Rick Scott

Cory Booker in the house — for Nelson

bookerU.S. Sen. Cory Booker — a Democratic rock star — is headlining a fundraiser for fellow Sen. Bill Nelson in Tallahassee next month.

Booker, who was the mayor of Newark before heading to D.C. in 2013, will be the main draw at an April 14 luncheon at the home of Altha Manning, according to an invite posted on Twitter by Allison Tant, a former head of the Florida Democratic Party.

nelson fundraiser

Nelson, a veteran politico who’s represented Florida in the U.S. Senate for 17 years, could be in a face-off against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Scott, who is forced out of the governor’s office due to term limits, is expected to announce his intentions soon.


UPDATE: Deutch, Moskowitz blast Putnam, DeSantis on guns

IMG_0075UPDATE: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s government office responded to the blog with a schedule from Feb. 20 showing a one-hour visit to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. And Putnam’s gubernatorial campaign spokeswoman, Amanda Bevis, had this to say:

“It’s no surprise the Democrats are selling a story full of untruths. If they did their research, they would know that Adam Putnam has in fact visited the school, has met with the students and mourned with them for their loss, and has met with law enforcement officials and the Governor to discuss what we as a state can do to prevent further tragedies like the massacre that took the lives of so many innocent Floridians. It’s the Democrats who are politicizing this tragedy – using falsehoods to further their own agenda of limiting our Second Amendment rights. The monster in Parkland, who was a red flag that should have never gotten his hands on a gun, cannot and should not be compared to law-abiding citizens who seek to defend themselves and their families.”



Congressman Ted Deutch and state Rep. Jared Moskowitz shredded U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Ag Commish Adam Putnam — Republicans in a heated race to succeed Gov. Rick Scott — over a new school-safety law and gun regulations in general.

The Florida Dems — who aren’t running for governor, as far as we know — spoke to reporters during a conference call Monday morning, with Moskowitz challenging both “empty suit” Putnam and DeSantis to a debate on the issue.

“I’ll meet in Taylor County, if that’s what they want,” Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 14 students and three staff were slaughtered on Feb. 14.

Scott recently signed into law a measure, aimed at the Parkland massacre, that raises the age from 18 to 21 and imposes a three-day waiting period for the purchase of long guns, such as the semi-automatic rifle used by 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz on Valentine’s Day. The new law also bans bump stocks, which can make semi-automatic weapons mimic fully automatic guns.

Moskowitz condemned Putnam, who has said he would not have signed the bill into law, for failing to visit the school, something Scott and the other members of the Florida Cabinet did, and for not meeting with students who traveled to the Capitol to lobby  for school safety measures and stricter gun regulations.

“He hid in his office on the ground floor while everybody else was trying to figure out how we work together to keep kids safe in schools,” Moskowitz said during the conference call.

DeSantis, too, “did not bring anything to the table,” according to Moskowitz.

“Would he have signed the bill? He should be challenged to answer that question,” he said.

The call was a taste of what’s sure to come as the race to replace Scott heats up, now that the Legislature’s packed up and gone home.

“It’s pretty clear that anyone who spends five minutes looking at the records of both my colleague, Congressman DeSantis, and Adam Putnam that they’ve chosen their A-rating from the NRA over their concern about public safety, the lives of kids, the city of Parkland and the state of Florida. And that makes them both unfit to serve as governor of the state,” Deutch said.

DeSantis’ lengthy pro-gun voting record  “has shown utter disregard for and rejection of the kind of common sense measures that can help save lives,” Deutch said.


Rick Scott: Sunshine State final three

Gov. Scott tweeted his NCAA basketball brackets on Thursday, leaning heavily upon home-state teams, with a final four comprised of Miami, Florida State University, University of Florida and Duke. Apparently unafraid of incurring the wrath of ‘Noles, Scott has UF over FSU in the championship game.

Durham, N.C.-based Duke is a second seed. Miami and UF are both six seeds in their regional brackets, while FSU in a ninth seed.

No Key Lime pies appear to have been wagered.

 — By Jim Turner.

Dad of slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas student: “I’m a father, and I’m on a mission”

Andrew Pollack’s 18-year-old daughter, Meadow, was among the 14 students shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.

Pollack, who watched from the gallery as the Florida House voted 67-50 to approve the school-safety measure sparked by the nation’s second-worst school shooting, that also left three faculty members dead, Wednesday evening.

He praised the House, Senate and Gov. Rick Scott, and called the measure an important first step to ensure the safety and security of school children.

“On a personal note, my precious daughter Meadow’s life was taken and there’s nothing I can do to change that. But make no mistake, I’m a father and I’m on mission. I’m on a mission to ensure that I’m the last dad to ever read a statement of this kind. If you want to help me, and keep my children safe, I want you to follow me cuz there’s strength in numbers, at remembermeadow.com.”

Here’s Pollack speaking to reporters immediately after the vote.


Grieving fathers to House: “Come together as the families have done”

IMG_2951(1)As some House Democrats argued against a school safety proposal they maintain contains a “poison pill” that would allow school personnel — including some teachers — to carry guns to school, the parents of two slain students pleaded with the Legislature to pass the bill.

