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Floridians for Solar Choice organizers say they’re still going strong

Floridians for Solar Choice said Friday that its efforts to gather enough signatures to get on the 2016 are still going strong. The group’s prepared statement came in response to reports that its progress has been slowing of late.

“Despite manipulation and millions of dollars spent by Florida’s monopoly utilities, the Solar Choice coalition has been successful in gathering hundreds of thousands of signed petitions in an effort to place the solar choice amendment on the ballot,” said Tory Perfetti, chairman of Floridians for Solar Choice. “This campaign’s growing army of volunteers and supporters, coupled with the backing of over 70 diverse associations, businesses and organizations, is committed to removing barriers to solar production and to open Florida’s solar market.”

The proposed constitutional amendment would allow companies to install solar panels on homes and businesses and sell that energy without being treated as a utility by state and local regulators. Its backers range from Tea Party and Libertarian groups to environmentalists.

An opposition group – Consumers for Smart Solar – was formed, though, with its own proposed constitutional amendment. Its aim is to protect current rules governing solar power sales. It’s backed by the biggest utility companies in the state. Consumers for Smart Solar have been bringing in much larger campaign donations than Floridians for Solar Choice, much to the frustration the latter’s advocates.

“It is extraordinary that FPL in collusion with the other monopoly utilities and their proxy groups are spending millions of dollars to intentionally mislead Florida citizens in an effort to block customer-owned solar development in the Sunshine State,” said Pamela Goodman, President of the Florida League of Women Voters, a member of Floridians for Solar Choice. “Floridians should be asking ‘Why do we allow monopoly institutions to exist when they are working against the public interest?’ We will not be deterred by their money because we have people power on our side, and we will continue to mobilize the people of Florida to have the freedom of solar choice.”

When contacted by FloridaPolitics.com, Perfetti said the campaign continues to collect signatures and go forward. Asked whether there’s any problem with its current paid signature gatherers, he acknowledged that “we have backed off of some of the pay,” but would not elaborate.

Floridians for Solar Choice has been working with PCI Consultants, a Southern California company, to pay for collecting signatures. Calls to speak with Angelo Paparella, their president, were not returned on Thursday.

Floridians for Solar Choice has more than 262,000 already verified by Florida’s Division of Elections and says they have more than 250,000 additional petitions signed and awaiting verification.

Consumers for Smart Solar has 361,509 signatures verified by the Division of Elections.

The deadline to turn in all verified signatures is Feb.1, 2016.

Mitch Perry Report for 12.11.15 – Bowe Bergdahl speaks

Since he began campaigning for president this year, one part of Donald Trump’s stump speech that has remained intact is when he attacks Bowe Bergdahl, calling him a traitor and saying he should be executed for deserting.

“We’re tired of Sgt. Bergdahl, who’s a traitor, a no-good traitor, who should have been executed,’ Trump said in Las Vegas last month. Thirty years ago, he would have been shot.”

The lines always gets huge cheers, another example of the so-called lack of political correctness that his supporters love him for. And it’s certainly a reflection of what a segment of the population feels about the soldier, who left his post during his tour in Afghanistan in 2009. He was captured and held prisoner by the Taliban for five years before he was exchanged for five high-ranking Taliban commanders being held by the U.S.

A lot of negativity (hello Bill O’Reilly) has been spewed about Bergdahl on cable news over the past year and a half, but the man himself has never addressed the American public.

Until now.

On the opening episode of the second season of the acclaimed podcast, “Serial,” Bergdahl speaks to screenwriter Mark Boal, in comments that were originally never meant for broadcast. Boal penned “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” and was able to gain Bergdahl’s confidence with he came home in 2014.

In the first episode, called “DUSTWUN” (which refers to the Army radio signal for “Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown.”), Berghdal says he realized the nature of what he did about 20 minutes after walking away from his remote operating base.

“I’m going, ‘Good grief, I’m in over my head,’ ” he says. “Suddenly, it really starts to sink in that I really did something bad. Or, not bad, but I really did something serious.”

Bergdahl says he left his post because he felt there were serious leadership problems in his unit, and he wanted to tell higher-ranking military officials about it. His plan was to walk 18 miles to Forward Operating Base Sharana, to report his observations. Then he decided he might be in trouble with them, and opted to gather intelligence on the Taliban so his commanders wouldn’t treat him as a deserter.

