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217 posts from September 2009

September 29, 2009

Crist, McCollum delay Sink's bid for bigger SBA

CFO Alex Sink speaks with urgency about her desire to expand and better train the board that oversees Florida's pension fund, but the governor and the attorney general running against Sink for governor opted this morning for a slower, more measured approach.

The tussle at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting offered a glimpse of the unfolding 2010 race for governor, which will play out most visibly on the Cabinet dais, where Sink and attorney General Bill McCollum will debate and vote on myriad issues over the next year.

"I'm of the adage that if it ain't broke don't fix it," McCollum said of Sink's proposal. "Our SBA governance might be different from some other states, but it doesn't mean it's broken."

Sink, the former (Democrat) Bank of America executive running against (Republican) McCollum for governor, wanted the Cabinet to recommend that the Legislature expand the board of trustees of the State Board of Administration by at least two people. The SBA board now consists of just three of the four Cabinet members: Sink, McCollum and Gov. Charlie Crist.

Sink's proposal would add at least one person with financial expertise, and one person who participates in the pension fund. Also, all trustees would get financial training, and there would be regular external audits of the pension's management and performance.

"Right now we have a board with three people, none of whom are required to have financial experience," Sink said. "That might have been good for 1885, but it's not good for the 21st century. If we have a board managing a $110-billion investment fund, it just seems to me the board should have some kind of training and knowledge."

Sink sought a vote on her proposed recommendation Tuesday, but McCollum and Crist agreed to wait until December's Cabinet meeting for a recommendation from SBA director Ash Williams and the SBA advisory group. McCollum questioned whether the Legislature even has the power to change the SBA structure without a constitutional amendment.

Continue reading "Crist, McCollum delay Sink's bid for bigger SBA " »

Col. Julie Jones named Highway Safety chief

The Cabinet just named Col. Julie Jones, chief of law enforcement for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, to lead the Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles -- one of the state's largest and most high-profile agencies.

"These are dedicated individuals, this is a good agency," Jones said of DHSMV. "I really appreciate this."

Jones, 52, will replace Electra Bustle, who earlier this month announced her plans to resign the post for a job in the private sector. Bustle has not disclosed where she will work, saying she wants to wait until she officially ends her tenure at the DHSMV.

She originally planned to leave the DHSMV Sept. 15 but agreed to stay an extra two weeks because only one person -- Bustle's chief of staff Larry Ringers, former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp -- had applied for the job overseeing 4,500 employees and a budget of nearly $400 million.

Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson lauded Jones, saying she has long had a stellar reputation.

"I want to commend her for the outstanding service she has already given to the state of Florida, and I hope it continues to take you to great places," Bronson said.

Nelson wakes from summertime nap

Sen. Bill Nelson was so silent on healthcare this summer that activists from his own party rallied outside his offices and public appearances. At one overheated rally, an activist was knocked to the ground. Still, the always-cautious Nelson had more to say about pythons than public options as the debate raged on.

But the senator has been more outspoken in recent weeks, stepping into the role of a champion of Medicare recipients eager to duke it out with the insurance companies. Story about his entry into the healthcare debate is here. Nelson's column today in USA Today is here.

September 28, 2009

Crist revises schedule to interview PSC candidate before fundraiser

Gov. Charlie Crist just revised his very empty governor's schedule today to squeeze in an interview with Benjamin (Steve) Stevens, the chief financial officer for the Escambia County sheriff, who is on the short list sent to him for Public Service Commissioner. Crist has until Oct. 3 to make a decision on which of the six candidates to choose to fill two open posts.

It's also a convenient diversion. The interview will be at the Courtyard Marriott at 5 p.m. Central Time and, just down the road, is a fundraiser at 5:30 hosted by several Santa Rosa County big wigs at the golf course and beach club.

Here's the rest of the governor's schedule for today:

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Two more file for seats of suspended Broward politicians

One more person has applied for suspended Broward School Board member Beverly Gallagher's seat and another for suspended Broward County Commissioner Joe Eggelletion's seat after the two politicians were arrested last week by federal agents in a corruption sting.

Art Kennedy, a black Republican and chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, threw his name in the hat Monday to replace Eggelletion.

Patricia Good, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran against Gallagher in 2004, filed to replace Gallagher on the School Board.

For those keeping score, that's three applicants for each seat. Two had filed for each seat as of Monday morning.

Crist hits the a.m. news circuit

Gov. Charlie Crist has lined up a series of early-morning TV appearances to discuss health care and the economy, starting at 7:30 a.m. on CNN, then Fox & Friends at 7:50 a.m., and ending with Morning Joe at 8:15 a.m., according to the RPOF.

