August 25, 2015

Miami congresswoman calls for public hearing on Miami boat show permit

@NewsbySmiley

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday to hold a public hearing before making a final decision on a permit to allow the city of Miami to host the Miami International Boat Show on Virginia Key.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association has a license agreement with the city to move their massive industry event from the Miami Beach Convention Center to a utility-lined lawn outside the Miami Marine Stadium. Boats would also be exhibited in the Marine Stadium basin, and thousands of attendees are expected to take water taxis to the show.

In an application submitted months ago for a permit, Boat Show organizers sought permission to erect temporary docks and walkways large enough to cover more than four football fields. They have since said the show won't be nearly that large, but environmentalists and residents from nearby Key Biscayne are opposed to hosting the event on Virginia Key due to concerns about traffic and potential damage to an environmentally sensitive area. (The Bill Sadowski Critical Wildlife Area is located on the north bank of the basin.)

A protest is scheduled Saturday morning.

In May, Key Biscayne village officials requested a public hearing. Ros-Lehtinen, whose district includes both keys, wrote to the commander of the Army Corps Jacksonville District Tuesday to request that their wish be granted.

"The issues raised by the Village of Key Biscayne regarding this permit application should warrant a public hearing," wrote Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami. "It is important that this process is conducted in an open and fair way."

August 19, 2015

Venezuelan president publicizes video naming Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as anti-government protest financiers

@PatriciaMazzei

On Tuesday night, Marco Rubio was flying back to Miami from a presidential campaign trip to Iowa. Meantime, his name was being invoked on state-run television -- in Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro publicized a video in which an accused murderer claims last year's protests against the Venezuelan government were financed in part by Rubio and another Miami Republican, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Both politicians denounced the allegations as absurd.

Prisoner José Rafael Pérez Venta offers no details in the video about how much money was involved or how it was obtained, other than the say it came through a woman he identified as Betti Grossi, according to a Spanish-language report by the EFE news agency.

Pérez Venta also claims ties to Maduro's political opponents in Venezuela, and says further financing for protests came from a U.S. embassy worker and from the government of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Uribe, Rubio and Ros-Lehtinen are vocal Maduro critics.

The video is of a purported interrogation in which an off-screen interrogator whose voice has been distorted asks questions to Pérez Venta, who has been accused with dismembering a woman whose body parts were find on the side of a Caracas road. Venezuela is one of the world's most dangerous countries.

Continue reading "Venezuelan president publicizes video naming Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as anti-government protest financiers" »

Attempt to change Miami-Dade congressional districts fails

 @JeremySWallace

Florida Senator Dwight Bullard’s attempt to redraw a pair of congressional districts in Miami-Dade did not get far on Wednesday.

Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, tried to change a proposed redistricting map that would shift 35,000 black voters from the 26th Congressional, represented by U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, into the 27th District, which is not represented by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami.

Bullard specifically proposed shifting Richmond Heights, Palmetto Estates, and West Perrine back into the 26th District.

The Senate voted down the amendment, which would keep those communities contained in the Ros-Lehtinen district.

Bullard’s amendment comes days after a coalition of voting groups sent a warning shot to Florida lawmakers, claiming that their proposal for revising Miami-Dade’s most competitive congressional district appears to have been designed to boost the chances of Curbelo, who is being challenged for re-election by Democrat Annette Taddeo in 2016.

For the last several years District 26 has had one of the most turbulent election histories in the state.

Curbelo defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia by 3 percentage points in 2014 but Taddeo, who was then on the ballot as the running mate for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, was also popular. The Crist-Taddeo ticket won the district by 5 points over Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera.

In a letter to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Florida suggested that shifting 35,000 black voters from Congressional District 26 into Congressional District 27, has a “partisan effect” that violates the anti-gerrymandering rules of the Florida Constitution.

Legislative map drawers have said they shifted the communities after being told by the Florida Supreme Court to not split Homestead, which was fully included into Curbelo’s district. Because of that, the area’s Bullard highlighted were shifted into Ros-Lehtinen’s district.

