September 16, 2014

Another Crist ad hitting Scott on education spending

Charlie Crist's latest TV ad takes aim again at Rick Scott's education budget cuts at the start of the Scott administration's term:

"They don't fly on private jets or float on fancy yachts, but the job Florida teachers do couldn't be more valuable. And when Rick Scott cut education by over a billion dollars thousands of them lost their jobs. Class sizes went up. Our kids paid the price. Why'd he do it? To pay for millions in handouts to big corporations."


Rep. Darryl Rouson lands gig at Clearwater law firm


More than a year after leaving a high-profile firm, state Rep. Darryl Rouson announced today that he has joined Clearwater-based personal injury firm Dolman Law Group.

Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat, left his job at the Morgan & Morgan firm in May 2013. He had taken the opposite side of his boss John Morgan's very public support of a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana. At the time, Rouson said he was leaving the firm to focus on his political career and both insisted the separation was amicable.

Rouson joined the Dolman firm two months ago, according to a press release, and the company is looking to open an office in St. Petersburg.

Rouson faces a write-in candidate and a candidate with no party affiliation in the general election race and is expected to win a fourth term in the Legislature.

Arts funding remains a battle in Miami-Dade budget debate


With Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez backing off a string of proposed budget cuts, subsidies for cultural institutions remain a battleground.

The Miami Children's Museum sent a letter to county commissioners Tuesday objecting to a proposed cut in its tax funding from $750,000 to $635,000. "I am not suggesting that any other organization's approved funding or recommended funding be touched on behalf of the Miami Children's Museum," Jeff Berkowitz, chairman of the museum's board, said in the letter. 

  Download Miami Children's Museum letter

Meanwhile, the Pérez Art Museum Miami continues to press for restoration of a $1.4 million funding increase that Gimenez initially proposed for the new facility but then scrapped to bridge a budget gap in the police department.

And with cultural grants also facing cuts, a string of non-profit art organizations packed commission chambers at a Sept. 4 budget hearing, including a youth symphony that played a brief work for commissioners. Look for an encore this Thursday, for the final hearing before a budget vote. 


Finalist for FSU president, Michael Martin, won't make his Wednesday interview


UPDATE 2:52 PM: Michael Martin, one of the finalists for the FSU presidency, was unable to make it to Tallahassee for his interview Wednesday because he had to have emergency surgery for a detached retina. No details yet about when his interview will be rescheduled or how it will affect the search timeline.

ORIGINAL POST: One of four finalists to become Florida State University's next president notified the school today that he is sick and unable to travel to Tallahassee for his interview on Wednesday.

Michael Martin, chancellor of the Colorado State University System, is one of the favorites of FSU faculty although the vast majority of the schools' community has not had a chance to get to know him. Renisha Gibbs, vice chairman of the search committee, said Martin is still considered a candidate and any decision about rescheduling his interview will be made by this afternoon.

All four finalists were expected to participate in full-day interviews on campus this week. State Sen. John Thrasher was Monday, former West Virginia University provost Michele Wheatly is up today, Martin was to appear Wednesday and Richard Marchase, vice president for research and economic development at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is coming on Friday.

The presidential search advisory committee is scheduled to meet Sept. 22 to review feedback from FSU faculty, staff, students and supporters. They must recommend at least three of the finalists to the school's Board of Trustees. Those finalists would interview with trustees on Sept. 23 and a final selection is expected to be made that day.

Martin's rescheduled interview could alter that schedule, though no decisions have not been made yet. 

This blog will be updated.

Miami is the exception to Rand Paul claim that "income inequality is worse in towns run by Democrat mayors than in towns run by Republican mayors."

During a recent interview with NPR, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took aim at the belief -- widely held among Democrats -- that Republican policies are encouraging greater income inequality.

"I think inequality can be a problem, and interestingly seems to be getting a little bit worse under this administration," Paul said. "Income inequality is worse in towns run by Democrat mayors than in towns run by Republican mayors." (Here’s the full transcript.)

