ATHLETIC SHORTS & IRONMAN
June 15, 2006
In June of 2005, Hillsborough County
Commissioner Ronda Storms insisted a book display including two Crutcher
books in her local library be removed -- and soon after, they
Although the covers were not in
any case sexually graphic, they fronted books for teens
that treated homosexual characters with respect and dignity and
were posted to mark the regions celebration of gay
Storms demanded the display be
dismantled and, eventually won the battle to end any public gay pride
“I do not want to have to explain to
my [6-year-old] daughter what it means to be questioning one’s
sexuality … or what a transgender person is, or what a bisexual is or
what a gay or lesbian is,” said Storms. The library, she
said, shouldn’t be “used as bully pulpit to introduce those
concepts to a child outside of their parents’ purview.” Only one
county commissioner voted against the ban, which resulted in the removal
of the shelf of books, as well as a larger display in the central
On June 15, 2006 and throughout the
month of June, dozens of organizations joined forces under the banner "Hillsborough Pride
is Back," to protest the ban of books and gay pride
expression and invited Crutcher to attend a special reading.
Unfortunately, he was unable to make the trip, but he fully endorses the
protest and wishes he could have been there in body as well as in
Pride is Back
Library No Place for Gay Pride, Storms
Hillsborough Bans County From
Recognizing Gay Pride
Storms Bid for State Senate
Resources for Providing
GLBTQ & SA Library Services for Young Adults
|NEW Teaching Guide!
to Greenwillow/HarperCollins, you can now get a copy of,
"A Guide to Teaching Challenged and Banned Books:
Featuring the novels of Chris Crutcher." There
are low resolution (72dpi) jpgs of each of the 8 pages HERE.
But for a real paper copy, email Kelly with
an address and she'll get them right out to you.
(Source: Via email on
July 31, 2006, from Kelly Halls, Chris Crutcher's Assistant with
article timeline information/research)
Crutcher has worked with the state
ACLU in several instances and they are dogged about trying to move
these kinds of lawsuits forward whenever possible. But Karen
Doering is right, a concise synopsis of what's happened needs to be
I've put together an article
timeline for Crutcher's benefit...But the ACLU (NOTE: For example, if
the ACLU decides to take any more action at this particularly time)
responds, and will need everything documented (as noted in other cases
in other states) -- all the emails anyone has access to directly from
Storms and her associates, anything that proves she had the materials
pulled, based on her own personal taste."
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additional articles added to the following "Timeline" was
compiled by Kelly Halls, Shirley Rhodes, Mark Ferguson, President of
Brandon PRIDE, and USF LIS professors, Dr. Alexander and Dr. McCook -
Please submit any more materials or information via email to Dr. Linda B. Alexander.)
Ronda Storms Summary/Timeline
Hillsborough County, Florida
June 9, 2005
Library no place for gay pride
display, Storms says
Commissioner Ronda Storms said she will schedule the issue for a
board discussion where she intends to ask that such displays be
banned. As the mother of a 6-year-old daughter, she said she does
not want to be forced to explain homosexuality and transexuality if
her child passes such a display and starts asking questions.
"I do not want to have to
explain to my daughter what it means to question one's
sexuality," Storms said during a budget workshop Wednesday.
Hillsborough bans county from
recognizing gay pride. What began as a ban on library displays
grows into a broad county policy. Storms: "I move
that we adopt a policy that Hillsborough County government abstain
from acknowledging, promoting or participating in gay pride
recognition and events, little g, little p." The vote comes
about a week after a story in the St. Petersburg Times noted that a
book display recognizing Gay and Lesbian Pride Month was taken down
at West Gate Regional Library after some library patrons complained.
The story mentioned a similar
exhibit at John F. Germany Library in downtown Tampa. October
6, 2005, County Commission Votes Against Gay Protection. The
Hillsborough panel rejects a proposal prohibiting workplace
discrimination and makes it more difficult to put the issue on a
(NOTE: One week before National Coming Out Day
October 11, 2005.
At the time, Storms and
commissioners said they weren't discriminating against gays, but
they just didn't want taxpayer money to recognize their lifestyle.
