January 05, 2014

LeMieux also applies for FAU job -- is a turf battle in the making?

On one side we have Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announce he has "been approached" by Florida Atlantic University and has accepted the request to apply for the presidential post. On the other we have former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux announcing Sunday he's also adding his hat to the ring because he was "encouraged by members of the board of trustees." Hmmm.

Whose idea was it to publicly pit these guys against each other, who else has been "encouraged" and why the rush to get a politician?

According to the Associated Press, Gov. Rick Scott "praised LeMieux," in a statement.

"George LeMieux's pursuit of the FAU presidency is further proof that Florida's high-caliber universities attract the best and brightest talent in the country," Scott said. "FAU is fortunate to add to their list of presidency candidates someone like George who has a great vision for our state and would do an outstanding job as president."

Whoa. Was that an endorsement?

But wait, the governor also praised Atwater in a statement a day earlier -- but it reads as if he knew LeMieux's news was coming. He said Atwater has the "experience and skill to be an outstanding president."

"While the school will no doubt consider multiple, qualified, prestigious candidates for the job, FAU would be well served to have a leader like Jeff at the helm," Scott's statement said.

We know Scott is grateful to LeMieux, who served as chief of staff and campaign manager to former Gov. Charlie Crist, was rewarded by being named by Crist to the U.S. Senate to complete the term of former Sen. Mel Martinez in 2009 where LeMieux served for 16 months. Then LeMieux became a vocal critic of Crist and Scott loyalist once Crist jumped parties.

Perhaps, the Florida Legislature's penchant for politicizing higher ed may have some competition.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/05/3853823/former-sen-lemieux-applies-for.html#storylink=cpy

January 04, 2014

Atwater announces he will seek FAU presidency

Saying he has been recruited for the job, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said Saturday that he is applying for the presidency of Florida Atlantic University.
 
If selected by the presidential search committee later this month, Atwater would relinquish what is considered a safe seat on the Florida Cabinet as the state's chief financial manager, creating the only open seat on the three-member Cabinet this election.
 
Atwater was elected CFO in 2010, after serving two years as Senate president, and was expected to seek re-election. He has also been frequently mentioned as a candidate for governor in 2018.
 
In an email to senior staff Saturday morning, Atwater said that he has "been approached by Florida Atlantic University (FAU) regarding the search for their next president.  After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to place my name into consideration for this position."
 
The university is seeking to fill the post vacated by Mary Jane Saunders in May after a series of embarrassing public relations developments. Saunders initiated and then reversed a decision by the univeristy to sell naming rights to the football stadium to the private prison company the GEO Group. The school also faced national ridicule after a teacher conducted a classroom exercise in which students were asked to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper then step on it and another professor suggested that the Boston Marathon bombing and the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., may have been hoaxes.
 
Atwater's links to the school include having three children attend or graduate from the university and representing the school's three campuses when he served in the legislature from 2000 to 2010. Atwater, a banker by trade and a graduate of the University of Florida, spent much of his legislative career focused on insurance and banking issues and was not known for his work on education issues. His profile says he focused on preserving funding for early childhood education and raising student performance standards.
 
The 15-member search committee is expected to meet on Monday to come up with a list of finalists and make its decision by Jan. 17.
 
Here is the note he sent to top staff after rumors circulated last night about his decision:

Continue reading "Atwater announces he will seek FAU presidency " »

December 12, 2013

Democratic CFO candidate raises just $151 in November

@tbtia

The first Democrat to challenge incumbent Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater was a disaster, but this new guy has his own set of troubles.

William Rankin, a Fort Lauderdale businessman, faces questions about his resume and recently missed a financial reporting deadline. Now that his November fundraising totals have been posted online, we see there isn't much there.

$151. That's what Rankin raised in cash in November. Of course, that's a six-fold increase from his October haul of $25. He keeps his fledgling campaign afloat using $10,600 he loaned to himself.

Meanwhile, Republican Atwater has $814,756 on hand after raising $235,825 in November.

Rankin filed his paperwork at the beginning of October and announced his candidacy on Oct. 22. He says he is focused on traveling the state and getting to know Democrats around Florida, not raising money.

"There's a lot of time out there," he told the Times/Herald today.

Continue reading "Democratic CFO candidate raises just $151 in November" »

October 29, 2013

Atwater wants answers on why property insurance premiums aren't dropping

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is asking for state insurance regulators to explain why property insurance companies don't seem to be passing along their cost savings to consumers.

At the heart of the issue is the drop in the cost of re-insurance, which has dropped in price after a series of legislative reforms. Atwater asked the same question to Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty in an August letter. McCarty responded in a letter, and at a recent Cabinet meeting, and said that rather than reduce the cost of premiums for consumers, insurers were purchasing more re-insurance.

Now, Atwater wants better answers and he is asking McCarty to prepare a report by Dec. 18.

"My question to you is simple: 'Why have rates not come down?',” Atwater writes. Here's his letter:  Download 10.29.2013 Letter to McCarty Regarding Property Insurance Costs (1)

Continue reading "Atwater wants answers on why property insurance premiums aren't dropping" »

October 23, 2013

Little-known FL Dem announces CFO campaign in dark of night

@MarcACaputo

It's 10:13 p.m., do you know who your Democratic CFO candidate is? Well, just wait 60 seconds, then.

At 10:14 p.m., the oddest of all times for a political announcement, businessman William Rankin announced he'd challenge state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

A retired vet, businessman and former Ohio state treasury official, Rankin has a good bio on paper. So maybe the dark-of-night-campaign announcement forshadows a dark-horse campaign.

