Mel slides out of office in his own slime
Now we know why Mel was in such a rush to slide out of office - The Miami Herald reports that: "Mel Martinez's office repeatedly intervened in a 2007 legal dispute between the Defense Department and a company owned by a top Republican fundraiser who is now at the center of a campaign-finance investigation, according to records obtained by The Miami Herald."
In a series of phone calls and e-mails, a Martinez aide urged Pentagon contract officers to seek a "fair resolution'' to $14 million in contract claims sought by the International Oil Trading Co., a fuel-supply company co-owned by Harry Sargeant III of Boca Raton."At one point, Pentagon officials told the senator's office it was 'not appropriate' to discuss any settlements while the company's lawsuit was pending in court, records show."
As Martinez's staffer was lobbying the Pentagon, Sargeant and his wife donated $50,000 to the Republican National Committee -- then headed by Martinez. At the time, Sargeant was the finance chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. ...Get this:
Sargeant's company ultimately received $3.2 million from the Defense Department -- settling claims the Pentagon had initially denied entirely. The Pentagon says Martinez played no role in the settlement. ...
Sargeant gained notoriety last year as a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate John McCain, whose campaign returned $50,000 in suspicious donations solicited by a Sargeant business partner. In February, an employee of a Sargeant company was indicted on federal charges of funneling illegal contributions to several candidates, including McCain and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist -- a college buddy of Sargeant's.
The employee, Ala'a al-Ali, is accused of using straw donors in California to steer about $55,000 in illegal contributions to candidates.
In an interview with The Miami Herald last year, Martinez said he offered only "routine'' assistance to Sargeant's company. He said his office helped IOTC obtain information, but he did not try to sway the Pentagon's stance in the case."Much more here: Records: Martinez aide intervened in dispute between Pentagon, GOP fundraiser".
"I do this for hundreds of people throughout the state of Florida,'' Martinez said last year.
... and LeMieux slides in
"Amid charges of political cronyism and claims he was picked to be the governor's proxy in Washington, there is renewed scrutiny of LeMieux's dealings and those of his law firm, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart:"
• The law firm, chaired by LeMieux, helped foreign workers get visas last fall to help build a high-rise hotel and condos in Miami, depriving dozens of Florida workers of jobs at a time of rising unemployment. ..."Sen. LeMieux faces scrutiny on his way to Washington".
• Two weeks before LeMieux left Crist's office, Gunster Yoakley landed a $500,000 contract representing the state Department of Transportation on two matters. ...
• After leaving Crist's office in December 2007, LeMieux earned about $150,000 over a 13-month period as an adviser to state Republican Party chairman Jim Greer, a lucrative sideline that has led some to label LeMieux a "political consultant." He will not discuss what he did to earn that money ...
• For the past 15 years, West Palm Beach-based Gunster Yoakley has represented U.S. Sugar Corp., which for months negotiated with Crist's office to sell much of its land to the state and federal government to clean up polluted runoff in the Everglades. ...
Which makes one wonder, yet again - "Why is this not being investigated?"
"There's no longer any question: Greer is a hypocrite"
Go read Scott Maxwell's column today. Here's a taste:
There once was a political operative who loved to tell crowds he had a simple way of explaining to children the difference between Republicans and Democrats."State GOP chief Jim Greer rips Obama -- but pushes Republican views at schools".
"Republicans get up and go to work," he would tell his son. "Democrats get up and go down to the mailbox to get their checks."
This man not only talked to his son about Republican values, he went into public-school classrooms and talked about them as well.
That man is Jim Greer — the same Jim Greer who, as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, just threw a nationwide hissy fit, claiming that the classroom is no place for politics and Barack Obama's "indoctrination."
One Seminole County mother, Barbara Wells, remembers the day Greer spoke to her son's sixth-grade class. "My son said he made some sort of Hillary Clinton joke," she recalled.
But you know what? Wells didn't pitch a fit.
She didn't call up the local TV station to scream about Republican indoctrination.
Instead, she advised her son: "Whatever you are told in life, remember there are two sides to every story."
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "On Tuesday the president of the United States will tell America's students to study hard and stay in school. Republican critics have reacted hysterically, but no school official who rewards that hysteria deserves to be called an educator. Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer charged that President Obama is trying to indoctrinate children into 'socialism,' the evil word being shouted to alarm the ignorant. Palm Beach County Republican Party Chairman Sid Dinerstein said sourly that school officials wouldn't have shown a speech by President Bush. He has less than 20/20 vision when it comes to seeing into a past that never happened." "Who's afraid of Obama's talk?".
Related: "What do the kids think?". See also "Conservative Wall Street Journal opinion page slaps Greer’s “overwrought” criticism of Obama". More: "Polifact: 'Indoctrination' talk is baseless fearmongering".
"Forensic test results released this week eliminated 41-year-old Anthony Caravella of Miramar as the source of DNA found on the victim, 58-year-old Ada Cox Jankowski." "Prosecutors call for release of man after 26 years".
"In Florida, where the GOP’s lone Hispanic senator is stepping down, national Republicans have already made clear that Gov. Charlie Crist is their preferred candidate over former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, a Cuban American." "GOP's new diversity push". See also "Politico: GOP’s national 'diversity push' doesn’t include Florida".
Down at the club
After years of editorial board howling about rank-and-file public employees receiving traditional defined benefit plans, we wonder how much editorial whining we'll read about this: "School districts opt not to cut superintendents' pay".
"So now the president is a thug?"
In an editorial about the ECO ruling*, the The Orlando Sentinel editorial board underscores how nasty the now (barely) regulated communications can be:
"In almost anyone's book, the campaign mailer is reprehensible."
Four side-by-side photos show President Obama; Louis Farrakhan; two men who apparently are Black Panthers; and black people holding an ACORN banner. "Is this the change you want to believe in?" the mailer asks beneath the photos. "Violence and intimidation at the voting booth."And who's behind this?
It goes on to warn that, "Armed thugs may try and scare you away from the voting booth." So now the president is a thug?
The Conservative Voters' Coalition, for example, was formed less than a month ago, according to an Internal Revenue Service document. It lists a custodian of records, Rachel Stark, and a secretary/treasurer, David E. Ramba."Show campaign money".
Mr. Ramba, a registered lobbyist with a long list of clients, told the Sentinel that a 27-year-old Florida State University graduate student who was listed as the group's chairperson was a "front."
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*Strangely, the editors forget to mention that the underlying election law dispute exposes a stark difference between right-wingers and progressives. The lawsuit that resulted in Florida's ECO regulation being declared unconstitutional
was brought by a Broward condo association, along with a University of Florida student libertarian club, the [wacky] National Taxpayers Union, and other plaintiffs -- and guts what had been some of the strictest regulations on interest-group communications in elections nationwide."State refusal to appeal ECO ruling is bad for the public".
Those groups argued successfully that the law was limiting their right to exercise free speech [i.e, spending money equals free speech]. ...
"Under the First Amendment, the government’s ability to regulate political speech about candidates and ballot issues is extremely narrow," said Bert Gall, lead counsel to the group that challenged the law and an attorney with the Virginia-based conservative group Institute for Justice.
Unfortunately, Crist and his Secretary of State Kurt Browning, "opted to drop the state's legal fight to preserve its electioneering communications law."
Meet the Chancellor
"Earlier this week,"
faculty sternly criticized Brogan's six-year tenure at the Boca Raton school in anonymous evaluations of the administration."Florida Atlantic University President Frank Brogan gets rebuke/praise".
But on Friday, the FAU Faculty Senate softened the rebuke in a 21-to-10 vote passing a resolution praising the former lieutenant governor for working tirelessly on behalf of FAU, increasing admission standards, creating a prominent football team, inspiring others and enhancing student life.
Brogan begins a new job as chancellor of Florida's statewide university system on Sept. 14.
Good riddance, Mel
Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Sen. John McCain is campaigning in Florida again -- not for something, but against health care reform."
Joined by outgoing Florida Sen. Mel Martinez and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the trio held a closed-door "forum" with the staff of a hospital near Miami this week and talked up the dangers of reform to seniors. The senators' road show coincided with the Republican Party's newest anti-reform television commercial, airing in North Florida, that rehashes several of the falsehoods paralyzing the health care debate."Deceptive senior scares".
Dubbed "a new seniors' Bill of Rights," the commercial preys on elderly Floridians' (and others') fears that Medicare will be endangered "to pay for a new program," that care rationing based on age, government bureaucrats making end-of-life decisions and other bureaucrats "getting between their seniors and their doctors" are all on the way. All ludicrous but effective fabrications that have managed to derail reform while obscuring the health system's many failures.
We don' need no stinkin' stim cash
"Traffic congestion is so maddening in South Florida that 39 percent of drivers said they turned around and went home when their commute to work devolved into gridlock in the past three years, according to a new survey." "Traffic congestion returning back home more South Florida drivers, survey finds".
"Candidates for state Senate tout conservative convictions".
"More Floridians want to carry a gun these days. A lot more." "Requests may double for concealed-weapons permits".
"In the first of what will probably be several top management changes, the head of Florida's driver licensing and vehicle agency announced Friday that she will resign this month." "DHSMV chief to resign Sept. 15".
Raw political courage
"Miami-Dade commissioners voted early Friday morning to keep the countywide property tax rate flat -- despite more than seven hours of spirited public comment from residents, almost all of whom urged commissioners to maintain funding for county services." "Amid protests of budget cuts and staff pay raises, Miami-Dade keeps taxes flat".