Blog

Nazism

At a gender affirming care rally last weekend, hateful individuals displayed signs that said “Stop Grooming Kids” with a Star of David. QAnon and related conspiracies are rooted in the idea that Jews are wealthy pedophiles trying to run the world and that the ‘Jewish/LGBTQ+/immigrant/etc. Agenda’ is out to replace you. There is no ‘agenda.’Continue reading “Nazism”

Early Voting

Last week, the County Commission voted to require landlords give 60 days notice before rent increases larger than 5%. This is a small step toward creating a comprehensive tenants’ bill of rights. In August, we will have the final hearing to consider  putting a 1-year rent freeze of existing rentals on the ballot. This willContinue reading “Early Voting”

Rent Stabilization and Tenants’ Rights

On the 26th, Orange County Commissioners will continue deliberating options to alleviate the rental crisis. Measures being discussed include a notice requirement, tenants’ bill of rights and potential rent freeze referendum. Hillsborough and Miami-Dade Counties recently passed tenant protections, but the rent stabilization question is trickier. Proponents reason that a lack of affordable housing inContinue reading “Rent Stabilization and Tenants’ Rights”

Dangerous by Design

Last week, Smart Growth America released the 2022 edition of Dangerous By Design, reporting on pedestrian safety nationwide. This year, the Orlando MSA dropped from most dangerous to top ten most dangerous due to a change in methodology. Nevertheless, pedestrian deaths are historically higher than ever. Addressing this, I am proud Orange County is fundingContinue reading “Dangerous by Design”

Antisemitism

The distribution of anti-Semitic literature in neighborhoods in Clermont earlier this month is concerning. According to the most recent FBI statistics, anti-Jewish attacks constitute 60% of religious attacks. We as individuals can fight against this discrimination by speaking out about anti-Semitic rhetoric and advocating for policy to support our local Jewish communities. No Holocaust survivorContinue reading “Antisemitism”

Budget

On July 13 and 14th, Orange County will be evaluating our Draft Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2022-2023. Orange County’s Budget is approximately $5 billion, 65% of which is restricted money funded by and to be spent towards Municipal Service Benefit Units/Municipal Service Taxing Units (MSBU/MSTU). Please tune in online at ocfl.net for OrangeTV’s liveContinue reading “Budget”

Roe v. Wade

Landmark decision Roe v. Wade was overturned last week after several decades of protected reproductive freedom. Throwing away nearly 50 years of precedent not only takes away our power to make personal medical decisions, but it also reveals this Court’s disregard for stare decisis, an essential doctrine guiding decisions for settled legal issues in ourContinue reading “Roe v. Wade”

West Virginia v. EPA

In light of the slew of Supreme Court of the United States Rulings, please take note of West Virginia V. EPA. This case, decided last week, limits the ability of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate air pollution, greenhouse gasses, and power plants. The fully present threat of climate change manifests as aContinue reading “West Virginia v. EPA”

Housing

I was excited to dive into policy making last week relating to escalating rental costs and the housing emergency. Decision makers need thoroughly researched and unbiased information. Furthermore, I would like to see more creative thinking employed for our housing and development challenges. Exclusionary zoning, convoluted permitting, and a lack of incentives for quality infillContinue reading “Housing”

Juneteenth 2022

On June 19, 2022 the United States will officially recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Also known as Emancipation Day, this day in history marks the end of slavery in the US. Commemorative events across our region are important opportunities to understand how far we’ve come and how much work we still have in theContinue reading “Juneteenth 2022”

Public Lands – Protected, Not Plundered

On June 14th, the St. Johns River Water Management District temporarily halted plans to sell over 18,000 acres of public conservation land stretching from Orlando to Jacksonville. “Temporarily” must become “permanently”—the land, which includes Orange County’s Hal Scott Regional Preserve, is not a private commodity. Natural lands are an irreplaceable resource, not a surplus toContinue reading “Public Lands – Protected, Not Plundered”

Rent Stabilization and the Need for a More Accessible Code

The Orlando Metropolitan Area, encompassing Orange County, has seen rents rise at an unprecedented rate year over year. On Tuesday, the Board discussed possibilities for rent stabilization, policy requiring rent increase notice, as well as strategies to increase housing supply. Housing issues are urgent. Moving ahead, I look forward to a robust special session relatingContinue reading “Rent Stabilization and the Need for a More Accessible Code”

Rural Settlements

Last Tuesday, the Lake Avalon Rural Settlement was protected from a detrimental intrusion. Orange County has 21 rural settlements, and all of them serve essential functions including preserving rurality in the ever-developing corners of Orange County, maintaining green spaces, and facilitating aquifer recharge. These communities are constantly threatened by encroaching development. Large scale projects threatenContinue reading “Rural Settlements”

Pride Month

June marks the beginning of pride month, a month of celebration and reflection for the LGBTQ+ community. This designation commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots and first Pride march in 1970. Here in Orlando, this month also marks the anniversary of the Pulse massacre, reinforcing the need to keep marching, organizing and advocating for our LGBTQ+Continue reading “Pride Month”

Discussing the Harmful Don’t Say Gay bill:

This week, Governor DeSantis is likely to sign the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, HB 1557, into law. The  bill is among many this Legislative Session which are unconstitutional and unrepresentative of Floridians. HB 1557 limits the ability of schools to discuss sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender. It also allows teachers to tell the legal guardianContinue reading “Discussing the Harmful Don’t Say Gay bill:”

