May 21, 2015

Miami Mayor helping District 2 candidate fundraise

via @NewsbySmiley

Things might be getting a little awkward at Miami City Hall from here on out.

Mayor Tomas Regalado is helping District 2 candidate Grace Solares raise funds for her bid to claim the seat of term-limited Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, according to Solares' campaign. Her most notable opponent: Sarnoff's wife, Teresa Sarnoff.

On Thursday, Solares' camp sent out an email inviting supporters to join the mayor and other supporters in raising money for the candidate and long-time neighborhood activist. And while it's been known that Regalado was supportive of Solares -- he gave $100 to her campaign in November and reportedly appeared at a past fundraiser -- he has not publicly endorsed her so far nor actively campaigned for her in the past.

Regalado did not return multiple requests for comment Thursday. The press release from Solares' campaign is below:

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Marco Rubio to host South Florida fundraisers for Iowa senator


To court Iowa, Marco Rubio plans to host three events next week for Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley -- in South Florida.

Grassley will hit three counties on Tuesday: Miami-Dade for breakfast, Broward for lunch and Palm Beach for dinner, according to an invitation emailed Thursday to some of Rubio's local political donors.

Breakfast will take place at the Coral Gables office of Jorge Luis Lopez, an attorney and lobbyist; lunch at the Pompano Beach headquarters of Allegiance Crane & Equipment, an equipment-rental company whose chief executive is Jim Robertson; and dinner at the Palm Beach home of Amanda and Chuck Schumacher, an auto dealer. 

Donors will have to fork over $1,000 each -- or $2,700 to get more access -- for the breakfast and lunch. Dinner with Grassley requires a $10,400 contribution, though $2,700 will get donors into a larger reception. The money will go to Grassley Hawkeye Fund, the senator's political committee.

"Chairman Grassley -- U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee -- has been very supportive of our friend and Miami's native son, Marco Rubio in Iowa and we proudly want to reciprocate," Lopez wrote in an email to supporters Thursday.

As one of two Republican senators in Iowa, which holds the first presidential caucuses of 2016, Grassley is used to being wined and dined by candidates. Jeb Bush attended a fund-raising lunch for Grassley in Iowa City last week.

May 18, 2015

Elián González, now 21, tells ABC News he'd like to visit Miami


Elián González, the 6-year-old boy who was on every Miami television screen in 2000, made his way back to American airwaves Monday morning.

In an interview with Jim Avila of ABC News, he opened up about his his life in Cuba and his feelings toward the United States.

“I want to take the time to thank the American people for their love,” González said in English.

Elián first came into the public eye in 1999 when fishermen found him clinging to an inner tube in the Atlantic. A boat carrying his mother and 10 other Cubans fleeing the country capsized, killing everyone aboard — except the young boy.

“I was floating alone in the middle of the sea, that’s the last thing I remember,” he told ABC in the first of several interviews airing through the day and evening.

His rescue led to an international custody battle between his father, Juan Miguel González, and his Miami relatives who took him in.

The standoff ended in April 2000 when armed federal agents entered the Miami home where Elián was staying and seized the boy. Within hours, he was on a plane back to Cuba.

That 6-year-old boy is now a 21-year-old man with a beard and a fiancée.

In the interview, he said that he is not angry with his American relatives. He even added that he would like to visit the United States one day.

He also said he would visit his family in Miami again — under one condition that the network did not immediately reveal.

Part of the interview aired early on Good Morning America. Other parts will air Monday evening onWorld News Tonight with David Murr and on Nightline.

May 17, 2015

Miami-Dade County to finish redrawing voter precincts


Voting lineAt long last, Miami-Dade County plans to finish drawing new voter precincts, a once-a-decade task that contributed to waits of up to seven hours outside the polls on Election Day in 2012.

Later this year, the Miami-Dade elections department plans to send updated registration cards to the county’s nearly 1.3 million voters. About 12 percent of them will find they’ve been moved to a different polling place, under a proposal scheduled for county commissioners’ approval Tuesday.

That’s far less than the 55 percent of voters Elections Supervisor Penelope Townsley said last year would be displaced in 2015. Her office redrew a minimal number of precinct boundaries — only the ones of the most crowded precincts — to displace as few voters as possible before the 2014 gubernatorial election.

Last year’s moves, coupled with the purchase of electronic voter sign-in devices and the expansion of early voting, proved more effective than expected, so Townsley’s department no longer intends to be as aggressive in redrawing the rest of the precincts. There were no embarrassing lines last November.

Her more modest proposal is better because it affects fewer voters, Townsley told commissioners last week.

“It costs less,” she added. “It provides more compact precincts with improved voter distribution across the county.”

More here.

