Mitch Perry Report 1.29.14 - The tragic death of a St. Pete political activist

If you care to hear what some local lawmakers and hopeful lawmakers (like David Jolly & Alex) are saying about President Obama's State of the Union address, click here.

The big news as far as I'm concerned today is the death of St. Petersburg political activist Paula Witthaus, who according to St. Petersburg Police, was "brutally attacked" and killed along with her 67-year-old roommate on 17th Avenue North yesterday. As of this morning, police have not reported the cause of their deaths. They also report that the motive for the murder is unclear and there are "no identifiable suspects at this time."

I met Paula less than a year ago and featured her in a story about the state's failure to expand Medicaid coverage. She became the public face of health care reform, talking about how her late boyfriend John Byers might have been able to survive if he had been able to get Medicaid coverage.

But I would see her a lot in 2013, certainly during rallies for health care, but also for other progressive causes. And I know she was doing some volunteer work with the League of Women Voters in St. Pete, because she was pretty ubiquitous at the various city council and mayoral forums in the 'Burg as well. I'm sure she was active in other things, too, things that I'm not really aware of.

I know she appreciated the story we reported on her, and she always made me feel good whenever I saw her. It is simply horrific what happened to her, and she will be deeply missed by the community.

In other developments: During the President's speech last night of course he mentioned the federal legislation that would hike the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Among those who would benefit would be fast food workers. CL's Kimberly Defalco covered a protest by fast-food workers late last year, and has a follow-up to that story.

Soon the Rick Scott administration will be sending new lists of alleged non-U.S. Citizens to the 67 Supervisors of Elections to purge from the voting rolls. But Democrats and Latino activists have some serious concerns about that.

And if you didn't already know that a certain number of Democrats have apparently given up on the Obama White House, over 100 people showed up in St. Petersburg Monday night to rally for Hillary Clinton, who is still probably a long way away from even deciding if she wants to run for president — in 2.5 years!


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