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22 posts from April 3, 2013

April 03, 2013

Fort Laud mayor: I don't have any position on gay marriage

As political figures ranging from mayors to U.S. Senators to Hillary Clinton announce their support for gay marriage, a key Democrat in Florida’s most liberal county is notably absent: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler.

Seiler, who is weighing a possible run for governor in 2014, has long been viewed as supportive of gay rights, beginning in the 1990s when he was a member of the Wilton Manors city council and later as a state representative and as mayor of Broward’s largest city, home to a vocal and visible gay population. But as polls nationwide have shown increased support for gay marriage, Seiler has not joined the growing list of politicians announcing they back same sex marriage.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Seiler, a married father of four children, said he has taken no position on same sex marriage but supports civil unions. When asked if it was fair to say he is against gay marriage Seiler said that’s “not fair at all. I support civil unions.” As for gay marriage, Seiler said: “I don’t have any position on it. Right now it is outlawed in Florida,” he said. “I haven’t bothered to spend any time on it. ... I don’t debate and discuss issues I can’t have a vote on. ... I don’t sit and discuss hypothetical issues. If an issue comes up and I have a chance to impact the outcome, I’ll take a position.”

“I have a 20-year track record of being extremely respectful of the gay community and trying to assist the gay community to further gay rights,” Seiler said.

Read more here.

Dept. of Smart Hires: FL Dems make Christian Ulvert political director


Christian Ulvert, a well-connected political operative, is taking over a newly created spot at the Florida Democratic Party: Political director.

Ulvert's hire is a smart move on multiple levels.

A Miami native who's Hispanic, he also cut his teeth in Tallahassee as a consultant and lobbyist. So he understands the dual worlds of Florida politics that run the gamut from Hialeah Drive to Capitol Circle. And Ulvert has worked with some top political minds from both parties: Democrat Dan Gelber (on his attorney general's campaign) and Republican David Rivera (on the Miami-Dade slots campaign).

Earlier this year, Ulvert helped Allison Tant handle the news media in her hotly contested and narrowly won bid to lead the Democratic Party. So he has her gratitude and trust.

The big question: Will Ulvert, Tant and the party at large actually have the cash and the candidates to help win the governor's mansion, an extra Cabinet seat and more seats in the Florida Legislature?

Here's the press release:

Continue reading "Dept. of Smart Hires: FL Dems make Christian Ulvert political director" »

Rick Scott's money men

What a difference incumbency makes. Between his political committee and his campaign account, Rick Scott raised a total of $6.5 million from outside sources for his 2010 campaign. He's already raised nearly $9.8 million from outside sources for his 2014 re-election. Here are some of the biggest individual contributions:

Bill Edwards, Treasure Island March 2013 $500,000

H. Wayne Huizenga, Fort Lauderdale May 2012 $250,000

Florida Power & Light, Juno Beach June 2012 $250,000

Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas June 2012 $250,000

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Jacksonville March 2013 $237,500

Donald Trump, New York April 2012 $50,000

Source: letsgettowork.net

Atlantic/BBC highlights FL drug-war case, calls for Rick Scott pardon

The Atlantic:

John Horner, a 46-year-old fast-food restaurant worker, lost his eye in a 2000 accident and was prescribed painkillers. Years later, he met and befriended a guy who seemed to be in pain himself. His new friend asked if he could buy some of Horner's pain pills. Naturally, the friend was a police informant. Prosecutors in Central Florida say Horner was ultimately paid $1,800 for pills. "My public defender told me, 'They got you dead to rights,'" he said. "So I thought, 'OK, I guess there's no need taking this to trial.'" His story is recounted in a BBC News Service story about the problematic use of informants by U.S. law-enforcement agencies....

Prosecutors offered to shave years off his sentence if he became an informant himself and successfully helped send five others to prison on 25 year terms. He tried. But "Horner failed to make cases against drug traffickers," says the BBC. "As a result, he was sentenced to the full 25 years in October last year and is now serving his sentence in Liberty Correctional Institution."...

How about a pardon, Governor Rick Scott?

Full piece here

Rep. Radel dances the funky chicken in FGCU rap video


RadelEagle-eyed BuzzFeed spotted funky-chicken-dancing Congressman Trey Radell in this rap-video homage to the Florida Gulf Coast University eagles basketball team. He gets wild around 2:30.

Now if only he could twerk....

Said Radel via Twitter: "Ha! Twerk-No. But if #FGCU beat UF, I would have spit lyrics on next song (translated "would have rapped"). Nxt yr!"


McClatchy-Marist Poll: Hillary is the '16 Dem to beat, handily defeats Rubio and Jeb

WASHINGTON — The 2016 presidential election is far off, but an early sign indicates that Republicans could face trouble if Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden becomes the Democratic nominee, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

The survey matched Clinton, the former secretary of state, and Vice President Biden against four potential Republican challengers. The Democrats easily beat Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, thought to be a long shot for the party’s presidential nomination, Clinton barely won and Biden barely lost.

The results provide fresh evidence that Republicans are still reeling from the 2012 election. The party thought it had a good chance to win the White House, but nominee Mitt Romney lost decisively to President Barack Obama. Republicans also lost seats in both houses of Congress.

“We’re seeing the aftermath of 2012 still casting a cloud on 2016,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the nationwide March 25-27 survey.

