« October 31, 2012 | Main | November 2, 2012 »

18 posts from November 1, 2012

November 01, 2012

Bus is late as GOP launches early voting bus tour

Florida Republicans on Thursday launched a two-day bus tour promoting early voting that will hit eight cities and conclude Friday afternoon at Sun City Center near Tampa. 

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (speaking at left) all spoke to a small gathering of activists and RPOF staff members at the kickoff rally at state OP headquarters in Tallahassee.

One small problem with the bus tour at the outset: No bus. Due to mechanical problems, the bus wasn't at party headquarters, so Carroll and Putnam drove west to meet the bus at or near Lake City, the second scheduled stop. Other stops were planned for Palm Coast, DeLand, Tavares and Brooksville. 

"Turn out and vote now," Carroll said. "Because Election Day comes around, life gets in the way, you may forget to vote. It's too critical for us not to cast our ballot."

Putnam followed Carroll to the microphone and said: "Lt. Gov. Carroll, I'm so excited about spending the next two days on a bus with you. We're going to have a good time ... "

"Let the rumors begin, Adam!" Carroll shouted from behind.

Early voting historically has favored Democrats, while absentee or mail voting has historically favored Republicans in Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, the Republicans' U.S. Senate nomineewere scheduled to meet the bus tour in Newberry near Gainesville later Thursday for an election year tradition, the Black Tie and Blue Jeans barbecue.

-- Steve Bousquet

Atlanta judges hear welfare drug testing case

Appeals court judges heard oral arguments today on whether Florida should require welfare applicants to pass a drug test before they get assistance.

The hearing, before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, is an important next step in a lawsuit fought hard by Florida and watched by Legislatures all over the nation. 

A lower court in Florida ruled in 2011 that the law, promoted and signed by Gov. Rick Scott, violates the Constitution's Fourth Amendment protection from suspicionless search. U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven halted enforcement of the law, which made it more difficult to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (known as TANF).

Continue reading "Atlanta judges hear welfare drug testing case" »

Guardian: DCF refused intervention when gay child complained of abuse

When leaders of a religious school became suspicious that one of their charges was gay, he was confronted and told to fess up: Is it true or is it false? When the boy said he was indeed gay, the head of his foster care shelter then purportedly drove him to an isolated location, wept uncontrollably and screamed at him: “How could you do this to me?”

The next two years, the teen said, were pure hell. He was expelled from the Christian school, in which he had been enrolled by the shelter. He was forbidden to speak with his best friend, a young man shelter administrators erroneously believed also was gay. Staff tried repeatedly to “convert” him to heterosexuality. Other staffers “humiliated and harassed” the boy — and so did other foster kids who were housed with him.

“They always told us that God is love, but I guess there’s no God there,” the teen wrote to his court-ordered guardian of his experience at His House Children’s Home. “Please help them,” he added, referring to other gay children he believed were experiencing similar treatment.

Administrators of Our Kids, the privately run foster care agency that oversees His House, interviewed the teenager and found his story credible. The agency asked the Department of Children & Families — twice — to investigate the treatment of the youth. But DCF refused to look into the case.

In a letter dated Oct. 12, DCF Inspector General Christopher T. Hirst said the youth’s treatment did not violate “state or federal laws, rules or policies.” More from Carol Marbin Miller here. 


Mack has Jeb and Romney, Nelson has Robert Redford and Jimmy Buffett

Who are the celebrities turning to this election cycle?

Jimmy Buffett has done one event for Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson and plans a geto-out-the-vote rally for congressional canddiate Patrick Murphy on Sunday. Now, actor Robert Redford has penned a fundraising letter for Nelson. Also for Democrats, singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder will join Latin singer Marc Anthony in Miami today at a get-out-the-vote rally with Michelle Obama.

For Nelson's challenger, Connie Mack, his list of celebrities includes his fellow Republicans, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. They all traveled the state on Wednesday with Mitt Romney and made stops in Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa. 

Here's Redford's letter to Dems:

Continue reading "Mack has Jeb and Romney, Nelson has Robert Redford and Jimmy Buffett" »

PolitiFact rates Adam Putnam's claim about free phones for Obama supporters Pants on Fire!

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was in the line-up of prominent Florida Republicans warming up the crowd for Mitt Romney in Tampa on Wednesday.

He encouraged voters to head to the polls early.

"Early vote now so that you can wave signs on election day next Tuesday," Putnam said. This is a team sport. This is a team sport. It's fully interactive. We can't just show up and cheer and slap a bumper sticker on the back of our car and think we're done. We've got to drag people to the polls. That's what they're doing. You don't have to offer them cell phones like they're doing."

