May 09, 2016

May 06, 2016

Jeb Bush: I won't vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton


Jeb Bush the voter plans to sit out the presidential race in November.

The ex-presidential candidate wrote on Facebook Friday that he won't vote for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump -- Bush's chief GOP campaign foe -- or likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

"The American Presidency is an office that goes beyond just politics. It requires of its occupant great fortitude and humility and the temperament and strong character to deal with the unexpected challenges that will inevitably impact our nation in the next four years," Bush wrote. "Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character. He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy."

Reporters had pressed Bush's spokeswoman for the former Florida governor's position since Trump became the de facto nominee earlier this week, when his last remaining rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, dropped out of the race.

On Facebook, Bush congratulated Trump and said he will "support principled conservatives at the state and federal levels, just as I have done my entire life."

More here.

Without challenger, Miami-Dade state attorney retains seat


via @DavidOvalle305

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle, Public Defender Carlos Martinez and 18 judges won election Friday when no challengers filed to run against them.

Friday’s noon candidate filing deadline also crystallized the races that will take place: Ten judicial positions will be up for grabs in the August election.

For Fernández Rundle, the re-election marks her seventh term in office – now one more than legendary Dade State Attorney Richard Gerstein, who held the job for 21 years.

She was first appointed in 1993 to replace Janet Reno, who left to Washington, D.C., to become the U.S. attorney general under President Bill Clinton. Fernández Rundle has won four contested elections, the last in 2012, when she defeated defense lawyer Rod Vereen in the Democratic primary.

“The State Attorney’s Office is the best team in America, and this validates all of their hard work and commitment for our community,” Fernández Rundle said on Friday.

More here.

Photo credit: Daniel Bock for the Miami Herald

May 05, 2016

Hillary Clinton to speak at Fort Lauderdale gala for Trayvon Martin Foundation

DEM 2016 Clinton


Hillary Clinton will speak later this month at a Fort Lauderdale gala for the Trayvon Martin Foundation, created to honor the Miami Gardens 17-year-old who was shot dead in 2012 in Sanford.

The likely Democratic presidential nominee will keynote the May 21 gala for the third annual Circle of Mothers conference, which offers assistance to women who have lost a child.

The group was created by Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon's mother, who along with other mothers of children killed by gun violence have frequently joined Clinton on the campaign trail.

A $1,500 minimum donation to the foundation is required to attend the dinner. The three-day conference will be held at the Embassy Suites at 1100 SE 17th St.

Clinton came to South Florida last month to fundraise. She won the state's March 15 Democratic primary in a rout.

Hialeah mayor pays $4K ethics fine in pennies and nickels


via @kikeflor

Handing over 145 boxes full of of pennies and nickels, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez has paid a $4,000 fine by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust for publicly lying about his businesses dealings with a convicted jeweler.

Hernandez paid the fine in coins Wednesday at a bank in downtown Miami where the county has an account. The money was to be transferred to the ethics commission to fulfill an agreement negotiated in early April.

“We met our promise to pay, just like we tried to do from the beginning,” Hernandez told el Nuevo Herald. “I hope this puts an end to this political circus that they started.”

Ethic Commission Director Joseph Centorino rejected Hernandez’s first attempt to pay with the coins in November. For Centorino, it was an insult that in the end embarrassed Hialeah residents.

On Thursday, Centorino issued a statement saying that although the commission had originally refused to accept buckets of coins from Hernandez in payment, the mayor was ultimately forced to do the counting and boxing of the coins himself.

The 140 boxes of pennies, totaling $3,500, and five boxes of nickels totaling $500, were deposited at the City National Bank on Flagler Street.

More here.

Miami-Dade city has so many unpaid bills that it faces a shutdown


via Michael Sallah and @jayhweaver

In March, the lights were turned off for several hours at Opa-locka City Hall after the bill didn’t get paid.

The next month, the cell phone service used by police detectives was cut off for days because the city didn’t make the payments.

Two weeks ago, the medical benefits of city workers were abruptly canceled when the city failed to pay the premium.

Eight months after elected leaders were warned their city was close to financial collapse, Miami-Dade County leaders have asked the state to declare a financial emergency and consider taking over the troubled city’s entire operations.

With Opa-locka struggling to pay basic costs — including gas for police cars — Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez urged the governor’s office for the second time in as many months to place the city of 16,000 people under its control.

“We believe the city’s financial condition continues to deteriorate,” Gimenez and County Commissioner Barbara Jordan wrote in a letter on May 3 to the governor’s inspector general. “If the state does not take immediate action, there could be a shutdown of city government.”

With no formal recovery plan in place by Opa-locka leaders, top county officials say they do not believe the city is capable of saving itself from insolvency. Already, Miami-Dade police have been put on notice that they will be mobilized to provide police services if municipal operations cease.

More here.

The first step from Miami Beach's mayor toward a run for Florida governor?

@PatriciaMazzei @joeflech

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine positioned himself Thursday as a leading Democratic voice against Florida Gov. Rick Scott, in what is perhaps the most concrete sign yet that Levine might seek the state’s highest political office in 2018.

Levine unveiled a radio ad touting his city’s planned vote for a living wage. Here’s the twist: The ad is airing in California, the state Scott just visited in an attempt to recruit companies to Florida. Democrats are pushing the wage issue as a key difference with Republicans in upcoming elections.

“This is Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, and I want the people of California to know that Miami Beach is about to vote on an historic measure: a living wage for all its residents, one that allows them to not only work here, but live here,” Levine says in the ad, which his office says is airing in the pricey markets of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. The spot says it’s paid for by Levine himself.

Levine scheduled an afternoon news conference in Miami Beach to discuss the ad and “to comment on Governor Rick Scott’s visit to Miami and address his latest trip to California where he took aim at minimum wage policies.”

The press event turned out to be a one-on-one with a Miami Herald reporter after no other news media showed up.

More here.


This post has been updated.

Backed by Democrats, Doral councilwoman launches bid for mayor


via @MoniqueOMadan

Doral Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz is running for Doral mayor.

Ruiz released the news Thursday via the the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, even though local elections are nonpartisan. She will be running against incumbent Luigi Boria and former longtime mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez

"Although these races are nonpartisan, the candidates are not," said Juan Cuba, the party's executive director.

Doral has about 19,000 registered voters. About 30 percent of those voters are registered Democrats, according to the Miami-Dade County elections department. Twenty-four percent of voters are Republican; 45 percent of Doral voters don't have a party affiliation. 

Ruiz was not available for comment Thursday morning.

The councilwoman first served on the council in 2003 until 2010. She was reelected in 2012. This is her first time running for mayor.

This is not the first time the Miami-Dade Democratic Party has backed up a local political candidate. In 2013, they supported Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter and Miami Beach Commissioner Micky Steinberg. In 2014, the party backed-up South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard and County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava.

The effort is part of their 2016 "Municipal Victory Project," where they hope to elect Democrats into local office statewide.


Photo credit: Giorgio Viera, el Nuevo Herald

For Miami Republicans in Congress, a struggle to accept Donald Trump as nominee


In the only county Donald Trump lost in the Florida primary, three Republican members of Congress are having trouble accepting him as their party's presidential nominee.

Two of them have said they won't for him.

Miami Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen all endorsed Jeb Bush early in the campaign. As a group, they later backed Marco Rubio

What to do now that Trump is the last Republican standing?

Curbelo, a freshman in a swing district who last year posited that Trump might be a ringer for Democrat Hillary Clinton, said he won't support either political party's presidential pick. Clinton is still fending off challenger Bernie Sanders.

"My position has not changed," Curbelo told the Miami Herald in an email Wednesday. "I have no plans of supporting either of the presumptive nominees."

Ros-Lehtinen, the dean of the trio, has said much the same. Though her office did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday, the day after Ted Cruz dropped out of the race, she told Spanish-language news network NTN24 two weeks ago she was holding out hope for a contested GOP convention.

"I don't plan to vote for Donald Trump," she said. "I don't feel in my heart that I could support him. But I can't support Hillary Clinton."


More here.

Photo caption: Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart are pictured at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which they visited last month.

Photo credit: Courtesy Rep. Carlos Curbelo's office. 

May 04, 2016

Miami Rep. Frank Artiles 'won't be bullied,' might sue over attack ads



As part of an ongoing direct-mail campaign to highlight what it deems as unethical behavior by Florida elected officials, the independent advocacy organization FloridaStrong has gone after several Republican Miami-Dade legislators in recent months.

But one is now fighting back.

State Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, says he plans to sue FloridaStrong because the group's organizers refuse to correct claims they made in a mailer that went out to Artiles' constituents recently and which his attorney said depicts Artiles "in an unfavorable light."

(View the mailer here.)

Artiles, a three-term House member, is currently campaigning for a seat in the Florida Senate, where he wants to represent District 40, which includes part of central Miami-Dade County. He faces current Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, and independent Mario Jimenez in that contest.

"My reputation is very important to me and I will not allow any organization or person to defame, slander and libel me because they think nobody’s going to fight back," Artiles told the Herald/Times. "I truly believe these organizations -- which are funded nationally through special interests -- that if you don't stand up or correct them, you're acquiescing to their bullying. I won’t be bullied by some political hacks."

FloridaStrong's most recent mailer against Artiles alleges that he is a "property appraiser by trade," "voted to raise property taxes on Florida families by $427 million," "received thousands in campaign contributions from the insurance industry" and "voted to privatize Citizens Property Insurance and protect insurance industry profits."

But, in a letter dated April 21, a Tallahassee attorney for Artiles said the claims aren't true. Emmett "Bucky" Mitchell offered point-by-point rebuttals and accused FloridaStrong of making "false statements ... that should be corrected." Or else.

(Read the full letter here.)

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