On MidPoint, Shelley brings you current Florida news and public affairs with a local perspective, and with a definite pro-democracy, anti-fascist bent that she hopes will leave you with righteous indignation and a hair-on-fire fever to fight tyranny and autocracy…before it’s too late.
September 20, 2023 Why Can’t We Have Nice Things? v. 2.0 Hillsborough HOPE Affordable Housing Fund In Danger County Comm’r Josh Wostal is coming for the $10 million budget allocation for the Hillsborough HOPE Affordable Housing Trust Fund which has been supporting affordable housing development since 2019. He wants more money for road repairs and public safety, including jail renovations. My guests former Comm’r Kimberly Overman and Dr. Sheila Simmons Tribble of Hillsborough HOPE explain why affordable housing needs to remain a top priority for the Commission. The budget will be addressed at the public hearing tomorrow, 9/21 at 6 p.m.
September 13, 2023 The Florida Redistricting Litigation with the League of Women Voters MidPoint discussed the very important legal case which recently held the DeSantis-crafted voting redistricting plan unconstitutional in Florida. That case is now on appeal to the FL Supreme Court and if upheld, minority voting districts will again be protected and the election of 2024 could result in more Democrats being elected to Congress from Florida. My guests were Cecile M. Scoon, Esq. who currently serves as the co-president of the League of Women Voters of Florida and is the first Black woman to serve in this capacity, and Teresa Potter, Pres. of the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough Co.
September 6, 2023 Why Can’t We Have Nice Things? Hillsborough Arts Funding In Danger At the request of new Comm’r Donna Cepeda, the Hillsborough Co. Comm’n will consider de-funding all of “the County’s various arts programs,” including the Arts Council, its many grant recipients, & the Cultural Assets Comm’n. The Board of County Commissioners will take this up at their next meeting, Thurs., Sept. 7. My guests on MidPoint today, former Hillsb. Co. Comm’r Mariella Smith, Hillsb. Co. Arts Council Board Chair Theron Butler, and former Hillsb. Arts Council Program Dir. Jenny Carey explained why the arts are a driver of economic benefits and civic and cultural richness for Hillsborough County.
August 23, 2023 It’s the HEAT and the Humidity! Meteorologist Andy Johnson formerly of WTVT TV Channel 13, and occupational health expert Tom Bernard of USF College of Public Health, talk about the weather and heat stress in Florida. Why is it so damn HOT and when will it end? Should we name extreme heat events like hurricanes to alert the public? Should workers be legally guaranteed heat breaks? Should tenants be guaranteed A/C in FL?
August 16, 2023 The Tampa Five Attorney Michelle Lambo and her clients the TAMPA FIVE, young USF students and one 7 year USF employee are now facing felony charges for protesting
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ culture war agenda and legislative efforts to ban diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives on college campuses. They are charged with battery on law enforcement but contemporaneous video recordings seem to show USF police instigating violence against the protesters. The trial is set for December.
August 9, 2023 State Attorney Andrew Warren on the Suspension of State Attorney Monique Worrell & Judicial Consolidation Suspended Hillsborough Co. State Attorney Andrew Warren joined the 2d half of the show to discuss today’s suspension of Orange/Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell by Gov. DeSantis for “incompetence” and the Republicans’ proposal to consolidate the Judicial Circuits in Florida, most likely to gerrymander and suppress votes and prevent the election of Democratic prosecutors and judicial officers.
July 26, 2023 Malaria Found in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. What Do We Need to Know? Dr. John Adams a malaria researcher from the USF College of Public Health and Dr. Eva Bruckner, a Medical Entomology Extension Specialist at the University of Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory join us to discuss everything you always wanted to know about malaria in Florida and what to do about it.
July 19, 2023 Teaching African American History in Florida K-12 WTSP Channel 10 Investigative reporter Jenna Bourne and educator Dr. Samuel Wright joined MidPoint Wed. to discuss the recent drama and takeover of the Florida Dept. of Education’s African American History Task Force by the DeSantis loyalists and proposed their reforms of the African American education curriculum after the new “Stop Woke” and anti-diversity, equity and inclusion laws restricted the teaching of Black history.
July 12, 2023 SB 540: The Sprawl Bill of 2023 Jane West, Director of Policy and Planning of the 1000 Friends of Florida, and Vivienne Handy, Board Member and a Comm’r on the Hillsborough Co. City-County Planning Board discuss SB 540, often called “the worst environmental bill of the 2023 legislative session.” Our guests explain that this law makes plaintiffs in lawsuits challenging changes to land-use Comprehensive Plans personally responsible for fees and costs of that failed litigation, making it too dangerous for community members to bring such challenges and giving developers free rein to increase sprawl in areas that do not have the infrastructure to support it.
June 28, 2023 The Challenges of Affordable Housing MidPoint takes up the challenges of Affordable Housing in the Tampa Bay region and what to do about it with former County Commissioner Kimberly Overman, Founder of the Housing Leadership Council of Tampa Bay, and Ernest Hooper, Sr. VP of Communications for the United Way Suncoast.
July 21, 2023 School Librarians Are Speaking Up! Public school librarians feel attacked, but some are now bravely speaking up and speaking out against the Moms 4 Liberty book bans, the censorship of classroom libraries, and DeSantis’ expanded “Don’t Say Gay” law which goes into effect on July 1 and extends the restrictions on certain books and content in schools to kindergarten through 8th grade, and expands the responsibility and potential liability of librarians and teachers to police the educational content that students may access. Three local school librarians joined us from the front lines of the “Parents’ Rights” wars now overtaking our FL schools to discuss the extraordinary pressures they and school teachers are now under from this legislation, how it impedes learning, and how the community can support these public servants and their students.
June 14, 2023 Criminal Justice Reform in 2023 FL Rep. Dianne Hart, a long-term champion of criminal justice and prison reforms, and Julianne Holt, the elected Hillsborough County Public Defender for the past 33 years both appeared on MidPoint to discuss the mostly more punitive new criminal justice laws that emerged from the 2023 legislature like the new pretrial release rules that will keep more people in jail pending trial, along with the few reform successes such as the return of $32 million to the Prison Welfare Trust for expenditures like prison air conditioning.
May 31, 2023 Big Changes to Florida Divorce and Family Laws Local Family Court General Magistrate Philip Wartenberg and family law attorney Joshua Sheridan joined MidPoint to discuss some of the big changes in Florida divorce and family law which emerged from the 2023 legislative session, including the long-anticipated, possible end to permanent alimony in Florida, a rebuttable presumption of 50/50 shared child custody in most cases, and the new law which now permits the state to take custody of a child if one parent objects to the other parent’s seeking gender-affirming treatment for their minor child.
May 24, 2023 Florida Makes It Easier to to Put People to Death Death penalty defense lawyers, Allison Miller and Craig Whisenhunt join MidPoint to discuss the new legislation that now makes Florida the state with the lowest legal threshold to put convicted people to death, and the new legislation that makes sexual battery on a child subject to the death penalty. The 2023 legislation allows a jury to impose a sentence of death on a convicted defendant with only an 8 to 4 vote, making Florida the only state, other than Alabama, to allow non-unanimous juries to impose a death sentence. It also permits a death sentence for rape of a child under 12 under certain aggravating conditions.
May 17, 2023 Florida’s New Immigration Laws Apparently, Gov. Ron DeSantis would have detained and deported his own great-great-grandmother, an undocumented immigrant fleeing from poverty and violence in Southern Italy in 1917. Local Immigration lawyers Chelsea Nowel and Ananis Makar joined Shelley for an overview of the punitive and disruptive new Florida immigration laws that threaten the Florida economy and treat undocumented people with a complete lack of dignity.
May 10, 2023 Classic New College or New New College? The DeSantis Dept. of Ed wants to develop a “Classical and Christian” alternative to the SAT test for all 11th graders in Florida, reject social studies textbooks for being “woke,” and completely alter the academic curricula and campus priorities at New College of Florida & other public universities. New College alum and Classics major, attorney Matt Newton and New College alumna Naomi Campa, now an Asst. Prof. of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin both joined us to talk about the “Classic New College,” the “New New College” and the “Classics,” and what these changes mean for the school and for education in our state.
May 3, 2023 Labor Pains The Florida Legislature passed some very politically-motivated labor legislation this week that looks like union-busting, by making it harder and more cumbersome for public employees to join their union and pay their dues. This seems like a direct attack on the Democratic Party-supporting teachers’ unions because the legislature exempted Republican-supporting cops, firefighters, and corrections officers’ unions from the same restrictions. Learn more about it all with Cheryl Schroeder, Executive Director of the West Central Florida Labor Council, and employment attorney Ryan Barack of Kwall, Barack & Nadeau.
April 26, 2023 The 2023 Tampa Municipal Election and New Proposed Vote Reform Legislation Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer and Teresa Potter, President of the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County join Shelley to discuss what we can learn from yesterday’s Tampa municipal election run-offs and the pending legislation that may inhibit registration of new voters by third-party organizations like the League, along with other proposed legislative changes to the voting laws.
