Thursday, October 27, 2011

City Issues Me Citation While I'm Covering Occupy Fort Myers Protest







By Carl-John X Veraja

(Covering the protest tonight I received a citation and this Dixie cup)
No government ought to be without censors & where the press is free, no one ever will.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Washington, September 9, 1792
Right now, I'm very pressed for time. I need to get up in a few hours and drive to North Carolina and help a family member move. Therefore, I can not give the time to this article that it deserves at the moment.  But just a few pertinent things.
Just when I thought that freedom meant something, I was ticketed $130 while covering a protest in Fort Myers, Florida. Just a few hours ago.
Apparently, freedom means you can't do what the constitution says you can do. I had to find this out by actually trying to cover a protest.
I was there because I had word the police may try to evict the protesters that evening.
I'm no lawyer but here's a citation for you:
In Lovell v. City of Griffin, 303 U.S. 444 (1938), Chief Justice Hughes defined the press as, "every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion." (source Wikipedia)
Not to give anyone ideas.
Since I was there with the express purpose of writing for this blog, told the officers that was my intention, and even offered to leave why would I be issued a citation for being present?
Of course, the officers were just following orders.  This travesty is originating from the city.  The first thing we were told by the police when they arrived is that they didn't want to discuss the constitution.
Since I am strapped for time I'm going to let some videos I shot for my YouTube Channel tell the rest of the story below.
However, I want to state that I'm shocked and outraged.  Not only is the city trampling our rights IMHO (and by extension yours) but the local newspaper, the News-Press is tuning out Occupy Fort Myers' side of the story.
It was written they chose not to purchase insurance while I've heard from several sources in Occupy Fort Myers that they were unable to do so.  They couldn't locate an insurance company that would write them a policy until they were enabled by the local NAACP which policy will become active today from what I was told.
I see no reason to disbelieve them.  At the first meeting I attended, I saw that Occupy Fort Myers was very careful to assemble a team in to make sure they had their bases covered legally.  And they have lawyers advising them.
In the meanwhile, I stayed to see the police response and that's when all the Occupiers were told their presence would cause them to receive citations whether or not they agreed to leave.
Observe

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Fort Myers Carries Out March





(Drew Scott Gearing up the Crowd)
In a show of solidarity with the worldwide Occupy movement, hundreds showed up today at Centennial Park to march to various financial and government sites in downtown Fort Myers.
Before the march I spoke to a marcher who preferred anonymity.
"The top 1 percent have no problems being heard in Washington but, other people, their opinion doesn't seem to matter.  People don't have enough money, who can't afford to buy a congressman can't make their needs known.  There's thing we can do to improve the economy and create jobs but they're not willing to do it because they want to score points."
It was splendid Florida weather as organizer Drew Scott informed the gathered, diverse crowd that Governor Rick Scott claimed to not understand why these protests were happening.
The crowd booed and one bystander said, "He knows exactly why we're doing this."
The marchers headed out of the park, proceeding toward the Bank of America.  The line of marchers soon revealed itself to be over 6 blocks long and chanted: "Hey hey, ho ho, corporate greed has got to go."
The crowd settled briefly before the Bank of America.  Among them was Joann Finney.
"The main thing is to end the corruption," she said, "so, we're pretty sick of the corruption."

(Priscilla Nolan)
I spoke to Bill Davis next, a senior gentleman with a wide sign with several points on it.
"Citzens United drives me crazy, is grossly unfair," said Bill Davis, "quite possibly illegal.  The Supreme Court should be overturned by constitutional amendment on that issue."
Was President Obama being responsive to this movement?
"I'm convinced he is," said Davis.  "He has got to walk such a fine line.  He has to be very conscious of not seeming to tilt too far to the left.  These parades remind me of when I was a college student when we were protesting the Vietnam War.  It's a really touchy issue.  Obama's got to be very worried about his base and his chances of being re-elected.  What would happen if he didn't get elected?  What if Romney or, worse yet, Bachmann or Perry?  That's completely insane."


Police made an appearance.
Many young people were also at the protest.
"I need a job and no one's hiring," said Priscilla Nolan (above), "the economy is sh*t.  I think this will make a difference.  I think we can get their attention."
The chant changed to: "This is what democracy looks like."
They did not linger for long at the Bank of America and the next stop was to be the Wells Fargo.  The marchers snaked down First Street.
The chant became: "They got bailed out, we got sold out."
"Basically, larceny committed on a grand scale with the complicity of the government," said another anonymous marcher.  "Where public funds became corporate funds and the corporations continued to act as if they had no accountability or responsibility whatsoever to the American people and in fact proceeded to hasten the rate of foreclosures across the nation."
As they approached Wells Fargo the chant became: "It's not about money it's about change."

