A Campbell family minivan has racked up five tickets for running red lights since 2010.
Most citizens would slow down. But Daphne Campbell isn’t like most citizens.
She’s a Democratic state representative who has another way to deal with future red-light tickets: file legislation to ban the traffic-surveillance cameras that shot video of her husband’s Honda Odyssey breaking traffic laws.
It could seem like a conflict of interest. But as long as a lawmaker’s bills don’t benefit him or her or a family member uniquely, it’s generally not a conflict of interest.
This is the state of ethics in the Florida Legislature. It’s a citizens’ legislature of 160 part-time lawmakers. They theoretically come from all walks of life and private professions.
This is representative democracy.
And Campbell, of Miami Shores, represents so much more in Miami-Dade.
Tickets, fraud probes and deaths: What Rep. Daphne Campbell says about citizens legislature, Miami-Dade
A Campbell family minivan has racked up five tickets for running red lights since 2010.
The Miami Dolphins have agreed to seek voter approval of tax dollars for Sun Life Stadium, with team executives dropping their objections to a referendum on the controversial plan, sources close to the matter said Saturday.
The Dolphins and County Mayor Carlos Gimenez plan to announce the referendum agreement at a press conference called for 8:15 a.m. Monday at County Hall, The Miami Herald has learned. Sen. Oscar Braynon, the Miami Gardens Democrat sponsoring a bill to bring Sun Life new state and county subsidies, would then change the proposed legislation to require a countywide vote on the plan, a source familiar with the Dolphins’ lobbying efforts said.
The Dolphins hope to get the issue before voters by May 22, when the NFL is expected to pick the host city for the 2016 Super Bowl, the 50th. The Dolphins have cited the bid to host that game as the reason to push for a quick decision on tax dollars to pay for about half of a proposed $400 million renovation.
Team owner Stephen Ross rejected the idea for a referendum as recently as last month, saying there wasn’t time. The apparent change in course comes days after Miami-Dade lawmakers left the stadium bill off their official list of priorities for this session in Tallahassee, a move that critics of the plan hailed as a big blow to the team’s chances in a Legislature already opposed to raising taxes.
By agreeing to a referendum, the Dolphins would test the lingering backlash against the 2009 deal that gave the Florida Marlins a new ballpark largely funded by taxpayers. The Dolphins see their plan as more palatable, since Ross has agreed to use private dollars to pay for at least $201 million of the project, with state and county funds paying for no more than $199 million.
Ross would likely use a mix of team and NFL funds, and some finance authorities have said NFL money could match the Dolphins’ contribution dollar for dollar.
The public money would come from a new $3 million state subsidy for Sun Life and increasing the county’s tax on mainland hotels to 7 percent from 6 percent. The Dolphins have proposed the same hotel-tax hike in prior years. A Miami Herald poll in October found 84 percent of Miami-Dade respondents were against spending tax dollars on the stadium, but that was before Ross’ pledge to use private dollars for a majority of the work.
The Florida Elections Commission will soon decide whether to accept an agreement with state Rep. David Richardson that would close a complaint filed against the freshman lawmaker.
The complaint accused the Miami Beach Democrat of failing to disclose his political party, as required for legislative candidates, in ads that circulated during the August 2012 election.
Mark Herron, Richardson’s attorney, said his client didn’t prepare the ads. If the commission accepts the deal, Richardson will be fined $500 but will not have to accept or deny fault, Herron said.
The complaint lists four mailers and two TV ads in which Richardson’s party affiliation were not listed. Richardson is a political novice who has never held elected office before, and the complaint accuses him of purposely withholding information about his party because he ran in a district, stretching from Miami Beach to East Little Havana, with many Republican voters.
The commission will decide on Feb. 19 whether to accept the settlement with Richardson, the first openly gay legislator elected in Florida.
Earlier this week, the Miami Dolphins succeeded in getting a committee of lawmakers from across the state to vote for a taxpayer deal written exclusively for the team’s $400 million stadium renovation.
“I’ve never done a bill that benefits one person, statutorily, so I have real concerns with that,” said Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, before laying aside her concerns and joining 10 other senators to cast a unanimous vote for the measure.
The legislative triumph appears to be short-lived for the Dolphins’ top brass.
The reason: The Miami-Dade delegation of lawmakers decided not to give the proposal its full endorsement.
The 24-member delegation finalized its list of legislative priorities Thursday, naming goals like fighting insurance price hikes, funding Jackson Memorial Hospital and building a memorial for Bay of Pigs veterans.
Conspicuously absent from the list: any mention of a proposal to provide the Dolphins as much as $200 million for a stadium makeover.
The Miami-Dade delegation of state lawmakers decided not to list the Miami Dolphins stadium deal among its legislative priorities for this year.
During a Wednesday meeting to plan out legislative goals for 2013, the Dolphins’ proposal was not even brought up, several members of the delegation said.
“The Dolphins bill is one of many member bills that was not discussed," said Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami. “Not one legislator moved to make the Dolphins bill one of our priorities.”
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens and Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah, would provide the Dolphins with a multimillion-dollar tax deal to help fund a $400 million renovation of SunLife stadium.
