I had the Denny Hastert Story in 2004

In the last few days I have heard Barney Frank and Jonathan Capehart on MSNBC saying they were shocked about Denny Hastert, absolute bullshit, in 2004 I was in Boston at the Democratic Convention, and attended a Luncheon by the Stonewall Democrats, at the table were young men who worked in the House and Former NJ Governor James McGreevey aide, lol on that one I got the Governor to attend the Florida GLBT Caucus up coming event, we all know what happened to that one, in anycase, the young staffers and I were discussing how many GOP staffers were in the closet, like Rick Santorum staffers even Jesse Helms and how Denny Hasert had a under aged student back in his High School teaching days, I could never get a on the record verification on that lead, but did get unnamed D.C Rentboys to tell me they were escorts for Hastert on many occasions, I even posted it on a old Rumor blog I had in 2006, my point is as a citizen journalist at the time if I knew in 2004, don't you think so did the press

President at the Annual Hurricane Season Outlook and Preparedness Briefing

  Well, I am here at the National Hurricane Center for our annual update on preparations for hurricane season, which begin on Monday.  And I want to thank our NOAA Administrator, Kathy Sullivan; FEMA Administrator, Craig Fugate, and their teams for helping to lead this briefing.

Before we talk a little bit about the hurricane season, obviously our thoughts and prayers are still with the families and the communities that have been devastated by the flooding in Texas and Oklahoma.  Lives have been lost, and our condolences go out to the families that have been affected.  But there’s going to be a lot of work that has to be done for rebuilding.

Craig just informed me, gave me an update on the coordination that we’re doing between federal and state and local respondents.  The coordination is good.  They appear to have the assets they need at this stage to respond, but there’s going to be a lot of rebuilding.  And we as a nation are going to have to help the same way we do anytime that folks are affected by these natural disasters.

And so we will stay in close coordination with them to make sure that our response is quick, that we’re cutting through bureaucracy, and that we’re helping them recover.  And there’s still going to be some weather events over the next several days that will potentially make things a little tougher for folks, but I’m confident, obviously, that these communities will ultimately get back on their feet.

It does remind us that it is never too early for disaster preparation.  Today, FEMA released our national preparedness report, summarizing new progress at a national level, along with submissions from across the country.  We are in constant coordination with our state and local partners to make sure that their action plans are up to date.

We’re joined today by our state partners who are critical in all this work, because they are the first responders -- the people on the ground who are actually making a difference and taking a lot of the information that we get here and funneling that to local communities.  So we’ve got partners from Florida, North Carolina, Virginia; they’ve done great work to prepare for hurricane season.

The truth is, we are better prepared than ever for the storms of today.  The technology has improved, the forecasting has improved, the tools we have to model what may happen with something like storm surge has all gotten a lot better.  And so not only do we have better information, but we have new mechanisms to disseminate it.

We’re also focusing on making ourselves more resilient to the impacts of a changing climate that are having significant effects on both the pace and intensity of some of these storms.  The best climate scientists in the world are telling us that extreme weather events like hurricanes are likely to become more powerful.  When you combine stronger storms with rising seas, that’s a recipe for more devastating floods. 

Climate change didn’t cause Hurricane Sandy, but it might have made it stronger.  The fact that the sea level in New York Harbor is about a foot higher than a century ago certainly made the storm surge worse.  And that’s why we are seeking to work with Congress to make sure that we are focused on resilience and the steps we can take to fortify our infrastructure in these communities.  We’re fortunate to have a couple of outstanding members of Congress here on a bipartisan basis.  Congressman Curbelo and Congressman Ted Deutch both represent Florida, and obviously have a shared interest in making sure that we are building the kind of resilience that we may need.

Miami, for example, already has to spend hundreds of millions of dollars just to adapt its water system to the more frequent flooding that it’s already experiencing from rising seas.  That’s why I put forward America’s first Climate Action Plan two years ago.  I called for a climate resilience toolkit to help families and business owners in communities plan for the impacts of a changing climate, and that toolkit is now online at Toolkit.climate.gov

Responding to a hurricane is a team effort.  From the federal to the local levels, we all have a role to play.  So I encourage every American, no matter where you live, to check out Ready.gov -- Ready.gov -- where you will find information on making plans for your family, building an emergency supply kit, knowing what to do when disaster strikes.  This is something that Administrator Fugate has been like a broken record about every single year, but he’s absolutely right that the best preparedness is the preparedness that’s being taken by individual families, homeowners, business owners.  If they have a plan, if they have ideas about how they will respond to warnings, and they’re paying attention, then the collective effort obviously goes a lot more smoothly.

