« June 2, 2014 | Main | June 4, 2014 »

11 posts from June 3, 2014

June 03, 2014

New LIBRE Initiative ads target Joe Garcia over 'communism works' line


The LIBRE Initiative, a conservative Hispanic group, is launching a three-week Spanish-language television ad campaign against Congressman Joe Garcia, seizing on the Miami Democrat's recent sardonic remark that "communism works."

Garcia made the quip as a jab against Republicans for backing federal spending on border security that creates scores of local jobs. His opponents pounced, trying to make the most of the communism line among prized Miami Cuban-American voters.

But the Kendall-to-Key West district has a mix of Hispanic voters -- not just of those of Cuban descent -- and actually leans Democratic, voter registration-wise. The attack against Garcia didn't have the staying power of, say, a video in which he picked his ear, which was much more popular on YouTube. (The ad uses that footage, too, making a reference to telling Garcia "to put his lunch aside.")

The Washington-based LIBRE is using it as a way to highlight what it says is Garcia's support of government spending that has raised the federal debt. Last year, a round of LIBRE TV ads targeted Garcia over his support of Obamacare.


Continue reading "New LIBRE Initiative ads target Joe Garcia over 'communism works' line " »

FSU search committee cancels John Thrasher interview

From the News Service of Florida:

A committee looking for a new president for Florida State University will now cast a net that extends beyond powerful state Sen. John Thrasher, the head of the panel announced late Tuesday.

Ed Burr, chairman of the FSU Presidential Search Advisory Committee, said an outpouring of interest in the position led to the decision to delay the conversation with Thrasher, which was scheduled for June 11. The St. Augustine Republican and rabid FSU alumnus has been considered the front-runner for the position, particularly after the committee voted last month to "pause" its process and interview only Thrasher before moving forward.

At the time, members of the committee said Thrasher's desire for the position had kept other potential candidates from applying. But the move to limit the search upset students and faculty members, and a protest was planned for the day of the interview.

Since then, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston, state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, and others have put their names forward as candidates for the presidency.

In a message to committee members, Burr wrote that "recent events have made me increasingly optimistic that a traditional search process now appears more feasible than anticipated at our last meeting."

Continue reading "FSU search committee cancels John Thrasher interview" »

Tucker Dukes, home to burgers and Cutthroat chef, to open in Tallahassee


In news that may appeal only to South Florida politicians with business in the state capital and to hungry journalists in the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee bureau: Tucker Duke's Lunchbox is opening this summer at 224 E. College Ave. in Tallahassee. 

Those same politicians and journalists will remember that space as home to a former Po' Boys Creole Cuisine, which closed in December after years of serving the best fried pickles in town. (The Herald/Times bureau is a block from the restaurant.)

Tucker Duke's originally opened in Valparaiso in 2011 and expanded to Deerfield Beach this year, along with a food truck and a cult-like following for its namesake burger. The Broward location earned a three-star review from the Sun-Sentinel in April, and chef-owner Brian Cartenuto won "Cutthroat Kitchen" on the Food Network last year. Investors in the Tally franchise are lobbyists Jon Costello, who went to school with Cartenuto, Gary Rutledge and Billy Rubin.

Both Scott and Crist fail the test on some education facts

When it comes to the facts about education in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist may need to hit the books.

Associated Press reporter Gary @Fineout detailed the tendency of the two campaigns to mislead and exaggerate in a story here. In short:

 * A Republican Party of Florida press release Tuesday accused Crist of vetoing education projects like pilot reading programs and teacher training. One problem: The veto actually stopped a 5 percent tuition hike in tuition for community college students and Crist was blocking cuts proposed by the Legislature in the aftermath of a special session to cut state spending.

* A new television ad by a Scott-related campaign committee criticized Crist for signing a law that allowed state universities to raise tuition by as much as 15 percent without legislative approval. The problem: the ad doesn't mention the GOP-controlled Legislature pushed the tuition hike and got Crist to go along with it.

