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15 posts from November 8, 2013

November 08, 2013

Nan Rich's first campaign ad for governor


This might be former Democratic state Sen. Nan Rich's first ad for governor, although for some reason her campaign didn't announce it to us and someone noted it on Twitter instead. Don't expect to see it any time soon; it's early and Rich doesn't have money to burn the way Gov. Rick Scott does.

Obama raises cash in Miami -- with Crist as guest

Segovia Tower Coral GablesPresident Obama arrived in Miami Friday afternoon to headline three Democratic Party fundraisers hosted by the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Florida’s newest high-profile Democrat, former Gov. Charlie Crist, was spotted at the Segovia Tower in Coral Gables at a $32,000-a-head fundraiser hosted by personal injury attorney Ralph G. Patino.

Obama moved next to a fundraiser hosted by Jorge Mas Santos, a Cuban American National Foundation leader and CEO of MasTec . There, the president thanked Mas Santos, who stood next to him, and singled out U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Mike Bennet of Colorado. 

Continue reading "Obama raises cash in Miami -- with Crist as guest" »

Gaetz, Weatherford and Bondi blast medical marijuana amendment in formal court briefs

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz filed a brief to the Supreme Court Friday afternoon opposing a proposed medical marijuana constitutional amendment on Friday afternoon, stating it’s “misleading and inaccurate rhetoric.”

Their objections largely mirror arguments by Attorney General Pam Bondi, who also filed her brief against the amendment late Friday afternoon. She said the proposal “hides the fact that the Amendment would make Florida one of the most lenient medical-marijuana states, allowing use for limitless ‘other conditions’ specified by any physician.”

Ben Pollara, People United for Medical Marijuana’s campaign manager, said arguments by Bondi and the legislative leaders are “a misrepresentation of our amendment” and said accusations that the amendment would make Florida one of the most lenient states “way off base.”

People United has collected more than 200,000 petitions (121,592 have been validated) to get the amendment on the ballot in 2014 -- the group will need at least 683,149 signatures by Feb. 1 -- if the Florida Supreme Court doesn’t shoot it down first.

The Court is slated to hear oral arguments on the ballot initiative Dec. 5.

“This ‘60s era reefer madness hysteria has to stop,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, who has proposed medical marijuana legislation for three years. “It’s a drug that should be regulated like any other drug. It should to be up to the physician what’s best for their patient.”


Bon Appétit rises to Immokalee farmworkers defense, bashes "pseudo" complaint

Not every food-industry company is getting behing a big-business funded complaint against the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers. Here's an email from Bon Appétit Management Company:

"At Bon Appétit Management Company, we are proud to be partners with the CIW. In fact, we were the first food service company to work with the CIW and develop a Code of Conduct. We did so without having been the target of a single protest. We took action because everyone deserves to be paid fairly for their work, treated with respect, and protected from toxic work environments and the Campaign for Fair Food was our best tool in that effort.

"We are quite concerned about the often disingenuous and potentially nefarious actions of so-called industry groups such as the Worker Center Watch. We believe the motivation of the WCW does not lie with the "industry" it claims to represent — or at least they should not speak so broadly for all food companies. We are a well-known food service company that supports CIW in securing fair treatment of workers who harvest some of the food we serve.

"As with other pseudo advocacy organizations such as the Center for Consumer Freedom (with whose representatives we've tangled before http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/20/gestation-crate-bon-appetit-pork-network_n_2916146.html ), WCW appears to be more concerned with tarnishing the image of well-known advocacy groups and cutting off their funding money than doing anything constructive."

Rep. Daphne Campbell's son convicted in $300k Medicaid-fraud scheme


Gregory Campbell, the son of Miami Democratic state Rep. Daphne Campbell, was convicted by a jury Friday in a nearly $300,000 Medicaid-fraud scheme.

Campbell, 29, faces a maximum of 45 years in prison for the multiple fraud and conspiracy charges.

“We will not allow these criminals to defraud the Medicaid program, a program funded by taxpayer dollars and intended to help people in-need,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a written statement.

“My Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and Office of Statewide Prosecution will remain relentless in their efforts to pursue Medicaid fraud and hold wrongdoers accountable,” Bondi said.

Bondi’s office had also been examining Campbell’s mother, Rep. Campbell, in an unrelated alleged scheme tied to group home companies she runs with her husband, Hubert Campbell.

Both had denied wrongdoing; neither could be reached late Friday.

In Gregory Campbell’s case, he and two other co-conspirators billed Medicaid for services never rendered at three group homes in the North Miami area: Denian Adult Family Care Home, D & E Home Care Facility, and Sunnyman Retirement Home.

One of Gregory Campbell’s conspirators, Percival Wignall, had previously pled guilty to related fraud charges. The other alleged conspirator, Enid Salmon, is a fugitive sought by authorities.

Campbell was convicted on first-degree felony charges of organized fraud and Medicaid fraud, as well as a second-degree felony charge of conspiracy to commit Medicaid fraud.

Miami Herald reporter detained in Venezuela

By Andrew Rosati

CARACAS -- Jim Wyss, the Miami Herald’s Andean bureau chief, was detained by Venezuelan authorities Thursday while reporting on the country’s chronic shortages and looming municipal elections. Wyss remained in custody Friday afternoon.

