Posts Tagged ‘Florida state government’

Hundreds of thousands flee Florida coast to escape Matthew’s fury

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Hundreds of thousands of anxious people boarded up their homes and businesses and grabbed a few belongings to flee inland as Hurricane Matthew gained strength and roared toward the Southeast seaboard on Thursday.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said the state, its skies already darkening from early outer rain bands of the life-threatening storm, could be facing its “biggest evacuation ever” as Matthew menaces almost all the state’s Atlantic coast.
As people hurried for higher ground, authorities in South Carolina said a motorist died on Wednesday after being shot by deputies during an altercation along an evacuation route.
Scott said Florida, its skies already darkening from early outer rain bands of the life-threatening storm, could be facing its “biggest evacuation ever” as Matthew menaces almost all the state’s Atlantic coast.
About 2 million people from Florida across Georgia to South Carolina were being encouraged to head inland and away from the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade. Matthew killed at least 16 people in the Caribbean as it sliced through Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas.
“This is a dangerous storm,” Scott warned. “The storm has already killed people. We should expect the same impact in Florida.”
Hurricane Matthew is barreling over the Bahamas and taking aim at Florida, expected to near the Atlantic coast starting Thursday night. The Category 3 storm has top sustained winds of 125 mph. Florida hasn’t been hit by a storm this powerful in more than a decade.
Florida emergency officials said 48 shelters in schools already have begun providing refuge to more than 3,000 people, some with special needs, mostly in coastal counties where evacuations both mandatory and voluntary were underway. Patients also were transferred from two Florida waterfront hospitals and a nursing home near Daytona Beach to safer locations.
Major theme parks in Orlando, central

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Florida primaries eyed: Representation of few, or the many?

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

It took just 14,496 votes to win his closed Democratic primary for one of Florida’s 27 congressional seats. Now Darren Soto is virtually assured of going to Capitol Hill, unlikely to face a strong Republican challenge this November in his safely Democratic district.
The state senator snared the votes of just 2 percent of the Orlando area district’s 750,000 residents, beating three other candidates in last month’s closed-party, winner-takes-all primary. Only registered Democrats could cast ballots in Soto’s race and the small percentage of them likely decided the contest before the general election.
It’s a scenario repeated regularly in Florida’s state and congressional races in districts firmly controlled by one or the other of the two major parties. Now such outcomes are prompting calls to reform Florida’s primary system so more voters have a say in who represents them.
“That’s a question that comes up often,” said Pamela Goodman, president of the Florida League of Women Voters. Her group is studying the primary system and will make recommendations next year to lawmakers on broadening the electoral process.
Florida is one of only nine states with a strict closed primary system, which prevents independent and minor party voters from casting primary ballots. Proponents say political parties should have the sole say in who they nominate, but critics say closed primaries exclude a large swath of voters, particularly as the number of independent voters grows.
Until 16 years ago, Florida primaries weren’t even over until a candidate won a ballot majority. If no primary candidate received at least 50 percent plus one vote, the top two met in a runoff to decide who reached the general election.
But then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush eliminated the runoff in 2002, a year he was seeking re-election and two years after his brother George W. Bush carried the perennial swing state by

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Personnel note: Three reappointed to Council for the Blind

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Three members of the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind will serve another tour of duty.
Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday that he has reappointed the three for terms ending in 2019.
They are:
Howard Bell, 62, of St. Petersburg, a senior advocate investigator with Disability Rights Florida, which advocates for disabled people and advises them about their legal rights.
Jesus Garcia, 53, of Hialeah, a manager at Logisticare LLC, which manages non-emergency transportation for state agencies, managed-care organizations and hospitals.
Robert Kelly, 63, of Daytona Beach, executive director for the Florida Lions Conklin Centers for the Blind.
The council “reviews, analyzes & advises on the policy decisions and evaluates the effectiveness of the Florida Division of Blind Services to ensure meaningful access to and use of vocational rehabilitation and independent living programs for Floridians who are blind or visually impaired,” according to its mission statement.
 
