October 07, 2015

Rudy Giuliani raising money for Miami-Dade mayor

@doug_hanks @PatriciaMazzei

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was in Miami Wednesday to help Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez with his reelection campaign.

Giuliani, a former GOP presidential candidate, visited Gimenez at his County Hall office and then addressed a meeting of Miami-Dade department heads. Then the fellow Republicans left the downtown building for an Gimenez fund-raiser at local business executive Manny Kadre's house.

"Tonight I am going to host a fund-raiser for the mayor, who I am a very, very big admirer of and a good friend of for many years," Giuliani said in the County Hall lobby. "But also he asked me if I would come over and talk to his staff about governmental matters and some of my experiences as mayor of New York."

"They wanted to talk a bit about Sept. 11, and what happened that day and some of the reactions I had to it. Because it was such a big part of our history," Giuliani said of the 29th floor meeting with Gimenez's staff. "But then we started talking about some of the other things about government, how to keep crime low and how to keep a city safe. It was a nice experience for me to see how many good people that he has."

Giuliani and Gimenez first in 2000, when Gimenez was city manager of Miami and traveled to New York to see the city's celebrated method of using crime statistics to deploy police, an Gimenez spokesman said. In 2008, Gimenez, then a county commissioner, co-chaired Giuliani's Miami-Dade campaign when the New Yorker ran for president.

Gimenez filed for reelection last week, and so far faces school-board member Raquel Regalado (who is also the daughter of Miami's mayor, Tomás Regalado). Gimenez has been raising money for almost all of 2015, and already has collected more than $1 million for his political committee, Miami-Dade Residents First.

Rudy Giuliani in Miami raising money for Miami-Dade mayorThis post was updated to correct when Gimenez said he first met Giuliani. 


Local, state education leaders call for Gov. Rick Scott to issue executive order on testing


The chorus of voices calling for a pause to Florida’s school accountability system grew louder on Wednesday, with local and state organizations coming together to ask Gov. Rick Scott to sign an executive order to suspend the use of new standardized tests in education decisions.

Joining forces in the announcement were: The Miami-Dade County PTA, NAACP of Florida, League of United Latin American Citizens, and advocacy groups Fund Education Now and the Florida chapter of Parents Across America.

“We find Florida’s school accountability program flawed and have lost faith in the system.  It is time to stand up for Florida’s students,” Joseph Gebara, president of the Miami-Dade County PTA, said in an emailed statement.


The state PTA, school board association and superintendents association have all called on the Florida to hold off on issuing school-level grades for at least a year.

At issue is the rocky implementation of the Florida Standards Assessments, or FSAs, last spring. The tests replaced the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests, or FCAT. The FSAs were hobbled by technical glitches and even a cyber attack.

A study of the new exams concluded they were a fair assessment of what students learned, and that scores can be used in high-level cases like teacher evaluations and school grades.

But education leaders don’t trust the conclusions of the study, which also noted that scores of some students are “suspect” because of the technical problems.

School advocates are now calling for a review of Florida’s entire school accountability system, a demand echoed in the latest statement.

Miami-Dade commissioner: DUI arrest has 'nothing to do' with my elected position


Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz sought to draw a line between his government role and a recent DUI arrest, taking time from a brief public apology Tuesday to state his “personal legal situation” had “nothing to do with my elected position.”

Speaking at the start of the regular twice-a-month commission meeting, Diaz told fellow commissioners he was sorry for “any embarrassment my personal legal situation has caused.” He has yet to discuss his actions on the night of Sept. 19, when Keys police said he raced his Harley-Davidson motorcycle at twice the speed limit and then failed field sobriety tests. The four-term commissioner spent the night in jail on a DUI charge. On Monday his lawyer entered a plea of not guilty to the misdemeanor charge.

Diaz, 55, faces the risk of being removed from office by Gov. Rick Scott, who can suspend elected officials arrested on misdemeanors if the offense is related to an official duty. Diaz, an avid motorcycle rider, was participating in the annual Poker Run bike party in Key West and has said the outing wasn’t tied to his role as commissioner.

