August 18, 2014

Dissecting the changes in Florida's redrawn congressional districts

What has changed in the new congressional map? Linda Qiu And Derek Tsang of the Tampa Bay Times took a look. See map and more details here:

 

DISTRICT 5 DISTRICT 10
POLITICS 68.4% voted for Barack Obama in 2008 compared to70.5% in the old district. 48.0% voted for Barack Obama in 2008 compared to 47.2% in the old district.
VOTING AGE POPULATION GREW BY 0.2% OVERALL.

 

6.66% of potential voters previously in the district were moved, with most redrawn into District 7 to the east.

GREW BY 1.1% PERCENT OVERALL.

 

18.69% of potential voters previously in the district were moved, with most redrawn into District 9 to the east.

MINORITIES(PERCENT OF VOTING AGE POPULATION) 48.1% African-American, reduced by 2%

 

10.3% Hispanic, reduced by 0.8%

12.2% African-American, increased 1.1%

 

16.9% Hispanic, increased 2.7%

GEOGRAPHY 3,500 FEET AT ITS NARROWEST POINT in eastern Clay County, growing to 48 miles wide between Alachua and Putnam counties.

 

140 MILES LONG.

19.1 MILES AT ITS NARROWEST POINT in Lake County, growing to 39 miles wide between Lake and Orange counties.

 

66 MILES LONG.

AREA GREW BY 495 SQUARE MILES, now 2,031 square miles overall. GREW BY 184 SQUARE MILES, now 1,584 square miles overall.
  DISTRICT 5 DISTRICT 10
POLITICS 68.4% voted for Barack Obama in 2008 compared to70.5% in the old district. 48.0% voted for Barack Obama in 2008 compared to 47.2% in the old district.
VOTING AGE POPULATION GREW BY 0.2% OVERALL.

 

6.66% of potential voters previously in the district were moved, with most redrawn into District 7 to the east.

GREW BY 1.1% PERCENT OVERALL.

 

18.69% of potential voters previously in the district were moved, with most redrawn into District 9 to the east.

MINORITIES(PERCENT OF VOTING AGE POPULATION) 48.1% African-American, reduced by 2%

 

10.3% Hispanic, reduced by 0.8%

12.2% African-American, increased 1.1%

 

16.9% Hispanic, increased 2.7%

GEOGRAPHY 3,500 FEET AT ITS NARROWEST POINT in eastern Clay County, growing to 48 miles wide between Alachua and Putnam counties.

 

140 MILES LONG.

19.1 MILES AT ITS NARROWEST POINT in Lake County, growing to 39 miles wide between Lake and Orange counties.

 

66 MILES LONG.

AREA GREW BY 495 SQUARE MILES, now 2,031 square miles overall. GREW BY 184 SQUARE MILES, now 1,584 square miles overall.

 

August 17, 2014

The trial lawyer who has haunted Rick Scott for four years

Rick Scott stepped to the podium to start a Tallahassee press conference when a man approached him with a handshake.

“Mr. Scott,” the man said. “I have a subpoena here for you.”

Scott’s brief smile fell from his face as he grabbed the subpoena.

Scott didn’t know it at the time, but he had indirectly just come in contact with a man who would become a persistent thorn in his side for the next four years: Steven R. Andrews, a Republican Tallahassee trial lawyer with mad-scientist hair and a flair for headline-grabbing.

Andrews had sent the process server at the time — Aug. 10, 2010, to be exact — to deliver a lawsuit that sought to force Scott to disclose a sealed deposition he gave in a healthcare lawsuit six days before announcing his bid for governor. Andrews lost that suit, which sought to declare Scott a “public hazard.”

Now, almost four years later to the day, Andrews is still vexing Scott over public disclosure.

On Wednesday, Andrews won a battle in a public-records lawsuit against Scott’s administration when a Tallahassee judge ruled that Google and Yahoo must disclose information about private email accounts held by Scott as well as his current and former employees.

Asked later by reporters if he or his staffers used the accounts to discuss public business privately, Scott issued a blanket denial.

“Absolutely not. We follow the law,” Scott said. “This is just an individual that sues the state, tries to cause problems”

Brace yourself for more “problems,” governor.

Column here

"Shady" Rick Scott and "For Sale" Charlie Crist punch, counterpunch in new round of mean ads

@MarcACaputo

It's getting meaner. And it won't get any better.

In a punch-counterpunch round of ads, Gov. Rick Scott's team is going after former Gov. Charlie Crist's ties to a convicted Ponzi schemer and Crist's camp is responding with a broadside against the incumbent for everything from his "lies" about education funding to his pleading the Fifth Amendment 75 times in a deposition.

Scott''s ad, paid through the Republican Party of Florida, fired first.

"Convicted swindler Scott Rothstein bought expensive things with stolen money. He even bought a governor," the ad intones, pointing out how the Ponzi schemer recently claimed Crist essentially sold judicial appointments, which Crist denies.

