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195 posts from November 2010

November 30, 2010

Rick Scott to meet with Florida lawmakers in DC

Rep. Cliff Stearns, the incoming chair of Florida's congressional delegation, will introduce Rick Scott to the rest of the delegation Wednesday at the Capitol.

"I look forward to welcoming Governor-elect Scott to the Capitol and introducing him to the delegation," said Stearns. "We share a common commitment to helping our state and serving the people we represent.  We will discuss our agenda with the Governor-elect and we will hear about his priorities and how we can assist him."

Scott is also slated to attend a summit with incoming House Speaker John Boehner.

Ray Sansom has new job, wants trial delayed

Ray Sansom, the indicted former speaker of the Florida House, has a new job as dean of students at Okaloosa Academy Charter School and has asked for his trial to be delayed until after the school year.

The new job was disclosed in a court filing asking for the delay. "A one-to-two week trial of this case during the school year would create a burdensome hardship for Mr. Sansom resulting in his resignation or being terminated from his employment," the motion states.

Sansom has been charged with grand theft related to $6 million he inserted into the 2007 state budget for a building at Destin Airport that a private developer wanted to use as a hangar. The trial was set for early January but was pushed back to March 21. Now Sansom wants another delay citing his new job. "This request for a continuance to June or July 2011 will not harm any parties, and is requested in the interest of justice," the motion states.

Sansom is earning $3,000 a month and was hired as an independent contractor, a school official said. He is overseeing students at the Crestview campus. The academy is for at-risk students.

Two weeks after defending the use of earmarks, Bill Nelson votes against them

Bill Nelson -- who two weeks ago defended the use of earmarking to Sen. elect Marco Rubio -- today was one of just 7 Democrats voting to temporarily ban the practice.

Republican Sen. George LeMieux also voted for the ban, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. The measure failed with 39 in favor, 56 opposed. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican and enthusiastic earmarker who had opposed a ban, also voted in favor Tuesday.

A spokesman for Nelson, noting "these are unusually tough economic times," said the measure failed, but that "going forward, Sen. Nelson will keep looking for ways to cut spending, while also fighting to make sure Florida gets its fair share of federal funding for things like ports, military bases and
major projects that bring new jobs."

Nelson in his first meeting with Rubio on Nov. 15 defended earmarking as a way to help the state, but acknowledged that "flim flam" projects should be banned. Figuring out which projects meet that definition is the tricky part, he said.

Obama administration names new Everglades point person

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has named Shannon Estenoz to be the department’s Director of Everglades Restoration Initiatives, his senior representative in South Florida for Everglades restoration.

Estenoz succeeds Terrence C. "Rock" Salt, who is now the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army (civil works).

Estenoz, a member of the Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District, chairs the South Florida Water Management District’s Water Resources Advisory Commission and the Broward Water Resources Task Force. She previously headed up the Suncoast Regional Office of the National Parks Conservation Association and served as the World Wildlife Fund’s Everglades Program Director.

George LeMieux: I'd step aside but Marco wouldn't get seniority and Crist would get to make a second Senate appointment

Tea Party activists have suggested that George LeMieux step down early to give incoming Sen.-elect Marco Rubio a greater chance at the perks of Senate seniority -- choicer committee assignments, etc.

But LeMieux said Tuesday he looked at the idea -- "I would've stepped down if it had given him seniority" -- and is convinced it wouldn't give Marco a leg up -- and would give Gov. Charlie Crist the opportunity to appoint his second interim senator to the seat. (LeMieux was Crist's first interim -- to fill retired Mel Martinez's seat)

"The rules of our conference (are) that it doesn't give him seniority," LeMieux said. "And under Florida law, if I were to step down, he would not have become the senator, the governor would have had the opportunity to appoint an interim."

"I looked into and checked cause if I could've, I would've," LeMieux said. The Senate Republican Conference stopped giving seniority to members who arrive early, LeMieux said, to avoid an "arms race" of senators resigning early to give others a leg up.

Jeb in DC says opposition to Dream Act won't hurt the GOP

The former Florida governor said today he has "sympathy" to the plight of immigrant school children facing deportation orders, but believes that border enforcement must be the priority.

"I have sympathy for the high school class president from Coral Gables High School -- it could be any high school in Miami -- that, through no fault of their own, may be here their entire life -- are put in this dilemma," Bush told reporters. "Shame on the federal government for allowing that to happen."

The stance appears a slight shift for the Republican governor, who has generally embraced immigration reform efforts. But Bush, in town for an education summitt, called the situation of illegal students "one of the vestiges of a dysfunctional immigration system.

"If our country could get its act together, this kind of thing wouldn't happen, you'd have a way to orderly deal with it," he said. Democrats want to bring the Dream Act legislation up for a vote in the Senate and Bush said he didn't expect opposition to the Dream Act from Republicans -- including Florida Sen. George LeMieux -- to hurt the party's efforts to court Hispanic voters. He noted incoming Florida Sen.-Marco Rubio was elected despite opposing the Dream Act.

"It is so clear that the first element of comprehensive reform must be to control the border," he said.

