I recently had the pleasure of collaborating in the production of the recent Collecting Recollections series with Newtown Alive!, a cultural heritage preservation project,”that aims to trace the 100-year history of the African American community of Newtown.” Hosted by Newtown Alive! Founder and ABC7 TV Host Vickie Oldham, the interviewers with Shelia Atkins, Sheila Sanders, and Odessa Butler captured childhood memories of Newtown, their experiences of segregation and activism during the civil rights era, and their impact within the Newtown and Sarasota community. It was a exceptional experience to listen to their stories, and I hope you will too!
Soto is facing two counts of misdemeanor conceal weapons charge, after being found with a Glock 9mm pistol and two knives in a backpack. According to WFLA’s interview with Desoto on why she brought weapsons into her classroom, Soto responded by telling them to “Ask Desantis.” Revelations made on her Facebook Page was also reported to include a message indicating that she was conducting a “revolutionary act.”
School district would have to opt into the “Guardian’s Program” in order for teachers to receiving the training. As of this time, both Sarasota and Manatee counties have opted out, despite Manatee school board member, Scott Hopes, advocating for the district’s inclusion into the program.
On Thursday, U.S Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, released a public statement strongly condeming the Russian cyber-hacking of two florida county voter databases after attending a classified briefing via Twitter.
In the release, Buchanan describes the alarming nature of the cyber security threats posed to state voting systems, stating ‘Vladmir Putin is not our friend’ and called on a bipartisan approach to deal with future election inteference.
Gov. DeSantis told reporters that he was not ‘allowed to disclose’ information related to the FBI investigation due to signing a non-disclosure agreement in exchange for a private briefing. via Politico.
In lieu of fresh content for today due to Sammy getting a double whammy stomach virus and mild ear infection, I bring to you a spec video I created while shooting for the “Seen on Scene” for the St. Jude’s Foodlosophy 2018 event in November of last year. Foodlosophy is an annual charity event hosted by St. Jude’s Research Hospital that brings together some of Sarasota’s best chefs to create meals inspired by child patients of the hospital.
In this video, I spoke with Chef Christian Hershman of Sarasota’s The Overton. We spoke about his philosophy driving the event as chef-chair, and how the event continues to resonate with him.
Please keep in mind the final audio was never mixed down, hence all the “clicking and clicking,” of pans and dishes. It’s annoying, I know.
Also keep in mind that this video below is spec, and is no way affiliated with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Would love to hear feedback and comments on it!
Hope you’re all having a good day, and I’ll hoping I’ll get this boy into better shape!
The Chinese government announced a new set of tariffs on American goods upwards of $60 Billion dollars on Monday, according to The New York Times. The tariff increase is reportedly in response to the Trump Administration’s $200 million dollar tariff hike on imported Chinese goods.
John Wong runs Wong Kai Imports in Bradenton, a family-owned specialty store of ethnic food products that he has owned for the last 38 years.
From Chinese pork buns, hard-to-find vegetables, teas, and condiments, Wong Kai import’s ethnic food goods from China and other Asian countries for retail and wholesale customers.
Despite the good business he has received of late, Wong claims that he is already witnessing the negative impact on local businesses due to the potential trade war with China.
“This lady I talked to today, and it hasn’t even started yet, her container is coming in is already 25 percent on top of normal before she paid for it,” Wong said.
“It’s not right,” he added.
Wong is not alone in his concern, as media reports reflect this week:
The Washington Post reported the fears expressed by U.S soybean farmers are witnessing the effects of stalling exports to China.
“We’re Freaked.” CBS News quoted the official statement by the American Apparel Association in response to the prospect of retail price hikes.
In 2016, Wong voted for the president.
Going into 2020 as of this moment, he’s lost confidence in the president’s ability to focus on the plight of the American people, equating his dispute with China to a petty family squabble.
“The way I look at it is, you are helping the people of the United States, and now you are trying to, you know, ‘you don’t do this for me, I’m not going to do that for you’,” Wong said. “It’s like a sibling, your kid, your brother and sister.”
The potential impact of Trump’s potential trade war and immigration focus having a chilling effect on Asian-American voters are already being felt according to Vox.com’s Li Zhou, where exit-poll data indicated a 77 percent increase in Asian-Americans who voted for Democratic house candidates in the 2018 midterm election.
President Trump continued his justification via Twitter on Tuesday with claims that the 25 percent increase on imported Chinese and foreign “dumped” steel will help save the American auto industry.
In one year Tariffs have rebuilt our Steel Industry – it is booming! We placed a 25% Tariff on “dumped” steel from China & other countries, and we now have a big and growing industry. We had to save Steel for our defense and auto industries, both of which are coming back strong!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2019
Despite President Trump’s continued hostile tone on the web, John Wong hopes that cooler heads will prevail.
