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296 posts from September 2011

September 28, 2011

Democrats open mouth on early primary. Joe Biden inserts foot

Vice President Joe Biden brought his shoot-from-the hip style to South Florida and just walked all over the talking points of Democratic leaders from Florida to New Hampshire over Florida's early primary.

Democratic leaders have bashed the idea. Not so Biden when asked if there should be one in Florida.

“I’m of the view that there should be,” he told WLRN Miami Herald news in an interview that was focused on the American Jobs Act.

Florida’s early presidential preference primary will likely be held Jan. 31. Republicans, who control the Legislature and governor’s mansion, are eying that date to make sure that Florida goes fifth, so that the state’s nomination means something because it’s the largest swing state in the nation. By having an early primary, Florida’s GOP leaders bucked their own party, which will technically penalize the state if the party nominee ultimately needs to be decided in next years Republican National Convention (which is unlikely, since it happens in Tampa).

"It is appalling that Republican leaders in some states are not planning to adhere to the agreed upon calendar for the presidential contest,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said in response to Florida’s decision.

Earlier this month, Florida Democratic Party Chair Rod Smith said: “Both the Republican and Democratic national committees have agreed to rules and those rules need to be followed. I would urge this committee to do just that.”

Enter Biden: “The big and important states should have a shot to make a difference in the outcome of the nominating process. I think they have to be in it. You have to provide for some small states to be able to be in the deal so that unknown candidates who are qualified, don’t have a lot of money, are able to compete. But the idea that you render California or Pennsylvania or Florida or Michigan obsolete -- that by the time it gets to them it’s all over -- I don’t think represents what primaries should be about. Far be it from me to suggest to the Republicans when they should schedule the Florida primary….. But the point is, anybody who thinks they can walk away from Florida and get elected president -- anybody who thinks they can walk away from Florida and be held harmless in the nominating process, I think is making a gigantic mistake in either of our parties. You are an absolutely critical state…. Your state is a micro of the whole country and the damage done by this god-awful recession -- that began before we came into office and that continued until we broke the back of it and now were on level ground – but a lot of people in your state are hurting badly.”

Rod Smith: court will decide redistricting maps, legislature will create the record

Rod Smith Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith told a redistricting forum Tuesday night that reapportionment "is all I think about these days" and predicts the once-a-decade redrawing of political boundaries will veer off along an unprecedented path next year as lawmakers apply new guidelines imposed by voters.

Legislators will vote on the first round of maps in committee in December and take them up when they convene in special session in January. But Smith is skeptical they will succeed without judicial input and believes the legislature's role will be to create the court record.

The reason, he told about 40 people at the public forum at the Leon County Public Library Tuesday night, is that the state's shifting minority population as well as the requirements of the Fair Districts amendments to the constitution "are carving new ground here...The United States Supreme Court will be the final arbitor."

Continue reading "Rod Smith: court will decide redistricting maps, legislature will create the record" »

Claude Kirk, first FL GOP governor since Reconstruction, passes away

From the News Service of Florida:

Idiosycratic former Gov. Claude Kirk, one of the first Republicans elected as a governor of a Southern state in modern times, has died, according to several Republican political sources. Kirk was 85. Elected in 1966, Kirk served until he was defeated for re-election in 1970  by Reubin Askew.

Kirk, known for his trademark cowboy hats, showing up at his inaugural with a mystery woman (who turned out to be his new wife), and for never shying away from controversial issues, defeated Robert King High in the 1966 election, after High beat incumbent Democratic Gov. Haydon Burns in the primary.

Claude Kirk was known for revising Constitution, updating Florida's government

Claude Kirk Claude R. Kirk Jr., Florida’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction and one of the state’s most flamboyant chief executives, died Tuesday night, his son said. He was 85 years old and lived in Palm Beach.

Along with a new state Constitution, a streamlined urban-controlled Legislature and a reorganized executive branch, his four years fired the interest of rank-and-file voters in state government. And he made a lot of people laugh.

From the moment he became the state’s 36th governor Jan. 3, 1967, to begin his single term in Tallahassee, he displayed a flair for the unexpected.

In his inauguration address, he called for a special session of the Legislature to write a new state Constitution. He also said he was setting up a private police force to drive crime out of the state. Full story here.

Gov. Rick Scott has ordered all flags to be flown at half staff. Here is the statement from the Kirk family:

Continue reading "Claude Kirk was known for revising Constitution, updating Florida's government" »

Some frat boys love cock-a-doodle

RiBr1.Em.56 Some FIU frat boys stole a giant Calle Ocho rooster for a football game. And some folks just don't think it's funny. Here's our columnist, Fabiola Santiago, on the cock theft:

Maybe the Little Havana Rooster Caper is a small peccadillo in the grand scheme of wrongs.

“I think it’s pretty hilarious! It reminds me of the pranksters who stole the baby Jesus from some nativity scene and traveled all over the place, photographing the little baby all over the world. They returned it with a note,” says a friend who is a Florida International University alumna. “I say no harm, no fowl — pardon the pun!”

But as harmless as the theft now seems to those of us who remember youthful impulse and college pranks, the episode merits a bit of serious community introspection. It says plenty about how we do business in the City of Miami and about our prejudices and quickness to judge.

More here

Jacksonville Reps. Daniel Davis, Lake Ray and Mike Weinstein endorse Adam Hasner

Adam Hasner announced endorsements from three Florida House members from Jacksonville in his campaign for U.S. Senate: Republican Reps. Daniel Davis, Lake Ray and Mike Weinstein.

Here's the release:

Continue reading "Jacksonville Reps. Daniel Davis, Lake Ray and Mike Weinstein endorse Adam Hasner" »

Florida Lottery inks deal with Walmart

The Florida Lottery announced a big get for new Secretary Cynthia O'Connell late Tuesday: Florida will become the first state to offer lottery tickets in Walmart stores.

Walmart will sell tickets in 27 of its Neighborhood Market locations in what is considered a pilot program. The deal includes stores in Pinellas Park, Largo, Clearwater, Pompano Beach, Plantation and Coral Springs.

Orlando-area stores will be the first to offer lottery tickets starting Oct. 5, with other stores rolling out sales later that month. Read more details from the Associated Press.

Customers can buy scratch-offs and drawing games, including Powerball, Florida Lotto, Fantasy 5, Play 4, Cash 3 and Lucky Lines.

"By expanding our retail footprint, we're able to sell more tickets, which in turn raises more money for education programs in the state," O'Connell said in a statement.

Cannon: We'll vote for a Jan. 31 primary

House Speaker Dean Cannon told the Herald/Times today that the presidential primary committee will choose the last Tuesday of January for the state's primary. It's the same date the legislature set as the defacto date four years ago, before it changed its mind this year and appointed this committee to set the date. Cannon said he's spoken with the governor's office and Senate president's office, and that date will be set when the committee meets on Friday.

"We believe that meets of goals of ensuring that Florida comes fifth and that we have our own, separate date," Cannon said.

The decision assumes that in addition to the Iowa caucuses, primaries in South Carolina, New Hampshire and Nevada precede Florida's.

September 27, 2011

Manuel Valle scheduled to be executed Wednesday, barring last-minute stay

At 4 p.m. Wednesday, a gaunt 61-year-old man will be strapped to a gurney at Florida State Prison in Starke. An anonymous executioner, hidden behind a one-way mirror, will inject Manuel Adriano Valle with three drugs. One to knock him unconscious. Another to paralyze him. And a third to stop his heart.

Jeneane Skeen will be watching in the execution chamber. Valle killed her father, Coral Gables Police Officer Louis Pena, 33 years ago. For decades, she and her family pleaded for justice. They wrote to six governors to sign Valle’s death warrant. Gov. Rick Scott finally did 12 weeks ago, his first execution.

“We’re tired of waiting,” Skeen said. “We want my father’s justice to be done. He gave his life doing his job.”

More here.

Suspended immigration official arrested on Internet child-porn charges

The suspended head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for South Florida was arrested Tuesday on charges of possessing and distributing images of child pornography over the Internet, according to authorities familiar with the case.

Anthony V. Mangione, 50, of Parkland, was taken into custody by FBI agents. He will be held at the Broward Sheriff’s Office jail until his appearance in Fort Lauderdale federal court Wednesday.

Justice Department, FBI and ICE officials declined to comment.

Mangione was placed on paid administrative leave in April after federal agents began investigating four images of child pornography he allegedly received on his home computer via an AOL e-mail account, according to sources familiar with the probe. The investigation grew significantly over the summer, leading to the Internet-related, child-pornography charges being filed under seal, according to sources.

In April, The Miami Herald reported that the Broward Sheriff’s Office and FBI investigators had seized Mangione’s computer from his Parkland residence after obtaining a search warrant based on an alert from AOL, Mangione’s Internet service provider. Sources said Mangione, who headed the ICE regional office since 2007, was not believed to have received the pictures in connection with any ICE investigation.

More from Jay Weaver here.