     Finally, I just want to thank all the hardworking public servants who help America prepare for and respond to, and recover from emergencies.  Sometimes we take for granted what our public servants do.  Sometimes we spend a lot of time griping about government, and we spend a lot of time complaining about folks that we’re not seeing.  And bureaucrats don’t really appreciate that basic information, like what the weather is like, when storms come, how we’re going to respond.  That all involves our public servants at the federal, state and local levels.  And they may be in the background until a disaster strikes, and suddenly we realize how much we depend on them.

     And so I think now is a good time for us to remind ourselves and make sure we’re properly resourcing folks who in dire straits we really depend on to make sure we’re safe, our families are safe, and that we can recover from really devastating attacks by mother nature.

     And I also want to thank our military, our National Guard, for the work that they do.  But our first responders and our folks at the local level, they’ve been doing some outstanding work. 

I really want to lift up in particular some of the men and women who deploy on search and rescue, not just here domestically, but internationally.  We’ve just had a couple of teams made up of expert, finely trained, local first responders who essentially volunteer.  They just came back from Nepal, where they saved a couple of lives.  In the past, they have saved lives in places like Haiti, after the devastating earthquake there.  They’ve been working around the clock in Texas.  They are always ready to do the selfless work that we should all be very, very proud of.  So thank you so much for the outstanding working that you do. 

All right, everybody, thank you.

President Obama In South Florida For DNC Fundraisers

Image for the news result

The First Event was at the home of mortgage broker Joe Falk  

President Obama spoke for about seven minutes, saying that he wanted to leave most of the allotted time for a question-and-answer session. The remarks will sound familiar to careful and not-so-careful watchers of fundraisers.

Obama said this is a fascinating time in the country’s history. "Since I took office, we pulled ourselves out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression," he said. And by almost every economic measure -- perhaps by every economic measure -- we are better off than when he came into office, Obama said. He cited an array of areas where he’s seen progress, including making sure children have access to early childhood education and the doubling of clean energy production.

“By almost every measure, this country’s come bouncing back in ways that a lot of folks in 2009 might not have anticipated,” he said.

“But what’s also true is that there is so much work that’s left undone,” he said. "So many things we could be doing to make sure that more people have access to the ladders of opportunity that have been the hallmark of this country."

Obama said that if immigration reform passed, the economy would improve, the deficit would go down, and America would continue to be both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

“If we were serious about rebuilding our infrastructure, we could put people back to work right now,” he said. That would spur GDP growth and lay the foundation for continued expansion and improved economic competitiveness, he said.

If the budget included more money for research so that the U.S. is on the cutting edge of innovation, who knows what new inventions and new industries might be created in the United States, he said.  Obama also called for more investments in job training programs and early childhood education and stepped up efforts to make college affordable.

“On all these fronts, we've done great work, but we have so much more that we could be doing,” he said. "And the reason it's not getting done is not because we don't know what to do -- it's because we're stuck in Congress on so many of these issues."

“We’re not waiting for Congress,” he said. “We’re moving forward on everything from precision medicine to rationalizing where we can our immigration system.”

Ultimately, the great genius of this democracy is that the most important office is the office of citizen, he said. “We’ve got to get people involved so that Congress ultimately responds to an electorate that is expressing our highest and best values around issues like climate change and issues like education,” he said.

 “I am confident that we’re going to be able to do that, but I can’t do it without folks like you,” Obama said.

He said Michelle is very pleased that he cannot run again.

“It is a liberating feeling in the sense that the amount of time I have left really concentrates the mind,” he said.

Obama said a lot of folks have been surprised that the White House is really moving on issues.

He added, though, that “ultimately, an eight-year span in the life of a country is pretty short.”

Obama said he can get a lot done, but part of what he is doing is laying the foundation to pass the baton.

He said how much staying power some of his efforts have depends on Congress.

In the blink of an eye, he will return to the office of citizen, Obama said.  He told those in attendance that together, he wants to make sure they’re doing everything they can to create the kind of America that has given all of them such incredible opportunities.

And with that, the pool was led out as Obama opened up the floor for questions.

The Next Event Was at developer Stephen and Sabina Bittle
 THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, let me thank Stephen and Sabina.  And they have just been such great friends for such a long time through thick and thin.  And I just want to say how much I appreciate everything that they’ve done -- not just for me, but for the Democratic Party.  (Inaudible) -- so we're proud of her and her mom -- there’s nothing more important than teaching.