Cabinet starts at 9 a.m.

Amid racist flier inquiry, Morgan ponders trial bar lobby exit

John Morgan, trial lawyer bigwig of Morgan & Morgan fame, is real close to quitting the Florida Justice Association (the lobby group for Florida trial lawyers) because of its admitted involvement in the recent distribution of a racially charged campaign flier.

But after urging from Morgan & Morgan attorney and black caucus member Rep. Darryl Rouson, Morgan told the Times/Herald he has agreed to hold off his decision until the conclusion of an investigation being conducted by former Supreme Court justice Gerald Kogan.

"The key for me is, did anyone in our organization see that piece before it went out? If they did they should have been raising holy hell, they should have called a press conference to denounce it," Morgan said. "I want to know, did someone in our organization, in the fever to win, give up all that we stand for and all of our principles?"

Continue reading "Amid racist flier inquiry, Morgan ponders trial bar lobby exit" »

Sink pushes her plan to fix felons' rights bungle

CFO Alex Sink, having failed to convince her fellow Cabinet and Clemency Board members last week to immediately revoke the rights of 13 ex-felons whose civil privileges apparently never should have been restored, is pressing on.

In a letter sent today to Gov. Charlie Crist, Sink asks him to convene an emergency meeting of the clemency board during tomorrow morning's Cabinet meeting so that "corrective proposals" can be considered.

"She is just continuing to reiterate her call for timely action on this matter," said spokeswoman Kyra Jennings.

In her letter, Sink divides the 13 cases into four categories and recommends how they be dealt with. For the five cases involving ex-offenders who owe restitution as part of their sentence, Sink wants them to be given 60 days to pay what they owe so that they maintain their civil rights. Anyone who fails to pay would have their rights rescineded.

"She recognizes the difference between someone who just owes restitution and someone who had a disqualifying offense, and her proposal takes that into account," Jennings said.

Read it here: Download Clemency Audit 092809

Applications start coming in for Gallagher, Eggelletion seats

As of Monday morning, two people had applied for suspended Broward School Board member Beverly Gallagher's seat and two for suspended Broward County Commissioner Joe Eggelletion's seat.

Gallagher and Eggelletion were arrested last Wednesday -- along with former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman -- as part of a wide-ranging federal corruption probe. Gov. Charlie Crist promptly suspended the two sitting officials and must now appoint someone to fill in their posts.

Seeking Gallagher's seat: Carmen L. Zaldivar and Joel L. Smith.

Zaldivar, a pharmacist who lives in Miramar, has been a parent activist at Silver Lakes Elementary, Glades Middle and Everglades High, according to the questionnaire she submitted to Crist's office. The Republican mother of three has a child with autism and has volunteered with autism-related groups.

Smith, a Democrat who lives in Pembroke Pines, is the former director of dropout prevention and alternative education for the Broward school district. He lost his job in a district reorganization earlier this year after 20 years with Broward schools.

Tim Smith and Allen B. Jackson have applied to Crist's office for Eggelletion's seat representing District 9, which is overwhelmingly black and Democratic. Republicans want Crist to appoint a Republican to the all-Democratic commission.

Smith, a former Fort Lauderdale city commissioner, is white and a Democrat. Jackson, who is an African-American Democrat, lost races against Eggelletion in 2004 and 2004 2008. He is senior pastor of Living Word Community Church and lives in Fort Lauderdale.

Several other Republicans and Democrats have expressed an interest in the seat, though have not filed for consideration yet.

Wish Bill Nelson Happy Birthday! And send $$

"Wish Bill A Happy Birthday," urges his wife, Grace Cavert Nelson, in an e-mail.

"It seems impossible that a year has gone by since I last wrote to you asking you to send Bill a greeting for his birthday," the e-mail says. "But the time is upon us again. Tomorrow is Bill’s birthday and the plan is to give him as many signed cards as possible. Your good wishes and support last year meant a lot to Bill and our family. So today, please join me in wishing Bill a happy birthday by signing his card."

"P.S.," the e-mail continues, after a tribute to Nelson's "vision and integrity": "Tomorrow is not only Bill's birthday, but also the day before the end-of-quarter fundraising deadline. Please consider making a contribution to our campaign before this important deadline."

He turns 67 on Tuesday. Nelson isn't up for re-election until 2012, but he's already hit the $1 million fundraising mark as Republicans have suggested he's in their sights, amid some Democratic grumbling that Nelson needed to step up his efforts on health care reform.