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.

September 20, 2016

Donald Trump an environmental hero? "You've got to be kidding me."


When Donald Trump offered to spend $10 million revamping the county golf course in Crandon Park, his top negotiator made one thing perfectly clear: the 20-foot trees along the shoreline had grown much too tall for the mogul’s tastes.

“If he can’t get the 450 yards of mangroves reduced to 4 feet high so the Miami Skyline can be seen along Number 18,” parks chief Jack Kardys wrote to staff in March 2014, “there will be no deal.”

More than two years later, Trump’s failed bid for Crandon is being lauded in a book by his top negotiator, Edward Russo. The title: “Donald J. Trump: An Environmental Hero.”

In the self-published book, Russo argues the GOP nominee takes a practical, selfless approach to environmental conservation through his development deals. For Crandon, that included a plan to irrigate the course with reused wastewater from a nearby plant, reduce chemical runoff into the adjoining Biscayne Bay, and efforts to make Crandon safer for birds.

“There were serious environmental problems at Crandon,” Russo wrote. “[T]he entire archipelago was part of a migratory bird superhighway. Special care was not given to habitats or food sources.”

As for the mangroves, Russo said Trump was right to want to let some breeze in through permitted trimming.

“An environmental hero would look at those mangroves and improve their quality,” Russo said Monday. “And improve the quality of life in and around there right now.”

Critics scoff at Trump as a climate-change denier who has declared windmills too ugly to be within sight of his golf resorts. Among them is Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, who said in a statement: “The bottom line is Donald Trump is the worst candidate for the environment ever nominated by a major political party in the history of our country.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman, a Democrat, said when told of the book.

Read the story here.

Patrick Murphy attacks Marco Rubio in announcing Planned Parenthood's support

Murphy primary nite 3 - richard graulich pbp


Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has the official support of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and he's using that backing to renew attacks on Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio over his stance on abortion and the Zika virus.

The inclusion of Zika funding for Planned Parenthood's affiliates in Puerto Rico has been a partisan sticking point that's prevented Congress from passing a $1.9 billion funding package that President Obama requested months ago.

It's not unexpected that Planned Parenthood's political arm chose to endorse Murphy over Rubio in Florida's competitive U.S. Senate race. Rubio is pro-life, while Murphy advocates for women's choice on abortion.

Murphy said he was "incredibly humbled" by the endorsement, announced Tuesday.

"This is an organization that provides vital health care to millions of women across this country," Murphy said in a campaign statement. "While Marco Rubio opposes a woman’s right to choose, voted to defund Planned Parenthood, and has exploited the Zika virus to attack women’s health, I will be a senator who stands with Planned Parenthood to fight for Florida families."

Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards also criticized Rubio while praising Murphy.

"Murphy has been a fighter for Florida women, pushing for smart policies to ensure access to affordable birth control and safe, legal abortion," Richards said in a statement provided by Murphy's campaign. "Patrick sees the importance of access to reproductive health providers, like Planned Parenthood, to keep Florida women healthy. Rubio’s multiple attacks aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, cutting health care access in Florida, forcing women to pay more for birth control and eliminating access to safe, legal abortion, would all have devastating effects on Florida women and families."

In response to the criticism from Murphy and Planned Parenthood officials, Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said: "Patrick Murphy's campaign is floundering, so he's leaning on liberal interest groups to prop him up."

"Voters have a clear choice between re-electing a senator with a strong record of fighting for them, or Patrick Murphy, who has proven untrustworthy and ineffective," Perez-Cubas added.

Planned Parenthood's is one of several endorsements Murphy has announced since the Aug. 30 primary election. He's continuing a strategy he employed during the primary, in which he touted endorsements from a wide array of Democratic establishment supporters to propel his campaign against his party competitors. It's unclear whether that's having a similar impact during the general election contest against Rubio.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / AP/ The Palm Beach Post

*This post has been updated with comment from Rubio's campaign.

Bondi breaks silence, does not regret taking Trump's $25,000

@MichaelAuslen and @stevebousquet

Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday morning broke her silence on the political mess surrounding her office and a $25,000 political contribution she accepted from Donald Trump for her 2014 re-election bid.

