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275 posts from February 2011

February 25, 2011

Scott, West and Southerland make Wash Post's 10 "top political newcomers"

"We expected Rick Scott's tenure to be an interesting one, and it has not disappointed," the Post says of the Florida governor, who placed second on the list only to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Allen West, it says, "is almost certainly too conservative for his district, but he doesn't seem to care. While he's been a little more careful with his words since taking office, he is still a firebrand."

And Steve Southerland, the North Florida Republican who defeated veteran Allen Boyd, is "now a key voice for fiscal conservatism in Congress. Southerland was vocal during a closed-door meeting with Republican leaders, reportedly pushing for bigger cuts than the GOP's bill provided and commanding the attention of Republican leaders."

In J'accuse of PolitiFact, Rachel Maddow misleads about how she misleads

MSNBC talk-show host Rachel Maddow got worked up Thursday over a PolitiFact ruling that said this Feb. 17 statement of hers was false: “Despite what you may have heard about Wisconsin’s finances, Wisconsin is on track to have a budget surplus this year.”

The statement is in the present tense (note the verb ‘is”). Presently, everyone agrees that Wisconsin "is on track" to have a deficit. So Maddow’s statement is simply false.

Yet Maddow said PolitiFact’s ruling was false. To do so, she misled about how she misled. Her evidence: a 9-word snippet in which she also said: “there is in fact a $137 million budget shortfall.” Said Maddow on Thursday: “PolitiFact says I am false – false – because I denied there is a budget shortfall in Wisconsin.” She then played the 9-word snippet again.

She implies PolitiFact left the sentiment out. But it didn’t.

PolitFact noted in a synopsis: “She added a kicker that is also making the rounds: Walker and fellow Republicans in the Legislature this year gave away $140 million in business tax breaks -- so if there is a deficit projected of $137 million, they created it.”

On Thursday night, Maddow made no mention of this PolitFact paragraph. But she played the 9-word snippet three times as if it were some obvious disclaimer. So Maddow's viewers could easily be left with the impression that this synopsis was utterly lacking from PolitiFact. Maddow did, however, direct viewers to her website to see her show’s correspondence to PolitiFact. There, her executive producer noted the PolitiFact synopsis that was conspicuously absent from Maddow’s Thursday J’accuse. The producer wrote that the PolitiFact synopsis was “a complete fabrication. Maddow never stated -- not once-- that Governor Walker's tax breaks were the direct cause of the budget deficit this year.”

That’s technically true -- that Maddow didn’t explicitly say this. She just did everything in her considerable rhetorical power to suggest it without exactly saying it. Here’s her statement in its entirety: “The state is not bankrupt. Even though the state had started the year on track to have a budget surplus – now there is, in fact, a $137 million budget shortfall. Republican governor Scott Walker, coincidentally, has given away $140 million worth of business tax breaks since he came into office. Hey, wait, that’s about exactly the size of the shortfall.”

Continue reading "In J'accuse of PolitiFact, Rachel Maddow misleads about how she misleads " »

David Rivera: "My official conduct has been the most transparent of any member of Congress."

The Miami Republican whose financial dealings are under criminal investigation tells the Naples Daily News that he's disclosed more information than any other member of Congress.

Rivera, who generally only answers questions about the investigation via e-mail, sat down with The Daily News' Jeff Lytle for an interview that will air Sunday.

"How's it going for you back home, in your home district?" Lytle asks him at one point, "David, you’re in trouble.

"Well, everything is going out wonderfully actually," Rivera says. "You know the support I’ve found from residents and voters and people that are concerned about the issues of the day ... the phone calls that I get into my office ..."

Senate moves to modify its FRS pension bill; cap contributions for most at 2%

A Senate committee proposed a modified bill Thursday that focuses on shoring up the Florida Retirement System and less on using the savings to close the state budget gap.

Leaders of the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee pushed a compromise that would require most state workers to contribute up to 2 percent of their salaries to their retirement funds, while elected officials, senior management and anyone making more than $75,000 would pay four percent of their salary into the retirement system.

The measure by Sen. Jack Latvala, a St. Petersburg Republican, also removes a requirement that new employees in the Florida Retirement System enroll in 401(k) plans and activates employee contributions only to pay for any unfunded liability in the retirement fund. The committee will vote on the proposal during the first week of the legislative session in March.

