Florida state house candidate Rick Minor says he will not be bought off by big oil. During a press conference October 27th, minor announced his campaign will not accept contributions from individuals or companies tied to the lobbying effort to drill near Florida's coastline.
In addition, he says refund checks will be issued to any donar who've contributed to his campaign and are identified as having ties to pro-drilling organizations. Minor feels hundreds of miles of pristine beaches and unique wildlife habitats must be protected.
Rick Minor is a democratic candidate for state house district 9, which includes Leon and Jefferson Counties. He is running against incumbent democratic representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Go to the WTXL website to see video of the story about Rick
Saturday, October 24, 2009
The latest stories from the Florida blogs about Florida Democrats.
Discourse.net: Goverment to Only Do Business With Honest Contractors -- Military-Industrial Complex Faces Doom
litbrit: Florida Congressman's action may defund fraud-besieged defense contractors; now how about child-molesting faith-based groups?
Seminole Democrats: Grayson exposes GOP stupidity
Clean Up City of St. Augustine, Florida: Folio Weekly: Backpage Editorial by Faye Armitage -- "SAVING ST. AUGUSTINE"
Bilerico Project Florida: FL Co-Sponsors of DOMA Repeal Legislation
Natasha Chart: Morning No: No Reserve
Clean Up City of St. Augustine, Fla.: Folio Weekly: Backpage Editorial by Faye Armitage -- "SAVING ST. AUGUSTINE"
Clean Up City of St. Augustine, Fla.: Faye Armitage Presents Draft Resolution to City Commission on St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway
Posted by Professor Rex at 8:09 PM
Posted by Professor Rex at 7:26 PM
Friday, October 23, 2009
Beaven: “I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with America’s first-responders before, and I’ll continue to do so as the first female veteran from Florida elected to Congress.”
78.5% of FOP Endorsed Congressional Candidates Won in 2008
PALM COAST, FL (October 22, 2009) – Heather Beaven, Navy veteran and candidate for Congress against John Mica, announced today that her campaign has received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. This endorsement adds to Beaven’s growing list of endorsers including: the Women Under Forty PAC and the Women’s Campaign Forum.
“The brave men and women of the Fraternal Order of Police willfully run into harm's way, at the same moment that most run away from it. That’s why earning this endorsement means the world to me. During my service in the US Navy, I was on the frontlines of the War on Drugs so I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with America’s first-responders before, and I’ll continue to do so as the first female veteran from Florida elected to Congress,” said Heather Beaven.
The Fraternal Order of Police is comprised of over 325,000 sworn law enforcement officers that have considerable political power in Florida. In 2008, the FOP endorsed 14 congressional candidates; 11 of those candidates went on to victory on Election Day.
ABOUT HEATHER BEAVEN
Heather is a Mom, wife, Navy veteran (who served during Operation Desert Storm) and CEO of The Foundation for Florida’s Graduates. The Foundation focuses on bringing education, workforce development and economic development together to help young people better themselves through education and personal responsibility. Find out more about her campaign at http://www.BeavenForCongress.com
Posted by Professor Rex at 4:46 PM
Senator Dan Gelber Announces `You Talk, You Walk' Legislation to Ban Use of Cell Phones By Novice Drivers
“You talk, you walk” legislation prohibits the operation of a moving motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device or wireless telephone by any persons under the age of 18
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — State Senator Dan Gelber will seek to ban cell phone use by novice drivers. The proposed legislation comes after the Obama administration announced earlier in the month plans to ban all federal workers from texting while driving.
“Sixteen percent of all fatal crashes in 2008 were linked to cell phone use and it was especially prevalent among younger drivers. Studies have shown that texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Bottom line is if you’re a new driver and you talk, you walk,” Gelber said.
The legislation would prohibit a person younger than 18 years of age from operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device or telephone in any manner. The penalty for violating the proposed legislation would be the assessment of points against the drivers’ license and the added penalty that minors caught on the phone while driving would be subject to “Learner’s License” conditions for at least three months, unless driving to school or work. Under a “Learner’s License” a motorist can only drive during daylight hours, always with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and occupies the front passenger seat.
Gelber added, “Most states already ban or limit cell phone use by novice drivers because it makes sense. Young people learning to drive and new drivers have simply no business on the phone when they should be concentrating on driving safely.”
Posted by Professor Rex at 4:40 PM
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Florida's CFO and next Governor Alex Sink endorsed Congressman Kendrick Meek for the U.S. Senate today.
"CFO Alex Sink is a leader bringing a fresh perspective and new insights to our state government," said Congressman Kendrick Meek. "Alex understands how to get our economy moving again in the right direction and as Florida's next governor she will bring a renewed sense of optimism and hope to the people of this state. I look forward to working with Governor Alex Sink while I am serving in the U.S. Senate and am proud to have her endorsement."
Earlier today Congressman Meek was endorsed by Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Jacksonville.
Posted by Professor Rex at 7:34 PM
Jim Greer’s Self-Loathing Depression Over Crist’s Campaign Collapse? Or Maybe It’s A Prediction Of Attendance At Next RPOF Quarterly Meeting
While some might think Jim Greer’s recent comment to Time Magazine is simply a reflection of the fact that he is in Stage 4 ("DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS) of the 7 stages of grieving over Crist’s collapsing campaign, given Greer’s history of party purges and driving people away from the Republican Party, he could be simply making a prediction of how large the next RPOF quarterly meeting will be.
"Lord, save me from the purists," says Jim Greer, the state's Republican Party chairman and a Crist supporter. "If the party keeps going in this direction, all we'll have left will be three people sitting around a table. They'll be absolutely pure, but none of them will be holding office." [Time, 10/22/09]
Yet Greer going through the grieving process could explain his buffoonery over the past several months:,
Stage 3. ANGER & BARGAINING-
“As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology. The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the President justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other President, is not only infuriating, but goes against beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power.” [RPOF Press Release, 9/1/09]
Stage 2. PAIN & GUILT-
Email Subject: “Stop Taxpayer Funded Abortions”
“As the father of four children, I can’t imagine living in a nation where citizens willfully allow their tax dollars to fund abortion. The fact that liberal lawmakers and media pundits have ignored this portion of the legislation is deeply disturbing and has reaffirmed my belief that we must join together to put a stop to it.” - Email signed by RPOF Chairman Jim Greer. [RPOF Email, 8/5/09]
Stage 1. SHOCK & DENIAL-
Subject: “The Sex, Drugs and School of Rock Act”
“This bill should be referred to as the ‘Sex, Drugs, and School of Rock Act,’ not the ‘Florida Healthy Teens Act,’” said Chairman Greer. “What the House Democrats…have tried to do here is slip into Florida law a provision that actually promotes a casual acceptance of adolescent drug use, sexual promiscuity and experimentation, and homosexuality–all under the guise of promoting healthy teens.” [RPOF Press Release, 3/29/09]
Posted by Professor Rex at 7:30 PM
Beaven: “I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with America’s first-responders before, and I’ll continue to do so as the first female veteran from Florida elected to Congress.”
78.5% of FOP Endorsed Congressional Candidates Won in 2008
PALM COAST, FL (October 22, 2009) – Heather Beaven, Navy veteran and candidate for Congress against John Mica, announced today that her campaign has received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. This endorsement adds to Beaven’s growing list of endorsers including: the Women Under Forty PAC and the Women’s Campaign Forum.
“The brave men and women of the Fraternal Order of Police willfully run into harms-way, at the same moment that most run away from it. That’s why earning this endorsement means the world to me. During my service in the US Navy, I was on the frontlines of the War on Drugs so I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with America’s first-responders before, and I’ll continue to do so as the first female veteran from Florida elected to Congress,” said Heather Beaven.
The Fraternal Order of Police is comprised of over 325,000 sworn law enforcement officers that have considerable political power in Florida. In 2008, the FOP endorsed 14 congressional candidates; 11 of those candidates went on to victory on Election Day.
ABOUT HEATHER BEAVEN
Heather is a Mom, wife, Navy veteran (who served during Operation Desert Storm) and CEO of The Foundation for Florida’s Graduates. The Foundation focuses on bringing education, workforce development and economic development together to help young people better themselves through education and personal responsibility. Find out more about her campaign at www.BeavenForCongress.com
From Alan Grayson:
"The Republican health care plan is simple: Don't get sick. The Republicans also have a backup plan. If you do get sick, die quickly."
