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13 posts from August 5, 2014

August 05, 2014

Facing fire from Steyer, Rick Scott says he's ready amid 'Florida Beautiful' tour

Gov. Rick Scott gave a one-word response when asked Tuesday if he was worried that billionaire climate-change activist Tom Steyer is targeting him.

“No,” Scott, a multi-millionaire who isn’t shy about spending his own fortune, smiled during a Miami campaign stop.

“No,” he repeated.

But Scott is still taking precautions.

Just as the Miami Herald reported Sunday on Steyer’s plans — including Democratic buzz that he might spend $10 million in Florida — Scott’s campaign announced his “Let’s Keep Florida Beautiful Tour” highlighting his environmental record.

At the same time, Democrat Charlie Crist was in Fort Lauderdale unveiling his “Fair Shot Florida” plan that, he said, was geared toward the middle class and students.

The two candidates traded shots at each other through the press and their campaigns. Scott said Crist, a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat, is a poll-driven candidate who will say anything to win. And Crist and his surrogates bashed Scott for not doing enough to help struggling workers.

Steyer’s group, NextGen Climate, also chimed in by email, calling Scott “governor sweet tooth” over recent Herald/Times stories concerning the governor’s decision to join other lawmakers on a secret hunting trip to Texas with sugar-industry officials, who last year sought and received a break on Everglades clean-up costs.

Steyer told the Herald Sunday that the choice between Crist and Scott is stark when it comes to climate change: Scott has doubted the science behind man-made climate change while Crist, as governor from 2007-2011, passed a bill designed to limit carbon emissions.

“We have one of the people running who passed the cap-and-trade bill. The other got rid of the cap-and-trade bill,” Steyer said. “This is a state that really matters because it’s a very important state in terms of population and in terms of where it’s located and what goes on here.”

 More here

Supervisors: special election is possible this year for revised congressional districts

Coalition proposed remedial mapElections officials in the counties facing redrawn congressional districts concluded on Tuesday that, contrary to arguments of Republican legislators, the state could conduct special elections for a handful of districts this year – but winners would not be chosen until after Nov. 4.

By postponing the primary and general elections for as many as 10 congressional seats in North and Central Florida, Florida could again become the last state in the nation to announce its elections results. But, officials said, it may be the only option to avoid electing candidates to Congress from unconstitutional districts.

“We decided we can do a special primary post the November election – there is a window of opportunity – but we need to decide what are those dates,’’ said Jerry Holland, supervisor of elections for Duval County and head of the Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections.

Elections for all other congressional districts that are unchanged by the map -- and all other races on the ballot -- will continue as planned under the current election schedule.

Continue reading "Supervisors: special election is possible this year for revised congressional districts" »

Truth-O-Meter looks at drugged driving claim about pot

Medical marijuana opponents are taking to the streets to oppose Amendment 2, citing statistics that drugged driving would be a major side effect to legalizing cannabis.

Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot, a coalition of more than 40 organizations fighting against the proposed medical marijuana amendment, says on its website that the drug is implicated in a fourth of all fatal accidents.

"Twenty five percent of all drug-related fatal vehicle accidents in the U.S. involve marijuana," the group says under the header "Statistics" (the number is repeated on an infographic on the site).

Was marijuana a factor in a quarter of all fatal car accidents involving drugs? PolitiFact Florida hit the books to see what Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot was driving at.

This fact-check was written by Joshua Gillin.

Business owners ask Scott for more time to comment on climate rules

A coalition of 17 owners of Florida-based companies that specialize in solar energy on Tuesday urged Gov. Rick Scott and the Public Service Commission to extend the public comment period on how the state will comply with the federal rules on limiting carbon pollution from power plants.

The PSC announced on July 10 that the public would have until Aug. 8 to comment on the new carbon rules but limited the distribution of the notice so few were aware of it.

In a letter to Scott and the panel that regulates utilities, the businesses said that is not enough time for them to make the case that the state should be allowing for more alternative energy to reach its carbon reduction goals.

"As Florida businesses, it matters how the state constructs its implementation plan including what type of process the state uses to make these important decisions,'' the group wrote in a letter to Scott and the PSC on Tuesday "We want the opportunity and time necessary to fully address our
concerns.''  Download Final PSC ltr

Florida has until June 30, 2016, to submit to EPA for approval its plan to implement the Clean Power Plan, the federal requirement aimed at reducing carbon pollution from power plants, which have been shown to be a contributor to climate change. In June, the Obama Administration released a plan for the EPA to limit the carbon pollution from power plants. 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 21 percent of the electricity in Florida comes from coal-fired power plants, which are responsible for some of the most concentrated carbon dioxide emissions. The EIA also found that Florida’s power plants emit more pollution than those of any other U.S. state except Texas and Pennsylvania and Florida households consume 40 percent more electricity than the U.S. average and spend $1,900 more.

Because renewable energy accounts for only 2.2 percent of all energy generation in the state, the solar producers believe the state has great potential to reduce carbon emissions and create jobs by relying more on solar energy.

Scott, who denied the existance of human-induced climate change when he first ran in 2010, has refused to comment on the issue this election cycle. 

