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December 10, 2016

Miami-Dade Democratic committeeman resigns, making way for new party election


In a move to make way for a major donor to run for Florida Democratic Party chairman, a top Miami-Dade County Democratic Party official resigned Saturday, just four days after winning reelection.

Miami-Dade Committeeman Bret Berlin emailed Democratic Executive Committee members his resignation Saturday afternoon. The local party will now call a new election, which will allow several candidates to seek the position -- and later the state party chairmanship.

Among those candidates is expected to be Coconut Grove developer and party fundraiser Stephen Bittel, who wants to head the state party but was ineligible to run for a county party seat earlier this week. He's now eligible to vie for the vacancy left by Berlin. Candidates for state party chair must hold a position with a county party.

In his resignation, Berlin did not endorse Bittel or any other candidate. Three other Miami-Dade Democrats -- former local party chairs Annette Taddeo Goldstein and Dwight Bullard, and former state Sen. Dan Gelber -- had also expressed interest in the job. Bullard, an outgoing state senator, and Taddeo Goldstein lost their bids for Miami-Dade committeeman and vice-chair, respectively, on Tuesday.

Taddeo Goldstein will be ineligible to try to fill Berlin's post because party rules require a male Democrat to serve as committeeman. (There's also a committeewoman.) And Gelber may be uninterested in challenging Bittel, who seems to have the quiet backing of Florida's only Democrat elected statewide, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

"My service to the Party has never been about me," wrote Berlin, who's been committeeman for 12 years. "We have four capable candidates in Miami-Dade who could each do an amazing job as FDP Chair, and I will gladly work beside any one of them as they run for State Chair."

Berlin began his letter by invoking the Nov. 8 presidential election of Donald Trump. "These are frightening times," Berlin said, adding that Miami-Dade Democrats "haven't built the support network" to help their newly elected state legislators to succeed in office.

"That takes leadership. That takes vision. And how do we as Democrats respond to the call? We shoot our own," Berlin wrote.

"Two weeks ago, there were six people who indicated they were running for State Chair. FOUR of them are from Miami-Dade County. Today each of the six candidates has been rendered ineligible, blocked by their own party!!! It is time to step up."

The other two candidates Berlin referred to, activists Alan Clendenin of Tampa and Susannah Randolph of Orlando, were unable to secure party positions in their own counties.

The new Miami-Dade committeeman election will take place Dec. 20, according to Chairman Juan Cuba.

Miami Herald staff writer contributed to this report.

December 09, 2016

Sorry, Miami: Trump's victory tour heads to Orlando instead


So much for Donald Trump's triumphant return to Miami.

The president-elect's "thank you tour," which had seriously considered scheduling a stop in Miami, will be heading to Orlando instead.

Trump's transition added to the president-elect's schedule a rally for supporters in Orlando next Friday, as part of a tour that will also take him to other key states he won in the election. Trump's Miami-Dade County campaign held a thank you event for volunteers Thursday in Hialeah.

Orlando, like Miami, is close enough to Palm Beach that Trump might be able to spend the night at one of his properties -- in this case, perhaps his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Ugly rift opens among once-united Cuban Americans over push to partner with Castro regime



An alliance of powerful anti-embargo Cuban-American businessmen frayed earlier this year after its prominent chairman, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, returned from Cuba with a simple request: work more closely with Raúl Castro’s communist government.

Behind Gutierrez’s ask was an indication that the Cuban government was eager to negotiate directly with major American corporations — and less enthused by U.S. efforts to assist small-time entrepreneurs on the island.

Gutierrez’s idea riled some members of the U.S.-Cuba Business Council, a group launched last year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — a key U.S.-Cuba player — to forge economic and trade relationships between the once-estranged countries. Gutierrez’s detractors questioned the wisdom of aligning the council so firmly with the interests of the Cuban government and of big corporations — at the expense, they feared, of the Cuban people.

The tense disagreement exploded in a conference call over the summer among the council’s board members, who in some cases lashed out at each other using harsh language, several people on the call told the Miami Herald. In the end, three Cuban Americans on the board — Vice-Chairman Mike Fernández, Joe Arriola and John McIntire — quit.

“There was a big fallout,” acknowledged Arriola, the Miami-Dade County Public Health Trust chairman. “Carlos was very much into bringing businesses to partner with the Cuban government, and we were not. We decided to get out. There is nothing wrong with it — we just didn’t agree with it.”

