Watch Obama talk about his birth certificate here.
What do you think?
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There's no official book on how to lobby, but most paid advocates know instinctively that you don't want to suggest in writing that you'll exact political retribution on a state Senator.
Fred Dudley didn't get the memo.
But Sen. Mike Bennett got a hold of an email from Dudley in which the Senator-turned-lobbyist suggested he couldn't wait until the Bradenton Republican ran for Congress. And now Dudley says he feels sorry.
It all started last week when Bennett, in the April 5 Health Regulation Committee, blasted the Florida Medical Association for being "greedy" in protecting its turf. The gaggle of FMA lobbyists and doctors were none too pleased. They began emailing each other, providing a glimpse of how one of the most powerful Capitol special interests shapes its hardball tactics.
"Senator Bennett achieves great financial benefit from special interest groups and collects their donations regularly. He should know that patients value doctors who are there for them far more than politicians who take check after check from special interests." (True, it's not a question and the FMA is one of the most powerful special interests, but whatever).
Rafael Miguel responded with a lighter suggestion, pointing out the policy benefits of ensuring that doctors in Florida continue to write prescriptions instead of "lesser educated and trained individuals" (e.g., nurses, optometrists).
Then the conversation turned to the next election.
"Miguel good answer, we should use that, then we should make sure he does not get re-elected!" someone named firstname.lastname@example.org wrote, referring to Bennett
Steve West pointed out a problem with that idea: "I think this is his last term. May however run for Congress depending on redistricting."
That's when Dudley chimed in: "Steve: Hi; you are exactly correct, so let's hope the 2012 elections get here quickly and he runs for Congress."
The email chain was then forwarded to Bennett by a source who wrote "Ur gonna love this one."
Bennett hit the roof. He could believe that his comments would provoke the FMA. But why would a pro like Dudley be so sloppy?
"A former Senator wants to target a sitting Senator over some comments and he puts it in writing? It's so unbelievably stupid," Bennett said.
What's more: Dudley is a lobbyist for Verizon, which was keenly interested in SB960, which concerns petroleum storage requirements for powering remote cell phone towers. Bennett is the sponsor.
When the matter was brought to Dudley's attention, he initially played dumb but then realized the emails had leaked out.
"I certainly intend to apologize to Senator Bennett for my unfortunate comment that was made in the heat of his battle with FMA. I'm the reason he ran for the legislature, and I'm proud to consider him one of the most effective members and a friend," Dudley said in an email yesterday.
All of it might not mean much. Bennett's bill to allow optometrists to take over some ophthalmologist practices was killed Tuesday in Health Regulation (paging Dr. Mendelsohn....) And the FMA's newest medical malpractice bill looks like it's on cruise control.
Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has quietly settled a lawsuit filed by Talking Heads musician David Byrne who accused the one-time Republican candidate of misappropriating a song in an attack ad.We don't want to risk Byrne's wrath by posting the campaign video.
The details of the settlement, which was tentatively reached last week in Tampa, are confidential. During the talks, some observed that Crist and Byrne palled around and seemed like old friends.
“It was kind of like that,” Crist said with a laugh. “He’s a wonderful guy. A very kind man. I really have great respect for him. He’s an incredible artist. We had a good interaction last week and a nice settlement. And I’m very pleased.”
Crist was represented by his new employer, trial attorney John Morgan, in mediation.
Byrne had sued for $1 million after Crist’s U.S. Senate campaign released a January 2010 YouTube web video that attacked Marco Rubio and featured the 1985 Talking Heads’ hit “Road to Nowhere.”
Crist’s campaign did not seek permission from Byrne, other members of the Talking Heads or Warner Brothers.
Byrne found out about it and quickly demanded that Crist’s campaign pull the ad off the web, which it did. But Byrne didn’t stop there. He pressed ahead with a suit alleging copyright infringement.
“I was pretty upset," Byrne told Billboard.com last year. The suit, he told Billboard.com “is not about politics...It’s about copyright and about the fact that it does imply that I would have licensed it and endorsed him and whatever he stands for."
During debate today on House Bill 1405, House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders (D-Key West) alerted state representatives that the public employee pension bill is an income tax, which is prohibited by Florida’s constitution.
Leader Saunders made the following remarks, including raising a “point of order” under House Rule 5.4 (c):
“Members, on behalf of the teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public employees who are members of the state retirement system, I want to quote from a song by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who said, `You better think - think about what you’re trying to do to me.’
“So what does this bill do to our public servants? It imposes an income tax on them for the first time in our state’s history! “But you may say, Rep. Saunders, we have been told that this is not an income tax. A simple way to determine whether the “contribution” in this bill is an income tax is to look at the definition of income tax.