According to a recent poll by SurveyUSA and financed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 71 percent of Floridians believe that climate change is caused by carbon pollution and 77 percent back the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

Crist's jobs event in Ft Laud was largely a repeat of his attacks on Scott about ed cuts and Medicaid expansion

Many of former Gov. Charlie Crist’s ideas unveiled today in his “Fair Shot Florida” plan to grow middle class jobs were familiar campaign talking points.

“Today I’m here to talk about the first part of my plan to expand Florida’s middle class, help small businesses grow and create jobs and build an economy that works for everyone not only those at the top: it’s called Fair Shot Florida. I call it that because too many families in Florida today -- small businesses as well -- are not getting a fair share under Rick Scott.”

 Crist criticized Gov. Rick Scott for rejecting billions of federal dollars for high-speed rail expansion and for the state’s failure to expand Medicaid.

Expanding Medicaid “will create as many as 120,000 new high quality jobs,” Crist said at his policy announcement in Fort Lauderdale this afternoon.

PolitiFact previously fact-checked Crist when he said "Expanding Medicaid would create 63k jobs.” PolitiFact rated that claim Half True.  The 63,000 figure comes from a White House study chastising states such as Florida for failing to expand Medicaid. The Florida Hospital Association’s most recent analysis in 2013 predicts 120,000 jobs over about a decade -- the association supports expansion. Meanwhile, Moody’s predicted between 10,000 and 30,000 jobs. Most of the health care experts we interviewed agreed that injecting billions of federal dollars into Florida for Medicaid would spark some job growth, but it’s difficult to pinpoint a number, particularly as there are other changes in the healthcare landscape.

PolitiFact Florida gave Scott a Full Flop on Medicaid expansion. Scott initially opposed Medicaid expansion but later said he supported but didn’t advocate for it and the Legislature rejected it.

Much of Crist’s plan focused on his promises to restore education cuts under Scott. Crist promised if elected he would return per pupil K-12 funding to $7,126 -- the amount in 2007-08 when Crist was governor.

Crist also promised to reverse Scott’s cuts to Bright Futures.

But both Crist and Scott oversaw changes to Bright Futures that laid the groundwork for fewer students to get the college scholarships. The reason that the Legislature under both governors tightened SAT requirements, leading to fewer scholarships, was to reduce the exponential cost of the program.

Crist promised to expand eligibility so that 180,000 students will get the scholarships -- 50,000 more than predicted for this year.

“It will cost at least $190 million, but Charlie believes it’s an essential part of undoing Rick Scott’s cuts to education,” his written plan stated.

When asked by a reporter how he would pay for that Crist wasn’t specific but pointed to the state’s almost $3 billion surplus.

Crist was asked by a reporter to respond to a comment by Scott campaign chairman Sen. John Thrasher that the state lost 832,000 jobs during Crist’s tenure and unemployment tripled.

Crist said that was “trash talk” by his opponent and that he didn’t cause for the global economic meltdown.

PolitiFact Florida previously rated a similar statement by Scott about job losses and unemployment under Crist as Half True. While Scott has correctly cited the numbers economists have repeatedly said that Crist didn’t cause the recession which was largely as a result of the housing market crisis.

Some of Crist’s policy ideas lacked specifics including dollar figures; for example he called for expanding career and technical education programs at community colleges. He also called for loan forgiveness for students in high-demand fields and a student loan finance authority to help students refinance their debt. Crist also said he would provide free tuition for teachers who get master’s degrees in STEM subjects.

Crist’s press event coincided with Scott’s tour this week about the environment. Crist briefly touched on the environment saying that Florida should take steps to grow businesses including “investing in high-tech industry like renewable energy and our space program.”

When a tracker tried to ask a question about Crist's residency in St. Petersburg, Crist campaign staffers shut down the question and answer session and said it was only for credentialed media. 

Crist held the event at Axis Space Coworking in Fort Lauderdale, a business that provides shared office space to small businesses. Crist has several appearances in Broward this week: he met with the Sun-Sentinel editorial board earlier today, opens a Coral Springs campaign office tonight and opens a campaign office on Sistrunk Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale tomorro 


Nonpartisan Miami-Dade commission race has become proxy for Republicans vs. Democrats


Miami-Dade County Commission seats are nonpartisan, but that’s hardly apparent in the bitter contest between incumbent Lynda Bell and challenger Daniella Levine Cava, which has likely become the most expensive commission race in county history.

One mailed advertisement displays Bell with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican. Another shows Levine Cava posing with Miami Congressman Joe Garcia, a Democrat. Neither association is portrayed as a good thing: Both fliers are attack ads.

Levine Cava, a Democrat who calls herself progressive, blames Bell for voting against a gender-identity law. Bell, a self-described conservative Republican, counters that Levine Cava is in the pocket of labor unions.

There are nonpartisan jabs more typical of commission races, too. Bell, a Homestead resident for more than three decades, paints Levine Cava as a carpetbagger who moved to Palmetto Bay from Coral Gables late last year only to run for office. Levine Cava, a first-time candidate, argues Bell is part of a cozy County Hall where lucrative contracts go to generous campaign donors.