Bondi appeared on the defensive as she confronted reporters in her first public appearance since the Trump story made national headlines two weeks ago. Her comments came at a last-minute press conference that turned testy with reporters digging in on questions about whether she is fit to do the job of the state's top legal officer. 

She said she wishes she had come out in front of the check allegations early on but says she has no regrets about taking the money because there was “no investigation” in her office over the Trump University complaints.

Asked if her credibility is “shot” with voters, Bondi said, “I hope not” and rejected talk of resignation.

Bondi defended her office, saying she has received about 800,000 calls from consumers and said that a review by one of her lawyers of a 2011 complaint against Trump University was appropriate. 

While internal emails show that high-level Bondi staffers including her chief of staff knew about the complaints against Trump  before she requested his donation in September 2013, she insisted that she "had no idea" until reporting by the Orlando Sentinel that October. 

She also shined a light on some unknown parts of her relationship with Trump, who says Bondi is a good friend. 

Bondi said they met well before she was attorney general, "probably" at the time that she was a regular on Fox News. 

Will George H.W. Bush vote for Hillary Clinton?


A member of the Kennedy family told Politico late Monday that former President George H.W. Bush, the father of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, had told her he plans to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend also posted on Facebook about meeting the elder Bush and hearing from him about his voting preference, according to CNN.

A Bush spokesman didn't confirm or deny the claim to either news outlet, saying the ex-president is a private citizen who will keep his choice at the ballot box private.

Jeb Bush has refused to back Donald Trump -- but he's also said he won't vote for Clinton.

Three former Florida governors added to state's Veterans Hall of Fame


Three former Florida Governors are among 11 people to be to the state’s veterans hall of fame.

Later this morning Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet are expected to vote to approve the new inductees, which include Govs Reubin Askew, LeRoy Collins and Spessard Holland. The Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame, established in 2013, is a wall in the state Capitol building in Tallahassee with plaques commemorating inductees.

If all 11 are approved, there will be an official ceremony on Nov. 9 adding them. While adding names to the Veterans Hall of Fame would seem non-controversial, it hasn’t always been. Last year, three veterans of the Confederate Army were nominated, but ultimately were declared ineligible, prompting protests at the Cabinet meeting. This year, none of the 11 nominees has any ties to the Confederacy.

Askew, who died in 2014, was governor from 1971 to 1979. The Democrat served two years in the Army as a paratrooper from 1946 to 1948. Then during the Korean War, Collins served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1953 as a military intelligence officer.

Collins was governor from 1955 to 1961. In the 1940s he was a state senator who resigned his position to join the Navy during World War II.

Holland was governor from 1941 to 1945 before serving more than 24 years in the U.S. Senate. During World War I, he flew reconnaissance missions behind enemy lines and was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

It won’t just be elected officials added to the veterans hall of fame. Other inductees on Tuesday include:

Army Sergeant Jordan Corbett who served in World War II and became a voice against racial injustice as well as a teacher and coach in Polk County.

The late-Rear Admiral Kevin Delaney who was an aviator and later a civic leader in Jacksonville.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Dennis Freytes, an Orlando-area resident who became an advocate for veterans and civil rights.

David Goetsch, a Marine veteran who later became a professor and administrator at Northwest Florida State College for more than 40 years.

William Proctor, a former U.S. Army Reserve captain, served in the Florida Legislature from 2004 to 2012 and served as president of Flagler College for 30 years.

Retire Army Colonel Washington Sanchez, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient who currently serves as chairman of the Florida Veterans Foundation.

Retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant John Stewart, a Vietnam veteran and longtime veteran advocate from Citrus County.

And Vietnam veteran Frederick Taylor Jr. who is a three time Purple Heart recipient.

Republican super PAC emphasizes Patrick Murphy's "lies" in new ad



A major Republican super PAC on Tuesday is starting a $10.8 million TV ad campaign against Democrat Patrick Murphy by continuing to highlight the U.S. Senate candidate's résumé controversy.

The topic has been the subject of a plethora of GOP ads so far in Florida's U.S. Senate contest, mostly from the National Republican Senatorial Committee but also from the Republican incumbent, Sen. Marco Rubio.

In its first TV ad of the general election, the Senate Leadership Fund asserts: "Phony Patrick Murphy lies...a lot."

