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218 posts from June 2008

June 27, 2008

Veteran AARP voice, Ed Paschall, dies at 84

Ed_paschall_cropped It didn't matter how long he'd have to sit through an interminable legislative committee hearing, Ed Paschall seemed to have the patience of Job. And when he spoke, you knew it was the words of common sense and a common man. It didn't matter whether the issue was telecommunications deregulation and the impact on basic phone costs, or the price of electricity on a fixed income, legislators listened to him and -- whether they voted with him or not-- they knew he was right.

Tallahassee lost a voice with the death of Paschall, long-time citizen advocate for the AARP, on Thursday. He was 84. AARP Florida State Director, Lori Parham, said Paschall epitomized AARP’s "core value of a life of dignity and purpose in our later years."

“Ed was not only a veteran Air Force pilot but also served for many years as a pilot for the state of Florida, safely conveying Florida’s senior elected leaders on important missions through all weathers,'' she said. "He also built a successful watch business, 'Father Time.'”

Parnham said Paschall earned "the respect and attention of elected leaders, legislative and agency staff, including members of the Florida Public Service Commission.  We at AARP witnessed firsthand the impact that he had on policymaking, and it was significant." 

Broward sheriff and union may be close to a deal

The union that represents Broward sheriff's deputies will soon vote on a new contract proposal that has become an issue in the sheriff's race.

In May the Police Benevolent Association overwhelmingly rejected a contract that included three percent raises for three years. The union wanted 5 percent raises.

Sheriff Al  Lamberti said a new proposal will allow deputies to take care of their families while still meeting budget cuts in the $700 million budget. But he wouldn't reveal the proposed pay increase.

Union negotiations this week coincided with the PBA screening candidates -- including Lamberti -- for the sheriff's race. The union endorsement isn't the key to winning the race but it would give a candidate or candidates a boost. Most of the Democratic candidates vowed to give the union 5 percent raises.

The Democratic contenders are Shak Dhanji, state human relations  commissioner; Scott Israel, chief of North Bay Village; Rick Lemack, assistant city manager in Hollywood; Bruce Udolf, defense attorney and Wiley  Thompson, former chief of staff to former Sheriff Ken Jenne. Israel and Lemack are on leave from their jobs.

The winner of the Aug. 26 Democratic primary will face Lamberti, the only Republican in the race, Nov. 4.

Wasserman Schultz goes toe to toe with "Cheney's Cheney"

The Washington Post notes one of the key architects of the Bush administration's war policies -- vice president Dick Cheney's chief of staff -- had several "tense exchanges with lawmakers" including Florida's Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a member of House Judiciary subcommittee.

In a tense exchange with Wasserman Schultz, the Post writes, David Addington, dubbed "Cheney's Cheney," "asked sharply: 'Is there a question pending, ma'am?' Addington then began suggesting another line of inquiry, prompting a sharp argument. 'So I'm pretty clear on why I'm asking you the questions and which one I'm asking you,' Schultz said."

Sounds like it was quite a show.

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Wexler ventures back onto Colbert, sans prostitutes and cocaine

Rep. Robert Wexler, who wrote an entire chapter in his new book about his highly memorable 2006 appearance on Comedy Central's, The Colbert Report, gamely ventured back onto the show to hawk the book Thursday.

But Wexler this time declined to play along with host Stephen Colbert, who last time got Wexler to joke about consorting with prostitutes and using cocaine. Colbert suggested the two poke fun at Wexler's Palm Beach constituency, saying it was "safe to say that 100 percent of your constituents are asleep right now." Colbert suggests Wexler repeat after him, "You're so old you look like lizards."

But Wexler demurred, "The last time I did this, Stephen, I did not have an opponent, this time I have two opponents so I think I should be out of the repeating business," Wexler said. He also didn't bite when Colbert tried to prompt him into repeating the prostitutes and coke line. "Once is enough," Wexler said.

See the 5 minute clip here.

June 26, 2008

Diaz-Balarts, Ros-Lehtinen vote aye on a bill GOP leaders pronounce a "fake solution"

At odds over how to address rising voter anger with soaring gas prices, House Republicans have spent part of the day deriding a Democratic proposal that would require oil companies to prove they're using land they've leased - or lose the leases.

The legislation failed to pass -- but it did get the support of Miami's three Republican members of Congress, who are facing their first significant re-election bids. Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen were among just 11 Republicans who voted in favor of the bill that House Republican Whip Roy Blunt called a "sham." He said the bill had been "thoroughly discredited by independent geologists, outside experts, and even members of their own caucus."

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Arnold: We disagree on drilling but we're both tan

Seeking to embarrass potential GOP veep candidate Charlie Crist, Democrat Barack Obama's campaign jumped on remarks by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who distanced himself from Crist on offshore oil drilling at today's climate change conference in Miami.

