« December 2009 | Main | February 2010 »

285 posts from January 2010

January 27, 2010

Sink victory: Florida orange juice in the Capitol

Florida OJ

A week ago, CFO Alex Sink's office learned the Capitol cafeteria didn't serve 100% Florida orange juice. It prompted a call to lobbyist and restaurateur Jeff Sharkey, the operator. Such a situation is blasphemy in the Capitol, where the official state beverage is emblazoned in the rotunda. But lo and behold, Naked Politics saw this new notice (above) the other day. We can imagine this victory for Sink will appear on a campaign Web site soon.

Fresen, Rivera, Roberson bound for Haiti

Miami representatives Erik Fresen, David Rivera and Yolly Roberson are heading to Haiti this morning on a one-day mission to deliver medical supplies and a $45,000 check to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. The donations were collected by the ACE Foundation, a nonprofit charter-school support group that Fresen chairs.

Poll: McCollum, oil drilling in. Haitian TPS, ObamaCare out

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has jumped to a 10 percentage point lead over state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in the race for governor, according to Quinnipiac University's latest Florida poll measuring the issues of the day in the state.

McCollum trounces his Republican rival, Lakeland Sen. Paula Dockery, but his 41-31 percent lead against Sink isn't that commanding with 25 percent of the electorate undecided.

“Attorney General Bill McCollum has moved out to a double-digit lead in the race for Governor.  He’s beating CFO Alex Sink among independents and doing better among Democrats than Ms. Sink is doing among Republicans,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.  “But McCollum shouldn’t start picking out draperies for the governor’s office.  Certainly part of his lead is due to being somewhat better known than Ms. Sink – although neither one is a household name in the state."

Also, expect Democrats to question whether the poll oversampled Republicans. Even if the poll did, though, independent voters appear to be trending Republican.

By a 49-42 percent margin, voters also said they favor McCollum's threat to challenge the health-insurance plans initially pushed by President Barack Obama. They oppose the plan 57-32.

Voters by a 50-46 percent spread also oppose another Obama administration initiative -- granting temporary protective status for 18 months to Haitians who were illegally living in the United States prior to the earthquake in Haiti. By a 51-43 percent margin, they say current immigration laws should by enforced rather than waived. And they're almost evenly split, 47-48, on whether the nation should increase the number of legal immigrants in the United States.

Support is strong for oil drilling generally, the poll found. But while Florida voters favor drilling in federal waters, they oppose by a 53-39 percent drilling within five miles of the coast.

Download 012710 FL GOV + BP

January 26, 2010

State report: Peterman should repay taxpayers

A highly critical state report released Tuesday night finds Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Frank Peterman ran up $25,000 in questionable travel and should reimburse taxpayers for those expenses.

The report by Gov. Charlie Crist's chief inspector general, Melinda Miguel, concludes that Peterman's frequent flights from Tallahassee to Tampa were not adequately documented and the lack of paperwork and corroborating testimony "does not support his statement" that the travel was necessary.

"Evidence does not dispel the appearance that Peterman's travel to and from the St. Petersburg area was for his own convenience," the report says.

Peterman, 47, said in a brief interview that he will reimburse the state for all questionable travel.

Read more from Steve Bousquet and Lee Logan here.

Ds and Rs want to replace H.S. FCAT with end-year exams

The days of using the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test as a high school exit exam might soon become history.

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is pressing ahead with a plan to replace the high school-level FCAT with end-of-course exams, beginning next year with math.

The science and reading exams would follow, with the goal of making a complete transition within four years. The House and Senate education committees are preparing to jointly roll out the legislation next month.

Democrats have already unveiled their own version of the idea in both chambers.

Read more on the proposal.

Broward Commissioner Wasserman-Rubin under investigation

Broward County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin is under investigation by Broward prosecutors who have revealed few details.

Ron Ishoy, spokesman for Broward State Attorney Mike Satz, wrote today in an email that he could "confirm that we are continuing our ongoing investigation into the business dealings of Commissioner Wasserman-Rubin and that subpoenas have been issued in the investigation." Ishoy declined to provide other details.

