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195 posts from November 2010

November 29, 2010

Rick Scott announces transistion team aimed economy

The 76-member team is tasked with finding ways to reduce the size of government, cut regulation on businesses and find ways to attract new businesses to the state so the Republican governor-elect can fulfilll his promise of 700,000 new jobs in the next seven years.

Like Scott's previous transition teams, this one dips into the pool of special interests and lobbyists.

Some of the highlights include Wayne Huizenga, owner of the Miami Dolphins, who is heading the Economic Development Transition Team; University of Florida President Bernie Machen; Alan Levine, who is also head of Scott's healthcare transition team; Tampa/Hillsborough Expressway Authority Joe Waggoner; Florida Justice Reform Institute lobbyist William Large.

Here's the entire team:

Continue reading "Rick Scott announces transistion team aimed economy" »

How Dean Cannon makes Ray Sansom look like Mr. Sunshine

Way back in 2008, before he resigned in disgrace and was criminally charge for his budget dealings, new House Speaker Ray Sansom wanted to show he was going to govern in the sunshine by inviting the press and public to cover a Republican caucus meeting at WaterColor in the Panhandle

Sansom's ultimate successor, Dean Cannon, doesn't seem as concerned about those pesky reporters buzzing about. Unbeknownst to the press, Cannon has called all 81 members of the Republican caucus to meet nonstop at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort and talk legislative shop and process for two days.

One topic of discussion: "Communications and working with the press." If this little-known gathering is any indication, a more fitting title could be "Lack of Communications and working around the press."

The cost of the seminar near Universal Studios was paid for by the Republican Party, not by Florida taxpayers. Legislators described the event as all work and no play and they said no lobbyists were in evidence.

“This is not fun. This is work,” said House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami. “None of this is policy we’re talking about. It’s not like we’re talking about Senate bill 6 or what we’re going to vote on.”

A memo Lopez-Cantera sent out earlier this week to members advised them “to eat before your arrival… “Hotel rooms will be provided for Monday night, and your cost of gas will be reimbursed by the Republican Party of Florida ... We expect our program to run through all meals. Please do not schedule any other meetings or events during these two days, as we need your undivided attention to make this training a success.”


Mario Diaz-Balart asks CDC for a cholera report

Mario Diaz-Balart has asked the Centers for Disease and Prevention to brief members of Congress on plans to avoid a cholera outbreak in the U.S.

The Miami Republican noted the outbreak in Haiti has killed more than 1,300 and that "with Haiti’s proximity to the United States and the exchange of passengers who fly between the two countries daily, it is important that we take the necessary precautionary measures to avoid an epidemic in the U.S."

His letter after the jump:

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Jeb Bush and Rick Scott in DC this week

The former governor of Florida will be in town Tuesday for the Excellence in Action National Summit on Education Reform.

Gov. Jeb Bush and state education chiefs from Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Rhode Island and Virginia will discuss "what is happening across our country to address the moral, social, and economic challenge of our time - providing every child a quality education."

And incoming guv Rick Scott is listed as among those attending a Republican governors summit on Wednesday with House Speaker-designate John Boehner. Topping the agenda, Boehner says, "spending cuts and jobs -- including repeal of the job-killing health care law." His office said he's looking for a collaborative effort among GOP governors and legislators like the one that resulted in welfare reform in 1996.

Frederica Wilson on hat talk: Put a lid on it

Congresswoman-elect Frederica Wilson, a Miami Democrat, made a brief appearance on MSNBC Monday afternoon as one of 93 freshmen who will be sworn into the U.S. House in January.

Wilson, who has not yet resigned her position as state senator, listed her goals in Washington as reforming Race to the Top, the federal education grant program, "so we won't rely so much on test scores," and working to help the "fragile economy'' in Haiti.

"I also have a real issue with the way we allow cellphone usage in our cars," she said.

Wilson, who is replacing Kendrick Meek, touted her experience working with Republicans in the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature and said she would push for often-elusive compromise in Washington.

"If you're constantly bickering and holding up bills, you're not going to come up with any solution," she said, though she also acknowledged, "I can't wave a magic wand and make anyone do it."

At the end of the short interview, NewsNation's Tamron Hall asked Wilson whether she will wear her signature hats when Congress is in session. Rules ban members from wearing hats on the House floor.

"I really don't want my hats to overshadow my policy and what I stand for," Wilson said. Then she added: "I always wear a hat...I'm going to work on that. I don't have a solution yet. I don't have a plan of action."