Now was their chance to prove they
didn't mean to discriminate, Castor said. Not so, said Storms, who
said the board had already decided the issue a "long time
(Note: April 28, 2006,
Storms makes Political vows. The state Senate
candidate says she would work to bar gays and lesbians from being
foster parents.) "I don't support putting at-risk
children in homes that I think are
at-risk themselves," she said of gay foster parents.)
Commission bans county from recognizing gay pride
Storms bolstered her proposal with an unusual second motion to
require a public hearing and supermajority vote by the commission to
overturn the policy. The motion also passed with only Castor voting
Gay rights activists unite in opposition
Monday night, Equality Florida held an emergency meeting to share
some ideas about how to get that policy reversed. So many people
showed up at Metropolitan Community Church that overflow rooms had
to be set up to accommodate everyone.
Library display's organizer wants the books to be found (Original St. Petersburg Times article included a
book list that had errors. PLEASE NOTE: Updated Banned Book List with
Book Reviews - compiled by Shirley J. Rhodes (from Dr. Linda B.
Alexander's Banned Book List), as part of this Report and
LIS6565 requirements, Summer 2006.)
Meagan Albright could see herself
working in library administration, or perhaps with the American
Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom.
But what she would really love to
be is a librarian who works with young adults - which helps explain
the teen-friendly book display she put together for Gay and Lesbian
Pride Month at West Gate Regional Library in Town 'N Country, where
she works part time.
"Suicide is the No. 1 leading
cause of death for gay teens," she said. "I wanted to
provide outreach to that particular segment of the population."
Storms irate at gay flier at a library
The pamphlet "Lesbian & Gay Support Groups: You are not
alone!'' includes telephone numbers and Web addresses for groups
such as Also Out Youth, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition and
The Other Queer Page. The pamphlet contains an "OK to be Gay''
"In my opinion, it engages
Hillsborough County in very high-risk behavior, not to mention
encouraging children to engage in very high-risk behavior,'' Storms
She suggested the pamphlet directs
children to people and places without their parents' knowledge. The
list of Web addresses includes Parents, Families & Friends of
Lesbians & Gays and Gay Parent Magazine.
Storms obtained the pamphlet
Friday, nine days after proposing the policy to ``abstain from
acknowledging, promoting and participating'' in gay pride
recognition or events. The gay pride display at West Gate and a
presentation of gay-themed books at the John F. Germany branch
downtown were ordered removed after the June 15 vote.
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June 23, 2005
Storms defends new policy
"The question is whether
Hillsborough County should promote gay pride, and the answer to the
question is, 'No,' '' Storms said during an interview in her office.
19, 2005 SEPARATE ISSUE
A dilemma over sheltering sex
offenders (during a hurricane)
Kelly's summary: Sex offenders sent back to jails as
shelters because they can't go to shelters where kids
are. No family, no smoking, wear name tags, can't leave or
they're violating probation and will be arrested.
Strictest, Hillsborough County --
driving force behind the policy was Ronda Storms, according to
NPR. They will provide no alternative housing, not even jails.
Storms considering race for State
"Any time that happens, you
have to give it serious consideration."
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On Political Connections,
Storms said she supported state lawmakers intervening to keep
Terri Schiavo alive, wants to pass as many restrictions on
abortion as possible and supports changing Florida's practice of
allowing gay and lesbian couples from serving as foster parents.
Gays and lesbians can care for foster children, but under Florida
law cannot adopt children.
"I don't support putting
at-risk children in homes that I think are at-risk
themselves," she said of gay foster parents.
Storms said the hostility she has
received from gay and lesbian residents has been unfair:
"I've had all sorts of threats and horrible things said and
done to me. ... I never attacked anybody's appearance and in fact
worked very closely with people who are out-of-the-closet
homosexuals and they will tell you I have never done anything but
treat them with dignity and respect in my personal working
relationship with them."
Reporter fired (asked to resign) for MySpace Storms spoof
Storms found the fake profile on Myspace.com, a social networking
Internet site, while doing a routine search on her name Sunday
night. Monday, she asked county officials to file an objection
with Myspace, and the site apparently was taken down hours later.
The site included legitimate
information about Storms' education and positions on county boards
but satirized her views on gay people, sexual mores and religion.
It included comments directed at Storms' backing of a ban on
county support of gay pride.
