The progressive coalition Awake the State will join Occupy Orlando protesters on Nov. 1 in an event focusing on voting rights in the state.
The Apopka Family Health Center in Orange County was one of the many health care centers servicing at-risk women that received a line-item veto from the state budget last week. Apopka was denied half a million dollars, which would have been set aside to give specialized health care to at-risk migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the area. #
Mark Dickinson, the CFO and interim CEO of Apopka’s health center, says the money Gov. Rick Scott vetoed was going to help the area’s “high population of migrant farmers.” He tells The Florida Independent that this mostly Hispanic farm-working population is subject to high amounts of pollution and poisonous pesticides, which have contributed to poor health conditions. #
He planned on launching outreach efforts to get many of these community members diagnosed and treated for a whole host of conditions related to their work environment. #
According to a recent study from the University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine, the community is facing varied health problems, many of which are attributed to “chronic pesticide exposure and insufficient pesticide safety training.” The study (which Dickinson says his program sought to address, and which you can read in full below) warned that the pesticides present “a highly prevalent problem that is related to both chronic and acute conditions and generational adverse effects.” #
Dickinson says there is a high number of farmworkers in the Apopka area with Lupus and Dermatitis, both of which require a specialist to treat. Presently, the center is only able to afford primary health care. #
“We wanted to provide a higher level of care,” he says, adding that providing specialty care is difficult due to its high cost. #
“A lot of people would have been helped by the money,” Dickinson says. “It would have been great to get that funding.” #
Out of the 41 migrant and farm workers interviewed for UCF’s study, 25 were women. #
The study found that “the most common complaint was cold-like symptoms, followed by gastritis and musculoskeletal problems.” About 80 percent of the Hispanic migrant workers were also found to be overweight or obese, with a high incidence of blood pressure. Yet many of them face an “inability to receive consistent, affordable care while being exposed to multiple occupational hazards” due to a number of factors. These factors include “language barriers, lack of health insurance, lack of transportation, fear of immigration policies, and low socioeconomic statuses.” #
Dickinson says the center will continue to serve the community by providing primary health care services to these members. #
Apopka’s health center provides a long list of health services for women in the area. Dickinson says the center has a “very robust OBGYN presence” and receives Title X family planning funds. #
Here is UCF’s report on the health conditions of the Apopka farm workers: #
Last week, Gov. Rick Scott cut close to $2 million in health services for at-risk women and children in line-item vetoes to the state budget. Among the projects cut was $200,000 for a pilot program to be carried out by the Healthy Start Coalition of Orange County that would have provided specialized care for high-risk first-time mothers throughout the county. #
Healthy Start Coalitions in Florida were created in 1991 by Gov. Lawton Chiles in an effort “to build local coalitions to reduce Florida’s alarmingly high infant mortality rate” at the time. The coalitions focus on making sure that “at- risk mothers receive the care they need for a healthy pregnancy and baby.” #
The Orange County pilot program would have started a “nurse-family partnership.” These partnerships provide at-home visits from nurses for at-risk mothers. The nurses would provide care for both the mother and child, as well as educate new mothers. #
The executive director of the Orange County Healthy Start Coalition, Linda Sutherland, says the program would have been a big help to the community. She was also hopeful that the program would have been used as a model for the rest of the state. #
She says the funding cut is a big loss for women in the county. #
“This means that several hundred women will not get the services they need,” she says. #
Sutherland says that Palm Beach County and Duval County received money for similar programs. Yet both Orange County and Gadsden lost money for their nurse-family partnerships. #
Gadsden lost $500,000 for its nurse-family partnership, bringing the tally of cuts to women’s and children’s health services in line-item vetoes to almost $2 million. #
Sutherland says cutting these projects is actually a “double-whammy” to women seeking health services in the state. All Healthy Start Coalitions in the state of Florida had already received a 15 percent across-the-board cut in the state’s budget. #
As mentioned previously, crisis pregnancy centers were not among the programs cut in line-item vetoes. Sutherland says this is because legislators in Florida “philosophically agree with the mission of CPCs.” She says that cutting funding for Healthy Start yet retaining crisis pregnancy center services is an “oxymoron.” #
Because Healthy Start Coalitions service at-risk mothers, they receive a lot of referrals from crisis pregnancy centers in Florida. These pregnancy centers aim to dissuade women from receiving abortions (and they have been found to use medically inaccurate information to do so). Once a crisis pregnancy center convinces at-risk women to keep their pregnancy, they can only receive care from a place such as Healthy Start. #
Once seen as the reification of Orange County’s distinctive brand of conservatism in Southern California, Crystal Cathedral’s recent bankruptcy filing [PDF] is consistent with the realities facing this moneyed-and-family-values region.
The 40-acre place of worship is being sold by the parent company, Chrystal Cathedral Ministries, to a real-estate investment group. The move is meant to alleviate the debt burden of CCM, which is on the hook for $50 million owed to creditors and could stand to benefit from shedding the property’s $36 million mortgage.
The terms of the deal, outlined on the religious organization’s website, include a guaranteed 15-year leaseback and an option to buy back most of the property at an exclusive fixed price. The worship services, community outreach programs, and seminal “Hour of Power” media unit will be unaffected. The latter has an indelible mark on Sunday television programming in the LA and OC regions; programming is also featured on the Trinity Broadcast Network.
Declining revenues for the church continue a trend for conservatism in Orange County at large. Though a historic breeding ground for prominent conservative thinkers and Republican Party leaders, voting trends in Orange County show a significant drop in GOP affiliation among voters, a rise in the number of registered Democrats, and a suddenly narrow margin between GOP and Democratic national candidates.
The influential Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna east of Los Angeles notes that Barack Obama nearly carried the county in 2008, losing by less than three percentage points to John McCain. In 1984, Ronald Reagan won 75 percent of the vote.
The Rose Institute also notes:
But in all 17 Republican-held Orange County based state legislative and congressional districts, the Republican margin of victory was smaller in 2010 than in 2002. This is true despite a significant rebound in almost every district in 2010 over 2008.
The trend is likely a product of demographics. Hispanics and Asians have greatly altered the racial makeup of the area, whose ranks tend to align with in dependents or Democratics.
And while both major parties are losing ground to voters who have no party affiliation, the exodus from the GOP is at a much faster rate.
Orange County is the latest Florida municipality to sue the EPA over its proposed implementation of a set of numeric nutrient criteria that will limit the amount of waste allowed to be dumped in state waterways. The county will join the Florida Water Environment Utility Council to fight the standards in one of several lawsuits already filed against the EPA. #
Everyone that’s looked at it says it’s not one-size-fits all. It’s draconian. It’s way overboard. It’s too expensive, and it’s going to cripple our economy. … It’s going to be way too expensive. It’s going to be standards that will be difficult to meet. #
“This is just Big Brother coming to Florida saying, ‘This is how you need to do things,’” said Edwards. “They should let us make these decisions instead of coming in with a huge sledgehammer saying, ‘We’re going to force you to do things that we think work without having the scientific backup to prove it.’” #
The county estimates cost projections of implementing the standards to be upwards of $200 million, though, as reported by The Florida Independent, cost estimates regarding the standards are often disputed. #
Environmentalists argue that the cost of doing nothing (i.e. not implementing the standards) will far outweigh the cost of implementation. Orange County has suffered the symptoms of nutrient pollution in the past. In 1999, a massive bird kill in Lake Apopka was attributed to nutrient runoff from fertilizers and pesticides. #