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103 posts from November 2017

November 20, 2017

Longtime head of Miami-Dade police union ousted by members

@doug_hanks

Miami-Dade's political circuit was buzzing Monday on news that John Rivera, longtime president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, had lost his reelection bid as president of the powerful union. 

Rivera lost to a former ally and deputy, Steadman Stahl, a sergeant with the county police force and executive vice president of the PBA's Miami-Dade chapter. Rivera, first elected union chief in 1993, confirmed his loss in a telephone interview Monday. "I respect their decision," he said. 

The election results were welcome news at County Hall. Mayor Carlos Gimenez has been a top foe of Rivera, who has fought the Gimenez administration on contract talks and compared the mayor to both herpes and a terrorist over various disputes about police funding and contract provisions.

In a statement, Gimenez spokesman Michael Hernández said the mayor "looks forward to working with the new leadership of the Dade County PBA." 

On the PBA website, Stahl said his decision to challenge Rivera "was difficult" but that he wanted a more collaborative system of leadership for the union. "We have gone from having many voices to having just one, and when that one voice will not allow others to speak, be heard, or have an opinion, that is a sure sign of failure," Stahl wrote

In an interview Monday night, Stahl said he planned to be far less confrontational with the Gimenez administration.

"The biggest change, I think, will be to have some dialogue. Instead of just fighting all the time," he said. "I think the days of throwing battery acid have passed." 

Gov. Rick Scott asks Justice Pariente to remove herself from case over judicial appointments

Florida supreme court.1_12061496_8colGov. Rick Scott formally asked one of the state's top seven justices to remove herself from the case that could determine whether he -- or Florida's next governor -- will name her replacement, after she and another justice were caught on an open mic after oral arguments in the case suggesting that something related to the nominating process was "crazy."

In a motion filed Monday with the Florida Supreme Court, Scott argues he has "a reasonable basis to question her impartiality toward the governor in this proceeding" and "is reasonably in doubt that this case will not be decided fairly, impartially, and on the law alone."

He cited a the banter between Pariente and Chief Justice Jorge Labarga during a break in the proceedings, which was carried on the Florida Channel as well as a speech Pariente gave at the West Delray Beach Temple in May 2012, which she was campaigning in a retention election, in which she urged voters to retain her in office "because a vote against retention "will give Gov. [Rick] Scott the right to make his appointments, which will result in partisan political appointments." 

The motion was filed by Dan Nordby, Scott's general counsel, who also sits on the Judicial Nominating Commission -- the body that will nominate someone to replace Pariente and Justices R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince when they retire by law in January 2019.  

The case has enormous political implications. Scott wants to be able to make the appointments to shift the balance of the court to 4-3 conservative and he has named Nordby, and his previous general counsel Jesse Panuccio, to the JNC to help him shape his legacy.  

The League of Women Voters filed the lawsuit arguing that the court must clarify that the governor cannot name a successor until there is a vacancy and the vacancy on the court will occur days or hours after Scott's term ends in January 2019.

 

According to the exchange caught on the Florida Channel, Pariente can be seen shaking her head in apparent dismay and saying what sounds like the word “crazy,” then drawing Labarga’s attention to a piece of paper. Then Labarga is heard saying, “Izzy Reyes is on there. He’ll listen to me.”

When it was discovered that the comments caught on the Florida Channel, Nordby did a public records request seeking the document Pariente displayed. It was a list of the current JNC members, which included Nordby. 

His motion described the exchange this way:

"After Justice Labarga reacted to the document by saying the name "Panuccio," Justice Pariente replied with the word "crazy." Justice Labarga then stated, "Izzy Reyes is on there. He'll listen to me " Pointing again to the document, Justice Pariente appeared to say, "Look whose pick they're getting...." Finally, Justice Pariente turned to Justice Quince, saying "did you see who..."

More here: Who gets to appoint 3 new Florida justices, Rick Scott or the next governor?

'Crazy': Gov. Scott, Supreme Court battling over two justices' banter

 

Gov. Rick Scott asks Justice Pariente to remove herself from case over judicial appointments

Florida supreme court.1_12061496_8colGov. Rick Scott formally asked one of the state's top seven justices to remove herself from the case that could determine whether he -- or Florida's next governor -- will name her replacement, after she and another justice were caught on an open mic after oral arguments in the case suggesting that something related to the nominating process was "crazy."

In a motion filed Monday with the Florida Supreme Court, Scott argues he has "a reasonable basis to question her impartiality toward the governor in this proceeding" and "is reasonably in doubt that this case will not be decided fairly, impartially, and on the law alone."

