Florida Democratic Party Platform

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Monday, October 24, 2011

At the corner of Las Olas Blvd & Tarpon Drive, where the historic Colee Hammock neighborhood begins, stands a live oak tree more than a century old. A few years ago, it was moved to its present location to make way for development. The Smoker Family, one of Fort Lauderdale's pioneer families,undertook the moving of the tree onto property owned by First Presbyterian Church. In cooperation with the Colee Hammock Homeowner Association, on Monday October 24 at 7:00 pm, this historic tree will be illuminated. The public is invited to join the event. Music and refreshments will be provided.
  • Historic Tree-- more than 100 years old
  • Historic Neighborhood – Colee Hammock, circa 1916
  • Historic Church – First Presbyterian, celebrating its Centennial in 2012
  • Historic Family – the Smokers

Speakers at the event include:

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Romney Rogers,  Ed Smoker, Rev. Douglas Brouwer of First Presbyterian Church, Colee Hammock HOA President Jackie Scott, and Sierra Club Conservation Chair Matthew Schwartz.

For more information visit the website: www.lightthetree.blogspot.com

Contact: Robin Merrill, robin@christiancultural.com, or 954-828-1505

Occupy Wall Street

Thousands of Floridians took to the streets over the weekend, inspired by the growing Occupy Wall Street movement. Protests sprang up in Orlando, Sarasota, Miami,Tallahassee and several other cities. Follow the jump for the latest.


Occupy Wall Street | Florida Independent

Occupy Wall Street

Thousands of Floridians took to the streets over the weekend, inspired by the growing Occupy Wall Street movement. Protests sprang up in Orlando, Sarasota, Miami,Tallahassee and several other cities. Follow the jump for the latest.


Occupy Wall Street | Florida Independent

Watch "A Decade of Difference" Concert Live on Saturday

Clinton Foundation

We are just one day away from seeing a truly remarkable line-up of performers gather together on one stage for one cause -- to recognize and support "A Decade of Difference" of the Clinton Foundation. The evening will feature performances by Lady Gaga, Usher, Juanes, Kenny Chesney, K'naan, The Edge and Bono, and more. You won't want to miss this! 

Even if you're not able to be there in person, you can still join the celebration live only on Yahoo atwww.clintonconcert.yahoo.com and catch the exclusive updates on Twitter @clintontweet.

Text "Concert" to 20222 to receive a reminder to tune in to the live webcast.

Through performances and film, this incredible evening of entertainment will shine a spotlight on the Foundation's efforts to improve global health, strengthen economies worldwide, promote healthier childhoods, and protect the environment. Over the past decade, the Foundation's work has resulted in: 4 million people in 70 countries benefitting from lifesaving HIV/AIDS treatment at reduces prices; 26,000 entrepreneurs, small business owners, and smallholder farmers improving their family's livelihoods and their communities; 30 million kids in the United States and Latin America receiving more nutritious meals in schools; and 4.5 million trees planted in Malawi and Rwanda, benefiting over 8,000 farmers -- all work that you've helped make possible!

So please take a moment now to sign up to be reminded of the live webcast, and don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime concert on October 15th to celebrate what you've helped the Clinton Foundation achieve over the last decade. 

Message From: Congressman Ted Deutch

Rep. Deutch: Modernize America's Schools 

Rep. Deutch joins local officials to discuss the American
Jobs Act at Melaleuca Elementary School.
The average public school building in America is over 40 years and badly in need of repair – an unfortunate reality Rep. Deutch sought to highlight during a recent visit to Melaleuca Elementary in West Palm Beach, a local school that has not been renovated since it was built in 1966. Across the country, schools spend $6 billion annually on energy bills, far surpassing investments in new textbooks and technology. In addition, many of them lack modern laboratory science equipment, putting millions of American children at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy. All told, school districts have an estimated backblog of $270 billion in deferred maintenance.

At Melaleuca Elementary, Rep. Deutch highlighted the American Job Act’s initiative to renovate 35,000 outdated schools across the country, from repairing leaky roofs and installing insulation to upgrading science labs and replacing inefficient appliances. In Florida, where for the first time in decades the state budget provided no funding to school districts for maintenance and repair, the American Jobs Act would mean desperately needed improvements for outdated schools like Melaleuca Elementary.

