Tuesday, January 31, 2006


The Florida House and Senate have bills which would allow, in certain 
circumstances, gay Floridians to adopt.
This is the first in a series of weekly Calls to Action from the 
for Fair Adoption.  WE NEED YOUR HELP in letting the lawmakers know 
this legislation is in the best interest of the children of Florida.  
included are several websites to bring you up to date with this 
Please distribute this  to as many people in Florida as possible 
are interested in child welfare.
Please call the bill sponsors to thank them for sponsoring a bill which 
is in the best interest of the children of Florida.
Senate Bill 172 - Adoption
Bill Sponsor - Senator Nan Rich
District Office:  (954) 747-7933
Tallahassee Office:  (850) 487-5103
Email:  rich.nan.web@flsenate.gov
House Bill 123 - Adoption
Bill Sponsor - Sheri McInvale
District Office:  (407) 317-7797
Tallahassee Office:  (850) 488-0660
Email:  sheri.mcinvale@myfloridahouse.gov

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Florida is poised to have a dramatic battle for governor this year

GOP HOPEFULS ARE WELL-KNOWN; DEMOCRATS LAG IN RECOGNITION Sarasota Herald-Tribune -- January 29, 2006 by Lloyd DunkelbergerTallahassee -- Most voters may not know it yet, but Florida is poised to have a dramatic battle for governor this year.It could be the most engaging race since 1994, when Gov. Lawton Chiles narrowly edged out Jeb Bush, who was then running in his first statewide campaign.And the stakes are higher in the race this year since it marks only the second time since 1986 when the contest is being waged without an incumbent. The last time was in 1998, when Bush won his first term in office.Each party has fielded two major candidates, meaning they will have to settle their differences in a Sept. 7 primary. The winners will move on to the Nov. 7 general election.It will be the most expensive gubernatorial campaign in the state's history, with the candidates already having raised $15 million.The Republicans, at this point, are favored to keep the office they have held since 1999. But the Democrats have a chance this year with Jeb Bush off the ballot and the Republicans battling some national image issues because of a lobbyist scandal."I think it will be a typically hard-fought, close contest," said Lance DeHaven Smith, a political scientist at Florida State University.The RepublicansThe Republicans have an early advantage because they are fielding two candidates with statewide experience. Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher has run for statewide office more than a half-dozen times and Attorney General Charlie Crist has won election to two different Cabinet seats.That experience can only help a candidate in a state as big as Florida, which has 10 media markets and an ever-changing demographic base.Both Crist and Gallagher have shown they can raise money, and a lot of it. Through the end of last year, Crist had collected nearly $7 million, while Gallagher had $5.3 million.They are both trying to position themselves as the logical successor to a popular Republican governor.They largely agree on the major issues. They support tax cuts. They oppose abortions. They support the governor's education reforms, which have included a stringent student testing system and vouchers.Yet, tactically, Gallagher seems to be running harder to the right in the primary than Crist. He has made "family values" the centerpiece of his campaign and has openly courted conservative religious leaders.Republican strategists say appealing to the most-conservative elements of the party could pay off. Voters who identify themselves as religious conservatives are more likely to turn out and could comprise 20 percent or more of the Sept. 7 vote.On the other hand, neither Gallagher nor Crist has long-standing ties to the religious right. Both candidates have previously supported abortion rights.And although he is courting conservatives, Gallagher could be vulnerable to attacks on his lengthy record in office. For instance, he proposed an optional tax increase in 1994 to pay for prison construction.Crist has an unblemished record on taxes, having made opposition to taxes and support for anti-crime programs the central elements of his six-year career in the state Senate.Gallagher may also draw fire for insurance industry problems ranging from escalating property insurance rates to the ongoing investigation of Citizens Property Insurance.His supporters, though, say Gallagher can tout his extensive executive experience, emphasizing that he has faced tough problems and has offered solutions to them.Crist can tout the consumer initiatives he has undertaken as attorney general, ranging from going after post-hurricane "price gougers" to opposing a major phone rate hike.Meanwhile, Crist could have his conservative credentials questioned by underscoring the pivotal role that developer Donald Trump is playing in his campaign. Trump, who is also a casino owner, will be hosting his second fund-raiser for Crist next month in Palm Beach. An alliance with a casino owner may not play well with religious conservatives.Crist's opponents are also saying he may be too closely tied to trial lawyers who are supporting his campaign. But Crist, like Gallagher, supports more limits on liability lawsuits.In any case, most Republicans are preparing for a toughly fought if not bitter primary between these two GOP heavyweights.The winner may head into the Nov. 7 general election with the confidence of knowing he has beaten a formidable foe. But some also fear a bloody GOP primary will give a boost to the Democrats' chances.The DemocratsIn a recent poll, three out of every four Democratic voters said they still don't know enough about Jim Davis and Rod Smith to make a decision in the primary.That's not surprising, since neither candidate has ever run for statewide office and they are not well-known outside their hometowns.In that sense, Davis has an early advantage, as his hometown is the populous Tampa Bay region, while Smith comes from Alachua, a rural community near Gainesville.But neither has direct ties to Southeast Florida, which is usually the critical region in a Democratic primary, although Smith spent his boyhood in Palm Beach County.Davis has raised slightly more money, $1.6 million to Smith's $1.3 million. They will need to continue to build those financial stockpiles in order to buy television ads to build their images across the state.Davis has an early advantage in lining up support from the party's hierarchy. His best endorsement comes from former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. He also has support from former Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox, who dropped out of the race, former Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay and Rhea Chiles, the widow of Gov. Lawton Chiles.Smith's top endorsement has come from former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, who built a political career based in part on his popularity in Southeast Florida. Smith has support from a network of state lawmakers and law-enforcement officials, including some sheriffs.As far as issues, there doesn't yet seem to be much to differentiate between the two candidates. They both have moderate legislative records. They support abortion rights.Both have been critical of current Republican policies, including school vouchers and health-care cuts.Davis has taken something of a gamble in condemning a proposed $500 million sales-tax holiday that Republican lawmakers are advancing.Broward Democratic Party Chairman Mitch Ceasar said he believes Democrats have a better chance this year because voters may be looking for an alternative to Republican policies that have recently dominated Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. "We're terrifically poised to benefit from that," he said.On style points, Smith, a former state prosecutor, seems to be a crowd favorite in head-to-head appearances with Davis."He connects with audiences better and I think that's something the Democratic Party has been missing in many of its candidates," said Sergio Bendixen, a Miami-based political consultant who is supporting Smith.But Davis, who some say has been too low-key, appears to be amping up his deliveries.Among the critical elements to watch as the primary unfolds is which candidate can win the critical battleground of Southeast Florida. Who will win the majority of labor endorsements, which can provide both manpower and money in the primary?And which candidate can best connect with African-American voters, who represent a critical voting bloc in the primary? Davis has won support from U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown and Alcee Hastings, two prominent black leaders.At this point, Democrats say they are expecting a low-key primary as opposed to a bloodbath."You have two fine candidates in the Democratic primary who will not take the low road," said state Sen. Steve Geller, D-Hallandale Beach, a Smith supporter.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Has Sen. Pruitt LOST IT

Pruitt's fiery letter raises hackles

The liberal-baiting fundraising appeal by the designated next Senate leader threatens the body's collegiality, say some Democrats.

