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6 posts from December 24, 2012

December 24, 2012

Memorial service for Bill McBride is Friday

A memorial service for former gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church, 3501 San Jose St. in Tampa.

The service is open to the public. The family will receive friends in the courtyard of the church at the conclusion of the service.

McBride, 67, died of a heart attack Saturday while on a holiday trip in Mount Airy, N.C. 

Stay tuned to this link for more information.

U.S.-Rep.-elect Joe Garcia hires key staffers

Joe Garcia, who will be sworn in to Congress on Jan. 3, has hired some familiar faces to work in his D.C. and district offices.

Jeffrey Garcia (no relation) will make the jump to chief of staff after working as Garcia's campaign manager in 2012 and 2010. Giancarlo Sopo, who handled Garcia's communications in 2010, will be director of communication. And Raul Martinez Jr., the son of former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez, will be Garcia's district director. (Jeffrey Garcia ran the elder Garcia's unsuccessful congressional campaign in 2008. The younger Martinez worked on President Barack Obama's campaign this year.)

Garcia, who will represent the Kendall-to-Key West 26th District, plans to move into outgoing U.S. Rep. David Rivera's West Miami-Dade district office, and to have satellite offices at City Hall in Florida City and in Key West, Jeffrey Garcia said.

In Washington, Garcia will serve in the House Judiciary Committee.

"As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner towards securing passage of comprehensive immigration reform that will boost our economy and impact thousands of families in South Florida," he said in a statement. "I am eager to work on defending the security and civil liberties of our citizens; protecting American trade from unfair practices and upholding the Constitution of the United States."

Read the full list of Garcia's staff hires after the jump.

Continue reading "U.S.-Rep.-elect Joe Garcia hires key staffers" »

Merry X-mas from FL: State gives up collecting $124m in taxes, fees, fines

Think about this AP story next time the Legislature says it can't fund, say, a $30 million program or business incentive:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- For the third year in a row, Florida is giving up on collecting more than $100 million in taxes, fees and fines owed the state.

But the amount of money the state is walking away from continues to grow. Data released this past month shows that the state forgave $124.2 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Florida in 2011 wrote off $110.5 million as uncollectable, while the number was more than $109 million the year before.

The overall amount of money that Florida is losing is small compared with the size of the state's annual $70 billion budget. But the failure to collect the money comes amid year after year of state budget cuts.

State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart and the new Senate budget chief, said even though the amount is small he still wants the Legislature to re-examine whether the state is doing enough to collect money it is owed.

"We want to be circumspect and prudent with every dollar we have available to us in the state budget," Negron said. "We'll take a fresh look at that number and see if there is any possibility of reducing that amount."

More here

Despite arrests, Miami-Dade ballot brokers prepare for 2013 municipal elections

When two well-known absentee-ballot brokers in Hialeah were arrested four months ago on charges of electoral fraud, several of their accomplices stayed away from politics, fearing they would be discovered during the campaigns leading up to the November elections.

However, given authorities’ apparent lack of interest in investigating the cases, some of the Miami-Dade ballot brokers, known as boleteros, have already begun to coordinate the collection of absentee ballots for next year.

There will be elections in 2013 in 15 of Miami-Dade’s 35 municipalities, among them the largest cities in the county — Miami, Hialeah and Miami Beach.

“When I saw on television that they had arrested that woman in Hialeah, I told my husband, ‘I’m glad it wasn’t me,’ ” said an experienced boletera who has worked for several municipal campaigns during the past decade.

“But I think it’s unfair that the politicians who hire us can simply wash their hands and not one of them has been arrested,” added the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

So far there has not been a deep investigation into the politicians who benefited from the work ofboleteros Deisy Cabrera and Sergio Robaina, who were arrested in August. Authorities made the arrests under a county ordinance that, beginning last July, penalized those who collect more than two ballots belonging to other people.

Miami-Dade, Broward ports on edge as strike looms

PortMiami administrators are on edge as the nation’s 14,650 longshoremen threaten to shut down the giant gantry cranes used to ship containers at 15 major East Coast ports at midnight Saturday. The job action portends a potential blow of tens of millions of dollars a day to Miami-Dade County’s economy.

PortMiami, the nation’s 11th-largest shipper of containers, does almost $20 billion a year in container business. Any shutdown is not expected to affect cruise ships.

“It’s not a good thing,” said PortMiami Director Bill Johnson, who gathered with staff Friday to discuss the looming shut down. “Ninety-percent of what Americans consume arrives by water. Within a few days it could mean a major disruption throughout the entire U.S.”

At Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, spokeswoman Ellen Kennedy said the department is stepping up security and preparing First Amendment zones in anticipation of picket lines.

“We’re very concerned about it,” she said. “We want to make sure operations continue for those not affected.”

A strike would have far less impact in Broward, which has only two container transport companies that employ longshoremen. Miami has several more, including world leader Maersk. All together, they employ “hundreds of workers” — though local International Longshoremen’s Association offices and PortMiami officials could not give an exact figure.

Johnson said a strike would affect far more than the 6,000 workers at the port, putting a virtual halt to one of the largest economic engines in the county. His office has little in the way of a contingency plan should the longshoremen walk out Saturday night.

Miami-Dade commissioner rented office space from firm that received $25 million county contract

Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro voted to award a $25 million contract to Munilla Construction Management to build a test track for Metrorail cars in May and again in November. In between both votes, he rented office space from the firm’s owners, county records show.

Less than two months before the second vote, four Munilla family members — Pedro, Juan, Jorge and Fernando — contributed the maximum amount of $500 each to Barreiro, who was well on his way to retaining his commission seat for a fifth time.

County records show Barreiro rented the office as his campaign headquarters between June and November, paying $700 a month for the property at 1429 SW First St., in Miami.

Barreiro, who acknowledges being close friends with several of the Munilla family members, has voted to grant at least two other multi-million dollar construction contracts to MCM in the past two years.

In late 2011, MCM won a $50 million contract to do miscellaneous work at Miami International Airport. Barreiro, as the chairman of the Regional Transportation Committee, sponsored the bill. In January, he voted to award a $7.7 million contract to the firm to expand Terminal D at PortMiami.

The commissioner said he did not perceive any conflict in renting office space from the Munilla family.