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195 posts from November 2010

November 22, 2010

Miami-Dade lawmakers promise unity

Dade delegation In a ceremonial swearing-in of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation Monday morning, three Republican state senators promised the often-divided group would stick together during tight budget times in Tallahassee. 

"As a team we can accomplish so very much for Miami-Dade County," said state Sen. Anitere Flores, who organized the event at Florida International University. 

"For the first time in a long time, there will be unity, tranquility," added state Sen. Rene Garcia.

And from state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla: "We are going to be known in Tallahassee by our diligence, our work ethic, our unity."

Flores, who works at FIU, said it was the first time state lawmakers held a local ceremony, a symbolic gesture that showed the change of guard in a delegation full of freshmen that has long been known for its internal feuding factions. The event drew a who's who of South Florida officials, including Republican Congressman-elect David Rivera, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez and Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, among others.

FIU President Mark Rosenberg welcomed everyone to the ceremony and urged lawmakers to remember their constituents, particularly in public education, and to use their strength in numbers to fight perceived anti-South Florida sentiment in Tallahassee. "I would like to remind them to do your duty," he told them. "While we think that the bottom of the peninsula is the center of Florida...most elsewhere find it hard to remember who we are."

November 19, 2010

Debbie Wasserman Schultz skipped for leadership post

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was in the running to serve as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but lost out to New York Dem Steve Israel.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the move today: "Congressman Israel knows how to win in tough districts. He replaced a formidable Republican incumbent in 2000 and has worked every day since then to strengthen Democrats across the country," Pelosi said.

Dems had said Israel, a close ally of Pelosi's, had been considered the frontrunner for the job, which entails helping Democrats defend their seats -- and try to pick up a few more in 2012, after a battery of losses this year.

Rick Scott announces inaugural committee

Gov.-elect Rick Scott today formally announced the $25,000 contribution cap on donations and weekly contribution reporting on his web site, which we told you about earlier in the week.

Scott also selected an Inaugural Committee that will help read the money. Here's the list:

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Huff Post: Scarborough suspended for Florida campaign contributions

Huffington Post: "MSNBC has suspended 'Morning Joe' host Joe Scarborough for the same violation that took Keith Olbermann off the air earlier this month.

"In a statement, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said he has suspended Scarborough for making
political donations to candidates in Florida without seeking prior approval:

"This morning Joe Scarborough informed me that he made eight contributions of $500 each to local candidates in Florida between 2004-08. In my conversation with Joe two weeks ago, he did not recall these contributions. Since he did not seek or receive prior approval for these contributions, Joe understands that I will be suspending him for violating our policy. He will be immediately suspended for two days without pay and will return to the air on Wednesday, November 24th. As Joe recognizes, it is critical that we enforce our standards and policies."

Florida Republicans ticked off by airport screenings

First there was George LeMieux fuming at invasive pat-downs, now Orlando Republican John Mica -- who is likely to lead the House Transportation Committee -- is calling for a pat-down review.

Mica wrote to TSA Administrator John Pistole outlining concern that the "intrusive pat downs are being used in the primary screening process, rather than as secondary screening to resolve alarms or anomalies...

"While we understand the purpose of the recent changes in procedure, TSA has again missed the mark," Mica said. "Treating every passenger as a suspect or criminal is an inefficient use of scarce resources, and the agency needs to focus on those who truly pose a security threat."

Democrats to meet in Orlando for post-election review

After a couple weeks of licking their wounds after Election Day, a group of Florida Democrats plan to meet in Orlando this weekend to see what they can do better in 2012. The informal meeting is being hosted by Jon Ausman, a Tallahassee state committeeman known for being an outspoken member of the party. “It’s about the direction of the state party,” he said. “A lot of people want to discuss things in a constructive, positive way.”

The party leaders should have plenty to talk about. Several strategists have noted that Democrats need to beef up their get-out-the-vote effort and focus more on South Florida to drive up turnout in voter-rich counties such as Broward and Dade.

