June 30, 2015

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera meets with Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca today

As he gets ready to officially announce his U.S. Senate bid, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera meets with Chip LaMarca, Broward’s lone Republican County Commissioner today.

The two politicians will meet at 12:30 p.m. at an undisclosed location in Fort Lauderdale, according to Lopez-Cantera’s official schedule.

Lopez-Cantera announced earlier this month that he will officially launch his campaign July 15 -- after the campaign finance filing deadline for the current quarter. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach launched his campaign in May; U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller of Chumuckla is considering a bid. On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, announced in March and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, may announce in July.

We asked LaMarca if he thinks Lopez-Cantera will ask him to head up his Broward campaign operation.

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June 27, 2015

Fort Lauderdale mayor signs same-sex marriage proclamation

via @AmySherman1

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler signed a proclamation Friday celebrating the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That's hardly surprising for his city, with its robust gay population. But it's a little surprising for Seiler, who in the past had tried to stay on the sidelines of the same-sex marriage debate.

The proclamation, which says it's in recognition of the "Marriage Equality Landmark Decision," was read in part at a rally Friday at the Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse by City Commissioner Dean Trantalis.


June 26, 2015

Gay community celebrates in Broward

Jeff Bloom, 72, recalls decades ago when gay men got arrested in New York City for dancing together and when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders used by psychologists labeled homosexuality a disease.

On Friday, Bloom witnessed a major milestone in the advancement of gay rights when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow same-sex marriage nationwide.

“To me, I never thought in my lifetime I would see something like this,” said Bloom, a single gay man while getting his hair cut at the Richard’s Men’s Hair Shop in Wilton Manors. “They recognized love is love.”

Customers and staff watched the news on the TV at the hair salon on Wilton Drive, the heart of Broward’s gay community.

“All of us started jumping up and down and screaming,” said David Krombholz, manager of the shop.

Older members of the gay community said they hope that younger generations will learn about the struggles they faced but acknowledged they will now grow up in a different time. Many recounted how they spent years of their lives hiding their relationships at work and elsewhere and now have seen the highest court declare equality.

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May 25, 2015

Republicans have tough road in appealing to Florida Jewish voters

via @adamsmithtimes @KirbyWilson88

Republicans can’t win the White House without winning Florida, so every presidential election cycle they look longingly at Florida’s Jewish voters.

It’s such a tantalizingly obvious key to locking down 29 electoral votes: hundreds of thousands of Florida Jews who overwhelmingly vote Democratic.

Just reason with them, the thinking goes. They are disproportionately affluent and well-educated. Surely these Floridians can be persuaded that voting Republican is more in their self-interest, through lower taxes and unwavering support for the conservative government in Israel.

The difference between three-quarters of Florida Jews voting for the Democratic nominee and two-thirds voting Democratic could be 50,000 votes — enough to decide the election.

“We’re looking to do whatever we can,” said Mark McNulty of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which spent $6.5 million in 2012 trying to sow doubts with Jewish voters about President Barack Obama’s commitment to Israel. “In places like Florida and Ohio with substantial Jewish populations, a couple percentage points can mean the difference in an election.”

But as much as political groups like the RJC like to say they are steadily gaining ground with Jewish voters, their progress is more accurately measured in inches than miles.

More here.

May 21, 2015

Marco Rubio to host South Florida fundraisers for Iowa senator


To court Iowa, Marco Rubio plans to host three events next week for Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley -- in South Florida.

Grassley will hit three counties on Tuesday: Miami-Dade for breakfast, Broward for lunch and Palm Beach for dinner, according to an invitation emailed Thursday to some of Rubio's local political donors.

Breakfast will take place at the Coral Gables office of Jorge Luis Lopez, an attorney and lobbyist; lunch at the Pompano Beach headquarters of Allegiance Crane & Equipment, an equipment-rental company whose chief executive is Jim Robertson; and dinner at the Palm Beach home of Amanda and Chuck Schumacher, an auto dealer. 

Donors will have to fork over $1,000 each -- or $2,700 to get more access -- for the breakfast and lunch. Dinner with Grassley requires a $10,400 contribution, though $2,700 will get donors into a larger reception. The money will go to Grassley Hawkeye Fund, the senator's political committee.

"Chairman Grassley -- U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee -- has been very supportive of our friend and Miami's native son, Marco Rubio in Iowa and we proudly want to reciprocate," Lopez wrote in an email to supporters Thursday.

As one of two Republican senators in Iowa, which holds the first presidential caucuses of 2016, Grassley is used to being wined and dined by candidates. Jeb Bush attended a fund-raising lunch for Grassley in Iowa City last week.