“This trade war, hopefully both sides talk about it,” Wong said. “Not just the United States and China, but the whole world.”
For more information and updates on products from Wong Kai Imports, visit their Facebook page.
The 10th Annual Harvey Milk Festival celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary this Saturday, May 11 in Sarasota. The festival honors the enduring activist legacy of pioneering LGTBQI political activist and San Francisco politician, Harvey Milk.
This year’s celebration brought together a diverse array of emerging local artists, musicians, roller derby bombers, food trucks, jello shots, and an array of political activist groups and vendors.
(Photo: Alex M Buono)
The festival crowd was young and old, with fishnets or chest-mounted baby (or leashed fur-baby), teal-haired or bald. That said, everyone was flawless.
The stated mission of Festival organizers is by “fostering emerging talent in musicians and artists who support diversity and reject discrimination. While we promote equality for LGBTQ people through supporting equal rights legislation.”
Harvey Milk’s historical mark being the first openly gay politician in America was tragically cut short, when November 11, 1978 Milk and then San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, a rival city supervisor.
The festival’s impact continues throughout the year with youth outreach and scholarship programs, performance art and other events.
As evidenced by the ongoing “revitalization” of new storefronts populating the 13th street and 6th Avenue west corner in downtown Bradenton, native Bradentonians Keith Nasewicz and Ben Greene of Oscura Cafe and Bar are hoping to make Oscura the hub of local, craft culture.
“I think we’re trying to create a cultural outlet for people here, something for the artists, and the musicians, and the people who are interested in that,” said Nasewicz. “We want to be the flagship for it and see where it grows, and hopefully we’re trying to get this street really developed and turned into the ‘mecca’ of trend and art and music for 13th street in Bradenton.”
Nasewicz and Greene’s journey towards building their own “mecca” in Bradenton began years before in 2005, as the two Manatee High School students would orbit the now-closed V Town Surf and Skate III skateboard shop where Greene worked. The two cite the V Town’s casual meeting spot atmosphere as a precursor to what is now Oscura.
The two spent years apart as Nasewicz went off to college to study psychology, briefly flirting with becoming a psychologist before pursuing a photography career that rekindled his creativity. Greene’s post-high school years were spent traveling nationwide with a touring “metal-core” band at 19, where his curiosity in the music business inspired him to start his own music label.
After his time in the music business, Greene’s interest in business grew into becoming a full-fledged serial entrepreneur in recent years, where he launched several startups locally. Nasewicz meanwhile was burning out on the heavy traveling of his photography career, where he later transitioned to launching tech startups of his own centered around application development.
According to Nasewicz, it was around this time Greene approached him about starting a business in Bradenton.
“Growing up, I mean, you would hear it so often your friends saying, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to get out of Bradenton, Bradenton’s lame, there’s nothing to do here,’ when in reality there’s so much opportunity here,” Greene said. “We have some of the best beaches in the world, we still have that small-town feel, everybody’s friendly, everybody’s cool here. And so coming back to that as an adult and seeing its potential was exciting,” Greene added.
In conceptualizing their vision for what would become eventually become Oscura as their business, Nasewicz and Greene knew that they wanted to start a cultural trend for other businesses in the area to blossom.
“When we did our research we found that a meeting place, something like this, where there’s more of a curated experience; whether it’s the high quality of the coffee or the food or the drinks that we offer, things like that, and it developed more into a coffee shop as the primary focus,” Nasewicz said.
When trying to figure out what they would eventually name this new business, the idea of coffee as a ‘dark matter’ that gives energy that “binds the universe” became a prominent theme. Greene credits Nasewicz with the trending idea of changing the language, where they discovered the Latin translation of dark matter as “materia obscura.”
Formerly the location of Foster Drugs and Surgical Supplies that bookended the 13th street west corner for over fifty years, Oscura’s bright white exterior storefront and DIY aesthetic was self-financed and designed by Greene and Nasewicz themselves. According to Greene, Nasewicz’s preoccupation with interior design has been evident since the beginning of their friendship.
“He will straight up be reading an interior design catalog when we’re playing Call of Duty or just goofin’ off,” Greene said. ” He’s just so into that and so good at it.”
Oscura’s DIY aesthetic also influence their approach to their ever-changing menu. Greene and Nasewicz do not have formal culinary training but credit their research in traveling to the cities on the forefront of contemporary restaurant and coffee culture. From experimenting with the coffee soda to new tasting and pairing menus as well serving beer and wine trivia nights for the over 21 crowds during the evening, Greene and Nasewicz explained that Oscura’s goal of being the craft destination for Bradenton includes a plethora of upcoming events.
“We want to develop our own market in our area, something new for the craft person to get plugged in with,” Greene said. “We’re definitely trying to shake things up, get people excited.”
