Sunshine State News Blogs
With Executive Order 13-328, Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday suspended Idella Glendora Scott, mayor of the Panhandle city of Monticello.
Mayor Scott, no relation to the governor, turned herself in for arrest Thursday night on one count of forgery, one count of grand theft and one count of uttering a forged instrument.
In August the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began investigating an incident in which the mayor, 51, then employed as a deputy clerk in the Jefferson County tax collector's office, allegedly deposited a customer's $697.25 vehicle registration check into her personal bank account.
The Fort Myers Republican found himself in hot water after he was arrested at the end of October for possession of cocaine. On Wednesday, Radel pleaded guilty to the charges in court and announced he'd be taking a leave of absence from Congress.
“Sometimes in life you need a wake-up call. This is my wake-up call,” said Radel, after he told reporters about his leave of absence from the House of Representatives. “I’m struggling with this disease, but I can overcome it."
Radel told reporters he will be donating his salary to charity while he's away from Congress. He did not specify when he would return.
Florida Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, has been named 2013 Philanthropist of the Year by the Nature Coast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
In its announcement, the AFP said, "In 2011, Wilton Simpson and his wife Kathryn made an unprecedented $250,000 gift to the Florida Hospital Zephyrhills Foundation that resulted in the naming of the breast health center at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills."
The announcement continued, "The Simpson Breast Health Center opened in October 2012 and is providing the community with outstanding screening, diagnostics, treatment and education for maintaining and restoring breast health.
"This extraordinary gift shows the Simpsons' level of commitment to the continuation of providing exceptional health care to East Pasco County and inspires others to embrace philanthropy in their own lives as a tangible way to make improvements in their communities."
Simpson responded, "While my involvement in philanthropic work is not done to seek personal recognition, I am deeply grateful to the people in my district who nominated me. As a newly elected legislator, I work every day to find ways that laws and regulation can be streamlined so that we have a government that is effective at fixing problems."
The senator concluded, "That process has reaffirmed to me that, while there is a role for government, it is no substitute for a community of neighbors who take the time to care for each other."
Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday that health care product provider Covidien will establish a medical-device manufacturing facility in Hillsborough County. The project will create up to 165 new jobs and $18 million in capital investment by 2017.
The company has pioneered a number of medical advances over the years, including pulse oximetry, electrosurgery, surgical stapling, laparoscopic instrumentation, and embolization devices.
According to a press release, Covidien chose Tampa Bay thanks in part to its strong workforce pipeline and the regional business climate.
“Covidien’s decision to expand their medical-device manufacturing footprint in the state is great news for Florida families," said Rick Scott. "After our elimination of the sales tax on manufacturing equipment, job-creating businesses like Covidien are choosing Florida to expand and grow. This announcement is great news and we will continue working hard to provide more jobs and opportunities for Florida families.”
“We are pleased to locate a medical devices manufacturing facility in Hillsborough County,” said Phil Devlin, vice president and general manager of Covidien. “We specifically selected Hillsborough County for several reasons, including its talented workforce and the Tampa Bay region’s business climate, economy and quality of life. Our new facility will not only provide jobs for the local community, it will support Florida’s growing life-science industry as well.”
Florida has nearly 1,000 biotech, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, and a foundation of more than 44,000 health care establishments.
Covidien is leasing temporary space in Sabal Park, with plans to occupy a 62,200-square-foot facility in Riverview by mid-2014.
The Florida Board of Governors has chosen a new chair and vice chair to help lead the State University System.
Mori Hosseini, who currently serves as vice chairman of the board, will replace Dean Colson as chair. Colson's term ends in January. Colson will remain a member of the Board of Governors through 2017.
Tom Kuntz, chair of the board’s Budget and Finance Committee, will replace Hosseini as vice chair. Both Hosseini and Kuntz will serve two years in their positions.
Their terms on the board run through 2017 and 2019, respectively.
“Chairing this board for the past two years has been a joy, a challenge and a privilege,” Colson said. “We’ve made some remarkable accomplishments, and I know we’ll be in good hands the next two years under the leadership of Governors Hosseini and Kuntz.”
Hosseini is chairman and CEO of Intervest Construction Inc, a company he has owned for more than 30 years. He has served on the Board of Governors since 2010, and has most recently chaired the board’s Trustee Nominating and Development Committee, helping to oversee the interviewing and selection of dozens of appointees to boards of trustees across the State University System.
