Saturday, August 18, 2018
News Roundup

Trump, black caucus agree on aid for churches

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and black Democratic lawmakers don't agree on much, but they do agree that FEMA needs to fund houses of worship that assist hurricane victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

As the waters slowly recede from Houston and parts of Florida from the two deadly storms, the president and some members of the Congressional Black Caucus are aggressively diving into the murky waters of separation of church and state issues.

They separately argue that Federal Emergency Management Agency should make relief funds available to houses of worship, especially if those institutions are involved in helping victims of disasters.

"They give churches so much red tape to go through to get public benefits," Cedric Richmond, D-La., black caucus chairman, said of FEMA.

Houses of worship can get financial disaster assistance if their facilities are primarily used for "educational, utility, emergency, medical … custodial or essential services of a governmental nature," according to FEMA guidelines.

Trump jumped into the church-state debate Friday when he tweeted that three small Texas churches that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey should be entitled to FEMA assistance to help rebuild. The churches filed a lawsuit in federal District Court against FEMA seeking help.

FEMA officials were not made available for comment Wednesday.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who represents Houston, said black lawmakers "will be right here to work with the White House" on behalf of houses of worship.

That's not likely to happen soon. Relations have been tense between Trump and the black caucus. The caucus met with the president in January, but has had no meetings since.

The group rejected an invitation for a caucus meeting with the president in June, questioning Trump's sincerity about helping black Americans.

Now, though, he and other black caucus members are making arguments that Trump is also offering. Caucus members said FEMA's criteria for houses of worship is short-sighted, noting that religious facilities are often pressed into service during disasters to house and feed victims or even to serve as FEMA staging areas.

One of the churches in the Texas lawsuit, the Hi-Way Tabernacle, became a FEMA staging area, sheltered 70 people and sent out more than 8,000 emergency meals, the Washington Post reported.

In his tweet Friday, Trump wrote: "Churches in Texas should be entitled to reimbursement from FEMA Relief Funds for helping victims of Hurricane Harvey (just like others)."

Comments
Deputies find body in burning vehicle near Disney World miniature golf course

Deputies find body in burning vehicle near Disney World miniature golf course

A body was found in a burning vehicle near a Disney World miniature golf course early Saturday, according to WKMG News 6 Orlando.Authorities were initially called to a vehicle fire about 4 a.m. at Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course, 120...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Girlfriend of murder suspect arrested, too, in aftermath of Hudson drug shootout

Girlfriend of murder suspect arrested, too, in aftermath of Hudson drug shootout

HUDSON — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office made a second arrest Saturday in the aftermath of a drug-related shootout Wednesday night that left one man dead and a woman critically injured.Deputies arrested Alexas Marie Gregas, 19, of Hudson, on charge...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Remember all that Rays hate?

Remember all that Rays hate?

BOSTON —Nope, this is not going to be the worst Rays team of all time, as a certain writer for a certain website that you may happen to be reading right now suggested in April was a real possibility. Not going to be second worst, third, even bo...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Levy County man, 53, killed trying to pass truck north of Inverness

Levy County man, 53, killed trying to pass truck north of Inverness

INVERNESS — A 53-year-old Levy County man died when he collided with a Mack truck while trying to pass it north of Inverness, the Florida Highway Patrol said.Claude Pepper Blount Jr. was headed south on U.S. 41 near Overdrive Circle about 1:50 p.m. F...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Police: Motorcyclist hospitalized after crash at Sheffield Lake Park in St. Petersburg

Police: Motorcyclist hospitalized after crash at Sheffield Lake Park in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — A motorcycle driver suffered serious injuries early Saturday when he lost control and crashed at Sheffield Lake Park, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.Robert Douglas Blume, 47, was driving north along 49th Street N o...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Preseason football: Hillsborough 29, East Lake 23

Preseason football: Hillsborough 29, East Lake 23

TAMPA — When moving on to your third football program in four seasons, it helps to have a familiar face on the scene to help make things click faster.For Hillsborough quarterback Charlie Dean, fresh from playing for Tampa Catholic last fall, that per...
Published: 08/18/18
Romano: A fresh start for Florida to protect abused children

Romano: A fresh start for Florida to protect abused children

The worst job in Florida is available, once again.Mike Carroll has announced his pending resignation as secretary of the Department of Children and Families, giving someone else the privilege to be an underfunded, second-guessed punching bag. For no ...
Published: 08/18/18
In Clearwater, this woman is crafting a unique baseball career

In Clearwater, this woman is crafting a unique baseball career

CLEARWATER — The voice of the Clearwater Threshers grew up a couple hours down the coast, listening to Dewayne Staats and making annual family trips to the Trop.The giveaway to what Kirsten Karbach would become, however, should have been her baseball...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Putting a face to the name: Picture of Marine killed in Vietnam one of the missing

Putting a face to the name: Picture of Marine killed in Vietnam one of the missing

Private Ruben Bell Jr. has a name, a rank, a hometown, five service medals and several living family members. For 50 years, though, he has remained a ghost.Bell enlisted in the Marine Corps in July 1967, when he was 19, and arrived in Vietnam that De...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota: The stats that matter

Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota: The stats that matter

Yeah, but …Every Jameis Winston-Marcus Mariota debate is full of them.Winston has completed more passes (939), gained more passing yards (11,636) and thrown more passing touchdowns (69) before his age 24 season than any quarterback in NFL histo...
Updated: 11 hours ago