Meanwhile, in an interview with West Pam Beach-based Newsmax.com posted Monday, Bush opined on everything from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, saying she has "incredible skills"' politically, to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, predicting "He'll get crushed'' if he ever tries to run again as a Republican.

He also says President Barack Obama can win reelection -- and that he won't be a candidate in 2012.

Advocates for Dream Act plan ad buy in Florida

Immigration advocates and students who might get a chance to stay in the U.S. if the Dream Act passes, today will announce a "six-figure" ad buy in Spanish and English media in several states, including Florida.

The ads will target senators whose votes, they say, "could be crucial to passing the Dream Act." That's likely to be George LeMieux, who has voted against the measure in the past and has said he won't vote for it until more is done to secure the border. Students last week protested at his office.

Democrat Bill Nelson is a co-sponsor of the legislation which would give students and military service members in the country illegally a chance to stay legally.

November 29, 2010

Scott expects to hire 'a lot of people' from the Crist administration

Republican Gov.-elect Rick Scott said tonight the transition to his Jan. 4 inauguration has been "a lot of work." But his search for agency heads and other appointments could include "a lot" of holdovers from Gov. Charlie Crist's administration.

"I'm sure there is a lot of good people that the governor has found," Scott said. "I'm sure there will be a lot of people that stay."

Scott and his wife, Anne, were in Tallahassee to join Crist and Crist's wife, Carole, at a symbolic lighting of the Menorah at the Governor's Mansion. (Hanukkah doesn't start for two more days.) After the lighting, Scott and Crist held hands as they danced the horah with several children.

Before the festivities, they spent three minutes answering questions from the press.

Q: How is the transition going? What are you learning, what are you discovering?

SCOTT: "It's a lot of work." (laughs) "As you know, what we're going through is trying to surround myself with the best people. And then going through and putting together a good transition team so they can come back and give me good ideas of what we ought to be doing. So it's been fun. I like all the people."

CRIST: "It's been great for us, too. One of the things that I think is so important is to have a seamless transition. And we both feel a sense of duty, that we owe that to the people of Florida. And so it's been wonderful, a wonderful working relationship and a lot of fun and a lot of hard work for Shane and the others that work on our respective teams.

SCOTT: "So, Gov. Crist and I have known each other for a long time. And so, he and his team have been great to work with. And so we look forward to finishing a smooth transition and having a great four years."

Q: You've raised $830,000 for your inauguration. You know the litany of economic problems Floridians are facing. What is an appropriate amount to raise and spend on an inauguration party?

SCOTT: "I'm not sure what the right number is. As you know, we're also raising money for Wounded Warriors. I think it's important to have a celebration. And also I think it's important to raise money for a great cause such as Wounded Warriors."

Q: You're trying to attract people from the private sector to join your administration. Is it a challenge to find people willing to sacrifice a private sector salary for less pay in state government?

SCOTT: "We're finding good people. There's a lot of people that want to serve, no different that what Gov. Crist has done and what I'm doing. There's a lot of people that want to serve the state. And they're not doing it because they're going to make the most money. They're doing it because they want to be part of improving this country and improving this state. And so, I feel very confident we're going to find good people."

Q: Are you going to replace everyone in the Crist administration or will there be some holdovers?

CRIST: "He's certainly replacing me." (laughs)

SCOTT: "Well, Gov. Crist will be hard to replace. I'm sure there is a lot of good people that the governor has found and I'm sure there will be a lot of people that stay."

Q: Gov. Crist, you made a Public Service Commission appointment today. Why wait until so late in the game?

CRIST: "Well, we just didn't want to have a vacant seat there. Before making that appointment, it was a four-member panel. And you could have had some gridlock. So we just wanted to make sure that didn't happen."

Rick Scott raises $830k in 10 days for inauguration

Most of the money is from maximum $25,000 contributions, according to a contribution report posted online today.

Predictably, the donations largely are from the types of special interests that backed Scott's GOP primary rival and that Scott blamed for pushing the state into it's economic crisis.

The contributions are being made to the Republican Party of Florida. A spokeswoman for the inauguration would not say how much Scott hoped to raise for the inauguration. Any unspent money will be given to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Here are some thumbnails of the contributors so far.

Continue reading "Rick Scott raises $830k in 10 days for inauguration" »

Tea Party wants George LeMieux to move out early;

From Sunshine News: "The  interim senator's term officially expires in January, but TEA Party Chairwoman Peg Dunmire says Florida would benefit if he took an early exit.

" 'With the current seniority system firmly in place, LeMieux's resignation would provide our new U.S. senator, Marco Rubio, a huge advantage by surpassing the other 12 freshmen who will take office when they are sworn in Jan. 3,' " said Dunmire..Among the seniority-based perks for Rubio could be choicer committee assignments and a higher ranking in the Senate pecking order.

LeMieux, through his staff, has said he intends to serve until Jan. 3." And the Tampa Tribune reported earlier this month that even if he left, the move would have zero effect on seniority because of Senate rules.

Continue reading "Tea Party wants George LeMieux to move out early; " »