Kuntz is the geographic banking executive for SunTrust Banks, where he oversees the company’s 16 geography-based business units – comprised of nearly 1,700 branches in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Kuntz also serves as chairman, president and CEO of SunTrust Bank, Florida. Kuntz was appointed to the Board of Governors in 2012 and as chair of the board’s Budget Committee has led the development of the board’s new performance-funding model.
Hosseini and Kuntz will assume their leadership roles at the board’s next meeting in January.
“I’m so proud of the work of this Board of Governors. Over the past few years, under the leadership of Dean Colson and those chairs before him, we have seen a transformation of our State University System,” Hosseini said. “We are more cohesive than ever before, together dedicated to ensuring access, academic quality and accountability for our students.”
“Working with this Board of Governors has been a true honor,” Kuntz said, “and I look forward to the further gains we’re sure to make in the months and years to come.”
A tirade by Democratic CFO candidate William Rankin was instrumental in getting Tamarac Talk reporter Brooke Knight and attorney Marc Reiner banned from Tuesday's AFL-CIO meeting in Riviera Beach.
Knight, who had written a story questioning Rankin's lack of knowledge and experience for Florida’s top financial job, encountered the candidate on her way into the meeting. Rankin refused to answer Knight's questions and accused her of working for the incumbent CFO, Republican Jeff Atwater.
A story in Wednesday's Tamarac Talk describes the incident, post-ruckus, like this:
“'That’s her, she works for Jeff!' Rankin pointed toward Knight.
"The chairwoman of the AFL-CIO said to Knight, 'Do you work for Jeff?'
“'Jeff who?' Asked Knight.
“'The CFO? I’ve never met the man in my life. I’m a voter who is doing research, and I have questions for Rankin.'
“'The article you wrote was all lies,' said Rankin.
"Marc Reiner asked Rankin, 'Which of the facts was a lie?'
"Rankin didn’t answer. He disappeared inside the building. However, both Knight and Reiner were banned from entering. They handed their questions to the union leader and told members to Google Rankin before giving him any of their money."
As it happens, Knight was not the first, but the second reporter to write about Rankin's embellished resume. The first was Chaz Stevens, whose blog appeared Friday on myactsofsedition.com. Knight's story ran Tuesday, and my column following Knight's research was published Wednesday in Sunshine State News.
Voters might want to read all the stories they can find on William David Rankin, to decide for themselves whether this candidate is mischievous, delusional or just misunderstood.
On Wednesday, the Board of Governors unanimously approved Criser to the position.
After the board's vote, Criser spoke briefly about his plans for the future of Florida's 12 universities. He said he hopes to establish additional accountability measures to help demonstrate Florida's higher education system.
Criser also thanked the Board of Governors and spoke highly of their work.
"It is incredible to me the team that is a part of this Board of Governors and the professionals that are there, the competence that is there, and the day-in-and-day-out commitment that they make to our state that make this something that is incredibly attractive to me," Criser said of the chancellor job.
Frank Brogan, who held the position prior to Criser, stepped down in September to take a similar job in Pennsylvania.
Reince Priebus took the lead from his Democratic counterpart, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has vowed that during midterms, all her candidates will run on the health-care law, amid its series of problems.
Priebus will hold Democrats’ feet to the fire on their pledge to do just that in 2014. In a press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters Tuesday, he invited those Democrats to make their case directly to their constituents.
Priebus also said the RNC has purchased domain names for particular Democratic candidates (MarkPryorLovesObamacare.com, for example) if they accept the invitation. If they don’t accept the domain names, he said the RNC “may use them anyway” to illustrate the candidates’ support for the law.
Have a look at Priebus telling FOX viewers all about it:
"I've hit a bottom where I realize I need help," Radel told District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Robert Tignor.
News of Radel's arrest hit yesterday afternoon, and Radel said he struggles with alcoholism and will seek treatment and counseling.
“I'm profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida," said Radel. "I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice. As the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them.”
"Congressman Trey Radel's conduct is an embarrassment to his district and to the state of Florida," said FDP Executive Director Scott Arceneaux. "The issues facing Florida and our country are too serious. Congressman Radel should resign immediately and allow the voters of Florida's 19th Congressional District to elect a Representative that is able to effectively and honorably serve them."