“When I got back to the FOB (Forward Operating Base), you know, they could say, ‘You left your position. But I could say, ‘Well, I also got this information. So what are you going to do?’ ”

That’s when he compares himself to Jason Bourne of the Bourne movie franchise (and what has prompted some of the biggest headlines from the first show).

“I was trying to prove to myself. I was trying to prove to the world, to anybody who used to know me, that I was capable of being that person,” he said. “Like me doing what I did was me saying that I am, I don’t know, Jason Bourne.”

It’s riveting stuff, as are the voices of some of his fellow troop members who were there when it was discovered that Berghdal was missing. They call themselves his friends at the time (though those same voices might be changing their tune as the series progresses).

“Serial” host Sarah Koenig promises as the end of this initial podcast that we’ll be hearing from Taliban soldiers in next week’s episode, to get their perspective.

The podcast’s debut came just as a military court is considering on whether to charge Bergdahl with desertion, which could land him in prison for five years. He could also get life imprisonment for endangering the troops who searched him.

The Armed Services Committee Thursday also released its long-awaited report on how the Obama administration handled trading Berghdal for five Taliban detainees at Gitmo.

Thanks to “Serial,” Bergdahl will have a segment of the population sympathizing with him. Frankly, that can only help him in the court of public opinion, which of course, ain’t a military court.

Oh yeah: The podcast debuted the same day that the House Armed Services Committee released a report blasting the Obama administration’s decision to release five Taliban detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Bergdahl.

In other news …

Alex Sink says if asked, she’d gladly serve as an ambassador or any other position that a President Hillary Clinton might offer her if elected next year.

• • •

Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman is the fourth month of his political comeback after a scandal led to his quitting politics three years ago. He’s raised more than $107,000 in his campaign to win the District 6 countywide race next year.

• • •

Tampa state House Democrat Janet Cruz will become House Minority Leader in a couple of years, and says she has no desire to run for mayor of Tampa in 2019 (or earlier).

If asked, Alex Sink says she would gladly join a Hillary Clinton administration

Last week Hillary Clinton spent two days fundraising up and down Florida. For her first and only appearance in the Tampa Bay area, she held a fundraiser at the Thonotassa home of Alex Sink, where an estimated 250 to 300 people came to see and hear the Democratic presidential candidate up close.

“I think the big takeaway from is just how impressive Hillary Clinton is,” Sink said of the event.”How well prepared, how well spoken. And she’s correct on all the issues that are important to people like me. People came away just shaking their heads about how strong she is.”

There was also buzz from some of those who attended that it would make sense if Clinton were to be elected to choose Sink to serve in her administration, possibly as an ambassador. Would the former Florida CFO be up for that?

“Oh, sure!,” she replied cheerfully in a telephone conversation on Thursday. “If the President of the United States calls and says I need you to serve the country, I would absolutely consider it,” before later adding that no such talks have occurred and that her support for the former first lady is unconditional in this campaign.

Those who know Sink think it would be a great fit.

“Alex Sink has no lack of options to serve our country, now and in the future,” said Nick Janovsky, who was political director for Sink’s congressional bid against David Jolly last year. “Floridians are better off partly due to Alex and her work as our CFO and the numerous causes she champions. Hillary Clinton is positioned to become our next president because she represents the values more in-touch with Americans than any other candidate running. Alex Sink has a vast and thorough understanding of our global economy, how to create jobs, protect American values, and would represent Florida and America as an ambassador of the best of our values.”

Alan Clendenin, a Democratic National Committeeman and vice chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, said he’s not sure whether Sink would serve in Clinton’s administration because of the personal sacrifices one makes to serve in public office, but says “of course, she is viable.”

