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4 posts from June 6, 2014

June 06, 2014

Miami-Dade escalates penalties against Lyft drivers

@PatriciaMazzei

On his maiden voyage as a driver for Lyft, the renegade car service, Juan Arango picked up a fare at the Ramada Plaza Marco Polo Resort in Sunny Isles Beach.

Moments after dropping the passenger off at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne on Wednesday, Arango turned onto Crandon Boulevard — and got stopped by Miami-Dade County cops.

The passenger was not just a fare — he was an undercover Miami-Dade County code enforcement officer, and the ride was a sting. Arango’s white Toyota Corolla, which hadn’t even been sporting Lyft’s signature hot-pink mustache on the hood, was towed away on the spot.

Five minutes later, the police pulled over another Lyft driver on the same street. Stanley Scott, 31, had just let off a pair of passengers — more county cloak-and-dagger operatives — at the Ritz. Scott’s black Honda Insight got towed away too.

Both drivers told the Miami Herald they didn’t know the county considers their business illegal.

“I trusted that if the service was working in Miami, it was allowed,” Arango said Friday.

It’s not. And the county, under pressure from existing taxicab and limousine owners, has escalated its enforcement of the defiant car-service industry, joining forces with the Miami-Dade Police Department to catch scofflaw drivers.

More here.

County commissioner opposes David Beckham's MLS stadium at downtown Miami slip

@PatriciaMazzei

A Miami-Dade County commissioner has become the first elected official in the county or city to formally oppose David Beckham's bid to build a Major League Soccer stadium on the downtown Miami waterfront.

Xavier Suarez does not represent the district where the proposed 20,000-seat stadium would go. But he is a former Miami mayor whose son now sits on the city commission. Beckham's representatives have been in now-stalled talks with the city over the site, which is now a deep-water basin along Biscayne Boulevard known as the Florida East Coast Railway slip. County commissioners would eventually have to weigh in on a deal if it were to involve a land swap with the city.

"After discussions with Miami officials (past and present), residents of the area and a host of planner and activists, I have concluded that the FEC slip is not a desirable site for the stadium," Suarez said in a statement Friday. The stadium wouldn't add anything to the waterfront but "another concrete wall" and could create parking and traffic congestion, he said.

Instead, Suarez endorsed a Beckham stadium next to Marlins Park in Little Havana -- a location Beckham's business partner, Simon Fuller, has derided as "spiritually tainted" by the unpopular public financing deal for the Miami Marlins.

Suarez's office even included a rendering of a possible Little Havana soccer stadium. The rendering, Suarez said, was provided to him by former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who has slammed the FEC slip stadium proposal. Diaz could not be immediately reached for comment.

Read Suarez's full statement after the jump.  

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Pot politics: FL GOP criticizes Dem donor Morgan for "sexism" over criticism of DNC chair

@MarcACaputo

Image002Add a little marijuana to the "politics makes for strange bedfellows" cliche and this is what it looks like: The Republican Party of Florida is taking a measure of umbrage on behalf of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for the way that major Democratic donor John Morgan criticized her over her comments about a medical-marijuana initiative he backs. (The background is here).

Bottom line of the RPOF message: Morgan's criticisms amounted to "sexism" for saying Wasserman Schultz was an "irritant" who is "disliked" and "despised" and that she should be a "bridesmaid" at the next wedding of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

This isn't so much about medical marijuana or even Morgan as it is about the governor's race and Democrat Charlie Crist, who works for Morgan and is running against Gov. Rick Scott. Crist has also ducked debating longtime Democrat Nan Rich.

"Coupled with Charlie Crist’s favorite put-down of Democratic opponent “God bless her” Nan Rich, Charlie’s problem with women just got bigger," the Republican Party said in a news release, which provided this quote from Chairwoman Leslie Dougher: “First, Charlie Crist dismisses life-long Democrat Nan Rich. Then, his most ardent supporter hurls disgusting and grossly sexist insults at Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Not only are Charlie’s policies bad for women, now he and his cronies are openly insulting them.” 

Morgan says his criticisms weren't rooted in Wasserman Schultz's gender and that Dougher's comments are phony. "Sure she is concerned," he said. The GOP, for instance, said nothing in 2012 when Republican challenger Ozzie deFaria depicted Wasserman Schultz in a dog collar (his Republican opponents in the congressional race, however, bashed the imagery).

Last year, it was the Florida Democratic Party Chair, Allison Tant, who said RPOF was sexist for calling her comments a "Tant rant" and calling Wasserman Schultz "Debbie Dunce."

Polling also indicates Scott has a far bigger problem with women than Crist. Obviously, that can change.

For the GOP, the Democratic donnybrook also gives the party the chance to talk about Scott's raison d'être: Jobs. In the press release bashing Morgan's comments, it provided a graphic showing the change in female unemployment rates under Crist vs. Scott.

 

Dem donor John Morgan blasts ‘irrelevant...irritant’ DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz over RX pot

@MarcACaputo

Major Democratic donor John Morgan blasted the national party’s chair, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as an “irritant” who is becoming “irrelevant” after she voiced concerns about a medical marijuana proposal he helped put on Florida’s ballot this November.

“I know personally the most-powerful players in Washington DC. And I can tell you that Debbie Wasserman Schultz isn’t just disliked. She’s despised. She’s an irritant,” Morgan, an outspoken Orlando trial attorney, told the Miami Herald.

“Why she’s trying to undermine this amendment I don’t know,” he said. “But I’ll tell you I will never give a penny or raise a penny for the national party while she’s in leadership. And I have given and helped raise millions.”

The tensions flared Friday morning after Wasserman Schultz’s office issued a statement saying she has “concerns” that the proposed constitutional amendment Morgan backs “is written too broadly and stops short of ensuring strong regulatory oversight from state officials.”

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