Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Politics

Voucher advocates back two Democrats in Senate District 19 primary

The Florida Children's Federation, the political arm of the Florida movement for private school tuition vouchers, has sent out mailers in favor of two candidates in the state Senate District 19 Democratic primary: Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg and former Rep. Betty Reed of Tampa.

They are running against St. Petersburg lawyer Augie Ribeiro and Rep. Ed Narain of Tampa in a primary that's likely to determine the final outcome of the race.

John Kirtley, a Tampa businessman and school voucher advocate, said via email the group is taking the unusual step of backing two candidates in one primary because "both of them have been strong supporters of parental choice for low-income families," and Narain and Ribeiro "do not support parental choice."

Kirtley wouldn't say how much the group is spending on the District 19 race. State records show it has spent more than $132,000 statewide on direct mail over the past two months.

Narain and Ribeiro both oppose what they call diverting tax money from public to private schools.

Harvard death penalty report may hit Ober

A report last week from the Harvard University law school's Fair Punishment Project singled out 16 counties nationwide for excessive prosecutorial zeal in seeking and applying capital punishment, including Hillsborough and Pinellas.

Those 16 counties, the report said, are the only ones in the nation that imposed five or more death sentences from 2010 to 2015.

Details on Hillsborough and Pinellas weren't in the release. They're in the second part coming next month. But a Harvard law school researcher suggested researchers will include Hillsborough death penalty cases overturned by appellate courts on grounds of defendants' mental illness, including the case of Humberto Delgado, convicted of gunning down Tampa police Cpl. Mike Roberts in 2009.

The report is likely to hand some ammunition to Democrat Andrew Warren, who's running against Republican State Attorney Mark Ober.

"Even the initial report is a scathing indictment of the State Attorney's Office," Warren said. "It's just another example of how we've been doing things wrong here."

But Michael Sinacore, Ober's chief assistant, responded, "There's no right or wrong number" of death penalty cases. "You make the right decision for each case.

"We stand behind our decision to seek the death penalty for the man who executed a police officer," Sinacore said. "The jury and judge weigh mitigating factors including mental illness. The Supreme Court's job is to conduct a proportionality review … and provide guidance for future cases. That's part of the process. That doesn't mean it was done in an overzealous manner."

Norman shoots back over Arkansas house

Jim Norman appears to be getting tired of being asked about the Arkansas vacation house that led to a Florida Ethics Commission finding in 2012 that he illegally failed to disclose a $500,000 gift to his wife to buy the home.

In a candidate forum by the Twelve Oaks Civic Association last week, Norman went off on an attendee who questioned him about it, raising his voice and gesticulating, saying he was being persecuted because he's a conservative Republican.

"There's no funny stuff about it," he said, in response to a series of questions from retiree Joe Johnson. "My wife has a right to go into business just like every lady in this room. … Has any other politician's wife's business been analyzed?" he asked, his voice rising.

"Because I'm a conservative Republican in this town. How about Bob Buckhorn – anybody ever called up Bob Buckhorn's wife and said, 'Hey, let me look at your assets.'"

Johnson, who backs Norman's opponent, Tim Schock, in the County Commission District 6 Republican primary, said Norman appeared angry during the exchange.

"I wasn't trying to get him upset," Johnson said. "I just asked him, help me understand how that happened."

GOP-oriented group continues in District 19

Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet detailed last week how a Republican-oriented political committee is getting involved in Democratic primaries, including dropping campaign mail pieces backing Reed and Rouson in the state Senate District 19 primary.

It's now gone farther. The group, Floridians for a Better Florida, is also putting up TV ads, one boosting Rouson and one attacking Ribeiro.

The anti-Ribeiro ad charges that he's "trying to buy a state Senate seat." Ribeiro, who has put $500,000 into his campaign, says he's doing that to remain independent of the special interests who, he says, are funding his opponents' campaigns.

Toledo: Spouses, like attorney husband, can disagree

Is it inconsistent for Jackie Toledo to campaign on repealing in-state tuition and licenses to practice law for children of undocumented immigrants when her husband practices immigration law and has sought to help such children?

Toledo took those stands in a mailer recently. She initially declined through a spokesman to comment on the practice of her husband, attorney Jose Toledo, who according to an article on the Florida Bar website went to Mexico in 2014 to help children hoping to cross the border to escape gang persecution in Central America.

"Spouses don't always agree on everything, and this is one of those instances," candidate spokesman Ryan Wiggins said. "While her husband has a law practice to run, it is Jackie, not her husband, who is running for office. Jackie stands by what she has already said on this issue."

Is Narain for digging up Confederate vets?

He says no. The Save Southern Heritage Florida organization says yes, but then, they also misspelled his name.

"In a recent Candidate Survey, Narian stated that he believes the graves of American Veterans who served for the South should be dug up if they are buried in public parks or cemeteries," the group said in a news release.

They provided a copy of the survey. It's not complete, but it does include a "yes" answer to a question asking whether "American veterans like Nathan Bedford Forrest should be dug up and moved if they are in a public cemetery or park."

Forrest is known as one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.

Narain said he started filling out the online survey but didn't finish or submit it: "It must have been submitted when I turned off my computer hours later."

He said the disinterment question is why he stopped.

"I thought, 'What's the point of this?' I'm not in favor of spending state money to dig up veterans and all that. That's ridiculous."

Narain was co-sponsor of legislation to remove the statue of a Confederate general as one of Florida's two representatives at the Capitol Statuary Hall display in Washington, D.C.

Contact William March at [email protected]

Comments
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18
Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

In Hillsborough County — where one of the world’s largest Confederate flags still flies near a busy interstate — you may not be surprised to learn there’s an Uncle Tom Road.The name is a flash point and a slur, shorthand for a black person who will d...
Published: 05/16/18