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July 29, 2015

As Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush speak at National Urban League, a primer of fact-checks

It may not be the last time they face off, but Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton take their messages before a key demographic -- black voters -- when they give speeches at the National Urban League conference in Fort Lauderdale July 31.

While black voters overwhelmingly register as Democrats, Bush has said he will campaign where Republicans often don’t, including before black audiences.

Founded in 1910, the National Urban League is a civil rights organization that works for economic empowerment in historically underserved urban communities.

All of the 2016 candidates were invited to speak, but the only other ones who will participate -- in addition to Bush and Clinton -- are Democrats U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and Republican Ben Carson, a black neurosurgeon who retired to West Palm Beach. 

Here are six fact-checks of claims by BushClinton and Sanders about purges of the voter rolls, education and African-American unemployment. Turn to PolitiFact Florida for the rest of our story.

One Democratic leader's suggestion for Rep. Corrine Brown's congressional district

Democratic National Committeeman Jon Ausman has a solution to one of the many outstanding questions raised by the upcoming redistricting.

When the Legislature re-draws the serpentine 5th Congressional District that currently curves to group together black communities in Duval, Alachua and Orange counties, they should make it horizontal (as the Florida Supreme Court suggested), and they should keep Leon County in one district.

"If the Legislature decides to split Leon County," Ausman said Wednesday, "there could be further litigation."

In other words, let the congressional map games begin.

The district Ausman built with the help of map guru Matthew Isbell accomplishes a number of important goals for Democrats and residents of the Tallahassee area: It keeps the county in one district, thus increasing their power as a voting bloc. And it all but guarantees a Democrat will be elected to Congress in the 5th District, likely Rep. Gwen Graham, who lives in Tallahassee.

Leon County Republican Chairman Evan Power supports the idea of keeping the state's capital county all in one district, but he wants to see it go west into the Panhandle, not east to include Jacksonville.

These are some of the early shots being fired in a battle over U.S. House and state Senate maps that will continue into October, at the very least. And while the Supreme Court gave a vague roadmap to lawmakers who convene in Tallahassee in less than two weeks to redraw House districts, they'll still have to maneuver ideas and special requests from any number of outside groups, each of which has a self-identified very important purpose behind their map.

Still, Ausman is confident the Republican-dominated Legislature will like his suggestion. Why? It could force Graham and Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown into one district, causing an intra-party fight over an almost-guaranteed Democratic seat in Congress and clearing the way for perhaps another Republican in northeast or central Florida.

WSJ: Top donor to Jeb Bush super PAC is Miami billionaire Mike Fernandez

From the Wall Street Journal:

A Texas oil man, a Wall Street financier and several former U.S. ambassadors are among the top donors to Jeb Bush’s super PAC, providing hard evidence the Republican establishment is rallying to his presidential candidacy as he girds for a long primary battle.

Mike Fernandez, a Cuban-American billionaire who gave $3 million, is the biggest donor to the Right to Rise super PAC, which set a record fundraising pace and bested all of Mr. Bush’s rivals—Democrats and Republicans—by amassing $103 million in the first six months of 2015.

The names help confirm that the Republican establishment, supplemented with a healthy dash of Florida financial backers from Mr. Bush’s days as governor, are prepared to deliver a powerful flow of money that no other GOP candidate is likely to match.

More here (subscription required).

July 28, 2015

Hillary Clinton to give policy speech at FIU Friday

Hillary Clinton will hold an event at Florida International University following the National Urban League Conference Friday.

Clinton will first give a speech at the National Urban League’s annual conference at the Broward Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale which starts at 8 a.m. Other candidates who will speak include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

The details about Clinton's FIU event are still being worked out but the event will be held at FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus in West Miami-Dade County following the event in Fort Lauderdale. The Clinton campaign wouldn’t yet confirm if the FIU event will be open to the public or invite only.

For months, Clinton faced some criticism for not holding many public events and giving few interviews to reporters although she has increased them in recent weeks.

In May, Clinton’s campaign said she might do a public event while in South Florida but ultimately she only did fundraising events in Miami, Parkland and Orlando.

This blog post will be updated if more details become available about the FIU event. 

Did a Miami-Dade commissioner spill the beans on Lauren Book's Florida Senate run?


Lauren Book, daughter of mega-lobbyist Ron Book, plans to announce her candidacy for the Florida Senate on Sept. 1.

At least that's according to an invitation Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman sent her friends Tuesday asking them to attend a fundraiser for Book at Il Gabbiano, a posh Italian restaurant in downtown Miami, on Sept. 18.

"As you have probably heard, my very close personal friend, Lauren Book, is planning to launch a campaign for an open Senate seat on September 1, 2015," read Heyman's email, which was obtained by the Miami Herald.

But Book herself has not revealed her plans. She told the Herald that's because she has yet to make up her mind. Book recently got married.

