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July 29, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott orders testing, spraying after first Zika cases likely spread by mosquito

@MichaelAuslen

500409801_16660442_8col[1]Four people likely contracted Zika virus from mosquitoes in Miami-Dade County, Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday. 

One woman and three men have been infected, and all four live in Miami-Dade or Broward counties. This is believed to be the first time the virus has been spread by mosquitoes within the continental United States.

Under an emergency declaration, Scott already gave the state authority to spend $26.2 million to combat Zika, which has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than normal.

“If it becomes clear that more resources are needed, we will not hesitate to allocate them,” he said in a statement Friday.

Additionally, Scott and other state leaders announced plans to double down on efforts in South Florida to fight the virus. Among them, the Florida Department of Health will give $620,000 to OneBlood so the blood bank can start testing donations for Zika.

DOH is also expected to take on the load of Zika testing within the area where the state believes the transmissions occurred, a one-square-mile zone north of downtown Miami. The area is bounded by Northwest Fifth Avenue, U.S. Route 1, Northwest/Northeast 38th Street and Northwest/Northeast 20th Street, according to Scott’s office.

“If you live in this area and want to be tested, I urge you to contact the county health department, which stands ready to assist you,” Scott said.

Scott compared the state’s preparation for Zika to that of a hurricane, a call he’s echoed since first declaring a public health emergency in February.

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam ordered more aggressive mosquito spraying within 200 yards of the four patients’ homes for 45 days in a declaration Friday.

The state will direct $1.28 million to the mosquito control districts in Miami-Dade and Broward counties through December, according to Scott’s office.

“Floridians can do their part by draining standing water surrounding their homes, as it can serve as breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that are capable of transmitting the virus,” Putnam said in a statement.

Though these cases are being called likely local transmissions, no Florida mosquitoes have tested positive for Zika, Scott said, but DOH is testing “aggressively” to rule out other cases.

Friday morning, DOH announced three more travel-related cases of Zika in Miami-Dade County. The state has confirmed 386 cases of Zika related to travel, in addition to those that likely were contracted in Florida.

The epicenter of the virus’ spread is South Florida. Ninety-nine travel-related cases have been confirmed in Miami-Dade and 55 in Broward counties. Ten are confirmed in Hillsborough and seven in Pinellas.

Photo: Zack Wittman, Tampa Bay Times

Art dealer won't have to pay $2.3 million to contest Miami Dade College project award -- for now

@NewsbySmiley

Art dealer Gary Nader scored a small but significant victory in his battle with Miami Dade College Thursday when a circuit court judge ruled he doesn't have to immediately post a $2.3 million bond in order to dispute a recommendation that the college's board of trustees partner with a competitor to build a cultural center and condos on Biscayne Boulevard.

Nader + Museu I LLP informed the college last week that it intended to file a formal protest of Related Group's victory in a competitive process launched last year when Nader proposed to build a museum, theater, conference center and residential towers on a college parking lot next to the Freedom Tower. (For more background on the project click here and here.)

Meanwhile, Nader's GrayRobinson attorneys also filed an emergency motion for temporary injunctive relief after learning the college would require their client to post a bond worth 2 percent of the value of Related Group's planned cultural center, valued at $115 million.

Nader's attorneys argued that the price of the bond was prohibitive and unnecessary under the law given the public-private-partnership circumstances behind the project, and that the would-be development team may be required to past another $2.3 million bond should it want to contest the ultimate award of the project as well.

On Thursday, Judge Bronwyn C. Miller sided with Nader on what for now is a technical argument, agreeing that Nader should be allowed to move forward with the protest after posting an injunction bond of only $100,000. Whether Nader indeed must pay $2.3 million in order to dispute the college's decision should be considered down the road after a full evidentiary hearing, Miller ruled.

Fact-checking Hillary Clinton's convention speech

The Democratic Party has a new presidential nominee, and for the first time for either major political party, she is a woman.

Hillary Clinton — a former secretary of state, senator and first lady — accepted her party’s nomination on July 28, 2016, the final night of the Democratic National Convention. After being introduced by her daughter Chelsea, Clinton challenged the campaign message of Republican nominee Donald Trump as being all about himself.

