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256 posts from August 2009

August 28, 2009

Broward sheriff disputes pushing injured deputy out

Last year during the campaign, Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti had some nice photo opps with Deputy Maury Hernandez who survived a bullet to the head while on the job in 2007.

When Hernandez visited a BSO office last summer, Lamberti joked with him "ready to get working on those case files?'' the Herald reported.

But when -- or if -- Hernandez will return to work is no laughing matter now. When Hernandez met with BSO officials Aug. 5, they gave him one option: disability, said his attorney Lance Block. Hernandez has some brain damage and motor impairment but wants to return to work at BSO in some capacity. El Nuevo columnist Daniel Shoer Roth, who wrote about Hernandez on Monday, quoted Jose Pepe Lopez who said that this would not sit well with Hispanics who supported Lamberti's campaign. That led to more media coverage -- and on Friday a reponse from Lamberti.

"I would like to clear up some published reports that our agency does not want Deputy Hernandez to return to duty and we are leaning on him to retire,'' Lamberti wrote in an email to employees. "We all love and respect Maury and want what is best for him. In a recent meeting with Maury, our benefits people outlined for him the benefits of a guaranteed-for-life disability pension.''

But that's not the only option, Lamberti wrote.

"I am presenting to him and his family all the possibilities and we are not going to mandate which one he chooses.''

A BSO spokeswoman declined to elaborate. Block said Friday that BSO has not offered other ''possibilities.''

"They are playing word games,'' he said.

Meek, Rubio blast Charlie Crist's LeMieux pick

He's a Republican. The other guy's a Democrat. And both Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek are running for U.S. Senate. So is Gov. Charlie Crist. Guess what? They both bashed Crist's decision to appoint his former chief of staff, George LeMieux, to fill retiring Sen. Mel Martinez's seat until the 2010 elections.

Continue reading "Meek, Rubio blast Charlie Crist's LeMieux pick" »

Crist and LeMieux fly to Broward for event

Too bad, Judge Spencer D. Levine.

Gov. Charlie Crist had planned to attend his investiture to the Fourth District Court of Appeal at 3 p.m. but now he's got more pressing duties. He's planning to fly to Broward with George LeMieux, his newly-appointed U.S. Senator, for a celebratory trip back home to Broward.

The event is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Fort Lauderdale city commission chambers, 100 North Andrews Ave.

Welcome to Washington, Sen. LeMieux

Republican U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Miami -- who passed on Gov. Charlie Crist's offer to consider him for the Senate appointment -- said of George LeMieux: "I have known George LeMieux for many years and hold him in great respect. I look forward to welcoming him to Congress and to the Florida Congressional delegation, and to working closely with him in the critical months ahead."

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said: "There are some very important and immediate issues facing Florida, such as health care and protecting the military's testing and training ranges in the Gulf of Mexico. I intend to have a good personal and bipartisan relationship with the new senator, as I have had with Mel Martinez."

LeMieux no fave among super conservative R's

Critics -- conservatives in particular -- will no doubt have plenty of reasons why they think Gov. Charlie Crist made the wrong choice in appointing his former chief of staff to serve out the remainder of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez's term. Never elected to office. Potential conflicts of interest involving his firm and state contracts and other clients. He's negotiating the state's gambling compact (many conservatives including Crist's US Senate opponent Marco Rubio oppose gambling).

But it's some of the stances LeMieux took on gay adoption and gay benefits way back in 1998 when he ran unsuccessfully for the state House that could really rankle the conservative base.

Continue reading "LeMieux no fave among super conservative R's" »

George Lemieux named Florida's new senator

Gov. Charlie Crist entered the hushed Senate chambers of the Old Capitol at 11:36 a.m. to introduce his longtime confidante George LeMieux as Florida's new junior U.S. senator. The room erupted in a standing ovation as the pair reached the front of the room. "Are you surprised?" Crist asked as he walked past.

