Sex, football, politics: 100 of Central Florida's most influential people weigh in

  100 of Central Florida‘s most influential people weigh in on current events. Read their thoughts on the biggest stories of the week and see what they think will make headlines next week.

Marci Arthur, small business owner/culinary specialist

GATOR OPTIMISM. Last week: There is nothing more joyful than an optimistic Gator. We have a new coach — Dan Mullen has returned to Gator Nation. After being played by Chip Kelly and left at the altar like a jilted bride, we turn to a coach who is right for the University of Florida. Coach Dan Mullen has gone right to work. That became official Tuesday, when Mullen announced that two of his longtime assistants who also were on the same Urban Meyer staff with Mullen at UF — Billy Gonzales and John Hevesy — were hired and went right to work Tuesday, hitting the recruiting trail to meet prospects.

Andrae Bailey, founder/president, Change Everything

LIVE TV ALIVE AND WELL. Last week: UCF played USF in football, and the television ratings were excellent. The news here is not that two in-state rivals competed in football; the news here is that, in a society where people don’t watch live television like they used to do in past generations, they will still watch live TV when the event being covered is riveting enough to hold their attention. The UCF-USF game produced some of the highest ratings ever for a Black Friday football game. So when knowing after the fact just isn’t good enough, live television still has its place in our society.

CELEBRATE SCOTT FROST. Looking ahead:  UCF Head Football Coach Scott Frost has accepted the head coaching position at the University of Nebraska. After taking UCF from 0-12 to 11-0 in just two years, Frost is one of the rising stars among college coaches. And although his departure is disappointing for our community, the  “done deal” is huge for Frost himself. Who among us would turn down the opportunity to work at the company of our dreams for three times our current salary? We should applaud this amazing coach and celebrate his remarkable success.

 

Chris Carmody, shareholder, GrayRobinson

 

FLORIDA POLITICS IS A LOT LIKE ITS WEATHER. Looking ahead: On Tuesday, there is a special primary election in House District 72 (Sarasota County). This resulted from the resignation of a House member who had not been in office longer than a year. This isn’t the only one. There have been over 10 resignations in 2017, some benign and others controversial, and thus, there have been elections somewhere in Florida each month since July. And there is one more in December, another in January, February, and then more in April and May. At this rate, there will be an election for the House or Senate in nearly each month of 2018. And thus, Florida’s political landscape has become its weather: changing every 15 minutes. Good thing we all own umbrellas, because this rain won’t be going away anytime soon.

 

Lee Constantine, commissioner, Seminole County

 

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS NOW. Looking ahead: Recently, UCF invited me to participate in a roundtable discussion of experts on emergency preparedness. Many good suggestions were presented, but these solutions demand attention immediately. First, Florida must development a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan that includes better gas reserves, transportation routes and abundant local shelters to avoid mass evacuations. Second, quick restoration of power is essential. The Public Service Commission must demand a more reliable and efficient infrastructure from utilities. Third, a better plan for flooding control and debris pick-up must be instituted. Last, we must solve the affordable housing problem. It’s bad, but will only worsen exponentially as our fellow Americans from the Caribbean islands continue to look for better opportunities. 

Tom Dyer, attorney, founder of Watermark

 

MEET AN UP-AND-COMING-DEMOCRAT MONDAY. Looking ahead: Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel resigned, accused of creating a “creepy” work environment for women. The party’s executive committee meets this week to elect a successor. There’s no time to waste. Despite an advantage over Republicans in registered voters, Dems are heavily outnumbered in the Legislature and haven’t elected a governor in 22 years. Democrats often seem trapped, reacting to President Trump instead of offering an alternative. Rising star Pete Buttigieg, the 29-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, offers a succinct vision for Dems: freedom, fairness, families, future. Buttigieg will be in Orlando Monday to raise funds for U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

Michelle Y. Ertel, consultant and political analyst

REPUBLICANS, PUERTO RICANS BREAK BREAD. Last week: While government and others are scrambling to figure out what to do with the unexpected influx of Puerto Rican residents settling in Florida after Hurricane Maria, the Orange County Republican Executive Committee is working to invite them into the Republican Party. On Thursday, the recent Florida arrivals responded to an invitation to join the conservative group for its annual Lincoln Day dinner. Noshing on a classic Puerto Rican meal, the new neighbors got to meet and speak to their new elected officials from throughout Central Florida.