"That's why ‘Stronger Together’ is not just a lesson from our history," Clinton told the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. "It's not just a slogan for our campaign. It's a guiding principle for the country we've always been and the future we're going to build."

The night also saw speeches by Republicans who decided this election to vote for Clinton over Trump, as well as the families of fallen police officers. Several service members rallied on Clinton’s behalf, and singer Katy Perry sang her songs "Roar" and "Rise."

Clinton’s address was the night’s biggest moment. Let’s see how accurate it was.

(See our wrap-ups from night one, two and three of the Democratic convention.)

Attacking Donald Trump

Clinton critiqued Trump’s address at the Republican National Convention a week earlier, saying "he spoke for 70-odd minutes – and I do mean odd," and should not be trusted.

"And most of all, don't believe anyone who says: ‘I alone can fix it.,’ " Clinton said. "Those were actually Donald Trump's words in Cleveland."

We looked back at his speech, and Trump really did say this.

Keep reading from PolitiFact.

Women's group 'outraged' by Pam Keith's exclusion from U.S. Senate debate

PamKEITH_8col@ByKristenMClark

The Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women says it's "outraged" that an Orlando TV station is excluding Democrat Pam Keith from its U.S. Senate primary debate next month.

Keith -- an African American from Miami and the only female candidate in the Senate contest -- wasn't invited to WFTV Channel 9's "one-on-one" debate between U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy because she hasn't polled high enough to meet the threshold to participate.

Keith received 10 percent and 11 percent support in the two polls she has been included in; the station said candidates needed to have at least 15 percent support in order to be eligible.

"This discriminating action by the station and other candidates demonstrates the ongoing fight both women and minorities face in our society," Florida NOW said in a statement. "To summarily dismiss Ms. Keith’s candidacy as inconsequential is an insult to all voters, especially women and people of color."

The group endorsed Keith's campaign several months ago.

Earlier this week, Keith also blasted WFTV and her opponents for the decision to exclude her. She decried their decision as "blatant racism and sexism."

The station hasn't responded.

When asked about it by the Miami Herald's editorial board on Thursday, Murphy was vague on whether Keith should be included and he was unaware of what terms for debate his campaign staff negotiated with the station. He deferred to both his campaign and to WFTV's set criteria, and he said he personally had no part in those talks.

"If the host comes up with qualifications that she meets, then of course, by all means" she should participate, Murphy said. "I've known Ms. Keith for several years, so I don't have any personal contention or beef with her."

Grayson's campaign hasn't commented. For his part, Grayson has appeared on stage with Keith at at least a couple candidate forums during the campaign. He had agreed to debate her on radio next month, but that event was cancelled after Murphy declined to participate.

Florida NOW touted Keith's credentials as among the other reasons she should be allowed to take part in the WFTV debate, which is expected to be the only Democratic debate before the Aug. 30 primary.

"Pam Keith is uniquely qualified to run for the U.S. Senate. Her experience as a Naval Officer JAG and attorney fighting for labor workers gives her an advantage neither of the other candidates possess," Florida NOW said.

"Women and minorities make up 50 percent of the voters in Florida. To exclude Pam Keith from the Senate debates is an insult to these voters," the group added. "It demonstrates a bias that should never be included in a news organization whose duty is to inform the public. ... WFTV needs to change their position on this debate."

Keith has been campaigning full-time since November 2014, longer than any candidate from either major party. Nonetheless, Murphy and Grayson -- sitting U.S. congressmen from Jupiter and Orlando, respectively -- have garnered almost all of the attention in the Democratic field.

The Grayson-Murphy debate is set to be taped in advance and will air at 7 p.m. Aug. 12 on WFTV in Orlando and online at WFTV.com.

Lesser-known Democratic candidates Reginald Luster of Jacksonville and "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente of Orlando also weren't invited to WFTV's debate. They each launched their campaigns last month -- just in time to qualify for the primary ballot -- and neither has been included in any polls.

