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311 posts from October 2012

October 30, 2012

Couriel's latest mailer criticizes Margolis, but it's not what it appears

Photo (2)The latest campaign mailer sent out by supporters of Republican John Couriel’s state Senate campaign has a bit of a Through the Looking Glass feel to it because things really aren’t as they appear. 

For starters, the ad by a political committee backing Couriel attacks his opponent, Democrat Sen. Gwen Margolis of Miami, of being so close to lobbyists that “she travels on a lurxurious private jet to the State Legislature in Tallahassee…paid for by an H.M.O. special interest lobbyist and the taxpayers.” 

Then, it repeats the misleading claims that as a state senator Margolis had something to do with the Affordable Care Act and the $716 billion by claiming it’s a cut to Medicare, which it isn’t. 

Margolis supporters confirmed she does travel on a private plane, usually the one owned by Scott L. Hopes, who also happens to be a candidate for state Senate. Hopes, a Republican, is running against Rep. Dwight Bullard in the Democrat-dominated Miami district.

Continue reading "Couriel's latest mailer criticizes Margolis, but it's not what it appears" »

Consumer advocate: New trick from insurance companies 'doesn't treat consumers fairly'

Thankfully for Floridians, Hurricane Sandy skipped the Sunshine State. But that hasn't stopped insurance companies from giving Florida homeowners the run-around, according to Florida’s insurance consumer advocate.

Robin Westcott penned a letter to Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty highlighting a new anti-consumer trend has emerged among the state’s property insurers.

After a homeowner submits a claim, the insurance company digs into the homeowner’s financial past to find evidence of a bankruptcy, lien, or foreclosure. If the homeowner has such a blemish on their credit history, the insurance company finds that the customer was never eligible for coverage, and then drops them, without covering their claim.

“This activity threatens not only homeowners’ financial stability but also the state’s economic recovery,” wrote Westcott, calling the practice “potentially unlawful” and “abusive.”

According to Westcott, several homeowners are being dropped from coverage after they file a claim, despite paying premiums to their insurers for years.

The insurance companies wait until the homeowner files a claim before dropping them due to ineligibility.

Westcott letter points out that Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company is one of the insurers involved in the practice.

“This is a real-life Halloween trick that does not treat consumers fairly. We must give consumers relief from this game of ‘gottcha’,” Westcott wrote.

She has asked McCarty to investigate.

Read her letter here


State ends contract with education website company amid warring lawsuits

Florida is terminating a $20 million contract to build a website intended to help students, parents and teachers master new academic standards.

The Department of Education officially ended the contract on Tuesday, or roughly a week after the Tallahassee technology company hired to build the website filed its own lawsuit against state education officials. Florida has already spent nearly $2.5 million on the project.

The bitter contract dispute leaves in limbo the fate of the Web-based system that was intended to provide practice lessons and tests for the standards that will be phased in for math, English, science and civics over the next two years.

A spokeswoman for the department said that the state is committed to getting the website up and running. But the letter that terminated the contract makes it clear that the state plans to rebid the contract - a process that could take months.

More from the Associated Press reporter Gary Fineout here.


Company says answers about Tampa's flawed nuke plant still months away

Those hoping for an answer by the end of the year on whether the busted Crystal River nuclear plant will be mothballed or repaired will just have to wait some more.

Duke Energy told a state Public Service Commission hearing Tuesday that it may not have a decision until summer 2013 because the company continues to evaluate risks of repairing the broken plant and continues to negotiate with the insurance company about its claim.

Under the terms of a previously negotiated agreement, the continued delays in deciding what to do about the plant mean customers will get a $100 million refund if Duke ultimately decides to repair it. The utility agreed earlier this year that it would provide the refund if it decided to fix the plant but did not begin work by Dec. 31.

Continue reading "Company says answers about Tampa's flawed nuke plant still months away" »

Mack makes a prediction: he won't win majority but will win election

Forget those pesky poll numbers, at least one campaign in Florida is predicting it will win despite them.

Wait? You say that's not news? Well, take a look at the press release sent out by the Mack for Senate campaign. We think it's a rather loose link to his baseball heritage, a kind of Babe-Ruth-like called shot. (Maybe Mack's legendary great grandfather, Cornelius McGillicuddy, the former manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, passed down probability instincts of some sort.)  

MIAMI – With seven days left until Election Day, the Connie Mack for U.S. Senate campaign today predicted that Connie Mack will win the race for the U.S. Senate based on the ongoing internal polling and analysis conducted by the campaign.

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In robocall, Marco Rubio backs embattled friend David Rivera

U.S. Rep. David Rivera is getting a little help from at least one of his friends.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has recorded a robocall in support of Rivera, his longtime friend and Tallahassee housemate. The calls have been going out to voters in the Kendall-to-Key West Congressional District 26, where Rivera, a Republican, is running against Democrat Joe Garcia.

Rivera has been entangled in an FBI investigation into one of Garcia's primary opponents, Justin Lamar Sternad. Sternad has filed blank campaign finance-reports and invoked his right to remain silent to avoid incriminating himself in the probe.

Rubio was asked about the Sternad probe at an event in Little Havana's Versailles restaurant earlier this month. But the senator mostly kept mum on the matter -- and stepped out of in the rain as a reporter asked a follow-up question.

Republicans -- including Rubio, before the new robocall -- have been keeping their distance from Rivera, who has been conspicuously absent from local events with presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Some have started speculating about a possible candidate to run for his seat in two years if Rivera loses to Garcia.

