August 18, 2014

FDLE protected Lopez-Cantera after May threat

Florida taxpayers spent nearly $2.4 million last year to provide round-the-clock security protection for Gov. Rick Scott and to protect out-of-state elected officials visiting the Sunshine State.

Security for the governor cost $1.6 million between July 1, 2013 and June 30 of this year, slightly less than the year before, according to the report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. First Lady Ann Scott's security cost $381,000, compared to $225,000 the year before.

The biggest surprise in the report was a $27,000 expenditure to provide six days of security last May for Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. An FDLE spokeswoman, Samantha Andrews, said the reason for the security was a threat against the lieutenant governor. She provided no other immediate details. That was the first week immediately following the end of the 2014 legislative session.

By law, Lopez-Cantera is entitled to a Florida Highway Patrol trooper for his security and transportation, but FHP said he declined that detail when he took office in February.

FDLE agents also provided security on three occasions in the past year for Attorney General Pam Bondi that cost a total of about $4,000, and five times for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at a cost of about $6,400.

Miami's Exile Museum says Cuban loyalty gives it a fund-raising edge

@doug_hanks

Cuban Exile Park & Museum

On the heels of winning initial approval to build on county-owned waterfront, backers of the proposed Cuban Exile Museum pitched the project  Monday as poised for broader success. Key to the mission: Convincing the public they can raise the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to build and operate the museum without public funds, a key requirement of county commissioners who backed the project last month. 

Doing so would be a novelty for the neighborhood:  Both the Perez Art Museum Miami and the under-construction Frost science museum both rely on county subsidies for their budgets, even after securing a combined $265 million in county funds for construction of their facilities in Miami's nearby Museum Park. 

Exile Museum organizers, including former Miami city manager Pete Hernandez, say they aren't daunted. In a meeting with The Miami Herald's Editorial Board, the group pointed to unique support and passion in the Cuban community as their source of confidence. 

"With all due respect, no one has a personal saga with art or science,'' said  Nicolás Gutiérrez, who took the lead in Monday's presentation.

Continue reading "Miami's Exile Museum says Cuban loyalty gives it a fund-raising edge " »

Plaintiffs oppose redrawn congressional map, ask the court to draw districts

 RedistrictOldNewArguing that a newly drawn District 5 will establish a benchmark district "further entrenching the Republican Party in its position of power" the voters groups that brought the lawsuit against the Legislature are asking a judge to draw new congressional districts that would take effect this elections cycle in documents filed today.

"The Revised Plan emerged fully formed from a series of meetings held behind closed doors and then sailed through the special session without modifications while any opposing voices were ridiculed, distorted, or simply ignored,'' writes the lawyers for the group of voters led by the League of Women voters and Common Cause of Florida.

"The dispute over the Revised Plan centers primarily around District 5 and its surrounding districts. Legislative Defendants have again adopted a snakelike north-south configuration of the district that marginalizes minorities by concentrating them into a single district, harms tier-two compliance overall, and conspicuously benefits Republicans in surrounding areas." Here's the brief:  Download 2014 08-18 Jt-Objection to Defs Remedial Map (9057)

Graphic: Legislative congressoinal plans old and new

Charlie Crist voted for Charlie Crist

With Barack Obama's approval ratings lately barely cracking 40 percent, plenty of Democrats will keep their distance from the president heading into the midterms, just as Alex Sink did she when ran for governor in 2010. Not Charlie Crist, who said today he hopes to be campaigning side by side with the president.

"I hope so," he said when asked about campaigning with Obama. "I hope everybody does."

His comments came as he, Carole Crist, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman left the Supervisor of Elections office in downtown St. Petersburg, after casting their ballots early.

"It's so convenient, it's nice and quiet. You have the opportunity to really think it through," Crist said about voting early. We're not sure how long it took him to think through the Democratic gubernatorial primary choice, but "I voted for Charlie Crist," he said.

The other Democrat running is former state Sen. Nan Rich of Broward County, who has not had any money to air TV ad but has criss-crossed the state visiting Democratic clubs and activists. If Rich receives more than 25  percent of the vote, will that reflect on Crist's strength heading into the general election?

"What matters to me is hopefully being the nominee. That's all I'm focusedc on. I hope to win this primary next Tuesaday,"  responded Crist, saying he "would hope to" campaign with Rich after he primary, but there are no plans for that yet.

A TV reporter asked Crist about his recent campaign bus tour on a yellow school bus:  "Did you know there are rules about using yellow buses for things other than educational purposes?"

"Well,"  Crist said, "it was an educational purpose, no question about that. I think we had an opportunity to educate the public about Rick Scott's cuts to education."

Scott's Miami TV ad featured convicted smuggler

Gov. Rick Scott's campaign has ended a month-long run of a campaign ad touting support from small business owners, including a Tampa man convicted of human smuggling four years ago on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten.

