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Doris writes a weekly column for LaGaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper, which has pages in English, Spanish, and Italian.  Begun in 1922 for Tampa's immigrant community, it continues to thrive more than a century later.  Her column is titled "In Context," as it aims to put contemporary issues in the context of the past.

I’m Going to Go Out on a Limb

It’s only Monday, yet I (perhaps foolishly) am taking the risk of predicting that by the time you read this on Friday, Kevin Kavanaugh will be consigned to the wastebasket of history. My prediction is reinforced by the very quiet, almost hush-hush news that the Current Occupant signed a major part of the 2019 budget last weekend – sans his threatened October shutdown and sans his cherished Mexican Wall. Someone in the White House seems to be forcing him to see that his party is going down in a landslide waterfall this fall, and they are trying to cut their losses.

There are lessons to be learned. One is that women indeed are coming into our own, and some of us are no longer afraid to name names. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: every woman in the world has experienced sexual harassment. Everyone. And always throughout history. It’s just that our American daughters and granddaughters finally have grown into the “Me Too” generation. Because women now are capable of self-support, we at last are free to tell the truth.

We also can and should point out that 22 senators voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act – all of them Republican. Six of those misogynists now are members of the Judiciary Committee that is crucial to Supreme Court nominations. The most notorious are Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Orrin Hatch of Utah, and Ted Cruz of Texas. Only Cruz is up for reelection this year. You could send a check to his Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke.

A second lesson is more subtle and needs to be better learned. It is the sense of entitlement that is so built-in with these men (and some women) that they don’t even see the privileged status that they assume is their right. They use the word “entitlement” to denigrate the poor, complaining that people think they should be entitled to a sound system of Social Security (and maybe, tentatively, health care). Please allow me to remind you that as recently as the last Bush administration, Republican leaders were calling for the privatization of Social Security. Because of their upper-class status, they felt entitled to this jackpot for gambling on Wall Street. Think how much worse the Great Recession would have been if a privatized Social Security system had spent our seniors’ savings on junk bonds!

Another thing we should learn is to inquire if preppies such as Kavanaugh, who come out of expensive and single-sex schools, ever can truly see others as equal. Yes, I know the arguments advanced for single-sex education (including those made by feminists for girls), but kids are going to grow up to live in a world very different from their student status, and they should prepare for that from the beginning. If you, like Kavanaugh and his Georgetown High School, are Catholic, please consider gender-integrated opportunities. In Tampa, we have Tampa Catholic as well as the seemingly more prestigious Jesuit for boys and Holy Names for girls. And although it may seem biased, everyone might want to remember that the current court is composed entirely of Catholics and Jews; unlike the majority of our history, it has no Protestants.

And apparently, illegal alcohol was rampant at Georgetown. Priests had to have known about these underage parties -- or else someone wasn’t telling the truth at confession. Lay teachers couldn’t possibly escape hearing the gossip and should have asked questions. Parents, with too much money and too little genuine concern for their children, certainly knew about the illegal drinking in their own homes. Apparently it was more important to these status seekers that their teen keep up with the neighbors’ teens than that they issue curfews and cut off allowances. Entitlement. Hypocrisy. Cronyism and exclusion. The mainstays of that culture.

Finally, factor in that this was in the 1980s, after a presidential election in which a divorced Hollywood actor who didn’t speak to his children defeated a Georgia Sunday school teacher -- on a platform of family values! November 1980 was when America turned in the wrong direction, and like addicts, we relapsed again in 2016. It’s been a generation, yet some voters still fall for hypocrisy and hype if it is advertised with enough money to buy brainwashing. Please get real. Go for honesty and openness and change.

