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7 posts from November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013

Seminole fans rally behind accused quarterback

The Seminole Nation has decided. Jameis Winston didn’t do it.

As state attorney Willie Meggs continues his investigation into rape charges against the standout Florida State University quarterback, Winston fans have parsed the evidence, outted the woman and derided her credibility on message boards, blogs and on Twitter.

Winston, who through his attorney has denied all wrongdoing, has not been charged with a crime, and Meggs said Monday that it is unlikely he will make a decision on Winston’s fate before the Thanksgiving holiday.

But the prospect that the redshirt freshman and Heisman Trophy candidate could be charged with a felony has so devastated many FSU football fans that they are determined to change the narrative.

“The Seminole Nation has been the biggest detective of all,” said Brandon Parks, a former FSU backup quarterback and 2010 graduate, before the Seminoles’ home game against Idaho on Saturday. Like many fans, he had uploaded a photo of a woman he considered Winston’s alleged accuser from one of many Internet sites.

“Here she is with him,” Parks said, pointing to a picture of a petite blonde standing, smiling, next to Winston, each stretching an arm around the other’s waist.

Winston towers over the woman. “How can you tell me she didn’t know his name?” Parks asks, referring to the police report that identified the suspect as “unknown” when the woman called police at 4 a.m. from an off-campus apartment last year.

But other websites circulated a different photo, of a different blonde woman, clearly much taller. More here.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/25/v-fullstory/3779528/seminole-fans-rally-behind-accused.html#storylink=cpy

FL Republican chairman joins Lee and Collier GOP: "Resign immediately," Trey Radel


Florida's Republican chairman and the GOP county leaders represented by rehabbing Congressman Trey Radel called on him to "resign immediately" Monday, saying his recent cocaine-possession arrest and guilty plea were not tolerable.

"These actions have violated the trust of those whom he was elected to represent and fall short of the standards for an elected official; especially a member of the United States Congress," the statements from the Lee and Collier county Republican executive committees said.

"His actions clearly disqualify the pursuit of another term and if he should run for re-election, he would not enjoy our support," Radel's hometown Republicans wrote. "We feel it is in the best interests of all involved that he resign immediately."

The two counties approved the statements in separate emergency meetings -- all with the support of Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry.

"The people of Florida’s 19th Congressional District need a Congressman who is 100 percent focused on the needs of Southwest Florida," Curry said in a statement. "Therefore, Congressman Radel should step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family.”

Radel, 37, couldn't be reached.

A spokesman for Radel, Dave Natonski, told the Naples Daily News in a statement Monday night: "Congressman Radel's top priority right now is to complete his rehabilitation and then return to work as soon as possible."

Continue reading "FL Republican chairman joins Lee and Collier GOP: "Resign immediately," Trey Radel" »

State's order on absentee ballots upsets election supervisors

Gov. Rick Scott's chief elections official issued an order Monday that imposes new restrictions on how and where voters can return completed absentee ballots in future elections.

At least two county election supervisors, Brian Corley in Pasco County and Deborah Clark in Pinellas, are troubled by the decision, say they were never consulted by the state and predicted that it could depress turnout.Pinellas is also the county where voters will soon elect a new member of Congress to replace the late C.W. Bill Young.

The two-page order, called a "directive," was issued by Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

In it, Detzner said his office "has been asked for clarification" on the return of absentees, but he didn't say by whom. He wrote: "Supervisors should not solicit return of absentee ballots at any place other than a supervisor's office, except for the purpose of having the absentee ballot cancelled if the voter wants to vote in person."

Detzner noted that another part of the elections code instructs voters to mail absentee ballots to supervisors' offices.

His directive prohibits Clark from opening ballot drop-off locations for the convenience of voters. Clark is a strong proponent of letting voters vote by mail and had 14 secure drop-off sites in the 2012 presidential election, including local tax collectors' offices and public libraries.

Clark said other large counties also use absentee ballot drop-off sites, and she said the effect of Detzner's order is to inconvenience voters by making them drive longer distances to return their ballots. Her three offices are in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Largo.

"I think this is going to have a major impact statewide," Clark said. "This is not helpful for increasing ballot accessibility, and I am just stunned as to why they would come out with something like this."

Corley said the Scott administration directive was not "pro-voter." Said Corley: "I have the utmost respect for Secretary Detzner, but he has never run an election and this directive appears to show that. It does not have the most pro-voter sentiment for the political process, and that gives me great concerns ... Maybe they should consider consulting with some of us supervisors of elections before they issue something like this."

