October 08, 2016

Miami GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen calls on Trump to withdraw


Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen urged Donald Trump on Saturday to withdraw as her party's presidential nominee, joining a growing number of GOP members of Congress asking for his resignation.

"Trump doesn't represent our nation. I was not with Trump before and I'm not with him now. Trump must withdraw," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "In April, before Trump even clinched the nomination, I announced I could not and would not support Donald Trump in this election. I'm now calling on Donald Trump to drop out of the race for the good of our nation."

Ros-Lehtinen, a veteran lawmaker, first backed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio for president. After both dropped out, she said she wouldn't vote for Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton, saying she'd write-in Bush's name first.

On Friday, after The Washington Post broke the news about a 2005 recording in which Trump bragged about making sexual advances at women, Ros-Lethinen denounced Trump's comments.

She went a step further Saturday afternoon, after her opponent, first-time Democratic candidate Scott Fuhrman, said in a statement that "anything short of a complete rejection of [Trump's] candidacy and support of Secretary Clinton can only be seen as an endorsement of him and his behavior."

"When even staunch Republicans are outright rejecting his candidacy, no one who claims to be moderate and bipartisan has any excuse to again stand idle in the face of such ugliness," he said.

Ros-Lehtinen represents the 27th congressional district, which now leans Democratic, though she has not been considered among the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress this year.

Photo credit: Hector Gabino, el Nuevo Herald

Ana Navarro, voice of the outraged Republican woman



Not long after hearing Donald Trump say, on the day he launched his presidential campaign, that some Mexicans who cross the U.S. border are “rapists,” Miamian Ana Navarro became the leading voice on cable television of the outraged Republican woman.

So when a 2005 recording came out Friday in which Trump boasted about making sexual advances and groping women (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”) Navarro exploded.

“I think that every single Republican is going to have to answer the question, ‘What did you do the day you saw the tape of this man boasting about grabbing a woman’s pussy?’” Navarro said on CNN. “Period.”

It was 42 minutes after midnight Saturday, and CNN had aired the tape of Trump himself — uncensored — Friday afternoon. But hearing Navarro repeat it upset another panelist on air, Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes.

“Will you please stop saying that word?” she asked. “My daughter is listening.”

That unleashed Navarro — not that she’d reined herself in to begin with.

“You know what, Scottie? Don’t tell me you’re offended when I say ‘pussy,’ but you’re not offended when Donald Trump says it,” Navarro yelled. “I’m not running for president. He is.”

For anyone familiar with Navarro, her blunt reaction was hardly surprising. Since long before CNN hired her in 2012, she’s delivered unfiltered political opinions, even — or perhaps especially — when it comes to criticizing her own party.

More here.

October 05, 2016

Carlos Trujillo says Democrat endorsed him, Pereira disagrees, and party threatens legal action

In the increasingly mixed up world of party allegiances in Miami-Dade County, the handshake between state Rep. Carlos Trujillo and the Democrat he defeated in 2014 to keep his job, Carlos Pereira, has turned into a bitter three-way feud that is dividing Democrats.

The question: Did Pereira, a candidate for the Doral City Commission and a member of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee, endorse Trujillo when he accepted $1,000 from Trujillo's political committee in June and posed for a pleasant handshake in front of the Doral City Hall?

Trujillo, one of the Miami delegation's most conservative Republicans, says he did and he posted the photo on his state legislative Facebook page, a symbolic victory over the Democrat he defeated in his 2014 statehouse race.

But endorsing a Republican against a Democrat -- in this case Patricio Moreno of Doral, this year's Democratic offering to defeat Trujillo -- is a violation of the DEC's loyalty oath and a firing offense. 
Trujillo FacebookHours after the Facebook post, Miami-Dade Democratic Party Executive Director Juan Cuba issued a press release announcing that Pereira had been suspended. 

At a meeting before the executive committee on Friday, Pereira denied he had endorsed Trujillo. The executive committee demanded that he put that in writing. 

 "Under penalty of perjury, I hereby state that I have never endorsed Carlos Trujillo and never did so in writing,'' reads the statement Pereiro signed on Tuesday. 