As first reported by the Broward Bulldog site, Maikel Duarte Torres was featured in the spot. "The ad is no longer running," Scott campaign spokesman Greg Blair said Monday, adding that the spot was removed from the airwaves last week. The Bulldog said the ad began running on one local Spanish-language station in Miami, America Teve, in late July.

The Bulldog reported that Duarte Torres, a native of Cuba, was convicted in 2011 of his role in trying to smuggle 10 Cuban migrants from St. Maarten to Miami. In the ad, Duarte Torres is seen praising Scott and saying, "I'm just like him. I'm like the American dream."

It's the second time that a Scott ad highlighted a person who has had serious run-ins with the law. The Times/Herald reported in April that a web-only ad featured Corey Alston, the former city manager of South Bay, who resigned from office after being charged with grand theft, corruption and misuse of office.

Rick Scott leads Charlie Crist in Chamber poll

@AdamSmithTimes

A newl poll of likely Florida voters for the Republican-leaning Florida Chamber of Commerce finds Floridians increasingly bullish on the direction of the state, and Republican Gov. Rick Scott leading likely Democratic nominee Charlie Crist 44 percent to 41 percent. When Libertarian nominee Adrian Wyllie is thrown into the mix, Gov. Scott leads 41 percent to 35 percent for Crist with 4 percent for the little-known Wyllie.

“While top concerns for voters remain jobs and the economy, their support of Governor Scott is a signal they approve of his strong ability to create private-sector jobs,” said Marian Johnson, Executive Director of the Florida Chamber Political Institute.  “This is evidenced by the fact that 43 percent of the voters believe Florida’s unemployment rate is lower since Rick Scott took office.”

The Aug. 10-13 live telephone poll by Tallahassee-based Cherry Communications has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The good news for Scott allies, notably the sponsors of this poll, is not just that Scott leads but that respondents appear to feel pretty good about the direction of the state under Scott. And only 41 percent of the likely voteres survyed approved of President Obama’s job performancem while 54 percent disdapproved.Scott leads Crist  by six percentage point among independents, 14 percent of whom said they would vote for Wyllie.

From the Chamber:

•    Of the 627 Florida likely voters polled, 29 percent rank job creation and the economy as their top issues, and

•    For six straight months, a plurality of voters believe the Sunshine State is headed in the right direction – 43 percent. (Based on Florida Chamber polling conducted in February 2014, June 2014 and August 2014.)

Governor Rick Scott’s job approval rating continues to remain positive, with 50 percent of likely voters approving of the job he’s doing. At the same time, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist’s favorability continues to drop – down to 36 percent from 41 percent in June.

“I believe a major reason Charlie Crist is visibly losing support is because voters are beginning to realize that Rick Scott’s private-sector pro-jobs plan is working and that Florida continues to move in the right direction,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Crist fans can and will take plenty of solace that, after more than $25-million in negative ads against Crist and barely a fraction of that against Scott, it still looks like essentiially a margin of error race even in a poll sponosred by a staunch ally of Rick Scott.

More Cross tabs:

Candidate    Dem      Rep    Other    Male    Female
Scott             11       73      31        47        35
Crist              70        8      25        30         41
Wyllie             2         3      14         6          2
Other              6         3      10         4          7
Undecided        11      13       17       13        15

 

 

Crist boards school bus to tout his education record, bash Scott's

Traveling on a yellow school bus, Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist toured the state last week to tell Floridians that public schools would fare better under his watch than that of Gov. Rick Scott.

Along the way, Crist battled the weather, competed with Scott supporters at several campaign stops and repeated his attacks on Scott’s education budgets.

"The notion that Rick Scott would get into office and cut education by $1.3 billion is unfathomable," Crist told teachers and fellow Democrats at a park in Tampa, a message he trumpeted often on his three-day trip.

In neither Tampa, Tallahassee nor Miami did Crist unveil any specific education blueprint, aside from a promise to increase funding.

His mission, however, was clear: Drum up media attention in the state’s top markets and remind voters of his commitment to public schools.

Read more here.

Dissecting the changes in Florida's redrawn congressional districts

What has changed in the new congressional map? Linda Qiu And Derek Tsang of the Tampa Bay Times took a look. See map and more details here:

 

DISTRICT 5 DISTRICT 10
POLITICS 68.4% voted for Barack Obama in 2008 compared to70.5% in the old district. 48.0% voted for Barack Obama in 2008 compared to 47.2% in the old district.
VOTING AGE POPULATION GREW BY 0.2% OVERALL.

 

6.66% of potential voters previously in the district were moved, with most redrawn into District 7 to the east.

GREW BY 1.1% PERCENT OVERALL.

 

18.69% of potential voters previously in the district were moved, with most redrawn into District 9 to the east.

