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230 posts from July 2011

July 27, 2011

Reps. Baxley and Plakon endorse Adam Hasner for U.S. Senate

Republican state Reps. Dennis Baxley and Scott Plakon on Wednesday announced their endorsements of Adam Hasner for U.S. Senate.

"Dennis and Scott are proven conservatives who have fought for limited government, greater personal freedoms, and strong Florida families," Hasner said in a prepared statement. "I'm honored that they are lending their energy, their voices, and their time to our growing grassroots campaign." 

"Adam Hasner is a proven defender of faith, family and freedom in Florida," Baxley said. "Having served with Adam, I've witnessed his toughness firsthand. He's exactly the kind of common sense conservative we need to send to Washington to stand shoulder to shoulder with Marco Rubio." 

Plakon called Hasner the "only Republican who can be trusted to go to Washington, and stand up to the status quo in both parties on issues like spending and the debt." 


Utility Regulators Give Up Oversight of Landlines in Florida

   More people are giving up their home phones in favor of cell phones. Now, state utility regulators are stepping away from their oversight of landline telephone service.

Legislation passed earlier this year deregulated certain telecommunications in Florida. WLRN Miami Herald reporter Gina Jordan tells us the Public Service Commission this week repealed its own rules to comply with state law.


RNC: In search of Hispanic voters and a 'win-win' on Florida's GOP primary date

Hispanic voters seem to be shaping up to be the soccer moms and NASCAR dads of the 2012 election – both the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee have been targeting Hispanic voters, particularly in Florida, with television, radio and new media ads.

Polls show that Hispanic voters are leaving the Democratic Party "in droves," and the DNC is afraid, said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in announcing the party's fourth "Change Direction" ad, which plays off the president's successful "Hope and Change" slogan. The RNC plans to air a Spanish-language radio spot in Florida as well.

"It's clear that this president's failed economic policies have Hispanic voters looking for a change of direction," he said. "It's obvious that this president, while in love with his own voice, is not in love with following through oh his promises. No matter your background, that truth is known across the country."

Democrats countered that Republicans have been unwilling to compromise on the economy, including the looming debt ceiling deadline.

"While President Obama looks to find sensible solutions to getting our fiscal house in order, the RNC continues to show they’d rather run negative ads than work in good faith to create jobs,” said DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse. "The American people are calling out for their leaders in Washington to work together to reduce the deficit and create jobs, but the Republican Party has shown repeatedly they’re more interested in ideological purity than doing what is right for the country.”

Priebus also boasted of having the country's Hispanic political luminaries in their corner, including GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who he called "an absolute star."

"We have the political stars of the Hispanic community in our party. They are the rising stars, and they're with us," he said.

When asked whether he thought Florida Gov. Rick Scott's low poll numbers would hurt GOP presidential chances in Florida, Priebus said he thinks the election will be "all about Barack Obama and the fact that he's taking our country in a ditch. That's what's going to matter -- Obama's record, what he did, and what the disparity is between his accomplishments and where we are in the economy."

"He's not on the ballot, and I don't think a governor that's been there for two years is going to affect what people think about the direction of our country and who sits in the White House," he said.  

And just when will that primary be? Both Florida and Arizona are talking about moving their GOP primaries forward, ahead of the Feb. 6 Iowa caucuses. Priebus warned that the rules for violating the national GOP calendar mean states lose half of their delegates at the RNC convention.

Florida GOP chairman David Bitner said this: "We'll be working closely with the RNC on how we can have a 'win-win.'" 


Gov. Rick Scott appoints defeated Jacksonville mayoral candidate Mike Hogan to state commission

Gov. Rick Scott found a new gig for Mike Hogan, a former Republican state representative and Duval County tax collector who lost his bid for Jacksonville mayor in May.

Hogan will be chairman of the Public Employees Relations Commission through Jan. 1, 2012. The commission is charged with preventing disruptions to public services by settling labor disputes.

Hogan won endorsements from Scott and the First Coast Tea Party but Democrat Alvin Brown won the race.

Scott also appointed previous commission member and attorney Donna Poole of Tallahassee on Wednesday. She is the wife of Van Poole, a well-known lobbyist, former state senator and former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

Here's the release:

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today announced the appointments of Joseph “Mike” Hogan and Donna M. Poole to the Public Employees Relations Commission.


Hogan, 61, of Jacksonville, served as the Duval County Tax Collector from 2003 to 2011. In 2008, he was appointed to serve on the statewide constitutional Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, which was charged with examining the state budget process, revenue needs, and expenditure processes through the year 2028.

