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6 posts from May 14, 2014

May 14, 2014

Fearful of offending Gov. Rick Scott, Council of 100 cancels Charlie Crist speech


The Council of 100 has canceled former Gov. Charlie Crist's scheduled speech on Thursday morning, which he had planned to give just hours after his political opponent and successor, Gov. Rick Scott, appeared.

The reasons for the cancelation are unclear, but sources familiar with the incident say the business group felt nervous about the political ramifications of upsetting the current incumbent at the council's Spring General Membership Meeting in Orlando.

The council's president and CEO, Susan Pareigis, didn't return calls, a text message or an email. Spokespeople for Scott couldn't be reached, either.

When asked for comment, Crist spokesman Kevin Cate confirmed that the Democrat's 11 a.m. speech was canceled and suggested it was done with Scott in mind, as one council member privately told The Miami Herald.

"It’s unfortunate that Rick Scott is apparently using every ounce of political pressure he has left to stifle healthy dialogue about the future of our state. He is clearly scared of the People’s Governor and the people’s will coming in November,” Cate said in a statement.

Continue reading "Fearful of offending Gov. Rick Scott, Council of 100 cancels Charlie Crist speech" »

Florida lawmakers push changes for higher education


Though the Legislature declared that Florida's community colleges cannot add any new four-year degree programs for a year, the moratorium likely won't do much in the long run to curb the popular programs.

The state Board of Education agreed to spend the next 14 months reconsidering how they approve programs. But it didn't commit to cutting back.

"We're very proud of our bachelor degree programs; we've had great success with them," said Randy Hanna, chancellor of the community college division.

The moratorium is one of numerous higher education measures the Legislature enacted, ranging from in-state tuition for veterans and undocumented immigrants to considering another engineering program. Some await Gov. Rick Scott's signature; some already have his backing.

Florida's public colleges, which traditionally did not go beyond two-year degrees, awarded 5,009 bachelor's degrees in 2012-2013, almost double the number from two years prior. The new four-year programs were supposed to focus on meeting the needs of local employers, not duplicate university offerings.

But now 24 colleges offer a total of 175 degree programs.

Sen. Joe Negron, the powerful budget chief, said the colleges are overstepping their bounds.

Read more here 

David Beckham's proposed MLS stadium in Miami could go to voters


The longer David Beckham and his investors spend scouting publicly owned sites for a potential Major League Soccer stadium in Miami, the more it looks like the group will have to go to at least some voters for eventual approval.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said the city will require a referendum if Beckham’s group settles on filling and then building on a city-owned deep-water basin, known as the Florida East Coast Railway slip, along Biscayne Boulevard.

And, in a new wrinkle, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Wednesday that the county could also seek voter approval if Miami Beckham United asks to build on PortMiami’s southwest corner — even though no such referendum would be required for the county-owned property.

“I know that there are a lot of commissioners that would like that,” Gimenez told the Miami Herald. “I think that, at the end, the people’s voice should be heard.”

A ballot question would push back the deadline set by Beckham’s group, which had hoped to have a stadium plan in place this summer to present to MLS. The earliest a referendum would take place is in August, with November a more likely possibility, Gimenez and Regalado said.

Despite the delay, Beckham’s group — perhaps resigned to South Florida’s prickly stadium politics — appears warm to the referendum idea.

More here.

Rick Perry joins Rick Scott at New Smyrna fundraiser


Texas Gov. Rick Perry joins Florida Gov. Rick Scott tonight for a New Smyrna Beach fundraiser tonight in yet another sign of the ongoing friendship between the two governors.

Before he was first elected in 2010, Scott said he wanted to emulate Perry's job-creation record and, since taking office in Tallahassee, Florida's job-growth has been the best in the nation, albeit Texas' economy has remained in much-better shape because of the petroleum industry.

They even challenged each other in a light-hearted fishing competition (Scott won) in 2012, when Perry hired Scott's campaign brain trust (polster Tony Fabrizio and ad men Curt Anderson and Nelson Warfield) to work on his presidential campaign. Perry's contemplating a second run in 2016.

As for tonight's fundraiser, Perry said in a written statement: “Governor Rick Scott understands that private sector growth is generated by lowering taxes and improving the workforce. The people of Florida are enjoying the benefits of Governor Scott’s leadership as their quality of life improves and taxes decrease, allowing them to keep more of their hard-earned money.” 

Lawsuit challenges blind trust law used by Gov. Scott

A lawsuit filed in the Florida Supreme Court Wednesday raises an election-year constitutional challenge to a 2013 law that allows statewide elected officials to place personal financial assets in qualified blind trusts. At least six news media organizations, including The Associated Press, The Miami Herald and the Florida Times-Union, will file friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the lawsuit.

The action is clearly aimed at Gov. Rick Scott, the first officeholder to take advantage of the blind trust provision, but he's not a named defendant. The lawsuit seeks to prevent Secretary of State Ken Detzner from accepting qualifying papers of any candidate who has placed finances in a blind trust. The lawsuit seeks an emergency ruling because the week-long candidate qualifying period begins on June 16.

The law unanimously passed both houses and the Commission on Ethics approved Scott's blind trust in September 2013.

The lawsuit, filed by constitutional law expert Talbot (Sandy) D'Alemberte, a former Democratic state legislator, argues that blind trusts are not compatible with the constitutional provision that requires elected officials to make a "full and public" disclosure of their financial interests.

"I'm just startled that no one has questioned the damn thing," D'Alemberte said Wednesday. "People are disregarding a clear constitutional requirement that is a bedrock principle of open government."

The financial disclosure requirement was a personal crusade of the late Gov. Reubin Askew, who campaigned for it and easily won voter approval for it in 1976. Askew died in March, and the named plaintiff in the lawsuit is Jim Apthorp, a Democrat who served as Askew's chief of staff.

D'Alemberte said he expects the First Amendment Foundation, an open government watchdog group, to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the lawsuit. The foundation is backed by major Florida news organizations, including the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald.

Ad bends truth about Beckham's soccer stadium proposal

In late 2013, soccer superstar David Beckham splashed onto the scene of Miami-Dade stadium politics when he announced his pitch for a $250 million stadium.

While politicians were intrigued by the idea of Beckham bringing major soccer to Miami, one of the main sites under consideration quickly drew fire: PortMiami.

Some county commissioners balked at the idea of transforming part of a major economic hub for the county into a soccer stadium. Opponents, led by Royal Caribbean Cruises, created the Miami Seaport Alliance and took out ads on televisionradio and in newspapers arguing that a stadium threatens the port’s livelihood.

A full-page ad in the Miami Herald in April stated, "A soccer stadium is being proposed at PortMiami. The Miami Seaport Alliance opposes any development that threatens the 207,000 jobs and $27 billion economic impact tied to the cargo and cruise industries. All jobs are important for the future of Miami, but we cannot risk full-time, well-paying PortMiami jobs like crane operators, truckers and cargo loaders, for a few, part-time concession jobs like peanut sellers and ticket takers."

Beckham’s investors responded with their own full-page ad in the Herald, vowing that a soccer stadium would achieve the port’s goals of creating jobs and revenue.

At PolitiFact Florida, we are quite familiar with half truths about stadiums. It is a challenge to fact-check a prediction, but we decided to explore the evidence about whether a soccer stadium at the port would threaten the existing 207,000 jobs and $27 billion economic impact. Is the Alliance bending the truth about Beckham?

Read PolitiFact's findings.