September 26, 2016

Tim Kaine says Donald Trump's comment on Gennifer Flowers shows he views debate as 'part of the entertainment industry'

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@amysherman1

CBS4's Jim DeFede asked Tim Kaine about his thoughts on Donald Trump suggesting he would invite Gennifer Flowers, who claimed to have an affair with Bill Clinton in the 1990s, to the first presidential debate.

"What it said to me about Donald Trump was 'I'm viewing this as kind of part of the entertainment industry.' This is deadly serious. This is deadly serious," Kaine told DeFede on Sunday, the day he also spoke at Miami Dade College. "We've got all of these challenges at home and abroad, the good thing is America can always solve our challenges if we just let everybody around the table together -- don't divide against one and other. So the fact that he was doing that to me was par for the course. This was like it was a reality TV show. No, this is not that. This is trying to be commander in chief, the president of the most important nation on earth."

Trump's comment about Flowers began after Mark Cuban, a Trump critic and owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, tweeted that he had been invited to the debate by Hillary Clinton's campaign. Trump responded by bashing Cuban's TV show the "Benefactor" and said:

"If dopey Mark Cuban of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit in the front row, perhaps I will put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him!"

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, speaking on CNN’s "State of the Union" Sunday, said "we have not invited (Flowers) formally and we don't expect her to there as a guest of the Trump campaign."

Bill Clinton initially denied rumors of an affair with Flowers but admitted under oath in 1998 to having a sexual encounter with her.

Image credit: CB4 Miami

Bill Clinton to visit North Florida on bus tour

03142016_161003_fullsizerender__5__8col@ByKristenMClark

Bill Clinton will be visiting parts of North Florida later this week on a "Stronger Together" bus tour for his wife's presidential campaign.

The Hillary Clinton campaign says the former president will hold public events in Panama City, Tallahassee and Jacksonville on Friday and Saturday, "with additional stops along the way."

"President Clinton will talk to Floridians about Hillary Clinton's plans to build an economy that works for all, not just those at the top," the campaign said.

Further details about the public events haven't yet been released.

Bill Clinton was last in Tallahassee in March, when he attended a private fundraiser and spoke to students at Florida A&M University.

September 15, 2016

Everglades restoration plan passes senate

Everglades aerial (2)

by @jenstaletovich

Everglades restoration took a step forward Thursday when the U.S. Senate passed a massive waterworks bill that includes a plan aimed at fixing the overlooked heart of the vast wetlands.

In 94-3 vote, senators approved the Water Resources Development Act, which includes about $2 billion for the Central Everglades Planning Project. The project, launched in 2011 to speed up restoration and focus efforts on central wetlands critical to moving fresh water south into Florida Bay, got a big assist in the spring when Sen. Jim Inhofe vowed to throw his weight behind it. The powerful chairman of the Environmental and Public Works Committee, remembered for being the only no vote opposing the original comprehensive restoration plan in 2000, said he changed his mind after Sen. Marco Rubio convinced the work was necessary.

The vote comes after a brutal winter for the region. Record rain forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repeatedly release dirty water from Lake Okeechobee into coastal estuaries, triggering a massive algae bloom along the Treasure Coast.

The WRDA still has to pass the House, no small hurdle, which has not yet scheduled a vote. However, including $220 million in emergency funding to address the water crisis in Flint is drawing support that may help push it through.

"It addresses a lot of big ticket items that have gotten a ton of attention this year," said Julie Hill-Gabriel, deputy director of policy for Audubon Florida.

Hill-Gabriel was hopeful the House schedules a vote this year on the plan. Two years ago, the plan stalled when the Corps, which oversees work, balked at approving it in time for that year's WRDA bill.

 

 

"We’re hopeful it will happen this year," Hill-Gabriel said. "Whether it’s next week or the lame duck session, we hope the House steps up and gets it done."

 

 

September 14, 2016

New FL study further shows benefits of juvenile civil citations over arrests

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@ByKristenMClark

Miami-Dade County led the state last year in sending child offenders to diversion programs rather than arresting them for misdemeanor crimes, according to a new independent study released Wednesday.

But while Miami-Dade — like Florida, on the whole — is doing better to favor juvenile civil citations, the nonpartisan “Stepping Up 2016” study found other counties, including Hillsborough, have a long way to go in making better use of the alternative, which experts praise as a more effective and beneficial option to arrest.

Across Miami-Dade, 91 percent of eligible youth were given civil citations instead of arrests, the highest in the state for 2014-15, according to the study. Miami-Dade Police had a 99 percent usage rate for citations, and the school district had a 92 percent rate.

By comparison, in countywide numbers, Monroe used civil citations over arrests 80 percent of the time in eligible cases, Broward used them 68 percent of the time and Palm Beach used them almost 59 percent of the time, the study found.

In the Tampa Bay area, Pinellas County was second-best statewide with a usage rate of 82 percent — compared to 53 percent for Pasco and Hernando counties, 32 percent for Hillsborough and 24 percent for Citrus, the study found.

