Florida unemployment rate soars, bay area even worse

U.S. unemployment rate history. -Wikimedia.org

St. Petersburg, Fla.

Florida unemployment rates reach 11.5 percent and 12.3 percent in the Tampa Bay area.

Among lowlights revealed Friday:

• In shedding 16,700 more jobs last month, Florida not only lost more jobs than any other state, it exceeded the net loss of jobs for the entire country (11,000 jobs).

• Florida’s unemployment rate rose to a 34-year high of 11.5 percent, up from a revised 11.3 percent in October. The state rate is now running a full 1.5 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate. For much of the recession, the gap had been one percentage point or less.

• The Tampa Bay area’s jobless rate jumped half a percentage point to 12.3 percent, making it the most job-challenged major metropolitan area in Florida. The region’s most sluggish county remained Hernando, which saw its unemployment rate rocket to 14.7 percent, up from 14.0 percent the prior month.

County-by-county unemployment rates

County Nov. 2009 Oct. 2009 Nov. 2008
Citrus 12.6 percent 12.1 percent 9.3 percent
Hernando 14.7 percent 14.0 percent 10.2 percent
Hillsborough 12.1 percent 11.7 percent 7.5 percent
Pasco 13.2 percent 12.6 percent 8.8 percent
Pinellas 11.7 percent 11.3 percent 7.7 percent
Flagler (highest) 16.8 percent 16.2 percent 11.1 percent
Liberty (lowest) 6.1 percent 5.4 percent 4.5 percent
Tampa Bay area* 12.3 percent 11.8 percent 7.9 percent
Florida 11.5 percent 11.3 percent 7.2 percent
Nation 10.0 percent 10.2 percent 6.8 percent

* Combines Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Note: County and Tampa Bay area numbers are not seasonally adjusted. Florida and U.S. numbers are seasonally adjusted.

Source: Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation


Auschwitz ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign stolen

'Work Sets You Free' sign that hangs above the entrance to the former Auschwitz death camp was stolen early Friday.


The famous sign reading “work sets you free” that hangs above the Aushwitz Nazi death camp in Poland was stolen early Friday morning from the camp turned museum.

From the St. Petersburg Times:

The 16-foot sign bearing the German words “Arbeit Macht Frei” – “Work Sets You Free” – spanned the main entrance to the Auschwitz death camp, where more than 1 million people, mostly Jews, were killed during World War II.

Working under the cover of darkness and timing their theft between regular security patrols, the culprits unscrewed the 90-pound steel banner on one side and tore it off on the other, then carried it 300 yards to an opening in a concrete wall.

The opening, which had been left intentionally to preserve a poplar tree dating back to the war, was blocked by four metal bars, which the thieves cut. Footprints in the snow led to the nearby road, where police believe the sign was loaded onto a vehicle.

…The slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” appeared at the entrances of other Nazi camps, including Dachau and Sachsenhausen, but the long curving sign at Auschwitz is the best known.

What do you think this act suggests?

Crist signs bill to get SunRail moving


Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill Wednesday that marks the beginning of the construction of the first commuter train system in Central Florida.

Crist says that the SunRail “is about jobs, jobs, jobs. If ever there was a time that we needed an infusion [of jobs] … this rail project makes our statement loud and clear.”

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer predicted at least 8,000 jobs would be created to build the $1.2 billion train system, which eventually will run 61.5 miles from Deland in Volusia County through downtown Orlando to Poinciana in Osceola County. Thousands more jobs could result from related development along the corridor, he has said.

Construction could begin in June, once a funding agreement with the federal government is made final and the tracks are purchased from the CSX railroad company in Jacksonville. In total, CSX will be paid $491 million.

Trains could begin to run along the first 30 miles — from DeBary in Volusia to Sand Lake Road in south Orange County — in late 2012, though that could slide into 2013. The second half of the system could open two years later.

When the SunRail is finally up and running, will it provide an efficient service? Will it connect to enough major cities and prove to be something that is needed in Florida, ultimately setting the stage for a high speed rail system in the future?

Florida Supreme Court rules fleeing police ‘resisting arrest’

Tampa, Fla.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that it is illegal to run from a police officer in a high-crime area after being asked to stop. The offense is considered resisting arrest without violence.

From the St. Petersburg Times:

Fleeing alone is not a criminal offense. But the state’s highest court cited a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that running from police in high-crime areas created the reasonable suspicion needed to make a lawful investigative stop.

Coupled with Florida law, continued flight in knowing defiance of law enforcement constituted resisting arrest without violence, the majority said.

“This Court is obligated to apply the law as written by the Legislature and to follow the Fourth Amendment precedent laid out by the United States Supreme Court, even if we question the wisdom of that precedent or the public policy behind the law,” the majority opinion stated.

This ruling specifically affects a case in 2007 where a 15-year-old boy from Hillsborough County saw police patrolling his apartment complex (located in a high-crime area) and ran when the patrol car approached. He continued to run after the police asked him to stop. This case brought about the need for a Fla Supreme Court decision, as the case was appealed in many levels of district courts. The state Supreme Court addressed a question that needed clarifying: does running from the police after being asked to stop constitute resisting arrest?


“When you start talking about stopping people,” Proffitt said, “it’s a very broad area of law.”

