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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

John Morgan intends to pressure every Florida politician to fund wage initiative

John Morgan, the publicity-loving personal injury lawyer/entrepreneur who spearheaded the successful medical marijuana initiative, soon plans to start collecting signatures for a 2020 ballot initiative raising Florida minimum wage. He plans to "spend millions of my own money" on the effort, but he also intends to pressure every ambitious politician in Florida to help out on the effort.

"I'm going to have a scorecard for Florida's politicians," Morgan told The Buzz. "I plan to list every elected official that's running for office and holding office, and I'm going to ask them to go to their donors and donate to this cause. If you really believe in this then do something."

Morgan, a top Democratic fundraiser who is flirting with running for governor, said he will ask politicians from both parties but of course expects a much more receptive response from Democrats. 

"I'm going to say to Gwen Graham and Chris King and Andrew Gillum and Philip Levine, 'I want you to help me do this.' Stop just raising money for yourself,' " Morgan said of the other Democratic contenders for governor.

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Florida debates: Should a Confederate monument at the state Capitol be removed?

A monument honoring slain Confederate soldiers stands on the grounds of the state Capitol Complex in Tallahassee. Some politicians want the monument removed in the wake of the violent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, on Aug. 11-12.

Kristen M. Clark / Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau

A monument honoring slain Confederate soldiers stands on the grounds of the state Capitol Complex in Tallahassee. Some politicians want the monument removed in the wake of the violent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, on Aug. 11-12.

A monument honoring slain Confederate soldiers in front of Florida’s Old Capitol is the latest subject of debate by politicians seeking to act against racism in response to a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.

Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Florida’s capital city and a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, called on Gov. Rick Scott to remove the monument from the Capitol grounds, where similar memorials honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., veterans and firefighters, among others.

“In the wake of Charlottesville, people all around the country are grappling with how we deal with our nation’s history and its uglier elements, including slavery, racism and the Confederacy. Floridians must be a part of this work because our own history is checkered,” Gillum, who is black, said in a campaign statement Wednesday. …

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Rick Scott to have lunch with President Donald Trump on Thursday

Gov. Rick Scott will have lunch Thursday with President Donald Trump, the latest in a series of get togethers between the political allies.

The White House schedule shows a 1 p.m. meal at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, N.J.

The schedule does not provide other detail.

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Worried about vandalism, police are watching a Confederate monument at Florida's Capitol

An unmanned patrol car from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement sits parked near a monument honoring slain Confederate soldiers at the state Capitol Complex in Tallahassee on Wednesday afternoon.

Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times

An unmanned patrol car from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement sits parked near a monument honoring slain Confederate soldiers at the state Capitol Complex in Tallahassee on Wednesday afternoon.

After violent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend prompted a national conversation about public symbols of the Confederacy, law enforcement in charge of the Florida Capitol took preventative steps to watch over one very prominent symbol right in downtown Tallahassee.

A monument honoring slain Confederate soldiers — described as a “Civil War marble obelisk” by the state Department of Management Services, which oversees the Capitol Complex — sits in a lawn in front of the Old Capitol along Monroe Street, a main thoroughfare in Florida's capital city.

Wednesday afternoon, an unmanned patrol car was parked on the public sidewalk near the monument, which isn't a common sight.

FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger told the Herald/Times that Capitol Police made the decision as a deterrent “to prevent vandalism” in the wake of “a national event.”

The monument is easy to overlook as one associated with the Confederacy because it does not specifically reference it. …

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Nicholas the Dolphin flipped for 'Old School Republican' Jack Latvala

State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, left, announces his plan to run for governor, as supervisor of animal care Deneke Fripp asks Nicholas the dolphin to welcome the crowd Wednesday at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. With Latvala from left are his wife, Connie Prince, son, state Rep. Chris Latvala and daughter, Stephanie Courson.