August 13, 2015

Florida politicians react to U.S. embassy opening in Havana

@PatriciaMazzei

South Florida Republicans in particular are upset about the Obama administration's planned opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana Friday. We'll update this post with statements as we get them.

(We posted separate blog items about a Marco Rubio speech, and about a Jeb Bush statement.)

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami

John Kerry's presence in Havana on his global capitulation tour is yet another example of the Obama administration’s d’esire to pursue deals at any cost. While the Castro brothers will roll out the red carpet for Secretary Kerry, the people of Cuba will continue to be met with violence and detentions. While Secretary Kerry just changes the sign on the door at our post, he purposefully forgets that the Castro regime tries to prevent the people of Cuba from even reaching our building.  While political prisoners languish in Castro’s gulags, Secretary Kerry will be shaking hands with their oppressor. The arrest of more than 100 pro-democracy leaders just days before Kerry’s visit should provide proof enough that the Castro regime has no intention of changing, so why should our policies change?

From a dangerous Iran deal to being weak against North Korea to giving in to the demands of the Castro brothers, this administration has demonstrated it imposes no moral bar to negotiating with tyrannical regimes. It is a shame we continue to give away so much in exchange for nothing since the White House was unable to ensure democratic freedoms for the people of Cuba, the return of fugitives from American justice, or compensation for illegally confiscated properties. Our country stands for so much more than the pittance it has accepted from the Castro regime.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, 2016 Republican U.S. Senate

The Obama Administration’s refusal to invite pro-democracy leaders to Friday’s U.S. Embassy ceremony in Havana is a shameful embarrassment that emboldens Castro's repressive regime. Once again, it demonstrates that President Obama is committed to a policy that allows the Castros to dictate the terms and conditions of their relationship with the U.S., to the detriment of the Cuban people’s right to freedom and self-determination.

During his visit to the enslaved island of Cuba, I call on Secretary Kerry to demand the dictatorship immediately release all political prisoners and end the repeated violence against peaceful pro-democracy leaders. Because the Obama Administration has decided to proceed with normalization while disregarding the clear evidence of increased brutality against peaceful dissidents, President Obama now bears the responsibility for the violence that will continue to be inflicted upon the Cuban people.

Continue reading "Florida politicians react to U.S. embassy opening in Havana" »

July 20, 2015

'Sad' day for Miami GOP members of Congress over Cuban embassy opening

Mario21 cuba new hmg

@PatriciaMazzei

The three amigos, as U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen calls herself and Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart, watched Monday morning from Miami as the Cuban flag rose once again in Washington D.C.

In the afternoon, they gathered in Ros-Lehtinen's district office to declare it a "sad" day for Cuban Americans who have fought to keep the dictatorship isolated until the Castro regime becomes a democracy. The three Miami Republicans stood next to posters brandishing images of beaten up Cuban dissidents and the four men who died shot down by the Cuban government in the Brothers to the Rescue flights of 1996.

"There is not enough room in this office to display the faces of the opposition," Ros-Lehtinen said. 

Diaz-Balart said he won't consider a Cuban ambassador or other diplomats representatives of the people who live on the island.

"Cuba's true leaders, those are the ones that are in the prisons,"  Diaz-Balart said, or who've had their professional licenses or rationing cards taken away as a punishment for their political views. "The Castro regime is not the Cuban people. If only we had a president who knew the difference."

Continue reading "'Sad' day for Miami GOP members of Congress over Cuban embassy opening" »

July 15, 2015

Jeb Bush calls Miami congresswoman, gets voicemail, sings 'Happy Birthday'

@PatriciaMazzei

Wednesday is Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's birthday.

Her pick in the 2016 GOP presidential race, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, called to congratulate her. He got her voicemail.

So he sang to her machine instead. The full song.

"Happy birthday dear Ily," he intoned. Then: "This is Jeb." 

Ros-Lehtinen, true to form, posted the message to Twitter. Bush managed her first campaign for Congress, in 1989.

