Democratic gubernatorial front runner Charlie Crist announced Thursday that his running mate will be Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, a Colombian-American businessowner, head of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party and a former Congressional candidate.
At a press conference in Miami, Taddeo-Goldstein was joined by her husband and young daughter and stressed her background as a small business owner and working mother. Born in Colombia, Taddeo-Goldstein is founder and CEO of Language Speak,a translating service.
She said a Democratic administration in Tallahassee “can make a difference for working moms. We can make a differnce for small business owners. We can make a differnce for middle class families.”
Crist introduced her as “a great Floridian, she has a heart of gold and a beautiful family. She truly is the American Dream come true.”
When asked if Taddeo-Goldstein would help with the Hispanic vote in Florida Crist said only, “It can’t hurt.”
“I am thrilled at the opportunity to serve as lieutenant governor of the state that has given me so many opportunities,” she said.”I have lived the American Dream and I want to make sure everyone in Florida has a chance to do the same thing. Unfortunately right now too many people around Florida are feeling left out, left behind.”
“I understand the struggles of families,” she said.”I know what it’s like to live on the minimum wage. That’s why I know how important it is for people like me –working moms, small businessowners– to have a seat at the table, have a voice.”
“I want to serve with Charlie Crist because that’s who he has fought for and that’s who he will fight for again,” she said.
“We have a governor right now who looks out for those at the top,” Taddeo-Goldsten said, referring to GOP Gov. Rick Scott.”We need someone who will fight for all Floridians.”
She said a Crist adminsitration will fight for a higher minimum wage, equal pay for women and more funding for education.
“And we need someone who will bring us together because we have a lot of problems to solve and we don’t need anyone who is going to divide us.”
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Democratic gubernatorial front runner Charlie Crist announced Thursday that his running mate will be Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, a Colombian-American businessowner, head of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party and a former Congressional candidate.
Diaz-Balart says GOP House leadership will not bring comprehensive immigration bill to the floor this yearThursday, July 10th, 2014 by John Lantigua
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, a champion of immigration reform from the Republican side of the aisle, said Thursday he was told by the GOP House leadership that a bipartisan bill he and others have spent five years crafting will not be brought to the floor this year.
Diaz-Balart’s statement appears to put the last nail in the coffin of immigration reform until at least 2015.
“From 2009-2010, I had been working with a group of bipartisan colleagues to draft immigration reform legislation,” he said in a press release. “After lots of work and revisions, we finally drafted legislation that could garner the necessary bipartisan support.”
“The bill is a common sense solution to illegal immigration that recognizes we are not going to spend tens of billions of dollars to roundup and deport millions of undocumented workers who have been here for many years. My solution would require those who came here illegally to earn legal status, earn their right to remain here, and demonstrate their commitment to the United States. It is an efficient and effective approach that is good for the American economy and fair to the people who came here legally.”
“Despite our best efforts, today I was informed by the Republican leadership that they have no intention to bring this bill to the floor this year. It is disappointing and highly unfortunate, because we have a unique opportunity to secure the borders, fix our broken immigration system, and strengthen our economy.
“This system is not going to fix itself, and delaying a common sense solution is only going to make matters worse as is evident by what is going on today with the crisis on the southern border.”
Diaz-Balart was critical of Democrats in the House who had a majority in that chamber from 2009 to 2011, but did not bring an immigration bill to the floor. In the latest Congress it has been Republicans who have the majority but who are divided over the immigration issue and have not produced a bill.
The Senate, controlled by Democrats, won the support of eight Republicans and passed a passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill last year.
Two weeks after taking over Palm Beach County’s beleaguered corruption-fighting office, Inspector General John Carey on issued an open letter to residents on Thursday.
In the one-page letter, Carey touched on his work as the inspector general of the federal Defense Intelligence Agency and said he hoped to use his experience to “help save taxpayer dollars by making government more efficient while rooting out fraud, waste and mismanagement.”
Carey said he planned to “build on the solid base” created by the county’s first inspector general, Sheryl Steckler, who left the office when her contract expired last month.
Steckler faced a series of hurdles while in office, including a lawsuit filed by 14 cities and towns that questioned payments for the inspector general post. The lawsuit has made it difficult for the office to recruit staff.
Steckler was often at odds with county and city officials. County Administrator Bob Weisman called for Steckler to be fired last year and repeatedly questioned her performance.
In his letter, Carey said he hoped to work together with government leaders. Carey spent the last few weeks meeting with “key leaders and stakeholders in and out of government.”
“I appreciate the encouragement I received in these meetings,” Carey said. “Our IG team will continue to reach out to foster these two-way conversations.”
Follow the Post’s coverage Saturday of the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue event, featuring former president Bill Clinton.
Post reporter Christine Stapleton will file regular updates on Facebook, Twitter @StapletonPBPost and the Post on Politics blog as the party’s caucuses meet throughout the day. Coverage begins at 9am at the meeting of the Senior Caucus, followed by the Hispanic, Black, Gay and Women’s caucuses. Clinton is scheduled to speak at the gala dinner, beginning at 7 pm. The event is being held at the Westin Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood.
Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign into law two bills today that will crack down on human trafficking of children for sex.
HB 989 makes sweeping changes to existing laws pertaining to the sexual abuse of children, especially children who are victims of human trafficking for prostitution. The bill, which picked up unanimous votes in the House and Senate, makes changes to the Florida Safe Harbor Act to better define sexual abuse and protect court records.
The new law will also provide up to $3,000 in relocation assistance for human trafficking victims, stiffens the penalties for human trafficking of children for sex, eliminates the statute of limitations for human trafficking offenses and creates a new penalty for traffickers who permanently brand their victims.
HB 7141, sponsored by Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart,creates a framework for the assessment and treatment of prostitutes identified as victims of human trafficking. The bill, which also cleared both chambers with unanimous votes, authorizes the use of “safe houses” and safe foster homes for sexually exploited children.
The bill creates the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking with the Dept. of Legal Affairs to better coordinate efforts of law enforcement and social service agencies and requires the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to study commercial sexual exploitation of children in Florida.
Most American victims of commercial sexual exploitation are runaway youths living on the street and become involved in prostitution to support themselves. The average age for girls is 12-14 and boys and transgender youth is 11-13, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
Pimp-contr0lled commercial sexual exploitation of children is often linked to escort and massage services, private dancing, major sports and recreational events, conventions and tourist destinations. About 20 percent of these children become part of crime networks, which transport the victims around the country on cars, buses, vans and trucks.
Although the data are not exact, the U.S. Dept. of State estimates as many as 27 million victims are being trafficked worldwide at any time. The department also estimates that there were approximately40,000 victims of human trafficking in the United States in 2012. Florida is estimated to have the third highest rate of human trafficking in the United States, behind New York and California.
As the dust settles around the surprising primary defeat of GOP House Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, Tuesday, numerous explanations are being proferred. Some hold more water than others.
The most prevalent is that Cantor was soft on the issue of immigration reform, angering tea party voters in his conservative district. Yes, his victorious opponent, David Brat, had pilloried Cantor on the issue. But GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham,R-South Carolina, has been a much more vocal supporter of immigration reform than Cantor and he won his primary, in a state that is certainly no bastion of liberalism.
On the other hand,supporters of comprehensive immigration reform are trying to say immigration had little or nothing to do with Cantor’s defeat because he wasn’t doing anything to get reform passed in the House this year. That is true, but they are convenientlty forgetting that the one thing Cantor did do was attach his name to a version of the Dream Act that at one point he hoped would be passed by his GOP majority. That bill would have provided a path to legal status for immigrants brought here as children. That bill never made it the floor of the House, but if you Google Cantor and Dream Act –or Kids Act, as he called it –you got plenty of hits, and maybe Cantor’s tea party opponents did just that.
Then again, according to press reports, polls done in Cantor’s district have shown that more than 70 percent of voters there support immigration reform, including a majority of Republicans. Go figure.
I heard a brief discussion on National Public Radio about whether the fact that Cantor is Jewish –rare for a Repoublican– might have had to do with it. That doesn’t seem very liklely given that he had won various times in the past and it wasn’t as if he had converted recently.
The most cogent explanation I have foud has to do with Cantor’s relationship –or lack of it — to voters in his district. Reporters on Capitol Hill say that early Tuesday morning as voters were going to the polls, an overconfident Cantor was not in his district. He was on the Hill attending a meeting. This apparently was a pattern with Cantor –not paying attention to matters at home. One wag said Cantor, as heir apparent to House Speaker John Boehner, was spending his time measuring the curtains in the speaker’s office, in anticipation of moving in. He spent so much time not paying attention to his district, that another pre-balloting poll showed 63 percent of voters in his district had a negative opinion of him. If you don’t pay enough attention to what’s going on at home, you end up getting divorced. That’s what happened to Cantor.
As for immigration reform, it was almost certainly not going anywhere this year anyway. And given that Michael Brat used the issue to beat up Cantor, the term “immigration reform” has become radioactive for many Republicans, at least for this year. Maybe the Geiger counter will stop clicking in the next Congress — maybe.
Florida members of Congress from both major parties responded quickly Friday to the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secy. Eric Shinseki and they called for substantial improvements in services for veterans.
Shinseki announced his resignation after meeting with President Barack Obama. He had been under intense pressure to resign from an increasing number of members of Congress and some leaders of veteran’s organizations ever since it was revealed that some VA hospitals made patients wait for long periods of time to get medical appointments. Some veterans allegedly died while waiting for those appointments.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat and an Army veteran, welcomed Shinseki’s decision to resign.
“He did the right thing, and he’s putting his country first,” Nelson said. “This is a strong, patriotic general who stood up to Donald Rumsfeld about the length of time that we were going to have to be in Iraq. Now that he resigned, we can get on. There ought to be a lot of heads rolling, because there is something in the culture of the VA that is not responding to serve our veterans the very best that they deserve.”
U.S. Rep.Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, another Army veteran, also called for reform inside the VA.
“I have the utmost respect for General Shinseki and his service to our country,” Rooney said.” I was rooting hard for him to succeed at the VA and to tackle this scandal, and it pained me that he and the Administration couldn’t get this right for our veterans.
“The deep-seated, systemic problems that face the next VA Secretary are daunting, but we as a country must rise to this challenge,” Rooney said. “As a member of the VA Appropriations Subcommittee, I look forward to working with the next Secretary to ensure the Department has the tools and resources it needs to provide our veterans with the services they deserve. Now, it’s time for President Obama to step up. No more claiming that fixing the VA is a top priority with one breath, and then saying that neither he nor anyone at the White House knows what’s happening at the VA with the next breath. He needs to show real leadership and start taking action – not just giving speeches – to help our nation’s veterans.”
Underdog Democratic governor candidate Nan Rich is featuring her mom, Lucille Lovitt, in a Mother’s Day-themed fundraising appeal.
“Mother’s Day is Sunday. I can’t think of anyone who will do more for mothers, and all the women of Florida, than Nan. That’s why I hope you will make a contribution to Nan’s campaign today,” Lovitt says in an e-mail that went out this weekend.
An e-mail titled “my mom” (lower-case letters in the original) from Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, makes a Mother’s Day pitch for abortion rights and for building the Frankel campaign’s e-mail list of supporters and fundraising prospects.
“My mom, Dorothy, has always been an inspiration for me,” begins Frankel’s e-mail. “She instilled values of equality and justice in me from an early age — values that I still carry with me in my work. She was the first to teach me to always stand up for what I believe in. This is why I have always stood with women — especially when it comes to their reproductive choices.”
Frankel’s e-mail asks recipients to “Click here to stand with women on this Mother’s Day” and later to click to “Support women’s reproductive choices. Florida women don’t need government interference in their medical decisions.”
Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, says she’s “troubled” by a newly surfaced White House e-mail from 2012 on the infamous Benghazi talking points, but she said 2016 presidential politics are behind the latest Republican calls for a House select committee investigation.
Asked if Democrats should participate in the hearings, Frankel’s office pointed to her interview with a local TV station.
“This is about Hillary Clinton running for president and the Republicans just trying to stop her,” Frankel told local CBS 12 News. Clinton was secretary of state when the attack occurred.
Republican calls for a Benghazi probe have intensified since the recent release of an e-mail by Ben Rhodes, at the time a deputy national security adviser, coaching then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice before a series of Sunday talk show appearances to “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
Said Frankel: “I’m troubled by that e-mail but the email is not really a smoking gun. I think the e-mail sort of backed up what the administration was saying and I think what’s important is keeping our diplomats safe in the future.”
Release of inmate Jim Greer’s ‘Shakespearean’ tell-all might be delayed until his own release in JulyMonday, May 5th, 2014 by George Bennett
A tell-all book about former Republican Party of Florida Chairman and Charlie Crist friend Jim Greer‘s plunge from political power to incarceration might be delayed five weeks to coincide with Greer’s July release from custody on grand theft and money-laundering charges.
Authored by Peter Golenbock and published by NewSouth Books, The Chairman: The Rise and Betrayal of Jim Greer, is billed on Amazon as nothing less than “a Shakespearean tale of friendship and betrayal to rival Hamlet.”
