Friday, September 30, 2011

Florida picks Cain in closely watched straw poll

Herman Cain addressing the Florida delegation before his double digit victory in Orlando.
The Final event of “Presidency 5” in Orlando was the Republican straw poll for the 2012 election in Florida. Over 2,600 party delegates gathered to cast their vote for a Republican presidential candidate, which resulted in a surprisingly strong 37.1% win for businessman Herman Cain from Atlanta, Georgia.

“I find Herman Cain to be the most sincere, he isn’t a career politician but a true citizen candidate,” said Tom Trombly a volunteer for the Cain campaign and Valencia College alumni.

Delegates for the straw poll were divided among most of Florida’s county’s based on their number of registered Republicans. Many candidates held meet and greet events before this straw poll but only three,  Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain, stayed through Saturday to personally address the delegation before the vote.

Santorum and Gingrich both received a fair amount of attention during and after their addresses, but it was clear before the vote that Herman Cain made a strong connection with most of the delegates that loudly cheered for Cain and displayed signs and buttons showing their support.

Some candidates not in attendance sent speakers on their behalf and video presentations like the high budget and sharply produced new campaign ad from Rick Perry. 

Michelle Bachmann who finished first in the Iowa straw poll six weeks ago opted out of this straw poll and received last place with only 1.5% of the vote. 

Former Governer, Mitt Romney, didn’t participate on the day of the straw poll, and received a third place finish with 14% of the votes cast.

The largest surprise of the poll result was the strong 37.1% first place finish for Atlanta businessman Herman Cain over the assumed front runner Rick Perry, who received less then half of Cain's total, with only 15.4%.

“I was going to vote for Perry but was really impressed with Cain’s demeanor and his story of surviving colon cancer” said Joseph Simmons, delegate voter, after the poll on Saturday. 

Cain received a standing ovation at previous debate on Thursday after speaking about having a 30% chance of surviving stage four cancer; and he pointed out that if he was on the Obama health care plan he would have died, because of having to wait for tests and procedures through a socialized medical insurance plan.

In a state with a high number of elderly residents, the idea of not receiving the proper care or even dying through inferior or mismanaged government programs, could very-well have been the pinnacle moment that connected Herman Cain to the majority of delegate voters.

The final results were presented by Florida Governor Rick Scott, who further addressed the cheering crowd, after the announcement of Cain's victory. “The road to the White House runs right through Florida, and it pays to be here,” said Scott.

Herman Cain fully participated throughout most of the week and many in attendance at the straw poll remarked that he was more of a down to earth, shake your hand, and look you in the eye candidate compared to the others in the race.

“If it hadn’t been for the support that we have garnered all over the state of Florida and all over the country, this couldn’t have happened,” said Cain, through a video response from his campaign tour bus after the results were announced.

By James Tutten

(All photos by James Tutten)

Delegates speak before the Florida straw poll vote on Sept. 24, in Orlando.

Emotions tend to run high with heated debates in this political atmosphere.

High-tech debate marks Florida’s future in politics

Orlando was in the national spotlight last week with a social media, tech savvy themed debate for nine Republican presidential candidates. This was in conjunction with 'Presidency 5,' a fund-raising showcase held by The Republican Party of Florida.

This debate, hosted by Fox News and Google, combined the standard moderated debate style, inner-woven with text messages and YouTube video questions. Over 18,000 questions were submitted, with approximately 100,000 votes to determine the most popular questions people want answered, making this a highly interactive debate. 

Questions and facts given by the debate moderators were often submitted via online polls and search trends through Google to identify the concerns of the general public, such as correlations between gas prices and purchasing vehicles with the best miles per gallon.

“Events like this are good for the state and good for Central Florida, and it's great to encourage party regulars to come out and show support,” said Bill McCollum, former Florida Attorney General. McCollum ran against current Florida Governor, Rick Scott, in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Throughout the debate candidates answered questions, stated their positions on issues, and compared the actions of the Obama administration to the actions they would take if elected. A majority of the time was spent between front runners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and their past actions as Governors of their respective states. 

