Note: This blog's templates will be updated this afternoon to a responsive design bringing it in line with MiamiHerald.com.

At that time, we will also change to the Facebook commenting system. You will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment.

July 28, 2016

For Miami-Dade mayor, friction with a county commissioner but friendship with his son

@doug_hanks

The family chart of Miami politics can make for some interesting dotted lines when mapping alliances. Take the Suarez family.

Xavier Suarez, a former Miami mayor, holds the Miami-Dade Couty Commission seat vacated by Carlos Gimenez (a former Miami city manager) for his successful run for Miami-Dade mayor in 2011. Suarez's son, Francis Suarez, sits on the Miami City Commission and is running for his father's old job: Miami mayor. 

The elder Suarez had considered challenging Gimenez in the 2016 mayoral race and depleted most of his campaign war chest last summer running attack ads against him before opting to run for reelection to the county commission instead. So perhaps it's not a surprise that the two aren't close. But it's certainly interesting to consider who Gimenez considers his top ally on the Miami City Commission: Francis Suarez.

"Frankly, to be totally open about it, the person that influences the mayor and has access to him is my son," Xavier Suarez said during a meeting Thursday with the Miami Herald Editorial Board. "I don't have a lot of access to the mayor. I don't know why. That's one of the things he should improve on." 

A response from Gimenez's office emphasized the friction between the two camps. Wrote Gimenez spokesman Michael Hernández: "Mayor Gimenez speaks very frequently with members of our Board of County Commissioners, including Commissioner Suarez. It is yet another curious statement from the Commissioner from District 7 who often calls the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Communications Director and Deputy Mayors whenever he has an issue which requires administration attention."

Asked to weigh in, Francis Suarez wrote: "The Mayor certainly has been accessible to me and we have collaborated on a lot of issues that benefit our residents. Come to think of it, I can't think of an elected official in Miami-Dade County that I don't have access to." 

We  should also mention: Gimenez is running against school board member Raquel Regalado, whose father, Tomás Regalado, is mayor of Miami and frequently scraps with the younger Suarez on city matters. Should Raquel lose the county mayoral race in August, she's considered a top contender to either challenge Suarez to succeed her father as city mayor or run for the commission seat that Francis Suarez will be vacating.

Yes, we need a chart. 

 

Trump execs traveled to Cuba, Bloomberg reports

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

On an afternoon late last year, the golfers teeing off included a group of U.S. executives from the Trump Organization, who have the enviable job of flying around the world to identify golf-related opportunities. The company operates 18 courses in four countries, including Scotland and the United Arab Emirates. It would like to add Cuba. Asked on CNN in March if he’d be interested in opening a hotel there, Donald Trump said yes: “I would, I would—at the right time, when we’re allowed to do it. Right now, we’re not.” On July 26 he told Miami’s CBS affiliate, WFOR-TV, that “Cuba would be a good opportunity [but] I think the timing is not right.”

That, however, hasn’t stopped some of his closest aides from traveling to Cuba for years and scouting potential sites and investments. The U.S. trade embargo, first established in 1962, prohibits U.S. citizens from traveling to the island. But over the years, the U.S. has carved out allowances for family visits, journalism, and other social causes. Most commercial activity is still forbidden, though, with a few exceptions, such as selling medical supplies or food. Golf isn’t on that list.

Trump Organization executives and advisers traveled to Havana in late 2012 or early 2013, according to two people familiar with the discussions that took place in Cuba and who spoke on condition of anonymity. Among the company’s more important visitors to Cuba have been Larry Glick, Trump’s executive vice president for strategic development, who oversees golf, and Edward Russo, Trump’s environmental consultant for golf. On later trips, they were joined by Jason Greenblatt, the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, and Ron Lieberman, another Trump golf executive. Glick, Greenblatt, and Lieberman didn’t respond to requests for interviews. Melissa Nathan, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, declined to answer a list of detailed questions.

More here.

Donald Trump tells Fox he was being "sarcastic" about inviting Russia to hack Clinton emails

Donald Trump said Thursday morning that he was being “sarcastic” about asking Russians to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails from her tenure as secretary of state.

He also said that he didn’t know who had hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s emails.

