Note: This blog's templates will be updated this afternoon to a responsive design bringing it in line with

At that time, we will also change to the Facebook commenting system. You will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment.

May 21, 2015

An updated look at statistics on black-on-black murders

How police interact with black men is in the news again following the April 19 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

One of the more popular fact-checks we did followed the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a black Florida teenager. Since this fact-check is a perennial reader favorite, we wanted to update it with more recent numbers.

Here is the statistic we fact-checked from a tweet:

"In the 513 days between Trayvon dying, and today’s verdict, 11,106 African-Americans have been murdered by other African-Americans." We rated the statement Mostly False because the number was a rough guess. That tweet related to data about race and murder in 2005.

Also, experts told us that most people -- whether black or white -- are murdered by people in their own racial group, and that has held true for decades.

From 1980 through 2008, 84 percent of white victims were killed by whites and 93 percent of black victims were killed by blacks.

Turn to PolitiFact Florida for the rest of our story.

Feds: Florida needs $1 billion for hospital funding

via @stevebousquet

TALLAHASSEE — The federal government told Florida on Thursday that the state will need $1 billion next year to maintain a hospital payment program that's at the center of a political stalemate preventing passage of a new state budget.

In a letter to state health officials, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services said the $1 billion would "maintain stability while the system transitions" to new ways of compensating hospitals for the high cost of treating poor patients, a program known as LIP or low income pool.

Tampa General Hospital, All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Miami's Jackson Health System and Broward Health are among Florida's largest recipients of LIP money. In the current year, those hospitals were promised a total of $731 million in supplemental payments, provided through a blend of federal and local tax money that totals nearly $2.2 billion.

In their letter, the feds did not promise any LIP money. But a House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, told lawmakers that the news is a "clear indication (that) Florida will receive a significant level of LIP funds, which will help us in our efforts to finish the budget by the July 1 deadline."

The $1 billion would revert to the level of LIP funding before 2014.

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, told senators that the news is further proof that a form of Medicaid expansion is the right solution.

"It remains clear that a sustainable long-term solution is needed," Gardiner told senators. "As you are aware, the Senate has proposed a Florida solution."

Continue reading "Feds: Florida needs $1 billion for hospital funding " »

WaPo: Jeb Bush calls human role in climate change 'convoluted'

From the Washington Post:

BEDFORD, N.H. -- Jeb Bush believes that the Earth's climate is changing -- but don't just blame humans.

The former Florida governor, whose state bears the brunt of rising seas and a changing climate more than most, conceded Wednesday evening that humans are partly -- but not entirely -- responsible for the changes.

"The climate is changing. I don't think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It's convoluted," he told roughly 150 people at a house party here Wednesday night. "And for the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you. It's this intellectual arrogance that now you can't have a conversation about it even."

The issue of climate change came up as the host of the house party asked Bush to comment on a speech given Wednesday by President Obama, who said that climate change is a "serious threat" to national security.

More here.

In New Hampshire, Jeb Bush says mother-in-law has dementia


Jeb Bush told voters at a house party in Bedford, New Hampshire, on Wednesday that his mother-in-law suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

"She's a gift from God, she's the most beautiful woman I've ever met," Bush said of 94-year-old Josefina Gallo Esquivel, according to the Washington Post. "Just totally faith-oriented, just the sweetest, nicest person. And she suffers from dementia. It's not uncommon, this is a huge problem."

Gallo Esquivel lives in Miami and relies on care from Bush's wife, Columba, and Bush's sister-in-law, Lucila, both Coral Gables residents.

Bush raised his hand when he asked people in the room to show which ones had relatives with Alzheimer's, according to the New York Times. Then he urged attendees to email him at "if you have any ideas" about how to better tackle Alzheimer's research and entitlement reform.

Marco Rubio to host South Florida fundraisers for Iowa senator


To court Iowa, Marco Rubio plans to host three events next week for Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley -- in South Florida.

Grassley will hit three counties on Tuesday: Miami-Dade for breakfast, Broward for lunch and Palm Beach for dinner, according to an invitation emailed Thursday to some of Rubio's local political donors.

Breakfast will take place at the Coral Gables office of Jorge Luis Lopez, an attorney and lobbyist; lunch at the Pompano Beach headquarters of Allegiance Crane & Equipment, an equipment-rental company whose chief executive is Jim Robertson; and dinner at the Palm Beach home of Amanda and Chuck Schumacher, an auto dealer. 

Donors will have to fork over $1,000 each -- or $2,700 to get more access -- for the breakfast and lunch. Dinner with Grassley requires a $10,400 contribution, though $2,700 will get donors into a larger reception. The money will go to Grassley Hawkeye Fund, the senator's political committee.

"Chairman Grassley -- U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee -- has been very supportive of our friend and Miami's native son, Marco Rubio in Iowa and we proudly want to reciprocate," Lopez wrote in an email to supporters Thursday.

As one of two Republican senators in Iowa, which holds the first presidential caucuses of 2016, Grassley is used to being wined and dined by candidates. Jeb Bush attended a fund-raising lunch for Grassley in Iowa City last week.

May 20, 2015

The Hill: Pitbull, avoiding 2016 endorsement, tells funny Jeb Bush story

From The Hill:

Rapper Pitbull appears to have a keen appreciation for a borderline R-rated joke Jeb Bush once told him.

