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255 posts from January 2014

January 31, 2014

Miami-Dade mayor will take ask commissioners to weigh in on delay to redraw precincts


Facing political backlash over his decision to delay redrawing new voting precincts that contributed to long lines at the polls, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez signaled late Friday that he is willing to reconsider.

Gimenez, a Republican, said in a statement that he will bring the question to county commissioners for discussion on Feb. 19.

“This will provide members of the public and local political party representatives the opportunity to express any concerns they may have to the full Board,” he wrote. “It is of utmost importance that every Miami-Dade County voter be confident about our electoral system.”

The Miami-Dade Democratic Party had pounced at the news Thursday that Gimenez and his appointed elections supervisor, Penelope Townsley, had decided to postpone so-called “reprecincting” until 2015. On its website, Democrats asked supporters to contact the mayor urging him to change his mind.

Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, who heads the local party, said she phoned Gimenez on Friday.

More here.

In "Reprehensive Party of Florida" flap, NBC & news service issue apology, staffer fired


When NBC Miami aired a news segment that mistakenly called the state GOP the "Reprehensive Party of Florida" in a graphic, the state party issued a strong statement demanding an apology.

The party got the expression of contrition promptly Friday from NBC -- and from the media company that put the news package together, Tallahassee-based Capitol News Service.

The company's boss, Mike Vasilinda, said he went a step further.

"The person responsible for this has been fired," he said. "We take this very seriously."

He also issued an apology on his website (listed below).

Said NBC in a statement: “We apologize to the Republican Party of Florida and to our viewers for our airing of a wrong graphic in a news story in last night’s  6 p.m.newscast. The story came to us from a news service we use out of Tallahassee that we have relied on for years with no issues. We do, however, know it was our responsibility to catch the graphic and we regret that we did not prevent it from airing.  We are addressing this with our employees to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. Once again, we sincerely regret this incident.”

From Vasilinda:

Capitol News Service takes full responsibility for an error that resulted in one of our clients, WTVJ incorrectly labeling on screen material.

In a report in which we played a web ad by the Republican Party of Florida, our employees indicated it should have the on screen chyron “ Reprehensive Party of Florida.” We deeply regret this incident. The people who made the error and reviewed it without catching it are no longer in our employ.

Study: Medicaid expansion would prevent more than 1,000 deaths in Florida


A study published on the Health Affairs blog concluded that between 1,158 and 2,221 deaths in Florida could be prevented if the state embraced Medicaid expansion.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Hunter College conducted the study, which was based on data from various sources they used to estimate the impact of Medicaid expansion on mortality.

"The Supreme Court's decision to allow states to opt out of Medicaid expansion will have adverse health and financial consequences. Based on recent data from the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, we predict that many low-income women will forego recommended breast and cervical cancer screening; diabetics will forego medications, and all low-income adults will face a greater likelihood of depression, catastrophic medical expenses, and death," the researchers wrote.

Despite the support of Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida Senate and Democrats, efforts to use $51 billion federal Medicaid expansion dollars to reduce the number of poor Floridians were unsuccessful last year. House Republicans blocked a plan to use that funding to buy private insurance policies for roughly 1 million people.

There is a new bill filed in the Senate to re-ignite the debate this session, and a companion is anticipated in the House. But House GOP leaders say they remain opposed to accepting federal dollars.

Click here to view the full report at Health Affairs. The data on preventable deaths by state is listed in the chart labeled Exhibit 3.

Diaz, Simpson promote cuts to corporate filing fees

State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, and Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, are sponsoring proposals that would reduce the annual costs small business owners pay to the state.

SB 776 and HB 767 seek to reduce the corporate filing fees businesses pay to the Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations.

“This legislation will continue to promote Florida as the number one place to do business,” Diaz said. “By cutting the corporate filing fees businesses can focus on hiring more workers, providing more jobs for Florida’s families."

The proposals dovetail with Gov. Rick Scott's proposal to reduce corporate filing fees by $33.3 million.

Carlos Curbelo: I raised c.$200k in race to beat Joe Garcia


In the Republican race to take on Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo looks like the frontrunner. But the incumbent looks like he's pulling ahead in the cash race, noting yesterday he pulled in $412,000, about double what Curbelo is announcing in this press release:

MIAMI - Today Carlos Curbelo's Congressional Campaign announced that it raised approximately $200,000* in the last quarter of 2013, closing the year with a cash-on-hand balance in excess of $550,000*. The campaign has now raised nearly $650,000* and is operating at an extremely low burn rate. While the incumbent Congressman-by-default has raised hundreds of thousands from DC special interests (PACs), most of the campaign's contributions are from individual donors in South Florida. 

"I am very appreciate of all the support I received last quarter. Our community wants a new direction for the country and residents have had enough of scandal-plagued politicians like Joe Garcia who are committed to making Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House again," said Curbelo.

Curbelo is challenging freshman Congressman Joe Garcia whose campaign is under investigation by the FBI for illegally financing a straw candidate. Late last year Garcia's former chief of staff served time in jail for the campaign's participation in absentee ballot fraud. Garcia who had been rejected by voters on three occasion prior to the 2012 elections has made headlines for likening his House colleagues to the Taliban, a terrorist organization responsible for the death of many Americans and for circulating a letter on behalf of a lobbyist after receiving a $2,500 campaign contribution.

Curbelo was elected to the School Board of Miami-Dade County in 2010, and was reelected in 2012 without opposition. During Curbelo's time on the Board, Miami-Dade County Public Schools has won accolades for improving student performance while keeping taxes low and reducing the school system's bureaucracy.

