Tag Archives: Florida

Jeff Greene with a double-digit lead in the polls? Is Florida insane?

Mr. Obvious says that voters are angry.  Some know why but most don’t.

Many believe that as long as the candidate currently holds an office in Washington, they should go.  It doesn’t matter if they’re replaced by the extremely rich (Jeff Greene-FL Senate), the horrible ex-CEO (Carly Fiorina CA Senate), the CEO whose company was involved in the largest Medicare Fraud case in United States history (Rick Scott FL Governor) or the candidate with incredibly divisive positions (Sharron Angle NV Senate).

Jeff Greene is rich.  Very, very rich.  He is on Forbes 400 list.  Nobody seems to care how he made his way on this list.

Greene essentially invested in the tanking of the housing market.  So as the subprime market fell and millions of Americans lost their homes, Greene found his investment increased by 1400% in 18 months for a nice little profit of $800 million.

There’s nothing illegal or unethical about that.  Just a little smarmy. 

He is a political outsider though in 1982 Greene ran for Congress in California as a Republican.  When Chris Matthews asked Greene if he had voted for Reagan in either 1980 or 1984, he responded that he could not recall.  That would be believable had he not run as a Republican during that mid-term election between each of Reagan’s elections.

In 2008, Sarah Palin and the rest of the Republicans started throwing out the name Bill Ayers at President Obama.  They said he ‘palled around with terrorists.’  It was debunked however the message still exists.  You look at who the candidate associates with and you can determine who they are.

I learned that lesson very young.  In my first professional job, I was told to cease talking to one of the employees in the department.  They were planning on moving her out and she wasn’t well liked.  If I was seen associating with her, I could expect the same fate.

Greene is friends with ‘Hollywood madam’ Heidi Fleiss, Lindsay Lohan and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.  In fact, Tyson was the best man at Greene’s wedding. 

During the 2000 and 2004 elections all we heard was we wanted to elect someone we felt we could have a beer with.  Palin was the mom next door.  Today we want the political outsider and we don’t care how rich they are. 

Some of these ‘outsiders’ will spend more of their personal finances on their elections this year than many of us will earn in our lifetimes.

It seems he is taking his outsider status too far.  In fact, he apparently is trying to come off as bipartisan.  While speaking to a Sarasota media forum recently Greene said, “Whether I was a Republican or Democrat, who cares?”

Really?  Democrats do?  And so do Republicans. 

Worse still is that if Greene defeats Kendrick Meek in the Democratic Primary this month, he is going to after Governor Charlie Crist’s lack of party affiliation.

Salon wrote a great piece this week on the type of boss Greene is.  Read the story here:  Jeff Greene is a nightmare boss

Apparently he’s spoiled, abusive and cheap but the worst thing I found out about Greene was a story mentioned in Salon that kind of was brushed over.

A deckhand on Greene’s 145-foot yacht was injured.  Greene lied to the insurance company by telling them that deckhand Harlan Hoffman did not work on his yacht.

It took 8 months and legal action to resolve the case and get Hoffman’s bill’s paid.

Insurance fraud is when someone lies to the insurance company in order to get them to pay the bills when they shouldn’t have.  What is it called when you lie to the insurance company so they won’t pay the bills in order to keep your rates down?

Greene’s former personal chef, James Battles, sued him last year alleging that Greene ‘demanded round-the-clock attention and would berate and humiliate Battles when he sought reimbursement for food paid for out of his own pocket.’

‘Battles said Greene fired him after he was hospitalized for exhaustion before one of Greene’s parties.  The settlement is confidential and Greene declined to discuss the case.

Another example of what we might expect from Greene: During the 2000’s, Greene owned more than 8,000 properties.  He threatened to get a city council aide fired who was advocating on behalf of one of Greene’s tenants who complained about the heat and water problems.  When threatened to escalate the issue to then Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Greene responded “Ha, ha, ha.  I know Rocky personally.  He and his wife were married in my house.  I’ll see to it that this council aide will be fired.”