May 20, 2015

Roll Call: Broward Democrat wants raise for members of Congress

From Roll Call (published Monday):

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings made the politically tone-deaf case for raising salaries for members of Congress Monday, pointing to the high cost of living in the District of Columbia.

“Members deserve to be paid, staff deserves to be paid and the cost of living here is causing serious problems for people who are not wealthy to serve in this institution,” the Florida Democrat said at a Rules Committee meeting, referring to the average member’s $174,000 annual salary. “We aren’t being paid properly,” he later added.

The committee was considering the fiscal 2016 Legislative Branch appropriations bill, which sets the spending levels for Congress and legislative branch agencies. The bill includes a freeze on member pay, continuing one that has been in place since 2010 — and last year drew the ire of then-Rep. James P. Moran.

More here.

May 13, 2015

Former South Florida city manager says elected female officials ask many questions, don't want financial numbers


A man who until last month was the manager of a Broward County city told a Texas city council now made up mostly of women that he learned a few lessons when he worked for the all-female Lauderdale Lakes City Commission.

"You see women in leadership positions...you will have to interact with them in a different way," Jonathan Allen told the Austin City Council, according to the Austin American Statesman.

Women ask more questions than men, and don't want as many financial numbers, Allen said, according to a bullet-point summary reported by the newspaper. Apparently the Austin City Council felt it needed a two-hour training session about women leaders after an election resulted in a panel of seven women and four men -- a female majority for the first time.

Allen, by the way, was fired in April after four years in Lauderdale Lakes. No mention of his gender seems to have been made at his firing. His is the father of an 11-year-old daughter.

May 12, 2015

Joan Geller, mom of Steve and Joe Geller, dies

Joan Geller, the mother of former state Sen. Steve Geller and state Rep. Joe Geller, died this morning in hospice in Sunrise.

“She was never involved in politics herself but she was certainly around it a lot,” Steve Geller said. “She campaigned for me, she campaigned for my brother.”

Geller, 84, was born in New York City and moved to Florida in 1965. She first lived in Miami and then moved to Hollywood and later Sunrise. After her husband Marvin died, she later was the longtime girlfriend of Amadeo "Trinchi" Trinchitella, a well-known Deerfield Beach City Commissioner and condo leader who was courted by presidential contenders visiting South Florida.

The funeral for Geller will be held at noon Thursday at Beth David Memorial Gardens, 3201 NW 72 Ave in Hollywood.

Geller had four children: in addition to Steve and Joe she had a son Bill and daughter Hillary Geller Garbarino.

May 07, 2015

Broward legislators, hospital execs to discuss Medicaid fallout

Broward state legislators, hospital CEOs and community leaders will discuss the financial impact of the state budget fallout over Medicaid expansion.

The meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale

Participants include Broward legislative chairman Jeremy Ring, Mayor Tim Ryan, Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce President Dan Lindblade and officials from the county’s two public hospitals: Broward Health and Memorial Health Care.

Lawmakers plan on a three-week special session starting June 1 to finish the state budget by June 30. Broward's predominantly Democratic legislative delegation is unlikely to play any major role in hammering out a budget agreement in Tallahassee, but they can play the important role of the minority party in terms of raising issues.

Disagreement over how to handle the Low Income Pool money which hospitals use for charity care, which the federal government is phasing out, led to the stalemate last month. While Senate leaders want to expand Medicaid, the House leadership refused to do which led them to end the session a few days early in April.

Gov. Rick Scott met with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell on Wednesday in Washington D.C. to ask her to approve the state's proposal for LIP funding, but that meeting led to no resolution.

April 23, 2015

Steve Geller runs for open Broward County Commission seat

So much for term limits meaning fresh faces -- it often just means recycled faces.

The 2016 ballot in Broward County includes a few well-known politicos running for different positions than they have held in the past.

Former state Sen. Steve Geller filed paperwork Tuesday to run for the County Commission. Geller lost a contentious and expensive commission battle against Sue Gunzburger in 2010 -- this time he will be running in a different district in the one now represented by term-limited Lois Wexler. Geller, a Democrat, lives in Cooper City which is in the district.

“I’ve learned a lesson,” Geller said. “I’m not running against an incumbent.”

Here are a few of the other familiar faces running next year in races that are unopposed so far:

  • Commissioner Martin Kiar is running for property appraiser to replace Lori Parrish who is retiring.

  • Former state Sen. Nan Rich, who lost the Democratic primary to former Gov. Charlie Crist last year, is running for an open County Commission seat.

  • Brenda Forman, wife of Clerk of Courts Howard Forman, is running to replace her husband who is retiring.

For now, Broward County has no competitive countywide race because Sheriff Scott Israel and Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes, both Democrats, have no opponents. Snipes announced Tuesday that she will seek re-election.