Dispatches

YouTube Screenshot

During the previous debate, our Dispatches from the Swing State team met an interesting character in a Key West pub -- a local server named Patti Wilde who is originally from Cincinnati and is something of a local celebrity.

Or, as she explains it, "I mean, I used to be. I've been here 30 years so they go, 'oh, Cincinnati Patti's here.' But now they don't do that anymore. They go, 'Larry!'"

"Larry" is Patti Wilde's cat -- a very large cat that sits calmly on the bar stool wherever she goes.

WLRN

Florida voters could decide the 2012 presidential election. We have more electoral votes than any other swing state. Miami Herald Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer Patrick Farrell and WLRN-Miami Herald News radio reporter Kenny Malone are on a 10-day quest to capture the faces and voices of the powerful Florida voter. Maybe it's an oyster farmer in Apalachicola, a psychic in Cassadaga, a bartender in Cedar Key, a tomato picker in Immokalee.

Join us for a discussion upon their return.

Patrick Farrell

Flagler County, where Palm Coast is located, has the highest unemployment rate in Florida. 1 in 8 workers there is without a job.

Our Dispatches from the Swing State project passed through Palm Coast yesterday and stopped at a hotdog stand where they met John Sabia.

Sabia works only for tips at Hot Diggity Dog. He’s helping out the owner who happens to be his son.

Sabia says when Palm Coast was booming, the hotdog stand had a line for hours and US1 was backed up with traffic.


But then, the collapse.

Everyone #FLDispatches talked to about oystering told us the same thing: oysters are unusually scarce this season. 32-year-old Matt Hodges has been oystering for about three years and says the problem comes from a combination of overharvesting, a long stretch of drought and then torrential fresh water from Debbie and Isaac this year. Matt and his wife Holly are one of a handful of married oystering couples who work out of the Ochlockonee Bay that splits Wakulla and Franklin Counties.

There were just over 21-hundred jobs in the agriculture and mining sector in Lee County, by the last census numbers.

Our Dispatches from the Swing State project dropped in on one of the less conventional agriculture positions at the Umbuzi experimental farm in Buckingham, Florida.

Herald photographer Patrick Farrell and I are driving around the state to cut straight to the Florida voters and issues of the 2012 presidential election.

At the Umbuzi farm, we met award-winning goat cheese maker Jim Ellis.

David Shealy makes a lot of his money off Florida’s version of Bigfoot. He sells T-shirts, bumper stickers and hot sauce out of the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters off the Tamiami Trail in Ochopee, Florida.

Known just by his first name, Antuan, the 40-year-old artist is a sculptor provocateur whose work is at times absurd (brains, pills and ashtrays) and more often profound (Holocaust memorial pieces). Antuan says that growing up in Cuba gave him political "trauma." He loves the freedom of democracy, but doesn't trust government.

Twin sisters Carrie Guise of Tampa, Fla., and Mindy Magrath of Raleigh, N.C., came to Key West to celebrate their birthday, not talk politics. But when #FLDispatches discovered the sisters had parted political paths, an impromptu debate was too good to pass up. Sisterly banter ensued and political persuasions were reassessed.

Pages