« November 18, 2013 | Main | November 20, 2013 »

15 posts from November 19, 2013

November 19, 2013

Miami-Dade commissioners: We want county plans to consider sea-level rise


Is there a sea change of opinion among Miami-Dade County commissioners over the threat of climate change?

A broad discussion on the county's dilapidated water and sewer pipes began Tuesday with Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa exhorting staff to consider rising sea levels "in every detail" of the future development of infrastructure.

"We have seen what is happening in Miami-Dade County. We see that the state of Florida is placed on the map as one state that is in incredible danger because of the changes in climate and in weather," she said.

If planners don't take into account the threat as new projects get under way, she said, "We will be misspending that money, because we will have to come back and we will have to fix the infrastructure."

This is the same commission being sued by Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, a clean-water advocacy group, over a federally mandated plan to spend $1.6 billion in sewer repairs because the advocates say the plan doesn't take into account rising sea levels.

Sosa wasn't the only one apparently in agreement that the county must do more.

Commissioner Juan C. Zapata referred to a sewage treatment plant on Virginia Key that environmentalists say could be the first to go under water. "How do we start to plan and telegraph to folks that we are conscious of that and we do want to make some changes?" he said.

Then Vice-Chairwoman Lynda Bell chimed in: "While we're fixing our infrastructure, if we don't take that into account now -- it's foolish."

House candidate Diaz Leyva tops $100K in campaign contributions

Daniel Diaz Leyva has raised $100,000 in his bid to represent House District 112, the Republican candidate said Tuesday.

"I am excited to announce today that our campaign has raised over $100,000 in less than 80 days after filing my candidacy," Diaz Leyva wrote in an email to supporters. "This was no easy task especially when running against an incumbent." 

That's a serious haul for a state House race that's still a year away -- and news that has Florida Democrats concerned.

At the close of the last fundraising period (Oct. 31), incumbent state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Democrat, had amassed about $51,000 in cash and in-kind contributions for his reelection campaign, records show.

Diaz Leyva had raised about $85,000 by the same deadline, records show.

The contest between two young attorneys is shaping up to be one of the most closely watched House races in South Florida. 

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

In Miami damage-control stop, Kathleen Sebelius calls press "paparazzi"


With the Obamacare sign-up website still sputtering, top federal health official Kathleen Sebelius made a p.r. stop in Miami to show that things are getting better.

Here's the Shark Tank's take:

Before she addressed reporters at the North Shore Medical Center, Sebelius took time to speak to three “navigators,” who were conveniently assisting (staged) a few potential enrollees to Obamacare plan. Upon greeting the third and last navigator, Sebelius turned to two new enrollees to the plan, and apologized by saying, “didn’t mean to bring all the Paparazzi with me.”

Yes, HHS Secretary just referred to reporters from the AP, Reuters, Fox, CBS, Univision, CNN, ABC, and the Shark Tank, as Paparazzi.

FYI: The Miami Herald was there, too

Governor takes congratulations to new level with note to Lottery winners

Call him Governor Congratulations.
Gov. Rick Scott has added more than 18,000 Lottery winners to the list of Floridians who received congratulatory missives from him. 
Lottery LetterFor the last year, the governor has asked for the names and addresses of lottery winners, Florida bar candidates, professional license applicants, recent college graduates and even agency staff so that he can pen them a personalized note or an “attaboy.”
Some get a hand-written recognition of a special achievement, a new family member, even a birthday wish. Most -- like the lottery winners -- get a form letter of congratulations, studded with the talking points of the governor’s re-election campaign. Download Lottery Winners Final
"It is my pleasure to congratulate you on winning a Florida Lottery prize!’’ Scott has written to 18,541 lottery winners since September. He then notes how Lottery proceeds go into education, how education helps create jobs and repeats his mantra: "I am focused on keeping Florida’s economy moving in the right direction."
It’s all a part of the governor’s attempt to turn the routine courtesies of the office into a public relations machine. More here. 

Continue reading "Governor takes congratulations to new level with note to Lottery winners" »

Tea party Rep. Trey Radel busted for cocaine possession


U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, the tea party freshman Republican from Fort Myers, was arrested Oct. 29 for cocaine possession in Washington D.C, Politico reported.

Radel, who faces a maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, was charged Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court with misdemeanor cocaine possession and is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

“I'm profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida," the 37-year-old Republican, whose legal name is Henry Jude Radel III, said in a statement. "I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice. As the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them.”

Radel was arrested in a Drug Enforcement Agency bust when his alleged dealer, arrested in a separate case, led authorities to the congressman, officials said. 

Radel then allegedly bought cocaine from an undercover agent in Washington's Dupont Circle neighborhood. Afterward, authorities visited the congressman's apartment and informed him he would be charged with misdemeanor cocaine possession. 

More here

Former Miami-Dade commission chairman to formally challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia


Joe Martinez, the former chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission, plans to officially launch his campaign for U.S. Congress this week.

Martinez said in February that he intended to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat whose district spans Kendall to Key West. Martinez represented Kendall for 12 years as a county commissioner. He ran unsuccessfully for Miami-Dade mayor last year against Carlos Gimenez.

"I am looking forward to officially launching this campaign to bring back the core American Values of hard work and perseverance," Martinez said in a news release Tuesday.

