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334 posts from June 2015

June 30, 2015

Raquel Regalado seizes on tax-district flub by Gimenez administration


The 2016 Miami-Dade mayoral race ran into some close quarters on Tuesday.

Raquel Regalado waited through hours of the County Commission meeting to speak out against a plan to increase fees on more than 100,000 properties within special taxing districts that fund security guards, lighting and landscaping for some communities. Mayor Carlos Gimenez's administration proposed the rates, saying there has been widespread under-billing thanks to a faulty accounting system. 

Regalado, a two-term school board member, is running to unseat Gimenez in 2016, and Tuesday was her first time addressing county commissioners as a candidate. 

"This is a clear case of mismanagement," Regalado told commissioners. Ten feet away on the elevated dais, Gimenez leaned back on his chair and stared intently as she spoke. "This commission has the opportunity to regain the public's trust and create a better process."

Regalado did not appear to make eye contact with Gimenez, who listened without expression during most of her remarks. (He chatted with an aide for a small part of it.) She spoke during a public-comment hearing that occurred before Gimenez and commissioners discussed the issue later in the meeting. 

Gimenez apologized for the need to raise fees, saying his administration moved quickly once the long-term problems were discovered. His Public Works department said a $2 million deficit needs to be closed in 2016 to make up for past under-billing. 

"I really do apologize to all impacted residents," Gimenez said. "This is a problem we uncovered recently."

Convicted killer asks Supreme Court to delay execution again

The lawyers for an Orlando man whose execution was delayed by the Florida Supreme Court are asking the justices to intervene yet again.

In a response to Attorney General Pam Bondi's request that the execution of Jerry Correll -- a convicted killer of four -- move forward as planned, the condemned man's lawyers requested that the Court protect him until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a death penalty case it will hear in its upcoming term.

The Florida Court stayed Correll's execution in February after the federal justices accepted a case questioning the constitutionality of one of the three drugs used for lethal injections in Florida and three other states: Oklahoma, Arizona and Ohio. After a ruling Monday that the drug does not constitute "cruel and unusual punishment," Bondi asked for permission to move forward with the execution.

But another death penalty case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which calls into question the processes used to sentence Florida criminals to death.

If this Court vacates the stay of execution that is in place, Correll may be executed and later found to have been sentenced under an unconstitutional death penalty sentencing scheme," the attorneys wrote. "He will suffer great harm, and that harm will be irreversible."

The Florida Supreme Court has yet to make a decision on the stay.

Correll was sentenced to death in 1986 for the stabbing deaths of his ex-wife, their daughter and her mother and sister. Gov. Rick Scott signed a warrant for his death in January.

Jeb Bush's income rose to $7.4 million in 2013

via @adamsmithtimes @learyreports

The Bush family mantra has been consistent for generations: First make a lot of money, and then focus on public service.

Jeb Bush followed that path before running for governor of Florida in the 1990s, and 33 years of newly released tax returns show how the Republican embraced that strategy with zeal before launching his presidential campaign this year.

Bush's income jumped from $261,000 in 2006, his final year as governor, to more than $2.2 million in 2007. Then, from 2010 through 2013, tax returns released Tuesday show his annual income exploded from $3.2 million to nearly $7.4 million. (He got an extension until Oct. 15 to file his 2014 return.)

The vast majority of income came from consulting and speaking fees, where Bush earned between $40,000 and $75,000 apiece for dozens of appearances before business and trade groups, colleges, and organizations ranging from The Salvation Army to a South Korean defense contractor.

More here.

Judge delays implementation of 24-hour waiting period for abortions

A Leon County judge has issued an injunction to stop the implementation of a mandatory, 24-hour waiting period before a woman can get an abortion.

The law, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott, was supposed to go into effect on Wednesday.

The injunction by Chief Judge Charles Francis of Florida's 2nd Circuit means the law won't be enforced while a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a Gainesville abortion clinic works its way through the courts.

The lawsuit claims that the law is unconstitutional under Florida's strict privacy standards. An injunction has no bearing on the final outcome of the suit.

"We are pleased that no Florida woman is going to be subject to these dangerous and unconstitutional delays before getting the medical care they need as we complete the legal challenge to this destructive law," ACLU of Florida Legal Director Nancy Abudu said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

But it's worth noting that it's likely Francis's decision will be appealed by the state, which fought the injunction. ACLU lawyer Renee Paradis said last week that she expects the Florida Supreme Court to be considering the issue in the coming weeks.

The injunction can be downloaded here.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera says he met with Chip LaMarca to discuss state business -- not Senate race

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera’s official schedule showed he was meeting with Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca today, fueling speculation that they must be huddling about the Senate race.

As the only Republican on the County Commission and a former chair of the Broward GOP, LaMarca would be one of the few elected officials in the county to help Lopez-Cantera campaign in the left-leaning county. He is expected to announce his Senate race July 15th.

