« March 13, 2014 | Main | March 16, 2014 »

9 posts from March 14, 2014

March 14, 2014

Scott ties Crist to Obama's 'switch doctors' line


From a press release:

The Republican Party of Florida released a new web ad today titled "Right Thing to Do." The ad highlights President Obama's comments from earlier today that the average person could lose their doctor as a result of Obamacare, as well as Charlie Crist's repeated embracing of the law. Rick Scott for Florida is the first campaign in the country to release an ad based on the president's complete reversal of his false claim that individuals who like their doctors would be able to keep them.

"Charlie Crist is the only candidate in America who is giving Obamacare the full embrace. Obamacare has already cancelled health insurance for hundreds of thousands of Floridians and raided Medicare at the expense of 1.3 million Florida seniors. Now the president has finally admitted that many Americans will lose their doctors as a result.  It's appropriate that this ad is the first of its kind because there's no bigger cheerleader for Obamacare than Charlie Crist." - RSFF spokesman Greg Blair

Growing FIU pushes deal to add county fairgrounds

@PatriciaMazzei @MrMikeVasquez

Where a reveler at the Miami-Dade County Fair & Expo sees funnel cakes and midway rides, Florida International University envisions student dorms and research labs.

The annual fair, which opened Thursday with its usual array of agriculture, livestock and old-fashioned fun, sits on an expansive public park next to FIU, which has long had its sights set on growth.

For years, the public university has eyed the 86 acres that the fair occupies at Tamiami Park. The land is owned by Miami-Dade County but leased to the nonprofit that runs the fair — through 2040 with extensions all the way out to 2085.

The adjacent land represents the most obvious expansion opportunity for a university that is fast running out of buildable space at its main southwest Miami-Dade campus.

Now FIU has the attention of county leaders and Miami-Dade’s Tallahassee lawmakers, who have taken on as a critical priority helping the university secure funding to strike a deal that would allow it to expand onto the fairgrounds on Coral Way and Southwest 107th Avenue.

More here.

Askew services set in Tallahassee, Pensacola

Floridians will have three opportunities next week to pay final respects to former Gov. Reubin Askew, who died Thursday at age 85.

Escorted by a military honor guard, Askew will lie in state at the Old Capitol in Tallahassee from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday. It was in that historic building where Askew served 12 years as a legislator and for most of his eight years as governor (during Askew's second term, the state opened the "new" 22-story Capitol).

The last state official to lie in state at the Old Capitol was former Gov. Claude Kirk, who died in 2011.

A memorial service for Askew will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Faith Presbyterian Church, 2200 North Meridian Rd., Tallahassee. Gov. Rick Scott will attend and some if not all of the six living former governors are also expected. A spokesman for the Askew family, Jon Peck, said the list of eulogists at the service has not yet been finalized. The church has seating for about 750 people.

On Friday, a public graveyard service with full military honors will be held at 11 a.m. Central Time at Bayview Memorial Park, 3351 Scenic Highway (US 90 East) in Pensacola, where Askew grew up.

Scott and the Cabinet have a regularly scheduled Cabinet meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Plans are underway to interrupt the meeting so that Scott and the three Cabinet members can be present when Askew's body arrives at the Old Capitol.

"It's almost as if the entire state is taking a pause," said George Sheldon, who worked as a legislative aide to Askew in the Senate and the governor's office.

The Legislature is altering its schedule in recognition of the services for the state's 37th governor. The House will hold a Wednesday session from 5 to 7 p.m., several hours later than usual. The Senate has also shifted some committee meeting times to avoid conflicting with Wednesday's memorial service, and senators received a memorandum Friday on plans to offer shuttle service from the Capitol to the church.

Miami-Dade mayor: Dolphins owner 'trying to do the right thing' on stadium renovation

@doug_hanks @PatriciaMazzei

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez emphasized his support Friday of county ownership for the Miami Dolphins’ stadium if the team can reach a deal over lost tax revenue for the school system and the facility’s home city of Miami Gardens.

“I really like [team owner] Steve Ross. I think he is trying to do the right thing, but nothing that you ever get done here is going to be easy,’’ Gimenez told WQAM 560 sports-talk host Joe Rose. “We’re not far apart. I think the [county] commission can see the logic in this, and I hope most of the people in Miami-Dade County can see the fairness in this.”

Ross has offered to use private money to pay for a $350 million to $400 million stadium renovation in exchange for Miami-Dade County taking ownership of the 1987 facility, which would free Ross of a property-tax bill worth $3.8 million in 2013. The Miami Heat and the Miami Marlins, like Florida’s other pro-sports teams, don’t pay property taxes because they operate government-owned facilities.

When news broke this week of Gimenez’s talks with Ross over a potential deal, the mayor said he wanted the team to satisfy both the school system and Miami Gardens, which both receive about $1 million a year from Sun Life property taxes. “That’s money for our children,’’ Gimenez said to Rose. With Sun Life the top taxpayer in Miami Gardens, Gimenez said taking over the stadium without some relief for the city “would be a huge blow to their tax base.”

In the interview, Gimenez offered a hint at some of the terms under consideration. Ross wants the county to own Sun Life, but he’s not looking for government help in maintaining it, Gimenez said. Both the Heat and Marlins receive millions of dollars in yearly subsidies from Miami-Dade hotel taxes that help pay for debt service, maintenance or operations of the facilities the teams run.

The proposed Dolphins deal “may be the best of all because he’s not asking us to maintain it,’’ Gimenez said.

Ahead of Obama Miami fundraiser, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew winds up here during spring break


One day we'll invent a predictive gauge that correlates the weather in DC with the likelihood of a federal-official's official visit to Miami.