     And I want to thank all of you.  I see a lot of friends, folks like the Adlers who have supported me and Joe and been there.  And I would not have the great privilege and the great honor of serving this country had it not been for some of the folks in this room.

     I’m going to be very brief on the front end because I want to spend as much time as possible in a conversation, answer questions or take comments, ideas.  Let me just say that we’re at a fascinating time in the country’s history.  Since I took office we’ve pulled ourselves out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  And by almost every economic measure, by every economic measure, we are better off and, in some cases, significantly better off than when I came into office.

Not just the stock market, or corporate profits, but unemployment going from 10 percent to 5.4 percent; cutting the deficit by two-thirds; expanding Pell grants; providing 16 million people health care that didn't have it, so we got the lowest uninsured rate since they started keeping track; making sure that more children have access to early childhood education; improvements in reading scores; improvements in high school graduation rates; improvements in college attendance rates; doubling of clean energy.  By almost every measure, this country has come bouncing back in ways that a lot of folks in 2009 might not have anticipated.

     But what’s also true is, is that there is so much work that's left undone, so many things we could be doing to make sure that more people have access to the ladders of opportunity that have been the hallmark of this country.  If we pass immigration reform, that would not only improve our economy, drive down our deficit, but it would make sure that America continued to be a land -- a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants where we're attracting incredible talent and vitality from every corner of the globe.

     If we were serious about rebuilding our infrastructure, we could put people back to work right now, and half a percentage, maybe a full percentage point of GDP growth, and lay the foundation for continued expansion and economic competitiveness for decades to come.  If we have a budget that continues to put our money into research so that we are at the cutting-edge of innovation, then who knows what new inventions and new industries will be created right here in the United States, putting Americans back to work.

     If we continue to make investments in job training and early childhood education, making college more affordable, then our young people will be prepared for a 21st century global economy.

     On all these fronts, we’ve done great work, but we have so much more that we could be doing.  And the reason it’s not getting done is not because we don't know what to do; it’s because we're stuck in Congress on so many of these issues.

     And as I made very clear my determination -- talked to my staff about several years ago, after it became apparent there were some things that Congress was having trouble getting done, we're not waiting for Congress.  We're moving forward on everything from precision medicine to rationalizing where we can our immigration system. 

But ultimately, the great genius of this democracy is that the most important office is the office of citizen.  We’ve got to get people involved so that Congress ultimately responds to an electorate that is expressing our highest and best values around issues like climate change, and issues like education, and issues like opportunity and poverty. 

     And I am confident that we're going to be able to do that, but I can't do it without folks like you.  Michelle is very pleased that I cannot run.  (Laughter.)  And it is a liberating feeling in the sense that the amount of time I have left it concentrates the mind, and I think a lot of folks have been surprised at the degree to which we are moving and pushing and trying whatever we can to advance the goals of making sure that every American in this country and every child in this country, if they're willing to work hard, can get ahead, and that opportunity and prosperity is broad-based.

     But ultimately, an eight-year span in the life of a country is pretty short.  We can get a lot done, but part of what we're also doing is laying the foundation so that we then pass that baton to the next administration and we institutionalize some of the progress that we’ve been making.

     And ultimately, how much staying power these things have depends on a Congress that is thinking about our future.  And that's why your presence here is so important.  This is not something I’m doing for me, this is something we are doing together.  Because it’s going to be just the blink of an eye before I am, like you, a citizen, who has returned from office but still occupies the most important position in a democracy. And together I want us to make sure that we are doing everything we can to pass on the kind of America that gave us such incredible opportunity and allowed us to be here today.

     Thanks.  (Applause.)

Remembering Memorial Day

Watch this amazing video about the "Common Soldier"
Posted by ForAmerica on Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott signed 44 bills into law Thursday