“We have 35,000 schools across the country in need of repair, and 14 million Americans out of work. Passing the American Jobs Act should be a no brainer,” Rep. Deutch said. See a video clip of Rep. Deutch’s visit to Melaleuca to the right

Deutch Efforts on Behalf of Veterans Succeeding in South Florida and in Washington 

The House of Representatives recently passed portions of the Helping Homeless Heroes Act of 2011, legislation introduced by Rep. Ted Deutch aimed at strengthening federal efforts to end homelessness among America’s veterans. Over the last decade, the number of homeless servicemen and women on the street every night has dropped from over 300,000 in 2003 to less than 150,000 in 2009. The measures introduced by Rep. Deutch bolster federal programs with a track record of success helping homeless veterans receive counseling, find employment, and acquire affordable housing.

Rep. Deutch with soldiers at his veterans job fair in West Palm Beach. 
“I am pleased to have my colleagues join me in support of federal initiatives that have successfully helped thousands of homeless veterans get off the streets and back on their feet,” said Rep. Deutch. “As more and more of our troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan and encounter a challenging economy at home, we must ensure that the federal programs responsible for providing job-counseling, housing assistance, health care, and other services are fully funded. We have an obligation to ensure that no veteran becomes a forgotten hero after their mission is complete.”

At the local level, Rep. Deutch is also working to help returning servicemen and women successfully transition into civilian life. He recently hosted a job fair for veterans at the West Palm Beach Armory to encourage local businesses to consider hiring a hero. Hundreds of reservists and veterans attended the event and took advantage of the opportunity to mingle with dozens of employers.

Rubio cosponsors bill that would eliminate one out of every 10 federal jobs

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., recently announced that he is cosponsoring a bill that would drastically cut public sector jobs. S. 1611, or the "Reducing the Size of the Federal Government Through Attrition Act," would reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent by 2015.


Message From: Congressman Ted Deutch

Over and over again, we hear Republicans feed the American people the lie that Social Security is going broke and that somehow the retirement benefits of American workers are responsible for our national deficit. No matter who spouts this misinformation, we have a responsibility to set the record straight. That's why this week in Judiciary Committee, I went head to head with Douglas Holtz-Eakin, one of Senator John McCain's top economic advisers in 2008.

Watch the exchange:

On a separate note, I wanted to let you know I am in a social media competition with some of my Democratic colleagues in Congress. In a race to see who can get the most new Facebook fans and Twitter followers, I am already gaining on some of my more senior colleagues. If you would like to help put a strong South Florida Democrat on the social media map, all you have to do is "Like" my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter.

I hope you enjoy the video, and I hope to connect online soon.

Yours truly,

Ted Deutch

Obama slams GOP for playing 'games' with economy, jobs

President Obama urged the Senate to pass his jobs act in a press conference Thursday, warning those who oppose his plan that "this is not a game" and telling senators that they would have to explain to voters their opposition to the bill.

The president said that "there is no doubt that growth has slowed" and called our congressional Republicans for playing "games" with the economy.

"As we look towards next week, any senator out there who would vote against this jobs act needs to explain why they're voting against something that will help," Obama said at a Thursday news conference.

The press event showed off the combative tone Obama has adopted since the August recess. He again cast himself as someone looking to cooperate with Republicans while insisting the GOP has refused to meet him half way. Obama has taken this stance even as he has demanded that Congress approve his jobs bill as it was written.

Read the complete story here.

Tropical Acres update, Thieves Rip Off Restaurant After Fire

Just weeks after a popular Dania Beach eatery was nearly burnt to the ground, police say a group of opportunistic thieves stole thousands of dollars worth of equipment before the restaurant could reopen.
Tropical Acres at 2400 Griffin Road was temporarily closed after it was badly damaged by smoke and flames on Aug. 30. The fire, ruled accidental by investigators, ripped through the laundry and kitchen area and required extensive clean up.
According to the Broward Sheriff's Office, the owners moved several pieces of equipment to a covered patio while they worked to clean the restaurant for reopening, and that's when the thieves struck.
On Oct. 3, an employee spotted two men taking some items from the patio, and called police, Deputies arrived and arrested 21-year-old Gary Favors and 20-year-old Neville Allen.  
When detectives looked at surveillance video, they saw Favors and Allen removing appliances and loading them onto a truck with the help of two other men on three separate dates.
The items stolen included a utensil washer worth $22,000, a water heater worth $5,500, a food warming cabinet worth $4,000 and two other items worth over $3,000.
Authorities say the items were sold for a fraction of their value at a local scrap yard.
The BSO is looking for the two other suspects believed to have helped in the thefts, and are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Anyone with information is asked to call Broward CrimeStoppers at 954-493-TIPS.