LeMieux replaces Mel Martinez, who is resigning with about 16 months remaining in his term. His wife Meike entered first with their three sons, Max, Taylor and Chase. The choice is not a major surprise, and it will focus new questions about LeMieux's advocacy on issues such as gambling and his law firm's legal work for the state.

The new senator said it is his love of Florida and his sons' future "that make me relish this honor and relish the work ahead."

Calling LeMieux a dedicated public servant and "a great man," Crist said: "He will serve well. He has even argued a case before the United States Supreme Court ... his public service is extraordinary."

"I'm happy for my friend and I'm extremely happy for my state," Crist said. The two men embraced as

Crist briefly paid tribute to the nine other contenders for the Senate seat. "I want to thank all the wonderful people who went through this process," Crist said. "This is a grueling thing to do."

The historic and high-ceilinged chamber was packed with Crist staff members, legislative staffers, some lobbyists and Republican Party employees, including chairman Jim Greer. 

LeMieux, a 40-year-old lawyer, served as Crist's chief of staff in his first year as governor, as chairman of his campaign for governor in 2006, and as deputy attorney general and chief of staff during the four years Crist was Florida's attorney general. The two men forged a political partnership in the late 1990s when LeMieux was chairman of the Broward County Republican Party and Crist was running for the U.S. Senate.

Crist could face criticism for appointing a political insider who has never held elective office, and a man who strongly encouraged Crist to negotiate a deal that expanded gambling on Seminole Indian reservations. As Washington insiders know, LeMieux was instrumental in Crist's decision to avoid appearing with President Bush on Election Eve 2006 in Pensacola, a decision that infuriated Bush's senior political adviser, Karl Rove.

-- Steve Bousquet

Fox dubs Lemieux 'caretaker senator', FL Chamber supports pick

Well, that didn't take long. Less than 10 minutes after Gov. Charlie Crist's press conference to announce he's appointing his former chief of staff George Lemieux to fill out the rest of Mel Martinez' U.S. Senate term, Fox News was airing a head shot of Lemieux and a brief story on the pick - calling Lemieux 'essentially a caretaker senator' who will be trusted to do Crist's work until Crist presumably gets elected to a full U.S. Senate term in 2010.

And the Florida Chamber had its statement queued up and ready. Here's what Florida Chamber CEO and  President Mark Wilson had to say:

Continue reading "Fox dubs Lemieux 'caretaker senator', FL Chamber supports pick" »

Martinez congratulates his successor

U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez isn't gushing over his successor, but maybe that's out of deference to the other people on the shortlist: "I congratulate George LeMieux for being appointed by the governor to fill the remainder of my term. George is bright, capable, and an accomplished administrator. My staff and I stand ready to ensure a smooth transition."

LeMieux is 'maestro' to both gov and lobbying clients

Gov. Charlie Crist turned to his political shadow and former chief of staff, George LeMieux, to stand in as Florida's U.S. senator until Crist can win the seat himself in the 2010 election.

The governor's office will announce the decision at 11:15 a.m. Friday in Tallahassee. Crist has said that he wanted his appointment to have some time to get ready before Congress reconvenes on Sept. 8.

Crist faced the delicate task of filling a seat he is running for himself after Sen. Mel Martinez announced three weeks ago that he was stepping down. In choosing LeMieux, Crist signaled that personal loyalty and political instincts mattered more than any potential perception of cronyism. Full story here.

Fl Dem chair calls Florida's new senator 'Charlie Crist's Crony'

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Karen Thurman wasted little time before ripping into Gov. Charlie Crist's Senate appointment:

Today, Charlie Crist decided to play political games with the public's trust by appointing George LeMieux to the U.S. Senate. This glaring example of political cronyism is the last thing Florida needed while we face these tough economic times and the Congress is tackling critical issues such as health insurance reform and global warming. In appointing LeMieux, someone who has made millions over the past several years selling access to Crist to the highest bidders among Tallahassee's special interests, Charlie Crist once again put his own political ambition above doing what is right for Florida.