Orlando Archives - Page 7 of 33 - Florida Politics

John Morgan, Vote No on 2’s Jessica Spencer dispute each other’s facts on medical marijuana

Face to face, medical marijuana champion John Morgan and Vote No on 2 Policy Director Jessica Spencer did not agree even on the basic facts behind each other’s arguments.

In a debate televised on WESH 2 TV in Orlando over Florida Amendment 2, the medical marijuana issue on November’s ballot, Morgan, the Orlando lawyer who chairs United For Care, and Spencer spent much of their time disputing each other’s most fundamental arguments as false.

The amendment would allow for doctors to recommend marijuana for patients suffering from debilitating illnesses ranging from neurological conditions to cancer to chronic pain to end-of-life diseases — if the doctors conclude marijuana could help control the symptoms or reduce pain. With that written, formal recommendation, patients could receive state ID cards that could allow them to obtain marijuana from licensed dispensaries regulated by the state.

The amendment needs 60 percent voter approval in the Nov. 8 election to pass. A poll WESH commissioned and reported during the debate showed it is riding with 69 percent support, with just 24 percent opposed and 7 percent undecided.

Spencer repeatedly insisted the amendment is “de facto legalization” of marijuana in Florida, while Morgan repeatedly insisted that nothing in the amendment would allow for recreational use.

“When your argument is a blatant falsehood, I don’t know how to debate that,” Morgan said.

Morgan repeatedly insisted medical marijuana works for patients suffering a broad range of conditions, while Spencer contended there was not enough science for the medical community to agree.

“He needs to be educated,” she said.

Spencer insisted medical marijuana could be turned into candy, sold near schools and made attractive to children, while Morgan declared the Florida Legislature and county and city governments have the power to prevent such abuses through regulation and would indeed exercise this authority.

Morgan insisted, at its worst, marijuana would certainly be a safer alternative to highly addictive opioid medications, while Spencer argued there is no consensus, as there is with opioids, regarding appropriate medical marijuana strengths, dosages, or times to take it.

Spencer said there are legitimate drug trials under way right now involving pill-form medical marijuana, but Morgan said the pills simply do not work.

Morgan said Spencer’s organization is backed by money from the pharmaceutical industry, which is trying to stop medical marijuana approvals nationwide. Spencer disputed that, saying Vote No On 2 has received no money from the pharmaceutical industry.

Morgan accused Spencer of fearmongering with false arguments against Amendment 2. He belittled her argument about it making marijuana easier to get by contending that right now it is easy to get on the street. The amendment, he argued, is for people who need legally available alternative medicine.

“It is not legalization of recreational marijuana,” Morgan said. “What this is, is a cure for really, really, really sick people.”

Spencer accused Morgan of being “someone who preys on people who don’t want to see other people suffer.”

“Do we want to believe the medical professionals and the medical community, and the law enforcement agencies, and the people that understand science, what we should do here, and how dangerous a constitutional amendment of this kind, which is in fact de facto legalization, or do we want to believe the predators, that prey on our compassion and our caring for individuals who suffer?” Spencer concluded.

Bill Clinton to run bus tour in Florida later this week

Former President Bill Clinton will run a bus tour from Orlando to Pensacola on Friday and Saturday.

The tour, promoting his wife Hillary Clinton‘s Democratic run for president, will have RSVP-only public events in Jacksonville on Friday and in Bay County and Pensacola on Saturday. Exact times and locations have not yet been announced.

Though the bus tour begins in Orlando, there were no events announced for Orlando.

The former president has made frequent trips to Florida in recent months, including a three-city swing just last week.



Cards Against Humanity targets Donald Trump near UCF

A super PAC set up by the people who gave the world Cards Against Humanity — perhaps the world’s rudest card game — are targeting Donald Trump in a new billboard installed in Orlando near the University of Central Florida.

But if you’re over 35, you might need a millennial-to-English dictionary to figure out what it’s saying.

“Donald Trump Mains Hanzo and Complains About Team Comp in Chat” the billboard declares, next to a cartoon picture of the Republican presidential nominee shouting at a computer screen.

