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September 14, 2016

Naked Trump statue rises in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood

via @harrisalexc

Naked Trump made it to Wynwood.

Overnight, a statue of a nude Donald Trump appeared atop a billboard in Wynwood, on the corner of Northwest 24th Street and Sixth Avenue, facing the highway.

The Miami figure is the latest to appear on a coast-to-coast tour, which has includied New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Cleveland. The brazenly bare statue’s appearance in major cities drew headlines and an astonishing quote from a public official.

“NYC parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small,” a New York City parks spokesman joked.

An activist collective called INDECLINE claimed responsibility for the naked Trumps. They call the piece, which features an overweight man with diminutive and incomplete genitalia, “The Emperor Has No Balls.” A (graphic) video from the collective shows how the statues were made.

The Miami statues are courtesy of Mana Wynwood, said Eugene Lemay, president of the Mana Group.

More here.


CNN/ORC poll: Trump edges Clinton in super-tight Florida


Another poll, another virtual tie in Florida's presidential race -- except this time, it's Donald Trump who's edging Hillary Clinton.

A new CNN/ORC poll shows Trump drawing 47 percent of Florida's likely vote, compared to Clinton's 44 percent. That's within the polls 3.5 percentage-point error margin. Libertarian Gary Johnson drew 6 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein drew 1 percent.

Recent Florida polls have shown the race tied or in a similar statistical tie, but with Clinton holding a slight advantage over Trump. Surveys in other battleground states also suggest Trump is on the upswing.

In the Florida U.S. Senate race, the CNN poll shows Republican Marco Rubio comfortably ahead of Democrat Patrick Murphy, 54-43 percent. Other polls have suggested the race is closer.

Scott leaves Washington positive but without Zika deal

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- Gov. Rick Scott concluded a two-day visit to Capitol Hill without gaining assurances that lawmakers will act on funding to fight Zika. Still, he maintained a positive air.

“Everybody’s supportive,” Scott said in an interview outside the Capitol.

At the same time the Republican seemed frustrated that “everybody wants to explain the politics” why funding has not moved. “It hasn’t been accomplished yet,” Scott said, adding he was concerned about babies that could be affected by the virus.

Scott met with a range of officials over two days, including this afternoon with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who holds the keys to a deal to insert $1.1 billion in a stop-gap budget measure. That deal has yet to emerge.

Scott stood by criticism of Sen. Bill Nelson, who voted last week against a $1.1 billion measure because, as Democrats contend, it would block funding to a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Puerto Rico. Earlier Wednesday Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Scott’s comments were not helpful.

“We don’t need to be calling people out,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Sen. Nelson has been trying to help get Zika funding.”


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Rubio for President struggled to organize in Florida. Rubio for Senate is a different story.

VAA16 Voting News rk

The knock on Marco Rubio ahead of Florida's presidential primary in March was that the home-state Republican senator had ignored the grunt work of opening offices, hiring field staff and energizing volunteers to get his supporters out to the polls.

That's not the reason Rubio says he lost: He blames a string of earlier losses for fading collapsing against Donald Trump. But his Senate re-election campaign has apparently learned its lesson anyway.

Rubio partnered with the Republican Party of Florida to open 17 offices across the state, in a move that frustrated his former primary rival, Carlos Beruff, who slammed the party for playing favorites. They're not Rubio offices per se, but a recent visit to the Miami office showed more campaign signs for Rubio than for any other candidate. 

Rick Scott had one office fewer -- 16 -- when he ran successfully for governor in 2010.

The quick field push -- organized hastily because of Rubio's late entry into the race -- has been a matter of necessity. No Florida Republican is relying on any sort of Trump ground operation, as Democrats are doing. Rubio's Senate rival, Jupiter Rep. Patrick Murphy, counts on a network of "coordinated" offices opened with Hillary Clinton's campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Florida Democratic Party. Democratic offices vastly outnumber Republican ones in Florida, and Democrats have out-organized Republicans in the state in the past two presidential elections.

