BECKY STEELE NAMED ACLU WEST FLORIDA DIRECTOR - Mitch Perry

04/13/04

Local Tampa attorney and former WMNF Board President Becky Steele has been named Director of the ACLU of Florida's newly-opened West Florida Office near downtown Tampa.

Steele has previously worked for the powerful lawfirms of Trenam, Kemker and Holland & Knight, and a year ago opened her own practice primarily representing employees in benefits disputes and appeals. She is also currently the president of the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers.

Contacted today, Steele said the new job presents an opportunity to continue fighting social injustices (roll tape#1 O.Q. “that I’ve been doing�)………One of those cases involved filing a Supreme Court petition on behalf of public housing resident and WMNF programmer Connie Burton, who has been fighting the Government’s "one-strike" law that, in essence, allows the government to evict a tenant if any member of the tenant's household, or even any guest, engages in drug-related criminal activity on or off the premises.

The opening of an ACLU office in Tampa is now the 4th branch office of the Civil Liberties organization in Florida, along with state headquarters in Miami, and other offices in Pensacola and Tallahassee.

Becky Steele explains what the office will do for those in the Bay Area who think they may need the organization’s help (roll tape#2 o.q.�next year or so�)

The ACLU says that their new office will be serving the West Florida community through litigation and public education, especially in the areas of racial justice, police misconduct, and civil and voting rights restoration for people with past felony convictions

Among the issues that the ACLU in Florida has been working on is providing information and organized opposition to provisions of the controversial USA Patriot Act, enacted by Congress in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.

On Thursday evening, following efforts in over 270 municipalities, local organizers will appear in front of the Tampa City Council arguing that the Council vote their disapproval of portions of the Act……New West Florida ACLU head Becky Steele says Thursday’s discussion is crucial for Tampa residents to weigh in on an issue that has alienated and angered many in the U.S. (roll tape#3 o.q.�to be heard on that issue�) The Tampa City Council meeting takes place Thursday afternoon, beginning at 5:30 at Tampa City Hall, 315 West Kennedy…

The West Florida Office will not accept walk-ins. Complaints regarding civil rights violations will only be accepted in writing to: P.O. Box 18245, Tampa, FL 33679, or call 813-254-0925.

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