Florida’s surgeon general might be fired

By : Wire Report
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Tallahassee (AP) – Dr. John Armstrong’s future as Florida’s Surgeon General is in doubt after the Senate’s Ethics and Election Committee temporarily postponed his confirmation vote for a second time.

Sen. Garrett Richter said March 1 he’ll ask Senate President Andy Gardiner to convene the committee for at least one more meeting. He must approve any committee meetings over session’s final 10 days.

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Uprisings: The opposite of progress

By : Billy Manes
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UpRisings_TinaFeyWhat if somebody came up to your party (which, for now, we’ll call “your life”) and told you through his or her whitened teeth that all of the victories you’ve fought for, all of the freedoms promised to you by your own constitution in your own country, didn’t matter anymore? We know, we know: This is the same sweaty-pitted badminton argument that comes along with every legislative back-and-forth session, either state or national. Red! Blue! Green! Translucent! But what if those values were so fundamental that their rolling back might result in you rolling into a ball and effectively giving up? What if they would mean that you would be perpetually sick, poor, fired or allowed to die there right next to the decency twig you clung to.

There’s a certain hollowness that comes with these realizations, an identity crisis that sets you apart from what your therapist might call the “river” to which sides you are supposed to cling when you need to catch a breath in a pause in life. Has your chest ever ached with the breadth of absolute futility? Well, given the current climate of state legislators (and presidential candidates) parading a nihilistic Mardi Gras against the rights of women and LGBT people (sometimes both!), that ache should inspire you to do more.

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Issue 23.01: Philanthropy

By : Jake Stevens
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Givers and receivers: Philanthropic organizations are rallying for more LGBT donations, Dawn Elizabeth Waters comes out on switching teams, local news, celebrity interviews, and much, much more!

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Uprisings: Wake up!

By : Billy Manes
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From the glorious parade of middle-brow legislators doing their best to seem optimistic and “bipartisan,” all the way to the noted Sine Die hanky-drop and relative middle-brow sweat (hopefully wiped with said hanky) of the indecencies and failures that will come in the next 60 days, the Florida Legislature’s dance with policy and chest-beating promises is here. Once again, lathering it up to be a portrait of depression wrapped in a blanket and framed with bad intentions. As if a harbinger were needed, lobbyists and lawmakers canoodled on the night before the deluge, Jan. 11, at the headquarters of Associated Industries of Florida. Gov. Rick Scott and his series of failures were there, glad-handing those who are not so much citizens as Citizens United (meaning, we are all the Borg) and making certain that regulations would be shot in the face, because, hell, we gotta stand our ground.

By now, you’re aware that our own monogramed confederacy of dunces is just about as reliable as the U.S. Congress: a litany of whack-a-mole hammers coming down on progressive politics while the money rains, rains and rains down on the businesses that choose to pay their workers next to nothing while making them work while sick. It’s a tail-chase. It’s a joke. It isn’t funny anymore.

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Kevin McCarty, Florida’s Insurance Commissioner, resigns

By : Wire Report
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Tallahassee (AP) – Kevin McCarty, who helped guide Florida’s fragile insurance market in the wake of eight hurricanes a decade ago, is resigning as the state’s insurance commissioner.

During his 13-year tenure, McCarty dealt with the near collapse of the state’s homeowners insurance market, major changes in health insurance and contentious legislative battles over auto insurance, medical malpractice and the state-created Citizens Property Insurance.

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12.31.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

“And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. And you may find yourself in another part of the world. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. And you may ask yourself, “Well … How did I get here?” the Talking Heads once rattled over a thumping bassline. “Once in a Lifetime,” indeed.

2015 was certainly a big year for the LGBT community, seemingly allowing decency to coast atop the terrible notions of people like Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi into a panacea of hopefulness. In our coverage area, so much change happened: new leadership, new businesses, a new outlook, and, gasp, a new editor.

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Associated Press poll: Gay marriage top Florida story of 2015

By : Wire Report
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Miami (AP) – Florida’s biggest news story for 2015 happened in the year’s first days, when the state became the 36th with legalized gay marriage, according to an Associated Press poll of the state’s newspaper and broadcast editors.

Gay marriage easily beat out the No. 2 story, the long-running saga over the districts the Florida Legislature drew for Congress and the state Senate that had to be redrawn because they violated the state’s 2010 anti-gerrymandering law.

