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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Man who Bill Young told to 'get a job' wants an apology



The man who asked U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young a question about the minimum wage and was told by the veteran congressman to “get a job” is now looking -- not for a job, but for an apology.

Video of former Occupy Tampa protester Andrew “Pepe” Kovanis’ exchange with Young wound up going viral on the Internet last week. It turned into a social network meme as critics noted that the 81-year-old GOP congressman has been in office for more than 40 years and is seeking re-election.

Now Kovanis, 31, of Dunedin, “will join with other members of the community at a rally and press speak out about why it’s important to raise the minimum wage and to demand an apology from Young for his out of touch response,” according to a news release from the Florida Consumer Action Network.

Young, currently the longest serving member of the House, is seeking his 22nd term in Congress. He has two Republican opponents, Darren Ayres and Madeline Vance, that he will face in August, and the winner will take on a Democratic candidate, Jessica Ehrlich.

“It encourages me that people like me have to stay to keep this government from turning into a leftist movement,” he said last week.

In the video, Kovanis is part of a group of people from FCAN who surround Young after a speech he made at an American Legion hall in Treasure Island. Kouvanis tells Young that U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has been passing around a bill to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour (in Florida, the minimum wage is $7.67 per hour). He asks if Young would support that bill.

“Probably not,” Young says.

“It’s 10 bucks an hour,” Kovanis says. “It would give us a living wage.”

“How about getting a job,” Young replies. “Why do you want that benefit? Get a job.”

“I have a job,” Kovanis tells him, “but it’s not enough to get by on.”

Young told the Times last week that he believed he had given Kovanis “a legitimate answer,” and blamed any confusion on the crowd of activists: “Maybe I was a little frustrated because of all this pushing and pulling because everybody was talking at once and yelling political stuff. If they had been a little more quiet then I would have not misunderstood.”

Kovanis and other FCAN speakers are scheduled to speak at the Sam’s Club construction site at 34th Street and 17th Avenue North in St. Petersburg beginning at 11 a.m. on Friday.

Craig Pittman, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 5:32pm]


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