April 19, 2023 Tort Reform: The Insurance Industry’s Savior May Be Your Undoing Massive changes to the who, what, when, and how claims against insurance companies for money damages are made were recently passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law by the Governor. They resulted in a deluge of lawsuits being filed in court before the changes went into effect last month. These new laws affect everything from how long you have to file a lawsuit, to whether you can obtain medical services for accidental injuries, to whether or not you’ll even be able to find a lawyer to represent you in a claim against an insurance company. And, if you do get your claim into Court, you may be waiting a very long time until it can be resolved. Hon. Cindy Stuart, elected Clerk of Court for the 13th Judicial Circuit for Hillsborough County, and civil lawyer and mediator Chris Knopik joined us to explain the new tort reform laws and how they may affect you and your family.
April 12, 2023 Medicaid: The Great Unwinding The Federal government is ending automatic renewals of Medicaid benefits now. 5.7 million Floridians must reapply for their Medicaid healthcare benefits and experts estimate some one million Floridians are in danger of losing their healthcare coverage altogether. But, healthcare advocates, Jodi Ray and Katie Roders Turner join us to discuss the assistance that is available for those people to find healthcare coverage from the public and private marketplaces. They explain how healthcare navigators are available to assist beneficiaries throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Polk counties.
April 5, 2023 Dr. Dani Rosenkrantz and Dr. Darleen Gracia Dr. Dani Rosenkrantz, who specializes in counseling Jewish LGBTQ+ clients and their families, and Dr. Gracia who specializes in counseling the Trans and BIPOC LGBTQ+ communities are both licensed psychologists. They join us to examine the extraordinary traumas inflicted on their clients from more marginalized communities from the LGBTQ+ hostile bills proposed by the Florida legislature this session, and how the allied community can support them at this difficult time.
March 29, 2023 No Pasarán! : The Ybor City Women Who Fought Fascism in Florida Historian Sarah McNamara, author of Ybor City: Crucible of the Latina South, joined us to talk about the leftist, radical, labor history of the cigar workers and the women of Ybor City, and their 1937 March Against Fascism which is being honored with a beautiful new mural on 7th Ave. and a historical marker noting the event.
March 22, 2023 What’s the Matter with Florida Press & Media? With Journalist Ben Montgomery Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist, Ben Montgomery, recently fired from Axios Media for calling out a DeSantis administration Dept. of Education PR flack for sending out propaganda, not a press release, joins us to discuss the climate of fear in the Florida media created by DeSantis, and DeSantis’ weaponization of our tax-payer funded communications shops in State government agencies like the Dept. of Education.
March 15, 2023 LGBTQ and Trans Voices from the Capitol Protest The Florida legislature stands ready to ban transgender medical care for minors and take kids away from parents if the parents seek gender-affirming treatment for their children. They are banning classes in gender studies at Florida public universities and shutting all DEI programs in schools and businesses. How has this affected the LGBTQ and trans communities and what are they doing to protest these measures? Brandon Wolf, Pres Sectr’y of Equality Florida and Brianna and Freya, 2 local, trans drag performers who were at the protest in Tallahassee, and Cat Margeaux, a trans, non-binary USF student activist, all join us to talk about these hateful measures and their own activism against them.
March 8, 2023 Bloggers and Pundits Beware New legislation proposed by the Republican super-majority would make it easier to suppress free speech in Florida by requiring bloggers who write about the Governor’s administration to register with the State and subject them to fines if they don’t (Senate Bill 1316), and by making it easier to sue for defamation (House Bill 951). Could WMNF and MidPoint be a target of this new legislation designed to suppress dissent? You betcha! Great show with guests Bobby Block, Executive Director of the Florida First Amendment Foundation, and media lawyers Alison Steele from St. Pete and Carol LoCicero from Tampa.
March 1, 2023 FL House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell Joins Us Rep, Driskell joined us to discuss the parade of horrible legislation that the Florida Republican-controlled legislature is planning now that they have a super-majority. She tries to give us some “political therapy” and a dose of optimism so we don’t drown in a sea of political despair too. Brian Connolly, Vice President of the USF Faculty Senate also joins us to discuss House Bill 999 and the death of academic freedom in Florida.
February 15, 2023 Book Banning in Florida MidPoint was joined by guests Raegan Miller, a Pinellas County parent, and Jen Cousins, an Orange County parent, to discuss book banning in schools around Florida, and their organization, Florida Freedom to Read which opposes book banning. We focused on recent book-banning events in Manatee and Pinellas Counties and their response to them.
February 8, 2023 DeSantis’ Hostile Takeover of Florida Public Education Today we’re talking about the hostile takeover of Florida public education and all of the new DeSantis education “reforms”– vouchers for all, transforming New College, banning Diversity Equity & Inclusion programs, ending tenure, etc. Independent D.C. journalist Judd Legum, formerly Editor in Chief of ThinkProgress, now of the subscription newsletter, popular.info, “News for People Who Give a Damn,” hosted on SubStack, and Orlando FL Rep. Anna Eskamani who recently attended the New College of Florida Board meeting at which the NCF Pres. was summarily fired and replaced by DeSantis’ former Comm’r of Education, Richard Corcoran are our guests.
February 1, 2023 Medication Abortion Access Medication abortion accounted for 54% of all abortions performed in U.S. clinics. But abortion pills are now also available by mail from many offshore sources, and recently, the FDA approved U.S, pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens to fill prescriptions for abortion pills for home-based, self-managed abortions, but not in Florida where doing so is a crime. Meanwhile, anti-abortion forces are organizing protests outside the pharmacy chains to pressure these corporations to stop filling prescriptions for medication abortion pills. What’s next for medication abortion access? My guests from Red State Access and Progress Florida represent abortion rights information services and they fill us in on the current state of affairs surrounding abortion pill access.
January 25, 2023 Holocaust Remembrance Day International Holocaust Remembrance Day is Jan. 27th, the day the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp was liberated. MidPoint’s guest was Michael Igel, Board Chairman of the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg and Chair of the FL Dept. of Education’s Task Force on Holocaust Education. We’ll be discussing his family’s own Holocaust experiences, the importance of Holocaust remembrance, Holocaust education in the age of “Stop Woke,” the rise of anti-Semitism… again, how to address it, and more.
January 18, 2023 Florida Commission on Mental Health Issues Interim Report Hon. Ronald Ficarrotta, Chief Judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit for Hillsborough County and an appointee to the Commission joins MidPoint to discuss the recommendations of the Commission to improve the criminal justice system’s response to individuals with mental illness who come into contact with the justice system through arrest.
January 11, 2023 Hillsborough County Is Proposing Major School Boundary Changes It’s no secret that Hillsborough Co. schools are financially strapped and teachers are underpaid and leaving the system. So, the school system has plans to make sweeping changes to the school attendance boundaries, including “repurposing” some underutilized schools completely, in order to save money and to balance enrollments from some over-crowded schools to others that are underpopulated. Anticipated financial savings could be used to compensate teachers. But, the public is anxious and critical of the limited information the school system has put out so far about the boundary changes. More public engagement meetings are scheduled through January, and a decision is expected in late February. Guests from the Hillsborough County PTA organization join Shelley to discuss the various proposals and the opportunities for more public engagement.
January 4, 2023 Making Big Changes It is a “new” year and politicos and pundits are still on vacation, so MidPoint is talking about new beginnings, starting over, 2d acts, and making big life changes. Shelley’s guests are Artist Laura Waller who, in 2012, decided to leave her career as a financial planner and be a full-time studio artist, and Rande Friedman, who went from selling Red Cross shoes to elderly people to being a realtor with a niche clientele of elderly people transitioning into assisted living or downsizing their homes, and family members dealing with the estates of people who have passed on. They have some insights for those facing or considering making a big life change in the New Year.
December 28, 2022 Happy Holidays! MidPoint is on vacation. Today’s show will be a rerun of past content selected by the WMNF news and public affairs editorial elves. Join us on January 4th for a new year of MidPoint.
December 21, 2022 Dan Ruth is Back and He’s got Some Things to Say! Tampa Bay Times Pulitzer-prize-winning editorial writer, political columnist, professor in the USF Honors College, and former WMNF Radio host, Dan Ruth is back on the airwaves for our year-end wrap-up, and he’s ready to comment on the news media, permitless carry of weapons in Florida, Fox News, DeSantis’ run for President, and the death of civic literacy making people too stupid to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens. It’s a fun “Ask Me Anything” style dialogue with Dan, Shelley, and our listeners.
December 14, 2022 Redemption Radio Thad Bereday, host of the Redemption Radio podcast, a former lawyer and former prison inmate, and his pastor, Rev. Justin LaRosa of The Portico, a non-traditional, social justice-focused church in downtown Tampa, both join Shelley on MidPoint to discuss the meaning of “redemption” and the need for criminal justice reform.
December 7, 2022 PURE or “Toilet to Tap”? What’s Going In Tampa’s Water? The Mayor calls it “PURE.” The Tampa City Council calls it “Toilet To Tap.” It is the plan to mix highly treated wastewater with the City’s drinking water by 2032. Environmentalists and neighborhood activists strongly oppose it, saying we don’t know enough to deem it safe or how much it will cost. But, State law says Tampa can’t keep dumping its treated wastewater into Tampa Bay. What will become of our wastewater now? The stakeholders from the Sierra Club, Friends of the River, and THAN, the collective of Tampa neighborhood associations, all have some ideas to share with MidPoint before the City’s plan comes back before City Council in January.
