Tag Archives: Florida

Ballots In a Foreign Language?


Over at The Muche, lilMike has (once again) started a discussion regarding the voting rights of Hispanics in general, and Puerto Ricans in particular. Specifically, the right of said citizens to be able to read ballots in Spanish in order to better understand political issues facing them. Mike’s referencing a federal court case here in Volusia County, Florida, in which a settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed two years ago by Crimilda Perez-Santiago. From the Orlando Sentinel:

DeLAND – On the eve of a federal trial, Volusia County and a group of Puerto Rican-born west Volusia residents have reached a tentative settlement of a lawsuit over bilingual ballots.

Five residents and the Volusia County Hispanic Association filed suit against Volusia County for not providing a Spanish-language ballot during the 2008 election.

Details of the settlement are still being negotiated but to end the lawsuit, the county could pay $99,995 to LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the legal defense organization representing the plaintiffs, said Volusia County Elections Supervisor Ann McFall.

The county would also agree to provide interpreters and bilingual poll workers at certain precincts, and to provide bilingual ballots in 2012, McFall said.

The agreement would have to be approved by the Volusia County Council, which is scheduled to discuss the settlement on April 15.

McFall said that if the case had gone to trial and if the county had lost, it would have cost Volusia County half a million dollars.

John Garcia, spokesman for LatinoJustice PRLDEF, said the organization would not comment on the pending settlement. PRLDEF is an acronym for the group’s original name Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that under the Voting Rights Act, they were entitled to a ballot in Spanish because they were raised in schools in Puerto Rico where Spanish is the dominant language.

Although Volusia County already provides some assistance to Spanish-language residents, it didn’t provide bilingual ballots.

Volusia County has about 18,000 registered voters who are self-described as Hispanic, McFall said.

Entwined in the stereotypical protestations that “English is the national language!” and “I think that anyone who wishes to become a citizen of the US needs to be able to speak English well enough to function among English speaking people!” one sees an obvious lack of knowledge – an ignorance, if you will – of our laws. In stating his disapproval of the court case, Mike states:

I think it’s simply a community activist organization shopped for an aggrieved “victim” to push their particular political agenda.”

Now…that statement may or may not be true. However, it certainly shouldn’t marginalize the fact that Americans of Hispanic heritage in this nation are provided the necessary protections based upon population to be able to view ballots and election material in a language other than English:

The law covers those localities where there are more than 10,000 or over 5 percent of the total voting age citizens in a single political subdivision (usually a county, but a township or municipality in some states) who are members of a single minority language group, have depressed literacy rates, and do not speak English very well.

It’s fairly obvious that following the 2010 Census, Volusia County (and most likely, every county in the State) will need to follow these requirements. Unfortunately, lilMike didn’t verify this fact until he had riled the populace:

Although it does seem pointless.  It sounds like the census from 2010 will probably have every county in Central Florida with bilingual ballots.  So that will happen regardless.

As is often the case, I wonder just who, exactly, is pushing disinformation* in an attempt to “push their particular political agenda“!

*Merriam-Webster: Disinformation:  false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth.

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E2 Immigration Reform


A friend of mine and his wife, along with thousands of others in this country, are encountering a problem with the E-2 Visa. Few people not involved with the program are aware of it’s existence or requirements.  They’re explained fully at the link, but here’s a summary of what is expected of the Visa holder:

  • The investor, either a real or corporate person, must be a national of a treaty country.
  • The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise.
  • The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
  • The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.
  • The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.
  • The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.

Educated, hard-working businessmen and women are allowed to own a business in our country, contributing to our wealth and economy. People who came to oursol country to share in the American dream. People who have pledged their livelihood and funds to making our country a better place. People who above all, now consider America their home.

People who, after five, ten, twenty or more years want the opportunity to stand before a judge and state

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce aoathnd abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Yet they can’t, thanks to an archaic, outdated, and unnecessary law. 

From my friends, Allan and Maggie Collins:

I thought that my days of political protests were over in 1960 when I was arrested for protesting about apartheid outside the S. African Embassy in London.  The Magistrate bound me over for six months to keep the peace, fined me ten shillings and sixpence and sent me on my way.

Most of our friends know that Maggie and I have been here for about seventeen years on E-2 Business Visas.  This means we have had to invest “substantial” funds into our own business, employ Americans, pay our taxes and be profitable.  The visas have to be renewed, costing about $10K, every five years and we have absolutely zero assurance that our application will be approved.  There is a sword of Damocles hanging over our heads at all times and who knows when we might be deported or refused re-entry into the USA.  The E-2 Visa (temporary residency) cannot be converted to Green Card (permanent residency) status and much less to citizenship which is certainly what Maggie and I so desperately want. 

 On Friday, October 23rd we attended an “E-2 Visa Reform Reception” – polite words for a protest rally!  About 400 men, women and children attended representing 148 small businesses owned and managed by E-2 holders mostly located in and around Central Florida.  We discovered that those 148 businesses have about $48 million invested in the USA.  They employ 776 Americans and have a total annual turnover exceeding $55 million.  These are real and sizeable numbers and contribute considerably to the economy.  But at any time those small businesses could be closed down at the whim of an immigration bureaucrat and the owners deported, sometimes in handcuffs.  We heard some harrowing tales of people to whom this had happened.  We also heard from children who, at age 21, can be put on the next plane to their homeland, a country for which they have little affinity or knowledge.