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Uprisings: October 22 – November 5

By : Billy Manes
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“What a dump!” is effectively the only thought that comes to mind when we think of this year’s municipal election follies and their requisite dusty bad apples. To be clear, it’s not the city itself that we’re baffled by – with all its tall buildings lining one downtown street, the millions in bonds holding them up, the Amway naming rights straight out of the pyramids (or their schemes), the traffic on I-4, the blight on Colonial Drive. We’ve actually grown accustomed to the quirks off our little burg that is called the City Beautiful. Beauty, ladies and gentlemen, is subjective. Also, we like the people here, generally, and, were Central Florida not America’s veritable prison colony (mate!) of underpaid jobs and overhyped “attractions,” we’re not certain what we would do. Wherefore the thrill-rides?

But politics in Orlando – which is holding its municipal pageant on Nov. 3, even though that means nobody will vote – have grown a bit sour in the past few weeks. You’ll note that our cover star Commissioner Patty Sheehan, queen of downtown’s core and longtime LGBT advocate, is trying to stay above the fray, but not everyone else is playing nice in the political sandbox. This column is comfortable endorsing Sheehan, not only because she’s a bit of a firebrand for LGBT causes, but because, even approaching her fifth term (perhaps especially approaching her fifth term), she knows how to get things done. Her opponents, Randy Ross and Aretha Olivarez, may make formidable opponents in the abstract, but in an election which will likely tick below the 15 percent margin in turnout, Sheehan’s reputation (which has been recently dried out and refinished) precedes her well. Ross is running without much of a discernible platform beyond “I don’t know!”, and Olivarez (a veteran and entrepreneur) is leaning a little too hard on the “veteran” platform for our liking, especially in a city election.

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Florida DMV updating vehicle form to reflect marriage ruling

By : Staff Report
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The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles wants to change the paperwork for car and boat title transfers from “husband and wife” to “a married couple.”

The proposed change would be to a single check-off box on the form where people can declare why they shouldn’t be subject to sales and use taxes when transferring the ownership of motor vehicles, mobile homes or vessels.

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Uprisings: September 10 – 23

By : Billy Manes
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Even though the 2016 presidential elections – and their requisite accessories of electoral nodding heads from the trenches of politics ­– are more than a year away, we’re already feeling a slight graying climbing up our sideburns, a little bit of hubris clogging our synapses,  an almost instinctive desire to climb into the darkest and coolest rooms we can find and curate our own personal exhibition, titled, simply, “Isolation.” It’s not that we don’t believe in the process (there are more “GOTV” night terrors in our collective head than we care to admit), but it’s just that, in some ways, we already know there is going to be a heightening of kitchen-table rhetoric and, with that, blood pressure. The ending is spoiled before its beginning, and if that’s happening to us (all hunched over our computers for the latest polysyllabic anachronism coming from a teleprompter), we fear it’s happening to you, too.

Looking back to the last time we went through this sort of itchy suffrage molting, it’s hard to get entirely thrilled about the voices gurgling up from the backside of our population. We’re supposed to “Feel the Bern” for Bernie Sanders, who, we might add, makes some pretty salient points, even if all of his policies would have to be enacted by executive order against the tantrums of a bought congress. We’re supposed to Windex the glass ceiling for its inevitable shattering by Hillary Clinton, who, we might add, makes some amazing points, especially in the face of the starched shirts who fear her so (clue: she’s a woman, and Benghazi isn’t really a thing). And then we’re supposed to follow the yellow-bricking of a Republican road that doesn’t read so much as a primary competition as it does a manipulative game of Koch Bros. chess.

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Bill proposed to Florida House would end conversion therapy in minors

By : Jeremy Williams
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Florida House Representative David Richardson (Miami Beach-D) filed HB137, a bill that would prohibit gay conversion therapy for minors.

The proposed bill would prevent “persons who are licensed to provide professional counseling” from providing “treatment with the goal of changing a person’s sexual orientation including, but not limited to, efforts to change behavior, gender identity or gender expression, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward a person of the same gender.”

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Uprisings: August 27 – September 9

By : Billy Manes
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In yet another week of banging our heads against the figurative political firmament, we’ve come to learn a few things about Florida’s state governance we’ve suspected but weren’t necessarily choosing to believe. Yes, we’re aware that the swamp dense with horny toads and sprawl-makers who pretend to be concerned about the Everglades. We understand that there’s a secret pipeline that funnels cash from private prisons and their health-care mechanisms, a pipeline that effectively fuels campaigns of ignorance. We get that #Floridaman is less a Twitter distraction that a symptom of a state that just doesn’t take care of itself or scrub in the right places. We get it.

But what we weren’t ready for, at least in the past couple of weeks, is the witch-hunt switch on the back of our dear leader Gov. Rick Scott. You’ve likely already heard the news and its requisite fallout. Scott decided to take a hard stand on Planned Parenthood after the reproductive health organization was pinned into a corner for something we don’t care to talk about.

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