In looking towards future expansion, including an outdoor wine and beer garden, to partnerships with local breweries for Oscura-brand beer and friendly city flea market on Feb. 23, Greene and Nasewicz praise their longtime friendship and their connection to the local business community for Oscura’s continued success.
“If you’re looking to start a business, surround yourself with the people who have the experiences and have the strengths, and realize you have weaknesses that you need those people as a team to help you with,” Nasewicz said. “And work with your community, don’t fight them. That’s a big part of it.”
For more on Oscura Cafe and Bar’s list of events and updates, visit Oscuracafe.com.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has provided via public records request the agency’s transactional data of individuals held under the “basic ordering agreement” or BOA with U.S Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE). According to their data which accounted for individuals held under the agreement’s parameters from the initial start date to June 30, only one out of a total of six individuals was transferred to ICE custody.
The inclusion of their data adds to a total of now seven, BOA-participating Florida law enforcement agencies as reported last month. In recent developments according to Krystel Knowles of Spectrum News 13, Brevard County’s BOA was an indicator of the eventual passage of a county commission resolution banning “sanctuary cities” policies.
Brevard County commissioner John Tobia was quoted in a follow up piece by Spectrum News 13’s Matt Fernandez on the passage of the resolution, stating that the resolution ” prevents future sheriffs or politicians from failing the shining example of Sheriff Ivey and interfere and fail to cooperate with federal assets of law enforcement,” while mentioning the threat of the Trump administration to withhold federal funding as an additional justification.
According to USA Today from August 1, a federal judge from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Trump Administration’s attempt to withhold federal funding via the January 2017 executive order was unconstitutional.
For more information and updates on the BOA, click here.
On Jan. 17, 2018 in Largo, Florida, a press conference was held by Tampa Bay law enforcement agencies to announce a new inter-governmental law enforcement partnership with ICE called a “basic ordering agreement.”
(Bradenton, Florida)| “The people that were doing these lawsuits were arguing, ‘Oh no, the state or the local jail doesn’t have jurisdiction to hold them,’”
explained Adriana Guzman-Rouselle, an immigration attorney who has served Manatee County since 2005, on the liability exposure felt by local law enforcement agencies that inspired ICE’s “basic ordering agreement.” “The way to go around this was, ‘Okay, we’re going to hire those jails as providers of the service,” said Guzman-Rouselle.
According to Tampa Bay Online, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, also a representative of the National Sheriff’s Association, had been working with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement to develop the contract that was reportedly planned be piloted by 17 Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies.
The “basic ordering agreement” or BOA was described in a press release by ICE on January 17, “an existing procurement tool for acquiring a substantial, but presently unknown quantity of supplies or services.” The housing agreement was designed to afford liability protection for local law enforcement agencies housing “illegal criminal aliens in their jails and prisons.” ICE would then reimburse the service provider or law enforcement agency for the costs up to 48-hours of detention of an individual detainee. These actions would all take place after an individual is released from custody, having been charged with state-level criminal charges.
Also in attendance at the press conference was Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells, who according to public record signed the agreement with ICE on the Jan. 19. Sheriff Wells commented to Hannah Morse of the Bradenton Herald on Jan. 18 regarding the agreement, “We’re just trying to keep our community safe, and when you have a criminal illegal alien who has been committing crimes in our community, they need to be held accountable.”
Media Controversy Surrounding the Agreement
Since the announcement of the joint law enforcement program in January, the agreement has generated media controversy. According to Guzman-Rouselle, the national media has been complicit in conflating the fears of the undocumented community in recent months. “Even if you are undocumented, if you comply with the law, you will be okay,” Guzman-Rouselle explained. “When you start doing things you are not supposed to, you encounter problems.”
In March, the Tampa Bay times reported of local undocumented immigrants seeking retainer agreements amid fears of detention and deportation by ICE. In April, 88.5 WNMF reported of a “heated debate” between Pinellas Sheriff Gualtieri and immigrant rights activists on the implementation of the agreement as a pretext to detain undocumented individuals that were initially arrested on charges of driving without a license or identification. April also marked the beginning of the controversial “zero-tolerance policy” implemented by the Department of Justice along the southwest border.
Recent History of Immigration Enforcement in Manatee County
“I haven’t seen any changes, you know, just in paper,” Guzman-Rouselle said of her recent legal experiences with the BOA in comparison to other programs like 287g and Secure Communities. According to public record documents available on online via freedom of information act requests from ina287.org, Manatee County has been actively participating in joint partnerships with ICE since signing a “memorandum of agreement” or “MOA” in July 2008.
In Dec. 2006, former Manatee County Sheriff Charles B. Wells, father of current Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells, sent a written request to ICE to participate in the 287g program in order to train corrections officers in response to what Wells claimed was a large population of undocumented aliens who, “end up in our jails for everything from traffic-related crimes to homicide.” Charlie Wells successor, former Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube signed the agreement in Jun. 2008, only to request a withdrawal from the 287g Program in Sept. 2009.