A second site featuring Storms'
official county commission picture, but little else, remained
active Thursday night. So did Vivinetto's personal Myspace page,
which included an image of a poster promoting an anti-Storms event
held in October. A caption under the poster, which features
a stylized rendering of Storms' official photo, reads,
"B-I-G-O-T, and BIGOT was her name-o."
June 7th, 2006
Wednesday, 9am the County
Commissioners will meet for their monthly meeting. Brandon Pride
encourages everyone to show up early that morning to let the
Commissioners know that even without their approval that our
community will still continue to promote Diversity, Equality, and
Gay Pride in Hillsborough County.
Regular meetings of the Board of
County Commissioners are open to the public and are held on the
first and third Wednesdays of each month, beginning at 9 a.m.
Speakers generally are limited to three minutes. So get there 8am
to sign up. The Commissioners offices and boardroom are located on
the 2nd floor of County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in downtown
Tampa. For more information call 813-272- 5660.
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Tolerance/Gay Pride Display - <http://www.hcplc.org/hcplc/liblocales/bdl/>)
(Note: At least 2
other Banned Book Displays - University of South Florida,
St. Petersburg, and Orlando Public Library (OCLS) had similar
(Gay) Pride display set up in the Libraries.)
Does the Hillsborough County Commission have
the best interest for the GLBT Community? You judge for yourself?
June 15th, 2006, Thursday, 7-9pm. Embracing Tolerance/Gay Pride
Display. Readings from Library books that were removed from Pride
displays last year that embrace Pride, Diversity, and Equality,
and to let Hillsborough County Commissioners that we have not
forgotten their decision to not show any support, or recognition
towards the gay community. Venue: Bloomingdale Library
Community Room, 1906 Bloomingdale Avenue, Valrico.
June 16, 2006
WMNF Newscast on Pride Banned Book Display event held on June 15,
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Pride amid a protest
“You're a sodomite! You're filthy! You need Jesus Christ!”
yelled a 23-year-old evangelist who would not give his name or
He called himself “John the Baptist,” and kept preaching even
after someone threw a drink on him. Ice cubes sat melting on his
“You probably have AIDS. Is that why you're so small?” he
yelled at a gay man.
June 29, 2006
Storms resigns her District 4 county seat to run
for District 10 State Senate seat
Asked why the county staff was publicizing the event, and not her
campaign, Storms said, “It’s a resignation from my county
When it was observed that the
announcement felt like a campaign event, Storms said, “Sorry about
that. I can’t help how you feel. There’s therapy for that.’’
Storms backs out of debate
Storms originally accepted an invitation from the St. Petersburg
Times and Bay News 9 to take part in a debate on Aug. 10, but had to
back out when the commission scheduled a public hearing for the
controversial Lake Hutto development project for the same time.
The Times offered Storms four
alternate dates, but Storms said her agenda is packed with board
meetings, public hearings and campaign events on those days.
"I cannot miss official
commission duty to go engage in a debate," Storms said, adding
that she already participated in several debates held by the Plant
City Republican Women's Club, the Hillsborough County Republican
Executive Committee and the Sun City Center Republican Club.
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August 3, 2006
emails/listserv responses to question (See below) posed by Shirley
In a message dated 8/3/2006 10:08:37
P.M. Eastern Standard Time, email@example.com writes:
"Why isn't the ACLU, NCLR, Equality Florida, teachers, school
media specialists, librarians, or any gay pride group rallying
Response from Bart Birdsall via
email dated August 6, 2006:
"I can only speak for media
specialists. I posted 3 emails about the gay pride march downtown
last summer and the library display issue when it first occurred
on the school district media specialist folder/message board. I
think I received 2-3 responses that had supportive words but no
commitment to work with me on it. Then, the school district pulled
me into Professional Standards for posting those messages saying
it was "political use of the school district email
system." School district employees are scared to death to
speak out on things. When they are not, they get punished. It's
ridiculous. This is wide spread in Hillsborough County. No one
wants to speak out, and it makes it harder for those of us who do.