Arriola declined to describe the contentious conference call in detail, saying only: “It was just too many Cubans together.”

More here.

Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Rubio supports proposed investigation into alleged Russian meddling in election

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio supports a call for a congressional investigation into Russian involvement in the election, his staff confirmed Friday.

Top Republicans, including Sens. John McCain and Richard Burr, have called for a "coordinated and wide-ranging probe," as the Washington Post put it. On Friday, President Obama separately instructed his administration to prepare its own report.

President-elect Donald Trump has played down Russia's involvement and his stance toward Vladimir Putin is at odds with Rubio and other Republicans.

Rubio's office did not offer new comment but referred to what he said a couple weeks ago on "Meet the Press."

"If a foreign government has been involved in injecting chaos into our democratic process, the American people deserve to know that. I've made my feelings known in the midst of the campaign," Rubio said.

He went on: "I've never said it's the Russian government, although I believe it was the work of a foreign government. I will say this. If you look at what happened during our election and the sort of things that were interjected into the election process, they are very similar to the sort of active measures that you've seen the Russians use in the past in places like Eastern Europe, to interfere with the elections of other countries. And what we mean by "interfere" is they try to undermine the credibility of the election. They try to undermine individual leaders. And they try to create chaos in the political discourse. And the fundamental argument behind it is they want people to-- they want to de-legitimize the process."

Pointedly asked if it is worthy of Congressional scrutiny, the Florida Republican said: "Absolutely."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Palm Beach Post closes down Tallahassee bureau

via @adamsmithtimes

Lousy news, via the talented John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post, which for as long as I can remember has been one of the leading sources for state government news in Florida.

"Dear Friends: The Palm Beach Post has decided to close the Tallahassee bureau. The paper’s future is local and digital, and coverage of the goings-on in the state Capitol don’t meld as well with this direction...," Kennedy wrote on FaceBook.



Trump resolves money dispute with pollster Tony Fabrizio

via @learyreports

UPDATE: "The debt was resolved earlier this week. There is no issue," Fabrizio says via text. He did not elaborate on details.


Donald Trump continues to dispute charges from Florida-based pollster Tony Fabrizio, with a new FEC report showing an unpaid amount of $766,756.

Additionally, the report filed last night shows an unpaid amount of $55,300.

The nature of the dispute is unknown. Neither Trump nor Fabrizio has commented.

"This is an administrative issue that we're resolving internally,” said senior communications adviser Jason Miller told the Washington Post in late October.

We have left a message seeking comment from Fabrizio.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush likes what he's seeing in growing Trump administration

via @learyreports

NeverTrump Jeb Bush continues to find reasons to like President-elect Donald Trump's growing administration.

"Another good pick: @AndyPuzder is a strong conservative leader and successful businessman who will do a phenomenal job as Labor Secretary," Bush wrote Thursday on Twitter.

A day earlier, Bush wrote: "General Kelly is a great choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security."

Previous compliments:

-- "Betsy DeVos is an outstanding pick for Secretary of Education. I look forward to her bold leadership at the USDOE."

-- "Great pick by the President-elect. Mauricio Claver-Carone is one of the strongest advocates for a free Cuba."

-- "President-elect Trump made a great choice in asking Mike Pompeo to lead the CIA."

-- "Congratulations on your victory @realDonaldTrump. As our President, Columba and I will pray for you in the days and months to come."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Senator wants to force Dade to elect sheriff, election supervisor


Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, is not okay with counties whose charters or laws allow them to appoint top officials.

And he's proposed five constitutional amendments requiring that sheriffs, supervisors of elections, tax collectors, property appraisers and clerks of courts must be elected in Florida.

In most of the state, these are elected positions, but several counties have laws in place to appoint constitutional officers. Most notably, Miami-Dade County has an appointed director of public safety (instead of a sheriff), supervisor of elections and tax collector.

"Consolidation of power is a problem, and that's not what the founding fathers of this country and the founding fathers of this state had in mind," Artiles said. "I truly believe that someone who's elected by the people, represents the people and answers ot the people is a better representative than someone who's appointed."

Allowing county commissions or mayors to appoint top officials, he said, creates opportunities for corruption, like a supervisor of elections helping out a mayor facing an election challenge.

Artiles filed a single constitutional amendment to make these changes as a member of the House last year. It never made it to the floor.

