Florida Ranks Highly in Assimilating Hispanics

By on October 3rd, 2015 | Last updated: October 2, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Florida ranks sixth in the nation for its ability to assimilate Hispanics into the population, and is the best for economic opportunities according to a report released by WalletHub.

Each state was measured using 14 metrics, which fit into three sub-categories of assimilation: cultural and civic, educational and economic. Each state’s rankings in the three categories determined its overall composite ranking.

Hispanic people composed 17.4 percent of the 2014 U.S. population, making the group an important focal point of research, according to U.S. Census data.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that by 2060, the Hispanic population will represent 31 percent of the U.S. population.

Berta E. Hernandez-Truyol, a University of Florida professor at the Levin College of Law, said she expected a high ranking for Florida and didn’t find it to be much of a surprise.

She noted that the core Miami area, which, among others, contains a heavy Cuban population and does a good job in providing a favorable representation for the state as a whole.

“It’s the largest city in the state, so it’s going to carry a lot of weight, and there has been a lot of integration there,” Hernandez-Truyol said.

She said that the presence of Latino people in major metropolitan areas like Tampa and Miami have been able to encourage people to saturate different areas of employment.

Hernandez-Truyol noted that the report could be flawed in the sense that different regions in each state have varying levels of assimilation.

She also specified that assimilation and absorption are two completely different things.

“Assimilation, to me, is actually a two-way street,” she noted.

Hernandez-Truyol explained that people who come to the U.S. should still be able to pursue their own cultural practices while learning how to interact with the majority of people. This doesn’t mean they have to give up their cultures entirely.

In the report, the five states that placed higher than Florida for overall ranking, in order, were Vermont, West Virginia, Alaska, Louisiana and Kentucky.

She said those states are very interesting because they aren’t usual suspects with large Hispanic populations.

“Usually migrations occur to places where there is already an existing community,” she explained.

Despite the lack of a strong Hispanic community, she said that people can be drawn to places for other reasons like a strong economy, welcoming people who share cultural interests or job availability.

Such is the case in Florida, which ranked No. 1 in the country in the sub-category of economic assimilation. This includes metrics like Hispanic-owned businesses and the labor force participation rate, according to the report.

Maxine Margolis, professor emerita with the UF Department of Anthropology, said that Florida’s established Hispanic communities have allowed the state to acquire such a high ranking.

She said that assimilation has historical roots dating back dozens of years in Florida, and as one generation makes its mark, it’s easier for future generations to have successes too.

Margolis explained that a lot of immigrants find themselves working in the service industry, since manufacturing has been leaving the U.S. for countries with lower production costs.

Janis Rezek, a sociology professor at the West Virginia University Institute of Technology, originally gave expert commentary that was posted with the report. She said she was surprised that a place like West Virginia topped a diverse state like Florida.

She said it’s important to be accepting of people from all walks of life.

Instead of looking at assimilation as absorption, Rezek said she likes to look at it like a collage or a quilt where a bunch of different pieces are able to make a contribution.

“I like to emphasize difference doesn’t mean good or bad,” she said.

Rezek said that accepting all groups of people is key to preventing a divisive U.S. society.

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Oct. 2, 2015: Afternoon News In 90

By on October 2nd, 2015 | Last updated: October 2, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Natalie Heim produced this update.

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UF Hall Of Famer And WWE Superstar Feeds The Homeless

By on October 2nd, 2015 | Last updated: October 2, 2015 at 4:59 pm
Thaddeus Bullard sits with homeless couple, Joe and Vivian Mulligan, as he listens to their story.

Thaddeus Bullard sits with homeless couple, Joe and Vivian Mulligan, as he listens to their story.  Laurence Laguna / WUFT News

Making their daily trip to the St. Francis House for the homeless, Joe and Vivian Mulligan weren’t expecting a surprise visit by a hometown hero.

The homeless couple was eating 4 Rivers barbecue for lunch when University of Florida Hall of Fame Football player, and WWE superstar, Thaddeus Bullard walked through the door to help serve the food.

Upon entering, Bullard immediately sat down with Joe and Vivian to hear their story and share a moment with the couple, who have been married for 26 years.