"We are looking at all of our options and have not made a decision of what we're going to do," she said, conceding that she nevertheless has several events on her calendar. "We haven't made any final, final, final decisions yet."

Book, who runs Lauren's Kids, a nonprofit that raises awareness about children victims of sexual abuse, has made no secret of her intention to run for the Broward seat being vacated by Sen. Eleanor Sobel, a Hollywood Democrat. 

Book created a political action committee, Leadership for Broward, last September. It has collected nearly $640,000; some of her donors, such as the Miami Dolphins and GEO Group, a private prison company, also happen to be her dad's clients.

Liberal think tank faults Jeb Bush for Stand Your Ground law ahead of Urban League speech


The "stand your ground" law Jeb Bush signed as Florida governor has left a "deadly legacy" in the black community, according to a new report by the campaign arm of a liberal think tank.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund released its report, titled "Jeb Bush's License to Kill," ahead of the Republican presidential candidate's scheduled remarks Friday to the National Urban League conference in Fort Lauderdale. The gathering of largely African-American activists will focus at least in part on criminal justice, in the wake of a series of high-profile black deaths at the hands of police.

The report faults Florida in general and Bush in particular for adopting stand your ground in 2005, prompting 23 other states to pass "expansive self-defense laws."

"And while Gov. Bush touted his as a significant achievement at the NRA convention in April, the reality is that the legacy of his leadership on this issue has left a dark footprint on the country," report author Chelsea Parsons argues. "It has led to an increase in homicides in states that have enacted these laws, as well as a racially skewed application that results in white perpetrators more frequently being relieved of liability for killing black victims."

Bush has defended the law, saying it was not intended to protect someone like George Zimmerman, who shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012.

"Stand your ground means stand your ground," Bush said after Trayvon's death. "It doesn't mean chase after somebody who's turned their back."

Continue reading "Liberal think tank faults Jeb Bush for Stand Your Ground law ahead of Urban League speech" »

Miami-Dade's mayor is going to Denver with a big crew to discuss transit



UPDATE: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce wrote today to say the delegation list provided by the mayor's office was incomplete. A chamber publicist provided a new one, and it's listed below. The chamber also provided a full agenda that emphasizes how large a role the "P3" financing model plays in the schedule. You can see it by clicking here

 The latest list: 

The Honorable Steven Abrams

Commissioner - District 4, Palm Beach County


Humberto Alonso

Vice President, Atkins


Jolie Balido

Public Relations Agency of Record, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

President and Co-founder, Roar Media


The Honorable Bruno Barreiro

Commissioner - District 5, Miami-Dade County


Javier Betancourt

Strategic Partnerships Committee Chair, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Deputy Director, Miami Downtown Development Authority


Mitchell Bierman

Transportation Committee Chair, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Member, Weiss, Serota, Helfman, Cole & Bierman


The Honorable Esteban Bovo

Commissioner - District 13, Miami-Dade County


Alice Bravo

Director - Transit, Miami-Dade County


Kathie Brooks

Assistant City Manager, City of Miami Beach


James Cromar

Director of Planning, Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization


Meg Daly

Founder, Friends of the Underline


Harold Desdunes

District Director of Transportation Systems Development, Florida Department of Transportation


Al Dotson Jr.

Executive Committee Member At-large, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Partner, Bilzin Sumberg


Glenn Downing

Second Vice Chair, Citizen's Independent Transportation Trust


Alex Ferro

Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor, Miami-Dade County


Jose Fuentes

Government Affairs Consultant, Becker & Poliakoff, P.A.


The Honorable Carlos Gimenez

Mayor, Miami-Dade County


Jose Gonzalez

Transportation Director, City of Miami Beach


Jose Gonzalez

Senior Vice President, Florida East Coast Industries


Jesus Guerra

Director, Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization


Matt Haggman

Program Director, Knight Foundation


Alexander Heckler

Managing Partner, LSN Partners


Barry Johnson

President/CEO, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce


Ric Katz

Executive Vice President, Balsera Communications


Jason King

Principal, Dover, Kohl & Partners


Danet Linares

New World Center (Downtown Miami) Committee Chair, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Vice Chair, Blanca Commercial Real Estate


Marcelo Llorente

Managing Partner, LSN Partners


Al Maloof

Director, Government Relations, Genovese, Joblove & Battista, P.A.


Ed Marquez

Deputy Mayor, Miami-Dade County


The Honorable Jean Monestime

Chairman - Board of County Commissioners, Miami-Dade County


The Honorable Dennis Moss

Commissioner - District 9, Miami-Dade County


Dr. Pablo Ortiz

Associate Vice President, Florida International University


Benjamin de la Pena

Director of Community and National Strategy, Knight Foundation


Gerard Philippeaux

Chief of Staff, Office of the Chair, Miami-Dade County


Joe Rasco

Director - Intergovernmental Affairs, Miami-Dade County


Michael Reininger

President/CEO, All Aboard Florida


Eric Riel

Planning, Design + Transportation, Miami Downtown Development Authority


Alyce Robertson

Executive Director, Miami Downtown Development Authority


Dr. Mark Rosenberg

Chair-Elect, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

President, Florida International University


The Honorable Marc Sarnoff

Commissioner - District 2, City of Miami


Paul Schwiep

Chair, Citizen's Independent Transportation Trust


Charles Scurr

Executive Director, Citizen's Independent Transportation Trust


Jason Smith

Legislative Director - District 8, Miami-Dade County


Ana Sotorrio

Public Policy Committee Chair, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

President, ASTS Inc.