“Alex has a strong business background along with a record of public service,” Clendenin said. “She would be an asset in a President Hillary Clinton’s administration.”
Democratic strategist Barry Edwards was a bit more skeptical about the possibility of Sink being named an ambassador, saying that frequently those selections go to supporters who have helped raise considerable amount of money for the candidate.
A review of ambassadors during the Obama administration indicate that such financial prowess can determine whether one becomes an ambassador to say, Germany (where the current U.S. Ambassador there, John B. Emerson, helped bundle more than half a million dollars in the ’08 campaign) versus say, Mongolia (where current ambassador Piper A. Wind contributed just $1,000 in the 2012 campaign). But not always. Former Montana U.S. Sen. Max Baucus raised little for either of Obama’s presidential campaign, and yet he’s our ambassador to China. But then again, he is a former U.S. senator.

The 67-year-old Sink is keeping busy these days, feeling no remorse about her decision not to pursue the Congressional District 13 seat that barely eluded her grasp against Jolly.

She’s on the board of various organizations, such as Tampa Bay WaVE, where she jokes she’s a sort of senior adviser to the start-up business community. She’s also on the board of the St. Petersburg based C1 Bank, in the news recently after they were acquired by Bank of the Ozarks (which one shareholder thinks was a bad deal and is now suing the board).

On the political side, she’s also excited to have “rejuvenated” Ruth’s List, the organization she helped originate in 2008 that works to recruit and train female candidates in Florida. “We’ve got about  25 on the ballot next year in various elections,” Sink said.

She’s also on the national board of the New Leaders Councila 501(c)(3) that works to recruit, train and promote progressive young leaders on policy, leadership and politics. “We have whole bunch of bright young energetic people that need to know that there’s a path for them to make a positive impact on their communities,” she said.

 A Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey released Wednesday shows Clinton leading  Republican contenders in a potential 2016 match-up in Florida, with the closest candidates – Marco Rubio and Donald Trump – each trailing her by over 7 percentage points.
“That’s encouraging,” Sink said when told the results. She attributes Clinton’s strong standing in Florida in part on the fact that Florida is so racially diverse.

“This hate rhetoric coming out of the Republican side is not going to appeal to a large Hispanic population, or immigrant population, or African-Americans, or women,” she said. ” They’ve managed to offend a big swath of the Florida population.”

Sink introduced Clinton at her fundraiser last week by saying, “Hillary Clinton knows how to be tough, but she also has a heart. And she cares deeply about improving the lives of all Americans.”

Meanwhile, a New York Times/CBS News poll released Thursday shows Clinton leading Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for president, 52-32 percent.

 

Mitch Perry Report for 12.10.15 – Recreational pot measure supporters back off 2016 ballot bid

Wednesday night, organizers with the group Regulate Florida told supporters in a conference call that they’re ending their attempt to put a pro-legalization of marijuana on the ballot next year in Florida.

FloridaPolitics.com was on that call, and posted the story soon after.

In a statement sent shortly after that call was completed, Regulate Florida Chairman Michael Minardi wrote, “Due to time constraints, it has become obvious we will not be able to collect the needed number of verifiable petitions in time to qualify for the 2016 election.

“However, it is because of all your hard work and the show of strength of our supporters that it is clear we can pass regulated adult use in Florida. We are happy to announce we are making a few minor changes to the petition language, have some soft commitments for funding, and we will be doing everything we can to make the 2018 ballot. By March, we will have a new petition with minor changes.”

So there you have it.

Let’s be honest here. Regulate Florida’s plans were pretty ambitious. Florida is hardly a progressive state when it comes to an issue like this. No doubt emboldened that the bid for medical marijuana came tantalizingly short last year, this group came together quickly this year and announced this past spring that they were serious about putting together a petition drive.

Such efforts are expensive. The reason why Florida is finally looking serious about getting a medical marijuana measure passed is that they finally got the sugar daddy that they had been looking for over a decade in John Morgan. Regulate Florida didn’t have that sugar daddy, though they say that they’re working with some donors already for a 2018 effort.

Last month, Ohio was attempting to become the first state in the nation to pass a recreational marijuana law before they already had a medical marijuana law in place. That measure failed, but if you followed that story at all, you know that it had a lot of major issues that prompted some pro-weed advocates to back away from supporting it.

So what about medical marijuana? Enthusiasts thought it was a sure thing in 2014, after some polls had the support in the 80 percentile early on. Obviously, a majority of folks want it in Florida. The feeling is with more Democratic Party voters going to the polls in a presidential year, it will have a better chance of passage in ’16. Not to sound mealy-mouthed about it, but that still remains to be seen, obviously.

