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6 posts from May 4, 2012

May 04, 2012

Rick Scott staff chief Steve MacNamara gave $400k no-bid contract to pal


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Rick Scott's chief of staff helped steer a no-bid consulting contract worth $360,000 to a friend who now leads a task force rooting out state government waste.

Steve MacNamara was still working for the Florida Senate when he recommended Sarasota business consultant Abraham Uccello for the contract to streamline the Legislature's computer systems.

Their connection remains strong: Uccello said he sometimes stays at MacNamara's house when visiting Tallahassee. After Uccello was tapped by Scott to lead the government efficiency task force, MacNamara let Uccello get a government security badge that gives him access to the governor's office.

Uccello's company, Harvester Consulting, was hired when MacNamara was then chief of staff for Senate President Mike Haridopolos. State corporation records show that Harvester Consulting was formed the month before the contract was awarded.

In an email, MacNamara said Uccello was highly qualified and said that the contract was not required to be put out to bid.

"I needed someone who understood technology and could save the legislature money which I knew he did and he saved us millions," MacNamara wrote.

More here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/04/2783467/fla-task-force-head-got-no-bid.html#storylink=cpy

Michigan IT company takes Gov. Scott up on 'Move to Florida' proposal

Gov. Rick Scott has been telling CEOs across the country to leave their high-cost states and relocate to Florida, where the business taxes are low and the job creators are cherished.

On Friday, Scott announced that a Michigan-based IT company has taken him up on the offer.

Blueware Inc., a tech company that has made inroads in the healthcare industry, will move from Michigan to Melbourne in Brevard County. Over four years, the relocation is expected to bring 190 jobs to the state.

Blueware spent two years trying to decide where to move, and its selection of Florida was likely influenced by a sweet incentives package of cash grants and tax breaks. The governor’s office did not include the details on how much Blueware was offered as an enticement, but similar deals have included multi-million dollar incentives packages.

Continue reading "Michigan IT company takes Gov. Scott up on 'Move to Florida' proposal" »

Atheists say DCF head Wilkins abused office by emailing prayer to employees

An atheists group contends Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins "abused his office" by emailing the text of a prayer to agency employees.

The group wants Gov. Rick Scott to tell Wilkins he can't use state resources for "projecting his religious views." A concerned employee contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor to Scott on May 3.

"The Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits government sponsorship of religious messages," she wrote. "By sending a prayer message to employees, Secretary Wilkins abridged his duty to remain neutral." Download Fl_Dept._of_Children_&_Families_NDP

The email contained the text of a prayer Wilkins gave at a National Day of Prayer event at the Capitol this week. The email is below.

"This memo is a continuation of the ongoing dialogue the Secretary has with employees to share details about public appearances and agency activities," said DCF spokeswoman Joe Follick. "Neither this message or any of the Secretary’s daily actions on behalf of the agency’s 13,000 employees and providers ever carry any attempt to impact every American’s right to believe and follow their faith of choice. We are proud to have the nation’s best social services team working to improve this state and are proud that among our employees are men and women of all faiths."

The agency distributed Wilkins' prayer as a press release last year.

We will update with a response from Scott's office if we get one.

Continue reading "Atheists say DCF head Wilkins abused office by emailing prayer to employees " »

Connie Mack denies calling Pensacola man "a jacka--"

Congressman Connie Mack denies a report that he called a Pensacola man "a jacka--" at a gas station event Thursday promoting his petition to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

"He might have been, but that's not what I said," Mack said after a similar event at a Tallahassee Shell station Friday.

MackandfriendsThe Pensacola man, Barry Goodson, was apparently skeptical of the environmental impact of Keystone, calling Mack's claims about it "bogus" after pressing the Fort Myers Republican about it, according to a Friday post on RicksBlog.biz. See this photo of the man, decked in Gators gear, confronting Mack.

"He called me a loudmouth. He called me a jacka--," the political blog quoted Goodson as saying.

Mack's Tallahassee event lasted about five minutes and attracted few supporters. After bashing President Barack Obama and Sen. Bill Nelson for siding "with the environmentalists over the people of the state of Florida and over the American people," he took questions from reporters and a photo with the owner of the Shell station, Charles Rooney, and his family.

A reporter asked what he thought of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's Dream Act proposal, which would create non-immigrant visas for children of illegal immigrants (but not a path to citizenship).

"Today we're talking about the Keystone pipeline. But I think Marco has done an excellent job of being a leader on issues, and I haven't had the opportunity to look at what Marco's Dream act is, but I know him to be a strong conservative who understands amnesty is not the right way to go," he said.

Mack explained why he reversed his position on oil drilling from several years ago. PolitiFact Florida gave him a Pants on Fire! for claiming last month, "I have always said that I would be for drilling."

"Back in 2004, 2005, there was legislation that would allowed drilling 3 to 9 miles off the coast of Florida. And that's what I was against. In Florida we certainly don't want it 3 miles off the coast of Florida, and we've got to protect the military mission line."

Ethics panel drops sexual harassment case against former commissioner

Facing a sexual harassment accusation and three years in prison for bribery, former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White got a break from the Florida Commission on Ethics Friday.

The panel voted 4-3 to dismiss its case against the commissioner because White is criminally convicted and no longer poses a threat to the public. The commission found probable cause last May that White was involved in a voting conflict and sexually harassed an aide.

“His name is forever besmirched,” said Chairman Robert Sniffen,at a meeting in the state’s Capitol building.

Continue reading "Ethics panel drops sexual harassment case against former commissioner" »

Florida law against Cuba may help Cuba

The oddest thing about Florida’s new state law to punish foreign companies that do business in Cuba is not that it is an election season gimmick by Republican lawmakers to win Cuban-American votes, nor that it is likely to cost taxpayers a lot before it ends up defeated in the courts. It’s that it would actually help Cuba’s dictatorship.

Before we get into why, let’s look at the facts. The new state law, signed Tuesday by Gov. Rick Scott, prohibits local governments from hiring firms that do business in Cuba or Syria for contracts worth more than $1 million, and forbids Florida state pension funds from investing in these firms.

Drafters of the law tell me there are about 200 foreign companies that could fall into one of these two categories, including Brazil’s Miami-based engineering and construction giant Odebrecht USA, whose parent company has a subsidiary that is upgrading Cuba’s port of Mariel.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, U.S. Rep. David Rivera (R-Miami), one of the most vocal backers of the new state law, rejected criticism that it is unconstitutional, and that it will scare away foreign investments from the state.

More here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/02/2780050/florida-law-against-cuba-may-help.html#storylink=cpy