By STEVE BOUSQUET, Times Staff Writer
TALLAHASSEE - State Sen. Ken Pruitt, a Port St. Lucie Republican poised to become Senate president in the fall, has set off a furor with a party fundraising letter that accuses "liberal judges, the radical ACLU and the anti-God left" of assaulting the Pledge of Allegiance and the Boy Scouts.
The Republican Party of Florida paid for the letter, but the letterhead names Pruitt as "chairman, Florida Senate Rules Committee," and in the letter he says: "I have a lot of influence over what bills are voted on."
Pruitt cited a California federal judge who ruled last year that reciting the pledge in public schools is unconstitutional because it includes the words "under God." And he told Republicans that liberals are using civil rights laws to prevent Boy Scouts from meeting in public buildings and parks.
The letter asks recipients to mail copies of an "emergency petition" to the Senate to "save the Boy Scouts and the Pledge of Allegiance from being outlawed by liberal Florida judges."
"Part of my purpose with this bill is to force liberals in the Florida Senate to take a stand one way or the other," Pruitt writes.
Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, has filed a bill to require that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited in schools, but no Senate legislation has been filed to protect the Boy Scouts.
An ethics law expert, Mark Herron, said Pruitt could face ethics problems and a possible Senate rules violation if it is found he used his office to solicit contributions.
Herron, who advises Democrats, said the ethics code bars an official from using his position in a corrupt manner to secure a benefit for himself and others, and Senate rules require senators to "maintain the integrity and responsibility" of the office.
Senate President Tom Lee was not aware of Pruitt's letter before it went out.
Pruitt, 48, was a conservative firebrand a decade ago in the House, but as a senator he became a fierce supporter of tax reform, including eliminating millions in sales tax breaks for businesses.
He has been one of the Senate's most popular members. When designated the next Senate president last month, Pruitt struck a conciliatory tone and highlighted the diversity of senators' backgrounds and philosophies.
Democrats said the strident tone of Pruitt's letter threatens to unravel the collegiality in the clubby, 40-member body as an election year gets under way.
"What the hell has happened to this guy?" said Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell, D-Fort Lauderdale. "This is not the Ken Pruitt that I knew. . . . I think Pruitt has just lost it."
In an interview, Pruitt said: "I don't regret any of it. . . . I feel very strongly about this issue."
Pruitt's letter asked Republicans to mail campaign donations to the West Palm Beach office of Randy Nielsen, a political strategist who has worked with Pruitt on many campaigns.
Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Thurman called on the Senate to consider formally censuring Pruitt for the letter. She noted that Democratic Sen. Mandy Dawson of Fort Lauderdale was censured last year for soliciting funds from lobbyists for a trade mission to Africa.
"The GOP culture of corruption that has poisoned the atmosphere of Capitol Hill is being cultivated here in Tallahassee," Thurman said.
Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com or 850 224-7263

Thanks for writing members of the State House Health Care Regulation

Thanks for writing members of the State House Health Care Regulation Committee, supporting House Bill 233 to enable embryonic or human adult stem cell research in Florida.
Please take action now to go ahead with the citizen initiative process by preparing online a petition form:http://www.floridacures.comAs a convenience for your neighbors and relatives, you can prepare this form online with their voter name, voter address, and birthdate, and then when your neighbor or family member signs it, everything will be spelled out correctly and clearly. You can then mail your collected petition forms directly to the address on the bottom, which is Floridians for Stem Cell Research and Cures, Inc., c/o Weiss, Handler, Angelos & Cornwell, P.A., One Boca Place, 2255 Glades Road, Suite 218-A, Boca Raton, Florida 33431 Phone 561-732-9300.The Republican House leadership informed the Republican Chair of committee Rep. Rene Garcia (REP), 31, of Hialeah, that this bill must not pass, that there was no way that he would be allowed to break a tie vote in violation of the Republican House leadership's wishes.As a result, Florida once again flunked the test on caring for families and children, the aged, and everyone affected by debilitating diseases. Once again Florida is willfully neglecting to develop treatments for those suffering from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Once again Florida missed the chance to be an area for cutting edge research and technology, a real boost for our economy. Once again Florida just does not get it.As a result of misguided beliefs, undeveloped human embryos, which could have been used in ethically regulated research to help cure disease, will be discarded.House Bill 233, proposed by State Representative Franklin Sands, was a bipartisan way to help jump start the biotechnology industry in Florida, and to develop treatments for debilitating diseases. Short of a miracle, it will not happen, until we pass a state constitutional amendment by going to http://www.floridacures.com and take action.

Thursday, January 26, 2006



Open meetings don't guarantee information

The Democratic and Republican parties have different attitudes about open meetings, but they have a couple of things in common.Both parties are legally right and politically unwise, when deciding whether to let the public watch them celebrating the glories of the recent past and predicting great victories in the near future.The Republicans are reflexively secretive, but they don't need to be. The Democrats should be, but aren't.Oh, sure, they all have private things to discuss. Any self-respecting political organization, big-business conglomerate or organized-crime family does. But nobody thinks what happens in a ballroom full of people is the important story.The Democrats are justifiably proud of opening almost everything. Under their party bylaws, they have to. But as much as I like open meetings, they really ought to keep some of their more bizarre members and peculiar ideas out of sight.You can almost hear the jaws tightening as the party flaks struggle to keep smiling during some Democratic debates.Take last Monday night in the Tallahassee City Commission chamber. Members of the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee argued over accepting the minutes from the December meeting, how many vacancies were available for at-large appointments to their committee, approval of the treasurer's report and whether to continue talking or move on.That's right: They actually argued about whether to argue.And that's just a mid-sized county confab with a routine agenda. At the state level, a Democratic conference can resemble pro wrestling, but with fewer men wearing makeup.The Republicans tend to be serenely like-minded, even monolithic. By the time they convene an official meeting, the leadership has made all the important decisions and the membership enthusiastically endorses them.GOP delegates then hurry out to the lobby in hopes of having their pictures made with Jeb Bush or Katherine Harris before they get away. At Democratic meetings, the halls and lobbies are filled with merchants hawking T-shirts and bumper stickers proclaiming President Bush a dolt, a criminal, or both, along with souvenirs of the 1972 George McGovern campaign.Republican business sessions are often closed, like they were handing out checks from Jack Abramoff as door prizes. For some reason, the GOP doesn't want people to know about all that solidarity.At Walt Disney World last weekend, Florida Republican Chairman Carole Jean Jordan reported that the party is in terrific financial shape, has trounced the Democrats in voter registration and is ready for a tough campaign year. Then the governor came to lunch and urged everybody to stay unified and run on the record of his administration.Hot stuff. If that information fell into the wrong hands, it could mean - well, nothing.The Democrats sometimes close meetings, or parts of them. In Orlando last year, candidates for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship made public speeches to Florida party officers, followed by a private question-and-answer session.A party that elects Howard Dean as its national chairman makes a strong argument for closing more meetings. But the great gaffe meisters of our time have been Republicans - Vice President Spiro Agnew, Interior Secretary James Watt, Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz, a handful of mostly Southern senators and congressmen.That may be why the Republicans like to discuss the public's business in private. Rank-and-file Republicans, speaking unscripted, are statistically more likely to say something insensitive - and the GOP knows it won't get the media free pass that Democrats enjoy.With Democrats, it's usually not a slip of the tongue but something they say on purpose that raises eyebrows. Sen. Hillary Clinton's recent "plantation" remark at a Martin Luther King Day observance, for instance, was no gaffe - it was said in a public meeting for a tactical purpose.The media play a role in this open-or-closed Kabuki, whenever politicians get together. It's no coincidence that the open-meeting requirement in government, as well as in party rules, grew more pervasive as television gained importance. TV needs pictures, not documents or dozens of discrete lobby conversations.If it weren't for media pressure to open things, the government and political parties would close every meeting and hand out sanitized official announcements afterward. But we in the media often show a naive belief that important decisions get made at meetings rather than well beforehand -and that if we somehow force our way into a meeting, we'll still see the real thing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Clint Curtis

Clint Curtis, Vote-Rigging Whistleblower
Back in the News in Florida...
Palm Beach Post Covers Software Programmer's Audience with Voting Technology Committee
The Palm Beach Post covers Clint Curtis in an article yesterday, headlined "Paper-trail advocate to air rigging concerns". The detailed article is occassioned by Curtis' "official audience this week with...

