Steven Shulman is an insurance broker, real estate investor and the founder of a nonprofit charity that saves the lives of pets in distress, Animal Care Now. He grew up in Miami Beach and served two years in prison after being arrested for possession of quaaludes. He received his civil rights back in the 1980s and has become an advocate for convicted felons who have been denied the same privileged he has received. Shulman just released a memoir of his life called, My Uncle Gloria.
I’m a convicted felon.
Back in April 1981, I made a mistake in trusting an acquaintance.
That mistake got me arrested, convicted, and sentenced to five years in state prison for possession of methaqualone.
After completing two years in prison, two years parole, and being released from all government supervision, I applied to Florida’s office of executive clemency to have my civil rights restored.
I was lucky.
The process only took me a few years.
I have done incredibly well with my life because I was afforded a second chance.
In 1988 I had all my civil rights restored, including: the right to vote, travel abroad, perform jury duty, hold public office, and be employed in certain government organizations.
Since then I’ve created a great life for myself.
I’m a successful insurance broker, real estate investor, published author and founder of a nonprofit charity that saves the lives of pets in distress.
I hold the proud distinction of being the first convicted felon to be issued a real estate license in Florida, and the first convicted felon in Florida to be issued an insurance license.
I made a mistake when I was young.
I served my time.
And I have done incredibly well with my life because I was afforded a second chance.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with a governor like Rick Scott.
There is of course a massive irony in all of this.
He’s a man with absolute dictatorial power who routinely denies people their right to vote after they’ve paid their debt back to society.
Scott doesn’t care if people turn their lives around.
He wants to keep them as second-class citizens- forever.
25% of Florida’s black population is currently unable to vote due to prior felony convictions.
And right now, there’s more than 1.8 million people with felony convictions who have been permanently disenfranchised and cannot vote.
There is of course a massive irony in all of this.
In 1997, Scott’s healthcare company was charged by the federal government with the largest Medicare fraud in history.
Scott resigned as CEO during the investigation, pled the fifth 75 times when questioned by government attorneys, while the company pled guilty to 14 felonies and paid $1.7 billion in fines.
Scott lied his way out of criminal prosecution and a felony conviction.
He could easily have ended up as one of the millions of Floridians who are currently without their full civil rights restored.
But justice looks different for millionaires.
On November 6th, as Florida voters, we have the chance to change that.
We can take this issue out of the hands of politicians and give our fellow citizens their right to vote.
You’ll be amazed with what they do with it, if given the chance to be treated like everybody else.
Take it from my experience.
I was given a second chance and I made it count.
Others deserve the shot I got.
Vote for Amendment 4.
UPDATED: August 29, 2018- Jason Pizzo defeated Daphne Campbell 54% to 46%.
Originally published: 5:00 AM, August 28, 2018
—Here’s Something Else To Watch—
Miami has a long and rich history of politicians playing dirty tricks on each other.
And signs are pointing to another example of that in 2018.
William Stuttgen is a registered Republican who lives in the Belle Meade area of Miami.
He’s retired and really dislikes his State Senator- Daphne Campbell.
He even has a campaign sign for Campbell’s opponent, Jason Pizzo in his front yard.
So when he received a letter in the mail last week that apparently came from a group of local Republicans that endorsed Campbell in the District 38 primary on August 28th, he was incensed.
Since no Republican or Independent registered to run in the general election in November, all voters in the district will be able to vote in the Democratic Primary.
Whoever wins in three weeks will be the district’s next State Senator.
And Stuttgen thinks that Campbell is using a classic dirty trick to get unsuspecting Republicans to vote for her.
“Someone got a list of the registered Republicans,” Stuttgen said in an interview at his home with RISE NEWS. “Pizzo didn’t do this. This is a Campbell thing.”
The chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party Juan Cuba said that they will be investigating whether Campbell is behind the flyer, as first reported by the Miami New Times:
The @MiamiDadeDems steering committee will be investigating/ sending @SenCampbellD38 a letter inquiring whether her campaign is involved with this mailer, & asking her to renounce this illegal tactic.
— Juan Cuba (@juancuba) August 7, 2018
Stuttgen said that the flyer was mailed to his house and had a stamp on it.
But it had no return address.
The name of the organization that claimed to pay for the flyer- “your Republican Neighbor” is not a registered political group in Florida and it is not clear where the money for the mailing came from.
It is also not clear how many people received the mailer.
Pizzo told RISE NEWS that his campaign has received another flyer from a voter in Miami Beach.
