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237 posts from March 2008

March 27, 2008

Nelson likes voting reforms, wants more

Nelson U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson addressed the Florida Senate Thursday morning. His message: America needs more voting reforms.

He lamented the fact that Florida's Jan. 29 primary - in which a record 3.6 million residents voted - is not being counted in choosing a Democratic presidential nominee.

"For me, it's fairly simple: It's a case of fundamental rights versus party rules," Nelson said. "This election has provided further evidence that our system is broken."

But he praised Florida's Legislature and Gov. Charlie Crist for helping push voting reforms, including doing away with touch-screen voting machines. Nelson asked lawmakers to support his movement to eliminate the Electoral College and require voting machines that produce paper-trail receipts.

"What I stand on is the principle that every citizen has an equal right to vote," he said. "I want to give citizens the direct power to elect the president."

March 26, 2008

Clinton man in Miami lashes out at Pelosi

Miami businessman Chris Korge is among 20 Hillary Clinton fundraisers who signed off on a tough letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that assailed her anti-Clinton perspective on superdelegates.

The Clinton campaign has argued that the roughly 800 members of Congress and the Democratic National Committee are free to make an "independent" choice at the convention. Pelosi, who is officially neutral in the race, has endorsed the position taken by Barack Obama that the superdelegates should rally behind the candidate -- currently him -- who has earned more "pledged" delegates in caucuses and primaries.

The letter obtained by Talking Points Memo is here.

It's not a Clinton rally but it sure feels like one

Hillary Clinton supporters are organizing a rally "to make our primary votes count" at 2 p.m. Friday at the South County Civic Center in Delray Beach.

Clinton, as anyone who's not living in the Everglades knows, has been calling for her victory in the state's Jan. 29 primary to count toward her delegate total. Her campaign portrays a noble crusade for voting rights, while rival Barack Obama has denounced her efforts as a political tactic aimed at boosting her delegate count.

"Please, no candidate's pins, t-shirts signs or other materials,'' says an e-mail promoting the rally. "This isn't about any one campaign -- it's about all of us and our right to have our votes count."

Obama admits to knowing someone in Florida

Democrat Barack Obama, who hasn't ventured south of Georgia in months, has tapped Frank Sanchez of Tampa as the campaign's National Chair of Latino and Hispanic Fundraising.

Sánchez is a longtime Obama supporter, though he served as former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Transportation under Bill Clinton.

Gonzalez sickened by newspaper's "diagnosis"

Eddy_gonzalez Rep. Eduardo "Eddy" Gonzalez, a Hialeah Republican, didn't take a recent dose of criticism dished by the Palm Beach Post editorial board too well. Gonzalez shot back at the Post today, over a March 23 editorial called "Diagnosis:Panderitis" where the paper criticized Gonzalez's Practice of Medicine Bill . Also dubbed by some the "Fidel Castro Scholarship Fund bill", Gonzalez's measure seeks to ban licensing doctors who were trained in Cuba. Cuban exiles would be exempt from the measure.

In a letter to Post editors Gonzalez wrote;

"I was elected to represent my constituents who, unlike your editorial board, do not take communism, tyranny, and legalized discrimination lightly, since many of them have suffered its effects firsthand."

The second term legislator, a former Hialeah City councilman, also noted;

"Contrary to myths promulgated by duplicitous American film directors who attack the very system that grants them their lives of privilege and luxury, ordinary Cuban citizens do not have access to their own beaches, their own hotels (which are all government owned), or uncensored information, among other things.  Specifically on the issue of health care, ordinary citizens are relegated to sub par, archaic, and quite frankly, abusive conditions in absolute squalor, while high-level government officials, communist party elites, and hard currency-paying foreigners are treated to proper care in state-of-the-art facilities.  This Cuban version of "free" health care is nothing more than health care apartheid, and I believe that those who selfishly turn a blind eye to such human and civil rights abuses do not possess the basic judgment and character required for the ethical practice of medicine in Florida.

For the complete letter download the link below:
Download response_to_diagnosis_panderitis_sunday_march_23_2008_palm_beach_post.EML.htm

Senate is tapping into Chiles endowment

Following the lead of Gov. Charlie Crist, the initial health care budget of the Florida Senate calls for tapping into the Lawton Chiles Endowment, the $2 billion reserve account that was set up in 1999 with proceeds from the landmark settlement between the state and the nation's tobacco companies.

But while Crist used $400 million from the endowment as an effort to shield his health care budget from large-scale cuts, the Senate instead is relying on $159 million to help pay for some construction projects and keep intact a couple of Medicaid programs until Nov. 1, when the programs will then be cut.

Tax panel passes carve out protection for religious institutions

Florida’s powerful tax panel Wednesday voted 17-7 to ask voters to strike a provision from the state Constitution that bans state money from being spent on religious institutions and replaces it with new protections that prohibit anyone from being barred from participating in public programs because of religion.

The Taxation and Budget Reform Commission agreed to put the measure on the ballot, persuaded by arguments that hundreds of state programs from from religious schools that offer pre-kindergarten programs to Baptist hospitals to Catholic universities to church drug-treatment centers.

"Because of millions of dollars of public programs are at risk, we have to take action,'' said Patricia Levesque, the sponsor of the amendment. Her proposal, she said, "strikes the discriminatory language in the Constitution and replaces it with one sentence.'' Read story here.

Here's the proposal: Download levesque_no_aid.pdf

Guns at work bill passes with no debate

While 42 lawmakers voted against the legislation, no one debated against a House measure that being pushed by the NRA that would prohibit businesses from taking action against employees who bring guns to work, provided the guns are kept out of sight in the employees car.

The vote was not a strict party-line vote as five Republicans, including Rep. J.C. Planas from Westchester voted no. Four Democrats - including Rep. Ron Saunders from Key West - voted in favor of the bill. Newly elected Rep. Tony Sasso was also one of the Democrats who voted yes.

'Bodies' bill paves way for museum exhibits

BodiesThose controversial museum exhibits that showcase preserved, dead bodies in various positions -- kicking a soccer ball, playing a piano, exposing a black smoker's lung -- got a boost Wednesday in the form of a bill moving through the state Senate.

Sen. Victor Crist, a Tampa Republican, breezed his "Conveyance of Bodies" bill past the Health Regulation committee. Up next: A vote in the full Senate.

The story behind the bill goes something like this:

There is a state anatomical board that approves and regulates the distribution of cadavers for medical schools throughout Florida. In 2005, the board voted against allowing Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry to display preserved bodies for an exhibit.

The museum, bucking the board's vote, went ahead with the wildly popular exhibit, which broke attendance records.

Now, Crist's bill would allow accredited Florida museums to bring preserved bodies into the state for such exhibits, without the need of approval from the anatomical board. Museums would only need to give the board 30 days' notice and say how long the bodies will be on display.

The health committee passed the bill unanimously Wednesday without discussion or argument -- a good sign it has a chance of making it through the full Legislature in the next few weeks.

McCain's "Service to America tour" comes to Florida

Republican presidential contender John McCain is headed to Florida next month in a campaign swing heavy on the red, white and blue bunting.

The April 2-3 tour is aimed at highlighting McCain's record of military and public service for service. McCain is slated to be in Pensacola, where he did his flight training, and in Jacksonville, where he lived after he returned from Vietnam.