Pereira didn't respond to requests for comment but his campaign manager, Sam Feldman, called the episode "a big misunderstanding." 

"Somebody obviously made an error on Carlos Trujillo's web site and posted that Carlos Periero endorsed him,'' Feldman said. "Carlos never endorsed anybody but the DEC has taken on it upon itself to go on a crusade against Carlos.'

While Pereira agreed to sign the letter, he refused their request to call Trujillo a "liar" or to endorse Moreno, Feldman said. He said he didn't know if Pereira asked Trujillo to remove the "endorsement" from the web site. Pereira letter

"The bylaws don't require us to endorse Patricio Moreno,'' Feldman explained. "We have some differences with him and, you know, even though Carlos has never admitted to that before, he doesn't want to endorse somebody he doesn't get along with."

Cuba concedes there is no requirement for DEC members to endorse, but he remains unhappy with Trujillo, whom he believes exploited Pereira to try to win over Democrats.

On Wednesday, Cuba sent an email to Trujillo, demanding he "cease and desist" and remove the endorsement claim from his Facebook page or show that he has Pereira's written consent.

Trujillo laughed at the suggestion. "The letter didn't come from Pereira and he (Cuba) isn't a lawyer,'' he said Wednesday. "It makes no sense."

UPDATE: Late Wednesday, Miami lawyer Ben Kuehne sent Trujillo a second "cease and desist" letter, demanding he prove the endorsement in writing or remove it.  Download BPK Letter to Trujillo.Cease and Desist.10-5-2016

Meanwhile, if Trujillo doesn't take the "endorsement" language down, Cuba said the DEC would file a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission, alleging he is violating the law sanctioning endorsements.

"Someone's not telling the truth here,'' Cuba said. "If it's Trujillo, it's a campaign violation. If not, it's a violation of the loyalty oath."

Trujillo said the whole thing is a misguided attempt to "find a bogeyman" to compensate for the Democratic party's "lack of leadership."

He said the agreement began innocently when, after their 2014 race, he and Pereira "developed a good relationship over the past two years." Pereira invited Trujillo to appear on the his webcast video program to discuss issues and Trujillo "asked him for his help, especially in getting Hispanic Democrats in Doral, and he offered his help,'' Trujillo said.

Trujillo, who then posted the announcement on his web page, calling it an endorsement, said the Democratic colleagues "turned it into a witchhunt" and convened meetings that operated like "kangaroo courts, calling me a liar and bad-mouthing me." 

Feldman is also not happy with the way it was handled.

"I think it was a set-up against Carlos,'' he said, referring to his candidate. "They are wasting their valuable time 34 days before the election. It is almost high schoolish."


Unable to travel to Miami, Obama calls into hip-hop station instead

IMG_78Obama_052915_Hurri_5_1_3M4U56L2_L130043365 (1)

Hurricane Matthew kept President Barack Obama from traveling to Miami as planned Wednesday to campaign for Hillary Clinton. So instead, the president hopped on the phone with a friendly local radio station during afternoon drive-time — the second time he’s done so in as many months.

His political task was to urge voters — especially African Americans — to register ahead of the Tuesday deadline in Florida. But first things first: Obama couldn’t avoid a storm question.

“The one thing I want everybody to do is to make sure they’re listening to their local authorities,” he told host Felisha Monet, host of “The Afternoon Hustle” on WEDR-FL, better known as 99 Jamz. “I was supposed to be in Florida today, but I couldn’t do it because I didn’t want to take away assets as people are preparing.”

Monet noted the popular hip-hop station had canceled a voter-registration drive because of the storm.

“Everybody who’s been paying attention to this campaign should know: We’ve got a big choice ahead of us. When I came into office, the country was in terrible shape,” Obama said, before pivoting to the upcoming election to say Donald Trump would “reverse” his legacy.

“Hillary Clinton would continue it,” Obama said. “So people need to make a decision about whether we’re going to continue on the progress that we’ve made.”

More here.

Photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff

Miami-Dade NAACP wants to bring back Florida City early voting site


The Miami-Dade County NAACP branch has asked the local elections department to reconsider opening an early-voting site at Florida City's city hall, saying doing away with the locationhurt black voters in one of the poorest areas of the county.