Celebrating Orlando Sentinel Central Floridian of the Year Nominee: Steve Meyers:

March 2022, I was honored to join my friend and Orlando Sentinel Central Floridian of the Year Nominee Steve Meyers at the eponymous Awards Ceremony. Congratulations to Richard Lapchick for his recognition and Steve Meyers, Mae Hazelton, Marucci Guzman, and Eric Camarillo for their nominations. I am so proud to live in a community withContinue reading “Celebrating Orlando Sentinel Central Floridian of the Year Nominee: Steve Meyers:”

A first look At the Transportation Sales Tax initiative:

Last week (Mid March 2022) , the Orange County Board of Commissioners had a Public Work Session regarding the Transportation Sales Tax. Next steps are another Public Work Session and  a vote on April 26. The one cent sales tax increase is intended for more reliable public transportation options as well upgrades and improvements onContinue reading “A first look At the Transportation Sales Tax initiative:”

Introduction to Commonsense Childbirth Inc.

A west Orange County nonprofit health clinic, Commonsense Childbirth Inc., was recently recognized by Time Magazine. Founder Jennie Joseph was part of Time Magazine’s inaugural Women of the Year. This birth center and clinic gives pregnant persons prenatal and postpartum support in an effort to level the healthcare playing field and eradicate black maternal mortality.Continue reading “Introduction to Commonsense Childbirth Inc.”

A Federal Ruling to Support Rural Boundaries, Expanding Protections for the Econ River:.

A federal judge recently gave some hope to beleaguered environmentalists and rural communities in Florida by not only ruling in favor of the County’s rural boundary, but also requiring the developer to pay the county nearly $537,00 in legal fees. The court held that Seminole County Commissioners had the right to reject the plan toContinue reading “A Federal Ruling to Support Rural Boundaries, Expanding Protections for the Econ River:.”

The Need for Light Rail to be prioritized in the Transportation Sales Tax Work Sessions: 

As we move into the final work session and vote by the Board of County Commissioners, I have to express my disappointment in the absence of any consideration for light rail or some other east – west mass transit option. The U.S. Census was clear: West Orange County added 80,000 new residents yet the onlyContinue reading “The Need for Light Rail to be prioritized in the Transportation Sales Tax Work Sessions: ”

Agenda Items Removed from Board of County Commission Meeting!

The purpose of District Commissioners is to ensure stakeholders and residents are informed and have an opportunity to engage with any legislative items which would affect those residents. However, over the last several Orange County Board of Commissioners meetings, items of great importance to Orange County residents have been either removed from consideration, or decidedContinue reading “Agenda Items Removed from Board of County Commission Meeting!”

Celebrating Passover!

Last week, those in the Jewish community celebrated Passover together for the first time in two years. Passover is one of the most important holidays in the Jewish religion, as it details the Jews’ escape from Egyptian slavery. Growing up, I was always taught that Passover is an opportunity to stand up for all oppressedContinue reading “Celebrating Passover!”

Comments on My January 2022 Memo to the Mayor regarding Split Oak Forest

In one of the most bipartisan, clear-cut decisions of November 2020, 86% agreed to protect Split Oak Forest with a Charter Amendment. I wrote a memo to the Mayor and Commissioners as early as January 2022 asking them to rescind their application which would allow destruction of at least 160 acres of public lands.  It’sContinue reading “Comments on My January 2022 Memo to the Mayor regarding Split Oak Forest”

The Florida Community Trust’s Vote against Split Oak Forest

Last week, the Florida Communities Trust (FCT) approved the request for modification to Split Oak Forest submitted by Orange County. The fight to defend our environment put me in my seat today. I asked Mayor Demings and the Board of County Commissioners to bring this item back for a vote in January. My only responseContinue reading “The Florida Community Trust’s Vote against Split Oak Forest”

Environmental Efforts in my First Year as Commissioner

Since my election in 2020, I have worked tirelessly on water quality issues from stormwater retention to the new fertilizer ordinance update and revised wetland code. I championed a more comprehensive tree protection ordinance and GreenPLACE conservation program. All of these efforts are based on the voter support of the charter amendment passed providing forContinue reading “Environmental Efforts in my First Year as Commissioner”

Celebrating Ramadan!

To all who celebrate, happy Eid al-Fitr! Congratulations on completing Ramadan, one of the most challenging and important holidays for Islam. I am lucky to have the Islamic Center of Orlando in District 1 as incredible partners in building a safe community. Their recent Interfaith Iftar ceremony was the perfect display of District 1’s solidarity.Continue reading “Celebrating Ramadan!”

Governor DeSantis is Hurting The Business Community

If the rest of Florida’s business community thinks they are safe sitting idly by as the Governor attacks the state’s largest employer they are missing the larger threat. It was unbelievably irresponsible for the Governor to abolish RCID without conducting a thorough economic study. Orange and Osceola County taxpayers may end up shouldering the burdenContinue reading “Governor DeSantis is Hurting The Business Community”

Inconsistencies within the Transportation Sales tax

The  Board of County Commissioners narrowly passed the Transportation Sales Tax for the November ballot. This measure was based in part on a report that used Vision Zero as a basis for additional pedestrian and bicycle safety measures. This direct conflict was one of many inconsistencies that ultimately led me to vote no to theContinue reading “Inconsistencies within the Transportation Sales tax”