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296 posts from September 2011

September 29, 2011

Chief Justice Canady asks for $46 million as court system continues struggle with budget

Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady has asked Gov. Rick Scott and legislative budget leaders to provide a temporary transfer of $45.6 million into the trust fund that pays for the court system's operations.

In Wednesday letters to Scott, Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, and Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, Canady said the transfer would be enough to sustain the court's current budgets through March.

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Gov. Scott welcomes House Speaker Dean Cannon to the mansion

rickscott2_610691e.jpgHouse Speaker Dean Cannon and his family are headed to the Governor's Mansion tonight for dinner with Gov. Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott.

It's Cannon's first social visit to the mansion since Scott moved in.

Scott has dined with plenty of other Republican leaders in the Legislature, including Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Haridopolos' likely successor Don Gaetz, Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander, designated House Speaker Will Weatherford, House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Rep. Chris Dorworth, who is scheduled to take control of the House in 2014.

Cannon backed Scott's primary opponent, but so nearly every elected Republican, including most of those in the list above.

Cannon's dinner with Scott, like the one with Haridopolos and the House leaders, is behind closed doors. The state Constitution requires meetings between the governor and speaker or Senate president to be open to the public if the purpose is to agree on legislation.

"It's a family dinner," Cannon spokeswoman Katie Betta said. "It's purely social," said Scott spokesman Brian Burgess.

Marco Rubio and other GOP senators visit Libya

Republican U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Marco Rubio of Florida, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and John McCain of Arizona, in Libya. 

Fresh off a visit to the newly liberated Libyan capital of Tripoli, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the new government in the North African nation needs international help with its police force, its prisons and its fledgling democracy. 

Rubio, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, traveled Thursday to Libya with fellow Republican Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona.

Rubio said he told those he met in Tripoli that people who are oppressed in other parts of  the world have looked to the Libyan revolution as inspiration. He also said the American role in aiding the transition is vital for the region.

"All in all, we're pleased with the progress they've made," Rubio said. "We're very happy to see the pro-American enthusiasm that we encountered. And we have hope for Libya's future. Five years from now, three years from now, we could have a nation in the northern part of Africa that is Islamic and Arab, and yet pro-American and a democracy. And our ally in confronting the problems of the region and the world. That's the opportunity before us."

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Cannon says primary naysayers are wrong and worried about hotels

House Speaker Dean Cannon blasted the critics, such as Florida RNC member Paul Senft, who said that the early primary will result in a diminishment of Florida's clout, not an increase. 

"The nominee will be chosen long before the convention,'' Cannon told reporters Thursday, a day after announcing that a legislatively-controlled committee will switch the date to Jan. 31 when they meet on Friday. "That's what happened in '08. It's going to happen again."

He dismissed concerns that Florida's lost delegates and its inability to deliver all delegates to the popular vote winner will lead to a brokered convention.

"That's just utterly untrue,'' Cannon said. ''Guess what the presidential primary date was in 2008? Jan. 31, we went fifth. 'Everybody said the same thing: Oh my gosh, you might lose your delegate at a convention -- which by the way is going to be held in Tampa.

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Cannon: House to appeal redistricting lawsuit

House Speaker Dean Cannon said Thursday that the House will join U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown and Mario Diaz-Balart to appeal the trial court's ruling that rejected their challenge to the Fair Districts Amendment 6. Cannon said that the decision by Federal Judge Ursula Ungaro was wrong and included "some factual inaccuracies that reflect a basic misapprehension of facts."

Ungaro ruled on Sept. 9 that the amendment passed by a majority of Florida voters last November did not violate the U.S. Constitution as Brown, a Democrat from Jacksonville, and Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Miami, had argued in their lawsuit.

Amendment 6 forbids the state Legislature from drawing congressional boundaries that favor a political party or incumbent. 

Cannon defended the legal expense of the lawsuit and said that the Legislature will continue with its redistricting efforts despite the appeal. But he believes the constitutional amendment violates the U.S. Constitution's requirement that the state Constitution cannot preempt the federal Constitution's control over Congresss, including the redistricting rules, and requires clarification for future legislatures. Here's the lawsuit: Download 089 Joint Notice of Appeal[1]

"We intend to draw maps that fully comply with the language in Amendments 5 and 6 because...it's unlikely that the court will even rule on this until probably after the fact,'' he said.

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Rene Garcia, Paula Dockery endorse Jon Huntsman

Two Florida state senators announced their endorsement of Jon Huntsman today: Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland. Also jumping aboard the Huntsman train: City of Longwood Mayor Joe Durso.