Shortly after being pulled over for going 74 mph in a 30-mph zone, Diaz introduced himself to officers “Commissioner Diaz from Miami-Dade County” and later noted Monroe Sheriff Rick Ramsay knew his name. Diaz did not have a driver’s license at the time. Diaz later called Ramsay to apologize for using his name during the stop, spokespeople for both men confirmed this week.

More here

Miami-Dade mayor names new elections supervisor


Miami-Dade County has a new elections supervisor.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office said Wednesday the mayor has appointed Christina White to replace Penelope Townsley, who is retiring. White is Townsley’s chief deputy and, as a veteran employee, she has frequently served as the face of the elections department.

“I am confident that Ms. White has the experience and expertise needed to successfully lead the Election Department as we enter into the 2016 Presidential Election year,” Gimenez wrote in a memo to county commissioners informing them of her designation.

Miami-Dade is the only one of Florida’s 67 counties that does not have an elected supervisor. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who oversees elections, had asked Gimenez for a clear succession plan ahead of Townsley’s May 1, 2016, mandatory retirement. White won’t take over until that date, though she will be running day-to-day operations until then, Gimenez’s memo said.

White’s county career began in 2002 as a spokeswoman for what was then the Department of Environmental Resources. She has worked in the elections department since 2006, rising from senior executive assistant to the elections supervisor to chief deputy in 2013.

Townsley was thrown into the spotlight during the 2012 presidential election, which was plagued with voter lines so long that a few people cast ballots after President Barack Obama had already started delivering his victory speech.

The department has since invested in new elections equipment and reorganized its precincts, and Gimenez has become something of a poster child for the Obama administration of a Republican willing to undertake voter reforms.

This post has been updated. 

October 06, 2015

Miami-Dade schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho appointed to national test board


Miami-Dade County schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho hasn’t been shy about sharing his opinions regarding Florida’s school accountability and standardized testing.

The Florida Department of Education hasn’t been inclined to listen. But now, the chief of Florida’s largest school system will have a national audience.


Carvalho on Tuesday was appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board by outgoing U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The board sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, tests that school-aged children take across the country. Also known as NAEP, the tests are often called “The Nation’s Report Card.”

Carvalho was one of seven new members appointed to the 26-member board. He will serve a 4-year term.

"The collective wisdom, experience and skills of the appointees play a crucial role in ensuring that The Nation's Report Card remains an effective barometer for what our students know and can do in core subjects," Duncan said in a statement.

Carvalho has been among the most vocal school leaders calling for Florida to hold off on issuing school-level letter grades this year, after the rocky implementation of new standardized exams. Education organizations across the state have also asked for a pause in school grades this year, but the Florida Department of Education has indicated it still plans to issue them.

Miami Beach candidates attack each other over Rebecca Towers senior housing facility



Miami Beach candidates are feuding over a supposed development deal that some say would displace hundreds of seniors living in the waterfront affordable-housing complex Rebecca Towers.

No such deal has materialized, but posts by political blogger Elaine de Valle were followed by campaign email blasts sent from commission candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and a press release from incumbent Mayor Philip Levine’s challenger David Wieder that accuse Levine’s political handler — also a well-known Beach lobbyist — of trying to push the South Beach redevelopment project.

More here.

October 02, 2015

Joe Martinez might run for Miami-Dade mayor, and his wife for county commission


The Martinez household may have two candidates for county office next year: Joe Martinez for mayor and his wife, Ana, for the commission seat he once held and which is currently occupied by Juan C. Zapata.

Joe Martinez, the former chairman of the commission who lost his bid for county mayor in 2012, discussed both potential races in an interview with Naked Politics. Ana Martinez, a Republican who works in the insurance industry, did not respond to a request for an interview. 

"You could have a husband and a wife on the ballot, or you could have neither of us," said Joe Martinez, a Republican.  

If she runs, Ana Martinez would seek to represent District 11, which her husband represented until his failed 2012 challenge of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Zapata won an election to fill Martinez's open seat in 2012.

Zapata recently faced a dust-up over his use of $30,000 in county funds to pay tuition at Harvard for a master's program. Zapata returned the money after a Univision inquiry about it. 

