February 09, 2017

Congressmen Curbelo and Deutch expand bipartisan climate change caucus

Climate Time 01 EKM


A bipartisan climate change caucus launched by two South Florida members has added four new members including U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a Democrat from St. Petersburg.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, announced Thursday that the caucus now has 24 members and is evenly split between both parties. Both Curbelo and Deutch represent coastal areas that are impacted by climate change.

The other new members are David Reichert, R-WA, Earl Blumenauer, D-OR and Don Bacon, R-NE.

Curbelo has been a leading Republican voice speaking in favor of finding solutions to combat climate change.

The mission of the caucus is to explore options that address the impacts and causes related to climate change.

“We have a lot of work to do on this issue, and coastal communities like mine in South Florida are counting on us to come together and have productive discussions about what we can do to mitigate the effects of climate change and make our nation more resilient,” Curbelo said in a statement. “The caucus has such a diverse group of members that each brings unique perspectives to the table. I’m confident that together we can work on bipartisan solutions that will unleash a new era of American innovation and protect our environment, infrastructure, homes, and livelihoods.”

Deutch said in a statement: “Across the country, Americans understand the urgency of climate change. Whether they see rising tides in Fort Lauderdale, intensifying tornadoes along the Central Plains, or worsening droughts affecting farm production, Americans are starting to feel the impacts of climate change to their homes, their livelihoods, and their wallets. They want action from their elected officials, and I’m proud that this Caucus offers a space to develop bipartisan solutions.”


February 08, 2017

Trump wants cops to turn over 'bad' undocumented immigrants

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President Donald Trump said Wednesday he wants local cops to do exactly what Miami-Dade County police say they would like to avoid: work much more closely with federal immigration authorities.

Speaking to a conference of police chiefs in Washington, Trump urged cops to turn over “bad” immigrants who are in the country illegally to the Department of Homeland Security. That’s home to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees deportations.

Trump told police they could tell Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly — the former head of the U.S. Southern Command in Doral — “who the illegal immigrant gang members are.”

“You know the illegals. You know them by their first name. You know them by their nicknames,” Trump said. “You’re in the neighborhoods: You know the bad ones, you know the good ones. I want you to turn in the bad ones.”

Miami-Dade police have no qualms about alerting immigration to violent criminals they have arrested. But the definition of “bad” is hazy, and local cops still have lingering questions over how far the administration may push them to cooperate.

“It’s clear that they haven’t established any policies yet,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Pérez, who attended the Major Cities Chiefs Association and Major County Sheriff’s Association conference where Trump spoke. “It’s still too soon.”

More here.

Photo credit: Evan Vucci, Associated Press

February 02, 2017

State of Florida joins lawsuit against Miami Beach’s minimum wage law



When Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine proposed creating a mandatory citywide minimum wage, he touted the proposal in radio ads that ran in California while Gov. Rick Scott was there recruiting companies to move to Florida.

It was a clear move by Levine, a Democrat, to distinguish himself from the Republican governor and an indication the mayor might be eyeing a run for higher office.

Now, Tallahassee is joining a lawsuit filed by business associations against Miami Beach over the city law. Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a motion to intervene in the suit and defend the constitutionality of a state law that the Beach is challenging.

Attorneys at City Hall who drafted and championed the ordinance welcome the challenge. So does Levine, who is now seriously considering a run for governor in 2018, when Scott is term-limited out. The mayor looks to raise his profile during a tour of Florida this spring.

"So to the state, I say, see you in court," said Levine in a statement Thursday.

Read more here.

January 31, 2017

Billionaire Miami developer calls Trump's wall 'idiotic'


by @nicknehemas

Billionaire Miami developer Jorge Pérez — a friend and former business partner of President Donald Trump — thinks the plan for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico is “idiotic,” according to a Bloomberg report.

Pérez told Bloomberg that Trump asked him if he would be interested in working on the project, an offer the Related Group honcho declined.

“The wall is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever seen or heard in my life,” Pérez said in a Tuesday interview with Bloomberg. “A wall for what? You think a wall is going to stop people that are hungry? Good employment in Mexico, economic growth in Mexico, equality is going to stop people from coming over the border.”

Keep reading here.

January 29, 2017

Protesters bash Trump and his refugee order at Miami International Airport

via @joeflech

A national wave of protests against President Donald Trump’s immigration order hit Miami on Sunday when about 300 people demonstrated outside the airport.

Soaked from a constant drizzle amid temperatures in the 50s, a diverse group of protesters demonstrated for hours near a courtyard flanked by flagpoles at the center of Miami International Airport. Passing drivers honked their horns. Travelers took pictures and video with their cellphones.

“We are Muslims, and we love everyone and respect everyone,” said Azhar Dalal, 37. “That is what our religion teaches us.”

The Miami resident brought his wife and three young children to the protest, which was organized by 26-year-old Florida International University graduate student Allison Sardinas. Many families made up the crowd that chanted and waved signs for four hours, at times spilling into the roadway and blocking traffic.

“As an immigrant, I’m appalled with what Trump did,” said Lulu Chrzaszcz, 62. Born in the United Kingdom, she has lived in the United States for 40 years and became a naturalized citizen last year to vote in the presidential election. Trump did not win her vote. “We need to stop from going down the road he’s on.”

Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union were present, and two Democratic members of Florida Legislature arrived to support the crowd.

More here.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, Miami Herald staff

Miami project on Trump's infrastructure list was already funded

via @AndresViglucci

Florida’s transportation agency confirmed Friday that the only state project on a list of infrastructure improvements the Trump administration is thinking about backing — the reconstruction of Interstate 395 in Miami — is in fact already fully funded and ready to go.

The $800 million, five-year project was fully funded as of the Florida Department of Transportation’s 2014-2015 fiscal year budget, according to a document provided by the agency after a request from the Miami Herald. The document, a news release announcing the start of bids on the project, dates back almost a year. FDOT had said it was unable to produce the information when the Herald published a story on the project’s inclusion on the list earlier this week.

The funding includes nearly $194 million in federal highway money and $403 million in state money. The federal funds were approved in April 2016, the statement says. In addition to a complete replacement of the functionally obsolete I-395, which connects Interstate 95 to the MacArthur Causeway, the project also includes improvements to a piece of I-95 and a stretch of State Road 836 that feeds into I-395.

The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, which manages SR 836, is contributing an additional $151 million, according to the FDOT statement. MDX said its contribution comes from toll revenue.

The statement also notes the project is unlikely to qualify for additional federal money because it’s considered fully funded. FDOT is now evaluating bids from six short-listed contractors and is close to awarding a design-build contract for the I-395 project, which is scheduled to begin construction at the end of this year.

FDOT and the office of Gov. Rick Scott have declined to say how the project ended up being considered by President Donald Trump for inclusion on his promised infrastructure initiative.

More here.

Photo credit: T.Y. Lin International, via Florida Department of Transportation

January 28, 2017

Current and former city of Miami mayors chide county for abandoning 'sanctuary' stance


The current and former mayors of the city of Miami -- a Republican and a Democrat, respectively -- have publicly chided Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez for directing county jails to comply with federal immigration detention requests following President Donald Trump's crackdown on "sanctuary" jurisdictions for immigrants in the country illegally.

Mayor Tomás Regalado tweeted Friday night that he's "disappointed" by Gimenez's Thursday decision. Regalado also seemed to indicate city cops have no interest in acting as immigration deputies -- something Gimenez insists the county won't be doing either, even as it subsidizes federal detentions. The city doesn't manage any jails of its own.

Several Twitter users, perhaps unaware that the county and city are separate jurisdictions, had apparently confused Regalado with Gimenez, and Regalado responded to them as well.  

Regalado and Gimenez have been at odds politically for decades, most recently when Regalado’s daughter ran last year against Gimenez. When big-city mayors urged then-President-elect Trump last month to protect “DREAMers,” immigrants brought into the country illegally as children, Regalado was quick to offer his support. Gimenez took longer to say he backed President Barack Obama’s program to protect DREAMers from deportation.


Separately, former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz wrote in a Miami Herald op-ed that Gimenez, a Republican and Diaz's friend, acted too hastily, without seeking enough legal guidance about Trump's executive order. 

"While other mayors have taken an approach that protects their communities, Mayor Gimenez has rushed into action to please the president, betraying our community’s long history of welcoming immigrants," Diaz wrote.

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He argued that Miami-Dade, which already notifies the feds of all of the people it arrests and is willing to detain them as long as Immigration and Customs Enforcement defrays the expense, already complied with Trump’s order.

Both mayors weighed in after angry protesters demonstrated outside County Hall on Friday, and deluged Gimenez's office with phone calls and emails opposing his directive.

All three mayors -- Diaz, Gimenez and Regalado -- were born in Cuba.

January 27, 2017

South Florida politicians react to Miami-Dade's about-face on immigration detentions

@PatriciaMazzei @doug_hanks

The Miami Herald has asked local members of Congress and county commissioners to weigh in on Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's decision to comply with federal detention requests for immigrants in the country illegally, abandoning Miami-Dade's prior position as a "sanctuary" county.

President Donald Trump praised Gimenez in a tweet Thursday.

Here's what the local politicians had to say:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida:

Mayor Gimenez made the right decision.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami:

I believe that all communities should enforce state and federal laws but federal efforts to force local governments to do the federal government’s job without federal funding constitutes an evasion of responsibility by the federal government. Now that this issue has been fully aired and all local governments around the country are on clear notice of the fiscal consequences of not enforcing federal laws, I support withholding funds from those local governments which in the future choose to ignore federal law.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston:

The only way to deal with a bully is to confront  him. We need to stand with local officials who should oppose Donald Trump’s intimidating executive order that threatens to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities and counties. This ham-fisted approach will only spread mass anxiety into communities throughout Florida and the country, and split up countless families who are our friends, coworkers and neighbors. We must stand in solidarity with immigrants, and tell the President: "We will stand against you, stand up for our neighbors, and not allow fear and intimidation to bully us into submission."

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami:

Local governments in America have always had to comply with federal law, not only out of respect for the constitutional order, but also to protect the integrity of our nation's laws. However, this new policy focuses on a symptom, not one of the root causes of our flawed immigration system, and has the potential of undermining the work of law enforcement officials investigating serious crimes in urban areas. ‎The real solution is a complete overhaul of our country's immigration system that relies on the rule of law and treats all people with fairness and dignity.

I remain committed to comprehensive immigration reform that includes enhanced border security, the removal of those who have committed serious crimes and a fair and permanent solution for the millions of undocumented immigrants who have been contributing to our economy and improving quality of life for all Americans - in some cases for decades. I hope the Administration maintains its commitment to find such a solution especially for young people who were brought to our country as children, and to work with Congress on a plan to fully address our country's deficient immigration policy. For many years there's been a lot of talk but no action on immigration. The American people deserve better, and now is the time for us to produce results.

Commission Chairman Esteban "Steve" Bovo, a Republican:

We're not anti immigration. This community was built on immigration. But we need to be lawful in the way we do things.

Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, a Democrat:

I understand that we must follow the laws and hold criminal acts accountable, as we have done in the past. However, we also have the responsibility of protecting the relationship between the community and our police by ensuring that our residents do not fear approaching law enforcement.

Commissioner Joe Martinez, a Republican:

What Trump and Gimenez are taking about is not immigration. It's illegal immigration... I think what [Gimenez] did was the right thing to do.

Commissioner Jean Monestime, a Democrat:

Considering Miami-Dade currently is in full compliance with federal law, I think Mayor Gimenez’s memo is a little bit premature. He could have thought it through longer, for we do have a responsibility to our residents to first weigh the full impact of this directive, fiscal or otherwise, on the entire county.

Anger erupts in Miami-Dade over mayor's decision to comply with Trump immigration order

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@PatriciaMazzei @doug_hanks

Political blowback erupted Friday against Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez for requiring local jails to detain immigrants in the country illegally at the behest of the federal government, effectively abandoning Miami-Dade’s stance as a “sanctuary” county.

Immigration advocates descended on County Hall, staging a protest — called on short notice — of more than 100 people that forced police officers to close off the lobby of the Stephen P. Clark Center in downtown Miami to keep the demonstrators out.

“Hey, Gimenez, shame on you!” Miami labor union organizer Kathy Bird Carvajal shouted into a megaphone. “You are an immigrant, too.”

Gimenez decided to comply with “detainer” requests Thursday, a day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order threatening to deny federal grants from cities and counties that didn’t fully cooperate with immigration authorities. Miami-Dade had stopped holding inmates flagged by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as illegal in 2013.

At least one federal agency — the Justice Department — took that to mean Miami-Dade was a “sanctuary” county for undocumented immigrants, a designation the county has disputed though there is no legal definition for a sanctuary jurisdiction. Which federal grants might be affected by Trump’s order is also unclear.

Trump praised Gimenez’s swift action late Thursday on Twitter, calling it the “right decision.”

“Strong!” he wrote, bringing worldwide attention to Gimenez’s action.

More here.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, Miami Herald staff