Gov. Rick Scott signed 44 bills into law Thursday afternoon, including one allowing concealed weapons to be carried without a permit during emergency evacuations and another that will shield police body camera videos from public record laws.
The concealed carry bill is a favorite project of Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, who says the change in law will allow lawful gun owners to avoid criminal citations for simply carrying their belongings with them while evacuating from a hurricane or other disaster.
Opponents have said there should be fewer guns on the streets during emergencies, not more.
The body camera legislation, sponsored by Sen. Chris Smith, R-Ft. Lauderdale, is intended to protect people’s privacy when police officers enter homes, hospitals, mental health institutions and anywhere else where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Open-government advocates say that law enforcement agencies can use the language to shield video that is in the public interest, particularly now that video is being used more frequently in broader debates over the role of police in society.
But supporters argue that privacy protections will encourage more agencies to use body cameras.
Here's the full list, courtesy of Scott's office:
SB 144 --    Public Records/Impaired Practitioner Consultants - This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for certain personal identifying information related to impaired practitioner consultants, their families and employees.
SB 158 --    Civil Liability of Farmers - This bill expands an exemption from certain civil liabilities for farmers.
SB 172 --    Local Government Pension Reform - This bill makes several reforms regarding local firefighter and police pension requirements.
SB 184 --    Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot - This bill expands the permitted uses of federal write-in absentee ballots.
SB 248 --    Public Records/Body Camera Recording Made by a Law Enforcement Officer - This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for a body camera recording made by a law enforcement officer in certain situations. 
SB 252: --  Insurance - This bill provides that the absence of a countersignature does not affect the validity of a policy or contract of insurance.
SB 278 --    Downtown Development Districts - This bill relates to the Miami Downtown Development District.
SB 290 --    Carrying a Concealed Weapon or a Concealed Firearm - This bill allows a concealed weapon or firearm to be carried for 48 hours during a mandatory evacuation order declared during a state of emergency.
SB 296 --    Diabetes Advisory Council - This bill relates to the Diabetes Advisory Council membership and a report on the impact of diabetes-related activities.
HB 361 --   Relating to Military Housing Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions - This bill provides for an ad valorem tax exemption for property used to house military personnel.
SB 378 --    Juvenile Justice - This bill increases the number of times a law enforcement officer may issue a civil citation.
SB 396 --    Florida Historic Capitol - This bill creates the Florida Historic Capitol Museum Council.
SB 408 --    Designated Areas for Skateboarding, Inline Skating, Paintball, or Freestyle or Mountain and Off-Roading Bicycling - This bill removes the requirement for government entities to obtain written consent from parents or legal guardians before a child under the age of 17 can engage in skateboarding, inline skating or freestyle bicycling in designated areas operated by that government entity.
SB 450 --    Pain Management Clinics - This bill requires the Department of Health to continue to regulate the registration and inspection of pain management clinics.
SB 466 --    Low-voltage Alarm Systems - This bill provides that no permit is needed to install, maintain, inspect, replace, or service a wireless alarm system.
SB 570 --    Service of Process of Witness Subpoenas - This bill allows service of a subpoena on a witness in a civil traffic case to be made by US mail.  
SB 596 --    Craft Distilleries - This bill allows craft distilleries to sell an increased number of branded bottles directly to consumers.
SB 604 --    Consumer Protection - This bill creates the “True Origin of Digital Goods Act,” which requires website owners posting certain content to provide identifying information on their website. Read letter from Attorney General Pam Bondi HERE.
SB 608 --    Real Estate Brokers and Appraisers - This bill provides greater flexibility to real estate brokers and agents and removes current requirement that there must be a written agreement between Florida and other states for the reciprocal licensing of out-of-state appraisers.
SB 620 --    Emergency Management - This bill allows Florida government employees providing assistance under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to be reimbursed for expenses by the state requesting assistance at that state’s authorized rates.
SB 642 --    Individuals with Disabilities - This bill creates the Florida ABLE program for individuals with disabilities to save money in a tax-free savings account for future services without losing their eligibility for state and federal benefits.
SB 644 --    Florida ABLE Trust Fund/State Board of Administration - This bill creates the Florida ABLE Trust Fund, which will hold appropriations and moneys for the Florida ABLE program.
