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307 posts from August 2008

August 29, 2008

Court throws out Rivera's Cuba academic travel ban bill

U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Seitz has struck down Florida’s Travel Act, Miami Rep. David Rivera's bill to ban academic research in countries labeled as terrorist states including Cuba.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed the lawsuit in June 2006 challenging the ban enacted on behalf of Florida International University’s Faculty Senate and six professors at other Florida universities. The bill was passed by the 2006 legislature.

McCain calls Crist: Sorry Charlie

Gov. Charlie Crist got the call he'd been waiting for just 30 minutes ago -- from John McCain. It was what he had expected: McCain had chosen another governor to be his running mate. Crist didn't ask who it was but we all now know it's Sarah Palin, first term governor of Alaska who has been in office as long as Florida's governor had.

For what it's worth, sources say, Crist was the last of the three finalists to get the "sorry" call from dear John.

A lucky sign for Obama from South Florida?

Homemade signs are generally among the banned items at tightly orchestrated political conventions -- no off point messages, please. But a small band of self-proclaimed Cuban American Democrats managed to evade the sign police Thursday night at Barack Obama's speech and made their allegiance clear.

The four snuck in a sign reading, "Cuban American Democrats for Change," and waved it proudly. It caught the cameras several times and got up on the giant screens at Invesco Field at Mile High.

On the way to the event, "people were telling us, 'You know, they don't allow signs,' " said Arthur Costa, 49, of Miami. "But we figured we'd take a chance."

They saw several signs get confiscated, but walked out on the field with the goods.

"We just witnessed history tonight," Costa said as he rode the bus back to the Florida delegate's hotel. All four signed the sign for posterity. It'll go next to the sign Costa snuck into the convention in 2000.

August 28, 2008

Crist picks up free Miami media before getting major donor bucks

Gov. Charlie Crist made a hastily arranged stop at the National Hurricane Center in Miami-Dade to pick up a little media time before he was scheduled Thursday evening to pick up loads of cash at a Republican Party of Florida fundraiser hosted by trial lawyer Scott Rothstein in Fort Lauderdale.

Minimum contribution: $1k, $5k for the lobbyists and money men who are tapped to be on the host committee.

The reception honoring Crist is designed to get more federal money elections money, which is tougher to raise. Those who give now can have their donation docked against the RPOF Statewide Finance Committee commitment (which is just short of a gozanta-gillion dollars).

Crist spokeswoman Erin Isaac would neither confirm nor deny Crist's attendendace at the event in his honor, but said he wouldn't be in the Hamptons tomorrow for another RPOF fundraiser ($5k a head) at the home of real-estate moghul Howard Lorber in Southampton, NY. (Maybe the event was reskedded?)

Top FL Dem: Howard Dean must go

DENVER -- As he sits on a bus heading to the last night of the Democratic national convention, State Rep. Luis Garcia of Miami Beach offered four parting words: "Howard Dean must go."

Garcia, who serves as vice chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, said Dean should be stripped of his post because of the national party's crackdown on Florida and Michigan for holding early primaries. The two battleground states were shut out of the history-making campaign and nearly banned from the convention.

"What he has done to Florida, I won't forgive him for,'' Garcia said. "I take it personally. I've been telling this to everyone who will listen, and I don't think it's falling on deaf ears."

Crist: Vote for Sheriff Al Lamberti

Gov. Charlie Crist spoke at a fundraiser for Sheriff Al Lamberti at the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale today.

Crist appointed Lamberti to the sheriff's job to replace Ken Jenne last year. Lamberti, a Republican, will face North Bay Village Police Chief Scott Israel who survived a bruising Democratic primary.

Lamberti has about $400,000 in unspent donations since he didn't face a primary opponent. Israel starts with about $30,000 left in the bank.

Like Crist, Lamberti will have to fashion himself as a bipartisan politician to win. Droves of Democrats are expected to turnout to vote for Barack Obama in November and the question is whether they will automatically vote for other Democrats including Israel on the ballot.