“Of course I am being sarcastic,” Trump told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade in an interview that posted Thursday morning. “And they don’t even know frankly if it's Russia. They have no idea if it's Russia, if it's China, if it's somebody else. Who knows who it is.”

Trump set off a firestorm Wednesday when he encouraged Russia to hack into Clinton’s emails.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said to a room full of reporters at Trump National doral golf course. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

FBI Director James Comey criticized Clinton’s use of emails stored on a private server but the Justice Department declined to prosecute earlier this month. Clinton’s lawyers had turned over thousands of work-related emails for the investigation but deleted thousands that they concluded were personal.

Trump also commented Wednesday about the DNC’s more than 19,000 leaked emails that were published by WikiLeaks Friday. The emails showed that staff were working to help elect Clinton rather than Bernie Sanders, leading chair U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, to announce she would step down. The Clinton campaign alleged that Russia had hacked the DNC emails to help Trump.

Keep reading here.

 

Keep reading here:

Political milestone: Miami-Dade mayor finally takes in a Marlins game after five seasons

@doug_hanks

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez watched his first home game at Marlins Park on Wednesday, ending a non-attendance streak that stretched into five seasons and made him an oddity among Major League Baseball mayors.

Gimenez, a leading critic of the 2009 deal that sent $370 million in borrowed county money to build the stadium, watched the first third of the Marlins day game after attending a ceremony at the park unveiling the logo for the MLB All-Star Game being played there next year.

Following the on-field festivities, Gimenez joined Miami officials and baseball executives in a suite to watch the Marlins take on the Phillies, spokesman Michael Hernández said.

“The fact that the mayor stayed for the first three innings of the game isn't necessarily a milestone,” Hernández said. “The milestone is Miami-Dade County and Marlins Park will be hosting its first Major League All-Star game.”

Rubio rolls out first TV ad of Senate re-election campaign

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio's going up on the TV air in Florida ahead of the Aug. 30 primary in which the Republican senator faces a challenge from Sarasota developer Carlos Beruff.

The 30-second spot, titled "Keep America Safe" and featuring footage from Rubio's presidential run, ties Democratic Senate contenders Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy to presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

"All three support the disastrous Iran deal, and would close Guantánamo," the ad's narrator says. "Standing in their way? Marco Rubio."

Sounding a bit like Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the narrator later intones that Rubio "took on Obama to block refugees from terrorist countries."

Beruff's campaign called the ad "fiction," saying Rubio tweaked his stances on refugees -- and missed important Senate work.

"Considering Marco Rubio's record of missing votes and ignoring his duties as Senator, it's no surprise his campaign and his establishment allies in Washington would have to make things up," spokesman Chris Hartline said in a statement. "But his record is clear: Marco Rubio just can't make up his mind on the issues that matter to Floridians and only fights the Obama Administration when it is politically convenient. Florida voters are fed up with this kind of failed leadership."

 

Diaz de la Portilla joins Rodriguez in call for Scott to fill environmental vacancies and reject toxin rule

Water toxins
Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said late Wednesday he will ask Gov. Rick Scott to fill the two vacancies on the Environmental Regulation Commission and ask the board to reevaluate its decision, made Tuesday, to increase the limits on cancer causing substances in Florida's drinking water sources.

"I stand in opposition to the Environmental Regulation Commission's vote to approve new water standards that permit increases in the levels of several known carcinogens in Florida’s waterways,'' the senator said in the statement. "While some aspects of the proposal are positive, including the regulation of 39 chemicals not currently regulated by the state, other aspects of the proposal are simply unacceptable."

Diaz de la Portilla, a Republican from Miami, took the unusual break from the Republican governor on an issue that has caused enormous concern among environmentalists. He is in a competitive re-election race in a newly-drawn Senate District 37. He faces state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez who was among several Miami-Dade officials who spoke in opposition to the rule and last week sent a letter to Scott urging him to postpone the vote until he filled the vacancies. The governor did not respond to the letter.  Download Dade Elected Official Letter to DEP on Toxic Levels_72116 (1)

Diaz de la Portilla noted that had the governor filled the two vacancies -- one for a person representing environmentalists and another representing local government -- the measure may not have passed 3-2.

"I cannot help but think that the vote would have not been 3-2 in favor, but 4-3 against, had a full commission been given the chance to vote on this proposal,'' Diaz de la Portilla said.

