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7 posts from November 21, 2013

November 21, 2013

As Joe Martinez kicks off congressional campaign, GOP touts Carlos Curbelo



Election Day in Florida's 26th Congressional District is a year away, but the crowded Republican race to challenge Rep. Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat, is already on.

Joe Martinez, the former chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission, officially launched his campaign Thursday at the Olga Maria Martinez Senior Center in West Kendall, a facility he inaugurated named after his mother. The congressional district spans Kendall to Key West.

Less than two hours later, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced that another GOP contender in the race, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, has been named to the first level of the party's "Young Guns" program that promotes candidate recruitment. The NRCC considers Curbelo to be "On the Radar" -- a status that could help him attract new campaign donors.

Continue reading "As Joe Martinez kicks off congressional campaign, GOP touts Carlos Curbelo" »

State pushes back on jobs incentives site, says it has another year to comply

Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Jesse Panuccio pushed back in a letter to two Democratic legislators Thursday, saying that their allegations that the state's job incentives portal is incomplete was wrong.

The law "gives DEO a full year to compile information on completed projects,'' Panuccio said in a letter to state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood and Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami. "I am pleased to report we are ahead of schedule."

Sobel and Rodriguez held a press conference this morning to complain that the agency is not complying with a state law that requires the agency to provide the public with detailed information about the extent to which taxpayers' money is being used to provide jobs incentives to businesses. They accused the agency of producing a web site that is difficult to use, incomplete and lacks transparency.

Panuccio said that agency is reporting all that they're required to report. As for the complaint that the web site does not allow users to search for data in a meaningful way, he said: "Respectfully, the portal does exactly what the statute requires." 

Judge for yourself. The portal is not easy to find, so here's the web page. Go to the very bottom and look at the small print, which reads: Search the portal. Next, give us your feedback.

Here's Panuccio's letter:  Download 11.21.2013 DEO Response


Where’s Ana Alliegro? Mystery woman might have disappeared — again.


Here today. Gone tomorrow. Maybe to Nicaragua. Maybe not.

Ana Alliegro is again shrouded in mystery.

The self-styled conservative “bad girl” at the center of a federal criminal investigation into a former Miami congressman, Alliegro appeared to have left town and claimed on her Facebook page last week that she was in Granada, Nicaragua.


But no one’s sure

It’s unclear if Alliegro, who surrendered her passport to authorities when she returned to the United States late last month, left with federal approval. Some sources indicate she departed without permission, but they can’t see how she could have entered a foreign country without her passport.

Her Facebook page makes it sound as if she’s much happier in Nicaragua.

“There are more ingrates than Mosquitos carrying Dengue in Miami than in Nicaragua,” she wrote on her page last week. “Thank God, I came back to Granada.”

Story here

No Hispanics on new Miami Beach commission


Hispanics are out. So are incumbents. First-timers are now the majority.

When Miami Beach voters went to the polls this month, they elected a brand-new City Commission.

Multimillionaire Philip Levine won the mayorship in just one round of voting. His closest competitor was sitting Commissioner Michael Góngora.

In runoffs on Tuesday, retired community banker Joy Malakoff beat Matti Herrera Bower for the Group III seat in resounding fashion, with 60 percent of the vote. Bower, mayor for the last six years, ran for commission because she was term-limited from her current post.

Criminal defense attorney Michael Grieco bested incumbent Jorge Exposito for the Group II seat.

In a race that was wide open, Realtor Micky Steinberg defeated Elsa Urquiza for the Group I post.

All of the losers are Hispanic. None of the winners are. The outcome: no Hispanics are left on the dais.

This, in a city where 53 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic, according to the 2010 Census. City meetings are often bilingual, and the Beach’s press office makes sure to make information available in both Spanish and English.

More here.

Medical marijuana approval soaring in FL: 82% favor in Q-Poll. Plurality support pot legalization


If a medical marijuana initiative makes Florida's ballot next year, it could pass with an astonishing 82 percent of the vote, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll that finds voters also favor outright legalization as well.

