June 13, 2014

St. Leo Poll: Rick Scott 43%, Charlie Crist 41%

@MarcACaputo

Another day another poll in the governor's race, this one from Saint Leo University. It shows Gov. Rick Scott leading Democrat Charlie Crist by an inside-the-error-margin amount of 43-41 percent.

Those results aren't surprising. Scott has spent at lest $12 million in unanswered TV ads statewide and Crist has spent zero since mid-March, which coincides with Saint Leo's last poll that showed Crist was up 43-39 percent.

Bottom line: $12 million unanswered TV ads has moved the needle a net 6 points in Scott's favor. So that's $2 million per point. 

As with other polls, Saint Leo's indicates Scott is struggling to get near 50 percent. Nearly every major survey shows the governor stuck between 42-45 percent. But that doesn't matter (especially in a multi-candidate race that will feature a Libertarian candidate; likely Adrian Wyllie).

Elections are about who gets the most votes. Not who gets a pre-determined percentage.

**UPDATE NOTE: It looks like all of Saint Leo's polling is done online now, which makes me a little nervous about the results (although they jibe with others). Here's more about the methodology.

Here's the last time we mentioned Saint Leo and here's its write up now:

Continue reading "St. Leo Poll: Rick Scott 43%, Charlie Crist 41%" »

Miami-Dade property appraiser drops lawsuit filed by predecessor Carlos Lopez-Cantera

@PatriciaMazzei

Property Appraiser Lazaro Solis has dropped a lawsuit against Miami-Dade filed by his predecessor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, over the powers of his county office.

Lopez-Cantera asked the Miami-Dade Circuit Court in August to rule on how much control, if any, the county mayor and commission has over the elected property appraiser. Judge Jose M. Rodriguez has yet to decide the case.

In January, Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed Lopez-Cantera his lieutenant governor. Solis, Lopez-Cantera's deputy, assumed the property appraiser office on an interim basis.

That prompted the county to file a new motion to dismiss the case, noting the lawsuit -- now in Solis' hands -- was challenging the very law that put Solis in power. Solis responded Thursday with a motion for voluntary dismissal.

Solis said he feared a ruling upholding the county's argument that he didn't have legal standing would sway the judge or diminish the strength of an eventual ruling.

"I believe in the merits of the case," he said. "However, I was caught in a technicality."

When a new property appraiser is elected this fall, he or she could turn to the courts again. Commissioner Esteban "Steve" Bovo tried to get voters to clarify the property appraiser's powers with a ballot question, but his colleagues defeated the measure on the dais.

This post has been updated to clarify Solis' position.

June 12, 2014

Politicians try to start drumbeat for joint MLS-Miami Hurricanes stadium by Marlins Park

@PatriciaMazzei

Up until now, David Beckham has been courting politicians -- to no luck -- for a Major League Soccer stadium site. Now, some of the elected officials appear to be courting him.

A group of current and former Miami-Dade County and city of Miami leaders have thrown their support behind a petition asking to build the stadium -- with the University of Miami's college football team -- in Little Havana.

"Support Beckham soccer stadium at former Orange Bowl site, and bring UM football back home!" reads the petition's title. (Notably, the petition mentions the beloved Orange Bowl, not the less-popular Marlins Park.)

It was endorsed Thursday by a cadre of politicians who have had reservations about the two previous locations proposed by Miami Beckham United: the county-owned southwest corner of PortMiami and the city-owned Museum Park and deepwater boat slip

Continue reading "Politicians try to start drumbeat for joint MLS-Miami Hurricanes stadium by Marlins Park" »

Charlie Crist snags LGBT endorsements, calls out AG Pam Bondi for 'waste' in defending gay marriage ban

@SteveRothaus with @MarcACaputo

The largest gay-rights groups in Florida and the nation endorsed Democrat Charlie Crist on Thursday, a turnaround for the former Republican governor who once helped enshrine a same-sex marriage ban in the state's constitution.

In accepting the support of Equality Florida Action PAC and the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, Crist pledged to pressure Florida's Republican attorney general, Pam Bondi, to stop fighting a lawsuit seeking to overturn the same-sex marriage ban voters approved in 2008 by 62 percent.

"I think it’s important to be able to use the influence of the office of governor in a positive effective way,” Crist said, “and encourage the attorney general, number 1, to get rid of these lawsuits – I think it’s a waste of time.”

“Number 2,” Crist said, “there’s a bully pulpit that comes with the office of governor. And I think you can appeal to the people of Florida to maybe call the attorney general and ask her to get rid of these lawsuits and let individuals in the state of Florida live their lives and keep your nose out of their private life."

The endorsements were particularly tough for Democrat Nan Rich, a former state Senate Democratic leader who fought for LGBT rights -- even when Crist opposed them. Rich is trailing Crist and Scott in the polls.

Continue reading "Charlie Crist snags LGBT endorsements, calls out AG Pam Bondi for 'waste' in defending gay marriage ban " »

PPP: FL voters against Cuba embargo 53-22. Rs like Marco Rubio over Jeb Bush 45-41 but...

@MarcACaputo

Public Policy Polling, which typically surveys for Democrats and liberals, is out with a new poll that has some interesting results: Floridians oppose the Cuba embargo 53-22 percent and, in a 2016 GOP primary for president, Republicans narrowly favor Sen. Marco Rubio over former Gov. Jeb Bush 45-41 percent.