Hollywood director, Richie Cunningham and Opie wouldn’t vote for Greene.  During the 1990’s, Ron Howard rented a luxury home owned by Greene when the house was flooded from a leaky roof.  [Read story here]

“If you look at the record and the outcome, he committed fraud and that’s why it was so expensive for him.  With what I know about Jeff Greene as a tenant, I certainly wouldn’t vote for him, and I wouldn’t relish the idea of him being in the Senate.” – Howard, who won a $616,000 judgment from Greene, said during an interview with the Washington Post.

What is also surprising is that with only a couple of weeks to go until the Florida primary, very little is known about Greene yet he is up by double digits in the polls.  The other problem is that most people still know very little about Kendrick Meek as a result Greene and his aggressive advertising campaign is making him a more familiar name.

I’ve seen countless ads and received a number of mailers from Greene.  I am still waiting for Meek to show up.

You can be sure that if the Democrats elect Greene as their nominee, Governor Charlie Crist (I) and Marco Rubio (R-Teabagger) will not let Greene off the hook so easily.  In fact, they will probably make Greene appear to be a spoiled rich man with a bad temper and no understanding of politics who today has decided he wants to be a senator. 

I suspect that Democrats will run from Greene as they learn more about him and wouldn’t be surprised if Obama endorsed Crist in return of Crist’s supporting the Stimulus Package. 

 

Examining Charlie Crist’s record – what we don’t see in the media

Regardless of which side of the political aisle you reside we can all agree on one thing – the media has gotten lazy and have failed in their jobs. 

In an effort to reduce costs and be the first to publish or air a story, they have accepted a single source as fact without verifying the source or seeking a second validating source.  They also use Twitter to get quotes. 

We see the laziness in the media with the coverage of the 2010 Florida Senate race.  They publish attacks from Kendrick Meek against Charlie Crist on positions dating back to his recent stand against offshore drilling.  Marco Rubio’s attacks date back to Crist’s infamous hug with President Obama after Governor Crist introduced Obama to a Florida crowd where the president spoke of the stimulus package.

Rubio cites that Crist is really a Democrat while Meek argues that Crist is really Conservative.  Both agree that it is a show designed for November.

There are numerous areas where the media fails here.

First and foremost, they ignore Crist’s record as governor for the full 3½ years he has been in office.  They also ignore his time as Florida Attorney General.  His record speaks for itself and we will delve into it shortly.

They also let Meek and Rubio’s comments lay there unchallenged.  For example, they stop with the attack on Crist’s support of the stimulus package ignoring the benefits that have come from it.  Many people drive every day, as I do, through highway construction sites that have received stimulus dollars but it goes generally ignored by the media.

Read more about Florida Recovery.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist

The media also allows Meek and Rubio to spew their rhetoric with regards to Crist’s changing position for campaigning.  Of course, all candidates alter their position to put themselves in the best political light with the voters.  That’s why you need to look at the way candidates work while in office.

Of course Rubio does not want the light to shine on him as his record is horrible.  This will be further addressed in a later article.

Examining Crist’s record:

Home Foreclosures:

In March 2008 – while George W Bush was still president (in other words: pre-hug), Crist created and accepted the recommendations of a HOPE (Home Ownership Promotes the Economy) Task Force which addressed specific strategies to address foreclosures affecting Florida’s families.  [Read the recommendations]

Health Care:

Even before the Healthcare debate took to the Federal Government during the Obama administration, Florida, under Governor Crist, had already established the Cover Florida Health Care Access Program to help those without health insurance get quality affordable healthcare coverage. 

Early Voting:

Seeing the state-wide long lines, Governor Crist extended the hours for early voting in Florida ensuring that everyone who wanted to vote in the 2008 November General Election got to vote.  This was in direct opposition to the Republican Party who wanted to minimize the hours as the speculation is that the more people that can vote, the more that Obama would have benefited.  – Obama went on to win Florida.

Environment:

Crist was against off-shore oil drilling both before his failed attempt to become John McCain’s Republican running mate in 2008 and now.  He called for a July 2010 special session of the Florida Congress to address getting a Constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would permanently ban offshore oil drilling off the coast of Florida.  The Republican led Congress, in a fit of immaturity, adjourned both houses in less than two hours.

Crist also supports the Everglades restoration. 

Gambling:

Crist struck a deal with the Seminole Indians on a casino deal that so angered Rubio and Conservatives that they took him to court over the decision. 