Here's Diaz de la Portilla's statement: 

Continue reading "Diaz de la Portilla joins Rodriguez in call for Scott to fill environmental vacancies and reject toxin rule" »

State party to Florida Democrats: Can you hold it?

@PatriciaMazzei

PHILADELPHIA -- The unusual admonition to Florida Democrats came in a Thursday morning breakfast.

"Don't drink a lot of water," they were told, in preparation for the last night of the Democratic National Convention.

The reason? The fire marshal has been closing down the floor of the Wells Fargo Center -- so delegates have been forced, um, hold it.

The arena is expected to get only more crowded heading into Hillary Clinton's nomination acceptance.

A potential problem for Democrats controlling their water intake: Philadelphia temperatures are expected to hit 91 degrees.

Dave Barry wants you to know: Hillary Clinton is a woman

via @rayadverb

PHILADELPHIA -- I just realized something. Follow me closely: Unless my research is incorrect — which is unlikely, since I didn’t do any — if Hillary Clinton wins the election, she will be the first woman U.S. president ever! (Unless the rumors about Rutherford B. Hayes are true.)

So that would be pretty historic, right? Hillary Clinton possibly becoming the first woman president? It seems weird that you never hear anybody mention it.

Ha ha! I am engaging in sarcasm. It gets mentioned a LOT. The Democrats have instituted a strict rule for this convention whereby everybody who appears on the podium must make note of Hillary Clinton’s gender, including the person singing the national anthem (“O say can you see / That Hillary is a woman”). It’s as if they’re afraid the voters might forget, when it’s time to go to the polls. (“Wait, which gender is Hillary Clinton again?”)

I was in the hall on the historic night when Clinton won her historic nomination via a historic roll call of the states, with the historic final delegate tally being 2,838 votes for Clinton, 1,843 votes for Bernie Sanders, and — in what observers viewed as further evidence that the Russians have hacked into the Democratic party’s computers — 47,000 votes for Donald Trump. (Those votes were disqualified when it was determined that Trump is not a woman.)

More here.

Obama casts Clinton as rightful heir

@PatriciaMazzei

PHILADELPHIA -- Twelve years to the day that as a young Illinois state senator he captivated Democrats by embracing the “politics of hope,” President Barack Obama on Wednesday enraptured another political convention — this time reasserting his vision after eight years in the White House.

“I was filled with faith — faith in America,” Obama said, recalling his breakout speech at the 2004 convention. Now, he insisted, “I am more optimistic about the future of American than ever before.”

He wasn’t a future candidate, a presidential nominee or a president seeking re-election. He was a man looking to protect his legacy by entrusting it to his one-time rival, former secretary of state and chosen successor: Hillary Clinton.

“Nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office. Until you’ve sat at that desk, you don’t know what it’s like to manage a global crisis or send young people to war,” Obama said. “But Hillary’s been in the room. She’s been part of those decisions.”

“Even in the middle of crisis,” he added, “she listens to people, and keeps her cool, and treats everybody with respect. And no matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits.”

Once Obama finished, Clinton appeared at the convention in person for the first time. She gave Obama a bear hug, held his hand and waved. The nominee wisely chose to schedule the charismatic president’s speech on a different night from her own.

More here.

Republican super PAC ties Joe Garcia, Annette Taddeo to Clinton

@PatriciaMazzei

A super PAC tied to U.S. House Republican leaders debuted a website Thursday trying to link Democratic congressional candidates to Hillary Clinton's email scandal on the same day she will accept her party's presidential nomination.

Among the 12 targeted candidates are Miami's Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo, who are vying to challenge Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

Behind the "ImWithCareless" website is Congressional Leadership Fund -- a group that, along with its sister nonprofit American Action Network (which can raise secret "dark" money) spent about $20 million on 2014 House races, including about $1.3 million in Curbelo's 26th district.

"Putting politics before principle, Annette Taddeo and Joe Garcia are ‘Ready for Hillary’ regardless of how untrustworthy and reckless she’s found by voters or even the FBI," said Ruth Guerra, Congressional Leadership Fund's deputy communications director. "Democrats proudly embracing Hillary Clinton will have to explain to voters why they continue to stand by her record of scandals and dishonesty."

Democrats are similarly trying to portray House Republican incumbents and challengers as allied to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.