Orange County Democratic Hopefuls Blast Scott, Tallahassee GOP

A pair of Democratic Orange County Commission hopefuls targeted Gov. Rick Scott and Tallahassee Republicans for not doing enough for the under- and unemployed.

Candidates Euri Cerrud and Alvin Moore teamed with a Democratic-leaning group Florida for All to make the policy attack Tuesday monring in Orlando.

"People who work full time ought to be able to live on that," said Moore, an Eatonville city council member. "Everyone should be paid a living wage."

Moore faces a crowded and impressive District 2 field, which among its active candidates includes state Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, as well as fellow Democrats Gregory Allen Jackson and Patricia Rumph, plus Republican Prince Brown. The seat is open since Commissioner Fred Brummer faces term limits.

Cerrud, however, primarily faces a formidable GOP incumbent in Commissioner Jennifer Thompson, who won her 2010 race with a whopping 71 percent of the vote.

In front of the Orange County courthouse, Cerrud joined with struggling Central Floridians, saying that Scott and Republicans in Tallahssee are not doing enough to promote good-paying jobs, "health care for all," and affordable higher education options.

"Together we can accomplish more for middle class families," Cerrud said. Tallahassee GOP "policies have not helped Floridians who need it most, especially here in Orange County."

Orlando resident Rhayn Wagner said she's struggled since earning a four-year degree, working in coffee shops, substitute teaching and recently getting laid off from a full-time post. She's under a mountain of student loan debt after pursuing a post-graduate degree, and was also recently dropped from her mom's health care plan.

The 28-year-old Democrat said she's upset that Republicans in Tallahassee are blocking an expansion of health care options under President Obama's Affordable Care Act.

"We demand economic security, livable wages and affordable health care," said Wagner.

The press event Tuesday is another clear marker put down by Democrats to make sure voters know that these non-partisan county races have unabashed Democrats running for the seats.

A coalition of left-leaning groups last week released a candidate survey with their stances on more than two dozen issues. Democratic candidates answered the Orange Rising questionaire, but notable Republicans such as Thompson and Mayor Teresa Jacobs declined to respond.

Democrats are also pushing a fall ballot measure, which if approved by voters, would make all county races partisan.  

Orlando Sentinel

David Damron, March 25, 2014

Hispanic Leaders Say Scott Support for Tuition Equity for DREAMers is Election-Year Pandering

RELEASE FROM FLORIDA FOR ALL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

March 19, 2014

Contact: Ana Tinsly, 646-331-4765, atinsly@gmail.com

 

Voters won’t forget Governor’s anti-Latino policies

Miami, FL – Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, Chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, and former Republican State House Representative Ana Rivas Logan held a press conference Wednesday, March 19th to warn voters that Rick Scott’s 180-degree support for in-state tuition for DREAMers is nothing more than crass election-year pandering.

“Throughout his administration, Rick Scott has shown a striking lack of concern for issues critical to Hispanic communities,” said Taddeo-Goldstein. “Now that it’s election year, Rick Scott has suddenly remembered the hundreds and thousands of Hispanics and immigrants whom he represents — and who vote.”

Rick Scott campaigned aggressively on an anti-Latino agenda in 2010. He vowed to bring a hardline Arizona-style immigration law to Florida, “to placate hard-liners demanding stricter border security”, and “he supported the idea of having the police check a person’s immigration status”.

While in office, the Governor has pursued and fought for policies that have hurt Hispanic families, including:

  • Efforts that restricted voting rights of Hispanics and other minorities at the election polls;
  • Vetoing a bill intended to make it easier for DREAMers to get a Florida driver’s license; 
  • Slashing $1.3 billion in education funding, which increased class sizes and forced thousands of teachers to be laid off;
  • Failing to expand Medicaid coverage for struggling families that would save lives and create jobs.

“It is time for Rick Scott and his Republican colleagues to stop the anti-immigrant and Latino rhetoric,” said Rivas Logan, who left the GOP earlier this year. “We cannot ignore immigrant families—documented and undocumented— who contribute greatly to our economy, work hard, and pay taxes.”

The speakers noted that the current versions of the bills granting in-state tuition for qualified undocumented students have been languishing in the legislature for years, without any action of support from Scott. Last year Senator Dwight Bullard (D-39) filed a tuition parity bill, but it died in the Senate.

“As a former Republican state rep, I can tell you that they tend to pass bills in the first two weeks of session,” said Rivas Logan. “Well, it’s been two weeks. Are they actually going to pass this bill?” 

Scott’s about face on the issue is the latest in a dizzying number of policy shifts ranging from his tepid support to Medicaid expansion, after campaigning against it, to partially restoring funding for public schools, after slashing hundreds of millions in his first year.  

Latino leaders warned that this is just another cynical attempt to shore up support shore up support among Latino voters, particularly in voter-rich Miami Dade County, where 55% of registered voters are Hispanic.

“DREAMers have become political peons for politicians wanting to get re-elected,” said Jose Salcedo, a DREAMer who immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia at a young age.

“We don’t need empty election-year promises that never materialize,” said Taddeo-Goldstein. “We need a governor who is legitimately concerned, year-round, with the wellbeing of all people in our state — not just when it's politically expedient for him.”

http://www.floridadems.org/newsroom/pressrelease/once-again-florida-gop-shows-its-true-colors

 

UPDATE: This afternoon Florida House Republicans “showed their true colors” and voted for an amendment to drastically weakened the tuition parity bill for Florida DREAMers. It cut out thousands of DREAMers from access to affordable higher education by requiring students to complete four consecutive high school years, as opposed to the original requirement of three. 

###

Press Conference, March 19: Hispanic Leaders Blast Scott Flip Flop on In-State Tuition for DREAMers

ADVISORY FROM FLORIDA FOR ALL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 18, 2014

Contact: Ana Tinsly, 646-331-4765, atinsly@gmail.com

 

Hispanic Leaders Blast Scott Flip Flop on In-State Tuition for DREAMers

Election Year Pandering will not change Governor’s anti-Latino policies

Miami, FL – Annette Taddeo-Goldstein and former Republican State House Representative Ana Rivas Logan will hold a press conference on Wednesday March 19th, to warn voters that Rick Scott’s about face support for in-state tuition for DREAMers is nothing more than election year pandering.

Rick Scott campaigned aggressively on an anti-Latino agenda in 2010.  He vowed to bring a “common sense” Arizona-style immigration law to Florida, “to placate hard-liners demanding stricter border security,” and “he supported the idea of having the police check a person’s immigration status.” His campaign even bragged about its support of this extreme anti-Latino law in radio commercials and on its website.

While in office, the Governor has pursued and fought for policies that have hurt Hispanic families. Rick Scott’s anti-Latino agenda includes:

  • Efforts that restricted voting rights of Hispanics and other minorities at the election polls;
  • Vetoed a bill intended to make it easier for DREAMers to a Florida driver’s license; 
  • Opposes common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship at the federal level

Scott’s flip flop is just the latest in a dizzying number of policy shifts ranging from his tepid support to Medicaid expansion, after campaigning against it, to increasing funding for public schools, after slashing $1.3 billion from the education budget in his first year. 

Latino leaders will warn that this is an election year tactic to shore up support among Latino voters, particularly in voter-rich Miami Dade County, where 55% of registered voters are Hispanic. With a 51% disapproval rating, according to a recent poll, Scott will need every vote he can get.

 

Where: Miami Dade College Campus (300 N.E. 2nd Avenue) @ Corner of NE 1st Ave and NE 3rd St

Date: March 19, 2014

Time: 10:30 am

Who: Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, former Republican State House Representative, Ana Rivas Logan, and local college students. Spanish speakers will be available.

Visuals: podium, signs.

 

 

TBT: "If Rick Scott Only had a Heart"

From the Tampa Bay Times:

This time four years ago Rick Scott was a stranger to Floridians. Then he spent $73 million on his first political campaign and rode an angry voter wave to the Governor's Mansion. For Florida, this has been a hostile takeover by the former CEO of the nation's largest hospital chain. In three years Scott has done more harm than any modern governor, from voting rights to privacy rights, public schools to higher education, environmental protection to health care. One more legislative session and a $100 million re-election campaign will not undo the damage.

WMNF 88.5 FM Tampa - Citizens Ask Rick Scott to Repeal Law Charging Customers In Advance

Janelle Irwin, anchor: Ask Rick Scott to repeal a law to charge customers in advance for repairs and new construction projects.  Duke Energy had been charging customers for repairs to its Crystal River nuclear plant that has been offline since 2009.  About a year ago, Duke decided it would retire it.  The decision did not come with a refund to customers.

The group Florida For All organized activists in front of Duke’s St. Petersburg headquarters today in opposition to rate hikes they say will cost customers about $9 a month on their electric bills. Organizer Neal Walmire came to WMNF to talk about the fee increases he believes are at least partially related to advanced nuclear recovery allowable under a 2006 Florida Law.

Neal Waltmire, Florida For All:  Well the Governor’s very fond of saying “It’s Your Money.”  Well it is our money.  And we’re on the hook.  $3.2billion  of our money went to Duke Energy and we’r e asking for it back.

The average customer is going to see when they open their utility bill from Duke Energy a $9 increase.  Part of that is for energy they’re not getting. 

Duke Energy customers only have to look at their utility bills this month to see the price of Rick Scott’s special interest agenda.

We were talking about this issue in November.  We called on the Governor to take action.  And the only thing that has happened since we were there was that the Governor’s gotten $500,000 more in campaign contributions and utility rates have gone up. 

Duke energy consumers are getting ripped off and Governor Rick Scott’s letting them get away with it.

Janelle Irwin, anchor: What are you trying to do as an organizer and what can they do on their own?

Neal Waltmire, Florida For All: Well what they can do is they can call the Governor’s office and tell them to support Representative Dwight Dudley’s legislation to repeal this law.  They can call the Governor, they can join our group, they can join Dwight Dudley and others to get the Governor to take action.  This is an election year and the Governor has a responsibility to not let people get ripped off.

Janelle Irwin, anchor: The law you are referring to is the advanced nuclear recovery.  Explain that.

Neal Waltmire, Florida For All: Companies are allowed to pay for plant construction for future projects.  Duke Energy screwed up these projects, shut these nuclear plants down, but are still charging consumers for them.  Duke Energy pays very little of that risk.  Consumers pay for that risk and that’s the problem.  It’s a huge rip off.

Janelle Irwin, anchor: Rick Scott is up for re-election.  And this is something that could be an issue throughout this campaign.  Are there any thoughts of endorsing another candidate?

Neal Waltmire, Florida For All: Florida For All can’t endorse candidates and it does not.  But we do highlight issues and we’ll be paying close attention to candidates in this race and talking about the issues in this race.

Rick Scott has an important choice to make: he can choose affordable and fair prices for Florida’s energy consumers or he can choose campaign contributions to the tune of half a million dollars from Duke Energy.  So far he’s choosing campaign contributions from Duke Energy.  

He’s taken $600,000 from Duke Energy.  He’s taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from Florida Power and Light who’s also benefitting from these same types of laws. 

No one’s looking out for the consumer.  Luckily we have folks like Representative Dwight Dudley that are raising this issue, and fighting, and introducing legislation.

But Rick Scott is ignoring those claims.  He’s listening to Duke Energy.  And you see the proof in pudding.

Janelle Irwin, anchor: That’s Neal Waltmire speaking to WMNF about push to overturn a law that allows nuclear cost recovery fees to charged to customers.  He says fees collected from customers for a canceled  Levy project and the retired Crystal River plant have cost ratepayers over $3 billion.

St. PetersBlog: State May Create IT Department Just to Deal with Unemployment Website

By Phil Ammann on January 16, 2014

Florida may create its own IT department to deal exclusively with its consistently troubled $63 million unemployment website.

Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio spoke to the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday to provide legislators an update about the glitch-plagued CONNECT site.

Technology consultants and the U.S. Department of Labor will be called in to examine the problem, reports Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida.

Sen. Jeremy Ring floated the idea  to Senate President Don Gaetz of developing a state Internet technology department, saying he has plans to prepare legislation in the next week or so.

“We’re a $70 billion business without a chief information officer. We have no IT abilities whatsoever in this state. We can’t be surprised that this is the case,” said Ring, a former executive for Yahoo. “We need to have experts if we’re going to release projects of this size.” 

Creating a Department of State Technology is not a new concept. The idea first came about during the 2013 legislative session when the Senate unanimously supported an IT bill; it eventually died in the budget conference. 

That proposal called for $5 million to hire 24 full-time workers during the first year of operation, according to a Senate analysis.

Ring’s proposal comes as the Department of Economic Opportunity imposes continuing fines of $15,000 per day against Deloitte Consulting, the firm responsible for the CONNECT system. The DEO is also holding back $3 million in payments to the Minnesota-based company for failing to provide a “fully functioning” system. 

Florida has begun to hire as many as 330 workers over the next couple of months to help process unemployment-benefit applications, costing an estimated $164,700 weekly. Federal administrative funds will be used, in addition to money recouped from Deloitte, Panuccio told the News Service. 

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson announced on Tuesday that he requested U.S. Department of Labor staff to go to Florida by week’s end and monitor CONNECT’s problems. A 20 percent decrease in unemployment claims was reported since the system went live Oct. 15, according to federal numbers.

Gov. Rick Scott criticized Nelson over the federal intervention, but Panuccio maintained his department’s sole focus is getting the system functioning.

“What we’re doing right now, the most important thing we’re focused on, is every possible way to get things fixed and getting claims paid,” Panuccio told the Senate committee. “Down the road we’ll continue to discuss ways we can continue to recoup costs.”

Panuccio’s comments were not the same as what he said Nov. 4 to the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, when he assured them his office would fix “glitches” in the new system by the end of the year.

On Wednesday, News Service reports, the DEO finalized a $365,000 deal with Capgemini, a Paris-based consulting firm, to examine CONNECT.

“Deloitte’s stabilization of the adjudication function and other systems did not occur as we had expected,” Panuccio added.

Deloitte insists they completed the work as outlined in its contract, and CONNECT exceeded the capacity of the system it replaced. Panuccio disagrees.

“Deloitte does not dispute the list of defects we’ve given them. They don’t dispute that those things are broken. What they will dispute is how we characterize it under the contract,” Panuccio said. “The point is those pieces of functionality still aren’t working.”

Prior to the meeting, Sen. Geraldine Thompson and Rep. Lori Berman demanded Deloitte refund money to taxpayers.

Some people have spent more than nine weeks trying to get help to prepare for unemployment checks that are as much as $275 a week, said Thompson. She added that there were more than $20 million in denied benefits due to problems with CONNECT, as estimated by the non-profit National Employment Law Project.

“For someone who is unemployed, who has no means of income, this is the difference between hanging on to a lifeline and actually being pushed into the ranks of those who are impoverished,” said Thompson.

She also noted Deloitte paid $4.5 million in 2012 for delays to the state system, in addition to other unrelated problems in rollouts of other multimillion-dollar government websites in California, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

CONNECT had been in the planning stages since 2009, as the replacement for the 30-year-old system jobless Floridians used to claim weekly benefits, request information and monitor accounts.

 

 

 

Tuesday, January 28, 10:30 a.m. – “Purge Rick Scott’s Voter Purge” Event – Tampa

What: Rally and press conference to oppose pending Scott Administration voter purge 

Where: Fred B. Karl County Center

(Plaza at the corner of Morgan and Jackson Streets near entrance)

601 East Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33602

When: Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Time: 10:30 AM

Who: Representative Janet Cruz (D-Tampa)

We’re getting together for a rally outside the county building, near the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections’ office.  Please join us in protecting you and your neighbors' fundamental right to vote.

Despite growing concerns and numerous unanswered questions from citizens and Supervisors of Elections, Rick Scott’s Administration is moving forward on another voter purge.  Rick Scott’s Secretary of State announced on December 31st that new voter purge lists will soon be sent to local Supervisor of Elections.

Rick Scott’s Administration spent $52,000 of taxpayer money during their first voter purge attempt in 2012, producing lists with hundreds and hundreds of citizens that local Supervisors of Elections proved were legally registered voters.  Over 80 percent of those on the purge lists were people of color and more than 6 in 10 were Hispanic.  It was a costly embarrassment that cannot be repeated.

Reuters: U.S. Labor Department to probe Florida's jobless benefits website

U.S. Department of Labor officials will travel to Florida to investigate the state's troubled unemployment compensation website following criticism it is failing to get jobless benefits to laid-off workers, an official said on Wednesday.

Florida's economic development chief told a legislative committee on Wednesday that he was "frustrated" by glitches in the $63 million website and related services. He said the state government would consider additional penalties against Deloitte, the website's designer.

"The state's unemployment website is a dismal failure, and Governor Rick Scott is responsible," state Senator Geraldine Thompson, a Democrat from Orlando, said at a news conference. She said some of her constituents have gone nine weeks without payment, and some are in danger of losing their homes and cannot afford food.

Read the full article on Reuters.com...

Creative Loafing: Florida Dems says new LG supported Arizona style immigration laws

Remember 2011 in Tallahassee? It was the first session after the GOP tsunami of 2010 that saw the Republican Party of Florida turn even more conservative, fueled by the Tea Party phenomenon.

2011 was the year that the Legislature debated (but failed to pass) a punitive immigration bill that mirrored Arizona's notoriously tough law, a law that became all the rage in several states GOP-dominated legislatures across the country. And in Florida that legislation was strongly supported by Governor Rick Scott.

So a day after Scott chose former state legislator Carlos Lopez-Cantera to be his Lieutenant Governor as he heads into re-election season, Florida Democrats are bringing to light Lopez-Cantera's support for that controversial legislation, which the majority of Florida Republicans seem to have run away from since those halcyon days in 2011.

Read the full article on CLTampa.com

The Current: Democrats hammer unemployment system debacle; Republicans seek more contractor penalties

Democratic legislators ramped up their attacks onConnect, the new $63 million unemployment system implemented by the Department of Economic Opportunity in October that has cause significant delays for jobless Floridians.

Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, said delays of more than two months to receive benefits in some cases are pushing people into poverty.

Gov. Rick Scott is responsible for many people being forced into foreclosure, not being able to provide food for themselves and their families, and not having a roof over their head,” Thompson said.

Read the full article on The Florida Current...

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