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17 posts from June 17, 2014

June 17, 2014

Florida Supreme Court will consider petition to hike attorney Bar dues


A group of lawyers has come up with a plan to improve the availability of free legal services to poor Floridians: hike the dues that attorneys pay each year to the state Bar Association.

The $100 increase would be the first dues hike since 2001, but represnts a hefty 37 percent boost from the current $265 that lawyers pay each year.

The Florida Bar opposes the proposal. Instead, the organizations wants to provide a $6 million "bridge" loan over two ears to ensure services continue while a long-term solution that isn't so heavily reliant on attorney dues is established.

Proponents of increasing the Bar fees, including former Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero, filed the “Access to Justice Petition” with the Florida Supreme Court Monday. The court has already certified the matter as a "high profile case" that will garner significant public attention.

The case, No. 14-1165, does not have any hearings scheduled yet. The petitioners hope to have the matter resolved in time for dues to be increased for 2015.

Bar President Eugene Pettis said during a media call Monday that he doesn't disagree that better funding for legal services is needed, but does not think increasing attorneys' annual dues is the answer.

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Prosecutors: Suspended Miami Lakes mayor violated bond terms with political email blast


Free on bail since his arrest last summer, prosecutors now say suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi should go to jail before he faces federal trial on public corruption charges in less than a month.

Prosecutors have moved to revoke Pizzi's bond and detain him, claiming he violated the terms when he arranged to have a colleague send two email blasts about “corrupt” activity by other Miami Lakes officials to thousands of his supporters. Among the recipients: the town manager and other potential trial witnesses the former mayor was ordered not to contact by a federal magistrate judge.

Prosecutors made their move against Pizzi after they said he lied to the court’s probation office about his behind-the-scene’s role in sending the emails in April. Pizzi’s defense attorneys have called the prosecution’s actions “a shocking exercise of government overreaching” while trampling on his right to free speech. They have sought to dismiss his bribery indictment.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke has scheduled a hearing Wednesday to decide Pizzi's pre-trial fate. His trial starts July 8 with jury selection.

More here.

This post was updated with the final version of the story.

Marco Rubio to give 'major' economic address at YG Network event

From a press release:
Rubio To Address Middle-Class Economic Challenges at Event Sponsored by YG Network:  On Wednesday, June 25th, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) will deliver a major address, "Finding Economic Security in an Insecure Time," in which he will outline reform conservative ideas to address the rising cost of living plaguing middle class families. The event is sponsored by the non-profit YG Network and will be hosted at Hillsdale College's Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitution Studies and Citizenship on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. 

Finding Economic Security in an Insecure Time: A speech by Senator Marco Rubio

Sponsored by YG Network

Wednesday, June 25th

1:00PM – 2:00PM

Hillsdale College's Kirby Center

227 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Washington, DC  20002

 About "Finding Economic Security in an Insecure Time": Tens of millions of Americans have begun to lose hope in the American Dream. They struggle against the rising cost of living, persistently low wages, and a rapidly changing job market. Washington does little to help them, clinging instead to old and outdated policies and institutions which do nothing to address the needs of our people today.

The 21st century comes with extraordinary opportunities, but taking advantage of them will require a new agenda. Throughout the year, Senator Rubio has introduced a series of reforms designed to capitalize on the promise of this new century.
It is an agenda best understood through the lives of real people, so Rubio will introduce you to Floridians whose current struggles represent the challenges facing millions of Americans today. Their stories – that of a single mother struggling to make ends meet, two college graduates who can’t find good paying jobs, and a working family who owns a struggling small business – will speak to a wide variety of Americans who find their belief in the promise of our nation shaken, and will illustrate why the road ahead for America can be one of prosperity and promise for all.
About YG Network: The YG Network is a non-profit 501(c)(4) dedicated to supporting conservative policies and the efforts of policymakers who fight for those policies. YG Network believes that by seeking reforms that create jobs, encourage innovation, instill fiscal discipline, establish a patient-centered health care system and pursue energy security, we can foster the optimal environment for America’s businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed and flourish. Recently YG Network released 'Room To Grow: Conservative Reforms for a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class,' a book that has been called "the most coherent and compelling policy agenda the American right has produced this century." 
More on the event is here

FIU Cuba poll: support for embargo wanes among Miami Cuban-Americans

From Juan Tamayo:

Cubans in Miami-Dade County are continuing to increase their support for warmer relations with the island, including lifting all embargo and travel sanctions and opening full diplomatic ties, according to a new poll by Florida International University.