“It was kind of cool, he’s laidback, especially for a wrestler to come from WWE,” Joe said. “He told us about taking people to dinner in California, they were homeless people and he took a bunch of them in the same restaurant and fed them dinner. That was pretty cool.”

Bullard, also known by his wrestling name, Titus O’Neil, is completing his challenge of 3,000 volunteer hours to the Gator Nation. The challenge is part of UF’s Gator Good campaign, which focuses on student impact beyond campus.

“People invested in me when I was younger when they had nothing to gain in return,” Bullard said. “I feel like every day is an opportunity for me to go out and do the same.”

He spoke to others in attendance, and interacted with around 100 people, one of which challenged him to an arm wrestling battle — Bullard eventually lost.

One reason Bullard chose to visit the St. Francis Home was the financial struggles it has faced in recent months.

William Deitenbeck, case manager at St. Francis Home, said the city and county have been funding them for years, but now they are cutting back. He added that the county and city have given all the money to Grace Marketplace, which he said is a worthy project, but St. Francis House is still here as a shelter and place to eat.

“We have a lot of wonderful individuals in Gainesville and Alachua County, who contribute personally,” Deitenbeck said. “Just since we’ve had publicity recently about our money situation, we’ve had a pretty good outpouring of small donations. It’s not going to turn the tide by itself, but it shows people are aware of us and they care.”

Deitenbeck was pleased to see Bullard interact with the homeless at his shelter, taking photos with WWE fans, and at one point Bullard even held a baby.

After Bullard finished  serving the homeless, he invited them to 4 Rivers restaurant so he could treat them to another meal.

“I still haven’t caught on to the celebrity of what I do for a living because I just continue to remain humble,” Bullard said. “I always try to let people know right out the gate that I’m a normal person, and I just have an extraordinary opportunity to go out on a weekly basis and do things on a worldwide scale.”

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Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub Ends Smoking Inside

By on October 2nd, 2015 | Last updated: October 2, 2015 at 3:12 pm

After 21 years, September 30 was the last day to smoke cigarettes and cigars inside of Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub.

The bar officially banned smoking inside after two decades in business. Durty Nelly’s reminded patrons with a cartoon on its Facebook page that Wednesday was the last day smoking would be allowed, captioned, “The beginning of a new era.”

The authentic Irish pub has been serving drinks like Guinness and Jameson at its West University Avenue location and letting patrons smoke bar-side since it opened in 1994. A bar for patrons 21 and up, the main draw for customers is the live Irish folk music.

Durty Nelly’s owner Shauna Dixon thinks the change from smoking to non-smoking will be good for customers.

“I just felt in my heart it was time to make this change,” she said. “The whole goal is for a healthier future.”

Dixon said she’s been trying to make Durty Nelly’s a smoke-free environment for a long time but never received the support from staff and customers. Now, she says, “My staff are all completely on board. It’s a sign of the times.”

A goal for the bar is to eventually create a small outdoor patio for the few patrons that have expressed opposition to the new policy, where they will be able to smoke freely.

Victoria Hunter, Chair of Tobacco Free Alachua’s Community Partnership, said Durty Nelly’s decision is something to be excited about.

“Durty Nelly’s is adding to a long list of smoke-free environments. It’s good for Gainesville,” Hunter said.

She and the Tobacco Free Alachua Community Partnership have been campaigning for bars and nightclubs to voluntarily go smoke-free for a few years now.

Because bars like Durty Nelly’s don’t make the majority of their income from food sales, they are not required by law to follow the Florida Clean Air Act that prohibits smoking inside establishments.

“Ten point nine percent of employment in Gainesville is in the nightclub and bar industry,” Hunter said. “Employees will have less sick days.”

She also cited previous studies that show only 2.5 percent of University of Florida students smoke daily, from a Healthy Gators survey done in 2010, and that many patrons of the bar scene in town are students.

“Everyone we’ve talked to said it has in no way negatively impacted their business,” Hunter said of area bar owners choosing to go smoke-free, and included that some have even seen a positive impact by preventing patron and employee exposure to second-hand smoke.

