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6 posts from October 11, 2013

October 11, 2013

Equality Florida wants Rep. Baxley to apologize for statement regarding gay parents


Equality Florida's CEO wants Rep. Dennis Baxley to apologize for comments he made at a meeting of  the House K-12 subcommittee meeting Oct. 8th that were construed as disparaging gay parents. The Ocala Republican said he was  describing a conversation he had with a teacher about challenges in the classroom.

Baxley's comment was: "It's easy to say parents need to get involved, but half these kids are raising themselves. They don't have any parents that are functional. How can we address that? I know its scope and I know it's hard, but you're probably their only hope. I mean I sat an hour-and- a- half with a teacher telling me, well this child has got serial men coming through the house, this one has two mommies, this one has an abusive father who's home, this one has alcoholism, this one has drug abuse. It was a casualty warfare event to hear - just her classroom. How many dysfunctional, atypical - to me - uh, structures are in the way of a kid having a chance to learn."

Nadine Smith issued a statement Friday criticizing Baxley for comparing two mommies or same sex parents to abusive or alcoholic parents.

"We hope Representative Baxley has the decency to apologize for his comments disparaging gay parents and our children. More than that, we invite Representative Baxley to educate himself, talk with us and actually meet our families. We are a diverse state and no elected official can fulfill their oath of office if they only respect and care about the people and families that look just like their own," Smith said in an email.

"The entire child welfare community, every credible agency and all research, is unanimous in recognizing that gay parents are equally capable of of raising children and that our kids do just as well as their classmates," she said.

Asked about comparing problems with two moms to problems with abusive and alcoholic parents,Baxley said he was referring to a conversation he had with a teacher who was discussing the "challenges" for young people today.

"They're coming from a lot of different home situations and that has to be factored in" with what happens in a classroom, he said.

He said Equality Florida was "extrapolating" a negative message from his comments. 
Baxley said he didn't recall using the example of the two mommies. "I don't remember exactly what I said right now."

Smith said the group had requested a meeting with Baxley, and he said he'd be "happy to meet with them."

Alex Sink for Bill Young's congressional seat? People are talking


Hope this doesn't prove embarassing. A couple days ago a reader emailed me about the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores:

How about Alex Sink running for Young's seat?  She would be a strong Democratic candidate.  She has the name recognition and she would also be another voice of reason for the House...

That thought hadn't occurred to me. I forwarded the email to Sink: "I've heard a lot crazier ideas...Let me know if you'd like Realtor recommendations," I wrote, curious if her interest might be piqued.

She did not respond to my (mostly) joking note. But now Peter Schorsch reports that according to unnamed sources Sink is seriously considering a run for that Pinellas seat.

If it happens - and we've heard no solid confirmation yet, just excitement from Sink fans - she would be have to be considered the immediate general election frontrunner, even if she did only beat Rick Scott in the district with 51.1 percent of the vote. Legally, Sink would not actually have to live in the district, though it certainly would be a bit unseemingly to live

Legally, she would not have to live in the district, but it would be a bit unseemly to continue living in rural Thonotosassa, nearly 40 miles away from the district.

“This district is a strong pickup opportunity for Democrats – and that’s why in the past 24 hours alone two top Republicans have already taken a pass at running," said DCCC spokesman David Bergstein. "A candidate – like Alex Sink – who has a strong record of solving problems would be extremely competitive in this district.”

Stay tuned.

Feds file rule change to encourage private market alternative for flood insurance

Federal regulators have weighed into the flood insurance crisis, suggesting banks be required to accept private flood insurance on homes in high-risk areas.

The proposed rule change filed Friday was triggered by an overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program that is causing huge flood insurance rate hikes for some, with property owners in flood zones in Florida particularly hard hit. It comes at the same time Florida insurance regulators are investigating whether the state could induce private companies to sell flood insurance.

If the federal change is approved, banks and other lenders would have to accept qualified private insurance on loans backed by properties in areas at risk for flooding. Lenders would also have to place in escrow flood insurance payments for certain residential properties and for mobile homes. The rule clarifies that lenders have authority to charge a borrower for the cost of force-placed flood insurance when a property owners fails to get the coverage.

Continue reading "Feds file rule change to encourage private market alternative for flood insurance" »

Police drop by Miami Beach campaign event


Miami Beach Commission candidates Matti Herrera Bower and Steve Berke say they were not welcomed at an opponent’s campaign event Tuesday night. 

In fact, they say police were called, and asked the candidates to leave. 

Bower is currently the city’s mayor but is term-limited and so is running for a commission seat. Berke is an entertainer who’s the subject of an MTV show about his run for mayor. 

Both say they were standing on the sidewalk outside of the convention center and handing out fliers. Meanwhile, busloads of Hispanic seniors were arriving for an event paid for by mayoral candidate Philip Levine’s campaign. 

A police spokesman said cops happened to be in the area and were flagged down by someone who said there was a protest outside the convention center. 

"They responded and noticed no disturbance. They went back in service and left," Sgt. Bobby Hernandez wrote in an email 

Despite the incident, Levine wrote in an email that the event "was a huge success."


Florida House challengers boost campaign war chests

The money came rolling in last quarter for candidates in two competitive Florida House races.

Daisy Baez, a Democrat who is challenging Republican state Rep. Erik Fresen, raised $53,110 in campaign cash and in-kind contributions, according to state Division of Elections records.

Fresen pulled in $8,150, bringing his total campaign war chest to $59,000.

A third candidate, Amory Bodin, hasn't raised any money, records show.

The three are battling to represent House District 114, which includes parts of Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay.

Baez, an Army veteran and health care administrator, said her campaign had exceeded its fund raising expectations.

“I am honored by the overwhelming support our campaign has received from the community in such a short time frame," she wrote in a statement. "Our campaign is focusing on a positive message, not politics as usual, and a direct conversation with the constituents of District 114."

Fresen is serving his third term in the Florida House. He chairs the Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

The candidates competing to represent House District 112 have also been busy.

Rep. José Javier Rodríguez, a Democrat serving his first term, increased his campaign war chest by $10,405 to a total of about $41,000, records show.

His Republican challenger, attorney Daniel Diaz Leyva, raised $65,530.

The contest between Rodriguez and Diaz Leyva is expected to be among the most competitive in Miami-Dade. Both candidates are young attorneys who are considered rising stars in their respective parties.

District 112 includes Brickell, the Roads, Coconut Grove and parts of Coral Gables and Little Havana.

Jackson hospital bond campaign raises $1.3 million


Citizens for a Healthy Miami-Dade, the political action committee pushing for voter approval of $830 million in upgrades to Jackson Health System, raised $1.3 million during the three months ending Sept. 30, according to a campaign finance report filed Thursday with the county’s elections office.

With a special election scheduled for Nov. 5, voters have begun to see billboards, TV ads and even planes flying banners urging them to “Vote Yes’’ on the referendum. Jackson officials have said the upgrades, financed by a property tax hike, will allow the system to improve the hospital system’s aging facilities and expand its reach.

Among the donors are well-known South Florida philanthropists, such as banker Leonard Abess, who gave $50,000; billionaire car dealer Norman Braman, who gave $25,000; and businessman Kirk Landon, who also gave $25,000.

The campaign’s most generous donor for the period was Lennar CEO Stuart Miller, who made two donations of $100,000 each.

More here.