If convicted, Radel faces a maximum of 180 days in jail, as well as a fine of up to $1,000.
A new CBS poll released Wednesday showed the president's job approval rating has plummeted to the lowest of his presidency, and Americans' approval of his signature health care plan has dropped to the lowest it's been since CBS News started polling on the law.
Thirty-seven percent now approve of the job Obama's doing as president, down from 46 percent in October. The president's disapproval rating is at a high of 57 percent.
Support for the Affordable Care Act has dropped as well. Approval of the law has fallen to 31 percent, a drop of 12 points since last month. Sixty-one percent -- including 46 percent who say they disapprove strongly -- said they disapprove of the Affordable Care Act.
The poll is reflective of a growing crisis for the Obama administration, which has received significant criticism over the glitchy rollout of its signature health care plan. Last week, the administration released enrollment numbers for the health care plan and only 106,000 people had successfully signed up across the country.
Radel was charged with misdemeanor possession of cocaine on Tuesday and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
"I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice," Radel, who's serving his first term in the U.S. House, said in a statement Tuesday. "Believe me, I am disappointed in myself, and I stand ready to face the consequences of my actions.
"However, this unfortunate event does have a positive side: It offers me an opportunity to seek treatment and counseling," he went on. "As the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them."
Radel is expected to appear in court Wednesday.
This is a breaking story. Check back for more updates as they become available.
“Kathleen has always been one to speak up for children,” said Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and chairman of aFloridaPromise. “She has been a champion for accountability and choices in Florida education, helping to keep the state’s focus on student learning. Our state was fortunate to have such a strong and passionate voice to help guide decisions affecting all Florida families.”
“Kathleen led boldly and served Florida families during a pivotal time in our state’s education reform history,” said Patricia Levesque, executive director of aFloridaPromise. “She stood up for student-centered decisions, even when doing so was not the popular or comfortable thing to do. I am grateful for her leadership, service and friendship.”
A mysterious envelope addressed to "Steven Fulop, family and friends" -- Fulop is the Jersey City mayor -- showed up at City Hall in Jersey City on Monday. When a mayoral aide opened the envelope, white powder fell out. According to CBS, there was also a letter inside, which sources told the newspaper contained 'spiritual stuff, heaven stuff,' -- along with the picture of the former Jets quarterback. But the exact contents of the letter were not revealed to the newspaper pending investigation.
The white powder turned out to be harmless and the return address on the envelope was ultimately deemed a fake.
The mayor was not in his office when the envelope was opened.
The district extends from Kendall to Key West.
Martinez's name had been floating as a potential nominee for the 2014 election since Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., defeated incumbent Republican Rep. David Rivera in 2012.
A poll recently conducted by the Washington, D.C., firm The Tarrance Group shows that despite his opponents having been openly campaigning for months, Joe Martinez is the front-runner in the 2014 Republican primary.
The report showed Florida's crime volume had dropped 5.2 percent compared to the first six month of 2012.
According to the report, the number of violent crimes (murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery and aggravated assault) was down by 3.5 percent. The report also showed a 10.6 percent drop in murders, a 2 percent decrease in robberies and a 4.2 percent decrease in aggravated assault.
Nonviolent crime (burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft) also fell 5.5 percent. Burglary and larceny are down 9.5 percent and 3.7 percent respectively, and the number of motor vehicle thefts decreased by 9.6 percent.
Domestic violence offenses continued to decline in the first half of 2013, showing a 1.7 percent drop when compared to the first half of 2012.
"Our communities are on a path to a 43-year crime low, which improves the quality of life for families and benefits all aspects of our communities," said Gov. Rick Scott about the report. "This 5.2 percent drop in crime sends a signal to the rest of the world that Florida is a great place to find opportunities and raise a family. We’ll continue working in close partnership with law enforcement officials to make Florida communities even safer.”
“These numbers reflect historic lows,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “Law enforcement is working hard to make Florida a safe place to live, work and play.”
“It is encouraging to see decreases in every crime category,” said Florida Police Chiefs Association president, Springfield Chief Philip Thorne. “Keeping our communities safe is the top priority of police chiefs across Florida and we are seeing the results of our efforts.”
The complete 2013 Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report, including county-by-county breakdowns, can be found on FDLE’s website.
