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248 posts from May 2008

May 31, 2008

'Proud to be an American,' not so crazy about Bush

One sign the Republican party has work to do in the Hispanic community: Country music singer Lee Greenwood got more applause than President Bush at the citizenship ceremony.

The roughly 3,000 immigrants at the Miami Beach Convention Center clapped politely when Bush, via videotape, greeted "my fellow Americans.'' But they leaped to their feet and waved miniature American flags during a music video of Greenwood's hit God Bless the USA.

"You have to respect him because he's the commander-in-chief, but I don't agree with the policies he has put in place,'' said 26-year-old Juan Salas, a Florida International University graduate from Nicaragua.

This is the ominous political climate facing the GOP in 2008, and it partly explains why the number of Hispanic Democrats recently surpassed the number of Hispanic Republicans in Florida.

Read the rest of Beth Reinhard's column here.

Florida Dems: Please count us!

A bevy of Florida Democrats will go before the national party today to plead their case for political relevancy. The meeting is also being billed as Hillary Clinton's last major stand -- though she's not expected to get all she wants.

Sen. Bill Nelson, who unsuccessfully sued the Democratic National Committee, accusing it of stripping away the voting rights of Florida Democrats, will appeal for mercy on behalf of the state party. Clinton will be represented by state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, and Barack Obama by his Florida campaign chair, Rep. Robert Wexler of Boca Raton.

At issue is an appeal authored by DNC member Jon Ausman, a Tallahassee Democrat who has asked former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez and Janee Murphy of Tampa to join him.

Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, a Clinton supporter, wants to speak but isn't on the schedule. She said she has been invited to several rallies Clinton supporters are planning in hopes of pressing committee members to seat the entire delegation.

Click brown.doc to see Brown's case and see below for what Martinez hopes to tell the committee.

Each speaker has just 15 minutes, though the committee can question them for 10 minutes after their presentation.

Continue reading "Florida Dems: Please count us! " »

May 30, 2008

Slow-newsday Charlie: Seat the delegates, Howard

Republican Gov. Charlie Crist just issued this late Friday afternoon letter to Democratic leader Howard Dean asking him to seat all Florida delegates at the Dem convention: Download dean.pdf

Thurman: We expect to get a half-loaf

Florida Democratic Party chair Karen Thurman says she believes the DNC on Saturday "will restore at least half of our delegates, which would put us on par with Florida Republicans (whose national party halved their delegation.

"I sincerely hope that this meeting brings closure to a dispute that has gone on for way too long," she said in an e-mail to Florida Democrats titled "Tomorrow is the Beginning.

"Florida is the nation's largest battleground state, and the Democratic nominee -- no matter who it is -- is going to have a strong opportunity to win here."

Continue reading "Thurman: We expect to get a half-loaf" »

Clock starts ticking for Charlie

Gov. Charlie Crist was sent the $66.2 billion state budget on Friday afternoon, officially starting the clock for Crist, who has 15 days to sign the budget and use his line-item veto power to slash individual spending items.

Florida TaxWatch recommended that Crist veto $110 million worth of questionable projects inserted into the budget by powerful lawmakers.

Rep. David Rivera, a Miami-Dade Republican who got a few of his hometown projects funded, said the governor should realize that many of the projects are important to constituents.

"All the community projects are important to Floridians across the state,'' said Rivera, who said he and other Floridians "disagree" with TaxWatch's assessment.

Clinton camp: Sit 'em all and don't give any Michigan delegates to Obama

The Democratic party was widely believed this week to have shut the door on Hillary Clinton's chances of counting every Florida and Michigan vote. But don't tell the Clinton campaign.

It maintained in a conference call and in a legal memo that the party's rules committee has the authority to restore "all the delegates from Florida and Michigan with full votes." Not just half the delegations.

Still, Clinton advisor Harold Ickes, who sits on the committee, wouldn't say how far the campaign is prepared to go (to the convention?) if it doesn't get the full slate.

"We think it not useful to cross streets before we come to them," he said.

Read the full argument Download clinton.pdf .

Florida TaxWatch: Floridians will be shocked at how much pork is in budget

Florida TaxWatch this morning released its turkey list this morning and the total comes to $110.5 million. A turkey is the Tallahassee parlance for budget pork that bypasses normal budgeting procedures.

Some of the projects that the group is asking Gov.Charlie Crist to veto include $12 million to help with a new airport in Panama City, $840,000 for the cultural festival in Miami known as Exponica International, and $1.5 million for a reclaimed water project in Doral.

The head of Florida TaxWatch said that many Floridians would be "shocked" to know that lawmakers had authorized so much questionable spending in one of the state's worst ever budget years. He also said that the GOP-controlled Legislature did not do a very thoughtful job in delving deeper into state agency budgets. Dominic Calabro, president of the organization, questioned how legislators could justify setting aside millions to build a new university campus in Lakeland while cutting funding for higher education programs overall.

"It's an arcane system of budgeting,'' said Calabro. "It is out of step with how Floridians live their lives."

May 29, 2008

I'll take your Ricky and raise you a George Lopez! And a Jessica Alba!

Not to be outdone by Hillary Clinton's campaign touting its pre-Puerto Rico primary endorsement by Ricky Martin, Barack Obama supporters released a video today made by a bevy of Latin musicians and celebs, including Alejandro Sanz, Don Omar, Paulina Rubio, John Leguizamo, Kate del Castillo, Jessica Alba, George Lopez, Voltio and CuCu Diamentes.

"Obama es Mr. Futuro," Rubio says in the "Podemos con Obama" video that music producer Andres Levin says was inspired by his previous work with will.i.am on the viral web video "We are the Ones."

Check it out here.

And here's the will.i.am one.

The DNC lineup: Nelson, Wexler, Martinez, et al

The line-up for Saturday's hotly-anticipated DNC smackdown is out: In this corner, representing Barack Obama's campaign, Boca Dem. Rep. Robert Wexler. For Hillary Clinton, Tampa state Sen. Arthenia Joyner. For the state Democratic party, Sen. Bill Nelson. And for DNC member Jon Ausman, who filed the appeal the DNC will take up, its Ausman, along with Clinton supporter and former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez and Janee Murphy, an Obama supporter from Tampa.

Wexler, a prominent advocate for counting all the votes in 2000 and Obama's Florida campaign chairman, said he talked with Obama about making the campaign's case when the candidate was in Florida last week.

"The importance of seating the Florida delegation at the convention was absolutely a topic of discussion," Wexler said. "Senator Obama is unequivocal in his commitment to have Florida's delegation represented."

Obama's campaign said earlier this week that he's willing to give Clinton an edge in delegates if it means resolving the situation.

Clinton, however, wants all the delegates to be seated - based on the Jan. 20 primary that she won, though both candidates had agreed not to campaign in the state.

Jews for McCain

For the second time in as many months, Republican presidential candidate John McCain is attending a "pro-Israel'' fundraiser in South Florida.

The $1,000-per-person luncheon is scheduled for June 6 at Jungle Island (formerly Parrot Jungle) in Miami.

The day before, McCain will be collecting checks at the St. Regis Fort Lauderdale Resort. The Florida swing next week will also include a visit to Orlando.