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13 posts from August 13, 2013

August 13, 2013

With Fasano neutral as GOP fights over his successor, Dems may have shot

Bill Gunter locked up the endorsements of Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and his three successors Tuesday, but the man who matters most in the race said he won’t get involved.

In a race that’s exposing Republican dysfunction, this could be a break for Democrats.

“I don’t plan on endorsing anyone,” said Mike Fasano, who represented the New Port Richey area in District 36 before getting picked by Gov. Rick Scott to be Pasco County tax collector.  “This race is very special to me. These are the people I served for the past 19 years as either a senator or a representative. They mean so much to me. They deserve someone who will serve them, who will vote their conscience and not what the  leadership wants and special interests want. Right now, I don’t see that in any candidate.”

That’s not exactly what Gunter, who often draws comparisons between himself and Fasano, was hoping to hear. Still, the 43-year-old has had a busy week counting endorsements from elsewhere.


Continue reading "With Fasano neutral as GOP fights over his successor, Dems may have shot" »

School districts pass on Gov. Scott's teacher debit cards

Gov. Rick Scott pitched the idea from the Panhandle to Miami: a state-funded debit card worth $250 for every teacher to spend on classroom supplies.

But with the start of school just days away, only seven of the state’s 67 school districts, including Miami-Dade, have taken Scott up on the offer.

The reason?

The debit cards won’t be distributed until mid or late September, well after Florida schoolchildren have returned to the classroom. Many teachers have already purchased their supplies.

“If they could have had the cards at the beginning of the school year, or even a few weeks before, it might have made more sense,” said Nadine Drew, a spokeswoman for the Broward school system, which initially agreed to participate in the program, but later withdrew.

Read more here.

Chances for SYG special session doomed

Nearly half the votes for Florida lawmakers were tallied Tuesday on whether to hold a special session on changing or repealing the state’s “stand your ground” law, and it appears Democrats will fall far short of the total needed.

Out of 160 lawmakers, 79 cast a vote by Tuesday night. Of those, 55 lawmakers voted “no” on holding a special session, or 70 percent. One Democrat, Rep. Mike Clelland, of Lake Mary, voted with 54 Republicans.

Only 24 voted for a special session, barely 30 percent. All were Democrats.

A total of three-fifths from both chambers is required to trigger a special session. There are 81 votes that remain outstanding, but Democrats would need a sudden surge, somehow mustering  72 more votes, or 89 percent of what’s left.


Continue reading "Chances for SYG special session doomed" »

Staffer for Miami mayoral candidate trashes constituents on Twitter, suggests they get a ‘lobotomy’

@PatriciaMazzei @msanchezMIA


A staffer for Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez, who is running for city mayor, has been bashing constituents online using her personal Twitter account.

Christina Haramboure, a 24-year-old special aide and administrative assistant in Suarez’s District 4 office, has complained about her job using the Twitter handle @ChristinaHam — at one point this week suggesting that constituents get a lobotomy.

“Dear Constituents...PLEASE GET A LIFE, A HOBBY, A LOBOTOMY ... whatever,” Haramboure posted Monday.

Later in the day, she tweeted, “It amazes me how much people like to call here & b*itch at me ALLL DAY. their lives must really suck #leavemealone #socrabby #angryoldpeople.” Tweets

Suarez, Haramboure’s boss, has made a push over the past few months to harness the power of social media in reaching out to younger voters who have not typically participated in Miami municipal elections. Suarez, 35, is challenging incumbent Tomás Regalado, 66, in November’s election.

Haramboure said in an email to the Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald on Tuesday that her posts “are not a reflection of my attitude toward constituents.”

“Over the last two years, I have worked tirelessly to help hundreds of constituents, and I have made great personal sacrifices to continue serving the residents of District 4,” she said. “I regret the Twitter postings and I apologize to anyone I may have hurt.”

In an interview earlier Tuesday, Suarez said he was unaware of Haramboure’s tweets. He does not follow Haramboure from his Twitter own account, @FrancisSuarez.

After he approached her about the tweets, Suarez said Haramboure apologized. She also deleted her Twitter account.

“She admitted and took responsibility for the messages,” Suarez said. “This is not the way we treat constituents.”

The commissioner said Haramboure offered to resign, but he decided she should keep her job, having learned a lesson about venting her work-related frustrations.

More here.

Take Andy and Don out to the ball game tonight

Yankees logoWhat can $25,000 and a ticket to NYC get you? A ticket to the ball game with Senate President Don Gaetz and incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner, and maybe a box of Cracker Jacks.

The annual fundraiser is intended to raise funds for the Senate re-election campaign in 2014, which is not exactly shaping up to be a heavy lift. (No senator is being forced to retire because of term limits and so no Republicans, who hold the majority, are expected to face much of a challenge.)

The first pitch against the Los Angeles Angels starts at 7:05.