The report — the second annual study of its kind by The Children’s Campaign and several other state and national advocacy groups — builds upon previous findings that juvenile civil citations are preferable because youth are less likely to re-offend and because citation programs increase public safety and save potentially millions in taxpayer money.

Read more here.

Photo credit: Carl Juste / Miami Herald

August 26, 2016

Tim Kaine urges voter registration, tours small business hub in Tallahassee

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@ByKristenMClark

After a day of raising money, touring a local business hub and speaking at a get-out-the-vote rally with university students, Hillary Clinton's vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine made the most of a short visit to Florida's capital city on Friday.

It was his third trip to the Sunshine State -- but first to Tallahassee -- since joining Clinton's ticket last month, he said.

As the Democratic U.S. senator from Virginia took the stage at Florida A&M University this afternoon, he donned a Rattlers hat and somewhat sheepishly hissed a few times while imitating two fangs with his fingers -- an attempt at the university's "Rattler Strike," which charmed a cheering crowd.

During a 15-minute address, Kaine urged FAMU students to not be mere bystanders in this year's election. He encouraged them to volunteer, vote and make sure they and their friends are registered to vote.

"You have a superb reputation -- of any university  -- of student activism and of getting people to understand the critical importance of voting," Kaine told the few hundred students gathered in the blazing summer heat outside FAMU's student union as part of their weekly "Set Friday" event.

Kaine said Clinton's campaign is launching a nationwide initiative with historically black colleges and universities, like FAMU, to encourage voter registration.

"We want FAMU to lead the way," Kaine said to more applause from the crowd.

Continue reading "Tim Kaine urges voter registration, tours small business hub in Tallahassee" »

August 22, 2016

Florida Supreme Court chief justice wants to bolster courthouse security

From the News Service of Florida:

Pointing to a need to "move ahead quickly on this issue," Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga on Monday announced the creation of a panel to study local courthouse security.

The Trial Courthouse Security Workgroup will look at issues such as evaluating security practices at courthouses, reviewing national courthouse security procedures and developing standards for training, according to the announcement.

"Every day in Florida's courthouses, people are living through heartbreaking dilemmas in both criminal and civil cases," Labarga said in a prepared statement. "We must do everything in our power to make sure that these buildings remain safe and secure and that the troubles we hope to resolve are not compounded by acts of violence in the very place reserved for justice. It is key to our freedoms as Americans."

The panel will be chaired by Margaret Steinbeck, a judge in Southwest Florida's 20th Judicial Circuit. It also will include the chief judges from eight judicial circuits, two attorneys and a staff member from the Office of State Courts Administrator.

August 18, 2016

Florida trendline shows Donald Trump losing ground

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via @adamsmithtimes

Amid all the talk lately about Donald Trump flailing and falling way behind Hillary Clinton in key battleground states, it's worth reminding everybody that, Florida being Florida, we should expect another close presidential election in the America's biggest battleground state.

In the last six presidential elections, after all, Florida has produced three Democratic victories and three Republican victories (one of those, the tied race of 2000). The average margin of victory over those six races was 2.7 percentage points, with the most lopsided result being Bill Clinton's 5.7 point win over Bob Dole and Ross Perot in 1996.

That said, Trump has lost ground in recent weeks in must-win Florida.

With 80 days before election day and less than 50 days before mail voting starts, Hillary Clinton leads Trump by 4.5 percentage points in the average of recent polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.com.

Prior to the conventions, Florida was a dead heat, but the six polls conducted since then show the Democratic nominee leading by as much as 9 percentage points and as little as 1.

These numbers are not predictive, especially with the first debate still more than a month off. But for what it's worth, RealClear showed Mitt Romney leading by 1 percentage point at this point in 2012 and John McCain leading Barack Obama by nearly 3 at this point in 2008.

I haven't found an average for 2004, but a late August St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald poll showed George W. Bush leading John Kerry 48 percent to 46 percent in Florida.

Image credit: RealClearPolitics.com

 

July 06, 2016

Miami gunfire victim, others push Congress to pass controls

@jamesmartinrose

Gun violence victims from Miami and other cities rallied outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday and demanded that Congress act on pending legislation to limit firearms sales in the wake of the Orlando massacre last month.

Wearing orange T-shirts to commemorate the 49 people murdered in Orlando and others shot to death, the activists heard rousing remarks from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Lewis trying to continue the momentum for gun controls sparked by an unusual overnight sit-in the civil rights icon led on the House floor two weeks ago.

“The American public deserves so much more from our nation’s leaders than constant arguing,” Antwan Reeves, a Miami-Dade Schools employee who survived an automatic-rifle attack on him and his cousin in Miami Gardens last November, told reporters and spectators at the rally.

Saying “it’s a miracle that I’m here today,” Reeves told a riveting story of how he and his cousin, St. Louis Rams receiver Stedman Bailey, were sprayed with gunfire Nov. 24 while they sat in a car at Northwest 199th Street and 38th Place. Another vehicle pulled up alongside them, and an occupant opened fire as Reeves shielded two of his children in the backseat of their car.