The Honorable Francis Suarez

Commissioner - District 4, City of Miami


Daniel Tapia

Director, Governmental Affairs, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce


Anna Ward

First Vice Chair, Citizen's Independent Transportation Trust


Joseph Yesbeck

Executive Committee Member – Governmental Affairs Group Chair, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Vice President, T.Y. Lin International


Robert Villar

Chief Budget and Performance Reporting, Miami-Dade County


Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is flying to Denver next week for a look at the city's transit systems and how officials funded the expansion there. He's bringing with him a large delegation of elected leaders, lobbyists and business executives.

His office on Tuesday released the current delegation list of about 40 people. Most are paying their own way, while Miami-Dade is likely picking up the tab for county officials and elected leaders on the trip. (Gimenez's office did not have a trip budget immediately available Tuesday night.) 

The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce organized the Aug. 5 to 7 trip, which is being billed as a "Transportation Fly-In." Registration costs were $200, plus lodging and airfare.   

Gimenez spokesman Michael Hernández described the trip in a statement: 


Continue reading "Miami-Dade's mayor is going to Denver with a big crew to discuss transit" »

Judges lift injunction in 'Docs v. Glocks' lawsuit

A law banning doctors from asking patients about guns has gone into effect after a federal appeals court lifted a ruling that prevented it from being enforced.

As of Tuesday, physicians in Florida could risk license suspensions and disciplinary action from the Board of Medicine if they talk to patients about gun ownership or use when it's not directly related to the treatment being given.

Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law in 2011, but before it could go into effect, doctors and medical groups including the state chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians sued the state, calling the law unconstitutional. The U.S. District Court in Miami agreed but was overturned last year by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

An injunction granted by the District Court was still in effect while the Circuit Court considered if it would re-hear arguments. The Circuit Court judges lifted that order on Tuesday.

"When a patient enters a physician’s examination room, the patient is in a position of relative powerlessness," the Circuit Court judges wrote. "The patient must place his or her trust in the physician’s guidance and submit to the physician’s authority. With this authority comes responsibility. To protect patients, society has long imposed upon physicians certain duties and restrictions that operate to define the boundaries of good medical care. In keeping with this tradition, the State passed the Act."

But the doctors who sued the state have called the law a gag order preventing doctors from discussing important safety issues with their patients.

In a statement, executive director Howard Simon of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which filed a brief in the case, called the ruling "a sad day for Florida doctors, their patients and for free speech."

“The Legislature’s unconstitutional effort to stop doctors from talking to their patients about measures to keep kids safe when there are guns in the home is not simply a violation of doctor’s free speech, it is also dangerous policy," he said.

Florida Senate: We broke anti-gerrymandering law


Because it's not every day that the Florida Senate admits it violated the state's constitution.

From a legal settlement in which the Senate agreed to redraw district boundaries:


The Florida House wants everyone to know it wasn't its fault.

From a joint statement by House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner:


Legislature sets special session for October to redraw Florida Senate districts


The Florida Legislature has set yet another special session, this time for October to redraw the Florida Senate district lines that opponents had argued violated the state constitution prohibition on gerrymandering to favor or disfavor politicians.

The Legislature will meet from Oct. 19 to Nov. 6, according to a joint statement put out by House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner.

It will mark the third special session this year. In June, legislators met in special session to finish a budget that was not completed during the regular session in the spring. In August, legislators will be in special session again to redraw the state's 27 congressional districts, which the Florida Supreme Court ruled earlier this month violated the state consitution.

The court had not instructed the Legislature to redraw the Senate lines yet, but Senate leaders have agreed to make the changes now based on they said was a new precedent the Supreme Court set in throwing out the Congressional lines.

In its landmark ruling, the Supreme Court invalidated the state's congressional map after political operatives "infiltrated" the process, used fake email accounts to submit the maps as nonpartisan private citizens and created districts that found their way into the final maps approved by lawmakers. Because those actions violated the Fair Districts provisions of the state Constitution, the court ordered lawmakers to redraw eight congressional districts and provided guidelines on how to do it.

A trial over the Senate map was scheduled to begin Sept. 28 in Leon County Circuit Court in a case in which two Democrat-leaning groups, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause, argue that 28 of the 40 Senate districts were designed to favor incumbents and the Republican Party, violating the Fair Districts amendments to the state Constitution.