“It would have a minimal effect on their take home pay,’’ Latvala said, adding that he sought a compromise that could pass the full Senate, where leaders have said they don’t want state employees to have richer retirement accounts than those offered in the private sector. More here.

February 24, 2011

Miami-Dade student recognized during Black History Month event at Governor's Mansion

Gov. Rick Scott welcomed about 200 people to the Governor's Mansion tonight to announce the winners of the 2011 Black History Month contests and recognize Jacksonville's Marsha Hatcher as the featured artist. Hatcher's work is being featured this month in the Capitol.

"I was never featured as an artist," Scott joked to Hatcher. "I was just focused on not being broke."

Continue reading "Miami-Dade student recognized during Black History Month event at Governor's Mansion" »

In state plane squabble, PolitiFact Florida sides with J.D. Alexander

The checks have been cashed, and the planes are gone, but that isn't stopping Senate Republican Budget chairman J.D. Alexander from continuing to question Gov. Rick Scott over his authority to unload the official state aircraft. Citing statutes and the Florida Constitution, the Lake Wales Republican argues that Scott failed to respect "the Legislature’s constitutional duty to appropriate funds and your duty to spend appropriated funds in accordance with the law." Scott, in response, says Alexander’s wrong. "We went through the right process, worked with our general counsel," Scott says.

PolitiFact Florida decided to step in and referee.

Rick Scott to J.D. on state plane: I'm rubber, you're glue

Gov. Rick Scott's interim general counsel responded to state Sen. J.D. Alexander today over Alexander's questions about the legality of the state plane sale.

The crux of a letter from Rick Figlio (Charlie Crist's former counsel) -- I'm a lawyer, you're not.

"The governor relied on my advice that DMS had the legal authority to dispose of the aircraft," Figlio wrote.

"I would like to renew a request that I made to your counsel, prior to the Governor’s receipt of your most recent letter, that he help me locate any specific statutory provisions limiting an agency’s authority to dispose of surplus property in this manner. If any such restrictions exist, I would appreciate your counsel directing me to them as they will assist this office in advising the Governor regarding the scope of his powers as they relate to future transaction."

Your move, Mr. Budget Chairman.

Marco Rubio: Obama's response on Libya "inadequate"

The Florida senator in National Review Online on Libya: "In recent days, the world has watched in horror as the Gaddafi regime has brutally massacred its own people for simply expressing their desire to live in a free and peaceful Libya.

"Without hesitation, Americans should condemn the brutal Gaddafi regime and this wanton killing of civilians. We should unflinchingly support the Libyan people’s legitimate demands to build a freer and peaceful country.

 "Unfortunately, the administration’s initial response has been inadequate. Instead of taking the initiative, the administration is relying on other countries and international bodies to lead. For example, it makes no sense to rely on the United Nations Human Rights Council, a body that has long been comprised of and even led by some of the world’s worst human-rights abusers, including Libya."

Former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez files to run for Miami-Dade County commissioner

The Miami-Dade mayoral recall effort has set off a domino effect of local political posts to be up for grabs -- including the county commission seat being held by Carlos Gimenez, who is now running for mayor.

On Tuesday, former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez filed paperwork to seek Gimenez's seat.

In case you missed our story last week about Suarez's sure-to-be-exciting run, here it is:

He’s baaack. Maybe.

Xavier Suarez, the colorful and controversial former Miami mayor who was removed from office after a judge found election fraud, said he will launch a campaign for Miami-Dade County Commission in the coming months.

Suarez, 61, told The Miami Herald that he will file for the seat being vacated by county commissioner Carlos Gimenez, who is vying to replace Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez. Suarez is also the father of Francis Suarez, a Miami commissioner who could eventually sit next to dad on the board of the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The elder Suarez says he was driven to run by what he perceives as mismanagement at the county.

“The ineptitude of what’s going on in county government is unbelievable,” said Suarez, who lost his previous commission bid to Gimenez in 2004. Full story here.

Cuba sets a trial date for detained American contractor: March 4

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley tweeted earlier today that the department hopes Alan Gross - who has been held in Cuba for months -- "receives a fair trial and is allowed to come home.

"What he did," Crowley said. "Is not a crime." Gross was distributing sophisticated satellite equipment to Cuba’s tiny Jewish community. Critics of US-Cuba policy have criticized the Obama administration for moving ahead with plans to relax travel restrictions to Cuba while Gross is still being held.

The trial starts the same day President Barack Obama is scheduled to be in Miami for a fundraiser for Bill Nelson.