The Palm Beach Post covers Clint Curtis in an article yesterday, headlined "Paper-trail advocate to air rigging concerns". The detailed article is occassioned by Curtis' "official audience this week with the committee advising Palm Beach County on voting technology."Those not familiar with the extraordinary tale which we broke exclusively back in December of 2004, can read a short summary of the remarkable story here. It essentially concerns Curtis' sworn allegations that former Florida House Speaker, now U.S. Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL), asked him to create vote-rigging software back when Curtis worked as a programmer for the Oveido, FL software firm Yang Enterprises Inc. (YEI). At the time, Feeney, in addition to leading the FL statehouse, was also the general counsel and a registered lobbyist for YEI.The story also concerns Curtis' long-standing and now-verified claims that YEI was employing a now-convicted Chinese spy and was also engaged in massively overcharging on contracts such as the one it had with the Florida Department of Transporation. As well, there is the startling tale of the untimely, and unexplained demise of the Florida Inspector General, Raymond Lemme, who had been investigating Curtis' charges against YEI and Feeney. Curtis has since passed a polygraph test concerning these charges.The Post piece covers much of the territory, of course, that BRAD BLOG readers familiar with our year-long plus Clint Curtis coverage will know well by now. Apparently, reporter George Bennett has spent quite a bit of time reading our work here, which we are happy to see.The downside of the Post article, is the usual misrepresentation of information disquised as "balance" that we see so often these days, not just in coverage of Curtis, but in the MSM in general. Eg., Bennett feels it important, and properly so, to give YEI's attorney's rebuttal to Curtis' charges. But, of course, Bennett then fails to point out that YEI's attorney is also Feeney's old law partner dating back to just prior to his joining the U.S. Congress. Bennett also fails to point out that both YEI and their attorney continue to be large donors to Feeney and that Feeney has continued to lie about his ongoing relationship with the company.That's just one example of the downsides. The upside, however, is hopefully the additional attention to Curtis' story at a time when a host of new questions are arising concerning Tom Feeney's corruption (he was, you know, on one of those now-infamous trips to St. Andrews to play golf, like Tom DeLay and Bob Ney, for example!)In addition to this latest article, we have reason to believe there will be still more information and coverage elsewhere of the continuing Clint Curtis saga soon...


Two proposals close to ballot spotsTwo petition drives to change Florida's Constitution -- one on anti-tobacco education, another on redistricting -- are closer to having spots on November's ballot.
- Two citizens' groups announced Tuesday they have the signatures to strike back at the Republican-led Legislature by putting constitutional amendments on the November ballot that would enact what lawmakers have rejected: money for anti-tobacco education and an independent commission to draw legislative district lines.Floridians for Youth Tobacco Education proclaimed their place on the November ballot is all but secure with the verification Tuesday by state elections officials of 682,000 valid signatures.The group's proposed constitutional amendment would require the Legislature to spend 15 percent of the money Florida receives from its 1998 settlement with the tobacco industry on anti-smoking programs aimed at youth.The amount spent would be based on the 2005 budget and, adjusted for inflation, would amount to about $54 million a year. That is significantly more than the amount lawmakers have spent in the past several years, when they whittled back tobacco education money from a high of $70 million a year to about $1 million in each of the past three years.The signatures were collected by volunteers and paid signature gatherers over five months, ''a testament to the wide-ranging public support for this amendment,'' said Cheryl Forchilli, campaign manager for Floridians for Youth Tobacco Education. The coalition includes Florida chapters of the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society.The number of validated voter names exceeds the 611,000 required by law to bring the measure to the next hurdle: having the petition language approved by the Florida Supreme Court. The court is scheduled to hear arguments March 8.''It's going to pass overwhelmingly, and it's going to be a margin large enough for the Legislature to take notice,'' Forchilli said. ``The public is angry they have fallen down on their commitment.''Another group, the Committee for Fair Elections, believes it, too, has harnessed an issue that voters support and legislators turned down: a proposed constitutional amendment to create a nonpartisan, independent redistricting commission.The committee announced Tuesday that it has submitted more than 900,000 petitions to the state supervisor of elections for approval and has already had 580,000 of the signatures validated.The measure, backed by Florida Common Cause, Democratic legislators and a handful of former Republican leaders, would take the once-a-decade redistricting process out of the hands of the Legislature and give it to an independent commission. Every 10 years, in a politically charged debate, the Legislature uses Census figures to redraw boundaries for state House and Senate districts as well as congressional districts.''This is a terrific step forward for all Floridians,'' former Republican State Comptroller Bob Milligan said of the signature-gathering success. ``The process will mean that voters will be selecting their politicians, as opposed to the current process of politicians selecting their voters.''Republican legislators and Gov. Jeb Bush see it differently.They have aggressively opposed the proposed amendment and have financed an effort to persuade the Florida Supreme Court to declare the measure unconstitutional when justices hear arguments on Feb. 9.The measure's opponents argue that a bipartisan committee is likely to remain deadlocked over redistricting, throwing the job of drawing district lines to the Florida Supreme Court.''I don't think the Supreme Court should be drawing the lines,'' Bush said Tuesday. The committee would be ``independent until there's not a consensus and when there's not a consensus, which is almost guaranteed . . . then who draws the lines? The Supreme Court.''Democrats acknowledge they face obstacles to winning approval for the measure even if it makes it to the ballot. They fear the Republican-led Legislature will attempt to weaken support for the plan by putting a rival redistricting amendment on the ballot.''I know zilch about that,'' said Rep. Dudley Goodlette, a Naples Republican who has headed the legal team challenging the language of the redistricting commission proposal. He said Republicans are focused now on getting the proposal rejected by the high court.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Please support HB 233

Please support HB 233

"Please support HB 233" to enable embryonic or human adult stem cell research in Florida. Especially write to the Republicans. Mention a loved one or friend who is affected by a cripping disease. The bill is in committee tomorrow, Jan. 25, 2006 at 9:30 AM, so please email your request now.

Stem cell research has a chance now in the Florida Legislature if the Representatives on the Health Care Regulation Committee will support HB 233, Florida Better Quality of Life and Biomedical Research Act, proposed by Rep. Franklin Sands.

Garcia, Rene (R) Chair Rene.Garcia@myfloridahouse.gov


Sobel, Eleanor (D) Vice Chair Eleanor.Sobel@myfloridahouse.gov


Bendross-Mindingall, Dorothy (D) Dorothy.Bendross-Mindingall@myfloridahouse.gov


Bilirakis, Gus (R) Gus.Bilirakis@myfloridahouse.gov


Bowen, Marsha (R) Marty.Bowen@myfloridahouse.gov


Cretul, Larry (R) Larry.Cretul@myfloridahouse.gov


Henriquez, Bob (D) Bob.Henriquez@myfloridahouse.gov


Homan, Ed (R) Ed.Homan@myfloridahouse.gov


Poppell, Ralph (R) Ralph.Poppell@myfloridahouse.gov


Proctor, William (R) Bill.Proctor@myfloridahouse.gov


Roberson, Yolly (D) Yolly.Roberson@myfloridahouse.gov


Further information:

If made into law, HB 233 provides grants-in-aid for embryonic or human adult stem cell research in Florida, for research on the cure of debilitating illnesses. This is a long proven technology because in 1998 it was shown that embryonic stem cells can be grown from human blastocysts into specific tissues. I have read this bill and it provides abundant safeguards for anyone concerned about the use of human embryos, including their sale, or anyone concerned about right-to-life issues, and it does not allow human cloning. The only embryos covered by this bill are those that would be otherwise discarded from efforts at in vitro fertilization.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Stem cell research

Stem cell research has a chance now in the Florida Legislature if you will write promptly by email (see sample below) to each one of the following, in support of HB 233, Florida Better Quality of Life and Biomedical Research Act, proposed by Rep. Franklin Sands.