*All numbers unofficial

Doh! Miami NBC calls state GOP "Reprehensive Party." RPOF wants on-air apology


ImageThe Florida GOP demanded Friday that a Miami NBC affiliate issue an on-air apology after the station referred to the party as "the Reprehensive Party of Florida" in a broadcast.

The error surfaced when WTVJ aired a segment that featured a Republican Party web ad bashing Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist in an ad that accuses him of politically running away from Florida when the economy went south.

Accident or not, the spot needs to be corrected, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry wrote the station's president and vice president. 

"This blatant disregard for journalist ethics and impartiality is a complete abdication of your station’s professional duty to truth at best and slander at worst," Curry wrote President and General Manager Larry Olevitch and Vice President of News Migdalia Figueroa.

Continue reading "Doh! Miami NBC calls state GOP "Reprehensive Party." RPOF wants on-air apology" »

Correction: How medical pot initiative could influence Dems in gov race


CORRECTION: We blew this report. John Morgan was not actually on board with the marijuana initiative at the time of this poll and says he never saw the polling memo. Ben Pollara, executive director of United For Care, commissioned the poll "well before it was even on John’s radar."

Morgan emails: "If I wanted to help him (Crist) I would have given him $4 million and told him to run on that platform."

Here's the memo:

February 14, 2013

Impact on 2014 Florida Governor’s Race
A ballot initiative legalizing marijuana for medical purposes has the potential to be a contentious issue in the 2014
Governor’s race, and could prove to be a dividing line between the opposing Democratic and Republican candidates. Demographic groups that show support of the ballot initiative’s passage include white female voters, African American voters and English-speaking Hispanic voters. African American and particularly English-speaking Hispanic voters are less certain to vote in 2014, and the issue of legalized medical marijuana could be used to increase turnout among these voters who are also more likely to cast their ballot for the Democratic candidate.


In all three of the hypothetical gubernatorial match ups tested, more than six-in-ten African American and four-in-ten Hispanic voters expressed a preference for the Democratic candidate (with the Democrat leading the Republican among Hispanics in each case). In addition, white women were more likely to support the Democratic
candidate than white men in each of these hypothetical matchups by a wide, albeit, not a winning margin. Registered voters who say they will vote “Yes” for the proposed ballot initiative support Democratic candidates by +8 to +15 percentage points, while those who indicate they will vote “No” support Governor Rick Scott by +44 to +57 percentage points.


Currently there is strong support beyond the 60% threshold necessary for passage of a proposed constitutional amendment that allow use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Supporters of the proposed amendment are less certain to cast ballots in the 2014 Governor’s race. White female voters, African American voters and English-
speaking Hispanic voters are all key targets for turnout in this regard, as they not only support the proposed ballot initiative, they tend to support Democratic candidates for Governor to a greater degree than white men. In addition,the proposal to allow the medical use of marijuana could provide a message contrast in the Governor’s race, heightening its effectiveness as a turnout mechanism.

Q-Poll: Bridgegate tolls on Chris Christie in FL, Hillary up, Obama down.

From a press release:

In the 2016 White House race, New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie loses ground among Florida Republicans and in a matchup with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while former Gov. Jeb Bush remains the top Republican in the state, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Secretary Clinton tops Gov. Christie 51 – 35 percent in an early look at the presidential race, compared to a 45 – 41 percent Clinton edge in a November 22 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

Continue reading "Q-Poll: Bridgegate tolls on Chris Christie in FL, Hillary up, Obama down." »

January 30, 2014

Miami-Dade delays drawing new precincts again, despite long lines in 2012


Miami-Dade voters endured lines up to seven hours long during the last presidential election in part because the county delayed a key once-a-decade decision to evenly divide voters among precincts.

Now, with a looming gubernatorial election in November, the county plans to delay the decision once again.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his appointed elections supervisor, Penelope Townsley, said Thursday they have decided to push back “re-precincting” until early 2015.

The reason: The county thinks the reshuffle would be too much to handle in the same year that Miami-Dade plans to install new electronic sign-in books at every polling place.

“We’re trying to cram in too much at one time,” Gimenez told his elections advisory group Thursday. “We don’t want to create that confusion.”

That’s the same reason Gimenez and Townsley, after consulting with county commissioners, decided against the new precincts in early 2012. The uneven distribution contributed to the long lines, as did the 10- to 12-page ballot and fewer early-voting days.

The numbers were so unbalanced that some precincts, such as one at Jefferson Reaves Sr. Park in Brownsville, had 193. The largest, at South Kendall Community Church in Country Walk, had 8,303.

More here.

U.S. Senate passes flood insurance protection plan but House raises hurdle

From Associated Press:

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners in coastal and flood-prone areas would win protection from sharply higher federal flood insurance premiums under legislation muscled through the Senate on Thursday after angry constituents inundated Capitol Hill with complaints.

The 67-32 vote reflects widespread alarm about changes enacted two years ago to shore up the program's finances. In many cases the changes produced unexpected, sky-high insurance rates that are unaffordable for many homeowners in flood-prone areas whose insurance has historically been subsidized by the government and other policyholders.

"Something is just terribly wrong when homeowners are more worried about raging flood premiums than they are about raging floods," said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

The bill would delay for up to four years huge premium increases that are supposed to phase in next year and beyond under new and updated government flood maps. It also would allow homeowners to pass below-cost policies on to people who buy their homes. People who have recently bought homes and face sharp, immediate jumps in their premiums would see those increases rolled back. More here.