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10 posts from July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014

Pro-Hamas demonstrator at Miami's 'Friendship' torch: 'I'm gonna kill you...and all the Israelis!'

@MarcACaputo

Is there a better Miami spot for pro-Hamas demonstrators to threaten and push a provocative cameraman than the "Torch of Friendship?”

You read that right: The Torch of Friendship at Bayfront Park.

After what was an otherwise-peaceful protest against “the massacre in Gaza,” a cameraman affiliated with the pro-Israel/anti-Islamic group The United West hit the video jackpot: a group of men who couldn't control their tempers and a few dozen demonstrators chanting in favor of holy war and Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

"I’m gonna kill you motherfucker, you and all the Israelis!” one man says, after flipping two middle fingers.

And…. Cut! That's a wrap, folks.

"Miami HAMAS ATTACKS Jewish Reporter!" the YouTube headline from The United West blares. It was uploaded six days after the July 20 rally and quickly blazed across conservative websites. 

Continue reading "Pro-Hamas demonstrator at Miami's 'Friendship' torch: 'I'm gonna kill you...and all the Israelis!'" »

Miami-Dade mayor calls demolition of soldier's home 'unfortunate'

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami-Dade County declined interview requests last week in the case of the local soldier whose home was demolished while he was on active duty, in violation of U.S. law, according to a federal judge.

Late Monday, a day after the soldier's story ran in the Miami Herald, County Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a statement on the situation, sounding disappointed at Miami-Dade's actions.

"This unfortunate situation began prior to my time as mayor," Gimenez said. "It is still in the hands of the County Attorney's Office. I look forward to a swift and fair resolution.

"My administration will continue to comply with all federal laws that safeguard our veterans, especially when they are on active duty."

Judge throws out challenge to blind trust law used by Gov. Scott

From the Associated Press:

 A Florida judge is upholding a law that allows elected officials to place their assets in a blind trust instead of reporting each investment publicly.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper on Monday ruled that politicians can use a blind trust and still comply with a 1976 constitutional amendment that requires officials to disclose their finances. The Florida Legislature passed a law last year authorizing the use of a blind trust.

Gov. Rick Scott is the only public official who has been using a blind trust, although this year he disclosed details about his finances when he qualified for re-election.

Jim Apthorp, a former top aide to the late Gov. Reubin Askew, said in a statement he would consult with his attorneys after whether to appeal Cooper's ruling.

Slain FSU law professor was found bleeding in his car, report says

Florida State University law professor Dan Markel was shot in his car, police said Monday, after releasing notes from the Tallahassee Fire Department dispatch log.

According to the notes, a caller said he heard a "loud bang" inside Markel's home on July 18, and ran over to see what had happened. The caller found Markel in his car in the garage, bleeding. The driver's side window was "bashed open," according to the report.

Markel was moving, but not speaking, the caller said. 

The police have already said Markel, 41, was shot in the head. He died in the hospital the following day.

Investigators believe Markel was targeted by his shooter. They have not named a suspect in the case, but are searching for gray or silver Toyota Prius that was spotted leaving the neighborhood.

Earlier Monday, police asked to speak with anyone who had seen Markel on July 17 or 18. Detectives were particularly interested anyone who had seen Markel or his black Honda Accord at the FSU Law School, the Congregation Shomrei Torah Home, the shops on Thomasville Road near I-10, or in the area of Tharpe Street and Mission Road in Tallahassee.

Markel was a well-known legal scholar and father of two young children. His death has made national headlines.

Read the notes from the dispatch log below.

Download Tpd-trescottreport (1)

Sheldon unveils new radio spot that takes the quiet approach with Bondi

George Sheldon's new radio campaign for Florida Attorney General was unveiled Monday to the sound of crickets.

That's not how the ad, attacking current Attorney General Pam Bondi, was received. That's actually the sound that begins the 60-second spot: crickets.

"This is what we hear when utility companies try to cut successful conservation programs and raise our rates.  Crickets from Pam Bondi's office. Pam Bondi repeatedly looks the other way when corporations and her big contributors try to rip off Floridians. If big companies want a favor from Bondi, she takes their money then cues the crickets."