-- Steve Bousquet

Sheriff says 'No thanks' to Gov. Scott's offer as possible L.G.

Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger on Monday formally declined Gov. Rick Scott's offer to be considered as a possible lieutenant governor, becoming the second person on Scott's four-person short list to turn him down.

Eslinger sent an email to his employees saying he was "flattered and honored" to be considered, but that he will keep the job that he was first elected to in 1990. Last week, St. Johns County Superintendent of Schools Joseph Joyner also rejected Scott's offer.

The moves by Eslinger and Joyner suggest that neither men knew he was under consideration for the No. 2 post until they found out when the Times/Herald broke the story last week.

As a result, Scott now is down to two known candidates for the job, both from Hillsborough County: Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman.

Here's the full text of Eslinger's message to his employees:

"As you may be aware, I was recently selected to be considered among four nominees for an appointment as the Lieutenant Governor of Florida. I spoke with Governor Rick Scott this morning and expressed how flattered and honored I was to be considered for the office of Lieutenant Governor.  I did, however, respectfully decline to be further considered for this position.  It is my intention to continue serving the people of Seminole County as their Sheriff. With your untiring assistance and dedication, we have built our organization into one of the finest law enforcement and corrections agencies known throughout our state.  I am extremely proud to serve with each of you and appreciate the professional service you provide daily to our citizens.

"I have assured Governor Scott that he has my full support and cooperation now, and in the future, as we work in partnership to ensure the best possible quality of life for the citizens of Seminole County and the State of Florida."

-- Steve Bousquet

As Rep. Trey Radel rehabs, staffers bail & home-county GOP mulls asking him to resign


U.S. Rep. Trey Radel is in rehab for his substance abuse problem, but his political trouble is only mounting in his district.

Two Radel staffers are leaving him, the specter of top-tier challengers are mounting and the Lee County Republican Executive Committee plans to hold an emergency meeting tonight to decide whether to get involved.

"I've heard of every scenario: A) ask him to step down, B) ask him not to seek reelection next year or C) say nothing with him staying put," Lee County GOP Chairman Terry Miller said of the meeting.

Continue reading "As Rep. Trey Radel rehabs, staffers bail & home-county GOP mulls asking him to resign" »

In Miami, Medicare comes with white-glove treatment


The scene at Leon Medical Centers’ Healthy Living Facility in Miami on a recent Thursday resembled a cross between a luxury hotel and a theme park.

White-gloved doormen wearing porter uniforms ushered elderly patients from white vans into a gleaming lobby with colored terrazzo floors and a bubbling fountain. Greeters in green vests and ear bud radios welcomed the Medicare members and made sure their doctors knew that they’d arrived. Refreshments were proffered: Would they like a cafecito and pastelito for the wait?

And that was just the entranceway. Three more floors of the sprawling center bustled with Leon members meeting with physicians or dentists, taking healthy cooking classes, exercising in the fitness center or learning to use Facebook in a lecture hall.

It’s a one-stop shopping approach for healthcare based on a level of customer service and attention that, members tell the federal government, sets Leon Medical Centers apart in the highly-lucrative and super-competitive world of South Florida’s privately managed Medicare plans, or Medicare Advantage.

As the country grapples with far-reaching challenges in healthcare, companies like Leon are carving out a niche that is increasingly popular with Medicare beneficiaries — and demonstrating improvements in customer satisfaction and medical outcomes that translate into bigger profits.

More here.

New Miami Beach mayor: from CEO to City Hall


Philip Levine is used to calling the shots as the CEO of a multi-million dollar media business.

On Nov. 25, he’ll take the helm of Miami Beach’s commission as mayor, after winning his first run for political office in a hard-fought campaign against a sitting commissioner.

As a corporate mogul, but newbie politician, Levine will have to learn how to run a different kind of shop — one in which his powers are significantly limited. Unlike the role he’s played in business, the mayorship comes with no executive authority.

Miami Beach has a city manager form of government, which means a hired employee handles the day-to-day dealings of city government. The mayor and commission decide on policy issues, and it’s up to city employees to implement those policies.

So instead of being boss, Levine will have just one vote among a seven-member commission. He’ll have to explain his decisions to a demanding activist community and an intensely interested press. And getting things done will take longer than in private business.

In those ways, the roles and responsibilities of a mayor in a city manager form of government are far different than having complete control over your own company.

More here.