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–Valencia Gunder and her non-profit organization Make The Homeless Smile made a special effort for Miami’s homeless dad’s on Father’s Day.
–Gunder, who spent nearly a month homeless in 2009, started the organization in 2014 to give back.
–Gunder said that she knows that Father’s Day can be sad for dads who live on the streets because many of them aren’t in touch with their children.
–25 volunteers spent a few hours feeding over 100 people under the shadow of the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami.
–An organization from Tallahassee called Coach’s Closet brought sneakers to give to the homeless and a barber was on hand to give out free haircuts.
–Gunder and her group do this every third Sunday of the month at the same spot on NE 1st Ave and 6th St.
——Here’s Something Completely Different: ——
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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By Alex Austin
Ah, the FBS Bowl games.
A litany of college football action stretching from December 19 through January 11, encompassing 41 games and involving 80 teams. From the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl to the National Championship Game.
But while each of these games bring their own sense of basic enjoyment, even more so for the players and fans of those who are deemed worthy to compete in them, the basic question must be raised: are there too many bowl games?
In short, yes there are.
While it is a treat to have as much college football as humanly possible, and there is no shortage of pride when it comes to these post-season games, there are certainly too many in existence.
To understand why there are too many, one must understand what the bowls are meant to represent.
They are meant to be a reward, a pat on the back for success during the season.
However, in recent years, the meaning of “success” has become stretched.
Another interesting thing that the bowls bring to the fans is an opportunity to see teams play against opponents that they would never face otherwise. But this novelty is undermined this year by the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, which features two teams from the Mountain West Conference (Nevada and Colorado State).
How do so many absurd bowl match-ups come about? For starters, take in this statistic. Of the 128 FBS programs in the country, a whopping 62.5% of teams make it to the post-season in some respect.
This makes a mockery of the idea of the post-season, and calls into question their true purpose (which is to make money for the numerous sponsors and TV networks).
The real question is not if there are too many bowl games. The real question is how many bowl games should there be.
The answer to this question: 14.
To put it simply, only the top 26 teams, as ranked in the final College Football Playoff standings, should qualify for the post-season. These are the teams that not only have good, if not excellent, records, but they showcase the best of the conferences (and Independent teams). Why one more than the standard 25-team rank? On the surface, it is because an even number of teams must be chosen. But pragmatically, it is to allow for the inclusion of the best military academy (if not already ranked).
Below is this writers personal list of which bowl games should exist. Some of these may not be the heaviest hitters on the normal schedule (and one doesn’t even really exist), but there are reasons for all of them.
- Military Appreciation Bowl (Annapolis, MD) – This game already features the top military academy. In the event that one of the academies makes it to the CFP, the naming tag still works.
- Detroit Bowl (Detroit, MI) – Currently, the bowl game in Detroit is called the Quick Lane Bowl. Give this a new name and continue to play it, because there deserves to be at least one bowl game not in the south or west.
- Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu, HI) – Just as the NFL Pro Bowl used to be played in Hawai’i as a sort of vacation destination, this will allow college players who normally wouldn’t play in that city/state to enjoy the experience.
- Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) – Normally a very solid bowl game. Could be used for the SEC, ACC, and/or Big East teams in the 20-26 range in the rankings.
- Texas Bowl (Houston, TX) – Mainly here because Texas is too big (both in size and football fanaticism) to only hold one bowl game. Good site for Big 12, SEC, AAC, Sun Belt and/or C-USA competition.
- Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego, CA) – Who wouldn’t want to go to sunny San Diego for a bowl game? Not to mention that the Mountain West teams could use a closer bowl destination.
- Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA) – A staple of the bowl game schedule. Usually includes an SEC team, but this year is hosting an ACC-AAC match-up.
- Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL) – Another bowl game with a lot of history which falls just outside the “Big 5”. Would be a nice fit between the New Year bowls and the National Championship.
- Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) – The “granddaddy of them all”. Will of course continue the Big 10 vs. Pac-10 history.
- Fiesta Bowl (Phoenix, AZ) – Not as historic as the other FBS bowls. Good place for the match-up of next two teams behind the playoff contenders.
- Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) – A major bowl in the house that Jerry Jones built. Kind of wish they still used the proper Cotton Bowl, but that’s life.
- Orange Bowl (Miami, FL) – Historically the place for the ACC champions vs. Big East champions match-up. Few places better to hold a football game outside in January.
- Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) – Normally reserved for the top SEC team. In the age of the CFP, it continues to be held in high regard.
- National Championship Game (Various) – The one game to decide the champion. Will continue to bounce around the five FBS bowl sites.
Now this plan probably isn’t perfect, and there would be some hiccups in the early years. But eventually, everyone would adjust just as they have adjusted to the new playoff system.