According to local sources, Wyss was initially detained by the National Guard then transferred to Venezuela's Counter Military intelligence, Dirección General de Inteligencia Militar (Dgim), in San Cristóbal, Táchira.

“We are very concerned,” said Aminda Marqués González, the Herald’s executive editor. “There doesn’t seem to be any basis for his detention and we’re trying to figure out what’s going on." We are asking that Jim Wyss be released immediately.”

Herald editors have spent much of Friday talking to various Venezuelan government officials to secure his release.

Some journalists in San Cristóbal said they say Wyss in custody on Friday.

“I was able to see him and he looked alright, but they [authorities] wouldn’t let us close,” said Lorena Arráiz, a journalist at El Universal, who was investigating the incident.

"But he’s been in there over 12 hours there and he’s still stuck in custody," she said.

According to Arraiz, Wyss remains held in a Military Intelligence office in San Cristóbal .

Officials at Venezuela’s Ministry of Information (MinCi) were unable to comment as to the reason Wyss was detained.

More here.

After recount, Philip Levine wins Miami Beach mayoral race


Philip Levine is officially Miami Beach’s next mayor.

In the end, it took an automatic recount to confirm that Levine had won his first run for elected office — without the need for a runoff. He bested a sitting commissioner and a former comedian.

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this victory, which we achieved together,” Levine said, according to a press release.

Election results had been uncertain because Levine fell just short of avoiding an automatic recount after precincts closed Tuesday. It wasn’t even clear a recount would be required, until the county’s canvassing board met Friday. That’s because Levine needed just five more votes to avoid a recount, and election day results did not include provisional ballots.

Provisional ballots are cast by voters who can’t prove their eligibility on election day. They are given two days to prove they can indeed vote, and the canvassing board then decides whether to accept their ballots.

There were 14 provisional ballots cast in Miami Beach. The canvassing board ultimately accepted six of them, bringing Levine up to 50.49 percent of the vote. Under state law, he needed at least 50.5 to avoid a recount, which took a little less than four hours on Friday.

More here.

Miami commission candidate picks up former opponent's endorsement


The battle lines have been drawn in the runoff race for Miami’s District 5 commission seat.

Keon Hardemon received the endorsement of former opponent Robert Malone on Friday, with little fanfare.

The two men confirmed the endorsement by telephone. It came on the heels of Hardemon’s rival, the Rev. Richard P. Dunn II, picking up the support Thursday from Jacqui Colyer, who had rounded out the candidate field in the first round of the election.

Hardemon faces Dunn in the Nov. 19 runoff after placing first Tuesday. Both candidates coveted the endorsements of Colyer and Malone, who placed third and fourth, respectively.

Malone, a Miami-Dade public schools instructor, said he met with Hardemon, an assistant public defender, on Thursday night to formally give him his support.

More here.

After Doral mayor's (spite?) vote, Donald Trump sends Miss USA pageant to Vegas


Bad blood on Doral’s City Council has cost it the 2014 Miss USA pageant.

After being a front-runner to host the beauty pageant, owned by Donald Trump,a recent vote to authorize City Manager Joe Carollo to work to bring the pageant next year had Mayor Luigi Boria cast the lone dissenting vote.

That was enough for Trump.

“You want to avoid awkward complications like that,” said Ed Russo, project consultant for the Trump Organization. Russo spoke on behalf of Trump, who is in Moscow for Saturday’s Miss Universe Pageant. “It’s going to return to Las Vegas because of the lack of support from the mayor.”

The official announcement will be made after Miss Universe on Saturday.

Other Doral City Council members were disappointed Friday.

“It’s a shame that what the mayor says and does is making us lose millions of dollars for the city and positive press,” said Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez. “It was ours to lose.”

Councilwoman Bettina Rodrigruez-Aguilera echoed Rodriguez.

“My concern is now other organizations follow Trump’s lead,” she said.

Boria has recently faced criticisms for his personal yet public spats with council members and Carollo. The ugliness has captured headlines, particularly after pushing to oust Carollo — a move that was met with no support from the rest of the council.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/08/3739739/trump-nixes-doral-as-host-of-miss.html#storylink=cpy

Miami commission candidate endorsed by former rival


The Rev. Richard P. Dunn II, who slipped into an unexpected second place this week in the race for a Miami City Commission seat, welcomed the support Thursday of a key former rival.

Jacqui Colyer, the third-place finisher in Tuesday’s election, endorsed Dunn in the Nov. 19 runoff against Keon Hardemon.

“I’ve got my running sneakers out, and we are ready to move,” Colyer told a couple of reporters and about a dozen seniors gathered Thursday morning outside the Carrie P. Meek Senior and Cultural Center in Liberty City.

She said she plans to take an active role in Dunn’s campaign, where she sees “space” for her opinions to be heard.

“I will seek your advice. You’ll be close to me,” promised Dunn, who said he and Colyer saw eye to eye on most issues during the campaign. He gave her a bouquet of pale roses to show his appreciation.

More here.