November 20, 2014

Another South Florida government will have to hold 2015 budget do-over vote


Make that two local governments that will have to adopt their 2015 budgets and property-tax rates again — two months after the new fiscal year began — after bungling public notices in September.

The city of Miami Beach has been cited by a state agency for a mistake in a newspaper advertisement that underestimated how much revenue would come into an area of the city targeted for redevelopment. The Florida Department of Revenue also dinged Miami-Dade County this week for making its own advertising error.

Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales informed Mayor Philip Levine and city commissioners in a memo Thursday that a do-over of the Sept. 30 budget and tax-rate votes is needed — along with another public hearing — in the next two weeks. Morales asked for it all to take place Dec. 2.

“My prediction: It will last 30 seconds,” Levine told the Miami Herald on Thursday.

Like with the county, there will be no need to mail new tax notices to property owners, because the numbers listed in them were correct, according to Morales.

“Nothing is changing,” Morales told the Herald. “The only issue is that we accurately need to reflect the statutory requirement.”

More here.

Police say FSU gunman Myron May was 'struggling psychologically'

Myron May FSUMyron May, the 31-year-old Florida State University graduate who died in a hail of police fire early Friday, was "struggling psychologically" and "in a state of crisis," Tallahassee police said Thursday.

May was shot and killed by police after he returned to the library of his alma mater in the middle of the night and started shooting students and a library desk clerk. Police say he acted alone. 

“Mr. May had a written journal and videos where he expressed fears of being targeted and he wanted to bring attention to this issue of targeting,'' said Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo at a news conference 15 hours after the shootings.

"Preliminary review of these documents and videos demonstrate that Mr. May was in a state of crisis,” DeLeo said. His "sense of being" in the community "was not what people would say is normal status and he was searching for something.”

The initial investigation by Tallahassee police and the FSU police department concluded that May had attempted to enter the library just before 12:30 a.m. on Thursday morning but never got past the front desk. He shot Strozier employee Nathan Scott in the leg, and then headed outside where he was immediately confronted by police. 

What happened next is not clear, and police say is the timeline is still under investigation.

Photo: Myron May, FSU student ID

Continue reading "Police say FSU gunman Myron May was 'struggling psychologically' " »

Fact-checking immigration, including claims by Marco Rubio and Debbie Wasserman Schultz

President Barack Obama will speak to the nation about immigration on Thursday night, unveiling a plan to prevent deportations for broad swathes of people living in the United States illegally.

We don’t yet know the exact details of Obama’s plan, but preliminary news reports indicated the White House could shield roughly 4 million to 5 million people from the threat of deportation. If 11 million illegal immigrants are in the United States, as several estimates suggest, that would mean temporary legal status for roughly 35 to 45 percent.

While we’re waiting to hear concrete details of the actual plan, we thought it would be a good time to review some key fact-checks on immigration. We’ve selected 12 reports that shed light on Obama’s speech and the topic of immigration. (Browse all of our fact-checks on immigration including claims by Jeb Bush.)

Turn to Angie Drobnic Holan's report from PolitiFact.

John Thrasher's Mostly False claim about Koch donations

Long before John Thrasher became president of Florida State University on Nov. 10, students were expressing opposition to his appointment, many of them charging that Thrasher had ties to "special interests."

As the Republican former state senator begins his presidency, we decided to look back at a comment Thrasher made during a forum with FSU students and faculty on Sept. 15.

Thrasher became defensive when questioned about his ties to Charles and David Koch, the billionaire libertarian brothers who have spent freely on anti-regulation causes. At one point, a graduate student asked Thrasher about campaign contributions he had received from the brothers. The former lawmaker from St. Augustine denied receiving any.

"I don't have a relationship with the Koch brothers," Thrasher said. "You say I've got contributions from them? You go look at my contributions, I've never received any contributions from the Koch brothers."

Did Thrasher get any campaign contributions from the Koch brothers? Here’s the full story from Joshua Gillin at PolitiFact Florida.

AP: FSU gunman was lawyer, FSU graduate

Myron MayFrom the Associated Press: 

The gunman who shot three people at Florida State University's library early Thursday before being killed by police was a lawyer who graduated from the school, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

The official said the shooter was Myron May, who graduated from Florida State before attending Texas Tech University's law school. The official requested anonymity because he was not authorized to release the name.

May was fatally shot early Thursday after he shot three people at the Florida State library. Two are hospitalized and one has been released.

Abigail Taunton, who runs a foster home in the Florida Panhandle, told the AP that May had recently been staying at a guest house she owns. She said police interviewed her husband, David, after the shooting.

"He's just a boy our kids grew up with that we let stay in one of our guest houses for a while," she said. "He's moving back home from Texas and we were trying to help him get on his feet.

"It's horrifying."

Photo: Myron May, Facebook

Continue reading "AP: FSU gunman was lawyer, FSU graduate" »

Miami Rep. Diaz-Balart named chairman of House appropriations subcommittee


U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Miami, was named chairman of one of the subcommittees in the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which helps dictate federal spending.