These words set off a national explosion. Democrats cheered. Republicans demanded an apology. The GOP in central Florida began bragging that I would be easy to beat. And D.C. election forecasters, like Charlie Cook, downgraded my re-election chances, which is a signal to corporate interests to go after me. I am now the number one target for Republicans nationwide, according to the Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
This November 2 is one year before the 2010 election. I need you to show that when someone speaks out for progressive values, for American values, for YOU, he will have the support he needs to win. On that day, we're organizing a money bomb for our re-election campaign. This is a message to Republicans, to insiders, and to special interests that truth matters.
Hundreds of people have already pledged to join together, for one day, and show that our voices are united.
Please join them. Visit this special website I set up -- www.CongressmanWithGuts.com -- and pledge to donate to my November 2 money bomb.
I've been reading what you have been saying. I've been deluged with emails and phone calls, thousands and thousands of them. People on blogs, on Twitter, and in person, have been saying the same thing people in my district have said: "FINALLY someone spoke up for me -- for progressive values, for America, and for the thousands who die every year for lack of health care."
Over 10,000 people have given $300,000 since I started speaking up. The oldest AIDS survivor in the country called to thank me, and donated $100 to my reelection campaign. This is not just my campaign. It is his campaign. It is our campaign. It is a campaign for all of those who have died of neglect, of inaction, and of malice, and for all those who are suffering.
On November 2, I need you to speak for those who cannot.
Visit www.CongressmanWithGuts.com. Pledge to donate in my money bomb.
Here are a few of the comments that came in after my speeches.
"It was so refreshing to see someone stand up in Congress and tell the truth."
"Finally, the people's voice is heard through Congressman Grayson!! It is ABOUT TIME!!!"
"You rock harder than Plymouth!!!"
Speaking out for the health and values of all Americans isn't just good policy. It's good politics.
Visit www.CongressmanWithGuts.com now and pledge to donate in my November 2 money bomb.
With so many politicians receiving millions from those who kill for profit, isn't it time we had a Representative dedicated to -- and powered by -- regular Americans?
That's who I aim to be, every day, in Congress.
Make a pledge today, and send a message on November 2.
Thank you for all that we can do together,
Member of Congress
P.S. What makes a money bomb work is the united action of huge groups of people all across the country. That's why I need you, after you've made your pledge, to forward this to all the people you know who share our concerns, and ask them to join our November 2 money bomb.
Posted by Professor Rex at 7:27 PM
Congresswoman Karen Thurman, Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, welcomes the Young Democrats of America to Orlando for their annual fall conference. The YDA fall conference, hosted by the Florida Young Democrats (FYD), will be held at the Doubletree Hotel, located at 5780 Major Blvd, November 20 - 22.
"The Florida Democratic Party is excited YDA has chosen Orlando for their conference," Thurman said. "It is a great opportunity for the next generation of Democratic leaders to prepare for the 2010 elections, as we work to bring change to Florida and as Young Democrats fight to elect strong Democratic leaders across the nation."
Alexander Lewy, Florida Young Democrats President, remarked "The Young Democrats who helped elect President Obama and so many young leaders across Florida can't wait to bring home another victory in 2010."
The conference will gather the organization's leadership, which represents 2,400 chapters and over 300,000 members nationwide. During the 3-day conference, members will attend planning sessions for the upcoming 2010 election cycle, training workshops focused on producing results, and various caucuses representing the diverse interest of the group; such as Women, Rural, Minority, GLBT, Veteran, Labor and Disability issues caucuses.
The conference will be the first meeting officiated by YDAs recently elected president, Crystal Strait. President Strait, from California, is the organization's first Asian American president. Strait was elected at the biennial national convention in Chicago this past August.
"The Young Democrats of America are positioned to engage thousands of young people to vote in upcoming elections. Young workers and young families, along with college and high school students, will be the margin of victory in ensuring Congress passes the incredibly important legislation facing them today, as well as turning red America blue in 2010", Strait added.
Speakers and events will be announced soon. For more information about YDA or the fall conference, please visit www.yda.org.
About the Young Democrats of America (YDA)
The Young Democrats of America is the largest youth-led partisan political organization in the country and represents Democratic youth under the age of 36. With 300,000+ members - including middle school, high school and college students as well as young workers, young professionals and young families - YDA reflects the broad diversity of our nation and the Democratic Party. The Young Democrats of America has been the official youth arm of the Democratic Party since 1932. For more information, please visit www.yda.org.
Posted by Professor Rex at 7:25 PM
U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek Endorsed for U.S. Senate by National and Florida State Associations of Letter Carriers AFL-CIO
U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Miami) was endorsed today by the National and Florida State Associations of Letter Carriers (FSALC) AFL-CIO for the 2010 U.S. Senate election in Florida.
"The members of the Florida Association of Letter Carriers AFL-CIO work in every community in all corners of our state," said Congressman Kendrick Meek. "These hardworking public servants help make up the fabric of our neighborhoods, they know our families, and provide an essential service to all Floridians. The men and women of this organization understand the meaning of hard work and witness firsthand the challenges our state is facing during these trying economic times."
Speaking on behalf of Fredric V. Rolando, President of the National Association of Letter Carriers AFL-CIO, Florida President Matthew "Matty" Rose of New Smyrna Beach said, "Congressman Meek has demonstrated an uncommon quality of leadership as a State Representative, State Senator and Member of Congress. Through a lifetime of public service, Congressman Meek has proven himself as an advocate of working men and women in Florida, and his decision to run for the United States Senate is applauded."
There are approximately 17,000 active and retired union letter carriers in Florida. Nationally, there are 300,058 active and retired members of the NALC, of which about 214,084 are active city delivery letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service.
Posted by Professor Rex at 7:24 PM
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Instead of facing a messy primary in his battle to represent Florida’s 24th Congressional District, yesterday Ken Miller decided to serve his own political ambitions and run in the next District over. But his own official campaign site still says he’s running for the 24th seat, which he has been since he filed to run in April.
“Apparently, even Ken Miller was caught off guard by his own political opportunism as he still describes himself as running in the wrong District on his own campaign’s website,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff. “Hardworking Americans are looking for solutions, not self serving politicians that will do whatever it takes to get elected.”
Back in April, Ken Miller filed with the FEC to run in Florida’s 24th Congressional District. [FEC Statement of Organization]
Ken Miller announced he will be running for Florida’s 8th Congressional Seat instead of the 24th. [Winter Park Doc junks Kosmas race to take on Grayson, Orlando Sentinel, 10/19/09]
Ken Miller’s official campaign website still lists him as a candidate for the 24th seat. [Ken Miller For Congress]
Posted by Professor Rex at 6:06 PM
Democratic Leader Pro Tempore Geraldine Thompson To Participate in Southern Women In Public Service Regional Roundtable
House Democratic Leader Pro Tempore Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando) has been selected to participate in the Southern Women in Public Service Regional Roundtable event sponsored by the Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership.
The event takes place on October 29 and 30 in Stone Mountain, Georgia and will bring together nearly three dozen key leaders from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina to examine the current status of women in public service leadership. The discussions will include strategies for increasing the involvement of women in leadership at the local, state and national levels.
The two-day event will focus on:
· Identifying current obstacles facing women in public service leadership an how those obstacles can be removed.
· Can women work together across partisan lines to bring about change?
· How can more women be brought into public service leadership? What more can be done to promote women’s political leadership?
Prior keynote speakers for this event have included Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, and Janet Reno. Representative Thompson says that she understands that attending this event will give her the opportunity to gain new insight on what challenges other women are facing or overcoming in their states. She will have the opportunity to share her experience with constituents and colleagues alike.
“This is a rare opportunity where despite our political differences we all have the same focus of continuing the legacy of women in public service and I plan to take full advantage of everything it has to offer,” said Representative Thompson.
Posted by Professor Rex at 6:05 PM
Monday, October 19, 2009
Commissioner Aaronson, Senator Aronberg, and 14 Additional Palm Beach County Officials Endorse Deutch for Congress
State Senator and Candidate for Congress Ted Deutch, today received an overwhelming show of support from Palm Beach County with the endorsements from 15 state, county, and local officials, including County Commissioners Burt Aaronson, Jeff Koons, Shelly Vana, and Priscilla Taylor, State Senator Dave Aronberg, State Representatives Kevin Rader, Kelly Skidmore, Mack Bernard, Joseph Abruzzo, Mary Brandenberg, Mark Pafford and Maria Sachs, Palm Beach Comptroller Sharon Bock, Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon, School Board Member Frank Barbieri, and Wellington City Commissioner Matt Wilhite.
Commissioner Aaronson and a dozen of these officials joined Senator Deutch for a Press Conference at the Rose Garden today in West Palm Beach. The early support of almost the entire Palm Beach County delegation provides early momentum for the Deutch Campaign. Last Thursday Deutch launched his candidacy and unveiled his new website www.TedforCongress.com.
“I am overwhelmed and honored by this amazing support, especially so early in the campaign,” said Ted Deutch today in West Palm Beach.
“Ted is ready to go to Congress and take on the big challenges we face here in South Florida including health care, rising foreclosures, Medicare and our struggling economy” said Commissioner Burt Aaronson. “Also, Ted is someone who has taken care of his constituents over the last three years. They know they can depend on him.”
State Senator Aronberg stated, “Ted is an exceptional legislator – and has shown himself as someone who can pass sweeping reforms on Iran Divestment and health care even as a member of the minority. He’s going to make a fantastic Congressman.”
Deutch is running in District 19 to replace Congressman Robert Wexler, who is resigning in January to head the Center for Middle East Peace. Nearly 71% of registered voters in District 19 reside in Palm Beach County and almost 50% of the district’s constituents are already within Deutch’s senate district.
More information about Ted Deutch, including a full bio, can be found at www.tedforcongress.com
Posted by Professor Rex at 6:50 PM
Senator Rich Files Legislation Aimed at Tightening Background Screenings of Florida's Caregivers/Blind faith hiring to halt under proposed bill
Hundreds of ex-felons – including many with convictions for violent crimes – are caring for some of Florida’s most vulnerable residents, including children. But, if state Senator Nan Rich (D-Weston) has her way, that’s about to stop.
“These types of lapses in screening workers who care for those who can’t help themselves – children, senior citizens, people with disabilities and those battling mental illness and substance abuse – are simply unacceptable. We must reform our laws to make sure these security breaches stop before a worker enters the employment door, not after,” said Sen. Rich.
The South Florida Democrat announced on Monday that she has filed legislation intended to tighten background screening laws and boost the state’s use of more advanced technology to weed out those potentially dangerous to the dependents in their care.
The concern about such security lapses stems from a recent series of reports published by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which revealed that about 3,500 people with criminal records have been permitted to work with elderly and disabled people, and about 2,900 have been permitted to work with children. Some workers have even been convicted of murder and rape, and yet were still allowed to continue such employment.
“Unfortunately, the patchwork of background screening laws that were enacted over the years haven’t kept pace with advances in screening technology, aren’t consistent for different types of workers, and frankly, don’t reflect an adequate level of concern for the safety of people who need special care,” said Sen. Rich.
The legislation sponsored by Rich is aimed at significantly reforming the way background screenings are conducted. For example, among the provisions of Senate Bill 428 is one targeting hiring on blind faith. Caregivers will no longer be able to start work until after their background screenings are complete.
Other provisions of the bill include the following:
· Require all fingerprints to be submitted electronically, so that they can be processed within days, not weeks or months.
· Permit DCF to re-screen caregivers who have been granted exemptions that allow them to work despite having a past criminal conviction, to ensure that these people have not committed another crime.
“The quality of care these special needs children and adults receive is largely dependent on those delivering it,” said Sen. Rich. “This legislation is a critical security precaution that is long overdue.”
From Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda:
I am as excited as I can be! We've just learned that Jeffrey Donovan, the lead actor in the television series "Burn Notice" will be joining us at the Capitol on November 3rd for the kickoff of the Film, Entertainment, and Television Caucus.
Donovan, who plays Michael Westen, a blacklisted US intelligence spy who loves his mom (Sharon Gless), his bomb expert girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), and fights the bad guys on Miami's streets with his sardonic partner Sam (Bruce Campbell) in USA Network's Burn Notice, will spend the day with legislators advocating for a recognition that the motion picture industry has a great deal to give to the Sunshine state's economy.
A study done by the University of West Florida shows that for every dollar Florida invests in the industry it gets $1.44 back in tax revenue.
Donovan is also scheduled to meet with students from Florida State University's College of Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts -- considered to be one of top three motion picture schools in the nation - for a Q&A session.
States such Alabama, Georgia, and Michigan are competing heavily for an industry that is clean, has a well educated work force, and is particularly known for its financial benefit to the bottom line of small businesses including caterers, florists, the building trades and hoteliers. Additionally, there is a strong connection to the tourist industry. Shows like Burn Notice, much like earlier predecessors of Flipper,Gentle Ben, and Sea Hunt show Florida at its most beautiful.
There is such an upside to this industry for Florida. What's sad is that in the last year alone, more than 600 film industry craft workers living in Florida have been lured to other states because Florida has failed to offer a stable system of incentives or credits compared to the majority of other states.
The purpose of the caucus is to turn that trend around.
Congressman Kendrick B. Meek Applauds President Obama's Decision to Extend Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity Through Partnership Encouragement Act of 20
President Barack Obama announced the extension of the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2008 (HOPE II) allowing for certain textile products from Haiti to remain eligible for preferential tariff treatment after October 18, 2009.
The bill was championed by Congressman Kendrick Meek, a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and was passed into law on May 14, 2008.
“This legislation helps Haitians rebuild their economy by developing homegrown industries that will provide long-term opportunities for growth within Haitian society,” said Congressman Kendrick Meek. “Humanitarian assistance remains critical for Haiti to rebuild after food riots and four severe hurricanes in recent years, but HOPE II will help Haiti rebuild long into the future by creating a sustainable economic engine for growth.”
In 2007, H.R. 6111, the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2006 (HOPE), was signed into law. It was initially thought that within six months to a year the HOPE legislation would at least double the number of jobs in the textile industry in Haiti from 12,000 to a minimum of 24,000. The legislation, however, included overly complicated rules which have made foreign investment in Haiti extremely difficult.
Passed on May 14, 2008, HOPE II expanded the benefits for U.S. apparel imports from Haiti beyond what Haiti currently receives under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act. The average Haitian garment worker earns between $4 and $5 a day, while 80% of Haitians live on less than $2 a day. Haitians working in the textile industry possess the buying power to help stimulate the Haitian economy.
HOPE II includes the following provisions:
The legislation will lengthen the trade preferences from the current three year period to a ten year period, giving businesses the stability they seek in a preference program.
The legislation will increase the amount of duty free fabric allowed to come into the U.S. from Haiti by streamlining rules of origin.
Benefits will be tied to Haiti continuing to hold fair and free elections and its ability to maintain and improve governmental transparency.
The legislation includes the implementation of a new labor program, which will ensure that HOPE II continues the Democratic tradition of providing strong worker rights in trade agreements.
In 2008, Congressman Meek was the first Member of Congress to travel to Haiti since unrest broke out there due to rising food prices. During his trip on April 20th and 21st, Congressman Meek met with Haitian President René Préval, now retired U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Janet Sanderson, and representatives from the international community, as well as toured Haitian factories that would benefit from the passage of HOPE II legislation. Ever since the passage of HOPE II, Congressman Meek has remained actively engaged in promoting this legislation.
Posted by Professor Rex at 6:47 PM
Reacting to Congresswoman Corrine Brown's announcement today that she will seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman released the following statement:
"Congresswoman Corrine Brown is a fighter for Florida who we can all be proud of. With Congresswoman Brown's announcement today, that she will seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, the people of Florida's Third Congressional District know that they will continue to be well represented in Congress.
"During these hard economic times, Congresswoman Brown's experience and continued leadership will benefit all Floridians, as Democrats in Congress work to jumpstart our economy, create jobs and reform the broken health insurance system."
Posted by Professor Rex at 6:46 PM
From the Kendrick Meek campaign:
f every week between now and Election Day is as good as my first one as Kendrick's campaign manager, I know we have a real shot at victory in 2010. Here are the latest updates.
More polling supports our findings
Don't listen to all the pundits who say Charlie Crist is invincible.
Kendrick told you earlier this week about our new internal polling that shows less than 1 in 3 voters are certain at this point they're supporting Crist.
Now, independent non-partisan polls are showing the same thing.
Insider Advantage released numbers on Wednesday that show Crist's job approval numbers below 50% for the first time in memory. He can't even get half the people to say he's doing an OK job.
Even the most recent poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce shows Crist's approval ratings slipping 5 points. Their numbers always skew favorably for Republicans.
It's our job to capture as many of the undecided swing voters as possible.
Florida remains one of the top pickup targets for Democrats this cycle. You and I have a mountain of work to do to make sure we convert on this incredible opportunity.
"Former President Bill Clinton is going to bat -- big-time -- for Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) who is gunning for the Senate seat vacated by Florida Republican Mel Martinez."
Glenn Thrush, Politico
That's right, Bill Clinton - a personal hero of mine - is a "big-time" Kendrick Meek supporter. I just had to send along this terrific photo of Kendrick and the former president.