There is more to my case and it
can be read easily, if you Google my name. Basically, the
Superintendent jumpstarted the investigation with a newspaper
article I appeared in and home emails I sent to the public library
director complaining about his not standing up for Intellectual
Freedom, and when Professional Standards found out I had 1st
Amendment Rights to appearing in the newspaper and sending home
AOL emails to the library director, they decided to lock up my
email system at school and go hunting for a technicality to call
me in and chastise me and while I was there let me know that the
Superintendent gave them the AOL emails and the newspaper article,
so I would be scared and hush up. Two days after the meeting I
read from the books taken off display with a bullhorn in front of
the county building. I decided I cared more about my freedom and
1st Amendment Rights than any job. I wish more people felt this
Responses and Attachments of
Information from Mark Ferguson via emails dated August 6, 2006:
I dont think the ACLU, and NCLR are interested after talking to
them about what happened. Read the attachment anyway." (NOTE
A second email on a similar subject matter, and two additional
attachments will be included below, from Mark Ferguson, August
Attachment 1/Related Subject: The
county argues and The First amendment just went down in flames
in a federal district court in FLorida/July 26, 2006...
of rejection by:
Parks we wanted to reserve for Brandon Pride fest on June 17th,
Park, Brandon Recreational Center
As far as the
County Parks Dept I was constantly getting the run
around by Scott Burkett, Lois Castler, Marty Bradley and the
staff of the Athletic, and Recreational Parks on if
Brandon Pride can hold a Pride event, or not.
were issues on if people smoked, and drinked, along with the
music would disturb the neighbors, and the wildlife. The issue
of not enough parking would not be able to accommodate an
attendance of over 100 people. Then I was told that every
athletic park would not be available June 17th because of Little
League. Therefore none of the Athletic Parks, or Recreational
Parks would not be available that day. But Scott Burkett later
told me that all the parks staff has to get approval from the
Hillsborough County Commissions for any group/organization that
wants to reserve a park.
Bradley stated that
the Brandon Recreational Center was available on June
17,2006, and suggested that Brandon Pride re-submit another
application which I sent out to them, and then Jason at
931-rent stated that it was not available at all.
contacted the Florida State Parks Dept on seeing if Lithia
Pinecrest State Park, or any other parks was available and
I received the same excuses the County Parks Dept gave.
So I then
contacted the Florida State Fairgrounds:
Covington, and Julie Dean who is in charge of
reservations stated that they would mail us the application
packet since June 17th was available. We still have
not received the packet, or they have not returned any of
our phone calls.
We then tried
to reserve the grounds outside of the Westfield Mall in
Brandon. Mall Reservations agent Taylor Clifton told us
that it was available that day, but then after we applied the
next day we were told by Mall Reservations agent Erik
Carlson that it was reserved two months prior to our
I called the Brandon
HCC Facilities Operator Richard Cronan who stated that
their school property is not available that weekend because they
are doing construction, and landscaping.
I also called
King High, Armwood High, Bloomingdale High, Brandon High,
East Bay High, and Riverview High as directed by the Secretary of the School Board Administrator. None of the School
Principles have returned my messages.
I tried every
Hotel within, or near the Brandon area, and the majority of them
stated that they had availability. But when I called the next
day none of them had any availability at all.
I called all
the churches in the Brandon area that could hold a huge
congregation including Bell Shoals Baptist, and First
Baptist. I was told by the church secretary at each church
that they heard from other churches I contacted, that
they knew that I would be calling them next, and that their
church does not condone such sinful behavior.
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Attachment 2/Related Subject: The county argues and The First
amendment just went down in flames in a federal district court
in Florida/July 26, 2006...
Are Candidates for County Commissioners being
bought out by power broker for his own financial gain? You judge
election, Hughes, his family and close business associates,
donate thousands of dollars toward local political candidates.