To pass, Artiles' proposal would need approval by three-fifths of the Senate and three-fifths of the House, as well as support from 60 percent of voters in the 2018 election. It would apply statewide.

"It works in 66 out of 67 counties," he said. "In Miami-Dade it doesn't make sense that the sheriff's office is folded into the mayor's office."

December 08, 2016

Miami City Manager almost fired -- again


The gavel slammed down on the sound block and the announcement was made: By a 3-2 vote, Miami's City Manager was fired.

Except he wasn't. Not really.

Though a majority of Miami's city commission voted to remove City Manager Daniel Alfonso Thursday, Alfonso kept his job due to a requirement that four of the five commission members must vote to fire the city manager for him to actually be pushed out.

That fact briefly escaped the commission -- Chairman Keon Hardemon initially announced that the motion to fire Alfonso had passed -- but was cleared up in short order by the city attorney.

"There is no almost-pregnant," Mayor Tomas Regalado said afterward.

Thursday's failed attempt by Commissioner Frank Carollo to fire Alfonso -- supported by Francis Suarez and Ken Russell -- was the second this year. Hardemon pushed in April to remove Alfonso after the manager fired Sandy Dorsainvil, the city's director of its Little Haiti Cultural Complex.

Commissioners also held a special hearing in September to discuss firing City Attorney Victoria Mendez.

And yet, the rocky year still pales in comparison to the turbulence of past administrations, and even the constant turnover of Regalado's first term, when city managers came and went and the mayor and commission warred with the police chief.

Suarez, who has criticized the city's "executive mayor" form of government in which both the commission and mayor can fire the manager, among other jumbled responsibilities, said he wanted to hold Alfonso accountable for a number of decisions he has found problematic. But he also worried about damaging the city's image.

"What I don't want to happen is for us to become a circus, if you understand what I'm saying," Suarez said. "The media will certainly love it ... I'm not so sure that's what's in the best interest of the residents of the city of Miami."

Carollo moved to fire Alfonso Thursday during a discussion he requested about a homicide evidence locker outside Miami's police headquarters that was allowed to deteriorate to the point that evidence was damaged. Carollo said Mendez advised him against discussing the issue in detail due to legal ramifications, but he used the issue as a jumping-off point to go after Alfonso.

Alfonso walked off the dais after the vote without answering questions. Regalado said he would have vetoed the vote had it passed.

Sen. Bill Nelson calls astronaut John Glenn "first-class gentleman"



U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, a former astronaut, spoke on the Senate floor today about the death of astronaut John Glenn today:

"John Glenn was one of the original seven astronauts of this country. All of them were characterized as having the ‘right stuff.’ And if you knew any of them, that was certainly true.

John Glenn was not only a pioneering astronaut, a great senator, he was a first-class gentleman and also he was a devoted husband and father. He leaves behind Annie, his beloved, who always stood with him as he ventured into the unknown cosmos. And it was unknown because John was the first to go into orbit as an American.

He paved the way for all the rest of us, and now at his passing, America is in the planning and the developing of the rockets that will take us, a human species, all the way to Mars. John Glenn was the pioneer. He was the one who paved the way."


Rep. Gwen Graham bids Congress farewell

via @learyreports

Rep. Gwen Graham, who decided not to run for a cond term after her district was redrawn, gave a farewell speech on the House floor. The Democrat is likely to run for governor in 2018.

She says she "never planned to follow in my father's footsteps into politics" but was dismayed by the divisiveness of politics and lack of action.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Miami-Dade GOP chairman says he's running again

Chairman Diaz serious JAI@PatriciaMazzei 

Nelson Diaz, the chairman of the Miami-Dade County Republican Party, said Thursday he's running for reelection to another two-year term.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Diaz said he's proud of how Republicans did in the Nov. 8 election but "there's some unfinished business that we need to take care of."

"We need to make sure we get a Republican governor and Cabinet back in 2018," he said. "We need to send a Republican senator to help Marco Rubio. And there are a few state House seats we need to win back in Miami, and two state Senate seats we need to defend."

In an email to party members Thursday, Diaz outlined Republicans' 2016 wins.

"Presidential years are always tougher for Republicans, but together we proved we could survive and do better than everyone expected," he wrote, adding that the local GOP's annual Lincoln Day fundraisers brought in about $200,000 each over the past two years.

