Friday, January 29, 2010

Buchanan, Obama talk jobs

President Barack Obama wants to review the five-point jobs plan introduced earlier this week by local U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota.

The two met briefly Friday following a speech Obama gave before House Republicans in Baltimore.

“Get it over to me,” Obama told the congressman about the plan.

Said Buchanan: “I wanted to emphasize to the President the importance of creating private-sector incentives to create jobs and grow the economy. I reminded him of my background as a successful businessman who has created jobs.”

Buchanan said Obama asked him to make sure the plan was sent to him at the White House.
According to Buchanan’s press office, the Job Creation Act of 2010 would provide tax relief for small business investments and capital gains.

In addition to tax incentives for small business, Buchanan’s jobs bill includes the one year elimination of taxes on unemployment benefits. The bill also would require repaid TARP funds to be used to help pay down the debt and provide legal reforms to curb frivolous lawsuits.

Crist releases proposed budget

After a slow rollout of some of the higher profile portions of his proposed state budget for 2010-11, Gov. Charlie Crist this morning unveiled his overall budget proposal for the coming year.

The bottom line: He wants the state to spend almost $69.2 billion in the coming year, about $2.7 billion, or 4 percent, more than it is projected to spend this year.

"This budget balances the needs and priorities of the people of Florida with sound fiscal discipline," Crist wrote in his budget message. "In doing so, we are able to avoid tax increases and deep cuts to important programs that would further burden Florida’s families and businesses during these trying times.

Lawmakers have greeted Crist's spending proposals with some skepticism, as revenue projections have shown the state could come up about $3.2 billion short for next year's budget.

For a detailed look at what Crist touts as "the People's Budget," go here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rubio, Meek 'tweet' about their airborne meet

Politicians are increasingly using Facebook and other social media to keep tabs on their supporters and to provide almost constant information about their whereabouts and happenings, to the most minute level.

For example, about 4:45 p.m. today, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami - who is running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate and was in Tampa earlier today for President Barack Obama's town hall - updated his Facebook status with this tidbit:
(O)n a Southwest flight from Tampa to Ft. Lauderdale. I'm in seat 12A. Who's in seat 9A? Marco Rubio! Exchanged a few laughs. Keeping an eye on him :)
(emoticon included)
The identical message was posted on Meek's Twitter page.

For those not following him on Facebook or Twitter, Rubio is the former Florida House speaker running for the Republican nomination for the same U.S. Senate seat.

Rubio also Tweeted about the airborne encounter with his possible future rival:
On same SW Flight from Tampa as Kendrick Meek and (U.S. Rep. Debbie) Wasserman Schultz. Wonder what they where doing in Tampa today? LOL
(Internet lingo included)
And to think, if Florida already had high-speed train service, this type of encounter between political leaders might never had happened and been recorded for posterity.

Crist won't dodge Obama this time around

Gov. Charlie Crist, feeling the sting of the man-hug that won't go away, made himself unavailable the last time President Barack Obama came to Florida. The governor even said he wasn't aware that Obama's schedule would have him in the Sunshine State.

However, the White House this morning confirmed that Crist would be leading the greeting party when Air Force One lands at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa about noon today. After touring a maintenance hangar, Obama will take a motorcade ride to the University of Tampa for a town hall meeting on the economy that is expected to include an announcement about federal stimulus funding for a planned high-speed rail line linking Tampa and Orlando.

Perhaps sensitive to political realities - too many fresh photos of Crist and Obama within feet of each other likely would do Crist no good in his heated battle with Marco Rubio for the GOP Senate nomination - Crist turned down a White House invitation for the town hall, according to Politico.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nelson: High-speed rail money coming to Florida

A map of what a high-speed rail network in Florida might look like one day.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is the latest politico to confirm that part of the $8 billion in stimulus money set aside for high-speed rail projects will be coming to the Sunshine State.

