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November 18, 2015

Dade Medical College files bankruptcy-like petition in court


Dade Medical College has filed a court petition to sell its assets — setting in motion a process that could lead to paying some of the money owed to creditors and ex-employees.

It’s the equivalent of a bankruptcy filing, but in state court

Students who attended the school may qualify for some money as well, though students who file a claim will likely end up in the back of the line, getting paid only after secured creditors, government agencies and ex-employees who are owed back wages.

Roughly 2,000 students were displaced by Dade Medical’s sudden closure on Oct. 30 — many left tens of thousands of dollars in debt, with college credits that won’t transfer to traditional colleges.

Additionally, there are students who graduated or dropped out before the closure and who say the college deceived them about the accreditation of its programs, or failed to deliver the quality of education that it promised.

A recent Miami Herald investigation, Higher-Ed Hustle, highlighted how Florida lawmakers have strongly encouraged the growth of for-profit colleges. The Legislature has weakened academic standards, allowed for-profits to access additional state money and stifled the growth of competing public community colleges, which charge much lower tuition.

More here

Marco Rubio attends one Paris terror briefing but skips another to fundraise

via @learyreports

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee went behind closed doors for a briefing titled, “The Aftermath of Paris: America’s Role.” But Sen. Marco Rubio was not there. The Florida Republican is on his way to California for fundraising.

The absence illustrates how Rubio is not just missing floor votes but also key hearings on national security and foreign policy -- issues he has presented as chief credentials of his presidential campaign. He's also skipping a Paris briefing this afternoon for all senators. His office said he attended an Intelligence Committee meeting on Paris held Tuesday.

In recent months Rubio has missed a slew of Foreign Relations hearings and classified briefings, records show, aiding his critics.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio attends one Paris terror briefing but skips another to fundraise" »

Stand-your-ground changes advance in Senate, despite stalling in House


It's not done yet. A Senate committee today advanced NRA-backed legislation that would enhance Florida's "stand your ground" law, a day after a House committee effectively killed its version of the proposal.

Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, by a 5-1 vote, approved the bill sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island. It would shift the burden of proof in a pretrial hearing to the prosecutor, who would have to prove why a defendant claiming self-defense isn't immune from prosecution.

Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, was the lone dissent on the committee. He panned the bill as "a massive expansion of 'stand your ground' with an unprecedented burden shift."

Committee Chairman Joe Negron -- a Stuart Republican who's poised to be the next Senate president -- spoke at length in favor of it, a rare moment of debate that he said he felt compelled to do because of the importance of the legislation.

"If the state of Florida is going to accuse a citizen of committing a crime, then the state of Florida has the burden of proving at each and every part of the proceeding, to prove guilt beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt," Negron said. "You don't have to prove anything as a defendant."

Continue reading "Stand-your-ground changes advance in Senate, despite stalling in House" »

Jeb Bush calls for U.S.-led ground troops against ISIS


Jeb Bush laid out a defense policy Wednesday that proposed a U.S.-led coalition of ground troops fighting ISIS, if that's what military leaders recommend.

The United States should not delay in leading a global coalition to take out ISIS with overwhelming force.   

As the words of French President Hollande have made clear, the United States will not be alone in galvanizing this global effort.  

Militarily, we need to intensify our efforts in the air – and on the ground.   

While air power is essential, it alone cannot bring the results we seek. The United States – in conjunction with our NATO allies and more Arab partners – will need to increase our presence on the ground.  

The scope of which should be in line with what our military generals recommend will be necessary to achieve our objective.  

But the bulk of these ground troops will need to come from local forces that we have built workable relationships with.  

Here are his full remarks:

Continue reading "Jeb Bush calls for U.S.-led ground troops against ISIS" »

Gov. Rick Scott not persuaded to accept refugees after White House call


Gov. Rick Scott was among a group of 34 governors who were on a conference call with the White House on Tuesday to talk about accepting Syrian refugees, but it did little to persuade Scott to end his objection to more refugees coming to Florida.

“The conference call with the White House yesterday didn’t help me at all,” Scott told Brian Kilmeade, a host of Fox & Friends, this morning. “It made me even more concerned.”

Scott said the administration officials told them they were doing thorough background checks but were not willing to share those checks with Florida law enforcement.

“They couldn’t explain to me how the U.S. vetting process is any better than the French vetting process, even though we know one of the terrorists posed as a Syrian refugee,” Scott said.

His comments follow a letter he sent U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to stop the administration from settling more Syrian refugees in Florida. Florida is set to receive another 425 refugees, Scott said.

The Associated Press reported that 34-governors participated in the 90-minute call with the White House, which included President Barack Obama’s chief of staff Denis McDonough and representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, Health and Human Services, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center.

'It's offensive,' new web ad says of immigration rhetoric from Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio's harder line on immigration is the subject of a new digital ad from American Bridge and Latino Victory Fund. "Yes, people will have to be deported," Rubio is heard saying.