In other news …

Former Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche is suing his former employer, after the county rescinded a clerical job offered him earlier this year. Roche was never a favorite with his colleagues on the board, and he claims that one of his former colleagues had something to do with his not getting the job.

• • •

The Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity’s Florida chapter is calling on its members to tell the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners to oppose the $29 million subsidy for improvements for Raymond James Stadium, the home of the Bucs (and USF football).

• • •

At a discussion on health care issues that the Legislature will contend with next year, Tampa House Democrats Ed Narain and Janet Cruz blasted Rick Scott’s “attack” on public hospitals in Florida.

• • •

Tampa GOP state representative Jamie Grant isn’t backing down from his denunciation of Donald Trump.

• • •

Saint Leo University Polling Institute has Donald Trump up 31-15 percent over Marco Rubio in Florida, and David Jolly and Patrick Murphy lead their respective races for U.S. Senate.

Bid to legalize recreational marijuana will not make it on 2016 ballot in Florida

Regulate Florida, the group aiming to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Florida in 2016 that would legalize recreational pot, is ending its campaign. Members acknowledge they will not be able to obtain the more than 683,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot by February.

Supporters were told Wednesday night via a conference call from Michael Minardi, the Jupiter-based attorney and campaign manager for Regulate Florida.

“The reality is showing us that we’re not going to get the million petitions or signatures verified by February 1,” Minardi said. “We had an uphill battle, honestly with getting a million signatures realistically from the end of August until December. We did believe with the movement and the momentum that we had that we could get this done, but unfortunately, we don’t think we’re going to at this point.”

Organizers of Regulate Florida tried to have Florida be the first state to go straight to legalizing marijuana without first having passed a medical marijuana law.

The bid for medical marijuana in Florida received over 57 percent of the vote in 2014, shy of the 60 percent required for a citizen-based constitutional amendment from passage. United for Care, the same group led by Orlando attorney John Morgan that led the effort last year, is working hard on attempting the get the measure on the Florida November ballot in 2016.

Minardi said that he was optimistic about getting the measure to legalize recreational marijuana on the ballot in 2018. He said he had some “soft commitments” from donors for that campaign already, and said he hopes to sign contracts with those donors next year.  He said he’s also hoping to get a Supreme Court review of the ballot language by next summer.

Karen Goldstein with Regulate Florida (who also heads the Florida chapter of NORML), told supporters on the call that the Regulate Florida intends to make some “minor” changes with the ballot language, and thus implored volunteers to destroy any current;y unsigned petitions.

Minardi said the group will be supportive of that effort, saying that its passage will help educate the people of Florida about the safety and efficiency of cannabis as a whole.

Goldstein also urged supporters who like to get out and petition to pick up some United for Care petitions to help get that initiative on the 2016 ballot. “We still need to get medical marijuana on the ballot in 2016. We still need to support, as we have all along, the United for Care effort.”.

“I have great respect for Mike Minardi and Karen Goldstein and anyone who undertakes the Herculean task of placing a constitutional amendment on the Florida ballot,” said Ben Pollara, director for United for Care. “I’m sorry their campaign didn’t end up the way they wanted it to. I hope this means they’ll return their full focus and energy to passing medical marijuana in 2016.”

“I would like to add our heartfelt thanks to all of you, ” said Goldstein to supporters on the call on Wednesday night. “We are going to come back stronger, and we’re going to get it done.”

“Unsure” leads new GOP Florida Senate poll with David Jolly next at 11.9%

Speculation still has it that there could be more candidates to enter the Florida U.S. Senate race, and a new survey of that race out on Wednesday from St. Leo University Polling Institute shows why that scenario persists.

A majority of  voters surveyed – 56.5 percent – say they are unsure who they prefer in the race, which doesn’t go before voters until the end of August of 2016.

Next on the list is Pinellas County U.S. Rep. David Jolly at 11.6 percent. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera is next at 8.2 percent. Former CIA contractor Todd Wilcox is tied with “someone else” at 6.8 percent, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is at 6.1 percent, and Ilya Katz is at 4.1 percent.

On the Democratic side, there are slightly less people unsure, but still the vast majority – at 46.9 percent.