The event was not without controversy as was exemplified with some audience members booing a question from a gay solider who recently admitted his homosexuality following the repeal of “Don't ask don't tell.”

This was the third nationally televised debate for the Republican presidential candidates for the 2012 election. With more than a year to go before the election, now is a critical time for candidates to meet with the people, get out their political message and gain personal and financial support for their campaigns.

Most of the delegates that voted at the Florida straw poll on Saturday attended this debate to help form an opinion of the candidates of their choice.

“Rick Perry has the most courage of any candidate, he is the only one to refuse an order by the Obama administration,” said Timothy Allen, a delegate from Union County Florida.

“The youth just don't participate enough in politics or care about the future of this country, this is a great opportunity to see what the candidates are all about,” said Glen Sundin, a student government officer from Brevard Community College.

This event was the opening kickoff for the “Presidency 5” showcase; which included not only the debate on Thursday, but also a CPAC fund-raising event and meet and greets on Friday, and culminating in the straw poll on Saturday. The three days of events gathered national attention, and this is the first time all three have been held at the same time. 

With the increased attention in the media and around the nation this will most certainly increase the influence of the Florida primary election in 2012.

By James Tutten

(All photos by James Tutten)

Former state Senator George Lemieux, speaking with voters before the debate in Orlando.

Media from around the nation filled the Fox News and Google media room.

Movement for peace through inspirational cinema

Valencia students form a large peace sign on the "International Day of Peace." (Photo by Don Burlinson / Valencia)
Valencia College participated in a new venture with its support of the Global Peace Film Festival. The uses of movies to spread messages of peace around the world is the goal of the Global Peace Film Festival, an international movement, which premiered in 2003.

Valencia offered a free screening of the Jeremy Gilley film “Peace One Day,” which centers on a hopeful realization of global peace by starting with just one day without conflict. Their efforts were rewarded when the United Nations unanimously adopted the first ever Peace Day on September 21, 2001. 

The actions of Gilley and others are truly inspiring, as they worked against insurmountable odds and tragic events for over nine years to achieve what many say is impossible: a world at peace.

“This is our first year with the Global Peace Film Festival, there has been so much great involvement and positive interest from many students,” said Rachel Allen, Valencia humanities professor and coordinator for the Peace and Justice Initiative.

The film shown “Peace One Day,” is shot in a gritty low-budget documentary style but catches the audiences attention right from the beginning. It focuses on the idea that through the United Nations and international cooperation the world can agree to one day without war and violence, and with the further hope that if one day of peace can be reached than more can follow.

“It was so interesting, and what a great message of everyone working to spread peace around the world,” said Lucymar Carbajal, audience member and second year international affairs student.

“Very eye opening. I didn’t know how much one day of peace could help so many distressed people in the world,” said Nirush Sivarasa, a second year business student.

After seeing this film the message of International Peace Day and the Global Film Festival become clear. The goal of spreading important messages with cinema is not only effective, but perfectly embodied by this event where students watching a free film about world peace and the U.N open their minds to the possibility of planet Earth free from the violence and hatred which feed the destruction of war.

“One ambitions young man was able to do such an incredible thing, and really change the world, I can't wait to talk to my students about this film,” said Penny Villegas, a professor at Valencia for 30 years.

By James Tutten

East Campus president Ruth Prather at the peace day film screening ( Photo by James Tutten)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Touching local tribute on 10th anniversary of 9/11

Orlando Mayor, Buddy Dyer, Police Chief, Paul Rooney, and Fire Chief, John Miller, speak about the tragic events and heroes of September 11th. This ceremony was held at the Lake Eola amphitheater in Orlando, Florida on Sept. 11, 2011.

(Click about to watch video)
(Produced by James Tutten)

(All Photos by James Tutten)

 American flags with the names of victims of 9/11 were set out as a special tribute.

UCF's red bandannas honer rival’s fallen hero

UCF football players running out at the start of their game vs. Bosten College on Sept.10th. (Photo by Sebastian Arbelaez)
     Spirits and hopes were high at the campus of UCF for last Saturday’s home football game against Boston College, not only after a championship wining season last year and a dominating opening game last week, but also for a more sentimental reason.  