Phil__________________________Garcia, Rene (R) Chair Rene.Garcia@myfloridahouse.gov 305-827-2767Sobel, Eleanor (D) Vice Chair Eleanor.Sobel@myfloridahouse.gov 954-965-3795Bendross-Mindingall, Dorothy (D) Dorothy.Bendross-Mindingall@myfloridahouse.gov 305-694-2958Bilirakis, Gus (R) Gus.Bilirakis@myfloridahouse.gov 727-773-2871Bowen, Marsha (R) Marty.Bowen@myfloridahouse.gov 863-298-4422Cretul, Larry (R) Larry.Cretul@myfloridahouse.gov 352-873-6564Henriquez, Bob (D) Bob.Henriquez@myfloridahouse.gov 813-673-4673Homan, Ed (R) Ed.Homan@myfloridahouse.gov 813-983-3330Poppell, Ralph (R) Ralph.Poppell@myfloridahouse.gov 321-383-5151Proctor, William (R) Bill.Proctor@myfloridahouse.gov 904-823-2550Roberson, Yolly (D) Yolly.Roberson@myfloridahouse.gov 305-919-1867The home district phone numbers are added for you for after you have done the emails. These 11 State Representatives are members of the Health Care Regulation Committee who meet to consider the bill on Jan. 25, 2006 at 9:30 AM.__________________________Further information:If made into law, HB 233 provides grants-in-aid for embryonic or human adult stem cell research in Florida, for research on the cure of debilitating illnesses. This is a long proven technology because in 1998 it was shown that embryonic stem cells can be grown from human blastocysts into specific tissues. I have read this bill and it provides abundant safeguards for anyone concerned about the use of human embryos, including their sale, or anyone concerned about right-to-life issues, and it does not allow human cloning. The only embryos covered by this bill are those that would be otherwise discarded from efforts at in vitro fertilization.http://myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=31763&My letter below to Representative Garcia is only a sample to show you the possible form and structure of a letter. I suggest that your first paragraph ask the representatives to support HB 233, and that you replace the rest of the letter with your own experience from your family or from among people who you know.__________________________SAMPLE LETTER__________________________Dear Representative Garcia,Please support House Bill 233, Florida Better Quality of Life andBiomedical Research Act., proposed by Rep. Franklin Sands, which willprovide funding and oversight safeguards for stem cell research in Florida.My father suffers from dementia probably due to Alzheimer's Disease.Although I do not expect that this research will advance quickly enoughto cure my dad, the time to start working on debilitating anddegenerative diseases is NOW, so that other families do not need tosuffer as we have.Stem cell research involving embryos from in vitro fertilization, which are otherwise frequently discarded, is a safe and ethical basis forthe emerging biomedical research by Scripps Institute and institutes andUniversities in Florida.The emotional and financial loss to our family in caring for my dad hasbeen great. I do not want to see other families suffer needlessly fromthe harm to their loved ones from diseases that will be curable, once wedevelop 21st century medical research and treatment to cure thesediseases.Thank you for your consideration,Philip Busey837 SW 120th WayDavie, FL 33325954-579-3932_______________________________________________

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Officials Challenge Balloting Security

As Elections Near, Officials Challenge Balloting Security In Controlled Test, Results Are Manipulated in Florida System
By Zachary Goldfarb
Washington Post
As the Leon County supervisor of elections, Ion Sancho's job is to make sure voting is free of fraud. But the most brazen effort lately to manipulate election results in this Florida locality was carried out by Sancho himself.
Four times over the past year Sancho told computer specialists to break in to his voting system. And on all four occasions they did, changing results with what the specialists described as relatively unsophisticated hacking techniques. To Sancho, the results showed the vulnerability of voting equipment manufactured by Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems, which is used by Leon County and many other jurisdictions around the country.
Sancho's most recent demonstration was last month. Harri Hursti, a computer security expert from Finland, manipulated the "memory card" that records the votes of ballots run through an optical scanning machine.
Then, in a warehouse a few blocks from his office in downtown Tallahassee, Sancho and seven other people held a referendum. The question on the ballot:
"Can the votes of this Diebold system be hacked using the memory card?"
Two people marked yes on their ballots, and six no. The optical scan machine read the ballots, and the data were transmitted to a final tabulator. The result? Seven yes, one no.
"Was it possible for a disgruntled employee to do this and not have the elections administrator find out?" Sancho asked. "The answer was yes."
Diebold and some officials have criticized Sancho's experiments and said his conclusions about the vulnerability of electronic voting systems are unfounded.
What Sancho did "is analogous to if I gave you the keys to my house and told you when I was gone," said David Bear, a Diebold spokesman. As Bear sees it, Sancho's experiment involved giving hackers "complete unfettered access" to the equipment, something a responsible elections administrator would never allow.
Questions about the security of electronic voting machines have been circulating widely in recent years. But many of the concerns have been dismissed as the fantasies of Internet conspiracy theorists or sore-loser partisans who could not accept that their candidates simply got fewer votes. Critics have not demonstrated that any real elections have had returns altered by the manipulation of electronic voting systems.
But the questions raised by Sancho, who has held his post since 1989, show how the concerns are being taken more seriously among elections professionals.
"While electronic voting systems hold promise for improving the election process," the Government Accountability Office said in a report to Congress last year, there are still pressing concerns about "security and reliability . . . design flaws" and other issues.
The questions about electronic balloting have become widespread as states and counties move to upgrade equipment, as required by the 2002 Help America Vote Act. The law and new state regulations were enacted to make voting more accessible and more accurate, a response to the controversy generated by the contested outcome in Florida in the 2000 presidential election.
Since the federal law was passed, though, a hodgepodge of federal and state requirements and debates over the best technology have complicated the task of upgrading. In a recent survey by the National Association of Secretaries of State, 17 of 43 states that responded said they expected to miss a congressionally imposed Jan. 1, 2006, deadline to upgrade voting systems. Election officials have repeatedly clashed with voting-machine manufacturers.
In Connecticut, for example, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz said she would scrap her plans to replace her state's lever machines after the company she planned to buy from "misrepresented" itself in negotiations about how accessible the machines would be for people with disabilities.
In Miami-Dade County, Fla., the elections chief -- the third in five years -- is thinking about tossing out touch-screen systems installed after 2000. The concern is that they do not leave a paper trail that auditors could examine in a disputed election and are expensive to use.
In California, the secretary of state recently asked Hursti to investigate whether Diebold machines the state was considering had similar vulnerabilities.
The events that set in motion Hursti and Sancho meeting, and a new wave of concern over today's voting technologies, started in 2003, when a Seattle-based activist named Bev Harris released thousands of Diebold documents she said she found on an unsecured portion of the company's Web site. Some computer scientists said the documents showed Diebold's systems were vulnerable to attack. Today, more than 800 jurisdictions use their technology, Harris said.
She wanted to find a way to test whether those vulnerabilities could be exploited. Sancho volunteered his equipment to be tested by experts Harris would select.
Harris recruited computer expert Herbert Thompson, and on Feb. 14, 2005, in Tallahassee, Thompson met with Sancho and tried to crack the Diebold system remotely. The first attempt failed. On a second attempt, by directly accessing a computer where the votes are counted in a final tally, he manipulated returns. They used a local high school election for the experiment.
In May, two more tests were held, this time with Hursti present. Using a device bought for about $200, he was able to easily alter the final vote by changing the program stored on the memory card.
"You have to admit these systems are vulnerable and act accordingly," Hursti said.
Diebold took a dim view of the experiments. On June 8, a senior company lawyer faxed Sancho: "You have willfully and intentionally allowed the manipulation of memory cards related to your elections. . . . We believe this to have been a very foolish and irresponsible act."
The response frustrated Sancho. "More troubling than the test itself was the manner in which Diebold simply failed to respond to my concerns or the concerns of citizens who believe in American elections," he said. "I really think they're not engaged in this discussion of how to make elections safer."
He is also critical of state officials who he believes should have caught the vulnerabilities earlier. He said that vendors such as Diebold have too much influence in the administration of elections, a view that resonated with Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, the founder of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. Sancho is "truly an advocate for voters," she said. "What he is doing in Leon County goes completely against the grain of county election commissioners elsewhere, who are allowing vendors to dictate how to run their own elections."
Johns Hopkins University computer sciences professor Avi Rubin, who is leading a group that has received a $7.5 million grant from the National Academy of Sciences to research election technology, said the vulnerabilities of electronic systems -- including new touch-screen voting machines -- point to the need for a paper trail in any election. "The more I see, I say we need voting to rely on paper," he said. About 26 states require paper ballots, according to Verified Voting, an advocacy group.
Jenny Nash, a spokeswoman for Florida's secretary of state, said in the end the integrity of any voting system must be protected by the local officials who administer elections. "Machines are designed and certified to operate in a secure environment and under secure procedures that each supervisor puts in place and follows directly," she said.