Rubio has been crisscrossing the country campaigning for Romney and other major Republican candidates. According to his office, he has also recorded calls for, among others, Florida Reps. Steve Southerland and Allen West (facing challenges from Democrats Al Lawson and Patrick Murphy, respectively) and hopeful Karen Harrington (who is challenging Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz).

SurveyUSA FL poll: Obama-Romney tied at 47%; Obama up with early vote, Romney up with Nov. 6 voters

We've been posting early and absentee-vote data (Democrats have a lead in ballots cast), and this poll is among the first that examines how those folks might vote. From SurveyUSA:

8 days until votes are counted in the election for President, the 5% of Florida voters who today are undecided will determine whether Mitt Romney or Barack Obama get the state’s critical 29 electoral votes, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted for WFLA-TV in Tampa. Among Florida voters who have made up their minds, including a large number who have already returned a ballot, the contest is 47% Romney, 47% Obama.

Romney starts off 15 points in the hole: Obama leads 57% to 42% among voters who tell SurveyUSA they have already voted. But Romney leads by 13 points among the larger group of voters who tell SurveyUSA they will vote on Election Day. When the 2 groups are proportionally blended, the candidates finish exactly even.

Compared to a SurveyUSA poll released 11 days ago, which was conducted before the 3rd and final Presidential Debate, Romney is today up a nominal 1 point, Obama is flat. Today, Obama leads by 19 points in Southeast FL, but Romney leads in every other region of the state. Obama leads by 4 points among women, Romney leads by 5 points among men. Independents break 45% to 40% for Romney. Moderates break 51% to 41% for Obama. Romney leads among Florida’s white voters, is tied among Florida’s Cubans, and trails Obama among Florida’s other minority groups.

Romney leads by 18 points among seniors, who are the most reliable voters. This gives Romney an advantage heading into the final week of campaigning. If younger voters do not turn out in the numbers shown here, Obama will under-perform this poll.

More here

Romney, in Ohio, campaigns with Florida voters via teleconference call

Republican Mitt Romney began his day campaigning in Florida today, conducting a teleconference town hall meeting in which he reached voters via robo-call. Romney told listeners he was in Dayton, Ohio, “where it’s snowing” and will be "criss-crossing" Florida tomorrow (with a planned fly-around with former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.)

Medicare and health care costs seemed to be on top of mind for many listeners. Callers were told the call would be recorded, so we listened in and took notes. Here are some excerpts.

Bonita asked about health care costs and Romney answered that the Obama administration has claimed that costs would go down $2,500 per family under his health care reform when in fact “they have gone up $2,500. That’s a huge burden,’’ he said.

“The answer, in my view, is not to have government step in and lower the reimbursement rates for Medicare” because that will lead to hospitals shifting the burden and raising the costs on everyone else.

He said the answer was “not to run health care like a government-run utility, like a monopoly, but instead to provide into healthcare more competition.”

Continue reading "Romney, in Ohio, campaigns with Florida voters via teleconference call" »

With 2.3m Floridians having voted (a quarter of electorate?), Dems lead Reps by more than 41,000 ballots

The early and absentee-voting reports are in**and Democrats continue to roll up big margins over Republicans now that early voting, in its fourth of eight days, is underway. On Saturday and Sunday, Democrats wiped a lead that Republicans held with absentee ballots (which are typically mailed in).

As of this morning, Democrats' led by about 101,000 in early votes while Republicans had a more than 61,000-vote lead. Net Democratic advantage: more than 30,000 ballots. Monday marked the first day of non-weekend early voting, but there was an actual uptick in EV overall. (click here for yesterday's numbers and analysis. To see previous days, click the Florida Voters hyperlink)

Monday's heavy vote could be an anomaly (folks voting Monday because they rested Sunday or thought the polls would be too crowded). Or this could be a sign of the organization that the Obama campaign says it has. We'll see.

The numbers are big: 2.2 million people have already voted out of 11.9 million registered voters. If this presidential election is like the others, 75% of the registered voters will cast ballots. So instead of 18% of the electorate having voted, there's a chance it could be a quarter by now.

The early vote numbers:

Party    EV Total              %
DEM     391,238 48%
REP     290,368 36%
IND     133,698 16%
TOTAL     815,304

The absentee numbers:

Party     AB Total              %
REP     634,814 44%
DEM     574,122 40%
IND     240,563 17%
TOTAL  1,450,814

The totals

Party       EV/AB          %
DEM     965,360 43%
REP     925,182 41%
IND     374,261 17%
TOTAL  2,266,118

There's another measure of voting (or potential voting) to consider as well: outstanding absentee-ballot requests -- those people who have requested ballots and who have either not voted them or not yet mailed them back.

Party          ABs out             %
DEM         509,092 40%
REP         484,114 38%
IND         278,403 22%
TOTAL       1,271,609

**Note: This analysis relies on state data and two major counties, Duval and Palm Beach, weren't in this morning. Now they are and the post has been updated.

Gov. Rick Scott offers FL assistance on Hurricane Sandy

Gov. Rick Scott's office made the following offer to help states impacted by Hurricane Sandy. 

“Florida’s emergency managers are experienced in protecting our 19 million residents and millions of visitors each year. Our emergency management staff, National Guard, emergency response equipment and resources are on standby to support our fellow East Coast states, in the event they are needed. Many of Florida’s private-sector companies are also answering the call to help fellow Americans. The thoughts and prayers of our state are with those in the storm’s path.”