But already you have to wonder about the success of a campaign against a seasoned and well-funded pol like Atwater. Still, compared to the last Democrat running for the office, Allie Braswell, Rankin doesn't look as if he'll embarrass the party.

Here's the press release:

Continue reading "Little-known FL Dem announces CFO campaign in dark of night" »

September 27, 2013

Rick Scott not ready to push Marco Rubio to back House flood-insurance rate fix

@MarcACaputo

Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t sound ready to ask U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to change his position and back a U.S. House flood-insurance measure to temporarily halt hefty rate increases starting Oct. 1

Scott referenced the House measure in a letter last week to Rubio and Sen. Bill Nelson, who then proposed legislation to delay rate increases for a year. But Rubio didn’t go that far in a Thursday response, where he expressed his concerns, but faulted the House proposal.

When asked Friday about Rubio’s response, Scott said “my concern is for our economy, our families and our state.” He mentioned the issue was discussed this week at the Florida Cabinet meeting with St Petersburg’s mayor, Bill Foster.

Continue reading "Rick Scott not ready to push Marco Rubio to back House flood-insurance rate fix" »

September 13, 2013

Atwater: Learn about the Affordable Care Act, but watch for scams

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater says he's committed to helping small business owners and other Floridians learn about the provisions of the health care law. But he also wants people to watch out for scammers who are using the law to trying to swindle personal information from people eager to sign up for coverage.

The bulletin Atwater put out today does not criticize the law and is free from the combative tone other Republican lawmakers have used when discussing the Affordable Care Act. Also, it comes at a time when Gov. Rick Scott is receiving growing pressure from Democrats to denounce a Department of Health policy keep enrollment advisors from helping patients at local health departments sign up for coverage. Scott continues to avoid the issue.

Affordable Care Act scams are a legitimate concern, as Atwater points out. Companies not affiliated with the federal health exchange that people will use to shop for insurance coverage are running ads on TV and radio and setting up websites that could confuse people, officials say.

The people actually being paid by the federal government to help Floridians sign up for coverage are being trained not to ask for personal information. They don't begin working until Oct. 1 and will be housed at government and non-profit agencies.

Here is the full statement from Atwater:

Continue reading "Atwater: Learn about the Affordable Care Act, but watch for scams" »

August 15, 2013

Political newcomer, marine corps vet, announces challenge to Atwater

@adamsmithtimes

Allie braswellAllie Braswell, head of the Central Florida Urban League and former Disney official, is running to be the Democratic challenger to Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

"I’m not a politician. But what we’re getting out of politician Jeff Atwater is a go-along to get-along style that is hurting Floridians. Under his watch, billions in no-bid contracts have been given away and people with insider connections are getting rich off taxpayer money,” said Braswell, a Sanford native and son of a citrus truck driver and Marine Corps. veteran.

“We need a leader who will help protect taxpayers by cracking down on huge contracts that politicians are handing over to their supporters and political allies,'' he said. "I’ll be a fiscal watchdog who will hold our government and politicians accountable and fight to shift the focus of our leaders away from helping their friends and back to attracting good jobs to Florida."

As a first time candidate little known outside the Orlando area, Braswell is the clear underdog against Atwater, a formidable money-raiser who previously served as Florida Senate president and as a banking executive.

Braswell, after 13 years in the Marines, worked a senior technology officer and diversity manager at Walt Disney World, before taking the helm of the Metropolitcan Orlando Urban League in 2010 at the time the non-profit was struggling.

Continue reading "Political newcomer, marine corps vet, announces challenge to Atwater" »

August 12, 2013

Movers & Shakers

New chairman for Citizens Board of Governors

Chris Gardner, a veteran of the retail insurance brokerage business, has been named chairman of the Board of Governors for Citizens Property Insurance Corp.by Florida CFO Jeff Atwater.

Gardner, a resident of Winter Park, has 20 years of experience in the retail insurance brokerage business with a specific focus in commercial property and casualty insurance. He has served as a member of the Citizens board since his appointment in July 2011.

“In his 20 years in the insurance industry, Chris has proved himself to be a person of high character and sound judgment who shares my high expectations for how a corporation such as Citizens should be managed,” Atwater said in a news release.

Gardner is the managing shareholder of Kuykendall Gardner, LLC, a Florida-based insurance broker doing business since 1953. Neither the firm collectively nor Gardner personally has any current business interests in Citizens, according to the release. He has been a past chairman of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and is a past vice chairman of the City of Orlando Municipal Planning Board.

Gardner succeeds Carlos Lacasa as chairman of the Citizen’s board.

Another change: Sen. President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has appointed Freddie Schinz to the Citizens Board of Governors.

Schinz has more than 40 years of experience as a statewide commercial builder. He replaces Carol Everhart.

Gaetz picks

Gaetz has appointed Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) to the Southern States Energy Board, Sen. John Legg (R-Lutz) to the Education Commission of the States, Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) to the Workforce Florida, Inc., Board of Directors, and Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) to the Florida High School Athletic Association Public Liaison Advisory Committee.

Flores, 36, is an attorney and CEO of Doral College. Legg, 38, is a long-time Pasco County educator and the Senate Education Committee Chair. Montford, 65, is the CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. Stargel, 47, is an investment property manager in Lakeland.

Continue reading "Movers & Shakers" »

August 07, 2013

Atwater wants answer: why aren't property insurance rates dropping?

Property insurance imageIn a letter to Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater asks why it is that as re-insurance costs for property insurers are dropping, they are not lowering premiums for Florida customers. 

He doesn't ask McCarty to do anything about it. He doesn't suggest he is going to do anything about it, but he is raising the point. Here's his letter:  Download 8.7.2013 Letter to Commissioner McCarty