Those candidates, generally Republican, have enjoyed success in
recent years. Six of seven Hillsborough County commissioners
have received money from the Hughes bloc.
pair have ponied up more than $80,000 of their own money to
statewide candidates since 1996, public records show. And since
2000, they have put more than $30,000 into the coffers of county
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Attachment 3/Related Subject: The county argues and The First amendment just
went down in flames in a federal district court in Florida/July
Candidate banned from public debate
Transgendered Candidate for
Hillsborough County Commission District 4 Jean Batronie has been
banned from participating in a live on air public debate on Bright
house networks public access channel 20 that was set for August 9,
2006 on the COUNTY SUPPORTED cable access show called Voice of
to Jean Batronie she was contacted by a Guest Coordinator for the
show, and was told that the Station Manager Louise Thompson did
not want her come to her station for the debate. Jean has been banned from
producing a show at the station for four years.
and Arleen Batronie produced two shows that station operators
temporarily canceled because of alleged rule violations. The Two
former show producers at Hillsborough County's public access
television station have sued its operators, saying their
suspensions violated the First Amendment. "Both say the
charges that led to their suspensions were bogus and that they
were singled out because station operators did not like the
content of their shows. The station is backed by taxpayer dollars
and some of the more risque shows it runs by independent citizen
producers have rankled Hillsborough commissioners - particularly
Batronie's 2004 political opponent, Ronda Storms a candidate now
running for Florida Senate District 10. Anyone and everyone is
welcome to come down to the station and view the records with
regard to the way that these producers' suspensions were handled,
and decide for themselves what they think about it," said
Louise Thompson, who directs the station.
in 2001, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storms was
offended by some of the public access programs, and told
Board Chairman Louise Thompson that her mind was already made up
not to support funding for public access, and that she would do
all she could to get others on the commission to vote against it.
Since then Louise Thompson has removed any type of programs that
the public access channel major contributors the Hillsborough
County Commissions would find offensive.
will file a suit against the station, and the for breaking Chapter
97 of the Florida Code concerning appearances by political
candidates, and is clearly stated on page 22 of TBCN Policies and
Procedures Manual. TBCN has also violated their discriminatory
conduct policy by not allowing Jean to participate because of her
sexual orientation located on page 8 of the manual. http://www.tbcn.org
Ronda Storms who is now
running for Florida Senate District 10 has played an active role
as far as the County's funding for the channel 20 TV station,
TBCN http://www.tbcn.org/, since 2002 when questioned some of the programs that had aired.
9.11 Discrimination Prohibited.
To be consistent with federal and state constitutions, laws,
rules, and regulations, the county government shall not deprive
any person of any right because of race, sex, age, national
origin, religion, physical handicap, or political affiliation. The
administrative code shall provide adequate means for protecting
these rights, including equal opportunity assurances. http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/charterreviewboard/charter/home.cfm?viewfull=yes
Chapter 21 Filing a complaint
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August 3, 2006
(Source: Quoted from
Bart Bardswell from <firstname.lastname@example.org>)
Tonight I attended the League of Women Voters of
Hillsborough County's Candidates Forum
for school board members.)
"The School Board, District 2 race show will be telecast on
Brighthouse channel 18 and
beginning August 31st on Verizon FiOS tv channel 32. There will
also be demand streaming
Here are the dates of the
August 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 (all 8pm)
August 20 (2pm)
August 21 (10am and 8pm)
August 22 (8am)
August 23 (8pm)
August 24 (8am)
August 25 (8am)
August 26 (8pm)
August 27 (2pm)
August 28 (10am and 8pm)
August 29 (8am)
August 30 (8pm)
September 2 (8pm)
September 3 (2pm and 8pm)
September 4 (10am and 8pm)
(NOTE from Bart: Candy
Olson tried to kick gays by asking me why I don't support making
schools safer for ALL kids and not just gay ones. I answered
(paraphrase): "I believe making schools safer for one segment
of the population makes them safer for all students, and I just
came back from a summit in Denver where I learned that schools
with no or very general harassment policies that focus on all
students instead of specifying categories have much higher
incidents of bullying than schools that list the categories of
students such as sexual orientation, physical appearance, etc. You
have to give concrete examples to children, and to adults to send
a clear message about what will not be tolerated.")
supportive statistics from Colorado Public Libraries Study
- This Fast Facts not only looks at challenged materials in
Colorado public libraries in 2005, but at some trends over the
years as well. (Source: <Challenged Materials
in Colorado Public Libraries, 2005>)
August 3, 2006
(Source: ALIS Listserv,
August 3, 2006, for informational purposes only.)
Subject: Protecting Civil Liberties in the Sunshine State
American Civil Liberties Union of Florida
Protecting Civil Liberties in the Sunshine State
"We're proud to share several recent civil liberties
successes in our Sunshine State with you. We regularly share news and
action alerts regarding our work in Florida with members, and want you
to have the opportunity to be up-to-date on our fight to protect our
freedoms in your own backyard.
