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Jeb Bush says undocumented immigrants commit “acts of love” not felonies

Monday, April 7th, 2014 by John Lantigua

Speaking to Fox News Sunday, former Florida GOP governor Jeb Bush, who is being mentioned increasingly as a presidential candidate in 2016, said political rhetoric that reviles illegal immigrants needs to stop.
“Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony,” Bush said at George Bush Presidential Library Center in College Station, Texas. “It’s an act of love; it’s an act of commitment to your family.”
Bush said people who come to the United States illegally are often fleeing poverty in their home countries, looking to provide for their families.
“I honestly think that is a different kind of crime, that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families,” he said.”I think we need to kind of get beyond the harsh political rhetoric to a better place.”
Bush is among those Republicans who have been calling on his party to adopt policies more friendly to Hispanics after President Barack Obama won the Hispanic vote 71-27 in the 2012 election. Some GOP leaders have warned that the party will have no chance to win back the White House until those numbers improve.
Bush said he would decide whether to run by year’s end. Politics, he said, are “pretty crazy right now,” suggesting too much time is spent strategizing how a candidate can “win the Muscatine pork roast straw poll.”
Bush said two principal factors will guide his decision. First: “Can a candidate run with a hopeful, optimistic message? In my case, that means can one do it joyfully without being tied to all the convention of the here and now?”
Second: Family considerations will play a large role in his decision.
Bush said the GOP must choose candidates who can beat Democrats in general elections.
“I think maybe the answer is that we need to elect candidates that have a vision that is bigger and broader and candidates that are organized around winning the election, not making a point,” he said.

Anti-smoking groups condemn bill limiting cities, counties on e-cigs

Monday, April 7th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Brenda Olsen of American Lung Association, Florida, leads rally against e-cigarette measure

Anti-smoking groups called on lawmakers to kill legislation banning e-cigarette sales to minors because the proposal also eliminates more than 50 local regulations limiting their sale, including those in Palm Beach County.

Brenda Olsen, chief operating officer for the American Lung Association in Florida, said the controversial House measure is designed to help the tobacco industry gain a new foothold with the nicotine delivery devices.

“It’s a page out of Big Tobacco’s old playbook,” Olsen said of the legislation (HB 169) advancing in the House.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, has said that eliminating local ordinances was designed to provide a state standard when it comes to sales. The Florida Retail Federation is among those backing the change.

A similar bill (SB 224) has already unanimously cleared the Senate without the preemption of local regulations. Olsen said her group along with the American Cancer Society and local government associations could endorse that approach.

Palm Beach County is among 28 counties and 28 Florida cities which have adopted some kind of e-cigarette regulation that could be affected by the House proposal. Still, the fate of these ordinances could be troubled even without Artiles’ bill.

Florida’s Clean Indoor Air law includes a provision that bars local  governments from approving anti-smoking measures that are more strict than state law. The statewide preemption has tripped up local efforts to ban smoking on beaches and this year led to a push for legislation to allow a smoking ban on playgrounds, which also looks unlikely to win approval.


Deadline mix-up: Congressional candidate falls 521 signatures short but says she had 700 more in car

Monday, April 7th, 2014 by George Bennett


Port of Palm Beach Commissioner Jean Enright, who has launched a Democratic primary challenge against 11-term U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, will have to pay a $10,440 filing fee to get on the ballot after falling 521 signatures short of qualifying by petition last week.

A “devastated” Enright said she thought the deadline to submit signatures was 5 p.m. last Monday. In fact, the deadline was noon. Enright said Friday that she had about 700 unsubmitted signatures in her car when the deadline passed and other campaign volunteers also had more signatures that didn’t get turned in on time.

Enright needed 4,046 signatures from registered voters in District 20 to qualify. She submitted 4,599 to the Palm Beach County elections office, but only 3,525 were valid. Given the 77 percent validity rate on the petitions Enright turned in on time, the additional 700 might have been just enough for Enright to qualify.

Enright says she plans to pay the $10,440 fee by May 2 to continue her challenge of Hastings.

Subscribers to can read about the congressional candidates who qualified by petition and those who didn’t in this week’s Politics column.

8 quotes that probably will be edited out of later editions of Allen West’s new book

Friday, April 4th, 2014 by George Bennett

Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln are among the famous figures misquoted in former Rep. Allen West's new book.

Former U.S. Rep. Allen West‘s new book is brimming with quotations from famous figures on the virtues of small government, the need for the Second Amendment, the importance of honoring veterans and the perils of redistributing wealth.

Several of the quotes in Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom are familiar — but have been flagged by historians as erroneous.

West joins President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain in being duped by one George Washington quote that is widely circulated but, according to historians, wasn’t said by America’s first president.

Four quotes that West attributes to Thomas Jefferson have been branded “spurious” by researchers at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. West’s book also attributes words to Abraham Lincoln, Alexis de Tocqueville and Patrick Henry that have been debunked by historians.

Read the full article here.

See the bogus quotes after the jump…


Digital duel: Crist and Scott release new online ads while Scott has TV to himself

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 by George Bennett

Charlie Crist’s new digital ad (above) and Rick Scott’s latest online offering (below).

With Republican Gov. Rick Scott already spending $4 million on statewide TV buys, Democrat Charlie Crist countered today by spending “thousands of dollars” on a digital ad that attacks Scott and defends the federal health care law.

Scott released a new digital ad as well today, this one featuring a 20-year-old cancer patient who says Scott “supports people like me” by backing funding for cancer research. The Republican Party of Florida says the new Facebook ad is “part of a more than $350,000 buy to promote Governor Scott’s message” in addition to his spending on TV.


Valeche questions delay in IG funding lawsuit

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 by Jennifer Sorentrue

Palm Beach County and 14 of its cities and towns will have to wait until August before a judge decides who should pay for Inspector General Sheryl Steckler’s oversight.

The delay has raised concerns from County Commissioner Hal Valeche, who questioned Tuesday why it is taking the court system so long to hear the matter.

In an email to county commissioners on Tuesday, County Attorney Denise Nieman said that the case is now scheduled to appear on Circuit Judge Catherine Brunson’s docket between Aug. 4 and Aug. 29.

The case was set to go to trial in January, but has been repeatedly delayed.

“Doesn’t the court realize that this is a very important issue and that this ongoing delay is costing the county taxpayers a considerable amount of money?” Valeche wrote in response to Nieman’s message. “The argument that the presiding judge is up to speed on the issue and that it would take another judge some amount of time to get up to speed is rendered, I believe, disingenuous in the current circumstances. I understand the docket is very crowded, but surely if a new judge were assigned to this case, I am certain that he/she would be able to familiarize themselves with the issues and be prepared to hear this before August.”

Valeche asked if there was anything the commission could do to help speed things up.

“I am fairly certain that my colleagues on the Board share my frustration with this and please let us know if there is any collective or individual action we could take to expedite this matter,” Valeche said.

Fifteen cities and towns filed suit against the county in 2011 over bills they received to cover their share of Steckler’s $3 million budget. Wellington later dropped out of the lawsuit.

Immigration reform activists at odds on Democrat maneuver to bring bill to the House floor

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 by John Lantigua

With immigration reform legislation blocked by the GOP leadership in the U.S. House, Democrats are trying a legislative maneuver to bring to the floor HR 15, a bill that resembles the comprehensive reform legislation passed by the Senate last June.
The maneuver is called a “discharge petition” and it is a way to go around the committee process and bring a bill directly to the floor. The GOP controls the House Judiciary Committee and that is where immigration legislation is stuck.
The problem for the minority Democrats is that they control 199 seats while Republicans hold 233 and it is doubtful they will attract enough GOP members to make it work. In fact, they may not attract any because even Republicans in favor of immigration reform won’t anger their leadership by voting for the petition.
Without much chance of success, what Democrats may be trying to accomplish is to demonstrate to their Latino supporters that it is, in fact, the Republicans who are blocking immigration reform. Republicans have said they are wary of passing immigration legislation because they don’t trust President Barack Obama to enforce parts of any law he doesn’t like. That position has angered some reform activists.
“Republicans can try to blame the president for the lack of progress on legislation, but their response to the discharge petition makes it clear that the obstacle to legislation is with them,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s voice, a pro-reform group.
But not all reform activists are sympathetic to the Democrats’ maneuver. Cristina Jimenez of United We Dream launched an attack this week in The Huffington Post.
“Without dozens of Republicans on board, a discharge petition isn’t a viable political strategy to break the logjam in Congress,” Jimenez wrote. “House Democrats should instead focus 100 percent of their energy on pressuring the White House to halt deportations… They cannot simply seek political cover by gathering meaningless petition signatures..”
Lately, many Latino political organizations have been voicing their discontent with the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama, because of the high number of undocumented people being deported — almost 2 million since Obama took office in 2009. Obama won 71 percent of the Latino vote in 2012, but some leaders have warned Democrats they are risking Latino support if the deportations continue.
“We cannot continue to push legislative strategies with the slimmest of possibilities of success while our families are torn apart at a rate never before experienced,” Jimenez wrote. “The reckless enforcement machine presided over by President Obama exists not just because of Republican extremism and obstructionism, but also because of Democratic posturing and complicity.”

Latino groups ramp up pressure on Obama over deportations

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 by John Lantigua

Numerous Latino groups nationwide have announced they will join forces to bring pressure on President Barack Obama to end deportations of undocumented immigrants.
Press conferences will be held Wednesday in six cities around the U.S. to kick off the campaign, which they have labeled the Obama Legacy Project.
The goal of the collective action is “to hold President Obama accountable for record high deportations and other immigrant abuses during his Presidency,” the groups said in a press release Tuesday.
The groups will announce the creation of a new website to educate the public about nearly 2 million deportations during Obama’s time in office. They will also create a national petition calling on the president to end deportations now.
“We are at a tipping point with President Obama on immigration,” said Arturo Carmona, executive director of, one of the groups involved. “It’s time for President Obama to use his executive authority to take action on immigration– ending deportations now. If he does not, his record high deportation levels, high imprisonment rates, and militarized border tactics will brand him for what he currently is to many Latinos: the worst President in history on immigration. We cannot and will not forget.”
Obama won 71 percent of the Latino vote in 2012, but some Latino leaders are warning Democrats that if the president does not act to slow the number of deportations the party will not be able to depend on that kind of support in the future.
Other organizations joining forces include the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities and Detention Watch Network.
Press conferences will take place in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Obamacare’s 4th anniversary: Wasserman Schultz praises ‘historic milestone,’ Rubio calls it ‘disaster’

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 by George Bennett

Today marks the fourth anniversary of President Barack Obama‘s signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal health care law that continues to spark fierce political debate.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, who’s also the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, marked the occasion with a statement praising the law as “a major, historic milestone on the journey to build a more perfect Union.”

Said Wasserman Schultz: “The law has already benefited millions of Americans, and will continue to do so as enrollment increases, full benefits are realized, and the cost curve bends even further. There is no getting around these facts for the detractors and naysayers who are incapable of accepting Obamacare as the law of the land and instead continue to put politics before people.

Those “detractors and naysayers” include Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who also issued a statement marking Obamacare’s fourth anniversary.

Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, called the law a “disaster” and pledged to continue fighting to get it overturned.

“We cannot give up on our efforts, not just to completely repeal Obamacare, but to replace it with real market-based solutions that allow every single American to have the ability to buy affordable health insurance that meets their needs, and to buy it from any company in America that will sell it to them. We’re going to have a chance to achieve that soon. We cannot give up. ObamaCare is not something that’s set in stone. It can be repealed —and Americans increasingly want it to be repealed — and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

A average of polling data on the health care law shows 38.9 percent of Americans support it and 53.6 percent are opposed.

Obama to Democratic donors in Miami: ‘America is on our side…but in midterms we get clobbered’

Friday, March 21st, 2014 by George Bennett

President Barack Obama greets Sen. Bill Nelson in Orlando Thursday before heading to Miami for a pair of fundraisers. Grace Nelson and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer look on. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

With Democrats facing a tough political climate as the 2014 midterm elections approach, President Barack Obama offered some reassurance and warning Thursday to donors who paid $16,200 apiece to join him for dinner at former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning‘s house.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and other Democratic House members were among the crowd of about 75 at the event in the village of Pinecrest near Miami.

“Now, the good news is on every individual issue, America is on our side,” Obama said, according to a White House transcript released late Thursday night.

Obama mentioned the minimum wage, immigration reform and “whether or not it’s a good thing to invest in early childhood education” as examples of issues where the public agrees with Democrats, but didn’t cite his signature health care law and its double-digit negative ratings in many polls.

While arguing Democrats have an issue advantage, Obama acknowledged his party faces a challenging year.

“So the problem is not that the American people disagree with us on the issues,” Obama said. “The challenge is, is that our politics in Washington have become so toxic that people just lose faith and finally they just say, you know what, I’m not interested, I’m not going to bother, I’m not going to vote.”


Opposing sides in immigration debate battle over issue of deportations

Thursday, March 20th, 2014 by John Lantigua

The issue of continuing deportations has come front and center in the debate over immigration reform.
As reform legislation has stalled in the U.S. House, the Obama administration has continued to deport unauthorized immigrants.
Critics of that policy have pressured President Barack Obama to stop the deportations and last week he said he had asked immigrations officials to try and make the process more humane.
Activists on both sides of the immigration reform debate are making their arguments on the deportation issue on varying media platforms.


Foster urges voters to oppose Abruzzo bill that could limit PBC ethics commission

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 by Jennifer Sorentrue

Former Wellington mayor Kathy Foster, who is running for the Palm Beach County Commission seat of term-limited Commissioner Jess Santamaria, sent out a robo call on Tuesday urging thousands of voters to call State Sen. Joe Abruzzo and oppose a bill he filed that could limit the powers of the county’s three-year-old ethics commission.

Foster said the call was sent to roughly 10,000 voters in District 6, which includes Wellington, Royal Palm Beach and the county’s western areas.

Foster said Wednesday she opposes state mandated changes to the ethics commission, pointing to a 2010 referendum that extended the five-member panel’s authority to all 38 cities and towns. The referendum was overwhelmingly approved by voters.

“If it is going to be amendment, let it be amended here,” Foster said. “We don’t need other people who don’t live in the area telling us how to run the county, and we don’t want it weakened in anyway.”

Abruzzo, D-Wellington, has been a vocal critic of the county’s ethics panel. He took aim at the robo call Tuesday, saying it was another example of how the ethics commission has been used for political purposes.

“One of my largest concerns from the beginning was that (the ethics commission) was being used for politics not for the betterment of our community,” Abruzzo said. “This is another prime example of the ethics commission being used and abused for political gain.”

The Senate’s Ethics and Elections Committee on Monday amended Abruzzo’s bill (SB 1474) to replace it completely with new language that dramatically changes the way legislation would affect Palm Beach County’s five-member ethics board.
Under the new version, the county’s ethics commission would be required to follow the same procedures as the Florida Commission on Ethics when reviewing and investigating complaints.

Under Abruzzo’s original proposal, the county’s ethics commission would have been stripped of some of its power. Abruzzo and state officials said locally filed ethics complaints and advisory opinion requests dealing with issues involving statewide ethics rules would have been sent to the state commission for review, while complaints dealing with local ethics rules that are not part of the state’s code would have still been reviewed by the local commission.

Foster said she opposes both versions of the bill.

Abruzzo said the changes, which he helped draft, have drawn the support of local ethics officials. Steven Cullen, executive director of the county’s ethics commission, told the Senate committee Monday he supported the favored the change.

“To the extent it tries to foster due process in local ethics commissions, we think that is a good thing,” Cullen said.

Abruzzo has supported Palm Beach County Commission candidate Melissa McKinlay, who is also running for Santamaria’s seat. McKinlay will face Foster in the Democratic primary.

State campaign finance records show that in 2012 Foster contributed $100 to Abruzzo’s Republican challenger Melanie Peterson.

Here is the full text of Foster’s robo call:

“Hello, this is Kathy Foster, Democrat for the Palm Beach County Commission, with an urgent message. State Sen. Joseph Abruzzo has filed a bill in Tallahassee that significantly changes the way the Palm Beach County Ethics Commission handles complaints. That process was put in place after residents voted overwhelmingly to support the ethics commission in 2010. The commission was created in response to the arrest of several local elected officials for public corruption. Those arrests earned us the nickname, “Corruption County.” Our current County Commissioner Jess Santamaria, who cannot seek reelection because of term limits, has been a champion for 100 percent honest government. I share Commissioner Santamaria’s views and will continue to fight for the Office of Inspector General and the ethics commission. Instead of asking voters if we wanted to make changes to the process, Sen. Abruzzo decided to make changes on his own through Tallahassee. I urge you to join me and call Sen. Abruzzo today. Tell him we don’t support any changes that might weaken the Palm Beach County Ethics Commission. Sen. Abruzzo can be reached at 561-791-4774. Once again, this is Kathy Foster. Feel free to call me on my cell phone at 596-9536 if you have any questions. Paid by Kathy Foster, Democrat for Palm Beach County Commission District 6.”

Broward school board moves to close to charters run by former South Bay manager

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 by Jennifer Sorentrue

The Broward County School Board on Monday took steps to begin the process of closing two charter schools run by former South Bay City Manager Corey Alston, who was indicted last year on several charges of grand theft related to alleged abuses of his office.
The school board voted unanimously to notify Alston it plans to terminate the charter schools’ contracts to operate in the county. School board officials said Alston changed the location of the schools without their permission and failed to secure a valid certificate of occupancy.
Alston founded The Red Shoe Charter School for Girls and The Obama Academy for Boys in Broward County while working as South Bay’s city manager.
Alston is slated to go on trial in April, accused of orchestrating a backroom deal for $25,139 in unused vacation time.
Alston has pleaded not guilty.

Ft. Pierce man to posthumously receive Medal of Honor at White House

Monday, March 17th, 2014 by Laura Green

Nearly 44 years after he held off the enemy in Cambodia while his wounded comrades escaped, Specialist Four Ardie R. Copas of Ft. Pierce will be awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. Copas died that day at age 19.
He is among 24 veterans being recognized at the White House Tuesday.
In 2002, Congress authorized a review of Jewish and Hispanic-American veteran records from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to ensure that prejudice had not denied honorable Soldiers their due recognition.

During the review, records of Soldiers who are not Jewish or Latino were also found worthy of the Medal of Honor criteria. The 2002 Act was amended to allow those Soldiers to be recognized in addition to the Jewish and Hispanic Soldiers who were the focus of the review.
Copas was serving as a machine-gunner near Ph Romeas Hek, Cambodia when his company came under sudden attack by a large force firing rocket propelled grenades, automatic weapons and recoilless rifles, which are something like a light-weight cannon.
Copas began returning fire, but his armored car was struck by an enemy recoilless round, knocking him to the ground and injuring four Soldiers beside the vehicle. Copas ignored his own wounds and got back into the burning vehicle, firing his machine-gun at the enemies. Copas continued firing while the wounded Americans were safely evacuated. He was killed when another enemy round hit his vehicle.
His daughter, Shyrell Jean Copas, never got to meet him. She will accept the Medal of Honor award from President Obama.
On a message board honoring Vietnam Veterans, she wrote: “You have always been a hero to me even without the medals. Now you will finally get the recognition you have so long deserved DAD. I love and appreciate everything you have done for this Great Country and most of all what you’ve done for me!”

Sales-tax hike will not go to voters in Nov., PBC Commission agrees

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 by Jennifer Sorentrue

Palm Beach County voters will not be asked to increase the countywide sales tax by a half-cent to pay for roads, bridges and other public works projects, a divided county commission agreed Tuesday.

Four commissioners – Hal Valeche, Paulette Burdick, Steven Abrams and Jess Santamaria — said opposed putting the issue to voters. The plan would have increased the countywide sales tax from 6 cents to 6.5 cents per dollar

Abrams said road and bridge repairs are a core service of county government that could be paid for with general county tax dollars. He also said it would be difficult to win public support for the project because many of the proposed improvements were small maintenance items.

“I can’t picture in my mind a group standing out on the corner saying, ‘Vote for drainage, vote for road repairs,’” Abrams said. “I think those are essential services that people think are going to be taken care of in our budget.”

County Mayor Priscilla Taylor, who supported the measure with Commissioners Shelley Vana and Mary Lou Berger, said there were many roads in her district that need repair.

“What has made us different has been that investment we have placed in our infrastructure,” Taylor said. “I fear that if we do not invest in it, we will be just like other places.”

County administrators last week unveiled a list of more than 100 projects, from bridge replacements to drainage improvements, that they say could have been completed if the tax increase is supported by both the commission and voters. Under the proposal, the increase would generate an estimated $110 million a year.
Under the proposal, the extra half-cent tax would have been applied in the unincorporated county and all 38 municipalities within the county, and the revenue would have been split among the county government and the municipalities, with the county getting 60 percent and the cities and towns dividing 40 percent, based on their populations.

PBC Commission tenatively agrees to stronger background checks for taxi drivers

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 by Jennifer Sorentrue

Palm Beach County commissioners on Tuesday tentatively agreed to require drivers of taxis, limousines or other vehicles for hire to get fingerprinted and pass a national criminal background check.
A final vote will be held on April 15.
Right now, most drivers in Palm Beach County are only required to pass a Florida Department of Law Enforcement background check and are prohibited from getting a county license if they’ve been convicted of a felony in Florida within the last five years.
The new measure, which would expand the check to include a review by the FBI, would bar anyone with a felony in any state over the last five years from working in the county.
Assistant County Administrator Vince Bonvento said the county is considering similar requirements for tow truck drivers and moving companies.

PBC Commission agrees to conduct national search for next county administrator

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 by Jennifer Sorentrue

Palm Beach County commissioners on Tuesday agreed to use a national head-hunting firm to search for a replacement for retiring County Administrator Bob Weisman.
Without taking a formal vote, the commission directed county administrators to look for firms that specialize in searching for governmental executives. Commissioners said they also planned to create an advisory board to work with the head-hunting firm.
Weisman, 61, has held the county’s top managerial job for more than 22 years — an unusually long time, considering he has a rotating cast of seven politicians as his bosses. He is set to retire in August 2015.
Several commissioners said there are candidates within the ranks of county government who could take over Weisman’s job. But they supported a national search because they said it would allow the commission to compare internal candidates to others across the country.
“I can support a national search,” Commissioner Paulette Burdick said. “I think it will assist us in validating if we do have the best people within Palm Beach County.”
Weisman’s retirement was one of a series high-profile issues considered by the commission today. Other issues yet to be discussed include:
Sales-tax increase: Consideration of a proposal to put a question on the Nov. 4 ballot asking voters in the county and all its municipalities whether they want to increase the sales tax in the county from 6 cents to 6.5 cents per dollar. The three-year increase would generate an estimated $110 million a year, which would be split among the county government and the municipalities.
Baseball: Update on efforts to attract and retain major league spring training in South Florida, including building a two-team spring training facility in the county and how to cover a projected shortfall if the county does build.
Taxis: First vote on whether to require drivers of taxis, limousines or other vehicles for hire to get fingerprinted and pass a national criminal background check. If approved, a final vote will be held next month.
Check back to for updates.

PBC Commission delays vote on whether to regulate posted prices at gas stations

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 by Jennifer Sorentrue

Palm Beach County commissioners on Tuesday delayed a decision on whether to force gas station owners to make it clear on their roadside signs when the fuel price advertised is available only to those who pay cash.

Commissioners voted unanimously to delay their vote until April 15. Mayor Priscilla Taylor requested the delay, saying she wanted to give statewide retail groups more time to review the proposal.

Under the plan, gas stations would be required to post notices on roadside signs telling drivers the price listed is cash-only to be placed on signs in the same-sized letters as the numbers advertising the fuel price, which is at least 6 inches high.

Station owners would also be required to illuminate roadside signs so that drivers can see the cash-price notices at night.

The item is one of six high-profile issues that will be considered by the commission today. Other issues include:

Sales-tax increase: Consideration of a proposal to put a question on the Nov. 4 ballot asking voters in the county and all its municipalities whether they want to increase the sales tax in the county from 6 cents to 6.5 cents per dollar. The three-year increase would generate an estimated $110 million a year, which would be split among the county government and the municipalities.

Baseball: Update on efforts to attract and retain major league spring training in South Florida, including building a two-team spring training facility in the county and how to cover a projected shortfall if the county does build.

County administrator: Discussion of how to replace retiring County Administrator Bob Weisman — from within the ranks of county government or by conducting a national search?

Taxis: First vote on whether to require drivers of taxis, limousines or other vehicles for hire to get fingerprinted and pass a national criminal background check. If approved, a final vote will be held next month.

Seven50: Presentation from the county attorney’s office about a long-range regional planning blueprint, known as the Seven50 plan. The plan drawn opposition from some residents.

Check back to for updates.

Rubio takes a tumble in CPAC straw poll

Sunday, March 9th, 2014 by George Bennett

Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio made a ringing argument for a Reaganite foreign policy during last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, a showcase for potential 2016 presidential candidates.

But with CPAC attendees growing increasingly libertarian and many conservatives deriding his support for immigration reform as “amnesty,” Rubio took a hit in this year’s CPAC presidential straw poll.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul won the straw poll for the second year in a row, garnering a 31 percent plurality this year. Rubio finished second in 2013 with 23 percent but dropped to seventh place this year with only 6 percent.

Ag bill eliminates Australian pine monitoring program

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 by Christine Stapleton

A sweeping agriculture bill (HB 7091) filed on Tuesday would eliminate a pilot program that monitors problems caused by highly invasive Australian pine trees that are used as windbreaks in citrus groves.

Lawmakers created the 5-year pilot permitting program in 2008, which allowed commercial citrus growers in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties to obtain permits to plant Australian pines as windbreaks in their groves.

Australian pine trees are classified as Category 1 invasive exotic species – considered the most problematic by the Florida Pest Plant Council. According to the Council’s 2013 Management Plan, the tree “produces copious amounts of wind and water dispersed seeds and is able to colonize a wide variety of habitats.” Australian pines are also the source of allergy problems in the spring and early summer.

The trees threaten native plants and because they “easily establishes on sandy shores, which lead to “increased beach erosion and interference with the nesting of endangered sea turtles and crocodiles,” according to the report.

The 122-page bill, introduced by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcomittee and Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Sebring covers a smorgasbord of agricultural issues, from pesticides to food safety. The bill received a unanimous vote from the subcommittee shortly after it was introduced. Among those voting for the bill was Rep. Patrick Rooney, R-Palm Beach Gardens.


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