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166 posts from June 2007

June 30, 2007

Hillary sweeps Florida; says she will clean White House

Hillary Clinton raised more than $100,000 this morning at a $100-per-plate "women's breakfast'' at Jungle Island.

"If there ever was a time for a woman president it's now," she told a mostly female crowd of nearly 1,000. "We're going to have to do a lot of cleaning up after President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Ladies, get out your mops and brooms."

Later she headed to Lake Buena Vista to join her Democratic rivals at the National Association of Latino Elected Officials conference. Before her speech, she announced endorsements from a slew of Hispanic leaders, including the only Hispanic Democrats serving in the state legislature, state Reps. Luis Garcia of Miami Beach and Darren Soto of Orlando.

"We're in a mess right now, and we need someone to get us out,'' Garcia said. "I think Hillary is that type of person."

Politico: Martinez among the immigration bill's "fallen soldiers"

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez is among the wounded named in Politico's roundup of congressional Republicans "most adversely impacted" by the defeat of the Senate's immigration plan - "one of the Bush administration's key domestic priorities.

Martinez, who slammed critics of the bill at an appearance in Orlando Friday, "wasn’t able to muster much political muscle in support of immigration reform," Politico writes, despite his bully pulpit as chairman of the national Republican party.

And the DC-based newspaper notes, the battle has cost Martinez points back home. A recent InsiderAdvantage poll puts his approval rating in Florida at 23 percent, with a 47 percent disapproval rating.

By gambling, Crist means...

"I oppose the expansion of gambling,'' Republican Gov. Charlie Crist said repeatedly during his campaign.

Granted, he said it with a wink and a nod, as casino boss Donald Trump hosted fundraisers for his campaign, and the gambling industry and the Indian tribes poured in millions of dollars. But he said it.

"I oppose the expansion of gambling,'' he said.

Crist refused to elaborate. At one point, a campaign spokeswoman explained: "When [he] says he's against the expansion of gambling, that's just what he means.''

But by "expansion,'' apparently he didn't mean the gradual but unmistakable march toward more ways to gamble at more places for more hours with more money. Because that is what is happening.

Read the rest of Beth Reinhard's column here.

June 29, 2007

More Dems targeted by GOP prop tax ads

Rep. Luis Garcia, the Miami Beach Democrat who is among the seven House freshmen to win over Republican seats has also been targeted by the attack mailers this week sent by the Republican Party of Florida. Read story here. The list of House freshmen under the attack also includes: Reps. Ron Saunders of Key West, Martin Kiar of Parkland, Debbie Boyd of High Springs, Keith Fitzgerald of Sarasota, Bill Heller of St. Petersburg and Janet Long of St. Petersburg.

Garcia, in Orlando attending the conference of National Association of Latin Elected and Appointed Officials, said that his constituents have told him they've received the same brochures. "It seems to be a more widespread effort than only 3 or 4 targets,'' he writes. "In my opinion it seems like an act of early desperation."

Long had this to saw about Rep. David Rivera's comments in today's Herald in which he warns that all Democrats will be held accountable for their property tax vote: "I will be held accountable by the voters in my District not by the Republican Party of Florida and him!"

Crist sends GOP lawmaker to bench

Gov. Charlie Crist today named Rep. Mark Mahon, a Jacksonville Republican, to a vacant judgeship on the Fourth Judicial Circuit, which covers Clay, Duval and Nassau counties. Mahon's term will start tomorrow.

Mahon was first elected to the Legislature in 2000, but one of his most memorable moments came in the waning moments of the 2006 session. That was when the legislator started debating against a prescription drug bill that had come over from the Florida Senate. By speaking out, however, Mahon prevented the House from taking up a bill that would have given a $60 million tax subsidy to the Florida Marlins. More here: Download miami_herald_library_archive.htm .

Crist and Legislature send out budget cut orders

The budget offices of Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Legislature today sent out instructions to state agencies asking them to prepare recommendations on how to cut spending by as much as 10 percent. The letter states that the state will collect anywhere from $800 million to $1 billion less than initially forecast for the 2007-08 budget year that starts Sunday. The new state budget is roughly $71.5 billion.

The letter says that such a "reduction" in revenues will not be "manageable" in subsequent years without a reduction in spending and that agencies should assume a "minimum" cut of 4 percent in recurring general revenue appropriations both this year and next year. To help achieve that goal agencies will receive 24 percent of their appropriated money for each quarter, not the usual 25 percent. Furthermore, the letter says agencies should "take responsible action" to reduce discretionary spending, such as travel and equipment, and fill only "essential vacant positions."

Here's a copy of the initial budget memo: Download 6.29.2007 Agency Budgets Memo.pdf

Here's a copy of the detailed instructions spelling out the 10 percent reduction plans agencies must come up with by August 8: Download 6.29.2007 Agency Budgets Schedule VIIIB.pdf

Crist veto toll for first session can't match Bush

Gov. Charlie Crist has finally wrapped up action on his first regular legislative session as governor and here's the final numbers.

Out of 337 bills sent to Crist by the Florida Legislature, Crist signed into law 315 bills, vetoed 18 bills and allowed four to become law without his signature. (Three of which, by the way, had to do with gambling.) While Crist this year surpassed former Gov. Jeb Bush in the dollar amount of budget vetoes he issued, Crist didn't come close to whacking as many overall bills as his GOP predecessor.

Following the 2006 session, Bush vetoed only 14 bills. But Bush vetoed 37 bills sent to him during the 2005 regular session, 22 bills sent to him during the 2004 regular session and 22 bills sent to him during the 2003 regular session.

GOP mailers target freshmen Dems for prop taxes

Although the vote on the constitutional amendment on property taxes is still six months away, the Republican Party of Florida has wasted no time bashing the House Democrats in close legislative seats for their unanimous vote on property taxes last session. More here.

Martinez: Immigration bill demise a "big letdown"

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, the self-described ''sunny optimist from the Sunshine State''  who faced a barrage of criticism for backing the Senate immigration plan, says it's now up to the bill's critics to come up with a plan of their own.

June 28, 2007

Thompson's Cuba comment hits YouTube

Fred Thompson, the all-but-declared Republican presidential candidate rising in the polls, set off a firestorm with remarks he made in South Carolina on the eve of the immigration vote in the Senate.

"I don't imagine they're coming here to bring greetings from Castro,'' he said. "We're living in the era of the suitcase bomb."

Hillary Clinton's Hispanic campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, seized on the remark: “For many decades, Cubans have been forced to leave the island, risking their lives to escape Fidel Castro’s brutal dictatorship in search of freedom and opportunity. It is simply wrong to equate people fleeing from communism with terrorists.''

Thompson spokeswoman Burson Snyder said he was talking about Castro spies, not legal immigrants. You decide: Watch Thompson on YouTube here, then check out his blog posting to "clarify" his remarks here.

Snyder also responded to an Associated Press story that said Thompson had lobbied for deposed Haitian president Jean Bertrand-Aristide. She says he was only "of counsel" to the Arent Fox law firm, which represented the Haitian government.

"He was not a partner,'' Snyder said. "He was never paid by the Haitian government, and he never met with any representative of the Haitian government. He was asked to make a single phone call back in the early 1990s."

Published reports say Thompson called then-White House Chief of Staff John Sununu in 1991 as Aristide sought to return to power. Seven days after the call, Aristide paid Arent Fox $10,000.