Human Rights Council honors four activists

12/04/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

The Tampa/Hillsborough County Human Rights Council announced recipients of its annual awards Thursday morning in Tampa.

The annual ceremony – to be commemorated at a breakfast next week - comes on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Hank Warren Memorial Award was given to Pat Frank, the longtime Tampa legislator who now works as clerk of the court in Hillsborough County. Frank said has received several awards, but said she could not think of receiving any higher recognition than for human rights. She spoke of the hope felt in the country with the election of the first black president.

Reflecting on her long career, Frank referred to a time when she served in the state House of Representatives, and said she was one of only about 10 legislators who opposed a bill that would ban gays and lesbians from adopting children.

Pat Spencer, secretary of the Hillsborough County branch of the NAACP and a former school board member in Detroit, also was recognized with a Human Rights Award.

Also receiving a Human Rights Award is Tampa schoolteacher David Sinclair, who has worked for a variety of causes throughout his life. His highest profile action as an activist was working on the global Nestle boycott against the unethical marketing of infant formula.

The Eddie Mitchell Award was given to Taurean Wong, a product of Community Tampa Bay’s Anytown Program, which he credits for helping him succeed despite his previously troubled background.

Council President Ahmed Bedier, who also hosts a weekly public affairs program on WMNF, closed the news conference by saying that the Human Rights Council will be as vigilant as ever in these recessionary times.

The news conference was a preview of the council’s awards breakfast, in which all of the recipients will be honored in a more formal venue. That takes place Dec. 12 at the Doubletree Westshore Hotel at 7:30 a.m.

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an interested person

Greetings: It blew my mind when I heard that Pat Frank is getting a humanitarian award -- for anything. Have you taken a look at the court system and some of the things set up (whether with her knowledge or not I can be sure) that is just plain abusive toward the people who can afford it least? Well take a look first of all at the "Indigent fee system." by FS ch 28 people who can't afford filing fees of lawsuits, appeals etc. are supposed to be able to make payments "according to their ability to pay" ie: payments are supposed to be affordable. Ch. 28.246. and further, this is supposed to be a one-time set up fee of $25 NOT TO CHANGE OR TO BE ADDED TO (ch. 28.24 (26) (c) Now please, pray tell me how anyone who has such a Draconian attitude toward citizens -- the ones who can least afford it -- can get an "humanitarian award" when she has this WRITTEN INTO THE AGREEMENT that the clerk's office can raise the monthly payment anytime. First of all, she can't do it legally it is not in line with the statute and second, who in the world would ever, ever agree to anything so abusive. Have you EVER contact people who have to represent themselves? Pro se because we can't afford lawyers? Pat Frank's deputy clerks blatantly runs a double standard system: one for lawyers and one for those who are struggling. Oh not all deputy clerks are problems but my God there are those who have been there for years, and they have a fiefdom and they use their jobs as ways to retaliate. I have personally been the target although I have appealed two cases successfully and not because i did not want a lawyer -- they are so expensive. but who ever would use such draconian language -- go to "collections" and ask to see the agreement. It n ot only breaks the law but it is just plain against any notion of fair treatment. Why doesn't Frank get rid of these bad clerks? yes, she knows they are there and who they are. why doesn't she at least make sure the indigent fee system -- not people who are paying fines, or owe child support or owe restitution -- not them, but people who have filing fee costs just like lawyers. No matter who you are, we are entitled to equal treatment under the law. I think Ms. Frank is aware but doesn't give a rat's ass. She was one of those perennial candidates who runs just to have a public dole job but really has no plan for how she would improve/change/ update the courts. This indigent fee plan was implemented during her tenure. Yet she seems oblivious. Go to the law library. Just go on one weekend. Send a reporter. Just walk around and ask who is a lawyer and who isn't. Then ask, do you think the clerk's office treats pro se differently? don't scare people right off by walking around with a microphone but find out what you can first. boy, you'll get an earful. it is outrageous she has won any award much less a humanitarian one. Gina Thomas