Thelma Smith, 53, had responsibility in mind.
"I wanted to be here to encourage my children to be active in politics," said Smith, "to realize votes count and that when you're united in a cause you can make a difference here in America."

The marchers came up Main Street.
As we turned the corner, Bill Davis was resting on a bench.
"I've got two bad knees and a bad heart," he said.
As we turned a corner, there was the sound of sirens and someone said, "If they want to arrest us they'll need a very large paddy wagon."


The noise seemed to be coming from a bullhorn as there was another gathering at City Hall.

Christy Jones, 24, had multiple concerns.
"I'm coming out here because we are part of the 99 percent," said Jones, "and I need healthcare and I've got a lot of problems of my own and I've been turned down by many doctors because I don't have healthcare.  I'm here for everyone else out here without jobs, without homes.  We give all our money to these corporations and we're left without nothing.  We want to show them that we're fed up and we want something done."
What would she like to see happen with healthcare?
"Anything.  I'm not saying I want free health care for all," said Jones, "but I definitely want something done to where if I have a preexisting condition it doesn't matter.  That I can buy healthcare if I want to.  I'm not asking for something for free I'm asking for something I can purchase at a reasonable price."
Single payer healthcare was taken off the table early on in negotiations that lead to the
Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

As they walked up Second Street toward the county jail, a blunt Ro Boggs was eager to speak.
"I'm kinda sick and tired of getting screwed over in this country," said Boggs.  "We have a great country of people.  We have sucky people that are leading this place and robbing everybody blind.  We're gonna end up like Cuba pretty soon if we don't watch what we're doing.  I'm passionate about this.  I'm also an employee of the Lee County school system.  I'm a union vice president.  I want to make changes or you and me and my children and my grand kids are gonna be screwed and that's it."
The tough times seem to be bringing families closer.
"You see I have 3 sons," said Boggs. "33 to 22 years old.  They are making barely enough money to survive.  They will never own a home.  The banks got bailed out, gave all this money to free it up and my kids still can't have a house.  If it wasn't for my job a lot of them would not eat sometimes.  They cut all kinds of benefits for them."
The chant became: "The people united can never be divided."
At the jail the crowd remained in high spirits and police presence was limited.  The marchers continued to be courteous, avoiding blocking traffic.
At this point, the march went onto Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and then turned back toward Centennial Park.
On Main Street, I created a bit of chaos when I jay walked and a large segment of marchers followed me.
There were no acts of vandalism or threatening behavior that I witnessed.
As the crowd came back into Centennial Park they were greeted by a drumming circle.


A 22 year old artist, Daniel Quina, saw hope.
"There's so much propaganda," said Quina.  "So many lies.  Our generation uses the internet and we know how to find and spread information.  Our generation is bigger than the baby boomer generation and we have that power to change things."
Some tents were set up on the grounds and several people were ready to camp out and test the limits of their rights.

One of them was Jeremy Walker, 36.
"I think that the main theme that I seem to recognize throughout the movement that I affiliate with," said Walker, "is the growing inequality of wealth between the top 1% and the rest of us...I think it's a very difficult thing to ask of our leaders to kind of bite the hand that feeds them and cut off their own gravy train."
He believed election reform was also a common theme among movement members.
"All agree there needs to be a systemic overhaul of the system that's in place," Walker said.



Another attendee, Ernie Colby, repeated several themes, like a need to stop corruption and election reform which would include public funding of campaigns.
"The Supreme Court is saying that money is speech now," said Colby.  "It's preposterous.  It's just worse and worse and I just hope this is something that catches on in many cities.  There's been many of fine song written about power to the people if it finally happens I'd like to see that.  It's going to take voter registration because that's the only thing these people understand."
The one political candidate he was aware of making a showing was Jim Roach.
"The thing that's killing us right now is debt," said Colby.  "Especially government debt and that's causing a lot of stagnation.  But you'll notice if you look at the curve of our debt it's rising exponentially and whether or not there's a Republican or a Democratic administration makes no difference the debt is growing the same."
A circle formed and the bullhorn was given to anyone who wanted to share their point of view.  One speaker made an interesting reference to Aesop's fable of The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs.  It is the story of greed so untamed that the goose's owner was not happy with just the eggs that were laid but cuts the goose open to get to the eggs inside.
"We are that goose," said the speaker.