Unlike for vehicular pursuits, the St. Petersburg Police Department doesn’t have a policy about who officers can run after and why. That’s up to the officers. But it does have rules when officers stop and question people.

“Short of an arrest,” Proffitt said, “an officer needs a reasonable, articulable suspicion that somebody has committed a crime.”

Police, as history has seen, tend to overstep their constitutional bounds. Technically the police are not allowed to search your car without “probable cause,” but does that law necessarily dissuade them from creating probable cause?

This recent state Supreme Court ruling raises a striking question: even if one is doing nothing wrong and is not involved in any illegal activity, what is one resisting arrest for?

Also, how will this ruling affect poor neighborhoods? Will it make criminals out of law-abiding citizens? Will it make criminals out of the people who were simply taught to steer clear of the police?

The full text of the ruling can be found here at the Florida Supreme Court website.
Let me know.

The health care debate: what indesiciveness says about the U.S.

There is no doubt that the health care debate has been a ubiquitous topic in every newspaper across the country. Many are wondering what will happen next and are worried about what is to come and for good reason.

In the midst of a foreign entanglement, the U.S. is caught between the precarious brink between here and there. We’re involved there, yet we live and also must deal with issues here. As a collective whole, we broadcast our concern (through the people that represent us) about “national security.” To remedy the problem, we send 30,000 additional troops to foreign lands to ultimately kill in the name of peace. But it is for the good of the country, we are told, and we can do nothing else but wait and see.

Like the war, we must also wait to see what becomes of the promise for a public health care option as part of a reform of health care in the United States. To support the idea that anything other than a public option being the best choice for the U.S would be another morally unsound choice.

There are so many mothers and fathers and wives and sons and sisters that even though they’re sick and miserable, they still have to show up for work at their crappy minimum wage jobs or else they’ll be fired and feel like bad people and poor providers that can’t even put a bean can on the table after work. The children of these people do not have access to health care, either. Many of these people work really hard jobs and just feel cheated by the system.

These people are out there. It seems that many of the privileged Americans ride around in a cushy existence from day to day, selfish wanting more and more of what they already have.

No one should have to suffer without basic health care.

As Americans we like to be seen as the ultimate charity organization. We like to suggest that we’re concerned about the economic situation and political unrest in Iraq and that we have real concern for our own national securtiy, but is denying our own citizens basic health services a good display of concern for our national security?

Furthermore, do we want to broadcast that we are so singularly selfish that we’re denying many children the right to see a doctor?

We should be concerned of how others view our country on the basis of genuine moral standards, otherwise we sort of open ourselves to a stigma of questionable national security. After all, isn’t that what we’re trying to adjust right now in Iraq?

In making a big decision about the health of the nation, I ask that Congress push for what is morally sound.

What I ask from the rest of you, is would it really be so awful to have a public option included in the health reform bill, that would allow everyone to have access to what I have? Is the public deserving of a basic right to medical attention?

53 percent of Americans support legalization of marijuana, according to poll


Breaking News: A poll conducted by Angus Reid Global Monitor shows that 53 percent of respondants think marijuana should be legalized. The Marijuana Policy Project blog is an excellent resource to check out on this topic.

This study found many interesting points. View the full study here.

– 53% support legalizing marijuana
– 68% believe the “War on Drugs” has
been a failure
– 70% believe that America has a serious
drug abuse problem which affects the
entire country


It is important to note that Democrats, Republicans and Independents all share the same level of concern
about drug abuse, and the failure of the “War on Drugs”. However, a proposal to legalize marijuana would
hold the support of a majority of Democrats (61%) and Independents (55%), but a smaller proportion of
GOP voters (43%).

The survey shows that, while the preoccupation with drug abuse in America is widespread, the level of
satisfaction with the “War on Drugs” is minuscule.

The survey shows that 61 percent of Democrats approve legalization as well as 55 percent Independents and 43 percent Republicans. These findings may prove to be crucial as the United States moves towards decriminalization and possibly legalization.

Ahoy, readers! What do you think, does a 43 percent GOP approval surprise you? What kinds of effects will this survey have?

St. Petersburg may see new age in billboards

St. Petersburg, Fla.

Mayor Rick Baker has a proposed agreement with Clear Channel that would eliminate 110 billboards from St. Petersburg and would be replaced with 10 digital billboards, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Clear Channel, the radio conglomerate, owns 144 billboards in St. Petersburg, making up 80 percent of all billboards in the city.

Among the issues in the proposed ordinance that Baker has agreed to address and council members should review:

• Any digital billboard should replace an existing sign at the same location and should be no taller than the current sign.

• There should be a minimum of 2,500 feet between digital billboards, and drivers should not be able to see more than one at a time.

• All future deals with billboard companies for digital billboards should require the removal of existing signs in the proportions that the Clear Channel deal would require.

It is argued that drivers would be negatively affected by the digital billboards because of the frequent message change and bright lights. Check out the aforementioned article in the St. Pete Times

Do you think that this will pass before Baker leaves office in January? How will digital billboards affect drivers?

For more information:

Clear Channel website

St. Pete city website announcement of billboard proposal


There is an upcoming St. Petersburg City Council meeting concerning the matter:

In order to implement the proposal, City Council will need to amend its Land
Development Regulations to allow the new electronic technology. Council will
discuss the proposal at its December 17 meeting.