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5 posts from December 10, 2012

December 10, 2012

Gov. Rick Scott wants Citizens Insurance to have inspector general

Saying the citizens of Florida need assurances that their money is being spent correctly, Gov. Rick Scott wants Citizens Property Insurance to have its own inspector general.

Creating the job will require a change in state law, and Scott says he will make it a priority for the upcoming legislative session. The governor noted that his own chief inspector general is investigating Citizens.

"What I'm worried about is misbehavior, mismanagement," Scott said. "They dismissed their Office of Corporate Integrity. I've asked for two IG investigations. Because this was set up for the benefit of the citizens, taxpayers of the state are taking the risk with this property insurance company and I'm worried about it."

Citizens officials said they were open to the governor's ideas but hadn't been briefed on any proposals.

"Although we cannot comment on legislative proposals we have not seen, we certainly welcome any discussion of ideas for strengthening our current oversight procedures," said Christine Ashburn, Citizens' director of legislative and external affairs.

Lawmakers and watchdog groups applauded Scott's announcement, saying they think the independent auditing and investigative services that an inspector general would provide would benefit Citizens and policyholders.

Read more here.

Attorney General Pam Bondi talks re-election, Jill Kelley

Bondi PetraeusAttorney General Pam Bondi confirmed today that she will seek a second term in office.

"I plan on running for re-election for attorney general," she said after a meeting of the task force she created to find ways to reduce the number of babies being born addicted to painkillers.

And while we were at it, we also asked Bondi to clarify her relationship with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, who has been in the news ever since she was outed as the women who complained to the FBI about harrassing emails and led to the discovery of CIA Director David Petraeus' affair.

Bondi attended function at Kelley's house and posed with her in pictures, but she made it clear today where her loyalty lies.

"I have been to special events at her house, only at her home, and the only comment I'm going to make on this is that my heart and concern goes out for Holly Petraeus right now, who I have worked very closely with on the military," Bondi said.

Continue reading "Attorney General Pam Bondi talks re-election, Jill Kelley" »

Crist gave to Obama, Nelson and Patrick Murphy

From the News Service of Florida:

Former Gov. Charlie Crist and his wife, Carole, contributed $13,000 to Democratic candidates during the 2012 election cycle, including contributions to President Obama and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, state and federal records show.

Crist, a former Republican who became an independent in 2010, drew national headlines when he signed papers Friday night at the White House to become a registered Democrat. The Crists combined to contribute $2,500 to Obama's successful campaign against Republican Mitt Romney and $1,500 to Nelson's successful re-election bid against Republican Connie Mack, the records show.

The Crists sent the largest amount --- $7,000 --- to Democrat Patrick Murphy, who unseated Republican Congressman Allen West in a south Florida district. Charlie Crist also contributed $1,000 to Democrat Lois Frankel, who defeated Republican Adam Hasner in another south Florida congressional district. The former governor also contributed $500 to Democrat Al Lawson, who lost a north Florida congressional race to incumbent Republican Steve Southerland, and $500 to former Democratic lawmaker Dave Aronberg, who was elected state attorney in Palm Beach County. Along with funneling money to Democratic candidates, Charlie Crist also contributed $500 to the merit-retention campaign of Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis, state records show.

Senate committee on Affordable Care Act launches website for public input

 The Florida Senate has launched a Web page to make it easier for the public to track the discussions and give input to the special committee studying the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. From the website, citizens can download documents that have been distributed to the committee, contact members of Congress or fill out an online form to share comments with members of the Florida Senate committee.

Here is an excerpt of the news release announcing the Web page:

Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and Senator Joe Negron (R-Stuart), Chair of the Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), today announced the creation of a PPACA page of the Florida Senate’s website. The PPACA page will provide constituents an easy way to access information and provide feedback to members of the committee who are tasked with making recommendations to the entire Senate regarding how Florida should respond to the implementation of PPACA by the federal government. To view the PPACA site, please click here.

“In the coming months, members of the public, health care providers, representatives from Florida’s insurance industry, and countless other stakeholders will provide valuable feedback as members of the PPACA select committee discuss, evaluate and debate Florida’s policy options under one of the most complex and far-reaching federal laws in the history of our nation,” said President Gaetz. “The new portion of the Senate website was created to serve as a centralized location for interested parties to watch meetings, read bills and share their viewpoints with the committee.”

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UPDATED Several city, county politicians oppose historic designation of Miami Herald building

Four current and former Miami-Dade and Miami politicians weighed in last week in the lead up to Monday's vote on whether the Miami Herald's building should be designated historic.

The officials -- Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Commissioners Bruno Barreiro and Audrey Edmonson, and former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas -- don't have a say in the matter. Even if Monday's decision by Miami's historic preservation board gets appealed, that appeal heads to the city commission, where neither Regalado nor any county politician has a vote.

But Regalado nevertheless told WSVN-FOX 7 last week that "The Herald newspaper is historic, but the building is not. The building is not Vizcaya. The building is not the Freedom Tower. It's just a big box."

And Barreiro, Edmonson and Penelas sent the preservation board letters last week also opposing the designation. (Penelas' letter is undated.)

"Our vision for a new, vibrant downtown does not need an industrial building blocking access to Biscayne Bay," wrote Barreiro, whose district begins south of the Herald building.

UPDATE: Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez also opposed the designation last week, telling WLTV-Univisión 23 that while events inside the building may have been historic, "The building -- the building -- to me is not historic." (The clip does not appear to be available online.)

Genting, the Malaysian casino operator, purchased the Herald property for $236 million last year with plans to build a massive resort.

The historic designation effort, supported in part by the Dade Heritage Trust, was bolstered last week by a report issued by the preservation office outlining the building's architectural merits. The report, however, did not make a recommendation to the board.

The Herald is moving next year to its new headquarters in Doral.