Occupy Fort Myers Carries Out March





(Drew Scott Gearing up the Crowd)
In a show of solidarity with the worldwide Occupy movement, hundreds showed up today at Centennial Park to march to various financial and government sites in downtown Fort Myers.
Before the march I spoke to a marcher who preferred anonymity.
"The top 1 percent have no problems being heard in Washington but, other people, their opinion doesn't seem to matter.  People don't have enough money, who can't afford to buy a congressman can't make their needs known.  There's thing we can do to improve the economy and create jobs but they're not willing to do it because they want to score points."
It was splendid Florida weather as organizer Drew Scott informed the gathered, diverse crowd that Governor Rick Scott claimed to not understand why these protests were happening.
The crowd booed and one bystander said, "He knows exactly why we're doing this."
The marchers headed out of the park, proceeding toward the Bank of America.  The line of marchers soon revealed itself to be over 6 blocks long and chanted: "Hey hey, ho ho, corporate greed has got to go."
The crowd settled briefly before the Bank of America.  Among them was Joann Finney.
"The main thing is to end the corruption," she said, "so, we're pretty sick of the corruption."

(Priscilla Nolan)
I spoke to Bill Davis next, a senior gentleman with a wide sign with several points on it.
"Citzens United drives me crazy, is grossly unfair," said Bill Davis, "quite possibly illegal.  The Supreme Court should be overturned by constitutional amendment on that issue."
Was President Obama being responsive to this movement?
"I'm convinced he is," said Davis.  "He has got to walk such a fine line.  He has to be very conscious of not seeming to tilt too far to the left.  These parades remind me of when I was a college student when we were protesting the Vietnam War.  It's a really touchy issue.  Obama's got to be very worried about his base and his chances of being re-elected.  What would happen if he didn't get elected?  What if Romney or, worse yet, Bachmann or Perry?  That's completely insane."


Police made an appearance.
Many young people were also at the protest.
"I need a job and no one's hiring," said Priscilla Nolan (above), "the economy is sh*t.  I think this will make a difference.  I think we can get their attention."
The chant changed to: "This is what democracy looks like."
They did not linger for long at the Bank of America and the next stop was to be the Wells Fargo.  The marchers snaked down First Street.
The chant became: "They got bailed out, we got sold out."
"Basically, larceny committed on a grand scale with the complicity of the government," said another anonymous marcher.  "Where public funds became corporate funds and the corporations continued to act as if they had no accountability or responsibility whatsoever to the American people and in fact proceeded to hasten the rate of foreclosures across the nation."
As they approached Wells Fargo the chant became: "It's not about money it's about change."

Thelma Smith, 53, had responsibility in mind.
"I wanted to be here to encourage my children to be active in politics," said Smith, "to realize votes count and that when you're united in a cause you can make a difference here in America."

The marchers came up Main Street.
As we turned the corner, Bill Davis was resting on a bench.
"I've got two bad knees and a bad heart," he said.
As we turned a corner, there was the sound of sirens and someone said, "If they want to arrest us they'll need a very large paddy wagon."


The noise seemed to be coming from a bullhorn as there was another gathering at City Hall.

Christy Jones, 24, had multiple concerns.
"I'm coming out here because we are part of the 99 percent," said Jones, "and I need healthcare and I've got a lot of problems of my own and I've been turned down by many doctors because I don't have healthcare.  I'm here for everyone else out here without jobs, without homes.  We give all our money to these corporations and we're left without nothing.  We want to show them that we're fed up and we want something done."
What would she like to see happen with healthcare?
"Anything.  I'm not saying I want free health care for all," said Jones, "but I definitely want something done to where if I have a preexisting condition it doesn't matter.  That I can buy healthcare if I want to.  I'm not asking for something for free I'm asking for something I can purchase at a reasonable price."
Single payer healthcare was taken off the table early on in negotiations that lead to the
Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

