Mitch Perry, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 295

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

Marco Rubio says Senate Democrats should confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

Marco Rubio has come out solidly in support of President Trump’s selection of Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Judge Gorsuch is a highly qualified, mainstream jurist, which is why he was unanimously confirmed to the circuit court by the Senate in 2006,” Rubio said in a statement shortly after the announcement was made in the East Room of the White House in prime time on Tuesday.

“By all accounts he has the right temperament and experience for the job, and I’m pleased to see him nominated to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Rubio. “Most importantly, he is committed to the principles of original intent and judicial restraint. This is critical, because too many in the federal judiciary today believe it is appropriate for judges to invent new policies and rights instead of interpreting and defending the Constitution as it is written.”

Original intent, or “originalism,” was the focus of the late Antonin Scalia, the longtime Supreme Court justice who Gorsuch would be replacing on the high court. Original intent theory hold that the interpretation of a written constitution is (or should be) consistent with what was meant by the Founding Fathers.

The question now remains is how much of a fight will Senate Democrats pose to the Gorsuch pick. Many are still hopping mad that GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell never put Merrick Garland up for a vote in 2016. Garland was Barack Obama’s choice to replace Scalia when he died nearly a year ago

“Unfortunately, Senate Democrats already announced they would oppose any Supreme Court nominee no matter who it is,” said Rubio, who says “this objection  is neither principled nor reasonable, considering we just had an election where the future of the Supreme Court was a central issue not only at the presidential level but in every Senate contest.

“On the issue of this Supreme Court nomination specifically, the American people gave the president and the Republican-controlled Senate a mandate to choose a successor to Antonin Scalia,” Rubio continued. “Senate Democrats should accept the results of the election and allow the process to move forward with a vote. I look forward to a fair and thorough confirmation process, and I am confident Judge Gorsuch will be confirmed by the Senate once again, this time to serve on the Supreme Court.”

Several Senate Democrats have already announced their opposition to Gorsuch, but not Rubio’s Florida colleague, Bill Nelson. Nelson said he’ll base his decision on a full examination of Gorsuch’s judicial record and his responses to senators questions.

 

 

Debbie Wasserman Schultz tells Fox Business that Donald Trump ‘believes he was elected dictator’

Debbie Wasserman Schultz blasted President Trump Tuesday morning, a day after he fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for what the White House called “refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

“I think it’s important to note that she did exactly what she said she would do if she was given an order by the President of the United States, which she believed violated the law,” the former Democratic National Committee chair said on Fox Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria.”

“Her answer to Jeff Sessions was that she would make sure that the Department of Justice followed the law,” Wasserman Schultz added.

Wasserman Schultz was referring to Yates’ 2015 Senate confirmation hearing as deputy attorney general, when she was grilled about being able to challenge Barack Obama if she disagreed with him. That’s when Sessions was Senator from Alabama. Now he’s poised to become the next U.S. Attorney General for Donald Trump.

“And frankly, because President Trump did absolutely nothing to consult the Department of Justice, his Secretary of Homeland Security, any members of Congress, the leadership of Congress, since they basically slapped this policy together in which they were barring immigrants and refugees for a period of time from countries, by the way, none of which had the 9/11 attackers come from,” the South Florida Democrat continued.

“When will the Democrats give us our Attorney General and rest of Cabinet! They should be ashamed of themselves! No wonder D.C. doesn’t work!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

Wasserman Schultz reprimanded Trump for that tweet, saying: “The President’s tweet this morning was very interesting and telling because it shows that he believes he was elected as a dictator. There is an ‘advise and consent’ role in the United States Senate, and that is what they are doing. He doesn’t just get to have his nominations rubber stamped, and he has nominated some very disturbing individuals.”

 

Jeff Brandes legislation would create task force focusing on criminal justice

After years of watching other red states leap ahead of them on criminal justice reform, Pinellas County Republican Senator Jeff Brandes is filing a bill that would create a criminal justice task force in the state of Florida in 2017.

It calls for a large committee consisting of 27 members (16 will be appointed) representing the Florida House, Senate, the Governor’s offices and various state agencies, as well as from a victim’s advocacy group, the formerly incarcerated, and the faith community.

The goal would be to take “holistic” review of the state’s criminal justice system, including (but not limited to) sentencing practices, minimum mandatory requirements in statute, prison and jail facilities and criminal penalties in statute.

“I really think you need a comprehensive approach to criminal justice reform, and I’ve never seen it done well in the committee process,” Brandes said earlier this month. “What we really need is a task force to vet these things, and give the (criminal justice) committee a vetted set of bills.”

In recent years, the governors of Georgia, Kentucky and Oklahoma have all made reforms to their criminal justice system, all after receiving recommendations from task forces that they created.