It is easy to sign up today and continue to receive local civil
liberties alerts and news: <http://action.aclu.org/site/R?i=2bELrY_YQMgKG6Ai53SAMw..>
Although there is still work to be done to protect our freedoms, we want
to take a few moments to share these successes with you, as well as some
We had a victory this summer in protecting free speech and resisting
efforts to impose censorship. In June, the Miami-Dade School Board voted
6-3--ignoring the advice of two committees of experts, the School
Superintendent and its own attorney--to enforce censorship by removing a
children's library book on life in Cuba, which was challenged by a
parent who found the book offensive, and the entire 24-book series in
which the book was included.
In the landmark 1982 Pico decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it
is unconstitutional to ban library books based on objections to content
or a political viewpoint. On July 24, 2006, U.S. District Court Judge
Alan S. Gold said that it is still unconstitutional and issued an
89-page Order for Preliminary Injunction against the Miami-Dade School
District. You can read the injunction here: <http://action.aclu.org/site/R?i=eqcBNaXFJeQXEgfSwQyyIg..>
While an appeal is possible, we hope
that the district will cease the misuse of taxpayer dollars on what is a
clear violation of both the Constitution and the school's own policies.
The fight for free speech in Cuba cannot be fought against the First
Amendment in Miami; the answer continues to be additional information,
not enforced censorship.
In another victory, a federal judge struck down an outdated Florida law
in June and followed a six decades-old landmark U.S. Supreme Court
ruling which prohibited schools from punishing students for respectfully
refusing to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance. Cameron
Frazier v. Cynthia Alexandre et al, an important Palm Beach case which
the ACLU argued, prohibits mandatory flag saluting -- bringing Florida
up to what has been the standard practice in the rest of America for
more than sixty years. To read more about the Palm Beach case, go
Finally, in one of our biggest wins this year, the Florida Supreme Court
struck down the Governor's "Voucher" program
that violated the State's responsibility to provide a "uniform,
efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public
schools," which would have been undermined by the diversion of
state tax dollars to private and mostly church-run
schools. We were part of the legal team that filed the challenge to the
voucher program shortly after it was enacted by the Legislature in 1999.
The news is unfortunately not all good; three other voucher programs,
enacted by the legislature in defiance of the Constitution, are still in
With attacks on our rights from all sides, it is more important than
ever for Floridians to stand up and make their voices heard. Freedom of
speech and separation of church and state are, after all, protected by
the First Amendment.
One very important way you can be involved is to stay educated on what's
happening locally and stand up for freedom with your fellow Floridians.
That's what our weekly email is all about -- keeping you up to
date and giving you the chance to do something about protecting our
liberties. It's quick and easy.
Sign up now to continue to receive these local ACLU emails.
We share these victories together. I urge you to get further involved in
our work to protect our freedoms. Getting our regular email is the best
way to do so, or visit our Web site."
American Civil Liberties Union of Florida
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July 26, 2006
Ferlita draws fire from primary foe
Petersburg Times - St. Petersburg, Fla., Janet Zink)
|Brad Swanson has
three opponents in the Republican primary for Hillsborough County
Commission, but he’s coming out swinging at one: City Council
member Rose Ferlita.
A Swanson mailer sent July
13 says the local gay community has endorsed Ferlita. In an
interview, Swanson said he’s referring to a Brandon Pride Web
site. The organizations president, Mark Ferguson, lists candidates
who would get his vote. Ferlita is the only Republican among them.
not going to discriminate against anybody, said Ferlita, who is
Hispanic. She said she remembers growing up in Tampa and seeing
signs on a Tampa beach that warned no dogs, no Latins.
August 2, 2006
The Gay Agenda
What is it, and where can we get a copy?
Published 08.02.06 (Source: http://www.weeklyplanet.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A83824)
Just as surely as the swallows return
annually to San Juan Capistrano, we've had the semi-annual playing of
the "gay" card in Florida politics. This year it comes
courtesy of Republican Brad Swanson, who wants to be a county
commissioner in Hillsborough.