He cited a the banter between Pariente and Chief Justice Jorge Labarga during a break in the proceedings, which was carried on the Florida Channel as well as a speech Pariente gave at the West Delray Beach Temple in May 2012, which she was campaigning in a retention election, in which she urged voters to retain her in office "because a vote against retention "will give Gov. [Rick] Scott the right to make his appointments, which will result in partisan political appointments." 

The motion was filed by Dan Nordby, Scott's general counsel, who also sits on the Judicial Nominating Commission -- the body that will nominate someone to replace Pariente and Justices R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince when they retire by law in January 2019.  

The case has enormous political implications. Scott wants to be able to make the appointments to shift the balance of the court to 4-3 conservative and he has named Nordby, and his previous general counsel Jesse Panuccio, to the JNC to help him shape his legacy.  

The League of Women Voters filed the lawsuit arguing that the court must clarify that the governor cannot name a successor until there is a vacancy and the vacancy on the court will occur days or hours after Scott's term ends in January 2019.

 

According to the exchange caught on the Florida Channel, Pariente can be seen shaking her head in apparent dismay and saying what sounds like the word “crazy,” then drawing Labarga’s attention to a piece of paper. Then Labarga is heard saying, “Izzy Reyes is on there. He’ll listen to me.”

When it was discovered that the comments caught on the Florida Channel, Nordby did a public records request seeking the document Pariente displayed. It was a list of the current JNC members, which included Nordby. 

His motion described the exchange this way:

"After Justice Labarga reacted to the document by saying the name "Panuccio," Justice Pariente replied with the word "crazy." Justice Labarga then stated, "Izzy Reyes is on there. He'll listen to me " Pointing again to the document, Justice Pariente appeared to say, "Look whose pick they're getting...." Finally, Justice Pariente turned to Justice Quince, saying "did you see who..."

More here: Who gets to appoint 3 new Florida justices, Rick Scott or the next governor?

'Crazy': Gov. Scott, Supreme Court battling over two justices' banter

 

Levine unveils another TV ad, this one in Spanish and on Puerto Rico

@PatriciaMazzei

Another week, another ad for Philip Levine -- this time on helping Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria.

The bilingual ad for the 2018 candidate for Florida governor features bits of his campaign launch speech in which he noted he delivered supplies to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz after the storm.

"The people of Puerto Rico needed help, and Philip Levine took action," the narrator begins.

Paying for the spot is Levine's political committee, All About Florida, which did not say how big the ad buy will be. It will air for five weeks in "select markets," the committee said.

The committee has already put up an introductory TV ad, also pulling from Levine's speech, and a Spanish-language radio ad plugging Obamacare.

Florida Democratic Party president resigns

@PatriciaMazzei

The crisis at the top of the Florida Democratic Party continued Monday with the resignation of Sally Boynton Brown, the party's president and chief administrator.

Her exit followed last week's decision by chairman Stephen Bittel to quit after he was accused of creating an unprofessional work environment for women.

"It has been a privilege to serve the Florida Democratic Party and I wish you continued success turning Florida Blue," Boynton Brown wrote Bittel and Vice Chairwoman Judy Mount in her resignation letter, which was effective immediately.

On Sunday, Boynton Brown angered some Democrats by publishing a post on Medium in which she appeared to defend Bittel. Boynton Brown wrote she never saw Bittel demean women, as six women told Politico Florida last week, and said she was "heartbroken" that staff didn't come to her directly with their complaints about him.

"It is unfortunate that not everyone who has worked with Chairman Bittel has had the same experience I have," she wrote. "In my experience, Chairman Bittel has been refreshingly open to feedback, given by myself and others, about his conversational style and modified his approach when he learned that others found it off-putting." 

She also suggested new internal policies to prevent sexual harassment in the future, including hiring a personnel director and interviewing current and former staff about whether they've been harassed.

Bittel, who was elected chairman in January, hired Boynton Brown in April from the Idaho Democratic Party.

Mount will be interim chair once Bittel formally resigns as of 11:59 p.m. Monday, according to the party. It is unclear whether he will also be resigning his position as Miami-Dade state committeeman. If he doesn't, Bittel would have the single largest voice in the state in electing his successor, given Miami-Dade's outsize clout under the party's formula.

Mount, a longtime activist and former head of the Jackson County Democratic Executive Committee, had told supporters Friday that she intended to seek the chairmanship permanently.

But in a sign of ongoing internal party turmoil, Mount announced Monday that she will not run.