After being elected governor of Kentucky in 2015, Republican Matt Bevin announced the formation of a 23-member Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council. It was comprised prosecutors and public defenders, members of the faith-based and business communities, state lawmakers and local leaders from across the political spectrum.

In Georgia, Republican Governor Nathan Deal did the same after coming into office in 2011. A task force created that year led the Georgia General Assembly to use those recommendations to enact two rounds of reforms in 2012 and 2013 that, deal wrote last fall ,have made “Georgia’s criminal justice system smarter, fairer, more effective and less costly, while in no way sacrificing public safety.”

The proposed legislation calls for the task force to present its report to the governor and the Legislature by the first date of the 2018 regular session.

(Jeff Brandes is a client of Extensive Enterprises, LLC, the holding company of Extensive Enterprises Media, LLC, which publishes this website).

Charlie Crist says Trump administration needs to rethink its executive order on refugees

It took awhile, but Charlie Crist is finally weighing in on Donald Trump’s controversial executive order temporarily placing a ban on refugees entering the U.S.

While nearly every member of the Florida congressional delegation, and certainly every Democrat was eager over the weekend or on Monday to express their opinion, the St. Petersburg Democrat was quiet. Until now.

Although he does not believe it to be a de facto ban on Muslims, Crist says that the idea of a religious test of any kind “is unconstitutional,” adding that the administration needs to rethink the strategy “immediately.”

Here is the statement in full:

“Our number one priority is to keep America safe. But we must also ensure that America continues to be the beacon of light and hope to the world. These policies are not mutually exclusive. We can and should take steps to improve our vetting processes, while also allowing refugees fleeing persecution to seek a better life in the U.S.

“The confusion and fear created by the lack of coordination around this Executive Order is shocking and deeply troubling. It also appears the so-called religious test it would implement is unconstitutional. The administration needs to rethink this strategy immediately.”

Richard Corcoran wants to meet with Trump administration on refugee resettlement in Florida

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran is applauding President Donald Trump‘s executive order temporarily banning refugees from entering the United States.

The Land O’Lakes Republican also wants to work with the administration to improve the transparency of the process, particularly on resettling refugees in Florida.

In a letter sent Monday, Corcoran praised the president’s “bold action” on the issue, while complaining that the current relationship between the state and federal governments over refugees going to Florida, is “unacceptable and an abrogation of our duty to protect the safety of Florida residents.”

“Despite the state’s legitimate concern with security risks — a concern even more compelling in Florida given recent tragedies perpetrated by terrorists — there is no opportunity for Florida to institute more rigorous scrutiny of people coming to our state and receiving our services,” Corcoran wrote.

Trump’s executive order bars entry to refugees from anywhere in the world for 120 days and from Syria indefinitely. It also blocks entry from seven distinct countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. In the original order, green card holders from those seven nations would be banned from re-entering the U.S.

The action has spurred protests around both the country and the world, though administration officials say that the reaction from the media and Democrats have been “hysterical,” pointing out that only about 109 travelers were detained in the first 24 hours out of about 325,000 who typically enter the United States in a day.

In the past year, Corcoran says nearly 700 people from Syria, more than 300 people from Iraq, and almost 200 people from Afghanistan were brought to Florida as part of the refugee program.

However, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement received no information from the Department of Homeland Security or other federal agencies about those refugees, which severely hampered any effort to differentiate between genuine refugees “and persons who pose a threat to Floridians.”

In the fall of 2015, Gov. Rick Scott blasted the Obama administration’s plan to relocate up to 425 Syrian refugees to Florida, complaining about how federal officials would not give him or the FDLE the ability to do background checks on those refugees.

The issue was brought up last week at a committee meeting in the Florida House.

Mark Glass, an intelligence officer with the FDLE, told the members of the Florida House Subcommittee on Children, Families and Seniors that the vetting of refugees from places like Syria and Somalia is compromised because of the possibility of identity theft.

Glass complained that the agency was not allowed to see the screening questions or answers of refugees seeking resettlement.

“Knowing the nature of the questions and details and the responses provided could assist FDLE and other local public safety officials in being able to potentially connect the dots of inconsistencies in statements made by the applicant, especially if the applicant is stating they have family or friends in Florida,” he said.

That was the same committee hearing where the entire Democratic caucus walked out of at one point when Mark Krekorian from the Center for Immigration Studies testified via Skype.

“As you know, the federal government routinely entangles state governments in national policies and programs,” Corcoran said in the letter. “Once established, such programs are operated with minimal opportunities for input or control by state policymakers. We look forward to a robust re-examination of the relationships between states and the federal government under your leadership.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz says pay wage gap in U.S. getting worse

Sunday marked the eighth anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which  gives people who experience pay discrimination more time to file a complaint. Although the bill (the first signed into law by Barack Obama) was designed to close the wage gap between males and females in the U.S., Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says that President Trump is moving in the opposite direction.