Previously, he served as a Florida state representative from 2000 to 2003 and a city councilman for the city of Jacksonville from 1991 to 1999. Hogan was also employed by AT&T for 25 years as a human resources specialist and labor relations manager. As labor relations manager, he handled union grievances, arbitrations, and was responsible for assisting and training all managers regarding labor issues. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida.

 Hogan succeeds Stephanie Williams Ray as Chair and is appointed for a term beginning July 27, 2011, and ending January 1, 2012.

Poole, 55, of Tallahassee, has been a self-employed labor law attorney since 2009. Previously, she practiced in the private sector with a focus on civil litigation from 1981 to 1987 and served as general counsel to the Florida Department of Labor from 1987 to 1988. Poole served as a Public Employee Relations Commissioner from 1988 to 1990, as well as in 1997. She then served as chair of the Public Employees Relations Commission from 1999 to 2008. From 1990 to 1996, Poole and her husband owned and operated four Blockbuster Video stores in the Tallahassee/Thomasville area. She received her bachelor’s and law degrees from Florida State University.

She succeeds Jessica Varn and is appointed for a term beginning July 27, 2011, and ending January 1, 2014.

ACLU releases letter to Gov. Rick Scott about ending sales of drivers license records, Scott's office says not happening

The Herald/Times wrote on Tuesday about the ACLU's opposition to the state selling the personal information of Florida's 15.5 million licensed drivers.

The ACLU of Florida wrote Gov. Rick Scott a letter Friday asking him to end the sales. (Download Driver License Letter to Governor) The group concedes that the practice is legal but deems it a long-running violation of privacy. They say Scott has the power to stop it.

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles made $73 million from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, by selling drivers license information to private companies.

The Herald/Times didn't hear back from the governor's press office until after the story was published. Spokesman Lane Wright said Scott would not end the practice because Florida is bound by the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act, which creates exemptions for companies like LexisNexis and ShadowSoft. Companies that meet the exemptions are not allowed to use the information for marketing and advertising purposes.

"That's what the federal law is," Wright said. "That's what we're following."

Here's the letter:

July 22, 2011

Dear Governor Scott,

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles continues to sell the personal information of Florida drivers without their knowledge or permission.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida asks you to immediately direct Julie L. Jones, Executive Director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, to discontinue the mass sale of personal driver license information such as home address, age, gender and identifying driver’s license number.

All Floridians, including drivers, have an expectation of privacy. Selling personal data without notice or permission violates that expectation. Florida drivers do not give their personal, identifying information to the state so it can be sold and re-sold to private companies.

Although courts have deemed the sale of some driver’s license information permissible under the Driver Privacy Protection Act, no law requires the state to do what your administration is currently doing – putting our personal data on the open information market.

As Governor, you should protect our personal information, not sell it.

Since the corporations that buy this personal data from the state are permitted to re-sell the information they acquire, the personal information of millions of Florida drivers is made available to third party purchasers with no official oversight. Even if it was sold legally the first time, Floridians have little assurance that information about them will be used appropriately or legally by future buyers.

The policy and practice of the state of making personal data available to private buyers, which your administration is continuing, puts every Florida driver at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud.

Perhaps most importantly, Floridians should be able to trust that their elected and appointed leaders will protect and honor their security and privacy. Your administration undermines that trust by continuing to allow the transfer of personal information such as home addresses and gender to those who are willing to pay for it.

We believe, and a great many Floridians agree, that no financial incentive can reasonably justify the invasion of privacy that results from the state selling such personal information.

Just because the state can do something, does not mean the state should do it.

We ask that you direct the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to end its contracts to sell the personal information of Florida drivers, not approve any future sales of this information and immediately put notifications and safeguards in place to ensure the information the state has already sold is safe and being used legally.

In short, we ask that you, Governor Scott, end the practice of effectively selling our privacy to private companies.

Thank you for your consideration,

Howard Simon

Danish company asks Florida to stop using its drug to kill inmates

The head of Lundbeck, Inc., the Danish company that makes ones of the drugs Florida plans to use to execute its first death row inmate in 18 months, has twice written Gov. Rick Scott urging him not to use their product for capital punishment.

Staffan Schüberg, president of Lundbeck, wrote to Scott in May and again in June after he said his letters to the Florida Department of Corrections went unanswered. It's unclear if Scott's office has responded, either.

The drug — pentobarbital sodium, branded as Nembutal — is at the center of the Florida Supreme Court's decision this week to delay the execution of Manuel Valle, who shot and killed a South Florida police officer 33 years ago.

"The use of pentobarbital outside the approved labeling has not been established," Schüberg wrote. "As such, Lundbeck cannot assure the associated safety and efficacy profiles in such instances. For this reason, we are concerned about its use in prison executions."

