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373 posts from February 2012

February 27, 2012

Ann Coulter: Jeb Bush would be "embarrassing to the Republican Party"

Politico: Conservative commentator Ann Coulter predicted on Sunday that Jeb Bush was throwing his hat into the ring in hopes of being chosen the Republican nominee, but had harsh criticism for that prospect.  

"It looks like we can throw Jeb Bush's hat into the ring, along with Sarah Palin, as hoping to be chosen as the nominee after a contested convention," Coulter said on "Fox News Sunday.". 
Coulter was reacting to comments Bush made earlier on in the week, when he said that the Republican presidential candidates are "appealing to people's fears." 
The conservative author, who is supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, said that a Jeb Bush candidacy would be a disaster. 
"I think on closer examination, Jeb Bush would be the worst of all candidates to run, for one thing," said Coulter. "We don't need another Bush.  That would be embarrassing to the Republican Party."
"He's more pro amnesty for illegals than his brother was, more than Rick Perry was," she added. ...

Posted by Adam C. Smith

Of lawmaker sexting and legacies

The sex-texting by lawmakers lives long after them; the good is oft interred with the bones of their legacies when they quit amid scandal.

So it is with state Rep. Richard Steinberg, D-Miami Beach.

He made the grievous error of sending disguised, stalker-like text messages to a female federal prosecutor he had known for years.

And he compounded his error by texting words like “sexxxy mama” — a phrase that has a crack-like addictive effect on reporters and readers alike.

Suddenly, the mild-mannered, soft-spoken Steinberg was a member of the nation’s Sexting Pols Caucus, co-chaired by former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner and former Florida Congressman Mark Foley.

But there’s a crucial difference: Steinberg, 39, knew when to go. He quit Friday, two days after The Miami Herald broke the story. And when he was first approached about the matter on Wednesday, Steinberg told the truth and apologized.

Column here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/26/2662611/sexting-and-the-truth.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy

Daily Digest for Monday, 2/27

 Daily Digest for 2/27 [Listen or Download]

[iTunes link]


Five Stories To Think About Today

 * The Senate will take up a bill that would allow unregulated surplus-lines insurers to take their policies out of Citizens Property Insurance. The proposal, which has already passed the House, is controversial because out-of-state insurers could raise their rates to any amount after taking over the Citizens’ policy. Sen. Mike Fasano, a vocal critic of Citizens, is planning to speak out against what he is calling the "vulture" bill.

* The Senate will also consider a proposal in session today to let the state sell the 
naming rights to greenways and trails.

Continue reading "Daily Digest for Monday, 2/27" »

February 26, 2012

Haridopolos, the history professor, gets lesson learned in running state Senate

When Mike Haridopolos was elected Senate president, he vowed to make the traditionally moderate chamber more conservative — in his own image.

Mug_smallBut the University of Florida history instructor miscalculated one thing: The Senate by its very nature moderate. Haridopolos and Senate leaders attempted to push several controversial conservative issues in the past year only to have the Senate hit the ideological reset button and vote them down.

It happened two weeks ago with the vote to privatize 30 South Florida prison facilities. It happened last year with the tea party-driven proposal to require all employers to use E-Verify to check immigration status, with the proposal to ban state worker unions from collecting dues, with a House measure to split the state Supreme Court in two, and with dozens of bills that appeared as part of the budget on the last night of session.

Haridopolos and his leadership team wanted them; the chamber, dominated 28-12 by Republicans, still said no.

“The Senate’s independent streak is what distinguishes it from
the House,’’ said Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston.
“It’s always there under the surface. You never know when it’s
going to emerge.” Sitting_small

The conflict played out again last week, when Haridopolos’ top deputies attempted to orchestrate a
coup to designate the Senate president for 2014 and 2016. Story here.

Photos by Matt Riva.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/25/v-fullstory/2661220/haridopolos-learns-the-hard-way.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/25/v-fullstory/2661220/haridopolos-learns-the-hard-way.html#storylink=cpy

A fugitive couple and South Florida's Russia-linked mortgage fraud machine

For fugitives Victor and Natalia Wolf, the police poster tells the story: hundreds of victims from land fraud swindles across Florida totaling millions in losses.

But the couple’s lasting legacy may be found in their most prized possession: their home.

In their final desperate days, the Wolfs managed to get a spate of sham mortgages slapped on their North Miami Beach house — creating 21 fake transactions — to squeeze millions from lenders before vanishing.

The wheeling and dealing — phony deeds, forged signatures and a straw buyer — has left investors fighting over who owns the stately waterfront house at the center of the couple’s real-estate empire.

“It is mind boggling,” said Fort Lauderdale attorney Roman Groysman, representing a burned lender in a battle over the home. “They did everything imaginable in the realm of fraud.” Amazing story by Mike Sallah here.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/25/2661489/the-south-florida-house-that-became.html#storylink=cpy

February 24, 2012

Suspicious letter delivered to Rubio office at Capitol

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio's office reported receiving a suspicious delivery Friday afternoon, sparking enough fear that the FBI is now investigating.

Keith Kameg, a spokesman for the Florida Deparment of Law Enforcement, said the letter was delivered to Rubio's office on the 21st floor of the state Capitol. Rubio opened the office just last month.

The scene was secured and no injuries were reported, Kameg said. The FBI will test the letter off-site to determine if there is anything dangerous is in its contents.

House passes bill granting Gov. Rick Scott more power to pick judges

The Florida House approved a proposal Friday that gives Gov. Rick Scott the power to fire many of the people who help select the state's judges, a move Democrats say will lead to a more politicized judiciary.

If passed by the Senate, it would be the most significant change to the process by which court vacancies are filled since 2001, when the Legislature gave former Gov. Jeb Bush the power to appoint all nine members of these screening panels with some input from the Florida Bar.

As it works now, the process for choosing members of the state's 26 Judicial Nominating Commissions is "like a weird game of judicial hokeypokey," said sponsor Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.

Story here.

House passes bill compensating William Dillon for 27 years in prison

In a near-unanimous vote, the House of Representatives approved a claims bill to provide $1.35 million to William Dillon, a Brevard County man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years.

The measure is the first claims bill this year to clear both Chambers, surviving an arduous process that leaves many victims disappointed at the end of every session.

House members briefly held a philosophical debate about claims bills, with a few members stating that they are against a process that allows government to overrule the state’s sovereign immunity provision in some cases, and not others. The Legislature has to approve any claim against a government entity in excess of $200,000.

Continue reading "House passes bill compensating William Dillon for 27 years in prison" »

Genshaft on Thursday's Senate budget vote: "Moving in the right direction"

A day after the Senate voted to restore $46 million in funding to the University of South Florida, Judy Genshaft celebrated a victory.

"Things are moving in the right direction," Genshaft told the Times/Herald.

Weeks earlier, the university president was in Tallahassee lobbying Legislators to save USF from what many saw as unfair and vindictive budget cuts amid Sen. JD Alexander's push to make the school's Lakeland branch campus independent. After many phone calls, e-mails and some hard work by Tampa Bay senators behind the scenes, USF got closer to the cuts of similar institutions. 

The work is not done, Genshaft said. She's hopeful for the restoration of another $3 million of the $6 million she said USF needs for its pharmacy school. Housed at USF Tampa, the program's funding comes through USF Polytechnic, with senators voted to split off on Thursday. An amendment filed by Sen. Jim Norman would USF back the other half.

As for the decision to split the campus off in the first place, Genshaft said that was already out of her hands. The Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system, made the decision in November to let USF Polytechnic break away. The Senators' vote on Thursday shortcut that decision.

One of the looming questions around that split is how the new university, if broken off immediately, would be accredited. Under the BOG plan, USF Poly would remain with USF until it gained that status separately, among other benchmarks. Genshaft hopes to learn more next week, when she visits the Atlanta office of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Alexander has recently said SACS assured him the school could become separately accredited as soon as July -- even though that process typically takes three to five years. SACS has not returned calls from the Times/Herald seeking comment.

Genshaft said she hadn't heard what Alexander did. She asked USF's accreditation specialist to research it, but they couldn't find anything to tell them it could happen that quickly.

"I am not saying it's not true. I simply don't know," Genshaft said. "We're trying to move this along as quickly as possible, so if there is that type of accreditation, I'd like to learn about it."

House Democrats react to news of Steinberg's resignation

During a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus on Thursday, Democratic leader Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West, broke the news of Rep. Richard Steinberg’s resignation to his colleagues.

There was only a faint hum of shock in the room. Some members expressed relief, saying to one another that the decision was the right move for Steinberg, who stands accused of sending several bizarre text messages to a married Miami prosecutor. The Miami Herald broke the story in a front-page article on Thursday.

Following a Thursday evening meeting in which members were apparently asked not to speak to the media about Steinberg, the party’s leadership warned members against being too vocal about Steinberg after his resignation.

Continue reading "House Democrats react to news of Steinberg's resignation" »