SB 646 --    Public Records/Information Held by the Florida Prepaid College Board, Florida ABLE, Inc., and the Florida ABLE Program - This bill provides exemptions from public records requirements for certain personal financial and health information held by the Florida Prepaid College Board, Florida ABLE, Inc., the Florida ABLE program, or an agent or service provider.
SB 672 --    Service of Process - This bill allows service of a criminal witness subpoena requiring the witness to appear for a deposition to be posted to his or her residence if one attempt to personally serve the subpoena has failed.
SB 676 --    Voluntary Contributions to End Breast Cancer – This bill requires the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to include language on vehicle registration, driver license, and identification card applications for a voluntary contribution of one dollar or more to be distributed to the Florida Breast Cancer Coalition Research Foundation, Inc.
SB 694 --    Florida State Employees' Charitable Campaign - This bill makes revisions to the Florida State Employee Charitable Campaign.
SB 716 --    Public Records/Animal Medical Records - This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for certain animal medical records held by a state college of veterinary medicine.
SB 778 --    Local Government Construction Preferences - This bill prohibits local regulations from restricting competition for the award of a construction contract in which 50 percent or more of the cost will be paid from state funds.
SB 806 --    Regulation of Financial Institutions - This bill streamlines several Office of Financial Regulation regulatory processes.
SB 836 --    Florida Insurance Guaranty Association - This bill revises the levy of assessments on insurers by the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association.
SB 904 --    Home Health Services - This bill revises the requirements for main and satellite offices for home health agencies and nurse registries.
SB 954 --    Notification of Involuntary Examinations of Minors - This bill requires immediate notification to a student’s parent if the student is removed from school, school transportation, or a school-sponsored activity for an involuntary examination under the Baker Act.
SB 982 --    Florida Civil Rights Act - This bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy in public lodging and food service establishments and prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.
SB 1094 -- Relating to Flood Insurance - This bill allows insurers flexible flood insurance coverage for the peril of flood that may include water intrusion coverage and differs from standard or preferred coverage.
SB 1312 -- Relating to Restricting Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation - This bill expands restrictions on lawsuits that are filed in retaliation against a party engaged in otherwise free speech to include suits filed by a person.
SB 7008 -- OGSR/Licensure Examination Questions/Board of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services - This bill provides an exemption from public meeting requirements for portions of meetings of the Board of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services during which licensure examination questions or answers are discussed.
SB 7010 -- OGSR/Examination Techniques or Procedures/Office of Financial Regulation - This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for information that would reveal examination techniques or procedures used by the Office of Financial Regulation under the Florida Securities and Investor Protection Act.
SB 7012 -- OGSR/Credit History Information and Credit Scores/Office of Financial Regulation - This bill provides a public records exemption for credit history information and credit scores obtained for the purposes of licensing loan originators, mortgage brokers, and mortgage lenders.
SB 7016 -- Open Government Sunshine Review Act/Minor Identifying Information - This bill reenacts an existing public record exemption that protects identifying information held by the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel or the Justice Administrative Commission pertaining to records identifying minors waiving parental notice requirements.
SB 7024 -- State Board of Administration - This bill repeals restrictions on investments in institutions conducting business with Northern Ireland and establishes conditions for the transfer of any balance in the Fund B Surplus Funds Trust Fund.
SB 7028 -- Educational Opportunities for Veterans - This bill provides out-of-state tuition fee waivers to eligible spouses and dependents of veterans who live in Florida.
SB 7032 -- Public Records/Reports of a Deceased Child - This bill amends an existing public records exemption of certain identifying information collected during the investigation of a deceased child held by the State Child Abuse Death Review Committee or a local committee from the public record and meeting disclosure requirements.
SB 7034 -- Open Government Sunshine Review Act/Stalking Victims Identifying Information - This bill reenacts an existing public record exemption for personal identifying information of stalking victims held by the Attorney General or in election records.
SB 7078 -- Child Welfare - This bill amends and clarifies the investigation of and response to allegations of abuse and neglect of children related to last year’s child welfare bill, SB 1666.

