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8 posts from October 30, 2013

October 30, 2013

Gaetz, Weatherford challenging proposed medical marijuana amendment

The battle to get the medical marijuana issue to voters in 2014 has encountered one more challenge.

On Wednesday afternoon, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz submitted a notice of intent to file a brief to the Supreme Court as “interested persons” opposing the ballot initiative. 

The legislative leaders said they weren't addressing the issue of medical marijuana but the language in the ballot proposal, yet Weatherford said the amendment would put "marijuana shops on very street corner" if it passes.

The legislative leaders have joined Attorney General Pam Bondi, who on Oct. 24, sent the proposed medical marijuana constitutional amendment to the Florida Supreme Court and asked for an opinion on the petition’s validity. Bondi noted the conflict with federal law but said there are other reasons to throw it off the ballot.

Continue reading "Gaetz, Weatherford challenging proposed medical marijuana amendment" »

Bill Nelson wants feds to investigate Florida's unemployment website

via Brittany Davis, @brit_alana

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for a federal investigation into problems plaguing Florida’s new unemployment website.

The Florida Democrat has asked the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate what is going wrong with the $63 million overhaul, which has erroneously blocked some jobless people from applying for their benefits.

Continue reading "Bill Nelson wants feds to investigate Florida's unemployment website" »

OJ Simpson, convicted felon, remains on the Miami-Dade voting rolls

Updated with an explanation from the Florida Division of Elections:

Here's why OJ Simpson wasn't purged from Florida's voter rolls:

“Mr. Simpson’s name was not removed from the voter rolls because he was convicted in Nevada so his name was never sent to the Department of State for removal," elections spokeswoman Brittany Lesser said in an email. "We are working to improve how the voter rolls are updated in order to maintain the integrity of elections statewide.”

It appears that the state didn't have a process for checking to see if voters had been convicted in other states. The Florida statute that explains the process for removing felons from the voting rolls talks about convictions in general -- it doesn't suggest that only convictions that occurred in Florida are relevant.

Andrew Ladanowski, who has been on a mission to get Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes to reorganize voting precincts, recently investigated if convicted felons were having their voting rights removed as the state requires. Simpson was the first felon he could confirm that should not be on the list.

Ladanowski emailed us information he found in the voter database which shows that Orenthal J Simpson registered in July 2000, lives at 9450 SW 112Th St. Simpson is listed as “no party affiliation” and the data states “You are currently eligible to vote in Miami-Dade County.”


Continue reading "OJ Simpson, convicted felon, remains on the Miami-Dade voting rolls" »

Will Gov. Scott ask Broward school board candidates about Common Core?

When Gov. Rick Scott seeks a replacement for Broward School Board Member Katie Leach who announced her resignation today, there is one hot topic he could ask candidates about: their position on the Common Core State Standards.

In September, Scott ordered the state education department to withdraw from a national consortium creating tests around the standards but didn’t dismiss the benchmarks.

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Broward School Board member resigns


Broward School Board member Katie Leach has unexpectedly resigned from office — a decision she officially announced through a Wednesday morning e-mail.

“It is with a heavy heart that I submit my resignation ...effective December 21, 2013,” Leach wrote. Leach said that her family is relocating to another city and “I need to focus my full attention toward them.”

Leach could not be reached early Wednesday for additional comment.

Leach was appointed to the School Board in 2011, at a time when the school system was still reeling from a critical grand jury report, and was in the middle of a search for a new superintendent. The board eventually hired Robert Runcie for that job, and Leach became one of Runcie’s strongest supporters.

A moderate Republican who is supportive of gay-rights causes, Leach had a solid base of support in her eastern Broward district. Faced with two challengers during the 2012 elections, Leach was the only sitting School Board member to win outright during the primary race, without needing to head to a runoff.

In her resignation e-mail, Leach said the district has accomplished a lot during the past couple of years, such as renewing Runcie’s contract, reducing Broward’s class sizes, and targeting additional funds specifically for classroom instruction.

“The past few years have been challenging and exhilarating,” Leach wrote. “I will always cherish this experience.”


FBI investigating missing cash from Sweetwater police evidence room


Federal authorities are investigating the disappearance of thousands of dollars in cash from a Sweetwater police evidence room, Sweetwater Mayor José M. Díaz said Tuesday.

Money is also missing from payments made to recover towed vehicles in the city following police arrests, Díaz said.

“As far as I know, it amounts to thousands of dollars,” Díaz said. “I don’t know who was responsible for that money.”

Díaz’s revelations took place at a press conference called to show off a new bicycle patrol — an attempt to erase the “shadows” that have fallen upon the city in recent months.

In August, FBI agents arrested then-Mayor Manny Maroño, together with the mayor of Miami Lakes and two lobbyists, in an undercover corruption operation.

According to a document filed Tuesday in federal court, Maroño and one of the lobbyists, Jorge Forte, plan to change their pleas from not guilty to guilty om one count of conspiring to commit fraud during a Nov. 12 hearing in Fort Lauderdale. Both face up to five years in federal prison.

Meanwhile, authorities are investigating possible links between Sweetwater officers or officials to the towing company, Southland, which operated under a verbal agreement with the city until February. Several sources have said authorities are looking into whether police officers or other officials received kickbacks in exchange for directing business to the company.

More here.

Despite little competition, Miami mayor keeps spending on election


As Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado coasts toward his second term in office, he’s finding time to inform voters on the other issues on the Nov. 5 ballot, such as a project that could reinvent a chunk of Coconut Grove’s waterfront and a large bond offering that would pave the way for major improvements at Miami-Dade’s largest public hospital.

Despite the withdrawal of Commissioner Francis Suarez from the mayoral contest — the only real threat to Regalado’s reelection — the mayor continues to spend money and says he has no intention of abandoning the campaign trail.

In the past few weeks, his campaign has spent more than $100,000 on a radio advertising blitz in both English and Spanish. Tony Crapp Jr., a former city manager and former Regalado chief of staff, has lent his voice to bits on WMBM-1490, a gospel station with a large audience in the black community.

The mayor — who still faces three little-known opponents — says his key objective is getting out the vote. “I’m pushing for myself, looking for a mandate. I’m telling the people they need to vote. I don’t want to be seen as the mayor of the minority,” said Regalado.

As the mayor’s fundraising effort catapults past $1 million, it has allowed friends and family to prosper.

More here.

Alex Sink to run for U.S. Congress


Alex Sink is running for Congress.

Florida’s former chief financial officer and Democratic gubernatorial nominee on Tuesday confirmed exclusively to the Tampa Bay Times that she is jumping into the race to succeed late Republican U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young in a district covering much of Pinellas County.

Sink, 65, has begun looking for a Pinellas home and said she will move “imminently” into the district from her east Hillsborough home 45 minutes away.

“Washington’s broken. And I, like everybody else I know, is angry and mad about the logjam, about shutting down the government, about not understanding the impact it was going to have on small businesses and people. The people up there just don’t seem to be able to work together,” said Sink, who had considered running for governor again but ruled that out in late September.

“I’m somebody who’s solved problems, has a long history of working with Republicans and Democrats to get things done,” said Sink, who used to run Bank of America’s Florida operations and was CFO from 2007-2011. “I believe I can be an effective advocate for the people of Pinellas County and get to Washington and make a difference.”

The special election campaign for one of the country’s most competitive seats won’t last long.

More here.