It goes on to imply that Sheldon, when he was deputy Florida attorney general under Bob Butterworth from 1999 to 2002, power companies were held accountable. How does it imply this? Sirens blare in the ad as the announcer intones: "This is the sound you heard when George Sheldon was deputy attorney general, and power companies tried to cut service and raise rates."

Public utilities are something Sheldon's campaign has been targeting of late. Last week, the 67-year-old held a news conference to urge state regulators to prevent utilities from cutting conservation programs. The ad is meant to spotlight Bondi's silence on the consumer issue.

Whether the response will be crickets or much more depends on how often it's played and in what markets. 

While the ad targets Bondi, Sheldon must still beat his Democratic rival, Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, in the Aug. 26 primary. 

Listen here for radio ad.

 

Florida Medical Association members vote to support Medicaid expansion

For the first time, members of the Florida Medical Association have approved a resolution endorsing Medicaid expansion, a politically contentious issue that the group's leaders have generally avoided over the last two legislative sessions.

By unanimous voice vote at the FMA's annual conference in Orlando on Sunday, several hundred members approved a resolution written by South Florida obstetrician/gynecologist Aaron Elkin calling for FMA to publicly support expanding Medicaid eligibility as long as the program "safeguarded patient access to care while increasing Medicaid payment rates to Medicare levels for all physicians."

The resolution, which had the support of several South Florida medical societies, had been recommended by an FMA committee on Saturday.

A statement from FMA's general counsel, Jeff Scott, focused on the part of the resolution calling for higher payment rates. The voting members are known as the House of Delegates and include representatives of county medical societies and specialty societies.

"In passing this resolution, the House of Delegates recognized that increased access to care for an enlarged Medicaid population will only come about if there are adequate numbers of physicians to care for these patients," Scott said. "It is also understood that current payment levels (which in many instances do not cover the cost to provide care) are grossly inadequate and serve as a disincentive to physician participation in the Medicaid program."

The politically influential FMA has in the past reserved its considerably lobbying firepower for other issues, such as malpractice reform. Powerful Republican leaders, including House Speaker Will Weatherford, are adamantly opposed to giving Medicaid coverage to a greater number of low-income adults. Although it is a key component of the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicaid eligibility was left up to the states, which administer the program jointly with the federal government.

Florida's refusal to expand the program leaves around 800,000 Floridians without health insurance, as they can't qualify for Medicaid under current qualification rules and are too poor to qualify for federal tax subsidies that help pay for private insurance.

Read more here.

Tonight's Broward GOP speaker famous for mosque fight

Call it the summer of speakers from the fringe for the Broward Republican Executive Committee.

In June, BREC -- the main county GOP group -- invited conspiracy theorist Trevor Loudon of New Zealand to speak while tonight the guest speaker is Laurie Cardoza-Moore, who was parodied on The Daily Show in 2010 for her opposition to the building of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The mosque had been around for decades and wanted to construct a larger building.

After Cardoza-Moore made broad generalizations about Muslims, Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi asked her:

“You do know I’m Muslim right?”

“Nobody is perfect,” she replied.

Cardoza-Moore noted that the mosque had already been around for 20-something years, prompting Mandvi to ask “20 years -- it’s been 20 years of nonviolence?”

Cardoza-Moore replied “None yet.”

When a spokeswoman for the mosque said that they had been there for 30 years, Mandvi quipped that it wasn’t a sleeper cell but a “comatose cell.”

Broward GOP chairman Tom Truex said in an interview that Cardoza-Moore was recommended as a speaker by the county’s Jewish Republican Club.

“She has a point of view that some of our membership was interested in,” he said.

Truex argues that it’s just the media griping about the speakers. Truex said the bulk of the meeting is about other business including listening to judicial candidates and a representative from Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign. He also says he has opened the floor to a variety of speakers.

“We’ve had libertarians, speakers from a variety of perspectives.”

We asked for an example of a speaker who had a moderate perspective and Truex said a few months ago he had the president of the Log Cabin group -- a gay Republican group -- do the invocation at the beginning of the meeting though he said he got complaints for that.

