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August 13, 2015

Alcee Hastings on Iran: 'I cannot support this deal'

via @learyreports

Another Florida Democrat, U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, has come out against the Iran nuclear deal.

“After careful review, I have decided that I cannot support this deal," Hastings said in an op/ed in the Palm Beach Post.

“The goal of the recently concluded negotiations was to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The negotiators worked diligently, but in the end, the JCPOA allows Iran to remain a nuclear threshold state while simultaneously reaping the benefits of relief from international sanctions.

“Under the JCPOA, Iran is limited to approximately 6,100 first-generation IR-1 centrifuges for a period of 10-15 years. However, after this time passes, Iran will again have the ability to pursue its nuclear program with more advanced centrifuges. Iran simply needs to be patient and it will once again have the ability to enrich uranium."

Last week, Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton said he opposed the deal as well.

One to watch: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston. The DNC chairwoman is undecided and facing enormous pressure on both sides.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

LA Times: Black Lives Matter protesters interrupt Jeb Bush rally in Nevada

From the Los Angeles Times:

A Jeb Bush town hall meeting Wednesday ended on a testy note, as Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with the presidential candidate's supporters after he faced a series of challenging questions.

Bush, responding to a woman's query about the disproportionate number of minorities killed by police and their treatment in the criminal justice system, said there was no question that racism still existed in the United States and that leaders needed to engage in communities that felt disenfranchised. He then turned to his education record as Florida's governor, saying that achievement scores among minority youths rose during his tenure.

“I have a record of empowering people in communities that” were told “they had no chance,” Bush said, ending the town hall. He did not deliver a closing statement, as he typically does, and quickly made his way to an exit, greeting supporters along the way.


Bush's campaign said the candidate met with Black Lives Matter advocates earlier in the day and discussed criminal justice reform and barriers to upward mobility.

 More here.

Republican's plan to use old Congressional district maps thrown out by House panel


It didn't take long for the House's redistricting panel on Thursday to do away with Rep. Mike Hill's plan to revert Florida's congressional districts to the thrown-out map lawmakers drew in 2012.

Hill, a Pensacola Republican, brought the plan forward because, he said, the separation of powers limits the state Supreme Court's power to overrule the Legislature on congressional districts.

"It is right and just that the Legislature assume its proper role pursuant to the separation of powers granted under Section 2, Article II of the State Constitution to deny the request of the Supreme Court of Florida that the Legislature redraw the state's congressional districts," Hill's amendment reads.

But just after Hill expounded on his convictions based on oaths to protect the constitutions of the U.S. and the state of Florida, taken as a member of the Florida House and the Air Force, House Redistricting Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, called it out of order.

The proclamation by House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner that convened the special session calls only for proposed changes to district maps in line with the state Supreme Court's ruling that the current districts violate constitutional Fair District amendments. From the proclamation:

2. That the Legislature is convened for the sole and exclusive purpose of considering revisions to Chapter 8, Florida Statutes, as amended by Chapters 2012-2 and 2014-255, Laws of Florida, which establishes the congressional districts of the state, to amend Congressional Districts 5, 13, 14, 21, 22, 25, 26, and 27 consistent with the Florida Supreme Court opinion in League of Women Voters of Fla., et al. v. Detzner, et al., SC 14-1905, (Fla. July 9, 2015) and to make conforming changes to districts that are a direct result of the changes to the referenced Congressional Districts.

Because Hill's proposal didn't align with the Court's direction, it would have to be added to the proclamation, which requires two-thirds of the full House and Senate to approve.

City of Miami looking to unload riverside headquarters


Developers lusting for land on the Miami River have a new site on which they can salivate: the city of Miami's administrative headquarters.

The city is working with CBRE group to unload its Miami Riverside Center, according to City Manager Daniel Alfonso. The 320,000-square-foot complex, built in 1992, is located on two acres of land on the river's north bank, immediately east of I-95. The property has a market value of $22 million, according to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser.

Alfonso said he's looking for a developer willing to build a new, larger, more modern administrative building on cheaper land and swap the property for the city's. Alfonso said the city would look to receive cash value if the property it receives is worth less than the land it is giving up.

The deal would require a voter referendum.

Lawmakers offer a flurry of amendments to proposed congressional district map


After days of listening to how their staff redrew Florida's 27 Congressional districts in relative seclusion, state legislators on Wednesday started taking their own turn at re-mapping the state.

By the end of the third day of the 12-day special session on redistricting, at least eight state legislators were working on alternative redistricting plans that, in some cases, would significantly change an initial base map that lawmakers started debating on Monday. The result is that who represents millions of Floridians in Congress is far from being resolved.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, took a different approach to halt the Legislature's entire redistricting process because of how it portends to change the 5th Congressional District she has represented since 1993. Brown said she was ready to file a new lawsuit calling on the federal courts to block the Florida Supreme Court's directive to change her snaking Jacksonville-to-Orlando district because it would reduce the percentage of black residents who are of the voting age.

"Today, I filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking relief against the continued use of any congressional redistricting plan that dilutes the voting strength of African Americans," Brown said in a statement to the media.

It was the Florida Supreme Court earlier this summer that ordered the Florida Legislature to meet in a special session to fix the state's congressional districts. They ruled that the Legislature's previous redistricting process was "tainted" and eight of the state's districts violated constitutional mandates against favoring incumbents or political parties.

