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471 posts from October 2016

October 31, 2016

Head of national teachers union plugs Clinton in Miami

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via @KyraGurney

On Monday, the president of a national teachers union had a stark message for aspiring educators at Florida International University: if Donald Trump is elected president, public education as we know it is over.

"He has said through his surrogates that he will decimate public education," said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, addressing students from FIU's teacher prep program. "His plan on the federal role would be to take $20 billion dollars out of current existing funds and give it to states so they can do anything with it including giving it to vouchers and charters and whatever with no accountability whatsoever."

Weingarten, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, criticized the now defunct Trump University, saying that Trump's "template for higher education" amounted to the "exploitation of kids."

"Hillary Clinton's proposals reflect that she understands and believes in public education and Donald Trump's proposals reflect that he would go back to an environment of austerity, competition and privatization," she said.

Continue reading "Head of national teachers union plugs Clinton in Miami" »

Miami's Log Cabin Republicans back Trump, bucking national group

Campaign 2016 Trump(2)
via @SteveRothaus

Angry their national organization refused to endorse Donald Trump for president, LGBTQ Log Cabin Republicans of Miami on Monday announced their full support for the 2016 GOP nominee.

“It’s huge,” Miami chapter president Vincent Foster told the Miami Herald. “A lot of our membership was upset. We were ready to risk everything and go our separate way to support our most supportive Republican presidential candidate for the LGBT community.”

On Oct. 22, the national LCR organization issued a “statement” about Trump, calling him “perhaps the most pro-LGBT presidential nominee in the history of the Republican Party.”

The Washington, D.C.-based group then declined to endorse him: “As Mr. Trump spoke positively about the LGBT community in the United States, he concurrently surrounded himself with senior advisors with a record of opposing LGBT equality.”

“You can say the LCR national’s decision was a big surprise to me and the rest of the members of our chapter,” Foster said.

On Oct. 26, 20 members of the Miami LCR chapter met in a Coral Gables office and unanimously voted to endorse Trump.

More here.

Photo credit: Evan Vucci, Associated Press

Obama praises Miami-Dade state Senate candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in new TV ad



The Democratic challenger seeking to unseat Miami Republican state Sen. Anitere Flores unveiled a new TV ad on Monday featuring President Barack Obama in voice-over.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Pinecrest resident in her first bid for public office, was one of 13 legislative candidates in Florida that Obama endorsed this month.

She and Flores are in a competitive race for the newly redrawn District 39 seat that spans western and southern Miami-Dade County and Monroe County, including the Florida Keys. It leans Democratic and Hispanic.

"I know Debbie will fight to defend the progress we've made over the past eight years," Obama says in the ad.

The president also cut a similar endorsement ad for District 37 state Senate candidate and current Miami Democratic state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez.

Image credit: Mucarsel-Powell campaign / YouTube

Annette Taddeo records radio ad to support Dwight Bullard


A Florida labor union is spending $45,000 on a new Spanish-language radio ad in Miami so that Florida Democratic Party vice chairwoman and former gubernatorial and congressional candidate Annette Taddeo can promote incumbent state Sen. Dwight Bullard in the final days before Election Day.

Bullard, D-Miami, is in a competitive race for re-election against Miami Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles, who has vastly outspent Bullard in the bitter District 40 contest in central Miami-Dade County.

1199SEIU Florida, which represents 25,000 health care workers, is paying for the ad. The group said in a press release that Taddeo felt compelled to record the ad for Bullard "because of what she described as lies being spread against Bullard’s character in a deceitful Spanish-language ad."

Artiles recently aired a misleading ad on Miami TV, in which Artiles falsely said Bullard "voted to release violent criminals and sexual delinquents in our community." More here on why Artiles' claim isn't accurate.

"Artiles is trying smear him with a campaign of lies in an attempt to deceive voters. But it’s not going to to work," Roxey Nelson, political director for 1199SEIU Florida, said in a statement. "Dwight shows up. He is fighting for us, and hundreds of volunteers have been out in force knocking on doors and fighting for him."

In the 60-second radio ad, Taddeo touts Bullard's work as "an educator for twenty years, fighting to raise the minimum wage, to expand Medicaid and enable immigrants to go to college."