Free The Lake Buena Vista 4

Free The Lake Buena Vista 4
as found on: The Buzz

The state GOP Saturday called security to eject reporters listening to Gov. Jeb Bush tout his party's accomplishments in Tallahassee. The unusual scene - five hotel security staffers and a sheriff's deputy escorting reporters away from where they could hear the governor - occurred in the middle of a speech in which Bush exhorted party activists to spread the word of Republican successes in Florida."I apologize for that if I'm indirectly responsible, which I'm not,'' Bush said after addressing Republican activists gathered at Disney for a party meeting. "I would have loved to have you in there. ... I wouldn't have said anything different if you were there.''How ludicrous was it? Picture this: Before Jeb spoke, half a dozen young men in dark suits frantically looking through the ballroom, as if Osama himself might be lurking: "Find Bill Cotterell! Has anyone seen Bill Cotterell?! He could still be in there!''Or this: An overwrought reporter (yours truly) accosting legislators in the hall, demanding they explain why their party would bar the press from hearing the governor. "No comment. I have no comment on that,'' poor Sen. Durrell Peadon said, looking like he could have been leaving a grand jury proceeding.The Lake Buena Vista Four included Windy March of the Tribune, the Democrat's Cotterell, Jeremy Wallace of the Herald-Tribune, and your Buzz correspodent.
posted by Adam C. Smith

Friday, January 20, 2006

An Old School Republican on the 'Evidence of a Stolen Election'

As Found @ BradBlog.com
An Old School Republican on the 'Evidence of a Stolen Election'

Paul Craig Roberts Discusses Election 2004, 'Power-Mad Republicans' and the Dangers of their Electronic Voting Machines

Republican and true Conservative (as opposed to today's majority of phony "conservatives"), Paul Craig Roberts, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and National Review , as well Ronald Reagan's one-time...
Republican and true Conservative (as opposed to today's majority of phony "conservatives"), Paul Craig Roberts, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and National Review, as well Ronald Reagan's one-time Assistant Sec. of the U.S. Treasury, discusses "Evidence of a Stolen Election" in his latest column out today.Unlike the bulk of his media and political brethren, clearly Roberts "gets it" as he writes, in review of Mark Crispin Miller's landmark election theft tome, FOOLED AGAIN, "now that Republicans have learned that they can use the electronic machines to control election outcomes, the disenfranchisement of Democrats is likely to be a permanent feature of American 'democracy.'"Along with an appropriate indictment of the media's overall failure to adequately investigate and report on the crumbling of the most essential, very core of our democracy, ("a free press has proven to be inconsistent with the recently permitted highly concentrated corporate ownership of the US media," says Roberts) he pens the obvious point which the rest of the media, and America along with them, just can't bring themselves to admit outloud:
The outcome of the 2004 presidential election has always struck me as strange. Although Kerry was a poor candidate and evaded the issue most on the public’s mind, by November of 2004 a majority of Americans were aware that Bush had led the country into a gratuitous war on the basis either of incompetence or deception. By November 2004 it was completely clear that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and that Bush had rushed to war. People were concerned by the changing rationales that Bush was offering for going to war. Moreover, the needless war was going badly and the results bore no relationship to the rosy scenario painted at the time of the invasion. It seems contrary to American common sense for voters to have reelected a president who had failed in such a dramatic way.It does, indeed.And, in closing, he hits the ball way over the fence:
If electronic voting machines programmed by private Republican firms remain in our future, dissent will become pointless unless it boils over into revolution. Power-mad Republicans need to consider the result when democracy loses its legitimacy and only the rich have anything to lose.

Florida: Bring Aboard the Bigots

Florida: Bring Aboard the Bigots
As Found On BallotBlog

Guest blogger Professor Dan Smith is the pre-eminent authority on campaign financing and special interest activity in the ballot initiative process. He is currently the Scholar in Residence at the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center Foundation.
It appears the Republican Party of Florida has decided to come out of the closet. It’s a big step for the party, as it appears that it has officially abandoned all pretenses of being an inclusive, big-tent party.
According to campaign finance reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections, the Republican Party of Florida has contributed $150,000 to Florida4Marriage, the group backing a flailing constitutional ballot initiative attempting to ban gay marriage. The lump sum from the party comprised more than half the $272,000 the anti-gay group raised in 2005.
The President of the Florida Family Policy Council, John Stemberger, who is behind the measure, claims that the donation from the party to his group was unsolicited.
But Stemberger’s group has close ties with the RPoF. Stemberger, an Orlando-based trial lawyer who boasts of his membership in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, was Political Director of the state party in 1992. And the group has paid more than $5,000 in “consulting fees” to an obscure evangelical bookstore in Orlando, Encouragement Company, owned by author and Republican state party photographer LeAnn Weiss, who has ties to Carole Jean Jordan, the Chairman of the state party. Looks like these “consulting fees” turned out to be a pretty good investment.
Why the state party decided to place its $150,000 imprimatur on a crusade deemed unnecessary by Governor Jeb Bush is anyone’s guess. Bush, whose spokeswoman said he was unaware of the party’s contribution, has been lukewarm about the proposed amendment, saying it was not needed because same-sex marriage in the state is already prohibited by statute.
The state party’s contributions also appear to have broken new ground nationally. In 2004, many Republican state parties could be seen lurking in the shadows behind the anti-gay marriage measures on 13 statewide ballots, but they generally demurred from officially endorsing the measures. While it is well known that Karl Rove and other national and state GOP operatives were supportive of the anti-gay marriage ballot measures, no other state party—and not even the Republican National Committee or President Bush’s campaign—was emboldened enough to contribute directly to any of the campaigns.
It seemed as though the Florida Republicans had shelved their bigoted past, leaving behind the shameful antics of Anita Bryant and her gay-bashing crusade in the late 1970s. But apparently not, as the leaders of the Republican Party of Florida—most notably the party Executive Director Andy Palmer—see gay-bashing as a winning electoral strategy in 2006.
In addition to ginning up electoral support for a party losing political traction in the state, it’s possible that the state party is implicitly tipping its support to gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher, the state’s Chief Financial Officer, who is running principally on a platform of “family values.” While both Gallagher and his chief primary opponent, Attorney General Charlie Crist, both publicly support the anti-gay marriage measure, Stemberger happens to be of Gallagher’s chief backers and a member of his Family Policy Team.

For their part, leading Democratic candidates for governor, Jim Davis and Rod Smith, have both disavowed the discriminatory initiative, saying that the constitutional amendment would be unnecessary.
It remains to be seen whether the gay marriage measure qualifies for the 2006 ballot. If it does, there is no guarantee that it will drive voter turnout in the gubernatorial race, as many Florida Republicans are weary of their party falling into the hands of the religious right. The state party, however, seems to have already fallen.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Gallagher, Crist trade insults

Gallagher, Crist trade insults
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher took shots at primary opponent Charlie Crist during a campaign bus tour.

HAINES CITY-- (AP) -- Between stops on a campaign bus tour Wednesday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher said his primary opponent, Attorney General Charlie Crist, isn't ready to be governor.
''Charlie Crist is a very nice guy. He's probably one of the nicest guys around and he does a good job of communicating issues . . . that are important to his office,'' Gallagher said. ``I don't think he's ready to be governor.''
Asked to elaborate, Gallagher simply said, ``I think he's doing fine as attorney general and he's not ready to be governor.''
Earlier, during coffee with supporters in Lakeland, Gallagher also said Crist keeps grabbing onto the same position as Gallagher on issues.
''There are things that I thought would be a difference between us and all of a sudden I see my opponent has jumped over to the same place I am,'' Gallagher said. ``This campaign is about ideas and vision and the experience to carry that out.''
Gallagher was on the first day of a two-day bus tour between St. Petersburg and Orlando, ending at the Republican Party of Florida's quarterly meeting.
Crist's campaign responded to the remarks by questioning Gallagher's consistency on issues.
''No other Republican running for governor has a consistent record on school choice and opposing taxes,'' said Crist campaign spokeswoman Vivian Myrtetus.
``Charlie's not only ready to lead, he is leading. He has a proven record of fighting for the citizens of Florida by keeping criminals behind bars, fighting for educational choice for parents and helping Floridians keep their hard earned money by opposing taxes at every turn.''
Gallagher talked to students at Clearwater Christian College, toured a business that makes parts for military aircraft and took questions in Lakeland and Palm Harbor.
At each stop he praised the work Gov. Jeb Bush has done boosting the economy and overhauling the school system. He said he would continue in the direction the governor has taken the state, vowing to cut taxes. He also promised to save Bush's school voucher program that was recently ruled unconstitutional.
''If we need a constitutional amendment, I'll go out and lead it to change it so that we can continue this program,'' Gallagher said. ``It means so much to those parents and it's an opportunity for those kids.''
The bus tour is usually the type of event that candidates organize closer to an election.
''It's earlier than most people would do it, but I also think it's a great way to build on a grass roots organization,'' Gallagher said.
The tour began as a poll showed that Democrats might have a slight edge in voter favor 10 months before the election to replace Bush, who can't run for reelection because of term limits. Democrats seeking office include U.S. Rep. Jim Davis and state Sen. Rod Smith.
The poll of 800 likely voters found that 41 percent want a Democrat elected governor and 36 percent want a Republican. Twenty-three percent said they were unsure. It was conducted by Vantage Point Strategies, a firm run by former Republican Party of Florida executive director Geoffrey Becker, and has a 3.5 percent margin of error.
''These results confirm what national polls have been showing in recent weeks -- Democrats are leading on generic ballot matchups,'' Becker wrote in releasing the poll.
Gallagher shrugged off the findings.
''It's way, way early,'' he said. ``At this time in a campaign none of these things mean anything. Decisions get made down the road.''

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Stormin Ronda

Storms takes her campaign to radio

By Times staff writers

In continuing unorthodox manner, Hillsborough County commissioner Ronda Storms has again announced her candidacy for the District 10 state Senate seat being vacated by Senate President Tom Lee. Storms made this announcement on WTBN-AM 570, which bills itself as Tampa Bay's Christian talk radio station, making a joke of how she's not doing a big-deal grand entry into the race. She previously announced her intentions Friday night on WTVT-Ch. 13.
"I'm running for his seat, yeaah!" Storms said Tuesday on the radio broadcast.
She has not held a news conference with all the local media to announce her decision. She did confirm it to the Times Tuesday night after participating in a debate over a proposed change in the structure of county government.
In the radio broadcast, Storms spoke for about 45 minutes, repeatedly saying her religious views guide her public service.
"God calls whom he calls. ... I've always been the person that I've been," she said at one point, in the context of her conservative Christian activities.
"The enemy is ever vigilant," Storms said. "He's out there seeking whom he may desire. There have to be more of us."
Now that she has a 6-year-old daughter, she emphasized that four generations of Stormses have been raised in the district. That's an obvious dig at Sandy Murman, the former state representative who is running for the seat, and will have to move into the district.
Storms said her husband's family roots run deep throughout the district. "It feels kind of like old home week for my husband's family."
Now potential candidates to replace Storms on the commission can start jockeying to fill out her term, which runs through 2008.
Storms will have to submit her resignation at least 10 days before the start of qualifying, which runs from July 17-21. The letter would be irrevocable, but she can make it effective the day she would take office as senator, which is Election Day.
Under past opinions from the Division of Elections, and as shown when former Commissioner Pat Frank ran for Hillsborough clerk of the circuit court in 2004, this would trigger an election to replace Storms.
Aspirants can file now as candidates for the 2008 election and begin raising money. When Storms' Senate candidacy becomes official with her resignation letter, the replacement candidates would simply switch the year to 2006.
Potential candidate names getting tossed around include Hillsborough Republican Party boss Al Higginbotham, who has said he's waiting to see what Storms does; Southwest Florida Water Management District governing board member Janet Kovach, who says she would consider it; Ron Pierce, who works for Lee; state Rep. Rich Glorioso; current District 10 Senate candidate Ray Young; and Plant City Mayor John Dicks. MURMAN HAS WIDE LEAD IN MONEY: While Storms was playing coy about entering the state Senate race, the official candidates were racing for campaign cash.
Murman is dominating the money race. She raised more than $65,500 from the start of October through year's end, bringing her total to more than $317,000. "I obviously have been the front-runner in the race, and we are working very hard to stay in that position," said Murman, a former state representative, noting that she's focused on raising money within the district, concentrated in east Hillsborough County.
GOP rival Ray Young points out that Murman's coffers overflow with checks from outside interest groups. The health care industry and trial lawyers are especially sweet on her.
Young could be tasting sour grapes. The Plant City businessman, a political newcomer, raised about $21,000 during the fall quarter. His campaign total stands at nearly $130,150, but that includes a personal check he wrote his campaign for $75,000. "It was a challenging fundraising quarter for us," Young said.
Anything still can happen. The GOP winner will face Democrat Stephen Gorham, who has made significant personal contributions to his $17,500 campaign stash.

Staff writers Bill Varian and Letitia Stein contributed to this report.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Klein: Lobbyist or Lawyer?

