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August 20, 2015

10 years after Hurricane Katrina, a look at President Barack Obama's campaign promises

A decade after Katrina, the largest city the hurricane struck is still on the road to recovery.

The initial federal response to the catastrophe received a boatload of criticism, including from then-candidate Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential bid. Visiting New Orleans, Obama blasted how the Bush administration dealt with the hurricane.

"America failed the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast long before that failure showed up on our television sets. America failed them again during Katrina. We cannot — we must not — fail for a third time," Obama said on Aug. 27, 2007. "But tragically, that's what's happening today. And that's what needs to change."

Obama then laid out his plan for New Orleans and made a few promises. On the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we looked at eight of those promises centered on the city of New Orleans and found that Obama has largely kept his pledges to protect against future storms, restore wetlands and rebuild schools and hospitals. In some cases, such as housing relief or improving public transit, things haven’t turned out exactly as envisioned. He’s broken one promise entirely, he’s kept four and compromised on three others.

Keep reading the story about Obama's promises from PolitiFact and The Lens, a nonprofit newsroom in New Orleans.

Florida Highway Patrol gets new chief

Col. Gene Spaulding was named Thursday as the new director of the Florida Highway Patrol. He's a 22-year veteran of FHP who began his career as a state trooper in 1993 at Troop K in Fort Pierce and has worked at five stations throughout the state, most recently at Troop G in Jacksonville.

Spaulding's appointment is effective Friday, Aug. 21. He was chosen by Terry Rhodes, executive director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and he succeeds Col. David Brierton, who retired in June.

“I am confident Col. Gene Spaulding is the right person to effectively lead the Patrol in the years ahead," Rhodes said. "He brings a field perspective to the Patrol while continuing the traditions that make the Florida Highway Patrol, quite simply, Florida’s Finest.”

Marco Rubio: Institutional racism 'doesn't just go away'


The first question Marco Rubio got Thursday when he spoke in Detroit was not about the economy -- the subject of his speech -- but about anger in minority communities.

And Rubio continued to try to stand out in the crowded 2016 Republican presidential field by striking an empathetic tone on the issue of institutional racism.

"Many African-American males feel locked out of opportunity in this country," Rubio said.

He acknowledged that the country "has a history of discriminating against people" and that the issue "doesn't just go away." Congress can't write a single law to fix it, he added, noting that there needs to be a change in society from the bottom up.

"I hope we'll take that seriously," said Rubio, who is Cuban-American. "We can't be a great nation in the 21st century when a significant percentage of the population feels locked out."

Rubio took a similar tack last week in an interview on Fox News:

It is a fact in the African-American community around this country there has been for a number of years now, a growing resentment towards the way law enforcement and its criminal justice system interacts with their community. It is particularly endemic among African-American males. That in some communities in this country have a much higher chance of interacting with the criminal justice than higher education.

We do need to face this. It is a serious problem in this country.  There are a lot of different reasons for it. Not all of them have governmental answers. But it is something we need to confront.

Jeb Bush says he shed tears over signing Florida death warrants


In an unusual moment Thursday in New Hampshire, a woman at a town hall-style meeting in Keene asked Jeb Bush if he ever cried in office when he was Florida governor.

Yes, he said.

"I cried for joy," Bush said. "You don't know the Bushes -- we're like cry babies."

He called himself a "converted Catholic" -- "It gives me a lot of serenity" -- and cited his responsibility as governor to enforce areas that "aren't in concert with your faith," like the death penalty.

"Signing death warrants and then participating in the process -- it's not like crying like sobbing crying," Bush clarified. "But there are moments in public leadership when -- quietly, you don't want to cry in public all the time -- yeah, of course."

He also spoke at length about working on issues for people with disabilities and crying tears of joy when they got care they needed.

"I'm a nerdball," Bush conceded. But he added, "this is about helping people. If you can't show your humanity..." (Americans don't want a president "from Mars.")

Earlier, Bush had made his pitch for the 2016 Republican nominee to wage a broad campaign that appeals to people one paycheck away from financial devastation.

"They're watching the political news, and they're going, 'This is completely irrelevant to my life,'" he said, without naming Donald Trump. "It's funny... Maybe it'll be a train wreck, it'll be fun to watch or whatever... We have to reach out to them with policies that are not liberal."

"You don't have to be liberal to care about people," he said.

WSJ: Bush clan will headline Jeb fundraiser in Houston

From the Wall Street Journal:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is bringing out the big guns for his next donor summit, turning to his father and brother to headline the event in Texas this fall, according to a copy of the invitation.

Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush will be the big draw at the third major-donor conference Jeb Bush has organized to raise money for his 2016 White House bid.

The Houston gathering, dubbed the “Jeb Celebration,” illustrates the pros and cons ofJeb Bush’s famous bloodline because it is sure to draw legions of donors loyal to his dad and brother while rekindling voters’ concerns about electing the son and brother of the last two Republican presidents.

More here.

New documents reveal shadow Florida Senate process to draw map

The shadow redistricting process that brought down the congressional map was also in full swing in the Senate, depositions and email documents submitted as part of pending litigation now reveal.

The documents, filed Wednesday in Leon County Circuit Court as part of a pending lawsuit over the Senate map, show that Republican operatives faked “public” submissions, forwarded maps to Senate staff, and created Republican-leaning pieces that became the foundation of the adopted Senate redistricting plan.

The same tactics emerged in the congressional redistricting trial that led to the Florida Supreme Court’s ordering the maps redrawn in a special session that ends this week.

Documents show that the elaborate plan, involving staffing up public hearings with fake testimony and building maps in the shadows, involved many of the same Republicans advisors who influenced the congressional plan — long-time political consultant Rich Heffley, Gainesville-based operative Pat Bainter and Republican Party of Florida advisor Frank Terraferma.

But testimony also shows the degree to which former Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, was aware of the process.

More here.

Gov. Rick Scott blasts Legislature over job incentive money

Gov. Rick Scott picked a new fight with his fellow Republicans in the Legislature Thursday by criticizing them for not spending more money for incentive programs to bring jobs to Florida. Speaking to business leaders at an Enterprise Florida board meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, Scott voiced frustration with lawmakers.

"The Legislature didn't fully fund our tool kit. It's pretty frustrating," Scott said. "We're down to $9 million ... We will not be able to get deals done moving forward."

Legislators insist that Enterprise Florida didn't spen most of the money it got last year and that the public-private partnership is too dependent on taxpayer subsidies to survive. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who chairs a budget subcommittee for all economic development programs, said Enterprise Florida keeps earmarked escrow funds in a bank where it draws one quarter of 1 percent interest. He proposed moving the money to a fund under control of a state agency where it would draw at least 3 percent interest.

"If money for businesses is so important, why does the governor and his people continue to fight me on getting a better return on our investment?" Latvala said. "It's a little sad. But I'm going to continue to fight for the taxpayers."

Continue reading "Gov. Rick Scott blasts Legislature over job incentive money" »

House prepares to reject Senate congressional district changes


The Florida House is preparing to reject the Florida Senate’s plan to create an East Hillsborough County-based Congressional district championed by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon. Instead the House is pushing a new plan that makes changes to South Florida, particularly in and around Sunrise.

House redistricting leader Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami, submitted a new amendment to a base plan the two chambers are working on that strips Lee’s proposal to most of eastern and southern Hillsborough into the 15th Congressional district, now represented by U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland.

Instead Oliva’s plan returns the map to the original plan, which would shift 150,000 southern Hillsborough residents into the 17th District, represented now by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota. That in turn would force Sarasota County to be split into two Congressional districts for the first time in decades. The southern half of Sarasota County would be represented by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, a Republican who lives in Okeechobee County.

But Oliva's plan has additional changes, particularly for South Florida.

Continue reading "House prepares to reject Senate congressional district changes" »

Ads supporting Iran deal target Miami and West Palm Beach markets


The liberal group Americans United for Change is targeting Florida media markets as part of a campaign to build support for the nuclear deal with Iran.

The group’s $500,000 ad buy includes Miami and West Palm Beach markets, as well as Los Angeles, New York City, Baltimore, Boston, Providence and Washington, D.C.

In the ad, the group warns not to trust some of the critics who oppose the Iran deal because they were also members of President George W. Bush’s administration.

“The same people that rushed us into war in Iraq want to sink the new agreement that would help stop war with Iran,” the ad states with pictures of former vice president Dick Cheney and Bush flashing on the screen.

The ad is scheduled to air over the next two weeks. Congress is expected to take up the Iran nuclear deal in September.


Fact-checking claims about abortion by Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio

With the first Republican presidential debate over, Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush are both ramping up their campaigns.

From time to time, PolitiFact Florida will check in on how they’re faring on our Truth-O-Meter. Here’s a look at the latest fact-checks of both including a few claims about abortion and Planned Parenthood.

We have fact-checked Rubio 102 times and Bush 49 times.

Turn to PolitiFact Florida to read a summary of our recent fact-checks of Rubio and Bush.