More background:  There was a timeframe established by the federal government, with which Florida was able to negotiate with the Seminoles for revenue on casino earnings.  Once the deadline passed, the state of Florida would have wound up with zero.  The Florida legislature clearly had no intention of striking a deal and once Crist took the initiative by signing a deal that would generate billions of dollars for Florida over a 25-year period Rubio and the Republican legislature became offended and went on to file a lawsuit which the legislature won. 

Though Crist lost that case, he invariably won the war because this bought the legislature time and pressured them to work out a deal with the Seminoles.

Education:

Crist vetoed the GOP supported teacher pay and tenure bill known as SB-6 in April.  This garnered Crist much needed teacher and union support at the same time solidifying his fate with the far right.  This is another example of Crist doing what is best for Floridians.

Corporate rate hikes:

Crist stood up to State Farm after they requested a 47% rate hike. 

“State farm has been charging some of the highest rates in our state for a long time.  They haven’t been very friendly to our people and if they want to leave the state goodbye.” – Charlie Crist

He also called the Florida Power & Light’s proposed $1.3 billion rate hike ‘excessive.’  As Florida Attorney General, Crist got FPL to freeze its electricity rate.

As Florida Attorney General:

America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh publicly had filed the paperwork for Crist’s gubernatorial candidacy as a result of his work with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

Crist stood against the Republican Party’s position with regards to the Terri Schiavo case.  If you remember that case, Fox News turned her life support battle into a public circus and the far right fringe used Schiavo as a political football.  Even President Bush ended his vacation early to sign a bill attempting to extend her life support.  Crist’s position was that government should not get involved in these types of cases.

As Governor he vetoed a measure that would have required women to pay for an ultrasound prior to getting an abortion.

Obviously, a little research will bring back even more cases where Crist has legislated in the best interests of Floridians not necessarily in the best interests of Charlie Crist’s political career. 

Much of what you read here is no longer being covered by the media. 

How long ago was it when Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek was being identified as ‘the likely Democratic nominee’?  Out of the blue came ‘billionaire’ Jeff Greene.  How many people can name another candidate? 

Unfortunately, the media will not provide us with enough information to make a smart choice in November.  In fact, they may try to steer us in a direction that will inevitably be bad for Florida.  That is why we owe it to ourselves to research and read as much as we can about the candidates. 

Study their actual records, not just how they campaign.  Once you examine Crist’s political career and compare it to Rubio’s – it becomes a no-brainer.  And the Meek – Greene primary should be nowhere near this close.  Just examine how Greene made his billions.  Same with Rick ‘Medicare Fraud Champion’ Scott in the Republican primary for Florida Governor.  That should eliminate both from contention.

November is 4 months away.  We have plenty of time to educate Floridians.

Gene

Marco Rubio – Costing taxpayers – Increasing personal income

Florida cannot afford Marco Rubio.  A couple of Google searches supported that.

During the 10-year period that included Rubio’s roles as Florida House Majority Leader and Speaker of the House, he saw his income more than quadruple.

In 1999, Rubio reported his earnings at $99,000.  In 2008, it was up to $414,000.

Much of Rubio’s earnings during this period was work for multiple law firms including Broad & Cassel, ‘a well-connect statewide firm that had done millions of dollars of legal work for the Florida House.’

Between 2002 and 2005, Broad & Cassel billed Florida taxpayers $4.5 MILLION for legal work.  An audit of the firm’s work was conducted but never released.  Just remember, Florida’s congress is overwhelmingly controlled by the Republicans – about 67% of the Florida House and Senate.  Rubio is a Republican.

The question is – what did Rubio really do for these law firms?   It does seem interesting that Rubio received money from companies that billed the very state that Rubio represented.  Broad & Cassel billed Florida an average of more than one million dollars per year for four years.

Asked if he would have been hired by Broad & Cassel had he not been Speaker of the House Rubio responded, “It’s hard to tell with a hypothetical.  I certainly would have worked somewhere.  I had made a career of working at big firms up until last year when I went out on my own.”

True, but would he have been compensated $1.2 million for 4 years?