Their meeting prompted the Florida Democratic Party to continue to raise questions about whether Lopez-Cantera is campaigning on the state dime.

But both Lopez-Cantera and LaMarca told the Herald after the meeting that they didn't discuss the Senate race.

LaMarca told the Herald via text that they discussed new companies moving to Broward and “we talked about national politics and the presidential” race.

Continue reading "Carlos Lopez-Cantera says he met with Chip LaMarca to discuss state business -- not Senate race" »

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler explains why he signed same-sex marriage proclamation

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, who voted against a same-sex resolution last year, signed a proclamation Friday celebrating the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Seiler has tried to stay on the sidelines of the same-sex marriage debate.

A married Catholic who has four children, Seiler told the Miami Herald in 2013 that he had no position on the issue of same-sex marriage but supported civil unions and domestic partner benefits for city employees. In June 2014, Seiler voted against a city resolution in support of same sex marriage. The former state representative and Wilton Manors mayor has been mentioned as a potential future statewide candidate but his position on same-sex marriage could put him at odds with other Democrats.

The proclamation, which says it's in recognition of the "Marriage Equality Landmark Decision," was read in part at a rally Friday at the Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse by City Commissioner Dean Trantalis, the city’s first openly gay commissioner. The proclamation states that Fort Lauderdale has the highest concentration of same-sex households in the nation, according to the 2012 Census.

Continue reading "Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler explains why he signed same-sex marriage proclamation" »

With Jeb Bush releasing 33 years of tax returns, focus will be on his earnings since he left office

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush on Tuesday will release 33 years of income tax returns, a figure his campaign says is more than any other presidential candidate in history.

Much attention will be paid to Bush’s later returns, when his final term as Florida governor ended. He began a lucrative consulting business and joined a host of corporate boards. He is expected to have earned millions.

“This is more than any presidential candidate in the history of the United States,” campaign spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger said. “This display of transparency is consistent with the high level of disclosure he has practiced during his life in public office.”

Bush’s ties to some companies, including Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers, has already drawn scrutiny from reporters and rivals. Last week a Super PAC backing Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky launched an online ad in early primary states mocking Bush as “Bailout Bush,” for his support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that propped up the financial industry.

Bush likely will push a broader look at his finances, emphasizing his private-sector work and charitable giving.

More here.

How much did college tuition go up in Florida under Jeb Bush?

Former Gov. Jeb Bush likes to advertise education reforms during his two terms in office, but the Florida Democratic Party wants to remind voters those changes came at a price.

In a joint press release with the Texas Democratic Party ahead of a fundraising visit to the Lone Star state, Democrats compared Bush to fellow presidential hopeful Rick Perry, the former Texas governor. In a chart listing dubious gubernatorial achievements, Dems said Bush "oversaw (an) average in-state tuition increase of 48.2 percent during his tenure."

Did public university tuition go up by almost 50 percent in eight years during Bush’s two terms? That number is more or less correct, but there’s more to the Bush-era education overhaul than that.

See what Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact Florida found and see Bush's full Truth-O-Meter record.

Chris Christie announces for president

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced today at his old high school that he will run for president joining a crowded GOP field of more than one dozen candidates including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Christie won office in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014. Prior to that, he was U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

Christie, who was head of the Republican Governors Association in 2014, campaigned for Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election in Florida and the RGA contributed millions to Scott’s campaign. In June, Christie was one of several GOP presidential hopefuls to speak at Scott’s economic summit in Orlando. So far, Scott has not endorsed any of the candidates running for president.

Christie’s image has been tarnished over the Bridgegate scandal related to the closing of lanes on the first day of school on the George Washington Bridge. Two allies of Christie were indicted and a third pleaded guilty. Officials were accused of orchestrating the traffic jam to get back at a mayor who did not support Christie’s re-election. Christie has denied knowledge of the situation.

PolitiFact has fact-checked Christie 92 times including a Pants on Fire claim related to Bridgegate. PolitiFact recently gave Christie a Full Flop for changing his stance on Common Core, which he now opposes.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera meets with Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca today

As he gets ready to officially announce his U.S. Senate bid, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera meets with Chip LaMarca, Broward’s lone Republican County Commissioner today.

The two politicians will meet at 12:30 p.m. at an undisclosed location in Fort Lauderdale, according to Lopez-Cantera’s official schedule.

Lopez-Cantera announced earlier this month that he will officially launch his campaign July 15 -- after the campaign finance filing deadline for the current quarter. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach launched his campaign in May; U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller of Chumuckla is considering a bid. On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, announced in March and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, may announce in July.

We asked LaMarca if he thinks Lopez-Cantera will ask him to head up his Broward campaign operation.

Continue reading "Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera meets with Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca today " »