The ad also features Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. The groups have not yet provided details on where the ad will be seen.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

FAU poll: Jeb Bush fades to 5th in Florida


Jeb Bush's popularity continues to drop in his home state, according to a new robopoll by Florida Atlantic University that shows the former Florida governor in single digits and in fifth place among his Republican presidential rivals.

Bush trails Donald Trump, who holds a comfortable lead in the field with 36 percent. The lineup after Trump? Marco Rubio (18 percent), Ben Carson (15 percent) and Ted Cruz (10 percent). Bush garnered 9 percent support -- half of Rubio's and a quarter of Trump's.

"Despite conjecture that Donald Trump has plateaued, his support in Florida remains very strong and could be growing," Kevin Wagner, associate professor of political science at FAU and a research fellow of the Initiative, said in a statement.

The poll's error margin is 5.2 percentage points, which means Bush is effectively tied with Cruz and perhaps not that far removed from Carson. Bush's campaign has acknowledged the bad polls but insisted Bush's budget cuts and revamped approach -- focusing more on early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire -- will eventually push his numbers back up.

FAU, which is based in Boca Raton, is relative newcomer to the state's presidential polling scene. In its last presidential poll in September, it found Trump in first place, followed by Rubio, Bush, Carson and Carly Fiorina.

Read the full poll:


Ethics commission again seeks help to fix its 'greatest weakness'

SnipImageFor nearly two decades, Florida's Commission on Ethics has sought the power to tackle investigations on its own, without waiting for a complaint to be filed. For all that time, the Legislature, which writes the ethics laws, has said no -- the same Legislature whose members are frequently subjects of ethics inquiries.

The idea will be back before lawmakers in the 2016 session that begins in less than two months. It faces an uphill fight in a Capitol where the powers-that-be have long wanted ethics watchdogs kept on a very short leash.

"The inability to act on cases on its own initiative is perceived as the commission's greatest weakness, and the commission perceives it as its greatest weakness," said Virlindia Doss, the agency's executive director (left). She noted that the idea has been around since former Gov. Jeb Bush convened a public corruption study commission in 1999.

Under the proposal, the commission could start an investigation by a public vote of seven of its nine members. In past years, lawmakers have shelved the idea because of a fear that they could be subject to ethics witch hunts.

Doss presented the commission's legislative priority list to the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee Tuesday. It also includes requiring thousands of elected city officials to file the more detailed financial disclosure, known as Form 6, that lawmakers, county commissioners, sheriffs and other constitutional officers must file.

The commission also wants the power to place liens on property owned by public officials who refuse to pay fines, and to increase the maximum fine from $10,000 t0 $20,000.

Miami congressman, a former school board member, will help rewrite No Child Left Behind law


U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo will have a seat at the table to work out the final details of the overhauled No Child Left Behind education law, a massive, controversial piece of legislation that has taken years for lawmakers to reform.

House Speaker Paul Ryan appointed Curbelo, a Miami Republican and former Miami-Dade School Board member, to the conference committee on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as the legislation is formally known. The committee of House and Senate members will try to agree on the wording of the law. Both chambers have passed different versions.

"Building a better education system for every child in America is one of my great passions. I began this work five years ago as a member of the Miami-Dade County School Board and have been able to continue it on the Committee on Education and the Workforce here in Congress," Curbelo said in a statement.

"This reauthorization of the ESEA puts children at the center of America's education system, reduces burdensome regulations on school districts and teachers, and promotes school choice. On the conference committee, I will fight for a strong but fair accountability system and to protect the interests of English language learners and the teachers and districts who serve these students -- a major priority for our schools in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties."

Earlier in the legislative process, Curbelo passed an amendment giving students learning English more time to achieve proficiency in reading and math.

Teresa Sarnoff gets 642 votes in predetermined Miami election


The results published Tuesday for Miami's District 2 Commission seat runoff election showed Ken Russell with 2,648 votes in his name, equal to 100 percent of the vote. But more than 600 people cast ballots in favor of Teresa Sarnoff, even though she pulled out of the race more than a week before Election Day.

When Sarnoff sent a letter to City Clerk Todd Hannon last week declaring her intent to withdraw from the race, the city responded by saying Miami would have to proceed with Tuesday's runoff election because the city charter requires that a winning candidate receive than 50 percent of the vote (Russell received only 41 percent on Nov. 3). But the city attorney said votes for Sarnoff were to be considered invalid and would not be published.

Votes for Sarnoff were, however, recorded and kept as public record. The Miami Herald requested a copy of those results from Hannon, who provided them early Wednesday morning. They show that despite Sarnoff's public withdrawal -- announced in a letter to the Miami Herald Editorial Board -- 642 people still voted for her, including 127 who went to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots.