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9 posts from April 14, 2014

April 14, 2014

WCTV: We take 'full responsibility,' apologize to Crist, Morgan for ad error that led to RPOF complaint


A Tallahassee CBS affiliate issued a public apology to Democrat Charlie Crist and his employer, Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, for mistakenly running an ad that led to a Republican Party complaint because the spot violated campaign rules.

"WCTV wants to apologize to both Mr. Morgan and Mr. Crist for inadvertently airing a commercial that we were not instructed to air," the station said in an unsigned letter issued by General Manager Heather Peeples.

"The station receives many commercials from Morgan & Morgan and accidently typed in the wrong commercial code, causing the error," the letter said. "WCTV accepts full responsibility for this human error. Per the request of Morgan & Morgan, all commercials have been removed from WCTV’s air until further notice."

Barring any further evidence, then, it appears the RPOF complaint is moot. And a previous complaint about Morgan & Morgan's billboard ads appears to be going nowhere as well.

Miami Dade College board backs Padron


The Miami Dade College District Board of Trustees on Monday made clear their "unequivocal support" of college president Eduardo Padron following his public, personal spat with several powerful local lawmakers.

Padron set off a firestorm last week when he criticized four Republican politicians he said were trying to kill a bill that would infuse the college's starved coffers with as much as $1 billion. The bill would allow Miami-Dade voters to cast ballots on a half-cent sales tax over five years, which would mostly fund college construction projects.

Padron said four Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Jose Oliva, were actively fighting a bill that would help their hometown. He labeled them "bullies"and "ideologues" and at one point ripped Oliva - slated to become House Speaker in four years - as a college dropout.

In response, 11 members of the Miami-dade delegation penned a letter demanding an apology and condemning Padron's "uncivilized discourse."They said Padron had done more damage than good for the college's funding hopes.

Padron followed with his own letter, in which he apologized for getting too personal with his comments, though not to any one lawmaker. Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, the Hialeah Republican who chairs the Miami-Dade delegation, said the apology didn't go far enough and should have been addressed to individuals.

On Monday, Miami Dade College's seven-member board of trustees took a vote and reaffirmed their unanimous support of Padron, and of the bill the college is pushing for a sales tax referendum.

"The Board fully supports the College's efforts to ensure that MDC secures the necessary resources to effectively serve the students and the larger community of Miami-Dade County,"the board's members said in their statement. "In addition, the Board reaffirmed unequivocal support for MDC President Dr. Eduardo J. Padron and his leadership of the institution."

Board chairwoman Helen Aguirre Ferre said late Monday that the board regretted Padron's comments and wanted to move past the trouble they'd caused. But she said his standing with the board of trustees was never in jeopardy.

"That's never been the case," she said. "I've not heard one board member even suggest that."

Rather, she said the board remains focused on finding more money to support the college and its 175,000 students, and trustees wanted to show that Padron remains a "strong leader."

"The board just wants to make that clear," she said, "in case there was any doubt."

This post was updated with Ferre's comments.

Hall-of-famer Brooks Robinson's lawsuit against tribe exposes flaws in compact

Brooks Robinson nowRenowned baseball hall-of-famer Brooks Robinson plunged six feet from an unsecured stage during a charity event at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood two years ago and is now suing the Seminole Tribe for nearly $10 million for his permanent injuries.

But whether the 76-year-old Baltimore Orioles superstar will collect enough to even cover his medical bills is an open question, said his Miami attorney, Jack Hickey, because under state law the tribe’s liability is limited.

Robinson still experiences bleeding on the brain, cracks in his spine, and has lost five inches in height as a result of the injuries, Hickey said. He requires constant care and “has aged ten years since the fall.”

Under the state’s legal agreement with the tribe, if someone is injured at a tribal casino and wants to sue, the tribe’s payment is capped at $200,000 per person and $300,000 per incident, the same limits enjoyed by the state when it is sued for negligence.

A victim suffering from serious injury “can blow through that pretty quickly,” Hickey said. But, unlike the state, victims who sue the tribe can’t appeal to the Legislature for more money when a jury awards more than the liability limits. Story here. 

Continue reading "Hall-of-famer Brooks Robinson's lawsuit against tribe exposes flaws in compact" »

Cruise line leads alliance against David Beckham soccer stadium at PortMiami


Royal Caribbean Cruises and its allies have formed an organization to oppose a Major League Soccer stadium at PortMiami, marking the first coordinated resistance to David Beckham’s waterfront dream.

The Miami Seaport Alliance took out a full-page advertisement in Monday’s Miami Herald, titled “Here We Go Again,” to launch its campaign against the 25,000-seat, open-air stadium Beckham and his representatives have proposed on the port’s shallow southwest corner.

“The Alliance wholeheartedly supports a soccer franchise in Miami and believes there are other sites that would benefit greatly from a stadium,” the ad said. “However, PortMiami is not one of them, due to the risks a port stadium would pose to jobs, cruise and cargo operations, security, and the port’s promising future.”

A Coral Gables public-relations firm, Kreps DeMaria, registered the alliance’s website last week, records show, on the same day several Miami-Dade County commissioners — who voted unanimously in December for Mayor Carlos Gimenez to begin negotiations with Beckham’s team — cautioned that they might no be on board with a port stadium.

“People are responding to speculation,” John Alschuler, Beckham’s real-estate adviser, said Monday. “I’ve got confidence that commissioners, when presented with a formal recommendation by the mayor — and a full, factual briefing — will respond to the facts.”

More here.

