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8 posts from October 22, 2013

October 22, 2013

Content with state senate, Sachs won't run for Florida AG

Scratch state Sen. Maria Sachs of Delray Beach from the list of possible Democratic challengers to Republican Attorney Pam Bondi.

A former prosecutor who once worked for then-Dade County State Attorney Janet Reno, Sachs proved herself a tough campaigner last year when she beat Ellyn Bogdanoff for newly drawn Senate District 34.

As the Democrats head into the party’s state conference in Orlando this weekend, however, she ruled herself out out of consideration.

Sachs said she was approached four weeks ago and asked if she  would consider a run. Sachs wouldn’t say who asked her, referring to them only as “various folks” involved in state politics.

“I’ve been in the state legislature for seven years and I still have unfinished business to do,” Sachs said. “I’m focused on the 400,000 people who live in my district, and I don’t think you can focus on your district if you’re thinking about another office.”

Asked straight up if she was NOT going to run for AG, Sachs said: “Correct. I think we have good candidates on the Democratic side. I will certainly support whoever comes out as our nominee.”

On Monday, former secretary of the Department of Children and Families, George Sheldon, announced he was running. Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston said he was considering a run as well.

“I think they’re both good,” Sachs said. “They prove that the Democratic bench is getting longer.”

Noting uninsured Hispanics, Sen. Marco Rubio wants Obamacare delay until website's certified

Marco Rubio has a new reason for calling for an Obamacare delay: The Administration's decision to suspend the act's Spanish-language sign-up website.

Rubio notes the high rate of uninsured Hispanics, but he's silent on ways to insure them.

Rubio basically wants Obamacare halted until the General Accounting Office certifies the website's functionality. Roping in the GAO is interesting in that House members, as they debated drafts of an immigration reform bill, said GAO couldn't have signoff authority on certifying border security.

Here's the press release:

Continue reading "Noting uninsured Hispanics, Sen. Marco Rubio wants Obamacare delay until website's certified" »

Gov. Scott's 'white paper' seeks less debt, spending cuts

A new "white paper" issued by Gov. Rick Scott Tuesday calls for a limited moratorium on new long-term debt by the state of Florida and will require state agencies to recommend at least $100 million in spending reductions as part of the budget he'll submit to the Legislature early next year.

Those proposals are in addition to Scott's call for $500 million in taxes, which he trumpeted in a recent statewide tour of business groups. The document underscores the fact that Scott will ask voters for a second term in 2014 based in large part on his fiscal stewardship of the state.

The six-page document is part of Scott's "It's Your Money Tax Cut Agenda." It reads like a CliffsNotes version of his next State of the State address to the Legislature and a manifesto for his re-election campaign, including the requisite digs at his predecessor and potential rival, Charlie Crist (though he is not mentioned by name), noting the job losses in the four years before Scott took office.

"Since taking office, Governor Scott has insisted on a new way of doing business," the report says at the outset. As the report states, since Scott became governor, state debt has declined by $3.5 billion and now stands at $24.6 billion. "At a time when Fitch Ratings has placed the United States credit rating on negative watch, they have, conversely, revised Florida's outlook from negative to stable," it says.

He says he will end his first term next year as the first governor in Florida history to have less public debt than when he took office.

Scott's paper says he will not allow the state to take on new borrowing for roads, land or education facilities "without specific and accountable returns on investment for taxpayers."

Scott's white paper does not suggest where the $500 million in tax cuts will come from. The two ideas that have gained early momentum are a roll back of 2009 car and truck registration fee increases and a repeal of the 6 percent statewide sales tax on commercial leases.

The memorandum says that Scott, as a private business executive, knew that for companies to remain competitive, they had to "reduce costs" by 2 to 3 percent each year. But the paper does not note that the current state budget, which he signed in May, is about $4 billion higher than the previous year's budget.

Just last week, the agencies under Scott's direction submitted their annual legislative budget requests to the governor, and they are larded with proposed spending increases on everything from new patrol cars for state troopers to expanded voter education programs to technology improvements.

-- Steve Bousquet


DNC targets Marco Rubio in robocalls for second time in October


The DNC said today it's paying for robocalls against Sen. Marco Rubio and his role in the government shutdown. Calls also target Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. It's the second Rubio-targeting robo call in a month.

Continue reading "DNC targets Marco Rubio in robocalls for second time in October" »

Following Prez. Clinton, Sen. Bill Nelson endorses Phil Levine for Miami Beach mayor


If endorsements decided elections, Philip Levine would be Miami Beach's mayor by now.

On Tuesday, a few days after former President Bill Clinton endorsed Levine, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson followed suit.

"I know him. I believe in him," Nelson said. "I know his willingness to step outside of his comfort zone and enter public service."

Nelson referenced the importance of Clinton's endorsement in the heavily Democratic area, but he said that Levine isn't sitting back in his race against Commissioner Michael Gongora and personality Steve Berke.

Nelson said Levine's door-knocking work ethic reminds him of his first races decades ago.