Here's part of a news release from Nelson's office:
Americans can expect to hear a lot about jobs tonight when President Obama delivers his State of the Union speech. That’s because the economy rather than health care likely will dominate the president's speech before a joint session of Congress. Following his speech the president and Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Tampa Thursday morning to make what the House is terming a “major economic announcement.”

In the Cigar City, according to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson this morning, it’ll be announced that the Sunshine State has won in a competition among states for a portion of $8 billion in stimulus money the federal government is awarding as so-called Recovery Grants the Obama administration is offering to develop a national high-speed rail network.

The competition between states, like, California, Illinois and Florida, has been intense. But Nelson, Sen. George LeMieux, state Sen. Jeff Atwater and other state political leaders all pushed the Obama administration hard for full consideration of Florida’s bid for a $2.5 billion share of the $8 billion.

“This will be one of the largest boosts to the state’s economy since Disney, since the interstate highway system,” said Nelson, a chief backer of the bullet train that will connect Tampa, Orlando and Miami.”

Florida sought $2.5 billion in federal stimulus funds to build a high-speed line between Tampa and Orlando. It’s unclear whether the state will get all it’s asking for. The state's application indicates the project would create up to 23,000 construction and engineering jobs over four years, with additional permanent jobs supporting passenger service by 2014.

The $8 billion in Recovery Act awards is part of an overall $13 billion high-speed rail plan Obama announced last year. The other $5 billion would be funded through the annual budget process.
For more about high-speed rail in Florida, go here.

Crist : I'm 'amenable' to hiring more journalists

If David Klement does a good job as a member of the Florida Public Service Commission - and his former colleagues here at the Bradenton Herald have little reason to doubt that he will - it might bode well for Florida journalists looking for a next act in their professional lives.

Speaking to journalists gathered in Tallahassee today for the Associated Press Legislative Planning Session, Gov. Charlie Crist touted his recent appointment of Klement, the former long-time editorial page editor at the Herald, to a spot on PSC. The appointment, according to a couple a journalists in attendance who wrote about Crist's remarks on Twitter, has left the governor feeling a bit magnanimous about journalists.

"If any one of you need a job, let me know. I'm amenable to that," Crist said, according to a Tweet from the Palm Beach Post's Michael C. Bender.

(Coincidentally, I was "amenable" enough about a decade ago to hire Bender as a reporter when I was city editor at a newspaper in Colorado and he was right out of college. It's nice to see him continuing to do well.)

--- Marc R. Masferrer

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

LWR business group endorses Greg Steube

The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance has endorsed Republican Greg Steube, who is running to represent many of its members in the Florida House of Representatives.

"Being born and raised in Manatee County, he is extremely knowledgeable of the district and more importantly the issues that we are facing in these difficult economic times," said Marc Simms, chairman of the alliance, in a news release issued by Steube. "He has proven himself with his leadership in the United States military and with his community involvement. We are confident that he can make a difference starting on day one.

Steube, the son of Manatee Sheriff, is running against three other Republicans - Jeremiah J. Guccione, Robert McCann and Marie Nisco - for the GOP nomination for District 67 seat, which covers Lakewood Ranch and East Manatee, as well as parts of Sarasota and Hillsborough counties. Also running is Democrat Z.J. Hafeez. Incumbent Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, is not running for re-election because of term limits.

The GOP primary is Aug. 24, and the general election is Nov. 2.

The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance is an organization of more than 400 members that advocates for businesses in the Lakewood Ranch community.

Steube, who has captured a lion's share of the endorsements and campaign contributions so far in the District 67 race, welcomed the support from the business alliance.

"It is truly an honor to receive an endorsement from an organization that is so active in the business community here in Lakewood Ranch," Steube said in a statement.

Crist holds almost 4-to1 lead in fund-raising (UPDATED)

Upstart Marco Rubio may have taken a microscopic lead in a major opinion survey, but it is the long-time career politician, Charlie Crist, who has a large advantage in another indicator of political strength that probably has much more significance seven months before the Republican U.S. Senate primary.

