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11 posts from January 28, 2014

January 28, 2014

Film industry wants legislature to renew millions in incentives


From his booth in a crowded Fontainebleau ballroom, Graham Winick faced the challenge of courting Hollywood without any state dollars to offer.

The head of Miami Beach’s film office saw a modest hunting ground in this year’s NATPE convention, a major television-industry gathering where, among other activities, some low-budget content producers pitch their offerings to distributors.

The smaller outfits included the maker ofSharknado 2, and a reality series based on Fort Lauderdale’s rock scene. Those thinner budgets have particular appeal to Winick now that Florida is winding down an incentive program that bankrolled major movie and television productions with multimillion-dollar subsidy packages.

“This is an entire industry,’’ said Winick, film and event production manager for Miami Beach. “Not everything is going to be the next Hollywood blockbuster.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/28/3898732/with-florida-film-incentives-drying.html#storylink=cpy


Charlie Crist disses idea of debate with Nan Rich


Charlie Crist dismissed the idea of debating former state Sen. Nan Rich in a Democratic primary for governor.

Here’s part of the transcript from a press gaggle at a Crist fundraiser at Greenspoon Marder law firm in Fort Lauderdale today:

Q: “Will you be debating Nan Rich and if so do you think that will be in Broward and how many times do you expect to debate her?”

Crist: “I don't.”

Q: “You don't expect you'll be debating her?”

Crist: “I'm not even thinking about it right now to be honest with you Tony [Man, Sun-Sentinel reporter.] I am focused on doing everything I can to help the people of Florida. And this is not a race really about candidates this is a race about people of our state -- about teachers, about law enforcement officers, firefighters, people that in my opinion have not been honored in the way they deserve to be honored....”

Q: “The folks at Broward Days though think you should at least give it a shake to debate her. Especially Broward County is such a Democratic stronghold. They said they heard back from her campaign that she’d be willing to talk to you in a forum like that but no plans for that?”

Crist: “No.”

Crist was later asked about his stance on gay marriage, medical marijuana and Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed education budget.

Crist: “Like the president, let’s start with that, I always supported civil unions. But I thought about it just as President Obama thought about it and I have come to the conclusion as the pope said himself ‘who am I to judge?’ I’ve always been a live and let live kind of guy that’s what’s in my heart....”

Q: Did you ever publicly express your support for civil unions?

Crist: “Yes.”

(See Marc Caputo's analysis of Crist and civil unions here.)

“On the issue of medical marijuana I am delighted that it is going to be on the ballot. I will vote for it. I think it is the right thing to do . If you have a physician who wants to prescribe medical marijuana for a patient who is suffering or has loss of appetite why would you be opposed to that?...”

Q: "What’s your thought on Common Core and on Scott’s education budget proposal yesterday . If you were governor would you fund education any differently than what he proposed yesterday?"

Crist: “Yeah and what he proposed when he first got there. Cutting education by $1.3 billion first year your first year as governor in state of Florida is ridiculous. It seems to me that trying to make some conversion in the election year and acting like you really care about education is laughable. I’ll just be straight up on this I just don’t think we can believe what he’s doing....,” he said, before slipping in a mention of the $1.7 billion Medicaid fine paid for by Scott’s former health care company. “If I get the opportunity because of the kindness of people of Florida to be involved in crafting an education budget....I’m a friend of education, always have been, always will be.”

Q: "Are you a supporter of Common Core?"

Crist: "I am. I am."




In Spanish-language State of the Union response, Miami congresswoman will tout GOP as party of opportunity


One of Miami's own will deliver a Republican response Tuesday to President Obama's State of the Union -- in Spanish.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will use her speech to portray the GOP to Hispanics as a party looking to empower families, and not the government, to build a better future. (Florida Sen. Marco Rubio delivered Republicans' rebuttal last year, in English and Spanish.)

The remarks, according to released excerpts, will mostly track those that will be delivered by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris of Washington in English.

"Tonight, the president made more promises that sound good but won't solve the problem our nation faces," Ros-Lehtinen's prepared Spanish-language remarks say. "I want you to have a better life. The president wants that too. But we disagree on how to get there."