For right now, we'll just use a simple equation: Cold weather + DC visit = official South Florida appearance.

So come on down Treasury Secretary Jack Lew! He'll be at Miami-Dade College on Wednesday, March 19 "to highlight the importance of investing in workforce skills and job training to promote lasting economic opportunity, including for the middle class."

The following day, Thursday, President Obama is to headline a decidedly non-middle-class event: a high-dollar Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser at former NBA player Alonzo Mourning's home. The fundraiser will feature Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi, DCCC chair Steve Israel and Boca Raton Rep. Ted Deutch.

Last week, President Obama found a reason to come to Miami for an official event to discuss the "middle class" at Coral Reef Senior High School. Obama then choppered off to an exclusive Key Largo resort, the Ocean Reef Club, where he golfed with Mourning and Ahmad Rashad.

To tamp down on grumbling about his vacation time, the White House spread word that Obama might cancel the golf visit in case he had to monitor the situation in the Crimea. But Obama still went golfing. And Russia remains in de facto control of the former Ukrainian territory.

First Lady Michelle Obama came to South Florida just beforehand and also found reason to visit in February as well.

Continue reading "Ahead of Obama Miami fundraiser, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew winds up here during spring break" »

Did Sink get outspent in GOP district? Not really

The votes in the special election for Florida’s 13th Congressional District were barely in before the blame game began.

On March 11, 2013, Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in the high-profile Pinellas County race to fill the seat of the late Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young.

Shortly after Sink lost, the Democratic National Committee sent out a fundraising email signed by the DNC’s CEO, Amy K. Dacey. In it, Dacey called the result "really scary" because "Republican super PACs and outside groups rode to the rescue of a straight-up corporate lobbyist (Jolly) -- spending $5 million to tear down his Democratic opponent."

After urging recipients of the email to "chip in $3 or more," Dacey offered an analysis of the outcome:

"In a district that Republicans have held for almost six decades, we nearly pulled off an incredible upset thanks to grassroots support from Democrats like you -- but we fell short for one reason: We got outspent in a Republican district. And call me old fashioned, but I think people, and not special interests, should decide elections."

We wondered whether the DNC is correct to say that Democrats "got outspent in a Republican district." PolitiFact will address the claim in two parts.

Askew and Hatchett: Wit and wisdom before Leadership Florida

Askew and HatchettFor years, former Gov. Reubin Askew had a regular invitation to the annual meeting of the Leadership Florida class in Tallahassee where he was asked to speak with Joseph Hatchett, the former federal judge whom Askew appointed the state's first black Supreme Court justice.

It was affectionately known as the "Joe and Rube show." Here's a summary of their dialogue on Jan. 19, 2012. (We hope to post the podcast later):

Askew introduced Hatchett as "a man with a good heart" and noted how Florida is "blessed" because of his willingness to take the job.

Hatchett, who as a young law student was banned from staying in the hotel where the bar exam was being held, went on to become the chief judge on the federal bench for the Southeast region.

"We're making progress,'' Askew told the crowd at the Governor's Club. "In my opinion, not enough progress but we're making progress."

He recalled how someone once said to him, "You were forever a risk taker, and I said that's the only way I wanted the job. You just do it and take your chances."

Among his chances was his stand on integration: "I really was so tired over the hypocrisy of the busing situation because it never became a controversial issue until we started busing white children."

Continue reading "Askew and Hatchett: Wit and wisdom before Leadership Florida" »

PolitiFact examines John Morgan's claim about a pot arrest

@jpgillin and @politifactfl

Outspoken Orlando attorney John Morgan doesn’t mince words when it comes to his support of Florida’s proposed medical marijuana amendment. He does tend to paint his cause in broad strokes, however.

During a University of Tampa debate on medicinal use of the drug on Feb. 24, Morgan argued that it’s misguided to enforce marijuana laws, using the example of Cathy Jordan, a 64-year-old Parrish resident who smokes to combat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

"The issue for this year is very simple," Morgan said. "Should about 350,000 to 400,000 people, including Cathy Jordan, who’s here tonight, who was arrested last year, drug out of her home, because she suffers from ALS, and marijuana is the only thing that will help her, the only question this year for us is the legalization of medical marijuana."

Later, he added this: "There was an arrest of Cathy Jordan a year ago. An ALS patient who’s sitting right here ... this afternoon, and guess what? The agricultural commissioner sent a SWAT team of hooligans out to her house to drag her and her husband out because it's the only relief that she could get."

Jordan is now the president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, while Morgan has spent $4 million of his own money on a petition drive for a constitutional amendment for marijuana.

Some of the details Morgan mentioned about Jordan’s encounter with law enforcement, though, didn’t sound right, so we decided to check it out.

Today in Tallahassee: Five Things To Know

It’s the end of the second week of the Legislative session and Tallahassee is splitsville. No lawmakers are left in town. Even the governor and attorney general have headed south. Although legislators face a funding ban during session, the governor and members of the Cabinet do not. Here are five things to watch for:

 * Gov. Rick Scott will announce new funding relating to water quality at the Orange County Regional History Center.

 * The governor will also hold a press conference at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami to highlight cancer research funding in his proposed budget.

 * Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliano will host a $3,000 per person fundraiser for Attorney General Pam Bondi at Palm Beach’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

 * The staff of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will be at the Orange Park Town Hall in Clay County from 10 a.m. to noon to assist constituents with issues ranging form Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Affairs, and more.

 * A wake for the father of Florida House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston’s father, Perry E. Thurston, Sr., will be held at 5 p.m. at Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, in Pompano Beach. The elder Thurston passed away March 6, at the age of 76. A funeral will be held Saturday at the church at 11 a.m.