Other bars in Gainesville that voluntarily made the move to be smoke-free include Tall Paul’s, The Atlantic and Palomino Pool Room.

Dixon said she hopes her business move will benefit her customers’ health, but does not yet know what the impact will be.

“If we can instigate that trigger in somebody’s mind to quit, it will be worth it,” she said.

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Oct. 2, 2015: Morning News In 90

By and on October 2nd, 2015 | Last updated: October 2, 2015 at 11:45 am

Kisa Mugwanya  produced this update.

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In the News: Baby Drinks Mother’s Methadone, Details Revealed about Oregon Shooter, Deputy Shot During Traffic Stop, Hurricane Joaquin Causes Flood Concerns

By on October 2nd, 2015 | Last updated: October 2, 2015 at 10:20 am
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Judge Refuses to Stop Florida Black Bear Hunt

By on October 2nd, 2015 | Last updated: October 2, 2015 at 10:13 am

TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s first black bear hunt in 21 years will be allowed to go forward after a judge ruled Thursday that a state wildlife agency was within its right to schedule the week-long hunt and carefully considered its impact on the bear population.

A group of several animal protection groups tried to stop the hunt, arguing that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission used old population data and flawed research in determining that it was OK to let hunters kill up to 320 bears. Leon County Judge George Reynolds refused their request for an injunction.

A black bear in Florida. Photo by switz1873/ Flickr

A black bear in Florida. Photo by Switz1873/Flickr 

But wildlife officials and their lawyers said that the staff that recommended the hunt are passionate about bears, and that it wasn’t an easy decision to make. But they used conservative numbers in determining the number ofbears that could be killed while still keeping a healthy population. They said the goal was to stabilize the bearpopulation so it doesn’t grow too big, especially with increasing bear and human encounters.

“If we don’t quite reach it, it’s not the end of the world and if we exceed it, it’s not the end of the world. These bearpopulations are large and resilient,” said Thomas Eason, the agency’s division of habitat and species conservation.”

The state estimates there are 3,500 Florida black bears, up from between 300 and 500 in the mid-1970s. Opponents of the hunt have said that the wildlife agency is using 2002 numbers and asked the judge to delay thehunt until the agency can complete an ongoing study on the current bear population. They also said that there is no reliable way to stop hunters from killing more bears once the 320 limit is reached.

“If this hunt is allowed as it is currently planned, it could devastate their research, kill many of their research animals and render a lot of their research useless,” said Stephen Stringham, an Alaska-based bear expert. “At the very least they should wait until that study is completed.”

Lawyers for the wildlife agency tried to discredit the animal groups’ only two witnesses. Stringham admitted that he has never seen a Florida black bear or studied them. The other witness was Fred Bohler, a former Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission employee who used to respond to bear complaints. He admitted he doesn’t have a college degree and that he had never done scientific research on bears.

At one point, a lawyer for the state agency told Reynolds that continuing with the hunt would cause no irreparable harm.

“The bears might argue with you on that point,” Reynolds replied before agreeing the hunt could go on.

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Florida’s Senators Consider Removing Confederate Flag From State Senate Seal

By on October 2nd, 2015 | Last updated: October 2, 2015 at 7:39 am

By Brandon Larrabee

The existing seal of the  Florida state senate. A committee is reviewing whether the Confederate flag should be removed.

Creative Commons

The existing seal of the Florida state senate. A committee is reviewing whether the Confederate flag should be removed.

TALLAHASSEE — State senators are scheduled next week to begin considering whether to keep the Confederate flag on the Senate’s official seal, another sign of a growing national tide against icons of the South’s rebellion in the 1860s.

The Senate Rules Committee will meet Oct. 8 to begin re-examining the current emblem of the chamber. Under Senate rules, the seal includes “a fan of the five flags which have flown over Florida” — those of the United States, Confederate States of America, France, Great Britain and Spain.

But there has been a growing backlash against Confederate symbols since June, when a man with white supremacist views opened fire at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., killing nine people. Since then, Southern states including Florida have wrestled with how to reconcile past commemorations of “the lost cause” with shifting feelings about race and the meaning of the Civil War.