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) has recognized Sen. Dorothy L. Hukill, R-Port Orange, as a “2013 Legislative Champion” for SB 796, her 2013 bill calling for the use of ignition interlock devices to be used in vehicles operated by convicted drunk drivers.
Ignition interlock devices have been proven to be highly effective in reducing repeat drunk-driving offenses as well as providing a better solution to license suspension alone for convicted drunk drivers.
“Drunk-driving fatalities are preventable and we should be doing whatever we can to help stop these senseless tragedies,” said Hukill. “MADD’s recognition of my legislation is an honor and I commend them on their continued advocacy to prevent drunk driving.”
A story that probably won't rise to the top of the pop charts in government cities like Tallahassee is news of a study conducted by researchers at Harvard and Penn, who have found that cheating students are more likely than others to want government jobs.
The study apparently was conducted in India, a country that ranks around the middle in perceived corruption, but the results have relevance to the United States, say the researchers. Here's why:
One of the contributing forces behind government corruption could be who gets into government work in the first place.
For instance, “if people have the view that jobs in government are corrupt, people who are honest might not want to get into that system,” said Rema Hanna, an associate professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
The story, as reported in townhall.com, points out that over the past year or two, "plenty of examples of government corruption have come to light right here in America, too." Here's how the conservative news source reasons it:
-- The IRS targeted certain Americans because of their political beliefs. At the same time, the IRS and the DOJ gave special advice to Democratic-leaning nonprofits on how they could campaign for Democrats without violating the law.
-- The administration lied about the reasons for the Benghazi attacks.
-- The EPA waives fee requests for friendly groups, but imposes the fees on groups it doesn't like.
-- Americans were told if they like their health insurance, they could keep it -- despite private administration documents asserting the contrary.
-- The DOJ implied a reporter was a criminal for reporting on classified information -- thereby allowing the government to tap his (and his parents') phones.
-- We heard the attorney general tell Congress that he had no involvement in the “potential prosecution” of a journalist for perjury -- but it turns out he signed off on the affidavit characterizing the reporter as a potential criminal and had to go "judge shopping" in order to get the subpoena he sought.
-- We read about the secretary of HHS demanding "donations" from companies she might regulate to encourage the uninsured to enroll in Obamacare (after first denying it).
-- We became acquainted with "Richard Windsor" -- the false name used by the head of the EPA to avoid congressional scrutiny. Jackson/Windsor even won an award for being a "scholar of ethical behavior"!
-- We all became investors in Solyndra -- the bankrupt firm owned by Obama backers which was generously funded by taxpayer money.
Townhall.com ends its report with this: "Given all these recent incidences of reported government corruption, is it too big a stretch to suspect that America's cheating students will be disproportionately attracted to government, too?"
Shanahan had served on the board since 2006 and was appointed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush. She served as chair in 2011 and 2012.
At the state board's meeting on Tuesday, Shanahan warned board members to remember who they were really there for -- the students of Florida.
“Remember, you are here for all of the students,” she said. “You are not here for a segment of the students, or a different agenda. You are here to be an advocate for all of Florida’s kids. It’s as simple and clear as that.”
Shanahan had become increasingly vocal at recent meetings, criticizing Gov. Rick Scott for not showing up to his own education summit and raising concerns over the board's decision to keep the safety net provision so that schools did not drop more than one letter grade.
Earlier this week, Crist said Obamacare was the "right thing to do" and said the country needed it. He also said he believed it would continue to improve. In another interview, Crist says he "won't shy away" from Obamacare. The health care law has come under considerable criticism from Republicans lately as the website for sign-ups has been riddled with technical problems, leaving many unable to sign up for health care.
"Charlie Crist has said he would vote for Obamacare, supports implementing Obamacare and that our country needs Obamacare," said RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry. "Now he's made it clear that he's running on Obamacare. He's been bragging about hugging President Obama and has made it clear he's hugging Obamacare. This government takeover of health care is something we can't afford and Charlie Crist is someone Floridians can't afford to be governor again."
Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, qualified as a candidate with the Florida Division of Elections on Monday, just one day before the candidate filing period for the race closes.
Peters is expected to launch her campaign on Tuesday and will face off against David Jolly, a former top aide to the late Bill Young.
Young held the seat for nearly 40 years, but Republicans may face an uphill battle in trying to win the congressional seat. Former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has announced her candidacy and has already won the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and EMILY’s List.
The district, which is mostly centered in Pinellas County, has become more Democratic in recent years. President Barack Obama carried it in both 2008 and in 2012.
Gov. Rick Scott today announced that information technology specialist iSirona, a company that provides solutions for medical device integration, will expand its operations in Panama City, creating 300 new jobs and a capital investment of $2.25 million.
Said Scott, “iSirona’s expansion in Panama City will create 300 jobs which is great news for Florida families. For its expansion, iSirona considered other locations like California, Texas and Virginia, but chose Florida for our great business climate. There have been more than 365,000 private-sector jobs created in the last two years and our unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in five years. Florida provides job creators with a great workforce and the opportunity for growth, but we still have more work to do to build a diverse economy that will create jobs for generations to come.”
The company is five years old and Panama City is its headquarters. According to its press release, "iSirona helps clinicians make more informed decisions about patients by providing an easy-to-use approach for medical device integration."
The company was ranked "One of America's Most Promising Companies" in 2013 by Forbes magazine. In 2012, Inc. Magazine rated it the fifth fastest-growing private company in U.S. health care.
Since the beginning of 2012, iSirona has grown from 31 employees to more than 180, and this expansion will triple its workforce to more than 400 employees.
Dave Dyell, CEO of iSirona said, “We consider Florida and Panama City to be partners in iSirona’s success. We continue to be pleased with the statewide commitment to nurture the high-tech sector; our outstanding universities and community colleges that are wonderful resources; and our ability to recruit top talent that appreciates the local lifestyle. We are delighted that our ongoing success is bringing more high-value jobs to Panama City.”
Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., traveled to Panama to talk about the Panama Canal expansion and its importance to Florida’s economy on Monday.
The Republican Party of Florida noted, however, that Biden and Wasserman Schultz were late to the party championing Florida's ports.
In a press release from the RPOF, Press Secretary Susan Hepworth wrote:
"Since taking office, Governor Scott has been a champion for Florida’s ports, investing $38 million into JAXPORT’s Mile Point Project and $75 million into PortMiami’s dredging project. Governor Scott understands the economic impact of the expansion of the canal and Florida’s ports, which is why he put up the state funds instead of waiting for the federal government to make good on its end of the promise. Sound familiar?
"And just last month, Governor Scott announced another $35 million commitment for Florida port projects in Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, and Port of Tampa. We’re glad that Biden and Wasserman Schultz are finally joining the party – even if it is a little late."
Party Chairman Lenny Curry said Gov. Rick Scott has remained focused on the economy of the Sunshine State while Biden, Wasserman Schultz and other Democrats do damage control on President Obama's troubled health care rollout.
"While Democrats in Washington like Joe Biden and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have been covering for the president’s dishonesty when he said ‘if you like your insurance plan you can keep it,’ Governor Scott has remained laser focused on Florida’s economy, including Florida’s many ports and the expansion of the Panama Canal.”
In September, Gov. Rick Scott ordered Florida to pull out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test and required the State Board of Education to hold public hearings on Florida's education standards.
"While the debate surrounding Common Core standards has become polarized into a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ discussion, we heard during the Education Summit that most education leaders agreed on two things. We agree that we should say ‘yes’ to high standards for Florida students and ‘no’ to the federal government’s overreach into our education system," said Scott. "Therefore, I notified the federal government that Florida would be withdrawing from PARCC, and at the same time we will hold public comment sessions to receive input on any alterations that should be made to the current Common Core standards. We are committed to maintaining high standards for our students. Period."
The board will be selecting a new test to measure the standards, which will be fully implemented in Florida's schools by the 2014-2015 academic year. While Florida pulled out of the fiscal responsibility associated with PARCC, it still remains an option for an assessment test.
Scott lauds his own accomplishments in the letter, saying:
"In the four years before taking office, Florida lost more than 832,000 jobs, and unemployment more than tripled -- from 3.5 to 11.1 percent. State debt increased by $5.2 billion, our housing market collapsed, our economy was off track and our families were hurting.
The figures are reminiscent of Scott's talking points about his accomplishments as governor, and he has been well-known for focusing on the state's economic recovery as one of his biggest accomplishments while in office.
Scott then wishes the newly-admitted attorneys the best in their future endeavors.
