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.

January 20, 2010

Hispanic caucus donates $5k to Haiti relief

On Wednesday, the Hispanic Legislative Caucus announced a $5,000 donation to the Legislative Black Caucus for Haiti relief efforts.

“When a segment of my community, our community, hurts, we all hurt,” Rep. Esteban Bovo, R-Hialeah, said at a Capitol press conference.

Sen. Gary Siplin, whose wife is Haitian an lost both of her parents when she was a child, said the money will go toward an ongoing fundraising effort by black lawmakers.

“Right now we can help best …by donating money,” said Siplin, D-Orlando. He added: “It’s going to take years before we can get Haiti to be the viable country that it once was.”

Lawmakers also promoted the two-day Haiti Muzik Relief Concert this weekend at Bayfront Park in Miami. The concert will be held from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 8 p.m. on Sunday. All of the proceeds will go toward the American Red Cross’ efforts in Haiti.

January 12, 2010

Crist RE flu: Do as I say, not as I do


At a press conference this morning, Gov. Charlie Crist and State Surgeon General Ana Viamonte Ros urged all Floridians to get their H1N1 "swine" flu and seasonal flu shots.

But has the governor? Not yet: "I have to consult with my physician first," he said. (Crist's personal physician is his father) Viamonte Ros broke in and said she has received her shots, as have her kids.

Crist stressed that the shots are available for free at county health clinics. Most flu cases right now are of the swine variety, but seasonal flu season will peak in mid-February.

January 08, 2010

Care for a campign rumor in your Morning Joe?

On his "Morning Joe" show this morning, former Congressman Joe Scarborough floated the idea that Gov. Charlie Crist might abandon his run for the Senate and switch to a re-election bid.

Said who Scarborough, who grew up in Pensacola:"I think we may have like a Jay Leno issue here, where Charlie Crist may quit his new gig -- running for Senate -- and may actually go back and run for governor again."

It's not a perfect analogy, of course. Leno actually has a new gig and Crist still has his old one. And a Crist/McCollum/Dockery race for governor, while highly interesting, could be a harder slog for Crist.

Mark Liebovich, who just wrote a good article on the Crist/Marco Rubio matchup in the New York Times magazine, said he hasn't heard anything "tangible" about the rumor: "That's something people are talking about, and I wonder if it's something Charlie Crist himself is not having some regret about."

December 17, 2009

Padrón, lawmakers, Times/Herald listed as newsmakers of 2009

Some of you might have already seen Florida Trend's feature in its January edition called "Florida Newsmakers of 2009." But if you haven't, here are some highlights:

Eduardo Padrón was named Floridian of the Year for his work as Miami Dade College president to re-shape the way the country views community colleges.

In government, Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, is highlighted for his role in passing SB 360, the growth management bill.

Also from the halls of government, the magazine puts a spotlight on the passenger rail bill and its chief opponent, Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland.

A third government article, you ask? Why there's Ray Sansom, the former House Speaker indicted for his role in steering $35 million in taxpayer funding to Northwest Florida State College.

Florida Power and Light gets a nod for its work on solar plants.

Another honor for the star University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

The magazine (a sister publication of the St. Petersburg Times) was also gracious enough to write a few words about the scribes at the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau.

August 26, 2009

For DCF chief, Sen. Kennedy was friend, former boss

DCF Secretary George Sheldon interned for Sen. Kennedy during his freshman year at American University in 1965.

“It was a big deal. You know, I grew up a Republican. Then I saw John Kennedy's inaugural address and I had this conversion. I legitimately worried that he was going to solve all the world's problems before I grew up, and there would be nothing left to do. Sen. Kennedy carried that on."

"If you look at the period of the last half century, Sen. Kennedy was involved in nearly every initiative that occurred," Sheldon said Wednesday. "Even though politically he was somewhat polarizing, if you talk to members of the other party, there was a huge level of respect for his intellect. He is one of those rare individuals that can have an impact on an entire century.”

In 1980, Sheldon chaired Sen. Kennedy's failed presidential campaign in Florida. They remained friends over the years, and Sheldon became good friends with Bobby Kennedy Jr.

“I had an amazing, warm affection for Sen. Kennedy and for the family. I‘ve never known a family that was that close," Sheldon said. "And I found that if they kind of accepted you into the realm, there was an undying loyalty.”

When Sheldon lost his run for Congress in 1982, his phone rang the next morning. It was Sen. Kennedy, calling to say he watched the numbers all night and wished they had gone the other way.