“An income tax is defined as `A mandatory payment imposed on residents of a prorated portion of their income as a contribution towards the cost of government services.’ “So is the “contribution” in this bill an income tax? First, Is the contribution a “mandatory payment?” Yes - it is required to be paid as a condition of employment. Second, is the “contribution” imposed as “a prorated portion of their income?” Yes - the contribution is based solely on a percentage of income. Third, is the “contribution” directed “towards the cost of government services?” Yes, pension benefits have been considered a cost that our state government has paid.
“Let me close with two things. First, as Aretha said, `Think.’ Think before you vote for a bill that for the rest of your political career will be considered by many to be a state income tax. Second - Mr. Speaker, I raise a point of order on this bill.”
POINT OF ORDER RAISED ON HB1405 By Rep. RON SAUNDERS…
House Rule 5.4 (c) states in part:
“Bills that propose to amend existing provisions of law shall contain the full text of the section, subsection, or paragraph to be amended. Joint resolutions that propose to amend the Florida Constitution shall contain the full text of the section to be amended. As to those portions of general bills and joint resolutions that propose to amend existing provisions of the Florida Statutes or the Florida Constitution, words to be added shall be inserted in the text underlined and words to be deleted shall be lined through with hyphens.”
HB 1405 currently under consideration by the Florida House of Representatives is presented as a general bill that proposes to amend existing provisions of Florida Statutes, including imposing a mandatory contribution from members of the Florida Retirement System based on a percentage of their income.
Article VII. Section 5 (a) of the Florida Constitution states:
“(a) NATURAL PERSONS. No tax upon estates or inheritances or upon the income of natural persons who are residents or citizens of the state shall be levied by the state, or under its authority, in excess of the aggregate of amounts which may be allowed to be credited upon or deducted from any similar tax levied by the United States or any state.”
Although the mandatory contribution from members of the Florida Retirement System set forth in HB 1405 is based on a percentage of their income, it is referred to as a contribution to their retirement fund rather than as an income tax.
The prohibition on a personal income tax contained in Article VII of the Florida Constitution does not provide for any exceptions to the prohibition based on the terminology used or the fund to which the revenues generated are directed. HB 1405 is styled as a general bill which proposes to amend the Florida Statutes. However it should be presented as a joint resolution since it proposes to amend the Florida Constitution. HB 1405 therefore violates House Rule 5.4(c).
Gov. Rick Scott's announcement last week that he was drastically cutting reimbursement rates to people who care for the developmentally disabled has sparked yet another protest at the state Capitol. Hundreds have gathered for a rally in opposition to the reductions, which range from 15 percent to 40 percent.For more about the planned reimbursement cuts, read the story from Monday's Bradenton Herald.
Gov. Rick Scott's announcement last week that he was drastically cutting reimbursement rates to people who care for the developmentally disabled has sparked yet another protest at the state Capitol. Hundreds have gathered for a rally in opposition to the reductions, which range from 15 percent to 40 percent.
Scott says the rate cut is the only way to get the Agency for Persons With Disabilities under control. It is on pace to exceed its budget by $174 million by the end of the budget year, June 30. Scott has refused to use savings money or raise taxes to fill the deficit.
Advocates, parents and providers say the rate cuts are too deep too fast. They say vital services will be cut. Some people, known as "support coordinators" will have their money cut so deeply that they'll essentially be working for less than minimum wage to care for people with autism, cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome.
At the protest this morning, protestors handed out Rick Scott emblazoned currency called "Nada Bucks" that say "In Solantic We Trust" -- a reference to the chain of clinics founded by Scott that could profit by changes to Medicaid he supports.
On the back of the buck is a "Don't Hold Your Breath" Voucher that asks protestors to request Rick Scott perform the services for people who could go without.
Impeach Gov. Rick Scott?
Several hundred Floridians are calling for just that only three months after Scott took office, signing an online petition letter on the social networking site www.change.org. The petition cites Scott's rejection of federal rail money, his opposition to seeking federal approval of two voter-approved fair-redistricting measures and support for drug-testing welfare recipients.
"It is time to investigate and impeach this self-promoting man. Florida can do better!" the petition states.
But given state law, impeachment of Scott is very unlikely.
Only the state House has the power to impeach a governor — by a two-thirds vote — and more than two-thirds of House members are Republicans like Scott. If he were impeached, he would be tried by the Senate, where 28 of the 40 members are Republicans.
"Absolutely not," said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, when asked if Scott deserved to be thrown out of office. He had received at least 67 petition letters as of Monday.
"It's silly," said Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who also received several dozen letters. "I totally disagree with that."