"I have always supported the Florida Democratic Party, its candidates and the causes so important to all of us true blue Democrats. I will continue to do so, just not as the next elected Chair," Mount said in a statement released by the party. "I said on Friday the focus was not on me. That's true. The focus is on advancing the causes and candidates of the Florida Democratic Party, moving forward and winning in 2018."

Also on Monday, Terrie Rizzo of the Palm Beach Democratic Party said in a Facebook post that she would seek Bittel's seat. Activist Alan Clendenin of Hillsborough County has said he'll run, and other state Democrats are considering candidacies as well.

A vote has been scheduled for Dec. 9 in Orlando.

Rubio pens op-ed urging Trump administration to extend TPS for Haitins

From an op-ed by Sen. Marco Rubio published over the weekend in the Miami Herald:

Health epidemics and deadly natural disasters in recent years have devastated Haiti and hampered its government’s ability to properly function.

Yet our nation — especially my home state of Florida — has not only offered a helping hand to Haitians seeking refuge from these grave challenges, but also benefited significantly from their presence in and contributions to our country.

Since 2010, the United States has designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians, recognizing the island country’s perilous conditions brought on by a historic earthquake, a subsequent cholera epidemic, and most recently Hurricane Matthew.

Moreover, the Executive Branch has appropriately extended the TPS designation because of the extraordinarily difficult living conditions that persist in Haiti and the Haitian government’s temporary inability to absorb thousands of people back into the population.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), however, now has until November 23 to make a determination on whether to extend the TPS designation once again. 

If TPS is not extended, Haitians sent home will face dire conditions, including lack of housing, inadequate health services and low prospects for employment. Failure to renew the TPS designation will weaken Haiti’s economy and impede its ability to recover completely and improve its security.

More here.

Florida's online voter registration favors Democrats in early weeks

In the first month of online voter registration in Florida, more than 8,000 people electronically joined the voter rolls in Florida, and Democrats clearly favor the new system over Republicans.

The League of Women Voters of Florida says a lot more people would have registered online, but they don’t know the program exists -- because the state has done almost nothing to educate Floridians about it.

“This is a tree falling in the forest,” said League president Pamela Goodman. “We’re going to come up with our own campaign.”

It’s only one month, so it’s hardly a definitive trend. But October saw 2,965 Democrats using their computers to become voters, compared to 2,267 Republicans. More people than that (2,606) registered to vote with no party affiliation than Republicans, with the rest signing up with a minor party.

A total of 6,311 people registered to vote online and another 2,054 used the state’s new online voter registration website, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, to fill out a voter registration application that they submitted by hand (they count, too). Those totals also include voters previously registered who used the new online system to update an address or other basic information.

“Too soon, and not enough data for any meaningful empirical analysis or statistical validity,” said Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley.

More voters in Broward (1,275) have connected to the new system than in any other county, according to county-by-county figures provided by the state at the Times/Herald’s request. Miami-Dade was second with 1,147 online transactions and Sarasota was third with 703. Orange County had 556, Hillsborough 539, Palm Beach 524 and Pinellas 326.

What online voter registration needs, the League of Women Voters’ Goodman said, “is a really good P.R. effort with public service announcements on TV.” The Legislature did not set aside any money for that purpose, and Goodman said private groups like hers will take up the effort in 2018.

Statewide, Florida had 12.8 million voters on Sept. 30, with Democrats holding a narrow statewide lead in total registration over Republicans, 37.5 percent to 35.4 percent. But the fastest-growing segment of the voting population are NPAs, who made up 26.7 percent of all voters.

After nearly two-and-a-half years of planning, Florida became the 35th state to offer online voter registration as an option on Oct. 1. County election supervisors had been pushing for the option for years, saying it would expand the voter rolls while saving money at the same time.

“The Department of State oversaw a smooth and successful launch of Florida’s new online voter registration website, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, which can be used to submit a voter registration application, update an existing registration or fill out and print a paper application that can be delivered to the local (elections) office,” Secretary of State Ken Detzner said in a statement. “We hope it will continue to be a tool that allows more Floridians to register to vote and engage in the electoral process.”

Deztner, an appointee of Gov. Rick Scott, was not an early proponent of online registration, and the governor approved its creation “with some hesitation” in 2015.

Detzner agreed to the new program in the 2015 session after the budget included a $1.8 million appropriation for the new system and an effective date of Oct. 1, 2017.

That budget and the two that followed it have included no money to advertise and promote online voter registration as an option, so it’s likely that many people don’t know the option exists.

