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8 posts from August 6, 2014

August 06, 2014

Legislators hope to make quick work of session to fix flawed map

Florida Capitol complexFlorida legislators will convene a rare summer special session Thursday with the goal of making quick work of a court-ordered fix to the congressional redistricting map.

Legislators will convene at noon, meet briefly and then adjourn to let the House and Senate redistricting committees hold a joint meeting to hear legislative lawyers explain their options for fixing a the congressional boundaries ruled unconstitutional by Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis last month.

Lewis gave lawmakers an Aug. 15 deadline to repair two congressional districts – held by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville and Dan Webster, R-WinterGarden. Although lawmakers have called the session to last a week, they expect to be finished by late Monday or early Tuesday.

Lewis ruled that the districts violated the Fair Districts rules of the state constitution and said he expects lawmakers to make Brown’s sprawling 10-county district more compact, while preserving the ability of African American voters to select a candidate of their choice, and to remove an “appendage” in the Webster district that gave an advantage to Republicans.

Continue reading "Legislators hope to make quick work of session to fix flawed map" »

Alan Mendelsohn out of prison, gets medical license back

Convicted Broward fraudster Alan Mendelsohn is out of prison — and able to practice medicine again after the state returned his license last week.

Mendelsohn, a Hollywood eye doctor who raised millions for Florida politicians, served two years and six months in federal prison for his role in a highly publicized political corruption case.

He was released in July, his attorney Alvin Entin said.

Mendelsohn's medical license, which had been suspended following his conviction in 2011, was reinstated on Aug. 1, records show. The state Board of Medicine ordered three years' probation and 10 hours of ethics training.

Entin said Mendelsohn’s conviction did not involve his work in medicine.

"By all indications, at the time of the sentencing, he was a very well respected, very competent, very talented doctor," Entin said. "People get messed up in politics all of the time."

Read more here.

First-time candidate challenges longtime Miami-Dade commissioner


Javier Souto, one of the longest-serving members of the Miami-Dade County Commission, doesn’t bring out anger in his reelection opponent, rookie candidate Marina Meadows.

“He is someone who’s an institution,” she said. “But he doesn’t represent us residents anymore.”

That’s the outsider pitch Meadows, a long-shot challenger, has been making at political events, big and small, in a bid to oust Souto, who has been on the commission since 1993. District 10 comprises a swath of West Miami-Dade that includes Fontainebleau, Westchester and Kendale Lakes.

Meadows, a 46-year-old former bookkeeper who is unemployed and speaks halting English, doesn’t campaign on specific issues or votes. She doesn’t have much of a political organization to speak of, or even a professional candidate portrait. Meadows said she had trouble opening a campaign bank account and has raised only $710. Souto has collected nearly $211,000.

But Meadows said she’s running anyway to give voters an alternative to Souto, whom she considers out of touch and getting on in years. He’s 75.

More here.

Charlie Crist meets with Miami Herald editorial board


Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist said Wednesday he’s confident he can excite Democratic voters — though some are upset he won’t debate his primary opponent.

“I think they understand, frankly, what I’m up against and what the real challenge is here, and that the battle in November is monumental,” Crist told the Miami Herald’s editorial board in a wide-ranging interview.

When he faces Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the general election, Crist said, he won’t be worried that Democrats — particularly women — would spurn him for ignoring former state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, who is also on the Aug. 26 primary ballot.

The Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat said he’s the opposite of Scott when it comes to issues relating to women and working people in general.

Crist, saying he’s pro-life in attitude but pro-choice when it comes to abortion policy, supports allowing gay marriage, legalizing medical marijuana, promoting the federal healthcare law, increasing the minimum wage and establishing closer ties to Cuba.

Asked if he would veto any legislation restricting abortion rights, Crist responded quickly.

“Yes,” he said, noting that, in his last year as governor in 2010, he vetoed a bill requiring women seeking abortions to first get an ultrasound. Crist at the time was running unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.

“People have asked me, ‘Charlie, if you win, what would you do differently from Rick Scott?’” Crist said. “Everything. Everything. I can’t imagine anything that I’d do the same.”

More here.

Another $11-mil for Rick Scott in July

From the Rick Scott campaign:

Today, the Rick Scott for Florida campaign, the Republican Party of Florida,  and Let’s Get To Work announced fundraising totals of nearly $11 million in the month of July.