The candidates' respective campaigns today have offered a sneak preview of what their latest campaign finance reports will show when they are filed by the end of this month with the Federal Elections Committee.

Crist's campaign said it had raised more than $2 million during the final quarter of 2009, bringing his total cash on hand to more than $7.5 million - almost four times the $2 million Rubio said he had in the bank as of Dec. 31. Rubio, who some argue has captured all the positive momentum in the race, said he raised $1.75 million in the fourth quarter.

The Republican primary is Aug. 24.

Not surprisingly, each campaign put their spin on their respective disclosures.

Said Eric Eikenberg, campaign manager for Crist:
“We continue to get unwavering fundraising donations as our supporters help us spread Governor Crist’s positive message of less government, low taxes, and a market based approach to health care. As the next U. S. Senator from Florida, Charlie Crist will continue to fight for what is best for all Floridians and will work to fix the broken government in Washington.”
Said Rubio:
“Elections are neither fundraising nor popularity contests. Supporter by supporter and idea by idea, we are building a campaign that is proving ideas still matter most in our democracy, but I know we have to continue working even harder against the most prolific fundraiser in Florida history. We’re on pace in meeting our goals, and I am as confident as ever that we will have the resources to deliver our message and be successful. As we look to the long road ahead, I pledge to continue speaking with a clear voice on behalf of the ideals that are uniting voters across Florida behind our cause.”
UPDATED - The Palm Beach Post offers an interesting caveat about the cash-on-hand figures.

Poll: Crist, Rubio tied in U.S. Senate race

Seven months ago, Gov. Charlie Crist seemed to be a "sure thing" and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio a long shot, to win the Republican nomination for Florida's U.S. Senate seat.

Today, with seven more months in the primary campaign, they are tied.

The Associated Press reports:
Former Florida legislator Marco Rubio has closed the gap in the race for the state's Republican U.S. Senate nomination and is in a virtual dead heat with Gov. Charlie Crist, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Rubio, a lawyer who served as Speaker of the House, was once considered a long shot against Crist, who has widespread name recognition and a significant fundraising lead. But with Florida's primary seven months away, Rubio was favored by 47 percent compared with 44 percent who preferred Crist - statistically a tie in the Quinnipiac University poll that has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

The random telephone survey, which included 673 GOP voters, was conducted Jan. 20-24.

"The horse race numbers are not a fluke," said Peter Brown, assistant polling director for Quinnipiac in Connecticut. "Rubio's grassroots campaigning among Republican activists around the state clearly has paid off."

The latest survey marks a stunning turnaround for the 38-year-old Rubio, a conservative who trailed Crist by 31 points in a Quinnipiac survey taken in June.

The same poll showed both Crist and Rubio with large polling leads over Democratic front-runner U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami.

Read the details of the poll here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Buchanan proposes jobs plan

As local jobless residents searched for work nearby, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan this morning unveiled proposed legislation he said would "create jobs and boost the economy."

Buchanan, who held a news conference at the Jobs Etc. office in Sarasota, said his five-point "Job Creation Act of 2010" - which includes some Republican mainstay positions like calling for tort reform and cuts in capital gains taxes - is designed to get the federal government to focus on what should be its top priority right now: Jobs.

“Instead of spending trillions of dollars on Wall Street bailouts and big-government programs that continue to increase the deficit, we should enact targeted measures to help small businesses and working families, boost the economy and put people back to work,” Buchanan said in a news release.

Specifically, Buchanan called for:
  • Allowing small businesses to deduct all or part of the cost of business investment in one year, instead of spreading tax savings across several years. Buchanan said would allow businesses to expand, buy new equipment and hire new workers.
  • Eliminating the capital gains tax for businesses for one year. Buchanan said this, too, would help businesses acquire needed capital.
  • Making unemployment benefits tax free for 2010. Buchanan said currently, recipients of unemployment benefits have to pay about 11 percent in federal taxes.
  • Using all funds repaid by banks and other institutions that received TARP funds to reduce the national debt.
  • Curbing "frivolous" lawsuits by imposing mandatory sanctions on lawyers who file such cases and other measures.
Buchanan said how much the tax-reducing parts of his proposal would cost the federal treasury.

You can read Buchanan's news release here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Obama, Biden to visit Tampa Bay area after State of the Union

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will travel to the Tampa Bay area on Jan. 28, a day after Obama delivers his State of the Union Address, according to the St. Petersburg Times' political blog.

"More details on the visit will be announced soon," a White House spokeswoman told the Times. The official declined to say what the visit would entail or if it had anything to do with Florida's application for $2.5 billion in funding for a high-speed rail line that would run from Orlando to Tampa.

Obama was last in Florida in late October, when he made several stops in the state, including at the Florida Power & Light's new solar power plant in Arcadia.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

DiSabatino holds huge money lead in Manatee commission race

If money were votes, the race for the District 4 seat on the Manatee County commission might be over, with eight months to go before the Republican primary.

As of Dec. 31, local Realtor Robin DiSabatino - the favorite of many in the business and development communities - had collected more than $100,600 in contributions, according to reports filed with the county elections office. DiSabatino's donor list includes numerous contributors with ties to real estate development.

Take out the $20,000 she has given her campaign, and DiSabatino still holds a commanding lead over the two other Republicans so far in the race - former county planner Norm Luppino, who has raised more than $4,600; and architect Timothy Norwood, with $175.

Businessman Roger C. Galle, the sole Democrat in the race, has reported collecting $460 in contributions.

Fortunately for the financial also-rans, the Republican primary is not until Aug. 24, and the general election, Nov. 2.

Manatee County District 4 encompasses southern Manatee County. Incumbet GOP commissioner Ron Getman is not running for re-election.

In other commission races on this year's ballot, at-large incumbent Carol Whitmore, a Republican has raised more than $40,000, and her Democratic challenger, Sundae Lynn Knight, an engineer with Sarasota County government, reported raising $585.

In District 2 (Palmetto and east Bradenton), the fund-raising has been a bit more competitive. So far, Democratic challenger Michael Gallen holds an almost 3-to-1 fund-raising lead over the incumbent Democratic commissioner Gwendolyn Brown.

Gallen, an attorney and high school teacher, has raised $3,025; and Brown has collected $1,170 in contributions.

To see who has contributed to whom, go here.

Sheriff Steube to speak at GOP women's meeting

Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube will be the featured speaker at the Women of Manatee County Republican Club on Feb. 5.

"All Republicans are invited," a news release states.

The luncheon will start at 11:30 a.m. at Bradenton Country Club, 4646 Ninth Ave. W.

Tickets are $16. To make reservations, call (941) 792-7278 before Jan. 31.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ann Coulter to speak at Manatee GOP dinner

Ann Coulter

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter will be the featured speaker at the Manatee County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner on Feb. 20.

A best-selling author ("Guilty: Liberal 'Victims' and Their Assault on America"; "Slander: Liberal lies About the American Right", Coulter is known for her fiery rhetoric and brash style.

The fund-raiser - tickets cost $100 - will be at 7 p.m. at Bradenton Municipal Auditorium. Another $60 will get you into a pre-dinner reception at 5:30 p.m. at the South Florida Museum.

For more information, call Cheryl Kopmann at (941)704-6428 or visit the Manatee GOP's Web site.

McClash endorses Hometown Democracy (UPDATED)

Joe McClash was first elected in 1990 to make decisions for the county as a member of the board of county commissioners. But 20 years later, there are still some choices he thinks the electorate needs to decide for itself.