 

John L. Evans Jr., consulting unit chief for a global investment firm; former congressional staffer

JOHN MORGAN AS A BULL MOOSE. Last week: Can a Bull Moose exist in Florida? John Morgan might think so. 106 years ago Teddy Roosevelt had had enough with monopolies and inexhaustible policy stalls that he went on to form a new political organization, The Bull Moose Party. Perhaps bellwethers, the phenomenon of Trump and Sanders might lend credibility to the indefatigable Sunshine State kid, Morgan. Whether you see him as potential statesman or charlatan, his state wide name recognition is tremendous. By the way, he prefers The People’s Party to the fudge colored mammal moniker. Who knows where this is headed? But it won’t be dull.

 

Rogue Gallart, president, Central Florida Disability Chamber

MOVE OVER, SODOM AND GOMORRAH. Last week: Drum roll! Orlando ranks No. 2 as the most sinful city as per a report from WalletHub based on an analysis of the Seven Deadly Sins (anger and hate, jealousy, excess and vices, avarice, lust, vanity, and laziness — aka sloth). Las Vegas, as usual, takes the crown at No. 1, but three Sunshine State cities made the top 10: Orlando, Miami and Tampa. The breakdown: At No. 2, Orlando ranks fifth in anger and hatred and sixth in lust. No. 3 Miami ranks fifth in jealousy, and seventh in both lust and vanity. At No 9, Tampa ranks fourth in lust and greed. Well, move over Sodom and Gomorrah. Here comes Orlando.

JIMMY BUFFETT AND THE EAGLES TEAM UP. Looking ahead: Have a “Cheeseburger in paradise” at the “Hotel California” on Saturday, April 14, at Camping World Stadium. The Eagles will be hitting the road once again. and this time with none other than super Parrot head himself Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band. The Eagles earlier this year played a few dates with Deacon Frey filling in for his late father, Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey. Some shows will be in stadiums and some will be in arenas; some will be co-billed with special guests while others are simply “An Evening with the Eagles.” Talk about a party!

Flora Maria Garcia, CEO, United Arts of Central Florida

CLOUD CITIES AT ALFOND INN. Last week:  Each Sunday at 1 p.m. a Cornell Fine Arts Museum staffer gives a free tour of the fabulous contemporary art collection at the Alfond Inn in Winter Park. The Alfonds, noted art collectors and patrons, have purchased almost 300 works by contemporary, international artists. The latest installation, commissioned specifically for the collection, is suspended under the inn’s conservatory dome and titled “Cloud Cities — Nebulous Thresholds” by Berlin-based Tomás Saraceno. The piece, best seen in the daylight as it refracts light throughout the room like a prism, is well worth a look, as are all the other works.

MEET HIGHWAYMEN. Looking ahead:  Visitors to the Orange County Regional History Center on Dec. 10 have an opportunity to meet original Highwaymen painters and see their work, as well as paintings by young artists inspired by the Florida legends. The Highwaymen represent a fascinating chapter in Florida’s past — the story of 26 African-American artists who took to Florida’s roads in the 1950s and ’60s, marketing their art. They came of age during an era of strict segregation, when their usual job options were extremely limited. Instead, they became working painters who are now in the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.

Joel C. Hunter, chairman, Community Resource Network

THE TRUTH CAN SET US FREE. Last week: Garrison Keillor and Matt Lauer fired for “inappropriate sexual behavior”? Ouch! Accounts of sexual exploitation by those in power have quickly expanded from the realms of Hollywood and politics (including a Florida party chairman) to some of the most respected and beloved leaders in our day. It is at once the worst and best of news … because the truth can set us free. Until those who have been preyed upon start calling out the perpetrators and offering the proof of our culture’s sickness, we will find neither justice nor healing.

LIFE BEFORE AND AFTER HURRICANE IRMA. Looking ahead: Florida’s $615 million in federal relief fund is helpful, but only a deposit that will go toward the real damages of Hurricane Irma in terms of lost property and time and wages and ongoing human suffering. Of course we must address the loss, but we must also face the compounding future challenges coming from those weather events that flood our recent efforts to help those already marginalized and homeless. It will take more public funding, but it will also require local philanthropy, volunteerism and grassroots involvement to build a better community than we had before the storms.

