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May 24, 2016

Annette Taddeo picks up union endorsement


Annette Taddeo has picked up another labor-union endorsement as she battles former Rep. Joe Garcia in the Democratic primary for Florida's southernmost congressional district.

On Tuesday, Taddeo said she received the backing of the Communications Workers of America and CWA Local 3122, which whose members work in a variety of industries raging from airlines and IT to television and education. The union represents AT&T workers.

"Our members understand that this election is crucial to the future of union workers, not just for the people of South Florida, but across the country," CWA Local 3122 President Don Abicht said in a statement. "Annette has fought alongside unions for years, and we eagerly look forward to her fighting for us in Washington."

The cumulative effect of several union endorsements for Taddeo could bolster her efforts against the better-known Garcia, who is leading in polls commissioned by the two rival campaigns. Her biggest pickup has been from the Service Employees International Union, which was Garcia's top supporter when he won the seat in 2012. She's also gotten support from the Teamsters, longshoremen and two transportation unions.

Democratic super PAC reserves $10.5M in TV time for U.S. Senate race in Florida

via @learyreports

Senate Majority PAC said Monday it is reserving $10.5 million in TV time in Florida in an effort to capture the seat now held by Marco Rubio.

"Republicans are going to nominate a far right, Tea Party candidate who is out of touch with Florida's middle-class. We're going to be ready to hold their eventual nominee accountable," said Shripal Shah, a spokesman for the super PAC.

He said the ads would begin in September and run through Election Day, on both cable and broadcast television. The PAC has also set aside time in New Hampshire, Nevada and Ohio. CNN has more.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

City commissioner facing corruption charges dies after driving into tree

IMG_IMG_terrence_pindervia @ChuckRabin @jayhweaver

An Opa-locka city commissioner who was scheduled to turn himself in to the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office on corruption charges Wednesday was killed in an early morning car crash Tuesday at Opa-locka Executive Airport in an apparent suicide, several sources said.

According to sources, Commissioner Terence Pinder ran his car into a tree in a field on the south side of the airport at a speed estimated to be over 100 miles per hour.

Opa-locka is in the throes of a financial meltdown that is being investigated by federal law enforcement. Pinder’s planned surrender on Wednesday to state prosecutors was not related to the federal investigation into corruption charges.

Julio Utsav, a friend of Pinder’s who worked with him at the Opa-locka Flea Market, spoke with the commissioner Monday night and said he found his friend distraught over the pending corruption charge.

More here.

Photo credit: Miami Herald file

Finance chief of Miami suburb says city can't pay its bills

via Michael Sallah and @jayhweaver

In a city government close to collapse, Opa-locka’s top financial officer broke ranks and warned her supervisors the city will run out of money after its payroll next week and that its recovery plans will not be enough to save Opa-locka from insolvency.

In an unprecedented move, Charmaine Parchment sent an email to acting city manager Yvette Harrell on Sunday saying that the budget deficit is three times larger than what the city has revealed to taxpayers and demanded that her name be removed from a city recovery plan submitted to the state.

“After the next payroll, the city will not be able to pay its bills,” Parchment wrote in an email chain obtained by the Miami Herald.

The director’s messages represent a far bleaker picture than what’s been stated for months by top administrators, including City Manager David Chiverton, who pledged at a public meeting earlier this month that the troubled city would have a balanced budget by the end of the fiscal year.

Parchment said that she had been warning supervisors “for many months” of a growing shortfall that she said will soon reach $4.5 million — an amount equal to a third of Opa-locka’s budget.

On Monday, another key manager, budget director Keith Carswell, weighed in on the controversy in his own email, saying he agreed with Parchment’s assessment of the city’s failed finances.

More here.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz collects enough signatures to qualify by petition

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced this morning that she received enough signatures to qualify for the ballot by petition in her primary battle against Tim Canova

Qualifying by petition is a way for candidates to show they have local support -- and they get to skip the $10,440 filing fee.

“I’m running for reelection so I can continue to fight for hard-working South Florida families, be a strong voice to protect children and defend Social Security and Medicare for Seniors. I'm grateful for the trust voters in the district have placed in me to be their voice in Washington and will continue to work every day to earn their vote once again this year,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “I am also humbled by the quick and overwhelming level of support we are receiving. We  collected enough petitions to qualify in less than one week from when we began and the petitions are still pouring in. In fact, in two weeks time, we have received more than 10,000 petitions from supporters who live in the district. I am truly grateful for their support.”

Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair from Weston, and Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law profefssor from Hollywood, are running in left-leaning Congressional District 23 in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. 