Fidel Castro and the Big Bad Wolf (that's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen)

On the eve of her appointment as chair of House Foreign Affairs, Miami Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen finds herself under fire -- from Fidel Castro, as well as Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales.

In his latest column, Reflections of Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader calls Ros-Lehtinen "loba feroz, (the big bad wolf) due to her repugnant conduct during the kidnapping of [Cuban] Elián González and her refusal to hand the child over to his father. The Republican Congresswoman is a symbol of hatred of and resentment against Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and the other member countries of ALBA; ..."Committee.."

Tweeted Ros-Lehtinen: "BINGO: 1st Evo Morales slams me, then Chavez calls me bandit+ now Fidel says I'm Loba Feroz (I never even attended that mtng in Capitol!)"

Chavez last week took issue with a forum at the Capitol where some speakers questioned whether the Venezuelan president was a risk to the region. He called Ros-Lehtinen an "outlaw" and a "fascist" and suggested she could be extradited to Venezuelan to be charged with "committing crimes."

Frederica Wilson finds a fellow hat fan

Frederica Wilson is causing a stir for her decision to ask incoming House Speaker John Boehner for a waiver to let her wear her hats on the House floor -- but she's got sympathy from one Republican.


The Springfield, Mo. News-Leader notes that the Miami Democrat made fast friends with incoming Rep. Billy Long, a Republican from Missouri: "The two saw each other -- and stood out to each other -- because they both wear cowboy hats.
The two call themselves 'The Cowboy Hat Caucus.' 'I wear hats every day, I have for 20 years,' Wilson told the newspaper. 'He saw me when we were sitting down to breakfast and he said he wears hats, too."

The paper notes that a look at Wilson's website suggests she and Long "may not have many political views in common." Long, it notes, was endorsed by Missouri Right To Life and campaigned against "the Obama-Pelosi agenda." But the two told the paper they didn't talk politics." They did, however, wear hats in the freshman class group picture.

The Tallahassee Democrat opines that Wilson be allowed to don a chapeau, noting that a theme of this year's election was "out with the old, in with the new..."

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, not yet a chair: Calls for action in Haiti, gets an apology from Israeli Prime Minister

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- scheduled to be named chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee as soon as today -- is decrying the election tumult in Haiti and calling for corrective action.

The reports of "serious irregularities," she said, "must be investigated immediately and steps taken to correct this wrong perpetrated against the democratic aspirations of the Haitian people.

"Going forward, I urge all parties to exercise calm. Violence must be avoided.  All parties and officials must work together to ensure that all necessary steps are taken so that the Haitian people can be confident in a fair and accurate result which reflects their will."

And from the missed-while-on-vacation department: from Haaretz: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to a Republican congresswoman two weeks ago for having praised Fidel Castro after the former Cuban leader made positive remarks about Israel.

"In a September interview with The Atlantic reporter Jeffrey Goldberg, Castro defended Israel and Jews and criticized Iran, leading to praise from Netanyahu and a friendly letter from President Shimon Peres."

November 23, 2010

Jim Greer lawsuit on hold. For now

So much for the claims about secret Republican boss "hush money." That allegation, along with the depositions of top lawmakers, is on hold now that a judge threw out disgraced former RPOF chairman Jim Greer's breach-of-contract lawsuit against his former party. The judge in the case said Greer couldn't press the civil case because he refuses to talk freely due to the criminal fraud charges he faces. Assuming he beats the rap, Greer can more easily refile his civil claim -- that he didn't get his golden parachute guaranteed him by current House Speaker Dean Cannon, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Sen. John Thrasher and the party itself. It's not the type of claim that easily elicits sympathy from jurors in a job-depressed state. Making matters tougher for Greer: in a civil case, a person's background can be fair game. So don't be too surprised if the Greer-has-sex-with-stripper story hits the courtroom. 

November 22, 2010

Haridopolos spikes local projects

Senate President Mike Haridopolos won't re-open the process for requesting local projects for next year's budget. From a memo he sent to senators: "Given the continuing fiscal challenges our state is facing and our need to focus efforts on solutions to balance the state’s budget, we will not be opening the Community Budget Issue Request System (CBIRS) this year. I want to avoid creating unrealistic funding expectations. I look forward to working together with you in seizing the opportunities and tackling the great challenges that lie ahead."

Of course, CBIRs haven't been in effect for the past couple of years, but that hasn't stopped Florida TaxWatch from flagging millions of dollars in projects as "turkeys."