Art Means Business

Mark your calendar for Thursday, October 4th, when USF’s GraphicStudio will celebrate its 50th anniversary at the historic Tampa Theatre on Franklin Street downtown. The GraphicStudio began almost as soon as USF, and the university already had an art gallery when Hubby and I arrived in 1972. There was talk of a giant Picasso sculpture on the main median as one drove into campus, but that never came to fruition. On the other hand, it wasn’t many more years until we had the first iteration of the Dali museum across the water in Pinellas. Tampa Bay residents appreciated pioneers of modern art, as well as traditional fine art, and now we have a multiplicity of museums and galleries that attract multitudes of visitors.

Graphicstudio, however, is not so much about attracting tourists as it is about giving opportunity to emerging artists and art forms. Indeed, its full name is “Graphicstudio: Institute for Research in Art.” It is located slightly off of the main campus, in the Spectrum Research Center. Its director is Margaret Miller, who has been a longtime asset to Tampa and USF. The three men who headed the studio prior to Margaret will join her for a presentation exploring its groundbreaking past projects and letting us in on the exciting future of this nationally acclaimed studio. You can RSVP by calling 974-3503.

That reminds me of a report from the Hillsborough County Arts Council in which the lead essay was titled “The Arts Mean Business.” Literally. The audiences at cultural events for the year totaled almost five million people -- 4,820,624, to be exact. The average person attending such events spent $50.63 on associated food, drink, and purchases, which created the equivalent almost 15,000 full-time jobs. Measured as a whole, the arts accounted for more than $433 million in spending – just in Hillsborough!

Let’s look again at the nearly five-million art audience and do a little math. The Buc’s stadium seats about 65,000, and I see that they are playing seven home games this year. That multiplies out to 450,000 – not even a half-million, let alone the five million who patronize events at non-profit places. Yes, I know that RayJay hosts events other than football, but I’d like to see a truly fair analysis of how much we taxpayers are getting in return for subsidizing their profitmaking playground. And let’s not even talk about the Trop and baseball. These sports are, I’m sorry, the dying past-times of the past, and you won’t see many more fans even if the Rays move. In fact, you’ll see younger crowds – and their kids -- at art and music festivals.

So of course it makes sense for our job-creating Republican governor to cut arts funding – by 90% in the state current budget. Tampa Bay Times reporter Andrew Meacham wrote: “When Gov. Rick Scott unrolled his $88.7 billion budget, those in the arts expected things to be bad, but not this breathtakingly bad. In 2017, the state allowed $25 million for arts projects. This year, it dropped to $2.6 million... Arts funding has grown smaller by the year, from $43 million in 2014 to [$2.6 million] this year. The budget cuts drops Florida’s ranking from 10th in the country to 48th.”

Yep, that’s a really good way to get the nation to change its impression of Florid-DUH. Some examples of Scott’s excellent marketing plan: the Florida Orchestra was eligible for $150,000, but got only $10,000 and will have to eliminate its creative mini-concerts in schools, hospitals, and at the airport. The Tampa Bay History Center, the zoo at Lowry Park, and the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete got nothing this year. Zero. Zilch. Priorities, people -- where are ours? Failing to invest in the arts doesn’t even make business sense. Remember in November.

Coupla Things

• In last week’s column, I misspelled a name; it should have been Colter Lena of Doubletake Marketing. I also goofed in saying that a woman who served on a panel discussion about costs in health care was with Florida Blue; that is no longer the case, as she now represents Corporate Fitness Works. The main emphasis, though, was on the health advocacy company called Prism, and everything about that was right.

• Did you see the photo of South Korea’s President Moon with North Korea’s President Kim Joung-un standing at the top of a mountain with their clasped hands reaching to the sky? Remember a couple of months ago when our president was about to take the world to war because of what he called “the Rocket Man?” Based on the experience that Hubby and I had at a university north of Seoul, I said then that the two Koreas would figure out how to end their 70-year-old state of war if our military moneymakers would just get out of the way. I think that is happening.


Doris Weatherford writes a weekly column for La Gaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper. With pages in Spanish, Italian, and English, it has been published in Tampa since 1922.
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