Both candidates have big-name supporters: Wasserman Schultz has been endorsed by President Barack Obama while Canova has been endorsed by Bernie Sanders.

The state Division of Elections will start accepting qualifying papers June 6 and the qualifying period is June 20-24.

Patrick Murphy falsely said he had a 'dual degree' in 2013 interview


Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign said Monday it was simply an "inadvertent error" that congressional and campaign websites for the Jupiter Democrat had exaggerated his academic record at the University of Miami.

But Murphy has himself made inaccurate claims about his education in recent years.

During a January 2013 interview with local access TV in Port St. Lucie, Murphy described himself as having earned "a dual degree in finance and accounting." (The interview is included below. He makes the comment at the 4:24 mark.)

But a "dual degree" is not the same as a double major -- which is what Murphy actually pursued while getting his bachelor's degree in business administration. He graduated from the University of Miami in 2006.

Murphy's congressional and campaign websites were amended on Monday after the Herald/Times asked questions.

Read our full story here.

Tampa Bay Times reporter Alex Leary contributed to this post.

May 23, 2016

Utility regulators reject request from public's lawyers for more time in FPL rate case

Lisa Edgar via PSCThe Florida Public Service Commission offered a glimpse into how bitter, and potentially personal, the high stakes debate over Florida Power & Light's request to raise its rates $1.3 billion may become later this summer.

On Monday, the PSC voted unanimously to reject a request from the Office of Public Counsel, the lawyers who represent the public before regulators, who want more time to prepare their case.

The OPC had asked the panel to reconsider a May 4 order by hearing officer and PSC Commissioner Lisa Edgar who ruled that the public counsel would have just over four weeks - until May 31 - to file its testimony in two parts of the rate case. She gave FPL just over five weeks - until July 5 -- to file its rebuttal.

It was a timeframe that Public Counsel J.R. Kelly considered unprecedented, unworkable and unfair so, rather than file a motion with Edgar for more time, he and his staff asked for a full vote of the PSC.

It backfired.

Continue reading "Utility regulators reject request from public's lawyers for more time in FPL rate case" »

Enterprise Florida's short-time CEO on mission to Mexico

Like the song says, he's south of the border, down Mexico way.

Bill Johnson has announced he's leaving Enterprise Florida, his board has approved his six-month severance package and he has one foot out the door. But that didn't stop him from leading a 73-member delegation to Mexico City Monday on a three-day export trade mission.

"Mexico is currently our nation's third largest trading partner and second largest export market for U.S. products," Johnson wrote in a letter to Florida business leaders. "I urge you to join me on this mission as we work together to grow our state's economic ties with this important trading partner."

The list of participants includes representatives from more than two dozen companies and the Pinellas and Hillsborough economic development councils, Tampa International Airport, University of Miami, Broward County and city of Pensacola. The trip schedule includes briefing by U.S. Embassy staff members, appointments with Mexico business leaders and two "networking luncheons." 

Fact-checking Rick Scott's higher education promises before his Orlando summit

Gov. Rick Scott holds a higher education summit in Orlando this week so PolitiFact Florida checked on Scott's progress on two higher education promises.

Scott promised to make Florida No. 1 in higher education affordability -- even though our tuition is already one of the lowest in the nation. Here is our update about his promise.

He also promised to be in the Top 10 and Top 25 ranked public universities. See our update on his progress here.

PolitiFact Florida has been tracking Scott's promises about taxes, education, economy and environment from his 2010 and 2014 campaigns on our Scott-O-Meter.

Marco Rubio's life advice to high schoolers


The man who lost his presidential bid stood before the graduating high schoolers on Monday morning and invoked hard-learned life lessons.

"You are going to fail. That's going to happen," Marco Rubio said. "Failure in many ways is a benefit, because it teaches you in ways success never can."

The U.S. senator from Florida wasn't talking specifically about his Republican primary campaign. But it was difficult not to think about it as Rubio gave the keynote address for the Latin Builders Association Academy, a public charter school created in part by his friend, fundraiser and former LBA president, Bernie Navarro.

"I'm incredibly excited to see what you guys are going to be doing in four or six or seven years," Rubio told the students. "Maybe even running for president -- 'cause I lost to a developer, so you can too!"

When the room burst into applause, Rubio joked: "Are you clapping 'cause I lost, or -- ?" More laughter. He made no other mention of Donald Trump.

It was Rubio's second appearance of the day before a teenage audience. He started Monday at Miami Edison Senior High School, speaking to mostly juniors and seniors as part of Haitian Heritage Month. They asked him about global warming, the minimum wage and college affordability. But what Rubio really wanted to do was share advice.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio's life advice to high schoolers" »