Support for the proposed constitutional amendment is high among voters of every political stripe, age and income level, with independents lending the most support: 88 percent, the poll shows.

The overall 82-16 percent support for medical marijuana is the biggest to date. The previous high-point for Florida approval was about 70 percent in a poll taken earlier this year by the medical-marijuana advocacy group, People United for Medical Marijuana.

There are some differences in wording between the initiative and the Quinnipiac poll; the amendment says doctors can "recommend" marijuana, the poll asks if a doctor should be able to "prescribe" it.

Still, medical marijuana is clearly popular. And marijuana legalization is becoming more-liked as well, albeit narrowly.

Nearly half of Florida voters favor it -- 48 percent -- while 46 percent oppose pot legalization for personal use. That's within the margin of error, but it's a leading indicator of a shift in public opinion. Support for legalization is again strongest among independents (57-37 percent), and then Democrats (55-39 percent).

Continue reading "Medical marijuana approval soaring in FL: 82% favor in Q-Poll. Plurality support pot legalization" »

Rick Scott down to Charlie Crist by 7 in Q poll, but gap narrowing as Crist favorables fall


From Quinnipiac:

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican, enters his reelection year trailing former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Republican-turned independent-turned Democrat, 47 – 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

"This compares to a 47 – 37 percent Crist lead in a June 18 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University, and a 50 – 34 percent Crist lead in March.

"Gov. Scott gets a negative 42 – 47 percent job approval rating, compared to a 43 – 44 percent score June 18, Scott’s best score ever.  Voters approve 53 – 36 percent of the job Crist did as governor.

"Scott tops Democrat Nan Rich 43 – 35 percent.  In a Democratic primary, Crist tops Rich 60 – 12 percent.

Here's something Quinnipiac didn't note: the biggest shift in the data since its last poll in June: Charlie Crist’s image is taking a beating. In the June poll, Crist was had a favorable-unfavorable rating of 48/31 percent, an index of +17. Today's poll: 41/39. That's only a +2.  

Put another way, it's a net loss of 15 points in five months.

The big loss was among independents, regarded as Crist's strength. In June, Crist 's fav/unfav was 49/30, an index +19 among independents. Now he's 38/41, or –3. That's a big 22-point shift in 5 months.
Some of this is the work of Scott's team. They already began advertising against Crist as soon as he jumped in the race. And it's one of the reasons that Sen. Bill Nelson and his backers won't firmly slam the door on the idea of him getting in the race.
That said, a 7-point lead against an incumbent is still good.
And Scott still isn't well-liked. Unlike Crist, people are more likely to hold an unfavorable impression of the governor, with his fav/unfav sitting at 39/42 percent. That's an index of -3.
As for how Scott is handling his job, the governor's numbers are also nothing worthy to brag about; 42 percent approve; 47 percent disapprove. That's an index of -5. It was -1 in June (an all-time high at 43/44 percent).
But elections aren't always about making sure you're the most-loved. They can be about making the other guy more-hated.
The latter is Rick Scott's strategy. And it might be working.

Rep. Trey Radel: I'm sorry for cocaine use, heading to rehab for leave of absence


U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, the Fort Myers Republican who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of cocaine on Wednesday, said he would take a leave of absence to get treatment.

"Sometimes in life you need a wake up call," he said at a 10:30 p.m. news conference in Cape Coral. "I have had my wake-up call."

Radel, who has been in office only 10 months, apologized for letting down voters and his family but said he thinks he can overcome his problem vowed to return and become a role model for others.

"I do believe in faith, forgiveness and redemption and I hope to come out of this a stronger man, a better man for all of you."

He began the day in a District of Columbia courtroom, admitting he bought 3.5 grams of cocaine - an 8-ball in the lexicon of the street – from an undercover police officer and receiving a year of probation.

Had the former TV reporter been arrested in Florida he would have faced a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

"I apologize for what I've done. I think in life I've hit a bottom where I need help," Radel, 37, said in court.