The book — which appears likely to take shots at Crist, Sen. Marco Rubio, former Attorney Gen. Bill McCollum and the tea party movement — has been scheduled for June 1 release.
But NewSouth publisher Suzanne La Rosa said the date might be pushed back to July 7. She mentioned possible “safety concerns” for Greer, who is scheduled for release from the Bridges of Orlando work-release facility on July 5.
After being recognized in the House and Senate — and drawing a standing ovation from House members — it was growing likely that James Richardson would return to Kansas without legislation to compensate him for being wrongfully imprisoned in Florida for more than two decades.
Richardson, 78, has come from Wichita in expectation of the bill passing. He was honored by the two chambers and sat most of Thursday in the Senate gallery awaiting a vote on SB 326. But increased wrangling in the Florida Senate over a range of issues pushed the Richardson legislation to the bottom of the calendar Friday, the session’s final day.
Richardson lived in Arcadia when a few days before Halloween 1967, he was accused of poisoning his children when they came home for lunch. He was quickly convicted and condemned to death.
But a 1989 investigation ordered by then-Gov. Bob Martinez revealed wholesale misconduct by investigators and prosecutors, leading to Richardson being set free. Still, because of the circumstances of his case, Richardson does not qualify for state payment under the state’s five-year-old wrongful incarceration law.
A similar bill (CS/HB 227) was approved earlier this month 116-0 by the House. It would make Richardson eligible for $1.2 million in compensation. But as the clock wound down on the 2014 session, the measure was languishing.
Senator Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, rattled the Senate leadership this morning when – during his comments on a controversial education bill SB 850 - Bullard said that “someone in the House” had told him that “jobs had been offered in exchange forv otes” in the House. The bill pertains to corporate tax scholarships and the handling of application fees for scholarships.
Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, halted the proceedings and asked Bullard to repeat the accusation. Bullard said he would retract his statement but added:
“I do apologize,” Bullard said. “It was shared with me… jobs were offered and placed on the table. All I know is someone said they were offered a job. It had nothing to do with this chamber.”
Bullard said he would not reveal who told him about the deal. Gaetz sternly responded to Bullard.
“Senator you are an officer state of Florida and you took and oath to defend the laws,” Gaetz said. “If you have knowledge of crime, you need to report that to the State Attorney today.”
After the exchange, several other Democratic senators huddled with Bullard.
The debate continues and Bullard cannot now be reached for comment.
The deadline for congressional and judicial candidates to qualify for the 2014 ballot in Florida is at noon today.
Some people to watch in Palm Beach County:
** Circuit Judge Diana Lewis: She holds the Group 14 seat and faced a challenge there from attorney Jessica Ticktin, who put $200,000 into the race. When Group 32 Judge Sandra McSorley decided not to seek re-election, Lewis switched to that race. Then Ticktin switched to the Group 32 race as well. Will Lewis switch again? If she does, will Ticktin follow her again?
** Attorney Samantha Schosberg Feuer: With impressive backing from the county’s legal establishment, Feuer opened a campaign for the open Group 30 circuit judge seat. Three other candidates entered as well, including attorney Jaimie Goodman, who has his own slew of endorsements and put $159,000 into the race. So Feuer switched to the Group 14 race after Lewis left. Feuer prefers to run for an open seat rather than challenge an incumbent, so if Lewis goes back to Group 14, she might switch again.
** Congressional District 18 Republicans: How many will end up running for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast seat of freshman Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy? By the end of Thursday, four Republicans had secured spots on the GOP primary ballot: former state Rep. Carl Domino, Beverly Hires, software designer Brian Lara and former Connecticut legislator Alan Schlesinger. A fifth Republican, former Tequesta Councilman Calvin Turnquest, says he has sent in his $10,440 check and should qualify today. Three other Republicans — Ilya Katz, Frank Lynch and Nick Wukoson — have shown some public interest in running for the seat as well.
** Henry Colon: He’s the Republican who filed for the Palm Beach-Broward seat of Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch but, as of Wednesday, his campaign was about $8,000 short of the money needed to pay the $10,440 filing fee. Colon appealed to big-name Republicans — including former Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin — to try to raise the cash.
Nearly 1 million Floridians signed up for an Obamacare plan in the inaugural year.
Only California enrolled more people — and not by much. The state ran its own marketplace. It signed up 1.4 million Californians.
Florida doubled its enrollment in the last month, making it one of a dozen states to do so.
Nationwide, more than 8 million people enrolled, according to data released by the Department of Health and Human Services today.
The numbers are still preliminary, in a sense, because they count everyone who signed up. Americans who do not pay their premium will not have coverage.
A multi-year effort by Sen. Christopher Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, to persuade his colleagues to clarify their intentions when the legislature passed the Stand Your Ground law in 2005, has again failed.
Smith attempted to tag an amendment onto this year’s concealed weapons bill, SB 296, that would have added language to the statute explaining that the law was “not intended to encourage vigilantism or acts of revenge, authorize the initiation of a confrontation as a pretext to respond with deadly force, or negate a duty to retreat for persons engaged in unlawful mutual combat.”
“If you didn’t intend for stand your ground to be used in movie theaters and on the streets you will vote for this amendment,” Smith said. “Did you intend for people to use this in such an aggressive way?”
Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, argued that the effort had not been vetted by committees and urged a vote against the amendment. However, Smith responded that the language he proposed had gone through both the criminal justice and judiciary committees.
With Marion Hammer, lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, sitting in the front row of the gallery, the senate voted 13-24 against the amendment.
The state House approved a narrowly drawn measure Thursday that would allow the Florida Supreme Court to admit a Tampa man as a lawyer even though he remains an undocumented immigrant after coming to the state illegally as a child.
The provision was attached as an amendment to an otherwise non-controversial family law bill (CS/HB 755) and still must win approval from the Senate before the Legislature’s scheduled Friday adjournment.
But Jose Godinez-Samperio said he expects lawmakers will let him reach his career goal of becoming an immigration lawyer. The House move also comes on a day when the Florida Senate will consider a bill granting in-state tuition to children of undocumented immigrants.
“The Florida Legislature is clearly moving in the right direction, recognizing the importance of immigrants in this state,” said Godinez-Sampiero, who watched the vote from the House gallery. “I believe we are number four in the nation for immigrants…we’re great contributors to the economy. And the Florida Legislature is recognizing that.”
The House amendment is tailored to help Godinez-Sampiero. It would affect only someone who has lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years, came to the country as a child, is authorized to work and has been issued a Social Security number.
For males, the potential Bar member also would have had to signed up for Selective Service, which Godinez-Sampiero has done.
Godinez-Sampiero was brought to the U.S. at age 9 by his Mexican parents. He became an Eagle Scout and the valedictorian of his high school class, going on to graduate from Florida State University College of Law in 2011 and passing the Florida Bar exam, including its moral character test.
But the Florida Supreme Court this year rejected his request to join the state Bar, citing a 1996 federal statute that says granting certain state licenses is a taxpayer-funded activity and undocumented immigrants are ineligible to receive such “public benefits.”
However, the justices added that state legislators could write a new law that would override the federal ban, as California has done. In a concurring opinion, Justice Jorge Labarga, a former Palm Beach County circuit judge whose family emigrated from Cuba when he was a child and settled in Pahokee, prodded lawmakers to act.
“The Florida Legislature is in the unique position to act on this integral policy question and remedy the inequities that the unfortunate decision of this court will bring to bear,” Labarga wrote.
Rep. MaryLynn Magar, a first-term Tequesta Republican, poignantly thanked Florida House members Thursday for standing by her as she recovers from a stroke suffered in January.
Magar took some time off. But she has been at the Capitol for the two-month grind of the legislative session, which is scheduled to end Friday.
Magar, 50, spoke while reminding lawmakers that May is “Stroke Awareness Month.”
“You’ve all helped me so much,” Magar said. “And your prayers and positive thoughts have helped me persevere the past two months.”
She concluded by telling lawmakers, “Thank you for believing me when I said I would be here 60 days strong.”
A call for three people with Grim Reaper costumes was answered and about a dozen demonstrators blasted Republicans and called for expanding Medicaid on a sidewalk outside The Palm Beach Post offices on Wednesday.
“We need three people to dress in black as grim reapers, street clothes for die-in, or scrubs for nurses. Please let us know if you have a grim reaper costume…!” one of the event’s organizers, Democratic activist Hillary Keyes, posted on Facebook earlier in the week.
The Grim Reapers wore signs with the names of Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Will Weatherford and state Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton.
Dan Liftman, whose day job is as a staffer for U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, carried a sign that said “Public Enemies” and included pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syrian President Bashar Assad, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and Scott.