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13 posts from October 23, 2012

October 23, 2012

GOP voters target of fraudulent letters

TALLAHASSEE —The Florida Division of Elections and state law enforcement officials are investigating reports from at least 24 counties — including Broward and Palm Beach — that eligible voters have received bogus letters saying they have been flagged as suspected noncitizen voters.

The letters are written to make it look like they came from the recipient's local supervisor of elections office. The envelopes carry a similar notation. But they are not official letters and supervisors are alerting residents of the hoax.

Seemingly aimed at politically active Republicans, it's the latest case involving voter fraud to emerge in Florida and it comes less than two weeks before the Nov. 6 election.

"It makes me angry," said Jeff Guerra, a 43-year-old sales representative from New Port Richey who received a letter Tuesday. "I want this to be an honest election. Something like this is obviously a scam, I'm really taken aback."

Continue reading "GOP voters target of fraudulent letters" »

Amendment 8: Should FL contract with religious groups?

In many ways, Amendment 8 boils down to this:

When Jerod Powers, 38, left prison in Jacksonville, he had only a change of clothes, his release papers and pocket change. He went to Prisoners of Christ halfway house — an organization that recieves some state financial assistance — where he got food, clothes, substance abuse counseling and help finding a job at a lawn care business.

Powers also got spiritual guidance.

That case, now playing out in court, asks whether Prisoners of Christ violated a state constitutional ban on the use of taxpayer dollars for promoting religion.

The New York-based Council for Secular Humanism, which is suing the halfway house and the state, contends the Department of Corrections's $22,000 contract violates the Blaine Amendment, a ban on state money for religious organizations.

Enter Amendment 8, which seeks to make the lawsuit, and other potential legal challenges, moot.

Read more here.

Miami-Dade school district wins prestigious education award, beating out Palm Beach, others

The Miami-Dade school district has won the Broad Prize, considered the top award in U.S. public education.

The district, a five-time finalist, shone for its academic gains, especially the advanced work and improved graduation rates for black and Hispanic students.

The award brings national prestige to the district and more than half a million dollars in scholarships to Miami-Dade students.

The announcement was made at a ceremony at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and board members Perla Tabares Hantman, Raquel Regalado and others attended.

“Miracles are possible, even when you have to wait five years,” Carvalho said as he accepted the award.

In South Florida, Miami-Dade school district employees erupted into cheers and at the School Board auditorium, where they watched the ceremony in a live broadcast that got interrupted with technical hiccups.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools beat out peer Florida school district and first-time finalist, Palm Beach County, as well as Corona-Norco Unified School District in Southern California and the Houston Independent School District, which was the inaugural winner of prize 10 years ago.

More from Laura Isensee here.

Scott leaves door open to new Citizens Insurance probe after 'integrity' firings

Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday he was open to having an investigation into the recent firings of Citizens Insurance’s entire Office of Corporate Integrity, though he stopped short of calling for the immediate probe that some good governance groups have asked for.

Scott said he would wait for the completion of the current Inspector General investigation into Citizens—which focuses on corporate spending issues—before deciding whether or not to call for an investigation into the firings.

The Herald/Times reported last week that Citizens had disbanded its Office of Corporate Integrity—the four-person unit responsible for investigating growing complaints of fraud and abuse within the company.

Scott wrote a letter saying that he was “concerned” about the firings.

On Monday, Citizens CEO Barry Gilway defended the firings as a way to realign the company’s operations to focus more on forensic fraud. He said he regretted the way the firings were handled, and was open to having Scott’s inspector general look more closely at what happened.

Scott said he’d hold off on making that decision, and follow a “logical process” of letting the current investigation run its course before deciding on any additional probes.

“He’s not taking it off the table,” said Melissa Sellers, a spokesperson for Scott.

Continue reading "Scott leaves door open to new Citizens Insurance probe after 'integrity' firings" »

Abortion and privacy clause at center of Amendment 6 debate

Supporters of Amendment 6 say their intentions are simple: to ensure Florida tax money isn't used to pay for abortions and to restore state laws that require parental consent before minors get abortions.