Here are the letters from Schüberg to Scott: 

Continue reading "Danish company asks Florida to stop using its drug to kill inmates" »

The debt-ceiling rap keeps it realz, yo

Any time a rapper rhymes "statutory budget restraints" and says the debit ceiling is "more unsustainable than my career," he deserves to go viral.

Scott doubles down on debt ceiling freeze, says feds should outsource programs

Gov. Rick Scott went on CNN this morning to explain his position that the federal debt ceiling should not be raised. Scott's position has contributed to the partisanship of the debate and seems to be in the minority even among the increasingly conservative U.S. House.

"Your opinion and your advice here runs counter to what just about everyone from both parties are saying and it goes against what everyone in the financial markets is telling me and 15 years of my own capital markets reporting experience," CNN host Christine Romans, right, said winding up to her first question for Scott. "So tell me exactly why (not) raising the debt ceiling wouldn't have an effect on markets, the economy or states?"

Scott said the federal government should act like a family with one parent out of work or a business that has lost income. "They have to stop borrowing money," he said. "Our government is no different."

But the American Morning hosts weren't buying it. They said the debate is how to pay current debt, not whether to spend more money.

"Why is this difficult for you to understand, governor?" host Ali Velshi said.

Romans asked Scott what he would prioritize if the debt ceiling was frozen. Such a move, she said, would leave enough money for Social Security, active duty military and debt interest payments and little else. That would mean huge cuts or the elimination of food stamps, disaster relief and federal education grants.

Scott said he'd outsource those things.

"You go through the most important things and then you have to cut back," Scott said.

"You have to figure out what do companies do," he said. "What they have to do, they have to say, 'You know what? I could outsource that and I could do it less expensively. You know, we don't need to do that to get the revenues we need. We can figure out a way to do that less expensively.'"

"Friendly, not pompous and not annoyed by my ignorance"

Fox News' Greta Van Susteren posted on her blog, Gretawire, about meeting Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, in an elevator in the U.S. Capitol Tuesday. The Fox News celebrity was taken with Wilson's hat -- and apparently unaware she was speaking to a congresswoman. 

"A bit later I probed further and asked what she does and she said 'I am in Congress.' I said, 'oops.'  I was embarrassed that I did not recognize her.  I apologized and she was gracious. She didn’t care.  I admired that she was friendly, not pompous and not annoyed by my ignorance. As for the hat?  She has lots of fancy ones!"

Wilson noted the Gretawire post on Twitter, adding this: "Great meeting u, Ms. Greta!" 


Gallup poll: Mitt Romney waning. Rick Perry surging.

A new survey from Gallup finds Texas Gov. Rick Perry is barely behind longtime fellow Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, with the former pulling in 15 percent support and the former Mass. Gov. gaining 17 percent -- making Romney a tenuous frontrunner. 

Yesterday, we touched on Perry's nascent, shadow operation in Florida, where he nominally leads the pack, according to an American Research Group poll. Like the Florida poll, the national Gallup survey shows Sarah Palin pulling in a good chunk of the vote, 12 percent. Chances that she'll run or stay in the race seem slim at the moment, and that's probably good news for Michele Bachmann, who garners 11 percent nationally.

Still, Gallup found that Perry trails Romney 18-23, without Palin in the race. And Palin would trail Romney 15-23 without Perry.

Says Gallup: "Perry appears to be the strongest potential challenger to Romney at the moment, given the results of these recomputed preferences, trailing Romney by five percentage points, compared with eight- and nine- point deficits for Palin and Giuliani, respectively. Perry is also the only one of the three late-deciders whose support numerically exceeds Bachmann's in these simulations.

"The fact that Romney is the leader in all three scenarios indicates that at this point he is the nominal front-runner regardless of who else enters the race."

Taken all together, recent survey results indicate there are two general types of putative Republican candidates: Romney and everyone else. The more crowded the field, the better for Romney, who has been essentially running for four years and hasn't cracked more than a third of the vote in most major polls.

What makes a Perry candidacy so deadly to Romney is that, as a Texas Republican told us, he appeals to both establishment and tea-party Republicans. Oh yeah, and jobs grew in Texas during the recession, while Romney's job record isn't as brag-worthy. 

Perry also tells a good rags-to-sort-of-riches story in Texas Monthly.

Some Florida Republicans allied with other candidates say Perry is probably a flash in the pan, that it's too late because he hasn't lined up the money people and fundraised early enough. That's probably wishful thinking from the hater posse. With Perry's poll numbers, he has an estimated $4 million of buzz without having raised or spent a cent. And chances are, he can raise a good $6 million in a full quarter.

But that's speculation. Then again, so are all the polls at this point.