July 28, 2016

Clinton promises unity as she accepts historic nomination

AP_16211092855917

@PatriciaMazzei

PHILADELPHIA -- After decades wrestling with living in public, Hillary Clinton introduced herself one more time to Americans on Thursday night, no longer as a famous wife, former U.S. senator or Cabinet secretary but as a presidential nominee intent on writing a new, historic chapter in her life — and the country’s.

“It is with humility, determination and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States,” Clinton said. Thousands of delegates at the Democratic National Convention interspersed chants of “Hi-lla-ry” with “His-to-ry.”

Clinton accepted the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination acknowledging that both her party and the country remain deeply split — perhaps more so — eight years after her former rival, Barack Obama, won the White House.

“America is once again at a moment of reckoning. Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart,” she said. “Bonds of trust and respect are fraying. And just as with our founders, there are no guarantees. It truly is up to us. We have to decide whether we will all work together so we can all rise together.”

Facing Clinton is one of the most difficult challenges in modern politics: succeeding a two-term president of her own party. A self-described unnatural campaigner, Clinton tried to contrast herself and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, as diametrically different from her unpredictable Republican rival, Donald Trump, whom she portrayed — as Democrats did for four days in Philadelphia — as reckless.

“He wants to divide us from the rest of the world and from each other. He’s betting that the perils of today’s world will blind us to its unlimited promise,” she said. “He’s taken the Republican Party a long way from ‘morning in America’ to midnight in America. He wants us to fear the future and fear each other.”

Then Clinton cited former President Franklin Roosevelt, who “came up with the perfect rebuke to Trump more than 80 years ago, during a much more perilous time.” The crowd joined her: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Top Democrats close to Clinton — including her husband, former President Bill Clinton, President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama — spent the week trying to erase what they called a caricature of Clinton with stories of the woman they know. Clinton would be the most disliked presidential candidate ever — if it weren’t for Trump.

More here.

Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

PolitiFact: Did Trump bail on building condos in Fort Lauderdale and Tampa?

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine questioned Donald Trump’s business ethics, saying the Republican presidential candidate swindled customers in a past real estate deal in the Sunshine State.

"Retirees and families in Florida — they believed Donald Trump when he said he'd build them some condos. Thousands of them," Kaine said on the third night of the Democratic National Convention. "They paid their deposits, but the condos, they were never built. He just pocketed their money and walked away. They lost tens of thousands of dollars, all because they believed Donald Trump."

A Kaine spokesman told us the senator was referring to not one, but two failed condo projects: One in Tampa and one in Fort Lauderdale. Trump’s campaign did not respond.

We wanted to know if people lost tens of thousands of dollars in deposits while Trump took the money without consequence. Since there are two projects, we’ll take them one at a time.

Keep reading Joshua Gillin's fact-check from PolitiFact Florida.

Little jabs begin in Democratic race for Florida governor

@PatriciaMazzei

PHILADELPHIA -- The first little jabs of the next Democratic race for Florida governor came, subtly, in a Philadelphia hotel ballroom over the past four days.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine touted “people in public office who have actually had a job, that know how to get things done.” Take that, longtime politician and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

“I don’t need a TelePrompTer,” Buckhorn boasted to a Miami Herald reporter. Here’s looking at you, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee.

“I now represent the most Republican-leaning district held by any Democrat in the entire Congress of the United States,” Graham bragged. Listen up, Levine and Buckhorn.

Just like at last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, 2016 politics made way to 2018 at the Florida delegation breakfasts of the Democratic National Convention.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott is term-limited, and Florida Democrats insist that next time will be their time. Buckhorn, Graham and Levine — along with state Sen. Jeremy Ring of Parkland, who wasn’t in Philadelphia — are the biggest names considering a run.

For Democrats, though, the dearth of state political power extends beyond the Governor’s Mansion. Republicans also control the Cabinet — and majorities in the state House and Senate.

They’re sensitive to the problem — and maybe also a teensy bit defensive.

More here.

PolitiFact: Donald Trump's Full Flop on federal minimum wage

During a press conference in Florida while Democrats were preparing for the third night of their national convention in Philadelphia, Donald Trump was asked a question about his stance on whether to raise the minimum wage.