As they walked up Second Street toward the county jail, a blunt Ro Boggs was eager to speak.
"I'm kinda sick and tired of getting screwed over in this country," said Boggs.  "We have a great country of people.  We have sucky people that are leading this place and robbing everybody blind.  We're gonna end up like Cuba pretty soon if we don't watch what we're doing.  I'm passionate about this.  I'm also an employee of the Lee County school system.  I'm a union vice president.  I want to make changes or you and me and my children and my grand kids are gonna be screwed and that's it."
The tough times seem to be bringing families closer.
"You see I have 3 sons," said Boggs. "33 to 22 years old.  They are making barely enough money to survive.  They will never own a home.  The banks got bailed out, gave all this money to free it up and my kids still can't have a house.  If it wasn't for my job a lot of them would not eat sometimes.  They cut all kinds of benefits for them."
The chant became: "The people united can never be divided."
At the jail the crowd remained in high spirits and police presence was limited.  The marchers continued to be courteous, avoiding blocking traffic.
At this point, the march went onto Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and then turned back toward Centennial Park.
On Main Street, I created a bit of chaos when I jay walked and a large segment of marchers followed me.
There were no acts of vandalism or threatening behavior that I witnessed.
As the crowd came back into Centennial Park they were greeted by a drumming circle.


A 22 year old artist, Daniel Quina, saw hope.
"There's so much propaganda," said Quina.  "So many lies.  Our generation uses the internet and we know how to find and spread information.  Our generation is bigger than the baby boomer generation and we have that power to change things."
Some tents were set up on the grounds and several people were ready to camp out and test the limits of their rights.

One of them was Jeremy Walker, 36.
"I think that the main theme that I seem to recognize throughout the movement that I affiliate with," said Walker, "is the growing inequality of wealth between the top 1% and the rest of us...I think it's a very difficult thing to ask of our leaders to kind of bite the hand that feeds them and cut off their own gravy train."
He believed election reform was also a common theme among movement members.
"All agree there needs to be a systemic overhaul of the system that's in place," Walker said.



Another attendee, Ernie Colby, repeated several themes, like a need to stop corruption and election reform which would include public funding of campaigns.
"The Supreme Court is saying that money is speech now," said Colby.  "It's preposterous.  It's just worse and worse and I just hope this is something that catches on in many cities.  There's been many of fine song written about power to the people if it finally happens I'd like to see that.  It's going to take voter registration because that's the only thing these people understand."
The one political candidate he was aware of making a showing was Jim Roach.
"The thing that's killing us right now is debt," said Colby.  "Especially government debt and that's causing a lot of stagnation.  But you'll notice if you look at the curve of our debt it's rising exponentially and whether or not there's a Republican or a Democratic administration makes no difference the debt is growing the same."
A circle formed and the bullhorn was given to anyone who wanted to share their point of view.  One speaker made an interesting reference to Aesop's fable of The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs.  It is the story of greed so untamed that the goose's owner was not happy with just the eggs that were laid but cuts the goose open to get to the eggs inside.
"We are that goose," said the speaker.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Solutions Abound for Country's Problems (Yeshua)


There doesn't that feel better?
Written by The Demagogue
The American Dream, though potentially as robust as it ever was, is being stultified by laziness, entitlements, immigrants, regulations, condoms, carbon feet and especially by minimum wage. Worse yet, the carbon feet are harmless and need to stop wiping themselves before walking into the door of God's great harvest for multi-national corporate dominion as prefigured in the person of Jesus.
Recently, a wave of protests have swept the nation in which the greed of the wealthiest Americans is being touted as an issue for this still great but currently slightly challenged to put food on the plate nation. What is being largely ignored is the greed of the 99 percent. Obviously, they want more for themselves which is the very definition of greed!  And the greed is the root of all evil. They are like people who want to throw the first stone but are already infected with the supposed sin that they are condemning. If they were without greed they could criticize the wealthiest Americans if they were in fact greedy and not just successful hard-workers and herein lies the potential for the salvation of these dangerous malcontents.
The 99ers think the problem is too much corporate power and financial institutions that can speculate with savings and loans but, au contraire Mr. and Mrs. Socialist, the solution is corporate power. The power of corporations to take the Earth and its creatures and the labor of it teeming masses with no access to birth control for its own use as the Bible commanded (Genesis 1:28) in order to create gooey and glistening mountains of yummy wealth. For faith alone can move and/or make mountains. It can also blow the tops off of them in order to harvest the energy and job needs of the 99 percent all of whom would have access to modern utilities if they'd just pack it in and go home and take any job while eating delicious apple pies (which are really cheap and piping hot at McDonald's, one of our sponsors).
As usual, as is often the case with peoples lacking in spiritual direction, the 99ers have made the age old mistake of looking at the faults of the successful Americans while ignoring the defects that lie within themselves. It is an age old spiritual axiom that if something disturbs you there is something wrong with you.