In the end, while not everyone will be happy, enough people will be to keep this bowl game line-up intact and bring the bowl games back into reverence as the games which decide who the best teams really are.
Cover Photo Credit: Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 274
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By Andrew Parks
Last December, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States while we figure out what the hell is going on.”
At the time, I considered that to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for Trump’s candidacy, metaphorically speaking. To me, it was the latest in a long string of outlandish, extreme, hateful statements made by that particular candidate, and I made my sentiments on the subject known publicly.
Since then, however, I’ve found myself asking that question repeatedly. Not with respect to terrorism or immigration, but rather, with respect to democracy in the United States. What the hell is going on with America’s voters?
I could go on here about the immense anger in the American electorate that seems to be playing itself out through our electoral process, or about the so-called “low information voters” that some academics and several prominent political pundits have spent the better part of eight years excoriating.
But to do so, in my opinion, would be to provide an analysis which lacks depth; if there’s one criticism I have of pundits, it’s that they tend to focus on what’s right in front of their face, and don’t spend much time digging into the underlying issues behind the latest political trends. Besides, plenty of elaboration has already been offered on that in various elements of the media, as is.
Instead, I think it would be better to focus on the endemic problem in American elections today: the loss of the vote’s value as a real expression of political principle to a significant portion of the American electorate.
In my opinion, this isn’t the result of the “dumbing down of America” or any such nebulous conceptual trend, as many pundits and talking heads would suggest. At least, it’s not that, exactly. Instead, I think this is the result of a special brand of apathy by which the average American voter has convinced himself that their vote just doesn’t matter.
Think about it. Surely, you’ve heard someone say that before. I’ve heard it multiple times, myself, from multiple people. And I’ve heard it more from members of my generation than members of others.
To a significant number of Americans, voting is no longer seen as a sacred right or even a civic duty.
It’s seen as a burden and a waste of time. And, as a result, many Americans do just enough to get by when selecting a candidate to vote for.
This is perhaps the biggest difference between modern times and years past with respect to American politics. There was once a time when Americans put serious effort into determining who to vote for – the traditional approach of researching issues, policy positions and records, and selecting a candidate based on some set of criteria.
To each of these voters, the exact criteria were often different – my father often talks about my paternal grandfather, a yellow dog, card-carrying-union-member Democrat from the era of a blue Texas, “voting his pocket-book,” or rather, for the candidate whose economic policies he felt would most benefit himself and his family, whereas my maternal grandmother, a lifelong Republican also from Texas, was always more concerned about electing men and women of strong moral character to office. But, nonetheless, both had a standardized approach that took into account discrete factors in an attempt to produce an objective result.
Those days are long gone.
In their place is an age in which many voters look for the candidate not that they can connect with intellectually or principally, but emotionally. Instead of the candidate that shares their views, they want the candidate that they can grab a beer with.
Instead of the candidate they believe is most qualified for the position, they want the candidate that they feel cares about them the most.
Instead of looking for even temperament in a candidate to take charge of the world’s most powerful military and second largest nuclear arsenal, much of the electorate looks for the candidate that shares a deeply seeded anger that has festered for years while the opposing party has controlled the White House.
Relatability has now replaced capability and suitability as the chief characteristic of electoral viability.
Peculiar though this new paradigm may be, it gives way to an even worse mindset among some younger voters, to many of whom the vote matters so little that even basic ethical constraints don’t apply.
Take, for example, student government elections at The University of Alabama, where I attended undergrad.
If you’re familiar with the politics of secret societies in the United States, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Machine, UA’s underground coalition of fraternities and sororities that has controlled student elections for just over a century, using the flagship university of the state of Alabama’s quaint student government framework as a springboard with which it propels its alumni into some of the state’s most powerful positions.
In the past, the Machine has done some incredibly insidious things. Members of the organization have burned crosses on campus in protest of the election of a black SGA president over the Machine-backed candidate, tapped another non-Machine presidential candidate’s phone lines, beaten up and stabbed non-Machine candidates and campaign staffers, broken into SGA offices in the middle of the night and defamed applications for appointed positions from black and non-Greek applicants with racial slurs and other injustices, stolen both banners supporting non-Machine candidates and stole thousands of copies of the school newspaper containing scathing exposés about the Machine, coerced fraternity and sorority members to vote a particular way through illicit means, and ordered members of Machine houses to boycott Tuscaloosa businesses owned and operated by the families of non-Machine candidates at threat of severe penalty.
As of late, the Machine’s chicanery has taken up a less violent, but no less insidious and certainly no less disappointing, theme.
After losing the SGA presidency in 2015, my senior year at Alabama, for the first time in three decades, the Machine went on a recruiting spree that would make the average SEC booster blush.
