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243 posts from November 2009

November 23, 2009

Crist: LeMieux made right call on healthcare bill

In a speech to about 300 Broward Republican activists tonight, Gov. Charlie Crist said he agreed with Sen. George LeMieux's vote Saturday to block the Democrat-backed health care legislation. Republicans failed to stop the Senate from taking up the bill for debate.

Crist said he agreed with his political appointee and former chief of staff because the bill will result in "higher taxes, higher premiums and half a trillion dollars out of Medicare."

"It seems to me we need to stop it in its tracks,'' said Crist, noting that his father and sister are doctors. "I think those in Washington who are pushing this plan almost literally down our throats don't understand how important health care is to us done the right way." 

Eggelletion denies plea deal is in works

Rumors are circulating that suspended Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, who has a hearing in federal court Wednesday, has a plea deal in the works.

"I don't know anything about that,'' he said today. "I don't know where you are getting your information from. You need to go back to your source."

When asked what he is up to these days, Eggelletion said: "I'm just trying to understand God's will for me, that's all I'm trying to do."

He said he is working with his private business but declined to be specific. The only one that is still active according to state business records is his golf foundation.

Miami McCain advisor: Palin "uninformed" on Hispanic issues

From Politico: A top adviser on Hispanic issues to John McCain’s presidential campaign said Sunday that a joint interview with McCain and Sarah Palin planned for Univision last fall had to be canceled because Palin was unprepared to discuss Latin America policy.

“She did not feel comfortable speaking about issues regarding Hispanics and Latin America,” GOP consultant Ana Navarro told Univision anchor Jorge Ramos in an interview. “Those are not topics that come up frequently in Alaska. So she asked to cancel the interview and, unfortunately, you were already there.”

SunRail nears 20-20 vote in Senate; gas taxes save rental surcharge

A special lawmaking session over high-speed and commuter rail inched closer Monday as legislative leaders and the governor said they were ready to tap surplus money discovered in the transportation budget rather than raise taxes on rental cars.

The surplus money -- about $76 million for the current and next budget years -- should be enough to help fill a hole in South Florida's Tri-Rail system.

Also Monday, opposition to Central Florida's SunRail project started to thaw in the Florida Senate, where the transit system could now be one vote shy of winning passage, according to a Herald/Times vote count.

Among the switched votes: Democratic leader Al Lawson of Tallahassee and Republican Steve Wise of Jacksonville. Newly elected Sen. John Thrasher, who was a chief lobbyist for SunRail last year, replaced SunRail opponent Jim King. And Tony Hill, D-Tallahassee, missed the vote last year but said he was "leaning toward'' voting in favor of the rail package.

Federal transportation officials have told Florida officials that the state needs to do a better job supporting Tri-Rail and SunRail to have a better chance at winning up to $2.5 billion in federal money for a high-speed rail project.

The federal government has been besieged with requests from various states for high-speed rail money. And U.S. Department of Transportation spokespeople said Florida's support for the commuter rail systems are just a "factor'' in awarding the grant, which is not "contingent'' on Tri-Rail and SunRail.

Continue reading "SunRail nears 20-20 vote in Senate; gas taxes save rental surcharge " »

Sink wants legislators to order paperless payments

 Sink goes paperless 112309Vowing to save the state $5 million, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink said Monday she's asking legislators to make it easier for her office to go paperless to collect payments from vendors. The proposed legislation would allow her to require electronic funds transfer payments, instead of paper warrants to and from vendors that do business with state government.

The change would reduce the cost per payment from $4.18 to17 cents per payment. "Save money, improve customer satisfaction, it will certainly help the environment and it will make state government a little greener,'' Sink said at her press conference Monday. 

Download CFO Sink Announces Over $1 Million in Savings with Going Green Saving Green Paperless Efforts

When does Al Jones need to move to county district?

When does Al Jones -- Gov. Charlie Crist's pick today for a Broward County Commission seat -- need to move to the district?

That could lead to a debate. Jones lives in Dania Beach which isn't in the district that spans Fort Lauderdale to Pompano Beach. Republican officials are under the impression that Jones doesn't have to move unless he wins the seat at the ballot box next year.

But County Attroney Jeffrey Newton disagrees.