Unable to ask Trump for similar support, the Rubio camp says it has more than recruited 500 "active" volunteers and hired 24 field staff who contacted about 400,000 voters either by phone or in person before the Aug. 30 primary. On the five days leading up to the primary, volunteers and staff made 150,000 calls.

The campaign is expected to roll out local endorsements for the general election in coming weeks -- all in a show-of-force play against Murphy, who has lagged behind Rubio in recent polls.

Down-ballot candidates hope Rubio's campaign organization will lift them up, too: Even if Trump were to lose to Clinton, they say -- and right now the presidential candidates are tied -- perhaps having Rubio near the top of the ticket might stave off a Democratic wave.

Photo credit: Roberto Koltun, el Nuevo Herald

New FL study further shows benefits of juvenile civil citations over arrests



Miami-Dade County led the state last year in sending child offenders to diversion programs rather than arresting them for misdemeanor crimes, according to a new independent study released Wednesday.

But while Miami-Dade — like Florida, on the whole — is doing better to favor juvenile civil citations, the nonpartisan “Stepping Up 2016” study found other counties, including Hillsborough, have a long way to go in making better use of the alternative, which experts praise as a more effective and beneficial option to arrest.

Across Miami-Dade, 91 percent of eligible youth were given civil citations instead of arrests, the highest in the state for 2014-15, according to the study. Miami-Dade Police had a 99 percent usage rate for citations, and the school district had a 92 percent rate.

By comparison, in countywide numbers, Monroe used civil citations over arrests 80 percent of the time in eligible cases, Broward used them 68 percent of the time and Palm Beach used them almost 59 percent of the time, the study found.

In the Tampa Bay area, Pinellas County was second-best statewide with a usage rate of 82 percent — compared to 53 percent for Pasco and Hernando counties, 32 percent for Hillsborough and 24 percent for Citrus, the study found.

The report — the second annual study of its kind by The Children’s Campaign and several other state and national advocacy groups — builds upon previous findings that juvenile civil citations are preferable because youth are less likely to re-offend and because citation programs increase public safety and save potentially millions in taxpayer money.

Read more here.

Photo credit: Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Judge dismisses challenge to toxins in water rule; Martin County accuses DEP of threats

Water toxinsOpponents hoping to overturn a controversial rule to allow higher concentrations of toxic chemicals into Florida’s water were dealt a setback Tuesday when an administrative law judge dismissed a series of complaints because they missed the deadline for filing the challenge.

The groups, which included the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the City of Miami, Martin County and the Florida Pulp and Paper Association, must now decide if they will challenge the ruling at the District Court of Appeal.

The Seminole Tribe was the first to file the challenge to the new new Human Health Toxics Criteria Rule, which allows for dozens of toxins, including carcinogens, to be allowed in greater concentrations into Florida’s rivers and streams.

The rule, which increases the acceptable levels of more than two dozen known carcinogens and decreases levels for 13 currently regulated chemicals, was approved on a 3-2 vote by the Environmental Regulation Commission in July and the groups filed the challenge at the Division of Administrative Hearings, the state-run court that litigates state rules.

The Tribe argued that the rule could endanger the health of tribal members because it fails to take into account the harm they could do to the health of the tribe’s subsistence fishermen who rely on fish from Florida’s rivers and streams as a primary source of protein.

The City of Miami argued the standard “loosens restrictions on permissible levels of carcinogens in Florida surface waters with absolutely no justification for the need for the increased levels of the toxins nor the increased health risks to Florida citizens.”

Martin County argued that the new rules threatened the public’s safety, and that the rule should be invalidated because the Department of Environmental Protection didn’t follow its own process.

Only the Pulp and Paper Association, whose members rely on discharging chemical-laden water into Florida rivers, argued that the rule was too strict. All parties said the agency violated the proper procedure for establishing the rules.

Judge Bram D.E. Canter, however, disagreed and dismissed the challenges on the grounds that they had not been raised in a timely petition.