In GOP-dominated Legislature, black lawmakers caucus struggles


An excerpt from the story in Sunday's paper about Florida's legislative black caucus and its affiliated caucus foundation:

But records of past years' fundraising and interviews with caucus leaders indicate that less than 10 cents of every dollar raised actually go to college scholarships for the students whose names were projected on large screens at the gala.

Legislators are prohibited from accepting contributions from lobbyists during regular sessions. But they can solicit lobbyists' money for a charity: the black caucus foundation led by former legislators.

Records the caucus provided at the Times/Herald's request indicate that the caucus foundation raised nearly $800,000 over the past three years. The caucus wouldn't specify how much went to scholarships.

Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, the caucus chairman, told the Times/Herald that each student likely received $500. With 117 recipients in the past three years, that means 7 percent of the foundation's money went for scholarships.

Read more here.

Ad 'error' leads to election complaint against Charlie Crist over Morgan & Morgan spot


UPDATE: WCTV took "full responsibility" for the error.

Perhaps the only things not in dispute regarding Charlie Crist's Morgan & Morgan trial lawyer ads are that they ran recently in Tallahassee, they appear to violate campaign contribution rules and they're a headache for the Democratic candidate for governor now that the Republican Party of Florida filed an elections complaint over one of the TV spots.

Crist's employer, John Morgan, says the ads should have been pulled down long ago. And his firm has produced buy sheets from three months afo to show that WCTV, a Tallahassee CBS affiliate that aired the spots recently, was informed of such.

"If it ran it was an error by the TV station. All ads featuring Charlie were taken down the day he announced," said Morgan, a major state and national Democratic donor.

We've asked for comment from WCTV and await their response.  As noted above, WCTV took responsibility for the error.

It's the second complaint Crist has faced over his employment with Morgan. The last one concerned billboards and, as with this TV spot, Morgan in that case said he had asked that the signs be removed before the complaint was filed.

The ads are a sign that Crist, who for more than a year had intended to run against Scott, effectively leveraged his post at the law firm to boost his already high name ID. This TV ad had little to do with the practice of law ostensibly and thanked two key constituencies, firefighters and police officers.

Now Crist has to deal with the fallout. 

"It appears as though trial lawyer Charlie Crist continues to receive unreported help from his trial lawyer partners at Morgan & Morgan, but this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Like the Morgan & Morgan billboards featuring Charlie, these TV ads are a clear violation of the law because as a declared candidate they qualify as a reportable contribution. Failing to report the TV ads is a clear breach of the law and a promise to work 'for the people," Republican Party of Florida Executive Director Juston Johnson said in a written statement.

Said Crist spokesman Eric Conrad: “Typical Rick Scott – attacking others -- in this case a small business for making an honest mistake, while he is allowed to plead the 5th 75 times. He is the last person who should be lecturing someone else for a mistake – especially one that was thanking law enforcement officers and firefighters for their work.”

Democrats try to raise Florida’s minimum wage, but the conversation goes nowhere

They held protests and press conferences. Several even spent the week living on $7.93 an hour.

But try as they might, Democratic lawmakers could not spark a discussion about increasing the state minimum wage.

"It’s a debate that’s being had everywhere but Florida," said Sen. Dwight Bullard, the Miami-Dade Democrat leading the charge. "Republicans are blocking it."

The GOP had its reasons for not engaging on the issue, some members said, including a belief that increasing the minimum wage would slow job growth.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said he was not surprised to see Democrats turn to the media.

"This is the magical time in session when people who cannot pass their bills resort to political stunts," Weatherford said. "It’s a sad but unfortunately predictable pastime for the last three weeks of session."

The actions taken in Florida last week were part of a broader campaign by Democrats nationwide.

Read more here.

Democrats' voter-registration edge ain't all it's cracked up to be


In a state where a presidential election was famously decided by 537 ballots, Florida Democrats’ edge of 485,907 active voters over registered Republicans looks impressive at a glance.

But it isn’t.

In historical terms, it’s a bad sign for Democrats and Charlie Crist. And it’s great news for Republicans and Gov. Rick Scott.

The Democrats’ registration advantage hasn’t been this small since 2007. Perhaps more significantly, the gap is even smaller than it was in 2010 (591,809), when Republicans whipped Democrats at the ballot box.

You wouldn’t know the Democrats’ precarious position by looking at the public-opinion polls right now or by listening to Crist.

“I think we're gonna do it,” Crist told state House Democrats in Tallahassee on Thursday. “And I think they know it."

By “they,” Crist means Republicans. He used to be one of them (before becoming an independent and then a Democrat).

“They” don’t think they’re going to lose at all. There’s a reason for the Republican confidence: history.

Column here

Joe Garcia reports $460k raised last quarter, $2.2m raised overall

Sounds like another good fundraising quarter for U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia (although we don't know cash on hand figures yet). The press release:

MIAMI, FL -- Representative Joe Garcia's campaign announced today that it raised more than $460,000 in the first quarter of 2014, bringing the incumbent’s total to more than $2.2 million raised to date.

“I am proud that the vast majority of these contributions were from individual Floridians who share my commitment to fighting for South Florida values like strengthening Medicare, supporting businesses that create jobs and reforming our broken immigration system," said Representative Joe Garcia. " Our campaigns's fundraising strength is a clear sign that our message is resonating, and I look forward to continue doing all I can to serve as a champion for South Florida residents, working across party lines to get Congress focused on tackling the challenges that truly matter to our community."

 Additional information contained in the report includes:

* Nearly 70% of all donations were Florida based
* 90% of donations were from individual supporters
* Over 40% of all donations were $100 or under