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Matthew Isbell

Florida, Municipal

Jackson County, Florida Votes to become a 100% Wet County

At some point in your life you have heard the term “dry county.”   For many of us it’s when we are trying and failing to buy alcohol while on a trip out of town.   Despite Prohibition ending in the 1930s, there are still many places in American where you cannot purchase alcohol.  Some jurisdictions limit purchases to “lighter” drinks like beer or wine.   Other jurisdictions ban sales on Sundays.  These different regulations are often referred to a “blue laws.”    Continue Reading

Florida, Municipal

How Miami Beach’s Referendum on Last Call Crashed and Burned

Miami Beach is many things to many people.   For many its a great place to retire right on the beaches.   For middle aged folks its a tropical paradise to raise a family in.  For locals and visitors its a place to party and have fun.   For college students its the site of legendary South Beach.  Miami Beach’s reputation for its night life and party scene has been part of its identity for decades.   Establishments across the city have last call at 5am vs the traditional 2am you see in most of the state.   The iconic Ocean Drive (next to South Beach) has an active club and nightlife scene that brings in money and tourists year round. Continue Reading

Elections, Municipal

Miami Forever – The Politics behind A City’s Preparation for Climate Change

The November 7th, 2017 elections saw a huge swath of premier races that got a good deal of state and national attention.  Virginia and New Jersey Gubernatorial elections dominated national coverage while Florida’s political press closely watched the St Petersburg Mayoral runoff.  However,  in Miami-Dade county the most closely watched election was for a $400 million dollar bond measure in the City of Miami. Continue Reading

Florida, Municipal

The Great Comeback in St Pete: Kriseman re-elected

This is the second installment about the St Petersburg Mayoral Election.  For more background on St Pete politics, check out my August article.

St Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, the first Democratic mayor the city has in decades, was seen as a dead man walking as he faced re-election against the very popular former Mayor, Rick Baker.  Kriseman spent the summer of 2017 trailing in polls and money as he looked to face off against a Republican who had strong support with African-Americans; a staple of the city’s blue lean.  However, Kriseman shocked the Florida political class when he came in first in the August round of voting, forcing a runoff against Baker. Continue Reading

Elections, Municipal

Halloween Article: The Election of Coroners in America

In celebration of Halloween this year, I decided to take a look at one of the most unknown and definitely most morbid, elected offices in America – County Coroner.    Many if not most be would be shocked to find out coroners are still an elected position in America.  Indeed, just under 1,300 counties in the United States still use elections to decide who holds a very obscure but important office.  The Coroner’s responsibilities vary from state to state, but the key one is the same… determining the cause of death.  This of course is very important when potential homicide is in play and incorrect determinations by coroners can cause serious problems in cases.   Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Reformation Day – Christianity in America

October 31st, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 These to the the Catholic Church door in his town, beginning what we now call the reformation; the great split of the Catholic Church in Europe.   Ok, actually the whole nailing to the door thing has been dramatized a bit, but the point is this is the date that is used to mark the beginning of the reformation.   Continue Reading

Elections, Florida

What FL HD44 (and HD116) Tells Us About Florida Democrat’s Prospects

Florida House District 44’s special election received little attention compared to other more high-profile races like St Petersburg Mayor and Senate District 40.  The district was opened when Rick Scott appointed Incumbent GOP Representative Eric Eisnaugle to be a circuit judge.  This meant a traditionally GOP seat that flipped to Clinton last year would be open.  The question was, how competitive would the race be? Continue Reading

Elections

How Democrats Won Florida Senate District 40

The premier special election for Florida took place last night; the fight for Senate District 40.  Deep in the heart of Miami-Dade County, the district was vacated by scandal-plagued Frank Artiles, setting up a multi-million dollar special election that both parties felt they had a chance at winning.  SD40 is solidly Democrat for President but has a long streak of Republican support further down ballot.  Once the special election was announced, both parties prepared for a major fight which in the end saw the Democrats take the seat from the GOP. Continue Reading

Elections, Municipal

How Rick Kriseman Avoided Defeat in St Pete

St Petersburg’s 2017 Mayoral Election is one of the most unique municipal races in Florida.  A democratic city (giving Hillary Clinton 59% of the vote) with a popular Democratic Mayor who raised $700,000 for his re-election — August should have been a formality.  Yet for months that Democratic Mayor, Rick Kriseman, was expected to lose the August 29th first round of voting.  Kriseman was a former Democratic State Representative that beat an incumbent, Republican Bill Foster, in 2013, to capture the job as mayor.  The first four years had some stumbles but overall Kriseman was popular with voters and seen as a shoo-in for re-election.  That is, he would have been as long as former Mayor Rick Baker did not decide to run; which he did earlier in the year.

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