Diaz-Balart will chair the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations. In the current Congress, Diaz-Balart has served as vice chair for an appropriations financial services subcommittee, and has been a member of two other appropriations subcommittees.

The transportation subcommittee oversees spending for housing and transportation issues, including the Federal Maritime Commission, the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

In a statement Thursday, Diaz-Balart said:

“I am honored to have been chosen to chair the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. I look forward to working with House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers and other committee members to best solve our nation’s transportation and housing issues. It is of utmost importance that we prioritize transportation initiatives that will improve our local communities, while also providing housing solutions for those most in need. I will work tirelessly to uphold the high standards established by former subcommittee chairmen, including the Honorable Tom Latham and our very own South Floridian, the Honorable Bill Lehman.”

Rep. Diaz-Balart scores transportation, housing budget chairmanship

From a press release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) released the following statement after the House Republican Steering Committee approved his appointment as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations in the 114th Congress.

“I am honored to have been chosen to chair the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development. I look forward to working with House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers and other committee members to best solve our nation’s transportation and housing issues. It is of utmost importance that we prioritize transportation initiatives that will improve our local communities, while also providing housing solutions for those most in need. I will work tirelessly to uphold the high standards established by former Subcommittee Chairmen, including the Honorable Tom Latham and our very own South Floridian, the Honorable Bill Lehman.

“I would like to thank Chairman Rogers for this opportunity and am grateful for his continued friendship and leadership.”

Student says newly-check library books saved him from gunman's bullets

Jason Derfuss was in the Strozier Library Wednesday night checking out a stack of books.

When the gunman aimed and fired at Derfuss five feet away, the bullet missed the FSU senior and lodged inside his backpack and in the books

He never knew what happened -- until three hours later.

Among the books was Great Medieval Thoughts by the 14th Century English dissident and philosopher, John Wyclif. Among his achievements, Wyclif was among the first to translate the Scriptures into Middle English. 

Derfuss concludes it was devine intervention that saved him Wednesday. He described it with pictures on a public post on his Facebook page:

"Earlier tonight there was a shooting at FSU, right as I was leaving Strozier. I didn't know this at the time, but the Shooter targeted me first. The shot I heard behind me I did not feel, nor did it hit me at all. He was about 5 feet from me, but he hit my books.

"Books one minute earlier I had checked out of the library, books that should not have stopped the bullet. But they did. I learned this about 3 hours after it happened, I never thought to check my bag. I assumed I wasn't a target, I assumed I was fine.

"The truth is I was almost killed tonight and God intervened. I know conceptually He can do all things, but to physically witness the impossible and to be surrounded by such grace is indescribable. To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen."

Lone gunman shot, killed after injuring three at crowded FSU library


A gunman shattered the calm of a crowded Florida State University library early Thursday morning, wounding three people, one critically, before he was shot and killed by campus police, authorities said.


The gunman, who has not been identified, walked inside the entrance to FSU’s Strozier Library about 12:30 a.m. and opened fire, Tallahassee Police Department spokesman David Northway told reporters at the scene.


Three victims were all students. Hospital officials say one of the students is in critical condition, the other is fair. A third student was “grazed” by a bullet, treated and released at the scene, Northway said. Their names have not been released.


FSU campus police confronted the gunman just outside the library building and ordered him to drop his weapon, Northway said. The gunman ignored the command and fired at least one shot at police officers. FSU police then shot and killed him.


FSU President John Thrasher said in a statement that the shooting was an “isolated incident” and Northway said police “have no other indications to show there is a threat at this time.” More here. 


November 19, 2014

Scott's low-key second inaugural: no ball, just BBQs

Gov. Rick Scott's second inauguration will be a decidedly low-key affair with a statewide "Jobs Jamboree" tour starting Dec. 1. There are no plans for an inaugural ball or parade in Tallahassee, but instead Scott will attend a series of informal barbecues hosted by Florida businesses in Tampa, Miami, Fort Myers, Orlando, Jacksonville and Pensacola during December. Details on specific events will be announced later.

The day of Scott's inauguration, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, will include traditional events such as an inaugural prayer breakfast followed by the official swearing-in ceremony outside the Old Capitol and a "small" evening reception at the Governor's Mansion. First Lady Ann Scott will host a ceremony honoring military service members and their families in Tallahassee on Jan. 6.

In a statement, Scott said: "We are focused on three things – jobs, jobs and jobs ...We know not every Floridian can come to Tallahassee, so we want to host events across Florida to highlight our economic growth and send a signal to the world that Florida is competing to become the global center for job creation.” 

All inaugural activities will be paid for by contributions to the Republican Party of Florida. The inaugural chairs are Brian and Kathryn Ballard, Darlene and Jerry Jordan, Fred and Autumn Karlinsky and Bill and Lys Rubin. Ballard, Karlinsky and Rubin are all prominent Tallahassee lobbyists. Darlene Jordan, a Palm Beach resident, was finance chair of Scott's re-election campaign.