A new poll released this week shows that Crist's popularity has faded, particularly among independents and Democrats.

Broward vote counting delays stoke Nov. 4 fears

Worry that South Florida could once again keep the nation waiting to see who captures the Oval Office resurfaced Wednesday when Broward County officials took 21 hours to count all the precincts from Tuesday's woefully light primary.

The delay not only kept three hot-button races in limbo for nearly a day, it instantly rekindled memories of 2000, when hanging chads and ballot problems in Palm Beach County kept the nation on edge in Bush v. Gore.

This November, the heavily Democratic Broward County is expected to turn out in droves for nominee Barack Obama.

''Based on what you're seeing now, it's a good bet it will take even longer to count the ballots in November,'' said County Commissioner John Rodstrom, who didn't find out until late Wednesday afternoon that he had edged Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Carlton Moore by 144 votes.

The county said the new optical scan voting equipment worked fine, blaming the delay on a breakdown in transmitting results to election headquarters.

Read more here.

Crist's "shine" is fading (but not much) in new poll

Hit by a bad economy and election-year politics, Gov. Charlie Crist's popularity is starting to fade a bit, according to a new poll.

About 57 percent of Floridians rate Crist's job performance as "excellent'' or ""good,'' the poll from Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. says. About 41 percent say he's doing a fair to poor job -- an increase of 23 percent since June 2007 when his job-approval rating was sky-high at 70 percent.

The numbers could have been slightly lower, but Crist is likely enjoying a bounce from his week of statewide news media exposure handling Tropical Storm Fay from the Keys to the Space Coast to the state capital.

The poll also shows Floridians are likely to approve a constitutional gay-marriage ban, favor offshore oil-drilling by big margins and probably won't support a so-called "tax swap'' plan that has been striken from the Nov. 4 ballot anyway.

Those survey results don't surprise Brad Coker, Mason-Dixon pollster, as much as Crist's numbers, which bring the Republican into the same strata as former Gov. Jeb Bush, whose Mason-Dixon job-approval poll average in his eight years was about 58 percent.

Crist, who fashioned himself as a more bipartisan leader than Bush, has become less popular with independents and Democrats now. But he has increased his support among Republicans, just like the more polarizing Bush.

"The shine is fading a little bit. The numbers are becoming partisan,'' Coker said. "We're getting back to Jeb Bush days. He's being viewed in a more partisan light.''

While North Floridians view him most favorably (65 percent) South Floridians are the most negative about Crist, with only 45 percent saying he's doing an excellent or good job. Not only is South Florida a liberal bastion, it was the center for cries for big property-tax cuts that Crist didn't deliver.

Carlton Moore: I'm done with the Commission

Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Carlton Moore who narrowly lost a County Commission race to John Rodstrom this week won't run for re-election for his city seat in March.

"I have no desires -- none,'' to run for the seat, Moore said before abruptly hanging up.

Earlier this year Moore submitted his resignation effective Nov. 4 so he could run for the county seat. He has served on the City Commission for about 20 years with a brief break to run for the County Commission in 2000.

Moore was viewed as an advocate for blighted neighborhoods in the northwest quadrant of the city.

Wasserman Schultz gives the South Florida 3 a giant shout-out

DENVER - Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who earned the ire of the netroots for saying earlier this year she wouldn't get involved in the three South Florida congressional races, just gave the 3 candidates an enthusiastic go-get-em from the stage.

Rallying the faithful from the stage at the Florida delegation's breakfast, Wasserman Schultz proclaimed big wins for the Democrats. "Raul Martinez is going to beat Lincoln Diaz-Balart," she said to cheers. "Joe Garcia is going to beat Mario Diaz-Balart and Annette Taddeo is going to beat Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

"We have 66 days left," Wasserman Schultz said. "Let's work our butts off."