And just what is it that is wrong with the 99ers?  Why are they wasting all this time exposed to the elements when they could be filling out job applications?  Well, suffice it to say it's not all their fault.  The problem is generational and stems from a hideous history of organized labor which has long since turned the beautiful animal of unrestrained capitalism into a Frankenstein's monster/vampire/cyborg that is resuscitated by government interventions, feeds off of social safety nets, creates jobs in the wrong countries and has replaced its once brawny, manly limbs with effete, sun-starved citizens hooked on social networking softwares trapped in their own homes envisioning hysterical utopias, unrest and mass actions and condemning themselves to eternal hellfire in the process.
In a word, its time to the get rid of the minimum wage.  Minimum wage does nothing but push potentially honest, patriotic jobs overseas where our future enemies enrich themselves because the government cripples corporate interests by destroying the potentially rich market of cheap domestic labor.  If people were only willing (and perhaps many of them are but the government simply won't acknowledge it) to work 16 hours a day in challenging environments for 12 cents an hour why there'd be no unemployment at all.  And, with no unemployment, there'd be little time for idleness, the workshop of Satan, which gives imaginations the wherewithal to envision no hospital bills, pensions, speeding trains of Hell-harvested souls and other ghastly specters of socialism.
Ultimately, let's face it, what matter is it if you gain the whole world, most of which can't even be mined presently (it has a thick metallic center) if you lose your immortal soul?  If 200 billion galaxies are spread out in the skies above you and billions of cells are keeping you alive then of course God would enable you to achieve immortal life simply by keeping your belief in one idea alive in your mind.  The idea that God killed himself and raised himself from the dead to make up for the fact that you like to sleep around.  Friends, the government is not the answer.  Jesus is.  Worry not .  Just shut up and do your job (or look for one).
That being said, its time for the government, organized labor and the teeming mobs yearning to get overpaid to get out of the way and allow Mother Corporation to do the dirty work of rolling up her massive, machinated sleeves (which when closely examined reveal fractal landscapes of Hieronymus Bosch's forgotten daydreams, ah, beauteousness) and sweeping the noise of democratic tyranny from the good earth.
Go home, get a job, losers, or get hosed off the streets, beaten and locked upJesus loves you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Discrimination On the Ballot


(Downtown Fort Myers is often almost deserted)

Discrimination is among big issues that voters will consider in the upcoming election, November 8.
If you live in the city of Fort Myers there are two charter amendments to consider and if you live in Ward 6 there are two candidates. We're going to look at the Human Rights Charter Amendment tonight and will consider the other amendment in another article.
Generated from a petitioning by Raimond Aulen, chair of the Find a Better Way for Lee, the amendment proposes to stop age discrimination. In Fort Myers, persons aged 18-20 currently can't enter or patronize establishments that serve liquor unless the establishent also qualifies as a restaurant. This impacts downtown Fort Myers with its pedestrian-friendly environment and drinking establishments.
Considering the vast investment made in downtown Fort Myers, a discriminatory policy that is hostile to a class of consumers might not ensure a generous return in dollars or in the general perception.
"For years the city has been known for segregation and discrimination," said Raimond Aulen. "I mean we were one of the most segregated cities in the nation and there's been a lot of polices that have created that sort of thing in the community. So we just wanted to add another layer of protection for civil rights that's not reliant on the constitution but more of a local part of our city charter."
Practicality factors in.
"It will facilitate the business needs as well," said Aulen. "There's a lot of benefit that will come from it in a community. There's some policies that discriminate that affect business here and just the fact that we're so segregated and a lot of the things associated with that. It puts a choke hold on business in general.
I invited incumbent Ward 6 Councilman Tom Leonardo to participate in this conversation since he is up for re-election but he declined.
However, the other candidate for Ward 6, David Shestokas, gave his opinion.
"It's part of a broader human rights concern and that's the way the amendment itself is written," said David Shestokas.
Shestokas was convinced it would be passed as he couldn't see people "voting in favor of discrimination."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tobacco: The Co-opted Curse