Dockery said in a statement she's "proud to stand behind the only candidate whose job creation plan has been endorsed by the Wall Street Journal." Durso cited Huntsman's experience in the private sector, his times as Utah governor, and his international experience as ambassador to China.

PPP: Obama blows out Perry in FL, tied with Romney and... Paul(?!)

From Public Policy Polling, a firm that typically performs surveys for Democrats

Mitt Romney's return to the top of the GOP field is very good news for Republicans if they want to knock off Barack Obama next year.  Our newest Florida poll finds that Romney would be in a toss up with Obama in the critical swing state but that Perry trails Obama by 7 points, which would be the biggest margin of defeat for a Republican candidate in Florida since Harry Truman blew out Thomas Dewey in 1948.

Obama's not popular in Florida- only 46% of voters approve of him to 51% who disapprove.  His numbers with independents are particularly bad at 41/52 and there are twice as many Democrats who disapprove of him as there are Republicans who think he's doing a good job.  His numbers look great compared to Perry though.  Only 29% of voters see him favorably to 58% with a negative opinion.  Independents split against him 22/61 and he's already established himself as the candidate Democrats hate the most with 83% giving him a negative rating.  Social Security's a big issue in Florida and only 25% of voters agree with Perry's statement that it's a 'Ponzi Scheme' to 63% who disagree with his point of view.
Perry trails Obama 50-43, including a 53-40 deficit with independents. 

 Other Republicans make it very close though.  Romney trails only 46-45 and Ron Paul actually does just as well, trailing 45-44.  58% of undecideds in the Obama/Romney match and 72% in the Obama/Paul match disapprove of the President's job performance so odds are those folks would split against him in the end and put the state into the GOP column.

  This may be the most positive poll for Paul that we've ever conducted- he leads by 15 points with independents even as the rest of the Republican candidates trail Obama with that voting group. The problem for Paul is that independents like him a lot more than Republicans do and that puts his chances for the nomination at slim to none...but he might really be able to make a dent if he ended up running as an independent instead.

The biggest sign of Perry's weakness in Florida might be that even Michele Bachmann polls better than him there- she trails Obama by just 5 points at 49-44.  The only person Perry performs better than is Newt Gingrich whose deficit against the President is 8 points at 50-42.

Download PPP_Release_FL_0929925

Florida's RNC leader says blowing up primary calendar will diminish state clout

Paul Sneft Republican National Committeeman Paul Senft has sent an e-mail to party leaders warning that a January presidential primary date will diminish Florida's influence in picking the nominee, rather than increase it. It's worth noting that members of the state executive committee, like Senft, are the ones most concerned about access to Florida passes, etc. Here's the whole letter:

As was outlined unanimously by all the commentators on Fox News at 6PM – It makes no sense for Florida to move up to January and blow up the Presidential Primary Calendar. They all agree that we will be the first large and diverse state to go and with our full complement of delegates we will be more significant.

Since a story was leaked today saying that we were going to hold our primary on January 31, 2012, my phone and email have melted down. I, therefore, have been asked to do one summary to help inform people about our position. The only thing others will say is that going early will help Florida be more significant. I would submit that we will be less significant because no candidate can get momentum from the few delegates they will get from Florida. Further, how much more significant can we get than hosting the convention? 

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Mayor Gimenez and his Rosh Hashanah prayer

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez led a prayer at a Rosh Hashanah service at Bet Shira Congregation in Pinecrest Thursday.

He arrived midway through the morning service and was led to the bima, where he was introduced by Rabbi Brian Schuldenfrei. Gimenez wore a University of Miami yarmulke, which he acknowledged, but said,  “I’ve lost a little faith in them lately.”

He noted that Schuldenfrei gave an invocation at his swearing in and wished the congregation shana tova — a happy new year.  

-- Rick Hirsch

Florida Republicans to ask for the release of Cuban political prisoners

South Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and David Rivera will ask today for the unconditional release of several political prisoners held in Cuba. They'll hold a press conference this afternoon at Diaz-Balart's office in Doral.

They include Yris Tamara Perez Aguilar, the wife of Jorge Luis ‘Antunez’ Garica Perez, Donaida Perez Paseiro and Yaimara Reyes Mesa.

The activists and others were brutally beaten and detained this week while visiting Cuba’s main State Security office to demand information regarding the welfare of other political prisoners, Diaz-Balart's office said. Accounts provided by witnesses to the attack indicate that the injuries caused by the beatings were severe. Their extent of their injuries and their whereabouts, remain unknown, his office said.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday said that his administration has tried to send a signal "that we are open to a new relationship with Cuba." But that's only if the Cuban government "starts taking the proper steps to open up its own country and provide the space and the respect for human rights that would allow the Cuban people to determine their own destiny," Obama said.