"Charlie Crist. For governor. For sale," the ad closes.

Now, Crist's campaign plans to run its counter to the "smears;" but it does its own smearing in the process.

"Now," the Crist ad says of Scott, "he's teamed up with a felon convicted of running a Ponzi scheme to smear Charlie Crist with false attacks."

To be clear: there's no evidence that Scott has "teamed up" with Rothstein. And, beyond the word of the convicted Ponzi schemer, there's no solid evidence that Rothstein "bought" Crist.

"Rick Scott," Crist's ad closes, "Too shady for the Sunshine State."

Here's the Crist ad (Scott ad will post as soon as it's on YouTube).

FL-26 Republicans tussle in TV faceoff

@PatriciaMazzei

Five Republicans jostling for their party’s nomination to run against Congressman Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat, faced off Sunday perhaps for the last time before the Aug. 26 primary election.

The two candidates who have tussled the most -– Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo and Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall –- pointedly went after each other in their appearance on WPLG-ABC 10’s This Week in South Florida.

MacDougall's strategy has been to try to topple Curbelo, the presumed frontrunner in the race, in an apparent effort to split the Hispanic vote enough among the four Hispanic candidates to leave MacDougall as the winner. He accused Curbelo of being untrustworthy because he won’t disclose his media and public relations firm’s clients.

“He regulates hundreds of millions of dollars for the school board,” MacDougall said. “Why is this not coming out?”

Curbelo called the jab “frivolous,” saying he discloses what he’s required to by law. He put his firm, Capitol Gains, in his wife Cecilia’s name in 2009, citing advice from U.S. Senate attorneys. At the time, Curbelo was an aide to former Florida Republican Senator George LeMieux.

Continue reading "FL-26 Republicans tussle in TV faceoff" »

August 16, 2014

The human side of the big money behind the marijuana amendment

Morgan photo Adelson photoHere's a must-read from the Tampa Bay Times' Stephen Nohlgren on the unlikely relationship between John Morgan and Sheldon Adelson, the two big-money sources behind the Amendment 2 medical marijuana campaigns:

Trial lawyer John Morgan — whose outsized persona is already etched onto Florida's consciousness — said medical marijuana has boosted his celebrity even higher.

At the Orlando airport last week, eight to 10 people stopped him between the plane and his car to thank him for bankrolling the constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana, Morgan said. "Two or three wanted to have their pictures taken with me."

However, none of that hoopla surprised Morgan as much as an email that arrived three months ago from Nevada.

It came from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who had just donated $2.5 million to defeat Amendment 2 — instantly counterbalancing Morgan's wealth in the fight over medical pot.

"I was stunned,'' Morgan said. "He told me that I was all wrong.''

With his typical thick skin and glib patter, Morgan was delighted to respond — setting off an ongoing email exchange that now has the two titans on a first name basis, and a possible face-to-face meeting next month in Las Vegas.

"I like him a lot. He's a self-made man,'' said Morgan, 58. "He's is one of the most generous men on the face of the earth.''

Adelson, 81, did not respond to requests for comment on his marijuana stance or the emails he and Morgan have exchanged.

But Adelson's background provides a glimpse into what may have motivated one of the world's richest people to jump into the medical marijuana fray.

In 2005, Adelson's 48-year-old son Mitchell died in Fort Myers. Adelson's wife Miriam told Israel's Haaretz newspaper that her stepson, a long-time heroin and cocaine addict, overdosed. More here.

Of buds and brews, Adrian Wyllie stakes out the Libertarian space between Scott, Crist

@SteveBousquet

The relaxed crowd of happy hour craft beer drinkers Thursday night seemed totally turned off by politics as usual in Florida — the ideal audience for Adrian Wyllie.

The Libertarian Party candidate for governor, Wyllie is running in a year when polls show voters are starved for an alternative to Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist, the likely Democratic nominee.

At first glance, people at the Sea Dog Brewing Company appeared taken aback that a guy in jeans and a rumpled shirt with a glass of craft beer in his hand could be a serious candidate for governor, and even people who like his message say victory is highly improbable.

"It's refreshing to hear that there's an option out there," said Alan Wegner, 56, a building engineer and registered independent. "Between you and me, he probably won't win. I'm hoping he does, but maybe he'll make a dent." …

Full Story

August 15, 2014

At Florida International University, Miami-Dade lawmakers are graduation mainstays

@MrMikeVasquez

No, that wasn’t an official meeting of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation at FIU earlier this month — it was just graduation ceremonies. But there certainly were a lot of lawmakers there.

Spread out over the first week of August were five FIU summer commencement ceremonies — with four of them featuring local lawmakers as the commencement speaker. Local state Sen. Anitere Flores was the first to deliver a speech, followed by state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz later that day, and state Reps. Jeanette Nuñez and Erik Fresen the following day.