 We also learned that politicians and, more particularly their staff, have little or no idea about this injustice.  Individuals who write letters in protest generally receive a form-letter thanking the writer for their support of immigration control with no mention of E-2 Visa reform.  Individual letters make little difference and are generally consigned to the round filing cabinet under someone’s desk.  But a concerted effort with hundreds thousands of letters and emails arriving in a single week will be noticed and, perhaps, be acted upon.

 So it was decided that November 5th (a significant British anniversary) would be the letter-writing day and I hope all y’all will join us in supporting this movement, please.  Over the next few days I will be sending out a text to be cut and pasted.  There will also be a complete list of every politician representing Florida in the Senate and House of Representatives in Washington D.C. with contact information.  Apparently emails are the most effective and cost you nothing but a few minutes of your time.

We’re here, we pay our way and we’d like to stay so please help.

———————————————————————————–

I ask you, my readers and friends, to sign THIS PETITION in support of

House Bill H.R.1162 – The E-2 Non-Immigrant Investor Adjustment Act of 2009 – introduced in the 111th Congress by Congressman Adam Putnam (R-FL).

For more details please visit www.E2Reform.org. Thank you!

Chuck’s Story – Another Look


My friend Kelly over at the VSJ just posted a story about another friend of ours, Chuck. Rather than provide a short comment in her blog, I thought I’d comment on Chuck’s Story here.

Speaking as someone who once sat in that chair at a home health care agency submitting requests to Medicaid I’d like to shed some light on the problem here.

The problem is not with the concept of Medicaid. Medicaid, as originally intended, provided a life line to the poor and disabled to obtain health care. However, thanks to partisan cost-cutting by Republicans on a national and state level the program is but a shell of what it once was, with myraid rules and accountability to prevent fraud and yearly caps on treatment costs.

In Florida, the greatest change to Medicaid occurred in 2005 when then Gov. Jeb Bush rammed the “privatization” of Medicaid through the state’s legislature. Bush’s Medicaid Czar, Alan Levine, an insurance company lobbyist, devised a haphazard plan to hand the entire system over to the insurance companies to manage.

The resultant changes have resulted in loss of care to thousands of patients, refusal to honor payments to providers, and the subsequent refusal of physicians to treat Medicaid patients. Why provide care when it might be months, even years, to be reimbursed for your service?

A report by the Kaiser Foundation highlighted the failures of the proposed changes to Florida Medicaid to deaf ears. It’s funny how many of the items cited are the same talking points Republicans are using today to spread misinformation on President Obama’s proposed health care reform:

 

Florida’s waiver moves away from the traditional insurance concept of shared risk to individual risk. The state plans to use historical utilization data to develop individual risk scores to reflect health care needs to derive the premiums allotted to individuals. Therefore, the accuracy of the scores will be critical to assuring whether individuals can access adequate coverage.

 

You see, Kelly, Chuck’s problems are indicative of why health care reform is needed. President Obama’s plan will not only allow Chuck the opportunity to obtain health care through a Private Option, it will also streamline Medicaid to provide a uniform program without all the fraud and mismanagement so prevalent today – thus saving millions of dollars.

And allowing Chuck to receive the proper care he needs.

Welcome to Florida!


beachYou have to love this beautiful state I live in. We have gorgeous weather, beautiful beaches, great sports teams…

And the stupidest politicians in the country! And trust me, if you listen to the news lately, that’s a pretty tough pill to swallow.

This week I’d like to announce three Florida winners of the Stupid Person Award.

We have our very own Gov. Crist (I like to refer to him as Gov. Lisp), gaycharlie whose only goal is to go as far in politics as possible, issues be damned.

The same Governor who went over twenty five years as a single man (following a short marriage to a lesbian).

The same Governor who enjoyed a whirlwind romance and married just about the time John McCain and the Republican Party started tossing his name against the Vice Presidential nominee wall to see if it would stick.

The same Governor whose “wife” never moved into the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee after a state-paid honeymoon in Europe. And still hasn’t.

The same Governor who, after being dissed by the McCain camp, decided to ignore his constituents and started a campaign for the Senate in 2010.

The same Governor who, nestled securly in his closet,  supported Amendment 2, denying gays the right to marriage in the state.

The same Governor who, two weeks ago, used “Explore Adoption Day” to proclaim the state was “doing the right thing” in denying gays the right to adopt children.

Really!

Moving on to our next recepients of the Stupid Person Award.

The co-winners of this week’s Stupid Person award are State Senator Carey Baker, a Republican (duh) from Eustis, and his buddy, State Representative Scott Plakon, of Longwood.

What has Mr. Baker decided to do?

Mr. Baker has decided that the people ofcant-fix-stupid Florida don’t need health care reform of any type.

Together, they have introduced legislation in the form of a Constitutional Amendment in our State Legislature, HR 37, which would nullify any chance for Florida citizens to benefit from health care coverage when President Obama and Congress pass it.

States Mr. Baker’s legislation:

To preserve the freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care:

“A law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system”

Hello? Mr. Baker? Can you climb out from under that sewer in Eustis and understand something?

There are, count them, over 3.6 million uninsured in Florida.

That’s 20.2% of the state’s 18.1 million people who are without health insurance.

The Elderly.

The Children.

The infirm.

The poor.