(Evil Tobacco Spirit of the Winnebagos)
How about you quit smoking? (leaps behind couch)
For some reason, people like myself often act as if their health is meaningless or merely a troubling nuisance that you can throw a bone to in the form of a diet soda (which isn't healthy), by drinking excess water (excess is never healthy, ask William Blake) or by not injecting cocaine while driving. Well, that last one is admirable, I'll admit, but what about quitting smoking? Are you still smoking cigarettes even after you quit all those other nasty unmentionable habits? If so, why? Are you rationalizing that it's ok to smoke since you no longer drive in blackouts and wake up with a crack pipe stuck to your lip? Well, aren't you god's special mission on Earth.
And speaking of god, religion has most likely killed even more people than all addictive substances combined. So, if you want god to help you quit anything, you are just signing on with the most effective herd of mass murderers who ever existed. So, perhaps you need to back up and just starting drinking, shooting and snorting before you start throwing the god word around. Ha! No.
(This is what happens every time people try religion out)
For instance, today is Christopher Columbus's special day. Columbus wrote: "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold."  In the name of Christianity and greed (which are often allied with a little charity tossed in to throw off the scent), Columbus had little problem repaying the first inhabitants of the New World he came upon, the Arawaks of the Bahama Islands, with slavery and genocide.  Besides that, I believe Columbus stole my mail today.
Columbus came to the New World hell bent on discovering gold. Now, he wasn't about to let a bunch of heathens who didn't believe in personal property or the institution of marriage stand in his way. In fact, he took the Arawaks prisoner and set about torturing and massacring them in order to find out where the gold was. (In defense of Columbus and the Spaniards, many of the Arawaks died at their own hands because life was simply too hideous to be lived after their conquest.) The Arawaks then lead him to Cuba and Hispaniola, where he received a gold mask and anything else he asked for since the Cubans and Hispaniolans of those days were even more altruistic than Cuba's modern day health system.
In return for their generosity, again all the New Worlders were enslaved, slain or worked to death as slaves. Slavery and Christianity also go hand-in-hand partially because the Bible is rife with pro-slavery passages. Columbus came back to the Americas on a second voyage with the express purpose of setting up a slave trade but, alas, the slaves died off too quickly to be profitable. In contrast, the average smoker remains enslaved for decades and produces great profit for tobacco companies. Also, the Bible has nothing to say about tobacco because god, knowing the future, decided not to comment on smoking, abortion, crack, or nuclear weapons because they were too controversial as subjects and would distract people from the importance of knocking up virgins without their consent.
Tobacco had for many centuries been consumed among Native American shamans as an entheogen that carried one's thoughts to the spirits in the form of exhaled smoke. Using their vast magical abilities, the shamans tricked the Europeans into utilizing this magical herb for leisure which angered the spirits and brought disease, stink and yellow teeth on hapless Europeans and Americans.
Apparently, the vengeful spirits have no problem rewarding executives of tobacco companies with huge profits as long as they participate in the propagation of the Native American curse. What do the spirits care if even more of the white population suffers as a result of corporate excess? Why that's a bonus. Give them golden parachutes made of removed lung tissue by which to sail down in a fat cat retirement.
The only way to break the curse is to stop celebrating Columbus Day, stop participating in capitalism and to quit smoking.  The third item, anyway.
I found it extremely difficult to quit smoking. My first plan was to quit at the age of 18 and I managed to complete that plan at the age of 40. It's now been 16 months since I smoked. I finally did it with the assistance of nicotine patches which I got here. I had to try it twice before I pulled it off. But it worked.
If you want to quit smoking too, try the patch. It's been demonstrated to improve your chances of quitting and staying quit.
http://floridaquitline.com/
Behold my whiter teeth! (I don't have a before picture but they're lots whiter, ok, sorry if I scared you)

