January 08, 2016

DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to bring Muslim American doctor to Obama's last SOTU

Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will bring a Muslim-American doctor Mohsin Jaffer of Weston, as her guest to President Obama's last State of the Union address Jan. 12.

In a press release announcing her choice, Wasserman Schultz mentioned "hateful rhetoric" against Muslim Americans including an "outrageous suggestion" to create a national registry. That's a jab at GOP frontrunner Donald Trump -- although she didn't name him. Here is what Trump actually said about a database of Muslim Americans -- as PolitiFact noted many of his comments in November were contradictory or confusing.

From a press release:

Over the past few weeks there has been an alarming rise in hateful rhetoric against Muslim Americans and people of the Islamic faith worldwide.  Leading political figures have made offensive and outrageous suggestions that we should create a national registry of all people of one particular faith and that we should prevent any person of that faith from even entering this great country.

 To combat these hateful comments Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) and her colleague, Rep. Keith Ellison from Minnesota invited other members of Congress to consider bringing a Muslim-American constituent as their guest to the President’s State of the Union Address on January 12, 2016.  Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s guest is Dr. Mohsin Jaffer of Weston.  He has specialized in the medical care of families and seniors in South Florida for nearly 30 years.  He received his medical degree from the University of Miami in 1987. 

Wasserman Schultz, who represents parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, will hold a press conference at Weston City Hall Monday with Jaffer.

Here are who other members of the Florida delegation are bringing:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio: Conner MacFarlane, an Oviedo native whose father was killed as an Army reservist in Afghanistan.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson: His daughter Nan Helen.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami: Tara M. Parks, president of Families Affected by Gun Violence

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach: Nezar Hamze, Regional Operations Director for CAIR Florida (The Council on American-Islamic Relations). 

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter: Civil rights attorney Daryl Parks who has represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. 

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, R-Miami: Father-in-law Phil Bakes

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens: Jeff Tweedy, president of Jeff Tweedy Corp. who has given clothing to graduates of 5,000 Role Models of Excellence

January 05, 2016

Jeb Bush to keynote Broward GOP Lincoln Day dinner

Former Gov. Jeb Bush will keynote the Broward GOP's Lincoln Day dinner on March 12 -- three days before the state's presidential primary.

The dinner is the main fundraising event of the year for the Broward Republican Executive Committee and will take place after some voters have already cast their ballot.

Broward's registered Republicans are outnumbered by both Democrats and independents. (A press release from BREC stated that 206,069 GOP voters will play a major role in the primary, but the county elections website shows 237,934 registered Republican voters.)

Although Broward is known as the state's left-leaning county, it has a sizable number of Republican voters who can make a difference in statewide elections. Broward has the third largest number of registered GOP voters in the state behind Miami-Dade and Hillsborough counties and is just slightly ahead of Palm Beach. Bush previously spoke in Broward in July at the national Urban League conference and before he announced his candidacy he also spoke to the Broward Workshop, a business group.

BREC will announce details including the location at a later date.

Donald Trump hosts a similar event in Palm Beach County on March 11.

December 17, 2015

South Florida school districts receive threat, deem it 'less than credible'

via @ChuckRabin

A day after two of the nation's largest school systems received email threats against students and property, Miami-Dade and Broward schools received a similar threat.

In South Florida, the news had many worried parents expressing fear and keeping their kids home from school.

The emails to New York and Los Angeles were deemed “less than credible,” though the Los Angeles superintendent chose to shut down a school system with more than 600,000 students for the day.

In Miami-Dade, school police deemed Wednesday night’s threat “less than credible” in an email alert to parents and students.

Miami-Dade, Broward and Houston — which received the same threat — are open Thursday.

The local school districts contacted federal, state and local authorities and are deploying additional security to campuses on Thursday.

More here.

November 24, 2015

Broward circuit judge charged with ethics violations


A Broward County circuit court judge is accused of multiple ethics violations, because he allegedly offered advice to an assistant public defender last spring and engaged in subsequent "inappropriate conduct" in reaction to that accusation.

The Florida Supreme Court announced this morning the Judicial Qualifications Commission's decision to bring formal charges against Judge John Patrick ContiniDownload Filed_11-23-2015_Notice_Formal_Charges

After learning of Contini's email to the public defender in March, the state attorney's office sought Contini's removal from the related case because they said his advice to the defendant's counsel negated his impartiality.

The state attorney's office appealed to the Fourth District Court of Appeals to have Contini removed, and a stay was placed on hundreds of Contini's criminal cases -- freezing their progress and leaving defendants in jail because Contini couldn't hear their cases.

Contini initially refused to step away. Then, in August, Contini asked for and was granted a transfer to the family court division, following a blow-up over his dispute with the state attorney's office, according to a report by the Sun-Sentinel.