* The same ad notes that says "everyone knows" except Crist know that college tuition costs too much. The problem: it fails to mention that a year ago House Speaker Will Weatherford said college tuition in Florida was affordable. He even held up an iPhone and suggested that most college students in Florida were paying the same amount for their phone bills as they were for college.

* A web video launched by the Florida Democrats this week that faulted Scott for approving $1.3 billion in cuts to schools in 2011 and a statment by party chair Allison Tant blaming Scott for three years of "slashing education funding while lining the pockets of special interests and top campaign contributors." The problem: Tant's statement ignores the fact that legislators have boosted spending on public schools in the last two years, including $500 million for teacher salary increases.

* Crist spokesman Kevin Cate told reporters that Scott's "first budget cut education by $4.8 billion so he could give tax breaks to his corporate contributors." The problem: Scott recommended the cuts in his first year but they were actually part of a two-year budget proposal that was not adopted by state legislators.


Scott, Bondi, Weatherford and Gaetz: No investigation needed of fake name used in redistricting map

Posada mapWas a crime committed when a redistricting map was filed using the allegedly stolen identity of an individual?

That's the question left unanswered by Alex Posada, the former Florida State University student who testified under oath last week in the redistricting trial that his name was used to submit a congressional redistricting map without his permission. The map using his name became the foundation of several key portions of the final congressional map approved by legislators.

A group of voters is challenging the constitutionality of the 2012 congressional maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature. But when it comes to the authorities in charge, none of them -- all Republicans -- is calling for a separate criminal investigation into identity theft or the prospect that someone lied. 

"We are not going to comment during the ongoing trial.  We are in the middle of litigation and are letting the process continue,'' said Ryan Duffy, spokesman for House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

"As this is ongoing litigation, which our office is not involved in, it would not be appropriate to comment at this time,'' said Jenn Meale, spokeswoman for Attorney General Pam Bondi.

“This matter is in the hands of the judiciary,’’ said John Tupps, spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott.

And Raoul Cantero, the former Florida Supreme Court justice who is representing the Senate in the trial said this:  

“The Legislature’s duty is to draw districts in compliance with the Florida Constitution and federal law.  The name associated with a particular public map is irrelevant; what is relevant is whether that map provides helpful ideas in drawing constitutionally compliant maps.”

Added Katie Betta, spokeswoman for Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville: "Additionally, I would point out that we have no indication that a rule or provision of law was violated. If a law was violated, the State Attorney’s Office would certainly be better able to launch such an investigation."

We asked Willie Meggs, state attorney for the Second District in Leon County, to respond. He noted that if identity theft occurred, a law was violated, but he needs law enforcement to investigate it first.

 "It should be something for the FBI to investigate or FDLE to investigate,'' he said. "We'd be happy to prosecute if there's an investigation but it's got to be FDLE or the FBI -- and will they investigate?  Lord only knows."

 Gretl Plessinger, spokeswoman for FDLE, said no one has called for an investigation. 




Miami-Dade bans e-cigarette sales to minors


Earlier this year, Florida lawmakers outlawed the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

But Gov. Rick Scott hasn't signed the legislation yet. So the Miami-Dade County Commission took action Tuesday to enact the same restrictions proposed by the state.

The county legislation, sponsored by Commissioner Barbara Jordan, bans the sale of e-cigarettes and other "nicotine-dispensing devices" to people under 18. It also disallows displaying or selling the products in vending machines. 

Legislators took the same steps in approving SB 224 in April. An early version of the state law would have prohibited local governments from setting their own rules, but that provision was ultimately scrapped.

In February, Miami-Dade banned e-cigarettes from county-owned buildings, including those belonging to the Jackson Health System. On Tuesday, commissioners approved the actual workplace rules, which will also apply to facilities leased by the county and to county-owned vehicles.

GOP's new Crist joke: 'Three guys walk into a bar ...'

Republicans are fine-tuning their attack lines to use against Charlie Crist on the campaign trail this summer and fall. The strategy was in full bloom in Panama City on Monday, where Gov. Rick Scott held a small business campaign event.

"So three guys walk into a bar -- a Republican, an independent and a Democrat," said Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City. "What does the bartender say? 'Hey, Charlie!'"

Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, repeatedly called Crist a "liar," and said: "He's lying to the Democrats ... We have a guy who's running on the Democratic ticket whose idea of a moral compass is a wet finger in the wind." Gaetz predicted the Panhandle will give Crist "the worst drubbing" he'll receive in the November election in any part of Florida.

Panama City car dealer Bill Cramer Jr., the son and namesake of the former congressman from St. Petersburg, publicly apologized for having supported Crist in a series of statewide races over 14 years whe Crist was a Republican. "Charlie Crist is a chameleon who changes his colors to match whatever political environment advances his career," Cramer said.

Standing with Scott in Panama City was Guy Tunnell, a Bay County commissioner who quit under pressure as FDLE commissioner during Jeb Bush's administration after criticism of his handling of the death of a teenager in a boot camp. Tunnell also made remarks that compared black leaders to Osama Bin Laden and Jesse James. Asked if he had misgivings about sharing a stage with Tunnell, Scott said: "I'm appreciative when local elected officials support me."

Florida's dependence on natural gas will ease impact of new EPA rules

Florida’s heavy reliance on natural gas could make cutting carbon pollution under an ambitious plan unveiled Monday by the Obama administration easier to swallow.

The complex rule, touted as the strongest federal effort yet to combat climate change by regulating power plant carbon emissions for the first time, calls for reducing emissions nationally by 30 percent by 2030. The rule covers all fossil fuel-powered plants, which generate about 6 percent of the planet’s greenhouse gases, but chiefly targets the nation’s biggest polluters: coal-fired power plants.

Florida, which gets about 68 percent of its power from plants running on natural gas, would have to reduce emissions by 38 percent, according to calculations by the Environmental Protection Agency.

While the proposed rule has been generally praised by environmentalists, some Florida and national industry groups argue it will drive up fuel and consumer costs. More here by Jenny Staletovich.


Miami drops Democratic National Convention bid


If Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, she won't be accepting her party's nomination in Miami.

Organizers putting together a bid to host the Democratic National Convention at downtown's AmericanAirlines Arena -- an event with a $50 million price tag for local governments -- have recommended withdrawing from the process. They cited too short a time frame to put a winning proposal together.

In an email sent last week to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, organizers Freddy Balsera, a political consultant and publicist, and Bill Talbert, head of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, said Miami would be at a disadvantage because it began preparing its bid too late.

"We continue feeling very strongly that Miami would be the absolute best site for any political convention based on all of the attributes that our community has to offer and we urge you to consider taking steps so that we may organize ourselves with anticipation to potentially pursue the conventions in 2020," Balsera wrote in the May 28 email.

According to the request for proposals sent by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat and chairwoman of the national party, required host cities to include a line or letter of credit for up to $20 million to cover potential funding shortfalls.

In addition, hotels taking part would have to commit most or all of their rooms and suites for the event, and AAA and the Miami Beach Convention Center would have to provide unlimited access for eight weeks prior to the convention, whose date has yet to be set. 

Fourteen cities, including Orlando, New York and Las Vegas, were also invited to bid, though Orlando has also dropped out. Proposals are due Friday.

Bondi: I'm being taken out of context, harm equates to federal meddling

Bruised by an avalanche of negative press over her recent brief defending Florida's ban on gay marriage, Attorney General Pam Bondi released a new statement late Monday.

At issue is this sentence in the brief: "The Court should also deny the preliminary injunction motions because there is no likelihood of success on the merits, there is no immediacy requiring a preliminary injunction and disrupting Florida's existing marriage laws would impose significant public harm."

Not reading beyond the headline, many in the social media sphere have interpreted that to mean that Bondi believes that gay marriage would impose public harm. She says that she meant it would harmful to Florida's law, which she is charged to uphold.

Nowhere in her statement does Bondi say that perhaps her brief could have been better said, or more carefully worded. She says she is defending the law and any interpretation otherwise is an attempt to inflame. Her statement: 

Continue reading "Bondi: I'm being taken out of context, harm equates to federal meddling" »