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. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii

    Military

    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville

    Blogs

    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that "both sides” bear blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry

    Military

    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.