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5 posts from July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013

Movers & Shakers

Ferre appointed to Metropolitan Planning Organization in Miami-Dade

 Former Miami Mayor Maurice  Ferre, a Democrat who supported Rick Scott in the 2010 gubernatorial race after losing his own bid for the U.S. Senate, has been appointed by the governor to the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Miami-Dade County.

Ferré, 78, succeeds Maritza Gutierrez.

Miami attorney named Bondi's associate deputy for legal policy

Nilda R. Pedrosa has been appointed by Attorney General Pam Bondi to serve as associate deputy attorney general for legal policy, based in Miami. Pedrosa’s previous positions include chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart; a senior policy advisor to former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez; and assistant dean at Florida International University College of Law. Attorney Pedrosa is a Miami native and graduate of FIU and New England Law.

New appointments to Children’s Trust board in Miami-Dade 

Scott made three appointments to the Children's Trust governing board in Miami-Dade County.

Marissa Leichter, 36, of Surfside, the senior program attorney with the Guardian Ad Litem Program, succeeds Benjamin F. Gilbert Jr.

Trudy Novicki, 62, of Miami, the executive director of Krisiti House, Inc., succeeds Pamela Lillard.

Kadie Black, 30, of Miami, the external affairs director for Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc., succeeds Jose Gregoire.

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¡Dale! Rapper Pitbull a new school-choice voice and 305 charter school booster


Armando Christian Pérez, aka the rapper Pitbull aka Mr. 305 aka Mr. Worldwide, is starting to look like Mr. Education as well.

The Miami-born son of Cuban exiles is helping build a Little Havana charter school that opens next month and was a featured speaker at the 2013 National Charter Schools Conference in Washington D.C., where he wowed the crowds.

But Pitbull, the essence of South Florida cool, said he was a little uncomfortable talking about education policy and his family – he has six children; three attend charter schools.

“I'm so used to making records that to be up here speaking to you all actually makes me nervous, imagínate (imagine - in Spanish),” WUSA 9, a Washington television station, reported.

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Law could create ‘Central Park’ in Miami

Could Miami’s Museum Park become the next world-class green space?

Miami Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff says yes — thanks in part to a new state law he helped shape.

The legislation opens the door for Miami to create a non-profit conservancy that would operate and maintain the park, handling everything from fundraising to horticulture.

“This law gives us the ability to create [New York’s] Central Park in Miami,” Sarnoff said. “It could be something really special.”

But the conservancy idea, which would require a vote of the City Commission, is sure to draw critics.

Some watchdogs are concerned the law enables Miami to sidestep its own rules for leasing out its valuable waterfront properties. For most waterfront deals, city leaders must use the competitive bidding process and hold a public referendum. Neither would be necessary to establish a Museum Park conservancy.

“This looks like a way to obviate the requirements in the city charter to have a public vote,” said Frank Rollason, a former assistant city manager who now sits on the board of the Urban Environment League. “The people should have a say.”  

Read the story here.

Blue Cross is top donor in Florida politics but its investment has produced mixed results

Health insurance giant Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida gave more money to Florida campaigns than any other single entity in the 2012 election cycle — $4.8 million — and the company is already the largest contributor in the current cycle, a Herald/Times analysis has found.

Company officials say the contributions, which include $867,000 sent to Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature since January, are an investment in like-minded candidates as Blue Cross works towards implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

But when it comes to the company’s top priority — the expansion of Medicaid to cover one million more uninsured Floridians — the health care giant’s out-sized investment has fallen flat.

Legislators walked away from extending Medicaid coverage to Florida residents at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level after House leaders fiercely resisted the option. Blue Cross and Blue Shield, doing business as Florida Blue, contracts with the state to run a Medicaid managed care program, which was expected to get $50 billion over 10 years through Medicaid expansion.

“With regard to Medicaid, we do have a difference of opinion with a lot of the folks we have supported in the past,’’ said Jason Altmire, vice president of public policy government and community affairs for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, and a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania. He said the company hopes to come back next session and renew the pitch for Medicaid expansion.

But Blue Cross and Blue Shield is not the only company to invest heavily in the political process, only to have its top legislative priority thwarted in the past year, according to the Herald/Times analysis.

Hospitals, nursing homes, and the ill-fated Internet cafe industry, all made heavy investments in the governor and legislators this year but went home empty.

Meanwhile, other large donors, such as U.S. Sugar, the Florida Optometry Association and the Florida Medical Association saw their political investments pay off as lawmakers passed long-sought legislation to make it easier for them to do business in Florida. More here. Here's the top 10 lists for the first two quarters of this cycle and the 2012 cycle:

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Why Stand Your Ground will still stand after George Zimmerman verdict


George Zimmerman is not guilty. Trayvon Martin is dead.

Now Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is back on trial in the court of public opinion.

Count on a hung jury.

There’s just too much raw, partisan emotion surrounding too many intractable issues (guns, crime, race) for any major consensus.

And if the Florida Legislature actually reviews any legislation that makes the case to change the self-defense law, an acquittal is likely.

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