The poll, released Tuesday morning, also showed that majorities of Cubans in the county favored increased economic contacts with the island and might invest there. About 48 percent said they send cash remittances to Cuba or have relatives who do so.

But 63 percent favored keeping Cuba on the U.S. list of countries that support international terrorism — one of the apparent contradictions in the poll by FIU’s Cuba Research Institute.

In another example, although only 62 percent of all the Miami-Dade Cubans surveyed by FIU said they were U.S. citizens, 90 percent also reported that they were registered to vote.

The FIU poll, which has asked much the same questions in 11 surveys since 1991, essentially confirmed a long-standing trend among younger, U.S.-born Cubans and more recent arrivals to increasingly favor improved relations. Older Cubans tend to favor tougher sanctions

Its results “highlight an important transition taking place in the Miami area, a demographic, generational and ideological shift that can potentially have a great impact,” noted the survey.

On the embargo, 52 percent of the 1,000 Miami-Dade Cubans surveyed opposed it and 48 percent favored it, according to the poll. That compared to 56 percent who favored it in the 2011 poll — and 87 percent in the 1991 survey. Among registered voters, the split in the latest poll was 51-49 in favor of the embargo.

More here

MLS doesn't like Marlins Park site for David Beckham's Miami stadium


Major League Soccer says it doesn’t want David Beckham’s Miami expansion team to play at the site some politicians have started to promote for a new stadium: next to Marlins Park in Little Havana.

“No — we’re not considering that location,” MLS President Mark Abbott told the Miami Herald. “Our strong belief is that, to be successful, it needs to be downtown.”

That resistance, especially as elected leaders begin to coalesce around the Marlins site, could make it difficult for Beckham and his investors — who have eyed public land for their mostly privately funded stadium — to find another place they might deem suitable.

But MLS didn’t always scorn the Marlins location.

So close were MLS and the city of Miami to making a deal at the former Orange Bowl site that, in early 2008, they drafted a confidential agreement — never signed — to send to city commissioners for approval.

Before the contract was to be written, MLS Commissioner Don Garber praised then-Mayor Manny Diaz, who had included an adjacent soccer stadium into the plans for the new Miami Marlins ballpark.

“You’ve done an amazing job on this project,” Garber wrote in an email dated Dec. 12, 2007.

More here.

NRCC ready to spend $1.4m to go after Rep. Joe Garcia


U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia holds one of Florida's most-competitive swing seats, making the Democrat an inviting target for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which plans to spend $1.4 million against him on ads.

The NRCC's buy is part of an $18 million effort aimed at what it perceives are 17 vulnerable Democrats, according to Politico.

The NRCC's counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is also ready to chip in to keep D-26 blue and has reserved about $970,000 in ad time, according to Roll Call.

Garcia could use the help. He has been targeted by at least three conservative groups: America Rising PAC, LIBRE Initiative and Americans for Prosperity.

Who Garcia faces in the general election is anyone's guess.

Depending on whom you ask, Miami-Dade School Board Member Carlos Curbelo is either the frontrunner in a crowded GOP primary, or he'll be an also-ran. Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who lost by 10.6 percentage points to Garcia in a district Obama carried by 7 points, wants a rematch. But Rivera's scandals give the establishment the willies. Former County Commissioner Joe Martinez is strong in Kendall, a base of the seat. Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck isn't as well known as the other three and Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall is the only non-Hispanic white candidate in the primary.


FL Democratic Party's 1st 2014 ad buy has old theme: Rick Scott and Medicare fraud


The Florida Democratic Party's first TV spot of the 2014 governor's race airs this week and attacks Gov. Rick Scott over an old weakness: Medicare fraud.

"Maybe you’ve heard about what was the largest Medicare fraud in history, committed when Rick Scott was a CEO," says the ad. "Or that Scott’s company paid record fraud fines of one-point-seven billion dollars."

If you haven't heard, then your memory is bad or you didn't turn on a Florida TV set during the height of the 2010 elections, when Scott's Republican rival and then his Democratic opponent ensured that voters knew about the 1997 fine paid by Columbia/HCA, a hospital company Scott built.

The Scott campaign and the state GOP is focusing on the more-recent past: the hundreds of thousands of Florida jobs created while Scott was in office compared with the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost between 2007 and 2011 under former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Democratic frontrunner in the race.

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