A Conversation With Hillary Clinton May 29th 10:00am

Join Us Below is the link to RSVP and donate the $2,700 attendee contribution for our upcoming event in Broward. https://www.hillaryclinton.com/special-events/conversation-hillary-may-29-1
Posted by Hillary For Florida on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Former Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian Dies At 70

Legendary Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian — a member of the NFL 1970s All-Decade team — passed away from brain cancer Friday morning, his wife confirmed to the Associated Press.
His death was first announced late Friday night on Twitter by Beasley Reece, a former NFL safety who is president of the Philadelphia chapter of NFL Alumni and CBS 3 sports director in Philadelphia.

I predicted before the acquittal of Zimmerman, he would be better off with Prison

I predicted before the acquittal of Zimmerman, he would be better off with Prison and get out and lead a normal life, otherwise he will have a miserable life where eventually he would be shot or take his own life
As reported by Reuters.com
Police investigating a Florida roadway shooting involving George Zimmerman, the man acquitted of murder in the 2012 death of unarmed black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, said on Tuesday they recovered three handguns but have not filed any charges.
The incident on Monday in the Orlando suburb of Lake Mary left Zimmerman with minor injuries from flying glass after being shot at in his car by Matthew Apperson, authorities said.
The two men had a previous roadside dispute in 2014 when Apperson accused Zimmerman of threatening to kill him but declined to press charges.
Police spokeswoman Bianca Gillett said it was too early to say whether criminal charges will be filed in Monday's incident.
Investigators are asking for witnesses to come forward, Gillett said, noting that the shooting occurred on a busy road during lunchtime.
Police said they recovered Zimmerman's Glock pistol as well as two handguns in Apperson's vehicle, another Glock and a .357 revolver with one expended shell in the cylinder.
Police also released a 911 emergency telephone call from a person who spoke with Apperson after the shooting.
"A guy right here just said he had to shoot at someone through his window so he wants police to come. ... He said it was George Zimmerman," the caller said.
Depending on the facts, Apperson could be charged with attempted murder or shooting into an occupied vehicle, said Miami defense attorney David Weinstein, who is not involved in the case.
Weinstein called it "the modern version of a Wild West showdown," adding that under Florida law a person may use deadly force in self-defense if they have a reasonable fear of death or severe harm.
Monday's incident was the latest brush with law enforcement for Zimmerman, 31, since Martin's death. Zimmerman shot Martin in nearby Sanford in what Zimmerman said was self-defense.
Lawyers for Zimmerman and Apperson provided different accounts of what happened on Monday.
Apperson's lawyer Mark NeJame told Reuters the incident stemmed from a chance encounter as the two men found themselves driving side-by-side on the road.
Zimmerman brandished a gun at Apperson, leading Apperson to shoot, NeJame said.
"To me, it's good, old-fashioned self-defense," NeJame said.

Zimmerman's attorney Don West said Apperson followed and yelled at his client, honking his horn. Zimmerman pulled into a parking lot, and Apperson pulled up next to Zimmerman and shot, West said.

House Republicans Shortchange Critical Domestic Priorities in Florida

This week, House appropriators will consider the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, one of the first to be considered under the Congressional Republican budget framework. With several appropriations bills, as well as funding allocations for the remaining bills, now available, it is becoming increasingly clear how House Republicans plan to budget at discretionary funding levels that are the lowest in a decade, adjusted for inflation. Their appropriations bills and funding targets would shortchange programs that support the middle class and weaken ladders of opportunity for those seeking to reach the middle class. While some Republicans have started talking the talk about issues like inequality and poverty, their budget shows they are not walking the walk.

Overall, according to the Subcommittee, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill reduces funding by about $9.7 billion, or 15 percent, below the President's Budget, which both reverses sequestration and proposes a long-term, fully-paid for surface transportation reauthorization proposal. The bill would:

Reduce Access to Affordable Housing: Compared to the President’s Budget, the House bill funds 100,000 fewer Housing Choice Vouchers, reducing opportunities for low-income households to find decent, safe housing in the private market. Not only does the Subcommittee bill fail to restore the 67,000 vouchers lost due to the 2013 sequestration, it is also insufficient to renew 28,000 existing vouchers. As a result, approximately 1,300 fewer Florida families would receive Housing Choice Vouchers in 2016, compared to the previous year, and even more would lose out relative to the President’s Budget. These cuts are even more problematic in light of new research released just last week that found large positive effects of housing vouchers on long-term educational and earnings outcomes for young children.

Set Back Efforts to End Homelessness: Compared to the President's Budget, the Subcommittee bill reduces funding for Homeless Assistance Grants, supporting 15,000 fewer homeless or at-risk families with rapid rehousing and 25,500 fewer units of permanent supportive housing targeted to the chronically homeless. In January 2014, there were 41,500 homeless individuals in Florida – including roughly 21,700 who were unsheltered – but only 15,700 permanent supportive housing beds. House Republican cuts would further strain states and communities and would set us back in meeting the President’s ambitious goals for ending chronic, family, and youth homelessness, while jeopardizing the progress we have already made in ending homelessness for veterans.

Cut critical transportation programs: The highly successful, competitive TIGER grant program allows the Federal government to invest in transit projects that can have a transformative impact on a region or a metropolitan area. Over the past three years, Florida received $84.6 million for these projects, which spur innovation and propel economic mobility by helping connect people to jobs in communities across the United States. The House mark would slash TIGER grant funding to nearly 80 percent below its lowest level ever, despite the fact that the program is vastly oversubscribed.  The House bill also cuts locally planned transit capital investments by more than 40 percent and shrinks funding for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facilities to the lowest level in fifteen years, worsening traffic delays and hampering FAA’s ability to keep our airspace safe.


Beyond their inadequate support for transportation and housing, House Republicans have indicated that they would return our economy to the same top-down economics that has failed us before: cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires, while slashing investments in the middle class that we need to grow the economy, like education, job training, and manufacturing. While House Republicans have not yet released most of their other appropriations bills, they have provided Subcommittee allocations that show where and how they will need to cut under a return to sequestration levels. Compared to the President’s Budget, the House Republican budget framework would have the following impacts on Florida1:

Head Start: More than 1,890 fewer children in Florida would have access to Head Start services, representing a permanently missed opportunity to help these children enter elementary school ready to succeed.

