March 20, 2014

 

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Broward LGBT activists held a fundraiser March 19 at the home of Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis for Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

2014-03-19 Charlie Crist fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale 020After his five-minute speech, which you can watch here, Crist stated why electing him governor would be good for LGBT people in Florida:

"One of the most important things we can do is get a law on the books in Florida that recognizes the kind of things that President Obama is talking about. And that simply is why not have marriage equality throughout our country," Crist said.

"Certainly, we ought to have it in Florida and I believe that we win this election Nov. 4, we get some other progressives elected in the Florida House and Florida Senate, we’re going to have a great opportunity to get that done, and I look forward to the day we do."

Attendees included South Florida Gay News publisher Norm Kent; Florida Agenda publisher Bobby Blair; Ken Keechl, who's seeking to regain his Broward County Commission seat; former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti; and Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner Commissioner Levoyd L. Williams, a state House candidate.

Crist’s Democratic rival is former state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, a longtime LGBT rights advocate.

To view a photo gallery from the fundraiser, visit Steve Rothaus' Gay South Florida blog.

October 25, 2013

Broward prosecutor named new head of the state's Sexually Violent Predator Program

The Department of Children and Families today announced that longtime Broward County prosecutor Kristin Kanner has been named the new director of the state’s Sexually Violent Predator Program.

Here's the release:

For more than 20 years, Kanner has served as an Assistant State Attorney in the 17th Judicial Circuit and has led the office’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit since 2004.

“After seeing Kristin testify in front of the Legislature last month during hearings on sexually violent predators, I knew she was the right person to lead the program,” DCF Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo said. “This is the first time in the program’s 14-year history that it will be led by a former prosecutor who brings an intimate knowledge of each stage of the process and an increased emphasis on public safety.”

Continue reading "Broward prosecutor named new head of the state's Sexually Violent Predator Program" »

October 24, 2013

Pam Bondi challenges proposed medical marijuana amendment

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is contesting a proposed ballot initiative for a medical marijuana constitutional amendment and has asked the Florida Supreme Court for an opinion.

Bondi contends the proposal from People United for Medical Marijuana, a group led by high-profile attorney John Morgan, is misleading the public and is presented in a way that does not convey its “true meaning and ramifications.”

Bondi is required by law to send a ballot initiative to the state Supreme Court for review within 30 days after it’s submitted to her office.

The proposal, she wrote in a letter filed today to the court, implies that the amendment would allow medical marijuana in narrow, defined circumstances and only for patients for “debilitating diseases. But Bondi says that if the amendment passes, “Florida law would allow marijuana in limitless situations.”

She also writes that the amendment would call for the legal use of medical marijuana even though federal law still prohibits it.

Morgan argues that if the state legalized medical marijuana, the governor and legislature would still oversee licensing and regulations.

He said the proposal, being circulated in a statewide petition drive, includes language the public wants.

Continue reading "Pam Bondi challenges proposed medical marijuana amendment" »

January 27, 2012

In Tampa, strong criticism of Florida voting laws

Election experts and Democratic voting advocates told U.S. senators Friday that a Republican-backed overhaul of Florida election laws will suppress Democratic turnout in the nation's biggest battleground state next fall.

Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Dick Durbin of Illinois held a field hearing at the Hillsborough County Courthouse that drew a racially diverse crowd and at times resembled an orchestrated Democratic rally. In packed pews in a sixth-floor courtroom, people wore yellow stickers that read "Our voice, our vote" and hissed a witness who defended the law.
Testimony centered on the most controversial changes: reducing early voting from 14 days to eight, from 96 hours to a minimum of 48, and ending it on the Saturday before the election; requiring third-party groups to register and face fines if they turn in voter registration forms after 48 hours; and requiring voters to cast provisional ballots if they moved from another county since they last voted if they did not update their addresses.
The crowd erupted into loud applause when Durbin said: "There are people literally fighting and dying for the right to vote in countries like Syria, and we are finding ways to restrict the right to vote?"
Two county election supervisors, both Republicans, gave sharply contrasting views of the law.
Ann McFall of Volusia County criticized the law for not allowing more variety in early voting sites such as churches and she complained of being forced to "turn in" long-time friends and neighbors for turning in voter registration forms after 48 hours, including New Smyrna Beach teacher Jill Cicciarelli, who got a warning letter from the state.
"This is a bad law," said McFall, who predicted students at historically black Bethune Cookman College in Daytona Beach would be caught by the provisional ballot rule because of its traditionally high number of address changes on Election Day.
-- Steve Bousquet

November 29, 2011

11 lawmakers get subpoenas in elections case

Eleven state legislators -- six senators and five House members -- have been issued subpoenas in the ongoing lawsuit over federal review of controversial sections of a new election law. The subpoenas were issued by a Washington, D.C. law firm that represents the League of Women Voters of Florida and the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic voter advocacy group.

The two organizations intervened in the case of State of Florida vs. United States of America and Eric H. Holder Jr., the U.S. attorney general. The state-initated lawsuit asks a three-judge panel to "pre-clear" or approve four specific sections of the new election law to ensure that they do not violate the civil rights of minority voters in five counties: Hillsborough, Collier, Hardee, Hendry and Monroe. 

Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who sponsored the legislation (HB 1355), said he received a copy of the subpoena electronically while he was talking with a reporter Tuesday. "What we'll do is look to the House counsel for guidance and conduct ourselves accordingly," Baxley said. A fifth House subpoena was issued to the State Affairs Committee, which approved the bill following a heated committee debate last spring. 

Among many other demands, the subpoena tells Baxley and the others to produce "all documents concerning your, or any other legislator's, reasons, justifications, rationales, interests and/or purposes in enacting any of the four sets of voting changes." The law firm's representative declined to discuss why specific legislators were issued subpoenas. 

The other House members whose records were demanded are Reps. Keith Perry, R-Ocala; Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach; Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City; and Trudy Williams, R-Fort Myers. Senators who were subpoenaed include Sens. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton; Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale; Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami; Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland; Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey; and John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine. (Dockery and Fasano were the only Senate Republicans who voted against the bill; all of the others voted for it). 

-- Steve Bousquet

September 12, 2011

At pre-debate panel, a celebration of conservatism

In advance of Monday night's CNN/Tea Party Express presidential debate in Tampa, the Heritage Foundation sponsored a lunchtime panel discussion on issues that matter to conservatives. About 200 people, many of them energetic Tea Party activists, attended at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

CNN political correspondent John King moderated a discussion that included Al Cardenas, a leading Florida Republican who is chairman of the American Conservative Union; Mike Franc of the Heritage Foundation; Bob McClure, president and CEO of the James Madison Institute and Billie Tucker, leader of the First Coast Tea Party in Jacksonville.

In remarks, Cardenas and Franc focused on their views of the state of the country: high taxes, high debt, high foreclosures and high unemployment and declining home ownership. "There's a growing sense that the American dream is slowly slipping away," Franc said.

"And don't tell me I have to buy health insurance!" Cardenas said to loud cheers.

McClure welcomed out-of-state visitors to Florida, "the most important bellwether state in the union, the land of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Allen West and the land of Gov. Rick Scott." Big applause followed. The only Democrat who got even passing praise at the luncheon was New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, praised by McClure for cutting the state budget and taxes in the Empire State.  

Tucker got the most resounding applause for her speech describing the American way as "personal liberty, individual responsibility, and less government," and she said the debate itself is proof of the Tea Party movement's strength. "Here we are in Tampa, having our own debate on CNN," Tucker said, as many in the audience stood and cheered.

-- Steve Bousquet

August 03, 2011

Florida Together to Diana Cardenas: 'Retract and apologize for your public comments regarding the LGBT community'

An open letter from Florida Together Executive Director Michael Kenny to Diana Cardenas, wife of American Conservative Union board chairman Al Cardenas:

Diana Cardenas,

On behalf of Florida Together which represents more than 80 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) organizations in Florida, I call on you to immediately retract and apologize for your public comments regarding the GLBT community.

Read the complete letter at Steve Rothaus' Gay South Florida blog.

August 02, 2011

Al Cardenas' wife, Diana: Gays 'are in our faces with public display of affection, gay parades, gay rallies, non-stop bombardment!!!'

The American Conservative Union -- now led by Miami attorney Al Cardenas -- has barred the conservative gay Republican group, GOProud, from sponsoring and fully participating at its next national convention.

Cardenas This week, Cardenas' wife Diana (Chief Operating Officer (COO) at The Cardenas Household," according to her Facebook profile) engaged in an interesting public exchange on the social network about gays and lesbians after GOP activist Ana Navarro posted comments concerning Texas Gov. Rick Perry's flip-flop last week on gay marriage:

 "I want a candidate w/strong informed opinions & beliefs & courage to stick by them even when not politically convenient. Is that too much to ask these days?" Navarro posted.

Here's Diana Cardenas' initial response to Navarro:

I would be very disappointed if Perry did not favor amending the Const to ban gay marriage. These gay marriage laws are destructive .... Marriage is a vital social institution between two members of the OPPOSITE sex. It goes way beyond just an emotional relationship---it serves a vital role in the stability and continuity of our society, something which homosexual marriages cannot provide. Unfortunately, the biggest victory of the gay movement has been to shift the debate from a 'behavior' to identity, whereby those that oppose homosexuality are considered bigoted or hateful. They have equated it to the Civil Rights Movement, seeking to obtain the rights granted under the constitution to all races or religions. Sexual behavior does not fall into either category!!!!It is not about homosexuals wanting to enter into a 'marriage' so much as it is about them wanting to gain acceptance into mainstream society by redefining the traditional definition of the institution. Because a few liberal judges decide to sign it into law, does not mean the public is in favor of it. Whenever it has been put on the ballot (as in California), it has failed.

Read and download the complete exchange at Steve Rothaus' Gay South Florida blog.

May 18, 2010

Rentboy scandal: Florida Democrats demand McCollum return $120,000 paid to George Rekers

Just received from the Florida Democratic Party:

In light of Attorney General Bill McCollum's role in spending over $120,000 in taxpayer money on hiring discredited witness George Rekers, today Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman demanded McCollum pay back the State of Florida for the full cost of the funds he steered towards the so-called 'expert' embroiled in the "Rentboy scandal."

Click here to read Thurman's letter to McCollum

March 16, 2010

State revamps troubled housing program

TALLAHASSEE — The state Department of Community Affairs announced a series of sweeping changes Friday to a widely criticized housing program, including the dismissal of a senior staffer and a streamlined grant approval process.

The announcement was celebrated by local governments that had complained state workers were dodging questions about how to use the grant and dragging out the application process for nearly a year. At stake is $91 million in federal housing dollars that must be earmarked by September.

More here.