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210 posts from August 2011

August 25, 2011

Court hands state partial victory in money fight that involved new OFR Commissioner Tom Grady

An appeals court handed the State Board of Administration a partial victory this week in a dispute over legal fees that previously involved  new state Financial Regulation Commissioner Tom Grady.

Grady and Tampa attorney Guy Burns sued the SBA last year after the board refused to pay them $1.4 million for their work in an unsuccessul 2005 lawsuit against a New York money-managing firm that nearly $300 million for the state pension, as we reported here this weekend. A jury favored the firm, Alliance Capital Management, on all of SBA's claims.

Continue reading "Court hands state partial victory in money fight that involved new OFR Commissioner Tom Grady" »

Miami love$ Barack Obama (when it comes to campaign cash money)

Florida is the 5th most generous state to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint effort of the president's re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee, according to a new analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Donors in Florida have given $2.3 million so far, about 6 percent of the overall haul. California was first, followed by New York, Massachusetts and Illinois. The Miami area contributed $1.1 million, the ninth best metro area in the country.

Read more at opensecrets.org.

Posted by Alex Leary

August 24, 2011

Discovered in transition e-mails, advice from Jeb Bush to Gov. Rick Scott

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Former Gov. Jeb Bush campaigns with Rick Scott in October. Orlando Sentinel photo

Former Gov. Jeb Bush offered to be a confidential sounding board for newly elected Gov. Rick Scott while urging him to expand school vouchers to all students, release elderly prisoners early and consider taxing online purchases in exchange for cuts to other taxes.

The suggestions came in an e-mail Bush sent just days before Scott took office.

"You didn't ask for this, but it is the standard 'envelope in the desk to the new guy' for words from the old guy," Bush wrote. "To be honest, I did the same thing to Gov. Crist but he did nothing I suggested, so with the risk of being presumptuous, I am trying again."

Download Jeb memo to scott Story here.

House Speaker Dean Cannon endorses Rick Perry for president

House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter, Park, on Wednesday announced that he is endorsing Texas Gov. Rick Perry in his run for the GOP nomination for president.  

"I like who is as a person and what he's done as a leader," Cannon said. "He's the kind of person I would have confidence in to be president of the United States.

Like others who back Perry, Cannon cited Texas' record of job creation as a reason for the support.

"In the last two years, 40 percent of the net new jobs in the United States have been in Texas, which is an astounding statistic. If you look at the four most populous states ni the U.S., California, Texas, New York and Florida, California and New York are in terrible shape economically, and in Texas, while the rest of the nation has had significant unemployment, Texas has seen job growth."

Cannon said the country needs someone like Perry who is willing to reduce spending and cut the debt.

"That's what we need to do in Washington," he said. "He's dealt with tough issues like immigration. He's dealt with tort reforum and other issues that have proven to be positive job creators. The results show that."

 Cannon dismissed critics who say job creation in Texas has more to do with growth in the gas and oil industry and the public sector than Perry.

"I just disagree with that characterization," Cannon said. "I can't imagine that it's mathemtically possible for those things to account for 40 percent of the net new jobs inthe country in the past two years. By keeping low taxes, a low regulatory framewrork in place in Texas it has attracted people and jobs from other states like Illinois, Californi, and New York. Capital flows where it's treated best, and the policies Gov. Perry has advanced have treated capital well, and the conomy and job growth in Texas proves that."

Buss abruptly resigns as Florida prisons chief, Scott names replacement

Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Buss resigned late Wednesday after only six months on the job.

Buss' abrupt departure follows a pair of publicized clashes with Gov. Rick Scott's office involving a health care contract and a TV contract to film inside a high security prison.

Ken Tucker, FDLE deputy deputy commissioner, will lead DOC, Scott's office announced not even an hour after Buss resigned.

Buss, 45, arrived from Indiana in February with a strong reputation as a reformer and cost-cutter. But he seemed unprepared for the high level of scrutiny that legislators, interest groups and the media gave the prisons system, with its long history of scandal and controversy.

Continue reading "Buss abruptly resigns as Florida prisons chief, Scott names replacement" »

Gov. Rick Scott lifts suspension of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones

It's official: Michelle Spence-Jones is back as Miami city commissioner.

Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order Wednesday lifting the suspension imposed by former Gov. Charlie Crist after Spence-Jones was slapped with corruption charges.

Miami-Dade prosecutors dropped their pending case against Spence-Jones on Tuesday. State law required Scott to reinstate her as commissioner to finish her term, which ends in 2013.