Next up is Jupiter U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy at 16.9 percent. Alan Grayson is at 7.1 percent, which St. Leo’s says is essentially tied with “someone else,” which comes in at 7.7 percent.

Lateresa Jones is at 6.3 percent, and Pam Keith gets 4.4 percent.

St. Leo’s University Polling Institute polled 531 adults in Florida. 147 were Republicans, and 160 Democrats. The margin of error is plus or minus 8 percent with Republicans, and 7.5 percent with Democrats. The survey was conducted Nov. 29 to Dec. 3, 2015.

St. Leo University Florida Presidential Poll out shows Donald Trump with 30.5 % — Marco Rubio 15% — Jeb Bush 14%

Donald Trump continues to lead in the GOP presidential race in Florida, according to a new poll released Wednesday by St. Leo University Polling Institute.

The NYC businessman is at 30.6 percent, up nearly 5 percent points from a similar survey conducted in October. Marco Rubio is in second place with 15 percent, a drop of over 6 points over the past two months. Jeb Bush is at 14.3 percent, a drop of 1 percent since October.

Ben Carson slips to fourth place with 10.9 percent, compared to 14.7 percent in October. And Ted Cruz is now at 10.2 percent in the poll, up from 4.9 percent in October.

It should be noted that only 147 Republicans were contacted in this survey. Overall, 531 Floridians were polled by the institute from November 29 to December 3, 2015; a national survey of 1,007 adults was conducted in parallel during the same time frame. The margin of error for answers from the above subgroup is plus or minus 8 percentage points.

On the Democratic side, it’s not much of a contest at all. Hillary Clinton gets 58.8 percent of the vote to Bernie Sanders 26.9 percent. The margin of error on Democratic likely voter responses was plus or minus 7.5 percentage points. The subgroup numbered 160.

When asked who would be the best candidate would “likely mount the strongest and most effective effort against terrorists worldwide while protecting Americans at home?” the winner was Trump, with 25.2 percent support. Clinton was a close second with 22.8 percent. No other candidate received more than 10 percent support.

However, Clinton leads every Republican in the survey, and would also win in a three-way race with Trump running as an independent.

  • Clinton, 48.9 percent, vs. Trump, 41.2 percent.
  • Clinton, 48.9 percent, vs. Rubio, 41.2 percent.
  • Clinton, 51.2 percent, vs. Carson, 39.1 percent.
  • Clinton, 47.3 percent, vs. Bush, 37.9 percent.
  • Clinton, 53 percent, vs. Cruz, 34.7 percent
  • Clinton, 55.2 percent, vs. former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina, 29.7 percent.

Three-Candidate Presidential Race Projections from Florida

Likely voters in Florida were also asked whom they would choose if there were a three-way presidential ballot with Trump running an independent candidacy, with Clinton running on the Democratic ticket, and with each of the major current Republican candidates emerging as the party nominee. In all scenarios, the results broke in Clinton’s favor, shown below in descending order:

  • Clinton, 47.5 percent; Fiorina, 12.9 percent; Trump, 30.7 percent.
  • Clinton, 46 percent; Cruz, 21.3 percent; Trump, 26 percent.
  • Clinton, 45.5 percent; Carson, 20.3 percent; Trump, 27.7 percent,
  • Clinton, 44.8 percent; Rubio, 21.8 percent; Trump, 28.2 percent.
  • Clinton, 41.8 percent; Bush, 19.1 percent; Trump, 33.4 percent.

Tampa house Democrats blast Scott administration’s investigation into public hospitals

Florida Governor Rick Scott has been targeting the Florida public hospital industry for much of this year, after the Florida Hospital Association made a strong pitch for the Legislature to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, a push that failed for the third straight year in Tallahassee, and after the federal government announced deep cuts in hospital funding earlier this year

At a forum highlighting the upcoming Florida legislative session focusing on health care in Tampa on Wednesday, Tampa House Democrats Ed Narain and Janet Cruz blasted Scott’s efforts as being detrimental.

Narain is a freshman elected a year ago in the House District 61 which encompasses much of the urban corridors of Tampa. He bashed the Scott Administration for the Governor’s request earlier this year to order state health officials to audit more than 100 hospitals as part of his ongoing battle with those facilities, which the governor said was driving up Medicaid costs.