Wasserman-Rubin said she was unaware of any investigation and has not hired an attorney. In 2007, Wasserman-Rubin agreed to pay $15,000 to the state Ethics Commission for voting on a grant application her husband Richard Rubin had written for Southwest Ranches. It's unclear if prosecutors are investigating that matter or something separate.

"I have no knowledge that there was an investigation against the two of us," she said. "I don't know what they are looking for."

Wasserman-Rubin, a Southwest Ranches Democrat, currently faces no opponent in August for what would be her last term. She has raised about $158,000.

Keith Poliakoff, attorney for the town of Southwest Ranches, said that Becker & Poliakoff law firm and the town have not received any subpoenas related to Wasserman-Rubin.


Haridopolos as U.S. Senate race pundit

Haridop We wondered what was up with this little nugget that came to us today via e-mail from Patrick Flanary of "The Publicity Agency, A Selig Multimedia, Inc. Company" in Tampa:

Let me know if we can line you up with Sen. Mike Haridopolos, the incoming Fla. Senate president, regarding the dead heat between Rubio and Crist.  Haridopolos can articulately speak on strengths/weaknesses of both candidates, and has not endorsed either of them.

So we called Haridopolos, and while he stressed that his goal is "not to be Mr. P.R.," he is in fact using the Tampa agency (which his doctor wife, an MSNBC regular, uses) to handle any future punditry requests. MSNBC? Fox News? CNN?

"I'm putting it out there as me being a person who knows them both well, and I'm one of those who hasn't taken sides," he said. "I thought, at the end of the (fundraising) quarter, would be a good time to talk about this. It's always good to bring attention to Florida."

Continue reading "Haridopolos as U.S. Senate race pundit" »

Sink opens "CFO Depot"

Sink saves paperclips

Democrat Alex Sink reinforced her business acumen and title as the paper-clip-saving queen Tuesday as she announced the creation of "CFO Depot."

It's a continuation of Sink's effort last year to find ways to reduce costs by actually counting paper clips. Her staff spent untold hours determining the Department of Financial Services has 537 pounds of paper clips, 37,601 binder clips and 17,425 pens.

In all seriousness, though, Sink's office said her various initiatives to cut the number of cell phones, use of office paper and office supplies will save about $1.4 million a year.

Sink, who is running for governor, wants to put a moratorium on purchasing more office supplies through July. So her staff developed a Craigslist-styled internal Web site where employees can swap office supplies when they need them. ("Just don't take my stapler.") Her office is calling on all state agencies to take similar steps, which she estimates could save $14 million a year. Dominic M. Calabro, the president of Florida TaxWatch, called this a "bold and aggressive" move.

Her aides also used the new Transparency Florida Web site to find the state spent nearly $47 million on office supplies in the last fiscal year. Apparently the "easy button" is very fun to press.

Meek: Don't touch class size amendment

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, father of the 2002 class size amendment, has this to say about leading Republicans' planned attempt to change (he says "undermine") the amendment that requires smaller classes:

“In 2002, a broad coalition of Florida parents, teachers and students spoke loud and clear and asked their elected leaders to place the interests of our children first. Eight years later, Tallahassee officials have not relented in trying to water down hard-fought class size limits while refusing to tackle the special interest bidding that is alive and well in the state capital. 

Continue reading "Meek: Don't touch class size amendment" »

Complaint against PSC's Edgar raises allegations of perjury

In a letter to Ethics Commission Director Phil Claypool, the author of the complaint against Public Service Commission Lisa Edgar details the timeline of events and raises questions about whether she told investigators the truth.

Edgar argued that she had not violate state ethics laws when her aide, Roberta Bass, transmitted a message from and Florida Power & Light attorney Ken Hoffman in the midst of a case because the issue did not related to the matter before them. But Doc Tomkiel reviewed the timeline and produced this summary. "This raises the inference of possible perjury by Edgar and Bass and tampering with evidence to conceal whatever was discussed in the email sent at 9:48 AM,'' he wrote.

Claypool is investigating and would not comment on the allegations. Edgar did not respond to requests for comment. Here's Tomkiel's email:

Continue reading "Complaint against PSC's Edgar raises allegations of perjury" »