That leaves Richard P. Dunn II, who had replaced Spence-Jones on the dais, out of a gig. More here.

Gov. Rick Scott sets Valle execution for Sept. 6

Gov. Rick Scott has scheduled the execution of Manuel Valle for 6 p.m. on Sept. 6, following Tuesday's decision by the Florida Supreme Court to lift a temporary stay of execution.

Valle, who was convicted of shooting and killing Coral Gables police Officer Louis Pena in 1978, had appealed the state's new use of a drug, pentobarbital, in its lethal injections. The state's high court affirmed an earlier ruling by a Miami-Dade judge that the new drug cocktail is constitutional.

The Supreme Court had originally stayed the execution until Sept. 1 -- an order it lifted on Tuesday. That paved the way for Scott to set a new date in a letter to the warden of Florida State Prison.

Sansom targeted again as grand jury hones in on prison deal

The Pensacola News Journal reports that a federal grand jury in Pensacola is investigating the building and funding of a privately owned correctional facility that opened last year in East Milton, including the role of former state Rep. Ray Sansom as well as the relationship between the Santa Rosa County economic development board and developers.

The investigations involve a who's who of North Florida players from Sansom to former Sen. Charles Clary to Santa Rosa County Commissioner Jim Melvin, whose computer was seized. 

Melvin told the PNJ that the FBI said the investigation was not focused on him but did not disclose what they were interested in.

Today, the grand jury issued another round of subpoenas, copies of which have been sent to the Herald/Times. The subpoenas seek records from land deals to travel between the county commission and the county's economic development arm, Team Santa Rosa. Download Subpoena16834 Download Subpoena16840[1]

Gawker: the good, bad of Florida

In its write-up of the 50 worst states in the nation, here's what Gawker had to say about us:

The Good: Miami can be fun in the right context. And it certainly has culture and cuisine and all that going for it. Key West is grand and gay. St. Augustine is a cool old place (oldest in the States, fyi) that's good for a day visit. Plus, you know, beaches. And warm weather. And, yeah, what the hell, DisneyWorld. That shit's fun! Alligators are cool, too.

The Bad: So many crazy, News of the Weird-type things happen in Florida that Fark has created an entire tag just for them. Think of Florida as a cookie or candy with a grandparent crust and a frothing, criminally insane filling. The middle of the state is a cultureless void from which crystal meth (or, like, moving away) is the only escape. Florida's brand of conservatism is one of the dumbest, and who can forget when the state was the trigger-man for that whole election theft back in 2000. Florida is a swampy morass of misery and boredom and church and guns and drug-addicted babies. Florida feels like a work of fiction. But it's depressingly real.

Final Score: 4.09

 

Did McCalister join reserves to avoid Vietnam?

Despite his denunciations and push-back, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McCalister continues to face veterans questioning his military record. The latest comes in a release by the Stolen Valor Task Force, which says it is not backing any candidate in the race. Today they sent out this:

Former Army Captain Ed Maxwell, who served as an enlisted man prior to being commissioned and serving a 19 month combat tour in Vietnam was emphatic about McCalister’s claim of enlisted active duty service. “All of Mike McCalister’s enlisted service was limited to reserve component Active Duty for training going though his initial basic training, and attending 2 week training periods with his units. Only active duty performed in an active component unit, or as a member of a mobilized Guard or Reserve unit counted for veterans’ status during the Vietnam era. McCalister did not qualify for veterans status until 1992, after serving a 2 years as an ROTC instructor at Florida A&M University as a major.” Maxwell who is also a Vietnam Veterans organization leader, added: “I have had it with McCalister’s charges and innuendos against us. I can not conclusively prove Mike’s actual motives for initially joining the Guard in 1971, but I can offer some strong evidence to base conclusions on. The facts are that in 1971, Guard units were extremely unlikely to be activated and sent to Vietnam. Joining the Guard gained exemption from the draft. After 4 to 6 months of active duty, a Reservist or Guardsman returned to their communities as part-time soldiers and resumed their normal lives. During the draft lottery, Selective Service drafted young men who drew lottery numbers, based on birth dates. Mike McCalister’s number gave him a very high probability of being drafted, at about the same time he joined the Guard.”

 

We haven't received a response from the McCalister campaign yet, but the Plant City Republican briefly addressed his military experience in an August Political Connections interview on Bay News 9, when he still looked like the longest of long shots. The clip is above.