Diaz, who has already served two terms, said a third term would be his last. He faces no opposition yet for the Dec. 22 election, but at least one early Donald Trump supporter, party member Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck, sounds eager to recruit a Trump loyalist for the job -- or perhaps to run himself. Diaz remained neutral in the presidential primary, though he's a friend of Rubio's.

"Miami-Dade needs a new direction," Palomares-Starbuck, who is traveling out of the country, said in a text message to the Herald. "Marco Rubio lost Miami-Dade. So did Trump."

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 300,000 in Miami-Dade, so it's unrealistic for any Republican running statewide to hold out hope for a win here.

This year, Rubio, who is from West Miami, nearly matched his level of MIami-Dade support from 2010, a year that heavily favored Republicans. He received about 45 percent support in 2010 and 43 percent support in 2016. In raw numbers, that amounted to about 200,000 more Miami-Dade votes for Rubio in 2016 than in 2010.

Photo credit: Jose A. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald

Curbelo makes National Geographic TV debut on climate change


U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami got plenty of love Wednesday night as a Republican willing to take action in Congress to combat climate change.

Curbelo was prominently featured on a "Years of Living Dangerously" episode on the National Geographic channel that featured environmental activists' efforts to get congressional action.

"Why can't there be more Republicans like this guy?" asked actor Bradley Whitford, the episode's host. He's a liberal activist best known for his role as Josh Lyman in NBC's former TV series "The West Wing," and he's praised Curbelo on national TV in the past, to promote the NatGeo series.

The episode showed, among other things, a meeting of a small "climate change" caucus in Congress -- which means other South Florida representatives got some air time, too. U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, the Democrat who created the caucus with Curbelo, got a speaking role, and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican, also appeared on screen.

Here are two clips cut by Curbelo's office. Watch the full episode (number seven) here.

FSU President John Thrasher still no fan of guns on campus

John-thrasherfrom @LloydDunk of the News Service of Florida:

In his annual "state of the university" address on Wednesday, Florida State University President John Thrasher reiterated his strong opposition to allowing guns on university and college campuses.

As a member of the Florida Senate, Thrasher helped kill a bill in 2011 that would have allowed gun owners with concealed-weapons licenses to bring their firearms to Florida's university and state-college campuses.

"I opposed it. I killed it. I have worked against it since then," Thrasher told the FSU faculty. "And you have my promise that I will work against it this year also."

The so-called "campus carry" bill, which in the past has been approved by the House, has already re-emerged as an issue for the 2017 legislative session. Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, filed a new version of the bill (HB 6005) on Wednesday.

The issue also may have more support in 2017 in the Senate, where newly elected Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, a major supporter, has been named chairman of the Judiciary Committee. That committee is where the proposal, strongly backed by Second Amendment groups, died during the 2016 session.

Thrasher, a former House speaker and Senate Rules Committee chairman, said he continues to agree with other university and college leaders, campus law enforcement officials and faculty members "that having more guns on campus does not make our campus safer."

Continue reading "FSU President John Thrasher still no fan of guns on campus" »

Stephen Bittel quietly became a Miami-Dade Democratic precinct captain this week

@PatriciaMazzei  IMG_Bittel_7_1_VT9NK7SB_L269015500

In the latest twist in the political saga over who will be the next Florida Democratic Party chief, Miami fundraiser Stephen Bittel quietly became eligible earlier this week to potentially seek the position.

Bittel was one of 131 people formally sworn in as a member of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Executive Committee late Tuesday night when the local party approved a motion to accept applications submitted during the course of the four-hour meeting. Meeting minutes list Bittel as a new DEC member in precinct 586, though he was never spotted in the room. No attendance was required.

Bittel declined to comment in any detail to the Miami Herald on Thursday.

"I hope I'll have more to say in the future," he said. "I care very deeply about the future of our community, state and country."

He wouldn't say who turned in his form. Some Democrats speculated he had funded the Pizza Hut delivery that arrived mid-meeting, after the arroz con pollo from earlier was mostly gone. ("I'm a pizzaholic," Bittel said, without confirming his involvement.)

Because Bittel's Coconut Grove precinct didn't have a captain -- most precincts are vacant -- he automatically became his precinct committeeman. (Another man from the same precinct who also became a member Tuesday hadn't signed his application, so Bittel got dibs on being named captain.)