Photo credit: David Santiago, El Nuevo Herald

May 15, 2015

For Miami-Dade's 2016 mayoral race, the paid teams assemble


As the 2016 Miami-Dade mayoral race heats up, so does the spending.

Joe Carollo, best known as a former Miami mayor but most recently an embattled manager of Doral, is working as a consultant for the reelection effort of incumbent Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Carollo worked for Gimenez's 2012 campaign, too, and an allied Gimenez committee is paying Carollo $6,000 a month through the firm Consulting Associates Group, according to finance records and interviews. Gimenez served as city manager of Miami when Carollo was the city's mayor in the early 2000s. Carollo was fired from his Doral job in April 2014. 

"We've always had a close relationship," Carollo said Friday. 

The committee, Miami-Dade Residents First, has raised more than $1 million and last month paid pollster Dario Moreno $19,000. In April, Jesse Manzano-Plaza, a lobbyist and Gimenez's 2012 campaign manager, signed on for a $7,000-a-month part-time job as committee spokesman and consultant. Professional fundraiser Brian Goldmeier's firm is so far earning $3,000 a week working for the committee. 

Gimenez's rival, Raquel Regalado, also is assembling a team. Records filed by the committee she's using to challenge Gimenez, Serving Miamians, show one of her brothers, Jose Regalado, earning $10,000 since February for social-media work. He's received about $57,000 from the committee since 2013, when Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, father to both Regalados, was using the committee for his reelection bid.  (Jose Regalado has said at least some of the money was pass-through payments for Facebook ads.)

Both Regalados worked for their father's campaign, and Raquel, a two-term member of the school board, earned about $10,000 through January 2014.    

A company owned by Brian Andrews, the former WFOR-CBS 4 reporter who now works as a media consultant, received $10,000 from the committee in March. Andrews handled media arrangements for Regalado's March 8 campaign announcement. The committee in January also paid $8,000 to Creative Ideas, an advertising firm connected to campaign consultant Armando Gutierrez, a longtime ally of the Regalado family. 

Between Serving Miamians and her campaign committee, Regalado has raised about $174,000 this year.


This was post was updated to include Joe Carollo's role, and to correct the month Creative Ideas received $8,000 from Serving Miamians.  


May 14, 2015

Downtown Miami booster agency creates crap map

via @NewsbySmiley

Tasked with marketing Miami to tourists and investors, the tax-funded Downtown Development Authority has plenty of maps highlighting restaurants, tourist attractions and real estate development.

On Thursday, they unveiled the latest -- showing where people pop a squat on the street.

Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, the agency’s chairman, displayed the map during the city's bi-weekly commission meeting. It shows the downtown grid, with smiling poop emojis documenting where the agency says feces was spotted during a sanitation worker’s eight-hour Friday shift.

The map is the latest salvo in a long-running dispute between the DDA and the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, which receives tens of millions in tax dollars to oversee the county's homeless services. In creating the map, the DDA hopes to both urge the Trust to support portable toilets and temporary shelter programs, and to embarrass the Trust's powerful chairman, Ron Book, who has dismissed sanitation issues as a downtown problem and proposed solutions as "pie-in-the-sky."

"As the chief advocate for downtown Miami's growing base of residents, businesses and visitors from around the world, the Miami DDA has been making the case that homelessness is having a disproportionate impact on our urban core for years, and yet The Homeless Trust has resorted to passing the buck and ignoring the problem," executive director Alyce Robertson said in a statement. "We're hopeful the map we've created will finally motivate The Homeless Trust to put its multimillion dollar budget to good use on downtown Miami's streets."

No one from the Trust attended Thursday’s meeting, although a spokeswoman said they were watching Thursday's hearing.

A previous version of this story misidentified Ron Book's position with the Homeless Trust. He is chairman of the board.

May 12, 2015

Miami International Boat Show to host reassuring webinar for exhibitors

via @NewsbySmiley

With their move to the Miami Marine Stadium grounds and basin sparking lawsuits and political tensions, the Miami International Boat Show's parent company wants to reassure their exhibitors that everything is going smoothly.

According to a Monday report by Trade Only Today, a daily publication for marine industry professionals, the National Marine Manufacturers Association is hosting an invite-only webinar for exhibitors on May 20. The webinar was announced in a letter by NMMA president Thom Dammrich, who wants to update participants on the progress of the move from the Miami Beach Convention Center to Marine Stadium in February, and address allegations raised in a lawsuit by the Village of Key Biscayne against the association.

Trade Only Today reported that it obtained the letter, in which Dammrich wrote that he wants to correct "misinformation and misinterpretations that are being broadcast as a result of the high-profile and political nature of our move to Miami Marine Stadium Park.”