November 30, 2022 Shopping for Medicare Plans? SHINE Can Help. December 7 marks the end of the yearly 3-month Medicare coverage enrollment period. Now is the time to make your Medicare coverage election for the year 2023. It can be a very complicated decision, but FREE, UNBIASED help from trained counselors is available. On November 30, MidPoint hosted Medicare counselors Amy Hagel and Fran Oberne from Florida SHINE Medicare Counseling, a service of the Florida Dept. of the Elder Affairs. They shared with us some of the significant issues and factors to consider when making this important decision.
November 23, 2022 Giving Thanks with Meals On Wheels Every Thanksgiving season MidPoint spotlights issues of food insecurity and we always look for the helpers. Today, we met the crew from Meals on Wheels Tampa, Cindy Vann, and Erica Leigh, and MOW super-volunteer Rebecca Fiore to hear all about their efforts to feed hungry homebound seniors. You can help too. Tune in to find out how.
November 16, 2022 What’s The Matter With Florida? In last week’s midterm election in which the Democratic Party did surprisingly well throughout the United States by holding on to the Senate and leaving Republicans with what looks to be a bare majority in the House, Florida was a noticeable outlier. The expected Red Wave that fizzled out around the country drowned Florida and took out some stellar local candidates in surprising upsets. Democratic voter turnout was abysmal. We talk to some local Democratic political leaders to find out just what happened and why so few Democrats turned out to vote in 2022.
November 2, 2022 Pre-Election Political Prognostications Our Local political pundits and Friends of MidPoint, William March, Political Columnist from the Tampa Bay Times, and Mitch Perry, Political Reporter from The Florida Phoenix join us to discuss local races in the upcoming midterm elections next week.
October 26, 2022 Michele Rayner is Going to be Elected…and then She’s Going to Be Worried Current Democratic FL House District 70 representative Michel Rayner-Goolsby has been gerrymandered into a very Democratic new District 62. She is now running against Jeremy Brown, a self-described Oath Keeper, who is running from the Pinellas Co. Jail while awaiting his trial on charges of illegal possession of unregistered weapons and ammunition and threats to law enforcement, and related to his presence at the Capitol on Jan 6th. Michele is not worried about being re-elected herself but is worried about other races in this election and the possibility that the Republicans will achieve a super-majority in the legislature.
October 19, 2022 Why Are My Electric Power Bills So High?? We are close to Halloween so let us reveal the horrifying, scary secrets of why your energy and utility costs are so high in Florida, and who is behind that nightmare. We’ll reveal the spooky, devilish characters who haunt and hex our politics with ghost candidates who run to keep your electric bills so high. We know where the political “bodies” are buried, and we’ll tell you what you can do about it! Join me and long-time Florida environmental activist, lobbyist and clean energy consultant Susan Glickman for a program that’ll make you want to SCREEEEEAM!
September 21, 2022 Legal Issues in the News Former Chair of the Florida ACLU Legal Panel James Shaw Jr. joins Shelley to discuss some of the interesting legal issues in the news related to current events such as DeSantis’ movement of asylee migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard under what appear to be false pretenses, DeSantis’ Election Police Force arrest of Florida felons for illegally voting in the 2020 election despite receiving voter registration cards from the State Dept. of Elections, and more. Lots of listener engagement too!
September 14, 2022 All 4 Transportation The team from the All 4 Transportation ballot initiative –Tyler Hudson, Christina Barker, and Kevin O’Hare–joined us today to discuss the new referendum that will appear on the November 2022 ballot seeking approval for a 1% sales tax for 30 years to fund transportation improvements in Hillsborough County. They are urging citizens to pass this referendum and to make this investment in improved roads, safer roads, more and better bus service, and bicycle infrastructure, and more transportation options throughout the county.
September 7, 2022 Renegade Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes Has Some Notes For Florida Jeff Brandes, a Pinellas Co. Libertarian, and the most intriguing Republican in the Florida Senate is leaving due to term limits. He talks to WMNF about his passion for policy over politics, his fight for criminal justice reform and tort reform to address the property insurance crisis, his hope for “grace” for the 20 people recently accused of voter fraud by Gov. DeSantis, why he thinks State Attorney Andrew Warren will prevail in his lawsuit over his suspension, and his new post-politics endeavor, the “do-tank,” The Florida Policy Project. Will he return to elective office after his “break?” He never said never.
August 31, 2022 DeSantis Now Wants to “Stop Woke” Investments of State Funds Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, our guest, State Rep. Andrew Learned has been leading the charge to have Florida divest State pension funds from Russian investments, some of which are directly supply ing weapons, supplies, and fuel to the Russian military. DeSantis and the Legislature have refused, and so far, the State’s Russian pension investments have lost about 90% of their value. Meanwhile, in his continuing campaign to “Kill the Woke,” last week, DeSantis announced an investment policy meant to divest and avoid new Florida investments in companies or funds that adopt Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles. Florida will no longer consider using issues like climate change or racial justice awareness to influence investments by rating a company’s values. Adam Hattersley, candidate for Florida Chief Financial Officer, will also be with us to discuss this new policy and how it may impact Florida’s finances and pensioners’ retirements.
August 24, 2022 Primary Election Recap Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer and Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley join Shelley for a Primary election day recap. Who won, who lost, who is in a recount, and where were all the registered voters? Turnout was less than 25%! The polling places ran smoothly for the most part, without the expected disturbances from voters angry that Trump was not on the ballot. Was that due to the enormous increase in Vote By Mail? The Supervisors have thoughts on this and all things election-related.
August 17, 2022 DeSantis’ “Stop Woke” Law Hurts Florida Businesses Local business leaders Sara Margulis, CEO, and co-founder of the Pinellas Co. wedding registry, Honeyfund, and Antonio McBroom of Primo Tampa, a 100% Black-owned franchise of Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops, have sued in federal court to have DeSantis’ “Stop Woke” law declared unconstitutional under the First Amendment because it purports to censor what their private businesses can say to their employees in diversity, equity and inclusion training. They are joined by their attorney, Shalini Agarwal, from the Washington D.C.-based Protect Democracy Project, to discuss their lawsuit and their claim that it is unconstitutional for a government to insist that they can’t talk to their employees about race or gender issues as they see fit.
August 10, 2022 Russian Influence Agents Operating in Local Politics? New federal criminal charges against Alexandr Ionov, a fugitive Russian national, allege a malign foreign influence operation in St. Petersburg, FL local elections, and elsewhere around the United States, implicating local activist group the African People’s Socialist Party, aka the Uhuru’s. Expert national security journalist Marcy Wheeler, aka @emptywheel, and Prof. Golfo Alexopoulos, Dir. of the Russia Institute at the University of South Florida discuss the larger geopolitical context of these allegations and their historical precedents.
July 13, 2022 Academic Freedom Under Attack In the last 2 years, the DeSantis administration has restricted the teaching of critical history studies, banned diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, imposed surveys of students’ and professors’ political beliefs, taken over the Florida Board of Governors of the university system, hidden identities of university President candidates so they can’t be vetted by the public, ignored tenure review policies to mandate tenure for political appointees, canceled universities’ relationship with their accrediting agency, and reformed tenure policies to make employment less secure for faculty. Today, we talk about how this affects the quality of education, the reputation of Florida schools, and the effect on teaching with my guests, USF History Prof. Brian Connelly, a member of the USF Faculty Senate, and Education Prof. Steve Lang, Pres. of United Faculty of Florida’s USF Chapter, a faculty union.
July 6, 2022 The Art of Forensic Anthropology with Erin Kimmerle Noted USF Forensic Anthropologist Erin Kimmerle joined us to discuss her work and her investigation at the 111-year-old Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, FL where many unmarked graves with unmarked skeletal remains were found. Some were identified, some showed signs of horrific abuse, and some were not able to be identified, but Dr. Kimmerle and her team spent years trying to bring justice and closure to the families of these “throwaway boys.” She recently wrote a book about the investigation, “We Carry Their Bones,” published by Harper Collins, and her investigation is the subject of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning fictionalized story, The Nickel Boys.
June 29, 2022 Abortion Access After Dobbs Roe v. Wade has been overturned. Where do we go from here? We find out from our guests, physician Dr. Rachel R., a local abortion provider, and Kelly, from the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund. Abortion Funds and abortion networks locally and around the country have been preparing for this for some time. The takeaway? Don’t Panic! Safe, legal abortion will still be available. It will not be convenient or cheap. Dr.Rachel and www.tbafund.org has everything you need to know now to help yourself and your sisters.
June 22, 2022 Psychedelics for Mental Health Chemist, Dr. Chris Witkowski joined us from local start-up company Psilera Bioscience to discuss their development of therapeutic and medicinal uses of natural psychedelics–psilocybin magic mushrooms, DMT, ayahuasca, etc.–for the treatment of mental health disorders like treatment-resistant depression, social anxiety disorder, ADHD, PTSD, etc. The potential for effective treatment is enormous. Find out what treatments are currently available legally, and how to get into a government-approved clinical trial.