That matters because it means Bittel is now eligible to run for a local party position next time there's an election. His allies are pushing behind the scenes for one of three Miami-Dade officers elected Tuesday to step aside precisely so that a new election is called and Bittel can run. That's the only way the wealthy developer can vie for the state party chairmanship in January.

Newly elected Miami-Dade DEC Chairman Juan Cuba -- who has said there's "zero circumstances" under which he'd step aside for Bittel to join the leadership ranks -- noted that the long list of new members also includes many former Bernie Sanders supporters and other Democrats previously uninvolved in party politics.

"We're glad to be growing the Democratic Party so quickly already," he said.

An earlier version of this post suggested new DEC members had to attend Tuesday's meeting in person to submit their applications. They did not.

Photo credit: C.W. Griffin, Miami Herald file

Debate over revision to Florida's 'stand your ground' law returns

Rob bradley@ByKristenMClark

State Sen. Rob Bradley is renewing his effort to change Florida's "stand your ground" law in a way that prosecutors have said could make it harder for them to try cases.

Bradley's legislation in the 2016 session was the subject of much debate, because critics argued it would force prosecutors to essentially try a case before it actually got to trial.

Bradley, a conservative Republican and attorney from Fleming Island, doesn't see it that way. He's on a mission to correct what he views as the Florida Supreme Court's "misinterpretation" of law when it comes to who has the responsibility in a pretrial hearing to prove whether a defendant can claim self-defense under "stand your ground."

He revived the legislation by filing a bill (SB 128) for the 2017 session on Thursday.

Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law, adopted in 2005, allows residents to use deadly force in defense of their lives or property in certain instances -- but with no obligation to flee.

In July 2015, five of seven Supreme Court justices ruled defendants who claim a stand-your-ground defense have to prove before trial why they’re entitled to that immunity.

Bradley and some other conservative lawmakers complained that the court "overreached" its powers, and they argued the law was intended so that prosecutors -- not defendants -- should bear the burden of proof at the pre-trial hearing. That means, under Bradley's proposed change, prosecutors would have to prove before trial why a defendant could not claim a stand-your-ground defense.

"The government has the burden of proof in a criminal case from the beginning of a case until the end," Bradley said in a statement Thursday. "This fundamental premise is guaranteed in our Constitution and understood intuitively by all Floridians."

In the spring, opponents of the proposal argued it would "stack the deck against justice for the dead."

Bradley's bill easily passed the Senate, but that was mostly a symbolic vote because the House bill abruptly died in committee before session even began.

One of the points of debate in the Senate was over what level of proof prosecutors would be held to at the pre-trial hearing: "beyond a reasonable doubt" or the lesser standard of "by clear and convincing evidence."

The version that passed the Senate included the compromise of "clear and convincing evidence." But Bradley's filed bill for 2017 calls for what he originally proposed: requiring prosecutors to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" -- the standard required at trial -- why a stand-your-ground defense can't be claimed.

"We have an obligation to zealously guard the protections granted us all in the Constitution," Bradley said Thursday. "It was uplifting last session to have the support of fellow conservatives around the state on this important issue."

No House companion has yet been filed for 2017. Last session's sponsor, Ocala Republican Dennis Baxley, is now in the Senate.

Image credit: Florida Channel

After missing chance to sign letter to Trump, Miami-Dade mayor says he backs DACA


Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez missed his chance to sign on to a letter from big-city mayors to President-elect Donald Trump asking him to protect President Barack Obama's program to protect young immigrants brought into the country illegally from deportation.

But the mayor, a Republican, said in a statement Thursday he backs the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and hopes it is extended until when Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform -- essentially what the mayors asked of Trump on Wednesday.

"This morning, I was briefed on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)," Gimenez's office said in a statement. "I fully support the extension of DACA until Congress can approve and our next President can sign comprehensive immigration reform which addresses the status of our Dreamers and the millions who lack legal status throughout the country. Miami-Dade County is home to thousands of young people who through no fault of their own were brought to the United States by their parents and are currently undocumented. They deserve an opportunity to achieve the American Dream. I encourage the next Congress to prioritize common sense immigration reform."

The letter to Trump was delivered by the mayor who organized it, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Gimenez would have been the only Republican on the list.

