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April 26, 2017

More warnings from Rick Scott's office against cutting Visit Florida


As the Florida Legislature steams towards a budget deal that increasingly looks like it would gut funding for Visit Florida, Gov. Rick Scott's office put out a letter warning of dire fiscal consequences if lawmakers don't change course.

The Florida House and Senate appeared to be nearing a budget deal that would cut Visit Florida's $76 million budget to just $25 million next year. Scott had called for $100 million for the agency to market the state.

If the Legislature goes through with the cuts, the state could see a big drop in revenues, according to Christian Weiss, policy coordinator of finance and economics for the state Office of Policy Budget.

In his memo to Scott, which Scott shared with the media on Wednesday, Weiss said based on his review of a study of Visit Florida's return on investment, the state could lose $210 million in state revenues by cutting the agency that deeply.

"Promoting and marketing the Florida brand to potential visitors is crucial to not only maintaining and but also increasing the number of visitors," Weiss said in his memo dated Wednesday. "More than half of the visitors are the direct result of such marketing efforts. Consequently, any decrease in advertising will negatively affect the state economy."

That warning letter comes a day after Scott's office put out a letter from the state's chief bond officer, Ben Watkins, who suggested a potential loss in tourism revenues could lead to a drop in state and local revenues and that, perhaps, could reduce bond ratings. 

Armando Codina: Voting for a Miami casino without understanding local impact is 'irresponsible'

Armando Codina@MaryEllenKlas

Armando Codina, one of Miami's most prominent developers, is sounding the alarm about the announcement Wednesday that the Florida House has agreed to a Senate plan to bring another casino to Miami-Dade County, arguing that while the revenue will help the state, it will cost the county, and leave the community with infrastructure and social problems. 

"I'm well-informed, but this surprised me how it was snuck in without any public debate,'' said Codina, chairman of Codina Partners, LLC, a real estate investment and development firm based in Coral Gables, in an interview with the Herald/Times.

"These guys are going to send casino money to Tallahassee and leave us with all the infrastructure issues and all the social issues that come with it,'' said Codina, who has long been a critic if expanded gambling in the county. "They are voting for something without any understanding of the impact and without any idea of where the money is going to go. It's a crime being perpetrated on the City of Miami."

Although the details of the proposal remain sketchy, the offer made by Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, at a meeting of the House and Senate gaming conference this morning, indicate that the House has overcome years of resistance and agreed to authorize a new gaming facility in Miami-Dade under certain conditions. 

The new facility must be located at least 5 miles from any existing pari-mutuel facility, must be chosen by a competitive procurement, is authorized to have 1,500 slot machines, is authorized to have a cardroom with designated player games and is required to purchase and surrender to the state at least one pari-mutuel permit. 

He said he has built corporate headquarters for IBM, Office Depot, Ryder Trucks, and Baccardi and "no headquarters wants to be in a place with all the social issues gambling brings."

"With what's happening on the beach and what's happened on Brickell, speaks for itself,'' he said. "For these legislators to talk about casino gaming without telling the public where this is going to go, is irresponsible."

Codina, who once was a business partner with former Gov. Jeb Bush and has been a prolific Republican fundraiser, warned that the decision could have political ramifications.

"If the governor is going to run for the [U.S.] Senate, he has to think through this,'' Codina said. "The message for the governor is this is going to be put on his lap and his legacy is going to be casino gambling."

He also had a warning for local lawmakers seeking re-election: "Any representative that votes for this without understanding all of the impacts of gaming, and where this money is going to be designated, is derelict."

Codina, who at age 70 has nine grandchildren, added: "To me, this is about my grandchildren."

House to consider allowing patients with chronic pain to use medical marijuana, permit vaping and edibles


In the first big step toward agreement on the issue in Tallahassee, the Florida House is expected to adopt sweeping changes to its medical marijuana proposal Friday.

New language (HB 1397) released Wednesday afternoon by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, includes a number of changes pushed by advocates who came to public hearings:

* Patients with chronic, nonmalignant pain would qualify for medical marijuana.

* Doctors would not need a 90-day relationship with patients before they recommend the drug.

* Edibles and vaping would be allowed.