Story here


Dolphins clear another committee stop in quest for taxpayer-supported stadium upgrade

The Miami Dolphins have completed another first down in their drive to get taxpayers to pitch in millions of dollars for the team’s stadium renovation. 

Though the clock is running down, the Dolphins’ chances of getting millions of dollars in tax breaks improved Wednesday, when lawmakers on the House Economic Affairs Committee approved the proposal in a 10-7 vote. The bill picked up an amendment reflecting the Dolphins’ pledge to pay back sales tax rebates awarded by the state, after 30 years. 

The team’s drive had stalled in the House, with no hearings since its first committee stop on March 8. Economic Affairs chair Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, made it clear last month that opponents of the tax breaks had been lobbying him to bury the bill. Americans for Prosperity, which gave Patronis an A+ rating in 2011, is circulating a petition telling lawmakers to “End Corporate Welfare for Pro-Sports Teams.”

Patronis eventually voted against the bill, though he said it deserved a hearing and decided not kill it by keeping it off the agenda. 

"It is not appropriate to stand in the way of legislation that another member has put before you," he said.

Patronis said he had not been lobbied by House Speaker Will Weatherford to hear the bill. 

The Dolphins are hoping Miami-Dade County voters will raise the mainland hotel tax from 6 percent to 7 percent to help provide funding for a stadium renovation that could cost about $390 million. The team is also requesting up to $90 million in sales tax rebates from the state of Florida.

 Supporters of the bill, including Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman, came to Tallahassee to show their support for the bill and attend the annual “Miami-Dade Days” at the Capitol. Opponents, including Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, also showed up to slam the bill.

Continue reading "Dolphins clear another committee stop in quest for taxpayer-supported stadium upgrade" »

Texting-while-driving ban ready for House floor

The House's version of a texting-while-driving ban is ready for a floor vote, and proponents are noting a change in tide with most Republicans voting to support it.

The Economic Affairs Committee approved HB 13 today, its final committee stop. The Senate's version, SB 52, needs to pass one more committee before it reaches the floor.

Today's House committee vote was near-unanimous with Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, the only "no" because of his concerns about personal freedom. For the past several years, more widespread objections have kept similar legislation from moving forward.

Rep. Doug Holder, the Sarasoa Republican sponsoring the bill, called the ban long overdue. Read more about his proposal here.

Research by Miami students led legislation to legalize needle exchange

George GibsonFor nearly a dozen years, George Gibson worked in the shadows of Miami, meeting intravenous drug users at bus stops, corners and alleys to exchange dirty needles for clean ones.

The exchanges, typically on a one-to-one ratio, served as the entrée into a conversation about the risks of spreading HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases through tainted needles and, in the best case scenario , the first step toward drug treatment.

He has since stopped his small, unofficial needle exchange program – which served a dozen or so users – but he now hopes Florida lawmakers will approve a bill for a five-year pilot program in Miami-Dade County to legalize syringe and needle exchange programs. Such exchanges operate in at least 35 states, but remain illegal in Florida. The bill is based on research conducted by University of Miami students.

“It’s not a pretty business, but if I can get one person a clean needle which helps to stop the spread of disease, then it’s worth it,’’ says Gibson, 46, a community activist who also distributed educational materials and condoms in Liberty City, Overtown and Brownsville. “I am hoping they finally make this legal because it saves lives.’’

Rep. Mark S. Pafford, a West Palm Beach Democrat, is trying to move HB 735 bill through the Judiciary Committee and the Health & Human Services Committee but time is running short in the legislative session. A similar bill in the Senate, sponsored by Miami Democratic Sen. Gwen Margolis, has stalled.

Still, Pafford is continuing to fight for the measure, hoping to attach it as an amendment to another bill.

“I really didn’t think this bill had a chance,’’ he said, adding that the efforts of the UM students helped raise its profile. “I’ve got to find a bill to amend it to and, with a little luck, it’ll get out of the House and to the Senate. If not this year, maybe next year.” More from Audra Burch here.

Pain-clinic owner made illegal contributions to top FL senators, Miami reps.

via @DavidOvalle305

Politically active Hialeah pain clinic owner Mark Cereceda pleaded guilty Wednesday after investigators found he made his employees contribute illegal donations to political campaigns across the state.

Cereceda and brother Kemel Cereceda will have to pay over $100,000 in fines, plus another $40,00 each to two charities, according to the plea deal. The men will have to serve three years of probation, including 60 days house arrest — after serving three days in jail.

Also, the men cannot make any political contributions during their probation.

Prosecutors believe the chiropractor Cereceda — who has actively lobbied lawmakers to keep Florida’s personal injury protection law intact —got his employees to illegally contribute more than $25,000 between 2010 and 2012.

Charges also were brought against Mark Cereceda’s clinic, Florida Wellness & Rehabilitation Center, which specializes in treating traffic accident victims and benefits from business generated by the PIP law.

Cereceda pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of making a campaign contribution in the name of another. His brother pleaded guilty to a felony count of making an excessive contribution in the name of another.

Both received a “withhold of adjudication,” which means no conviction will appear on their criminal histories.

The donations included ones Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, state Sen. Joe Negron and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa. Others included Carlos Trujillo, Katie Edwards and Eddy Gonzalez — all candidates for state representative.

Investigators do not believe any of the candidates knew of the illegal contributions.

More here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/03/3320943/hialeah-pain-clinic-owner-pleads.html#.UVxDY1mErcg.twitter#storylink=cpy