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18 posts from November 1, 2012

November 01, 2012

President Obama's Sunday reelection rally set for McArthur High School in Hollywood

From a press release:

Grassroots Event with President Obama in Hollywood, Florida

EVENT LOCATION: McArthur High School Football Field (6501 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood FL, 33204) DOORS OPEN: 12:30 PM EST, Sunday, November 4th, 2012 Ticket Distribution Information for Members of the Public: Tickets are still available for the President’s event in Hollywood, Florida. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required for entrance.

Tickets are available online at http://OFA.BO/Hollywood. Tickets are also available at the following locations beginning tomorrow, Friday, November 2nd beginning at 10:00 AM EST.

Gov. Rick Scott not likely to extend early voting

Citing long lines, a former Miami Beach state senator, the Florida Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters of Florida urged Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday to extend early voting.

But don’t expect the effort to go anywhere.

Top Republican officials in Tallahassee said Thursday an extension isn’t needed. And in Miami-Dade, the county with the longest lines, the office of Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a Republican who appoints the elections supervisor, said he has no plans to ask the governor for more time.

The likely result: more long lines for early voters and long lines for Election Day voters on Tuesday.

Other early glitches have been reported, too. Some Broward voters have seen delays in receiving their absentee ballots; the county elections supervisor’s office says every voter who has reported a missing ballot has been mailed another one.

One Broward voter encountered an unexpected wrinkle: She was purged from the voting rolls because she hadn’t voted in so long and because she didn’t respond to certified mail that warned her she would be removed because she had been so inactive, according to the elections office.

But the focus remained on in-person early voting, where voters are still facing three-hour waits at some Miami-Dade polling sites.

More than 3 million Floridians had voted early or by mail through Wednesday evening. Democrats lead in early voting, while Republicans hold the edge in absentee voting.

Between the first day of early voting Saturday and Wednesday, Broward averaged more than 28,400 voters a day. Miami-Dade averaged more than 26,300.

ACLU piles on another drug testing suit

From News Service of Florida

Hours after arguing another drug testing case before a federal appellate court in Atlanta, the ACLU of Florida announced Thursday it has filed a separate federal lawsuit in Pensacola for a DeFuniak Springs employee fired for refusing to take a random drug test required by the city.

Filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Pensacola, the lawsuit challenges a 2010 city ordinance that requires city employees to submit to random urine tests in order to keep their jobs.

When his name came up in September for random testing, City Planner Greg Scoville declined to participate, according to the complaint. He was fired in September.

"Working for the government does not mean you surrender your constitutional rights for that privilege,” said ACLU staff attorney Benjamin Stevenson, in a statement Thursday. “While some private employers may not hold themselves to the same standards, the U.S. Constitution protects us from government intrusions, so when your employer is the government, the Constitution applies at the work place too."


Benghazi, Sandy and the politics of disaster

Blown away by Hurricane Sandy: News of the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

But the coverage is returning as Sandy’s floodwater’s recede and Republicans press the Obama Administration for more answers about the deadly attacks in the Middle East.

“I think there’s classified information the public should know about eventually but there’s no reason for it to be classified,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, said, declining to discuss what classified information he has or has not seen.

Rubio said he hopes for more public information after his committee holds a closed-door hearing on the attacks Nov. 15.

Continue reading "Benghazi, Sandy and the politics of disaster" »

Early voting and absentee ballot totals top 3 million

More than 3 million Floridians had voted early or by mail through Wednesday evening, with three more days of early voting still to go. The number of people who have voted early or by mail through Wednesday was 3,056,580 -- almost as many people as voted at the polls on Election Day 2010, an off-year election when turnout is lower. The number of people who voted on Election Day in 2010 was 3,102,388.

The Florida election of 2012 appears destined to go down in history as the first one where early and absentee voting approached parity with in-person voting on Election Day. In the presidential election of 2008, when turnout was 75 percent statewide, 3.8 million people cast ballots Election Day.  

Through Wednesday, the state said, 1,376,148 people had voted early in Florida. Democrats led in early voting with 638,956 to Republicans' 505,722, and the rest unaffiliated and minor-party voters.

Also through Wednesday, the state said, 1,680,432 had voted absentee. Republicans led in absentee voting with 734,095 to the Democrats' 659,893, and the rest unaffiliated and minor-party voters. 

-- Steve Bousquet

Florida GOP's early vote spin: 96=120.

In 2008, with long lines forming at the early voting polls in South Florida, then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist extended early voting hours by four hours daily for six days, or the equivalent of two full extra days.

In math terms, that would look like this: 4 X 6 = 24.

So that meant that, in 2008, the people of South Florida had 120 cumulative hours of early voting because the cumulative hours had been capped at 96.

In math terms, what Crist did looks like this: 96 + 24 = 120.

But you wouldn't know that from looking at the Republican Party of Florida's latest press release designed to give cover to Gov. Rick Scott for his likely refusal to keep the polls open longer this year. RPOF is good at math. It news that more early voting hours = more votes for President Obama.

"Florida has a law in regard to early voting--this law provides for 96 hours of operation for early voting locations," the RPOF statement says, "the exact same amount of hours as 2008."

Not quite. Not exact. Not the same.

It's true that, in 2008 and in 2011, the maximum statutory hours remain the same. But the actual early voting hours are not the same for about a quarter of the early voting electorate: those who live in South Florida's three big counties, Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Duval, Hillsborough and Orange (the number three, four and five early vote counties, respectively) are also majorly affected. Add these six together, and the counties account for about 44 percent of the in-person early vote ballots cast.

But we'll stick to South Florida, where the polls were opened 120 total hours for early voting in 2008. Now it looks like 96. That's a real reduction of 24 hours, or 20 percent relative to 2008.

Here's the math: (120-96)/120=.2/100

Florida Gov. Scott tells community colleges to 'hold the line on tuition'

Repeating what has become one of his mantras, Gov. Rick Scott told state community college leaders that he continues to oppose tuition increases.

"Hold the line on tuition," Scott told the group assembled this morning at the annual Community College Trustee Commission meeting in Palm Harbor, according to his prepared remarks.

During the speech, Scott spoke about he and his' wife's experiences as community college graduates who "needed a great eduation at an affordable cost." He said the higher education system, and especially community colleges, needs to make degrees more valuable by focusing on affordability and results.

Scott also took a pre-emptive strike at the report due this month from the Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform. After vetoing tuition increases earlier this year, Scott tasked the panel with identifying ways to improve the state's colleges and universities.

"What we will not accept from the Blue Ribbon Task Force is a blind call for more money," Scott said, according to his prepared remarks. "In government, the all-too-frequent cry to fix any problem is to ask for more money. The problem is that Florida families are always the ones footing the bill."

Continue reading "Florida Gov. Scott tells community colleges to 'hold the line on tuition'" »

PolitiFact: Nelson accuses Mack of voting against NASA

As Florida’s U.S. Senate debate came to a close, sitting Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson glanced at his notes, gestured to his opponent and lobbed a final missile.

"We have a great pride in this state in our space program," Nelson began, turning toward Republican Challenger U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV. "My opponent is the only member of the Florida delegation that voted against a bill to help NASA."

Mack was so busy fending off other Nelson attacks during that Oct. 17 debate, he didn’t respond to the accusation about the NASA bill.

That’s why we decided to launch a probe (sorry!) into this claim.

Read more here.

State to investigate unlicensed childrens homes accused of abuse, neglect

In response to a Tampa Bay Times investigation, state officials have launched a wide-ranging review of unlicensed children's homes, some of which have been caring for kids for years with no oversight.

The review has identified seven "boarding schools" with no apparent credentials — no state license, no religious exemption and no other state-recognized accreditation. The Times had previously uncovered four of those facilities.

In addition, state investigators now say more than a dozen foster children have been illegally placed in unlicensed homes since 2001. Officials continue to look for more illegal placements and are trying to determine why they occurred and how much taxpayer money was spent.

Department of Children and Families officials said they will work with homes to try to get them licensed or accredited. But homes that do not earn credentials could be taken to court, DCF officials said.

DCF started its review of unlicensed homes after the Times began asking about more than 30 religious facilities that have cared for children with no state license or monitoring. Many of those homes operate legally by earning accreditation from a private, nonprofit group under a religious exemption created by the Legislature in 1984. Others operate with no recognized oversight at all.

Click here to read all the stories in the Times investigation and to learn more about the homes under investigation.

Dwyane Wade votes early in downtown Miami

11.01.12 Dwayne Wade

Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade was spotted casting an early ballot Thursday at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami.

Alas, Wade did not hang out in line signing autographs. A proxy stood in line for him -- as the elderly and other voters are allowed to do -- and he later came in to actually vote, drawing a bit of a crowd.

As of 2:19 p.m., the line was about an hour long at the County Hall early-voting site, according to the Miami-Dade supervisor of elections' office.

Wade's girlfriend, actress Gabrielle Union, was expected to be part of celebrity lineup in Miami Thursday with First Lady Michelle Obama.

(photo courtesy of Lazaro Lopez/Miami-Dade County)