Here’s what he said at Trump National Doral:

"The minimum wage has to go up. People are -- at least $10, but it has to go up. But I think that states -- federal -- I think that states should really call the shot. As an example, I live in New York. It's very expensive in New York. You can't buy a hot dog for the money you're talking about. You go to other states and it's not expensive at all. Now what it does is puts New York at a disadvantage if the minimum wage is up, companies move out and things, bad things happen. At the same time, people have to be taken care of. But what I'm really going to do on the minimum wage -- but it has to go up.. .. So I would like to raise it to at least $10."

A journalist then followed up, "You said we need to raise it to $10. … Are you talking about the federal minimum wage?" Trump confirmed, "Federal."

Some saw the Florida remarks as a change to Trump’s previous position on whether there should be a federal minimum wage floor for the entire country. Were they?

See what Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact found.

Should FPL's retire its controversial nuke cooling canals? Report makes the case

Fpl plantFlorida Power & Light should retire its miles of cooling canals used to cool its Turkey Point nuclear power plant, and replace them with cooling towers that release less pollution into South Florida waterways and use less fresh water, a clean-energy group argued Thursday as part of its campaign to force the utility to reform its practices.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which is suing FPL for violating the Clean Water Act, suggests that if the state’s largest electric company replaces its one-of-a-kind canal network, the switch would help Miami-Dade County meet its goal of recycling wastewater and reduce the threat to South Florida’s drinking water supply.

The estimated cost of the change: $59 million to $79 million per year over a 10-year period, an increase of 1.5 percent to 2 percent in the energy costs charged to customers, said Bill Powers, of San Diego-based Powers Engineering, which produced the report for SACE. The project would take about four years to complete, he said.

County environmental regulators have found that the saltier, heavier water flowing from FPL’s nuclear plant through more than 5,900 acres of canals has leaked downward, pushing a line of saltwater inland toward South Florida’s drinking water supply. Regulators also have discovered canal water, laced with non-threatening amounts of radioactive tritium, has leaked into Biscayne Bay.

Replacing the cooling canals with cooling towers is a “no-regret system,” said Stephen A. Smith, executive director for SACE, an organization that calls the cooling canals “an open industrial sewer, wedged between two national parks."

"FPL knows this technology is the best technology and they should have implemented it a long time ago,’’ he told reporters Thursday. “This is actually going to stop, to abate, the pollution source.”

The proposal to retire the cooling canals adds ammunition to a resolution passed unanimously by the Miami-Dade County Commission last week asking FPL to stop using the troubled canal system by 2033.

FPL has not agreed to the county’s request. In June it signed a consent order with the state agreeing to clean up the polluted canals within 10 years but keep them operating.

After that, if the company seeks to renew its license for the current nuclear reactors beyond 2033, FPL will consider “any potential alternative cooling technologies, which would logically include cooling towers,” said Peter Robbins, manager of nuclear communications for FPL.

Robbins blasted SACE as an “anti-utility, anti-nuclear political group” that should “not be trusted.”

Continue reading "Should FPL's retire its controversial nuke cooling canals? Report makes the case" »

Conservative super PAC goes after Patrick Murphy in new ad

@ByKristenMClark

A dark-money conservative group with ties to the Koch brothers has launched an ad attacking Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy for a vote supporting the Export-Import Bank.

The ad from American Future Fund began airing this week on certain Florida markets. It urges viewers to call Murphy and tell him to support HR 5715 to "stop supporting corporate welfare" and "stop supporting state sponsors of terror."

Murphy campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen called the ad "just another misleading attack by Republicans to distract from Marco Rubio's record of skipping work and missing many important closed intelligence briefings."

The Washington Post reported the ad buy is worth $1.5 million and is targeting "networks that attract a disproportionate share of Democratic viewers, including MSNBC, while eschewing GOP-heavy networks, such as Fox News Channel."

"Also arousing suspicions are the markets in which the ad is airing — Democratic strongholds like West Palm Beach and Gainesville are seeing the ad, while GOP-heavy areas like Fort Myers and Pensacola are not," The Post reported.