“And what have we found at this point?” asked Narain. “Absolutely nothing. So political theater is taking place in the state of Florida.”

Cruz, who also represents parts of Tampa, agreed, saying that the public hospitals are “under attack,” and said it reminded her of previous attacks on the public schools in Florida.

“Where they’re looking at this big pot of dollars and moving to voucher programs and charter schools,” she said. “They want to move away from the public hospitals that in my opinion serve the uninsured and the underinsured. The move is to privatize, and the hospitals are next.”

Earlier this year, the Governor created the Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding and directed it to examine the rate of return on tax dollars used for Medicaid. That panel was blasted as being biased, with only one of the nine appointees an actual physician (Gainesville microsurgeon Jason Rosenberg).

In September, Scott said he wanted to help Floridians to fight against unfair hospital prices by requiring hospitals to post their prices and average payments, along with their annual IRS reports, in an easily accessible location on their website.  He also proposed to create additional protections  by allowing the referral of any suspected hospital price gouging to the appropriate law enforcement agency or regulatory authority.

But he hasn’t had much help in acquiring a sponsor in the Legislature for such a proposal.

Although Cruz, Narain and Republican state house member Jamie Grant, the third member of the panel who participated in the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative on Wednesday, all said that Medicaid expansion was dead for 2016, it didn’t stop the partisan attacks that have been part and parcel of the debate for years in Florida.

Among the House Republicans talking points in opposing Medicaid expansion has been their contention that the state’s existing Medicaid program already provides a safety net for low-income children, pregnant women, elderly and disabled people. Grant says Medicaid expansion would have come at expense of kids and the elderly.

“If the question is to provide health care to a larger population that overwhelmingly was made up of able bodied men who chose not to work and didn’t have children, and we were going to pay for it by taking health care from kids and the medically needy, that’s never, ever ever going to pass the Florida House,” Grant said.

Cruz immediately responded that she didn’t like speaking after Grant because “he’s so bright and so eloquent – but he’s wrong here.”

“Most of the Medicaid population is sick children and lots of very sick children,” Cruz said. It is a sad day in the state Legislature that we refuse to offer care to working families. …it’s an atrocity, and it’s wrong, and we have a budget surplus in a $76 billion budget. We still refuse to provide some kind of care for our working families. It’s just wrong, it’s wrong that we didn’t and we don’t expand healthcare coverage in Florida.”

“We have too many people in this state that, when they think of the doctor, they’re thinking of the ER,” added Narain.

Grant is director of national markets for CareSync, an app and website that allow people to store and control their medical records online. His background in health care was apparent as he expounded effortlessly on his opinions regarding various aspects of the industry.

He kicked off the conversation by boldly stating that the traditional fee-for-service model of paying for health care was on the way out, to be value-based-care. “Fee-for-service is going to die,” he said. “The days for performed service, get paid for that service a set amount is going away.”

Grant said that was a move led by the federal government, and Florida has nothing to do with that. He said what the Legislature could do to augment that would be to allow for more price transparency in health care. “There’s zero reason that a hospital or a health system should be getting data from AHCA (Florida Agency for Health Care Administration) that’s a year or two years old. It’s 2015, it’s about to 2016. It’s laughable.”

Jamie Grant doubles down on referring to Donald Trump proposal on Muslims as “fascist”

Tampa area state Rep. Jamie Grant said Wednesday he’s not backing away from his Monday tweet calling Donald Trump‘s proposed ban on Muslims from entering the country a “a fascist proposal.” 

“The answer to immigration problems in this country is not fascism. It’s not registries of people who look a certain way or believe a certain thing,” Grant said at a meeting of the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative at the Children’s Board in Ybor City on Wednesday.

The GOP lawmaker sat on a panel with Tampa state House Democrats Janet Cruz and Ed Narain where the focus was on heath care, but the conversation veered into immigration when Narain was asked by moderator Donna Peterson how much heath care should go to the children of undocumented immigrants.

“We’ve got to find a path to citizenship for these folks,” said Narain, the son of immigrant parents. “I’m not saying that once you make it here, you’re here. I’m saying, let’s find a path. That’s going to involve paying money and becoming a citizen the right way. But once they’re here, we should not penalize their children.”

