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108 posts from February 2007

February 27, 2007

Presidential props for the Heat

  President Bush and nearly the entire Florida congressional delegation squeezed into the East Room at the White House today to cheer the championship Miami Heat.

  Bush gave the team the presidential seal of approval for its first NBA championship, despite the fact, as he noted, "you beat a Texas team.

"I can assure you, however, then Governor Bush, the Governor of Florida, was thrilled, as were a lot of Florida fans," said Bush, noting he was joined by Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, along with Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Alcee Hastings, Robert Wexler, Ander Crenshaw, Jeff Miller, Kendrick Meek, Ron Klein and Tim Mahoney.

"These players did something that they weren't supposed to do," Bush said. ‘‘Remember, they went into the Eastern Conference championship as the underdog...They weren't supposed to win. And they did something no team has done in nearly 30 years, which is win four straight, and become the NBA champs. And your fans are really proud of you."

The full remarks and a video of the event are here:http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/02/20070227-7.html

Gelber questions Rubio's "trickle down economics"

House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber on Tuesday afternoon openly questioned the economic impacts of the ambitious plan by House Republicans to overhaul Florida's property tax system. House Speaker Marco Rubio has trumpeted the plan _ which could replace some property taxes with a 2.5 cents hike in the sales tax _ as a way to put billions back into people's pockets.

But jumping on Rubio's assertion a day earlier that the working class live off the "leftover money" of others, Gelber told members of the Miami Herald editorial board that he thought that "trickle down economics" had pretty much been shown not to work. He said he questioned the wisdom of giving a huge tax break to the likes of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh _ who last year paid more than $429,000 in property taxes on his $35 million home in Palm Beach County. Gelber said he didn't believe Limbaugh would turn around and send all that money back into the economy.

"We are relying on Rush Limbaugh to hire a lot more people to work around the house,'' Gelber said.

But Rubio _ who also met Thursday with the Miami Herald _ contended that "the status quo is hurting" all types of people, including people who can't afford to buy their home and are currently renting. He insisted getting rid of property taxes for homestead property and forcing local governments to lower spending will help everyone. "Just because you don't get the bill doesn't mean you aren't getting charged,'' said Rubio.

Candidate in trouble for TV ad

In a case that could spark additional complaints in the future, the Florida Elections Commission has found probable cause that Jay Beskin, a former Aventura City Commissioner, broke the law last fall when he challenged incumbent Sally Heyman for a spot on the Miami-Dade County Commission. He could face a fine up to $1,000 if the charge is ultimately upheld.

Beskin's alleged campaign violation? Failing to include closed captioning on his 30-second television ads, and then failing to file a statement that explained why his ads did not include closed captioning. Who pointed out that Beskin's ads couldn't be understood by the hearing impaired? Well, that would be Heyman herself.

Mark Herron, a Tallahassee lawyer who handles election law cases, said this was the first time he had ever heard of anyone getting charged with breaking the law regarding closed-caption ads because the law allows people to waive the requirement by filing a form. Even the company that did the ads for Beskin said that most campaign ads they did during the 2006 campaign season did not include closed captioning. And it turns out that Beskin's campaign consultant noticed that the ads did not have closed captioning and had the original ads replaced with ones that did five days after the first ad ran.

Heating up the capitol city

Miami's basketball champs are all over Washington, D.C. today. The Miami Heat were to be feted by President Bush at the White House this afternoon, and Alonzo Mourning, a member of the 2006 NBA championship team, is heading to the Hill tonight to join legislators and kidney care advocates in support of new kidney care policy.

Mourning, a kidney transplant recipient, will join Kidney Care Partners - an alliance of patient advocates and care providers - to introduce the Kidney Care Quality and Education Act, which would establish patient education and disease management programs.

The team plays the Washington Wizards Wednesday night.

