August 20, 2014

Development v. enviro conflict as port dredging damages coral reef, state says


The $205 million dredge project to deepen Port Miami has spread a blanket of silt and clay over the bay bottom that is smothering coral and damaging sea life, state environmental inspectors have found.

In a letter Monday, the state Department of Environmental Protection warned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is managing the project, that work is violating state permits, churning up too much sediment and having a “profound effect” on the sea floor. The agency gave the Corps two weeks to respond.

“A fast response to this issue may minimize long-lasting impacts,” an inspection concluded.

The warning follows a similar complaint last month from the Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper watchdog group, which threatened to sue in September unless work is cleaned up. Story here. 

Florida prison officials announce 'system-wide' reforms after gruesome deaths

Florida’s Department of Corrections, embarrassed by reports of a mentally ill inmate killed by guards — allegedly when they locked him in a brutally hot shower and left him — says it is instituting a series of system-wide reforms.

The measures will be unveiled Wednesday morning at a news conference at Everglades Correctional Institution.

“Stories report we have fallen short in specific instances with regard to facility leadership, safety, security, training and services for mentally ill inmates,” said Mike Crews, secretary of the department. “We’re fixing the problems that have been identified and as we identify new issues, we will fix those too. Our department should be held to the highest standards, and I have zero tolerance for anything less.”

Two years ago in June, 50-year-old Darren Rainey was marched into a locked, closet-like shower and left there for as long as two hours, until he collapsed and died. The shower was used on several occasions as a form of punishment for mentally ill inmates, fellow inmates have told the Herald. Story by Julie K. Brown here. 

Video: Scientists ask Rick Scott to commit to climate change action, he offers no answer


Gov. Rick Scott listened to five of Florida’s top climate scientists Tuesday as they urged him to show leadership and develop policies to offset the impact of human-induced climate change to the state. Story here. 

Rick Scott ad juggernaut goes Creole


Gov. Rick Scott started his Spanish-language media outreach earlier than ever -- especially for a Republican -- and now he's doing the same with Creole speakers.

Today, the Republican Party of Florida unveiled its first Creole radio ad that, like most of Scott's English- and Spanish-language spots is about one major thing: jobs. The ad's title: "Lap Travay," literally translated as "it works," is an echo of the Scott campaign's "it's working" motto.

"We should expect from our elected officials that if they make a promise, they keep it," a female narrator says. "In 2010, Governor Rick Scott promised to fix Florida’s economy and get the state to start creating jobs.  Today, Florida has created over 600,000 private sector jobs."

The ad then pivots to Scott's track record on tax cuts and education spending (PolitiFact check to follow).

Just how many Creole-speaking and Haitian voters will be inclined to vote for Scott is anyone's guess. But there aren't many to start with. The highest concentration of Creole speakers by Congressional district live in the Miami-based seat of U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, and most are Democrats. But some, such as former North Miami Mayor Joe Celestin are Republicans and they're working hard to keep Democrat Charlie Crist from beating Scott.

Beyond the content of the ad, the language is the message for Scott. He's leaving no stone unturned and few voters untouched. 

All told, Scott and Republicans have spent at least $22 million and Crist and Democrats have dropped about $7 million on TV ads alone. Factor in radio spots, and especially multi-lingual outreach, and Scott remains well ahead in paid media.

Crist still needs to win Tuesday's Democratic primary against former state Senate Democratic leader Nan Rich, whom he's expected to easily beat.

The same can't be said of his match against Scott. Polls indicate the governor is pulling ahead, albeit by an inside-the-error-margin amount. The general election is expected to be that close (brace yourself for the possibility of a recount), and in a race like that, every vote counts all the more.

Here's the spot, followed by the translation and the original Creole text as supplied by RPOF:

English translation:

We should expect from our elected officials that if they make a promise, they keep it. In 2010, Governor Rick Scott promised to fix Florida’s economy and get the state to start creating jobs. Today, Florida has created over 600,000 private sector jobs.

By cutting taxes 40 times, Governor Scott has provided a climate for economic growth and opportunity.

On education, Governor Scott has increased funding for pre-school, lowered the cost of tuition by 15 percent for state universities and made in-state tuition available for all Florida students. Governor Scott is working to make sure that the American dream is available for every Floridian.

There is more work to be done. That's why going back is not an option, so let’s keep working together.

Paid electioneering communication paid for by Let's Get to Work 1531 Live Oak Drive Tallahassee, FL 32301.

Creole: Yon ofisyèl eli pou yo kenbe pawòl yo ak nou. Nan 2010, Gouvènè Rick Scott te pwomèt ranje ekonomi Florid la epi pou yo jwenn yo kòmanse kreye anpil djòb. Jodi a, Florid te kreye plus ke 600,000 djòb nan sektè prive.

Epi, Li te koupe taks 40 fwa, Gouvènè Scott te bay yon klima pou kwasans ekonomik ak opòtinite.

Sou edikasyon, li te vin ogmante finansman pou pwogram pre- school ak bese nan pri lajan pou peye lekòl 15% pou tout inivèsite leta pou tout etudian. Gouvènè Scott ap travay pou asire w ke rèv Ameriken an disponib pou chak Floridyen.

Gen plis travay pou fet. Tounen deye se pa yon opsyon. An nou kontinye travay ansam.

Un comunikasyon eleksyon paye pa an Nou Travay Ensam 1531 Live Oak Drive Tallahassee, FL 32301


August 19, 2014

Scott edges Crist in another poll


The latest Survey USA  robo poll for WFLA-8,shows Rick Scott leading Charlie Crist, but within the 4.2 percent margin of error. From WFLA:

Gov. Rick Scott has a 3-point lead over Democrat Charlie Crist, heading into the week before the primary election, according to the latest News Channel 8 poll.