Teachers and Schools: Florida would receive $83.0 million less funding for disadvantaged students, an amount that is enough to fund about 180 schools, 1,140 teacher and aide positions, and 125,500 students.

Education for Children with Disabilities: Florida would receive $24.1 million less in funding to provide educational opportunities for students with disabilities, representing an approximately four percent cut and shifting the burden for meeting these children’s needs to Florida and its local communities.

Scientific and Medical Research: Support for path-breaking research and discovery in Florida would be put in jeopardy.  Nationwide, the Republican budget framework would lead to 1,400 fewer new research grants at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and roughly 350 fewer research grants at the National Science Foundation (NSF), adversely affecting research essential to the future health, innovation, and economic competitiveness of the Nation. In 2014, Florida received $476 million in competitive NIH awards, as well as NSF competitive research awards that supported 1,880 researchers and scientists, including graduate and undergraduate students.

Veterans: Nationwide, funding for VA medical care would be cut by more than half a billion dollars, negatively impacting veterans’ care. In 2014, 494,900 Florida veterans relied on the VA for care.

Job Training and Employment Services: 138,900 fewer Florida residents would receive job training and employment services, including help finding jobs and skills training.

National Parks: Construction and renovation projects would be prevented or delayed at the following two national parks in Florida: Biscayne National Park and Castillo De San Marcos National Monument. 

IRS Customer Service and Preventing Tax Fraud: IRS taxpayer services in Florida would continue deteriorating below already unacceptable levels, and efforts to investigate fraud and reclaim taxpayer dollars would be further hampered.  Since 2010, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) budget has already been cut by roughly 17 percent, adjusted for inflation, despite the fact that, between 2010 and 2014, the number of individual tax returns filed in Florida increased by 539,800.  Meanwhile, the IRS estimates that the reductions in enforcement staff as a result of budget cuts that have already occurred will lead to a loss of $7 billion to $8 billion in lost revenue in 2015 alone.  The House Republicans’ budget could lead to the lowest level of IRS funding in decades.
Services for HIV-Positive Individuals:  Florida would receive roughly $2.1 million less in base funding from the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) for providing critical antiretroviral treatments through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.  In 2015, Florida received $85.7 million from ADAP to help patients receive the drugs and treatment they need.


The President has been clear that he is not willing to lock in sequestration going forward, nor will he accept fixes to defense without also fixing non-defense. The President's Budget reverses sequestration, replacing it with commonsense spending and tax reforms. It brings middle-class economics into the 21st Century and makes the critical investments needed to support our national security and accelerate and sustain economic growth.

The choice could not be more clear or the consequences more stark. Thanks to President Obama and the resilience of the American people, the economy is growing again. The President’s Budget builds on the progress we’ve made and shows what we can do if we invest in America's future and commit to an economy that rewards hard work, generates rising incomes, and allows everyone to share in the prosperity of a growing America. House Republicans would put that growth at risk and limit opportunity for the middle-class and those seeking to join it.

1/ Where available, comparisons are between the President’s 2016 Budget request and proposed levels in the House’s FY 2016 appropriation bills.  Where proposed levels are not yet known, comparisons are based on House 302(b) allocations and assume that cuts or increases from FY 2015 are distributed equally within bills.  Actual cuts relative to the President’s Budget could be larger or smaller depending on how the appropriations Subcommittees distribute their funding allocations, but smaller cuts to some programs would require larger cuts to others.

Joan Geller, mother State Representative Joe and former Florida Senator Steve Geller died Tuesday. She was 84.

Joan Geller

Joan Geller, mother of a former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller of Cooper City, currently a candidate for Broward County Commission.and longtime fiancee of a legendary political leader, died Tuesday. She was 84.
She died of natural causes, said one of her sons, former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller of Cooper City, currently a candidate for Broward County Commission.
Her oldest son is state Rep. Joe Geller of Aventura, who represents parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Mrs. Geller was also the longtime fiancée of the late legendary Broward condo leader Amadeo "Trinchi" Trinchitella, who died in 2005.

