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August 24, 2015

Will Debbie Wasserman Schultz support or oppose Iran deal?

With a new poll showing Florida voters are against the Iran deal, that adds to the pressure for a decision about the deal by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.

Wasserman Schultz, who is also the Democratic National Committee chair, hasn’t commented on her position yet.

“The Congresswoman is continuing her meetings with constituents, Administration officials and experts as she reviews the deal,” her spokesman Geoff Burgan said today. “Since those meetings are still ongoing, she has not made a decision.”

The Quinnipiac poll found that Florida respondents oppose the Iran agreement by 61-25 percent but support sending U.S. ground troops to fight the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

The Iran deal is a hot topic for voters in Wasserman Schultz's Broward to Miami Beach district -- an area that includes a high proportion of Jews.

About 15 percent of the people who live in Wasserman Schultz’s Broward to Miami Beach district are Jewish, according to University of Miami demographer Ira Sheskin. (The actual number of residents in her district who vote could be higher since data from the American National Election Study in 2008 suggest that Jews vote at a higher rate than other groups.)

Continue reading "Will Debbie Wasserman Schultz support or oppose Iran deal?" »

Florida lawmakers featured in anti-Medicaid expansion ads

Several Tampa Bay area legislators are among those featured prominently in a new TV and digital ad by Americans for Prosperity, "thanking" them for blocking Medicaid expansion during the 2015 session.

AFP, a conservative advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, says in a release that "the two-week long TV effort will feature TV, digital and mail to educate Floridians about the 72 legislators who stood up for taxpayers and patients against special interests who pushed to bring Obama’s Medicaid expansion to the Sunshine State."

AFP says five different versions of its 30-second ads are airing across Florida, including the one below.

Quinnipiac poll: Most Florida voters oppose Iran deal


A new poll shows President Barack Obama remains unpopular in Florida -- as does his nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama's job approval rating is upside down 41-56 percent, according to the Quinnipiac University poll released Monday. Respondents oppose the Iran agreement by 61-25 percent but support sending U.S. ground troops to fight the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

The president's proposed federal rules to reduce pollution from coal-burning plants -- not a big issue in Florida -- won support of 69-25 percent in the poll. The survey's error margin was 3 percentage points.

Quinnipiac also polled in two other swing states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and found that in all three places, voters oppose efforts by Republicans in Congress to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

They also support a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally (for Florida, that support was at 53 percent, with 12 percent supporting no path to citizenship and 31 percent saying the immigrants should be forced to leave).

Donald Trump's manager: 400,000 'anchor babies' born in U.S. each year

Donald Trump’s proposal to end automatic citizenship for the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants spurred a week of talk about "anchor babies," a term that some say is derogatory.

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski tried to clarify his boss' views on CNN’s State of the Union on Aug. 23, 2015.

"If you think of the term ‘anchor baby,’ which is those individuals coming to our country and having their children so their children can be U.S. citizens," Lewandowski said on Aug. 23. "There’s 400,000 of those taking place on a yearly basis. To put this in perspective, that’s equivalent of the population of Tulsa, Okla."

We wondered whether there really were 400,000 "anchor babies" born in the United States every year (and yes, that is the population size of Tulsa). Are the undocumented mothers specifically coming here to give birth in hopes of some kind of legal status?

Keep reading Linda Qiu's fact-check from PolitiFact and a fact-check from PunditFact about how many countries offer birthright citizenship.

August 23, 2015

Move to let courts redraw districts 'déjà vu all over again'

Crisafulli end of redistrictingAs Florida legislators dissolved their two-week redistricting session Friday without agreement on a congressional map, they acknowledged they were ready to repeat something they had done only once before in state history — turning over the complicated task of drawing maps to the courts.

The year was 1992, when Bill Clinton and Ross Perot dominated national politics, Florida voters imposed term limits on politicians and Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami-Dade County.

Then, as now, one party controlled government. Lawton Chiles was governor and the House and Senate were run by Democrats. And yet then, as now, political dominance was not enough to overcome the pressures of personal ambition and intra-party divides.

The 1992 redistricting session ended in stalemate over a congressional map and legislators turned the job over to a three-judge panel of federal judges. The court’s signature change was the creation of a sprawling, wishbone-shaped minority-majority seat that linked black communities in 14 counties from Jacksonville to Orlando and back through Gainesville.

The argument: the federal Voting Rights Act protections required the state to link minority communities together where possible to create districts where black and Hispanic voters could elect candidates of their choice.

Now that sprawling district is at the heart of the redistricting ruling from the Florida Supreme Court that ordered the Legislature to redraw its congressional map and specifically end the practice of dividing counties through the center of the state in order to create a black-majority district.

This time, judges specifically ordered that the district run east-west along the northern counties of the state and, because the legislature couldn’t get the job done, the task will go to Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis. He has until Oct. 17 to get a plan complete and send it to the Florida Supreme Court for final review. The first hearing will be Tuesday.

“It’s déjà vu all over again,” said Miguel DeGrandy, a Miami attorney and former Republican state representative who successfully aligned with black Democrats in 1992 to challenge the congressional and legislative districts drawn by the Democrat-controlled legislature.

More here.

August 21, 2015

As governor, Jeb Bush loved manatees -- but sided with boaters

via @craigtimes

As a presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush hasn’t said much about the environmental issues facing America. He’s waffled on climate change, and supported approval of the Keystone pipeline and drilling in the Arctic, and that’s been about it.

But when he was a gubernatorial candidate in 1998, he took pains to show his concern about the environment — particularly one of the state’s signature animals, manatees. He even helped SeaWorld release a pair of rehabilitated manatees, one of them named “Little Jeb.” After he was elected, during a 2000 Cabinet meeting, he made his interest in manatees even plainer.

“There’s an endangered species that’s close to being extinct in Florida waters, and I don’t want to be part of that,” Bush announced. “It’s my favorite mammal.”

Yet when Bush had a chance to solve one of the biggest problems in manatee protection, he backed off, deferring instead to is own conservative ideology.

What happened with Bush and manatees remains one of the great what-ifs of Florida environmental history and provides a window into how he might deal with similar situations as president.

More here.

For now, Marco Rubio's happy in middle of presidential pack

via @learyreports

WEST DES MOINES -- The rain began and the rooftop bar, jammed with 400 people who just heard from Sen. Marco Rubio, cleared out. Scott Maanum hoped to meet him, but others surrounded Rubio for selfie after selfie and then the Republican presidential contender was gone, too.

“He was very inspiring,” said Maanum, a 35-year-old physician. “He drives the point home about making a better future, and that really connects with me.”

Four months after launching his campaign in Miami, declaring “yesterday is over” in an unambiguous shot at Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, Rubio has made the generational argument his focus, and he used it repeatedly during a whirlwind trip to Iowa.

It’s a way to project optimism that has been a winning formula for past presidents and to confront the challenge posed by his inexperience as a first-term senator who draws comparisons to Barack Obama.

“We inherited from our grandparents and parents the greatest nation in the history of the world, so now it’s our turn,” Rubio, 44, told the bar crowd Tuesday evening. “I know some people go around talking about making America great again,” he said, referring to Donald Trump. “America is great.”

But while Rubio left audiences impressed, he is mired in the middle of a sprawling pack of Republicans — many of whom are trying to capitalize on public disgust with Washington and are warning voters about taking a leap on another inspirational speaker.

Rubio and his advisors insist they are in the place they want, using a slow and steady playbook and avoiding the media glare that top candidates face.

More here.

Chief of Miami-Dade's Jackson hospital also wears other hats

via @dchangmiami

From the most recent financial disclosures filed by key employees and members of the Public Health Trust that governs Miami-Dade’s public Jackson Health System: Chief executive Carlos Migoya is a partner in the Aspen, Colorado, sushi hot spot Matsuhisa Restaurant, where the lowest-priced entree is a $29 plate of free range chicken with wasabi pepper or Teriyaki sauce.

Migoya also lists a partnership stake in the Davie-based company Aerolease Aviation, which buys, sells and leases commercial airplanes.

Matsuhisa and Aerolease are co-owned by Michael Goldberg, a Colorado businessman and prolific fundraiser for Democratic candidates.

Migoya’s earnings from the partnerships are not detailed in the disclosure form, though they are listed as secondary sources. His primary source of income is his job as Jackson Health’s CEO, for which Migoya is paid an annual salary of $730,000, plus performance-based incentives that could push his total take home pay past $1 million.


This is how the House and Senate left their proposed congressional maps


When the Florida House and Senate left Tallahassee at noon Friday, they ceded a great deal of control over redistricting to the courts.

As Speaker Steve Crisafulli said on the floor of the House, it's likely that a trial court judge or even Supreme Court justices could look at the last maps agreed to by the House and Senate as the basis of the map defining Florida's 27 congressional districts for the next election.

"The court will have a decision to make of whether or not they want to draw the map, take the plaintiffs’ map or take up a map drawn here in the House or the Senate," he said.

It's unclear how that process would look, or whether judges would be presented with the maps passed by the House and Senate Friday. With that in mind, and with the caveat that House or Senate leaders could direct their lawyers to put forward something different, here are the most recent maps put forward by each chamber. (You can click on the maps for much higher-resolution versions.)

Continue reading "This is how the House and Senate left their proposed congressional maps" »

Crisafulli: No malice to Senate but their map is 'flawed'

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli sent the following message to House members, expressing disappointment for the collapse of the session and reinforcing his opposition to the Senate map:


Thank you, once again, for coming to Tallahassee to give your best effort to produce a compliant remedial Congressional map. I am deeply disappointed that we could not reach an agreement with the Florida Senate.

Though we failed to pass a map agreed to by both Chambers, I am confident that the bipartisan map we passed out of the House – a map that was produced with input from both the House and the Senate (HB 1B) - was a map that gave the Legislature the best chance to complete the remedial process successfully.

It is without malice toward the Florida Senate that I say I believe their map was flawed.  As Chair Oliva stated perfectly, the Legislature is not the judge of intent. Unfortunately, when the Legislature uses inconsistent methodology or principles that afford benefits to some regions to the detriment of others, we open ourselves up to the exact type of criticism and adverse decisions that we have received in the past from the Florida Supreme Court.

Plainly stated, the final version of HB 1B that we returned to the Senate was the best map before the Legislature on both Tier 1 and Tier 2 standards. The Senate never questioned the constitutional validity of the House Bill.

This Special Session was not about pushing limits but about how well we could fulfill our duty, and thus preserve the Legislature’s constitutional authority over redistricting. I am extremely proud of the manner by which the House conducted itself during Special Session, and I again wish to commend Chair Oliva for his outstanding service.

Over the next few days, I will be consulting with our House Counsel to determine our best course of action. Your votes in committee and on the House floor will be at the forefront of my mind as I make these decisions.

I apologize for the uncertainty that we are faced with and commit to providing you with more information in a timely manner.

Once again, thank you for working so hard to fulfill your responsibilities. The last chapter has not yet been written.