Rep. Alcee Hastings Recognizes LGBT History Month

Each October, we celebrate the many contributions of our nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. It is an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come in the ongoing struggle for LGBT rights, as well as rededicate ourselves to achieving true equality for all Americans.  
In 1994, a Missouri high school history teacher named Rodney Wilson decided to take action after finding out that textbooks failed to address LGBT issues. He organized a grassroots network of teachers and community leaders and together they created LGBT History Month, which coincides with another important LGBT tradition – National Coming Out Day on October 11. Thanks to Mr. Wilson's courage and initiative, more and more educators are now including LGBT history as part of their curricula and school programming.

In recent years, the LGBT community has experienced some major victories. Just last month, we realized another major milestone in the fight for equality. On September 20, 2011, the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law was officially repealed. After nearly 18 long years, the brave men and women of our Armed Forces are now free to serve their country honestly and openly, without the constant fear of being discharged based solely on their sexual orientation. Furthermore, in 2009, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named in memory of the 21-year old University of Wyoming student who was brutally tortured and murdered in 1998 because he was gay. This legislation is a testament to our resolve to end violence based on prejudice and hate and to guarantee that all Americans need not live in fear because of who they are.

While the LGBT community has certainly made great strides towards true equality over the years, there is still much work left to do to ensure that all Americans are being treated equally. LGBT individuals are still discriminated against in areas such as marriage rights and employment opportunities. The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and, for federal purposes, defines marriage as between one man and one woman as husband and wife. DOMA is a discriminatory law that denies legally married same-sex couples the over 1,100 critical rights, benefits, and protections that the federal government affords heterosexual couples. That is why I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA. In addition, I am also a proud original co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which simply affords to all Americans basic employment protection from discrimination based on irrational prejudice, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Finally, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the growing number of suicides by LGBT youth. These tragedies make it clear that our schools, colleges, and universities are inadequately equipped to address bullying and support for LGBT students. We must do more to prevent bullying and suicide amongst our young people, which is why I am an original co-sponsor of both the Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011 and the Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2011. I would also like to commend the tremendous work being done by the It Gets Better Project and other organizations in support of LGBT youth. Together with my colleagues in Congress and the Obama administration, I will continue working to prevent bullying, in all its forms, before it is too late for one more young person.

LGBT history is more than just the story of one community; it is part of the American experience. This LGBT History Month, it is my sincere hope that our nation as a whole will soon recognize the equal rights of all Americans and reflect this in our laws at the federal, state, and local levels.


Broward County attorney and Democratic activist Ken Keechl  announced his campaign for the District 7 seat on the Broward County Commission.

“I will run a people-powered campaign – walking, knocking on doors and meeting residents and business owners of District 7,” Keechl said. “The people of District 7 will always be my main focus.”

Due to term limits, four long-time commissioners are leaving, two in 2012, and two more in 2014.

“The Broward County Commission needs a seasoned business professional with local government experience,” Keechl says. “I have the ideas, determination and skills to hit the ground running. I will make things happen.”

Keechl believes it is critical to implement government accountability that ensures the residents of Broward County are served ethically, efficiently and respectfully.
In announcing his candidacy for Broward County Commission District 7, Keechl said, “I pledge to continue to have an open door to District 7 residents, to seek out our community leaders for guidance, to listen to neighbors’ concerns, and together to find solutions.”
Keechl believes the Broward County Commission can create jobs.