A Pizzo-supporting dark money group called FloridaStrong also said that have received a flyer from a voter who lives in Miami Beach that came from the same “your Republican Neighbor” group.
RISE NEWS canvassed six random houses on the street that Stuttgen lives on in Belle Meade.
None of the people we spoke to, including a registered Republican had received the flyer as of Sunday.
“Given my opponent’s unethical practices, there should be little doubt that she and her campaign coordinated this slate card,” Pizzo told RISE NEWS.
In a wide ranging phone interview that lasted nearly 45 minutes, Campbell denied the claims that she was behind the flyer.
She said that it was Pizzo who paid for the flyers to go out.
“He made it. It’s Christian Ulvert,” Campbell said of Pizzo’s political advisor. “I don’t have no money to do a slate. It’s them doing it. They’re so stupid.”
“Jason Pizzo can not take me down because I’m a people person,” Campbell said. “I’ve done so much for the communities I serve.
“Pizza wants developers from New Jersey to get rid of Haitians from Little Haiti,” Campbell said. “This is an attack on a black woman. I pray to God that August 28th that he gets his results. I leave Jason in God’s hands.”
On the campaign trail, Campbell has claimed that Pizzo is a secret Republican who wants to buy the election.
“I’m a proud Democrat,” Campbell said at a recent event in North Miami.
While Stuttgen is a Republican, he said that he is moderate on social issues.
Campbell is a pro life, anti-gay marriage Democrat who has been consistently supported by one of Florida’s most conservative religious groups, the Christian Family Coalition.
“She thinks people vote party line and they don’t look at the names,” Stuttgen said. “This is lunacy.
Campbell has a long history of controversy and borderline criminal behavior.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, RISE NEWS uncovered that Campbell had used her personal connection to an FPL lobbyist to try to get power turned on at the house of her “mother” before her other constituents.
Stuttgen said that if Pizzo loses to Campbell, he will be leaving Miami for good.
—Here’s Something Else To Watch—
—Next Story UP—
In the aftermath of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland on Feb. 14, many wondered whether this time would be different.
It seems like it is.
Nearly two months on from that tragedy, the Never Again movement shows no signs of stopping, especially in South Florida.
A event planned for Saturday hopes to take the energy and anger seen throughout the country and turn it into real political power.
An all day “Young Leaders Summit” will be held at Miami-Dade College’s Kendall campus and at Atlantic Technical College in Coconut Creek.
The identical events are meant to be a crash course for young people who want to get engaged in political activism and will feature representatives from prominent local political organizing groups and others like Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
“Young people everywhere want to do something about the pervasiveness of gun violence and our culture of gun use but do not know where to begin,” event organizer Lina Fernandez said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “The Summit acts as an education in movement building, an opportunity to learn about the difficult, important work that happens behind the scenes and empower students to create spaces and events of their own.”
The organizers think that at least 500 young people will attend.
Only high school and college students can go.
Representatives from various political groups and candidates for political office will also be there so young people can sign up to volunteer for campaigns.
Helping support the summit are groups like: Defeat the NRA, The Resistance School, Harvard Kennedy School, Students Demand Action, Women’s March Miami, League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade, Dream Defenders, Indivisible, the Giffords Center, Moms Demand Action, and the Center for American Progress.
While the motivating factor behind the conference is gun control, the skills that students will learn there can be applied to other struggles.
“We want more than anything else for the students to spend the day Saturday learning about how to get engaged, how to use their voice, how to organize, and take those skills and apply them to whatever movement they are passionate about, not just today’s gun reform battle,” Will Breslin, an organizer for the event said.
According to the organizers, the summit will feature various breakout sessions led by famed political organizer “Marshall Ganz from the Harvard Kennedy School, Indivisible southern regional organizer Whitney Roberts, Maggie Thompson from Generation Progress Action, Katherine Philips and Chase Hardin from Giffords, MJ Wright from Moms Demand Action, Ricky Junquera from Sierra Club, Philip Agnew from Dream Defenders, and more.”
While the event only lasts one day, the hope from the young people putting it together that it will create something long lasting.
“I hope the conference helps create a culture of activism and civic engagement in Miami and in Miami-Dade Schools,” Fernandez said. “I want the students who planned walkouts all across Miami-Dade county last month, and the thousands that attended these events, to continue in their work. I hope the Summit provides a clear next step for student leaders who participated in the national walkout and March For Our Lives but don’t know where to go from there.”
Cover Photo Credit: Nikita Leus, Coral Gables Senior High.