The billboard, on East Colonial Drive facing eastbound traffic, just past Alafaya Trail, was purchased by the Nuisance Committee, a political action committee controlled by the creators of Cards Against Humanity, which bills itself as “A party game for horrible people.” Money for the ads comes from sales of a special political edition add-on pack of cards.

Yet the Orlando billboard’s message is drawn from another game, Overwatch, created by Blizzard Entertainment. Hanzo is a generally despicable character. Maining essentially means to obsess about only playing that character. It’s considered a great insult to a gamer. “Complains about Team Comp in Chat” essentially accuses Trump of complaining about all the people who are supposed to be on his team: it’s their fault.

The billboard refers to a website the Nuisance PAC set up to make further insults, along the same theme, against Trump. But they, too, are drawn from the game Overwatch. And while they may be familiar to gamers, the meanings may not make much sense for anyone else. One message is obvious: asserting that Trump blames everyone else for his own mistakes.

The billboard is specifically targeting votes between the ages of 18 and 30.

This is the third political statement from Nuisance Committee, following a “Trump Doesn’t Pay Taxes” billboard in Chicago and a podcast featuring activist and actor George Takei.

The committee’s name comes from a meaningful piece of Cards co-creator Max Temkin‘s family history, according to a press release from the Nuisance Committee. His grandfather, Ira Weinstein, was shot down over Germany on his 24th combat mission during World War II and interned in a POW camp, Stalag Luft 1. There, Weinstein and other Jewish POWs banded together to form a “Nuisance Committee” to irritate their captors in ways that wouldn’t get them shot, according to a press release from the company.

The comparison between Trump and Hitler is intentional, according to the press release.

Pulse victims’ and gunman’s family can testify on 911 calls

Relatives of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting victims, as well as the parents of the gunman, will be given the chance to speak at a hearing on whether all the 911 calls from the massacre can be made public.

A judge on Monday issued an order setting a hearing when relatives of the 49 deceased victims can weigh-in on the impact of the release of calls made by their loved ones from inside the Pulse nightclub.

A notice of the Oct. 31 hearing also was sent to the parents of gunman Omar Mateen.

Mateen opened fire at the Pulse nightclub on June 12, claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group, in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. He was killed after a three-hour standoff during an exchange of fire with SWAT team members.

The city of Orlando and about two dozen media groups have been fighting for four months over the release of all the 911 calls, as well as four calls between Mateen and Orlando police.

The media groups have argued that the release of the records would help the public evaluate the police response to the massacre. The city has said the records were exempt from the state’s public records law, both because they were part of an investigation and because some were graphic calls of patrons being shot and killed.

Last month, the FBI, which is investigating the mass shooting, said that withholding the records is no longer necessary to its probe.

The city subsequently released a transcript of the calls between Mateen and police dispatchers and negotiators, as well as all but 232 calls that it claims are exempt under a Florida law that prohibits the release of a recording depicting a killing or the prelude or aftermath of one. The city has included in the exemption all calls that came into or were made from the nightclub during the massacre.

The media groups, including The Associated Press, said in a court filing this week that the city was applying “an overbroad and unconstitutional interpretation … to continue to withhold a large swath of records that simply do not qualify for exemption.”

The city, in its court filing, said the sound of gunfire and suffering are documented in many of the recordings, and that their release would be an invasion of privacy for the family members of the victims. The recordings are not necessary to evaluate the police response, the city filing said, and lawyers for the city wouldn’t be opposed to the media groups receiving a transcript of the recordings.

“Hearing the panic and fear in the voices of the victims would serve no public purpose,” the city’s filing said.

Republish with permission of the Associated Press.

Pride Fund, Val Demings, Patrick Murphy bring gun control pitch to Orlando

The Pride Fund — a political action group tying gay rights and gun control inspired by the June 12 Pulse nightclub massacre — is planning a press conference in Orlando Wednesday with Democrats Patrick Murphy, Chris Murphy, and Val Demings.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy is running for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat, taking on incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, has been one of the leading voices in the Capitol seeking gun restrictions, especially since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in that state in 2012.