That prompted Grant to say that once he saw Trump’s comments on his Twitter feed on Monday, “I kind of got unfiltered and thought my campaign team is going to kill me for what I have to say” before he went ahead and tweeted his comments.

Narain then told the audience that they should start following Grant on Twitter. “He took Mr. Trump to task. I do commend you for because you did stick your neck out there and it was the right thing to do,” he said to applause.

Fellow Tampa Bay area GOP House member Chris Latvala has also been extremely outspoken about Trump.

On his Facebook page, Latvala wrote after Pinellas County U.S. Rep. David Jolly said Trump should no longer run for president after his recent remark that the New York City real estate magnate would be a “tyrant, plain and simple,” if elected president.

“This maniac is a facist (sic)… And democratic plant put in the race by the Clintons,” Latvala wrote. “If he wins the nomination he will get trounced by his longtime friend Hillary Clinton. Perhaps that was the plan all along.”

But not all members of the Florida House Republican caucus were so quick to criticize Trump.

“My guess is won’t think twice about or but his supporters won’t soon forget. ,” tweeted Lakeland House Republican Neil Combee, in reaction to Jolly’s comments, as well St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman‘s tweet heard ’round the world that he was banning Trump from entering St. Pete (Kriseman said he was joking).

Mitch Perry Report for 12.9.15 – Welcome to the new world of policing

There is a story in Wednesday morning’s New York Times quoting a variety of police chiefs across the country bemoaning how the prevalence of video cameras are changing the way they do their jobs, and makes it harder for them – even when those cameras come from their own agencies.

Since the fall of 2014 when incidents exploded in Ferguson and Staten Island, and Walter Scott was killed in South Carolina, a series of videotapes have shown police officers killing people who in many cases were unarmed. It’s been a huge story and led to a national consensus that body cameras on officers would be  beneficial for both the public and officers.

The Times story talks about how important community policing is.

“Since crime has been so low for so long, there are very high expectations in terms of what people expect of police chiefs,” said Inimai M. Chettiar, the director of the justice program at the Brennan Center for Justice, tells the paper. “Not only are they expected to keep down crime, but now they are expected to treat people with courtesy. That is new.”

Now let’s look at the ongoing saga in Chicago, where police superintendent Garry F. McCarthy was fired last week by Mayor Rahm Emanuel when the local community erupted in outraged after video footage showed an officer shooting black teen Laquan McDonald 16 times.

That tape showed a very different picture of what led that particular officer in Chicago – Jason Van Dyke – to shoot McDonald. The dash cam footage showed McDonald moving away from the officers with his hands down by his sides, not with his hand raised or lunging at Van Dyke. To quote USA Today, “Hundreds of pages of police documents released late Friday evening from the investigation of the police officer shooting death of Laquan McDonald show that cops at the scene offered a starkly different picture of what led to fellow officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times than what a dashcam video released last week depicts.”

That’s an understatement.

It’s enormously disappointing, to say the least, that so many of Van Dyke’s officers said something different to their superiors about that night. And it’s hardly comforting to think this is the first time something like this has happened, where there wasn’t video, and internal affairs or a citizens review board reviewed a similar case and said essentially, “nothing here to see.”

Yes, it is a different world of policing for law enforcement in late 2015: more accountability and transparency. And let’s hope, not so many tragic incidents.

In other news …

David Jolly got lots of publicity, as the one Republican not only denouncing Donald Trump for his comments about banning Muslims from entering the U.S., but saying that he no longer should be running for president after that remark.

• • •

Patrick Murphy agrees with Jolly, but the two men running for U.S. Senate from opposing parties disagree about banning those on the terror watch list from purchasing firearms.

• • •

There was a lot of debate and discussion regarding the regulation of ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft at the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation meeting Tuesday, but is there any prospect of actually having a policy that regulates those companies and the taxi cab companies?

• • •

And the Tampa Bay political establishment came out in the morning for the groundbreaking ceremony for USF’s Medical school and Healthy Health Institute at the site where Jeff Vinik is planning his $2 billion master plan for the Channelside area of downtown Tampa.

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