The language would maintain the House's slower ramp-up of licenses, granting licenses immediately to the seven growers under Florida's existing, limited medical cannabis program as well as an additional license to a black farmer. Then, the next licenses would kick in at 150,000 patients and 200,000 pateints.

It also maintains a strong role for doctors in deciding how much cannabis their patients can use and how they should consume it, which has caused some concern in the medical community. Doctors worry that if medical marijuana in Florida functions too much like drug prescribing, they could be targeted by federal regulators. Marijuana may be legal for some patients here, but it is still a Schedule I drug under Federal law.

Final Senate language has not yet been released, but it is expected that that chamber will make changes that move toward the House's position when it considers the legislation, likely early next week.

Guilty tax plea reveals Fresen also misreported income to state

Erik5 fresen lnew cmg
@PatriciaMazzei @jayhweaver

In pleading guilty Wednesday to failing to file a federal tax return, Erik Fresen appears to have also unwittingly acknowledged he underreported his income to the state during his eight years in the Florida House of Representatives.

Fresen admitted in his plea agreement that he didn’t file tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service from 2007-16. But the Miami Republican did submit annual financial disclosure forms to the Florida Ethics Commission from 2008-15. In those forms, Fresen claimed a five-figure annual income from Neighborhood Strategies, his land-consulting company.

The problem: The income Fresen reported to the state doesn’t jibe with the unpaid taxes the IRS says he owes.

Fresen and his lead defense attorney, Jeffrey Neiman, declined to comment outside U.S. District Judge Robert Scola’s courtroom Wednesday. Violations of state ethics laws can lead to civil fines, though there is a five-year statute of limitations.

Fresen also claimed up to $133,000 in student loans, though he graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Florida State, a public university. 

Fresen consistently reported to the state income from two employers: $150,000 a year from Civica, an architecture design firm for which he did zoning work, and about $30,000 a year from the Florida Legislature. Both employers withheld federal taxes.

At issue is additional income Fresen earned as a self-employed consultant for Neighborhood Strategies for which he didn’t pay taxes — and now appears to have low-balled the figures to the state.

More here.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, el Nuevo Herald

Nelson says Trump will face 'flood of opposition' to oil drilling move

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - Sen. Bill Nelson on Wednesday vowed bipartisan opposition to a coming move by President Donald Trump to open up oil drilling off the Florida coast.

"I hope he refrains from issuing this executive order, but if he does, this senator and a bipartisan delegation from Florida will fight," Nelson said on the Senate floor.

Trump's order is expected Friday and details are still unclear, though White House officials signaled it will target a late Obama-era restriction on offshore drilling and gas exploration in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the Atlantic.

Oil interests have long yearned for more access to the waters off Florida. Nelson invoked the BP oil spill and its damaging effect on tourism. Even if oil did not spread down the coast, as feared, people saw pictures and stayed away, Nelson said.

Trump can "expect a flood of opposition," Nelson warned.

Indeed, bipartisan voices have already spoken out.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Meet the new administrator of the Florida Democratic Party

04262017_134138_sallyboyntonbrown_8colvia @adamsmithtimes

Florida Democratic Chairman Stephen Bittel is hiring the former top administrator of the Idaho Democratic Party, Sally Boynton Brown, to be the Florida party's new "president," which for some reason is the new term for executive director. Brown, who earlier this year ran unsuccessfully for Democratic National Committee Chairwoman, succeeds Scott Arceneaux, the top party administrator for seven years.

If we were snarky, we would note that Idaho has a Republican governor, two Republican senators, an all-Republican Congressional delegation and an all-Republican Cabinet.

"Sally shares my optimistic, idealistic enthusiasm," Bittel said in a press release. "Her national profile and experience as President of the Democratic State Party Directors are a testament to her impressive party and infrastructure building skills. I look forward to her bringing her knowledge of state party management to Florida as we work to turn our state back to blue."

From the release: 

Continue reading "Meet the new administrator of the Florida Democratic Party" »

House passes work requirements for Medicaid recipients



Some low-income people who rely on Medicaid may have to meet new work requirements to keep their health care under legislation passed by the Florida House on Wednesday.

Medicaid recipients who are able to work would have to prove to the state that they are working, actively seeking work or enrolled in a job-training program. It wouldn’t apply to people with disabilities, the elderly and children, groups that make up the majority of Florida’s Medicaid enrollment.