Earlier this week, we also saw a senior Obama administration official telling Talking Points Memo that the President's team was "impressed with progress [Meek] has made thus far."
Florida Democratic Convention
I know both President Obama and President Clinton would have appreciated the positively electrifying atmosphere last weekend at the Florida Democratic Party's statewide convention.
Kendrick gave a keynote address that was extraordinarily well received. The Sunshine State's top activists recommitted to bringing change to Florida and our country. We got ourselves organized. And we even found the time to have one awesome party.
Personally, it was a terrific introduction to all the folks who are going to help us win in 2010. To everyone I met in Orlando - I'll be calling you real soon to plug you into this campaign.
Arrive with Five
Finally, I want to resurrect a blast from Kendrick's past. You may remember a few years back when he helped organize a massive get-out- the-vote campaign called "Arrive with Five."
The idea was that each of us had a responsibility to come to the polls with 5 friends and family members to make sure that turnout was sky-high. Voter registration and mobilization drives across Florida brought new voters out in droves.
The more I learn about it, the more inspired I am to maintain that spirit. That's why we're bringing it back.
It's a little too early to start mobilizing people to the polls on Election Day, but it sure isn't too early to get your friends and family engaged with this campaign. I'm challenging each and every one of you to invite 5 people to join this campaign today. Building a powerful grassroots movement is the only way we can win.
Posted by Professor Rex at 6:45 PM
From the Gelber campaign:
We've had a great week here on the Dan Gelber campaign for Attorney General.
From spending time with thousands at the Florida Democratic Party conference (video), to receiving the news that we outraised all of our opponents in this race, to picking up even more endorsements, we are really feeling a sense of momentum.
Dan even had the chance to greet First Lady Michelle Obama upon her arrival in Miami on Thursday, where he introduced Mrs. Obama to his little brother Travis (from Big Brothers).
We feel very good about the campaign right now, but we must continue growing our list of supporters.
Here's how you can help:
Forward this email to your friends and family and encourage them to sign up at DanGelber.com.
Help us make sure our campaign has a presence at community events and meetings by emailing email@example.com anytime you hear of something in your community that we should be represented at.
Help fuel the campaign by setting up a recurring 20 dollar monthly donation. (You only have to set it up once, our website will do the rest.) If we can get 1,000 Floridians to pledge to do $20 a month, we will raise almost $250,000 between now and next November. The best part is Florida's matching program will match your individual small donations up to $250 -- so your 20 dollars per month will actually be doubled for the next year.
Thanks again for all your support and trust. We look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail.
U.S. Rep. Kendrick B. Meek (D-FL) released the following statement regarding this morning’s announcement that Florida’s unemployment rate is 11 percent. According to Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation, the state’s current unemployment rate is 1.2 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate of 9.8 percent and is up 4.3 percentage points from the September 2008 rate. Meek’s statement follows:
“Today’s unemployment rate verifies what Florida’s working families have known for a long time – the economic downturn has touched every community in our state and remains severe. When the nation’s economy sniffles, Florida suffers a severe cold and we are not taking full advantage of a remedy available to heal our state. The Economic Recovery Act that I voted for was meant to create and save jobs, and spur economic recovery. When leadership was needed in Tallahassee to take full advantage of the Recovery Act, it was absent and federal dollars set for Florida’s recovery were left on the table in Washington, DC. While other states were quick to deploy stimulus dollars putting people back to work, Florida delayed and the consequences of that inaction are in part revealed by today’s unemployment figures. I urge the Governor and Legislature to act swiftly by using these federal dollars to jumpstart our economy.”
Posted by Professor Rex at 6:42 PM
Last weekend, we had an amazing state conference in Orlando. I wish you could have been there. Since I know many of you could not make it, I did want to share a highlight of CFO Alex Sink's powerful words that captured the energy of the conference so well.
Watch the video and share it with your friends and neighbors.
I know that Alex Sink in the Governor's office will restore the dream that led so many to move to this state.
Listening to her speak, talking to our grassroots leaders, and seeing the enthusiasm and desire they have to change Florida in 2010 made me more confident in what I already know:
We stand ready to take back our state.
For the first time in almost 140 years, every single statewide office is on the ballot and not a single one is an incumbent running for re-election. Both as Democrats and as Floridians, we are fighting to seize our historic opportunity - by not only electing Alex Sink as our next Governor - but by electing a strong Democrat to the U.S. Senate, and electing more Democrats to Congress, the Cabinet, and our State Legislature.
Just like the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who worked tirelessly to deliver Florida for Barack Obama, we must commit ourselves to be the change that we want for Florida.
This election cycle, it's up to us whether or not Florida continues to see high unemployment numbers and face stagnation.
You have already done so much to help us build the momentum we need to bring change to Florida in 2010, but there is still so much work to be done.
Frankly, the future of our state rests in the hands of each of us. With your help, we will change Florida and help Alex Sink win this historic election.
Thank you for everything you've done to get us here.
Congresswoman Karen L. Thurman
Chair, Florida Democratic Party
Posted by Professor Rex at 6:39 PM
State Senator Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) on Friday announced proposals aimed at combating public corruption. Senator Gelber previously served as an Assistant US Attorney in South Florida where he prosecuted dozens of public officials from Monroe County to Palm Beach, and in Washington D.C.
Senator Gelber intends to seek passage of Senate Bill 444, known as the “Honest Services Bill.” Currently, Florida has no statute that addresses citizens’ intangible right to honest government service. The measure will be sponsored in the House by Rep. Martin “Marty” Kiar (D-Davie).
“The citizens of Florida have the right to honest and loyal service by our public officials and it is only appropriate that state prosecutors be fully equipped to prosecute those who defraud the citizens of Florida of that right,” said Gelber.
The proposed legislation allows for the prosecution of individuals who are guilty of defrauding public and private employees of intangible property rights for their own personal gain. The theory of a citizen’s intangible right to honest services hinges on the idea that a public official acts as trustee for the citizens and the state, and thus owes them the normal fiduciary duties of a trustee such as honesty and loyalty. Corruption comes in many forms and does not always constitute outright bribery or other illegal activity, but nonetheless involves personal gain on behalf of an official at the expense of the public trust.
“Our state attorneys already investigate and prosecute corrupt public officials under existing laws related to bribery, extortion, and illegal campaign contributions, but if we expect them to fully prosecute corruption cases, we should provide our state attorneys every possible tool for their arsenal,” said Gelber. “The Florida Legislature should codify as illegal the theft of honest services.”
Additionally, Senator Gelber will seek to adopt legislative measures included in the Grand Jury report issued by State Attorney Mike McAuliffe of the 15th Judicial Circuit (see http://www.sa15.state.fl.us/GJ/2009-SpringIndex.htm ).
“State Attorney McAuliffe has put together a package of integrity reforms that include legislation that needs to be passed and administrative measures that need to be implemented. While I appreciate Governor Crist’s request for a statewide grand jury to report back in a year, frankly we already have a grand jury report that has lots of ideas that could be adopted tomorrow,” Gelber said.
Posted by Professor Rex at 6:38 PM
Dear friends and neighbors:
I am pleased to serve as your voice in the Florida House of Representatives during one of the most challenging times for our state. The 2009 Legislative Session was without question one of the toughest on record. My priorities throughout the session were to focus on Florida’s economic recovery, creating new jobs, public education, health care, public safety and fighting for middle-class families and those who need the services of our state.
In writing a new state budget, we faced a $6 billion revenue shortfall. The Legislature responded by reducing programs and services, draining trust funds and increasing fees, many of which will impact working-class families. For these and other reasons, I voted against the budget because I don’t think it adequately met our state’s needs.
However, the focus on the budget did not stop us from addressing the pressing needs of the state. With the support of my colleagues, I passed three bills out of the Florida House of Representatives, two of which were signed into law by Governor Crist. My colleagues and I undertook a number of serious initiatives that will improve the lives of our neighbors. In public safety, we championed legislative efforts to crack down on the illegal sale of prescription drugs, and we passed legislation to require law enforcement to provide victims of sexual battery with vital information about services. In the education arena, we won approval for a measure to engage more students in meaningful activities in their schools and communities. And we repeatedly demanded that education funding not be cut despite tough economic circumstances.
Throughout the session, we fought for seniors and people who rely on health care services, and won approval for legislation to require Medigap coverage for certain patients needing dialysis or kidney transplants. It has been a pleasure to serve you in the Legislature and I look forward to next year’s session as well as your continued support.