Throughout the school year, I’ve been kept apprised as numerous Greek houses that previously took strong stances against the Machine were lured down into “the basement,” as the Machine is often referred to due to its members’ subterranean choice of meeting place, by promises of rewards – date parties with the most prestigious fraternities for the sororities, appointments from within their membership to prominent SGA positions for fraternities, and full backing, with all of the Machine Greek votes that come with it, for individual members of non-Machine fraternities seeking elected office.
On the night of the 2016 elections held just last Tuesday, I received text messages from friends at Alabama about frat guys being promised a case of beer for every vote cast for the Machine nominee for the presidency, and screenshots from a conversation between a sorority executive officer and a rank and file member in which a free manicure was offered as an incentive for voting – all of which not only explicitly violates UA election rules, but is also patently unethical.
And yet, among the broad majority of my former peers at UA, this behavior is not only found palatable, but acceptable and even standard.
Imagine that for a minute. To some of the brightest millennials in the country – UA is one of the nation’s top 50 public universities and ranks among the best in the nation for national merit attendance – a vote isn’t the righteous expression of the voter’s political willpower as the American ethos might demand, but instead a commodity ready to be bartered for material gain as menial as beer and manicures.
Among the quite literally hundreds, if not thousands, of UA students who take that approach to selecting a candidate for whom to cast their vote, there isn’t so much as an afterthought about the moral or philosophical implications of such a decision.
A little alcohol and some fresh nail polish is all it takes to wash away any objections which might exist over voting for the candidates nominated by a racist, underground organization with a history of violence, corruption and intimidation spanning a century.
You might say to yourself that this is believable, or perhaps even to be expected, in a state like Alabama, where just last week a sitting United States Senator endorsed a presidential candidate on the same day that same presidential candidate tacitly accepted an endorsement from the Ku Klux Klan.
And you would have a point; if there’s any state where this kind of nefariousness is the norm, it would be Alabama. But consider this: The University of Alabama isn’t the only place where things like this are happening.
Just last month, a whistleblower at The University of Florida came forward in a tell-all video to discuss the System, an underground organization bent on student election domination at UF eerily similar to the Machine in both design and methodology.
And Yale, of course, is home to the infamous Skull & Bones.
Numerous other universities foster student governments dominated by their Greek systems, though, to be fair, with far less violence and blatantly corrupt activity.
Nonetheless, it seems the very kind of backroom dealings we so despise Washington for have their roots in America’s college campuses.
You might also say that student government elections are trivial things in and of themselves, and that it’s laughable to say that students should be expected to take them as seriously as “real” elections.
To that, I point out that student government and student elections are universally considered to be educational experiences for candidates, elected officials, appointees and voters alike by university administrations; indeed, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals explicitly held exactly that in reference to The University of Alabama’s Student Government Association in 1989.
Humans are creatures of habit, and voting patterns are at their core habits themselves. The habits these students form in college don’t simply end at the graduation stage. Indeed, Cleo Thomas, who became the first black SGA President at UA in 1976 and is one of only nine UA students to ever beat the Machine in a presidential bid, called campus politics at the Capstone “the training ground” for “how [elected officials] govern Alabama” in a 2015 interview.
Where politicians are concerned, Thomas’s words sum up the political history of Alabama over the last century; senior US Senator from Alabama Richard Shelby is a Machine alumnus, as are two of his predecessors in Alabama’s Senate delegation and a long list of Alabama governors and congressmen.
“What Starts Here Changes the World,” the motto of The University of Texas, could be adapted to fit The University of Alabama as, “What Starts Here Runs the State.”
But the “training ground” statement rings true for voters as well, and is demonstrated by another illustrative example from my time at UA. In 2013, amid an entirely separate segregation scandal in UA sororities, several hundred UA students filed to vote in local school board and city council elections, electing two former Machine-backed SGA presidents to the two separate governing bodies respectively, and ousting a highly respected school board incumbent in the process.
As though that action wasn’t audacious enough in itself, campus was soon inundated with reports that the students had not only illicitly registered to vote, but had been shuttled to the polling stations in limousines, and then taken to local bars to be served free alcohol after voting.
Just as they set aside any semblance of a moral compass to mindlessly vote for whomever they were instructed to in SGA elections, those students directly incurred in a local election to do the same in exchange for free drinks, taking the first step toward carrying the habit over into their adult lives.
The difference between student government and real government was, I suppose you could say, trivial, in their eyes.
If Donald Trump’s campaign is indicative of the state of democracy in modern day America, this is a sign of its future.
Democracy cannot continue to function in a society where America educates her best and brightest in a way that inherently objectifies and devalues it.