Continue reading "Judge dismisses challenge to toxins in water rule; Martin County accuses DEP of threats" »

'There is a stink rotting in the Florida Attorney General's office,' Democrats say

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- Asserting that Donald Trump used a political donation to Attorney General Pam Bondi to kill an investigation into his real estate seminars, congressional Democrats on Wednesday urged the Justice Department to open an inquiry.

Florida Reps. Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz joined a news conference and leveled accusations of pay-to-play. "There is way more than whiff here. There is a stink rotting in the Attorney General's office in Florida," Wasserman Schultz said.

Bondi and Trump deny acting improperly, thought Trump paid an IRS fine for using his foundation for the $25,000 donation to Bondi's political committee.

Whatever the merits of an investigation, Democrats -- and the Clinton campaign -- see a political gain. Trump provides added ammunition with his boasts about using his money and stature to influence politicians.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Trump wants to meet with wary Haitian Americans in Miami

Campaign 2016 Trump (2)
@Jacquiecharles @PatriciaMazzei

Eager to make political inroads in crucial South Florida, Donald Trump’s campaign has spent the past few days trying to arrange a private meeting with prominent Haitian Americans ahead of Trump’s Miami campaign rally Friday.

So far, a meeting has yet to be set — in part because the Haitian diaspora appears wary of Trump.

“I don’t think I can vote for him,” said former North Miami Mayor Josaphat “Joe” Celestin, a Republican and son of immigrants who has been invited to the meeting. “When I heard the rhetoric and some of the responses he gave during some of the debates, I was extremely disappointed.”

Trump supporters are well aware of Haitian Americans’ reluctance, which is why they’re trying to get community leaders in front of the candidate himself to change their minds.

“He needs to address the Haitian people directly,” said Michael Barnett, the Palm Beach County Republican Party chairman putting the meeting together. “He knows how to listen to people and find out what the problems are.”

Haitian Americans are already skeptical about Hillary Clinton. Many still feel seething anger toward Clinton and her husband over their political and philanthropic involvement in Haiti.

“Voters have a very tough plate in front of them,” said Celestin, who in 2001 became the first Haitian American elected mayor of a sizable U.S. city. “I think this election cycle, most Haitians are going to stay home. They don’t want to vote for Trump, and they don’t want to vote for Hillary — and we don’t have an alternative.”

More here.

Photo credit: Evan Vucci, Associated Press

Competing demands crowd Zika money



WASHINGTON Turns out, Zika isn’t the only urgent problem that needs federal funds fast.

Florida lawmakers pushing to get $1.1 billion for Zika prevention and research into a rapidly evolving broader appropriations bill are competing with members of Congress from across the country who want their needs addressed.

On his second day in Washington to push for Zika funding, Gov. Rick Scott met with members of Congress from the state who briefed him on the rapidly evolving negotiations over federal spending.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, said he’s jousting with other panel members seeking vital funding for their districts and states.

Lawmakers from Louisiana want billions for flood relief. Congressmen from Michigan want millions to clean contaminated drinking water. Others are pushing for more money for veterans’ healthcare.

“Florida’s not the only state with urgent needs,” Diaz-Balart told reporters after he and other Florida lawmakers met with Scott.

The governor said that Florida can’t wait any longer to receive federal aid to help with treating the almost 800 people in the state infected with the virus and preventing it from spreading further.

“We need help, and we need help now,” Scott said.

Scott criticized Sen. Bill Nelson for joining other Democrats in having voted down earlier Zika bills because they contained extraneous provisions related to abortion, Planned Parenthood and the federal health insurance law.

Scott’s criticism drew a rebuke from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a fellow Republican from Miami.

“We don’t need to be calling people out,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Sen. Nelson has been trying to help get Zika funding.”

Beyond the competition among different funding needs, there was disagreement on Capitol Hill over how much time the omnibus spending bill, called a Continuing Resolution, should cover going forward.

Appropriators sought a short-term measure that would keep the government operating into December. Some conservatives wanted it to be funded until March. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress were pushing for a bill to cover the entire next fiscal year, starting Oct. 1 and lasting through Sept. 30, 2017.

Video credit: Ken Cedeno, McClatchy