The poll shows Scott with 44 percent of the vote compared with 41 percent for Crist, the former governor now running as a Democrat. Crist takes on former state senator Nan Rich in the primary election August 26, but has focused his campaign against the current governor.

Scott's lead over Crist widened slightly from a 2-point race in the previous poll on August 5.

More here

Scott meets with experts but would not say if he still denies climate change

Scott and climate change

Gov. Rick Scott listened to five of Florida’s top climate scientists Tuesday as they urged him to show leadership and develop policies to offset the impact of human-induced climate change to the state.

But the governor whose campaign strategy has been to say nothing on the issue except that he is “not a scientist,” stayed true to his plan. He would not comment, question or commit to whether or not he believes the warnings by the experts deserve his attention.

“Thank you all,’’ Scott said as the scientists finished their presentations within the 30-minute time period set aside to meet with them. His policy aide, Noah Valenstein, thanked the scientists for attending, and the governor exited the room. Next on the governor’s schedule was “staff and call time,’’ his aides said.

The scientists, who are the top in their fields at the University of Miami, Florida State University and Eckerd College had asked for the meeting a month ago to explain the urgency of developing a more activist set of policies to mitigate the impact of global warming.

Photo: Eckerd College Marine Science Professor David Hastings speaks to Gov. Rick Scott and his aide, Noah Valenstein, about why Florida should take action now to offset the impact of climate change.

Continue reading "Scott meets with experts but would not say if he still denies climate change" »

Miami congressional candidate accuses political blogger of pay-to-play

@PatriciaMazzei  Edited

Congressional candidate and Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo has accused a local political blogger of asking him to advertise on her website in exchange for friendly coverage.

Curbelo provided a cell phone text message from Elaine de Valle, who writes the Political Cortadito blog, in which she notes his campaign has paid to advertise on the conservative Shark Tank blog.

"So! $1,000 for Shark Tank and nothing for Political Cortadito?" says de Valle's message, dated Friday. "I think that's going to cost you... votes that is. Lol!"

De Valle, a former Miami Herald reporter, said she meant only what she wrote: that Curbelo will lose votes by not advertising to her readership. She says her blog has more than 100,000 monthly page views.

"He's just trying to discredit me," de Valle said, pointing to her tough coverage.

Curbelo's communications director, Wadi Gaitan, said the campaign "will not be extorted by agents of other campaigns posing as journalists."

"Under no circumstances will we purchase ads on her page for favorable coverage, nor will we respond to her petty propaganda," he added.

Continue reading "Miami congressional candidate accuses political blogger of pay-to-play" »

Miami judicial races get cash influx from auto insurance political committee


An auto insurance company that regularly fights cases in court has created a political committee and spent nearly $227,000 in support of two Miami incumbent judicial candidates.

The large infusion of money from Citizens for Judicial Fairness, created by United Auto Insurance, appears to be a first in a local judicial election and has sparked a bitter election battle against the industry’s perpetual courtroom foe: personal injury lawyers, who have now started a rival committee.

United Auto’s efforts have also sparked unusual campaign drama — with one candidate’s own treasurer resigning in protest over the perception that a special interest group is spending exorbitantly before the Aug. 26 election.

“It’s ground-breaking. It’s never happened before,” lawyer Hector Lombana said of United Auto’s efforts. He cited the company’s political committee as his reason for resigning as campaign treasurer for Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodney Smith.

“It’s worrisome when you have an industry that is constantly in court exercising its financial muscle in the election for those who are going to judge it,” Lombana said.

The committee is supporting Smith against upstart candidate Christian Carrazana. In the other race, the organization is backing Miami-Dade County Court Judge Nuria Saenz against Victoria Ferrer. Both opponents are personal injury lawyers, a group that frequently sues auto insurance companies on behalf of motorists and clinics.

More here.

Scott, Cabinet appoint newest parole commissioner

It took Richard (Rick) Davison three times, but the veteran state criminal justice official achieved his goal Tuesday. Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet appointed him to one of three plum positions as a state parole commissioner on the newly-renamed Florida Commission on Offender Review.

Davison will serve a six-year term through 2020 and replaces Bernard Cohen, whose term expired. The full-time position pays about $92,000 a year and is subject to Senate confirmation in 2015.

Davison, 51, is a former top administrator in the departments of corrections and juvenile justice and worked as a prosecutor in the Office of Statewide Prosecution. Voting records show he is a registered Democrat. He had applied twice before for a seat on the three-member panel.

Florida abolished parole in 1983 but the commission lives on and continues to hear petitions for parole from inmates who were sentenced before then.

David Rivera named co-conspirator when friend pleads guilty to campaign-finance violations

@MarcACaputo @jayhweaver @PatriciaMazzei

Miami congressional candidate and ex-U.S. Rep. David Rivera was officially named as a co-conspirator Tuesday in federal court when his friend and confederate pleaded guilty to criminal campaign-finance violations.

That defendant, Ana Alliegro, didn’t name Rivera — that was done by a federal prosecutor at the urging of a judge who wanted to know the identity of a man previously identified only as a “co-conspirator.”

According to prosecutors, that person, along with Alliegro, secretly funded the 2012 Democratic primary campaign of ringer candidate Justin Lamar Sternad, who has been sentenced to seven months in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Mulvihill initially declined to name Rivera, but then did so at the direction of U.S. District Judge Robert Scola.

Alliegro’s trial had been scheduled to Monday — a day before the Republican primary election for Florida’s 26th congressional district. Rivera, one of five candidates on the ballot, is running for his old seat.

In a surprise move, Alliegro, who had pleaded not guilty to four charges in March, used a pre-trial court appearance Tuesday to switch her plea to guilty.

More here.