It is an honor to represent our community in the Florida House of Representatives! Luis,
With the help of federal economic recovery funds, I am pleased that the Legislature met obligations to finance many crucial state and local health care programs. But I am deeply disappointed by potentially harmful cuts to programs that provide health services to Florida seniors. For instance, sharp cuts were made in the budget to the Community Care for the Elderly program, which helps many seniors remain in their homes instead of nursing facilities. Severe cuts will be made to state programs that provide in-home care and daily meals for the elderly, as well as special assistance to individuals and caregivers living with Alzheimer’s disease.
I am distressed by the decision to reduce Medicaid reimbursement rates to nursing homes and a cut to some health initiatives for minorities. But I am pleased by our successful efforts to fund the state’s Meds-AD program, which helps seniors purchase medications. I’m also grateful that budget cuts spared Florida’s very important Medically Needy program, which provides essential health care for low-income families.
While some of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens will be spared from the tough decisions that were made in Tallahassee others will feel the pain. My colleagues and I are committed to continue the review of all expenditures to ensure that we can provide the critical services that Floridians need.
During the 2009 Legislative Session, Rep. Garcia sponsored House Bill 53, which its Senate companion SB 408 passed the Florida Legislature and was signed by Governor Crist June 10, 2009. The bill amends the statute requiring clinical laboratories to accept human specimens from allopathic or osteopathic physician, physician assistant, dentist, naturopath, podiatrist, or chiropractor to include orders from advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs). This legislation will help improve the quality of healthcare provided to Floridians by enhancing patient diagnoses and treatment from ARNPs.
ACHIEVING A STABLE PROPERTY INSURANCE MARKET
The Legislature took modest steps this session to stabilize the property insurance market, ease rate hikes for many Floridians, and give all consumers new options for choosing a property insurance company of their choice.
Dramatic rate hikes for customers of state-run Citizens Insurance were set to go into effect January 2010. But under legislation passed during the session, those increases will be capped at 10 percent instead of increases of 40 percent and higher. This step should provide some comfort to home and business owners and bolster the actuarial soundness of Citizens’ rates.
Still, major insurance reform remains undone and our state faces too many financial risks should a major storm come our way.
Florida’s Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, which provides backup financing for private insurance companies, is not sufficiently financed --- and long-term fixes are needed. Although the so-called “CAT Fund” has approximately $8 billion available, and could borrow up to $8 billion more to cover claims, it still faces a potential shortfall of roughly $12 billion should the state be hit by a major storm, a significant risk in light of the economy’s current volatility.
Meanwhile, I am sorely disappointed by the Legislature’s decision to stop funding the tremendously successful “My Safe Florida Home” program, which provides free home inspections and other useful information to consumers. If this program expires, I am concerned that the state would be ignoring its responsibility to protect Floridians.
I worked tirelessly alongside my colleagues in the Legislature to secure much-needed funds for Florida’s schools, teachers and students, and I am proud of our efforts.
I am pleased that the Legislature has put to use nearly $2 billion in federal economic recovery funds approved by President Barack Obama’s administration. These dollars will help give schools and teachers the resources they need in hopes that we will one day have a world-class education system.
I hope that we can improve education funding. The proposed Fiscal Year 2009-10 state budget increases per-student spending only modestly, reaching a statewide average of $6,873. We can do better, especially considering Florida school funding has fallen since the Fiscal Year 2007-08 level of $7,128 per student.
How we spend these limited education dollars is important. The proposed budget earmarks $130 million to reward schools whose students score well on the FCAT exams. While it is important to reward good performance, I think we should also do more to help students at under-performing schools needing assistance.
Overall, I’m disappointed that the state is not meeting my expectations for adequately funding our schools. For instance, by delaying by another year the implementation of the voter-approved Class Size Amendment at the classroom level, the Legislature is making it more difficult to reach class-size goals in the years to come.
Our college and university systems also need our support. The total budget for colleges and universities will increase slightly, from nearly $3.2 billion to a proposed $3.4 billion in the year ahead. But the additional funding comes at a cost: higher tuition paid by our students and their families. The proposed higher education budget raises university tuition by up to 15 percent a year and caps Bright Futures scholarships. The move saves the state $34 million but will cost students at least $197 more per year at schools with 8-percent tuition hikes, and nearly twice that for students who choose schools that raise tuition by 15 percent.
Posted by Professor Rex at 6:35 PM
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Today, Florida State Senator Ted Deutch announced that he is a candidate for Congress in the 19th Congressional District. A special congressional election is expected to be scheduled in early 2010 for the seat that is being vacated in January by Congressman Robert Wexler.
During only his first term in the State Senate, Ted Deutch passed landmark legislation to ensure that the retirement funds of Florida’s workers do not support Iran’s illicit quest for nuclear weapons. Senator Deutch also passed legislation to protect healthcare for seniors and a bill that that will reduce smoking and fund nearly $1 billion in critical health care programs throughout Florida.
Senator Deutch’s senate district is ideally situated for a successful congressional campaign for the 19th District seat. Deutch already represents many more voters in the 19th District then any other elected official. In fact, Deutch currently represents almost half of the district’s voters. Wexler represented this senate district prior to his successful run for Congress. Also, like Deutch’s current state senate district, the 19th District is overwhelmingly located in Palm Beach County.
Senator Deutch issued the following statement regarding his run for Congress:
“It is with great excitement and humility that I announce my candidacy for Congress in Florida’s 19th Congressional District.
“This is a time of extraordinary challenges both at home and abroad. The economy is in crisis, with rising unemployment and skyrocketing foreclosures putting tremendous pressure on our families and seniors. Global concerns are at the forefront with U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, the threat of terrorism, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and Israel’s essential need for security.
“Much like we face today, my father also lived in a time of extraordinary challenges. As a teenager, my father volunteered for World War II where he bravely fought at the Battle of the Bulge and won a purple heart. My father was the most patriotic man I ever met. He and my mother taught me when your nation faces challenges, you step up and you serve. It is for this reason that I am running for Congress - to continue this legacy of service and to give back to my community.
“I am running for Congress because I want to work hard every day to help solve the difficult challenges that the citizens of South Florida are currently facing. I will bring to Congress the same strong work ethic and common sense that I brought to Tallahassee. I am proud of the results that I have delivered in the Florida State Senate on education and seniors, health care, and through my successful efforts to ensure that the retirement funds of Florida’s workers do not support development of a nuclear weapons program in Iran or aid genocide in Darfur.
“My leadership and proven success as a State Senator is based on simple hard work and remembering that the people always come first. This is the same commitment that I will bring to Congress.”
About Senator Ted Deutch
Senator Ted Deutch is an accomplished legislator who has passed legislation on critical issues that have benefited seniors, public education, national security, and victims of the Holocaust. Deutch, 43, was elected to the Florida State Senate in November 2006. His state senate district is largely located in Palm Beach County and includes some portions of north Broward County.
Deutch received national recognition and testified before Congress for his successful legislative efforts ensuring that the retirement funds of Florida workers to not support Iran’s illicit quest for nuclear weapons or genocide in Darfur. In 2009, Senator Deutch passed legislation that will reduce youth smoking and fund up to $1 billion in critical health care programs in Florida, including $50 million per year in dedicated cancer research funding.
In the Senate, Deutch has also passed legislation protecting children, improving health care insurance for seniors, and, through his efforts, he helped secure a new senior center in Palm Beach County.
Ted’s commitment to public service earned him the prestigious Harry S Truman Scholarship and his civic and philanthropic work earned him the James and Marjorie Baer Leadership Award from the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. He also has been honored for his efforts in the State Senate, most recently receiving the National Distinguished Advocacy Award from the American Cancer Society, and receiving the Florida Education Association’s Champion of Public Education Award.
A native of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Ted is the son of Jean Deutch and the late Bernard Deutch, who earned a Purple Heart serving his country during World War II. A graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School, Ted is an attorney with the Florida law firm of Broad and Cassel. He currently lives in Boca Raton, Florida with his wife of 18 years, Jill, his 14 year-old daughters, Gabrielle and Serena and his 10 year-old son, Cole.
For more information visit www.tedforcongress.com
Posted by Professor Rex at 9:27 PM
“We now have the scientific evidence required to support a full ban on non-native and invasive species of giant snakes like Burmese pythons,” said State Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) referring to an October 13th United States Geological Survey Risk-Assessment Report. The report concluded that nine species of giant snakes pose “high” or “medium” risks to large portions of the United States.
Sen. Sobel filed Senate Bill 318 which bans the import and sale of certain reptiles of concern and gives Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission the ability to add new dangerous species to the prohibited list. The bill complements national legislation proposed by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) and is supported by The Humane Society of the United States, The Nature Conservancy, The Audubon Society and the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.
