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3 posts from January 11, 2014

January 11, 2014

Genting's promise, once vaunted, now under fire


The casino giant that promised a major boost to Miami’s economy now sees its business plans coming under fire on multiple fronts.

Genting, which three years ago proposed bringing a massive casino resort to the Miami waterfront, recently acquired a racetrack license it says allows for a modest 2,000-machine slot parlor on its land holdings. Its plans to start construction on a new hotel and condo complex at the old Miami Herald headquarters are now at least a year behind schedule. As Genting continues to tout gambling’s potential in Florida, it is making headlines for laying off 175 restaurant workers at its casino in New York.

The Malaysian-based company sued the federal government this fall in an effort to continue using foreign labor for a Miami-based casino ship offering overnight gambling cruises in international waters. On Friday, a federal judge ruled against Genting‘s request to overturn orders by immigration officials to either stop the cruises or hire U.S. workers as crew.

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Scott rallies GOP faithful and predicts victory in 2014

Gov. Rick Scott sought to rally the Republican faithful Saturday at the annual meeting of the leadership of the state GOP in a rambling speech that touched on jobs, Common Core school standards, grass-roots activism and his three grandchildren.

As he begain his first major campaign speech of 2014, Scott received a polite standing ovation from more than 200 activists at the Rosen Centre hotel. He got the most applause when he announced that state education leaders next week will release a set of changes to Florida education standards in place of the Common Core that many conservatives oppose.

"We're not going to have the federal government telling us how to do our education system," Scott said. He said a "data security bill" to be filed in the Legislature will stipulate that curriculum is controlled locally and schools can't collect "unnecessary information" from students. On Friday night, GOP activists approved a non-binding resolution in opposition to Common Core.

Scott spoke off-the-cuff to a crowd of more than 200 county chairs and state committee men and women, and if they were eager for some rhetorical red meat, he offered none. He never mentioned his likely Democratic challenger, ex-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, but said: "It's always easier to campaign than it is to govern."

"This is going to be a big year. We're going to win big in this state," Scott said. "We are doing very well because we care about education and we care about jobs."

Scott has been hobbled by weak popularity numbers throughout his term. His pollster, Tony Fabrizio, recently released a statewide poll that showed the governor trailing Crist by 4 percentage points. State GOP chairman Lenny Curry began the annual party meeting by saying the Republicans' mission for 2014 can  be summed up in two words: "Rick Scott."

At the end of his 19-minute speech, Scott shook a few hands on the dais and an FDLE agent hustled him out a door to a waiting state car so that Scott could avoid reporters waiting to ask him questions.

-- Steve Bousquet

Christie plans several Florida fundraisers for Scott

Engulfed in a media firestorm over the traffic blockade on the George Washington Bridge, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie might be eager to get out of town -- especially to sunny Florida.

He's scheduled to visit next Saturday for a series of fund-raising appearances on behalf of the Republican Governors Association to benefit Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign. As reported by the National Journal, Christie is scheduled to appear with Scott at events in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando. "I just hope he (Christie) doesn't snarl up the traffic on the Pensacola bridge," Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, quipped to the Journal.

Republican Party of Florida chairman Lenny Curry said the state GOP welcomes Christie and that his problems at home won't be a distraction.

"It's a New Jersey issue. He addressed it directly, and we'll see when he gets to Florida," Curry said. "I think any Republican governor -- or any Republican, for that matter -- who's high profile and has experienced some success who's willing to come in here and help us raise money and get elected is certainly an asset. We welcome it."

-- Steve Bousquet