McClash this afternoon will announce that he is personally endorsing - that is, as an individual and presumably not on behalf of his colleagues on the county commission who bristle when anyone thinks McClash might be speaking for them - the Hometown Democracy measure on the November general election ballot.

If approved by 60 percent of voters, Amendment 4 would instill a large dose of direct democracy into development planning by requiring an election every time a county or city wanted to change its respective comprehensive plan.

Those decisions are now left to the public's elected representatives like McClash - which in turn, according the measure's backers, has caused great peril for the state.

"With Amendment 4, your power to vote on growth will enable you to preserve your neighborhood and your community and protect the value of your home," states the Florida Hometown Democracy Web site organized by backers of the measure.

McClash confirmed that he would would be endorsing Amendment 4 but deferred comment until a 2 p.m. news conference set for today at the old Manatee County courthouse in downtown Bradenton.

UPDATED, 4:25 p.m.

McClash said approval of Amendment 4 would be a needed counterweight against the influence of Shroeder Manatee Ranch and other developers.

Read his statement here.

--- Marc R. Masferrer

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

YouTube star/congressional candidate West in LWR today

Allen West

You Tube star/congressional candidate Allen West will be in Lakewood Ranch this evening, hoping his Internet-fueled popularity pays off with some campaign cash from local donors.

West's stock in national Republican circles has soared since last fall when a video of a stump speech he gave in Sunrise was posted at As of this morning, the video had been viewed more than 1.7 million times.

West, who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, is challenging Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, in Florida's 22nd District, in a rematch of the 2008 election. The 22nd District covers parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties.

"Widespread discontent with the Democratic Party, West's 'On the Radar' ranking with Republican leaders, and the ever increasing media exposure he is enjoying, all combine to make him a highly viable candidate to take a seat from the Democrats in 2010," the Sarasota County Republican party wrote on its Web site, in promoting West's local appearance.

West is scheduled to speak at 6:30 p.m. at Gold Coast Eagle Distribution (Budweiser), 7051 Wireless Court, in Lakewood Ranch. Officials are asking supporters to contributors to donate at least $250, but contributors who give at least $1,000 will receive a special briefing from West at 5:30 p.m.

For details, contact Gene Sweeney at (770)330-7683 or

Friday, January 15, 2010

House candidate Hafeez to hold Manatee fund-raiser

As it stands, Z.J. Hafeez, a Democratic candidate for the Florida House seat now held by Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, won't face competition until the general election this November.

But as he waits on the outcome of the four-way race for the Republican nomination, the Apollo Beach lawyer is busy making himself known to voters in Manatee County.

On Sunday, his campaign will be the beneficiary of a fund-raising brunch at the Preserve Golf Club, 7310 Tara Preserve Lane in East Manatee. For details, contact Renee Walker at or (813) 793-7428.

The brunch will be the first of several planned appearances for Hafeez in Manatee. In an e-mail, Hafeez said he will be speaking to Democratic clubs in Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and southeast Manatee.

The four Republicans running for the District 67 seat are Jeremiah Guccione, Robert McCann, Marie Nisco and Greg Steube.

Reagan cannot run again because of term-limits.

Read more about Hafeez, here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Karl Rove to speak at Sarasota GOP's Lincoln Day Dinner

The man George W. Bush affectionately - I think - nicked named "Turd Blossom," will be the keynote speaker at the Sarasota County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner on March 24.

Bush may have kidded Karl Rove incessantly with the nickname - a Texan saying that refers to a type of flower that grows in pastures from, well, you know ... - but Bush also owes Rove for devising the "strategery" that took Bush from the owner's box at Texas Rangers baseball games, to the Governor's Mansion in Austin and eventually to the White House.

Now a member of the media - he contributes to Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek - Rove will bring his insights to the GOP fund-raiser at the Sarasota Hyatt.

Tickets are $150 each, and the first 200 ticket-buyers will get an autographed copy of Rove's new book, "Courage and Consequence."