Failure to meet the requirement will result in a loss of coverage for a year.

The provision, which was tucked into a broader Medicaid bill (HB 7117), passed 81-34.

Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, the Health and Human Services chairman, said it was a “responsible” policy that would help encourage people to get back into the workforce.

But opponents say kicking people off Medicaid will end up costing the state and federal government money. They say that instead of seeking preventive care, sick people will go to hospital emergency rooms, where taxpayers and those with private insurance foot the bills of the uninsured.

“It’s fiscally irresponsible and counterproductive to have a policy where we’re going to promote negative health care outcomes because we’re not going to allow these people to have coverage,” said Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana.

It’s not clear how many of the 3.2 million people in the state’s primary Medicaid program would have to meet work requirements, and an analysis published by House staff acknowledges that “an indeterminate number of enrollees may be disenrolled,” leading to an increase in hospital charity care.

Medicaid in Florida already is restricted to adults with dependent children, pregnant women, low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

For adults to be eligible, they must make less than $6,652 in annual income for a family of three, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Before Florida could institute work requirements for Medicaid, the Senate would have to approve the policy and the federal government would have to agree.

The federal government has allowed work requirements in some states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare. But, according to the Kaiser Foundation, it has not approved requests by four states to put the requirements into effect for the poorest recipients already eligible for Medicaid, as Florida is trying to do.

However, the Trump administration has shown signs of being open to the idea.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price sent a letter to governors urging them to pursue “innovations that build on the human dignity that comes with training, employment and independence.”

Already, work requirements apply to other government-funded programs for the poor, including food stamps and cash assistance.

Cummings tucked the work requirement into a largely non-controversial set of technical changes to Florida’s Medicaid program requested by the Agency for Health Care Administration. 

But AHCA did not request the work requirement or $10 to $15 monthly premiums that the House removed from the legislation Tuesday, spokeswoman Mallory McManus said.

Similar Senate legislation does not include either requirement.

Photo: Rep. Travis Cummings

House Speaker said horse-trading yields 'bad policy.' Now, it's OK - sometimes.


When Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran were asked two months ago if their legislative priorities in higher education and K-12 public schools, respectively, would end up becoming bargaining chips this session, Negron wouldn’t rule it out.

But Corcoran offered a definitive response: “No.”

And he’s now backing away from that — and making a key distinction — as the two chamber leaders have, indeed, agreed to horse-trade significant education policy in budget talks to ensure they get their priorities into law before the scheduled end of session on May 5.

More here.

House says applicants for college, university presidencies should be a secret

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Floridians would have no way to know everyone who applies to be the next president or other top administrator of a public college or university, under a proposed exemption in the state’s public records law that passed the House on Wednesday.

Lawmakers voted 103-11 to approve the carve-out, which was sought after a former Republican lawmaker unsuccessfully applied to be Florida Gulf Coast University’s next president this year.

It’s unlikely the bill (HB 351) will become law this spring, because the Senate version was never taken up in committee for senators to consider. Nevertheless, the measure has raised concerns.

The exemption would greatly diminish the transparency of how colleges and universities fill influential positions — which lawmakers themselves frequently apply for after, or even before, they leave the Legislature.

More here.

Photo credit: Rep. Bob Rommel, R-Naples. Florida Channel

Atwater still not certain of departure date


Miami Herald File Photo                


Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is still not certain when he will leave his current position and take a post with Florida Atlantic University.

Atwater, a Republican from Palm Beach County, told the Times/Herald today that he may still be in office when the Cabinet next meets on May 27.

In February, Atwater announced he was taking a position at FAU, but only after the Legislature finishes it's annual session on May 5. There was no specific date he intended to leave. Gov. Rick Scott and the other two members of the Florida Cabinet had treated the last Cabinet meeting on April 11 as Atwater's last meeting. They gave him going away gifts and saluted his tenure in office.

Because Atwater is leaving with more than 18 months left in his elected term in office, Scott has the authority to select Atwater's replacement through the 2018 election. Scott has not said who he is considering for the position.

House agrees end to live racing, lower tax rates, and a new casino in Miami-Dade County


After years of impasse over how to update Florida's gambling laws to reflect the changing times, the Florida House agreed to a series of major concessions Wednesday, including bringing a new casino to Miami-Dade County, ending the mandate that horse and dog tracks conduct live racing and a willingness to give the Seminole Tribe the ability to offer craps and roulette.