Taddeo describes Artiles as "an extremist who voted to take away $1.3 billion from our schools while trying to put guns in our classrooms." She also mentions Artiles' support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"Artiles and Trump — the same. That’s why I ask for your vote for Dwight Bullard. He deserves our support for State Senate," Taddeo says in the ad.

Artiles' campaign spokeswoman Sarah Bascom declined to comment on the ad but said Taddeo's "support will have no effect on the outcome of this race."


Photo credit: AP

Venue set for Obama's Thursday rally for Clinton


President Barack Obama's rally for Hillary Clinton will take place Thursday morning at Florida International University, the campaign announced Monday.

The event, at the university's arena, is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Tickets for the public are available online, at Clinton campaign offices and at campaign booths near early-voting sites.

Below is a list of the sites. People who pick up tickets in person will get better seats, the campaign says.

Continue reading "Venue set for Obama's Thursday rally for Clinton" »

The best political Halloween costume in West Miami?


When Halloween hits during early voting in a U.S. Senate race, the candidate's troops go to the polls in full force. Sometimes, they're even in costume.

Meet Brian Swensen, Marco Rubio's deputy campaign manager.

His costume Monday? Adult piggybacking on elephant.

Republicans. Elephants. Get it?

Swensen was hard at work ahead of Rubio's appearance to vote early at the West Miami Community Center. He rallied supporters, handed out campaign signs and sported a Rubio T-shirt himself.

The tiny legs over the GOP elephant, though, were appropriately spooky for All Hallows' Eve. No mask required.

PolitiFact: No proof that Hillary Clinton and Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes met



As early voters in Florida started casting votes, conservative websites buzzed about new evidence of crooked campaign tactics by Hillary Clinton to secure the crucial battleground state.

The alleged scheme centered on left-leaning Broward County, already in the news for distributing some mail-in ballots without Amendment 2, a proposal to legalize medical marijuana.

The claims originated from Roger Stone, a Donald Trump supporter and former campaign operative who talked of a "secret" meeting in an interview to conspiracy theorist and radio show host Alex Jones on Oct. 26.

"Yesterday Hillary Clinton shows up in Broward County — slips into a private meeting with the woman who runs the board of elections," said Stone, who lives in Fort Lauderdale.

It’s common for election supervisors to meet with party officials if they have questions about election procedures. But a meeting directly with a presidential candidate would be unusual. Broward has about 600,000 Democratic voters — the highest number in Florida — so it is a key county for Clinton.

Jones has millions of followers. The claim about Clinton secretly meeting with Brenda Snipes took off on social media, and some suggested that it was part of a voter fraud scheme.

We found no evidence that such a meeting took place — because it didn’t.

Within days, Stone retracted his claim. (A retraction doesn’t allow a political figure to avoid the Truth-O-Meter, but we will explain what he initially said and then his latest explanation.)

Miami Herald photo by Carl Juste

Trump camp still owes money to pollster Tony Fabrizio

From the Washington Post, via @adamsmithtimes:

Donald Trump's hiring of pollster Tony Fabrizio in May was viewed as a sign that the real estate mogul was finally bringing seasoned operatives into his insurgent operation.

But the Republican presidential nominee appears to have taken issue with some of the services provided by the veteran GOP strategist, who has advised candidates from 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole to Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The Trump campaign's latest Federal Election Commission report shows that it is disputing nearly $767,000 that Fabrizio's firm says it is still owed for polling....

Full story here.

Down in the polls, utilities pump another $3.5 million into Amendment 1 campaign

Solar panelsFlorida's largest utilities decided last week that $22 million wasn't enough to spend on Amendment 1, so they pumped in another $3.5 million into the effort, according new campaign finance reports.

Amendment 1, which has been dubbed a "pro solar" amendment by the political committee financed by the utility giants, would inject language into the state Constitution that could be used to keep solar competition out of Florida, making it easier for the utilities to control the solar market and preserve their utility monopolies. (For an explanation of how the amendment creates a barrier to competition, see our story here.)

At least $2 million of the added cash came from Florida Power & Light, the state's largest electric company, and $1 million came from Duke Energy, the second largest utility. The remaining $500,000 was split by two dark-money groups, the conservative 60-Plus Association and the mysterious Let's Preserve the American Dream, both 501c(4) organizations that do not have to disclose their donors.

