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Crist On The Campaign Trail

October 29th, 2010 by flanews

Calls for Democrat Kendrick Meek to bow out of the US Senate race so Republican Marco Rubio doesnt win are coming from party leaders and maybe even the White House. Governor Charlie Crist, an Independent candidate for Senate, won’t name names but insists a White House staffer told him Meek had agreed to step aside and endorse him. As Whitney Ray tells us, Meek denies the claims and the White House remains mute on the issue.

Early Friday morning Governor Charlie Crist was in Panama City Beach serving breakfast to supporters, during his first of four campaign stops. His panhandle tour follows a night filled with controversy.

Crist says former President Bill Clinton and the Obama administration brokered a deal with Kendrick Meek to drop out of the race and endorse him. But even if Meek did step aside, at this point it might not matter.

Im not going to get into the back and forth about it. I think its been well reported. The story thats out this morning, its true, its accurate and Im going to be focused on the next four days, getting the message to the people of Florida about commonsense versus nonsense in Washington, said Crist.

From Panama City Crist boarded his bus and headed west to Destin. The polls show Crist gaining ground but still down by seven. If he could siphon off half of Meeks supporters between now and election day he could win.

Another obstacle facing Crist is his position on the ballot. Hes near the bottom at number nine. His main opponent Marco Rubio is number one. And Crist honed in on Rubio during all four of his campaign stops.

“This guy Marco Rubio literally wants to overturn Roe Vs. Wade as it relates to a womans choice, doesnt support stem-cell research which I find unconscionable,” said Crist.

Crists tour ends in his home town of St. Petersburg Sunday. He hopes the weekend of travel will be enough to pull off a come from behind win in the three way contest. This morning in Palm Beach Gardens Marco Rubio kicked off his three day bus tour. Meanwhile Meek is busy fighting back rumors that he has plans to pull out. Both Meek and now Bill Clinton deny ever talking about stepping aside and endorsing Crist.

Posted in Charlie Crist, Elections, Politics, State News | 1 Comment »

Rick Scott Bus Tour

October 29th, 2010 by flanews

Trailing by four points in the polls, Republican Candidate for Governor Rick Scott is taking his message on the road to rally his base. Scott was in the Panhandle today talking to Republican voters.

His first stop was in Panama City Beach where he and dozens of his supporters rallied at a Dunkin Donut shop. Scott bought a donut shop when he was just 21 years old and his business career skyrocketed from there. Scott admits that his plan to create 700-thousand jobs in seven years is a tall order but says with the right vision, it can be done.

We dont have an income tax. We are a right to work state. Weve got beautiful beaches and beautiful weather. We have the expansion of the Panama Canal, the expansion of the economies in Central and South America so we should be number one, said Scott.

Scott wants to eliminate the corporate income tax and lower property taxes by 19 percent. His Opponent Democrat Alex Sink calls his plan unrealistic and says it would lead to serve cuts in critical governmental services. Sinks plan to create jobs focuses more on tax credits and incentive programs to business that create Florida jobs.

Posted in Elections, State News | No Comments »

Claims Deadline Looms

October 28th, 2010 by flanews

Time is running out for people trying to get money from BP for damage caused by the companys oil spill. Ken Fienberg, the man in charge of paying claims, was in Tallahassee today to discuss a log jam of claims and warn people of the looming November 23rd deadline. As Whitney Ray tells us, after the 23rd people will be asked to accept a lump sum payment and wave their right to sue or prepare for a court battle.

Under fire for a backlog of claims, Ken Feinberg, the man in charge of a 20 billion dollar BP fund, says he expects criticism.

I have a thick skin and a backbone, said Feinberg.

For the next three hours members of Florida Oil Spill task force peppered the claims czar with questions and critiques.

For every one customer who is happy you have two that are unhappy, said Bill Steward with the Attorney Generals office.

300 thousand claims have been filed. Two in three havent been paid. Feinberg says many of them lack documentation.

This is a real problem, said Feinberg.

Feinberg says a flood of claims flowing in since October 1st has bogged down the system. He questions the validity of some of the new claims as the deadline to file approaches.