Redistricting Draws Ire of Community Representatives









By Carl-John X Veraja

King Solomon famously determined the mother of a baby by threatening to bisect it. Should Dunbar residents be concerned if Lee County redistricting divides their community?
At a public hearing at the morning of October 11 at the Commission Chambers, James Muwakkil, branch President of the local chapter of the NAACP, rose to his feet and turned his back on the Board of County Commissioners.
The meeting's agenda included a possible vote on Alternative 6, a redistricting plan.  Commissioner Ray Judah, at the meeting, had concluded that it was not unreasonable to defer the decision to address the concerns of the NAACP and supporters. After this Commissioner Tammy Hall argued that the boundaries were geographical and not political and delaying the vote was a bad precedent.  She was outlining her reasons for supporting an immediate vote on Alternative 6, a redistricting plan, and saying she supported diverse communities when James Muwakkil took exception.
"He stood and yelled out in a public meeting and heckled," said Commissioner Tammy Hall.
Commissioner Hall threatened to call the sergeant at arms at the meeting but then reversed her position and said she supported delaying the vote because Commissioners were not present.
Commissioner Hall's Distict 4 would incorporate half of Dunbar and the River District under the Alternative 6 plan for redistricting.
Muwakkil had stated that if a single member district voting scheme becomes reality that dividing Dunbar would produce a dilution of the minority vote. Currently, all Lee County residents vote for all 5 Commissioners.  In a single member district scheme the residents of a district only vote for the Commissioner that represents their district.
The vote on a redistricting plan was thereafter delayed until November 1.
Joan LaGuardia, Communications Manager at the Department of Community Development, speaking after the meeting, explained.
"The NAACP created their own plan calling it Alternative 7," said LaGuardia. "because there were two Commissioners who could not make the meeting today they decided to delay their decision on adopting new district boundaries until Nov. 1."
On a practical level, LaGuardia argued that the boundaries served mostly just to ensure candidates resided in the districts they represent.
Thus far, 5 redistricting alternatives have been shot down. Alternative 6 was then proposed which plan divides Dunbar.
There are several considerations in the redistricting process and the packing or diluting of minority populations are among them.
According to Commissioner Tammy Hall, redistricting can occur every two years. However, it's been 10 years since the last redistricting in Lee County. It is possible that after this go-round it won't occur again for another 10 years.
Lee County is divided into 5 districts. Currently, Dunbar is in District 2 and it would be split between District 4 and District 2 if Alternative 6 is adopted. The NAACP's Alternative 7 plan, however, doesn't meet all requirements for redistricting.
"The alternative they came up with may not be a viable alternative," LaGuardia said. "First of all it separates some Lee County neighborhoods where the county has done quite a bit of community planning to keep the neighborhoods intact as a neighborhood unit so they're split up in NAACPs alternative. In addition, the NAACP alternative loads up District 2 with 150,000 and the target is 123,000. I don't think their alternative will meet the legal requirement to keep the population as even as possible."
Steve Sherman, a spokesperson for the local chapter of NAACP, said that they were forced to hurriedly conceive of a plan and he was open to compromise.
LaGuardia said they'd be looking at creating a new version of Alternative 6 which keeps "what is generally called the Dunbar area" intact.
Both Sherman and Muwakkil were concerned that the community's school districts and church congregations would be divided but LaGuardia and Commissioner Hall both insisted these were not a valid concern since Lee County votes for County Commissioners on an at-large basis and because Dunbar is not part of unincorporated Lee County. The City of Fort Myers is Dunbar's first line of government, said Hall, and so the redistricting of the county will not affect Dunbar in the way that it could affect Estero.
An attendee of the meeting, Michelle Guerin, echoed Muwakkil concerns.
"They are well aware there is a movement to get single member districts on the ballot and it will most likely pass since it has broad (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, NAACP) support," Guerin said. "Any new districts that are drawn would be in effect for the next 10 years. It should be done fairly without gerrymandering."
In that case splitting the minority vote now could, if single member district voting becomes a reality, split it conceivably for at least the next 10 years.
"If we go to single member districts we would have to redistrict anyways," countered Commissioner Hall.
Commission Hall also said she isn't aware that the single member district change will go into effect but that the NAACP can make efforts to get it on the ballot and that "they are more than welcome to do that."
Despite her contention that dividing Dunbar would have little effect on them one way or another, Commissioner Hall insisted that when it came to her representation of the River District under Alternative 6, she had a lot to bring to the table. She mentioned her previous City Council experience and her help in the implementation of downtown development plans as well as her part in the Northern Everglade and Estuaries Protection Plan. 
Maps:
Alternative 6
The NAACP's Alternative 7:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pre-Occupation Fort Myers Meeting Calls for Further Action


 
With Drew Scott, 38, as an organizer, a crowd of over 100 American citizens gathered for strength under the pavilion in Centennial Park while a twilit storm doused the city. They were of all ages, colors and had been made aware of this event via Facebook, Youtube and the media.
When 7 PM arrived, Scott took the center and announced himself with the help of some collaborators who applauded to gain everyone's attention.
"I guess one of the things that's on a lot of people's minds is what subjects do we discuss over the course of time," Scott said.
Indeed, this local movement, which arose as part of a nationwide response to Occupy Wall Street, has a lot of ground to cover if the Declaration by the Occupation of New York is any indication. So, the meeting set out with the objectives of having people speak their minds, find common ground and set a date for further action.
Passion and some controversy was on display.
One of the first issues that arose was a possible conflict with Zombiecon, an event expected to possibly attract 10,000 visitors. Various speakers made the points that it may or may not be wise to compete with or piggyback on Zombiecon. Eventually, it was decided to have the next action, a march, on the same day, October 15, but earlier, at noon.
Volunteers were culled to meet any legal hurdles such as permits.  Other speakers in the crowd made suggestions such as the need to remain peaceful, to educate yourself and to be careful about the content of signs.