Announcing the number, State Senator John Thrasher, Chairman of Rick Scott for Florida, said, “July was one of our strongest fundraising months yet and we are grateful for the support we continue to receive. With our advertising, our ground game and all operations of this campaign, we will continue to paint a clear and accurate picture for voters of Charlie Crist’s failed leadership versus Rick Scott’s success in turning Florida around.”


·         $5.85 million raised by Republican Party of Florida

·         $4.24 million raised by Let’s Get To Work

·         $826,000 raised by Rick Scott for Florida

Crist reports raising $3.5-mil in July

Release from the Charlie Crist campaign:

Today, the Charlie Crist for Governor campaign and Charlie Crist for Florida announced their biggest month of fundraising yet, raising $3.5 million combined in July. This also marks the best July for any Democratic candidate in Florida. Over 90 percent of the contributions to the campaign made since November have been $100 or less, evidence of the campaign's grassroots support.
"From the beginning we have said this is the People's Campaign. Our donors and volunteers are committed to electing Charlie Crist, the People's Governor, because they know the importance of having a Governor who will fight for them," said Campaign Manager Omar Khan. "People across Florida are invested in this campaign and we are so proud of our grassroots efforts."

Attacking Charlie Crist where he lives, or maybe lives


The Florida GOP this week has been trying to push a story that...well, we're not really sure what they were trying to say. First they suggested Crist's landlord at his Bayfront Tower rental condo had improperly applied for a homestead exemption or that Crist had secretly left the 'Burg. When told Crist had in fact moved from a condo on the 22nd floor to one on the 19th, the GOP pressed on:

This begs many questions for Charlie Crist:

    When did Charlie Crist move and where does he now live? The apartment he's renting in Fort Lauderdale? Or the place he's renting on Fisher Island near Miami?
    Where is Charlie Crist's official permanent residence? Did he really "leave the 'Burg?" When did he move in relation to the timing of the Homestead Exemption filing?
    Has Charlie Crist failed to change his address with the DMV and with the Supervisor of Elections in a timely fashion? Did he list the wrong address on his qualification papers, including his financial disclosure? (See Florida Statutes, Chapter 97.1031.)
    According to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, Crist is scheduled to receive absentee ballots at the address he no longer lives at. (See Attachment 2.) Why is he still receiving mail there? With the registration books already closed for the primary election, will he have to vote for himself on a provisional ballot?

The biggest question of all: Where in the World is Charlie Crist?

We can't decide whether this line of attack is more interesting for its sheer lameness or for how it reflects how carefully the GOP is tracking everything Crist does.

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate did field a question about his residency when meeting Tuesday with the Sun-Sentinel editorial board.

“I rent a condo in St petersburg. I have been there since 83. We rented a condo here in fort lauderdale because broward is important and we spend a lot of time here....,” said Crist, who said he was trying to save his campaign money on hotels.

When asked again about the Republicans raising questions about his St. Petersburg condo Crist said, “I’m in a different unit. My landlord wanted to move back in.”

Crist said he doesn’t own property. When asked about his wife’s home on Fisher Island Crist said, “She sold it years ago. Breaking news.”

Two things to note in fairness to the Florida Republican party. 1. Crist did confuse matters when he said in March he was renting a place in Fisher Island because he was spending so much time in South Florida but then decided Fort Lauderdale would be more centrally located for the area (which should have been obvious. 2. At least they didn't snag a photo from Detroit to try to show how Crist was bad for Florida, as the state Democratic party did.

Teresa Sarnoff pondering 2015 run for husband's Miami commission seat


Term-limited Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff’s days representing the city's easternmost neighborhoods are numbered. And a likely scrum awaits in November 2015 when his seat will be open to all challengers.

But it’s possible a Sarnoff will still be on the ballot.

The commissioner's wife, Teresa Sarnoff, is mulling a run to keep the post in the family. She told The Herald she’s seriously considering a campaign to represent District 2, which stretches from Coconut Grove north past Edgewater.

“I’m interested. Obviously I haven’t reached a decision yet. It’s premature. Your call took me by surprise, quite honestly,” she told a reporter. “I’m thinking long and hard on it, but it’s still 15 months out.”

Teresa Sarnoff, 59, is a former legal assistant who says she’s now dabbling in real estate. She has mostly remained “behind the scenes” since her husband was first elected to office in 2006. But she said she has been civically engaged for years in Coconut Grove, where the Sarrnoffs live.

“I like to flesh things out and have a firm idea of everything that I would like to do and how I would accomplish it,” she said. “I’m interested in getting out there and hearing what the constituents say.”