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285 posts from January 2010

January 27, 2010

Crist appoints 3 to Commission on Ethics

Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday made three appointments to the nine-member Commission on Ethics, the agency that is asking the Legislature for more authority to investigate ethical wrongdoing by public officials. 

These picks have been a long time in coming: their terms expired seven months ago, in June of 2009.

Crist reappointed Roy Rogers, 72, of Lighthouse Point and named two new members: retiree Ivan Ford, 73, of Vero Beach succeeds Linda Conahan, a lawyer from Boca Raton, and Crist replaced Larry Handfield of Miami with Susan Maurer, 53, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer. Maurer is a law partner of Tom Panza, a well- known lobbyist and Democratic fund-raiser for many years in Tallahassee.

A fourth lame-duck ethics commissioner, Albert Massey of Fort Lauderdale, remains on the panel. Massey and Michael Joblove of Cooper City bring to four the number of ethics commissioners who live in Broward, currently viewed by many as Florida's most ethically-challenged county. 

-- Steve Bousquet

Video: Marco Rubio ducks the press

Sink laments 'crisis of leadership'

CFO Alex Sink, speaking to reporters Wednesday just hours after the latest Q poll showed her trailing behind Republican rival AG Bill McCollum, said the state has a 'crisis of leadership' and too many politicians who "avoid problems, ignore problems."

"We need someone who will solve problems. I want to bring more jobs back to Floridians and I want to hold Tallahassee accountable for results."

She said as governor, she will look around the country and the world to find businesses and lure them to Florida.

"I know I can be an economic ambadassador for our state," she said. "If I can't get the job done, then someone else should come in if voters say so. But I am convinced I can get the job done."

"I am going to be relentless about looking at the way we do business," she said. "There are hundreds of millions of savings out there. Look at what I did in savings in my little department. If you give me the chance to get my hands on those 30 other agencies, just watch what I can do."

Sink, the Democrats' frontrunner for governor, opened her talk in the Capitol with a story about how she overheard a man last week at an MLK Day parade in Miami turning down a candidates' campaign sticker. I don't need another campaign sticker, he said. I need a job.

"Well I don't like stickers either," Sink said. "I was in the real world, leading a business and creating jobs. Hearing what he said summed up for me why I am running for governor: I am going to work hard every day to create jobs for Floridians."

Asked about federal health care reform, she said the rising cost of Medicaid is a major concern.

"If they expand Medicaid, they had better send more money," she said. "Because we don't have it."

Her campaign staff earlier in the day had distributed a flier criticizing McCollum's record as a Congressman. Asked about it, she acted as if she had not seen it and demurred from a direct question about what she thinks of McCollum's record.

"There is going to be a real choice in this election," she said. "The choice is a community leader who knows how to sit people down and get results, versus a career politician."

Asked about a proposal for offshore drilling, she criticized it as "near-beach drilling." "The No. 1 concern to me is that we still don't know who's behind this thing. And the first thing I learned in business is, know who you're dealing with."

Asked about McCollum's double digit lead in the Q poll: "We're 10 months out from the election. Wasn't Scott Brown 38 points behind?"

Asked about donor and admitted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein and whether she knew who she was "dealing with," she replied: "Well obviously not because he's an admitted con artist! The lesson I learned is to ask more questions."

Sink also said she would like to see a gambling compact passed that "levels the playing field" for parimutuels.

Thrasher rolls out NE Fla endorsements

State Sen. John Thrasher announced a slew of endorsements today for his campaign to be chairman of the Republican Party of Florida:

Dear John:

We have watched with great interest the progression of you chairmanship race and are encouraged by your vision for our party's future and your commitment to future unity.  You have shown that you truly are a statesman and a principled Republican that stands by the core values of our party. During your visits, you shared your ideas for change and your vision for the reemergence of the Republican Party of Florida.  Having heard your plan to help our grassroots activists and elect Republicans, we have no doubt that you are the best leader to champion our party through this critical election cycle. We proudly endorse your candidacy for Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and encourage our fellow state committee members to join us in voting for you on February 20th. Thank you for being a good Republican and for being willing to help lead our party to victory in November.


Harlon Mason, Chairman, St. Johns County

Becky Reichenberg, State Committeewoman, St. Johns County

Nancy Prizer, Chairman, Flagler County

Violet Drexler, State Committeewoman, Flagler County

CJ Thompson, State Committeeman, Baker County

Janet Adkins, State Representative District 12, State Committeewoman

Nassau CountyDoug Adkins, RPOF CD4 Chair, State Committeeman

Nassau CountyLenny Curry, Chairman, Duval County Republican Party

Cindy Graves, State Committeewoman, Duval County

Rick Hartley, State Committeeman, Duval County

Leslie Dougher, Chairman, Clay County Republican Party

Doug Conkey, State Committeeman, County Commissioner, Clay County

Debbie Ricks, State Committeewoman, Clay County

Deno Hicks, Governor's appointee

Mike Hightower, Governor's appointee

Bill McCollum's vision of a better Florida

Attorney General Bill McCollum, the leading Republican candidate for governor, offered his vision of a better state at the annual AP editors' seminar. In his familiar crisp speaking style, McCollum gave a shortened version of his stump speech, that Florida needs to broaden its tourism and ag-dominated economy and confront three issues facing the state: property insurance, property taxes and water.

He contrasted himself with Democratic rival Alex Sink, the chief financial officer, calling her a "national Democrat" who thinks it is government's responsibility to create jobs. "It's not government that creates jobs. It's the private sector," McCollum said.

