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5 posts from August 23, 2013

August 23, 2013

Hialeah allows video-game maquinitas to remain despite new Florida law

@kikeflor @joeflech

Hialeah is permitting the operation of video gambling machines in stores, even though a state law declared them illegal four months ago, city police said Thursday.

"We have changed our stance," said Carl Zogby, spokesman for the Hialeah Police Department. "For now, we’re not prohibiting the machines in Hialeah businesses so long as they’re not used for the payment of prizes."

The city is basing its approach on a legal opinion it says it received from the state Attorney General’s Office. But a spokeswoman for that agency told the Miami Herald on Friday that no such opinion exists.

Zogby said the city adopted its approach after several Hialeah businesses defied the state law that made the machines illegal starting in April.

The state law was passed in response to a three-year investigation on illegal betting in the Internet cafes affiliated with Allied Veterans of the World, a purported charitable organization based in St. Augustine.

More here.

2 aides for Miami mayoral candidate receive probation in absentee-ballot case

@PatriciaMazzei @msanchezMIA

To make the most of its booth at a Cinco de Mayo festival on Mary Brickell Village, Miami mayoral candidate Francis Suarez’s campaign paid two women who worked for an event promoter to sign up voters for absentee ballots.

Few questions were asked. Many of the voters were tipsy, according to Miami-Dade prosecutors. So were the two women. One drank shots of alcohol with partygoers in exchange for their signing forms authorizing the campaign to request ballots on their behalf.

Obtaining those permissions was legal. How the campaign used them was not.

Instead of mailing the forms to the county Elections Department, Juan Pablo Baggini, Suarez’s operations manager, submitted the requests online on May 29. Each time, he had to swear or affirm that he was the voter or an immediate family member, as required by Florida elections law.

On Friday, Baggini and campaign manager Esteban “Steve” Suarez, whom the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office contends directed Baggini, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of attempting to submit an absentee ballot request of behalf of voters. They agreed to serve up to a year of probation for unlawfully submitting 20 of the ballot requests online.

The charges appear to be a reflection of inexperienced and unsophisticated campaign workers who did not realize what they were doing was wrong. A source close to the investigation repeatedly referred to the way things played out as a “comedy of errors.”

More here.

Dolphins owner Ross to fundraise for Scott re-election


Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who polls show facing a difficult reelection fight, is fundraising this weekend at the Hamptons home of Steve Ross — the Miami Dolphins owner who has become a lead antagonist of some of Florida’s Republican lawmakers.

Scott and his wife will be feted at cocktails and dinner by Ross on Sunday night, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.

It puts Scott in a slightly delicate position with members of his own party in his state. Ross recently launched a super PAC aimed at supporting Scott and slamming lawmakers of both parties over the rejection of a one-cent increase in the hotel bed tax to help fund a refurbishing of the Dolphins’ stadium.

Conservative groups to hold anti-Common Core meeting in Miami

Last week, we wrote about growing opposition to the new Common Core standards.

On Saturday, the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition will host a town hall in Miami.

Speakers include Karen Effrem, of Education Liberty Watch; Emmot McGroarty of The American Principles Project; Thais Alvares, of Florida Parents Against Common Core; and Randy Osborne of the Florida Eagle Forum.

The event begins at 10 a.m. at New Testament Baptist Church, 6601 NW 167th St. 



NRCC's web-banner ads remind voters of ballot-fraud scandal nagging at Rep. Joe Garcia


Garcia englishRemember that absentee ballot-request fraud that claimed the jobs of two former aides and a campaign chief for Congressman Joe Garcia?

If you live in District 26, the National Republican Congressional Committee won't let you forget.

After running Spanish-language radio spot and touting a YouTube web ad, the NRCC is buying up digitial banner ads so that web surfers in the district see the message: "Joe Garcia Embroiled in Voter Fraud Scandal...Tell Congressman Joe Garcia that You Deserve Answers." Those who are so moved can then do just that: Send in a message to Garcia.

And, yes, there's one in Spanish as well.

So far, the scandal hasn't appeared to hurt Garcia, who quickly moved to sit down with prosecutors and say he had no knowledge that his top advisor, former campaign manager and spokesman were requesting the absentee ballots of other voters without their permission. Garcia's fundraising last quarter was solid, and a Republican poll indicated he'd still win re-election.

But there's more than a year of this to go. And the NRCC shows no signs of giving up on this competitive district that Garcia won from a Republican, David Rivera.