But it’s the strikingly negative political tone — and the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by both women — that stand out in the race for District 8, which includes Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Homestead and parts of Kendall and Redland. The election is Aug. 26.

The partisanship is largely by design. Florida and Miami-Dade Democrats recruited Levine Cava in an effort to get more involved in local politics and test their organization before 2016, when Republican Mayor Carlos Gimenez will be up for reelection.

More here.

Carollo wants voters to know Carollo supports ballot question


Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo wants voters to pass a charter amendment this month that would hold developers’ feet to the fire once they get consent to build on city land. And he really wants voters to know that he thinks it's a good idea.

A mailer produced by the Committee Supporting Voters’ Wishes Over Public Land went out last week to Hispanic voters, urging them to support the referendum. On the back, there’s a picture of Carollo, flattering quotes about the commissioner from The Miami Herald and Miami Today, and this quote attributed to him:

“Voting YES you'll have more power over real-estate development in the City and you will demand that the promises made by urban planners are kept."

From the back, the ad looks more like a Carollo campaign piece. But the commissioner -- only recently elected to a second four-year term -- said he's not campaigning for anything other than the referendum he pushed onto the ballot. He said the advertisement is heavy on Carollo because he and committee chairman Ed Torgas believe his support is a good selling point to voters.

“They put my face to it to add credibility,” Carollo said. “I have three and a half years for my term to end. If I was running for something I would come out and say I’m running for something.”

Dem ad hits Rick Scott on economy


The Democrats have a new web ad that takes aim at Gov. Rick Scott's main campaign argument - that's he's a jobs governor. The reality, claims the spot, is not nearly so sunny.


As Republicans battle to take Senate, Rubio throws his support behind three candidates in tight races



Marco Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio discusses 2014 Senate races.

Don’t let anybody say Marco Rubio doesn’t like a challenge.

The Florida Republican senator, who doesn’t have his own race to worry about this year (let’s leave aside that whole presidential thing) said he’s all-in for three Republican Senate challengers.

And in all three cases, the pick Rubio is supporting is in the tightest of races.

“I’m supporting every Republican challenger, but we’re focused on three races right now,” Rubio said in a roundtable discussion with several reporters last week. “And I’m focused on them not simply because I like these candidates personally, but because I believe they are the kinds of leaders that will support much of the 21st Century reform agenda that we are pushing.”

While Democrats now control the Senate, their margin is slim and Republicans are in a strong position to win the chamber this November. Political number-cruncher Nate Silver this week said Republicans remain slightly favored to take control of the Senate.

The three candidates Rubio is backing are right in the thick of that. RealClearPolitics, which monitors a range of political polls, lists all three as toss-ups.

In Arkansas, current Republican Rep. Tom Cotton is looking to unseat sitting Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. The RealClearPolitics average of polls gives Cotton a 3 percentage point lead, although Pryor had the edge in polls this Spring.

In Colorado, current Republican Rep. Cory Gardner is looking to unseat sitting Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. The Democrat there has a 1.5 percentage point lead, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

And in an open race in Iowa, Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst and Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley are basically tied; the latest RealClearPolitics average shows Ernst with less than a 1 percentage point lead.

With some last-minute help from Rubio, Ernst came from behind to win her Republican primary. Rubio was in Iowa again this past weekend, helping Ernst.

Her uniqueness as a candidate, Rubio said last week, is “one of the reasons why we kind of made an exception to our no-primary rule and got in involved in her race in the primary – because of how much we believed in her as a candidate.”

Hey, look! David Rivera puts out another robocall


For the second time in a week, David Rivera, the embattled former Miami congressman who claimed he had suspended his campaign for his old seat, has reached out to voters through automated telephone calls.

This time, we have the audio recording of the call, in which Rivera tells voters, in Spanish, to ignore "the false campaign by the Miami Herald" and vote for him in the Aug. 26 Republican primary for Congressional District 26. (Thanks for the free publicity!)

"It's Congressman David Rivera," Rivera says on the call. "Your ballot to vote should have already arrived. And although the false campaign by the Miami Herald continues, I will keep fighting for our best interests. That's why I ask that you vote for a conservative fighter like me, David Rivera, for Congress. Fill out your ballot and send it by mail today, voting for a conservative Republican like me, David Rivera. Thank you and may God bless you."

"Political advertisement paid for by David Rivera for Congress."

The call comes a few days after new filings in a federal court case revealed for the first time that Rivera is "Co-conspirator A" in the criminal investigation into a 2012 campaign-finance scheme. Rivera has denied wrongdoing but refused to comment on -- or even acknowledge -- the investigation, which is but the latest in a series of controversies to tarnish his reputation.

Rivera didn't report raising any campaign funds as of June 30. Robocalls are among the cheapest campaign tools available to candidates.

His opponents who have been campaigning all along -- Carlos Curbelo, Ed MacDougall, Joe Martinez and Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck -- have said little about Rivera's latest foray into the race. On Friday, Martinez told Spanish-language television host Roberto Rodríguez Tejera that voters are tired of candidates waffling.

"In Washington," Martinez said, "we already have enough indecision."