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169 posts from July 2014

July 30, 2014

UPDATE: Sheldon restores status to practice law amid AG bid

@mikevansickler

Since October, George Sheldon has been running to be the Democratic nominee for Florida Attorney General, the state’s top lawyer.

So it didn’t help his campaign any when he learned Tuesday that, according to The Florida Bar, Sheldon could no longer -- wait for it -- practice law in Florida.

By late Wednesday, Sheldon managed to get his license and membership restored. But what happened?

Turns out he hadn’t been reporting his continuing legal education, a Bar requirement.

“A delinquent member shall not engage in the practice of law in this state and shall not be entitled to any privileges and benefits accorded to members of The Florida Bar in good standing,” The Bar’s executive director, John Harkness, Jr., wrote in a July 7 letter to Sheldon.

“We assume this is an oversight,” Harkness wrote. “However, under the Supreme Court Rules, in order to correct your CLER delinquency, you must complete the required general hours, including five hours of ethics, professionalism, substance abuse or mental illness awareness, or show eligibility to claim an exemption.”

Sheldon’s been running for Attorney General since October, raising nearly $300,000. How could he have overlooked the requirements to be an actual lawyer in Florida?

Continue reading "UPDATE: Sheldon restores status to practice law amid AG bid" »

Rep. Grant the winner in Florida ethics commission ruling

In a closed-door session, the Florida Commission on Ethics ruled in favor of Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, after an investigation into whether he misused his position to benefit a company that allegedly funded a grant awarded to his personal business venture.

The nine-member panel also decided there was no probable cause concerning an allegation that Grant had a conflict when he voted on legislation that related to excise taxes on phosphate mining.

The decision was announced Wednesday after the commission's investigator spent more than a year examining a complicated case stemming from complaints filed by Henry Kuhlman, a retired military pilot from Hardee County.

"My reaction is that they missed the mark and politics are involved," Kuhlman said.

Continue reading "Rep. Grant the winner in Florida ethics commission ruling" »

Rick Scott bashes Charlie Crist's 'hypocrisy at the highest level' over debates, but...

Gov. Rick Scott has agreed to three debates. Democrat Charlie Crist wants more. 

But against Democrat Nan Rich, the Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-independent Crist has no interest in debating.

“It’s hypocrisy at the highest level. Either one is too many. Or three is not enough,” Scott said Wednesday during a stop at TimBar Packaging and Display in North Miami. “One is too many when he’s talking about running against a woman in the primary. But three is not enough if he makes it to the general. So it’s pure hypocrisy.”

But Democrats are quick to point out that Scott, too, has Republican primary opponents. And Scott won’t debate them, including a woman named Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, either.

Continue reading "Rick Scott bashes Charlie Crist's 'hypocrisy at the highest level' over debates, but..." »

Marco Rubio votes to move Senate border bill, but vows to oppose it without new reforms

From a press release:

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement regarding his vote to debate the Senate border bill:

“Today, I voted to move to the Senate border bill so that we would have the opportunity to vote on and pass amendments that would achieve real reforms on border security, end the DACA program for new applicants and reform the 2008 law that allows unaccompanied minors who enter the U.S. illegally to be released.

“If these types of reforms are not included in the bill, I will vote to deny the Democrats the 60 votes they will need to pass this bill. Furthermore, as I have previously stated, I will oppose any efforts to add the 2013 Senate bill or the DREAM Act to this legislation. This legislation needs to address the current humanitarian crisis on our southern border, and prevent any future mass migrations.”

 

 

Six families to defend new state scholarship program

Six families will be in Tallahassee Thursday to make the case for Florida's new scholarships for students with special needs.

The program came under fire earlier this month, after the statewide teachers union filed a lawsuit questioning the way it became law.

The six families are planning an 11 a.m. press conference to say the scholarship program should not be abandoned because of the lawsuit.

"If we're not convenient to their cause then we just don't matter," said Ashli McCall, a certified teacher in Florida and the parent of an autistic child. "We matter."

Other participants will include former Sen. Alfred Lawson, Jr., a Tallahassee Democrat; Allison Aubuchon, of former Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education; and Clint Bolick, of Goldwater Institute.

The Goldwater Institute has defended similar school choice programs nationwide.

"These children deserve high-quality educational opportunities that are customized to suit their unique needs, and we will stand up with their families and defend these scholarships from the very people who have failed these students in the public schools,” Bolick said.

July 29, 2014

South Florida reps meet with wife of prominent Cuban dissident who describes beatings, arrests

@CAdamsMcClatchy

Five members of the U.S. House of Representatives, -- including four from Florida – met with the wife of Cuban dissident Jorge Luis García Pérez, who described the ongoing, systemic repression she and her husband have suffered.

Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera is a human rights activist who has suffered threats, beatings and harassment at the hands of Cuban authorities because of her efforts, according to Rep. Joe Garcia, a Democrat from Miami who said he was “truly inspired by this couple’s untiring commitment to the Cuban people and their courage and bravery in the face of continuing abuses by the Cuban regime.”

Also at the meeting late Tuesday afternoon: Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R, Miami), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R, Miami), Curt Clawson (R, Bonita Springs) and Rep. Albio Sires, a Democrat from New Jersey.

In a meeting with the House members and a short talk with reporters afterward, Pérez Aguilera described the arrests and ransacking of their home earlier this year. They took everything –- “They even took our family pictures,” she said through a translator.

She plans to meet with Senate officials on Wednesday.

The Herald recently described the couple’s story and the U.S. State Department’s reaction to it.

Charlie Crist unveils Day 1 plan, Rick Scott asks 'where are the jobs?'

Democratic Charlie Crist today announced his "First Day of Fairness'' plan in his hometown of St. Petersburg today, outlining what he'd do Day One as governor.

* Faster, more affordable access to public records from agencies run by the governor's office.

* Raising the minimum wage for contractors doing business with agencies reporting to the governor's office

* Issuing an executive order requiring equal pay for women employed by companies doing business with agencies reporting to the governor's office.

* Ordering executive agencies to grant contract work to in-state "whenever possible and legal.''

* Protecting the rights of LGBT workers through an executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity within agencies reporting to the governor's office and their contractors.

Gov. Rick Scott's campaign chairman, state Sen. John Thrasher, promptly blasted the plan for not creating jobs:

"Charlie Crist thinks he can win this election by doing his best Barack Obama impersonation – all talk and no action. And it’s telling that his new proposal includes no plans for job creation or education. Crist’s record speaks louder than any of his words: billions in tax hikes and double-digit tuition increases – as Florida was losing 832,000 jobs and 28,000 small businesses – was anything but ‘fair’ to the middle class.”

Historical context: those tax hikes and tuition increases were voted for by Scott's running mate, Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and Thrasher only began denouncing Crist's job record after he left the GOP.

-- with Charlotte Sutton

Haiti's PM, Laurent Lamothe, is pulling a Hillary Clinton

@Jacquiecharles

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- For a man who says he’s not a presidential candidate, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is campaigning like one.

From visiting a remote central Haiti village with United Nations head Ban Ki-moon to stumping at a Haitian diaspora town hall in North Miami, Lamothe last week was everywhere a candidate needs to be — although the start of the 2015 Haitian presidential race is more than a year away.

“That is how prime ministers run,” said Robert Fatton, a University of Virginia politics professor and Haiti expert. “That is not a Haitian thing. This is politics.”

Lamothe, 41, the tech savvy businessman-turned-politician, insists that he’s not a candidate.

“This is part of my job; what I am doing as prime minister, it is to govern; it is to manage,” Lamothe said before joining more than a dozen flown-in members of his cabinet in front an overflow crowd for his televised town hall in North Miami. “I am prime minister today, and I am focusing on that.”

But Lamothe’s schedule reflects a Hillary Clinton-like method of raising a future candidate’s profile without officially announcing for office. And that is prompting concern and panic in Haiti where observers say the presidential posturing is intensifying a crisis prompted by legislative and local elections that are three years behind schedule.

More here

 

Plaintiffs want expert to redraw congressional map before November election

Responding to a Tallahassee court judge's skepticism that he could craft a new congressional map in time for the November elections, the voters group is now asking the court to appoint a redistricting expert to do it.

The plaintiffs, a group of voters groups led by the League of Women Voters, successfully sued the state to throw out the congressional map. But Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis said at a hearing last week that he was unsure he could order a special election or revise the map.

In an amended response brief filed Tuesday, the plaintiffs now ask Lewis to appoint a special master and have both sides submit proposals so that the state does not conduct an election using an unconstitutional map. They have not indicated if they intend to appeal Lewis' ruling if he does not agree.

Click here to download the plaintiffs' latest brief.

Marco Rubio's Half True claim about dads from his values speech at Catholic University

In defending traditional marriage, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a speech about values at Catholic University that fathers play a vital role in their children’s success.

Rubio cited statistics about the number of children born to unwed mothers and what that means for their chances to climb out of poverty and go to college.

After getting an education, finding a good job and getting married, "The final element of the success sequence is raising children in a married, two-parent home," Rubio said July 23, 2014. "Even in my own family, of course, I have examples of children raised by one parent who have gone on to successful lives. But we also know that having an active father makes children 98 percent more likely to graduate from college and complete the first step of the success sequence."

We decided to fact-check the 98 percent statistic.