The commission wrote that after Contini first appeared before the JQC's investigative panel, "(he) again breeched the judicial canons by exhibiting discourteous, impatient and undignified conduct" during court discussions of the state attorney's appeal.

For example, the commission said he repeatedly referred to attorneys handling the appeal as "idiots" and their work as "fraudulent," and he also called the Attorney General's position in the case as "a lie from the pit of hell."

"The events of this case have been broadcast in the local and regional news media, further amplifying the negative effect of your actions," the commission wrote.

The JQC said his actions "constitute inappropriate conduct" in violation of five canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Contini has 20 days to offer a written answer to the charges.

November 12, 2015

Marco Rubio unveils campaign chairs in all Florida counties


ORLANDO -- Marco Rubio unveiled a list Thursday of supporters for his presidential candidacy in every Florida county.

Rubio has lagged behind Jeb Bush in home-state endorsements. But the sitting U.S. senator is the one climbing in presidential polls, sticking to his strategy of rolling out his campaign slowly and methodically in an effort to save money and not peak too soon.

His campaign published the names a few hours before Rubio was scheduled to speak at the Republican Party of Florida's annual Statesman's Dinner in Orlando, and before a two-day party event featuring Rubio and 12 of his rivals for the 2016 nomination. Rubio will open the Sunshine Summit on Friday.

Rubio named a campaign chairman in all 67 Florida counties, and named other supporters from the state legislature and municipalities. In June, Rubio announced his Florida effort would be headed by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney and former House Majority Leader Rep. Adam Hasner.

"These county chairs are proof that Floridians are tired of electing the same politicians with the same 20th Century ideas and are eager to embrace Marco's vision for a vibrant 21st Century," Rooney said in a statement. 

In his own statement, Hasner noted many of them are "new to the political arena."

Notable South Florida backers include Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez, Miami-Dade County Commissioners Esteban Bovo and Rebeca Sosa. Sosa was Rubio's political godmother in West Miami, where he began his career in elected office; two current city leaders -- West Miami Mayor Eduardo Muhina and Vice Mayor Juan Blanes -- have endorsed Rubio.

The Miami-Dade list also includes Miami Young Republicans President Jessica Fernandez.

Here is the full list:

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November 04, 2015

South Miami and Broward square off with state over federal carbon plan

Turkey point bay shot@jenstaletovich

The small but feisty city of South Miami and Broward County, a longtime Democratic stronghold, is squaring off with Florida's Republican leadership in the national fight to cut greenhouse gases by imposing limits on power plants.

On Wednesday, the two local governments joined forces with 23 other cities and states in a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit filed last month by 23 states, including Florida, that opposes the Obama administration's new EPA rules to reduce carbon.

In challenging the Clean Power Plan, Attorney General Pam Bondi argued the new rules are will raise the cost of electricity while making service less reliable. Bondi, who also sued to stop the Affordable Care Act, said the new rules trample states' rights.

Not so, said rule supporters.

The motion, filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, contends that many states have already enacted their own limits on greenhouse gases to battle the effects of climate change. The  new EPA rule, the motion says, would extend those efforts nationwide. In vulnerable South Florida, where seasonal high tides now regularly flood streets, setting limits would "level the playing field" while allowing states to customize carbon cuts, according to a resolution passed by South Miami last month.

Among the states and cities siding with the EPA are Connecticut, California, Virginia, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Iowa, Maine, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia and Philadelphia.

Cuba policy questions stump Ben Carson ahead of Miami book stop

GOP 2016 Carson(2)

@PatriciaMazzei @AmySherman1

Ben Carson has defied the traditional presidential playbook, taking time off from the campaign trail to promote his latest book and sign copies for hundreds of fans, even in Democratic strongholds like Tallahassee.

He heads to more unusual ground in South Florida on Thursday: West Kendall, a Hispanic bastion, and Fort Lauderdale, the seat of the bluest county in Florida. Carson leads hometown candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush in the latest Florida polls, behind only Donald Trump.

"I'm a little different than most of the candidates," Carson the author told the Miami Herald in a phone interview Wednesday. "I'm looking more nationally at everything that's going on across the country."

Before Carson the candidate campaigns to Miami-Dade County's Cuban-American Republicans, though, he might have a little catching up to do.

Carson's national approach means he didn't take a close look ahead of his trip at a key issue in local politics: U.S.-Cuba policy.

In the Herald interview, Carson appeared stumped by questions about the so-called wet-foot, dry-foot policy, which allows Cubans who reach U.S. soil to remain here, and about the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows Cubans who arrive in the U.S. to apply for legal residency after 366 days. 

He was candid about not being up to speed.