"As an attorney practicing in the Sunshine State, you will have many opportunities to serve Floridians with dignity, respect, fairness and integrity. You have my best wishes for your continued success, and I invite you to share your ideas with me for how we can continue making Florida the best place to achieve the American dream."
Scott will head to Panama City to make the announcement at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport at 1 p.m.
Check back to this blog for more updates as they become available.
In a new press release, Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, an organization that has been vocal against the national education standards, said it was "disappointed" in Criser's imminent appointment because he has no academic experience and has worked in the business community for his entire career.
Criser's support for the Common Core standards also came under fire.
"[Criser] is a huge proponent of the Common Core standards which he misleadingly called in a recent op-ed 'The Florida Standards,' our version of the Common Core State Standards, as if there is any difference," read the press release from FSCCC. "The truth is that the state of Florida made a conscious decision to adopt the copyrighted Common Core standards word for word in 2010. There is no Florida version of the Common Core."
In the op-ed, Criser referred to "Florida's Standards" as standards that the Sunshine State adopted with 44 others a few years ago. Although Criser did not directly name the Common Core State Standards in his piece, Florida hopped onboard with CCSS with the exact same number of states three years ago.
Dr. Karen Effrem, co-founder of FSCCC and president of Education Liberty Watch said she had great concerns with Criser's support of the standards.
"I am appalled and deeply concerned that the new leader of Florida's university system would support Common Core when even the principal architect of the math standards, Jason Zimba, has publicly admitted, [Common Core is] not only not for STEM, it's also not for selective colleges,'" she said. "If Florida wants to continue its nation-leading economic recovery, it will need to actually educate its students, instead of merely training them in the low-level, psychosocial workforce skills embedded in the Common Core."
Criser's comments drew additional criticism for supporting "academically inferior standards."
"Our state is headed for serious academic and economic trouble if the incoming university chancellor supports these untried, academically inferior standards. Florida's students have already made great strides both nationally and internationally without Common Core," said Randy Osborne, director of education for Heartland Research and lobbyist for Florida Eagle Forum. "We don't need trained workers. We need educated citizens. Florida deserves better."
The PAC aims to get pro-choice women elected to office.
"One Democratic woman governor in our country is not enough," read the email. "In 2014 we need the full weight of the EMILY's List community -- all 3 million of you -- behind Wendy Davis, Mary Burke, and Allyson Schwartz who are fighting to become the voices for women and families as governors of their states. We need more Democratic women in governors mansions across the country."
EMILY's List has endorsed Nan Rich in the past, but the former Florida Senate minority leader was seemingly not included in the PAC's email, even though she's been in the race well over a year.
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., made the case for the impeachment of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday. Yoho is one of the chief supporters of Texas Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Olson’s efforts to impeach Holder.
“Impeachment proceedings are a safety valve our Founding Fathers granted Congress in the event that an official is so negligent in their duties that drastic action must be taken,” Yoho said. “It is unfortunate that it has come to that point for our attorney general. He has repeatedly failed to enforce multiple laws, provided false testimony under oath regarding the investigation of journalist James Rosen, and has refused to comply with the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious -- an operation that resulted in the death of American Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
“The attorney general’s blatant disregard for the law has brought us to this point,” Yoho insisted. “Officials should be held accountable to the citizens they serve and it is our duty to bring that accountability back to government. It is time we restore justice to the very department that shares its name.”
The South Florida Water Management District’s top lobbyist announced his retirement at the agency’s governing board meeting Thursday.
Ernie Barnett, the SFWMD’s assistant executive director and head of its mammoth Everglades and water resources initiatives, has been with the district since 2005. He was instrumental in Tallahassee this year helping legislators understand Gov. Rick Scott’s Everglades Restoration Strategies and its implications for settling challenges by the federal government.
Barnett also led previous efforts for the state’s passage of the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act, according to the SFWMD. Beyond Tallahassee, he has aided state Everglades efforts in D.C. by lobbying for adoption of the federal water bill -- Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) 2000 -- that authorized the first major Everglades blueprint, called the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
Recently, after the resignation of Executive Director Melissa Meeker, Barnett stepped in as interim director and helped transition the agency to its new full-time Executive Director Blake Guillory.
Barnett is expected to enter the private sector and alluded to the fact he would still have a presence in Tallahassee next year.
He will stay with the district until Jan. 1.