The post Personnel note: Three reappointed to Council for the Blind appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Florida growing friendlier to criminal-justice reform, poll indicates

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Floridians may be rethinking their throw-the-book-at-’em approach to crime, a poll released Monday suggests.
The survey by The James Madison Institute and the Charles Koch Institute found that 72 percent of Floridians agreed or strongly agreed it is important to reform criminal justice.
Seventy-five percent agreed or strongly agreed the prison population costs the country too much money.
And almost two thirds believed there were too many nonviolent offenders behind bars.
“The poll solidified what we’ve come to know — Floridians want criminal justice reform,” said Sal Nuzzo, vice president of policy at JMI.
“Policymakers should take serious strides toward improving the outcomes of those within the criminal justice system, increasing public safety and continuing to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” he said.
The survey comes amid increased attention to Florida’s approach to crime. Organizations including Florida TaxWatch and the ACLU of Florida have called for reform, and state Sen. Jeff Brandes wants to make reform a top priority.
Still, the Legislature refused to add 734 jobs to make the Department of Corrections more secure. The new positions would have allowed prison staff to work eight-hour instead of 12-hour shifts.
Meanwhile, violence has been on the rise within the prison system. On Sept. 8, hundreds of inmates created a major disturbance at a Holmes County prison. This followed an incident in June in which 300 inmates smashed up two dormitories at Franklin Correctional Institution; that was the third disturbance there this year.
Survey Sampling International conducted the poll of 1,488 Florida residents in English and Spanish in July through an opt-in web-based panel. The margin for error was pegged at plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Detailed findings here.
In other findings, 72 percent of Floridians said people convicted of felonies should be allowed to secure licenses to work following their release.
And 74 percent said prisons should focus more on rehabilitation than punishment.
Regarding juvenile offenders,

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Florida growing friendlier to criminal-justice reform, poll indicates

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Floridians may be rethinking their throw-the-book-at-’em approach to crime, a poll released Monday suggests.
The survey by The James Madison Institute and the Charles Koch Institute found that 72 percent of Floridians agreed or strongly agreed it is important to reform criminal justice.
Seventy-five percent agreed or strongly agreed the prison population costs the country too much money.
And almost two thirds believed there were too many nonviolent offenders behind bars.
“The poll solidified what we’ve come to know — Floridians want criminal justice reform,” said Sal Nuzzo, vice president of policy at JMI.
“Policymakers should take serious strides toward improving the outcomes of those within the criminal justice system, increasing public safety and continuing to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” he said.
The survey comes amid increased attention to Florida’s approach to crime. Organizations including Florida TaxWatch and the ACLU of Florida have called for reform, and state Sen. Jeff Brandes wants to make reform a top priority.
Still, the Legislature refused to add 734 jobs to make the Department of Corrections more secure. The new positions would have allowed prison staff to work eight-hour instead of 12-hour shifts.
Meanwhile, violence has been on the rise within the prison system. On Sept. 8, hundreds of inmates created a major disturbance at a Holmes County prison. This followed an incident in June in which 300 inmates smashed up two dormitories at Franklin Correctional Institution; that was the third disturbance there this year.
Survey Sampling International conducted the poll of 1,488 Florida residents in English and Spanish in July through an opt-in web-based panel. The margin for error was pegged at plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Detailed findings here.
In other findings, 72 percent of Floridians said people convicted of felonies should be allowed to secure licenses to work following their release.
And 74 percent said prisons should focus more on rehabilitation than punishment.
Regarding juvenile offenders,

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Donald Trump signed improper charity check supporting Pam Bondi

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Donald Trump‘s signature, an unmistakable if nearly illegible series of bold vertical flourishes, was scrawled on the improper $25,000 check sent from his personal foundation to a political committee supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Charities are barred from engaging in political activities, and the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign has contended for weeks that the 2013 check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation was mistakenly issued following a series of clerical errors. Trump had intended to use personal funds to support Bondi’s re-election, his campaign said.
So, why didn’t Trump catch the purported goof himself when he signed the foundation check?
Trump lawyer Alan Garten offered new details about the transaction to The Associated Press on Thursday, after a copy of the Sept. 9, 2013, check was released by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Garten said the billionaire businessman personally signs hundreds of checks a week, and that he simply didn’t catch the error.
“He traditionally signs a lot of checks,” said Garten, who serves as in-house counsel for various business interests at Trump Tower in New York City. “It’s a way for him to monitor and keep control over what’s going on in the company. It’s just his way. … I’ve personally been in his office numerous times and seen a big stack of checks on his desk for him to sign.”
The 2013 donation to Bondi’s political group has garnered intense scrutiny because her office was at the time fielding media questions about whether she would follow the lead of Schneiderman, who had then filed a lawsuit against Trump University and Trump Institute. Scores of former students say they were scammed by Trump’s namesake get-rich-quick seminars in real estate.
Bondi, whom the AP reported in June personally solicited the $25,000 check from Trump, took no action. Both Bondi and Trump say their conversation had

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