June 15, 2022 Tampa Targeted with Anti-Semitic Lit Drops For the last few weekends, South Tampa has been targeted with anti-Semitic literature flung from passing cars into the lawns and driveways of residents. Up to 500 flyers from a social media hate group have been discovered in our neighborhoods each weekend. To discuss the rise in anti-Semitism and what to do about it we invited Jonathan Ellis, Chair of the Tampa Jewish Community Relations Council, Susana Mapu, FBI Special Agent from the Civil Rights division of the Tampa Field Office and Andrew Warren, State Attorney of Hillsborough Co.
June 8, 2022 WMNF Summer Fund Drive If you want more MidPoint in your ears and more non-commercial, community radio, send us some money! Go to www.wmnf.org/donate, put your generous contribution amount in the box, select some swag if you want, and then scroll down to “Direct your donation to” and select MPW for MidPoint Wednesday from the drop-down menu. Thanks very much.
June 1, 2022 Shelley’s On Vacation! Today’s show will be a re-run.
May 25, 2022 The Kids are NOT Alright! The Crisis in Teen Mental Health Psychologists Dr. Elizabeth Tanner, of the Emotional Wellness Programm of the Hillsborough Co. Public School System and therapist Dr. Wendy Rice joined us to discuss the crisis in teen mental health on the day after an 18-year-old boy shot his grandmother and 2 teachers and 18 4th graders at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tx. Research has shown that school shootings by teens are typically motivated by a mix of suicidal impulses, despair, and anger PLUS access to guns, and sometimes these factors are enhanced by online influences. If we can’t restrict access to guns then at least we may be able to have a better understanding of what to look for in our teens who may be in crisis and a better grasp of how to approach and assist them. For more information and immediate referrals for help, dial 211, the Crisis Center Hotline. For information about how to talk to your teens about mental health and self-harm, go to https://www.onoursleeves.org/mental-health-resources
May 18, 2022 Gun Violence and Permitless Carry We talk with my guests from Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense about gun violence in American following the gun massacre this weekend in Buffalo, NY, and about Gov. DeSamtis’ pledge to bring “permitless carry” laws to Florida. Tune in to hear Tampa Lead, Gail-Powell-Cope, and Crystal Turner a victim of gun violence herself speak, about their hopes for gun reform in America.
May 11, 2022 Abortion Access After Roe? Kelly, Jackie and Kris from the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund join us to talk about the changing landscape for abortion access in Florida. What can we expect after the 15-week abortion ban and after the U.S. Supreme Court’s soon-to-be-published decision reversing Roe v. Wade? The national abortion funds are ready, able, and willing to assist in many creative ways to ensure women will continue to have access to safe, legal abortions. So much great information in this show about safe abortions, self-managed medication abortions, and planning for future obstacles to abortion access. www.tbafund.com
May 4, 2022 Florida’s Property Insurance Crisis Today, we talk about the property insurance crisis in Florida with attorney and former FL INSURANCE CONSUMER ADVOCATE Sean Shaw. More and more insurers are leaving Florida or becoming insolvent. Citizens, the State-run insurer of last resort is over-subscribed and basically broke. If you’re lucky enough to have home insurance, your premiums are increasing astronomically. How did we get here? Who or what is responsible for the collapse of the homeowner’s insurance market? How does it affect the rental market? What help may come from the Special Session on insurance later this month? And, what’s a homeowner to do now?
Your mid-week, mid-morning dose of news and public affairs from a local perspective
April 27, 2022 Something Doesn’t Add up: Math Texts Rejected The DeSantis Dept. of Education has rejected dozens of math textbooks and they are being very cagey about why. Is it just another big grift to enrich GOP donors and supporters, or as they’ve claimed, is it because the texts contain “Social Emotional Learning” (SEL) concepts that are intended to enhance learning in diverse student populations. What is SEL and why is the GOP afraid of it? We’ll find out and discuss it with Dr. India White, PhD in Educ, a local educational consultant, and Raegan Miller, a public school parent activist with the Florida Freedom to Read Project.
April 13, 2022 “As We Heard It” with Patrick Manteiga Patrick Manteiga, publisher of 100 year old La Gaceta, the nation’s only tri-lingual newspaper, is our guest. His weekly column on local political news, rumors, and the City’s movers and shakers is a must-read for anyone interested in the power structure and politics of Tampa and Hillsborough County. He’ll discuss his history in Ybor City, Hillsborough County’s history of political corruption, and the conflicts currently roiling Tampa City City Council and the Mayor’s administration.
April 6, 2022 The Ukraine Crisis Through the Eyes of a Tampeño We are all horrified by the events in Ukraine. Beyond our monetary donations to relief organizations, few of us do more. But local Tampa attorney Mark Wright did more. He recently spent a week at the Ukraine/Polish border on a personal relief mission to bring food, clothes, soccer balls, and hope to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the violence. He’s our guest and he’ll tell us what he saw and, perhaps, point us to more ways to help.
March 30, 2022 Water Wars Join my guests, Mariella Smith, Hillsborough Co. Comm’r and Vice Chair of Tampa Bay Water which supplies wholesale drinking water to Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa, and George Cassady, Asst. Co. Admin for Public Utilities. Crowded southern Hillsborough Co. needs more clean drinking water. Is injecting old, treated wastewater water into the ground the solution to gain more clean water? Can the governments of Tampa Bay Water agree on a plan? Is conservation the answer? You’re all wet if you think this is a dry topic!
March 23, 2022 We’re Talking Pride and Saying Gay! This weekend is Tampa Pride and Debbie Ducko, Entertainment Chair is with us to tell us all about the schedule of events and amusements celebrating the LGBTQ+ community in Ybor City, Friday thru Monday. Also, Andrew Klumb, a young trans man, and his mother, Leanne Klumb, an advocate for LGBTQ youth in education with GLSEN and the Hillsborough Co. PTA joined us to discuss Don’t Say Gay, LGBTQ+ issues in school and Gov. DeSantis’ insulting and crazy proclamation to ignore trans swimming athlete Lia Thomas’ NCAA win and proclaim the cis-gendered runner-up the winner. https://sound.wmnf.org/sound/wmnf_220323_100600_12newsW1_423.MP3
March 16, 2022 Legislative Wrap Up with Rep. Andrew Learned and TBT Political Columnist Windy March The FL legislative session is over, the budget has been sent to the Governor and we have some thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly bills and funding priorities that passed through the Statehouse this year. Rep. Learned from the East Hillsborough area and Tampa Bay Times Political reporter William E. March help us review what happened and why. https://sound.wmnf.org/sound/wmnf_220316_100600_12newsW1_423.MP3
March 9, 2022 Ukrainian Students Confident of Victory for Ukraine After a review of the progress of some of the more terrible pieces of legislation making their way through the Florida legislative process, USF students Ivan Cherniavskyi and Daria Konovalova from Ukraine talk about the war and Russian aggression against their country, how different Tampa is from Ukraine, and the struggles of their families left behind in Ukraine. We learn a little bit about Ukrainian history and why they are so confident that Ukraine will never surrender its self-determination and independence to Russia.
Epiphany Ukrainian Catholic Church is collecting first aid and personal hygiene items. Drop off at 434 90th Ave. N. M-F, 10am- 1pm.
Ukrainian National Women’s League of America is asking for humanitarian assistance unwla.org/#donate
Revived Soldiers is raising money for wounded soldiers at rsukraine.org
Project Dynamo works to evacuate Americans and NATO allies covering travel costs for refugees and volunteers. projectdynamo.org
International Rescue Committee aids displaced families. Donate at rescue.org
March 2, 2022 THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH! The Tampa Bay region is experiencing a shortage of affordable and workforce housing and a serious rent crisis. MidPoint talks with Tampa City Council Member, Luis Viera about the City’s recent passage of the Tampa Tenants’ Bill of Rights, and to Karla Correa from the St. Pete/Tampa Tenants Union about the rent crisis and what to do about it. Angela Medero, from the Hillsborough Co. Dept. of Social Services, explained that the Biden Administration had recently funded the City/County Emergency Rent Relief Program which re-opened on March 1st. Applications are now accepted. Funding is available for up to 12 months of back rent assistance and fees owed and up to 3 months of prospective rent owed for those who qualify.
February 23, 2022 “Don’t Say Gay?” You thought it couldn’t get any worse? Today, MidPoint hosts Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida, the state’s largest organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, and State House Rep. Anna Eskamani, Democrat, House District 47(Orlando area) for a discussion on the Legislature’s “Stop Woke” and “Don’t Say Gay” bills, along with the recent amendment proposed by Rep. Joe Harding that would REQUIRE public school principals to OUT LGBTQ kids to parents, even in cases where disclosure might cause abuse, abandonment or neglect.