Issues that were discussed included the need to stimulate small businesses in the area and diversify the economy, that the movement should remain inclusive and not be geared toward electing politicians.
However, Jim Roach, who is running for congress, interjected he was running as "part of the 99 %" and won some applause.
One speaker bemoaned that America was simply not the land of opportunity it had once been and that his grandparents told him it used to be "easy to make money in America."  One attendee said he had been a part of the Tea Party and was forcibly removed from a Tea Party event when he said he supported a government health program.
When one attendee bemoaned the comparisons made to hippies by the right wing media another said he approved of the comparison and that "our weapon should be love and love conquers hate."  It was said we should have the audacity of those who put flowers in guns during the 60's protests.
Online progressive marketing maven, Dez Futurez, promoted his Occupation t-shirts.
Some tension arose when a supporter of Ron Paul called for a lessening of regulation. This was met with several other speakers claiming more regulation was needed. Another speaker declared that we could not let issues divide us.
Scott called a close to the proceedings and conducted interviews with the media present.
The storm continued.
Occupy Fort Myers  Rally:  October 15, 2011 starting at noon  at Centennial Park

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Time to Pull Out of Big Banks?



Recently, Bank of America angered many customers by announcing it would start charging $60 annually for use of its debit cards.   Several years ago, I ended my relationship with Bank of America after I was hit with over $300 in fee and opted to place my money in a local bank which charges me no fees.
If you select to use a small local bank there may be certain disadvantages, most of them small inconveniences, but at least you won't be feeding an over-sized financial organization with $2.264 trillion in assets which is at the game of class warfare against its customers.
Local banks may have fewer ATM locations and you could have to use foreign ATM's if you leave town.  However, with the proper planning this can be avoided.  Generally, when I use an ATM I have already decided how much cash I'll require until I use it again. Cash is a good thing to have on hand when buying food stuffs at a farmer's market.
Some ideas here and here:


Here is a website that helps you find a local bank or credit union to move your money to:



Occupy Fort Myers Meeting Planned



Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement centered at Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, Occupy Fort Myers has garnered momentum and support via social networking sites and is now preparing a pre-occupy meeting.
It is now set for Saturday, October 8, 7-10 PM at Centennial Park in downtown Fort Myers.
As of this writer's last check, the Facebook page for Occupy Fort Myers had over 560 likes.  Information on the rights of protesters, updates on the progress of other protests and discussion about the aims and objectives of the movement are also posted.
A member of the local movement, Mary Luz, said she was prompted to participate by her nephew Mark Luz of New Hampshire.  What were his reasons?
In a written statement, he responded: "Major resistance from the Corporate entities that don't want change. They own everything, the media, the police etc... In NH, for example, they are already trying to cause divide by setting their own political agendas, instead of focusing on the few issues we can all agree on. Which is corporate money ruling the people, because they have money and influence to buy off politicians and make the laws for themselves, yet hurt the people in the process. The people's voice is no longer heard in Washington, unless you have the money to back it up."
"The only tactic that is being used is to peacefully demonstrate," Luz continued, "When the police start using force, stay peaceful. They are trying to get the movement to turn violent so they have an excuse to break things up using force."
The various Occupy movements have been springing up all over the United States.  The police response to the peaceful protests appears to many to be excessive and hundreds of protesters have already been arrested.
The movement has provoked a variety of responses from politicians.
From Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, speaking in front of the Joint Economic Committee, we have: "People are quite unhappy with the state of the economy and what's happening.  They blame with some justification the problems in the financial sector for getting us into this mess.  And they're dissatisfied with policy response here in Washington and on some level I can't blame them."
President Obama has acknowledged the movement while also defending the need for a strong financial sector and Senator Bernie Sanders has said it's time for some solutions.  He suggested breaking up some of the financial institutions that he said currently control wealth equivalent to 60% of the GDP.
Mitt Romney, in the meanwhile, called the movement dangerous.
Interestingly, class struggle goes both ways.  The need for the middle class to engage in peaceful class struggle is due to the fact that the monied elite have been engaging in class warfare all along.