But that's not all this proposed constitutional amendment would do, opponents say. Amendment 6 would modify a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution that for the past 32 years has helped protect citizens from government intrusion in their private lives.

They say it's not just a woman's right to have an abortion that could be in jeopardy, but decisions regarding contraception, health care and personal choices.

"To us it's deeply concerning because in our Constitution in this state there is a very explicit right to privacy that people should be free of government interference," said Deirdre Macnab, state president of the League of Women Voters, an organization leading the campaign against Amendment 6. "This is the first step in dismembering and overturning our Florida Constitution's right to privacy."

Read more here.

Unlike Mack, Scott welcomes independent election observers

On this, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack has out-tea partied Gov. Rick Scott.

Mack, who hopes to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, slammed the United Nations yesterday, suggesting the group be "kicked off U.S. soil" and "defunded"after a UN-registered NGO announced it would send 44 independent observers to oversee U.S elections and prevent election fraud.

But Gov. Rick Scott's view is more moderate, even welcoming.

Continue reading "Unlike Mack, Scott welcomes independent election observers" »

Union-backed poll of FL: Obama-Romney tied, but prez could lead by 5 with early voters

UnionpollAmericans United for Change, a union-backed group, released a one-page memo from a Mellman Group poll of Florida voters showing the race dead even in Florida: President Obama and Mitt Romney are tied 47-47.

"Our just completed survey shows that the presidential race in the Sunshine State will be yet another nail-biter, but President Obama has some key advantages over Romney beneath the surface," the memo said.

The most intriguing aspect of the poll: Obama might lead Romney 50-45 percent among voters who already cast ballots; about 5 percent refused to say for whom they voted. As today, that number of absentee-ballot voters is 830,000 in Florida. When the poll was taken (Oct. 18-21) the number of absentee voters was about 750,000.

Caveat: we don't know if the numbers are good because there are no crosstabs and it's not clear how many respondents were Republicans, Democrats and independents there are. Still, Democrats are holding their own with absentee ballots cast and they typically dominate in-person early voting, set to begin Saturday. Obama and Romney will be in the state around that time to turn out the early vote.

Here's more from the memo:

The President leads registered independents 49%-44% (7% undecided), and self-described moderates by a larger 59% to 29% margin. Our results also suggest Obama holds an image advantage among the undecided—with 41% holding a favorable and 37% unfavorable. However undecideds harbor quite negative views of Governor Romney, with just 25% favorable and a 51% majority offering an unfavorable opinion of the GOP challenger.

The President holds sizeable leads among several key groups, including women (51%-45%), younger (under 50) voters (51% to 40%), Hispanics (60%-39%), and African-Americans (90%-7%).

With a strong and disciplined get-out-the vote effort, President Obama has a strong chance to repeat his 2008 win in Florida.

Democratic group hammers "corrupt" Rep. David Rivera in multiple mailers

Rivera 1-1The mulitlpe investigatins into Rep. David Rivera's personal and campaign finances has take a toll on him in the polls, in fundraising, on TV, among his fellow Republicans and now in the mail.

A liberal group, Friends of Democracy PAC, says it has sent out two mailers two 25,000 households in the Kendall to Key West District and it's sending one more. Rivera faces Democrat Joe Garcia and two no-party candidates Angel Fernandez and Jose Peixoto.

Here are some of the fliers:

Rivera 1-2
Rivera 2-1
Rivera 2-2
Rivera 3-2


Daily ad wrap: Romney's "apology" spot vs. Obama's "determination."

Two new ads released today from Republican Mitt Romney and President Obama. Here they are


Obama's Tampa-bound Thursday, Romney's Florida-bound Friday. Early voting starts Saturday

President Obama, who is in Delray Beach today, will stump Thursday, October 25, in Tampa, his campaign says. Mitt Romney's campaign says he'll be in Florida at week'd end. More details later.

Early voting starts Saturday.