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5 posts from July 12, 2013

July 12, 2013

Medical marijuana plan revamped, still popular in new poll, but faces high hurdles


The backers of a Florida medical-marijuana initiative have rewritten their proposed constitutional amendment and now face the toughest of paths to even get on the 2014 ballot.

After consulting with high-powered lawyers and conducting polls and focus groups, People United for Medical Marijuana decided to scrap its original initiative out of a fear that it wouldn’t survive the courts or might not withstand the attacks of anti-drug activists.

A new survey conducted by the group, nicknamed PUFMM, shows the latest proposal could garner as much as 71 percent of the vote. It takes 60 percent of voters to approve a state constitutional amendment.

Continue reading "Medical marijuana plan revamped, still popular in new poll, but faces high hurdles" »

Did a federal agency organize protests against George Zimmerman after Trayvon Martin's death? PolitiFact Florida checks it out

To the right-leaning crowd, it’s the latest blight against the Obama administration.

Citing a public records haul, Judicial Watch says the Justice Department’s "Community Relations Service" responded to escalating racial tension in Sanford, Fla., following Trayvon Martin’s shooting death by helping "organize and manage rallies and protests against George Zimmerman," his shooter.

Sanford police did not arrest Zimmerman because he said he was acting in self defense, churning outrage among the African-American community and national civil rights leaders. But two months later, a special prosecutor appointed by Gov. Rick Scott announced second-degree murder charges against Zimmerman. His trial on those charges was this week, and a verdict is expected soon.

Amid the trial, Judicial Watch released the results of federal and state public-information requests it received regarding CRS involvement in Sanford. CRS workers applied for various reimbursements for working in Sanford from March 25-April 12, 2012, Judicial Watch announced July 10, 2013.

The news sparked outrage among conservative sites, including the Heritage Foundation andThe Daily Caller, and attracted mainstream attention at CNN. The Rush Limbaugh Show went with the headline "Obama Regime Organized Trayvon Protests."

We wanted to take a closer look. Did the Justice Department team really organize rallies against Zimmerman? Click here for the story.

Weatherford's income hard to figure

TALLAHASSEE — For the past six years, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford has reported that his largest source of personal income is from an outfit called "Breckenridge Enterprises."

When asked about Breckenridge, which hasn't been registered in Florida since 2007, Weatherford says he doesn't actually work for the company.

Breckenridge, he says, handles payroll services for the company he does work for, a construction firm out of Mount Pleasant, Texas. That company is Diamond K Corp., but in Florida it's called T. King Construction Inc.

Florida has what's called a "Citizen Legislature," where state senators and representatives serve what are considered part-time jobs. They are required by law to disclose what they earn from other jobs so the public has a better understanding of their qualifications and connections.

But it's no easy task understanding how Weatherford, one of the most powerful politicians in the state, earns the majority of his money or who pays him. His speaker job pays $29,714, so the vast majority of his income — more than 75 percent — comes from other sources.

In recent years, it's become the norm for a Florida House speaker's income to raise questions. Ray Sansom resigned as speaker in 2009 after he was charged with channeling more than $25 million to Northwest Florida State College — where he had taken a $110,000-a-year job as the chief fundraiser. Marco Rubio saw his income to jump once he was on track to be speaker, climbing from $90,000 in 2001 to $414,000 in 2008.

Weatherford's income has remained steady since he joined the Legislature. But he has continued to report his income in a confusing fashion.

Read story here.


Daycare wars: pre-K cops, a lawsuit, vote disputes and former state Sen. Bogdanoff


Police. A lawsuit. Allegations of financial improprieties. Voting disputes. And a former state senator caught in the maelstrom.

The daycare wars have erupted in Florida.

On Friday, the once-little known Florida Association of Child Care Management’s annual meeting in Delray Beach became a political show when a Hialeah daycare owner was thrown out during FACCM’s annual board-member elections.

“I declare this meeting null and void,” Hialeah preschool owner Bill de la Sierra said after Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies escorted him out of the South County Civic Center.

De la Sierra laid the blame for the problems at the feet of former state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, who became FACCM’s de facto executive director in May.

Ever since Bogdanoff took over, he said she has exerted too much staff control over the group’s $1 million budget and hired former staffers from her legislative and campaign team and rubbed some members of the trade association the wrong way.

De la Sierra has requested detailed financial information from FACCM, which has refused to provide the documents and instead sued de la Sierra, president of Kidworks USA.

But Bogdanoff denies wrong doing and said FACCM was a mess before she was brought in to restore the 1,200-member organization’s reputation and run it in a professional way. The trade association helps members with everything from accreditation to insurance to legal issues in the state Capitol.

Continue reading "Daycare wars: pre-K cops, a lawsuit, vote disputes and former state Sen. Bogdanoff" »

Drink up: a fact-check about Miami-Dade's water quality

Miami-Dade has plenty to brag about: stellar beaches, celebrities who live in multimillion dollar mansions, four-star restaurants, the world famous tennis tournament on Key Biscayne and the national basketball champions the Miami Heat.

But a county document boasted about something far more ordinary when Mayor Carlos Gimenez released his budget proposal July 9. A budget-in-brief document written by the county’s Office of Management and Budget stated that the county has "the nation’s highest-rated tap water."

Do we have some sort of liquid gold pouring out of our faucets that is the envy of other counties nationwide? PolitiFact went in search of answers to quench our curiosity.