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90 posts from November 2006

November 30, 2006

Bush hosts Republican Governors Association

At a gathering of Republican governors in Miami, Gov. Jeb Bush couldn't resist taking another shot at the Colorado congressman who recently sneered that the city is a "Third World country.''

"He's wrong,'' Bush said of U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo. "This is a vibrant, beautiful city. We celebrate diversity here. We're an international city.''

But during a panel discussion on homeland security, the governor took a position opposed by immigration advocates.

He said: "There's one thing that Washington could probably do a little better: get our local police trained and certified for INS work. It makes no sense to me, it boggles my mind, that if people coming illegally into our state are apprehended, they can't be detained. It doesn't make any sense at all. You can't even put them in a police car.''

Activists worry that if police are given immigration powers, immigrants will fear turning to law enforcement in cases of emergency.

Gay and Gay Friendly Democrats to meet

The Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus will hold its winter conference in Ft. Lauderdale this weekend _ which is conjunction with the winter board meeting of the National Stonewall Democrats _ and the group says the event will feature gay and gay-friendly winners of elections this year.

On Friday night the caucus, which represents gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities for the Florida Democratic Party, will hold a cocktail fundraising reception. The group said that U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Robert Wexler and Kendrick Meek are scheduled to attend. On Saturday incoming U.S. Rep. Ron Klein will speak at lunch. Other speakers include Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne, his son Rep. Evan Jenne, and Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl.

November 29, 2006

Barreiro touted as head of Juvenile Justice

The arrests of the seven bootcamp guards and a nurse on Tuesday for negligence in the death of a Martin Lee Anderson, a child in their custody, has increased the chorus of children's advocates who want Gov.-elect Charlie Crist to appoint Rep. Gus Barreiro to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Barreiro is the Miami Beach Republican who used his House committee to drill DJJ officials relentlessly about the incident and demanded action, forcing the state to close the Panama City boot camp where Anderson was killed, and shut-down the remaining bootcamps around the state. Barreiro is rumored to have interviewed with Crist's staff for the job of DJJ secretary and has said he is interested. At least one Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Frederica Wilson of Miami believes he's the perfect fit.

Wilson believes much of the case would never have happened "had it not been for the courage and fearless leadership of Gus Barreiro." She believes this episode has created an opportunity for Crist to set a new tone at the department and prove that he is serious about protecting children -- as he promised in his campaign when he repeatedly recited the names of children murdered in Florida: Carly Bruscia, Jessica Lundsford and Sarah Lundy.

Martin Anderson was not from Miami, Wilson said, but Barreiro "reached outside of his jurisdiction, took hold of the issue and put his career on the line because he wanted a child to receive justice. This proves that, in America, we still have people who have that kind of conviction and who can give hope to the unrepresented.''

"Mr. Crist would be well-served, and the future of juvenile justice would be improved, if he would appoint Gus,'' she said. "Florida needs no more embarrassments and Gus would not embarrass him. He would come to the Legislature, demand the right appropriation and programming and Mr. Crist would be a textbook example of what a governor should be."

Here comes a January special session

Florida's two new legislative leaders and Governor-elect Charlie Crist announced this morning that state lawmakers will come to town in mid-January for a week-long special session dedicated to the state's ongoing property insurance crisis. The session is scheduled to start Jan. 16.

"Florida families are suffering from the devastating effects of skyrocketing rates and cancelled insurance policies, and they desperately need relief,'' said Crist in a statement. "I am optimistic that we can find solutions that will address not only our immediate needs, but will also yield a better system to address future storms that are predicted to make landfall in Florida."

House Speaker Marco Rubio already announced Tuesday that House members would spend three days next week in a "conference" studying and learning about insurance issues.

November 28, 2006

Jeb moving on up

First Gov. Jeb Bush got a new car. Now he's getting a new place to live. Bush is going to move into the Segovia Tower, a fancy condo in Coral Gables. Rent is $5,500 per month for the 3,949 square foot unit. The condo has three bedrooms, overlooks Granada Golf Course and is walking distance to Miracle Mile. More about the governor's new digs here.

Hastings loses bid for chairmanship

Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Democrat from Miramar, will not be the next chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a Democratic aide confirmed today as Hastings left a private meeting with speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. More here.

House to hold insurance conference

While a special session dealing with property insurance has been delayed until at least January, House Speaker Marco Rubio plans to hold a three-day "conference on property insurance'' next week. One day will be dedicated to experts discussing the scope of hurricanes and the history of property insurance, while a second day will dedicated to group workshops to discuss insurance issues while the final day will be "idea day."

"The purpose of the conference is threefold,'' said Rubio in a statement. "First we want to ensure all members of the House are given the history and information necessary to understand the nuances of the property insurance issue. Second we want to stimulate a free and open discussion about our policy choices. Third, we want to ensure that we dedicate the time necessary to develop legislation that will bring lower rates to Florida's taxpayers."

Boot camp arrests

Gov. Jeb Bush just announced that authorities are right now arresting the guards and the nurse implicated in the death of a 14-year-old Panama City boot camp ward. More later.

World class or Third World?

The leader of an anti-illegal immigration faction in the U.S. House dissed Miami in recent remarks, saying the city by the bay "has become a Third World Country."

Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado, cites Miami's spiraling homicide rate as proof that the U.S. needs to get a better handle on immigration. That brought a sharp rebuke from fellow Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. She said Tancredo is off-base and invited him to Miami to see the city for himself.

Tancredo, who has visited Miami in the past, said through a spokesman that if the offer included "a stay at a five star beachfront resort, he may be willing to look beyond the inherent dangers he had cited and visited Miami again."

See the story here: http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/16110727.htm

November 27, 2006

It's academy time for House members

At the wonderful hour of 8 a.m. on Tuesday, House Speaker Marco Rubio will kick off a two-day "House Member Academy."

Included on the program will be segments on how the House will handle the budget this coming year, the newly adopted rules, media relations, bill drafting and "working with lobbyists." The media relations segment, it should be noted, will be led in part by Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican who is probably one of the most quoted members of the Legislature. The session on how to have a productive meeting with a lobbyist will be led by Reps. Joe Pickens and Andy Gardiner. Interestingly, the session on media relations will last an hour, but the one on how to deal with lobbyists is only a half-hour long.