PolitiFact looked into his claim that the Obama campaign is handing out cell phones to supporters. The rating: Pants on Fire!

Read our fact-check on the persistent "Obama phone" myth.

3m FL ballots already cast; Dems open 59,000 early ballot lead over GOP. Is it enough for Obama?

More than 3 million Floridians have already voted, according to new early and absentee ballot (EVAB) numbers that show Democrats continue to add to their total lead over Republicans: about 59,000.

Democrats have cast 133,000 more early votes, Republicans cast about 74,000 more absentee ballots. That could be as much as a third of the electorate. (Totals below)

But is it enough for President Obama? In 2008, Obama had about a 280,000 cumulative early vote lead before the polls opened on Election Day. At the current rate of growth, it would take Obama nine more days to get there. But that would be Nov. 13, a week after the election. And early in-person voting ends Saturday.

Guess who cut early voting days? Republicans. In 2008, including an executive order from Gov. Charlie Crist, polls stayed open a cumulative 120 hours over 14 days. The Legislature and current Gov. Rick Scott cut those days to eight and capped cumulative hours at 96. Republicans point out that the new early voting law gives the right for early voting on weekends. But in South Florida, where a quarter of early voters cast ballots, citizens had two Sundays of early voting. Now they have only one.

There have been long lines, cries of disenfranchisement and even a "nightmare" of a problem for early voters. Democrats want Scott to exend early voting. Scott probably won't. Story is here.

Continue reading "3m FL ballots already cast; Dems open 59,000 early ballot lead over GOP. Is it enough for Obama?" »

Former Miami Beach state senator asks Gov. Rick Scott to extend early-voting hours

Former state Sen. Dan Gelber sent Florida Gov. Rick Scott a letter Thursday formally asking the state to extend early-voting hours in Miami-Dade County across the state**, where long lines have kept some voters waiting six hours to cast their ballots. Others have been turned away by police officers because there is not enough parking.

Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat who lost a bid for attorney general two years ago, is asking Scott to expand the early-voting period, which ends at 7 p.m. Saturday, to include Sunday -- a day when heavily Democratic African-American voters had in the past held "souls to the polls" rallies. Some churches held those rallies last Sunday instead.

"In parts of Florida many citizens – including veterans and seniors – have had to to wait for as many as 5 hours to simply express the most fundamental right guaranteed to them in a democracy," Gelber wrote in the letter. "In my own City of Miami Beach, an elderly African American women passed out in front of city hall over the weekend after waiting in excess of an hour in the hot sun. An ambulance took her away. 

"Is that what you envisioned when you and the Legislature lengthened the ballot and shortened early voting? Election supervisors across the state report long lines continuing – in my county of Miami-Dade each day of Early Voting has seen more voters and longer lines than the day before."

Gelber's request was later echoed by the Florida Democratic Party.

The governor signed a law last year cutting early voting days from 14 to eight and eliminated early voting on the Sunday before Election Day, though the law guaranteed a Sunday of early voting. The law caps access at 12 hours daily, and a cumulative total of 96 hours. In 2008, voters had a cumulative 120 hours thanks to Crist’s executive order.

Democrats tend to favor early voting, and Republicans tend to favor voting absentee.

"We've been getting very positive reports from supervisors of elections around the state" about early voting, Chris Cate, a spokesman for Florida's elections division, said Wednesday.

Gelber noted that Scott's predecessors, Govs. Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush, extended voting hours (Bush extended voting hours in a 2002 primary election several counties, including Miami-Dade and Broward, after widespread problems). Crist appeared at least one Miami-Dade early voting site Wednesday and urged Scott to extend the hours or expand early voting to include Sunday and/or Monday. Election Day is Tuesday.

Continue reading "Former Miami Beach state senator asks Gov. Rick Scott to extend early-voting hours" »

UPDATED Positive campaign? Romney gives Obama the Chavez-Castro-Che treatment in Spanish ad

Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was onstage in Miami talking about the need to unite the country and to stop all the attacks. On Spanish-language TV, though, Romney's campaign was anything but positive.

Since at least Tuesday, his campaign has begun heavily running this ad that links President Barack Obama with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro's niece and communist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. The campaign, despite repeated requests, didn't furnish the ad. So please pardon the cheap iPhone video recording of (**) the spot that aired three times in one prime time Spanish-language news program Tuesday and at least four times on the same show Wednesday -- including twice in the same commercial break. (**) The campaign has now posted the ad online, below.

Continue reading "UPDATED Positive campaign? Romney gives Obama the Chavez-Castro-Che treatment in Spanish ad" »