“As a mother of two daughters, it’s possible that neither one will reach pay equity with their male counterparts until they both near retirement, according to one study,” the South Florida Democrat said in a statement issued out Sunday night. “Worse, those same inequities will shadow them throughout their retirement due to lower Social Security and retirement plan contributions.”

Wasserman Schultz says the proposal by Trump and the GOP-led Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act will only make it more difficult for women to reduce the wage gap, saying that the “economic impacts and personal hardships this will unleash are going to land disproportionately at the feet of women.”

 Women earn only 79 percent of men’s average hourly wages. That’s the ratio of women’s average hourly pay to men’s average hourly pay.

However, a study published in 2016 by Cornell University economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn said that that comparison is not based on doing similar work, and when these differences are taken into account, the ratio of women’s pay to men’s rises to almost 92 percent from 79 percent.

Wasserman Schultz is a sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, would require employers to prove that any difference in pay is unrelated to gender and prevent employees from being fired for sharing salary information, among other things.

“Women not only need legal protections that enable them to identify and challenge discriminatory pay and employment practices, they need a minimum wage increase, and family-friendly workplaces that legally ensure access to paid family and medical leave, as well as paid sick days,” she says. “Women also need affordable child care, and access to comprehensive reproductive health care. That’s how we erase the wage gap.”

Vern Buchanan to co-chair Congressional Animal Protection Caucus

Sarasota Republican Vern Buchanan announced on Monday that he will co-chair the bipartisan Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, a group dedicated to the preservation of wildlife and humane treatment of animals. The co-chair will be Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer.

“Stopping animal cruelty and protecting endangered wildlife should be a bipartisan issue important to all of us,” Buchanan said. “I’m looking forward to working with Congressman Blumenauer and the caucus to help protect endangered species and animals at risk of being abused.”

The caucus also works to raise awareness of animal welfare issues in Congress by sponsoring nonpartisan forums and briefings and providing members of Congress and their staff with information on animal welfare issues. Among the priorities that Buchanan says he’d like to overturn in the country include having dogs and rabbits subjected to painful experiments in the development of cosmetics, long an issue with animal rights activists.

He also says he wants to stop the prevalence of small animals being stomped to death in the production of fetish videos, and horses being maimed by trainers to make them high-step for competition shows, a practice known as soring.

“How we treat animals is intrinsically linked to how we treat each other. We have a moral obligation to our fellow creatures,” Blumenauer said. “Fortunately, animal welfare is a unifying issue on Capitol Hill, and we’ve been able to make progress. I look forward to working with Congressman Buchanan to continue bipartisan support for animal protection in this new session of Congress.”

Buchanan is one of the leading animal welfare advocates in Congress, receiving the U.S. Humane Society’s Legislator of the Year award last year.

The Sarasota Republican has introduced the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act in the House, a bipartisan bill that permanently bans the transport of horses to slaughterhouses in Mexico to be sold around the world. He also’s fought to stop U.S. slaughterhouses from killing horses for human consumption.

Marco Rubio says he’s ‘uneasy’ about potential impact of Trump’s executive order on refugees

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is weighing in on President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order temporarily banning refugees from mostly Muslim nations from entering the U.S., saying in a joint statement with South Carolina Republican Tim Scott that while generally supporting additional vetting, they are “uneasy about the potential impact of these measures on our military and our diplomatic personnel abroad, as well as those who put their lives on the line to work with us.”

The President’s executive action signed on Friday blocks refugees from Syria entering the country immediately, and blocks entry into the U.S. for 90 days for citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Rubio posted the statement with Scott on his Facebook page Sunday night.

Earlier during the weekend, Rubio had said that, “while I am supportive of strengthening our screening processes and securing our borders, a blanket travel ban goes too far,” according to the Washington Post.

Here is his joint statement with Scott in full:

After reviewing the recent Executive Orders, it is clear to us that some of what is being said and reported about the scope and implications of these measures is misleading. However, it is also clear that the manner in which these measures were crafted and implemented have greatly contributed to the confusion, anxiety and uncertainty of the last few days.

We generally support additional vetting for many of those entering our country from nations where the United States has identified there are serious concerns regarding terrorist activities and planning. But given the broad scope and nature of these policy changes, we have some unanswered questions and concerns.

We are seeking clarity on the changes to the Visa Waiver program, which is critical to the economies of our respective states.

And we are uneasy about the potential impact of these measures on our military and our diplomatic personnel abroad, as well as those who put their lives on the line to work with us.

