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4 posts from July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014

Saying 'time is of the essence' plaintiffs want remedy in redistricting case

The voters groups who succeeded in getting the state's congressional map thrown out of court last week asked a judge on Monday to expedite a hearing to set a schedule for repairing the state's congressional redistricting map. 

"In light of forthcoming congressional elections, time is of the essence for drawing a
remedial congressional plan and completing the proceedings necessary for completion of this
case,'' wrote the League of Women Voters and the voters who brought the case, in a motion filed with Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis.  Download 2014 07-14 CP's Mot-Expedited Status Hearing (1)

They want Lewis to call a status hearing soon so that they can move forward recommending changes to the legislatively-drawn map that Lewis has ruled is unconstitutional. 

According to redistricting experts, there are three options before the court

• The judge orders the Legislature to redraw the maps,

• The court asks for submissions from the parties and chooses among them, and

• The court retains a special master to draw the maps.

No word yet as to whether the Legislature is going to appeal the case but both parties expect that will happen. Here's the motion filed Monday:  Download Plaintiff's Motion for Status Hearing

Court: Diaz de la Portilla not in contempt in divorce and dog dispute

From the News Service of Florida:

In a dispute that stemmed from what judges called a "spat" over family dogs in a divorce, a state appeals court Monday said former state lawmaker Alex Diaz de la Portilla should not be held in criminal contempt in the long-running case.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal issued a 16-page ruling in the case, which involved Diaz de la Portilla's failure to turn over one of two dogs in 2011 to his now-former wife, Claudia Davant. The former lawmaker was held in criminal contempt for failing to appear at court proceedings. But the appeals court found that a "key missing element" in the case was whether Diaz de la Portilla was notified that he was required to attend court proceedings but failed to do so without an excuse.

"Here, no question exists that Diaz de la Portilla had been ordered to appear in the trial court; but nothing shows that he was notified personally of the trial court’s order and, if so, his reasons for not appearing, which creates a due process problem,'' said the appeals-court ruling, written by Judge Scott Makar and joined by judges Brad Thomas and Stephanie Ray.

Diaz de la Portilla, a Miami Republican, served in the Senate from 2000 to 2010, after six years in the House. His former wife is a longtime lobbyist. The appeals court ruling said the former spouse reached a settlement agreement in December 2011 that included Diaz de la Portilla receiving both dogs.

Florida House race attracts attention

Need more proof that the Florida House District 112 race will be among the most closely watched?

The Republican State Leadership Committee's Future Majority Project named it one of 14 statehouse races to watch in 2014.

It was the only race in Florida to make the list. (See below.)

The incumbent, Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez, is facing a challenge from political newcomer Daniel Diaz Leyva. Both candidates are young, Cuban-American attorneys who are considered rising stars in their respective parties.

The race is competitive. So far, Rodriguez has collected about $146,000 in campaign contributions. Diaz Leyva has raised about $185,000.

District 112 includes parts of downtown Miami, the Roads, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove and Little Havana.

Download FutureMajorityProject.doc

Who will Crist select as his running mate?

The governor’s race is barreling forward, but one key aspect of Democrat Charlie Crist's campaign remains a mystery.

Who will be his No. 2?

If Crist wins the primary on Aug. 26 as is expected, he will have just nine days to designate a lieutenant governor as his running mate. That gives him less than two months to vet candidates and make his choice.

The lieutenant governor job in Florida comes with no official responsibilities, except to take the place of a governor who is incapacitated. Incumbent Gov. Rick Scott left the position open for eight months after former Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll resigned in 2013.

But Crist’s pick could make a difference in the November election, even while most Floridians will vote the top of the ticket.

Observers say Crist, who held elected office as a Republican before changing parties last year, needs to choose a running mate who appeals to the Democratic base. If not, Florida may be headed for a repeat of the 2010 election, when low voter turnout in left-leaning South Florida derailed Democrat Alex Sink's bid to become governor.

"Charlie Crist's biggest concern is finding someone who is going to bring the Democratic faithful to the polls," University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith said.

Read more here.