See you in court, Gov. Crist

The New York Post reports today that alleged victims of a multi-million dollar swindle by Lou Pearlman are suing Gov. Charlie Crist. The victims' lawyer, James Lowy, is accusing Crist of taking illegal campaign contributions from Pearlman even as he was supposed to be investigating him as attorney general.

A copy of the lawsuit was not immediately available.

Read the story here.

Cabinet names Bustle as new highway head

Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet today named Electra Bustle, assistant commissioner at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to be the new head of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Bustle replaces Fred Dickinson, the long-time chief of the department who resigned two weeks ago. Bustle was formerly chief of FDLE's missing child clearinghouse, the sex offender registry and was instrumental in the implementation of the child protections required under the Jessica Lundsford Act. She previously served as general counsel, captain and major at the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and also worked at DHSMV 10 years ago.

The Cabinet and an audience of Bustle's co-workers from law enforcement gave her a standing ovation.

"Wow,'' Bustle said. "Together, we will be looking for ways to better serve citizens...I look forward to hitting the ground running and getting started March 7.''


Surprise guests at Miami-Dade Dem meeting: elected officials

Last night's meeting of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party was unusual. Elected officials showed up.

Among the more than two dozen pols: State Reps. Luis Garcia and Yolly Roberson, North Miami Vice Mayor Jacques Despinosse, South Miami Mayor Horace Feliu, Miami Lakes Councilman Richard Pulido, Palmetto Bay Vice Mayor Linda Robinson, North Miami Bay Village Mayor Joe Geller and Miami Beach Commissioner Richard Steinberg.

Steinberg is running for the Florida House seat to be vacated by Dan Gelber in 2008. Geller is thinking about it.

To read the story about the party's election of a new chairman, Joe Garcia, click here.

February 26, 2007

New Highway Safety director up for vote Tuesday

Gov. Charlie Crist will ask Tuesday morning that his fellow members of the Florida Cabinet vote to name Electra Bustle, assistant commissioner at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to replace Fred Dickinson, the long-time chief of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Dickinson announced two weeks ago that he was stepping down from the agency that he has led since 1992. Since the agency reports to both the governor and Cabinet, the selection of Bustle must be approved by Cabinet members as well.

Rubio: working-class lives off "leftover money"

House Speaker Marco Rubio, who has three houses and makes $300,000 from a law firm, appeared on Jim DeFede's radio show this morning as a self-described "working class"  fulfillment of the American Dream, which will be more attainable through his tax plan to limit government spending and eliminate property taxes on homesteaded land in favor of hiking the sales tax by 2.5 cents per dollar.

The following comment from Rubio bothered some listeners who thought the Coral Gables Republican was being a bit elitist:

"I think I can speak as an authority on this because not only am I working class but, quite frankly, I was raised in a working class-family my entire life. My dad was a bartender. My mom was a casino maid. I was raised on other people’s leftover money. That’s how I look at it, ok. They spent their money they spent it in the places where my parents worked. And I’m telling you that this property tax cut will create $6 billion in disposable income. And what that means in real terms is that people who now mow their own lawns will hire someone to do it. And that helps the working class. People who now maintain their own pools, will hire someone to do it. People who now go do their own nails once a month will go do it once a week. And that helps the working class. Disposable income is what the working class lives off of. The working class are not doctors; they’re not lawyers; they’re not law professors; they’re not businesses; they’re not any of the CEOs of companies. They depend on other people’s leftover money. That’s what the working class lives off of. And the more disposable income there (is), the faster the working class can join, can grow into the ranks of homeownership, can send their kids to college, etc. I know. I was raised on disposable income."

One stop in the pre-session fundraising spree

It's the week before the annual legislation session which means: money, money, money!

State lawmakers aren't allowed to collect checks during the 60-day session that begins Tuesday, March 6. So they'll be busy before then.

Republican House leaders representing Broward County -- Majority Whip Ellyn Bogdanoff, Deputy Majority Leader Adam Hasner and Rules Chairman David Rivera are inviting check-bearers to a reception Thursday evening at the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.