The ad again targets Murphy's disputed credentials of working as a CPA and as a small business owner. But in contrast to recent NRSC ads, the Senate Leadership Fund avoids saying Murphy "never" did those jobs at all -- an extreme that PolitiFact rated "Mostly False."

Watch the ad below, which will run on Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach broadcast and cable TV:

Continue reading "Republican super PAC emphasizes Patrick Murphy's "lies" in new ad" »

September 19, 2016

David Rivera briefly listed as 'special guest' to Miami-Dade GOP campaign office opening

FullSizeRender (11)@PatriciaMazzei

The Miami-Dade Republican Party plans a grand opening for its West Dade campaign headquarters Saturday.

An invitation by the party lists the office address as 12747 SW 42nd St. and urges supporters to come by to volunteer, make calls and later be served food and refreshments. No campaigns or candidates are listed.

But a draft version of the invitation, which leaked Monday evening, listed former U.S. Rep. David Rivera -- now running for the state House -- and local GOP Chairman Nelson Diaz as "special guests." The draft also showed off logos for the campaigns of Rivera, state Rep. Frank Artiles (who is running for state Senate), U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, though it seemed unlikely all of those campaigns signed off.

The draft was reworked after making the rounds among local political players, who circulated it privately either to note the lack of a required political disclaimer (a sign that it was, in fact, an unfinished invitation) or to criticize Rivera's involvement. He remains under federal criminal investigation into an unlawful 2012 campaign-finance scheme but nevertheless won the Republican primary last month for state House District 118.  FullSizeRender (12)

By the time a final invitation was completed Monday night, the logos and names had been removed -- and a disclaimer had been put in. 

The West Dade HQ is one of two offices recently opened by the local party (the other one is in Hialeah). Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day of Broward touted the offices Friday night at a Trump rally in downtown Miami.

In Tampa, Patrick Murphy talks Marco Rubio, immigration reform

Via @adawsonwrites

He didn't get a chance to eat the Cuban sandwich and plantain chips laid at his table Monday at Arco Iris Restaurant in West Tampa, but U.S. Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy left the small cafe with support from a host of political activists.

Much of Murphy's brief stop with state Rep. Janet Cruz, who will be the House Democratic leader after the Nov. 8 election, was spent blasting his opponent, incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, on everything from Zika funding to immigration and health care reform laws.

"Guess what, it takes an Irishman to speak on behalf of the Latinos on immigration. It takes an Irishman to protect the rights of families and say, 'I'll work on a path to citizenship,' " Cruz said of Murphy as he settled in at a long table of supporters. "It's a Latino that we have in the Senate that is speaking out against our own people."

Immigration reform is key to strengthening the economy, said Murphy, a South Florida congressman. Borders should be secured and laws enforced, he said, but with a clear pathway to citizenship so kids aren't "graduating from school and getting kicked out the next day."

More here.

AFL-CIO drops new batch of anti-Rubio mailers


The AFL-CIO labor union said Monday it's sent 60,000 voters a new batch of mailers against the reelection of Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

The pieces highlight Rubio's support for the Trans Pacific Partnership and for other positions the union considers anti-labor.

The union backs Rubio's Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.


In Fort Myers rally, Trump calls for stronger terrorism response

via @learyreports

Donald Trump blasted Hillary Clinton as weak on terrorism during a rally in Fort Myers on Monday afternoon, rejecting her criticism that his rhetoric has helped cause the problem that surfaced again in attacks over the weekend.

"Weakness invites aggression. and silence in the face of a brutal enemy ... it allows it to spread and that's what's happening all over the world," Trump said, deeming Clinton "weak an ineffective."

HIs comments came hour after Clinton put blame on Trump. “They are looking to make this into a war against Islam, rather than a war against jihadists, violent terrorists," Clinton said. “The kinds of rhetoric and language Mr. Trump has used is giving aid and comfort to our adversaries.”

Trump said Clinton and President Obama cannot use the words "radical Islam," adding: "Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country."

Trump reiterated his proposals for tougher screening of immigrants, to test their ideology and love for the U.S. "These attacks were made possible because of our extremely open immigration system," he said.

"It's time to do things right. We have to put America first. We have to put America first," Trump said to cheers.

After terrorism, he talked of growing jobs and fixing the nation's infrastructure.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times