Zapata also was not available for an interview. Of the seven commissioners up for reelection in 2016, Zapata is the only who still hasn't filed to run. In the wake of the tuition controversy, Zapata said he planned to seek another four-year term. 

As a commissioner, Zapata has pushed for economic development in his western district, which includes West Kendall. He has led a campaign to rebrand the area the "West End." The former state lawmaker also has been a leading Gimenez administration critic.

Joe Martinez said his wife "is interested" in running for Zapata's seat. "If she wants to run," he said, "I would obviously support her."

Continue reading "Joe Martinez might run for Miami-Dade mayor, and his wife for county commission " »

Shhhhh. Miami mayor gets hitched


As a member of the media, and then an elected official, just about everything in Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado's adult life has been fodder for public consumption. But over the summer, a major occasion flew under the radar: The mayor got hitched.

In a private, June 1 ceremony at a Southwest 14th Street chapel of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts, Regalado, 68, wed Ana Cristina Carrodeguas, a 50-year-old, former employee of the Miami Archdiocese.

"I know a lot of people and Ana Cristina knows a lot of people. And if you don't invite everyone you know they get upset," said Regalado, explaining his decision to keep the event small and intimate. "We don't have money for that, and it' a little ridiculous at my age to do a ball."

The couple had been dating for more than a year. It is the mayor's second marriage. His first wife, radio commentator Raquel Regalado, died in 2008 of heart failure at the age of 60. The mayor said he didn't think he'd remarry, but Carrodeguas and he "connected."

"When you get old, you need somebody to take care of you in the future," he said. "And she's a very nice person, very smart and very able."


October 01, 2015

Carlos Gimenez files reelection papers for Miami-Dade mayoral race


Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's fund-raiser broke the news Thursday morning that Gimenez had filed his reelection papers for the 2016 mayoral race.

“It's Official! Mayor Gimenez wanted me to make sure you were one of the first to know that 10 minutes ago, he filed his paper work to run for re-election,” Gimenez’s professional fundraiser, Brian Goldmeier, wrote in an email to Gimenez donors and supporters shortly after 9:30 a.m.

“With that said, we are launching our campaign fundraising efforts today! Remember, we are required to file campaign reports monthly now, so we need to make sure we have a great showing for our first report in October. Please mark your calendar! We will have our Fundraising Kickoff event on Thursday, October 29th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the Biltmore Hotel."

A spokesman for Gimenez's campaign said it was Goldmeier himself who filed the reelection papers on Gimenez's behalf sometime Thursday morning. 

Gimenez has already said he will seek another four-year term, and Thursday's planned filing was not a secret among local media. By filing his papers, Gimenez officially launches a showdown that so far is between him and Raquel Regalado, a two-term school-board member and daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.

When this post first went live a little before 10:30 a.m., Gimenez's reelection papers had not been posted to the website of the county Elections Department. 

Read the story here.

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Miami-Dade lock-up where teen died after beating fires 5 staffers

via @Marbinius

At a since-shuttered juvenile corrections center in Pahokee, staff members used Snickers bars to get kids to beat each other up. In Broward County’s juvenile lockup, free iced tea has purportedly been similarly employed.

Department of Juvenile Justice administrators won’t say if they think that’s what happened to Elord Revolte, the 17-year-old who died last month after a vicious attack by more than a dozen detainees at the Miami-Dade juvenile lockup.

But they did say this late Wednesday evening: Five staffers at the lockup, including three supervisors, have been fired for infractions that include failing to oversee detained children and falsifying official reports. And a special team will be dispatched from the agency’s Inspector General’s Office on Thursday to initiate an investigation into allegations that “honey buns” have been used as bounties for beat-downs.

Elord was booked into the Miami lockup on Aug. 27 on charges of armed robbery. He left on a stretcher four days later after being jumped by as many as 20 other detainees, authorities said. It is not yet clear what led to the melee in which the teen was injured. But in the wake of Elord’s death, lawyers for delinquent children, as well as Elord’s former foster mother, have told the Miami Herald that it has been common practice for officers to use treats as an inducement for detainees to punish other kids.

More here.