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223 posts from December 2011

December 22, 2011

Former state Rep. Julio Robaina wants to be South Miami mayor -- again

Julio Robaina, the Miami Republican who was term-limited out of office last year, plans to run for South Miami mayor -- a position he held nearly a decade ago.

Robaina said in an interview that he will challenge incumbent Mayor Philip Stoddard. "There is a lack of decorum in the commission and instability in City Hall," Robaina said, adding that he met with Stoddard to let him know about his plans.

Robaina left office in 2010 due to term limits and ran unsuccessfully earlier this year for Miami-Dade County Commission. He lost to former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez.

Full story by Michelle Hammontree-Garcia here.

December 21, 2011

Cannon lays out House session shedule

House Speaker Dean Cannon told members Wednesday not to expect a lot of floor action the first several weeks of session, part of the "collateral" impact of session's early January jump.

Also, like last session, Cannon wrote in a memo, the House will not take up a Senate bill if it's House companion hasn't weaved its way through the committee process and put it on the calendar.

Here's the memo:


TO:                        Members, Florida House of Representatives

FROM:                  Dean Cannon, Speaker

DATE:                    December 21, 2011

RE:                          2012 Session

The early start date for the 2012 Session will have a collateral impact on the timing and sequence of our work in the House.  To assist you in managing your legislation this Session, I bring to your attention several items:

  • We anticipate spending significantly less time on the Floor, in formal Session, than we did last year. I do not expect any major Floor action during the first several weeks of Session. 
  • The policy subcommittees will meet during weeks one through four of Session. Since the fiscal subcommittees will spend the first three weeks preparing their recommendations for the FY 2012-13 state budget, they will be given additional time during weeks five and six to consider Member bills.  If necessary, additional subcommittee time will also be allotted in weeks five or six to the Community & Military Affairs Subcommittee to complete its consideration of local bills, the Government Operations Subcommittee to complete its public records exemption reviews, and the Civil Justice Subcommittee for the consideration of claims bills.  The subcommittee agendas for these additional meetings will be limited to those enumerated topics.
  • The policy and fiscal committees of the House will continue to meet through week seven of Session.
  • Please be reminded that regardless of when you file your bills, referrals are based on content.   The more expansive your bill, the more referrals your bill will likely receive.

Last Session, the House maintained the integrity of its committee process. We did not withdraw a single House bill from a subcommittee or committee, and we did not take up a single Senate bill whose House companion had not reached the House Calendar. It is my intention to adhere to the same principles for the 2012 Session.

I wish all of you Happy Holidays and look forward to working with you when you return to Tallahassee.

Mitt Romney's Florida county chairs

From a press release:

Boston, MA – Mitt Romney today announced the County Chairs and Co-Chairs for his Florida campaign. 

“In order to win in January, and defeat President Obama in November, my campaign will need the hard work of these Florida County Chairs,” said Mitt Romney. “Their work on the ground, reaching out to voters will be important as I campaign to spread my pro-growth message and bring jobs back to Florida.”

Continue reading "Mitt Romney's Florida county chairs" »

December 20, 2011

RPOF Vice-Chair Blaise Ingoglia makes top 10 political vid: 'Brother Can You Spare a Trillion."

The Republican Party of Florida's vice chairman, Blaise Ingoglia, has racked up 5 million YouTube views with his Government Gone Wild video "Brother Can You Spare a Trillion?" The AP story:

By: Associated Press

December 20, 2011

 NEW YORK — A young Iowa man's plea for marriage rights for his lesbian parents drew 18.3 million views to become the most-watched political video of the year, according to YouTube's ranking of viral political videos.

 President Barack Obama's speech to the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April was second on the list, while Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry's ad criticizing gays in the military placed third and was the year's most-watched campaign commercial.

 YouTube, the popular video-sharing site, released its 2011 list Tuesday. The company based its rankings on videos uploaded by users to the site's news and politics category.

 Rounding out the top five: Obama's announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden on May 1, and "Brother Can You Spare a Trillion?" by Florida Republican activist Blaise Ingoglia, warning of the mounting federal debt.

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Sean Penn to Maria Conchita Alonso: 'Pig!' Alonso to Penn: 'Communist!'

Political tempers flared between two celebrities when half-Cuban actress Maria Conchita Alonso and Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn exchanged heated insults at Los Angeles Airport, the actress told radio station WMAL on Tuesday.

Alonso, a sometime-Miami resident whose parents have both seen their countries — Cuba and Venezuela — fall under leftist leaders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, called Penn, a “communist” after he called her “a pig.”

The former beauty queen who first became famous for her 1984 role in Moscow on the Hudson told the L.A. radio personalities the incident happened Sunday in front of her wheelchair-bound mother and dozens of passengers and airport staff. The two actors, who co-starred in Colors in 1988 met accidently at LAX white waiting for information on Penn's and Alonso's mother's lost luggage.

"I go 'Hello,' and he smiles and says, 'Oh, you lost your bag too?" Alonso told Steve Malzberg on WMAL. "And I'm like, 'No, my mother (lost her bag).' And at that moment he recognizes me because he didn't recognize me before, and he goes, 'Oh, it's you.'"

Alonso says she told Penn, who has called Chavez a friend, she wanted to speak with him about the Venezuelan leader and Penn blew up at her. “He goes,” she said: “I don't want to talk to you. You speak badly about me. You insult me on TV," Alonso told the station.

More here

Bondi tweaks language for repeal of Blaine Amendment on 2012 ballot

As expected, Attorney General Pam Bondi submitted revised language for Amendment 7, a repeal a long-standing ban on taxpayer money for religious organizations, after Circuit Judge Terry Lewis struck it from the ballot last week.

Siding with the Florida Education Association last week, Lewis said the ballot summary was ambiguous and misleading but suggested how to fix it. Bondi took his suggestion. Read her summary here.

"Voters deserve an opportunity to decide whether to remove from Florida's constitution a provision that discriminates against religious institutions," Bondi said in a statement.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida was among groups celebrating last week's strike-down. In a Tuesday statement, executive director Howard Simon said "the proposal continues to mislead voters by failing to inform them of the chief purpose and actual impact of the amendment – to virtually require taxpayer funding of religious activities of churches, mosques and synagogues.

Read more here.

Movers and Shakers, the holidays edition

Attorney General Pam Bondi is losing one of her press aides. Jennifer Krell Davis will join the Florida Ports Council as vice president of public affairs on Jan. 2.

Davis, a graduate of the University of Florida's law school, worked in Bondi's office this year as deputy communications director and press secretary. Before that she was communications director for the Department of State, handling media requests for the 2008 and 2010 elections. Previous career stops include the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Bar and the Florida House.

* * *

Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins announced the hiring of Rob Siedlecki, , as assistant secretary for substance abuse and mental health. He starts Jan. 5.

Continue reading "Movers and Shakers, the holidays edition " »

Medicare fraud bill reintroduced

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, has reintroduced legislation that would double the fines and jail time for people convicted of Medicare fraud. It also creates a new criminal offense punishable with a 10 year minimum sentence for those who knowingly sell or distribute the ID numbers of Medicare beneficiaries.

The legislation also bars those who have been part of Medicare fraud in the past from billing Medicare if they switch companies. It also facilitates real-time information sharing among law enforcement agencies to aid in uncovering and dismantling Medicare scams.

"South Florida has been known as the epicenter of Medicare fraud for years," she said. "It is time we took the fight to those who seek to defraud Medicare and prey on our most vulnerable citizens. This bill not only increases the penalties for those who engage in Medicare fraud, but also sets up a pro-active paradigm that will help stem the tide of abuse in South Florida and across the nation."

The bill takes particular aim at Medicare theft in Miami-Dade County, widely regarded as the nation's capital of healthcare fraud. Medicare fraud in South Florida costs taxpayers between $3 billion and $4 billion every year, according to law enforcement and healthcare officials. Nationwide, Medicare and other healthcare fraud is estimated to cost $68 billion annually. 

Frederica Wilson's bill would boost protections for foster kids

Each year on Sept. 29, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, throws a rememberance party on the birthday of Rilya Wilson, the 4-year-old who went missing in her district in 2001.

Tuesday, Wilson introduced a bill named the "Rilya Wilson Act." It's designed to protect foster children and to ensure  every state has a procedure in place to promptly report their disappearance. The bill has 109 original co-sponsors of both parties, Wilson's office said.

"To this day, I have not forgotten," Wilson said. "We must do better. We must protect foster children just as we would our own children." 

Rilya's foster mother, Geralyn Graham, continued to collect payments from the Florida Department of Children and Families for 15 months after the girl's disappearance, during which time the agency never knew her whereabouts. When it was discovered, it took a full week to report her missing to local authorities. Rilya has never been found.

The bill requires state child welfare agencies to report information on missing or abducted foster children promptly to local law enforcement agencies so that disappearances can then be reported to the National Crime Information Center.

It also adds a requirement that local enforcement agencies must submit a recent photograph requirement to NCIC. Currently, only submission of a child’s name, date of birth, sex, race, height, weight, eye color, hair color, and  medical and dental records 'whenever possible' are required.

It also ensures that state law enforcement agencies notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of each report received relating to missing children from foster care.

House Democrats seek -- but fail -- to chastise Allen West for likening them to Nazis

House Republicans voted against taking up a resolution that would have scolded Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, for likening the messaging of the Democratic Party to that of Hitler's propaganda machine.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 231-188 to table the resolution, which was sponsored by Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md. The vote was largely along party lines.

Several Jewish organizations asked West to apologize last week after he compared the messaging of the Democratic Party to that of Nazis.

"If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine," West told reporters Thursday afternoon in Washington. "Let’s be honest, you know, some of the people in the media are complicit with this and enabling them to get that type of message out."

The Anti-Defamation League said it was "deeply dismayed" by what West said. “Such outrageous Holocaust analogies have no place in our political dialogue," said Abraham H. Foxman, the ADL's national director as well as a Holocaust survivor. "They are offensive, they trivialize real historical events, and they diminish the memory of the six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust."

Edwards said Tuesday in a statement that West's "outrageous and insensitive remarks" have "no place in our nation’s political discourse." "This privileged resolution states clearly that this distasteful behavior cannot and will not be tolerated in the House of Representatives," she said. "The American people demand and deserve true leaders who are willing to work together to solve the nation’s economic and fiscal challenges. I ask my congressional colleagues to join me in sending a clear message that we share that priority."

West's spokeswoman Angela Sachitano said in an e-mail that he had no comment. Democrats have "stooped to a new level in their attempts to bring down Representative West, who they have deemed a threat to their power," she said. "Here we are in the midst of serious congressional business, and they are focusing their energy on Representative West."

West, a freshman Republican from a heavily Jewish district in South Florida, made the remarks when he being asked about why the GOP was doing so poorly in pools. A poll released last week by the Pew Research Center found people blame Republicans more than Democrats for Washington's gridlock. The Pew poll warned that public discontent with Congress has reached record levels, a prospect that could make re-election challenging for Republican incumbents.

West told reporters last week that Republicans needed to get better at messaging, and when asked whether to clarify that he was likening Democrats to Nazis, said that reporters would twist his words to suit their agenda.

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