"We know that time is running out, so we wanted to make a substantial offer to the Senate,'' began Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, the House's chief negotiator on the second day of a gambling conference between the chambers.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said the proposal "was a substantial offer that tells me that you came in here ready to get the ball moving down the field."

The House proposal allows for an expansion of gambling in South Florida by allowing a new casino to open in Miami-Dade County -- as long as it is five miles away from an existing pari-mutuel, chosen by a competitive bid, results in the surrendering of an active pari-mutuel permit and operates no more than 1,500 slot machines. Malaysian company Genting has said it wants to build a full casino resort on Biscayne Bay on the former site of the Miami Herald building and the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach is also likely to compete for the slots license.

The House would also permit the Seminole Tribe to add craps and roulette at all seven of its casinos and allow greyhound tracks and Calder Racetrack to end live racing, with voter approval.

The House also agreed to a Senate conclusion that slot-machine look-alikes used in bars and convenience stores be designated as Class III games that are not allowed in Florida. The House agrees to lower the tax rate on slot machines as long as casinos reduce the number of slot machines they operate and authorizes designated player card games with strict new provisions.

The proposal brings the House farther than it has in years by agreeing to so-called "decoupling" -- the requirement that greyhound tracks, harness race tracks, quarterhorse and designated thoroughbred tracks no longer have to conduct live racing as a condition of their gambling permit. Of the three thoroughbred racetracks, only Calder Racetrack wants to stop racing.

A condition of the decoupling is that the track get local approval to end the racing through a countywide referendum. The House also scales back the Senate decision to authorize two new casinos, one each in Miami-Dade and Broward, by authorizing only one in

The offer, made on the second day of formal negotiations over gambling legislation aimed at renewing the state's gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe, brought the two chambers significantly closer after to each chamber passed two bills aimed at renewing the compact with the Seminole Tribe, but which had been dramatically different since the start of the session.

Still unresolved is the fate of the eight counties that have conducted voter referendums approving adding slot machines to their horse and dog tracks and jai alai frontons.

The House also agreed to a Senate proposal to negotiate with the Tribe a provision that the Legislature would be given two years to cure any alleged violation of the compact. The House proposed that if the state regulates Daily Fantasy Sports, the Tribe can offer it but it would not be considered a violation of the compact.

Galvano said the Senate will return later today with its counter offer.

Izzy Havenick, vice president of Magic City Casino which has lobbied for decoupling for years, was pleased with the development.

"We've been asking for eight years to give us a road map so we know what direction to go for our business,'' he said. He noted that they have 32 acres in the heart of Hialeah and the options for economic development are great.

"Retail, entertainment, David Beckham is still looking for a stadium -- we just want to do something with the property,'' he said.

Winn Peeples, lobbyist for the Brunetti family which owns Hialeah Racing and Casino said the proposal is "progress, but we've got a lot to digest."

John Sowinski, president of No Casinos, criticized the compromise.

"This conference committee process is a prime example why gambling expansion should not be subject to legislative 'sausage making' as it results in gambling creep,” he said. "It is clear that there needs to be a bright line in the Florida Constitution that gives Florida voters the exclusive right to authorize gambling in our state."

Fresen didn't file tax returns for 9 years, including 8 years in Florida House

Fresen three mhd cmg
@PatriciaMazzei @jayhweaver

For eight years, Erik Fresen served in the Florida House of Representatives, leaving office last November due to term limits.

During all eight of those years, Fresen never filed a federal income tax return.

Fresen, a Miami Republican, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to failing to file a tax return for 2011, a year in which he received $270,136 in income he didn’t report to Uncle Sam.

But in all, Fresen admitted he actually failed to report his income to the Internal Revenue Service from 2007-16, according to a statement filed with his plea agreement. His tax troubles with the IRS arose before his political career, including the year before he was elected as a legislator.

In total, Fresen still owes at least $100,000 in back taxes, excluding fines and penalties, federal prosecutor Harold Schimkat said. 