February 9, 2022 Censorship Is On The Rise! Today, we are looking at Florida’s new Censorship and Surveillance laws with Lois Lowry, acclaimed author of The Giver, a frequently censored book for middle school readers, and Colette Bancroft, Book Editor of the Tampa Bay Times. Florida has already banned Critical Race Theory and the new “Don’t Say Gay” bills bar teaching or discussing anything to do with LGBTQ+ themes in elementary and middle school. Other proposals seek to ban teaching anything that might make white people feel “discomfort” from history lessons at school or diversity, equity, and inclusion training in private businesses. Meanwhile, prompted by a religious MAGA-allied citizens’ group, Polk County has banned 16 popular books from school libraries and is setting up its own committee to review these books. Many of our listeners think Florida Republicans must see us as the “Snowflake” State, too delicate to be exposed to accurate history or reality. Are we echoing Germany in 1933?
February 2, 2022 Abortion on the Agenda Currently, abortion is legal in Florida up to 24 weeks gestation, as supported federally by Roe v. Wade. Also, the Florida Constitution has its own specific Right to Privacy which has always supported a woman’s right to choose abortion up to 24 weeks. But now the Florida legislature is hearing a proposal to ban all abortions in Florida after 15 weeks gestation unless the life of the mother is at risk or there is a fatal fetal anomaly. There is no exception for rape or incest pregnancies in the proposed law. My guests, Dr. Robyn, an OB-GYN medical doctor and abortion provider for Planned Parenthood, lawyer Laura L who has researched abortion laws in Florida, attorney Rinky Parwani who represents minors seeking a judicial court order to obtain an abortion when their parents won’t consent, and Kelly, from the Florida Abortion Fund, all discuss this proposed law and why it should not pass but probably will pass in our Republican-controlled legislature and will likely be upheld by Republican-controlled courts.
January 26, 2022 Florida’s War on Teachers My guests, Rob Kriete, Pres. of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Assn. and Nancy Velardi, Pres. of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Assn. are with us to discuss the Florida legislature’s War on Public School Teachers, bans on Critical Race Theory, and the actual public school history lessons and curricula being taught in our schools. Lots of listener engagement on this topic from teachers and parents made this a very interesting and lively discussion.
January 19, 2022 Children of the Scorned We’re learning about the massive problems in the foster care and child welfare system in Tampa Bay. Who is minding at-risk children now that Eckerd Connects has been fired/quit as the agency administering child welfare in Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough counties after children in its care were found to be living in “dangerous and deplorable” conditions according to the Pinellas Co. Sheriff? Should we even be entrusting the kids to private non-profit community-based organizations like Eckerd Connects whose executives are now under investigation for corruption & graft, or should the responsibility be borne by the State Dept of Children & Families again? Does one-size, State-wide care fit all, or is community-based care more appropriate? My guests, Kelly Parris, Exec. Dir. Children’s Board of Hillsborough County & Robin Rosenberg, Dep. Dir. Florida’s Children First help us understand the issues.
January 12, 2022 Dark Days for Solar We shed some light on some of the dark doings of the largest utility company in Florida, Florida Power & Light. FPL is again trying to hamstring the growth of solar power in the Sunshine State by promoting legislation to gut “net metering,” a policy that lets Florida homeowners and businesses offset the costs of installing solar panels on their property by selling their excess power back to the utility company. This policy benefits those who have invested in solar for their homes and businesses, it encourages the growth of more solar power, and that encourages the growth of the solar industry and all the green jobs that go with it. Sounds like a win-win for Florida, the Sunshine State, right? Nope. Not so fast. Find out how and why FPL is trying to gut solar in FL and what to do about it with my guests, Susan Glickman, Dir. Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and solar pioneer and advocate C. Rudy Engholm.
January 5, 2022 The Most Dangerous Time of the Year! It’s the most dangerous time of the year! No, not because of Covid; it’s because it’s the start of a new FL Legislative Session! It is MidPoint’s annual Legislative Preview show with our guests, State Senator Janet Cruz from Hillsborough and Tampa, and State Rep. Andrew Learned from Brandon, Seffner, and points East, both Democrats. We’ll hear about some of the crazy new law proposals coming from some of their colleagues, and what they are doing to serve the citizens who sent them to Tallahassee.
December 28, 2021 Paul Guzzo is a MidPoint Wave Maker Janet interviews TBTimes Culture reporter Paul Guzzo. Paul’s stories on abandoned Black cemeteries around Tampa Bay prompted a new state law aimed at identifying and documenting unmarked African-American burial grounds throughout Florida. In October, the Hillsborough chapter of the NAACP presented Guzzo and cemetery researcher Ray Reed with a President’s Award for their work. Paul covers the local film scene, Tampa history, professional wrestling and the characters who make Tampa unique.
December 21,2021 It’s Another Covid Christmas Covid ruining your Christmas? Are you getting together with family and friends? Family only? Only gathering with the vaccinated? Making sure everyone gets tested? How are those difficult conversations going? Are you Rapid Testing all of your guests? We are talking about what’s safe with Dr. Michael Teng of the USF College of Medicine and learning the art of safe party planning in the age of covid with Lynda Barack.
December 15, 2021 Academic Freedom or Censorship? Academic freedom is under attack and in the news, with a report from a faculty committee at the University of Florida that researchers there were pressured to destroy or delayed from publishing Covid research that contradicted Gov. DeSantis’s positions on the pandemic. The university administration has also barred faculty from testifying in lawsuits against the state regarding felon voting, voting rights in general and mask mandates. We discuss all this with our guests, Ray Arsenault, USF History Prof. Emeritus and Chair of the Pinellas County chapter of ACLU of Florida; USF Faculty Senate President Tim Boaz, and Andrew Gothard, Pres.of United Faculty of Florida.
December 8, 2021 Charlie Crist is Running for Governor….Again! Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist, a candidate for Florida Governor, joins Shelley Reback on MidPoint to discuss his race, his opposition and “authoritarian” Gov.Ron DeSantis. Why is Charlie Crist running for Governor now, when he has a relatively safe Dem seat in Congress? How will he win the primary? Can he beat DeSantis in the general election? Can any Dem beat DeSantis? What is his special sauce to engage dispirited Dem voters and never-Trump Republicans in Florida?
December 1, 2021 Desmond Meade, the President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is a WaveMaker Meade, a former drug addict and convicted felon who rose to become a MacArthur Genius grant recipient, and who in 2018 helped shepherd through passage of Amendment 4, requiring automatic restoration of voting rights for felons who complete their sentences joins Janet Scherberger for an in depth interview.
November 24, 2021 Feeding Tampa Bay Feeding Tampa Bay’s Shannon Hannon Oliviero and Tom Mantz join us to talk about food insecurity, food deserts, supply chain issues and how we can help address our community’s food needs, especially during the holiday season.
November 17, 2021 Florida’s Special Legislative Session Floridians face a serious housing crunch and skyrocketing rents, jacked-up property insurance rates, an urgent climate crisis, no Medicaid expansion, and a starving public education system. So, what does our Governor do? Not anything at all about any of those pressing issues! Nope. Gov. Ron DeSantis has convened a special legislative session to block Covid vaccine mandates and masks during an ongoing pandemic in the Sunshine State! Shelley and her guest, Peter Schorsch, Publisher of Florida Politics, review it all.
November 10, 2021 Numbers Count: Local Redistricting We are talking POLITICS! Not candidates or campaigns but the most fundamental and significant influence on our local political future today: REDISTRICTING. Shelley’s guests are John Godwin, an expert in Geographic Information Systems mapping, and Norin Dollard of the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough Co.discussing the ongoing effort to reapportion the voters of the county into voting districts that are fair and balanced based on the population shifts of the last 10 years. This is THE issue that controls the political balance of power on the county commission and school board and all of the local quality of life decisions that will follow.
November 3, 2021 Wave Maker Edition with Kelly Benjamin From pirate radio to a city council run and leading a community effort to remove a Confederate monument from in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse, and holding the police accountable, Tampa native Kelly Benjamin has been making waves in the area for decades. With guest host Lynn Marvin Dingfelder sitting in.
October 27, 2021 Is the Tampa Bay region the capital of insurgency and domestic terrorism? A Messianic rabbi from Palm Harbor. A vocal teacher who once performed at Carnegie Hall. A one-time Congressional candidate. A former EMT from Polk County. A Plant City resident caught on video beating a police officer with a flagpole. And that guy carrying Nancy Pelosi’s lectern through the halls of Congress. Those are just a few of the more than 20 people from the Tampa Bay area arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. To date, 72 people have been arrested in Florida in connection with the attack, more than any other state in the country. Why are so many of these attackers from the Tampa Bay area? Who are they? How were they identified? And are there other threats out there?
