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234 posts from February 2009

February 25, 2009

Crist 'impressed' with Obama's speech

No wonder the Republican party didn't pick Gov. Charlie Crist to give the counterpoint to President Barack Obama's speech to Congress last night. "I thought the president did a great job,'' Crist said in Miami before his seventh visit in recent weeks to an unemployment agency. "I enjoyed the speech."

Asked to comment on the remarks made by the guy who was picked, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who opposes the president's economic recovery plan, Crist said, "I think it's important that you realize we're not a monolithic party....I know it's right for Florida. That's why I support it."

He added: "I think the Florida way is a good model for the country. A lot of Democrats, Republicans and independents want to give this administration the best shot to succeed, and certainly that's where my heart is.''

As for the president's plan to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, Crist said, "It's a good first step....what I want to make sure is that it takes care of people who deserve to be taken care of, and I think that's the president's intent."

One more thing: The Obama administration isn't ready to move on a national catastrophic insurance fund, which Crist wants in the event of a devastating hurricane. Crist said, "I talked to (Treasury) Secretary Geithner about whether they could help us with the insurance issue as a backup, and it looks like there's a possibility for that...We remain hopeful there but no conclusions yet."

Fort Lauderdale candidate says opponent is a fraidy cat

Fort Lauderdale City Commission candidate Pamela Adams is ticked off by what she says is a lack of participation by her opponent in voter forums since the primary.

Adams says that Bobby DuBose was a no-show at a business forum this morning. And she says she received an email today from Broward Votes -- a group comprised of several minority organizations -- that it was cancelling a debate because DuBose couldn't commit to a time.

DuBose will attend a forum sponsored by the Council of Fort Lauderdale Civic Associations at City Hall at 7 p.m. Thursday. Adams says she is skipping that forum to attend a homeowners association meeting in her district.

"I need to be where the voters are,'' she said.

Adams needs the forums to get her message across. She jumped into the race much later than DuBose, has slightly less money and fewer endorsements from elected officials. But Adams, the candidate with a master's degree, says she's the better public speaker and it's time for DuBose to show up.

"It's a shame that any candidate would not want to be heard by people on what his position on the issues confronting the district are,'' she said. "I think that he doesn't want to be held accountable for his lack of experience and inability to deal with the serious issues that are confronting the district and the city. That may sound harsh but that's what I think.''

DuBose said he participated in forums just weeks ago before the Feb. 10 primary.

"My opponent is criticizing me,'' he said, with a dollop of sarcasm. "Wow. That's a surprise.''


Miccosukees: House bill tramples our rights

The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians has written to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congress to oppose the federal spending bill the House is now taking up, saying it will "add another sad chapter to the lamentable history of mistreatment and exploitation of American Indians and to reach a landmark in irresponsible spending."

The tribe says the bill contains a provision that seeks to exempt the Army Corps of Engineers from 'all laws' that protect the Everglades -- including the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Seiler to ECOs: Cough it up!

An electioneering communication group is playing a key role in a competitive City Commission race in Fort Lauderdale. The Integrity Counts Committee has distributed ads critizing Commissioner Christine  Teel who is in a fierce battle against former police chief Bruce Roberts.

The ads -- one of which features Teel's head sticking through a slice of baloney -- try to challenge Teel's claim of being a fiscal conservative by emphasizing increases in the city's budget. The ads are insulting mudslinging or comical criticism, depending upon whom you ask.

But what's really upset city officials is that it's impossible to tell who is paying for the ads. The group is chaired by political consultant Russ Oster. City officials sent Oster a letter saying he missed deadlines to report donations. But Oster says he doesn't have to comply with the city's schedule -- only state law. And state law lets him off the hook too -- the state isn't enforcing the rules for ECOs for now due to a federal court injunction.

Oster says there is a way the city could work around that by passing an ordinance related to ECOs. That's something mayor elect Jack Seiler, who takes office March 17, says he will seek in his first year in office. Seiler said he wants to force ECOs to report contributions within five days of receiving them.

"I don't think we can completely restrict this activity but I do think we can regulate the activity to the point where it becomes unattractive to influence the outcome of elections,'' Seiler said.

Ritter says 'done deal' if Crist runs for Senate

Broward County Mayor Stacy Ritter, a leading supporter of Barack Obama, seems to have lost some of that Democratic hope. The Hill reports that she said on her radio show that if Republican Gov. Charlie Crist runs for the U.S. Senate, "it's a done deal. Crist takes that Senate seat."

The Hill's story on the Crist effect on the Senate race is here.

A bad night for Jindal is a good night for Crist

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, is only 37 years old and in his first term, and it showed last night in his goofy, unpersuasive delivery of the Republican response to President Barack Obama's speech.

Granted, it was a tough pitch to make, coming right after the first joint address to Congress by a history-making president who gave a well-received speech. Jindal didn't seem to know what tone to take and looked nervous and immature. His speech was panned by Democrats and Republicans alike.

That's cause for smirking for supporters of Gov. Charlie Crist, who is at odds with Jindal on Obama's economic stimulus plan and could compete against him in the 2012 presidential primary.

Donna Shalala's "Survivor" moment

Attorney General Eric Holder got the duty last night -- serving as the "designated survivor" or Cabinet member who stays in an undisclosed location for the president's speech to Congress, in case of a catastrophic event.

It was UM president Donna Shalala's turn in 1996, writes the Washington Post. The then-Health and Human Services Secretary "decided to camp out at the White House with her senior staff while President Bill Clinton was on Capitol Hill.

" 'Some people have gotten on airplanes and gone places, but I didn't want to spend any money, so I just ordered pizza and went to the Roosevelt Room,'  she said. Shalala admitted that she briefly checked in on the Oval Office and sat at the presidential desk."

President Bush joins Jeb Bush's speakers bureau

The NY Post reports that former President Bush will give a "series of speeches starting next month across the US and Canada -- where he will discuss 'the challenges facing the world in the 21st century,' according to organizers of one event where the former commander-in-chief will speak."

Bush has signed up with the Washington Speakers Bureau which represents former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

February 24, 2009

Miami banker gets standing ovation from Congress

President Barack Obama sought to wrap up his first speech to a joint session of Congress on an inspirational note with resonance in Miami:

"But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places; that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of ordinary Americans who are anything but ordinary.

"I think of Leonard Abess, a bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn't tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, 'I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. It didn't feel right getting the money myself.' "

The chamber rose to its feet in applause. Abess gave Obama a thumbs up.

Greer walks a fine line

Here's yet another moment when the Republican governor's support for the Democratic president's economic stimulus plan puts the GOP in an awkward spot. How does the Republican Party of Florida respond to President Barack Obama's economy-focused address to a joint session of Congress?


Chairman Jim Greer says: "Republicans in Florida and across the nation have long stood for lower taxes on families and businesses and smarter government spending. We continue to support those principles.
However, the world's economy faces unprecedented challenges and we all agree that we cannot sit idly by and do nothing. We understand that our country must come together to get our economy back on track, help homeowners, and get Americans back to work, but we caution against burdening our children and grandchildren with an insurmountable debt..."

"The Republican Party of Florida has and will continue to fully support Governor Crist in his efforts to ensure that Florida receives its full share and is able to use any federal economic stimulus dollars coming to our state to benefit all Floridians. That is why it is time to put political rhetoric aside and get down to the business of helping Florida and her families and small businesses first. We need innovative, bold ideas NOT pork barrel spending. We look forward to hearing the details of the administration's plan and ensuring that is has mechanism for preventing irresponsible spending."