All the details are available here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In wake of hometown loss, Crist goes on attack (UPDATED)

The home fires, at least when it comes to the race for the Republican Party's U.S. Senate nomination, are not burning for Charlie Crist.

Pinellas County native Crist on Monday was dealt an embarrassing - albeit only symbolic - blow Pinellas GOP activists gave Crist's rival Marco Rubio a big - albeit only symbolic - win in a straw poll.

"I volunteered for Charlie for nine years. I love Charlie as a person. If he was here, I would give him a big hug. He actually called me about this (straw poll) yesterday," said Wilna Varney of Largo, who voted for Rubio. "But I'm a more conservative person, and I'm going to support the more conservative candidate."

Brushing off the defeat, Crist this morning unveiled a new Web ad that alleges that when it comes to issues conservatives like Varney care about, Rubio is flip-flopper:

On Wednesday, Rubio responded:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Steube raised more than $150K for campaign in '09 (UPDATED)

The Florida Division of Elections has begun posting the latest campaign finance reports from candidates running for state offices this year.

Here is what we know so far about the Manatee County races:
  • In the Florida House District 67 race - the seat is now held by the term-limited Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton - Greg Steube raised $26,625 during the final quarter of 2009, bringing his fund-raising total for the year to more than $150,000. Steube finished the year with almost $130,000 in the bank, as he so far has spent a little more than $21,000 on his campaign.
  • Also in District 67, Robert McCann reported collecting $3,075 in contributions during the final quarter of 2009, bringing his fund-raising to a total of more than $68,000 for the year, not including $25,000 he loaned his campaign. McCann had a little less than $32,000 in the bank. Jeremiah J. Guccione reported collecting $10,500 in the fourth quarter, bringing his total take so far to a little more than $50,000 and had more than $42,000 in the bank. He also has loaned $50,000 to his campaign. A fourth candidate, Marie Nisco, reported no financial activity by her campaign last year.
  • The lone Democrat in the District 67 race, Z.J. Hafeez, reported collecting $30,840 in contributions during the final three months of 2009, and spending only $85.43.
  • In House District 68, the sole candidate, Republican Jim Boyd, reported collecting $10,100 during October-December, bring his total for the year to $81,420. So far, he has spent more than $37,000. (Incumbent Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, is term-limited, but we will be interested to see how much he has raised for his 2012 campaign for Florida Senate from District 21.)
  • In House District 69, incumbent Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, collected more than $17,500 in contributions during the fourth quarter, bringing total for the year to more than $52,400. He had more than $47,000 in the bank. Republican challenger Ray Pilon reported collecting $5,645 in contributions during the final three months of 2009, bringing his total haul for the year to almost $27,000. He had about $19,000 in the bank.
  • In House District 55, Democratic challenger Martha Allen reported no activity. The report from incumbent Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, had not been posted.
The deadline to file the latest quarterly finance report is today so keep checking back here or at the Division of Elections Web site for the latest filings.

Friday, January 8, 2010

2 Fla. congressmen want Venezuela on terror watch list

Two members of Congress from Florida want Venezuela added to the list of countries that require closer monitoring because of possible ties to terrorism.

In separate statements, Florida's Reps. Connie Mack, R-Ft. Myers, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, cited, among other reasons, the relationship between Venezuela and Iran, and Venezuela's ties with communist rebels in neighboring Colombia.

A practical effect of such a designation is that airline passengers traveling from Venezuela to the United States would have to undergo heightened screening procedures enacted after an attempted bombing of a U.S.-bound jetliner on Christmas day.

Currently, the U.S. designates four countries - Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria - as state sponsors of terrorism; and an additional 10 as "countries of interest": Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.

El Nuevo Herald has more on the anti-Venezuela sentiment.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Buchanan to Obama: Demand open health care debate

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, has drawn considerable national publicity this week for leading calls for final negotiations over health care reform to be conducted in the open for all - well, at least those Americans with C-SPAN on their TVs - to see.