His target: Republican opponent Rose
Earlier this month, Swanson sent out
a mailer to hardcore, frequent Republican voters in which he
questioned Ferlita's conservatism, her record and her support in the
Swanson's letter to voters said that
he's "not surprised that our local gay community has endorsed my
opponent" because of what he calls her "proactive role in
defending local gay issues." He then reprinted a St. Petersburg
Times story about the St. Pete Pride parade that didn't include a
reference to Ferlita -- because she wasn't there. That story likewise
doesn't mention any "endorsement" of Ferlita. But it does
include a photo of two men kissing, a shot so apparently incendiary
that Swanson was forced to blur the image lest anyone be offended or
faint -- or worse.
I have to say up front that I am not
a babe in the woods when it comes to playing the gay card. I was,
after all, a Republican political consultant for nine years and was
involved in plenty of campaigns where the client was adamantly opposed
to gay rights.
And in full disclosure, I must say I
worked in Ferlita's successful 1999 Tampa City Council election. I've
tried to avoid writing about their race, but apparently what little I
have written has ended up as fodder for another of Swanson's mailings,
which uses three quotes from this column as evidence of Ferlita's
Swanson is a new face in the
Republican camp, but he has some strong allies and a socially
conservative platform. The former child actor-turned-chamber of
commerce spokesman has an uphill climb ahead of him, in some ways.
He's one of three men running against one woman; he's raised quite a
bit less money than the frontrunner, Ferlita; and she is a two-term
Tampa City Council member with strong name recognition.
But Swanson has more than a few
things going for him, as well. He's got the eastern Hillsborough
conservative brain trust on his side, including strategist Sam Rashid
and a consultant with a strong track record of Republican victories;
Republican primary voters tend to skew to the more conservative
candidates; and some of those same voters don't like homosexuals or
any of the political issues they identify as "the gay
I wasn't aware of any gay-oriented
endorsements in any of the local races, so I called Swanson to find
out what he meant.
"Facts are facts," he said.
"Every opportunity that the gay agenda has come up before my
opponent, Rose, she has supported it. ... She needs to explain to
Republican voters why she votes so hard for the gay agenda."
Ferlita's voting record is not one
that is particularly "pro gay." One vote that Swanson cited,
favoring same-sex benefits for city employees, was actually the result
of an executive order signed by Mayor Pam Iorio, the St. Petersburg
Ferlita, however, did disagree with
the county's slapdown of a gay pride display in its public libraries.
Ferlita was quoted in the Times saying, "Personal prejudice
should be left aside. I do not agree with what the majority
Unfortunately, that kind of crazy
talk can get you killed in a Republican primary.
"She is a liberal on every
issue, from raising taxes [to social issues,]" Swanson said in
his conversation with me. "This is one example of her showing her
strength as a liberal. The coordination [between her campaign and the
gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered community] I feel is out there. I
am already receiving harassment calls from the gay community. But I
will say this, we have received many more very supportive calls from
Republicans ... that have been very supportive of the voters knowing
about the facts."
(Ferlita's campaign countered that
the only endorsements it has received came from Republican Sheriff
David Gee, Republican State Attorney Mark Ober and the Tampa
firefighters union. She also voted last week against a pay increase
for Iorio, the only no vote on the City Council.)
Swanson cited as the source of his
contention that the "local gay community" had endorsed
Ferlita in an online message written by Brandon Pride president Mark
Ferguson. In it, Ferguson said he was voting for Ferlita, but didn't
say his preference was an endorsement, nor did he claim to be
representing the local gay community.