“Our legislation will turn off the spigot, stopping the flow of dangerous reptiles into the State by prohibiting their import for personal use,” said Sobel. “These predatory snakes pose an increasingly dangerous hazard to humans and an urgent threat to Florida’s environment,” continued Sobel, referring to a Sumter County two-year-old girl who was killed by an escaped pet Burmese python in July of this year.
“Florida must be proactive and preventative. Other species like anacondas and large lizards, such as Nile Monitors, may become the next Burmese python unless we act now,” said Sen. Sobel. Experts believe Burmese pythons escaped from breeders or were released by pet owners and now form a self-sustaining population possibly numbering as high as 100,000.
Posted by Professor Rex at 9:21 PM
From Doug Tudor:
Democratic U.S. House candidate Doug Tudor publicly called on fellow candidate Randy Edwards to withdraw from the race for the open seat in Florida's 12th Congressional District.
Tudor claimed, "By actively campaigning, speaking to groups, and requesting monetary contributions to his campaign, Major Edwards is in clear violation of Department of Defense Directives regarding political activities by members of the Armed Forces."
Over the course of the past week, Edwards addressed various gatherings of Democrats. He did so at the Florida Democratic Party's annual conference in Orlando this past weekend, as well as speaking to the Polk County Democratic Executive Committee in Bartow on Monday night and the East Hillsborough County Democratic Club in Brandon on Tuesday night. At each event, Edwards declared that is still on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, and he solicited monetary contributions to his campaign.
"Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of military regulations knows that having a strict ban on military members injecting themselves into partisan politics is vital to the sanctity of America's civilian-led military," said Tudor. He continued, "As a retired Navy Master Chief, it disturbed me to see an active-duty Marine officer trying to gain such an important office, who either didn't know any better or deliberately violated the regulations."
Edwards was granted a waiver signed by the Secretary of the Navy, which clearly stated that while he could file for candidacy, he was restricted from "open and active campaigning and all behind-the-scenes activities."
Though Edwards' infractions are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 92, "Failure to Obey Order or Regulation," Tudor stated, "I don't want to see this junior officer punished. I just want to ensure that the political autonomy of our nation's great military isn't called into question, whether by intent or by ignorance."
The regulation governing "Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces" is Department of Defense Directive Number 1344.10 dated February 19, 2008. It is available on the web.
Posted by Professor Rex at 9:16 PM
Florida House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands (D-Weston) issued the following statement in response to Governor Charlie Crist’s call for a statewide grand jury on corruption by public officials.
“I am encouraged by Governor Crist’s expression of concern about the conduct of some public officials throughout Florida, and I endorse his call for a statewide grand jury to investigate criminal activities among those who serve in government.
“I urge the governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to move expeditiously and approve during the 2010 legislative session measures to prevent wrongdoing by public officials and restore the public’s confidence in their government.
“Various recommendations have already been proposed. One worthy idea has been offered by state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald (D-Sarasota) and state Sen. Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) to amend the state constitution to reform the Legislature’s appropriations process.
“The proposal these Democratic state lawmakers have offered would require all budget deliberations be done in public and with sufficient advance notice so that the people and the press can witness how the budget is written and what it includes. In addition, the amendment would require that the state’s spending plan is written in plain language to be understandable to the average citizen. It would also require three-fourths of the House or Senate to approve amendments filed in the last five days of a session, in an attempt to end the temptation for legislators to load legislation with favors for special interests and political donors.”
Posted by Professor Rex at 9:15 PM
From Senator Ted Deutch:
Senator Ted Deutch released the following statement following news that Congressman Robert Wexler will accept the position of President of the Center for Middle East Peace:
"For almost twenty years, first as our State Senator and then as our Congressman, Robert Wexler has been a courageous, outspoken advocate for justice, fairness, peace, and democracy – both here and abroad. Nobody has fought harder on behalf of the people of South Florida than Congressman Robert Wexler. When we needed someone to speak out on key issues including Medicare and Social Security, the 2000 presidential recount, the fight for a paper trail for voting machines, or helping homeowners afflicted with Chinese Drywall – Robert has been South Florida’s voice in Congress.
“Robert’s dedication to the Middle East peace process and his commitment to the security of Israel has been a hallmark of his Congressional service. His expertise and his significant influence in Israel, the greater Middle East, Europe, and the White House is a testament to his ability to make a genuine difference on these issues. By accepting the presidency of the Center for Middle East Peace, Robert will bring his passion to an essential cause and do his part to bring us closer to ultimate success.
“Although I am saddened to see him leave Congress, I congratulate Congressman Wexler, thank him for his two decades of dedication service to our community, and wish him great luck in his important undertaking. I know Robert Wexler's commitment to Israel’s security will provide dividends at the Center for Middle East Peace."
Posted by Professor Rex at 9:07 PM
Today, with both sadness and excitement, I announced that I am leaving Congress in January to accept the position of President of the Center for Middle East Peace, a non-profit institute devoted to achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East
This decision was not easy: I love my job and my devoted staff, and have a long, close relationship with my constituents – many of whom I’ve served for nearly 20 years.
Throughout my 13 years in Congress, I sought to be an advocate for democratic values and provide a voice to vitally important progressive causes. Whether it was working to end the use of torture by the Bush Administration, fighting for a legitimate vote during election 2000, successfully pushing for a voter verified paper trail in Florida, or our shared quest for genuine accountability these last few years – I’m proud of the stands I’ve taken. I am even prouder to have had you standing with me.
Those who have followed my career know that in addition to the progressive causes I have championed, one of my overriding passions has been my work on the Foreign Affairs Committee helping to ensure the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, and promoting a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and the Arab world.
While I regret that I will be unable to complete my current term in office, I truly believe we are at a unique and critically tense moment in the history of the Middle East and decisions made today will shape the world for years to come. There is no time to waste.
The work on issues of accountability did not start with me, nor will it end with me leaving office. This movement has always been driven by you – and your support for the vital causes we have worked on together.
One of the great lessons I learned in my time in Congress I learned from you - and it is this:
If you stand up for and defend the constitution and rule of law, you will gain the support of hundreds of thousands of citizens across the country.
Thank you for having being part of my team and, most especially, for being brave American patriots.
With warm regards,
Congressman Robert Wexler
Posted by Professor Rex at 9:04 PM
Last week, Ron Paul and I sent a letter to the Senate Banking Committee about the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke.
Before he is confirmed for a second term, we think the Senate and American public should know who got the $2 trillion the Federal Reserve has lent out over the last two years. Only then will the Senate be able to judge whether he should keep his job.
It's important that the Senate hear from you. That's why we've launched UnmaskTheFed.com, an easy online tool to let you contact your Senators.
Visit UnmaskTheFed.com and ask your Senators to vote NO on Ben Bernanke's confirmation until the Federal Reserve comes clean on what it has done with OUR money.
It would simply be unreasonable for the Committee to confirm Bernanke to another term given how little is known about what he has actually done. Remember, Ben Bernanke didn't see the crisis coming and has added $1.2 trillion to the Fed's balance sheet through covert bailouts.
The Senate cannot hope to have a full debate over his record if nothing is public. That's why I'm asking them to refuse to move forward until Bernanke releases the following:
Information that Bloomberg reporter Mark Pittman has requested via a Freedom of Information Act Request on the Bear Stearns rescue and that the Federal Reserve is contesting in the courts.
Information I requested in February on which institutions received the additional $1.2 trillion, how much each institution received, and what was promised in return.
All Federal Reserve documents that went to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office relating to the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch merger in which potentially illegal and coercive activity might have occurred, as well as all Federal Reserve documents relating to the lawsuit pursued by Merrill Lynch shareholders in the U.S. District court for the Southern District of New York.
Transcripts of all Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes up to and including that of September 2009.
Full disclosure of all terms and conditions of all off-balance sheet Fed transactions in the past three years.
It's the Senate's responsibility under the Constitution to properly question and debate any of the President's nominees. Without these documents, I don't see any way they can live up to that responsibility. Help me make sure they do.
We deserve to know what the Fed did with OUR money. Click here to visit UnmaskTheFed.com and tell your Senators to vote NO on Ben Bernanke's confirmation until the Fed comes clean.
Thanks for what you do,
Member of Congress
Posted by Professor Rex at 9:01 PM
From Representative Elaine J. Schwartz, Florida House District 99:
I have kept a promise that I made in April during a debate on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives' chamber. It was a promise to examine and review the compensation packages enjoyed by the executives of those companies that are awarded state contracts which provide services formerly held by state employees.
The promise was made in response to a bill that passed both the House and Senate, but was vetoed, thankfully, by Governor Charlie Crist. It mandated a decrease of 4 to 5 percent in salaries of most state employees.
There are considerably fewer state employees now than there were in 1998, when then-Governor Jeb Bush administration threatened to nearly put government out of business, and substitute it with private companies. In every aspect of state government, private companies headed by “privateers” with cushy perks have attempted to replace the lessening numbers of public servants.
Determining how much of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars are secreted away in the form of executive compensation for these private companies is a question that my district staff, interns and I have attempted to learn this summer.
It is especially urgent that streams of income be found immediately. In 2010, Florida is likely to face another tight state budget.
During the 2009 legislative session, the Republican leadership failed to design and implement new and fair revenue streams. Instead, they cut benefits to those who need services the most and tried to decrease state employee salaries. My fear for the coming session is that privatization will continue to suck the lifeblood out of our taxpayers. Privatization failed to save money or streamline government.
Some people believe that critical state services are best performed solely by private entities. Their rallying cry is that private companies are more efficient than government. To refute this point, one need only compare Medicare’s approximate 3 percent overhead with the 30-plus-percent overhead incurred by private insurance companies, as some researchers have indicated.
Let no one be mistaken or deceived when the ideas start flying next session. The true focus of privatization is not efficiency, it is profit. Unfortunately, favored private companies continue raking in huge sums of taxpayer money, especially when compared to the salaries of the state employees who previously performed these services.
My staff and I, with the help of Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink’s office, and the staff of numerous committees, councils and state agencies, have looked at executive salaries, perks, and compensation packages. Our findings went far beyond our worst expectations.
In many cases, it is impossible to determine how much the executives are earning proportionate to the value of their contract with the state. But our research brought to light one thing: these firms, especially their executives, are held accountable for very little and their work is insufficiently monitored. These contracts must be transparent and easily accessible.
I propose a mandatory revision of state contracts. All firms seeking to provide services to the state should have to disclose their executives’ compensation packages, and the information must be open to public review.
Meanwhile, I commend State Senators Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, and Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, for their proposals to limit automatic increases in privatized contracts.
I am hopeful that these and other reforms will bring crucially needed new oversight to state spending and improve the public’s confidence in our state government, while halting the drain on my precious resources – taxpayer dollars.
Posted by Professor Rex at 9:00 PM
"In a nation that has a tragic history of violence against our leaders it is unconscionable that Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz's opponent would fire an assault rifle at a silhouette bearing her name.
Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz is a dedicated public servant who has earned the respect of her constituents. She deserves far more than a halfhearted apology. The Republican Party of Florida should condemn this candidate in the strongest terms. Unfortunately, this is just the latest example of outrageous vitriol in our political discourse and it needs to stop."
Posted by Professor Rex at 8:49 PM
I’m running for the state legislature because I believe voters want a Representative who is more in line with their Democratic values. As I speak with people throughout my district, they express their desire for change. They tell me they want someone who will fight to keep oil drilling away from Florida’s beaches. They want someone who will stand up for Florida’s working families when it matters most. And they want someone who believes that the best way to ensure equal pay for women is to include the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.
My opponent was one of only two Democrats who voted to allow oil drilling as close as 3 miles from Florida shores. I believe that nearshore drilling poses too great a risk to our beaches and our $56 billion coastal tourism industry. I hope you’ll support me, so that District 9 residents will have a strong Democrat and a proven leader who will fight to protect our beaches and tourism business.
For more information about my candidacy, visit my campaign website at www.RickMinor.com.
Thank you for your support and I hope you can join us this evening,
Democratic Candidate for State House, District 9
U.S. Rep. Kendrick B. Meek released the following statement after President Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize:
“President Barack Obama is a transformational leader whose agenda for hope extends beyond our nation's borders. I witnessed the power of American diplomacy firsthand as a member of the U.S. Delegation that traveled with our Commander in Chief to the Summit of the Americas in April. Although he was the most junior statesman there, world leaders regarded him as the head of state most able to affect change in our hemisphere. The presidency is the most powerful position in the world and today the responsibility that comes with that office was only reinforced. President Obama's platform to make everlasting change for the better in our world just got bigger."
From Doug Tudor:
After eight years of combat operations in Afghanistan, “The Graveyard of Empires,” America needs to have a national conversation on our future in that hostile, unyielding country. To begin the conversation, I believe one point needs to be very clear: we were never supposed to go to war in Afghanistan. Instead, we were supposed to go into Afghanistan to topple the Taliban and kill or capture (K/C) the leadership of al Qaida. We succeeded at the first objective and partially succeeded at the second.
Eight years ago today, America invaded Afghanistan. Operation ENDURING FREEDOM was born. On November 12, 2001, Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, fell to our forces. The Taliban was in full retreat. Objective number one accomplished.
In December 2001, conventional wisdom holds that we had Osama bin Laden trapped in the complex series of caves and fortresses in Tora Bora. Due to political pressures and cultural sensitivities, it was decided that, instead of using America’s overwhelming military force, our Special Forces should combine their efforts with the militia of Afghan warlords Hazret Ali and Haji Zaman Ghamsharik. When our efforts at Tora Bora did not realize the mission of killing or capturing al Qaida’s top commanders, America should have redeployed our forces for another phase of operations intended to achieve the K/C objective.
Instead, as often happens in wartime, mission creep set in. We had troops within Afghanistan’s border, so we figured we needed to find a mission for them.
President Obama is currently reviewing our current mission in Afghanistan. If he were to ask me for advice, which he hasn’t (yet), I would tell the Commander-in-Chief this: Stop counter-insurgency operations and concentrate on counter-terrorism operations. In other words, leave Afghanistan to the Afghanis and concentrate on killing or capturing the leaders of al Qaida.
To me, it really is that simple. After eight years of combat operations abusing America’s military force which is stretched dangerously thin, let’s concentrate on capturing or killing the people who killed nearly 3,000 of our fellow citizens on September 11, 2001. We cannot make Afghanistan a Jeffersonian democracy. We cannot abet thousands of years of ethnic and tribal conflicts. We CAN use the awesome technological and intelligence advantages America holds to kill or capture the leadership of al Qaida. Not to be cliché, but “Yes, We Can.”
If you agree with me, please Please Contribute to Our Grass Roots Campaign Now!. My only campaign promise is “I will always vote my conscience, no matter the politics of the issue.”
Thank you for all you have done, for all you are doing, and all you will do.
Your Brother, Doug
Posted by Professor Rex at 8:41 PM
"This session, apparently, oil drilling is the quick fix de jour. Drilling for the sake of state revenue is entirely the wrong way to approach governing. I’m glad my Senate colleagues are urging a more level headed approach.
"The risks associated with oil drilling off our coasts far exceed the benefits. We are a state whose economy is almost entirely based on the ability and desire of others to travel to our state to spend money. Simply, our tourism and real estate markets can't handle the risk of a spill. Gambling with the economic viability of this state should never be an option. One oil spill that damages any part of Florida's beaches will lead to countless tourists staying home and thousands of jobs lost.
"At the precise moment when we could offer up quick fixes that do little and risk much, like drilling off the coast, we should be offering long term policies that will right our state's course for the long term. Rushing into another quick fix like oil drilling would be a terrible mistake.
"On this issue, I stand solidly next to any effort to defeat drilling off the coast of Florida's pristine beaches. Our time in the upcoming legislative session should focus on how we can build a new Florida on a foundation of renewable energy and creating green jobs."
Posted by Professor Rex at 8:38 PM
Sen. Dan Gelber Calls on Florida's Top Lawyer to Force Governor and Legislature Into Funding Public Education
Frustrated by a deaf ear to the plight of Florida’s struggling public education system, state Senator Dan Gelber on Tuesday called on Florida’s top lawyer to deploy the full weight of his office into legal combat.
“Our State Constitution provides that you are the "chief state legal officer" and thereby commands you to "exercise such powers and perform such duties as may be prescribed by law,” wrote the Miami Beach Democrat in a letter to Attorney General Bill McCollum delivered Tuesday.
“It is in that capacity and pursuant to that authority that I request you commence a lawsuit against the legislature and the Governor challenging the adequacy of education funding in Florida.”
The move stems from a recent meeting of the state Board of Education where a majority of board members expressed concern that its proposed education budget is “inadequate” – a clear violation of Florida’s constitution. The board has time and time again submitted a proposed budget that's much greater than what is funded by the Legislature and approved by the Governor.
Citing a 1934 state Supreme Court decision underlining the obligations of an Attorney General “in the absence of express legislative restrictions to the contrary, to exercise all such power and authority as public interests may require from time to time,” Senator Gelber noted other cases which have upheld the AG's standing to bring lawsuits, and reminded the attorney general of his duty to protect the interests of the general public.