"Throughout this process it has been the position of the Office of the County Attorney that the Governor should appoint an individual who resides in District 9. We believe appointing someone who resides in District 9 is consistent with the intent of the Broward County Charter, and arguably required by Article X, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. At best, we believe the Governor's appointee has thirty days within which to become a resident of District 9."

Jones would only say that he will move ''soon."

Trump hosting another fundraiser for Crist

2319376625_7c8ab3d2c0 Despite criticism that he's focused too much on fundraising and not enough on governing, Gov. Charlie Crist continues to mingle with the rich and famous. Billionaire Donald Trump is hosting a $1,000-per-person reception on Dec. 11 for Crist's Senate campaign at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.

Trump has hosted Crist before and co-hosted a reception for him in New York earlier this year.

Even more Sink-McCollum fingerpointing over Rothstein

So the Alex Sink for Governor campaign unearthed a photo of Republican opponent Bill McCollum smiling with accused Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein (more here). Now McCollum's folks have dredged up their own photo of Sink and Rothstein. Here it is.

Rra048

Neither the Sink or McCollum photos have the energy of this one featuring Charlie Crist, in which he called Rothstein "amazing." Indeed. Allegedly bilking people out of $1b is quite feat. Cristrothstein

Charlie Crist: I'm the real conservative

Sounding engaged and no longer a bit dismissive of the threat from former House Speaker Marco Rubio in the Republican U.S. Senate race**, Gov. Charlie Crist suggested the Miami Republican has escaped significant scrutiny and has been able to campaign in a vacuum. But not for long.

"What is said sometimes on the campaign trail isn't necessarily consistent with the record...I mean, he's voted for tax increases several times as speaker and as representative,'' Crist said of Rubio.

Tax increases? Well, he's right when it comes to education. Rubio voted for education budgets that failed to roll back property taxes (and thereby increased taxes). Problem for Crist: These were budgets Gov. Jeb Bush signed (he called the tax increase issue "irrelevant" or something like that). And guys like Rep. Jeff Kottkamp (Crist's Lt. Gov.) voted for them as well along with every other Republican.

Then there's the matter of Rubio's plan to swap property taxes with an increase in sales tax. Crist's administration called it a tax increase. Problem for Crist: Crist himself then backed a similar tax-swap plan proposed by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. The proposal was stricken from the 2008 ballot due to misleading wording.

"Campaigns thank God are an educational opportunity. During the course of the next nine months or so we will strive to lay out a very good education...I believe in Reagan's 11th Commandment- thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican - but I also think you need to be honest and truthful and make sure that before people go to the ballot box they have a good opportunity to be well-informed."

Crist also downplayed the likelihood of a low-turnout prmary electorate of ardent conservatives who would kick him to the curb. For one thing, several statewide Republican primaries should increase turnout, he noted, and for another, he's plenty conservative.

"It's hard to be more concervative than I am on issues - though there are different ways stylistically to communicate that - I'm pro-life, I'm pro-gun, I'm pro-family, and I''m anti tax. (Critics will note he voted against abortion restrictions as a legislator and used to call himself "pro-choice," that he supported higher cigarette taxes) I don't know what else you're supposed to be, except maybe angry too,'' Crist said, noting a Daily Kos poll that found Rubio leading among Florida Republicans who doubt President Obama was born in America.

"There are a lot of Republicans that don't have the inclination to go to executive committee meetings,'' he said. "There is wide swath of republican voters out there that don't necessarily listen to cable tv all the time."

** The blog above was cobbled from Adam Smith's post on The Buzz.

Crist chooses Dania Beach Commissioner Al Jones for county spot

Gov. Charlie Crist today appointed Dania Beach City Commissioner Al Jones to replace suspended Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion.

Crist spoke about Jones' longtime involvement as an educator, coach and public servant in Broward.

"The thing I love most about Al is his dedication,'' Crist said. "I know that he will serve with honor, distinction and integrity."

Jones vowed to run a transparent and open office. He said he will move to the district though he wasn't specific about when. He declined to discuss his views on airport expansion -- a project that many Dania Beach residents have fought.

Jones changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1998. He declined to discuss why when asked today just before he left. A year after his switch, Gov. Jeb Bush appointed him to the South Broward Hospital District board.