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195 posts from November 2010

November 17, 2010

Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio pledge to keep it nonpartisan when it comes to Florida

The state's two senators pledged Wednesday night at a Florida delegation party to work together on issues central to the state. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, noted a long tradition of different party senators working together on issues, dating to Democrat Bob Graham and Republican Connie Mack.

"It's important because there is a lot of stuff that comes before us that is not partisan," Nelson said, quickly adding, "Well, there's a lot of stuff that comes in front of us that is way too partisan! But especially when it comes to issues of Florida, this is where the two of us come together and that's going to continue."

Republican Rubio, who met early Monday with Nelson said "we look forward to carrying on that important tradition of Florida senators working together." The senator-elect kept his remarks brief: "I know I'm a senator now so I get to talk for long periods of time, but I'm not going to do that today," he said, thanking the crowd and Nelson.

The event-- sponsored by the state's tourism marketing division and various state agencies to showcase Florida seafood -- drew a full house to the Florida House, the state's unofficial embassy. Sponsors said they hoped the event demonstrates that Florida seafood is safe and bountiful. The industry, tourism officials said, is still suffering from the oil spill in the Gulf.

Continue reading "Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio pledge to keep it nonpartisan when it comes to Florida" »

Lobbyists, businessmen, former Columbia/HCA workers dot Rick Scott transition teams

Gov.-elect Rick Scott today picked Alan Levine, a former state health agency appointee of Jeb Bush, to head his transition team on health issues.

Levine was an administrator of Bayonet Point Medical Center in 1992 when Scott's Columbia hospital chain took over. Levin spoke glowingly of Scott during the primary campaign, telling the Times/Herald that Scott helped revolutionize the hospital industry by demanding more medical and financial accountability and training.

Other members of the health team include Cynthia Sucher, the former marketing director for a Columbia/HCA hospital in Winter Park; lobbyists Wayne Watters and Margaret Lynn Duggar; and Republican Party of Florida donor Dr. Akshay Desai.

Scott also named his transition team for public safety issues, which will be headed by Pasco County Sheriff Bob White.

Some other interesting picks on the law enforcement side: Katherine Harris' attorney during the 2000 recount, Joe Klock, and Chris Knight, a former Florida Highway Patrol colonel who was forced to resign after investigators found he falsified a memo and used it to justify the firing of an FHP commander. The state eventually paid $525,000 to end a lawsuit filed by that commander.

Continue reading "Lobbyists, businessmen, former Columbia/HCA workers dot Rick Scott transition teams" »

First Lady Michelle Obama heads to Miami to tout nutrition

From the White House: "First Lady Michelle Obama will join students from Riverside Elementary School in Miami to demonstrate the steps schools are taking to improve children’s health by increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.

"As part of her Let’s Move! initiative to reduce childhood obesity, Mrs. Obama will highlight the role schools and community partnerships can play in improving school nutrition, through programs such as
school gardens, salad bars and youth involvement. She will be joined by chefs from the Miami area for a demonstration of how a school can effectively use a salad bar to provide students with fresh fruits and vegetables. The local chefs are participants in the Chefs Move to Schools initiative.

"She will also be joined by leaders from the fruit and vegetable industry, and school and public health officials who will announce a major commitment to support the use of salad bars in schools across the country."

George LeMieux: Don't touch me that way

The Florida senator criticized the Transportation Security Administration during a Senate hearing today, saying he's upset with the controversial pat-downs causing outrage across the country.

"I'm, frankly, bothered by the level of these pat-downs," LeMieux said. "I've seen them firsthand in airports in Florida. I wouldn't want my wife touched in the way these folks are being touched. I wouldn't want to be touched that way. We have to be focused on safety, but there's a balance."

LeMieux's comments came as Senators grilled TSA administrator John Pistole, a longtime law officer who took the reins of the agency in July. He offered pat-downs to the senators, telling them the level was appropriate to thwart terrorist attacks.

Some irked passengers are planning to protest the patdowns next week during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.

Christian Family Coalition calls on Rick Scott to divest from 'pornography' company

The Christian Family Coalition and Rev. Mark D. Boykin of the Church of All Nations in Boca Raton are calling on Republican Gov.-elect Rick Scott to divest from QuePasa Corp., which they allege sells "pornography to Latinos."

"We cannot have a governor in the state of Florida that invests in companies that sell pornography," Boykin said. "We are asking that before he takes the oath of office, Gov.-elect Scott gets rid of his stocks from QuePasa Corporation. The governor of the state of Florida should not be benefiting or have an interest in pornography.  It goes against our family values." 

Continue reading "Christian Family Coalition calls on Rick Scott to divest from 'pornography' company" »

Florida congressional delegation to feast on Florida seafood -- c'mon it's safe!

Florida House -- the state's embassy in Washington -- and the state's tourism marketing agency are hosting an event tonight for Florida's congressional delegation, featuring Florida seafood to "demonstrate that its seafood is safe, delicious and available" -- post Gulf Coast oil spill.

