« September 19, 2013 | Main | September 21, 2013 »

7 posts from September 20, 2013

September 20, 2013

Former House Speaker Bense diagnosed with rare nervous system condition

Former House Speaker Allan Bense has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an extremely rare condition affecting the peripheral nervous system, according to a statement released Friday night by his family.

Bense’s wife, Tonie, said she was overwhelmed with the support Bense has received since he was admitted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville on Monday.

“We are truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support we’ve received over the last few days,” Tonie Bense said in a statement. “The prayers are working, and the flood of encouraging messages has lifted Allan’s spirit and mine.

“Allan continues to improve each day and with every passing hour, and his doctors expect a full recovery. We know the road ahead will not be without its challenges, but with the support and prayers of family and friends, and the excellent medical care he is receiving, we are confident Allan will soon be back to work and back to enjoying time with our grandchildren.”

Continue reading "Former House Speaker Bense diagnosed with rare nervous system condition" »

Scott reappoints Brisé and Graham to PSC

Gov. Rick Scott  has kept intact the Public Service Commission that he inherited from his predecessor, former Gov. Charlie Crist, and on Friday reappointed Art Graham and Ron Brisé to another four-year term rather than choose newcomers offered up to him by the legislatively-controlled nominating commission.

Graham, 49, of Jacksonville Beach, previously served as a city councilman for the City of Jacksonville Beach. Brisé, 39, is a former state legislator from Miami and the current chair of the Florida Public Service Commission. He currently serves as a board member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. 

Graham and Brisé were chosen by Crist from a list of nominees to replace one of two Crist appointees that failed to receive Senate confirmation after they rejected a controversial rate increase sought by Florida Power & Light. Scott reaffirmed their appointments and the Senate confirmed them.

Since then, both Graham and Brisé have joined with the rest of the PSC to unanimously approve a four-year settlement that allows FPL to raise its rates in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

Continue reading "Scott reappoints Brisé and Graham to PSC" »

FDLE wants to crack down on after-hours-lingerers at the Capitol

In what appears to be a crack-down aimed at preventing another peaceful sit-in the governor's lobby, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has announced a plan to remove any members of the public in the Capitol by 5:30 p.m. each day, according to a report by the News Service of Florida. 

What about those after hours meetings between lobbyists and staff? Hmmm. 

Here's more:

Continue reading "FDLE wants to crack down on after-hours-lingerers at the Capitol" »

Miami police invites public to witness 'physical aspect' of new recruits


Miami's battle over more policing versus restoring police benefits got a little weird Friday. 

The police department issued a news release Friday saying, "Ten Miami police officers will soon hit the streets as 25 newly hired police recruits will embark on a new adventure... on their first day as members of the Police Academy Class 102!"

The release went on to say Chief Manuel Orosa "cordially invites you to witness first-hand the beginning stages of the physical aspect" of the police training at the Police College auditorium Tuesday. It was unclear what physical aspect the release was referring to.

"The first few days are trying, but the will, passion and drive is the underlying factor that will keep this bunch standing strong and the glue to keep it together," the release said, noting training lasts six months.

Fraternal Order of Police president Javier Ortiz responded almost immediately, calling the department's press release statement "vague," and noting it could be eight months before training is done for the young recruits, and that the 25 new hired won't be on board for a year. 

Then Ortiz said getting more cops on the street is just a matter of priority. 

"On Sept. 26 it will be up to our elected officials to determine the fate of manpower of the Miami Police Department. If for example cutting the hours of a public pool to properly fund the police department is necessary, then they will have to determine what is their priority," Ortiz wrote. 

Commissioners have been lobbied from both sides during this month's budget battle, with residents clamoring for more cops and Ortiz arguing to restore pay and benefits for current cops first. 

They are scheduled for a second and final budget vote Thursday in which they'll decide if they want to move money around to hire more cops, restore lost benefits, do some of each, or leave the department as it is. 


AP: Alex Sink says she won't run for Florida governor

From the AP's Brendan Farrington ...

Sink won't run for Florida governor 


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink said Friday she will not run for governor again in 2014.

Sink, 65, told The Associated Press that she wants to spend more time running her foundation, Florida Next, which seeks to help young entrepreneurs grow their startup companies.

Sink was the 2010 Democratic nominee and narrowly lost to Republican Rick Scott in a year when other Democrats seeking statewide office were badly beaten.

The decision means Republican turned Democrat former Gov. Charlie Crist will have an easier time if he runs for his old job with his new party. He's expected to make an announcement this fall.

Sink had been considering a run, but the prospect became less enticing after last year's death of her husband Bill McBride, a Tampa lawyer who was the Democrats 2002 nominee for governor. She's a businesswoman who hasn't always been comfortable in the role of a politician. She spent her career in banking and ran Bank of America's Florida operation before running for office for the first time in 2006.

She had said previously that she didn't want to run against an incumbent governor. She didn't announce her gubernatorial run four years ago until Crist announced he would run for Senate instead of a second term as governor. Crist, running as an independent, lost the Senate race to Republican Marco Rubio.

If she had decided to run, she likely would have faced serious competition in a primary for the first time. She had no opponent when she won the CFO seat in 2006 and had no serious challengers for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010.

Right now, little-known former state Sen. Nan Rich is the only credible candidate seeking to challenge Scott, whose approval rating remains low.


Lobbying group wants a say in auditing process

With a joint legislative committee planning to discuss auditing lobbying firm compensation on Monday, the organization that represents Florida lobbyists has asked to add its voice to the discussion.  

In a letter to Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, the board of directors for the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists, requested that the group be allowed to "provide input and offer our assistance."  Download FAPL lobby comp ltr-4 (1)

The letter also states that the association's 350 members "have gone above and beyond what is required by Florida law and created and pledged to abide by a self-imposed code of conduct that is signed by and adhered to by each member of our organization." 

State law requires lobbying firms to file quarterly reports that list dollar ranges for how much they pay each client , but a requirement that reports get audited has never been enforced.

Continue reading "Lobbying group wants a say in auditing process " »

While Rubio blocks judge confirmation, Florida panel picks 4 new nominees for other openings


President Barack Obama’s nomination of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William L. Thomas as a federal judge in the Southern District of Florida may be dead, thanks to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the conservative Republican from Miami.

Rubio’s opposition to Thomas, who if confirmed would become the first openly gay black man appointed to a federal judgeship, has stirred up accusations of racism and homophobia against him. Officially, Rubio’s office has said it put a stranglehold on Thomas’ confirmation because of his apparent softness in a pair of controversial DUI and murder cases in Miami-Dade.

But as Thomas’ nomination has dragged on for months, it has not deterred the state’s Federal Judicial Nominating Commission from recommending four new finalists for two additional vacancies on the U.S. district bench in South Florida.

On Wednesday, the commission formally recommended Miami-Dade Circuit Court judges Beth Bloom, Darrin P. Gayles, Peter R. Lopez and John W. Thornton Jr. to fill the two spots to be vacated by U.S. District Court judges Patricia Seitz and Donald Graham. Both are stepping down to senior status with lighter caseloads.

In a letter, the commission informed U.S. Sens. Rubio and Bill Nelson, a Democrat, of its final recommendations. After the senators interview the finalists, the White House will then select the two nominees for the South Florida federal judgeships.

The full U.S. Senate will have the final say. But who knows how long that will take, given that august body’s snail’s pace progress on Obama’s judicial nominees.