In the aftermath, in fact, Ferguson
was livid that Swanson was using him as the crux of a political
"For the record, as President of
Brandon Pride I will not tell other members to vote for, or support a
particular candidate, or party," Ferguson said in an online
message intended for Swanson. "Nor ... will Brandon Pride endorse
a particular candidate, or party. As a nonprofit organization we
cannot support a candidate, or political party. But if you ever have a
beef about who I am voting for then, I ask you to approach me FIRST
before you include me in any cat fights you have with any other
candidate on where they stand concerning issues that effect the GLBT
Which leaves the issue of the gay
agenda. What exactly is the gay agenda? I've heard it invoked many
times, especially from social conservatives who fear gay marriage, but
I've never really studied it to see what all the hubbub is about. So I
turned to the one person I knew would have a copy: Nadine Smith, of
Equality Florida. I fired off an e-mail asking her to send me one. She
"Funny you should write me
today. I had the gay agenda earlier this week and forgot I'd put it in
the pocket of my comfortable cotton draw-string pants when I was
trying on a pair of Birkenstocks at the Farmer's Market and Fair Trade
"After stashing my purchases in
the back of my hybrid and heading home, I decided to wash a load of
clothes in environmentally friendly detergent and hang them on the
clothesline. Imagine my embarrassment when I discovered that the
agenda was now a useless wad of soggy debris, bobbing in the wash
"I'm having to reconstruct the
whole thing, and for the life of me I can't remember what comes after
'Destroy heterosexual marriage.' Oh well."
Political Whore can be reached by
e-mail at email@example.com,
by telephone at 813-739-4805 or on our blog at www.blurbex.com.
Go to TOP
August 3, 2006
A misguided accusation of bigotry
Subject: st pete times 8/3/06 letter to editors)
As a result of the press reports surrounding my recent letter to
Republican voters regarding Rose Ferlita, which questioned her proactive
role in supporting and defending "gay" issues, I have been the
recipient of vitriolic attacks from the gay community in our county as
being a bigot and "homophobic" and have been accused of
gay-bashing by your editorialists.
This is a complete misunderstanding of my comments. I would like to
clarify my personal position. It appears that everyone who doesn't
actively support a "gay" lifestyle is labeled a bigot, or
accused of "bashing" by members of this group. This is quite
ironic because, in my opinion, that attitude is as bigoted as one can
I'm proud to support all individuals in their right to live and work
productively in our society. What I find intolerable is granting special
"privileges" based on sexual orientation. As a
"straight" person, I don't celebrate my sexual orientation,
nor do I ask to put displays of offensive "straight" lifestyle
books or graphics within view of the general public, nor do I ask for
special consideration as a result of my "straight" lifestyle.
I simply live and work productively.
So the next time you choose to attack conservative-minded individuals
and call us bigots, please look to yourselves. That's where the real
Brad Swanson, candidate for Hillsborough County Commission, Tampa
August 4, 2006
afraid of a real debate
to the Editor
Published August 4, 2006
Re: Storms says her schedule rules out debate, July 14
Thanks for the article on Ronda Storms. As usual, Ronda put up a front
that she can't make the debate because of prior commitments. Truth is,
she is afraid of a true debate because she has never been in one.
I attended the so-called debate in Sun City Center. This was not a
debate in any sense of the word but a time and forum for the candidates
to express their stances on what they considered important.
At the above-mentioned forum, Storms did not answer any questions but
took up an overage of her time to deride Sandy Murman, extol her own
virtues as a schoolteacher and have her minions circulate petitions for
qualifying for the Florida Senate seat while the other candidates were
Roger F. Meissner
Sun City Center
August 4, 2006
Swanson is Totally misguided
(Source: Via email to Shirley Rhodes from
Brandon PRIDE president, Mark Ferguson, regarding response to Brad
Swanson's alleged attack on Brandon PRIDE and Mark Ferguson, on a
Re: Mr. Swanson,
1st) As a registered voter I have the right to vote for who ever
supports Equality, and Human Rights. Yes I am Gay, but it does not mean
the Gay community supports, or endorses these candidates. It means that
me Mark Ferguson will support, and or endorse any candidate that I feel
supports Equality, and Human rights. You sir do not.
2nd) I can also practice my First Amendment rights as far as Freedom of
speech goes to inform others on who I am voting for. You misunderstood
my intentions and therefore assumed that I was speaking on behalf of the
3rd) The Gay community is not asking for as you so put it "Special
Privileges." All we are asking for is Equality. Nothing More,
4th) I find it disgraceful that you would use me, or others to try and
win a election. You have proven that you will step on people for your
own political gain. Finally, you do not deserve any recognition, nor
support considering the things you have said, and done as a candidate.
You have lowered your standards by attacking others for your own
political gain. Therefore you deserve what you call "vitriolic
attacks" for the way you spoken out against Equality, and Human
Mark Ferguson, Brandon Pride President
Mark Ferguson 08.04.06