'It's about electing this woman,' Deutch says at Democratic convention

@PatriciaMazzei

PHILADELPHIA -- U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton was the final Floridian featured at the Democratic National Convention. He spoke about his late mother's wish to see a woman president, and about how his twin daughters will get to vote for the first time this fall.

"Electing Hillary Clinton isn't about making history. It's about creating the future," he said. "It's not about electing a woman. It's about electing THIS woman – who will create opportunity for all of us."

Here are his remarks:

Continue reading "'It's about electing this woman,' Deutch says at Democratic convention" »

For Miami-Dade mayor, friction with a county commissioner but friendship with his son

@doug_hanks

The family chart of Miami politics can make for some interesting dotted lines when mapping alliances. Take the Suarez family.

Xavier Suarez, a former Miami mayor, holds the Miami-Dade Couty Commission seat vacated by Carlos Gimenez (a former Miami city manager) for his successful run for Miami-Dade mayor in 2011. Suarez's son, Francis Suarez, sits on the Miami City Commission and is running for his father's old job: Miami mayor. 

The elder Suarez had considered challenging Gimenez in the 2016 mayoral race and depleted most of his campaign war chest last summer running attack ads against him before opting to run for reelection to the county commission instead. So perhaps it's not a surprise that the two aren't close. But it's certainly interesting to consider who Gimenez considers his top ally on the Miami City Commission: Francis Suarez.

"Frankly, to be totally open about it, the person that influences the mayor and has access to him is my son," Xavier Suarez said during a meeting Thursday with the Miami Herald Editorial Board. "I don't have a lot of access to the mayor. I don't know why. That's one of the things he should improve on." 

A response from Gimenez's office emphasized the friction between the two camps. Wrote Gimenez spokesman Michael Hernández: "Mayor Gimenez speaks very frequently with members of our Board of County Commissioners, including Commissioner Suarez. It is yet another curious statement from the Commissioner from District 7 who often calls the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Communications Director and Deputy Mayors whenever he has an issue which requires administration attention."

Asked to weigh in, Francis Suarez wrote: "The Mayor certainly has been accessible to me and we have collaborated on a lot of issues that benefit our residents. Come to think of it, I can't think of an elected official in Miami-Dade County that I don't have access to." 

We  should also mention: Gimenez is running against school board member Raquel Regalado, whose father, Tomás Regalado, is mayor of Miami and frequently scraps with the younger Suarez on city matters. Should Raquel lose the county mayoral race in August, she's considered a top contender to either challenge Suarez to succeed her father as city mayor or run for the commission seat that Francis Suarez will be vacating.

Yes, we need a chart. 

 

Trump execs traveled to Cuba, Bloomberg reports

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

On an afternoon late last year, the golfers teeing off included a group of U.S. executives from the Trump Organization, who have the enviable job of flying around the world to identify golf-related opportunities. The company operates 18 courses in four countries, including Scotland and the United Arab Emirates. It would like to add Cuba. Asked on CNN in March if he’d be interested in opening a hotel there, Donald Trump said yes: “I would, I would—at the right time, when we’re allowed to do it. Right now, we’re not.” On July 26 he told Miami’s CBS affiliate, WFOR-TV, that “Cuba would be a good opportunity [but] I think the timing is not right.”

That, however, hasn’t stopped some of his closest aides from traveling to Cuba for years and scouting potential sites and investments. The U.S. trade embargo, first established in 1962, prohibits U.S. citizens from traveling to the island. But over the years, the U.S. has carved out allowances for family visits, journalism, and other social causes. Most commercial activity is still forbidden, though, with a few exceptions, such as selling medical supplies or food. Golf isn’t on that list.

Trump Organization executives and advisers traveled to Havana in late 2012 or early 2013, according to two people familiar with the discussions that took place in Cuba and who spoke on condition of anonymity. Among the company’s more important visitors to Cuba have been Larry Glick, Trump’s executive vice president for strategic development, who oversees golf, and Edward Russo, Trump’s environmental consultant for golf. On later trips, they were joined by Jason Greenblatt, the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, and Ron Lieberman, another Trump golf executive. Glick, Greenblatt, and Lieberman didn’t respond to requests for interviews. Melissa Nathan, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, declined to answer a list of detailed questions.

More here.

Donald Trump tells Fox he was being "sarcastic" about inviting Russia to hack Clinton emails

Donald Trump said Thursday morning that he was being “sarcastic” about asking Russians to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails from her tenure as secretary of state.

He also said that he didn’t know who had hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s emails.

“Of course I am being sarcastic,” Trump told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade in an interview that posted Thursday morning. “And they don’t even know frankly if it's Russia. They have no idea if it's Russia, if it's China, if it's somebody else. Who knows who it is.”

Trump set off a firestorm Wednesday when he encouraged Russia to hack into Clinton’s emails.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said to a room full of reporters at Trump National doral golf course. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

FBI Director James Comey criticized Clinton’s use of emails stored on a private server but the Justice Department declined to prosecute earlier this month. Clinton’s lawyers had turned over thousands of work-related emails for the investigation but deleted thousands that they concluded were personal.

Trump also commented Wednesday about the DNC’s more than 19,000 leaked emails that were published by WikiLeaks Friday. The emails showed that staff were working to help elect Clinton rather than Bernie Sanders, leading chair U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, to announce she would step down. The Clinton campaign alleged that Russia had hacked the DNC emails to help Trump.

Keep reading here.

 

Keep reading here:

Political milestone: Miami-Dade mayor finally takes in a Marlins game after five seasons

@doug_hanks

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez watched his first home game at Marlins Park on Wednesday, ending a non-attendance streak that stretched into five seasons and made him an oddity among Major League Baseball mayors.

Gimenez, a leading critic of the 2009 deal that sent $370 million in borrowed county money to build the stadium, watched the first third of the Marlins day game after attending a ceremony at the park unveiling the logo for the MLB All-Star Game being played there next year.

Following the on-field festivities, Gimenez joined Miami officials and baseball executives in a suite to watch the Marlins take on the Phillies, spokesman Michael Hernández said.

“The fact that the mayor stayed for the first three innings of the game isn't necessarily a milestone,” Hernández said. “The milestone is Miami-Dade County and Marlins Park will be hosting its first Major League All-Star game.”

Rubio rolls out first TV ad of Senate re-election campaign

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio's going up on the TV air in Florida ahead of the Aug. 30 primary in which the Republican senator faces a challenge from Sarasota developer Carlos Beruff.

The 30-second spot, titled "Keep America Safe" and featuring footage from Rubio's presidential run, ties Democratic Senate contenders Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy to presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

"All three support the disastrous Iran deal, and would close Guantánamo," the ad's narrator says. "Standing in their way? Marco Rubio."

Sounding a bit like Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the narrator later intones that Rubio "took on Obama to block refugees from terrorist countries."

Beruff's campaign called the ad "fiction," saying Rubio tweaked his stances on refugees -- and missed important Senate work.

"Considering Marco Rubio's record of missing votes and ignoring his duties as Senator, it's no surprise his campaign and his establishment allies in Washington would have to make things up," spokesman Chris Hartline said in a statement. "But his record is clear: Marco Rubio just can't make up his mind on the issues that matter to Floridians and only fights the Obama Administration when it is politically convenient. Florida voters are fed up with this kind of failed leadership."

 

Diaz de la Portilla joins Rodriguez in call for Scott to fill environmental vacancies and reject toxin rule

Water toxins
Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said late Wednesday he will ask Gov. Rick Scott to fill the two vacancies on the Environmental Regulation Commission and ask the board to reevaluate its decision, made Tuesday, to increase the limits on cancer causing substances in Florida's drinking water sources.

"I stand in opposition to the Environmental Regulation Commission's vote to approve new water standards that permit increases in the levels of several known carcinogens in Florida’s waterways,'' the senator said in the statement. "While some aspects of the proposal are positive, including the regulation of 39 chemicals not currently regulated by the state, other aspects of the proposal are simply unacceptable."

