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317 posts from May 2010

May 27, 2010

Charlie Crist changes his tune on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Gov. Charlie Crist said Thursday he'd likely support repealing the policy that bars openly gay people from serving in the military -- reversing what he told reporters three days ago.

In a statement from his campaign, Crist said he'd "be inclined'' to support a Senate compromise. That deal lifts the ban, but only after the Pentagon completes a study and the president and Pentagon brass certify that the change won't hurt the military.

"Ultimately, as in all military matters I defer to the Pentagon and to the generals and what the Senate is doing today is giving them the ultimate authority to do what is best for our military," Crist said.

Crist told reporters in Tallahassee on Monday that "I think the current policy has worked pretty well for America. I really do. So I don't know why there's any need for change at this time."

With polls showing Crist popular with some Democrats, Democrat Kendrick Meek had been using his longtime support for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'' to cast himself as the "true progressive" in the race. Republican Marco Rubio opposes lifting the ban. A press release from his campaign charges Crist with changing positions "in just three days."

In poll, Libertarian candidate a non-factor; Crist takes solid lead

Alexander Snitker, the unknown Libertarian candidate in the crowded Florida U.S. Senate race, breathlessly released an internal poll Thursday showing him at 2.5 percent. His numbers are hardly worth noting -- he's likely in the margin of error. (Not to mention, the polling company, Telsel in St. Augustine, run by Ira Bellas, is an unknown quantity and didn't release the margin of error, as is typical practice.)

But the more interesting figures: Gov. Charlie Crist boasts solid lead -- 40 percent to 32 percent -- over GOP rival Marco Rubio. (Crist's lead is slightly less among likely voters, 40 percent to 33.5 percent.) Democrat Kendrick Meek can't break 10 percent. (See the full release below.)

Another curious note, when voters know Snitker, he appears to take the largest chunk from Meek, though the margin of error in this question is likely too high to draw conclusions.

Continue reading "In poll, Libertarian candidate a non-factor; Crist takes solid lead" »

GOP TV war approaches $13 million

The latest round of television advertisements from Rick Scott pushes the total spent in GOP governor's race media war to $12.7 million.

By far, the Naples businessman's spending on TV and radio ads far outpaces his competitor, Attorney General Bill McCollum. His sixth major buy (running May 28 through June 6 and totaling $2.9 million) puts his total spent to date at $10.9 million.

The new attack group against Scott, Alliance for America's Future, spent another $906,000 to air its TV ad from May 27 to June 2.

And McCollum's campaign, put $804,000 into the game after debuting with a Jeb Bush endorsement spot.

Continue reading "GOP TV war approaches $13 million" »

Ron Klein: Dangerous hurricane season predicted, what's the oil spill effect?

Federal officials and scientists predict a "busy and dangerous hurricane season, with the potential to be one of the most active seasons on record," the Boca Democrat's office said.

Klein, who recently joined a NOAA research mission flying over the oil spill, said he questioned what
impact a major storm would have on the oil spill, and if it would carry the black tar to the South Florida coast.

"In addition to the risks we face every year from major storms, this year, we also have to contend with the massive oil spill in the Gulf," Klein said. "The data we collected on a research mission flying over the spill clearly indicates that massive amounts of oil could be lurking under the surface of the water. My nightmare scenario is for a major hurricane to churn up that underwater oil and bring it to the coast of South Florida.'

Klein said he urged NOAA "to use every single available resource to monitor and track this spill both above and below the surface. The only way South Florida can be prepared is if we know when, where and how much oil we’re really dealing with, not by relying on a pathetically low estimate provided by BP."

Bob Parks leaving Broward School Board

Bob Parks, the longest-serving member of the Broward School Board, said Wednesday he is dropping out of his reelection race.

His departure marks the end of an era in Broward: Parks has been in his Northeast Broward seat for 24 years. Last month, Parks drew his first challenger in more than a decade in teacher Nora Rupert of Coconut Creek.

Last week, board members agreed to name a second high school athletic facility after Parks. But the vote was not unanimous, and some Coconut Creek parents have been upset that Parks supported a move last year that changed attendance boundaries in his district and in Stephanie Kraft's Northwest Broward district. Kraft is also not seeking reelection.

More candidates could still jump in the race: qualifying does not end until next month.

Why Rush Limbaugh might be right on 'Obama’s Katrina'

It seemed the Deepwater Horizon had barely sunk when the right-vocateur Rush Limbaugh pounced and pronounced the Gulf oil spill was “Obama’s Katrina.” So what that BP is the “responsible party” for cleanup under federal law? So what that the government doesn’t have the leak-stopping know-how and equipment? So what that the death toll was vastly different?

All that aside, Limbaugh will start looking more right than wrong if the disaster continues much longer.

The lesson of Katrina: When the responsible party repeatedly fails to act responsibly, then those who are truly responsible have a responsibility to act.

The clear failure of President Bush’s administration in handling Katrina was that it allowed Louisiana and the City of New Orleans to fail. Local governments are the primary (responsible) parties in a disaster. But with the city and state’s failure to properly evacuate the flood-prone city, the locals were anything but responsible. There’s a reason New Orleans was nicknamed the City that Care Forgot years ago (remember, too, the Army Corps’ failure to heed repeated warnings that the flood-control system would fail within its stated capacity).