"My knowledge and experience of local government give me a much needed perspective that can ensure our local economy receives adequate attention for projects like the Port of Miami expansion or protecting the natural beauty of the Florida Keys."

Three other Republicans, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall and Jose Felix Peixoto of Key Largo, have also said they are seeking the seat. 

Martinez has scheduled his campaign launch for Thursday at a West Kendall senior center named after his mother.

Kathleen Sebelius in damage control in Miami


MIAMI -- The Obama administration's top health official is visiting Miami and Orlando to talk up the Affordable Care Act as fallout from the new law grows.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will visit Florida on Tuesday to discuss website enrollment. Sebelius and Obama have repeatedly apologized for a dismal launch of www.healthcare.gov, which consumers in 36 states were supposed to use beginning on Oct. 1 to sign up for coverage. The website is so riddled with problems that the administration disclosed earlier this week that fewer than 27,000 signups have been completed.

But Republicans note that figure is dwarfed by the flood of health policy cancellations issued due to the law.

The website is supposed to be working for most people by the end of the month.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/19/3763880/sebelius-doing-aca-damage-control.html#storylink=cpy

How Sen. Bill Nelson might be better known as a country singer, sans pizzazz


Sen. Bill Nelson isn't quieting talk from supporters that the Democrat might run for governor, which carries risks for his party as well as new Democrat and current candidate Charlie Crist.

The reasons for all that are outlined in Monday's column. The Sun-Sentinel's Gary Stein adds a new issue: Nelson isn't so well-known and he's boring to some, according to this column "Does Bill Nelson have the pizzazz to run for governor?"

"Here’s something that will surely get everybody in Florida excited.

"Bill Nelson might run for the Democratic nomination for governor.

"Half of you might be saying 'Who is Bill Nelson?'

The other half are saying  “Is he the country western singer?"

Column here

***Blog note: The original post had a messed-up headline and, in trying to unmess it, I deleted the original post.

14 years after Elian Gonzalez landed in FL and was returned to Cuba, he trashes 'imperialist' US

Miami Herald staff and wire services

On the 14th anniversary of his rescue from a raft in waters off Fort Lauderdale, Elián González said he blames the Cuban Adjustment Act for his mother’s death and the international custody battle it sparked on his behalf.

In an interview with the Cuban weekly Girón published on the cubadebate.cu website, Elian, now 19, said his experience in Miami when he was 6 “marked me for life.”

Clearly echoing the wishes of the Cuban government, González used his interview to ask President Barack Obama to free the five Cuban spies convicted of espionage in Miami, denounced historic Cuban exile groups like the Cuban American National Foundation and Alpha 66 and called Operation Pedro Pan, which allowed thousands of Cuban children to escape indoctrination by Fidel Castro’s regime, “an imperialist hoax based on deceptions and used to cause pain.”

In the interview in Spanish, he said his basic rights as a child — “the right to be with my father, the right to maintain my nationality and remain in my cultural context” — were violated in the United States.

On Thanksgiving weekend 1999, the little boy was rescued by two Broward County fisherman. He was the youngest survivor after an overcrowded boat capsized en route from Cuba to Miami. His mother and 10 others seeking to enter the U. S. drowned at sea.

More here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/18/3762923/elian-gonzalez-my-time-in-the.html#storylink=cpy

Key applicants for Broward school board have notable Republican connections


Two women seeking spots on the Broward school board have listed prominent local Republicans on their applications to Gov. Rick Scott. Last month school board member Katie Leach announced she would leave her position in December due to her husband getting a job in California.

Heather Brinkworth listed Leach and former state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, as references. Brinkworth is a regional manager for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and a former Broward schools reading teacher. She is also the PTA President at Bayview Elementary and chairs the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Education Advisory Board. Brinkworth wouldn’t talk to Naked Politics about why she changed her voter registration from independent to Republican in October. (Technically school board members run non-partisan -- the majority of the board is Democrat.)

Wanda Ross, wife of Broward Judge Dale Ross and a registered Republican in Broward since 1987, retired as a principal in the district in June after working at Broward schools since 1988. One of her references listed on the application is Jim Scott -- one of the longest Republican elected officials in Broward. Scott, an attorney at Tripp Scott, was a former state legislator and then a county commissioner before he was ousted by Democrat Ken Keechl in 2006.

We suspect that Scott might ask candidates their positions on Common Core. Scott has tried to strike a compromise of sorts about Common Core which has faced heated attacks from the left and the right. Scott hasn’t dismissed the benchmarks but in September he signed an executive order withdrawing from a national consortium creating assessments for Common Core.

In interviews with Naked Politics, both Ross and Brinkworth echoed a stance somewhat similar to Scott’s.

“I believe Common Core is probably a good set of standards,” Brinkworth said. “I still have a big question mark as to the assessment as do  a lot of people. It is something that needs to be considered very carefully.”

We asked Ross if she is a Common Core supporter. “As far as the benchmarks I think they are excellent. We need to really challenge students more than we have in the past.” But Ross said that she has read a lot about the debate on the assessments and it is “something we have to look at.”

Both Ross and Brinkworth said they hadn't heard anything about Scott's timeline for making appointments.