Reeves took 11 bullets while Bailey was shot twice in the head, but both men survived after Reeves somehow drove to Aventura Hospital and Medical Center and each underwent emergency surgery.

“The weapons used during that night of madness left behind 40 shell casings,” Reeves said at Wednesday’s demonstration. “These types of weapons should not be in possession of ordinary citizens.”

Rep. Frederica Wilson, Reeves’ representative in the House, also attended the protest.

“We’re going to need the American public and pressure from the people of this nation to help us in this battle,” Wilson told reporters after the rally.

She added: “I am tired of burying little black boys (in my community), and I even have a foundation set aside to pay for their funerals. So we’re going to fight. I’ve been in this battle for a long time, and I do not intend to give up now.”

Since the June 12 tragedy in Orlando, Republicans who control the Senate and the House have blocked mainly Democratic efforts to pass “No Fly, No Buy” legislation that would make it more difficult for people on FBI terror watch lists to purchase guns.

Reps. Carlos Curbelo of Miami-Dade and David Jolly of Indian Shores, Fla., are among a small number of Republicans who have broken with their party and pushed for those limited controls.

June 22, 2016

Democrats quick to pounce as Marco Rubio jumps back in Florida U.S. Senate race

@ByKristenMClark

With Marco Rubio announcing today that he'll seek re-election to his U.S. Senate seat after all, Democrats were quick to fire off statements this morning blasting the incumbent for going back on his word -- offering a glimpse at the critical attacks they're likely to lob at Rubio in the months ahead.

"Marco Rubio abandoned his constituents, and now he's treating them like a consolation prize," Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy said in a statement. "Unlike Marco Rubio, I love working hard every single day for the people of Florida. From missing the most votes of any Florida senator in nearly 50 years, to seeking to ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest, to repeatedly voting against closing the terrorist gun loophole, Rubio is proving he is only out for himself."

<<< MORE: "Rubio says yes to another Senate run after all" >>>

Minutes after the news of Rubio's decision broke, Murphy's campaign also sent out an urgent fundraising email -- capping off days of pitches for campaign cash that Murphy has made in the build up to Rubio's decision.

News of Rubio's decision came just a few hours after a new Quinnipiac University poll came out, showing that Rubio is Republicans' best hope by a wide margin of beating either Murphy or fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- which endorsed Murphy in the Democratic primary -- similarly blasted Rubio today for his attendance and voting record, his poor showing in Florida's presidential primary in March and his support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"Now, he is cravenly using the deadliest mass shooting in American history as the springboard to go back on his word and further his political career," DSCC spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said in a statement. "They said it couldn't be done, but Marco Rubio's actions, words and votes reveal one of the more self-serving Washington politicians who has always put his political career above the people he represents."

On Tuesday in Tallahassee, Grayson told reporters it would be "delightful" to take Rubio on, and in a Facebook post after Rubio's announcement this morning, he added: "Oh, yes, please. Bring it on."

Continue reading "Democrats quick to pounce as Marco Rubio jumps back in Florida U.S. Senate race" »

June 21, 2016

Alan Grayson: It would be 'delightful' to take on 'incompetent' Marco Rubio

@ByKristenMClark

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alan Grayson blasted his potential opponent and current Republican Sen. Marco Rubio as "incompetent" and someone who has "no flare" for the elected office he's in.

"I think it's a delightful situation," the Orlando congressman said Tuesday afternoon of the prospect of facing Rubio, who has yet to decide whether he'll change his mind this week and seek re-election. (The deadline to qualify is noon Friday.)

Grayson made his remarks during a press conference he held in Tallahassee, after filing his paperwork to qualify for the August primary ballot and, then, urging Republican legislative leaders at the Florida Capitol to take up gun control measures after the Orlando shooting last week.

Grayson -- one of five Democrats now seeking Rubio's seat -- slammed the Miami Republican for his lack of productivity in the Senate, saying Rubio has produced only one bill in his five years there. Grayson, who calls himself the "congressman with guts," touted his own record of passing bills and amendments through the U.S. House.

<<< Politifact: "Alan Grayson says he passed more bills and amendments than any other current member" >>>

"I think it's shocking that anybody who is that incompetent -- if I may use that term -- as a legislator would be considered for an extension on his contract, much less a promotion to the presidency," Grayson said. "I was genuinely puzzled why anybody thought he was a plausible candidate for the president because, frankly, he's so bad as a senator."

"Maybe if he showed up more often he could get more things done," Grayson said, referencing Rubio's poor attendance record for which he's been relentlessly criticized. "I don't know why he wants to continue in the job. He doesn't seem to show any interest for it, and for God's sakes, certainly no flare. Maybe he should let somebody else do it for a while who has some ability to get good things done for the people of Florida."

"There's a reason why he's called 'No Show Rubio,' and I'm called the 'most effective member of Congress,' " Grayson added, citing praise he quotes often from Slate magazine in an article that was published three years ago.

Spokespeople for Rubio did not immediately return an email seeking comment this evening.

Grayson is running against U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, Miami labor attorney Pam Keith, Jacksonville attorney Reginald Luster and Orlando businessman "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.