The nine-year period in which he failed to file any tax returns overlapped with Fresen’s eight-year tenure representing House District 114, which includes Flagami, West Miami, Coral Gables, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay. In the GOP-controlled state House, Fresen, who obtained a bachelor’s degree in finance and international relations from Florida State University, rose to become the influential education budget chief.

More here.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, el Nuevo Herald

Gov. Rick Scott: 'Shortsighted' lawmakers would cut jobs, tourism

From Buenos Aires, where he's on the third day of a four-day trade mission, Gov. Rick Scott issued a statement Wednesday warning the Legislature not to carry out planned budget cuts to Enterprise and VISIT Florida. Here's Scott's statement:

"Lawmakers cannot be shortsighted at the expense of Florida families by cutting funds for tourism marketing and economic development. I would be absolutely shocked if politicians in the Florida Legislature put their self-interests before the interests of our families and small businesses. Let's remember, fully funding VISIT Florida and Enterprise Florida is only 0.24 percent of Florida's state budget. But reducing this funding will have a significant impact on state, county, city and local tourism and economic development boards' revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars."

The governor initially proposed $85 million for Enterprise Florida's economic incentive programs and $76 million for VISIT Florida's tourism marketing, and last week hiked his VISIT Florida request to $100 million.

Dozier victims get apology from Senate

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The children killed and tortured at the hands of the state at a reform school in north Florida have a formal apology from both chambers of the Florida Legislature.

The Florida Senate voted this morning on a formal apology to the thousands of men who spent years of their childhood at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. In the bill by Sen. Darryl Rouson, the Senate acknowledged the abuse that for decades had been denied by the state at Dozier and another reform school just north of Lake Okeechobee.

“Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of Florida: That the Senate regrets that the treatment of boys who were sent to the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and the Okeechobee School was cruel, unjust, and a violation of human decency, and acknowledges this shameful part of the State of Florida’s history,” the bill declares.

"It feels good," said Robert Straley, a Clearwater man who was a ward of Dozier from 1963 to 1964.

Straley said for decades, his and other stories were denied by the state.

"They knew what was going on," Straley said minutes after the Senate passed their apology bill.

The Florida House passed a similar measure weeks ago.

Missing in both bills: any mention of compensation for victims. While there was early informal talk about eventually compensating the victims, the House and Senate never seriously considered that idea this year.

Stories had swirled for decades about harsh conditions at Dozier, open from 1900 to 2011. In 2012, University of South Florida anthropologists began investigating burial grounds on the campus, where pipe crosses marked what was said to be the final resting place for 31 boys who died there. Using ground penetrating radar and excavation techniques, they found 55 graves, many in the woods outside the marked cemetery. Remains were found buried under trees and brush and under an old road.

USF anthropologists last year presented a report to the Florida Cabinet that showed most of the deaths were caused by illness, but others involved shootings, drownings and beatings.

PHOTO CREDIT: Men who suffered years of abuse at the Dozier School for Boys and the Okeechobee School stood Wednesday in the Senate public gallery as the Florida Senate voted to apologize for what happened to them as children at the state-run schools.

April 25, 2017

Shalala leaves Clinton Foundation, returns to Miami

via @Jacquiecharles

Donna Shalala, the former Clinton Cabinet secretary who brought dynamism and seasoned leadership to the Clinton Foundation after leaving the helm of the University of Miami, is returning to Miami and teaching — full time.

After a two-year stint amid a bruising U.S. presidential campaign for the Clintons, Shalala, 76, called it a wrap Tuesday as president and chief executive of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Her departure coincides with former President Bill Clinton’s announcement that he will take on the chairmanship of the board of directors. Shalala will also be a member of the board.

“Donna did a fabulous job,” Clinton said, according to a written record of remarks he made during a Tuesday staff meeting in New York. “She brought us instant credibility, represented us well and, through her leadership, helped our programs continue to improve the lives of millions of people.”

Shalala, who maintained a condo in Coral Gables while working at the foundation, said: “It’s been a great sabbatical.” 

She’s a tenured professor at the University of Miami, where she has an endowed chair, and took a leave of absence in 2015 to work for the foundation as an unpaid volunteer.

“It was never a career change for me,” said Shalala, who has a Ph.D. in political science and still commuted between New York and Miami to teach her “Politics and Economics of Healthcare” class on a part-time basis at UM.

More here.