We are both committed to doing what we must to keep America safe. We are equally committed to the defense of religious liberty and our tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing persecution. Like so many Americans, we are both guided by our belief that when we stand before our Creator to face judgment, He will say that “to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

That is why we intend to do all we can to both keep America safe, and keep America special.

Citizens come together in Ybor City to protest Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees

Donald Trump’s executive order suspending the entry of all refugees into the United States for 120 days inspired a crowd of several hundred (maybe a thousand?) to gather in Centennial Park in Tampa’s Ybor City on Sunday afternoon. The people were united in sharing their extreme disapproval of Trump’s decision, creating the second day of national protests against his administration in the first nine days of his presidency.

The order also barred Syrian refugees from entering the country immediately, and blocked entry into the U.S. for 90 days for citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“It’s never right to be racist,” said Tampa House District 59 Representative Sean Shaw. “It’s never the right to time to discriminate against people because of their religion. It’s never the right time to go up against everything America stood for.”

Shaw was the first public official to address the crowd. Other lawmakers in the crowd included (at least) three Tampa City Council members – Luis Veira, Yolie Capin and Guido Maniscalco.

Shaw is the son of Leander Shaw Jr., who was the second black Supreme Court justice in Florida history, and the first to serve as its chief. Sean Shaw wasn’t around for the civil rights marches from the early 1960’s, but he said this was the equivalent in 2017.

“This is what we should be doing,” he said, energized about the moment at hand. “Our children, and our grandchildren, are going to want to know – what were we doing at this time? And this is what we ought to be able to tell them we did.”

Several people in the audience applauded the decision by the two federal judges in New York and Massachusetts who temporarily blocked part of Trump’s immigration order.

“This is why we have a checks and balance system,” said Maniscalco, the son of two immigrants. “People that are flying in here with visas are now being detained allegedly indefinitely in the airport?” he said disapprovingly. “It makes no sense.”

“I believe anything is possible as long as we stand up for what we believe in, because they serve us, and we’re telling them that we do not accept what they’re doing, so we’re not going to stop,” said Brandon resident Alexandra Acevedo , who said she really didn’t want to be protesting every weekend, but might have to. She added that the Democratic Party really needed to start pushing back strongly.

A young Tampa resident named Samantha (no last name offered) said the two judges responses were reassuring.

“We’re not happy. We’re not going to take it,” she said. “We’re going to fight against it,” she said, arguing that Democrats should get ready to start calling for impeachment, because “this is ridiculous.”

Newly elected Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera said the opposition to Trump’s executive order really has transcended party lines, with Americans of all stripes upset. He said the idea of closing up the country to people fleeing atrocities was “morally questionable.”

Kathy Castor calls Donald Trump order on refugees ‘illegal, immoral and un-American’

Democrats across Florida are blastinPresident Donald Trump‘s executive order, which suspends for 120 days the entry of all refugees from certain Muslim countries to the United States.

The order, signed Friday, bands Syrian refugees indefinitely, and for 90 days, it blocks entry into the U.S. for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Among those speaking out is Kathy Castor of Tampa.

“President Trump’s executive order targeting and banning legal permanent residents and refugees from war-torn areas is illegal, immoral and un-American.  It has made us less safe.  If the president wants to empower jihadists, this is the way to do it,” Castor said Sunday.

Castor said she is in contact with local refugee assistance agencies to monitor circumstances of families who may have been in transit when Trump signed his executive order late Friday afternoon. She vows to “do everything possible to ensure America continues to provide safe haven to victims of torture and persecution as our country has done since its founding.”

Castor called Trump’s temporary ban “outrageous,” adding that banning Muslims, Iraqis and others who have assisted the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan will empower the terrorists.

“Facts matter,” she said. “Trump is taking our country down a dangerous path based on disinformation and discrimination.”

Meanwhile, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has also taken exception to the timing of Trump’s executive order, coming on the same day the administration sent out a statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day without mentioning Jews or antisemitism.

The South Florida Democrat called that omission “insensitive, disappointing and trampled on the memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazi’s during the Holocaust.”

“As a representative of tens of thousands of immigrants, I will stand with my immigrant and non-immigrant constituents and fight this unconstitutional and immoral policy with every ounce of energy I have,” Wasserman Schultz said of the temporary ban. “As the granddaughter of immigrants who fled persecution in Eastern Europe, I will not allow history to repeat itself by barring people fleeing for their lives and watch them perish because America turned our backs.

“Never Again means something to me even when it clearly means nothing to President Trump and his administration.”

Boca Raton Representative Ted Deutch asked Saturday in a tweet if any Republican would object to the temporary ban.

On Sunday, a handful of Republicans, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, criticized the proposal.

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