And former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings is running for the U.S. House from Florida’s 10th Congressional District, which includes the site of Pulse, the popular Orlando gay nightclub that was turned into a bloodbath June 12, when madman Omar Mateen opened fire with semi-automatic weapons he’d purchased only a few days earlier. Demings faces Republican nominee Thuy Lowe.

The Pride Fund to End Gun Violence arose a few weeks after Pulse and quickly began raising money, making endorsements and spreading money around in efforts to ban semi-automatic weapons and seek other restrictions, including efforts to prevent someone like Mateen from obtaining any guns. The committee already has endorsed Patrick Murphy and Demings, along with Democrat Stephanie Murphy, who’s running in the neighboring Florida’s 7th Congressional District against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica of Winter Park.

The Pride Fund also has endorsed three state candidates from Orlando, all Democrats: former state Rep. Linda Stewart, who is running in Florida Senate District 13 against Republican nominee Dean Asher; Beth Tuura, who is running in Florida House District 47 against Republican incumbent state Rep. Mike Miller; and Carlos Guillermo Smith; who is running in Florida House District 50 against independent candidate Shea Silverman.

Pride Fund Executive Director Jason Lindsay will be leading an 11:30 a.m. press conference with the two unrelated Murphys and Demings at the Embers restaurant, a couple miles north of Pulse in downtown Orlando.


Labor, tourism, citrus money coming in for Victor Torres in SD 15 race

Democratic state Rep. Victor Torres‘s bid for a promotion to Florida Senate District 15 is getting the financial blessing of several big Orlando business interests, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

Torres, who is facing Republican Peter Vivaldi, received thousands of dollars in the last two weeks of September from interests representing the Walt Disney Co., Mears Transportation, the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, beer distributors, and several unions, along with several thousand dollars in citrus agriculture money.

Torres had a tough primary battle and spent almost all of his campaign money to date prior to the Aug. 30 election, but in the last two weeks of September he brought in $30,429, giving him about $34,000 heading into October for the final push toward the Nov. 8 general election.

Vivaldi, a youth minister and businessman, raised $4,725 in the final weeks of September, giving him $17,000 in the bank heading into the last month of the election campaign. Vivaldi did not have a primary opponent.

They’re running to replace state Sen. Darren Soto, a Democrat from Orlando who is running for U.S. Congress rather than re-election. SD 15 covers south Orange County and part of northern Osceola County.

Among Torres’s latest contributions were five $1,000 checks from labor union political action committees; four from various Disney entities; four from beer distributors’ interests; two from Mears entities; two from the AMSCOT payday lending company; one from the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, and one from Isle of Capri Casinos. He also received four $500 checks from various PACs representing Southern Gardens Citrus holdings, and one from the Orlando Magic.

Vivaldi’s big, recent contribution also was agriculture-related, $1,000 from the Florida Farm PAC, plus another $250 from the Orange County Farm Bureau.

Dean Asher continues upping campaign finance advantage in SD 13

Republican nominee Dean Asher continues to raise campaign money at a pace Democratic nominee Linda Stewart can’t even dream of in their contest for Florida Senate District 13, bringing in almost $56,000 in the last two weeks of September.

That’s more money than Stewart has raised in the nine months since she began her campaign. Yet Stewart, whose most recent campaign finance numbers still have not been posted with the Florida Division of Elections, soundly defeated a far-better-financed primary opponent in August and has maintained she runs effective campaigns without money.

Money’s not a problem for Asher. His latest contributions, $38,225 to his official campaign account and $17,500 to his independent political committee “Allegiant Friends For Florida,” means he’s raised $590,000 overall and had more than $152,000 left in his official account and more than $163,000 in his PAC to spend in the final month of the campaign before the Nov. 8 election.

Senate District 13 covers north central and northeast Orange County, an area Stewart has represented in the past as both a state representative and an Orange County commissioner. Asher, a Realtor, is making his first political foray, seeking to replace term-limited Senate President Andy Gardiner in a district that has been redrawn to give it a Democratic advantage in registered voters.