July 14, 2015

Florida politicians react to Iran nuclear deal

@PatriciaMazzei

The big news of the day in politics and the federal government is the announcement that a group of countries, led by the U.S., negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program have reached an agreement. 

Some Florida Republicans had harsh words for President Obama's administration over the deal, and at least a couple of Democrats sounded skeptical. Here are their statements:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida

First thing is to not tear down this agreement before the ink is even dry, before we even read it. Congress has a role now, by law, and it's to thoroughly scrutinize the details of the agreement. We're not going to approve something that doesn't keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons and doesn't give us the ability to inspect and verify that Iran abides by all the terms.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami

It was announced today that a final agreement with Iran has been reached.  Unfortunately, it appears that all key aspects of Iran’s nuclear program will remain in place. Preliminary information suggests that the agreement not only fails to completely prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities, but it also strengthens the regime’s ability to support terror in the region, both militarily and financially. In addition to the many troubling aspects of what looks like a weak deal that gives Iran undeserved concessions, it’s important to note that Iran still holds American hostages. 

Protecting the security interests of the United States and our allies is of the utmost importance.  While Congress will carefully review the details, the initial reports do not give me confidence that an acceptable deal has been reached.

Continue reading "Florida politicians react to Iran nuclear deal" »

July 09, 2015

Reaction from members of Congress directly affected by Florida Supreme Court redistricting order

@PatriciaMazzei

Eight incumbent members of Congress were directly affected Thursday by the Florida Supreme Court's ruling that state lawmakers redraw their districts. (Other representatives will likely be indirectly affected by new boundaries.) 

Here's what the members of Congress had to say:

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami (District 27)

I look forward to representing the constituents of whatever district the court decides should be drawn up. It has been an incredible experience to have represented every part of Miami-Dade County during my years of public service so in whatever form the district ends up, it will be like coming home again. No worries.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami (District 26)

Since arriving in Washington I have been focused on improving the quality of life in South Florida and making our country stronger. The potential of new district lines is not a distraction for me nor will it diminish my desire to represent and serve the community in which my wife and I are raising our family.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami (District 25)

At this stage, I am still reviewing the Florida Supreme Court's opinion, and will be interested to see what the State Legislature will do.

Continue reading "Reaction from members of Congress directly affected by Florida Supreme Court redistricting order" »

July 07, 2015

Miami Republicans cite attack of dissident as sign Obama Cuba policy isn't working

Rodiles

@PatriciaMazzei

Two of Miami's Cuban-American Republican members of Congress condemned an attack on a Cuban dissident as a sign that President Obama is foolish to pursue closer relations with the regime on the island.

The beating of Antonio Rodiles, which Rodiles blamed on Cuban security forces, and mass detention of nearly 100 other dissidents Sunday prompted statements in solidarity from U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

"Beating activists committed to the return of democratic rights to the island, such as Rodiles and members of the Ladies in White, show that the Castro regime has no interest in changing," Ros-Lehtinen said Monday. "The opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana demonstrates that the Obama Administration is willing to turn a blind eye  to the sadistic ways of this brutal regime in order to build a presidential legacy."  

"Since President Obama's December 17, 2014 announcement, the Castro regime's brutality against innocent pro-democracy leaders has escalated," Diaz-Balart said. "Predictably, following the President's announcement a few days ago that he will press ahead with opening embassies without any conditions, the human rights abuses in Cuba continue unabated. The Castro regime has been emboldened by President Obama's shameful disinterest in human rights and liberties in Cuba."

Photo courtesy Antonio Rodiles

July 06, 2015

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's interns 'Shake It Off'

@PatriciaMazzei

The interns from U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's office want you to know: They have fun on the job.

They put together a video -- posted on the Miami Republican congresswoman's YouTube channel -- lip-syncing a well-produced version of Taylor Swift's hit pop song, "Shake It Off."

Yes, the congresswoman dances.

Ros-Lehtinen's most famous former intern may be 2016 GOP presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Alas, he worked in her office in the days before social media.