Outgoing Florida Democratic chief tackles five questions about party's future

via @adamsmithtimes

Five questions for outgoing Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant:

As you prepare to leave office after four years, what would be your advice to next chairman and other leaders in the Florida Democratic party? Put another way, if could do anything to change or reform the party in Florida to make it more effective and successful, what would you do?

My advice would be to never take your eye off of fundraising. If I could change one thing about the party it would be to modernize and streamline the bylaws and governing structure to allow more people to enter the process. I think reforming the bylaws would go a long way towards improving our inclusivity and grassroots engagement.

Is the Florida Democratic Party today stronger than it was four years ago? Eight years ago? 

Financially and organizationally we are in a much stronger position now than we were four or eight years ago. We’ve maintained a larger professional staff and managed to shatter all previous fundraising records. While building a bench isn’t a process that can be completed in one or even two terms as chair, but I’m confident the gains we’ve made will pay dividends in coming cycles. We’ve also managed to make strong inroads in Vote By Mail, data, and digital programs since 2013. The Municipal Victory Project has helped the FDP flip city council and county commissions as well as pick up seats in red areas. 

With the growing importance of independent political committees, and with money-raising largely dependent on legislative leaders, isn't the party chairman's job becoming less and less relevant? Does it even matter much who the next chairman is, so long as competent administrative staff is in place? What would you hope to see in the next chair? 

It’s certainly true that over the last 30 years the influence of parties has changed and that trend has only accelerated post-Citizens United. This isn’t a trend either state party chair can dramatically alter so the focus has to be on adapting to the new realities and figuring out how to compete for resources. The next chair must be able to manage the party, get our message out to Floridians, and successfully raise enough money to compete in as many races as possible. 

Anything you would do differently if you could or wish Clinton and other campaigns did differently?  

Obviously hindsight is 20/20 but I think we should have pushed ourselves to work harder in ex-urban and rural areas. There were certainly working class voters in ex-urban areas we could have held on to with more outreach. 

Given the continuing GOP dominance in Tallahassee government and therefore in fundraising, do you expect another tough off-year election in 2018 when virtually every statewide office will have open races? 

It remains to be seen how a backlash to Trump’s presidency could impact races down ballot. This will be the first off-year cycle with a Republican president since 2006, when Democrats won a cabinet seat and made strong gains in the legislature. I’m confident we will have some strong contenders for statewide offices in 2018.

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Republicans go on offensive against Gwen Graham



Gwen Graham hasn't officially launched a campaign for Florida governor in 2018 -- but that's not stopping the Republican Governors Association from taking a pre-emptive swipe at the outgoing Democratic congresswoman from Tallahassee.

In a statement Thursday, the RGA accused Graham of not being transparent, saying her congressional office hasn't responded to a Freedom of Information Act request made by the RGA.

However, the federal FOIA applies only to the executive branch, i.e. federal agencies. Congress, like federal courts, is exempt so Graham -- or any other member of Congress -- is under no obligation to respond to FOIA requests.

Nonetheless, RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said, "when it comes to transparency, Gwen Graham says one thing, but does another."

"Graham says she believes that Florida families deserve full transparency, but as her actions have demonstrated, she only believes in full transparency until it could impact her quest for political power," Thompson said.

Graham dismissed the RGA's criticism, saying in a statement: "We are 23 months away from the governor's election in Florida, and there will be plenty of time for the RGA to engage in this petty nonsense and partisan attacks."

Continue reading "Republicans go on offensive against Gwen Graham" »

December 07, 2016

Chicago mayor asked Miami-Dade mayor to sign DACA letter to Trump


The office of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez got a request late last week from an aide to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asking him to ink his name to a letter asking President-elect Donald Trump to protect young immigrants under President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

But Gimenez's name didn't appear on the list of mayors in the letter Emanuel handed Trump on Wednesday -- because Gimenez didn't respond to Emanuel in time.

On Friday, Gimenez asked for a policy briefing to help make up his mind on whether to sign the letter. But the briefing didn’t take place before the letter was printed and handed to Trump.

Gimenez traveled to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Monday to learn about the latest efforts to combat the Zika virus. He sat through a county commission meeting Tuesday. He flew to Washington on Wednesday to ask members of Congress for money to pay for public transportation projects.

“Mayor Gimenez supports comprehensive immigration reform,” said his spokesman, Michael Hernández.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado wasn't asked to sign the letter -- but said as soon as he learned of it Wednesday that he would, "in a heartbeat."

More here.