“We can invest in our seaport, airport, transportation systems, and public infrastructure without raising taxes,” Keechl said. Ken Keechl has never voted in favor of a tax increase.
“As a commissioner, I will continue to support incentives that create, attract and grow companies that will help put people back to work in District 7 and throughout Broward County,” Keechl said.
Ken Keechl served four years on the Broward County Commission, including one year as Broward County mayor. During his service to the county he focused on balancing development with preserving green space.
A native Floridian, Keechl, 48, has lived in Broward County for nearly 25 years and is a graduate of Florida State University. Keechl, a partner at Broward County law firm of Kopelowitz, Ostrow, Ferguson, Weiselberg, Keechl, PA, is taking many cases pro bono in response to current economic conditions. Additionally, Keechl served the residents of the City of Plantation for 14 years as assistant city attorney

12-year-old jailed for life?

UPDATE: 10-05-11
P.S. Good news about Cristian Fernandez, the 12-year-old being tried as an adult that I emailed about a couple days ago. His judge pushed back the hearing for one month after more than 150,000 Change.org members demanded that he be tried as a juvenile.

Cristian Fernandez is only 12 years old. And if Florida prosecutor Angela Corey has her way, he'll never leave jail again.
Cristian hasn't had an easy life. He's the same age now as his mother was when he was born. He's a survivor of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In 2010, Cristian watched his stepfather commit suicide to avoid being charged with abusing Cristian.   

24 hours to tell Florida State's Attorney Angela Corey not to try a 12-year-old as an adult.
Sign the Petition

Last January, Cristian was wrestling with his 2-year-old brother, David, and accidentally broke David's leg. Despite this, their mother left Cristian with his brother again in March. While the two boys were alone, Cristian allegedly pushed his brother against a bookcase, and David sustained a head injury. After their mother returned home, she waited six hours before taking David to the hospital. David eventually died.
Now Cristian is being charged with first degree murder -- as an adult. He's the youngest person in the history of his Florida county to receive this charge, and his next hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.
Melissa Higgins works with kids who get caught up in the criminal justice system in her home state of New Hampshire. When she read about Cristian's case, she was appalled -- so she started a petition on Change.org asking Florida State's Attorney Angela Corey to try Cristian as a child. Please sign Melissa's petition immediately before Cristian's hearing tomorrow.
As part of his prosecution, Cristian has been examined by two different forensic psychiatrists -- each of whom concluded that he was "emotionally underdeveloped but essentially reformable despite a tough life."
Cristian has already been through more than most of us can imagine -- and now the rest of his life is in the hands of a Florida prosecutor who wants to make sure Cristian never leaves jail. 
The purpose of the juvenile justice system is to reform kids who haven't gotten a fair shake. If Cristian is sent to adult prison, it will be more than a tragedy for him -- it will also be a signal to other prosecutors that kids' lives are acceptable collateral in the quest to be seen as "tough on crime." 
Cristian's next hearing is in just 24 hours. State's Attorney Angela Corey needs to know that her actions are being watched -- please sign the petition asking her not to try Cristian as an adult:
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Michael and the Change.org team

FL Gov's Approval Edges Up, But Still Very Low

According to a PPP poll, Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s approval rating has edged up slightly, but it still lingers at 36% approval and 52% disapproval.

From the release: “… (Rick) Scott still has scant company at the bottom of the well of governors.”

The good news is that his numbers are on the rise. 36% of voters now approve of him to 52% disapproving. That represents a 10 point improvement in his net approval from when we last polled the state in June, when he stood at 33/59. Scott's seen a particularly significant improvement in his standing with independents- they've gone from 27/64 to 35/52. Scott no longer holds the dubious distinction as the most unpopular Governor PPP has polled on in 2011- Ohio's John Kasich edges him out for that with a 53% disapproval rating.

The bad news for Scott is that he would still get crushed for reelection if he had to run today either against his 2010 opponent Alex Sink or his predecessor Charlie Crist.

Continue reading "Scott's numbers on the rise, would still lose though" »

CNN, Florida GOP To Produce Presidential Debate

CNN on Friday announced it will team up with the Florida Republican party to produce a presidential debate in late January. The announcement comes on the same day Florida voted to hold its presidential primary on January 31.

“With the Florida Republican primary now scheduled for Jan. 31, that state’s central role in helping Republicans choose a nominee is now secure,” said CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist said in a statement. “CNN is proud to present voters in Florida an opportunity to hear from the candidates one final time before they head to the polls.”