The measure cleared its first hurdler earlier this week with a unanimous vote in the Senate Commerce and Tourism committee.
It’s not clear whether the delegation’s decision to not prioritize the Dolphins stadium will affect the bill's chances of making it through the Legislature. The Dolphins deal already faces long odds in the Miami community because of the much-maligned Marlins deal that left taxpayers on the hook for a new baseball stadium near Little Havana. Miami-Dade County commissioners and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce have thrown their support behind the project.
Diaz said the delegation decided to focus on broader issues like education, property insurance rates and funding for Jackson Memorial hospital.
“These are the things that our constituents want us to concentrate on right now,” he said.@ToluseO
If deceptive inconsistency were currency, the Miami-Dade County Commission could make a mint.
And the Miami Dolphins would be happy for it. That way, the county commission could simply give the money away to help cover the football club’s $400 million stadium renovation plan.
Unable to do that, the commission Wednesday urged the state Legislature to give the county the authority to raise hotel taxes and give the Dolphins an additional $3 million annual state subsidy.
The plan has the slimmest of chances in the Florida Legislature. It’s controlled by Republicans, many of whom can’t afford to run in a GOP primary where they can be accused of voting to raise taxes or of doling out corporate welfare or both.
But the county commission asked anyway. Despite the long odds.
Is this the same county commission that decided not to ask the Florida Legislature to reinstate 14 early voting days because of the long odds in Tallahassee?
Why yes, yes it is.
An Oviedo woman had to sue her own political party to take the position she'd been elected to by 17,000 voters.
Sixty-eight percent of the vote in her favor seemed like enough to give Kathryn Townsend the victory last fall, when she ran to represent Seminole County in the state Republican Party, or so she thought.
"About 10 days after the election, I got a letter from the state party saying, 'You won, but you didn't fulfill this little requirement that we have over here, so you're not going to be seated,'" said Townsend.
So she sued her own party...
"Jokingly, I said, 'Over 17,000 votes, over $10,000, five months and a court order, you, in fact, can be the Seminole County Republican state committeewoman,'" said Townsend.
The case sounds similar to Renier Diaz de la Portilla's case in Miami-Dade County.
But there's a big difference: DLP has documentation showing he signed and filed the oath, but the party said he doesn't qualify because he didn't file it the right way. The case is still in court
The Florida Ethics Commission announced Wednesday it has found probable cause to believe that state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, failed to properly disclose his net worth, assets, and liabilities every year from 2008 to 2011.
Fresen's murky finances have been the subject of several reports, including in the Miami Herald, and became an issue in his primary campaign against opponent Amory Bodin.
Fresen said Wednesday the charges were filed against him by an aide to Bodin and he considers them "nothing but a textbook political attack" and he expects to fight the charges. He said the probable cause findings "deal with technicalities and not substantive issues."
"I'm confident that it will be dismissed and we will be responding to it as the process dictates,'' Fresen said. "It's baseless and pointless."
Fresen, a land-use consultant, has been dogged by questions about his personal finances since 2008, when a lender filed a foreclosure suit against Fresen, his wife and his mother. He reported a $357,000 new worth in 2011, according to documents posted on the Integrity Florida web site.
The Ethics Commission will next conduct a further investigation to determine whether he violated state ethics laws by failing to properly report his income and liabilities on his annual state forms.
From the Miami Herald report: The mortgage company filed suit after Fresen failed to make payments in May 2008, court records show.
State Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, a Hialeah Republican, defeated state Sen. Oscar Braynon II, a Miami Gardens Democrat, to become delegation chairman.
At first glance, the 13-10 vote in Gonzalez's favor appeared to have fallen along strict party lines; 13 of the delegation's 24 members are Republicans, and 11 are Democrats. (Rep. Joe Gibbons, a Hallandale Beach Democrat whose district extends into Miami-Dade, was late to the vote.) But Gonzalez told The Miami Herald on Tuesday afternoon he suspected he had not received all of his party's votes.
"I don't believe I had every single Republican," Gonzalez said, noting that hard feelings likely remained from heated GOP primaries.
Case in point: Gonzalez and Rep. Jose Oliva supported newly elected Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. -- who defeated Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla's brother, Renier.
In the small pool of hot shot Democratic operatives in Florida, Ashley Walker and Steve Schale earned their gold medals well before they led Obama's successful Florida campaigns in 2012 and 2008 respectively. But we'd nominate another big Democratic star in this election cycle who should not be overlooked: Christian Ulvert, who led the Florida House campaigns where the party won nine races and netted five additional seats in the Florida House.
Yes, Ulvert and his candidate benefitted from the terrific Obama GOTV campaign, but he also had an overwheling financial disadvantage agaist the GOP House campaigns and had to make some very tough calls on where to spend and not spend money.
Ulvert (like Schale, a protogee of Dan Gelber) also ran the successful campaigns of state attorney candidate Dave Aronberg, state Sen. Gwen Margolis, as well as a Led Lee County referendum authorizing slot machines at dog track. He led the communications effort for Miami-Dade referendum authorizing $1.1 billion bond for public schools, and was the lead Hispanic consultant for SEIU's statewide Hispanic communications outreach.
-- Adam Smith