Buchanan last year sponsored a "Sunshine Resolution" demanding that all debate over health care reform be held not in a smoke-filled back room but before the glare of television cameras and public scrutiny.

This morning, Buchanan took his efforts straight to Barack Obama, imploring the president to keep to his campaign promises and allow television cameras to witness as lawmakers and the White House hash out a final version of health care reform before it is voted on by Congress.

"Open and honest government is the backbone of democracy," Buchanan wrote in a letter to the president. "Excluding the public and the press from this process sends a disturbing message. A government that is secretive and inaccessible cannot maintain the trust and confidence of the people it serves."

Buchanan urged the president to follow the example set in Florida, which has one of the toughest sunshine laws in the nation.

"It has served Florida well," Buchanan wrote. "The American people deserve the same - an open, honest and accountable government."

You can read all of Buchanan's letter here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Buchanan to appear on Hannity's radio show

Vern Buchanan is set to appear on Sean Hannity's national radio talk show just after 4 p.m. today, according to the congressman's Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Presumably, they will be talking about Buchanan's campaign to force President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats to make final negotiations over health care reform open and visible to the public.

Buchanan has offered a resolution calling for the health care talks to take place in the sunshine.

You can listen to Hannity's program, here.

Commissioner Hayes appointed to state medical examiners panel

Manatee County Commissioner Donna Hayes has been appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to a spot on the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, according to the governor's office.

Hayes' term started today, and runs through July 1, 2013. She is succeeding former Columbia County commissioner Elizabeth Porter.

The medical examiners commission oversees the medical examiners system in the state. One of the spots on the 9-member panel is reserved for a county commissioner, according to a state government Web site.

Hayes' appointment requires Senate confirmation.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Buchanan: Put sunshine on health care talks

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is getting some national publicity for his call that negotiations over the final version of the health care reform bill being considered by Congress be open to the public.

Lesley Clark, the Bradenton Herald's reporter in Washington, D.C., reports:
Bradenton Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, who has filed legislation to open up health care talks to the public, is calling on House and Senate leaders to accept C-SPAN's offer to publicly broadcast final health care negotiations.

In a letter to House leaders, C-SPAN today offered to cover the sessions live -- following President Barack Obama's pledge to publicize all health care talks on C-Span.

"As your respective chambers work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate health care bills, C-SPAN requests that you open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage," C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb wrote in a letter to Obama and congressional leaders. News reports suggest a final version will be hammered out in talks between a handful of people, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and White House officials.

"I applaud C-SPAN for offering to provide this important public service and urge House leaders to grant its request," Buchanan said. His legislation got a plug in today'sWashington Times.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said at today's press briefing that he hadn't seen the letter from C-SPAN.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Florida emergency chief to resign

From the Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog:
The Buzz is, interim state emergency management director Ruben Almaguer will resign his post later today, marking the first announced departure of 2010 from the Gov. Charlie Crist administration. (Dale Brill, head of the Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, announced last month that he's heading to the Florida Chamber Foundation, starting today.)

The governor's office confirmed to the Times/Herald that Almaguer will resign, but the reason for his leaving is unclear and he has not yet submitted an official resignation letter. A source says Almaguer was told to resign amid allegations -- not yet substantiated -- of misconduct and improper spending.
Almaguer has been interim director since May, when Crist moved him up from the No. 2 deputy director spot to fill in for longtime emergency management leader Craig Fugate, a Jeb Bush appointee who now serves as head of FEMA under President Obama.

“Ruben has been a strong team member within Florida’s emergency response team for more than two years,” Governor Crist said. “His vast experience responding to both domestic and international disasters qualifies him to step into the leadership position.”

No word yet on who will fill in for Almaguer, a former high-ranking county emergency management official in Miami-Dade. The deputy director for emergency management under Almaguer is now David Halstead. Six months to go until the 2010 hurricane season...