“If you believe an action of the state – in this case the passing of a budget that fails to adequately provide a high quality system of free public schools -- creates a constitutional violation, you are obliged to exercise the broad powers that rest within your office and would allow you to remedy the violation,” Gelber wrote.
“I believe it is hard not to find such a violation exists.”
Senator Gelber, an outspoken public education advocate whose children attend public school, also noted that where previous attempts to litigate adequate funding may have failed, the constitution has since been amended, paving the way for the courts to enforce the mandate.
“Florida continues to have one of the worst high school graduation rates in the nation,” he noted. “Further, in the wake of budget cuts an epidemic of violence has broken out including a few much publicized deaths and serious crimes that clearly impair the ability of our teachers and schools to adequately and safely perform their constitutional duty.
“While you could demur and, instead, hope that citizen groups take on such a lawsuit, it seems more appropriate that Florida’s Attorney General act to defend our citizens from violations of their Constitution.”
Last year, the Board requested for the 09-10 school year, funding of $21.5 billion. It received from the Legislature only $17.9 billion, which the governor approved.
This year, the Board is seeking $19.3 billion, an amount it labeled “inadequate.”
Posted by Professor Rex at 8:27 PM
From the DSCC:
As Charlie Crist races around the country fundraising for his Senate campaign, he seems to have forgotten that he still has a job to do – govern the fourth largest state in the country. According to a new report from the Miami Herald, Crist is demanding that the Florida Public Service Commission postpone a key ruling until his two new appointees to the Commission take office. However, Crist has been under serious fire for his latest appointment of Steve Stevens to the Commission. Not only does Stevens own a racy nightclub that hosts “dominatrix night” and “lingerie fantasy fests,” but Stevens actually fudged on his initial application to the Commission. According to the Palm Beach Post, Crist said that Stevens had been working at the Escambia County Sheriff’s office during a time period when in fact he did not. After hearing all the criticism of his appointee, Crist has done nothing to silence the questions about his lack of judgment as he continues to say that Stevens is the right man for the job. Crist’s highly controversial appointment of Steve Stevens to the PSC and now his demands that the PSC wait until his appointee takes office to make a key decision calls into serious doubt Crist’s judgment and ability to lead.
“After a full search and vet, the best Charlie Crist can come up with is the owner of a girls gone wild club, Steve Stevons,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Communications Director Eric Schultz. “The latest controversy over Crist’s appointee to the PSC just underscores what many have known all along – Charlie Crist shows a stunning lack of good judgment. With Crist perennially preferring to focus on his campaign, maybe he ought to focus on his current responsibilities to the state of Florida.
This latest episode is hardly the first time that Crist has come under fire for placing his own political ambitions before the job he was elected to do. As the unemployment rate in Florida continues to go up, the foreclosure crisis continues, and the population of the state actually shrinks, Crist continues to shrug off criticism while he flies around the country to raise money. Several weekends ago, Crist was in Michigan speaking to a group of national Republicans in what is largely viewed as an audition for 2012 presidential candidates. Crist told the audience that Michigan should look to Florida for guidance on how to fix a slumping economy. This resulted in a brutal Orlando Sentinel column lambasting Crist for his handling of the Florida economy. Crist was also taken to task in a St. Petersburg Times column, which chastised him over the way he has been mis-governing Florida.
Charlie Crist was recently panned by nearly every major Florida editorial board over his appointment of his right-hand man George LeMieux to the Senate back in August. Crist was the subject of eight brutal editorials penned by Florida newspapers outraged over Crist’s appointment of LeMieux. The Pensacola News Journal accused Crist of cronyism, the Florida Sun Sentinel wrote that Crist “made the wrong pick at this critical juncture,” the Orlando Sentinel said “it’s all about Mr. Crist,” and finally, the St. Petersburg Times wrote that Crist “made a self-serving choice.”
Posted by Professor Rex at 8:18 PM
With nearly 2,000 donors contributing to the Florida Democratic Party in the third quarter of 2009, Democrats today are celebrating their best third quarter ever raising nearly $2.5 million.
"Fueled by the grassroots army we are building, the Florida Democratic Party's momentum to bring change to Florida keeps growing," said Party Chair Karen Thurman. "Today, we are celebrating our successful fundraising quarter, where nearly 2,000 Floridians contributed to our party's efforts to elect Democrats across Florida, including hundreds of new donors who contributed at www.FlaDems.com."
In addition to the Florida Democratic Party's successful third quarter, the Alex Sink for Governor Campaign announced today that Floridians continue responding to CFO Sink's proven leadership by donating $1.6 million to her campaign.
With the Florida Democratic Party historically raising an average of $870,356 during comparable fundraising periods, the $2.5 million raised is nearly 3 times this average.
Because off year reporting requirements are different than that of election years, all comparable third quarters from the Florida Democratic Party are from non-election years.
Posted by Professor Rex at 8:16 PM
From the House Dems:
I am pleased to inform you that House Speaker Larry Cretul accepted today my recommendations for Democratic Ranking Member assignments. I made these recommendations in response to Speaker Cretul’s 2009-10 council/committee reassignments announced in August.
I am proud of your hard work and appreciate your public service. I look forward to seeing each of you when we return to committee meetings next week.
The list of Democratic Ranking Members are as follows:
Criminal & Civil Justice Policy Council
Rep. Adam M. Fetterman
Civil Justice & Courts Policy Committee
Rep. Darren Soto
Public Safety & Domestic Security Policy Committee
Rep. Luis Garcia, Jr.
Health & Family Services Policy Council
Rep. Kelly Skidmore
Health Care Services Policy Committee
Rep. Dwayne L. Taylor
Health Care Regulation Policy Committee
Rep. Ari Abraham Porth
Elder & Family Policy Services
Rep. Elaine J. Schwartz
PreK-12 Appropriations Committee
Rep. Martin David Kiar
State Universities & Private Colleges Appropriation Committee
Rep. Ronald A. Brisé
Transportation & Economic Development Appropriation Committee
Rep. Evan Jenne
Health Care Appropriation Committee
Rep. Michael Scionti
Natural Resources Appropriation Committee
Rep. Debbie Boyd
Government Operations Appropriation Committee
Rep. Alan B. Williams
Criminal & Civil Justice Appropriation Committee
Rep. Darryl Ervin Rouson
Education Policy Council
Rep. Bill Heller
PreK-12 Policy Committee
Rep. Dwight M. Bullard
State Universities & Private Colleges Policy Committee
Rep. Charles S. Chestnut, IV
Economic Development & Community Affairs Policy Council
Rep. Geraldine F. Thompson
Economic Development Policy Committee
Rep. Betty Reed
Roads, Bridges & Ports Policy Committee
Rep. Audrey Gibson
Governmental Affairs Policy Committee
Rep. Oscar Braynon II
Military & Local Affairs Policy Committee
Rep. Janet C. Long
Finance & Tax Council
Rep. Perry E. Thurston, Jr.
Governmental Accountability Council
Rep. Scott Randolph
General Government Policy Council
Rep. Mary Brandenburg
Agriculture & Natural Resource Policy Committee
Rep. Leonard L. Bembry
Insurance, Business & Financial Affairs Policy Committee
Rep. Kevin J. G. Rader
Energy & Utilities Policy Committee
Rep. Joseph A. Gibbons
Full Appropriations Council on Education & Economic Development
Rep. Ron Saunders
Rep. Keith Fitzgerald
Rules & Calendar Council
Rep. James W. Waldman
Posted by Professor Rex at 7:52 PM
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Rick Minor Outraises Incumbent in State House District 9 Race. Minor takes in $32K during campaign’s first fundraising quarter
From the Minor campaign:
In his first fundraising report since announcing his candidacy for State House District 9, Rick Minor took in $32,576 with 200 individual donors contributing to his campaign.
“The fundraising success of my campaign is a strong sign that voters want a legislator who reflects their principles and who will fight for the issues they care about. The fact that we outraised the incumbent during the hardest time of the year for fundraising just reinforces that,” said Minor.
During the third quarter fundraising period, Minor posted monetary contributions of $21,050 plus in-kind donations of $1,526. Minor also made a $10,000 personal loan to his campaign. “Many of my supporters are struggling in this economy, yet they’re donating as much as they can afford. I have made a personal commitment to show them that I’m in this race to win,” said Minor.
“Rick Minor’s campaign has attracted the support of many people involved in last year’s presidential election,” said Justin Ford, Minor’s campaign manager who worked for President Obama’s campaign last year. “The overwhelming support we’re seeing is a result of people not getting the change here locally that they worked hard for last November.”
Posted by Professor Rex at 6:27 PM