Mindless, coerced, bribed, group-think style voting is not what our Founding Fathers intended, nor is it what our brave men and women in uniform fought and died to protect.
This is the kind of democracy that lends itself to despotism and, eventually, societal ruin.
Ronald Reagan once famously said that freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction.
The same rings true for our system of government. The longer we allow our democracy to be turned into a reality TV show and our votes to be traded for alcohol and cosmetics, the shorter its lifespan will be.
In order to reverse this trend, it is incumbent upon you, the average American, whether you be a college student, a working adult or a retired senior citizen, to actively take responsibility for your vote.
Research the issues, discuss them civilly, but openly and vigorously, with trusted family and friends, teach your children to value their rights and to think independently, and most importantly, always take a strong, principled stance for ethics and integrity in the electoral process.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place.
Cover Photo Credit: Lillian Roth for SGA President/ FacebookPost Views: 560
What Do You Think?
By Mario Moussa and Derek Newberry
Donald Trump has had some rough spots in his campaign. He damaged his credibility early on as a candidate by making a string of confusing and ill-advised statements about punishing women who have an abortion and expressing scant concern about nuclear proliferation.
His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, had been dogged by charges that he assaulted a Breitbart reporter. Even worse was the shellacking Trump took in the Wisconsin primary, losing by a shocking double-digit margin.
Reports had said that with the “Make America Great Again” campaign was in evident disarray, Trump’s team of advisors were working on a “reboot.” As the presumptive Republican nominee, there a bright spot in this story. The reboot.
After years of studying collaboration at the Wharton School of Business, we concluded that the best performing teams do it all the time.
As situations change, they change. In other words, they reboot. We have no special insight into Trump’s nomination, but as teamwork experts, we do feel the candidate deserves credit on this key point.
Let’s look a little more closely at what the man who wrote the book on deal-making can teach us about the art of teamwork — and especially the reboot.
Trump launched his campaign with the clear goal of broadcasting his message directly to voters. He all but ignored the traditional retail activities such as meet-and-greets at churches and state fairs, rubber chicken dinners, and gatherings with local politicians.
Delivering taunts, insults, and over-the-top promises at debates and large rallies generated what many observers have claimed is over a billion dollars of free PR. His new convention manager, Paul Manafort, said the campaign model was “predicated on a historic approach to communicating with the public.”
But then, as the gaffes mounted, this shoot-from-the-hip approach stopped delivering easy victories by late March. What to do? That’s right: time to reboot, and redirect energies.
Which Trump did – and fast. Because, even with an impending nomination, there are still obstacles ahead. Trump brought in Manafort, who has his own team of like-minded aides who will also join the campaign. Lewandowski has hired specialists who worked with Ron Paul and know how to win over delegates, one tough-talk conversation at a time.
Desperation moves? Recent media coverage might lead you to that conclusion. We see a different perspective. The Trump campaign is like a team of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who raised money, launched a venture, recognized quickly that their business model was failing, and – to use a popular high-tech term – pivoted.
Successful teams at Facebook, Slack, Pinterest, and many other companies had to pivot several times before they became winners. This is not easy to do for a startup or campaign team, and it often produces conflicts. Not surprisingly, Trump’s meetings with his staff have been reported as highly contentious.
So, how to have a successful reboot? When we advise executives about managing their teams, we emphasize a few guidelines illustrated vividly by Trump’s latest public moves.
Always work toward a goal but avoid becoming too attached to it, because situations change and you might have to adjust. Define and redefine roles on your team as your work evolves, and seek to put the right people in those roles.
Have frank discussions – which will often be contentious – about what they need to do. Be clear about how you want the members of your core team and related teams to work together.
As General Stanley McChrystal puts it, leaders need a “team of teams” to run an organization. Above all, remember that it is really hard work to align and re-align a group of people collaborating on achieving a common purpose.
Because managing a successful pivot is such hard work, most teams fail to deliver hoped-for results. Yet at the moment, we think Trump’s campaign is increasing its chances of officially clinching the victory soon by rebooting.
You might even consider doing it on your own team, if recent performance has been disappointing. Of course, in politics as in business, despite the promises of overconfident leaders, there are no simple solutions and no guarantees.
But by following a few guidelines, you can give your team the best shot at achieving what Trump himself might call “yuge” success.
Dr. Mario Moussa and Dr. Derek Newberry are the authors of Committed Teams: Three Steps to Inspiring Passion and Performance. Dr. Moussa teaches in the Executive Programs at Wharton School of Executive Education. Dr. Newberry is a lecturer at the Wharton School of Business. For more information, please visit, www.committedteams.com and connect with the authors on Twitter, @Committed_Teams.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Darron Birgenheier/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 196
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