Asher’s latest contributions include $7,500 from the Florida Manufactured Housing Association, $5,000 from the MHK engineering firm and 26 $1,000 checks from various political action committees and businesses ranging from the National Federation of Independent Businesses-Florida to Jacksonville Greyhound Racing.

Anheuser-Busch says ‘This water’s for you’

ab2690_l7_2_ab_water_3d3Anheuser-Busch announced Friday it would deliver more than 450,000 cans of drinking water to communities around Florida dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

“We are humbled to be able to help out our neighbors in urgent times like this,” said Craig Tomeo, senior general manager of Anheuser-Busch’s Jacksonville Brewery. “Putting our production and logistics strengths to work by providing safe, clean drinking water is the best way we can help right now.”

The company said Deerfield Beach, West Palm Beach, Fort Pierce, Orlando, Melbourne, and Daytona Beach would get shipments from their Cartersville, Georgia brewery.

So far in 2016, Anheuser-Busch has delivered more than a million cans of drinking water in the wake of natural disasters, including the historic flooding in southern Louisiana earlier this year, and also has contributed $1 million to the Red Cross as part that organization’s Annual Disaster Giving Program.

Hurricane Matthew is the first major hurricane to hit Florida in a decade. The storm began tracking along the state’s east coast Thursday, causing an estimated 1 million Florida residents to lose power as of Friday afternoon.

The storm has moved north and remained about 50 miles east of Florida’s coast and is expected to continue along the Georgia and South Carolina coastlines this weekend before making an eastward turn into the Atlantic.

Buddy Dyer postpones state of city speech due to Hurricane Matthew

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer‘s annual State of the City Address has been postponed until after it’s certain the city is OK.

The mayor’s office announced Tuesday it and the Downtown Orlando Partnership are postponing the speech that was scheduled for Wednesday, as Hurricane Matthew continues its uncertain march past or into Florida later this week.

A new date and time have not been set.

Stating that the safety of Orlando residents and businesses is the top priority, Dyer encouraged all residents and businesses to closely monitor Hurricane Matthew and use Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare themselves, their families, and employees for potential landfall. For more information, suggested supplies, and things to consider while preparing for a storm, visit cityoforlando.net.

Progressive Democrat Linda Stewart, moderate Republican Dean Asher disagree mainly on priorities in debate

The next state senator representing the Orlando-based Senate District 13 is likely to be concerned about guns and mental health, and supportive of the LGBT community and advocating environmental protection; though Republican Dean Asher and Democrat Linda Stewart part ways on economic matters.

Asher, a Realtor and self-described political moderate, and Stewart, a former state representative who calls herself a political progressive, found much to agree on, at least in principal, if not detail, on many issues during a Tiger Bay of Central Florida debate Tuesday. But while Stewart emphasized her priorities as education, environment, equality, and transportation, Asher described his as jobs, jobs, jobs, and advocating for small businesses.

Both seek to replace retiring Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner in a district that, since last year’s redistricting, now has a voter base that leans Democrat, rather than leans Republican. With that in mind, Asher stressed his status as a business owner, while also expressing support for other issues Stewart has championed, ranging from public education to medical marijuana.

“With Linda and I here, you know, I think there’s a lot of things we can agree on, obviously, the water stuff, the Everglades Restoration Act. Obviously, schools are important. I’ve got two kids. … I will do everything in my power I can to make sure our kids and our students and our parents have the best schooling,” Asher said. “And second, it’s all about jobs, it’s all about the businesses here.”

One area that drew quick disagreement was Gov. Rick Scott‘s desire to increase funding for state incentives to attract businesses. Asher said he would favor of such incentives, though he later backed off a little bit, saying the matters need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Stewart was emphatic she did not see the success rate, she did not see the accountability, and she saw much better uses for the money.

“The promises [tied to previous incentive deals] have not been followed thorough, and we’ve given a lot of money to these companies where they fall short on the jobs they promised,” she said.


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