Village officials have accused the Boat Show operators of breaking Florida's government in the sunshine law -- a criminal violation -- and have also sued the city to stop the project. They worry that the event will cause gridlock on the one road in and out of the island.

“You should know that NMMA is responding to the claims in the lawsuit, which we believe are completely unfounded,” Dammrich wrote in the letter obtained by Trade Only Today. "I've made statements in the press recently that we are confident that the show you trust us to produce will move forward as planned and that the Miami International Boat Show remains committed to being a good neighbor to Key Biscayne. I’ve made these statements because they are true.”

Miami administrators say they're moving forward with construction to prepare the stadium grounds for the boat show. Meanwhile, they expect to finally sign a license agreement with the association tomorrow.

Fundraising for Miami Commission races tops $1 million

via @NewsbySmiley

Candidates running to win election in November to the Miami City Commission have spent months -- in one case years -- raising money to fund their campaigns. Last month, they collectively passed the $1 million mark, according to campaign treasurer's reports due Tuesday.

The reports, filed by 15 candidates running for three seats, show incumbent Commission Chairman Wifredo "Willy" Gort topped $100,000 last month. District 4 Commissioner Francis Suarez, who only recently filed to run for reelection, has $80,000 in his official campaign fund.

But most the money is coming into the city's District 2 commission field, which has raised more than a half-million dollars. Teresa Sarnoff, wife of District 2 incumbent Marc Sarnoff, raised $56,000 in April, bringing her war chest to $390,000. Her best-funded rival, Grace Solares, brought in $17,000, bringing her total to $118,000.

None of the other seven candidates running for Commissioner Sarnoff's seat has more than $40,000 in their campaign funds. And in soft money, Sarnoff is sitting on a quarter million dollars in his electioneering committee, Truth is the Daughter of Time. Suarez also has more than $300,000 saved up from his aborted run for mayor in 2013.

We're rifling through the reports to see who gave to candidates last month and will update this post if there's any interesting developments.

Carlos Gimenez crosses $1 million mark in Miami-Dade mayoral race


After four months,  Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has raised more than $1 million for his reelection fight against announced challenger Raquel Regalado and whoever else may be eyeing his County Hall seat.

The incumbent, in office since 2011, raised $124,600 in April for the political committee supporting his reelection, Miami-Dade Residents First, according to a report filed this week. That brings the committee's tally to $1,004,552 since it launched mid-January.

The total gives him a significant advantage over Regalado, a two-term school board member daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado. She has raised $175,000 this year.

But their April hauls aren't too far off. Regalado, who announced her mayoral run in March after strong hints throughout 2015, took in $110,000 in April, according to the latest reports.  

Regalado is using a state committee, Serving Miamians, that has funded past campaigns for her and her father. We're only using donations received in 2015 for the Serving Miamians tally. She also has an official campaign committee, but Gimenez does not.

The campaign committee gives Regalado the flexibility to raise money directly from voters, while political committees target more deep-pocketed donors. Committees cannot directly advocate for the election of a candidate. 

Xavier Suarez, the county commissioner who is publicly flirting with a mayoral run, has raised $276,700 for his political committee, Imagine Miami, since he last stood for reelection in 2012. That includes about $156,000 from last month. 

We'll update this post later as we crunch more numbers. 

May 11, 2015

Rep. Daphne Campbell hits fundraising snag

"By the book" is one way no one has ever described Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami.

In prior years, her record keeping has drawn the attention of the IRS and the Florida Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

So perhaps it was only a matter of time before Campbell's campaign finance reports started waving some hard-to-miss red flags.

Sure enough, the April 2015 campaign finance report she filed late Friday was rife with problems -- 2,500 of them to be precise.

That's how much money Florida's Division of Election website on Monday showed she had raised last month. That's $500 from Florida Justice PAC on April 2; $500 from Florida's Right to Know committee on April 4; $1,000 from subsidiaries of U.S. Sugar on April 16; and $500 from the law firm Becker & Poliakoff on April 25.

As of Monday afternoon, campaign finance records filed with the Division of Elections showed that Campbell was the only incumbent lawmaker to have raised money during this time period -- which just happened to be the same time as the 2015 legislative session.

This is bad. Raising money during session is a violation of the House's adopted rules for 2014-2016

Rule 15.3 states that a member "may neither solicit nor accept anything that reasonably may be construed to improperly influence the member's official act, decision, or vote...a member may neither solicit nor accept any campaign contribution during the 60-day regular legislative session or any extended or special session on the member's own behalf."

So what happened?

On Monday afternoon, the Times/Herald called Campbell for an explanation of what appeared to be a violation of House rules.

Campbell said there was a mistake. The checks were written before session started.

"They are lying," Campbell said.

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