Proposed amendments to the Legislature's base map make clear where the primary battle fronts will be over the course of the next two weeks. Hillsborough, Sarasota, Palm Beach and Leon counties were all key topics on Wednesday as legislators raced to prepare new maps in time to be considered during day long committee hearings planned on Thursday and Friday.

More here.

Marco Rubio gets his numbers wrong about Dodd-Frank

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., says a law that attempts to stop banks from becoming too big to fail actually ends up making community banks too small to succeed.

During the first Republican presidential debate, Rubio called for less regulation, lower taxes, and rolling back the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed in the wake of the financial crisis in 2010.

"We need to repeal Dodd-Frank. It is eviscerating small businesses and small banks," he said on Aug. 6, 2015, to applause. "Over 40 percent of small and mid-size banks that loan money to small businesses have been wiped out since Dodd-Frank has passed."

Rubio’s comment is a new version of an old Republican talking point, so we wanted to take a look.

See what Linda Qiu of PolitiFact found.

Three takeaways from Florida special session


It’s time to start amending the maps. The House and Senate will hold separate committee hearings in the morning to consider amendments to the initial base redistricting plan.

A federal case: Following through on a threat she made a week ago, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, filed a new lawsuit in federal court asking the court to stop the State Supreme Court’s order to the Legislature to redraw her 5th Congressional District, which meanders from Jacksonville, through Gainesville and into Orlando. The Florida Supreme Court recommended the Legislature make her district an east-west design, stretching from Jacksonville to just past Tallahassee.

Whole again: Sarasota County quickly became one of the biggest battle grounds in the 12-day special session on redistricting. Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, proposed the first amendment in the Senate to alter the map. Instead of splitting Sarasota County’s 380,000 residents into two separate Congressional Districts, Detert’s plan would keep them all whole in one district as they are presently. The result would be most of southern Hillsborough County would be represented by Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, instead of Sarasota Republican Vern Buchanan, as initial redistricting maps proposed.

More time: State senators had planned to meet in a committee through Thursday to discuss, and potentially amend, a new Congressional districts map. But already, the Senate has set aside an additional day on Friday in expectation that they won’t be able to finish the job on Thursday. 

August 12, 2015

Scott's legal bills climb another $300,000 with payments to lawyers in Sunshine cases

Rick Scott APFlorida’s legal bill to defend Gov. Rick Scott grew Wednesday, as the governor’s office released documents showing he has agreed pay  lawyers $300,000 for defending him in two open government cases that were settled.

The legal fees are on top of the nearly $1 million taxpayers have already spent to defend the governor and Cabinet in the cases. 

This month, Scott agreed to pay Tallahassee attorney Steven R. Andrews $700,000 to end a lawsuit alleging that the governor and several members of his staff violated state law when they created private email accounts to shield their communications from the public and then withheld the documents.

In June, Scott and the Cabinet agreed to pay $55,000 to St. Petersburg lawyer Matthew Weidner as well as public records advocates and media organizations, including the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times, to settle another lawsuit. The groups alleged Scott and the Cabinet violated the state's open meeting laws when they ousted former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey with no public discussion or vote. 

No one from the governor’s office could be reached for comment Wednesday.

In an internal memo obtained and sought by Herald/Times, the governor’s office justified the settlement with Andrews as necessary “to avoid the cost, fees and expenses associated with the inevitable protracted litigation.” 

Continue reading "Scott's legal bills climb another $300,000 with payments to lawyers in Sunshine cases" »

Former Miami commissioner's bar now included in marina solicitation


Miami administrators have reversed a decision to exclude a former city commissioner’s bayside bar and restaurant from a multi-million-dollar effort to redevelop the area around the Rickenbacker Marina.

City officials announced the change last week after the Miami Herald wrote about the Atlantica Seafood Restaurant & Market’s absence from a solicitation for proposals to operate an expanded marina and redevelop the surrounding area west of the Marine Stadium. The fish market, restaurant and supper club is operated by the family of former Miami Commissioner Armando Lacasa on a month-to-month management agreement.

The bar is located on a spit of land on the west side of Virginia Key, tucked amid dry boat storage stacks between the Rickenbacker Causeway and the Marine Stadium basin. Businessmen looking to bid on the marina solicitation said the restaurant’s exclusion inhibited their ability to design a top-notch facility, and questioned why the city would “gerrymander” the property out of its request for proposals.

Some believed the restaurant was set aside to benefit the Lacasas, even though the city is still owed $30,000 in unpaid rent on the building and the restaurant isn’t on the county’s tax rolls.

Armando Lacasa’s son, Carlos Lacasa -- who is considering bidding on the marina project -- has dismissed suggestions of favoritism, as has Mayor Tomas Regalado. City officials initially declined requests to include the property in the marina solicitation, but Regalado said they changed their minds after mulling it over.

“It became so complicated that the asset management people and the [city] manager said we should do it and get it over with,” he said.

Former President Jimmy Carter has cancer


From a statement released Wednesday by the Carter Center about former President Jimmy Carter:

Recent liver surgery revealed that I have cancer that now is in other parts of my body. I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare. A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.