Today, BP looks anything but responsible. Two Sundays ago, 60 Minutes made a strong case that the accident was caused, in large part, by BP's reckless disregarded for a number of precautions in its lust for oil. After the Deepwater Horizon sank, BP suggested there was no leak. Then it was 1,000 barrels a day. Oops. Make that 5,000 barrels/day. Oops. We don’t know how many barrels. We don’t need to know. Oops. We actually do need to know. We’ll stop the leak by putting a dome on it. Oops. That didn’t work. Then we’ll try a top hat (what happened to that?). Then we’ll stick a tube in the leaky pipe. Oops. That didn’t seem to do much.

Throughout, the Obama Administration and everyone has called BP the "responsible party."

Allegedly, the “top-kill” procedure might’ve worked this morning. Too late, though, for many in Louisiana, where the feds’ heckuva-job-ism has echoes of Katrina. Two weeks ago, at a town hall meeting in the fishing village of Dulac, U.S. Coast Guard Commander Ben Cooper told the people whose livelihoods, culture and environment faced extinction to not worry so much.

Continue reading "Why Rush Limbaugh might be right on 'Obama’s Katrina'" »

Geller calls Gunzburger 'hyprocrite' in his new ad

Steve Geller has fired back at opponent County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger with a new ad "Shame on Sue."

"How do you spell hyprocrite?" asks a female voice as the word hypocrite is typed across the screen. "Gunzburger. Sue Gunzburger. Gunzburger had the gall to attack Steve Geller for earning a living in the private sector while Sue and her family made millions from Broward taxpayers. Sue's son, daughter and son-in-law got government jobs and their family business received millions in county contracts. The Gunzburger family: making millions from us."

The ad refers to a company founded by Gunzburger's late husband, Gerry Gunzburger, who ran Better Than Wood, a plastic lumber company. The products from the company were used for walkways in parks in Broward.

Gunzburger's son Ron Gunzburger sent a response from the campaign last night defending his father's company. The company was the low bidder and awarded its first contract from Broward County before his mother was elected and that after she was elected she received an opinion from the Ethics Commission stating that the company could bid on county projects but she couldn't vote on them.

"As a Commissioner, Sue NEVER -- repeat NEVER -- voted on any BTW contracts," states the press release.

The ad was Geller's counterattack to a recent ad made by Gunzburger's crew attacking Geller for working as a lobbyist.

Geller, who retired as a state legislator due to term limits, had asked Gunzburger to agree to avoid attack ads and focus on their own records, but she rejected his offer. The brawl between the two Democrats for the seat representing southeast Broward including Hollywood will continue throughout the summer.

100 tar balls on Pensacola beach; not yet linked to BP spill

From the Pensacola News Journal: Although about 100 suspected tar balls picked up on Pensacola Beach on Wednesday have not been linked to the oil spill, they have been sent to a lab for analysis.

A shoreline cleanup assessment team retrieved the material, and it likely will take a week to get the results.

The tar ball finds were part of an oil spill update county officials provided to Santa Rosa Island Authority board members Wednesday evening.

If any of these tar balls or the roughly 100 collected on Perdido Key over the weekend are associated with the BP spill, it's the first evidence the oil spill has reached Northwest Florida shores, said Keith Wilkins, Escambia County deputy bureau chief for neighborhood and community services.

President Obama to announce oil drilling plans scrapped, delayed

President Obama at a news conference today will discuss the findings of a 30-day safety review on offshore drilling.

According to an administration official he'll announce standards "to strengthen oversight of the industry and enhance safety." He'll also announce that a moratorium on permits to drill new deepwater wells will continue for a period of six months.

"In addition, the planned exploration off the coast of Alaska in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas will be delayed pending the (presidential) commission's review and the August lease sale in the Western Gulf will be cancelled. The lease sale off the coast of Virginia will also be cancelled due to environmental concerns and concerns raised by the Defense Department."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar briefed Obama and senior advisors on the report Wednesday night in the Oval Office.

May 26, 2010

Bill Nelson renews his call for military intervention in the Gulf; George LeMieux blasts BP and the administration

Bill Nelson on CNN today said he's "prayerfully hopeful" that the latest BP effort to cap the leak works, but suggested if it doesn't  "then the president ought to turn this over to the military.

"It has the command structure to bring in all the civilian agencies," Nelson said. We did this before when there was so much oil around after the first Gulf War, including 4 inches of oil on top of the Persian Gulf for thousands of square miles. It's time now. You have got to have BP's cooperation, because they have got the technical instruments, but, you know, we have got to have somebody take charge. And I think the U.S. military is best suited to do that."

His Republican counterpart, George LeMieux, said he's disappointed BP hasn't responded to his requests to set up a better system of paying state and local spill prevention and mitigation costs. He also sent off a flurry of letters to federal agencies "to answer a series of questions about the lack of coordination to contain the spill.

"We need the spill capped and we need a proactive action plan on how to handle this spill and compensate the victims of its effects. To date, there is no visible or effective plan in place," he said.

Continue reading "Bill Nelson renews his call for military intervention in the Gulf; George LeMieux blasts BP and the administration" »