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16 posts from September 16, 2013

September 16, 2013

American dream derailed for Miami Killian grad



If the Dream Act ever had a public face, it belonged to Juan Gomez.

Weeks after his 2007 graduation from Killian Senior High, the undocumented teen was rounded up by immigration officials and nearly deported to his native Colombia.

His classmates launched a social media campaign to keep him in the country — and lawmakers took unprecedented steps to make it happen. Gomez later won a full scholarship to Georgetown University and landed a top-paid job with JPMorgan Chase in New York City. He told his story on Capitol Hill to advocate for the Dream Act, a proposed bill that would provide undocumented young adults with a pathway to citizenship.

But Gomez’s own pathway came to an abrupt end last month, after his temporary work permit expired and the application he filed for a new one got tied up in a deluge of similar requests from other young immigrants.

Unemployed and needing to support his parents, the 24-year old had little choice but to leave the United States. Today, he’s working for an investment firm in São Paulo, Brazil, with little chance of ever returning to the United States.

For Gomez, the American dream got derailed.

Read more here. 

More companies steering retirees to private health-insurance exchanges


Thousands of retirees covered by company health insurance plans will soon see their benefits shifted toward private health-insurance exchanges.

IBM and Time Warner announced the change last week. They’ll provide retirees money to buy Medicare Advantage or supplemental Medigap policies instead, part of a push by businesses to move away from the increasingly costly group-coverage model.

American Airlines may follow. Its parent company, AMR Corp., is seeking approval to make the change from a federal bankruptcy court judge.

Read more here.

Report: States with SYG laws had a spike in "justifiable homicides"

States with Stand Your Ground self-defense laws have experienced a "striking" increase in the number of justifiable homicides, according to a report released Monday by the bipartisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition.
In Florida, the average annual number jumped 200 percent, the report found.
There's a reason the report was released Monday. Tomorrow, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights is expected to consider the public safety implications of Stand Your Ground laws. 
The laws have come under new scrutiny following the 2012 fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Here's the press release from the coalition:

Continue reading "Report: States with SYG laws had a spike in "justifiable homicides"" »

Court is asked to balance redistricting challenges with legislative rights

Florida’s Supreme Court justices engaged in a vigorous dialogue with lawyers on Monday as they were asked to rule on a precedent-setting question: Should Florida legislators and their staffs be forced to answer questions and turn over documents about the redistricting process? 

The Legislature argues that it has turned over more than 30,000 documents but the separation of powers in the state and federal Constitutions shield them from being subjected to questioning about the legislative decision-making process – known as legislative privilege.

The opponents, led by the League of Women Voters and a group of individual voters, say that the redistricting amendments approved by voters in 2010 trump the claim that legislators cannot be asked about why they drew the maps the way they did.

Florida’s justices indicated Monday they aren’t too sure either of them is completely right.

Continue reading "Court is asked to balance redistricting challenges with legislative rights" »

North Miami police chief billed city for Haiti trip to provide security for mayor on 'private vacation'


While North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau was in Haiti on what the city described as “a private vacation,” the city’s police chief flew business class to the island-nation to ensure the mayor’s safety.

Taxpayers picked up the $2,800 tab for police chief Marc Elias’ two-week stay in Haiti.

According to travel documents submitted to the city by Elias, the purpose of his trip was “security for Lucie Tondreau and meeting with National Haitian Police staff” for the implementation of community policing services and an update on child exploitation.

Elias lodged at the Villa Creole, “on a quiet street in Pétion-Ville, in the cool hills above Port-au-Prince,” as described by the hotel’s website. The cost for his one-week stay from July 26 to July 31 was $803.

During that same time period, Elias charged the city $666 for his meals.

More here.

Florida Supreme Court hears arguments on legislative privilege in redistricting case

The Florida Supreme Court hears arguments Monday on a predecent-setting question: Should Florida legislators and their staffs be forced to answer questions and turn over documents about the congressional redistricting process? 

The Legislature argues that legislative privilege shields them from discovery, that the court has previously rejected efforts to get staff and lawmakers to testify, and that if they change course it will have a chilling effect on the legislative process. The circuit court rejected that in part. The First District Court of Appeal held that legislative privilege does shield legislators and their staff from discovery. Now the League of Women Voters is asking the high court to review the ruling.

Lawyers for the League argue that the redistricting amendments approved by voters bans legislators from intentionally drawing maps to benefit an incumbent or political party. They argue that this prohibition supercedes any argument that legislators are exempt from testifying about their intentions when they drew the 2012 redistricting maps. And, they claim, there is no legislative privilege in the state Constitution.

By contrast, the Legislature has lined up a bi-partisan list of heavyweights to help them argue the case. A brief has been filed by former Republican Senate Presidents Ken Pruitt and John McKay and former Speaker of the House James Harold Thompson, a Democrat from Quincy who was speaker in the 1980s.

See the legal briefs here.