Consumers for Smart Solar, the political committee financed primarily by the state's investor-owned utility companies and groups they sponsor, reported the cash injection Oct. 28, a week after hiring Hill Research to do an $80,000 poll.

The committee has not released the results of that poll but a statewide poll by Bay News 9 in Tampa on Oct. 20-24, found that the utility-backed Amendment 1 is falling short of the 60 percent it needs on Nov. 8 to become law. Only 40 percent of the likely voters polled said they support the amendment, 33 percent said they oppose it and another 26 percent said they still were still uncertain. 

The poll came after the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times broke the story that Sal Nuzzo, the vice president of policy for a Tallahassee think tank that has supported Amendment 1, conceded in a leaked audio recording that utilities created Amendment 1 as an act of “political jiu-jitsu” by shrouding it as a pro-solar proposal that would instead “negate” the efforts of solar advocates.

A week later, FPL and Duke sent another shot of cash into the campaign, bringing FPL's total for the ballot effort up to more than $8 million -- which records indicate could be the largest amount any single entity has ever spent on a ballot initiative in Florida.

Records show that Duke has spent $6.7 million, the second highest amount spent on a single ballot initiative, surpassing the $5.5 million spent in 2014 by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to oppose the legalization of medical marijuana.  

Division of Elections records show that Consumers for Smart Solar is not yet the most well-funded ballot initiative effort in Florida’s history, but it is on track to become the most expensive. CSS has raised a total of $26.1 million, below the $28.9 million spent on the trial lawyer-backed  Floridians for Patient Protection in 2004, but that campaign had to spend money to get two different ballot measures approved.

Research by the Energy and Policy Institute revealed that only 12 individual consumers have contributed to CSS, and 11 of them are affiliated with the campaign. CSS has raised a total of $10 from unaffiliated consumers.

“This latest cash dump by FPL and Duke is a desperate effort to buy themselves an election with a flood of last-ditch deceptive advertisements,” said David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, an energy advocacy group. “But the public is rapidly learning that Amendment 1 is anti-solar and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. No amount of utility money can hide the truth.”

The Energy and Policy Institute has documented the Consumers for Smart Solar contributions here

Meanwhile, although it's hard to find elected officials whose web sites support Amendment 1, the numbers of current and hopeful candidates who oppose it is mounting. 

“In all my years of public service, I have never seen such a thinly veiled attempt to intentionally mislead Florida voters,'' said Mike Fasano, a Republican and former state Senator who now serves as tax collector of Pasco County. "Voters should vote down Amendment 1 and send a clear message to the monopoly utilities that deception against solar power is not going to work in the Sunshine State.” 

State Senate candidate Gary Farmer, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, has called the amendment "a step backwards towards clean power production in our state" because it could open the door to "Florida’s utility monopolies to charge individuals for creating their own power, effectively eliminating the economic upsides to installing solar panels in their homes and businesses."

Miami's Haitian Americans have mixed feelings about Clinton

via @Jacquiecharles

The Clintons have loomed large in Haiti for decades.

As Bill and Hillary Clinton ascended in the political world, their interest in Haiti — sparked by their 1975 honeymoon there — kept pace. They played key behind-the-scenes roles in Haiti presidential elections and publicly championed the Caribbean nation after the 2010 earthquake.

But that deep involvement in the politics of a foreign country wasn’t always welcomed by Haitians or the diaspora. And now some Haitian-American voters are threatening to turn their backs on Hillary Clinton’s Democratic presidential bid because they say the Clintons — and the Clinton Foundation — have not always done what’s best for Haiti.

In sought-after Florida, where the race between Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump has remained tight, Clinton is finding that the Haitian-American vote is far from locked up.

“They know that the Haitian community has a beef with them,” said Dr. Laurinus “Larry” Pierre, head of the Democratic Haitian American Caucus of Florida and a prominent Democratic party fundraiser. “Mistakes were clearly made in Haiti. But at least with Hillary, we have some access.”

Haitian voters point out that Clinton hasn’t visited Little Haiti, while Trump has. And though Clinton did meet with a handful of Haitian Americans before a Coral Springs rally Sept. 30 — five days before Hurricane Matthew hammered Haiti’s southwestern peninsula — Pierre, who attended the meeting, said that wasn’t enough: “I still asked Hillary if she could make a stop in the Haitian community.”

More here.

Photo credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald file