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Sink to host BP claims workshop in Panama City

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink’s office is holding a workshop in Panama City tomorrow for Floridians wanting help getting their BP claims paid.

Sink’s staff will be at the Marina Civic Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will meet with individuals and business owners trying to get speedier payments – or any at all – from BP claims czar Ken Feinberg, in charge of doling out the $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility fund.

Sink, the Democrat candidate for governor, has been critical of Feinberg’s claims process and took credit yesterday after the Boston lawyer decided to expand eligibility for claims payments to businesses located far away from where oil washed up on the beach.

She’s also launched a website where Floridians can share their horror tales about navigating the claims process.

Rival feels Abrams’ Rothstein link tilted field in his favor for Crist appointment

Thursday, November 5th, 2009 by George Bennett

Boca Raton Councilwoman Susan Haynie was edged out by former Boca Mayor Steven Abrams this year for Gov. Charlie Crist’s appointment to fill a Palm Beach County commission seat.

Haynie concedes Abrams has an “impressive resume,” but suggests he had an edge because of his connection to disgraced Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein.

Rothstein, a friend and major money-raiser for Gov. Charlie Crist, was Abrams’ employer and was listed by Abrams as a reference on his application for the appointment.

Says Haynie: “Going into the interview process, I knew that Steve Abrams’ employer was a close personal friend of Gov. Crist as well as one of his major contributors. And it didn’t feel like a level playing field.”

Abrams listed his boss Rothstein as reference for Crist appointment

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 by George Bennett

Attorney Steven Abrams listed his boss, Scott Rothstein, as one of three references when he applied this year for Gov. Charlie Crist’s appointment to fill a Palm Beach County commission vacancy. But Abrams, who got the appointment in March, says he and Rothstein weren’t very close and he’s confident he won the job based on his record as mayor of Boca Raton and his own lengthy ties to Crist.

Crist’s former chief of staff, Eric Eikenberg, said Abrams won the job on his own merit.

“I vouched for Steve Abrams from the beginning based on my long-time working relationship with him and the governor has known him for years,” said Eikenberg, who was chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw when Abrams was mayor of Boca Raton. Eikenberg is now campaign manager for Crist’s U.S. Senate bid.

Rothstein, head of a Fort Lauderdale law firm and a major political money-raiser for Crist and other elected officials, was accused by his own law partners this week of orchestrating a multimillion-dollar scheme to bilk investors. Abrams quit the firm Monday.

“Did he put in a good word for me? He was my boss,” Abrams said. “If you were to ask your boss permission to seek a job, wouldn’t you put your boss down as a reference?”


Did Crist cross the line with PSC threat?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist crossed the line when he threatened two utility regulators’ jobs if they vote for a proposed $1.3 billion Florida Power & Light Co. rate hike, a Palm Beach Post editorial opined today.

“I think it would be nice to reject the increase. I’m trying to appoint members that would be sympathetic to the people and the economic challenge that they’re facing. So that’s a factor,” Crist said Monday.

Here’s an excerpt of today’s editorial:

“Imagine that the governor said: ‘I will base my decision on whether these commissioners approve what FPL wants. The company is very important to Florida, and its rates are the lowest in the state. FPL needs this money to make its plants more efficient, saving customers money and providing the electricity Florida will need to rejuvenate the economy.’

Hearing that, most people who don’t work for FPL or have a connection to the company would say, “How dare he?” And they would be right. Which is why it was just as wrong for Gov. Crist to say on Monday that he would reappoint Commissioners Matthew Carter and Katrina McMurrian only if they reject that $1.3 billion annual increase FPL wants.

The governor’s comment wasn’t just political grandstanding; it was borderline demagoguery, because it played on the public’s ignorance of the facts. When a seat on the Public Service Commission – which regulates power and phone companies – comes open, a 12-member nominating council accepts applications. The council screens and interviews those applicants, and recommends finalists. The governor must make his pick no more than 30 days after receiving the names.”

Rubio rips Crist’s appointment of LeMieux

Friday, August 28th, 2009 by George Bennett

Gov. Charlie Crist’s rival in next year’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, blasted Crist’s appointment of former chief of staff George LeMieux to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy for the next 16 months.

Said Rubio: “This is a disappointing pick for Florida. George LeMieux is a talented political operative and the governor’s best friend, but that doesn’t make him the right choice to represent Florida in the Senate. Governor Crist had a wealth of consistent and principled conservative candidates to choose from, all of whom would have been a reliable check and balance on the excesses of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda.”

Republican activist flushes chance to censure Crist; state GOP keeps eye on proceedings

Sunday, August 16th, 2009 by George Bennett



Barry Carson’s brief trip to the men’s room spared Gov. Charlie Crist the embarrassment of being censured by Palm Beach County’s Republican Party last week.

Carson, a Republican Executive Committee member from Jupiter, was out of the room and missed the vote when the rest of the committee split 65-65 on a resolution Wednesday night to rebuke Crist for his various departures from GOP orthodoxy.

The tie vote means the resolution failed.

Carson said he would have voted for censure.

mensroomBut after hours of debate and an earlier vote on whether to table the censure resolution, Carson went to the men’s room. When he got back, his name had been passed in the roll call of Republican committee members.

Carson said he told party leaders he was back and wanted to vote before the roll call was complete, but was ignored by county GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein and others who opposed censure.



“Sid didn’t want the resolution and because of my prostate problem he found a way to get it (defeated),” Carson told the Politics column.

Dinerstein said he didn’t know of Carson’s wish to vote until it was too late.

“This guy didn’t say a word until our vote was finished and recorded,” Dinerstein said. “To me it was a little like sending in your absentee ballot late.”


Big Brother: Not us, says state GOP

Big Brother: Not us, says state GOP

The Republican Party of Florida, which is chaired by close Crist ally Jim Greer, took an interest in the censure vote. Carla Rivera, a field rep from the state GOP, attended the meeting and videotaped the county GOP’s deliberations.

“We do that a lot of times when we go to events,” state GOP spokeswoman Katie Gordon said. “It’s not sort of Big Brother overseeing what the local parties are doing. We’re all on the same team.”


State Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, is bolstering her Palm Beach County support as she runs for the Palm Beach-Broward state Senate district now held by CFO-seeking state Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach.



Bogdanoff is already backed by House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach. And the hosts for a Bogdanoff fund-raiser later this month include some big Boca Raton names: Mayor Susan Whelchel, Boca Councilwoman Susan Haynie, GOP activist Jack Furnari and former county Republican Chairman Tom Sliney.

Bogdanoff faces two Palm Beach County rivals — state Rep. Carl Domino of Jupiter and businessman Nick Loeb of Delray Beach — in a Republican primary in which about 64 percent of Republican voters live in Palm Beach County.




Retired educator Vincent Goodman, a Republican who was one of Crist’s four finalists for the Palm Beach County commission appointment that eventually went to Democrat Priscilla Taylor, has opened a campaign to run for the seat in 2010. Democrats have a 4-to-1 registration edge over Republicans in Taylor’s minority-dominated District 7.

Crist names three to panel pondering $536 million sugar land deal

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 by George Bennett

With a $536 million, 73,000-acre state purchase of land from U.S. Sugar in the balance, Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday filled three vacancies on the nine-member South Florida Water Management District board.

The board approved the purchase on a 4-3 vote last year, but the deal faces additional votes.

Our Tony Doris breaks it down here.

Crist picks Taylor for Palm Beach County commission seat

Friday, July 3rd, 2009 by George Bennett

Gov. Charlie Crist today crossed party lines and named Democratic state Rep. Priscilla Taylor of West Palm Beach to fill the minority-dominated Palm Beach County commission seat of retired Addie Greene.

Taylor’s appointment runs through November 2010, when an election will fill the District 7 seat for the next two years. Taylor recently opened a 2010 campaign, saying she planned to run for the seat regardless of whether she was appointed by Crist.

Taylor will be the county’s only black commissioner, as was Greene. District 7, which runs from Lake Park to Delray Beach, is about 48 percent black and 40 percent white.

“This particular District 7 needs representation…I’m just ready to get in and get to work,” said Taylor, who said she was “grateful” that Crist chose her from more than 20 applicants.

Commissioners now are trying to craft a 2009-10 budget at a time when plummeting real estate values have made it more difficult to reap big property tax revenue windfalls.

“I don’t know everything” about the county budget, Taylor said, but she said he hopes to quickly get up to speed.

In District 7, Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly a 4-to-1 margin.

Many Republicans publicly urged the Republican governor to name a GOP appointee to the seat. County GOP Chairman Sid DInerstein was among those calling for a Republican appointee, but he conceded Republicans probably would not be able to hold the seat in an election.

Some Republicans said privately they would not object to Taylor because she has maintained cordial relations with the business community.

Taylor, 59, owns an insurance agency and was a Port of Palm Beach commissioner before winning election to the state House in 2004. A special election will fill the final year of her current state House term.

Greene was reelected to a new term in November 2008, but announced in March that she planned to step down because of health concerns. Her last day in office was April 30. Greene wanted Crist to name Taylor as her replacement and recently expressed disappointment that the seat had remained open for two months.

Today, however, Greene was pleased.

“Boy, what a beautiful Fourth of July,” Greene said. “I told her (Taylor) I never did give up on the governor even though it took him so long.”

Update: Crist responds to Supremes

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist offered the following response to today’s Supreme Court’s ruling that he overstepped his authority by rejecting a list of judges to fill an appellate vacancy.

