Saturday, February 17, 2018
Politics

Democrat's radio ad rips Bondi's record on utilities

George Sheldon's new radio spot in his campaign to become Attorney General was unveiled Monday to the sound of crickets.

That's not how the ad, attacking current Attorney General Pam Bondi, was received. That's actually the sound that begins the 60-second spot: crickets.

"This is what we hear when utility companies try to cut successful conservation programs and raise our rates,'' a narrator says. "Crickets from Pam Bondi's office. Pam Bondi repeatedly looks the other way when corporations and her big contributors try to rip off Floridians. If big companies want a favor from Bondi, she takes their money then cues the crickets."

It goes on to imply that when Sheldon was deputy Florida attorney general under Bob Butterworth from 1999 to 2002, power companies were held accountable. Sirens blare in the ad as the announcer intones: "This is the sound you heard when George Sheldon was deputy attorney general, and power companies tried to cut service and raise rates."

Utilities are shaping up as a theme for Sheldon, who last week held a news conference to urge state regulators to prevent utilities from cutting conservation programs.

Before facing Bondi, Sheldon must beat his Democratic rival, Rep. Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale, in the Aug. 26 primary.

Doctors assail gun law

Last week's decision by a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Florida's law against physicians asking patients about guns prompted sharply worded statements Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

An earlier injunction blocking enforcement of the "physician gag law,'' also known as "docs vs. Glocks'' remains in effect while the full court considers an appeal by the plaintiffs to rehear the case. The pediatrician's group said Monday it is urging its members to keep asking parents whether they have guns at home, and if so whether they are stored safely.

"We strongly disagree with the 11th Circuit's decision. It is an egregious violation of the First Amendment rights of pediatricians and threatens our ability to provide our patients and their families with scientific, unbiased information," said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, president of the Florida chapter of the AAP, the Florida Pediatric Society.

Added Dr. James M. Perrin, president of the national group: "More than 4,000 children are killed by guns every year. Parents who own firearms must keep them locked, with the ammunition locked away separately. In this case, a simple conversation can prevent a tragedy.''

The Florida Privacy of Firearm Owners Act was signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in June 2011. According to the AAP, at least 10 other states have introduced bills similar to Florida's since then but none have passed.

Expert sought for map

Responding to a Tallahassee court judge's skepticism that he could craft a new congressional map in time for the November elections, the voters group is now asking the court to appoint a redistricting expert to do it.

The plaintiffs, voters groups led by the League of Women Voters, successfully sued the state to throw out the congressional map because of how some districts were engineered by the Legislature to include certain voters. But Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis said last week that he was unsure he could order a special election or revise the map.

In an amended response brief filed Tuesday, the plaintiffs asked him to appoint a special master and have both sides submit proposals so that the state does not conduct an election using an unconstitutional map.

Times/Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas contributed.

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