The “Fun” singer recalled a “funny story” about the likely GOP presidential candidate during a Tuesday interview with Howard Stern on the radio host’s SiriusXM show.

According to Pitbull (whose real name is Armando Perez), the former Florida governor inquired as to how he got his stage moniker.

“I said, ‘Well, I was on the way to a pitbull fight, and a Dominican friend of mine was like, ‘Yo, that should be your name — you're always out here fighting these guys and battling in rap and this,’ ” the Miami-born entertainer says.

Pitbull continued with a laugh, “And Jeb goes, 'Well, good thing you weren't on the way to a cockfight.’ ”

“I was [like,] ‘Jeb, that was pretty slick!’ ” Pitbull exclaimed.

More here.

Roll Call: Broward Democrat wants raise for members of Congress

From Roll Call (published Monday):

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings made the politically tone-deaf case for raising salaries for members of Congress Monday, pointing to the high cost of living in the District of Columbia.

“Members deserve to be paid, staff deserves to be paid and the cost of living here is causing serious problems for people who are not wealthy to serve in this institution,” the Florida Democrat said at a Rules Committee meeting, referring to the average member’s $174,000 annual salary. “We aren’t being paid properly,” he later added.

The committee was considering the fiscal 2016 Legislative Branch appropriations bill, which sets the spending levels for Congress and legislative branch agencies. The bill includes a freeze on member pay, continuing one that has been in place since 2010 — and last year drew the ire of then-Rep. James P. Moran.

More here.

'I'm running for president' flub draws third FEC complaint from liberal group against Jeb Bush

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush’s retracted flub about running for president has earned him another complaint before the Federal Election Commission.

The liberal American Democracy Legal Fund, which has already filed two complaints against Bush for his coordination with a Super PAC, says, “it was clear before, but it is now crystal clear that Mr. Bush and Right to Rise Super PAC, Inc. have violated the Act in the following ways:

“(1) Mr. Bush, now a self-declared candidate for federal office, has been soliciting and raising funds outside of the federal limits for Right to Rise Super PAC, Inc., and (2) Right to Rise Super PAC, Inc., an independent expenditure-only committee that was established and is directed and controlled by Mr. Bush and his agents, has been soliciting, receiving, and spending funds not subject to the limitations and restrictions of the Act.  And even if Mr. Bush stops raising money for Right to Rise Super PAC, Inc. and completely separates himself from the committee now that he has publicly declared his candidacy, Right to Rise Super PAC, Inc. will still be in violation of the law if it raises or spends soft money because it was established by and will be controlled by Mr. Bush and his agents.

“Without action, Mr. Bush's illegal behavior will set harmful precedent that would allow independent expenditure-only committees established and controlled by candidates to wholly finance a candidate's campaign using funds that are not subject to the law’s limitations or requirements, a clear violation of the law’s prohibition on federal candidates establishing, directing, and controlling a soft money entity.”

The FEC, deadlocked with 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans, is unlikely to do much.

Here is the Bush camp's standard response: "Governor Bush is not a candidate for office. We are taking a conservative approach and fully complying with the law in all activities Governor Bush is engaging in on the political front and will continue to do so."

Read the complaint here.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Florida Republicans to Obama: Keep LIP program for hospital charity care


U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and 11 other Republican members of Florida's congressional delegation sent a letter Tuesday to President Obama asking him to continue the federal Low Income Pool program in Florida.

The Health and Human Services Department plans to discontinue the current form of the LIP program, which provides hospitals with charity-care funding, by June 30. That has thrown Florida's healthcare budget into disarray, forcing a special legislative session beginning June 1 for lawmakers to craft a budget. The Senate wants to expand Medicaid under Obamacare to make up for some of the lost funding; the House doesn't. The feds say they want to work with the state to reach some sort of solution.

"HHS's refusal to continue LIP funding in Florida because the state has not expanded Medicaid is an inappropriate overreach and in direct contradiction to the Supreme Court decision," the Republicans' letter reads. It notes Jackson Health System in Miami would lose $237.2 million next year, and Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach would lose $16.2 million.

"We are requesting your immediate action to reverse HHS's decision to end LIP funding," the members of Congress wrote. "The well-being of Florida's low-income families will remain in jeopardy until your administration approves funding for these vital health services.."

Among the letter's co-signers were Miami Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart, and Ponte Vedra Beach Rep. Ron DeSantis, who is running for Senate in 2016.

Did Jeb Bush hold $1 million hostage abstinence education as Emily's List says?

A Democratic political action committee ripped Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, saying his positions as Florida’s governor preview what he’d be like as commander in chief -- particularly when it comes to women’s issues.

Stephanie Schriock, president of the group Emily’s List, said in an essay on Mediumthat Bush spent his two terms curbing women’s reproductive and health rights. (Emily’s List helps Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights.) Schriock ticked off several actions that ran counter to the group’s stance, including Bush’s support of abstinence-only sex education.

"And let’s not forget that Jeb once held $1 million in family planning grants hostage until the programs receiving the money agreed not to discuss birth control at all," she wrote.

We wondered what Schriock meant about Bush holding grant money hostage, so we took a closer look at the books.

See what Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact Florida found and here is our full Truth-O-Meter record for Bush