Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay area Obama organizers collect ideas to pass on to White House

Dr. Mani Ghansah continues President Obama’s grass-roots movement during a meeting at a Beef O’Brady’s in Riverview to discuss the stimulus package. At right is his wife, Dr. Tomar Ghansah.

KAINAZ AMARIA | Times

Dr. Mani Ghansah continues President Obama’s grass-roots movement during a meeting at a Beef O’Brady’s in Riverview to discuss the stimulus package. At right is his wife, Dr. Tomar Ghansah.

TAMPA — For most people, Friday night marks the start of weekend fun.

But Mani Ghansah and about a dozen of his friends and neighbors instead chose to spend three hours Friday night talking about President Obama's economic recovery plan.

It was a return to a role he already knows. Ghansah, 46, volunteered to host a series of "house parties" during Obama's campaign for president. This weekend, he responded to a call from Obama organizers to resurrect his e-mail lists and phone numbers from the campaign and continue the grass-roots effort launched during the campaign.

Events like the one Ghansah hosted Friday night were held Saturday and Sunday throughout the Tampa Bay area, from Lithia to Largo. The goal is to promote conversation and drum up support for the president's proposals to turn around the economy. The House has passed an economic stimulus package, and the Senate is expected to vote on its version of the legislation this week. Ghansah promised to forward the stories, pictures and ideas of his guests to the White House.

"Just casting a vote and walking away doesn't work," he said while waiting in a private dining area at Beef O'Brady's in Riverview. "So I decided to be part of facilitating the action."

In the main restaurant, families munched on chicken wings, nachos and burgers, surrounded by television screens largely tuned to hockey, car racing and other sports.

But around 6:30, as Ghansah greeted people passing through a door labeled the "Coaches Meeting Room," three television screens showed cable news reports of the Senate's debate on the stimulus plan.

Ghansah used guidelines provided by Organizing for America, an outgrowth of the Obama for America campaign, to run the meeting, touching on key points about the stimulus package and asking the group to help him develop a list of action steps to recommend to the president.

They talked about losing jobs, friends losing houses and an expensive war they don't want the country to fight.

Kiplin Chin, 45, who was born in Jamaica, said he voted for the first time in November, and this was his first political event.

"I just lost my job at Verizon," he told the group. He used to lay fiber optic cables for the company. "It's pretty tough out there."

He said he trusts Obama to listen to the people and try his best to fix the country's problems without "politricks."

"I haven't lost my job yet. It could be me next," said Michael Phipps, 49, an engineer for Siemens.

Darlene Carter, 49, said she avoids taking her daughter, who has asthma, to the doctor because she can't afford it with her other mounting financial obligations.

"They're already calling my cell phone for bills that I owe," she said.

Donna Mitchell-Robley, a nurse, said banks that received bailout money need to report what they are doing with it, and work with homeowners to lower their monthly payments.

"Accountability," she kept repeating.

As her two children, ages 6 and 2, sat beside her nibbling on cheese quesadillas, Ebru Watt, 32, said she works in a day care center. One family recently pulled two kids out of the center because their father lost his job at Circuit City. Watt, who was born in Turkey, said she worries if that continues, the day care center will close. Her husband is a soldier serving in Afghanistan.

"Send the troops home," Mitchell-Robley chimed in. "It's too much money.''

"I'm saying that in capital letters," Ghansah said as he took notes.

Ideas generated by the group and their pictures will be posted on the Organizing for America Web site.

There will be more of these meetings, Ghansah said as the discussion ended about 10 p.m.

"We've been just trying to organize people from the grass-roots up, just like Barack Obama did in Chicago," he said.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Tampa Bay area Obama organizers collect ideas to pass on to White House 02/08/09 [Last modified: Sunday, February 8, 2009 11:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco deputies: Wife set estranged husband's bed on fire with him in it

    Crime

    NEW PORT RICHEY — James Brennan Jr. woke early in the morning Thursday to find the foot of his bed in flames.

    Eva Brennan [Photo Courtesy of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  2. 20 great images from around the globe for July 21 to July 28

    World

    Photos of the week for July 21 - July 28: A child bidding farewell to a beloved manatee, racers competing at the Brickyard 400 and the Tour de France, migrants desperately fighting for their lives in the Mediterranean and migrants tragically losing their lives in San Antonio, an athlete and an adorable little kid, a …

    Incoming White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, right, blowing a kiss after answering questions during the press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
  3. Rubio, Nelson look on as McCain delivers blow on health care

    Blogs

    Watch the dramatic moment when Sen. John McCain strides into the chamber and delivers the blow.

  4. Video: Officer told Venus Williams she caused fatal crash (w/video)

    Tennis

    FORT LAUDERDALE — Video shows a police officer told tennis start Venus Williams she likely caused a crash that fatally injured an elderly man but didn't cite her, saying it appeared the actions of a third driver left her in a bad spot.

    In this Jan. 28 file photo, Venus Williams answers questions at a press conference at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. [AP photo]
  5. Florida 'Dreamers' worry Obama-era protection will disappear

    Blogs

    Andrea Seabra imagined the worst if Donald Trump won: "I thought on the first day he would say, 'DACA is done' and send immigration officers to every house."

    Mariana Sanchez Ramirez, 23, poses on the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida.