© 2013-2019 by STEFFANIE RIVERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 The Journal of Steffanie Rivers 

Did Andrew Gillum Commit Political Suicide?

 

Somebody gave Andrew Gillum was given enough rope to hang himself. The former mayor of Tallahassee and Florida democratic gubernatorial candidate confessed to being an alcoholic after police found him in a Miami hotel room with two other men two weekends ago. If he’s not in rehab by now, he should be on the way.

Gillum came within 34,000 votes of becoming Florida’s governor in 2018. His name recognition could have made him a U.S. senatorial candidate, a vice presidential candidate or possibly a cabinet member in the next presidential administration. After twenty years in local politics Gillum had built a following.

He admitted in a written statement to being an alcoholic. And he denied any use of the crystal meth found in the hotel room. But inquiring minds want to know why this married father of three was found in a hotel room with two other men - one who was a self-proclaimed gay male escort - suffering from a drug induced heart attack. Some say the answer obvious! Gillum told police he was in Miami for a wedding. On a Thursday night. News reports said one of the men in the hotel room is an unlicensed physician. The gay male escort claims to be a registered nurse via social media. Nobody got arrested for possession of the drugs or anything else. How Gillum could be ‘too drunk to give a statement to police,’ yet still be allowed to leave the scene is a head scratcher, but I digress.

Gillum looks like the picture of a strong, heterosexual black man who is smart, politically savvy and is a leader in his community and in his family. Some white people don’t like it when a Black man has more clout, influence or money than themselves. While Gillum isn’t completely innocent – it was his choice to be drunk in a hotel room with a male escort – the bigger picture is how Black men are being portrayed as the face of sexual deviance, while White men with similar proclivities are held less accountable. It has become the 21st century version of public lynching.

Humans all have flaws. When your enemies detect those flaws they use them to their advantage. They offer you the very thing that can bring you down. Then whenever it suites them, they reveal your flaw to the world and your career, kick you to the curb and let the chips fall where they may.

For some people their flaw is drugs or gambling. For Gillum apparently it was alcohol and possibly bi-sexual tendencies. Some people who knew Gillum since his college days at Florida A&M University said there was speculation about his sexual preference, even then. If you’re openly gay you could become president. If you’re undercover gay it could be your kryptonite.

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Jail Birds Of A Feather

 

I purposefully avoided the gym on New Year's Day because I didn't want to get caught up in the crowd of new people clothed in Christmas gift spandex and sneakers who had told themselves 2020 is their year to gain control of the fat and lose weight! Not even two weeks into the New Year the crowds seem to have waned. I don't know if that means people have settled on Lizzo's five-minute Lakers game twerk routine for results or they've turned their attention to other popular resolutions such as going back to school and getting out of debt. Here's what I do know:

 

College student loan debt is a problem for millions of Americans. So much so that some presidential candidates have campaigned for student loan debt forgiveness after I paid mine off already, but that's beside the point! Even so, some people in President Donald Trump's department of education are against student loan forgiveness even after a federal judge ordered them to do so.

 

While at least five of Trump's close associates have been convicted for illegal activities in relation to Trump's presidential campaign – which is bad enough - Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is on the verge of becoming the first member of his cabinet to face jail time for defying a judge's mandate to cancel debt by students who attended for-profit colleges.

 

This issue is less about the irresponsibility of some people when it comes to paying their bills. It's more about recruitment tactics used by some of these for-profit schools, some known as Everest College, ITT-Tech and others under the Corinthian Colleges, Inc. umbrella. These institutions promoted themselves as trade schools for students to improve vocational skills with the promise of technical degrees that would lead to high-paying jobs that never materialized. For some students who attended ITT-Tech they showed up to class one day, and the next day they were locked out because the school had gone out of business. No word about tuition refunds or federal student loan forgiveness. Good luck with marketing that technical degree you just earned from a now-defunct school.

 

Investigations found these for-profit schools in California charged six times more for the same degree than a community college. They targeted students from low-income households by offering federal grants coupled with high interest student loans, knowing that people who can't find jobs are more likely to go back to school to better their education and job prospects. Yet employers claimed students were poorly trained so they refused to hire (more of) them. That led to unpaid loans and more debt for people trying to catch a break! So a federal judge ordered the loan debt canceled.

Education Secretary Betsy Devos should be the first person to care, since these issues fall under her sphere of responsibility. But she didn't care, because nobody in her family has had to worry about the quality of public education, just like Trump's children. Devos was Trump's choice for Secretary of Education, not because of her experience in that arena. The president chose Devos – the same way he made a lot of his political appointments – based on her financial support to his presidential campaign.

Betsy is married to Dick Devos. He's one of the founders of Amway, the Michigan-based network marketing company. The Devos family is worth millions of dollars. And they donated a few million to Trump's presidential campaign. In return the president appointed her secretary of education.

Her lack of concern about the importance of her position is evident. Her defiance of a judge's order to stop sending collection notices is felonious. While she's probably not directly responsible for mailing student loan default notices, she's in charge of the people whose job it is to do so. Just like Trump, if you want to be in charge of the team and take credit for the win you better be ready to take responsibility for the malfeasance that could lead to an 'orange is the new black' experience.

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