She intends to share details from her personal history, saying, as she often does, that her family left Cuba after Fidel Castro's revolution and she "would have never believed" she'd become the first Hispanic woman in Congress. The Republican Party, Ros-Lehtinen will argue, is the party that can give other Hispanic immigrants similar opportunities.

Ros-Lehtinen plans to say that Obama should focus less on closing the income-inequality gap and more on the "opportunity gap" for people looking to better themselves.

"That's why the first step in our strategy to close this gap is to secure well-paying jobs for individuals skilled to carry them out," her prepared remarks say.

She plans to devote only two paragraphs in the second half of her speech to immigration reform, without delving into specifics. "It's time to honor our history of legal immigration," her speech says, calling for a "permanent solution" of some sort.

Ros-Lehtinen will close with a prayer for a U.S. Marine corporal from Homestead who died in Afghanistan in 2009. Christian A. Guzman Rivera was 21 when he died, along with three other Marines, after a roadside bomb exploded the Humvee they were riding in the western Afghan province of Farah.

Charlie Crist 'not even thinking of' debating Nan Rich

@PatriciaMazzei @amysherman1

Charlie Crist told reporters outside a Fort Lauderdale fundraiser Tuesday that he has no plans to debate former state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, the other candidate vying for the Democratic nomination for governor.

"I don't," Crist said in response to a question by a Miami Herald reporter.

When pressed by another reporter, he added, "I'm not even thinking about that right now, to be honest with you.

"I am focused on doing everything I can to help the people of Florida, and this is not really a race about candidates," he said.  "This is a race about the people of our state –- about teachers, about law enforcement officers, about firefighters. People that in my opinion have not been honored the way they deserve to be honored."

His answer was in contrast to Rich, who has repeatedly said voters should hear substance from candidates.

"I'm an issues person," she told the Herald in a phone interview. "I'm a policy person. To me, to have a dialogue and a debate back-and-forth about the issues is probably the most important thing that you can do to educate voters about where the candidates stand."

Broward College and Broward Days, a legislative advocacy group, had reached out to Rich and Crist to invite them to debate in the state's bluest county. Rich told organizers she'd be open to it; Crist's camp hasn't gotten back to them.

Looks like they shouldn't hold their breath. And that would do a disservice to voters -- and not just Democratic ones. Crist is a former Republican governor-turned-independent, and many in his new party remain skeptical about his political convictions (or lack thereof).

Floridians as a whole would lose out on a substantive debate on the issues facing the country's fourth-largest state. And the eventual nominee would miss out on practice before facing Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the general election.

PolitiFact will fact-check Obama's SOTU address

From PolitiFact:

We'll be fact-checking President Barack Obama's 2014 State of the Union address at 9 p.m. ET.

Follow us here and on Twitter @politifact for live updates throughout the night. Suggest facts to check with #PolitiFactThis. Then check back here for our fact-checks.

(If you can't wait to get started, see our preview, and check out our roundups from 20132012 and 2011!)

On the couch with your phone or tablet? Check out our full-featured PolitiFact Mobile app, for a limited time just 99 cents  on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. Keep up with this story, browse our 500 fact-checksof Obama and suggest facts to check. Our favorite extra: Your very own "Pants on Fire!" button.

To look up our previous fact-checks during the debate, try our free app, Settle It! PolitiFact's Argument Ender. Easily search and share by email, Facebook and Twitter. 

Charlie Crist to fundraise in Fort Lauderdale tonight. But will he debate Nan Rich in Broward?


Charlie Crist is expected at a fundraiser at Greenspoon Marder, former state Sen. Steve Geller’s law firm, in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

Nothing has been announced yet for Crist to speak to any Broward groups publicly, but Geller, who is advising Crist, told the Miami Herald that that should happen in the “next 30 days.”

Broward College and Broward Days, a state legislative advocacy group, reached out to Crist and Democratic opponent Nan Rich, a former Weston senator, to invite them to a debate in Broward.

“I never got a response from Crist,” said lawyer Michael Colodny, chair of Broward Days. “I spoke to some of his political representatives who said they would carry the word to the campaign and I’ve heard nothing since then. I heard from Rich’s people if Crist was agreeable they would get together and hopefully work out a format and some timing.”

