May 27, 2016

Ana Rivas Logan will run for state Senate, challenging Dwight Bullard

Rivas logan@ByKristenMClark

Ana Rivas Logan is in.

After weeks of mulling a bid for the Florida Senate, the former state lawmaker and Miami-Dade School Board member plans to file her candidacy next week for the District 40 seat, Democratic sources close to Rivas Logan confirmed to the Herald/Times.

An announcement is planned around June 1.

Rivas Logan's entrance into the state Senate race means she will challenge current state Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Culter Bay, in the Aug. 30 party primary.

Rivas Logan said earlier this month that she had reservations about running against Bullard, but said "I do not want Frank Artiles to win either."

Artiles, a Republican state representative from Miami, is also running for the District 40 seat. He's campaigning hard and has racked up significant fundraising this spring to unseat Bullard.

Bullard told the Herald/Times today that he hopes Rivas Logan doesn't run. He said he plans to meet with her before the end of the month and "hopefully, we can come to an understanding."

"Anyone else is entitled to throw her hat in the race, but I just think to be fully transparent: To leave a well-funded Republican with nothing to do while two Democrats go toe-to-toe all summer puts undue pressure on a Democratic establishment that’s already strained," Bullard said, referencing other contentious state Senate races in Miami-Dade County that the party hopes to win.

"It weakens the field when you have to have a primary among Democrats, especially when one is a sitting elected official," Bullard added.

In April, Bullard raised just $2,600, compared to the $39,200 Artiles raised. Heading in to May, Artiles had $238,000 in cash on hand, while Bullard had less than $22,000.

While Rivas Logan and others have expressed concerns about Bullard's lack of fundraising, he said it's not going to be an issue. June is normally when state legislative campaigns ramp up, Bullard said, because in a normal year, the legislative session would have just ended in mid-May.

Bullard also pointed to endorsements he's already gotten from major unions, political advocacy groups and elected officials.

District 40 includes parts of central Miami-Dade County. It's heavily Hispanic and favors a Democrat. Almost 55 percent of the district voted for Barack Obama in 2012.

Rivas Logan served on the Miami-Dade School Board from 2004 to 2010. She was then elected to the Florida House in 2010 but lost her re-election race in 2012, after redistricting drew her into the same district as Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz.

photo credit: Twitter

May 25, 2016

Former prosecutor to run for Florida Senate against Gwen Margolis

via @DavidOvalle305

Former prosecutor Jason Pizzo is joining the crowded Florida State Senate race to represent Northeast Miami-Dade.

The six-person race among all Democrats includes Sen. Gwen Margolis, Florida Rep. Daphne Campbell and former Rep. Phillip Brutus. The newly configured district include coastal cities such as Aventura and North Miami Beach, as well as predominately black neighborhoods such as Liberty City and Overtown.

Pizzo, 40, spent more than four years as a prosecutor, leaving in November to go into private practice.

During his last 10 months at the state, Pizzo said, he helped lead a pilot project that embedded prosecutors and community-support staff with police in Northeast Miami-Dade neighborhoods hardest hit by gun violence.

The efforts resulted in more arrests in shooting cases, convictions at trial and even the targeting of slum lords and shoddy housing conditions, he said.

To begin his campaign, Pizzo lent himself $200,000. "I can speak my mind," Pizzo said. "I don't need to go ask for money. I'm not beholden to any lobbyists or special interest or old guard crusty bureaucratic B.S. If there is something to do, I'm going to make sure it gets done."

Pizzo, a graduate of New York University, Columbia University and the University of Miami's law school, is married with 10-year-old twin boys.


CBO report says ending automatic Cuban refugee payments would save money


It seems obvious, but now a nonpartisan report confirms it: Ending automatic welfare payments to Cuban immigrants would save the federal government money.

That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office, which analyzed proposed legislation by U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Sen. Marco Rubio, two Cuban-American Republicans.

The CBO estimated the feds would save $2.45 billion over 10 years if recently arrived Cubans were no longer treated automatically as refugees deserving of food stamps and other aid. About $1.05 billion would be saved from 2017-21, and another $1.4 billion from 2022-27.

The savings give Curbelo and Rubio a new selling point for their bill, which they filed to curtail abuse by some Cuban immigrants who send the money back to the island. GOP leaders in Congress — particularly House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — have said they’re not interested in taking up immigration legislation. With the CBO report in hand, Rubio and Curbelo might have better luck pitching their proposal as a way to save money.

More here.