On Sept. 25, the NAACP sent Elections Supervisor Christina White a letter advising her of a resolution by its members urging her department to review the Florida City site ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.

The Ministerial Alliance of West Homestead-Florida City had alerted the NAACP about the inconvenience of having to head north to Homestead to cast in-person ballots early.

"Many of the residents do not have automobiles," NAACP President Emeritus Bradford Brown wrote in the letter. "The churches in the area which assist persons with transportation have quick access to Florida City. Homestead Community Center might as well be in a foreign country."

Brown argued there is no "easy" transportation to the Homestead site, and dropped in a mention of the federal Voting Rights Act, meant to protect previously disenfranchised populations from undue burdens at the polls.

"If this had occurred in an area under section 5 of the voting rights act, it might have been assumed to be an effort to suppress the areas [sic] Black voters," the letter said. "If the desire was to have larger space the Phicol Williams Center provides larger space and parking and its [sic] the community center used by the Black community."

White told the Miami Herald her priority is to keep voters from standing in long lines, as occurred ahead of the 2012 presidential election. Her department now has 30 early-voting sites (up from 20), 14 early-voting days (up from eight) and 168 early-voting hours (up from 96).

Elections staff is also deploying in some cases twice as much voting equipment as it did in 2012. And that posed a problem in Florida City, she said.

"The space at Florida City City Hall was inadequate, and the stadium-style seating prevented us from being able to add additional equipment," she said in a statement. "Homestead Community Center is larger, fits the increased equipment, has ample parking and is 2.2 miles away."

Her office eliminated City Hall as an early-voting site in 2014 "to ensure voters were accustomed to this well in advance" of 2016. It also added another site -- the Naranja Library -- to benefit South Dade voters.

But presidential elections draw more voters -- and more scrutiny. Because Democrats tend to prefer in-person early voting, Hillary Clinton's Florida campaign has been pushing for as many days, hours and locations as possible -- especially in South Florida, the base of her support.

White did not suggest there was any chance Florida City City Hall would return as an early-voting site. But the local NAACP president said she hasn't heard from the department directly.

"I hope we can find a resolution," Shirley Jackson, said "Because every vote counts."

October 04, 2016

Miami Democrat, with support from Republican congressman, wants local roadway tolls suspended for Hurricane Matthew



UPDATE: 5:45 p.m. -- In Gov. Scott's latest press release providing updated information on preparedness efforts for Hurricane Matthew, his office said: "If evacuation orders are given, the Florida Turnpike Enterprise is prepared to suspend tolls."


With Hurricane Matthew threatening South Florida this week, Miami Democratic state Rep. Kionne McGhee says the Florida Department of Transportation and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority should immediately stop collecting tolls on Miami-Dade roadways.

And McGhee has a high-profile Republican ally for his idea: Miami U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

McGhee issued his ask to FDOT and MDX through a Twitter video late this morning. "Alleviating this burden for those of us who are in the cone path of Hurricane Matthew will assist the great people of Miami-Dade County," he said.

A little over two hours after that message, Curbelo retweeted McGhee's video, saying "good call" and tagging Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera to get their attention.

"Our people shouldn't be forced to choose candles or tolls," McGhee replied in a tweet of thanks back to Curbelo.

McGhee was re-elected to a third term in the Florida Legislature this year when no one filed to run against him in House District 117. Curbelo, meanwhile, faces a competitive re-election this fall against Democrat Joe Garcia in Florida's 26th Congressional District.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez also endorsed McGhee's proposal on Twitter, saying: "Yes to that and anything that helps our commuters, emergency vehicles and visitors."

 Photo credit: State Rep. Kionne McGhee, D-Miami, in 2015. myfloridahouse.gov

Traffic tolls become issue in Bullard-Artiles Senate race



A Miami Republican state representative seeking to be promoted to the Florida Senate this fall says he’s “taking a stand against tolls” — tapping into a popular consumer issue that puts him at odds with some in his own party.