MINORITIES(PERCENT OF VOTING AGE POPULATION) 48.1% African-American, reduced by 2%

 

10.3% Hispanic, reduced by 0.8%

12.2% African-American, increased 1.1%

 

16.9% Hispanic, increased 2.7%

GEOGRAPHY 3,500 FEET AT ITS NARROWEST POINT in eastern Clay County, growing to 48 miles wide between Alachua and Putnam counties.

 

140 MILES LONG.

19.1 MILES AT ITS NARROWEST POINT in Lake County, growing to 39 miles wide between Lake and Orange counties.

 

66 MILES LONG.

AREA GREW BY 495 SQUARE MILES, now 2,031 square miles overall. GREW BY 184 SQUARE MILES, now 1,584 square miles overall.
  DISTRICT 5 DISTRICT 10
POLITICS 68.4% voted for Barack Obama in 2008 compared to70.5% in the old district. 48.0% voted for Barack Obama in 2008 compared to 47.2% in the old district.
VOTING AGE POPULATION GREW BY 0.2% OVERALL.

 

6.66% of potential voters previously in the district were moved, with most redrawn into District 7 to the east.

GREW BY 1.1% PERCENT OVERALL.

 

18.69% of potential voters previously in the district were moved, with most redrawn into District 9 to the east.

MINORITIES(PERCENT OF VOTING AGE POPULATION) 48.1% African-American, reduced by 2%

 

10.3% Hispanic, reduced by 0.8%

12.2% African-American, increased 1.1%

 

16.9% Hispanic, increased 2.7%

GEOGRAPHY 3,500 FEET AT ITS NARROWEST POINT in eastern Clay County, growing to 48 miles wide between Alachua and Putnam counties.

 

140 MILES LONG.

19.1 MILES AT ITS NARROWEST POINT in Lake County, growing to 39 miles wide between Lake and Orange counties.

 

66 MILES LONG.

AREA GREW BY 495 SQUARE MILES, now 2,031 square miles overall. GREW BY 184 SQUARE MILES, now 1,584 square miles overall.

 

August 17, 2014

The trial lawyer who has haunted Rick Scott for four years

Rick Scott stepped to the podium to start a Tallahassee press conference when a man approached him with a handshake.

“Mr. Scott,” the man said. “I have a subpoena here for you.”

Scott’s brief smile fell from his face as he grabbed the subpoena.

Scott didn’t know it at the time, but he had indirectly just come in contact with a man who would become a persistent thorn in his side for the next four years: Steven R. Andrews, a Republican Tallahassee trial lawyer with mad-scientist hair and a flair for headline-grabbing.

Andrews had sent the process server at the time — Aug. 10, 2010, to be exact — to deliver a lawsuit that sought to force Scott to disclose a sealed deposition he gave in a healthcare lawsuit six days before announcing his bid for governor. Andrews lost that suit, which sought to declare Scott a “public hazard.”

Now, almost four years later to the day, Andrews is still vexing Scott over public disclosure.

On Wednesday, Andrews won a battle in a public-records lawsuit against Scott’s administration when a Tallahassee judge ruled that Google and Yahoo must disclose information about private email accounts held by Scott as well as his current and former employees.

Asked later by reporters if he or his staffers used the accounts to discuss public business privately, Scott issued a blanket denial.

“Absolutely not. We follow the law,” Scott said. “This is just an individual that sues the state, tries to cause problems”

Brace yourself for more “problems,” governor.

Column here

"Shady" Rick Scott and "For Sale" Charlie Crist punch, counterpunch in new round of mean ads

@MarcACaputo

It's getting meaner. And it won't get any better.

In a punch-counterpunch round of ads, Gov. Rick Scott's team is going after former Gov. Charlie Crist's ties to a convicted Ponzi schemer and Crist's camp is responding with a broadside against the incumbent for everything from his "lies" about education funding to his pleading the Fifth Amendment 75 times in a deposition.

Scott''s ad, paid through the Republican Party of Florida, fired first.

"Convicted swindler Scott Rothstein bought expensive things with stolen money. He even bought a governor," the ad intones, pointing out how the Ponzi schemer recently claimed Crist essentially sold judicial appointments, which Crist denies.

"Charlie Crist. For governor. For sale," the ad closes.

Now, Crist's campaign plans to run its counter to the "smears;" but it does its own smearing in the process.

"Now," the Crist ad says of Scott, "he's teamed up with a felon convicted of running a Ponzi scheme to smear Charlie Crist with false attacks."

To be clear: there's no evidence that Scott has "teamed up" with Rothstein. And, beyond the word of the convicted Ponzi schemer, there's no solid evidence that Rothstein "bought" Crist.

"Rick Scott," Crist's ad closes, "Too shady for the Sunshine State."

Here's the Crist ad (Scott ad will post as soon as it's on YouTube).