October 20, 2021 The Business of Football and DEI Football coaches Jon Gruden and Ed Ogeron have both recently lost their prestigious coaching jobs due to revelations of their workplace misconduct. Are the corporate reactions to their toxic masculinity beginning a sea change in what is acceptable workplace behavior by coaching leadership in football organizations, or is it a mere crisis management blip to avoid blowback from the public? Are football organizations unique or different from other businesses in terms of what is acceptable workplace behavior and speech by coaches and players? Is the concept of “locker room talk” a protected thing in football, even when it includes supremacist, sexist and homophobic tropes and insults? MidPoint will be discussing this and much more with our guest Dr. Alexis Mootoo, co-developer of curriculum for the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Certification Program from the Muma College of Business at USF
October 13,2021 Tampa’s Crime-Free Housing Program Tampa’s crime-free housing program for apartment complexes, which involves police notifying landlords when tenants are arrested so eviction proceedings can begin. An analysis by the Tampa Bay Times showed 90 percent of the people flagged through the program were Black, and in some cases, people were evicted from their homes even though charges were later dropped. Three days after the story was published, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced changes to the program. Eight days later, the Tampa City Council called for a report on what the program will look like going forward and data demonstrating its effectiveness. That’s set for early December. Meanwhile, Orlando and Orange County, after the Times story ran, announced they are scrapping their crime-free housing programs. We were joined by Tampa Bay Times reporter Chris O’Donnell in the studio with us, and Yvette Lewis, President of the Hillsborough County Branch NAACP on the phone and heard from some City Council members on their views of the program.
October 6, 2021 SHOW US THE MONEY! MidPoint is fundraising. If you like the show please leave us a tip in the tip jar and help support the Tampa Bay region’s only independent, commercial-free, listener-supported radio station.
September 29, 2021 Wave Maker Edition with Florida Humanities Executive Director Nashid Madyun On a special WaveMakers edition of MidPoint on WMNF, our guest was Nashid Madyun, executive director of Florida Humanities. Nashid was the founding director of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis and he’s got some stories to tell! He also served as director of the Black Archives Research Center at FAMU, where he presided over one of the largest collections of African American artifacts in the Southeast.
September 22, 2021 Mapping Florida Voters The once every 10-years process of redrawing voting districts has begun this week. Shelley and her guest co-host, longtime political activist, and Tallahassee watcher, Susan Smith, talk with Ellen Freidin, Chair of Fair Districts Now, all about the redistricting process in Florida following the Fair Districts constitutional amendments passed in 2010. Tampa Bay Times politics columnist William March also joins us to talk about local redistricting issues and the likely changes to St. Pete Democrat Charlie Crist’s Congressional district and the reformation of some of the Hillsborough County commission districts as well.
September 15, 2021 Whither the Rays? We’re talking sports! The Tampa Bay Rays have the best record in the American League and could go to the World Series for the second year in a row. And yet they have some of the worst attendance numbers in Major League Baseball. If they do make it to the playoffs, the pressure will be on to do whatever it takes to keep the team. The Rays say it will take a new stadium, in a new location. But there’s little interest in using tax dollars to pay for it. Meanwhile, the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa continue to compete to be home field for the Rays, while the team threatens to split their season with Montreal which dangles the promise of a new stadium there over our heads. And then there’s the conflict inside the Rays organization itself, with minority owners suing Stu Sternberg over his business practices and calling for him to resign. How did we end up here? Join Tampa Bay Times Sportswriter John Romano and reporter Charlie Frago to talk with us about all things Rays.
September 8, 2021 Texas (and Florida? ) Abortion Ban Spying on your neighbors’ health procedures for fun and profit? Private prosecutions and vigilante bounty hunters harrasing women who terminate their pregnancies and anyone who helps them? Texas just passed the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation and the US Supreme Court let them do it. Now, Florida legislators say we will soon follow suit. Is this the America we want? We talk about it tomorrow with Amy Weintraub from Progress Florida, Stephanie Frain, Pres. & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central & SW FL, and State House Rep. Anna Eskamani.
September 1, 2021 The Afghanis Are Coming, the Afghanis are Coming! Now that the 20 years long Afghanistan War has ended, the Tampa Bay area will soon be welcoming upwards of a thousand or more Afghani refugees fleeing persecution by the Taliban at home for aiding the American mission during the war. The City of Tampa has resolved to Officially welcome them with a resolution. Local social service agencies, and Afghanis already here are all ready to assist them with their transition to America. They are our guests on MidPoint.
August 25, 2021 Hail to the FL House Minority Leader In a special Wave Makers edition of MidPoint, Janet does a deep dive interview with the Hon. Fentrice Driscoll, the incoming Democratic House Minority Leader on everything from her precocious interest in government, her stellar educational success, her experience as a Black woman in government, to her goals for the next legislative session as the leader of the minority caucus.
August 18, 2021 The Climate Crisis Last week, the UN released a climate report that the Secretary General called a “code red for humanity” that “must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.” We’ll talk about what our federal government is doing to address this crisis with our special guest, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who chairs the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. We’ll also have an interview with climate scientist Dr. Don Chambers, from the USF College of Marine Science, and hear from Aliki Montcreif of Florida Conservation Voters about about what the Florida legislature is — and isn’t — doing to prevent a harrowing future.
August 11, 2021 The Eviction Ban The Biden administration extended a ban on evictions despite a U.S. Supreme Court warning that only Congress had the authority to do so. This week, a federal judge suggested that the Biden administration was engaging in legal “gamesmanship.” Meanwhile, state and local agencies are scrambling to distribute rental assistance funds intended to prevent homelessness and make landlords whole. So far, Florida has distributed only about 2% of nearly $900 million in available aid. We break it down with our guests, Audrey Ziegler, Director of Social Services for Hillsborough County, and Kimberly Rodgers, Executive Director of the Pinellas Eviction Diversion Program. We also hear from Hillsborough County Commissioner Kimberly Overman, who chairs the county’s Affordable Housing Advisory Board.
August 4, 2021 Bigfoot State Government Comes for Our Children Gov. DeSantis has banned mask mandates in schools and threatened disobedient school districts with defunding, despite new CDC guidance recommending masks, and a surge of Delta variant infections swamping our hospitals. Parents are split on the issue and the local policy is still fluid. We’re joined by Hillsborough Co. School Board Member, Dist. 3, Jessica Vaughn, and Public School Advocate Veronica McDonald to talk it through.
July 28, 2021 Water, Water, Everywhere But Why Does It Stink? We are joined by Hillsborough Co. Commissioner Mariella Smith who serves on the Tampa Bay Water Board and is fighting against sprawl and for water infrastructure improvements in the South County, and by Pinellas Co. Commissioner Charlie Justice who serves on the Tampa Bay Estuary Board and is fighting against Red Tide and for the clean-up of its effects on Pinellas County beaches.
July 21, 2021 It’s Not All Bad: Bipartisan Bills that Actually Passed in the Legislature
Our guest, Rep, Andrew Learned, Democrat of Brandon, FL (D-59) talks with us about some of the notable bills that passed into law in the last legislative session with bipartisan support, and one Juvenile Justice Reform bill that was unanimously passed but still vetoed by the Governor.
July 14, 2021 Why Not Criminal Justice Reform?? Janet and Shelley host Julianne Holt, Hillsborough Co. Public Defender and Florida Rep. Diane Hart, a leader in Criminal Justice Reform in Florida, to talk about the disappointing 2021 legislative session in which almost all Criminal Justice Justice reform measures were shelved by the Republican majority, and even bipartisan reform bills passed by the legislature were vetoed by Gov. DeSantis.
July 7, 2021 The Re-making of History The DeSantis administration has passed a number of measures designed to control and police the teaching of history in Florida schools. Critical Race Theory is banned. American Exceptionalism is mandated. And, university students will be surveyed on whether they “feel” that all academic viewpoints are represented at their schools, with the threat of de-funding hanging over their responses. Our guest, Emeritus Prof. of American History and Civil Rights at USF St. Pete, and ACLU activist, Ray Arsenault, joins us to talk about the dangers to democracy of government trying to control the teaching of history.
June 30, 2021 Wave Maker Edition with David Jolly Our new, inaugural monthly Wave Makers show will feature Janet interviewing David Jolly, a former Congressman from Pinellas County who is chairman of The SAM Party, a new political party that aims to provide a home for independent voters and disrupt the two-party system. Will he announce a run for Governor or Senator as an independent?
June 23, 2021 What’s Happening to the GOP? Last week, the Reopen America Tour, featuring Roger Stone, Mike Lindell, and Michael Flynn made a stop in Hillsborough County. In August, Marjorie Taylor Greene headlines the Hillsborough County GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner. Have the inmates taken over the asylum? Does the GOP no longer support: Law Enforcement, the Military, U.S. Intelligence, the Constitution, and Democracy itself? Janet and I have questions. Do our listeners have answers?
June 10, 2020 Vaccine Passports. Good or Bad? Old man rhythm is in my shoes /It’s no use to sittin’ and a-singin’ the blues/So be my guest, you got nothin’ to lose. Won’t ya let me take you on a sea cruise? “Got nothin’ to lose??” Or, perhaps the possibility of Covid illness and death? On Thursday, June 10, at 12 Noon, on WMNF radio 88.5 fm, www.wmnf.org, Janet and I talk about vaccine passports and Gov. DeSantis’ lawsuit against the CDC which is scheduled to be heard in Tampa the same day.
May 27, 2021 Guns! “What the hell is wrong with us?” Those are the words of CA Gov. Gavin Newsome as his state confronted yet another mass shooting. Firearms are also the second leading cause of death among children and teens in Florida and over half of all suicides in the U.S. are firearms deaths. These are some of the sobering facts driving calls for changes to gun laws at the state and national level, yet sometimes it seems as though little has been accomplished. Our guests Wendy Malloy Florida Lead of Moms Demand Action – Tampa Bay and Survivors of Gun Violence activist Crystal Turner speak with us about some recent positive changes and efforts to pass even more sensible gun laws.
May 13, 2021 Florida’s Opioid Crisis So many of us have felt the impact of Florida’s opioid crisis. Is it a law enforcement problem? A public health problem? A class problem? All of the above? Our guests, state Sen. Darryl Rouson, who has sponsored legislation to address various aspects of the opioid problem, and former State Rep. Jennifer Webb, Director of Opioid Project Tampa Bay will share with us their personal experiences with addiction and their work to curb opioid addiction in Florida.
April 29,2021 Public Education in Crsis The Hillsborough Co. School system is threatened with a State take-over or receivership for gross financial mismanagement while millions in federal Covid relief dollars are still held hostage in Tallahassee. Meanwhile, the State has voted for another expansion of charter school vouchers and a moment of silence every day. Where are our priorities? And, why won’t the Dept. Of Education take a phone call from our school board Chair? We discuss what’s happening with our guests Public School advocates Damaris Allen and Brita Wilkins Lincoln.
April 15, 2021 It’s the Environment! From bills that address coastal flooding and which prohibit local governments from setting environmental goals to funding for the Piney Point clean-up, we will be talking about what’s happening — or not happening — in Tallahassee on environmental issues with our guests Phil Compton of the Sierra Club Florida and Zac Cosner of Florida Conservation Voters.
April 1st, 2021 Voting Is Fundamental! Florida’s 2020 election came off without a hitch. So, naturally, the Florida Legislature is proposing to muck around with our voting laws. Is Jim Crow voter suppression alive and well in the FL Legislature, or are they protecting us from fraud and undue influence at the polls? And why do they want people to be hungry and thirsty while standing in line? Our guests Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince for the League of Women Voters and Craig Latimer, Hillsborough Co. Supervisor of Elections and Pres. of the FL Supervisors of Elections Assoc. will join us with their thoughts.
March 18, 2021 Legislative Preemption of Local Laws The Florida legislature’s trend of pushing bills superseding local regulation continues this year with proposed laws touching everything from renewable energy to impact fees, apprenticeship programs, campaign finance, and ports. We explore the topic with our guests Hillsborough County Commissioner Patricia “Pat” Kemp and St. Petersburg City Councilwoman Darden Rice.
March 4, 2021 The Cult of Trump QAnon adherents, Proud Boys, Neo-Nazis, anti-government militants, even some Republican politicians were all allied under the Trump banner for the January 6th Capitol riot. What is motivating them? Are they in a Trump cult? If so, what can or should we do about them? Dr. Lawrence Rosenthal, Dir. of the UC Berkeley, Center for Right-Wing Studies and author of Empire of Resentment joins us to tell us who these people are, and Dr. Steven Hassan, an expert in deprogramming cultists and the author of The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control, joins Janet & Shelley and help us understand these Trumpist-Americans.
February 18, 2021 Ron DeSantis’ proposed “Tech Transparency” law. The Governor didn’t like that “Former Social Media Influencer” Donald Trump was de-platformed from Twitter, Facebook, and other internet outlets. Now, he wants the State to decide when and whether users or posts can be censored or de-platformed by these private companies, and he wants to give users the right to sue for “censorship” too. Pam Marsh, Pres. of the FL First Amendment Foundation and Stephanie Tripp, Communications & Media Prof. at the University of Tampa, joined our discussion about policing Big Tech.
February 4, 2021 There’s a Riot Going On??? Governor DeSantis has made his “anti-riot” bill his signature piece of legislation this year. Does it combat public disorder or stifle free speech? Does it put black and brown people at risk? Is it overkill or just right? Shelley and Janet talk about House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 484 with State Reps Anna Vishkaee Eskamani and Dianne Hart and James Michael Shaw Jr. Legal Panel Chair for the ACLU of Florida.
January 21, 2021 Never Again! Yesterday, insurrectionists invaded the U.S. Capitol. Never has it been more important to review the lessons of the past and to remember how easily democracy can slip into fascism. To commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, the day the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camps were liberated, we streamed an encore production of Shelley’s 2019 interview with Renee Hammond, a local Holocaust survivor. Renee was a teenager in Hungary when she was enslaved by the Nazis to labor in a Krups Munitions Factory in Germany until her liberation by American armed forces.
January 7, 2021 Everything You Wanted to Know About Covid But Were Afraid to Ask Janet and I host Dr. Jason Wilson, Assoc Prof, USF Health, Assoc Med Dir ER, Tampa General Hospital, and our all-around expert on all things Covid.
December 10, 2020 The Media is the Message The changing local media landscape, new business models for media, attacks on journalism, and the danger of misinformation are the topics we discuss with our guests editor Ray Roa of Creative Loafing Tampa and Rick Edmunds of the Poynter Institute.
November 12, 2020 Election Wrap-Up The 2020 Election Season is interminable. Florida’s results were disappointing. Here to comment on the joys and madness of it all and to help us make sense of it are Ione Townsend, Chair, of the Hillsborough Co. Democratic Party, Dan Ruth, Pulitzer Prize-winning pundit, Ella Coffee, Deputy Field Director, Florida Democratic Party and Windy March, local politics columnist for the Tampa Bay Times.
October 29, 2020 The Ocoee Election Day Massacre Nov. 2 marks the 100th anniversary of the Ocoee Massacre when up to 60 Black residents of the Florida town were murdered after one of them attempted to vote. It’s considered the deadliest Election Day in our country’s history. This long-forgotten tragedy in our state’s past is now coming into focus thanks to the work of Florida Senator Randolph Bracy. He was our guest to tell us more about the Ocoee Massacre, plans for teaching it in public schools, and to discuss the voter suppression that continues to this day.
October 15, 2020 The Election is STILL On! Janet and I talked about early voting, vote by mail, Election Day voting, poll workers, poll watchers, and voter turn-out so far with our local election supervisors from Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties.
October 1, 2020 The Election is On! We are learning about the 6 Constitutional Amendments on the ballot. Our guests will be representatives from the League of Women Voters and Fight for $15, along with special commentary on Amendment 3, the Jungle Primary.
September 17, 2020 Racial Equity and the Role of Business Black residents in Tampa Bay are 30% less likely to own a home than their white neighbors and twice as likely to live in poverty. The median wage of Black workers in the region is 21% of white workers. The earnings gap is even larger among those with college degrees. These are just some of the startling results of the Tampa Bay Partnership’s recent regional equity study. Our guests are Rick Homans from TBP and Yvette Lewis of the NAACP.
September 3, 2020 School Stress! School is back on, in-person and on-line, but everyone is stressed about it at home and at school. We talk with Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, Exec Director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Assoc, the teachers’ union, and with education advocate Bianca Goolsby, of Teaching for the Culture, an educational equities watchdog organization about Covid safety and stresses in schools.
August 20, 2020 Primary Election Review & Round-Up With our guests, political reporters William March of the Tampa Bay Times and Mitch Perry of BayNews 9.
August 6, 2020 “Have You Seen That Vigilante Man?” We’re talking about vigilantism against Black Lives Matter protesters. If protesters are illegally blocking the street, do you have the legal right to drive through them anyway? If not, why aren’t the drivers who do so arrested? We host Jack Evans, the Tampa Bay Times reporter who wrote about people intentionally driving their cars into crowds of protesters locally, and around the country and Gretchen Cothron, an ACLU cooperating attorney who is advising one of the injured protesters.
July 23, 2020 Black Lives Matter & Community Empowerment Shelley & Janet talk about what’s being done to help struggling communities in East Tampa and South St Pete with our guests Natasha Goodley, Chair of the East Tampa Community Development Board and Veatrice Farrell from The Deuces Live in St Petersburg
July 9, 2020 Everything You Wanted to Know About Voting… We’re hosting Craig Latimer, our Hillsborough Co. Supervisor of Elections and Jean Yglesias of the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough Co. to talk about 5 ingredient recipes. No, wait! Just checking to see if you are paying attention. We’ll be talking about VOTING! Everything you wanted to know about voting but were afraid to ask.
June 25, 2020 Will Tampa Reform Its Citizen Review Board? It’s our long-awaited return to the WMNF studios!! Still in masks due to the ‘Rona, Janet Scherberger and I are talking with Yvette Lewis of the Tampa NAACP and Attorney Jamie Klapholz of Tampa for Justice about the possibility of reforming Tampa’s moribund Police Citizen Review Board and giving it more teeth.
March 12, 2020 Amendment 4. Where Are We At? Shelley and Janet were joined by Julie Ebenstein, Sr. Staff Atty, ACLU Voting Rights Project who won the federal case in which the recent legislation requiring felons to pay all financial obligations before voting was declared unconstitutional, Andrew Warren, Hillsborough Co. State Attorney, and Jabaar Edmond, from the Pinellas Co. Chapter of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.