Obama's campaign conveniently distributed Schwarzenegger's quote that "anyone who tells you this will bring down our gas prices immediately and/or anytime soon is blowing smoke." Crist and Republican presumptive nominee John McCain have said offshore oil drilling should be on the table to help resolve the gas crisis.

But just minutes before, Schwarzenegger joked about the traits he shares with Crist. Images_2

"California and Florida have so much in common,'' he said. "Of course each of the states has a governor that is nice and tan. And each state has a governor that at any given time, can go to the beach and rip off our clothes and be seen in a bathing suit. And each of the states has a governor that could run for vice president..." As the crowd reacted, the Austrian-born governor added: "I know. You're right. He's the only one that can do it. I stand to be corrected."

Update: A spokesman for Schwarzenegger's office called to say that the governor was not referring to Crist or McCain when he talked about pols "blowing smoke."

Schwarzenegger: expecting oil drilling to lower gas prices is 'blowing smoke'

Flying across the country to support the fight against global warming, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Miami Thursday praised Gov. Charlie Crist's efforts, but firmly separated himself from Crist's recent support of off-shore drilling.

"Politicians have been throwing around all kinds of ideas in response to the skyrocketing energy prices, from rethinking nuclear power to pushing biofuels and more renewables and ending the ban on off-shore drilling, and it goes on and on the list," Schwarzenegger said.

"But anyone who tells you this will bring down our gas prices immediately and/or anytime soon is blowing smoke," he said as the audience applauded. "America is so addicted to oil that it will take years to wean ourselves off from it. And to look for new ways to feed our addiction is not the answer."

The Californian's other remarks, however, were unmitigated praise for Crist. He said his Republican counterpart in Florida was "doing such an extraordinary job'' in fighting climate change.

Speaking at the closing luncheon of  Crist's second summit on climate change in Miami, Schwarzenegger listed all the elements, some serious, some not, that California and Florida shared.

With a wry smile, he said each state had a governor with a good tan and each had one who could run for vice president. Then the Austrian-born Schwarzenegger sighed and said, no, as a foreign-born citizen, he couldn't run, but Crist  "can run and I can vote for him."

Read full story here.


Quote of the day:"It is B.S."

A routine congressional meeting ended in rancor and partisan bickering today when Republicans apparently tried to bring up a bid to open the coast to offshore oil drilling.

According to Republicans, Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee "chose to dissolve" a mark up of a spending bill "while in progress - rather than be forced to vote on an amendment to unlock American energy resources for the benefit of the American people."

But that's not the way Kirstin Brost, a spokeswoman for Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wisc., the chairman of the appropriations committee, saw it. She issued a press release calling the move the "latest Republican stunt.

"It should come as no surprise to anybody that Dave Obey has no patience for B.S.," Brost wrote. She noted that Obey said the Interior Appropriations bill -- to which GOP'ers would like to attach the drilling language -- is scheduled to go before the committee July 9, "giving folks a real debate and real votes on issues in that bill.

"Today's plan by Republicans to tie the committee in knots with a series of unrelated amendments was just another political stunt, the kind the American people have come to despise," she said. "It is B.S. and Obey won't put up with it."

McCain going south of the border

In a trip that will draw interest in Florida, Republican presumptive nominee John McCain is headed to Colombia and Mexico next week.

Free trade -- a point of contention with Democrat Barack Obama, who opposes a deal with Colombia over concerns about human rights abuses -- will be a major topic of discussion. Also expect the senior senator from Arizona to highlight the fact that the junior senator from Illinois has never been to Latin America in an official capacity.

"Sen. McCain realizes how significant South America is in the long term,'' said campaign spokesman Mario Diaz.

AIPAC Insider lists Diaz-Balart as "highly vulnerable"

AIPAC's Insider, a political tipsheet for members of the pro-Israel American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, lists Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart as among the "Highly Vulnerable" in its look at House races.

The write-up notes that Diaz-Balart has not had a competitive race since winning his first term in 1992, but that this cycle "he will face a formidable challenge from former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez." The newsletter notes that Democrats believe Martinez "can chip away at Diaz-Balart's base and make this a competitive race."

It says that Diaz-Balart has "begun aggressively raising the resources necessary to defend his seat" and that national Republicans "are confident (he'll) withstand Martinez's challenge while Democrats believe they have finally found a candidate with the financial resources and community network needed to oust the eight-term incumbent.

"With both parties gearing up to compete in this district, voters in South Florida can expect a November general election much like their weather...hot!"

AIPAC spokesman Josh Block said the Insider -- which is sent to AIPAC members and doesn't appear to be available online -- is part of its outreach effort to keep its members informed. The group has no political action committee, doesn't make political contributions or endorse candidates, he said, "but of course we encourage our members to be involved politically."

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