Photo credit: Nick Swyter

Governor uses bond advisor to send warning about Visit Florida budget cuts

Scott Negron CorcoranOut of sight and out of the country, Gov. Rick Scott appeared to be on the losing end of budget negotiations Tuesday as House and Senate negotiators scaled down Enterprise Florida to a shell and reduced Visit Florida funding from $75 million to $25 million.

So the governor dispatched his chief bond officer, Ben Watkins, to send somewhat of a warning letter about the impact of the potential cuts. 

"The State of Florida realizes a return on the Visit Florida investment not only through creating jobs and growing the economy, but by collecting various taxes on the money spent by visitors to our State,'' wrote Watkins, director of the Division of Bond Finance. 

Watkins didn't say that the Visit Florida cuts would reduce the bond rating but he tried to make the link, suggesting any potential loss in tourism revenues could lead to a drop in state and local revenues and that, perhaps, could reduce bond ratings.

"Even a 2% reduction in visitors would result in a loss of $2.2 billion in travel spending and $225 million in tax revenue,"  he wrote. Download Ben Watkins letter to Legis

Senate advances FPL's bill to charge customers for natural gas fracking investments

Fracking keelerFlorida Power & Light’s quest to have customers pay for natural gas fracking projects in other states overcame a key hurdle Tuesday as the Senate Rules Committee passed the controversial measure and overlooked opposition from residential and commercial customers.

The proposal, SB 1238 by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, now goes to the Senate floor. A similar measure in the House, HB 1043, has made it through one of three committees in that chamber.

The goal of the legislation is to overturn a Florida Supreme Court ruling last year that found the Public Service Commission exceeded its authority when it gave FPL permission to charge customers up to $500 million for investing in an Oklahoma-based fracking company in 2015. Although the company predicted the project would save customers millions in fuel costs, it resulted in a loss of $5.6 million in the first year.

The Rules Committee adopted a series of amendments proposed by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who opposes the measure, and approved the modified bill on a bipartisan vote of 7-3.

Latvala said the bill will “for the first time make the ratepayers pay for exploration” and “allow the utilities to charge a rate of return on that exploration cost.” He asked Bean if customers pay if the well produces a “dry hole — so all the risk is with the ratepayers and not with the company?” Story here. 

Photo: Opponents of FPL's plan to charge customers for natural gas fracking hold a press conference at the Florida Capitol. By Scott Keeler, Tampa Bay Times. 

Gun bill affecting Florida courthouses passes final committee, goes to Senate floor

Stand Your Ground (2)@ByKristenMClark

A proposed law that would let 1.7 million conceal-carry permit-holders temporarily store their guns with security while visiting Florida's courthouses is on its way to the Senate floor.

SB 616 from Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube passed its final committee Tuesday afternoon. Members of the Rules Committee endorsed the relatively non-controversial measure -- with at least a couple Democrats opposed -- after offering no discussion or debate.

More details here.

Photo credit: AP

Son of Miami's mayor announces run for Miami commission


Like father, like son? Tomás N. Regalado certainly hopes so.

More than 20 years after his father made the jump from Miami media member to politician, the eldest son of Miami’s mayor is hoping to follow in Tomás P. Regalado’s footsteps. The younger Regalado acknowledged in an interview that after months of hedging he’s decided to run to represent the city’s third district, which stretches from West Brickell through Little Havana.

“This is the city I grew up in. I want to do everything I can to make it better, to make my kids love it as much as I do,” he said. “I want to be the voice of the future.”

The campaign — which figures to plod a bruising road to election day on Nov. 7 — will be his first. Zoraida Barreiro, Joe Carollo, Alex Dominguez, Olidia “Lee” Hernandez, Alfonso Leon, Miguel Soliman, Daniel Suarez, and José Suárez have already filed campaign paperwork.

To read more click here.

Nelson to Tillerson: Open temporary Miami passport office

Nelson Venezuela

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson wants the State Department to open a temporary Miami passport office, following the indefinite closure of the existing office Monday due to water damage.

In a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Nelson urged the feds to "make every effort to minimize the inconvenience, including issuing clear guidance to affected travelers and opening a temporary location in Miami for emergency passport services as soon as possible."

Here's the full letter:

Continue reading "Nelson to Tillerson: Open temporary Miami passport office" »