Categories
Florida The Current Situation The Good Fight

The fake brochure that DeSantis used to con the migrants into boarding the plane to Martha’s Vineyard, and other facts about this cruel political stunt

DeSantis may have been inspired by a segment on Tucker Carlson’s show

A still from Tucker Carlson’s xenophobic “Welcome to Martha’s Vineyard” segment.
He should just ’fess up and call the show The Tucker Carlson White Power Hour.

A couple of days ago, Media Matters’ Matthew Gertz astutely tweeted that “when GOPers do depraved stuff it’s worth looking for the Fox host who suggested it.”

To no one’s surprise, the Fox host who suggested it was the host of Fox’s own White Power Hour: Swanson frozen foods heir Tucker Carlson, host of an old-timey whitefear-and-ragestoking evening show.

The migrants were given fake brochures about Massachusetts’ refugee benefits

DeSantis insists that the migrants boarded the plane voluntarily, but the migrants say that they were misled by a “blonde mystery woman” named “Perla,” who offered them McDonald’s gift cards, a free flight to a “sanctuary,” and other assistance. 

The newsletter Popular Information obtained a phony brochure written in English and Spanish that was provided to the migrants, pictured below:

Designed (poorly) to look like an official brochure, it says that migrants who arrive in Massachusetts would be eligible for a lot of benefits, including:

  • 8 months’ cash assistance
  • Housing assistance
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Transportation to job interviews
  • Job training
  • Job placement
  • Registering children for school
  • Assistance applying for Social Security cards

Popular Information got the brochure from Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based law firm representing 30 of the migrants.

DeSantis’ communications director Taryn Fenske told Florida’s Voice that the brochure was legitimate and that the information it contained was accurate. However, what she omitted is even more important:

  • The brochure was not produced by the State of Massachusetts, nor is it official. It’s a “homemade” document pieced together from cut-and-pasted text from various Massachusetts government sites.
  • While the benefits listed exist, the migrants to whom they were given are not eligible for them. While refugees are eligible for such benefits, these migrants are seeking asylum, and refugee benefits don’t apply.
  • The devil is in the details. In trying to provide DeSantis with a loophole, Fenske insisted “the brochure does not say migrants immediately have access to the benefits.” But it worked — the idea was to convince them that those benefits were forthcoming, and all they had to do was board the plane.

Boston-based immigration attorney Matt Cameron summed up the situation quite well:

“DeSantis clearly does not know the legal difference between refugees (who are eligible for resettlement benefits) and asylum applicants (who are not).

It’s legally no different than promising someone who you know to have had no military service that they will be eligible for veterans benefits.”

Cameron also said the brochures “are either evidence of criminal intent or criminal stupidity.” My feeling:

Loki: “Bit of both.”

FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) paid a secretive Oregon-based company to fly the migrants, and now that company’s website is offline

Here’s a record of a payment from FDOT to one “Vertol Systems Company Inc.” dated September 16, 2022 for the sum of $950,000. It’s courtesy of the @TampaniaBlog Twitter account:

They tweet:

In fact, if you go to the Transparency Florida site, you’ll see that FDOT has already paid Vertol Systems a total of $1.565 million dollars:

Vendor search result from Transparency Florida showing $1.565 million in payments to Vertol Systems

Typically, you’d be able to go to Vertol Systems’ site and see that they’re based in Oregon’s Hillsboro rather than Florida’s Hillsborough County and that they’re in the business of “specialized aircraft solutions specific to unique requirements.”

But you can’t. The site has been taken down…

…and quite interestingly (yet unsurprisingly), their LinkedIn company profile is unclaimed:

A Texas sheriff is launching an investigation into these flights, since they were a join operation with Texas

From the Daily Beast:

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar confirmed the investigation during a press conference Monday “to clear the air for everyone,” alleging that 48 migrants were “lured under false pretenses” to stay at a hotel for a couple of days, shuttled to a plane, flown to Florida, and eventually transported to Martha’s Vineyard, where they had been promised work and solutions to other problems.

From Sheriff Salazar’s Twitter account:

DeSantis’ plan is backfiring

And garbage human that she is, Christina Pushaw, Rapid Response Director for DeSantis’ reelection campaign tweeted this:

Here’s a screencap, just in case she deletes it, as she is wont to do:

Categories
Florida

Yes, there’s such a thing as Florida Poutine!

The Florida Poutine Co. truck is run by someone who used to live in the Montreal area and makes their own cheese curds. In proper Montreal style, they also sell les steamés and les toastés (Montreal-style steamed and toasted hot dogs; they’re significant enough to get their own Wikipedia entry).

I especially love that there’s a pronunciation guide on the side of the truck that tells you how to say “poutine” like a proper Quebecois: “puts-in.”