“While I am disappointed by today’s decision that the Judicial Nominating Commission cannot reconsider these important nominations, I respect the Supreme Court’s decision and their consideration of this case. I remain committed to ensuring that the diversity of the people of Florida is represented in our judiciary. In respect to the Court’s decision, I look forward to interviewing and considering the nominees for the Fifth District Court of Appeal,” Crist said in a statement issued shortly after the ruling was released.

Crist lacked authority to send back judges list, SCOFLA rules

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 by Dara Kam

The Florida Constitution trumps Gov. Charlie Crist’s demand for racial diversity among judges, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

It was the second time in almost a year that the state’s high court rebuked an attempt by Crist to overstep his authority. In July 2008, the court rejected a gambling deal Crist had struck with the Seminole Indians, saying he couldn’t let the tribe offer card games that legislators had outlawed.

In Thursday’s unanimous ruling, the justices said Crist has no power to reject a list of nominees for a judgeship, then leave the post unfilled indefinitely, as he has done with a six-month vacancy on Central Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal.

The opinion was written by Justice Jorge Labarga, a former Palm Beach County circuit judge who was entangled in a similar nomination scrap before Crist named him to the Supreme Court in January.


Day 63: When will Crist make PBCo commission appointment?

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 by George Bennett

Today is the 63rd day that residents of Palm Beach County commission District 7 have gone without a commissioner. Former commissioner Addie Greene’s last day was April 30. She cited health concerns in stepping down.

Gov. Charlie Crist will appoint a replacement to fill Greene’s seat through November 2010. He has interviewed four finalists for the job: Riviera Beach Councilwoman Billie Brooks, retired educator Vincent Goodman, businessman Randy Johnson and state Rep. Priscilla Taylor, D-West Palm Beach.

It took Crist 64 days to name a replacement for former commissioner Mary McCarty, who resigned Jan. 8 under a federal corruption probe. Crist named Steven Abrams to the seat on March 13.

In 2007, when Warren Newell resigned from the commission under a federal corruption probe, Crist needed 31 days to name Bob Kanjian as his replacement.

While Greene’s seat has been vacant for nine weeks, she announced her intention to resign in early March and Crist interviewed the four finalists in April.

Bailout for local portrait industry

Friday, April 10th, 2009 by George Bennett




In tough economic times, high turnover on the Palm Beach County commission provides a boost to local portrait photographers. Read about it here.

And the finalists are…..

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 by George Bennett

Gov. Charlie Crist will interview four finalists next week to replace Palm Beach County Commissioner Addie Greene, who’s stepping down April 30 for health reasons.

Click here to find out who’s in the running.

Greene applicants have familiar ring

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 by George Bennett

With Gov. Charlie Crist’s office accepting applications for the second time this year to fill a vacant Palm Beach County commission seat, the list of would-be commissioners is looking very familiar.

Eight of the 19 people applying to replace Commissioner Addie Greene (who’s leaving April 30 because of health concerns) also applied to Crist after Mary McCarty resigned in January.

Two wannabes rate special mention. Former Boca Raton mayor Emil Danciu and former Belle Glade and Pahokee city manager Vincent Finizio have applied for both the Greene and McCarty vacancies as well as the 2007 opening when Warren Newell stepped down.


Channeling Gerald Ford….

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 by George Bennett

Moments after he was sworn in as the newest Palm Beach County commissioner this morning, Steven Abrams invoked another unelected Republican who came to office to replace a disgraced predecessor.

Abrams, appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist after Mary McCarty resigned in a corruption scandal, referred to Gerald Ford’s famous quote upon succeeding Richard Nixon in 1974: “I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your president by your ballots. So I ask you to confirm me with your prayers.”

Our Jennifer Sorentrue reports on it here.

New PBC commish Abrams not a shoo-in for seat next year

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009 by George Bennett

Steven Abrams will be sworn in at  the county commission Tuesday.

Steven Abrams will be sworn in at the county commission Tuesday.

Before he’s even sworn in as Palm Beach County’s latest (but not last) commission appointee, Steven Abrams has to wonder whether fellow Republicans will give him a clear shot at getting elected next year.

He’s slated to take the oath Tuesday after being tapped by Gov. Charlie Crist to replace disgraced Mary McCarty.

Democrats, who now outnumber Republicans in Abrams’ District 4, are vowing a serious 2010 challenge by former League of Women Voters prez Pamela Goodman.


Rep. Taylor wants Greene seat

Monday, March 16th, 2009 by George Bennett

State Rep. Priscilla Taylor, D-West Palm Beach, is willing to give up her state House seat to represent Palm Beach County commission District 7 when Addie Greene steps down April 30.


Taylor is one of at least 11 applicants who have filled out paperwork with Gov. Charlie Crist’s appointments office. Former Boynton Beach Vice Mayor Henderson TIllman has applied, as have four people who applied for the District 4 appointment that Crist just filled with former Boca Raton mayor Steven Abrams.

Read about it here.

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