But that's in a head-to-head matchup. In a crowded field, Bush cleans up by garnering 30 percent of the vote to Rubio's 14 percent.

Still, both narrowly would lose to Hillary Clinton by an inside-the-error-margin amount. Bush is essentially tied with her 45-46 percent; Rubio loses a little more, 48-44 percent.

There is one inconsistency in the eyes of Florida voters: They don't want Rubio or Bush to run, but the two match up best against Clinton out of the other GOP names. Go figure.

Here's the write up:

Continue reading "PPP: FL voters against Cuba embargo 53-22. Rs like Marco Rubio over Jeb Bush 45-41 but..." »

Miami commission takes symbolic vote for David Beckam's MLS dream after rejecting stadium site

@PatriciaMazzei

We want Major League Soccer in Miami, and we want David Beckham to own the franchise, Miami city commissioners said Thursday.

In a symbolic show of support for Beckham's group, the commission took a unanimous voice vote in favor of the resolution, which came two days after the city dismissed the investors' proposal to build a 20,000-seat stadium on Museum Park and the Florida East Coast Railway boat slip.

Commissioners didn't exactly disagree with that decision, taken by Mayor Tomás Regalado and City Manager Daniel Alfonso. Three out of five commissioners -- Frank Carollo, Marc Sarnoff and Francis Suarez -- said they had concerns about turning over the waterfront property for a stadium.

But Carollo and Suarez also chided the administration for not bringing the issue to a public discussion on the dais.

"In business negotiations, there's a way to do things and a way not to do things," Carollo said. The way the city handled the short-lived talks, he added "really could turn someone off."

Alfonso noted that he telephoned commissioners when Beckham's group floated an inital rent number of $500,000 a year. That number went up to $2 million Tuesday, but by then, Alfonso and Regalado had made up their minds in opposition.

Sarnoff, the district commissioner who was more involved, agreed. 

"They could have offered us the $15 million (in rent) and I still wasn't going to be supportive of a soccer stadium at that venue," he said.

He said he hoped Miami Beckham United would take a close look at city-owned property next to the Miami Marlins' ballpark in Little Havana. Carollo, who represents that area, was more cautious about targeting that site, even as he sponsored the pro-MLS resolution.

 "That does not mean that we're going to give away the land," he said.

Incoming Speaker Crisafulli's first (smart) moves: Mears as staff chief, Prater and Smith as deputies

@MarcACaputo

It's official: Kathy Mears is the must-hire chief of staff in the state Capitol.

And it's also official: Incoming Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli is certainly smart enough to know that, tapping Mears to stay on as chief of staff after she served in that capacity for two years under Speaker Will Weatherford. Mears was then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist's deputy staff chief and was a top advisor to former Senate Presidents Ken Pruitt and Tom Lee.

Brett Prater, staff director currently for Crisafulli and former state party development director, will be Cruisafulli's deputy staff chief. And Ryan Smith, former deputy director of Republican House campaigns efforts, will serve in the same role.

Update: In typical Tallahassee fashion, after someone mentioned this to us and we waited for confirmation, Saintpetersblog posted this first 24 minutes ago.

Taxi industry tells Miami-Dade to jail rogue UberX, Lyft drivers

@PatriciaMazzei

How incensed are taxicab operators at rogue car services Lyft and UberX?

Running sting operations, fining drivers and taking their cars away — all of which the county has been doing — is just not harsh enough, one industry representative told Miami-Dade commissioners Wednesday.

He called those punishments “a joke” and demanded more: A little trip to the big house.

“Put the drivers in jail,” Rudy Gonzalez, the owner of U.S.A. Taxi, said.

And no time like right then and there: Industry lobbyist Susan Fried pushed for a “citizen’s arrest” of Lyft representatives at the meeting if they weren’t registered to lobby.

Another speaker called for a Lyft driver in the county commission chambers to be issued a ticket — on the spot.

The commissioners on the transportation and aviation committee did none of the above. Instead, they spent three hours listening to public testimony and debating what to do about UberX and Lyft. No conclusions emerged, with commissioners clearly perplexed about how to wrestle with the disruptive technology that allows passengers to request rides from private drivers via smartphone applications.

More here.

June 11, 2014

Meet Charlie Crist's campaign team

@MarcACaputo

Democrat Charlie Crist is ready to announce his new campaign team, a mix of new and old names (it doesn't include everyone in advisory or consulting positions).

“We are building a grassroots, people-focused team that represents Florida’s diversity. That’s how we will defeat Rick Scott and put Florida’s middle class back in charge," campaign manager Omar Khan said in a written statement.

Here's the email:

Continue reading "Meet Charlie Crist's campaign team" »

Plaintiffs file closing arguments and proposed order in redistricting trial

The coalition of voters challenging Florida's congressional districts filed a 30-page closing argument Wednesday, peppering the brief with blacked out sections that attempt to shield references to the political consultant Pat Bainter and his company.

They also filed their version of what they would like to see Judge Terry Lewis order, when he rules on the case by the end of the month. 

The defendants, the Florida House and Senate, will file their answer on Friday. More to come. 

Download Plaintiffs closing brief

Download Plaintiffs proposed order