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248 posts from May 2008

May 29, 2008

Clinton supporters to rally, Hastings won't be among them

Rep. Alcee Hastings, who filed one of the first lawsuits against the DNC for stripping the state of its delegates and has been active in negotiations between the state's congressional delegation, the national party, and the campaigns, will miss Saturday's big smackdown.

The Broward Democrat (and Hillary Clinton supporter) chairs the commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe -- also known as the Helsinki Commission -- and is overseas on an official congressional trip that wraps up Saturday in Vienna.

According to the commission, he's to attend a conference on "The Role of National Institutions against Discrimination in Combating Racism and Xenophobia." The Hill also notes the former House intelligence committee member is to meet with officials from the UN nuclear weapons watchdog to discuss the security threat posed by Iran.

Clinton supporters are expected to be out in full force at the DNC meeting, hoping to pressure committee members to give Clinton the Florida delegates she wants.

DNC preview: Wasserman Schultz v. Wexler on Hardball

Hillary Clinton supporter Debbie Wasserman Schultz takes the hard line on Hardball, saying that if the DNC on Saturday "decides to do anything less than seat our full delegation at the convention, then we are jeopardizing our opportunity to win the general election in November.

"We have very raw nerves in Florida from the recount and we can't have a repeat..." she said. Yet, asked by host Chris Matthews, whether there'd be a Dem nominee by the end of June, she said "I think we will."  (One major question is whether Clinton would appeal a (likely) DNC decision that seats just half of Florida's delegates. The appeal would be heard by the credentials committee, which meets before the late August convention.)

Obama's campaign has opposed seating Florida's full delegation, based on the results of the unsanctioned Jan. 29 primary and Boca Raton Democrat Rep. Robert Wexler, Barack Obama's Florida campaign chair, said Obama is hoping to find "consensus."

"Sen. Obama has asked that Florida be seated, we hope that the DNC on Saturday will bring this to a finality so Floridians will feel they've been heard," Wexler said.

Save Our Homes challenge gets hearing

A class action lawsuit that asks the state to throw out the Save Our Homes amendment and reimburse newcomers to Florida who have been unfairly discriminated against got its first hearing in Leon County Circuit Court Thursday.

The case, before Judge Charles Francis, brought by three recent residents to Florida, alleges that the constitutional provision to cap property assessments at 3 percent a year and the new portability provision that allows homeowners to take the savings with them when they move discriminates against newcomers to Florida.Download soh_lawsuit.pdf

Here's the lawsuit.

La vida loca!

Days before the primary in Puerto Rico, Ricky Martin has endorsed Hillary Clinton.

"These elections will have historic repercussions both in the United States and the world," the Puerto-Rican born "5-time Grammy award winning artist" said in a release sent out by the Clinton campaign.

Ricky"Senator Clinton has always been consistent in her commitment with the needs of the Latino community. Whether fighting for better education, universal health care and social well-being, as First Lady and senator from New York -- representing millions of Latinos -- she has always fought for what is most important for our families."

Obama on DNC meeting, in his own words

Barack Obama told the traveling press he expects a Democratic nominee will emerge after the last primaries Tuesday, but that Saturday's DNC meeting is "important" in that it will "put the Michigan, Florida issue behind us.

"We are only a few days away," Obama said. "We have waited this long. We can wait a while longer."

Judge strikes down 2007 Legislature's measure aimed at Miami-Dade county

The state Legislature had no authority to halt millions of dollars in payments three of Miami-Dade wealthiest cities must pay to the county each year, according to a court ruling handed down Wednesday.

In 2007 the Senate and House unanimously approved a measure sponsored by Miami Republicans Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla and Rep. Julio Robaina, banning the practice of counties charging cities for the right to incorporate. Though the law was meant to apply statewide, Miami-Dade is the only of the 67 counties imposing the stiff fees.

Annually Doral, Miami Lakes, and Palmetto Bay fork over a combined $11 million in mitigation payments to Miami-Dade for the right to incorporate. The county started charging the fees in 2000 as a way to wane the growing incorporation trend.

The three cities, who retained high-profile attorney Bruce Rogow to fight their cause, vow to appeal the decision by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Daryl E. Trawick.

''None of us have been naive enough to think this issue isn't one that's going to be decided upon by the Florida Supreme Court,'' said Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn.

For full story read here.

Wexler: Let's put McClellan under oath

Rep. Robert Wexler, the Boca Dem who has called for impeachment hearings against vice president Dick Cheney, is calling for former White House Press Secretary (and new author) Scott McClellan to appear before the House Judiciary Committee to testify about the "the devastating revelations" he makes in his new book.

McClellan's new book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" is kicking up a storm and a counterattack by the Bush administration on his charges that the administration misled the American people into war against Iraq.

"The admissions made by Scott McClellan in his new book are earth-shattering and allege facts to establish that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby – and possibly Vice President Cheney -  conspired to obstruct justice by lying about their role in the Plame Wilson matter and that the Bush Administration deliberately lied to the American people in order to take us to war in Iraq," said Wexler, a member of the judiciary committee.

McClellan, Wexler said, "must now appear before the House Judiciary Committee under oath to tell Congress and the American people how President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and White House officials deliberately orchestrated a massive propaganda campaign to sell the war in Iraq to the American people."

May 28, 2008

New South Florida corruption case

For the third time in two years, scandal has rocked Opa-locka City Hall, with the arrest Wednesday of an influential city consultant accused of demanding more than $300,000 in kickbacks from a city contractor.

Investigators say Emmanuel Nwadike, a private engineer under contract to the city, has acted as Opa-locka's chief engineer for the past six years, scoping out public-works projects, drawing up bid proposals and recommending construction firms for city jobs.

Nwadike used his position to steer about $2.4 million in city contracts to one firm, Hard J Construction, whose owner, MacDonald Jumbo, paid Nwadike about $348,000 in 2005 and 2006, according to an arrest report. More here.

Miami police chief to settle ethics case

Miami Police Chief John Timoney has reached a tentative settlement with the Florida Commission on Ethics, an agreement calling for the chief to pay a $500 fine and admit wrongdoing in connection with his 14-month extended ''test drive'' of a Lexus hybrid SUV.

The chief enjoyed free use of that vehicle -- with no insurance payments either -- courtesy of the Lexus of Kendall dealership. But Timoney never declared the SUV as a gift in required government-disclosure forms.

The proposed settlement says Timoney ''recognizes'' that he violated state disclosure laws.

Timoney's office declined comment Wednesday, saying the settlement has not yet received final approval -- which could come when the state ethics panel meets June 6.

Fidel Castro endorses Obama?

    Does former Cuban leader Fidel Castro endorse Sen. Barrack Obama for U.S. president?

   A photo-shoped image released by the Republican Party of Florida seems to promote that idea. It shows Castro, wearing an Adidas jacket and sitting on a sofa, holding up a poster of Obama toward the camera.

   "I love this guy!'' a headline above the photo reads.

  The ad copy goes on to say: "Fidel Castro Endorses Obama. He has chosen Obama as his favorte candidate...due to his willingness to visit foreign dictators without preconditions.''

    Then it calls on the three Democratic congressional challengers to take a stand: "Will Joe Garcia, Raul Martinez and Annette Tadeo finally denounce Obama's plan...?''

      Garcia, who is vying for the seat held by Republican  U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, blasted the RPF for releasing the doctored image, calling it a scare tactic aimed at elderly Cuban voters.

    "This is the Diaz-Balart-style of politics that uses the suffering of the Cuban people to avoid addressing the important issues affecting families in our community, such as the rising cost of fuel and lack of funding for schools,'' he said.