Eric Jackson, president/CEO, Total Roof Services Corp.

‘ME TOO’ FOR MEN? Last week: Regarding charges pertaining to sexual harassment toward women in this country, I can’t help but to notice that, in the private sector, action has been relatively swift and consistently denounced. But in the political world, action and condemnation have been slow and often denied. I find it hard to accept that we, as enlightened people, can’t seek out and acknowledge wrongful behavior and act against it no matter where it happens. It also occurs to me that maybe we need male “me too” moments by those guilty of sexual misconduct. Men who know they have inflicted harm should stop hiding in plain sight and come clean instead of forcing women to go public with their stories. 

 

J. Matthew Knight, M.D., board member, Tiger Bay Club

CHASE AWAY DOOM AND GLOOM. Last week: Consuming too much cable news and talk radio got you feeling glum? Consider that when President James Madison was in the White House, 94 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty. Today that number is 10 percent. Thomas and Martha Jefferson had six children, but only one lived to see 25. In those days, 43 percent of kids died before the age of 5. Now, it’s less than 4 percent. Two hundred years ago, only 1 percent of the planet lived in a democracy. Today, most of the world’s population lives in freedom. Turns out, there’s a lot to be optimistic about.

HEALTH-CARE INSURANCE MESS. Looking ahead: Another year, another jolt for Floridians buying health insurance. Employer-based rates continue their annual ascent. Floridians buying Obamacare plans will see premiums increase an average of 45 percent. The Affordable Care Act’s exchanges are kept on life support by a complex network of tax credits, controversial handouts to insurers, mandates, penalties and other decrees only a hard-core bureaucrat could love. Pundits obsess over the “number of insured” without mentioning that most plans are rendered essentially worthless by stratospheric deductibles and narrow networks of providers. Uncertainty looms for patients, businesses and insurers; rates will continue to rise until fundamental changes are made.

A.J. Marsden, assistant professor, Beacon College

REAL LIFE ISN’T A SCRIPTED COP SHOW. Last week: A recent Florida Department of Law Enforcement report revealed an unsettling spike in opioid-related deaths in 2016. But even more troubling were the negative and hypocritical online comments made by Central Floridians with regards to drug addiction. Comments that embraced allowing the addicted to suffer their own fate and “rot in prison” as opposed to offering help show an outdated and selfish thought process. Opioids affect more than just the addicted — such as the 10-year old boy in Miami who died of a fentanyl overdose after visiting the community pool. Real life isn’t a scripted cop show; let’s use a little more logic and empathy and a little less annoyingly self-serving rhetoric.

VIOLENT CRIME IN LAKE COUNTY. Looking ahead: Lake County has been overwhelmed with a marked increase in violent crimes. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported that while the statewide crime rate dropped by 2 percent, it spiked in Lake County 6.2 percent. In response, the sheriff’s office and other law enforcement agencies launched a task force. The city of Leesburg is using undercover police officers and watching businesses more vigilantly. Leesburg has been hit especially hard, with a 28.8 percent jump in crime for 2017. During times of turmoil, we as a community must band together, stay vigilant and support our local law enforcement.

Muhammad Musri, president, Islamic Society of Central Florida

WHERE’S THE LOGIC BEHIND HOPE SCHOLARSHIPS?  Last week: Proposed Florida House Bill 1 would establish the Hope Scholarship Program to allow students who have experienced bullying to transfer to another public school or receive a voucher to attend a private school. The bill would not protect students from bullying because the bully gets to stay and continue harassing other students. The Hope Scholarship would help an average of 50,000 students annually who are victims of bullying, threats, harassment and fighting. It offers transportation scholarships to the students who enroll in a school outside his or her district. Shouldn’t the kid that is actually doing the bullying be taken out instead?

RESTORE VOTING RIGHTS. Looking ahead:  Over 1.2 million Floridians can’t vote because of a prior felony conviction, including veterans who have been convicted on drug charges, though they have completed their sentences. Florida is one of only three states that doesn’t automatically restore voting rights, as was written in the Florida Constitution in 1868, to keep freed black slaves from voting. A coalition, Floridians for a Fair Democracy, is conducting a petition campaign until Dec. 31 only to place a Constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot. It would restore the voting rights of all who complete their sentences, except murderers and felony sex offenders.