LARA CERRI | Times

State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, left, announces his plan to run for governor, as supervisor of animal care Deneke Fripp asks Nicholas the dolphin to welcome the crowd Wednesday at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. With Latvala from left are his wife, Connie Prince, son, state Rep. Chris Latvala and daughter, Stephanie Courson.

Surrounded by several hundred friends and supporters at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Republican State Sen. Jack Latvala noted that the only other officially announced Republican for governor (Adam Putnam) kicked off his campaign with a high school marching band. Then Latvala introduced Nicholas the Dolphin, who prompty swam over to Latvala's tank-side podium and did multiple flips in the air.

"Let him beat that," Latvala said of Putnam as the crowd cheered.

"I've been a Republican before Republicans were cool," said the 65-year-old state senator who was the founding chairman of the Florida Federation of College Republicans in 1972. "I'm not going to let anybody take the credential of being more Republican than I am. But I also look at myself as an old school Republican, and an old school Republican is a Republican who keeps their word, who works hard, who wants (to uphold) the basic principle of keeping government out of our lives and making government work for us. If you want government that works, then I hope you'll help me get elected as governor."

You can check out Latvala's home town announcement speech here (Nicholas' cameo comes at about 1:20)

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Former Rep. Corrine Brown denied new trial; to be sentenced in November

Corrine Brown

The Associated Press

Corrine Brown

JACKSONVILLE (AP)—A federal judge has denied a request for a new trial by former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, who was found guilty of taking money from a sham charity that was purported to be aiding poor students.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan’s ruling was issued Wednesday.

The 70-year-old Ms. Brown was convicted of taking money from the One Door for Education Foundation and lying on her taxes and congressional financial-disclosure forms.

Ms. Brown had requested the verdicts be thrown out, arguing the judge shouldn’t have removed a juror who said he believed Ms. Brown was innocent based on guidance he had received from “the Holy Spirit.” Judge Corrigan wrote the juror would’ve been removed even if he had said Brown was guilty.

Ms. Brown will be sentenced on Nov. 16.

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Governor and Cabinet reaffirm no state money will go to Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, wave next to electoral candidates after the first results of the controversial election for a constituent assembly on July 31, 2017, on the Bolivar square in Caracas. Florida officials announced they will continue to refrain from allowing the state to invest in Maduro-controlled companies.

Manu Quintero Picture Alliance/DPA/Abaca/TNS

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, wave next to electoral candidates after the first results of the controversial election for a constituent assembly on July 31, 2017, on the Bolivar square in Caracas. Florida officials announced they will continue to refrain from allowing the state to invest in Maduro-controlled companies.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet unanimously voted Wednesday to continue to refrain from allowing state investment managers to use Florida funds to invest in companies controlled by the Nicolás Maduro regime or companies that violate federal law by doing business in Venezuela.

The state currently has no direct investment with the government of Venezuela and the proposal will continue that, but the resolution falls short of a plan initially pitched by Scott that would have required the state to divest its assets in companies that do business with the Maduro regime, including Goldman Sachs.

Instead, the mostly symbolic measure is designed to send a message to the emerging dictatorship that Florida will not sanction the regime’s brutality. Story here. 

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Scott says there's 'no moral equivalency between the two sides'

Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media as he holds a Venezuelan ‘Freedom Rally’ at El Arepazo 2 restaurant on July 10, 2017 in Doral. Scott called on the Venezuelan government to free Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner from house arrest, as well as those that have been wrongly imprisoned by Nicolas Maduro's government. 

Tampa Bay Times file photo

Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media as he holds a Venezuelan ‘Freedom Rally’ at El Arepazo 2 restaurant on July 10, 2017 in Doral. Scott called on the Venezuelan government to free Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner from house arrest, as well as those that have been wrongly imprisoned by Nicolas Maduro's government. 

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday repeated his condemnation of the actions in Charlottesville and indirectly contradicted President Donald Trump, who said Tuesday the people protesting the white supremacists were members of the "alt-left" and also deserved blame.

"I watched what happened on Saturday and it's disgusting,'' Scott told reporters after the August Cabinet meeting at the state Capitol Wednesday. "It's evil. There's no place in our country for racism, bigotry, the KKK, neonazis, white supremacists. There's no moral equivalency between the two sides.

"Let's remember what happened on Saturday: a white supremacist murdered a young women -- about the same age as my daughter,'' he said. "19 individuals were harmed.

"I served in the Navy. My dad served in the second World War. I didn't serve to defend neo-Nazis. I've met and recognized Holocaust survivors in this state. This state is a state where people work together. I urge all political leaders -- at the state and local and federal level, including the president -- to focus on unity, how do we come together, how do we create more love and less hate. We've got to eliminate the divisiveness in our country." …

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Mayor of historic African-American city endorses Chris King for governor

Eddie Cole

City of Eatonville

Eddie Cole

The mayor of Eatonville, a town near Orlando that was incorporated in 1887 as one of America's first all-black cities, today endorsed Winter Park businessman Chris King for governor. Mayor Eddie Cole said he has seen King's character first hand:

"For some folks, Chris may be a new face, but I’ve known and felt the impact of his work in Central Florida for quite some time. From his work in affordable housing to his philanthropies in public schools, I know Chris to be a man of character, hard work, and inclusion," Mayor Cole said. "Florida is failing to meet the basic needs of its citizens – most acutely where jobs, housing, and health care are concerned. As the mayor of Eatonville, I’ve seen how far our community has come and how far we have to go. I’ve also seen how for too long communities of color have been forgotten, while elected officials pay lip service to both the unique and common challenges we face. I know with Chris we’ll have more than just a seat at the table: a real partner in bringing about economic change here in Eatonville and across the state.” …

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Pam Bondi says Trump 'needed to state the organizations'

Pam Bondi spoke to reporters Wednesday in Tallahassee.

Steve Bousquet - Times/Herald

Pam Bondi spoke to reporters Wednesday in Tallahassee.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a strong supporter of President Donald J. Trump, said Wednesday he was not specific enough in his initial reaction to last Saturday's violent car attack by a driver in Charlottesville, Va., that killed a woman who was protesting white supremacists.

Bondi said Trump's widely-criticized statement decrying violence "on many sides" was "kind of a catch-all," and she said: "I think he needed to state the organizations, and he did." Trump did, two days later. He cited the groups by name in a prepared statement Monday and called them "criminals and thugs."

Speaking to reporters after Wednesday's Cabinet meeting, Bondi said she preferred the initial response by Trump's daughter Ivanka to the attack, in which she tweeted: "There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis." …

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After Charlottesville, Charlie Crist sees turning point with GOP and Trump

John McCain and Charlie Crist

Times files

John McCain and Charlie Crist

Congressman Charlie Crist was at his St. Petersburg condo building today when a painter suddenly said, "Can you believe what he said yesterday?"

Immediately Crist knew the man was talking about President Donald Trump and his extraordinary comments Tuesday on race and Charlottesville.

"He said, 'I just can't believe it,' " Crist recalled in an interview. "I hear that in the grocery store, I hear it everywhere. People are upset."

Now Crist, the former Republican governor, thinks the GOP may have reached a breaking point with Trump -- and indeed numerous Republicans, from John McCain to Marco Rubio, criticized the president for not flatly blaming white supremacists for the violence. Trump has seen an exodus of business leaders from his advisory boards.

"When does your duty to country supersede your duty to party or your presumed party leader? I think we’re real close, if not there," Crist said. "We’re Americans before we are partisans. I mean, my god."

NBC News compiled some of the GOP reaction:

 - Ohio Gov. John Kasich: "Pathetic," he said on "Today" this morning. "The president of the United States needs to condemn these kind of hate groups." …

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Miami-Dade Mayor Gimenez disputes 'sanctuary city' label but welcomes Jeff Sessions

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez sought to straddle the contentious politics of immigration, saying on Fox News that he holds “different views” than the Trump administration, he agrees with a policy of detaining undocumented immigrants for federal authorities.

Gimenez appeared on Fox & Friends ahead of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ 3 p.m. speech on "sanctuary cities" in Miami. He called Sessions’ message about law and order “very important.”

“I think our policy is the right policy, in terms of immigration, you know, I hold different views on immigration. I’m an immigrant myself,” Gimenez said. “But when it comes to -- when people are arrested here in Miami-Dade County, to keep our citizens safe, we provide that information, and we will hold and honor those detainer requests, and I think that's the right policy."

Gimenez said he would speak with Sessions about immigration as a whole. "Immigration is a very complex issue and not black and white."

He also disputed Miami is a "sanctuary city" but said it had not been honoring a 48-hour detention requests.

The Fox hosts said Miami was set to get $500,000 in grants after changing its policy.

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Jack Latvala's campaign launch bogged down by Charlottesville

Jack Latvala

Tampa Bay Times

Jack Latvala

Jack Latvala, Florida’s newest Republican candidate for governor, struggled Wednesday to fully blame the deadly violence that took place during a Charlottesville rally over the weekend on white supremacists.

Latvala formally launched his 2018 bid in Hialeah with a moment of silence for the 32-year-old woman and two state troopers who died in Virginia. But he later declined to lay all responsibility for their deaths on the racist neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups that staged two days of demonstrations.

“I wasn’t there,” Latvala, a state senator from Clearwater, told reporters. “I condemn all violence of people that are protesting. If people are peacefully exercising their rights — whether they be, you know, white supremacists, or whether they be Black Lives Matter folks — you know, they have a right to demonstrate without having a mob attack them.”

The three dead were “innocent,” he said. Pressed on whether he was equating neo-Nazis with the Black Lives Matter activists, Latvala added: “No, I’m not supporting Nazis.” …

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UF rejects white nationalist's request to speak on campus

UF President Kent Fuchs

UF

UF President Kent Fuchs

Citing "serious concerns for campus safety," University of Florida leaders have denied white nationalist Richard Spencer's application to speak on campus in Gainesville next month.

"I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for," President Kent Fuchs said in astatement to the campus on Wednesday. "That said, the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others. The likelihood of violence and potential injury - not the words or ideas - has caused us to take this action."

In return, Spencer's National Policy Institute said that it will sue UF.

"Our response will be similar to what our response was at Auburn earlier this year when we sought an injunction," said Evan McLaren, executive director. "Our movement is forward in matters like this, and there is no reason why we should not be permitted to speak at the University of Florida."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: In Gainesville, UF grapples with the specter of its own brush with white nationalists …

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Here's what Florida's gubernatorial contenders say about removing Confederate monuments from public lands

Protesters climb the Confederate Memorial in Tampa on Sunday night after more than 200 people marched down the streets of downtown Tampa to protest white supremacy. Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Hillsborough Flaggers plan are standing guard now to protect the statute.

Luis Santana, Tampa Bay Times

Protesters climb the Confederate Memorial in Tampa on Sunday night after more than 200 people marched down the streets of downtown Tampa to protest white supremacy. Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Hillsborough Flaggers plan are standing guard now to protect the statute.

Chris King, a Winter Park businessman and Democratic candidate for governor, yesterday called for the removal of all Confederate monuments from public lands in Florida in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville. We checked in the others running or talking about running for governor on the subject:

Gwen Graham: "Our state's role in the Civil War and the deplorable promotion of slavery still cause deep pain today. We all have a responsibility to combat racism and hate wherever it exists. We all must educate our children about this painful history and teach them to love one another. Now, more than ever, it is imperative we promote and celebrate the values and aspirations that unify us as Floridians and Americans. I stand with the Florida cities and towns that have relocated monuments from public spaces and strongly support efforts to place all these statutes where they belong: in cemeteries, museums, and textbooks."  …

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