Steube cited changes ICE made to the MOA requiring law enforcement agencies to provide certified interpreters that were, “cost prohibitive under MCSO’s current budget.” The hiatus was brief, as the Sheriff’s Office joined the Secure Communities program in Oct. 2009 until the Obama administration’s sun-setting of the program in November 2014. The Trump administration reactivated the program via executive order in Jan. 2017. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is currently not participating in the program.
According to the Booking Manual procedures provided by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, “Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E) Detainers and Notifications” was implemented on Mar. 8 2018, defining the department’s role as a “service provider to the DHS ICE pursuant to the BOA and authorized by federal law to hold alien detainees when all requirements for detention are met.”
“The narrow service we provide to ICE is detention for 48 hours after release from custody on local criminal charges, and that is only done when proper documentation is submitted by ICE for detention of a particular subject,” according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office General Counsel, Eric Werbeck. “ICE then has 48 hours to pick the subject up from our custody. If they don’t arrive within that time period, the subject is released. All of the subjects being detained will have been arrested for state criminal charges,” Werbeck said.
Since the agreement’s implementation in March, the Sheriff’s Office has held 32 individuals as of June, 14, according to a public record. Of the 32 individuals detained for the maximum of 48-hour period, 25 have been transferred to ICE custody. The criminal charges of detainees that were transferred to ICE ranged from battery and domestic violence, DUI, attempted murder and controlled substance. The individuals released from the detention ranged from unanswered court summonses, driving without a license, or probation violations.
Elizabeth M. Nicholson, ICE Community Relations Officer for Central and Northern Florida, stated that the local field office does not have an accounting of individual detainers at the county level, but pointed to 2017 fiscal year removal statistics for Florida. According to the ICE Fiscal Year data for Florida from 2016-2017, there was a 14-percent increase in removals.
Peter Lombardo, a local criminal defense attorney located in Bradenton who has had clients from the undocumented community, believes that the overall majority of undocumented criminal defendants do not get deported or jailed in Manatee County. “We’ll go to court and its usually misdemeanors, and we’ll go in, they’ll plead guilty, they’ll either get a fine or probation or whatever, and they just walk out the courtroom with me,” Lombardo said.
“I definitely believe that what people have to understand, sometimes, it’s not like ICE is looking for them,” Guzman-Rouselle said. Rouselle explained further that she believes that substance abuse in the undocumented community invites attention from authorities. A study titled, “Undocumented Immigration, Drug Problems, and Driving Under the Influence in the United States, 1990-2014” released in August of 2017 by the American Public Health Association concluded that there was “no significant relationship between increased undocumented immigration and DUI deaths.”
The Trump Administration and Interior Immigration Enforcement
In 2015, the New York Times reported from the campaign trail that Donald Trump’s immigration rhetoric was scolded by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as “extraordinarily ugly.” In April 2017, The American Bar Journal hosted a legal panel in Miami that emphasized the Trump administration’s focus on criminal immigration enforcement.
Ariel Ruiz Soto, an Associate Policy Analyst at the Migration Policy Institute who co-authored a May 2018 MPI report titled, “Revving Up the Deportation Machinery: Enforcement under Trump and the Pushback,” believes that the creation of federal BOA’s by the Department of Homeland Security and ICE are meant to incentivize participation of local law enforcement agencies who are concerned about prohibitive costs and legal blowback.
“Rather than incentivizing new participation in immigration enforcement, BOA’s have facilitated access to local law enforcement agencies which had considered cooperating more closely with ICE but had common concerns regarding the cost and liability of holding an immigrant beyond the time they were charged to serve for their criminal convictions,” Soto said.
“The practices of the current administration, however, can and must also be traced to the crime politics of liberal Democrats that shifted the discourse on unauthorized migration,” writes Patricia Macia-Rojas in a 2018 article featured in the Journal of Migration and Huma Security. Amanda Frost wrote in a Nov. 2017 article in the Iowa Law Review, that the legacy of the Obama administration’s removal or forbearance model of immigration enforcement and lack of congressional response to immigration enforcement, should prompt alternative enforcement strategies in the future.
According to Guzman-Rouselle, an urgent problem facing Manatee’s undocumented community is being able to parse fact from fiction by finding legitimate sources of legal help for friends and family. “Mostly what I have seen is notary fraud, telling people things, ‘Oh no, let’s apply for asylum, let’s apply for this or let’s apply for that’,” Guzman-Rouselle said. “They don’t understand the consequences of doing one of those applications, that eventually, they are going to put you in front of an immigration judge when you didn’t have to be there.”
For more information on the Manatee County Basic Ordering Agreement via the National Sheriff’s Association, click here.
Click here for ACLU’s fact sheet on the Basic Ordering Agreement.