Here’s the menu:

It might be a while before I get to try them out, as they’re based in Myakka City, which is due east of Sarasota and southeast of “Bradentucky.”

Categories
Florida It Happened to Me

Our Pub Sub t-shirts arrived!

Pink and white t-shirts covered with images of Publix subs and the Publix logo
Tap to view the Pub Sub t-shirt goodness at full size.

The Publix submarine sandwich, better known as the Pub Sub, is a beloved treat in the southeastern United States, and now that I live in the area, I too am a Pub Sub devotee.

So when Anitra found out that…

  1. Pub Sub t-shirts exist, and
  2. they’re on sale — down from $25 to $10

…we ordered some from the online store (here’s the  page for the unisex white t-shirt, and here’s the page for the ladies’ pink t-shirt).

Now I’m looking for a good speaking engagement  or accordion gig where I can wear my new shirt.

Categories
Florida The Current Situation

You know who Ron DeSantis doesn’t shoo away? Nazis.

Black-clad white woman “sieg heils” the camera while holding a swastika sign as other black clad people wave Nazi, SS, Florida, and “DeSantis Country” flags in the background.
Tap to view the DeSantis Nazi fandom at full size.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ political stunt of flying two planes of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard speaks volumes about his cruelty, but so does the story of the people that he doesn’t even shoo away from his rallies: Nazis.

Nazis hold racists depictions of Jews, with one holding a sign that reads “It’s the Jews, stupid” as Nazi and “DeSantis Country” flags fly in the background.
Tap to view the DeSantis Nazi fandom at full size.

When the far-right-wing student indoctrination group Turning Point USA held their Student Action Summit at Tampa Convention Center in July, DeSantis was one of the keynote speakers, and his Nazi fanbase showed up.

Nazis hold racists depictions of Jews, with one holding a sign that reads “It’s the Jews, stupid” as Nazi and “DeSantis Country” flags fly in the background.
Tap to view the DeSantis Nazi fandom at full size.

Despite the very bad optics, the organizers didn’t shoo them away, and neither DeSantis nor his spokespeople attempted to distance themselves from these people, who were waving “DeSantis Country” and State of Florida flags side by side with Swastika and SS flags.

Black-clad Nazis wave Nazi, SS, Florida, and “DeSantis Country” flags outside the Talking Points USA conference at the Tampa Convention Center.
Tap to view the DeSantis Nazi fandom at full size.

It would’ve been a very simple matter for Turning Point USA or DeSantis to send security to go to the Nazis and say “Hey, we appreciate your fandom, but you’re not pushing the kind of message we want to promote.”

It wouldn’t have cost taxpayer dollars to do that, unlike flying two planes of people to Massachusetts. They didn’t even have the decency to let the people at Martha’s Vineyard know that two planeloads of migrants were coming, requiring people there to scramble to set them up with shelter.

Black-clad Nazis wave Nazi, SS, Florida, and “DeSantis Country” flags outside the Talking Points USA conference at the Tampa Convention Center.
Tap to view the DeSantis Nazi fandom at full size.

The Nazis stayed, because they’re the people DeSantis and company don’t mind staying.

They and their sympathizers are the base now.

That wasn’t even the first time THIS YEAR that DeSantis refused to condemn Nazis

Oh yeah, there was that thing in January, where DeSantis refused to condemn some Nazi demonstrations in Orlando.

You’d think it would be easy and automatic to do that. In my Green Card interview, I reflexively, automatically, and happily denounced the Nazis — something that both DeSantis and the former president* have trouble doing.

The best DeSantis’ office couldn’t even bring themselves to put some distance between them and the Nazis, but try to blame others. DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw tried to put the blame on Democratic “crisis actors” in a tweet she later deleted:

Recommended reading

Categories
Florida

They’ve been suckering tourists from day one

Photo: Sepia photo of horse-drawn billboard that reads “Visit Orlando, Fla. - Good roads - Pure water - No insects - Rich lands”
Tap to see the hype at full size.

“Good roads” is quite a stretch, but “no insects?” I almost have to respect them for their unmitigated gall.

Categories
Florida It Happened to Me Tampa Bay

Last night’s flooding

Nebraska Avenue in Tampa, just south of Sligh, flooded
Tap to view at full size.

Seminole Heights’ seal, which depicts a two-headed alligatorLast night was just a tropical storm and not a hurricane, but Nebraska Avenue south of Sligh — not a tiny road, but a main thoroughfare — flooded so much that a number of cars had stalled out there. It gave me serious Philippines deja vu, where flooding often happens after a typhoon.

We flew home from Toronto yesterday, and fortunately, we landed about 20 minutes before the storm hit. I took the photo above from our ride.

Categories
Florida

I had to do something similar for my Green Card