.

* “I know our candidates are going to say some things to attract attention. That’s part of politics. But we all need to get behind the nominee.”–RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

* “I hate Ted Cruz and I think I’ll take cyanide if he ever got the nomination.”–Congressman Peter King, R-N.Y.

* “He’s (Cruz) still a certified loony. But he’s probably the only hope we have. Anybody but Trump.”–GOP fundraiser and former Jeb Bush supporter Al Hoffman.

* “Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee.”–John Weaver, chief strategist for the Kasich campaign.

* “To all the people who supported Senator Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us.”–Hillary Clinton.

* “Listen to me. Old people run for office because they’re bored hanging out with their peers. Bernie is … having the time of his life on the hustings, a teen idol at last.”–Garrison Keillor.

* “We made history in March. … We are contributing to a positive future.”–Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp., in response to the Cuban government easing a ban on Cuban-born people returning to the island by sea. On March 21, Carnival’s Fathom brand became the first U.S. company in more than 50 years to gain approval to sail to Cuba.

* “Prince was a revolutionary artist, a great musician, composer, a wonderful lyricist, a startling guitar player. … Prince’s talent was limitless.”–Mick Jagger.

* “The people are ahead of the politicians and the press in this fight over the street. This conflict is over the transfer of power from cars to people.”–Janette Sadik-Khan, author of “Streetfight: Hand for an Urban Revolution.”

* “I am passing the torch. Old, fat and gray doesn’t sell as well as young and handsome.”–Attorney John Morgan, who why his sons now appear in more (“For The People”) TV ads than he does.

* “State government is just dysfunctional, and this causes me to rethink how I can best serve the people of North Florida and our state.  Floridians are hungry for new leadership, and I’m so excited to tell you … I’m seriously considering running for governor in 2018.”–U.S Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee, who is not seeking reelection to Congress.

* “We’ve got to get back to being the America we once were. … It’s time to elect a warrior.”–Todd Wilcox, Florida Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.

* “When you put people and machines together, there are going to be problems.”–Allegiant Air CEO Maurice J. Gallagher.

* “If we’re going to make West River work, then we have to make some public investments. … I knew if we were willing to do it and we are willing to make that investment, it would change that area forever. Forever.”–Mayor Bob Buckhorn, on the city’s ambitious plans for rebuilding Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park.

* “A new MOSI needs to be a reinvented  MOSI.”–Thom Stork, president and CEO of the Florida Aquarium.

* “After hearing Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s inspirational State of the City speech on April12, it is easy to see that our biggest challenge is our existing transportation system, which is not yet mature enough to play the role it needs to in a region approaching 4 million people.”–Ray Chiaramonte, executive director of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority.

* “WestShore is the strongest and most desirable retail market in Tampa Bay.”–Patrick Berman, senior director of retail brokerage services for Cushman & Wakefield.

* “There seems to be a high demand for rentals, especially high-end, and developers are all over it in recent years. Tampa is just another example of the trend.”–Nadia Balint of Rent Cafe, an online apartment search site.

* “I genuinely believe people are capable of providing supportive services to our schools without proselytization or forcing their ideology on those they are serving.”–Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins.

Bicyclist Citations And Racial Conversations

One of these years we’re going to have that race “conversation” we keep promoting and promising ourselves. You know, the one steeped in candor; the one where all the racial elephants in the room are stampeded. The one where we get to walk in another race’s shoes and talk about how those stereotypes hurt–and how, frankly, they happen.

For a number of reasons, mostly political, the first African-American president has largely skirted the issue. But Barack Obama, an accomplished orator, has shown sympathy and empathy as well as colorless context when formally speaking out after a tragic, racially-related loss of life. And he did have that beer with Henry Louis Gates and a white cop.

But race is still a touchy subject in “post-racial,” majority-white, politically polarized America. We wind up talking past each other after each high-profile crucible–from Ferguson, Cleveland and Chicago to Staten Island and Baltimore.

The issue of police abuse in minority communities is on every municipality’s radar, especially those, such as Tampa, with large African-American populations. We recently saw the formation of a citizens police review board turn into a power struggle and racial melodrama. No one was surprised.

Now we have the results from that U.S. Department of Justice report on the racial disparities in the ticketing of bicyclists around Tampa. It’s hardly a white-washing of black grievances.

There’s been a pattern with blacks, roughly a quarter of the city’s population, being disproportionately cited, it said. In 2014, for example, more than 80 percent of bike citations were given to blacks. During one three-year period, Tampa Police wrote more bike tickets–from no lights to handle-bar riders–than Jacksonville, Miami, St. Petersburg and Orlando combined.

What’s up with that?

According to the feds, racial disparities are a demonstrable fact. But no discriminatory intent was found. The intent, the report said, was to use bicycle stops to reduce crime in high-crime, often black, communities. Individuals perceived to be suspicious were targeted. They were typically black.