Frank Artiles, who’s running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard in Miami-Dade’s District 40, says he wants to fight back against “excessive and abusive tolls” that South Florida commuters face on a daily basis.

But Bullard, of Cutler Bay, has his own plans to reduce Miami-Dade commuters’ toll bills, and he argues his plan is more feasible than the one by moderate-sounding Republicans like Artiles, whose solution Bullard said is “to just get rid of the tolls.”

Full story here.

Photo credit: El Nuevo Herald file photo

Hispanic voters in play for new central Miami-Dade Senate district

Miami dade districts@ByKristenMClark

Both Democratic incumbent state Sen. Dwight Bullard and Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles are trying to gain the support of Hispanic voters for Miami-Dade's newly redrawn District 40 Senate seat.

With 75 percent of the district's voting age population Hispanic as of 2010, earning the favor of that voting bloc will be key to either Bullard or Artiles edging out a victory.

The Republican Party of Florida has helped Artiles -- the son of Cuban refugees -- in this effort by airing a Spanish-language ad for him recently on Miami TV. It features Artiles' mom touting how Artiles is a former Marine and is "a very good son, good husband and good father."

"Frank was raised with our Hispanic values and he shows it every day of his life," his mom says in Spanish.

Meanwhile, Bullard, who is black, said he has plans to tailor his campaign advertising to Hispanics, too. He told the Herald/Times that he'll be sending out his first mailers this week in English and in Spanish, focusing on his record of public service. And he also has plans for ads on Spanish-language radio.

The new District 40 in central Miami-Dade County is competitive ground for both candidates. It went for President Obama in 2012 with 54.8 percent of the vote.

Miami Herald political writer Patricia Mazzei contributed to this report.

October 03, 2016

Defending the death penalty is more expensive in Miami-Dade than anywhere else in Florida

Terrorist Boyz
via @DavidOvalle305 @NickNehamas

Nearly a decade after five reputed members of a street gang known as the Terrorist Boyz were charged in connection with nine murders and dozens of shootings, the first defendant has pleaded guilty in a legal saga that holds a unique distinction:

Taxpayers have been billed $4.2 million to help defend the men — making it the most expensive death-penalty case in recent Florida history. And it’s far from over.

The case’s plodding path though the legal system underscores this: Defense against the death penalty is by far more expensive in Miami-Dade County than anywhere else in the state.

Miami-Dade accounts for 38 percent of all billings in Florida but only 18 percent of the state’s cases.

And taxpayers have been billed $50 million for court-appointed defense lawyers, investigators, experts and others in Miami-Dade in 352 first-degree murder cases stretching back to the late 1990s, according to a Miami Herald analysis of state records. That’s more than triple the cost spent in the next-highest county, Broward, where $13.8 million was spent, albeit on 131 fewer cases.

Of the $50 million billed over the years, $47.4 million was paid, with the remaining money waiting to be processed on pending cases.

More here.

October 01, 2016

Ties to 'hemp honey dust,' cannabis lubricants have Miami-Dade Democrat under fire

Gonzalez petkovich


A Democratic legislative candidate in Miami-Dade County was previously a legal adviser to a company called Canna Teaze that marketed cannabis-infused sexual wellness products — like “hemp honey dust” and lubricants — but Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich says it’s a “dirty mischaracterization” for her Republican critics to use that job experience as a way to question her values.

Gonzalez Petkovich, an attorney from Doral who’s running for Florida House District 103, told the Miami Herald’s editorial board that she’s “very proud of the work and the help that I offered” to Canna Teaze but said she no longer represents the company because its founder, Misty Lee, moved out of state.

Gonzalez Petkovich said she met Lee two years ago when Gonzalez Petkovich was advocating for a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Gonzalez Petkovich — who is the registered agent and a board member of the Florida-based awareness group, CannaMoms — said she passionately supports the use of medical marijuana because “I really and truly believe that this is medicine.”

Her involvement in Canna Teaze “was just in my capacity as an attorney helping [Lee] seek investment for this particular project that she wanted to pursue,” Gonzalez Petkovich told the editorial board Thursday.

More here.

Photo credit: Gonzalez Petkovich campaign