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8 posts from May 7, 2012

May 07, 2012

Miami Spanish-language TV station says Steve MacNamara 'under the magnifying glass'

Steve MacNamara's no good, very bad week continued Monday night when a Spanish-language television station in Miami painted a less-than-flattering portrait of Gov. Rick Scott's chief of staff.

Host Oscar Haza, of América TeVe's A Mano Limpia show, devoted part of a segment in his popular, nightly current events show to how MacNamara, then working in the Florida Senate, helped steer a $360,000 no-bid state contract to a friend, Sarasota business consultant Abraham Uccello. Haza and two invited guests then discussed the story with this headline in the background: "Under the magnifying glass, Gov. Rick Scott's chief of staff."

A Tallahassee insider like MacNamara, it's safe to say, was mostly unknown to average South Florida Hispanics until last week, when Scott botched a ceremonial bill signing in Miami and upset local politicians blamed poor advice from Scott's staff (read: MacNamara). Amid of flurry of tough press, Scott told reporters Monday that the media had been "mean" to his chief of staff.

It probably won't please the governor, then, that Haza segued from a segment on Medicare fraud into the segment about MacNamara (and, in unrelated news, about a scandal at Miami Beach City Hall) like this: "Let's take a look now at other aspects of corruption here in Florida."

Scott calls for Florida Polytechnic Board of Trustees applicants

Gov. Rick Scott is looking to appoint a charter Board of Trustees for Florida Polytechnic.

Scott signed the state's 12th university into law only weeks ago and announced the national search today in a press release.

“As we work to make Florida the best state in the nation for businesses to expand and create jobs, we must have a globally competitive education system that will turn out leaders in technology and innovation,” Scott said. “I look forward to calling on talented and visionary individuals who will set Florida Polytechnic on a path toward world-class excellence.”

The university is slated to focus on science, technology, math and science, known as STEM. The 13-member board will be responsible for meeting state policy, budgeting and education standards and implementing programs consistent with the university's mission, the release states.

Continue reading "Scott calls for Florida Polytechnic Board of Trustees applicants" »

Obama's first 'positive' ad silent on ObamaCare & stimulus

President Obama's campaign has announced a $25 million month-long ad buy in Florida and other states he narrowly won. The ad has a morning-again-in-America feel and mentions the successes of the auto-industry bailout, the death of Osama bin Laden, the end of the Iraq war and the growth of 4.2 million jobs under Obama.

Here's what the ad doesn't mention: Obama's healthcare proposal and the $787 billion stimulus program. Both are unpopular, according to polls. Both are signature accomplishments of Obama's administration.

Also, the ad is silent on the fact that, under Obama, the troop levels in Afghanistan have increased (so some of those Iraq-returning soldiers are Afghanistan bound). And though 4.2 million jobs have been created under Obama, 4.3 million were lost at the beginning of his term (when he inherited President Bush's economy, which shed 4.4 million jobs).

"We're not there yet," the ad says. "It's still too hard for too many."

Ya think?

"But we're coming back."

We'll see.

A comment from the campaign: "From the moment President Obama took the oath of office, he’s fought for a forward-looking America, where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded, where everyone has a fair shot and does their fair share, and everyone from Wall Street to Main Street plays by the same rules. The ad released today highlights the President’s commitment to the American worker and his belief that a strong and growing economy built to last has to start with restoring the basic values that made our country great – values like hard work, fairness and opportunity.”

PolitiFact rates Rudy Moise's dropout claim

Rudy Moise, a Democrat running for Congress in South Florida against U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, says his district "is going in the wrong direction."

He cites some troubling statistics on his campaign website:

"We're No. 2 in crime in the state. Unemployment is at 17 percent amongst minorities in my district. And we are losing our future with a staggering high school drop-out rate of almost 61 percent."

The figure that caught our eye was the double-digit dropout rate. PolitiFact explains what Moise was citing and the state's figures on the dropout rate.

LeMieux's Mack-mocking ad campaign continues, wants congressman to release travel records

George LeMieux's Senate campaign is going after Connie "Half Mack" Mack again, this time over how the congressman bides his time. LeMieux wants his fellow Republican to release his travel records to show whether he spends more time in Florida or in California with his wife, Rep. Mary Bono Mack.

The web ad, the second of its kind, tries to make the former senator's son into a cartoon-like lightweight. Whether it works or not will be seen. Mack has the edge in fundraising and name recognition. But he has some baggage as well.

The Mack campaign called the latest ad a "desperate move from the Democrat, trial attorney playbook of attacking someone's marriage and again proves that George can't ever talk about the issues or how to defeat Bill Nelson." The last web ad from LeMieux didn't exactly go viral, racking up just under 7,200 YouTube views since the end of February.

Mack's campaign is boasting about the endorsement of former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and the hiring of Republican adviser Brett Doster, who works for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign as well. Between the two, Doster is more important news.


Thirteen slain officers remembered at Capitol

Hundreds of police officers from throughout the state gathered in the Capitol courtyard in Tallahassee Monday to honor the memories of 13 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2011.

Gov. Rick Scott and other top state officials attended the 90-minute ceremony, held under a brilliant North Florida sun as the flags above the historic Old Capitol flew at half staff. In his prepared remarks, the governor said the selfless and courageous work of Florida law enforcement officers is one of the reason violent crime in the state is at a 41-year low.

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster was a featured speaker at the ceremony. Three St. Petersburg officers lost their lives in the line of duty last year: Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and officers Jeffrey Yaslowitz and David Crawford

"My prayer is to never be invited back here as speaker," Foster said. He described as "my personal 9/11" the telephone call he got from Police Chief Chuck Harmon last Jan. 24, after Baitinger and Yaslowitz were shot to death when they knocked on the door at the home of a suspected fugitive. 

The names of all 13 killed officers were read aloud by Kenny Mack, state secretary of the Fraternal Order of Police. Their names will be added to the bronze fallen officers' memorial outside the Old Capitol. As a group of deputies played Taps and Amazing Grace on bagpipes, three police helicopters flew over the Capitol complex in formation.

Scott later met privately with family members of the slain officers. He attended all of their funerals and said he has gotten to know some family members. He mentioned the 12-year-old daughter of Gregory Malloy, a slain correctional officer. 

"It's no different than when I met with Trayvon Martin's parents," Scott said. "You just cant imagine the tragedy of these things and how it changes their whole lives. Your heart goes out to them." 

Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam attended, along with four legislators: Sen. Greg Evers of Crestview and Reps. Dennis Baxley of Ocala, Shawn Harrison of Tampa and Scott Plakon of Longwood.   

-- Steve Bousquet

Gov. Scott: Media 'mean' to Steve MacNamara

Gov. Rick Scott chided reporters Monday for being "mean" to his chief of staff, Steve MacNamara, and said his top aide is doing a "great job."

Without prompting from reporters, and apparently in response to a Times/Herald report on how MacNamara wields power, Scott said: "You guys are mean to poor Steve MacNamara. He's out there working his tail off and you guys write these mean things about him. You ought to think about that. We're getting a lot of good things done -- jobs are coming back, we've got a billion dollars for education, we got PIP done, and now you're being mean to my chief of staff."

Asked to respond to the published comments of a former agency chief, Jack Miles, who said he resigned after meddling by MacNamara, Scott said: "I talk to agency heads. I spend as much time as I can but you know, Steve's the chief of staff. That's his job, to work with agency heads, and I think he's done a great job."  

-- Steve Bousquet

Oppenheimer on Marco Rubio's 'pirouettes' and rebranding.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the 40-year-old rising star of the Republican Party and among top contenders to be Gov. Mitt Romney’s running mate, is trying to rebrand himself from a right-wing Cuban-American politician to a center-right Hispanic one.

That’s the impression I got after interviewing him at length on immigration and U.S.-Latin American relations last week.

During the interview, Rubio — who, if picked to be on the ballot in November would become the first Hispanic on a presidential ticket — stayed a prudent distance from the most extreme foreign policy stands of his hard-line Republican colleagues in Congress.

On immigration, Rubio, opposes President Barack Obama’s proposed Dream Act that would give a path to citizenship to more than 1 million college-bound students who were brought to this country as children by no fault of their own. But in the interview, he stressed his new proposal to draft a bill that would give these youths legal residency, but no citizenship. He said “a little bit more compassion is needed” for these undocumented youths.

Asked whether Romney hasn’t alienated Latinos by wholeheartedly embracing Arizona’s anti-immigration law and calling for the “self-deportation’’ of undocumented residents — a euphemism for what many see as making their lives impossible in order to force their departure — Rubio made various verbal pirouettes to avoid criticizing his party’s presumptive nominee.

Andres Oppenheimer's column continues here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/05/2784048/new-marco-rubio-faces-key-test.html#storylink=cpy