While many Southerners view displays of the Confederate banner as recognition of their ancestors’ military service and sacrifice, African-Americans and others see flying the flag as an endorsement of the brutal, slave-driven economy that was a central issue in the war.

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, requested in June that the committee consider whether the seal should be changed. In a memo, Gardiner did not specifically point to the Confederate flag, but wrote about how views on symbols can transform over time.

“The current Senate seal and coat of arms were first adopted in rule in 1973,” Gardiner wrote. “Florida has certainly changed a great deal since the early seventies. Just as our state seal has been revised over time, I believe a periodic review of our legislative insignia would be beneficial.”

In a separate letter to Rules Chairman David Simmons, Joyner called explicitly for “the removal of the Confederate flag from the official Senate seal.”

Gardiner asked Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, to have a recommendation ready when the next regular legislative session begins in January. Any change to the Senate seal would require a two-thirds vote of the Senate.

Other legislative efforts dealing with the flag are also underway. A pair of bills (SB 154 and HB 243) — sponsored by Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, and Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg — would seek to ban government buildings or properties from displaying any flag used by the Confederacy during its 1860 to 1865 rebellion.

Legislative leaders have not yet scheduled either bill for a committee hearing.

Lawmakers could also consider legislation to replace a statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, whose likeness is one of two sculptures that represent the state in the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.

And the argument about how to commemorate Confederate military service has continued elsewhere. The Sons of Confederate Veterans has pushed unsuccessfully to get soldiers who fought against the Union admitted to the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame.

Florida | 3 Comments

New Credit Card Readers Provide Local Businesses With Costly Security

By on October 1st, 2015 | Last updated: October 1, 2015 at 7:56 pm

Instead of swiping their cards at the check-out counter, customers will need to use the gold chips on their credit and debit cards.

Oct. 1 marks the deadline for businesses to make the switch to chip-enabled credit card terminals. Businesses that choose not to update to the new system could be held liable for any fraudulent charges their machines process.

“Chip technology [EMV] generates a unique, one-time code  — a feature that’s virtually impossible to replicate by counterfeit cards, to help eliminate in-store fraud,” according to a promotional video created by Visa.

Chip-enabled credit card. Taylor Trache / WUFT News

Chip-enabled credit card. Photo by Taylor Trache/WUFT News

Earth Pets, 500 NW 60th St., got its chip card-reader about a month ago, in preparation for the deadline. Before, they had to scan cards behind the register, but with the new machines, the customers will be the only ones handling their card.

“At first, (customers) were very confused,” said Suzanna Sprague, assistant manager of Earth Pets. Initially, Sprague said it was a big process having to explain the new system to customers, but people have become more familiar with it overtime.

The chip reader takes a bit longer than swiping a card because the information takes longer to process, but the cardholder’s information is kept more secure.

Since she began working at Earth Pets two years ago. She said she is excited that the new system will offer an extra level of security.

However, not all the kinks in the system have been worked out. Some customers still instinctively swipe their cards.

Once customers swipe their cards on the new chip-enabled machines, they will be prompted to insert the chip.

Also, machines are only using the cards as credit instead of debit, she said. Customers are still required to sign for their purchases.

Local business owner Andrew Schaer said the cost of buying new machines is something many small businesses have to take into consideration when making this decision.

Refurbished machines cost at least $100, and the new ones go as high as $400 to $500, Schaer said.

Kelly Anderson, owner of LAE Beauty, 618 NW 60th St., decided she will opt out of her current system once her existing contract expires, after which she plans on switching everything over to Square, a portable credit card reader that still takes the magnetic card swipes.

Square also offers credit card readers that accept EMV cards.

Angela Morris, a customer at Earth Pets, said she first heard about chip cards a few days ago on NPR.

While she thinks the new system seems a lot better, she doesn’t have a chip-enabled card yet, so she won’t be using the new systems.

“I’m old school,” she said. “I do try to stay more on the protected side, though.”

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Oct. 01, 2015: Afternoon News In 90

By on October 1st, 2015 | Last updated: October 1, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Kirstie Crawford produced this update.

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