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210 posts from August 2011

August 29, 2011

Countdown to Florida's 500th Anniversary

    The 500 day countdown is ticking toward Florida's 500th anniversary. It will culminate in a commemoration that will last throughout the year 2013. Governor Rick Scott initiated the campaign in Miami with leaders from Florida and Spain.

Governor Scott sees the anniversary celebration as a means of spurring new opportunities for businesses while also serving as an educational tool. He helped kick off the VIVA Florida 500 campaign at a business roundtable hosted by the Spain Florida Foundation.

The year long celebration will showcase Florida's Spanish heritage. Scott said many people don't realize the Spanish flag flew over Florida longer than the American flag has. Florida didn't become an American state until 1845.

The Florida Department of State is in charge of the commemoration with help from organizations and businesses. Facebook and Twitter users can follow VIVA Florida 500 for planning updates and historic facts.


Broward school district picks superintendent 'semi-finalists'

Making the cut to replace Jim Notter: seven semi-finalists, including Art Johnson, the former superintendent of the Palm Beach school district, and James Browder, formerly head of Lee County schools.

The others are Bryan Bowles of Utah, Debra Brathwaite of South Carolina, Robert Runcie of Chicago, Thomas Seigel of Washington state and Bernard Taylor of Michigan.

Read the file on the semi-finalists here.

UPDATE: After sifting through the applications on Monday, Broward School Board members decided not to invite Johnson, the former Palm Beach superintendent, back for an interview. The board assigned points to each of the semi-finalists based on their applications: Runcie (45), Bowles (29), Browder (28), Brathwaite (27), Taylor (26) and Seigel (23).

Johnson received 11.



Gallup: tea party voters wild about Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry looks like the tea party favorite right now, according to Gallup's latest survey of Republican presidential candidates showing he receives about 35 percent of the tea party vote. That blows away Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney, who each receive about 14 percent support, with Ron Paul in the hunt at 12 percent.

Among those who don't favor the tea party (a clear majority of the nation according to other surveys), Romney comes out on top with 23 percent, followed by Perry at 20 percent and Paul at 16 percent.

Most notably, Bachmann's support shrivels to 6 percent among tea-party haters, a problem for any presidential candidate who needs a a broader base of support. Still, in a GOP primary in a state like Florida, it's better to have more tea-party support than less. And Bachmann sure can drum up a crowd.

August 28, 2011

Michele Bachmann blown into Miami thanks to Hurricane Irene

Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann will blow into Miami because Hurricane Irene's damage has interfered with her travel schedule north of Florida.

Bachmann intends to visit the Bay of Pigs memorial and The Versailles restaurant in Little Havana, a must-stop for candidates. She's likely to attend a fundraiser as well.

"We could not get to events up the coast tomorrow so we ectended our trip in Florida," said spokeswoman Alice Stewart. "Also, we have had great turnout and support in Florida so we chose to add a day to the schedule for public and private events."

It's usually a good bet that Bachmann will receive large enthusiastic crowds -- but only if they know to show up. This is a last-minute change, so Bachmann might do some real retail politicking. Either way, she'll wrack up free media coverage and raise some campaign cash.

Bachmann's schedule changes often and with relatively little notice. Her campaign on Friday cancelled a a 10 a.m. tea party grassroots town hall in Orlando this morning. Members of the tea party, though, were invited to see her get off her tour bus at 8:30 a.m. at the Rosen Shingle Creek.

Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, hasn't announced any big hires in Florida and is technincally not participating in the Sept. 24 Republican Party of Florida straw poll (though she'll be on the ballot anyway).

Meantime, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is snatching up Florida talent (Randy Enrwight and former RPOF ED Jim Rimes as well as others). Nationwide, Perry's running in first among Republicans, according to a Gallup poll showing Mitt Romney in second and Ron Paul in third. Bachmann garners just 10 percent of the vote in fourth place -- a loss of 3 in-the-error-margin percentage points since July. Another poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon just in Florida, showed that Perry or Bachmann would be virtually tied with President Obama in a hypothetical matchup while Romney would win by a comfortable 51-43 split.


August 27, 2011

Scott team knew transition e-mails were missing in March

Gov. Rick Scott said he learned within the past two weeks that transition e-mail accounts could not be recovered from a private computer server, potentially erasing records that state law requires to be kept.

But documents show that Rackspace, the Texas-based company that provided e-mail, notified the transition team as early as March 14 that no records existed from 44 of 47 accounts that had been closed, including Scott's.

"I sincerely apologize for any inconveniences this causes you and your company and would like to refer you to Rackspace Archiving in the event a future incident should present itself where you need to access email correspondence sent/received by a user who had deleted emails or the mailbox has been removed," Rackspace customer service technician Leonard Vega Merino wrote at the time.

Merino's e-mail was to Luke Baker, a staffer with Harris Media, the online communications company that set up the Rackspace accounts. Baker had told the company: "If we do not recover them, then it is a potential violation of Florida state law."

Continue reading "Scott team knew transition e-mails were missing in March" »

August 26, 2011

The new world order inside Gov. Rick Scott's office


Eight weeks after Steve MacNamara was announced as Gov. Rick Scott's chief of staff, a copy of the new organizational chart inside the state's most powerful political office has been posted online.

Some highlights:

Continue reading "The new world order inside Gov. Rick Scott's office" »

Katie Leach, Donna Korn appointed to Broward School Board

Gov. Rick Scott announced his picks on Friday to fill the two vacancies on the Broward School Board.