Andy Pollack’s 18-year-old daughter Meadow died in the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Ryan Petty’s 14-year-old daughter Alaina was also among the 14 students and three faculty members killed in the nation’s second-worst school shooting at the Parkland school.

The grieving fathers spoke to reporters Wednesday as the House debated the school safety measure (SB 7026), and even as a handful of Democrats spoke against it.

“There’s so much good in this bill that it needs to pass,” Pollack said. Last night, the families of the 17 students and teachers sent a letter to House members, urging them to pass the bill.

“If anyone’s voting against it in their, they have a different agenda than what their community has, which is protecting our kids and making them safe,” Pollack, who was one of the parents who met with President Donald Trump at the White House, has  appeared on national television speaking out in favor of school safety. “Whoever’s voting no, doesn’t have the interests of the kids in the community as their best interest.”

Petty said that the families had different opinions and come from different backgrounds.

“We came together. We’re united behind this legislation. And our ask is that the Florida House come together as the families have done and pass this bill,” he said.

Pollack said he can’t understand why any lawmaker would oppose the bill, a $400 million package that includes money for early mental health screening and school hardening.

“Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, there’s everything that’s good in this bill that’s good for the community. Sure, there’s a couple of things … Nothing in life’s ever perfect. But a majority of this bill is going to help the communities,” he said.

Petty agreed, brushing off questions about the lack of an assault weapons ban sought by many of the Douglas High students who lobbied lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott on the bill.

“We’re not focused on the individual provisions of this. There’s enough good in the middle of this bill that everybody can agree on and that’s what we’d ask the Legislature to do. Focus on the things you agree on, not the things you disagree with,” said Petty, who, accompanied by Scott, made direct appeals to the House and Senate during floor sessions last week. As Andy said, this is about keeping our kids safe in their schools. It’s not about political agendas. Set them aside. Vote to pass this legislation and let’s protect our kids. We can lead in Florida,” he said.


School safety measure in House’s hands

All eyes are now on the House, after a sweeping school safety measure squeaked out of the Senate on a 20-18 vote Monday evening.

But could a tweak that may have kept the bill from going down in the upper chamber result in its demise across the rotunda?

Sen. Rene Garcia, a Hialeah Republican, sponsored an amendment that would exclude individuals who “exclusively” provide classroom instruction from participating in the school marshal program, rebranded by the Senate on Monday as the “Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.” The controversial program would allow specially trained teachers or other school personnel to bring guns to class.

With the clock ticking down until the session ends Friday, there’s no guarantee that the House, slated to take up the bill (SB 7026) tomorrow, will pass it as is, Senate leaders acknowledged.

“It’s been a very dynamic process. There were even amendments on third reading, which is unusual for a bill of this stature,” Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, told reporters late Monday evening.

“There’s some general consensus, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both the House and the Senate had some additional input into the process. But I think on some of the fundamental areas, there’s agreement,” he said.

The Senate plan also includes a provision that requires both school districts and sheriffs to sign off on the plan, while the House’s version would only require the blessing of the school boards.

Gov. Rick Scott has opposed arming teachers, and it’s unclear whether he would support the revised bill.

Sen. Bill Galvano, who’s negotiated with Speaker-Designate Jose Oliva and Scott on the proposal, said that the measure passed by the Senate Monday night “was not a deal with the House,” but was generated from “the discussion” during Saturday’s floor debate.

Garcia was a no vote, Galvano pointed out.

(Translation: If Garcia had joined the opposition on Monday, the bill would have died on a 19-19 tie.)



Bondi: ‘I would have gone in’ without a gun

Attorney General Pam Bondi claimed she would have entered the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — even without a gun — during the Feb. 14 school shooting that left 17 people dead.

Bondi’s comments Monday come as investigations into the actions of first responders. A Broward County deputy, Scot Peterson, who was the school’s resource officer resigned after it was revealed that he remained inside his car as the slaughter went down.

“Let me put it this way, when you have a school full of students, and your duty is to protect those students, even if I didn’t have a firearm I would have gone into that scene. That’s what you do. That’s what the coach did who was a true hero,” Bondi said during an appearance Monday on FOX News show Fox & Friends.

Bondi also said that not everyone has been honest about the response from the Broward Sheriff’s office, but she did not elaborate.

“It’s all going to come out in the investigation,” Bondi said.

Gov. Rick Scott has directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to review the events leading up to 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz’s killing spree as well as law enforcement’s response on the day 14 students and three faculty members were killed.

The Florida House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee is set to discuss an investigation into local agency actions relating to the shooting later today.

Bondi favored Scott’s approach over demands that Broward Sheriff Scott Israel resign from politicians like House Speaker Richard Corcoran and most of House Republican caucus.

In addition to Peterson, three other deputies remained outside of the school during the mass shooting, according to media reports.

Bondi suggested that statements she’s received from some at the sheriff’s office “weren’t honest with me, nor were they honest with the governor.”

By Jim Turner.