   UCF students gathered to honor a fallen hero from Sept. 11, 2001 on the eve of the emotional 10 year anniversary.

     The sea of students wearing black and gold also had splashes of red thrown in: red bandannas tied around arms and under baseball caps. The red bandanna was to honor Boston College alumni and lacrosse player Welles R. Crowther.

     Crowther, who was known for wearing a red bandanna given to him by his father, lost his life saving others in the World Trade Center during the attacks in New York. He helped a group of people escape the tower by leading them to the stairs, making several return trips to find more survivors. 

     Eyewitnesses said a man with a red handkerchief tied over his face led them to safety, the clue that let Crowther’s family know it was their son.

     Sadly, the 24-year-old was inside the tower as it collapsed.

     Crowther’s story aired on national networks leading up to the game. Garrett Weiss, a UCF student, was moved to action by the story.

     “When I saw the video clip on ESPN, I posted it to one of the many UCF fan groups on Facebook,” Weiss said. “Neal (Surrena) commented on it, and we both said we have to do something.”

     The two students created a Facebook group urging students to wear red bandannas to the football game in honor of the fallen hero. The group’s numbers swelled into the thousands within hours, and the duo began contacting the media to help spread the word even further.

     With so much attention around this tribute several local stores in the Orlando area actually sold out of red bandannas in the days prior to the game.

     A couple from Aloma United Methodist Church were passing out small bandannas to any student without one who wanted to show their support. 

     “It's such a great thing to honor the heroes of 9/11, and seeing UCF students show that they really care,” said church member Leigh Turner.

     “It just feels so good to show support for our team and also the other team like this,” said bandanna-clad UCF student Bailey McKay.

     The overwhelming response made Weiss proud of his fellow students. “It’s been great,” Weiss said of the response. “I’m truly happy to call myself a Knight.”

By James Tutten

(All photos courtesy of Sebastian Arbelaez / Valencia Voice)
Leigh and Susan Turner handed out red bandanas to students without them before the game.

Great humor at 'Back 2 School Comedy Jam'

Comedian Buzz Sutherland performing a magic trick with prof. Karen Cowden.
     Hilarity was unleashed at the “Back 2 School Comedy Jam”on Sept. 9 in the Performing Arts Center at Valencia's East Campus. This showcase was organized by Student Development with Student Government and featured two nationally know stand-up comedians Kevin Bozeman and Buzz Sutherland.

     “Ironically enough, I got started on a college campus 28 years ago, when I first saw a young Jerry Seinfeld on the University or Missouri campus, and within three years I was his opening act,” said Buzz Sutherland. He has several awards for his zany comic style, which centers on relating to his audience and keeping everyone entertained.

(Click about to watch video)
(Produced by James Tutten

     Comedian Kevin Bozeman, from Chicago, thrilled and shocked the audience with his laid-back, but raunchy comic style, best exemplified with his closing message to students which involved not getting pregnant, “Because it leads to dropping out of school, and drug use later in life.

     An extra bonus to this event was the price, which was free to all Valencia students. 

     “Starting a new semester is the hardest part, so sometimes we just need to have a good laugh,” said Andres Abreu, East Campus SGA president. Student Government worked with Student Development to organize this event with quality entertainment in mind.

     “I feel more involved with school after going to this, it's like a pep rally to start the semester,” said new Valencia student, Ivan Gutierrez.

     “Everyone can relate to comedy, and it gets students involved, and it's not as threatening as a seminar,” said Liz Connor, a second year student majoring in human resources.

     Some facility members also came out to watch, and in the case of Professor of Reading, Karen Cowden, were involved with the show by volunteering for a clever magic trick involving an eaten playing card, and an awkward request for retrieval of said card. 

     “It brings a great start of the semester with such great comedians here at Valencia,” said Cowden.

    More than just a Community College, Valencia offers much in the way of student activities and entertainment. For more information go to the performing art web site at

By James Tutten

(Published: Sept. 14, 2011 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 1.)

(Above photo by James Tutten)

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