The meeting comes as Democrats are selecting their next state party chairman, though Ausman specifically said that wouldn’t be a topic. Rod Smith, the running mate of Alex Sink who has his eye on the party chair job, agreed that the meeting is less about the chairman election and “more about larger structural issues.”

Smith, who is expected to take over an Alachua County post that would allow him to run for the state chairmanship, dismissed recent comments that his candidacy is stalling. He said he has a “very straightforward” process of calling local party officials in each county. “I’m very pleased with the reception I’m getting.”

Frederica Wilson, from family politics to Congress

A young Frederica Smith would sit under her family's dining room table, hidden by a white, crocheted tablecloth, and listen to her father talking politics, jotting down questions to ask him later.

That inquisitive girl, who wore hats and bows to school to emulate her Bahamian grandmother, would grow up to become Frederica Wilson, the newly elected Democratic congresswoman from Miami.

Elected in a landslide to replace Rep. Kendrick Meek, Wilson, 68, will bring to Congress her feisty spirit, diligent hard work and the delicate maneuvering skills she quickly learned as a lawmaker in Tallahassee.

"You run on your record -- you don't run on what you're going to be," a proud Wilson said. "I am a person who was able to walk into a Legislature that was dominated by Republicans and get more bills passed than some Republicans.'' Full story here.

A national Hispanic leader? There isn't one

"Latinos living in the United States do not have a national leader," a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center finds.

When asked to name the person they consider "the most important Latino leader in the country today," nearly two-thirds -- 64 percent -- of Latino respondents said they did not know. Ten percent said "no one."

The bilingual national survey of 1,375 Hispanic adults was done before the November election by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.

Sonia Sotomayor, appointed last year to the US Supreme Court, was the most frequently named with some 7 percent saying she is the most important Latino leader. Others who rated: Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who pulled 5 percent; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who drew 3 percent and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos who drew 2 percent.

The report notes that in the election, three Hispanics, all of them Republican, were elected to top statewide offices: Marco Rubio to the U.S. Senate in Florida, Brian Sandoval as governor of Nevada, and Susana Martinez as governor of New Mexico.

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Bill Nelson unloads on President Obama

Politico: "Senate Democrats – including typically mild-mannered Bill Nelson of Florida – lit into President Barack Obama during an unusually tense air-clearing caucus session on Thursday, senators and staffers told POLITICO.

"Nelson told colleagues Obama’s unpopularity has become a serious liability for Democrats in his state and blamed the president for creating a toxic political environment for Democrats nationwide, according to two Democrats familiar with his remarks.

"It was a raucous caucus," said one Democratic senator, who spoke on condition of anonymity because closed-door sessions are not supposed to be discussed with outsiders.

November 18, 2010

In private speech to business group, Rick Scott lays out agenda

Republican Rick Scott largely ran through his campaign talking points tonight in his first speech since winning the election, according to a transcript of his prepared remarks. No press was allowed in to the speech delivered to a group of Florida business leaders, who Scott needs to help him deliver on a promise of creating 700,000 new jobs.

In the speech, Scott called the state's pension system a "ticking fiscal time bomb" and said state government "has more mid-level managers than it needs."

Scott said prison staff should not be paid more the comparable private sector employees, that welfare recipients should be drug tested and worker's compansation costs should be cut by 35 percent.

"Many will focus on the short term sacrifices," Scott said. "Those of us whose business careers have taught us to accept austerity as the price for dramatic turnarounds need to reassure Floridians that better days are coming."

Scott also took a shot at the media that was not present, saying he was asked about a "squabble" between the Legislature and the Governor's Office. True, Scott did brush off a question about a potential veto override Gov. Charlie Crist described as a power grab by the Legislature. But a few days later at a Florida State University football game, Scott asked Senate President Mike Haridopolos not to override the veto. Haridopolos agreed.

Here's the speech: 

Continue reading "In private speech to business group, Rick Scott lays out agenda" »