May 24, 2016

City commissioner facing corruption charges dies after driving into tree

IMG_IMG_terrence_pindervia @ChuckRabin @jayhweaver

An Opa-locka city commissioner who was scheduled to turn himself in to the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office on corruption charges Wednesday was killed in an early morning car crash Tuesday at Opa-locka Executive Airport in an apparent suicide, several sources said.

According to sources, Commissioner Terence Pinder ran his car into a tree in a field on the south side of the airport at a speed estimated to be over 100 miles per hour.

Opa-locka is in the throes of a financial meltdown that is being investigated by federal law enforcement. Pinder’s planned surrender on Wednesday to state prosecutors was not related to the federal investigation into corruption charges.

Julio Utsav, a friend of Pinder’s who worked with him at the Opa-locka Flea Market, spoke with the commissioner Monday night and said he found his friend distraught over the pending corruption charge.

More here.

Photo credit: Miami Herald file

Finance chief of Miami suburb says city can't pay its bills

via Michael Sallah and @jayhweaver

In a city government close to collapse, Opa-locka’s top financial officer broke ranks and warned her supervisors the city will run out of money after its payroll next week and that its recovery plans will not be enough to save Opa-locka from insolvency.

In an unprecedented move, Charmaine Parchment sent an email to acting city manager Yvette Harrell on Sunday saying that the budget deficit is three times larger than what the city has revealed to taxpayers and demanded that her name be removed from a city recovery plan submitted to the state.

“After the next payroll, the city will not be able to pay its bills,” Parchment wrote in an email chain obtained by the Miami Herald.

The director’s messages represent a far bleaker picture than what’s been stated for months by top administrators, including City Manager David Chiverton, who pledged at a public meeting earlier this month that the troubled city would have a balanced budget by the end of the fiscal year.

Parchment said that she had been warning supervisors “for many months” of a growing shortfall that she said will soon reach $4.5 million — an amount equal to a third of Opa-locka’s budget.

On Monday, another key manager, budget director Keith Carswell, weighed in on the controversy in his own email, saying he agreed with Parchment’s assessment of the city’s failed finances.

More here.

May 21, 2016

Florida Democrats name presidential convention delegates


Quite a few South Florida Democrats, including some elected officials, made the Florida Democratic Party's list of statewide delegates to the July presidential nominating convention in Philadelphia.

The list of Hillary Clinton delegates includes Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief, Miami Gardens state Sen. Oscar Braynon, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime, Coral Springs state Rep. Jared Moskowitz, activist Millie Herrera, former Weston state Sen. Nan Rich, consultant Freddy Balsera, former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, lobbyist Alex Heckler, fundraiser Chris Korge, former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez, Miami Beach state Rep. David Richardson, consultant Christian Ulvert and Hollywood state Sen. Eleanor Sobel.

The list of Bernie Sanders delegates includes South Miami-Dade state Sen. Dwight Bullard and North Miami City Councilman Alix Desulme

Delegates had previously been chosen from each congressional district:

Continue reading "Florida Democrats name presidential convention delegates" »

May 20, 2016

Will Anitere Flores vote for Donald Trump? 'We'll see'


Republican state Sen. Anitere Flores hasn’t made up her mind about whether she’ll vote for Donald Trump in November. But she said she’s open to casting her ballot for the presumptive Republican nominee.

“I’m hopeful that he’ll have an inclusive message. We’ll see how he presents himself at the convention,” Flores told the Miami Herald. “There’s a lot of people who are monitoring to see where he takes his campaign from here.”

"His rhetoric in some cases has been very worrying -- toward Hispanics, toward women," Flores told Spanish-language Radio Caracol on Thursday. "We'd like to see if he moderates his manner of speaking."

Flores had been an early backer of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s presidential candidacy. “The primary election didn’t go the way that I had expected,” she said in an understatement.

In the meantime, Flores said she’s more concerned about her own re-election, to a redrawn Miami district that now leans Democratic.

“I’ve got my own race to worry about,” she said. “We’ll see what happens.”


Andrew Korge attacks Anitere Flores on immigration but omits key facts


Democrat Andrew Korge is a third-generation Miamian with Greek roots. But he’s running for a Florida state Senate district where the majority of voters are Hispanic.

So Korge seized on a Spanish-language radio interview this week to show off his Latino cred. He introduced himself in Spanish, saying he speaks only “a little” of the language, “but I love Hispanics and Latinos.” He Hispanicized his last name, pronouncing it “CORE-hay.” He claimed his friends call him “El Gordo.”

And then he dropped the name of his Republican opponent, Sen. Anitere Flores, in the same sentence as “Arizona-style immigration bill” and “Donald Trump.”

“She proposed an Arizona-style immigration bill in 2011. Donald Trump supports that bill,” Korge told Zeta 92.3 FM’s Ahora con Oscar Haza on Monday, noting his mother immigrated to the U.S from Greece. “Whether you are a Latino or griego, that is a crazy bill that no one should ever propose.”

But Korge is distorting Flores’ record. While it’s true she sponsored a 2011 Senate immigration bill, it was well-known at the time that she did so to make sure the legislation would not be like the Arizona crackdown that allowed cops to ask for papers.

Flores’ position so upset then-Senate President Mike Haridopolos that he ended up yanking the bill from her hands. She ultimately voted against it.

“I have no problem defending my record. I do have a problem with people distorting my record and in this case saying something that is a blatant lie,” Flores said. “Had it not been me the one that was involved in this issue in the beginning, we would have maybe ended up with an Arizona law. The reason we didn’t is we said no, we’re going to deal with this issue delicately.”

Continue reading "Andrew Korge attacks Anitere Flores on immigration but omits key facts" »

May 18, 2016

Carlos Curbelo blasts House Zika bill as 'half-hearted, short-sighted;' Ileana Ros-Lehtinen calls it 'inadequate'


Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Wednesday slammed a GOP-led effort to set aside far fewer emergency funds to fight Zika than what President Obama and other Florida Republicans want.

The House on Wednesday signed off on a scaled-back, $622 million funding measure that Obama has pledged to veto. The president wants $1.9 billion instead; the Senate has approved a compromise, $1.1 million package.

Only four Republicans -- Curbelo among them -- voted against the bill, which passed almost entirely along party lines. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called the $622 million inadequate.

"As a Member of Congress representing the country's southernmost district -- closest to the region where this disease is currently wreaking havoc -- I am acutely aware of the impacts Zika will have if not contained and eradicated," Curbelo said in a statement. "I cannot vote for this half-hearted, short-sighted effort, and I remain in strong support of funding the Administration's $1.9 billion Zika response requests."

Democrats have criticized Curbelo, a freshman in a swing district, for not being more forceful in his support of Obama's funding request. The congressman had instead focused on passing legislation intended to make sure any Zika money -- be it $1.9 billion or some other amount -- was spent efficiently. 

The Zika question has caused a rare divide among Miami Republicans in Congress. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart told the Miami Herald he would support the House's $622 million to treat and prevent the mosquito-borne virus.

The third local Republican in the House, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, was conspicuously silent on the issue ahead of the vote, but like Curbelo voted against the House measure Wednesday. So did a third Florida Republican, Rep. Vern Buchanan of Sarasota. (The fourth 'No' GOP vote -- and the only one from outside Florida -- came from Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan.)

With Wednesday's vote and statement, Curbelo made abundantly clear that he wants the full funding -- as does Sen. Marco Rubio, who has received abundant White House praise for his position.

"The threat posed by the Zika virus does not cease at the end of the government’s fiscal year, and rescinding funds in this bill on September 30 would provide little confidence that Congress is truly committed to fighting the disease," Curbelo said.

Once again, Doral golf resort brings Donald Trump most dough

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Every time a golfer thwacks a ball on the courses of Donald Trump’s Miami-area resort, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee hears ka-ching.

Trump National Doral brought in more revenue for the celebrity businessman in the past 17 months than any of his nearly 150 other businesses: $131,892,107, to be exact, according to a personal financial disclosure form Trump filed Monday that the Federal Election Commission made public Wednesday. That’s more than twice as much income as the $49,444,432 Trump reported last July he had received from the property in the previous year.

Since then, despite some of Trump’s outlandish comments from the stump, his overall business revenue has grown, his campaign said. Among other things, Trump sold the Miss Universe pageant for $49,286,309. Univision, the Doral-based Spanish-language TV giant,dropped the show — held last year at Florida International University — after Trump called some Mexican immigrants “rapists.”

The campaign said Trump’s revenue grew by about $190 million, to more than $557 million — and that his net worth is “in excess of $10 billion dollars.” In its statement, the campaign said the additional income was used “among other things, for the funding of construction projects at various multi-million dollar developments, reduction of debt and the funding of the campaign.”

It’s impossible to verify Trump’s net worth from the 104-page disclosure form, which requires the disclosure of most assets, incomes and liabilities in ranges, not exact amounts.

More here.

This post has been updated.

Photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff