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272 posts from October 2011

October 31, 2011

Detert: End secrecy on tax incentive deals for companies

s023.jpgA Republican state senator wants to end secrecy surrounding deals that use tax dollars to lure companies to Florida or that keep existing businesses from leaving.

"Once the deal is signed, all the details should be open to the public," said Nancy Detert, R-Venice, chair of the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee.

The public record exemption hides details for two years, including the name of the company, for deals that use taxpayer money to create jobs. Since Gov. Rick Scott took office in January, the exemption has been used 49 times.

Story here.

Movers and Shakers, the Halloween edition

Gretl Plessinger, communications director of the Department of Corrections, is taking the same job at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Her last day is Nov. 15. Plessinger worked as a reporter and assistant news director at WFSU in Tallahassee for four years before joining the agency in 2006. She studied communications at Indiana State University.

In a note about her depature to agency staff, Corrections Secretary (and former FDLE deputy commissioner) Ken Tucker said Plessinger is the agency's longest-serving communications director.

"And while I hate to lose her, it stings a little less knowing that my former agency will get the benefit of her expertise, and I know she will be a great fit there," Tucker wrote.

* * *

Florida's Planned Parenthood arm has a new Tallahassee lobbyist. Replacing Stephanie Kunkel at the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates is Emily Jane Caponetti, formerly the communications director for the Women's Campaign Forum, an organization thats works to elect candidates favoring abortion rights.

Before her time with that group, Caponetti was the director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. An American University alumna, Caponetti managed field operations for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in Iowa.

Kunkel is now Florida director of the Political Institute for Women.

Continue reading "Movers and Shakers, the Halloween edition" »

State will appeal judge's prison-privatization order

The state of Florida will appeal a judge's decision striking down a prison privatization plan as unconstitutional. Minutes before 5 p.m. Monday, Attorney General Pam Bondi released a notice of appeal filed with the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee -- this after a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Scott said earlier in the day that an appeal would not be filed.

The state is appealing a Sept. 30 decision by Leon County Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford, who ruled that the Legislature unconstitutionally created the prison privatization plan by attaching it to the Department of Corrections in so-called proviso language rather than as a stand-alone piece of legislation.  

-- Steve Bousquet

Boca's Lynn University will host the third presidential debate next year

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced its presidential and vice presidential debate sites today, and the final of the three showdowns will be in Florida at Boca Raton's Lynn University.

The first is Oct. 3 at the University of Denver in Denver, Colo. The vice presidential debate will be Oct. 11 at Centre College, Danville, Ky. Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. will host the second presidential debate -- a town hall-style event. And Lynn University will close out the series with the final Oct. 22 debate. 

Obviously the Republican field isn't set yet, but here's President Barack Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina on the debate schedule: "The President looks forward to next year’s debates. Once the Republicans have selected their candidate, we will work through the details with their campaign and the Commission on Presidential Debates."

Lynn University was one of 12 sites nationwide -- and the only institution in Florida -- under consideration to host the debates produced by the CPD, the school said in a press release.

"Being an undergraduate or graduate student here on our campus when such an historic event takes place will provide a singular and unparalleled educational experience," said the university's president, Kevin Ross.

Republican U.S. Rep. Allen Westwho represents Boca Raton in Congress, had this to say on the school's selection:  

"After visiting Lynn's campus and meeting with University administrators earlier this year, I quickly realized the potential for Lynn's Wold Performing Arts Center to be a candidate to host the Presidential debates. I immediately took the lead in drafting a bipartisan and bicameral letter signed by every member of the Florida Congressional Delegation to the Commission on Presidential Debates in support of Lynn's application."

"The state of Florida has historically been a major decision maker in a number of national elections throughout our nation’s history and will be a critical state for both parties in the upcoming Presidential election. Securing the final Presidential Debate for the 2012 election is further reason to recognize the importance of the state of Florida in this decisive time in our nation's history."

Republican politicians in Senate race point fingers over 'career' label

A variation on the same theme today from a pair of Republican U.S. Senate campaigns.

Below, you'll find the latest web video from George LeMieux. LeMieux is a former U.S. senator who first ran for office in 1998 and has spent much of his career in politics. Despite that background, he wants to paint incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and GOP primary rival Connie Mack as 'career politicians.'

Earlier today, we received a similar blast from fellow Republican Senate hopeful Adam Hasner trying to raise money by hanging the label on both LeMieux and Mack. Hasner's background is, of course, eight years in the Florida House including four as the majority leader. His letter below, too.

Continue reading "Republican politicians in Senate race point fingers over 'career' label" »

Miami police called at least twice last week over incidents in tense commission race

This weekend’s scuffle between Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and an antagonist was the second time in a week that police have had to jump into a fracas over a political ad controversy.

Earlier last week, five code enforcement employees, four on-duty police officers, three off-duty cops, and a host of onlookers gathered just outside City Hall over a dispute over whether a Fraternal Order of Police union vice president was inappropriately campaigning on public property.

The issue escalated to accusations of a code enforcement officer impersonating a cop and a cop threatening to have him arrested.

In the end, no one was arrested. But the actual details of the incident remain unclear, and internal affairs is investigating.

Last Tuesday afternoon, a white Ford pickup truck sporting a large sign for Michelle Niemeyerone of Sarnoff’s opponents – pulled up to City Hall and stopped in a yellow-lined safety zone. Behind the wheel was Sgt. Javier Ortiz, the FOP vice president who has endorsed Niemeyer. Two other off-duty cops were with him.

The city elections coordinator asked Ortiz to move. But Ortiz, noting he was more than 100 feet away from the City Hall early voting site, as required by law, refused.

Ortiz says then code enforcement officer Hejbert Point-Du-Jour – identifying himself as a police officer – told Ortiz to move.

Continue reading "Miami police called at least twice last week over incidents in tense commission race" »

Scott lauds Boeing jobs announcement for Florida

The statement from Gov. Rick Scott: "Florida has five decades of leadership in the space industry, which makes our state the logical place for the next phase of space travel and exploration. Boeing’s choice of Florida for its Commercial Crew program headquarters is evidence Florida has the world-class facilities and workforce expertise needed for aerospace companies to succeed."

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Boeing is taking over a space shuttle hangar in Florida to work on its own space capsule.

The agreement was announced Monday at Kennedy Space Center. The move is expected to create 550 jobs over the next four years.

Since 2009, more than 4,000 space jobs have been lost in the Cape Canaveral area as NASA closed out the space shuttle program.

Boeing is one of several companies developing space taxis and cargo ships to carry astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station. Boeing is working on a capsule that could transport seven people into space.

The company will move into one of the three hangars that were used to prepare shuttles for flight.

PolitiFact Florida: Did Adam Hasner get an F from the Christian Coalition?

Is Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner a failure according to the Christian Coalition?

That's what one of Hasner's primary opponents, George LeMieux, wants voters to think. A video we saw on LeMieux's website, www.phonyconservative.com, on Oct. 5, picks apart Hasner's record as a former state legislator:

"In politics talk is cheap. Voting records matter. Career politician Adam Hasner wants you to think he is a conservative," states the sinister voice as images of Hasner speaking in the Legislature appear on the screen. "Small problem. His record. Hasner used to describe himself as a 'moderate' because his support for stem cell research, his attempt to weaken pro-life laws and his opposition to expanding school vouchers. The Christian Coalition gave Hasner an F...." states the voice as the screen flashes to a 2007 report card highlighting that Hasner scored 57.1.

We're wondering about that "F" for Hasner, who is trying to tout his conservative credentials. Ouch. Does this LeMieux claim make the grade?

Read PolitiFact Florida's ruling here.

Florida's poorest county gets newest gambling venue

If you had any doubts that gambling in Florida continues to expand, take a look at the latest opening: the barrel racing track and poker room set to open next month in the tiny town of Gretna.

Gretna is in one of the state's poorest counties, Gadsden, and the North Florida community has been grateful for the jobs. But, as the Tallahassee Democrat shows in its thorough story here, the real deal is slot machines. Promoters have partnered with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who have offered the financing, and they see profits and the promise of more jobs if they can just get those one-armed bandits installed. All the county needs to do to get slots is a local referendum. County commissioners decide that on Tuesday.

From the Democrat story:

"If proponents get their way, the Creek Entertainment Gretna development could crescendo by 2017 into a resort casino featuring hotels, a world-class equestrian center, simulcast horse races, restaurants, quarter-horse racing and 2,000 slot machines operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama."

October 29, 2011

Obama campaign in Florida: one voter at a time

Barack Obama’s re-election hopes are a numbers nightmare: 9.1 percent unemployment, increasingly negative job-approval ratings and a gap in enthusiasm between Republican and Democratic voters.

But mention the data to the Obama campaign’s political director, Katherine Archuleta, and she’ll counter with a set of figures of her own: One on one.

That’s the buzzword and guide-star of the campaign, which is organizing itself, volunteer by volunteer and neighborhood by neighborhood, in a subtle word-of-mouth effort that, Democrats hope, could surprise Republicans next year.

“This campaign is based on one-on-one relationships. And that’s something the president is very adamant about and it’s really based on his work in communities in Chicago,” Archuleta said. “We’re reaching out. Not on a general basis, but on a one-to-one basis.”

Since April, the campaign says, it has contacted 350,000 Floridians by knocking on their doors or calling them. It has recruited 8,500 active volunteers in the state, and overseen 1,891 volunteer-driven events such as phone banks, neighborhood walks and house parties.

All of it was made possible by about 3,000 one-on-one meetings between campaign staffers, community leaders, volunteers and neighbors in the state. More here.