"I pounded the  streets, along with my wife. It is amazing what you learn about the needs and wishes of people when you are knocking on doors and listening to people," Nelson said. "It's also amazing what you learn about dogs. I have a profound profound respect for postmen."

Chris Smith in LG mix? "With like 50 other people"


For a Democrat to win the governor’s race, part of the key is to have a candidate that excites Broward Democrats -- the county has more than 560,000 registered Democrats, more than any other county in the state. In  2010, Broward’s turnout was a pathetic 41 percent and Democrat Alex Sink lost to Republican Rick Scott.

That’s why there is some buzz about if Charlie Crist (who hasn't yet announced) ends up as the Democratic nominee, he might look to Broward for his lieutenant governor pick. This is waaaay premature, but there is a tad of gossip floating around Broward that should Crist be the nominee, he will consider Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, as his No. 2.

Smith downplayed that possibility in an interview Monday.

“Me along with like 50 other people,” have been mentioned as possibilities, said Smith, who isn’t termed out of his Broward senate seat until 2016. “In political circles it seems to be a rumor out there. Whoever the nominee is, if the opportunity came up I’d have to seriously consider it.”

Smith said he hasn’t talked directly to Crist about him being a lieutenant governor candidate. (Some of the recent gossip could be fueled by the fact that the two sat together at the recent funeral of Dr. Mack King Carter, the pastor at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale.)

Former state Sen. Steve Geller of Broward who is advising Crist said that any decisions about a lieutenant governor are far off, but that Smith is “not completely out of left field. I would not be surprised if you saw a lieutenant governor who was from South Florida.”

Smith, a lawyer, would bring some strengths and diversity to the ticket: he is African-American, and the Senate Democratic minority leader. Not in his favor: black voters already heavily lean Democratic, fueling speculation that ultimately Crist might want someone who can tap into other constituencies including Hispanics or women. If tapped, expect a rehashing of Smith’s 1998 endorsement of Jeb Bush.

Smith is known as a charismatic politician and a strong advocate for changing Stand Your Ground and voting rights.


New Miami-Dade children's courthouse named after longtime juvenile judges


The new Miami-Dade Children’s Courthouse under construction in downtown Miami will be christened after two longtime judges in the juvenile system.

County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to name the courthouse after Judges Seymour Gelber and William E. Gladstone as recognition for their contributions to children in the community.

“It is very important that this courthouse be named after two people who have actually devoted their lives and career to children,” said Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman, who oversees the juvenile court. “We look up to these men.”

She told commissioners that children’s advocates, as well as Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle and Public Defender Carlos Martinez, supported the naming, which was sponsored by Commissioner Audrey Edmonson.

The 94-year-old Gelber was appointed to the circuit court bench in 1974. A former Miami Beach mayor who has written six books about juvenile court and the justice system, he served in the juvenile division until his mandatory retirement in 1990 at age 70. He still sits about an hour a week as a senior judge in the family and child support division.

The 83-year-old Gladstone was elected circuit court judge in 1972. He was appointed to the juvenile division, where he served for 32 years until he retired as senior judge in 2011. During his tenure, he expanded the Miami Safe Start Initiative to support babies and their mothers in dependency court, and he created the Last Chance Ranch facility for violent youths.

The Judge Seymour Gelber & Judge William E. Gladstone Miami-Dade Children’s Courthouse will be at 155 NW Third St.

Correction: Lederman used to oversee the juvenile court but no longer holds that title.

Bill Young's widow tells Charlie Crist, and others, to not attend memorial


A host of dignitaries from Washington to Tallahassee to Tampa Bay will be on hand to honor the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young at his memorial service Thursday.

But one particularly prominent politician won't be welcome at First Baptist Indian Rocks: Charlie Crist.

Young's widow, Beverly Young, emailed the former Republican governor and likely future Democratic gubernatorial nominee, instructing him to stay away.


This e-mail is to officially advise you that your presence at my husband's memorial services will be unacceptable. I have watched over the years, as Bill had, your transparent attempts to manipulate the political arena. I don't want my husband's memorial service to be another opportunity for that and I will not tolerate anyone turning this into a platform for political gain.
Please honor my families request.

Beverly Young
Widow of Congressman Bill Young

Precisely what caused the bad blood was not immediately clear Monday night, though some Young allies were turned off with the way Crist in 2009 held a cattle call of sorts, summoning Young and other potential candidates for Crist to appoint to the unfinished term of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez. Young showed up looking in sneakers and baggy polo, as if Crist had interrupted his lawn mowing, and told a surprised Gov. Crist he had no interest in the appointment.

Mrs. Young said she also emailed Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice and St. Petersburg lawyer Jessica Ehrlich - both Democrats who ran against her husband - telling them they were unwelcome at the memorial service.

"BILL SPECIFICALLY said he didn't want his memorial service to be a platform for local politicians to work the crowds. He's right. It's not only wrong , its disgusting to see that happen," she said. "HE GAVE me the names of the people he wished wouldnt show up, that was just three and we both know i dont care about poltical correctness so i took it upon myself to honor his wishes.I've been at many political funerals and listened to locals standing in groups planning their strategies. God gave people souls, but some don't know to take advantage of that God given gift.