Pamela Nabors, president/CEO, CareerSource Central Florida

KISS HURRICANE SEASON GOODBYE. Last week: Whew! We made it to the end of yet another hurricane season … and I say, “Good riddance!” I’m not sure where 2017 year ranks historically among the costliest, but it was certainly a life-changer for far too many people. In the collective 21 years that I’ve lived in the Orlando area, this year was a real doozie — nothing I’ve ever lived through (I did miss 2004). There are still lasting effects from both Irma and Maria that will impact our region’s future for years to come, prompting political, regulatory and work-force changes of tropical-storm proportions.

THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR. Looking ahead: While I don’t see many (genuine) white Christmases in Central Florida’s future, I do see a lot opportunities to celebrate this most wonderful time of the year … and many come without having to fork over a lot of green. Aside from all the theme park themed events, several cities, neighborhoods, and even schools have free or low-cost events. It’s fun to stroll through Winter Park as ice skaters pirouette…or experience live “snowfalls” in Celebration. You can even ride the Polar Express in Tavares! In the region of make-believe, Central Florida pulls out all the stops in providing real holiday fun for everyone.

Brendan O’Connor, editor in chief, Bungalower.com

 

ALL ABOUT HIPAA. Last week: Everyone’s talking about HIPAA – the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This Federal law is meant to safeguard the privacy of your medical information and is generally applied to online data breaches of digital information. The reason everyone is mouthing the acronym  is because the 2017 Florida Firefighter of the Year, Joshua Granada, allegedly violated the law when he used his cellphone to record audio of a patient during a medical call this past August. That patient was Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill.  To complicate matters, Granada has been seeking treatment for PTSD related to his award-winning work during the Pulse shootings. Granada has since been fired and is fighting to regain his job, and Commissioner Hill won her seat again in the recent election.

HELP RESOLVE CORRINE DRIVE CONUNDRUM. Looking ahead: Results for the Corrine Drive Complete Streets Study will be released after the holidays, bringing a possible end to the decades-long debate over what to do with one of the jankiest bits of road in the City Beautiful. You can head to CorrineDriveStudy.org to keep abreast of the project and to add your opinions to the tsunami of public opinion swirling about.

Kathleen Oropeza, co-founder, FundEducationNow.org

CRC IGNORES WILL OF THE PEOPLE. Last week: The Florida Constitution Review Commission met in Tallahassee to vote on proposed amendments they would like to see on the 2018 ballot. Sadly, the politically appointed education committee is interfering with our ability to make decisions at the county level. They proposed term limits for school boards, the elimination of school board pay, (at the lowest teacher rate in the district) and making all superintendents appointed, not elected. And they want to eliminate the small class size amendment that was passed by voters twice at the ballot. What happened to respecting the will of the people?

BLAINE AMENDMENT. Looking ahead: For the third time in recent years another Jeb Bush “reformer,” Roberto Martinez of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, has proposed ballot language to wipe Florida’s “Blaine/No-Aid” Amendment from the constitution. It prevents tax dollars from funding “directly or indirectly” any church or religious group, strengthening the separation of church and state. Notably, Martinez was a Bush appointee to the state Board of Education. Killing Blaine is his effort to resurrect the universal vouchers defeated in Bush v. Holmes. Voters rejected the last two attempts to eliminate the Blaine amendment which will effectively dismantle public education. It deserves a no vote every time.

María T. Padilla, Orlando Latino blog

TALE OF 2 HURRICANES. Last week: This is how hurricane damage relief hurts people: FEMA awarded an Osceola company a $30 million contract to provide tarps to disaster-stricken Puerto Rico, only it didn’t. FEMA pulled the contract, but not before the damage was done. It rains nearly every day in subtropical Puerto Rico, so a tarp-less, damaged home sinks evermore into total loss. This is how hurricane damage relief helps people: Florida is set to receive $616 million in federal disaster funds for Hurricane Irma to help financially pressed localities and residents left holding large bills. That’s a tale of two hurricanes, two outcomes, unequal and equal. 

 

Beverly Paulk, founding member, Central Florida Foundation and The Orlando Philharmonic

 

GIRL SCOUT CONVENTION IN 2020. Looking ahead: The Girl Scouts of Citrus Council is on an exciting path for our more than 14,000 local girls. The “2020 Project” was announced at a recent large event. In October 2020, the national Girl Scout convention will be here in Orlando with a stretch goal of 30,000 attendees. Along with the positive financial impact, Florida girls and volunteers will take the leadership. Also the camp that was hit by fire is rebuilding with many new and exciting features that today’s Scouts request. The event’s best part was the Girl Scouts, ages 12-14, who demonstrated impressive leadership skills at each table.

Matthew Peddie, host, WMFE’s “Intersection”

JOHN MORGAN. Last week: John Morgan tweeted that he won’t be seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, and he’s quitting the party to register as an independent. He’s hinted at a potential run ever since November 2016, when flush with the victory of the Amendment 2 campaign, Morgan outlined his vision for what the next governor of Florida should do. Morgan says for now he has “no clue” as to whether he’ll run as an independent, but there’s plenty of time to speculate about what a high-profile independent candidate with deep pockets would do for the governor’s race — and party politics in Florida.

FLORIDA BLUE DROPS OXYCONTIN. Looking ahead:  Next year the state’s biggest health insurer  will end coverage of OxyContin. Florida Blue, like other insurers, will instead cover Xtampza ER, an opioid designed to be harder to crush and abuse. The opioid crisis shows no sign of abating: Florida’s medical examiners reported 5,725 opioid related deaths in 2016, a 35 percent increase on the year before.  So will the switch to a different opioid make a difference? “It’s not an end-all solution,” Florida Blue’s Scott McClelland tells WMFE. “So while we never claimed this will solve the opiate epidemic, we do think it’s a best practice,” says McClelland.

Larry Pino, attorney and entrepreneur 

BELIEVE. Last week: What a week! As our family tries to assimilate daily reports of jarring events unfolding at a time in which we would ordinarily be doing nothing more substantial than scheduling friends over for our traditional Christmas movie nights, it was – I must say – comforting to read this week’s news of a real “Polar Express” rolling out of nearby Tavares headed toward the North Pole. What a relief! At this time in which the surreal has become the new normal, passage on the railway can be booked by adults as more therapy than entertainment, and it’s worth every red cent. This year, “Believe” may well ring a bell more meaningful for parents and grandparents than for their sweethearts.

 

Jared Saft, chief business officer, Westgate Resorts

JUST PAY THE PLAYERS. Last week: USA Today reported that more than $70 million in fired college football coach buyouts will be paid this year. If there are roughly 115 Division I programs and each team has 110 student athletes, that’s over $5,500 per player. It’s time to stop lying to ourselves that we cannot afford to provide student athletes with a financial stipend for their talent and service to their schools. If the money “isn’t in the budget,” let’s stop reward coaching failure and take that money and give that to these young, deserving players.

 

Joanie Schirm, GEC founding president; World Cup Orlando 1994 Committee chairman

NUTTY SEVERANCE. Last week: What could $7.5 million  do for a worthy academic cause at the University of Florida instead of payment to a failed football coach as part of his separation agreement? When you realize that UF now has four head coaches on severance or current payroll, it’s clear the separation packages have gone nuts, and Florida isn’t alone. Yes, this money may come from television fees, but if not for a taxpayer-funded university offering the playing field, there would be no well-paid coach. If coaches don’t win, walk them out the door with no additional pay. Who among us thinks bonuses for poor performance makes sense?

GASOLINE PRICES. Looking ahead: Premium gasoline for newer cars, is hovering at $3 a gallon in Orlando. Thursday, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decided to extend decreased production of crude oil. So don’t expect lower gas prices for your holiday travel, according to Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy.com. A lot has happened recently to exasperate fluctuating prices including hurricanes, a sluggish global economy and turmoil for the royal family in Saudi Arabia. Incidental factoid: Russia is the world’s largest producer of crude oil, just ahead of Saudi Arabia. Russia isn’t a member of OPEC but forges joint agreements with OPEC on production that can then trigger pain at your pump.

Kathy Schmitz. minister, First Unitarian Church of Orlando

MAKE IT RIGHT. Last week: Thoughtful men around the region are reflecting on their past actions. Have they misused sexual power? Harmed others? Can they make it right? Many reflecting do not wield the power of those in the headlines, yet they realize they have caused harm. How can they support the women coming forward, speaking to a well-known and condoned pattern of behavior? The violence done to women has ranged from annoying slights to physical violence. It all matters. Repeated, and yet repeated again, harassment wears on psyche and diminishes the potential of individuals and our society. We can do better. We must.

MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE. Looking ahead:  More powerful men will be held accountable for their past actions regarding misuse of sexual power. Some will deny the allegations, to the world and even themselves. Some will take the opportunity for reflection and remorse. Some will realize they knew full well the power they were wielding and its impact. Others will realize that they were so deeply imbedded in a culture that condoned this they had not understood the harm… until now. This later group has the potential to make a real difference, to the survivors of their past actions and to the conversation going forward.

Rick Singh, property appraiser, Orange County

TAMPA SERIAL KILLER. Last week: The brave men and women of the Tampa Police Department deserve to be commended for their work to arrest the suspect in the Seminole Heights serial killings. Our law enforcement officers have a tough job, as evidenced by what just happened in Tampa. The suspect is charged  with terrorizing the community for close to two months while police searched for him. Now that the nightmare is over, hopefully, Seminole Heights can rest a little easier knowing that the suspect is off the streets. My thoughts are with the victims’ families as they await justice for the man who brought devastation to their lives.

WAFFLE HOUSE WEATHER. Looking ahead: We celebrated the end of hurricane season this past week. With Harvey, Irma, and Maria causing so much trouble, I think we’ll be just fine if we don’t see a hurricane for a while. But an interesting tidbit emerged about how the Federal Emergency Management Agency monitors the impact of a storm. The Waffle House alters its menu in the event of a disaster, and in the case of Hurricane Irma, many Waffle Houses in Miami chose to stick with a regular menu as the storm’s path shifted. Because of that, FEMA believed that the impact wouldn’t be so severe. Turns out, Waffle House was right, and FEMA was smart to listen to the restaurant chain.

 

Hillel Skolnik, rabbi, Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation

HURRICANE SEASON. Last week: Hurricane season officially came to a close this week even as millions of people continue to grapple with the effects of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. We have two important tasks ahead of us: 1- continuing to assist those in need after the storms we experienced this year. They continue to need our help and we must be there for them in whatever ways we can. 2- take the time now to get prepared for next year. Use the calm to make a plan, have supplies and be ready.

 

Michael Slaymaker, professional fundraising executive

#GIVINGTUESDAY, Last week: How did the nonprofit sector’s annual push for donations #GivingTuesday go? Seniors First Foundation raised $1,152 with a goal of $1,000. The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra generated $6,000. The Florida Bar Foundation received gifts from 24 donors totaling over $3,500. Orlando Youth Alliance received $500. The Foundation for Seminole State College utilized #GivingTuesday to kick off its employee-giving campaign and raised over $4,500 from nearly 40 donors. Please don’t think it is too late to support the charities of our community. Helping our fellow neighbors in need should be a year-round endeavor. Happy giving!

 

David D. Swanson, senior pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Orlando

REMEMBER THE LONELY AND HURTING. Last week:  The Christmas season is up and running with initial reports indicating a robust shopping spirit still exists in this community! It is also a season for gatherings and social occasions as well as religious observances and services of worship. All of this began because of the Christian belief that God “gave” the world His Son as a gift of hope and peace and promise. Regardless of whether you believe that or not, it remains an important ideal in a culture awash in self. Many among us are lonely and hurting, so no matter how you choose to celebrate this season, BE the season to someone in need.

 

 

Carol Wick, equity partner and principal,  Convergent Nonprofit Solutions

WHEN WILL IT END? Looking ahead:  We continue to be shocked by the latest celebrity who is outed for his predatory behavior toward co-workers. Celebrities we have watched and even admired are suddenly falling quicker that we can absorb the information. Many are asking, “When will it end?” or “Why so many?” The environment has shifted, and the result is many victims, with real evidence, are believed. It encourages others to be brave and stop the abuse. The only question that remains for me and many other advocates for survivors of intimate partner abuse: “When will we believe them?” Certainly we are all safer now; let’s continue the trend.

#GIVING TUESDAY. Last week: #GivingTuesday flooded social media  with asks to give to your favorite charities. Even Bill and Melinda Gates got into the mix by donating $2M and waiving fees donated through a sponsored sites. Many locals gave to their favorite causes taking advantage of the offered matches, lower fees and impact. While the gifts hidden in our secret spots may be growing, hopefully so will the good work on many local organizations who help those who struggle most this time of the year.

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