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317 posts from May 2010

May 26, 2010

William 'Doc' Myers dies at 79

From Mike Peltier at the News Service of Florida: Sen. William “Doc” Myers, a former Republican state legislator and Hobe Sound physician who became an influential leader on children's and human service issues during his 22-year legislative career died Tuesday. He was 79.

Myers, who served in both chambers, rose to the rank of Senate Majority Leader as the chamber made the transition from Democratic to Republican control.

“He was a true champion and servant of the people,” said former Sen. Ken Pruitt, who succeeded Myers in the Senate.

Myers was elected to the House in 1978 and moved to the Senate in 1982, where he served for 18 years. Myers became a leading member on health care and human services issues.

He was named Senate Majority Leader in 1994 when Republicans took over the chamber, but he had worked across the aisle as well. He had been one of the few GOP members to chair a committee while in the minority, having headed up the Health and Rehabilitative Services Committee from 1986 to 1988.

Florida scientists working on spill say they're in the dark on how much oil is lurking beneath the surface

Reps. Kathy Castor and Cliff Stearns Wednesday convened a panel of Gulf Coast state university scientists to update congressional staffers on research efforts -- and push for more money.

"I think BP needs to step up,' Castor said as she introduced the panel of experts from Florida schools including Florida State and the University of South Florida.

The researchers, including USF's Robert Weisberg, said they're tracking surface oil from satellite images, but that it gets difficult to track once it's in the loop current -- which could bring it to Florida.

"I'm convinced there actually is oil right now, heading toward the Keys," he said. "How much, we can't tell but it's probably very little...We have very little observational information to say where it is. What I'd really like to see is more interaction between the academic community and the agencies...we need better ground truth information so we can provide forecasts of where things are going."

And he said the information on subsurface data is almost nil. "We have some (monitoring equipment) but it's really kind of paltry and funding clearly has been declining rather than increasing," he said, noting that he's only seen data from academic sources.

"Somebody needs to be making these observations," he said. "Everybody's working as hard as they can, so  maybe that's not a fair criticism, but I would like to think the EPA would be concerned about what is going on and would be ensuring that resources are being marshalled to determine where the stuff is....I'm in the dark, I don't know."

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Broward sheriff may postpone layoffs

Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti held a meeting this morning at a Pompano Beach church to discuss the layoffs and budget cuts with workers. Though layoff notices for about 120 employees -- mostly in the jail -- stated that they would lose their jobs in July, Lamberti told the crowd of more than 100 that BSO is looking into delaying the layoffs until Sept. 1, said Sgt. Tony Marciano, president of the union that represents jail workers.

In addition to the layoffs, about 250 workers in the jail are slated for demotion to technician jobs. For the workers, that translates into an annual paycut of about $10,000, Marciano said.

The layoffs are in response to a mandate from county commissioners to cut 14 percent of the general-funded portion of his budget, or about $60 million. Instead, Lamberti submitted a budget that for that portion represents about a 1 percent cut.

When Bill McCollum needs help, shadow attack groups respond

A group called Alliance for America's Future has a placed a broadcast TV buy across Florida starting tomorrow and running at least until June 2. The buy could near $1 million. The buyer placing the ads happens to be Bill McCollum's buyer as well, but the campaign declined to comment on what it knew about the ad, called "Fraud."

"We're not surprised,'' McCollum campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said. "Any number of groups and idividuals are gravely concerned about Rick Scott and the impact he would have in Florida.

One name we heard was connected to the group: Robert Coker, a U.S. Sugar Vice President. He didn't deny involvement.

“I don’t know what the mechanics are,” he said. “You’re going to have to ask someone farther up the food chain….I’ll tell you up front, we know Bill McCollum and have huge amounts of respect for him. And when he needs help, we will help him.”

Does McCollum need help?

“Anyone running for office does,” Coker said.

The same Virginia-based group has been the subject of controversy in Nevada over ads it is airing in that governor's race. In Florida, there is no prohibition against the committee coordinating with the state campaign, and unless Gov. Charlie Crist signs a sweeping and controversial elections bill (HB 131), there are no state disclosure requirements for such groups.

Jeff Greene's new campaign manager

Real estate tycoon-turned Senate candidate Jeff Greene has hired Josh Morrow, a political consultant with experience running campaigns for self-financing rich guys.

Morrow worked for Tom Knox, a self-made millionaire raised in Philadelphia's housing projects who dropped out of the Democratic race for Pennsylvania governor earlier this year. Knox invested $11 million of his own money in a failed bid for mayor in 2007 and in a settlement, admitted violating campaign finance laws in an ad attacking his opponent.

Morrow worked on that campaign and others with Joe Trippi, the mastermind of Howard Dean's presidential bid. Prior to that, he also worked in California and in Nevada, where he aided the re-election campaign of Sen. Harry Reid in 1998.

Kendrick Meek backs lifting "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio don't

With a key Senate panel poised to take up repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Kendrick Meek is using his stance in support of repeal to cast himself as the "lone progressive running against two conservatives.

"Do the governor and Speaker Rubio still stand with the far right instead of our men and women in uniform?" said Meek spokesman Adam Sharon.

Gov. Charlie Crist told reporters 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."

A spokesman for former House Speaker Marco Rubio said Rubio "supports the current policy and doesn’t see any reason for it to change.'

Meek's campaign says he's been a "longstanding cosponsor of legislation" to repeal the policy and has posted a petition on his website calling for its repeal. Bill Nelson said yesterday he'll vote to back repeal.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz sets off a round of speculation

From AP: "In politics, as elsewhere, it's a sport that's almost as popular as people-watching: Guest-list watching.

"And this week, it's the Jewish community in Washington and beyond that's buzzing over who'll be on the list when Barack and Michelle Obama host the first-ever White House reception marking Jewish Heritage Month.

"The White House won't divulge the guest list for Thursday afternoon's event in the East Room. But those with knowledge of the list say it's an eclectic and interesting one .."

Among those with invites, Broward Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who sponsored the bill that established the month.

"Listen, I've been trying to get the White House to put on this event for five years," she said.

Enviros seize on Gulf spill to push Nelson, LeMieux on climate change bill

The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund is up with an ad in 8 states, including Florida, pressing senators to back a House energy bill.

"We need Senators LeMieux and Nelson and leaders in Washington to break our country’s addiction to oil and put America back in control of its energy future," said Heather Taylor, NRDC Action Fund Director. “Americans want cleaner, safer energy sources that will create millions of American jobs, jumpstart our economy, and protect our communities and our environment."

Bill Nelson seeks to slam shut revolving door at oil agency

The Florida Democrat today said he's filing legislation to close a revolving door at the Minerals Management Service -- imposing a two-year ban on regulators going to work for outside industry.

The proposal comes in the wake of an inspector general’s report that singled out as a problem federal employees getting jobs with the companies they're supposed to be regulating. 

Nelson notes the law is similar to one imposed on U.S. senators. His proposal would also require financial disclosure for regulators and ban them from accepting gifts.

He said he offered similar legislation 2 years ago, but it met with "enormous pushback." He said it would stop "this cozy, incestous" relationship between regulators and the industry.

Jeff Greene plays the mom card

Jeff Greene, the deep-pocketed, thorn-in-side challenger to Kendrick Meek in the Democratic Senate primary, is up with two new television ads. Countering Meek's carpetbagging line of attack -- Greene has only lived in Florida full-time for the last two years -- one of the spots features his 83-year-old mother, Barbara, who has lived in West Palm Beach for decades.

The other ad features Greene's increasingly familiar slogan bashing "career politicians."  The spot with Greene and his mom is here: