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255 posts from April 2012

April 26, 2012

Marco Rubio joins a Democrat in condemning violence in Syria

He talked bipartisanship in his big foreign policy speech this week; now, Sen. Marco Rubio is living it.

Rubio, R-Fla., joined Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania in a resolution that calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to "end his campaign of violence and to step down from power so that the Syrian people can begin the transition to an inclusive democratic government." 

The two called for the U.S. to do more to provide humanitarian assistance to those suffering under the regime’s brutality, and to assist opposition organizations that seek a peaceful, democratic future for Syria.

"Assad has committed atrocities against the Syrian people, and it's essential that the United States keep applying pressure on the regime and plan for a post-Assad Syria," he said. "Assad's departure from power needs to be accelerated, while we lay the foundation for Syria to begin its difficult path towards a true inclusive democracy," Rubio said in a statement.

The two senators issued a statement that says their resolution asks the Obama administration to continue to provide support, including communications equipment, to the political opposition in Syria. It also asks for the administration to provide robust humanitarian assistance to those affected by the ongoing violence. Finally, it calls for a plan to identify and secure the Assad regime’s stockpiles of conventional, biological, and chemical weapons.

Citizens slows plan to allow uncapped rates for new customers

Florida’s mammoth state-run insurance company decided Thursday to move more slowly on a plan to allow unlimited rates for new clients.

Part of an aggressive push by Citizens Property Insurance to reduce its number of policies by more than 400,000 (or about 30%) in the next 18 months, the plan would remove the 10 percent cap on rates for any new customers, causing them to pay as much as 50 percent more than existing customers with similar policies.

After a wave of outcry from the public and lawmakers, the board of governors decided to ask Citizens’ staff to study the issue further before bringing it up for a vote.

Continue reading "Citizens slows plan to allow uncapped rates for new customers" »

Legislator calls for investigation into Supreme Court's document drama

Gov. Rick Scott is considering calling for an investigation into whether or not three Supreme Court justices are guilty of a misdemeanor in their scramble to get papers filed last week in their merit retention races.

Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican, had sent a letter to Scott on Thursday asking for the probe into whether or not three Supreme Court justices violated state law by using court employees to "prepare the campaign documents" relating to their merit retention election on the November ballot. The governor is evaluating whether to order the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate, according to the governor’s staff.

Plakon cited media reports about the court's rare, hour-long break in redistricting arguments on Friday when the lawyer heading up the merit retention campaigns of Justice Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quincy and R. Fred Lewis, alerted them that they had failed to file the required financial disclosure form and qualifying papers by the noon deadline.

"If correct, the news reports indicate that Florida law may have been violated by the Justices,'' Plakon wrote, citing state statute that prevents a candidate for public office from using the services of state staff during working hours.

Continue reading "Legislator calls for investigation into Supreme Court's document drama" »

Congressional Hispanic Caucus to Marco Rubio: More details, please

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., had a busy day Wednesday, giving a speech about his foreign policy views, and explaining his immigration proposal to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He met with the group's chairman, Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-Texas, as well as Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. and the caucus' immigration task force chairman Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.

They said they'd like to hear more details about Rubio's immigration proposal, aimed at keeping young people in the United States if they came illegally as children. He's been talking about the idea for weeks, partly to counter the GOP's reputation for tough talk on immigration, and also because it's a problem that thousands of children in Florida could face.

The idea --not yet a congressional bill -- is a Republican alternative to the Democratic DREAM Act, which would provide a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the U.S. as children illegally, and join the military or go to college.

Gonzalez said the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is always open to "meaningful dialogue about immigration reform," and invited Rubio to speak after hearing the Florida senator talk about immigration at the Hispanic Leadership Network in January.

"Until we know the details of his proposal, the CHC will not comment on specific provisions," Gonzalez said. "We look forward to learning more about his plan and remain committed to working with any member who aims to enact meaningful reform."