During his time at Broad & Cassel, Rubio “said he reviewed zoning applications, but he never appeared before a board or a commission on a land use matter.”

During Rubio’s final year as Speaker, he ‘secured a special line item in the budget that gave Jackson Memorial Hospital an additional $20 million in 2008.  Several months later, Jackson hired Rubio as a consultant under a $96,000 a year contract.”

Since leaving state government, Rubio received lucrative deals with:

  • Miami Children’s Hospital paying him $102,000.
  • Florida International University – $69,000
  • Univision – as an on-air commentator for $8,000.

What I found most interesting was the last paragraph in the I-Team investigation

Despite his income, Rubio’s net worth is surprisingly low. In 2008 he listed his net worth at just $8,300. A self described fiscal conservative, Rubio is carrying almost a million in debt — including two mortgages on his current home and more than $100,000 in student loans. 

Rubio’s annual salary bump also is interesting considering he had stopped payments on a Tallahassee home which was heading into foreclosure.  Rubio claimed that he stopped paying on the home during a dispute with the bank.  He has since caught up with the payments once news for the pending foreclosure became public.

Rubio is also currently under a federal IRS investigation over the potential misuse of Republican Party credit cards for personal expenses. 

At the very least, it appears that Rubio has benefitted as a result of his time in public service at a very high cost to taxpayers but clearly he has difficulty managing his personal finances.

Can we really afford to send Marco Rubio to Washington?

Sources: 

Politifact – Charlie Crist’s first TV ad focuses on Marco Rubio’s money

I-Team: Scrutinizing Marco Rubio’s Finances

What’s next for Charlie Crist?

Florida Governor Charlie Crist sealed his fate with the Republican Party when he vetoed the GOP supported teacher pay and tenure bill (SB6) earlier this month losing what was left of his Teabagger support. 

Vetoing that bill was the right thing to do – regardless of political party.  And that is the real Charlie Crist.

Crist was the guy who sought a deal with the Seminole Indians in order for Florida to receive taxes from their casinos while state Republicans were letting the clock run out.  (Rubio was the Speaker of the House at the time and challenged Crist’s deal in court – and won.)  Crist still looked good in the state because that deal would have given the state millions in taxes generated from the Indian reservation casinos whereas before the state got nothing.  The court case actually bought the state more time allowing Florida and the Seminoles to finally work out a deal.

Crist was the guy who extended the early voting hours in 2008 allowing more people the ability to vote.  His party vocally challenged Crist’s decision.  Democrat Barack Obama ended up taking the state.

[Read full story]

Acreage Cancer Cluster – Status update & Residents meeting

A very important public meeting is scheduled for tomorrow – February 9th from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. to allow residents to discuss the pediatric cancer cluster in the Acreage.

Details from the original story is here.

The location of the public meeting is Seminole Ridge High School – 4601 Seminole Pratt Whitney Road – Loxahatchee.

Update on the story:

Florida Governor Charlie Crist has weighed in stating that he will appeal to the federal government for their assisting into the investigation. This comes one day after Florida health officials said that there were no plans to search for the environmental cause of the cancer cluster.

“This is of grave concern to me,” Crist said. “The people deserve every ounce of energy that can be put into this situation to reveal how this happened, what the cause might be and what can be done to help these residents.”

“This investigation will continue as long as it takes to get to the root of this issue,” he said. “The people deserve nothing less.”

Dr. Alina Alonso wanted to “clarify statements that may have led to confusion.”

Through a spokesman, Alonso said late Thursday that she “welcomes the governor’s involvement.”

“I want to reiterate that the investigation is in no way finished, but rather is at a point where the Palm Beach County Health Department needs the guidance of elected officials, universities, research facilities and federal agencies to look further into the elevated rates of cancer,” Alonso said in a statement, adding that she “would like to clarify statements that may have led to confusion.”

Alonso said the next step was to raise awareness about childhood brain cancer. Florida Surgeon General Ana Viamonte Ros rejected that saying that The Acreage residents are “beyond aware.”

“We want to do everything we can and use all our resources to give as much information,” Viamonte Ros said. “And not just awareness, but certainly to be able to find a cause, if there is one, or certainly to be able to answer questions.”

But Viamonte Ros believes that state health officials have exhausted their research options and have “reached the point where we need federal guidance to review what we’ve done and better clarify what the next steps should be.”

State officials additional plan to contact the National Institutes of Health. Meanwhile, Crist said that they state was now working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The good news is Florida Department of Health’s Chief of Staff Robert Siedlecki Jr. said that state officials will test the water and soil at cancer-stricken children’s homes.

“If they want us to test it, we will.”

“We have to try to figure out what is happening,” Commissioner Shelley Vana said. “You can’t just leave them hanging like that. I do understand that it can be difficult to find answers, but we have make an attempt.”

“My heart goes out to the Acreage families who are experiencing the heartache of cancer,” he said in a statement. “I cannot imagine the pain these parents, grandparents, children and their loved ones are feeling. I support the calls for further investigation and thank Governor Crist for committing to get to the bottom of this.” – Florida Senate President Jeff Atwater (R-North Palm Beach)

Anyone with additional information regarding the investigation, please provide any details in the comments below.

Also, if you plan on attending the February 9th meeting (or if you attended after in concludes), I would welcome the comments.

There will be a live on-line chat during the Tuesday night meeting with Palm Beach Post reporter Jason Schultz.[click here]

Sources:

Crist vows to investigate Acreage cancer cases

State officials agree to test soil and water at Acreage homes of cancer-stricken children

State officials agree to test soil, water at homes of Acreage kids with cancer

Map: acreage cancer cluster

Updated articles from the Palm Beach Post

Pediatric Cancer Cluster in The Acreage

The Florida Department of Health confirmed that The Acreage in Palm Beach County is encountering a higher than normal number of brain and central nervous system tumors and cancer in children, especially girls.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and other state lawmakers are calling for a probe to determine the cause.   One environmental expert said that the cancer cluster did warrant national attention.

Health officials state that they may never be able to determine the cause.  Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Palm Beach County Health Department, said that there are currently no plans to conduct environmental tests.

“We really don’t have one thing,” said Alonso.  “From what we’re seeing now, there is nothing that is going to say, ‘Aha this is the cause of the cancer.’”

Nelson said environmental tests should start “as soon as possible.”  He pledged to work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get them to “lend their resources and expertise to the investigation.”

“Residents still don’t know a cause or what’s responsible for these cases of cancer,” Nelson wrote to Florida’s surgeon general on Tuesday.  “And we can’t work to fix the problem or hold someone accountable until we can answer these questions.”

“We need to give them the resources to make sure they can identify a cause,” said State Representative Joseph Abruzzo (D-Wellington).

Environmental tests will not occur until the department finishes analyzing the interviews over the next two months. 

Authorities have identified 13 cases of brain cancer or tumors among children and teenagers in the community from 1993 and 2008.

There was a significant jump in the number of cases after 2002 said Tammie Johnson, a state epidemiologist.  There is enough data available thus far to label these cancer cases a cluster.

Two more children were diagnosed with brain tumors in late 2009 generating fears that the cancer cluster is continuing to grow.

Homeowners should insist on federal assistance said Peter deFur, president of Environmental Stewardship Concepts in Richmond, Virginia.   He added that the CDC should conduct a health assessment which would include reviewing residents’ medical records and performing blood and environmental analysis.

The Acreage is a semirural community in northwest Palm Beach County.  As the name would suggest, homes are built on at least a single acre lot.  There are farms in the area and farm equipment is stored on those lots. 

Quick aside:  I looked at the area a dozen years ago about a year before my divorce.  I really have to say that I liked the rural feel of the community and loved the idea of hiring and working directly with the builder that would construct my home.   I suspect it is this reason that I have been watching this story develop.  My daughter was 6 years old when I looked at the community.

The state Department of Environmental Protection, which is not part of the cluster investigation, isn’t planning to conduct any tests, spokeswoman Cristina Llorens said Tuesday.  The agency randomly sampled 50 wells last year and declared that ground water quality in The Acreage was “generally good,” despite some elevated levels of radiation that could come from natural causes.

Excessive radiation can cause brain cancer.

Environmental concerns in the area:

  • Farm chemicals
  • Well-water quality
  • Pratt & Whitney toxic-cleanup site
  • Possibly contaminated fill dumped from other locations
  • Cell phone towers
  • Naturally occurring radioactive substances in rock

deFur said that The Acreage may be experiencing a “cumulative risk situation” where stresses on top of stresses exceed  what people’s systems can handle.

The fact the health department found a greater disparity in girls than boys raises a question of whether a hormone-disrupting chemical could be involved, he said.

“For everybody to have a comfort level, you need to know the source,” said Michelle Damone, board president of Indian Trail Improvement District.  “Without knowing the cause of it, how do you go and correct it?”

Next phases:

The state health department expects to complete the second phase of the study by mid-March, 2010.  They plan to conduct interviews with 12 of the 13 families and review the cancer rates using updated population data.  Note:  The thirteenth family could not be located as they have moved from the area.

If a third phase occurs, it may include environmental tests which would take up to one year to complete.

A fourth phase would be a large-scale federal or university-based project.

As mentioned earlier, additional studies are not currently planned.

“Everybody is exposed to a multitude of things,” said Becky Samarripa, whose 15-year-old daughter had a tumor removed in 2008.  Still, so many of these children went to the same schools, play in the same soil and drink the same well water that tests in at least one of those areas should be warranted, she said.

New York law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, affiliated with environmental activist Erin Brockovich, has been conducting water analyses since late last year. 

 

Public meeting:

Officials plan to discuss the investigation at a public meeting.

Date:           February 9, 2010

Time:          6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Location:   Seminole Ridge High School

                    4601 Seminole Pratt Whitney Road

                    Loxahatchee

 Sources:

Link to study:  Acreage SIR Recalculation Population Estimate Methods and Results

Cancer cluster designation rattles The Acreage

New data confirms Acreage cancer cluster; health official puzzled on cause of children’s ailments

 

Marco Rubio – Shut Congress for 2 years to Fix Economy

Marco Rubio’s preaching to his far right base with his latest comments:

“Well the problem is the people in Washington don’t understand what’s causing [unemployment and the economic recession]. They think that Presidents and Senators are job creators and they’re not. The job creators are people who have access to money, whether it’s their own or borrowed, who use that money to open up a new business or expand an existing one. And they’re not doing that right now because of the tax chaos and all the regulatory chaos and all of this uncertainty created in Washington DC. Perhaps the most stimulative thing they can do right now is take a two year recess or something.”

One thing to note:  Marco Rubio is running for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida that was vacated by Mel Martinez.  Rubio is a far right-wing conservative Republican who is challenging moderate Republican and current Florida governor Charlie Crist for the Senate seat.  Crist also supported President Obama’s stimulus plan.

Michael Steele previously stated that the government doesn’t create jobs and never did.

Steele and Rubio obviously forgot about all of the government employees who work for the politicians and the politicians themselves.  And he forgot about police, fire and rescue workers.  And teachers.  And postal workers.  And the military. 

How did the U.S. Interstate Highway System get made? 

Maybe we should get away from direct deposit so Rubio could look at his paycheck. 

If it wasn’t for government, lobbyists would not have jobs. 

If government shut down for 2 years, what would Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and scores of others talk about?

If government was shut down for 2 years, how could the Republicans bitch and moan, lie and obstruct all the way into the 2010 and 2012 election cycles?

Now let’s look briefly at what effect the stimulus program had on America.  The one President Obama said would help create jobs and the Republicans said would bankrupt our children and grandchildren.

According to the Obama  administration, the $787 billion stimulus program saved or created “1.5 million to 2 million jobs last year.”

These numbers do coincide with the estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office but get ready for the Republican backlash.

The “regulatory chaos” that Rubio mentioned is the lack of any regulations, of course.  (sarcasm intended).  And let’s not get started on the tax benefits already established for corporations.

What would be nice is that with a government shutdown, I won’t have to hear the crap spewing from the Republicans. 

Sources:

Stimulus:  1.5 million jobs created, saved – Swamp Politics – Chicago Tribune

Stimulus saved or created up to 2 million jobs in 2009, White House says – LA Times

GOP Senate Candidate Marco Rubio Calls For Suspending Congress for Two Years to Fix the Economy – Think Progress