"You're going to have to explain to me exactly what you mean by that," Carson said, asked about wet-foot, dry-foot. "I have to admit that I don't know a great deal about that, and I don't really like to comment until I've had a chance to study the issue from both sides."

On the Cuban Adjustment Act, he gave a similar response: "Again, I've not been briefed fully on what that is."

Continue reading "Cuba policy questions stump Ben Carson ahead of Miami book stop" »

October 10, 2015

Robert Lance Andrews, colorful Broward judge, is dead at 74

Robert Lance Andrews, whose biting wit and flair for high-profile and controversial cases made him a fixture in Broward County's court system for three decades, died Friday. He was 74.

After a 30-year career on the bench, Andrews suffered a stroke in 2008 and retired, a year after his wife Carole, a member of the Broward school board, died of cancer. He remarried and moved to Texas, and was living with a son in Georgia at the time of his death.

Andrews' colorful and outside-the-box approach first drew national attention in 1982 when he offered a long-time Fort Lauderdale prostitute a stark choice: five years in prison or a one-way ticket to California.

The woman went to Santa Monica, where she was quickly arrested for prostitution, and the police chief there sent an alleged sex offender to South Florida as payback. "We owed a few to Florida," the chief said.

During South Florida's epidemic of cocaine use in the '80s, Andrews struck down Broward Sheriff Nick Navarro's policy of random searches of bus passengers for drugs.

"This is not Hitler's Berlin, nor Stalin's Moscow," Andrews wrote in an opinion cited approvingly by the Florida Supreme Court, which upheld his decision.    

Andrews once ruled that a Plantation couple could keep their two overweight dogs, even though their condo association had a weight limit on pets, because the couple had been denied a right to a hearing. In a historic preservation case that dragged on for years, he ruled that a developer could build a 42-story condo tower next to downtown Fort Lauderdale's iconic Stranahan House, the home of the city's pioneer settlers. 

Continue reading "Robert Lance Andrews, colorful Broward judge, is dead at 74 " »

October 05, 2015

Former Broward emergency manager Chuck Lanza to run against former state Sen. Steve Geller for County Commission

Former state Sen. Steve Geller will face a challenge from the former Broward Emergency Management director Chuck Lanza for a Broward County Commission seat in 2016.

The race will create a rare partisan battle on the left-leaning County Commission: Lanza is a Republican while Geller is a Democrat. Currently the lone Republican on the County Commission is Chip LaMarca who ousted Democrat Ken Keechl in 2010 and fended off a rematch in 2014.

Lanza announced his candidacy in a press release and said he will officially file his paperwork Tuesday morning at the county’s elections office. The District 5 seat is currently held by Lois Wexler who is retiring. Both Lanza and Geller live in Cooper City -- a city within the district.

When Geller was contacted by the Miami Herald to ask his thoughts on Lanza running against him he replied: “Who is that?”

Geller was unaware that he would face an opponent.

Lanza left his position as the Emergency Manager for Broward County in 2014 and has been consulting since then -- he currently consults for the city of Dania Beach. He previously served as emergency manager for Miami-Dade counties as well as the fire chief for the Broward Sheriff's Office and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.  

Lanza told the Herald that he had wanted to enter politics for many years but didn’t because of the jobs he held.

Continue reading "Former Broward emergency manager Chuck Lanza to run against former state Sen. Steve Geller for County Commission" »

October 01, 2015

Davie police say they will provide security at Hillary Clinton event - but not as much as Secret Service asked for

Davie police will provide some security for Hillary Clinton’s visit to Broward College Friday but not the amount of personnel that the Secret Service asked for, a Secret Service spokesman told the Miami Herald Thursday.

The New York Times reported earlier today that Davie police refused to provide security.

From the Times: “An assistant police chief who attended an interagency meeting to prepare for the visit announced the news that the city would not provide security. The Secret Service officials who were at the meeting did not take it well, and promised to name names about the episode if ever called before Congress, according to one of the people at the meeting, who was not authorized to discuss the private session.”

William Cachinero, an assistant special agent in charge of the Miami field office for the Secret Service, said that the Secret Service asked Davie police if they could supplement security. Clinton already gets Secret Service protection since she is a former First Lady but the Secret Service wanted extra protection for her public campaign organizational meeting at Broward College in Friday afternoon.

The Davie police “said they would not be able to have the bodies that we required, they will have people there but not in amount we wanted,” Cachinero said. He said he didn’t have any specific numbers to give the Miami Herald regarding the number of personnel the Secret Service wanted Davie to provide compared to what the police department will actually provide.

The Secret Service had already asked the Broward Sheriff’s Office and Broward College to also provide security -- and both will, he said. Nearby Florida Atlantic University will also provide security.

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