Klein: Lobbyist or Lawyer?
"Although Democratic State Sen. and congressional hopeful Ron Klein filled out a lobbyist registration form with Palm Beach County as recently as 2004, he and law partner Peter Sachs say Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw was off base in branding Klein a 'professional lobbyist.' Klein is co-chairman of the government relations and lobbying practice at the Sachs Sax Klein law firm, prompting Shaw last week to unsheathe the L-word, which has particularly sharp edges in the post-Jack Abramoff era." "Commentary: Lobbyist dig elicits detailed rebuttal".

Thursday, January 12, 2006

St. Pete Times mischaracterizes anti-gay amendment

St. Pete Times mischaracterizes anti-gay amendment
Found @: FloridapolitiX
Today, Adam Smith (email) of the St. Petersburg Times reported that that Republican Party of Florida has contributed $150,000 to the controversial anti-gay amendment [PDF - 95 KB] sponsored by the group, Florida4Marriage.org. The Times' Smith, along with Jason Garcia (email) of the right-leaning Orlando Sentinel, has simply regurgitated the GOP's talking points which state the amendment only bans gay marriage. Unfortunately for the credibility of these two papers, this characterization is incorrect.
Ironically, only the conservative Tampa Tribune accurately describes the amendment by labeling it the "Antigay Measure," but even this depiction omits the issue of domestic partnerships for unmarried heterosexual couples which would be banned under the proposed law.
Media :: FloridapolitiX :: St. Pete Times mischaracterizes anti-gay amendment
While the organization Florida4Marriage.org states that their amendment is intended to only ban gay marriage, it goes a lot further than just attacking same-sex nuptials. In addition to marriage, the amendment would also ban civil unions between same-sex couples and domestic partnerships between hetero- and homosexual couples. Sadly, Florida4Marriage.org and the Republican Party refuse to mention the total scope of this constitutional amendment and are purposely misleading the voters of Florida.
If this amendment were to pass, many domestic partnerships granted through various counties and cities around the state would likely be nullified. And while domestic partnerships offered by private organizations, such as Bank of America, Chevron Texaco Corp., and Disney Worldwide Services Inc., will probably continue, they would likely be unenforceable through civil actions in state courts, essentially leaving individuals who encounter problems with their benefits without any legal remedy. (It would be interesting to see if this violates the constitutional right of access to the courts as guaranteed under Art. I, Sec. 21 of the Florida Constitution.)The language of the constitutional amendment reads as follows:
"Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized." (emphasis added) This language broadens the amendment to cover more than just marriage. Florida4Marriage.org says that it doesn't, but this is obviously a lie. While recent polls show a majority of Floridians oppose gay marriage, they also show that a majority supports equal rights for gay couples.
Florida4Marriage.org has obviously seen these polls, so they are only telling half of the story. Let's hope that in the future, the news media tells the rest.
St. Pete Times mischaracterizes anti-gay amendment

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Another Democratic Defection

Another Democratic Defection

Republicans on Tuesday welcomed the newest member of their ranks: state Rep. Shari McInvale, 50, of Orlando, who has been a Democratic House member since 2002. Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings and GOP chairwoman Carole Jean Jordan were on hand for the announcement with dozens of rank-and-file Republican House members.
"This was the time to make the switch," McInvale told a press conference. She said the Republican Party has a vigorous policy agenda, and "my voting record won't change," even though she is moving up front from the minority's back-bench status in the House. She insisted her switch was not induced by promises of political support: "I have struck no deals," McInvale said.
McInvale's District 36, in and around downtown Orlando, is solidly Democratic by registration, but McInvale claims that more of them tend to vote Republican (an assertion not reflected in the performance of the district's voters). The lawmaker said about 20 percent of the voters in the district are gay or lesbian, and she will continue to support legislation aimed at allowing gays to adopt.
Standing outside the Capitol after McInvale's announcement was Scott Randolph, one of two Democrats who had challenged McInvale. Noting that he had more cash on hand than the incumbent, Randolph said McInvale "misled" the voters for four years and now, facing a tough re-election, has run to "big, corporate special interests to protect her."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Judge: Fla. senator should pay $8,750 for campaign law violations

Judge: Fla. senator should pay $8,750 for campaign law violations
Judge: Fla. senator should pay $8,750 for campaign law violations
Associated PressTALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A judge has recommended that a state senator be fined $8,750 for campaign law violations, even though the Miami Republican has claimed to be too impoverished to pay any fines.

State Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla can afford to pay the fines, Administrative Law Judge Jeff Clark wrote in his order, which cited the senator's two homes, lease for a Lexus automobile, investment account and a $15,000 loan to a legislative aide in September 2004.

"No reasonable explanation has been offered for his ability to maintain his lifestyle. (Diaz de la Portilla's) net worth will allow him to pay any fine appropriate for the 17 violations of law," Clark wrote.

The Florida Elections Commission will decide whether to accept Clark's recommendation or order Diaz de la Portilla to pay up to $17,000 for 17 campaign violations during his 1999 election.

An appeals court in 2003 erased a record $311,000 fine against Diaz de la Portilla when it struck down all but 17 of 311 violations found by the elections commission.

Senator says he can't pay fine
Lawyers questioned Alex Diaz de la Portilla's claim in light of his spending.
By LUCY MORGAN, Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief
Published January 4, 2005
TALLAHASSEE - Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla says he is living on the $29,000 a year legislators make and cannot pay a $17,000 fine the Florida Ethics Commission wants to collect for his failure to comply with election laws.

Election Commission lawyers say Diaz de la Portilla's spending habits don't reflect his income. They spent Monday questioning the way he handles his finances.

Diaz de la Portilla says the commission has a vendetta against him because some of its members are lobbyists who have opposed him politically.

Using bank and credit card statements, the veteran Republican senator from Miami was depicted as a man who spends a lot of cash and travels to casinos in Biloxi and Las Vegas, where he spent $599 to rent "the Elvis Chapel" and marry his wife in September 2003.


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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Race for Florida Governor According to Rasmussen Polls

Race for Florida Governor According to Rasmussen Polls.

Crist 36% Davis 35%
Gallagher 37% Davis 37%
Crist 40% Smith 35%
Gallagher 36% Smith 35%

January 7th 2006--As the Jeb Bush era winds down in Florida, the race to replace him as Governor is a toss-up. Match-ups involving two Republicans and two Democrats contending for the job show that nobody has a clear advantage at the beginning of 2006.
Attorney General Charlie Crist (R) leads Congressman Jim Davis (D) by just a single percentage point, 36% to 35%. Six weeks earlier, Davis had a three-point advantage in this match-up.
Davis is tied at 37% with the other potential GOP candidate, Tom Gallagher.
With Rod Smith as the Democrats' nominee, Crist leads 40% to 35% and Gallagher holds a 36% to 35% advantage.
Of the four candidates, Crist has the highest name recognition and is the only one to reach the 50% level of favorability. For Crist, the numbers are 50% favorable and 31% unfavorable.
Related data shows Senator Bill Nelson (D) with a 23-percentage point lead over Congresswoman Katherine Harris in his bid for re-election.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Rundle touted on state ticket

Rundle touted on state ticket

Democrats eager to avoid a repeat of 2002, when they were trounced in the governor's race, may consider inviting Miami-Dade's state attorney to the slate.

Lieutenant Gov. Katherine Fernández Rundle?
Perhaps. Miami-Dade's longtime state attorney is being touted as a running mate for the two Democrats vying for the nomination for governor as they look to add geographical and ethnic diversity to the ticket. Though Rundle says she's quite content in her current role -- state attorney of the fourth-largest circuit in the country -- she did show up for the first time ever at the state Democratic party's conference in December, adding to buzz that she's looking to broaden her profile outside the county.
Both candidates for governor say it's far too early to speculate about the No. 2 job -- a decision that won't likely be made until after the September primary. But the talk of Rundle underscores one certainty: Some in the party are anxious to erase memories of the 2002 governor's race, when critics say the ticket was too male and too white. Tampa lawyer Bill McBride and his running mate, state Sen. Tom Rossin, lost that year to Gov. Jeb Bush, who was reelected by a comfortable 14 percentage points.
''She's what they need, she's what the party needs in light of our last go-round for governor,'' Democratic strategist Jeff Garcia said of Rundle. ``It's glaringly obvious we need to branch out.''
Democrats suggest Rundle has a valuable profile for the minority party: a Cuban-American woman with law enforcement credentials who has withstood tough election campaigns, winning huge majorities of the black and Jewish vote and widening her margin of victory over her opponent each time.
''Kathy is the one element both [gubernatorial] campaigns have in common,'' said Garcia, who is managing Democratic state Sen. Walter ''Skip'' Campbell's run for attorney general. ``They've both got a lot of admiration for her.''
Neither gubernatorial candidate has a base in voter-rich South Florida: U.S. Rep. Jim Davis is from Tampa and state Sen. Rod Smith represents a district that includes Gainesville, and the result is a lieutenant governor wish list long on South Floridians.
Other locals mentioned include Miami Mayor Manny Diaz; Diana Wasserman-Rubin, a Cuban-American Broward County commissioner; former Miami-Dade Commissioner Jimmy Morales, who has endorsed Davis; state Rep. Chris Smith, of Fort Lauderdale; and former state Sen. Daryl Jones, of Miami.
But it's Rundle -- who gained valuable air time last week when she appeared on national television along with local police tracking an escaped rapist -- who apparently sits atop the list.
Even a potential liability -- a long-standing bitter feud with the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, which accuses Rundle of being soft on public corruption -- is touted as a strength by her backers, who suggest she's a tested campaigner.
''If there was a grain of sand on Kathy, it would have come out and it hasn't,'' said Democratic strategist Joe Garcia, who is no relation to Jeff Garcia. ``She's run twice, she's beat them twice.''
Rundle, who met with Davis in September and knows Smith from his days as state attorney in Alachua County, said she's flattered by the attention. The Miami prosecutor, who has developed a reputation for not tipping her hand, didn't rule out interest in the lieutenant governor's position even as she professed satisfaction with her current job.
''I would never say no to any worthwhile service,'' said Rundle, a career prosecutor who was appointed to the post in 1993 after her mentor, Janet Reno, was named U.S. attorney general. ``But I can tell you unequivocally that I love what I do. Whatever the job, it would have to be something meaningful, that I believe would have a great impact on our state.''
Rundle has already turned down the post once before -- in 1998 when Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay was the party's nominee for governor. He lost that year to Bush.
''I tried like crazy to get her to run with me, but it didn't quite fit her plans at the time,'' MacKay said.
Though the selection of a running mate rests with the candidate, party activists have made no secret of their interest in a diverse ticket, telling party leaders they want to see a black, female or Hispanic candidate on the ballot. Both Democratic gubernatorial candidates are white men.
''There's no question a woman or a minority person needs to be on that ticket,'' said state Rep. Ed Jennings, a Gainesville Democrat and the outgoing chairman of the legislative black caucus. ``It's imperative that the Democratic ticket look like the Democratic Party and the state of Florida.''
Though conventional wisdom has it that the choice of lieutenant governor has little effect on the voting public, Jennings contends that picking a candidate who is not a white man could motivate the party's base of activists.
Democrats, he noted, have courted women and Hispanics but watched as Republicans in Florida make strides: Gov. Jeb Bush tapped former Senate President Toni Jennings as Florida's first female lieutenant governor when his running mate, Frank Brogan, stepped down in 2003.
''When history is being made people get excited. Whether that's a woman on the ballot or an African American or Hispanic,'' said Jennings, who is no relation to the Republican lieutenant governor. ``The same-old, same-old just doesn't shake anything up.''
Spokesmen for Davis and Smith sidestepped the issue, offering tributes to Rundle while noting that the eventual nominee will look for a running mate who could help them campaign against the Republican nominee and, if necessary, step in and serve as governor.
''The ticket should should reflect the state of Florida,'' said Smith's campaign manager, Paul Neaville. ``But it doesn't necessarily need to be a label, a South Florida or a Central Florida person. It should be someone who reflects the state.''
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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Davis Wins!

Davis Wins! (praise for web site)

It's not exactly like taking home an Oscar (or winning an election), but the Jim Davis campaign today won the "Site of the Day'' award from www.Politics1.com , the comprehensive political news site. The excellent national politics site is the baby of Ron Gunzburger, a Broward County lawyer and son of Democratic County Commissioner (and 2000 Gore-Bush recounter)Suzanne Gunzburger, who endorsed Davis in October

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Monday, January 02, 2006


Starting this month, Florida lawmakers cannot accept meals, drinks, tickets or other perks from lobbyists. But the new gift ban has no effect on the flow of campaign money from special interests. This chart shows all fundraising committees controlled by legislators, in addition to their individual re-election funds, that are registered with the Senate or House. Dollar amounts are as of Dec. 28.
COMMITTEE(linked to website)
Nancy ArgenzianoR-Dunnellon
Committee for the Determinationof the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Dave AronbergD-Greenacres
Florida Mainstream Democratic Alliance (a)
Florida Mainstream Democratic Alliance (a)
Citizens for Political Accountability
Mike BennettR-Bradenton
Citizens for Housing and Urban Growth
Committee Supporting Utilities and Competitive Commerce
Charlie ClaryR-Destin
Economics in Good Government
Lee ConstantineR-Altamonte Springs
Citizens for a Greater Florida
Paula DockeryR-Lakeland
Foundation for Leadership Integrity
Mike FasanoR-New Port Richey
Floridians for Principled Government
Steve GellerD-Hallandale Beach
Florida Senate Victory Committee (b)
Jim KingR-Jacksonville
Floridians for a More Informed Electorate
Committee for Keeping Integrity in Government
Tom LeeR-Valrico
Floridians Uniting for a Stronger Tomorrow
Durell PeadenR-Crestview
Folks for Florida's Future
Ken PruittR-Port St. Lucie
A Brighter Future for Florida
Brighter Futures Coalition
Floridians for a Brighter Future
Partnership for Economic Freedom (c)
Alex VillalobosR-Miami
Floridians to Defend the Constitution
Ellyn BogdanoffR-Fort Lauderdale
Brighter Futures Coalition
Don BrownR-DeFuniak Springs
Committee on Florida's Economic Future
Andy GardinerR-Orlando
Principled Leadership Committee
Adam HasnerR-Delray Beach
Florida on the Move
Florida on the Move II
Florida on the Move III
Marcelo LlorenteR-Miami
Floridians for Conservative Values
Mitch NeedelmanR-Melbourne
Leadership Florida
Space Coast Leadership Committee
Tim RyanD-Dania Beach
Florida Mainstream Democratic Alliance (a)
Florida Mainstream Democratic Forum (a)
Leslie WatersR-Seminole
Floridians for Florida's Future
Juan ZapataR-Miami
Floridians First
Note: (a) Includes Sens. Skip Campbell, Steve Geller and Rod Smith and 13 House Democrats, (b) Includes eight other Democratic senators, (c) Includes Sens. Tom Lee and Alex VillalobosSources: Florida Senate; Florida House; Division of Elections