Before McCollum's arrival, Sink's campaign circulated an eight-page circular criticizing his votes as a 20-year member of Congress on issues such as opposing a higher minimum wage and supporting an increased national debt. "I'm proud of my record as a Congressman," McCollum said, listing only two exceptions: he "naively" opposed a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and he backed President Reagan's increase in taxes. "I thought that was a mistake," McCollum said. "I promised myself I'd never put my finger in the wind again."      

McCollum spoke on a day when a new Quinnipiac University poll showed him with a double-digit lead over Sink. McCollum attributed the poll advantage to the work of the attorney general's office on issues such as chasing after child predators and street gangs.

--Steve Bousquet

McCollum says oil drilling could 'terrorize our beaches'

Attorney General Bill McCollum told reporters that oil drilling three to 10 miles out "is very close,'' could interfere with the tourism economy, "It would just completely terrorize our beaches.….That’s a risk I would not be willing to take.''

Video: Crist, Rubio at AP Day

Haitian, FL guests in First Lady's box at SOTU

Among the guests in First Lady Michelle Obama's box tonight at the State of the Union address: 

Ambassador Raymond Joseph -- In 1990 Raymond Joseph was called to be Haiti's Charge d'Affaires in Washington and his country's representative at the Organization of American States.  After helping with the first democratic elections in December 1990, he returned to the Haiti Observateur where he remained until he was called back to Washington in March 2004, where he is currently the Ambassador. Joseph is a graduate pastor from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, a B. A. holder in Anthropology from Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.  He also has a Master's degree in Social Anthropology/Linguistics from the University of Chicago.

Cindy Parker-Martinez (Belle Isle, FL) -- Cindy is a mother of two young children, who shared her story of the problems her family faces with the current health care system at a Health Care Community Discussion held at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, one of thousands of discussions held nationwide in December 2008.  In April 2008, Cindy, her husband, and her son were all denied insurance coverage on the individual insurance market because of pre-existing conditions. Her 11-month old daughter was also denied coverage due to an insurance company age requirement of 12 months.  Both Cindy and her husband are currently uninsured because they cannot afford the insurance offered at her husband's employer.  Although they previously paid their premium, they could not afford to keep up the monthly payments after receiving thousands of dollars in medical bills from her husbands unexpected 6-day hospital stay for pneumonia.  Their family's income is too high for them to qualify for Medicaid.  Cindy and her husband currently have no insurance and have thousands of dollars in medical debt.

Rebecca Knerr (Chantilly, VA) -- Rebecca is representing her husband, Captain II Joseph Knerr, the Task Force Leader of Fairfax County's Virginia Task Force 1 serving in Haiti.  Having worked as a Fairfax County Firefighter for 15 years, Joe currently serves as Station Commander at Fairfax Fire and Rescue Station 18.  He initially joined the USAR team in 1998 serving in a variety of operational capacities and now in leadership positions.  Joe is also involved in the coordination, teaching and training of other international rescue teams.  A former Fairfax County Firefighter and Paramedic herself, Rebecca works as an Emergency Physicians Assistant in a Northern Virginia Hospital and for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department developing and delivering emergency medical services  education to uniformed personnel.  Rebecca, 24-month-old son Jackson, and 12 week-old-daughter Grace are eager to welcome Joe home.  

Rubio swipes at Crist, ducks other ?s

Former House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio, with the mojo of a strong fundraising quarter and rising poll numbers behind him, did not shy from swiping at Gov. Charlie Crist, his opponent for the Republican primary, during a speech before reporters this morning.

Rubio, at an AP event in the Capitol, said Crist "cut the legs out from under" the GOP by endorsing President Barack Obama's federal stimulus package last year. Rubio said Crist was not informed enough about the money, and he did a disservice to the rest of the GOP's attempts to limit government.

"When Charlie Crist lined up behind the stimulus package, he cut the legs out from every other Republican who was trying to find an alternative," Rubio said.

Rubio also demurred from offering specifics on what he knew, if anything, about the $6 million for an airport hangar that has gotten his successor, former Speaker Ray Sansom, in trouble. Rubio said it is still an "active case, and I want to respect that."

"I knew what every other member of the Legislature knew, and that is what the line item in the budget said," Rubio said.

He also said the RPOF credit cards and questions of whether they should be released are "an internal party matter." But he said he is "troubled by the party and the direction it has been going."

He said Sen. John Thrasher and Sharon Day are "both qualified people" to succeed longtime RPOF chairman Jim Greer, who recently announced he is resigning.

Crist wants to lure Chicago Cubs with $15 mil

Addressing reporters and editors from around the state, Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday said he will push for legislation to give the Chicago Cubs $15 million in incentives to relocate their spring training camp from Arizona to Naples.

"Governing in times when money is not flowing is hard, but when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, and we're going,'' he said. "Most of what we will focus on this session will relate to the economy, to jobs."

Crist also conceded that his strategy for closing the state's budget hinges on federal government programs like the "Race to the Top'' initiative that could bring millions of dollars to the public schools.

Crist took a swipe at his Republican rival for the U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio, the former House Speaker who has caught up to him in the polls. "I don't have the luxury of going around the state and politicking all day,'' Crist said. "I'm going to do my job. I am the governor of Florida, and I am going to fight for the people every day.''

On his way out of the forum, thanks to some fortuitous elevator timing, Crist managed to avoid rubbing shoulders with Rubio.