Katie Leach will take the at-large place of Jennifer Gottlieb, who stepped down earlier this month. Donna Korn will replace Dave Thomas, who resigned a day before Gottlieb.

Leach, who is involved on several school district boards, is a mother of two and a special-education teacher.

Korn, the chairwoman of the Children's Services Board of Broward County, ran for School Board in 2000 -- and lost by 244 to Beverly Gallagher, the disgraced ex-board member now serving a a three-year sentence in federal prison for corruption charges.

At the time of the 2000 race, Korn lived in a southwestern Broward school district and not District 4, the district she would now represent. She was also a Democrat in 2000 -- and if she still is, would be an interesting choice for Scott, a Republican who had the chance to appoint two from his party to the longtime Democratic-dominated School Board. (Seats on the board are non-partisan.)

Last time a Republican governor appointed a Republican to the board, it was Gov. Charlie Crist picking Kevin Tynan to replace Gallagher. Tynan then ran for Gallagher's seat and lost to Board member Patricia Good.

Leach, meanwhile, has reportedly said she plans to run against Board member Maureen Dinnen.

UPDATE: Here's a list from the governor's office of who applied for the posts.

Read the governor's press release with biographies of his two choices after the jump.

Continue reading "Katie Leach, Donna Korn appointed to Broward School Board" »

McCalister breaks uniform rule, draws ire of general

LincolnDinner2 Mike McCalister, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate, violated U.S. Army regulations by wearing his uniform to a political fundraiser -- a move that further fuels the criticisms of veterans and service members who say he’s misleading voters to seem like more of a soldier than he ever was.

A retired colonel in the Army Reserve, McCalister has made his
military record central to his campaign, which has launched the
political newcomer into the top tier of a crowded field of Republican

But his website and campaign speeches have been full of so many
strong-sounding claims that he’s now drawing fire from former subordinates, a high-ranking general at United Special Operations Command in Tampa and the vets groups Stolen Valor, which obtained
photographs of McCalister wearing his ceremonial uniform at a Feb. 16 Lincoln Day Dinner, a fundraiser hosted by the Highlands County Republican club.

"The retiree is not authorized to wear his uniform to political events," said U.S. Army spokesman Troy Rolan. He cited regulations that say current and former service members should only wear the
uniform to ceremonial events, such as Memorial Day, and should not wear the outfit to political functions.

“This is inappropriate,” said Ed Maxwell, a Jensen Beach Vietnam veteran and member of Stolen Valor member, a nonpartisan group of vets committed to blowing the whistle on candidates who misrepresent their service.

“He’s exploiting his military service and he’s embellishing it. It’s improper,” Maxwell said. “It [the uniform] shouldn’t be used in a political setting. It shouldn’t be used for commercial purpose.”

Maxwell, like nearly all of McCalister’s military critics, is a Republican who’s not supporting one of the other candidates, including Adam Hasner, George LeMieux or Craig Miller.

McCalister, 59, has refused to answer specific questions from reporters and Stolen Valor about his record. His campaign called Stolen Valor a “front group,” but failed to provide any evidence.

Story here

Dems create 'Rick Scott Email Recovery Fund'

img-header-logo.pngThe Florida Democratic Party is attempting to leverage the flap over Republican Gov. Rick Scott's transition e-mails - a potential violation of public records law - into cash for the party.

"After months of dragging their feet on a public records request, the Governor’s Office finally dropped the bomb in the dead-of-night that these emails were 'accidentally' deleted," Democrats write in an e-mail to supporters today.

Accident? Accident? This is the 21st century, one stop at any computer store could have solved this problem. The truth is this Governor has a proven pattern of lying to the public and has shown outright disdain for public records laws.

Help us hold this Governor accountable. Donate today to the Rick Scott Email Recovery Fund to help the Florida Democratic Party as we continue to investigate the case of the missing emails.

Floridians deserve answers and a Governor who tells the truth.

No salaries but maybe stipends for college football players, UM alum Marco Rubio says

Sen. Marco Rubio weighed in unexpectedly on Friday on the football scandal at the University of Miami, where the Florida Republican got his law degree.

In an interview on Spanish-language radio station WQBA-AM (1140), Rubio was asked of student-athletes should be paid for their work on the field.

"They shouldn't be paid a salary," Rubio told radio host Helen Agurre Ferré. "They should be given some money so they can eat on weekends.

"Many of these young men come from incredible poverty," he added. "It's very said to see them on weekends -- after a game in which they have won $1 million for the university -- that they don't even have $5 for a meal at McDonald's. It's very sad to see that, and what it does is that these young men are then susceptible to these individuals."

Student-athletes, it should be noted, usually receive meal plans as part of their scholarships -- though those plans are only good to eat in dining halls on campus.

In other matters, Rubio said he is not prepared to say whether he will sponsor a Senate companion to Rep. David Rivera's proposal making changes to the Cuban Adjustment Act. Rivera wants to sanction newly arrived Cuban immigrants who travel to the island while becoming U.S. citizens under the law.

"I understand the measure," Rubio said.

"Other [Hispanic] communities that face hardships in their countries wonder, why are Cubans given that benefit?" he continued. "The answer has always been because a Cuban is not simply an immigrant -- he is also an exile...It is difficult to make that argument when a Cuban exile is returning to his country however many times he wants."

"I am not in favor of denying the right of a family member to visit a mother who is sick, a son who is in trouble...to divide the family that way," he concluded. "I think it is interesting legislation."