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6 posts from December 3, 2013

December 03, 2013

Civil War passions still run deep as Union supporters propose monument on Confederate site

OlusteeBy MARGIE MENZEL
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

The state parks system is on the hot seat and a House leader is calling for action over a proposed monument to Union soldiers at the site of the biggest Civil War battle fought in Florida.

The bid to add a Union monument to the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park near Lake City has drawn a furious response, with about 100 people attending a Monday night public hearing at the Columbia County School District Auditorium. Representatives of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the state parks, moderated the hearing.

Passions ran high, at one point erupting in a spontaneous chorus of "Dixie" led by a black man, H.K. Edgerton, who called Union soldiers rapists and wielded his large Confederate flag like a conductor's baton as the audience sang.

Speakers blasted the proposal as disturbing hallowed ground in a rural community where most families stay for generations.

"Putting a Union monument at Olustee would be like placing a memorial to Jane Fonda at the entrance to the Vietnam memorial," said Leon Duke, a wounded veteran.

Continue reading "Civil War passions still run deep as Union supporters propose monument on Confederate site" »

Charlie Crist's much-heralded campaign chief leaves before he officially starts

@MarcACaputo

The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that Charlie Crist's much-heralded campaign manager, Bill Hyers, has already left the new Democrat's campaign for governor. Hyers was fresh off helping Bill de Blasio win the New York City mayor's race.

Folks in Crist World were initially mum, but noted that Hyers never really started as the campaign manager. Therefore, he wasn't fired.

“It’s early. Our campaign structure is still coming together. Bill wanted to stay in New York because it was good for him,” Crist said in a brief email, discounting chatter among Democrats that Hyers’ departure related to differences with the candidate’s wife, Carole Crist.

But last month, at a fundraiser at The Forge in Miami Beach, Crist left little doubt about Hyers' post, introducting him as "my campaign manager."

Hyers, who was still in the process of getting a rental in St. Petersburg, gave all the standard lines about how he liked Crist, his record and believed he was a good Democrat. Hyers explained that he saw himself as the campaign's engineer who would keep the trains running on time, rather than the political mastermind. He said most problems in a campaign were due to "execution" and how there's a Murphy's Law quality to it all: "If something can go wrong, it will."

Well, something seems to have gone wrong. Already. And Hyers is gone.

"Charlie Crist’s campaign seems to be headed in the same direction he took Florida as governor – down and out,” the Republican Governors Association said in a press release.

Bill Nelson refutes Bill Nelson over new run-for-governor talk: "disregard it."

@MarcACaputo

If Sen. Bill Nelson hadn't repeatedly said that he really didn't want to run for governor, then maybe it would have been more believable that he really planned to campaign for the post.

And if all of the risks and problems associated with Nelson running for governor didn't exist (as detailed here), then maybe it would have been more believable that he planned to run for the post.

But Nelson clearly kept the door open a crack. Some advocates tried to blow the door of the hinges. And then Nelson did himself no favors by helping fuel the rumors when he told Politico he would basically hop in the race if Charlie Crist got in trouble.

Now Nelson is basically saying what he always said: never mind.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

Asked about the gets-into-trouble remark on Tuesday, Nelson said he had just had a procedure done on his left knee, was on crutches and was trying to get on an escalator when a reporter approached him with a question about the governor's race and stuck an audio recorder or smart phone "in my face."

"I made some flip remark," he said. Asked what people should make of it, Nelson said, "you should disregard it."

When asked during an earlier news conference whether he's running for governor, Nelson said, "I have no plans to run for governor. I have no intention of running for governor. I have my hands full as senator."

PolitiFact looks at Charlie Crist's solar energy claim

In his election bid, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is making an issue of renewable energy. He touted alternative energy as a way to attract new industries and new jobs to Florida on the Nov. 18, 2013, edition of MSNBC’sThe Ed Show.

"We’re the Sunshine State, and we’re hardly doing any solar energy production," Crist told host Ed Schultz. "We should be the global leader in solar energy."

Crist later told PolitiFact that Florida Power & Light has a "pretty significant solar field," but added that "we can be doing so much more, in my humble opinion. ... My understanding is that many other states encourage the use of solar energy much more than Florida" does.

PolitiFact looks at Crist’s claim to see if he's right about Florida's solar energy production. 

 

 

State regulators approve raising electric bills for FPL consumers next year

Florida’s Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved a $4.90 monthly increase for Florida Power & Light's residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours starting in January, bringing the total bill to $100.01.

The additional fees includes a $1.14 increase to FPL’s base rates for the completed upgrades to its nuclear power plant at Turkey Point 4. A year ago, the PSC approved a $350 million increase in base rates for FPL that took effect in January and allowed the company to raise rates again when three new power plants start operating.

The rate increase was based on a settlement between FPL and some of the state's largest commercial power users, did not include the Office of Public Counsel which represents the public on utility issues. The public counsel has since sued, asking the Florida Supreme Court to reject the settlement as unconstitutional. The case is still pending. 

The other increases approved by the PSC on Tuesday allow FPL to recover its costs for fuel and purchased power, nuclear development, conservation and taxes. State law allows utilities to pass along these costs to customers, with the approval of the PSC.

Continue reading "State regulators approve raising electric bills for FPL consumers next year" »

Battle between Pinellas elex chief and governor, Part 2

@SteveBousquet

Pinellas County’s chief elections official firmly put Gov. Rick Scott on notice Monday: She will refuse his administration’s order and will continue to urge voters to drop off their absentee ballots at satellite locations.

Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark said her 6-year-old system of drop-off sites is “in full compliance with the law” and the state has known about them because they are included in plans she sends to the state to get federal voter education money.

“I plan to continue using them, including in the impending special primary election,” Clark told Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Scott’s chief elections adviser.

Detzner last week issued a surprise directive in which he ordered elections officials not to “solicit return” of absentee ballots at locations other than an elections office or branch, because it’s not allowed by law. He said he acted after questions from supervisors Brian Corley in Pasco County and Chris Chambless in Clay County.

In Clark’s response, she voiced disappointment that Detzner never sought the opinions of the 67 county supervisors of election before he issued his Nov. 25 directive.

Clark said her drop-off sites are staffed by her deputies, who by law have the same power as a supervisor and who keep watch over locked ballot boxes with numbered seals. The boxes are transported nightly to her headquarters to be canvassed, she said.

“I am confident that the drop-off locations maintained throughout Pinellas County are secure,” Clark wrote.

The state had no immediate response to Clark’s letter. Story here.