“The TPD burdened black bicyclists by disproportionately stopping them, with the intention of benefiting black communities by increasing their public safety,” noted the report.

The ironic upshot: Crime-reduction was negligible, according to data, but bike stops did impair police relations with the communities.

Maybe this is impetus for that Tampa conversation. The report itself even recommended “greater community engagement” over policies.

So, why were police, who don’t ticket on Davis Islands or along Bayshore Boulevard, targeting minority bicyclists in black communities? In part, because members of those communities had made the case that bikes, often without lights, were frequently pedaled by those involved in certain crimes, often of opportunity. Vulnerable residents felt preyed upon.

They wanted protection–but not heavy-handed profiling.

Good, community policing requires a professional, proactive approach. Preventing crime is better than after-the-fact arrests. It also means knowing the community you’re policing–not just in the context of crime prevention and solution. It’s called relating to people as people, without their labels–color, neighborhood or badge. It’s how trust, which is imperative, is built.

Before we get to the cherry-picking agenda of Black Lives Matter or reconsider subpoena power for the police review board, we should all be able to agree on this: The police and the community must be on the same side. That can’t happen, however, unless they know each other beyond their racial and crime-fighting identities.

And that can’t happen without talking to each other. Whether the conversations are over a beer, at a barbecue or on a front step.

Julian B. Lane Catalyst Park

It’s actually a bit of a misnomer: the planned makeover of Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park. This $35.5 million project is about so much more than a park, however much a 23-acre public jewel it can become.

It’s about a vision. It’s about synergy. It’s about an investment.  And it’s about energizing the western side of downtown and reconnecting a reinvigorated West Tampa.

It’s about investing serious seed money, a good chunk of which ($15 million) comes courtesy, as it were, of BP for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

And it’s a variation on a fundamental economic theme: It takes money to attract money. This is a public-investment catalyst in the further development of downtown’s best asset.

Ryan Buying Time

So, if not Donald Trump, if not Ted Cruz and if not John Kasich, who would be next up as a GOPster savior for the general election?

Well, it won’t be Speaker of the House–and 2012 veep candidate–Paul Ryan. We know because he said so in a notably formal press conference. “I do not want, nor will I accept, the nomination of our party,” he declared, sounding like he was channeling Gen. William Sherman, Lyndon B. Johnson and Pat Paulsen.

For further clarification–because this is shaping up as the convention from Republican hell–he added that “If no candidate has the majority on the first ballot, I believe you should only turn to a person who has participated in the primary. Count me out.”

So Mike Huckabee still has a shot. But Ted Nugent doesn’t.

But we all know what Ryan, 46, could have said if he wanted to wax incongruously candid. To wit:

“I’ll cut right to the chase. Here’s the bottom line. You can take it to a bank too big to fail.

“The real reason I won’t be available to run in a brokered convention is that it would be political suicide for me. As a non-candidate, deus ex machina establishment drop-in, I would be the center of chaos and precipitate the walkout and riotous behavior that Trump supporters are gearing up for anyhow.

“This would hand-deliver the election to Hillary Clinton and doom the down ballot in November, and I would personify all of that. I’ll never get another chance–and I want another chance. In 2020, I’ll be four more years removed from Mitt Romney and all those Eddie Munster caricatures. I’ll be the go-to spokesman for the party, even if I’m no longer Speaker. I’m not screwing up my future to be a convention stop-gap in a losing presidential year.

“Of course I’m not running. Period. End of story. See you in Cleveland, where I have a convention to chair, even if I have to borrow it from Clint Eastwood.”

That “Rigged” System

Most of us know that Donald Trump is manifestly unprepared to be president. Whether it’s nukes, NATO, abortion, immigration, China trade or where Joe Paterno coached and whether he’s still alive, he’s brashly clueless. Just self-serving, grating rhetoric.

The irony, however, is that he didn’t even do his homework on the process, one whereby parties–not primary voters–choose nominees. The process that could theoretically have enabled him to apply those legendary negotiating skills. But without any bankruptcy gambits or eminent domain subplots, he couldn’t be bothered.

No, nominating a president isn’t pure, direct democracy, something even the Founding Fathers were afraid of. Something about the tyranny of the masses and the timing of a charismatic authoritarian leader. It always seemed elitist, but maybe we shortchanged the Founders on this one.

Civics Classes Needed

Among the things that “American exceptionalism” should not mean is “the world’s preeminent lazy and uninformed electorate. But, seemingly, that is a goal. All it takes is a generation or two with little or no understanding of how our representative democracy works. Without change, we’re imperiled.

So, yes, let’s hear it for a call to make American history and civics mandatory in our high schools and universities. At the very least, we will be less vulnerable to candidates who can too easily mislead an uninformed citizenry.