Federal judge: Rick Scott's drug-testing order for state employees is unconstitutional

The Associated Press reports:

A Miami federal judge has declared that Gov. Rick Scott's order requiring drug testing for state workers is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled Thursday that blanket testing of some 85,000 workers violates the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The ruling could eventually have an impact on a new state law also permitting random worker drug testing.

Scott's order was challenged by a labor union representing government workers and the American Civil Liberties Union. They contended that drug testing should only be done if there is a suspected problem and in safety-related and high-risk jobs.

Lawyers for the governor contend that objecting workers are free to quit and job applicants could choose to find employment elsewhere.

Scott suspended the order in June because of the lawsuit.

Read the AP story.

Romney 47%, Obama 45% in Florida poll

The latest bi-partisan Purple Strategies poll of key swing states finds Romney competitive but slightly trailing in the battleground states. Their Florida sample, though,  (MoE +/- 4/.1%) is the first poll since the Times/Herald poll in January to show Obama trailing - with 47 percent support for Romney among likely voters and 45 percent for the president.

More from Florida:

Obama's  approval/disapproval: 46/50

Romney favorability/unfavorability: 45/44

Economy getting better/worse: 33/38

Plenty of jobs locally/difficult for find jobs locally: 14/77

In future, jobs and salary will be: Worse - 45%; The same - 20%; Better - 26%; Not sure - 9%

-- Adam C. Smith, Tampa Bay Times

April 25, 2012

Report finds financial shenanigans at, drum roll, USF Poly

Two top administrators at the University of South Florida Polytechnic are facing dismissal following an investigation into complaints about financial mismanagement at the Lakeland campus.

And the former leader of the school, Marshall Goodman, could soon be under investigation himself.

Those are among the recommendations made by USF officials who just completed a two-month ethics review at USF Poly. Not only did investigators confirm that USF Poly officials misused money, it revealed a dysfunctional world that one employee dubbed "Marshall Goodman's own playground."

Read more here as the story develops. 

-- Kim Wilmath, Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio calls for U.S. to be more engaged in foreign policy

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday at the Brookings Institution outlined his approach to foreign policy, a speech that carries more weight now that he's on Mitt Romney's apparent shortlist for vice president.

It also gave people a broader vision of the Florida senator -- one that's more than a Cuban-American politician who has the political skills to sell Hispanic voters on the Republican Party.

Rubio said the easiest thing he could do during his address would be to criticize his differences with President Barack Obama's foreign policy. But he still took a hard whack, saying the Obama administration must commit more firmly to a world leadership role. He was especially critical of what he called an overreliance on the part of the administration on global institutions such as the United Nations to engage in places such as Libya. Syria, he said,  is "waiting for American leadership."

"I disagree with the way in which the current administration has chosen to engage," Rubio said, in prepared remarks. "For while there are few global problems we can solve by ourselves, there are virtually no global problems that can be solved without us. In confronting the challenges of our time, there are more nations than ever capable of contributing, but there is still only one nation capable of leading."

Continue reading "Marco Rubio calls for U.S. to be more engaged in foreign policy" »

New Marco Rubio book to detail his family's immigrant past

Politico has a sneak peak of journalist Manuel Roig-Franzia's book about Sen. Marco Rubio, set to come out June 19. That's the same day the Republican senator's own memoir will be released.

Here are some of the excerpts, snagged by Politico:

Continue reading "New Marco Rubio book to detail his family's immigrant past" »

Former Charlie Crist aide, Eric Eikenberg, to lead Everglades Foundation

Eric Eikenberg, a lobbyist and past chief of staff to former Gov. Charlie Crist and a seasoned Republican strategist, has landed one of the state’s most influential environmental advocacy jobs.

The Everglades Foundation, a Palmetto Bay-based group whose membership boasts deep pockets and political clout, announced Wednesday that Eikenberg will become its new chief executive.

Continue reading "Former Charlie Crist aide, Eric Eikenberg, to lead Everglades Foundation" »