Source Sun Sentinel.com 

Florida was added to the Military Exercise known as Jade Helm 15

An Army release about the training exercise in March described “Jade Helm 15” as a routine, multi-state operation taking place from July 15 to Sept. 15. The release noted that the training exercise is in a class apart from other operations due to its “size and scope.”
“The public can expect nothing much different from their day-to-day activities since much of exercise will be conducted in remote areas,” the release read. “The most noticeable effect the exercise may have on the local communities is an increase in vehicle and military air traffic and its associated noise.”
The release also stated that communities hosting the exercise could expect economic benefits from the Army’s fuel and food purchases and hotel lodging.
But in terms of staging, plans for the training exercise have apparently changed significantly since that statement was issued in March. California, Colorado and Nevada were all initially reported to be hosting parts of the exercise -- and were depicted on a map “leaked” by conspiracy theory website All News Pipeline that labelled Texas as “hostile” territory -- but are no longer involved. The states currently expected to host the operation are Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, according to an updated Army press releasedated April 20.
The most detailed information available on the training exercise itself comes not from either of those releases but from a slideshow prepared by US Army Special Operations Command. Local radio station WTAW made available both the audio and visual presentation that Army representatives gave to the Commissioners Court of Brazos County, Texas in February while seeking their approval for the training exercise

The slideshow explained that the exercise would involve Army special forces in addition to Navy SEALS, Air Force special operations command, Marines special operations command, and the 82nd Airborne Division. It also listed 17 participating areas within Texas, although officials in Victoria and Gilead counties have since said the military canceled plans to hold part of the training exercise there:
The slideshow also spelled out why the Army specifically approached communities in Texas about hosting "Jade Helm 15," citing the state's rural landscape as well as its historic support for America's troops:

Tom Meade, an Army spokesman and retired Green Beret, explained in the accompanying audio presentation why "Jade Helm 15" is considered an "unconventional warfare" exercise. Meade said that while US special forces have been conducting unconventional warfare -- assisting and supporting insurgency -- for over 50 years, troops had adopted a counter-insurgency role over the last 15 years in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We're bringing these guys back and we're dusting off the skills that they already have -- because every Green Beret learns unconventional warfare when he leaves the qualification course," Meade said. "A lot of these guys haven't practiced it in the last few years so we're bringing those skills back to the forefront for them."
The "leaked" version of the slideshow posted by All News Pipeline, the conspiracy theory website, differed somewhat from the one Meade presented to the Commissioners Court of Brazos County. That version contained a slide that said the training exercise offered "the opportunity to work with civilians to gain their trust and an understanding of the issues." Another slide said local residents could expect some individuals to "conduct suspicious activities designed to prepare them for complex environments overseas" or "be wearing civilian attire and driving civilian vehicles."
Those slides, which are not included in the presentation posted by WTAW, were widely cited in conspiracy theory blog posts on "Jade Helm 15." While the conspiracy theories themselves lack real evidence, there’s something to the concerns about soldiers blending in with the general population for the purposes of the training exercise.
A realistic military training exercise took a deadly turn in 2002, when a Moore County, North Carolina sheriff’s deputy pulled over what he thought was a suspicious-looking truck and shot two soldiers, killing one and wounding another. The soldiers were participating in an exercise similar to “Jade Helm 15” known as “Robin Sage” and had believed that the sheriff’s deputy was playing a role in the operation, too.
The Army runs “Robin Sage,” which is akin to a final exam for Green Beret candidates, multiple times a year in a staging area off Fort Bragg that encompasses several counties. That 2002 incident led the Army to immediately alter the way it conducted that exercise, including ordering participants to wear their uniforms and ending the practice of allowing local law enforcement officials to role-play alongside the soldiers.
Separately, Reason magazine's Jesse Walker, writing in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, pointed to a 1999 exercise in Oakland, California that posited the "Jade Helm 15" conspiracy theories were an extreme manifestation of the current backlash against police militarization in the U.S.
The exercise, known as "Operation Urban Warrior," attracted vocal opposition. Twenty-two demonstrators were arrested for storming then-Mayor Jerry Brown's office and demanding a meeting to protest his embrace of the Marines' urban combat simulation. One detained protest organizer told the San Francisco Chronicle that the group was "angry at the impact the Marines are having on the community -- the noise, the intimidation, the message it sends."
That sounds a lot like the complaints raised at an April 27 meeting at the Bastrop County, Texas courthouse, where over a hundred residents gathered to pepper Army Lt. Colonel Mark Lastoria with questions about "Jade Helm 15." Residents' responses ran the gamut from "would the court be offended if I told the colonel I didn't believe a single word that he just said?" to "I appreciate the explanations you've been given because it's alleviating a lot of our concerns."
"You may have issues with the federal government. You may have issues with the administration," Lastoria told the denizens of Bastrop County. "So be it. But this institution right here has been with you for over 240 years. Period."

Soures: TalkingpointsMemo.com