Continue reading "Charlie Crist to fundraise in Fort Lauderdale tonight. But will he debate Nan Rich in Broward?" »

South Florida guests and President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech

At least two people with ties to South Florida were invited as special guests to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night.

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Miami, invited Mayra Rubio Limon, a college freshman studying business at MiamiDadeCollege and DREAMer from Homestead. She is an undocumented immigrant who qualified for President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The program allows young adults brought to the country illegally before their 16th birthday to delay deportation for at least two years. The Mexican native has spent years working in the fields picking zucchini and other produce alongside her older brother and parents, who now run a produce stand in Homestead. Her 11-year-old sister is a U.S. Citizen. 

Carlos Arredondo, formerly of Hollywood. He was captured in an iconic photograph during the Boston Marathon bombing rushing Jeff Bauman to safety. In 2004, three Marines showed up at Arredondo’s house on Tyler Street in Hollywood to tell him his son had been killed in Iraq. He “went insane” by his own account, smashing the Marines’ windshield with a sledgehammer, dousing their van with gasoline and setting it — and himself — ablaze. He spent 10 months hospitalized and had to attend his son’s funeral on a stretcher. He was not charged with any crime.

Following the money in Gov. Rick Scott's budget proposals


Gov. Rick Scott has received positive headlines for the better part of two weeks as he unveils bits and pieces of his proposed 2014-2015 budget. He is focusing on the good news: roughly a dozen tax breaks and spending increases.

TMscottbudgetHe wants to cut vehicle tag fees and increase workforce training. He hopes to give families a tax break on back-to-school shopping, businesses a break on rent taxes and worried homeowners a break when preparing for hurricane season. Scott's proposal will also include money to restore the Everglades and Florida's springs.

But there is a catch.

The Times/Herald compiled all of Scott's new spending in the chart (click on the pic for a larger image), using press releases from his office and media reports. We included only the new spending that would require additional budget dollars, except for education because that wasn't specified.

In total, Scott has proposed about $1.4 billion in new spending. You may recall that state analysts have predicted an $850 million budget surplus.

That means if the governor wants to boost spending in the way he has proposed, he will have to cut around $500 million in other areas of the state budget.

Scott has already announced that he wants agencies to reduce their budgets by $100 million. Our analysis shows that the number will be significantly higher, unless the governor is looking outside state coffers to fund his new initiatives.

Continue reading "Following the money in Gov. Rick Scott's budget proposals" »

Pinellas' GOP property appraiser: 'it's our party that's keeping reform' of flood insurance from vote


Among the interesting aspects of the CD-13 special election to replace Bill Young, there's this nugget in a USA today report about voters' concerns with the GOP over flood insurance:

"We need to be honest about our party, because in truth it's our party that's keeping reform of this (flood insurance program) from being fixed," Pam Dubov, the Pinellas County property appraiser, advised a recent supper club meeting of Pinellas County Republicans.

Specifically: U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, are standing in the way. This despite repeated statements from the Republican Party of Florida and Gov. Rick Scott, who suggest it's....wait for it....President Obama's fault.

Not every Washington Republican is opposed. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio joined Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in a test vote to keep rates from skyrocketing.




Course correction? AIPAC comes to Debbie Wasserman Schultz's aid over Iran sanctions

As an Iran sanctions measure appears to die, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is now actively working to bolster U.S. Rep. and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Behind the scenes, Wasserman Schultz was said to oppose the sanctions bill, which was backed by AIPAC and some Democrats but was strongly opposed by the White House. Wasserman Schultz refused to talk about it in detail with us recently (column here).

Huffington Post:

[I]n a Jan. 24 letter obtained Monday by the Washington Free Beacon, AIPAC’s Southeastern states director, Mark Kleinman, issued a strong defense of Wasserman Schultz. The letter also claims the HuffPost story was "inaccurate," but doesn't say why.

“Friends, I wanted to forward a statement issued by AIPAC national board member Ike Fisher after the Huffington Post released an inaccurate article regarding AIPAC and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” Kleinman wrote in the letter, before feeding into Fisher's comment: “Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz has a strong record of support for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” read Fisher’s statement. “She is a good friend of Israel and a close friend of AIPAC, and we look forward to our continued work together for many years to come.”

More here