A reader asked PolitiFact to check whether Paul’s claim about cities under Democratic and Republican mayors is correct. So we did. Turn to Louis Jacobson's fact-check to learn how Miami fits into this claim.

Does Curbelo support raising flood insurance rates?

As thousands of Floridians faced the threat of a massive flood insurance hike in 2014, a deluge of protests from homeowners led Congress to delay some of the heftiest increases.

Now U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Miami, says in a Sept. 5 Web ad that his Republican opponent Carlos Curbelo "supported raising flood insurance rates."

That’s a serious charge in Garcia’s district, which includes many homeowners in flood-prone Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. A few days later, the Garcia campaign unveiled a TV ad that makes a similar charge that Curbelo would let rates "skyrocket."

We dove right in to search for the facts: Has Curbelo supported raising flood insurance rates? Turn to PolitiFact Florida for the answer.

A new look for PolitiFact Florida

Today, we unveil a new look for PolitiFact Florida.

Our overhaul includes responsive design, so our website works better on tablets and smartphones. When you browse the site on those devices, you’ll see a larger Truth-O-Meter rating along with easy-to-read text of the entire report.

The redesign comes from PolitiFact and extends to all our state PolitiFact sites: FloridaGeorgiaNew HampshireOregonRhode IslandTexasVirginia and Wisconsin. It also includes PunditFact, where we fact-check the talking heads. 

The new design means it will be easier to share our fact-checks on FacebookTwitter and Google+. You’ll see larger and brighter buttons at both the start of the fact-checks and again at the end. We hope you’ll want to share our fact-checks with friends and family.

We’ve also made colors brighter and increased the size of the text, adding more white space to pages to make the reading experience easier on the eyes. 

What hasn’t changed: The same great fact-checking you’ve come to expect. Read the rest of Angie Drobnic Holan's article about our redesign and check out our fact-checks in the battle between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Scott 44, Crist 39 in new Survey USA poll for WFLA

A new Survey USA robo poll for WFLA Channel 8 in Tampa has Republican Gov. Rick Scott with a 5 point lead over Democrat Charlie Crist, 44 percent to 39 percent, with Libertarian Adrian Wyllie at 7 percent and 9 percent undecided. The poll has a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.

The same poll also has Amendment 2, the medical marijuana ballot question, supported by 56 percent of voters and opposed by 31 percent. It must reach a 60 percent threshold to pass.

Anti-Crist ad focuses on Obamacare


Sorry for the poor quality of this video, but the state GOP won't publicly release many of its ads in the governor's race, so we had to make do. The latest spot highlights the positives things Charlie Crist has had to say about the Affordable Care Act.


Thrasher threatens to walk out of FSU interview with students, faculty, and staff


Long considered to be the candidate to beat, state Sen. John Thrasher was short on specifics and easily rattled during a series of interviews Monday for the presidency of Florida State University.

As the first of four finalists to be invited on campus for daylong interviews, Thrasher, 70, had several hours to sell his vision for FSU to students, staff and faculty. But he spent much of that time dodging questions about his political beliefs and promising the FSU community his devotion, but only in vague terms.

"If I get to this job, I am going to be an advocate for Florida State University for every single constituency whether it be faculty, students or whoever," he said.

Thrasher is expected to win re-election to his northeast Florida state Senate seat. When asked whether he would still commit to increasing faculty salaries, decreasing student debt and helping FSU improve its national standing if he did not become president and remained in the Legislature, he demurred.

As a state senator, he said, he is responsible only to the people who elected him. "I represent them, and I'll follow their wishes," Thrasher said.

That was the overall theme of his interview. On one hand, Thrasher sees his political experience and legislative ties as an asset to FSU as it aims to raise $500 million and bolster its state support. At the same time, Thrasher is asking those who are leery of his conservative political record to trust that he will leave that all behind if he gets the job.

Read more here.