Here's the invite:  Download YANKEES 2013 INVITE (3)

Water wars rise: Florida to sue Georgia over condition of Apalachicola Bay

A day after the federal government declared that Florida's oyster harvesting region was a disaster area, Gov. Rick Scott announced the state will file a lawsuit against the state of Georgia for the excessive consumption of water that has harmed the ecosystem and economy of Apalachicola Bay.

The lawsuit, to be in the U.S. Supreme Court in September, challenges Georgia's "unchecked and growing consumption of water, which is threatening the economic future of Apalachicola,'' Scott said in a statement after a hearing on the controverial issue in Franklin County on Tuesday. Conducting the hearing was U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio.

"You have an entire industry that is on the verge of being extinct because of governmental inaction,'' Rubio said after the tour.

Scott noted that he and the Legislature put $4.7 million into the region to retrain workers hurt by the ailing economy. "Georgia has taken our water,'' he said after the tour. "We've had meetings. No progress has happened in those meetings." 

He called it "a bold, historic legal action for our state."

Continue reading "Water wars rise: Florida to sue Georgia over condition of Apalachicola Bay" »

Veteran brings petitions with thousands of signatures to Dream Defenders

Navy veteran James Williams, who was in the service for 21 years, traveled to the Capital on Tuesday to present the Dream Defenders with thousands of signed petitions.

Williams, who is now retired and lives in Brazil, said that when he heard about injustice in two cases -- Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander -- he had to take action.

"It's not right," said Williams, 65, who was a U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class. "If we don't say anything, it will continue."

 Williams efforts also further demonstrate the impact of social media and reaching a global audience online to tell the story of a movement. He found out about how to launch a petition drive through Causes.com, and using Facebook, reached supporters from as far away as New Zealand.  

 Williams traveled first to Miami and then to Tallahassee, toting the results of two separate petition drives. He collected 40,000 signatures from all over the world calling for the pardon of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman who was sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot during an argument with her abusive husband.She tried to claim immunity under the state's controversial Stand Your Ground law but was found guilty.The Dream Defenders have also called for her pardon.

He also collected 27,000 signatures in support of Martin and demanding that George Zimmerman be stripped of his gun rights.

Continue reading " Veteran brings petitions with thousands of signatures to Dream Defenders" »

Bondi joins federal suit to block airline merger

Attorney General Pam Bondi made a name for herself leading the lawsuit against the federal health care law, but today she and the feds are on the same side. Bondi and six other attorneys general have joined the federal lawsuit that alleges the proposed merger between U.S. Airways and American airlines would decrease competition and lead to higher fares.

“This merger would be anti-competitive and harmful to consumers, with 20 percent of the problematic flight routes affecting Florida. By filing this lawsuit, we hope to save consumers from potential multi-million dollar increases in prices and fees,” Bondi said in a press release.

Here is the full press release from Bondi's office:

Continue reading "Bondi joins federal suit to block airline merger" »

Judge rules against governor in his attempt to acquire land for mansion project

800px-FLGovMansion2007For the second time this year, a judge has rejected Gov. Rick Scott's attempt to block the purchase of land in downtown Tallahassee that he wants the state to buy so he can build a park around the Governor's Mansion. 

Circuit Judge John Cooper on Tuesday ruled that the offer by the governor and Cabinet to buy out the land from the heirs former Gov. LeRoy Collins was insufficient and did not match the contract already on the table from Tallahassee attorney Steve Andrews. 

The ruling effectively allows Andrews to buy the property adjacent to his office, and puts another kink in the governor's plans to build a six-block park around the now-secluded mansion as his legacy in office.  Download Order Granting SJ Against BOT signed 8-12-13 (3) (1)

Continue reading "Judge rules against governor in his attempt to acquire land for mansion project" »

In South Florida, American Federation of Teachers president targets Bush, Bennett


With the architects of Florida’s education system on the defensive, the fiery leader of the country’s second-largest teachers union launched another round of attacks on former governor Jeb Bush and the state’s recently resigned education chief during a Monday visit to South Florida.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called Florida “ground zero for every single market-based experiment that has been done to our children” during a speech before hundreds of teachers at a back-to-school event at Sun Life Stadium. She compared former State Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett, who resigned this month amid a school grade-fixing scandal, to the late, disgraced Miami-Dade union boss Pat Tornillo.

“I love when somebody says, like Jeb Bush, ‘[Bennett] had to resign because of hits he was taking from the right and the left.’” Weingarten said. “No. He had to resign because he was cooking the books. Just like Tornillo had to leave.”

Tornillo’s scandal — using union funds to pay for a lavish lifestyle — put him in prison about a decade ago and was far worse than the allegations that led to Bennett’s fall. But emails showing that Bennett in his time as Indiana’s state superintendent changed a “C” to an “A” for a struggling charter school run by a Republican party donor have nevertheless been damaging to the education reform movement he represented.

More here.