March 5, 2020 Affordable Housing Our guests, Kimberley Overman, Hillsborough County Commissioner and Chair of the County’s Affordable Housing Task Force and Vanessa McCleary, Manager of the City of Tampa Dept. of Housing and Community Development joined Shelley and Janet to discuss what we are doing to increase the availability of affordable housing locally.
February 13, 2020 Matchmaker, Matchmaker Our Valentine’s Day Show guests are Dr. Nancy Wall, Tampa Bay’s only “Certified Matchmaker and Relationship Coach” and Elizabeth P. who found her husband through online dating. We are taking your calls on internet dating horror stories and successes and offering up tips on successful relationships.
January 30, 2020 Tampa City Councilman Orlando Gudes is Shelley’s guest. He offers a statement on and addresses his use of the slur “getting Jewed” to a Tampa Bay Times reporter (on Wed. 01/29/20 TBT) with Shelley and many WMNF listeners.
January 16, 2020 WMNF Commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day Holocaust Memorial Day is Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp. WMNF presents a very special interview with 94-year-old Rene Hammond, a local Holocaust survivor. Listen to Rene’s experience as a teenager rounded up and taken to a Hungarian ghetto, transferred to Auschwitz in a boxcar, then to a slave labor camp in Germany, to finally, her escape and liberation from the Nazis.
January 2, 2020 All Politics is Local-Forecasts for 2020 Veteran political observers Windy March of the Tampa Bay Times, Ernest Hooper, formerly of the Tampa Bay Times and Mitch Perry, now with BayNews 9, all join Shelley to talk about who, what and why we should be watching in Tampa Bay local politics in 2020.
December 19, 2019 More Than ABC’s Public Schools have become much more than a place of ABC’s. Today, they are often a child’s only source of food, clothes, hygiene supplies, laundry and other basic necessities of life. It’s the Season of Giving and Toy Drives at Christmas are nice & fun, but kids need more than shiny objects and plastic toys. Let’s do a deeper dive into how we can help kids with what they really need, where they are–at school. My guests tell us what, how and where to give.
December 5, 2019 Resiliency in the Region Our local economy and safety depend on our environment and the Tampa Bay region is critically vulnerable to climate change and sea-level rise. What are we doing about it? Shelley’s guests Sean Sullivan, Exec. Dir. Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, Harry Cohen, former Tampa City Council member and co-chair of Mayor Jane Castor’s transition team, and Janet Scherberger, V.P. Tampa International Airport will tell us what is being done and planned to harden our community assets and mitigate the risks of the rising water.
November 21, 2019 Fertility, Surrogacy and the Law Shelley’s guests are Souad Dreyfus, founder of Sarasota’s Open Arms Surrogacy Agency, Tim Sullivan, administrator of a surrogacy escrow fund, Stefan Beurge and Roia Berrios, both lawyers who specialize in the legal issues which arise in connection with surrogacy arrangements, and Christie Hiatt, who is a gestational surrogate herself. Everything (non-medical) that you’ve ever wanted to know about high tech, modern, assisted reproductive technologies but didn’t know who to ask is addressed and answered in this lively and informative discussion.
November 7, 2019 Tampa’s Hidden Cemeteries Tampa Bay Times reporter Paul Guzzo and local historian Fred Hearns join Shelley to discuss the recently discovered “lost” African American cemeteries, how the extensive, exhaustive investigation and discovery of the cemeteries proceeded and what is to be done about them now given the financial, spiritual, emotional and historical interests at stake.
October 24, 2019 The Skyway Bridge Disaster Shelley’s guest is noted Tampa lawyer Steve Yerrid who recently made a documentary film on the 1980 Skyway Bridge Disaster. A freighter crashed into the bridge and caused a 1200 ft. span to collapse into the bay, taking 6 cars, a pickup truck and a Greyhound bus down with it, causing the death of 35 souls. Was the harbor pilot at fault or was it a freak weather event and Act of God that caused the deaths? How much control do we really have over our own fate?
September 26, 2019 Decriminalizing HIV We are talking with guests from the Sex Workers Outreach Project and the Sero Project about their efforts to decriminalize HIV in Florida. Sex workers and others are sometimes afraid to seek HIV testing and care. People don’t always take their medicine as required to prevent transmission. But should we be treating HIV status as a criminal law problem or a public safety problem or a public health problem or even a “problem” at all? And, where’s our $70 million in Federal funding that Rick Scott turned down for HIV services?
September 12, 2019 ERA NOW? Did you know women STILL are not protected with equal rights under the Constitution? What exactly does that mean? Has the Equal Rights Amendment’s time come or passed us by? Do we still need a constitutional amendment? I will be talking with local community leaders from The Hillsborough Commission on the Status of Women, The League of Women Voters and the Athena Society who are all working to make Florida the 38th and last State needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
August 1, 2019 “SEX SEX SEX! Is Our Children Learning?” School is back next week and I will be talking with parents, physicians, and educators about efforts to reform the sex education curriculum in our public schools. What is being taught now? Do we need more or less sex ed, do our kids get enough of the right info, is it taught at the right grade level, should it include LGBTQ sexuality? The Hillsborough Co. School System’s new sex-ed information web site www.TeenConnectTampaBay.org will go live Aug. 5th.
July 18, 2019 “Rocket Docket Rights Restoration” My guest is Prosecutor Andrew Warren, the Hillsborough Co. State Atty. He’ll be talking about his Criminal Justice Reform agenda, including his innovative proposal for a court “rocket docket” to allow eligible felons to convert their legal fines and fees to community service hours so they can vote.
May 23, 2019 “Cigar City: Tales from a 1980’s Creative Ghetto” Our guest today is local author and cultural impresario, Paul Wilborn, whose new book of “auto-fiction:” linked fictional short stories taken from his days as a denizen of wild Ybor City in the 1980’s when it was home of the legendary Artists and Writers Balls, the birth of Guavaween and the beginning of WMNF’s own, late, lamented Tropical Heatwave.
May 9, 2019 “Sooner or Later Your Cousin’s DNA Will Solve a Murder!” Lynn and Shelley will be hosting Drew Smith, the genealogy librarian at USF, to discuss the recent impact of using DNA to identify suspects in cold cases of violent crimes, as well as to put a name to long-unidentified bodily remains. Genetic genealogy is here to stay. Should we be glad or scared? If you’d like more info on this topic, check out:
Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques (for general questions): https://www.facebook.com/groups/geneticgenealogytipsandtechniques/
DNA Detectives (especially good for adoptees searching for birth parents): https://www.facebook.com/groups/DNADetectives/
April 25, 2019 May 2d is Holocaust Remembrance Day. We are speaking with our friends from the Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services Holocaust Survivors Project. GCJFS’s project helps elderly Holocaust survivors remain in their homes and live their lives with dignity, safety, and comfort. We are also privileged to host Renee Hammond, who is a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor herself, to tell us about her experiences and why spreading her story and her memories to audiences today is still so important. Admission to the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg is free all day on May 2d too.
April 11, 2019 April is Autism Awareness month. We will be discussing AUTISM and local resources for families affected by autism, from early childhood to young adulthood. My guests will be Samantha Hartz, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who will talk about early diagnosis and intervention, Claudia Roberts, who will advise on advocating for children with disabilities in public education, and Scott Fontechia, an Employment Specialist & Job Developer with USF’s The Learning Academy, on getting neurodiverse young adults ready for the world of work and businesses ready to hire them.
March 28, 2019: Women Who Kick Butt…Literally.
February 14th– Happy Valentines Day! Or, is it? In the first segment of our show, “LOVE HEALS” Tom Scherberger, Dir. of Communications for the Hillsborough County Clerk’s Office will talk with us about the ins and outs of getting married at the Clerk’s Office Marriage Corner, the happiest place in the Courthouse. We also hope to be joined by a lunchtime Courthouse bride who will share her courthouse wedding experience. In our second segment, “LOVE HURTS” we will talk with a Deputy Court Clerk about the process to obtain a Domestic Violence Restraining Order without a lawyer, and we’ll speak with a divorce lawyer about DV Restraining Order complaints, what the courts are looking for and what community resources are available for victims of domestic violence.
For more information: http://www.hillsclerk.com/
February 7th– Join us for the WMNF Winter Fundraising marathon!
January 31st– President Trump was elected by a vote of the Electoral College while Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Is that fair? Our show will focus on explaining efforts to promote ratification of the National Popular Vote Compact, which would permit the election of the U.S. President by direct popular vote, but without a constitutional amendment to void the Electoral College. Our guests from the League of Women Voters will explain the NPV Compact and promote their public engagement program which is scheduled in Tampa for Feb. 20th.
For more information: https://www.lwvfl.org/issue/npv/
January 17th– Welcome Returning Citizens! We will be talking with Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer and Dir. of Communications for the SoE Gerri Kramer about felons now registering to vote and returning to a life of civic engagement. Our guests will tell us who is eligible, the process, etc. We will also have some returning citizens as our guests to talk about what voting means to them. We will also review the 2018 election and discuss the upcoming municipal elections for Mayor and City Council: who is running for what, deadlines to file and register. etc.
For more information: https://www.votehillsborough.org/