Diaz de la Portilla, a Republican from Miami, took the unusual break from the Republican governor on an issue that has caused enormous concern among environmentalists. He is in a competitive re-election race in a newly-drawn Senate District 37. He faces state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez who was among several Miami-Dade officials who spoke in opposition to the rule and last week sent a letter to Scott urging him to postpone the vote until he filled the vacancies. The governor did not respond to the letter.  Download Dade Elected Official Letter to DEP on Toxic Levels_72116 (1)

Diaz de la Portilla noted that had the governor filled the two vacancies -- one for a person representing environmentalists and another representing local government -- the measure may not have passed 3-2.

"I cannot help but think that the vote would have not been 3-2 in favor, but 4-3 against, had a full commission been given the chance to vote on this proposal,'' Diaz de la Portilla said.

Here's Diaz de la Portilla's statement: 

Continue reading "Diaz de la Portilla joins Rodriguez in call for Scott to fill environmental vacancies and reject toxin rule" »

State party to Florida Democrats: Can you hold it?

@PatriciaMazzei

PHILADELPHIA -- The unusual admonition to Florida Democrats came in a Thursday morning breakfast.

"Don't drink a lot of water," they were told, in preparation for the last night of the Democratic National Convention.

The reason? The fire marshal has been closing down the floor of the Wells Fargo Center -- so delegates have been forced, um, hold it.

The arena is expected to get only more crowded heading into Hillary Clinton's nomination acceptance.

A potential problem for Democrats controlling their water intake: Philadelphia temperatures are expected to hit 91 degrees.

Dave Barry wants you to know: Hillary Clinton is a woman

via @rayadverb

PHILADELPHIA -- I just realized something. Follow me closely: Unless my research is incorrect — which is unlikely, since I didn’t do any — if Hillary Clinton wins the election, she will be the first woman U.S. president ever! (Unless the rumors about Rutherford B. Hayes are true.)

So that would be pretty historic, right? Hillary Clinton possibly becoming the first woman president? It seems weird that you never hear anybody mention it.

Ha ha! I am engaging in sarcasm. It gets mentioned a LOT. The Democrats have instituted a strict rule for this convention whereby everybody who appears on the podium must make note of Hillary Clinton’s gender, including the person singing the national anthem (“O say can you see / That Hillary is a woman”). It’s as if they’re afraid the voters might forget, when it’s time to go to the polls. (“Wait, which gender is Hillary Clinton again?”)

I was in the hall on the historic night when Clinton won her historic nomination via a historic roll call of the states, with the historic final delegate tally being 2,838 votes for Clinton, 1,843 votes for Bernie Sanders, and — in what observers viewed as further evidence that the Russians have hacked into the Democratic party’s computers — 47,000 votes for Donald Trump. (Those votes were disqualified when it was determined that Trump is not a woman.)

More here.

Obama casts Clinton as rightful heir

@PatriciaMazzei

PHILADELPHIA -- Twelve years to the day that as a young Illinois state senator he captivated Democrats by embracing the “politics of hope,” President Barack Obama on Wednesday enraptured another political convention — this time reasserting his vision after eight years in the White House.

“I was filled with faith — faith in America,” Obama said, recalling his breakout speech at the 2004 convention. Now, he insisted, “I am more optimistic about the future of American than ever before.”

He wasn’t a future candidate, a presidential nominee or a president seeking re-election. He was a man looking to protect his legacy by entrusting it to his one-time rival, former secretary of state and chosen successor: Hillary Clinton.

“Nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office. Until you’ve sat at that desk, you don’t know what it’s like to manage a global crisis or send young people to war,” Obama said. “But Hillary’s been in the room. She’s been part of those decisions.”

“Even in the middle of crisis,” he added, “she listens to people, and keeps her cool, and treats everybody with respect. And no matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits.”

Once Obama finished, Clinton appeared at the convention in person for the first time. She gave Obama a bear hug, held his hand and waved. The nominee wisely chose to schedule the charismatic president’s speech on a different night from her own.

More here.