Floridians have until November 23rd to file an emergency claim. After that claimants will be asked to accept a lump sum payment and agree not to sue BP.

Claimants will have three years to make up their minds, but experts say the effects of the oil spill on the fishing industry may not be realized for decades. Feinberg says its a decision every fisherman will have to examine closely.

Ill do the best I can in calculating long term damage and leave it up to each claimant to decide whether or not to take that check, said Feinberg.

But lump sum payments are the furthest thing from some peoples minds, because some Floridians who suffered financial damage still havent received a dime from BP.

To help with the backlog of claims, Feinberg plans to hire Floridians to handle Florida cases, put more information on the internet, and give claimants a case manager so they dont have to deal with a different person every time they call.

Posted in Gulf Oil Spill, State News | 2 Comments »

New Quinnipiac Poll: Sink by 4, Rubio by 7

October 28th, 2010 by flanews

Independent candidate for US Senate Charlie Crist is closing the gap, but is still seven points behind Republican Marco Rubio, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll.

The survey shows Rubio getting 42 percent of the vote, Crist with 35 and Democrat Kendrick Meek with 15 percent. Quinnipiac Pollster Peter Brown says Crist is stealing votes from Meek.

Obviously the fewer people who vote for Kendrick Meek the better off Crist is in the senate race. The question is, can he move enough people from Meek to himself to overtake Rubio. Thats a tall order with a handful of days left in the campaign, said Brown.

The poll show Alex Sink leading Rick Scott 45 to 41 in the race to be Floridas next governor. Two weeks ago the same poll showed Sink losing by one.

The governors race is still to be decided. Its a statistical tie. Obviously this was taken before the debate and whatever implications the rest of the debate has on voters views, said Brown.

Brown says Scotts campaign is using the debate cheating scandal to try to build distrust for Sink.

If they can get voters to reconsider their presumption that she is the more honest of the two, she is the more candid of the two, then potentially that can help Mr. Scott, said Brown.

The polls says 11 percent of voters are undecided in the governors race and 9 percent will consider switching their vote before next Tuesday.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Attack on Negative Ads

October 27th, 2010 by flanews

One Florida supervisor of elections has had it with negative campaigning. He says the negative ads are meant to keep you from voting. 10s of million of dollars have been spent on negative TV ads this election, so as Whitney Ray tells us, the elections supervisor is fighting back on TV.

Sancho is asking all voters to do their homework before voting and to check out every negative statement made about a candidate.

If you believe the TV ads, then there are no good options this election cycle. For the past three months politicians have dominated the commercial breaks. Republicans calling Democrats tax and spend liberals, Democrats accusing Republicans of cronyism.

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho has had enough of the mudslinging. Hes waging a TV war on negative ads. Sancho says the goal of negative ads is to keep your opponents supporters from voting.

Its important I think for people to recognize that they are being manipulated by candidates who dont want them to vote, said Sancho.

Fueling all the political mudslinging is 10s of millions of dollars. This has already been one of the most expensive elections in Floridas history and the fundraising and spending arent over yet. Voters say the money and the lies are out of control.

There are too many pressing issues that need to be addressed other than nitpicking and trying to make fun of people, said Dedra ONeil.

Voters ask for that because they dont do their homework and they dont hold feet to the fire and they believe whatever they are told and thats who they vote for, said Linda Vaughn.

By the time the ads stop running and a winner is declared, the damage has already been done; and voters end up with representatives that at best have a perception problem.

Posted in Elections, Politics, State News | No Comments »

Mad Maddox

October 27th, 2010 by flanews

Dracula and Frankenstein have been replaced. This Halloween, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the boogieman.

At least if you watch the political attack ads running against Democrats. Scott Maddox, a Democrat running for Commissioner of Agriculture is trying to flip the script. Maddox says if Pelosi is the boogieman then his Republican rival Adam Putman needs to fess up to voting with her.

If they want to have this campaign framed in the issue of Washington DC fine. Lets have that debate. Adam Putnams DC record is nothing to be proud of, said Maddox.

Maddox went on to call out all Republicans for voting for Bushs bank bailout before they opposed Obamas stimulus package and says Washington has seen its share of problems under the leadership of both parties.

Posted in Elections, Politics, State News | 1 Comment »

Military Suicide Grant

October 27th, 2010 by flanews

The Department of Defense is trying to protect veterans from themselves. Suicide rates among veterans are now higher than the general population.

More than 11-hundred US soldiers committed suicide from 2005 to 2009. Thats more than died in Afghanistan during the same period. The Department of Defense is giving Florida State University 17 million dollars to find out why the rate of suicide among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is higher than soldiers who fought in past US wars. FSU Psychology professor Thomas Joiner is heading up the research.

Suicide rates have been somewhat lower in the military than in the general population, which make the trend that now it is starting to nudge ahead of the general population rate all the more worrisome, said Joiner.

The research will last three years. The goal isnt just to pinpoint the cause, but to also find a treatment.

Posted in Education, State News | 1 Comment »

Jim Norman to Be On Ballot

October 27th, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

Voters in Hillsborough and Pasco Counties now know for whom they will be voting in the Senate District 12 race. The first District Court of Appeals today reversed a lower court decision, which found Jim Norman violated ethics laws by not revealing his interest in a half million dollar house, and as MIke Vasilinda tells us, ordered the lower court to put Jim Normans name back on the ballot.

Jim Normans name was always going to be on the ballot, but for whom those votes would count has been up in the air since a judge found Norman failed to disclose his interest in a half million dollar house and ordered him removed from the ballot.

Attorney Barry Richard broke the news to Norman, that indeed those votes would be counted for him in a phone call just after noon.

The point that they actually, technically reversed on was that this was not an eligibility requirement and you cant add to the eligibility requirements of the constitution,” Richmond said. “However, they commented on the fact that it was filed late.

In its ten page order, the court ruled the Constitution does not require full financial disclosure to be an eligible candidate.

During oral arguments Tuesday,

He did not know that there was not substantial compliance until four days prior,” Kevim Ambler’s attorney, Gary Early, said.

the court spent a lot of time trying to understand what challenger Kevin Ambler knew about the lake house, and when. It concluded Ambler should have filed the challenge before the election.

Thats one of the lesson Barry Richard says should be learned from the case.

I think the message here is if you want to challenge somebody and you know the facts, you need to do it in a timely fashion,” Richard said.

An appeal to the states highest court is possible, but unlikely.

Right now we are evaluating the decision and considering our options on that,” Ambler attorney Mark Herron said.

And without a challenge, the sole power to discipline Norman moves from the courts to the State Senate next Tuesday, the day of the election.

Posted in Elections, State News, Voting | 2 Comments »

Cheating and Halfhearted Endorsements

October 26th, 2010 by flanews

A text message sent during last nights debate is creating a stir in Floridas governors race. Notes to candidates are banned, but during a commercial break a makeup artist showed Democrat Alex Sink a text message. As Whitney Ray tells us, it wasnt the worst gaffe of the night.

Gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott watches his rival Alex Sink like a hawk during a commercial break in Mondays debate. A makeup artist shows sink a text message, a violation of the debate rules.

The message was from an aide. Sink swears she didnt read it. She fired the sender.

When I learned what had happened and got to the bottom of it I took accountability and held the person responsible for the cheating accountable and hes no longer with my campaign, said Sink.

But the text may not have been the worst gaffe of the night. When asked by the moderator what Floridas minimum wage is, both candidates got it wrong.

Scott answered $7.55 cents. Sink agreed. Its actually $7.25. The mistake makes both candidates look out of touch, but despite the gaffe, party support hasnt waivered. Scotts Primary rival Bill McCollum quietly endorsed him this weekend but still wont vouch for Scotts checkered past.

No comments. Nothing I said during the campaign has changed as far as the comments that I made, said McCollum.

And its that record Sink is trying to exploit as the race to the finish line begins its final leg. And of course Scott is trying to link questionable business practices at Bank of America to Sink while she headed up the Florida branch. He also blames her for the pension fund losing value, even though it was one of the top performing pension funds in the country.

Posted in Elections, Politics, Sink, State News | No Comments »

Cycle to Break the Cycle

October 26th, 2010 by flanews

Candidate for Chief Financial Officer Loranne Ausley has called her opponent Jeff Atwater a coward and told him to man up and now shes taking the fight to his back yard.

Atwater is refusing to debate Ausley, so today the tri-athlete jumped on her bike and is peddling 400 miles to Atwaters home in West Palm Beach to call him out. In the past candidates have walked the state for votes. Ausley says the time for walking has passed.

The problems in Tallahassee right now are far too urgent for a walk or even for a run. I want Floridians to know exactly what kind of fighter I am and I will do what ever it takes to hold politicians like Jeff Atwater accountable. If that mean biking from these capitol steps to Jeff Atwaters backyard, so be it, said Ausley.

Atwaters campaign says he was prepared to debate Ausley on Univision October 21st and that Atwater attended two candidate forums that Ausley didnt attend. And while their campaign says theyre impressed with Ausleys physical fitness, a spokesman says being CFO takes financial fitness that they belief Ausley lacks.

Posted in Elections, Politics, State News, Transportation | No Comments »

Money Train

October 26th, 2010 by flanews

Florida is receiving 800 million federal dollars to build a train from Tampa to Orlando.

The state now has two billion dollars for the project. Florida beat out nine other states competing for the cash. Governor Charlie Crist says the once the state begins spending the money it will provide some much needed jobs.

For every billion spent in transportation you create about 28-thousand jobs so thats tremendous for Florida. Im very pleased about that, said Crist.

Preliminary work on the high speed rail that will eventually connect Orlando, Tampa and Miami is scheduled to be completed by 2017.

Posted in Charlie Crist, State News, Transportation | No Comments »

BP Bucks

October 26th, 2010 by flanews

Florida is receiving 20 million BP bucks to test and market seafood.

The money is in response to 170 million gallons of oil that a broken BP pipe spewed into the Gulf of Mexico this summer. While no contaminates from the spill have been found in Florida seafood, sales have plummeted and months after the fact one in four people are still boycotting Florida seafood. Governor Charlie Crist says its BPs duty to pay for the damage.

Responsible parties need to do what responsible parties are supposed to do and pay for the damage that has occurred and Im very pleased that we are receiving those funds. Florida deserves them. We should have them. And they will be used wisely, said Crist.

Meanwhile BP has paid half a billion dollars in personal claims to Florida residents who lost work because of the spill. Ken Feinberg, the man overseeing BPs 20 billion dollar claims fund will meet with the Attorney General in Tallahassee Thursday.

Posted in Gulf Oil Spill, Health, State News | 1 Comment »

Norman vs. Ambler in District Court of Appeal

October 26th, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

The Senate District 12 race is up in the air tonight as one of three people could be the Republican nominee. Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman is appealing a circuit court judges order knocking him off the ballot. In addition to wanting back on the ballot, Mike Vasilinda tells us the loser in the primary, Kevin Ambler wants to be on the ballot, and the Republican Party wants a third candidate.

A Tallahassee judge found Jim Norman failed to disclose his ownership of a half million dollar house in Arkansas, and kicked him off the ballot. Norman appealed to the first District Court of appeal, where his lawyer faced tough questions from Appellate judge Robert Benton.Can a perjury prosecution be maintained for intentionally false financial disclosure documents? Asked Benton. Lawyer Barry Richard replied I dont know the answer to that your honor.

Lawyers for Kevin Ambler, who lost to Norman by just under 4 thousand votes were also peppered with questions over why Ambler waited until after the election to go to court.Attorney Gary Early tried to explain.He did not know there was not substantial compliance until four days prior, said Early before being cut off by Judge Benton. He thought this was from the wife independently asked Benton, to which early replied He didnt know.

The Republican party argued it had already named a candidate to fill the Norman vacancy. Whatever the court does, it will be plowing new ground because there has never been a case like this one before.

Norman did not attend. Afterwards, lawyer Barry Richard believed he made a case to put the candidate back on the ballot. If a person wants to challenge the eligibility of a candidate, If they know the facts that are relevant, they must file the challenge before the election Richard explained.

But Ambler Attorney Gary early was equally confident. On June 18, 2010, ,Mr Ambler was the only qualified nominee for the Republican party for Senate District twelve, says Early.

Come election day, any one of three potential candidates could be the next Republican State Senator from Hillsborough County. The court has three options. It can reinstate Norman to the ballot; It can name Kevin Ambler the nominee; or it can uphold the circuit court and leave the nomination process to the Republican party, which would mean Rob Wallace would be the GOP candidate. In any of the choices, the only name voters will see on the ballot is Jim Normans.

Posted in State News | 1 Comment »

Early Voting Favors GOP

October 25th, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

The election is a week away, and nearly a third of those who will cast a ballot are expected to do so early or absentee. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, early voting numbers suggest that for the first time, the GOP is turning out more voters than Democrats.

Traffic is steady at this North Florida early voting location. Leon County is heavily Democratic, but thats not what our random sample of early voters found.

Statewide, Republicans are claiming an enthusiasm gap of 24 thousand more voters in the first days of early voting. Contrast that to 2008, when Democratic early voters nearly doubled the GOP.

Early voting traffic here is steady. On Sunday there were 815 voters.

Anger appeared to be a motivator for some early voters.

Ive just been ready to vote for quite sometime, since a couple of years ago, with the debt and all that going on,” Lief Dorn said.

But not a majority.

No, early voting is a lot easier,” early voter Bob Kelshaw said.

If anything happened though the next Tuesday, we would have it done,” voter Joy Kelshaw said.

Get it out of the way,” early voter Bob Land said.

But Democrats need to be fearful of their own, including Rock and Liz Akom.

Im tired of higher taxes and Im tired of the debt going up and up and up,” Rock Akom said.

Official statistics for Leon county show the Republican early voter turnout is unchanged from the primary; Independents are up by four percent, and Democrats are down by the same amount.

While Democrats usually win early voting, Republicans usually do a much better job of encouraging people to vote by absentee. However, Democrats have made inroads this year in encouraging absentee voting.

Posted in Elections, Politics, State News, Voting | No Comments »

Gubernatorial Candidate Promise Unemployment Fix

October 22nd, 2010 by flanews

Labor statistics released today show 1.1 million Floridians are looking for work catapulting Floridas unemployment rate to 11.9 percent. But both major candidates for governor say they can fix the problem. But as Whitney Ray tells us, theyre plans to create jobs are very different.

Victims of the great recession who quit looking are now back on the job hunt. The latest numbers show 1.1 million Floridians fighting for work.

Floridas unemployment rate has been higher than the nation since February of 2008, said Rebecca Rust, the chief economist at AWI.

Despite a Republican bank bailout followed by a Democratic stimulus package, Floridas unemployment rate continues to climb to nearly 12 percent. Both major candidates fighting to call the Governors Mansion home say they have a plan to fix the problem.

Republican Rick Scott says he can create 700-thousand jobs in seven years. Scott wants to reduce state government by 10 percent, cut property taxes by a whopping 19 percent, and phases out the corporate income tax. The Florida Chamber of Commerce and Association Industries of Florida are backing Scotts claims.

Its very possible. It will take a lot of hard work and we are going to have to make a lot of hard choices, but the bottom line is, its very possible to do, said Barney Bishop, AIF president.

Democrat Alex Sink wants to increase access to loans to encourage companies to move to Florida, Provide a tax credit that create Florida jobs and eliminate government waste and middle managers. Democrat Strategist Steve Vancore says its about creating opportunity.

A plan that will actually grow jobs, create local business, incentivize local businesses to hire people. You got to like the meat on the bones of that one. Thats a very good specific plan, said Vancore.

Two candidates, two plans, and 1 million Floridians holding out hope that the best strategy prevails.

Weve link the plans to our page.

Sinks Plan: http://www.alexsink2010.com/issues?id=0001

Scotts Plan: http://www.rickscottforflorida.com/home/turn-florida-around/

Posted in Economy, State Budget, State News, Unemployment | No Comments »

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