These are the same lawmakers who make funding decisions regarding FIU every year. Asked if the university was trying to cozy up to lawmakers, FIU spokeswoman Madeline Baro said the legislators actually gave really good speeches, and “we have a great relationship with the Dade Delegation.”

Flores, who is both an FIU grad and previously worked for the university, told graduates that her mom was part of FIU’s first graduating class. She expressed hope that one of the graduates in attendance might discover the cure for cancer, or be the one “that figures out how for it to not to take an hour to get from Kendall to downtown.”

--MICHAEL VASQUEZ

Jeb Bush conflicted over feds role in medical-marijuana enforcement

@MarcACaputo

Former Gov. Jeb Bush opposes Florida’s medical-marijuana initiative, but the potential GOP presidential candidate said he’s not sure if the federal government should enforce federal cannabis laws if the Sunshine State proposal passes.

Bush’s struggle with the state-federal split over medical marijuana reflects a broader struggle in the national Republican Party, where anti-drug hardliners are at odds with states-rights conservatives and libertarians over the issue.

Though a top Republican and frequent critic of President Obama, Bush refrained from repudiating the current White House’s position to de-emphasize enforcement of certain marijuana laws in the 20 states that have legalized medical cannabis, plus Washington D.C., and the two states that have completely legalized adult personal use of the drug, Colorado and Washington.

Asked Friday about the federal government’s role in prosecuting pot laws in medical-marijuana states, Bush said he’d have to give it more thought.

“In medical marijuana states? I don’t know. I’d have to sort that out,” Bush said. “I think that states ought to have a right to decide these things. I think the federal government’s role in our lives is way too-overreaching.”

“But having said that,” he continued, “if you’re in Colorado and you can purchase marijuana openly, should people in Wyoming not be concerned about that? And I think there, maybe, the federal law needs to be looked at — interstate commerce.”

More here

False ad by RPOF pins blame on Crist for Duke fiasco

Failed nuclear projects by utility provider Duke Energy have suddenly electrified both sides of this year’s gubernatorial campaign.

After environmentalist PAC NextGen Climateran an ad accusing Gov. Rick Scott of not doing anything to stop the North Carolina company from fleecing consumers, the Republican Party of Florida responded withits own commercial pointing fingers at former Gov. Charlie Crist.

"Crist made it easier for Duke to take your money," the narrator of the Aug. 12, 2014, ad says. "Crist signed a law helping Duke get billions, while Rick Scott put a stop to the Crist giveaway."

PolitiFact Florida already reviewed whether Scott allowed Duke to take ratepayers’ money; we found the claim Half True largely because Scott didn’t say much of anything about the issue. But did Crist have anything to do with the company taking money for doomed nuclear power plant plans? We’ll check this bill line by line. Turn to PolitiFact Florida for our fact-check.

This fact-check was written by Joshua Gillin.

Crist blasts Scott for plan to use a lottery to select marijuana producers

Crist and John MorganThe growing tensions between prospective producers of medical marijuana and state regulators have now become political fodder as former Gov. Charlie Crist on Friday blasted the Gov. Rick Scott for a plan to use a lottery to select the companies that will develop legalized pot in Florida.

Speaking to reporters in Miami on Friday, Crist said he believes the system should be based on a merit-selection system, similar to one endorsed by nurseries, investors and families of people suffering from the ailments the low-THC marijuana will be used to treat.

"The best way to award any contract is to have a good, open, honest, competitive process," Crist said when asked about the issue Friday, according to the News Service of Florida.

"I don't know that a lottery is the right way to go, frankly,'' he said. "It seems to me that people ought to submit their applications. They ought to be reviewed, thoroughly reviewed in a comprehensive fashion, and those that are determined to be the best are the ones that should get the contracts."

Crist’s comments come a day after the Department of Health, an agency of the governor, released its proposed rule for the development and cultivation of the low-THC marijuana.

The issue has the potential to become a legal fight, or discourage many companies from participating, and Crist is clearly prepared to use this as another wedge issue against the governor.

Despite appeals from families and prospective companies that the agency use a merit-based system to select who will obtain the licenses, the agency -- fearing litigation -- continues to adhere to a lottery system. Under the rule, the companies will comply with certain criteria and from that list a computer-generated "double random lottery-type system" will decide which companies will be granted the license in each of five regions of the state.

Among those who support using a merit-based system are dozens of Tallahassee's biggest-named lobbyists and lawyers, most of whom are Republicans, who have been hired to represent the wanna-be pot producers. 

Crist is also a supporter of Amendment 2, the proposal on the November ballot to allow for the legalization of a broader array of marijuana for a specific list of ailments. He has been heavily backed by Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, who is the prime supporter of the amendment and is Crist's boss at the Orlando-based law firm of Morgan & Morgan.

Scott has not commented on the marijuana rule but has indicated that he personally opposes the amendment. Scott was joined on the campaign trail on Friday with former Gov. Jeb Bush, who came out in opposition to Amendment 2 on Thursday.

Photo: Charlie Crist and John Morgan