Most voter registration outreach is done across social media by election supervisors, by the two major political parties and by third-party groups such as the League of Women Voters.

Sheriff’s deputy is reassigned after dressing as Frederica Wilson in blackface

Frederica Wilson 2

From the Washington Post 

A white Virginia sheriff’s deputy has been reassigned out of her job in the local school system after attending a Halloween party in blackface as part of a costume portraying Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens.

Deputy Jean Browning is a 20-year veteran of the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office in southeast Virginia. Sheriff J.D. Diggs said in a lengthy news release that Browning was an anti-drug officer teaching the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in local schools for 10 years and was “known as a kind and caring person who would do anything for anyone.”

A photograph of Browning dressed as Wilson, wearing blackface, large glasses and a red hat similar to Wilson’s signature hat, began circulating on the Internet soon after Halloween. She was accompanied by her boyfriend dressed as President Trump, wearing a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap in the photo.

The local branch of the NAACP brought the photo to the sheriff’s attention, and Diggs said he met with members of the group on Nov. 6, then spoke by phone with the branch president the next day, asking for suggestions on how to handle the situation.

The NAACP called for Browning to be reassigned out of the DARE program and out of the schools completely. “It is inappropriate and disheartening when anyone mocks someone’s race,” the branch statement said, “but it is inexcusable when someone connected with our law enforcement finds it acceptable to paint their face to impersonate African-Americans.”

Read more here.

Miami’s ‘master of selfies’ mounts a pro-Trump congressional bid

Image1 (1)

@alextdaugherty

Republicans and Democrats beware: The “master of selfies” is running for Congress.

Mayra Joli, a Brickell-based immigration attorney and five-time beauty queen who dabbles as a pundit on Spanish-language television, is running without a party affiliation for retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s Miami-based seat.

Joli, a lifelong Democrat, is also an ardent Donald Trump supporter who says that her 12 years on television gives her enough visibility to win.

“I am not looking to run because I need a paycheck, like Donald Trump. I’m not looking to run because I need fame, like Donald Trump. I’m running because I need this country to succeed,” Joli said. “Like Donald Trump, I don’t drink.”

The self-described “Jenny from the block” could potentially impact one of the nation’s most competitive congressional elections in 2018 due to her pro-Trump message.

While Joli will face an uphill climb to win the open congressional seat that favors Democrats, her pro-Trump stance could create a complicated situation for the Republican nominee in a district where Hillary Clinton beat Trump by over 19 percentage points in 2016.

“Being a Trump supporter in that district may not be the best tactic or person to be supporting if you actually want to win,” said Miami attorney Rick Yabor, a frequent political commentator in Spanish-language media. “What I think she does as an independent is she’s going to hurt the GOP candidate when it comes to the general.”

Joli kicked off her campaign two weeks ago at a pro-Trump rally in Tropical Park, complete with an LED billboard displaying her face and a karaoke machine.

As she grabbed the microphone to introduce herself to the audience, the karaoke machine began to play Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and Joli jumped right into the chorus, belting out an off-key “And I...” before beginning her stump speech.

“Eventually I’m going to master it,” Joli said, adding that the karaoke machine will be a fixture at all of her future campaign events.

Read more here.

November 18, 2017

Old tactics have former Miami mayor Carollo on the verge of a comeback

 

@NewsbySmiley

From the penthouse rec room of an apartment tower overlooking West Brickell, Miami’s former mayor is going off.

He’s accused his opponent in Tuesday’s election for Miami City Commission of committing perjury and voter fraud. He’s made vague allusions to Chavista money. And he’s promised that if elected, he’ll stop a mysterious group of “influence peddlers” from having the run of things at City Hall.

But surrounded by news cameras, the man who taught Miami how to treat politics as war holds up an attack ad accusing him of “corruption,” because he wants reporters to know that he was attacked first: “I didn’t want to have to do this.”

But he had to. He’s Joe Carollo.

For much of the past 40 years, long before Donald Trump brought his strongman act to the White House, Carollo has proved that tossing bombs at opponents and warring with the media could at least gain you access to Dinner Key. Since the former cop was first elected in 1979 at the age of 24, he’s been arguably the most imposing figure at Miami City Hall, where he famously proved the 1997 mayor’s race had been tainted by voter fraud

Now, after a 16-year hiatus from campaigning, and at the age of 62, he’s resurrected his career using the same tactics that once elevated him to the heights of power at City Hall. They’ve brought him to the brink of a triumphant return. But can they still put him over the top?