BREC has drawn attention for an internal fight about gay marriage with some activists criticizing two elected officials who are Republicans -- County Commissioner Chip LaMarca and school board member Heather Brinkworth -- for participating in the gay pride parade in Wilton Manors. Both LaMarca and Brinkworth defended their decision to reach out to the gay community which is part of their constituency.

Jon Stewart’s Daily Show is seen as more friendly to liberals so the fact that a speaker was parodied on the show isn’t an automatic turnoff for Republicans, but it raises questions about the party’s focus in a critical election year. As leader of the Broward GOP, Truex has the difficult task of trying to unite various factions ranging from tea party activists to more moderate business-type Republicans. The question is if such speakers will turn off some Republicans from the group’s main task: helping elect Republicans to local, state and federal office.

With more than 230,000 Republican voters in the county -- one of the largest contingents in the state -- the Broward GOP could play a key role in helping turn out the vote for Gov. Rick Scott or trying to win back a state Senate seat for Ellyn Bogdanoff and hang on to other local seats.

Internal party warfare is common among political clubs -- the Broward Democrats brawl over whether to re-elect chairman Mitch Ceasar every four years while Herald political reporter Marc Caputo details Miami-Dade Democratic dysfunction related to the governor’s race.

 

Convicted lobbyist becomes star witness in Miami Lakes mayor's bribery trial

@jayhweaver

Many months would pass after Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi wigged out when a couple of sketchy Chicago businessmen bluntly pitched him on a “money grab” for some “bogus” federal grants.

After initially backing away, however, prosecutors say Pizzi agreed to rejoin their supposed scam after he was elected to a second term in November 2012.

The man who pulled the politician back in was Richard Candia, a likable lobbyist who had raised thousands of dollars for Pizzi’s re-election campaign.

Candia was an unwitting target of an FBI sting operation aimed at the Miami Lakes mayor. After he was confronted by agents last summer, the lobbyist assisted in the undercover probe of Pizzi, who was arrested in August. Candia — convicted himself after confessing to taking bribes — will be in the hot seat this week as the prosecution’s star witness in the suspended mayor’s corruption trial in Miami federal court.

Pizzi, 51, is charged with accepting $6,750 in illegal checks and cash from two undercover FBI agents posing as the sleazy Chicago men in a grant-writing business. Prosecutors say the agents lured him into officially supporting sham federal grant applications in Miami Lakes and Medley, where Pizzi worked as the town attorney, in exchange for the bribes.

More here.

Critic of gift ban, Putnam coy on King Ranch trips

PutnamphotoAgriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam minces no words when talking about the 2006 gift ban.

In a 2010 interview, Putnam called it "dumb."

He said the ban was a "disincentive for fellowship" and said: "You're forbidden from hanging out unless somebody is giving you a check." 

Yet when asked about trips he has taken to King Ranch that appear to give him plenty of opportunity to hang with big sugar lobbyists, Putnam clammed up. Here's a transcript from the June 17 interview conducted after a Cabinet meeting as Putnam walked back to his office.
 
Can you explain when you've gone to King Ranch and for what purposes?

I have been there for campaign purposes as well as to see more of their ag operations.

Which ag operations?

You know, they are significant agricultural players in the state of Florida.

How so?

They are one of the largest citrus growers in the state, as well as, they continue to be active in cattle, sod and sugar.

Did you hunt during these trips?

The campaign event was a hunting trip, yes.

How many times have you been?

I'll have to check.

Continue reading "Critic of gift ban, Putnam coy on King Ranch trips" »

Will Joe 6-pack become Joe Dime Bag? Q-Poll finds pot legalization backed 55-41 in FL

@MarcACaputo

A clear majority of Floridians, 55 percent, favor outright legalization of marijuana for personal recreational use, according to a new poll that indicates a medical cannabis initiative headed for the November ballot still looks as if it will easily pass.

Support for medical-marijuana use among adults is even more outsized: 88-10 percent, Quinnipiac University’s survey of 1,251 voters shows.

But that poll question, about marijuana use among adults, doesn’t directly relate to the proposed constitutional amendment voters will decide because that initiative allows prescription cannabis use by any qualifying patient, including children.

More here