The event is also to promote the notion that the state's beaches "are open, beautiful and waiting," organizers said.

The Florida Seafood Celebration will feature three Florida chefs preparing their signature creations: 
Jim Shirley of the Fish House in Pensacola will prepare Grits a Ya Ya; Josh Butler, executive chef at the governor's mansion in Tallahassee will prepare Dog Island grouper sliders and Dean James Max of 3030 Ocean will prepare Sebastian Inlet Clams BBLT.

"Fresh caught seafood has attracted visitors to Florida for nearly 500 years and it is vitally important that our elected leaders at every level understand just how important the seafood industry is to Florida’s economy and continue to keep tourism and seafood high on their priority lists," said VISIT FLORIDA president Christopher Thompson.

Florida Ag Commissioner Charles Bronson said news coverage of the Gulf oil spill "has left some consumers with the impression that Florida seafood is unavailable or in limited supply. Our state’s commercial fishermen continue to harvest seafood daily from clean, unaffected Florida waters. They have seafood to sell, and they need customers."

Frederica Wilson backs Nancy Pelosi -- but not the House hat ban

Vanquished House Dems were meeting today to consider votes for a new minority leader for the next congress -- and outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has Miami Rep.-elect Frederica Wilson's enthusiastic backing. (Pelosi wants the job but a number of Democrats blame her for the party's "shellacking" at the ballot.) UPDATE: She was elected 150 to 43.

Wilson, though, said she admires "the way she stood up, as a woman and as the first female Speaker and advocated for the people, power to the people.

"She accomplished things that Americans need and that have been woefully neglected, like health care," Wilson said. "It's extremely significant for a lot of the people in my district and she made sure it happened."

Wilson is hoping to have a conversation with the likely new Speaker, John Boehner. At issue: whether or not the longtime lawmaker can wear her signature hats on the House floor. The House bars members from wearing hats while the body is in session, but Wilson said she believes the speaker can waive the rule -- which dates to the 1800s.

"It's sexist," Wilson said. "It dates back to when men wore hats and we know that men don't wear hats indoors, but women wear hats indoors. Hats are what I wear. People get excited when they see the hats. Once you get accustomed to it, it's just me. Some people wear wigs, or high heel shoes or big earrings or pins. This is just me."

Continue reading "Frederica Wilson backs Nancy Pelosi -- but not the House hat ban" »

As Senate opens Medicaid reform hearings, potential clients worry about HMOs

IMG_4658 The Florida Senate launched its daylong hearing Wednesday in anticipation of its ambitious goal of reforming how Medicaid is delivered by steering patients into highly-regulated, private, managed care companies. Presenters include hospitals, HMOs, nurses, doctors, nursing homes, AARP officials and others.

Medicaid clients are already wary. A group from Brevard County, the home county of Senate President Mike Haridopolos, came with residents of the developmental disabilities community who held a banner in protest. (Photo Felicia Wilson, 47, Andy Barber, 41)

Laura Mohesky, a case manager, spoke to the panel on behalf of her clients. "The consumers are concerned they won't be getting the same thing they are getting now,'' she said. "Managed care hasn't shown us how they'll advocate for them or who could advocate for them."

Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, one of the chairmen of the panel, told her not to conclude that managed care will reduce care for the people she serves. "I hope nobody has pulled the fire alarm,'' he said.

Mohesky didn't miss a beat. "It doesn't make sense to me,'' she said, interrupting Gaetz. "I have a hard time thinking you're going to give managed care the same budget you have now and they aren't going to want to profit from that. There's no way we should be profiting from any of these individuals -- ever."

Allen Boyd tells Pelosi: You're the face of our defeat

From FoxNews: "Disgruntled Democrats finally had a chance to confront Speaker Nancy Pelosi face
to face for the first time during a raucous closed-door caucus meeting Tuesday, as defeated Rep. Allen Boyd called her 'the face of our defeat.

" 'We need new leadership," Boyd, a Florida Democrat, told his colleagues, according to sources in the room.

"His comments were made shortly after Pelosi told Democrats she was targeted in races around the country because she is an effective leader for them. The Democratic gathering was the first gathering of the caucus since the party lost control of the House."

The vote on who leads the Democrats happens today.

November 16, 2010

Allen West and Frederica Wilson among the newbies making their way in DC

The Washington Post today profiles the incoming crop of freshman lawmakers, noting that some "arrived wearing totems of their winning campaigns, like college students still sporting high school letter jackets."

That included: "Rep-elect Allen West (R-Fla.), a retired Army lieutenant colonel, wore parachutist insignia on his lapel. Rep.-elect Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) wore one of her fabulous hats: a black cowboy hat covered in sequins (she tried to wear another large hat in her official Congressional ID photo, but Capitol officials wouldn't allow it)."

Read the story here.