Powerful photos: White House photographer chooses top images of 2015

(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
The First Family joins others in walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge during the event to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

There’s a photo of President Barack Obama laughing and smiling with a little girl.

Another shows Vice President Joe Biden on a visit to a concentration camp, accompanied by a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor.

These images are among Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza’s selections for top images of the year, posted Wednesday on the White House’s Medium account.

This is the seventh year Souza has put the gallery together. He writes in the post that although he tries to keep the gallery each year to fewer than 100 photos, “every year I fail in that goal.”

“Editing photographs, especially for a project like this, is both subjective and personal,” Souza wrote. “I not only found key historic moments from the year, but also chose moments that give people a more personal look at the lives of the President and First Lady.”

Below are a few of Souza’s selections. See the full gallery on the White House Medium page.

The President’s wave aligns with a rainbow as he boards Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport prior to departure from Kingston, Jamaica. Read my Behind The Lens account of this photograph: http://bit.ly/1NMjCjHtk .” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
This now-iconic image of President Barack Obama was taken as he was Kingston, Jamaica. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

The President was about to sign H.R. 2 Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 in the Rose Garden of the White House so we had Lawrence Jackson pre-position on the roof of the Colonnade and he captured this picturesque scene of the President walking to the signing table.” (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
The President walks through the White House grounds before signing the H.R. 2 Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

 

The President hugs Vice President Joe Biden after delivering a eulogy during the funeral mass for Beau Biden at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama hugs Vice President Joe Biden after delivering a eulogy during the funeral mass for Beau Biden at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del., on June 6, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

David Lienemann scoped out a great vantage point from the Blue Room Balcony to capture this moment as the President and First Lady escorted Pope Francis back inside the White House following the State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn.” (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
The President and First Lady escort Pope Francis inside the White House following the State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn on Sept. 23, 2015. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Palm Beach County state Senate districts to change sharply under plan selected by judge

Palm Beach County Senate boundaries, recommended by judge
Palm Beach County Senate boundaries, recommended by judge

Senate district boundaries drawn by a voters’ coalition that could help Democrats win additional seats were recommended Wednesday by a judge over those drawn by Republican state lawmakers.

Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds sent a plan to the Florida Supreme Court seen as likely helping Democrats gain at least two new seats in a Senate where Republicans currently control 26 of 40 seats.

The proposed map also changes all four of Palm Beach County’s Senate districts. It would keep the county’s lone Republican senator, Senate President-designate Joe Negron, of Stuart, in the county — with the district he currently holds reshaped to represent the county’s far northwestern region.

The map submitted by the Florida Senate would have moved Negron out of Palm Beach County, into a district comprised of Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties.

The three seats held by Palm Beach County Democratic senators are overhauled in the recommended plan — and could set up a clash between Sens. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, and Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, who may vie over the same district.

A western Palm Beach County district, including the Glades area, includes most of Abruzzo’s current district. But it also loops south in Boca Raton and Broward County, taking in some voters Sachs currently serves.

The central county district now held by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, loses Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach, but keeps Lake Worth and surrounding communities. A third county Senate seat would include West Palm Beach and continue north along the coast to the Martin County line, taking in parts of the areas Clemens, Abruzzo and Negron now represent.

Abruzzo already vows to run in the southwestern Palm Beach County district that reaches into Broward – if it eventually is endorsed by the Supreme Court.

Sachs could choose to square off against Abruzzo there. Then again, she may move north from her current, Delray Beach residence, to the seat stretching from the West Palm Beach area to the Martin County line, an area she has never represented before.

Read more at myPalmBeachPost.com

Gov. Scott’s bottom-line focus worries environmentalists over state parks plan

Florida state parks could be home to more hunting, grazing and timbering under Gov. Rick Scott
Florida state parks could be home to more hunting, grazing and timbering under Gov. Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott’s bottom-line focus on state government is stirring environmentalists across Florida wary of the upcoming legislative session and another wave of efforts to make state parks help pay for themselves.

Scott’s Department of Environmental Protection chief, Jon Steverson, sparked a firestorm of opposition earlier this year by discussing park management plans that could include expanding hunting, grazing and logging activities at some of Florida’s 174 state parks.

Thousands of petition signatures emerged from those against the idea, along with a call for Steverson’s ouster.

But Steverson said he stands by the approach, and he has a supporter in state Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers, who sponsored legislation in last spring’s session that could have opened parks and other conservation lands to “low-impact agriculture.”

“Do I think it would be good if we could make some more money off parks, and make them a little more self-sustaining? Sure,” Caldwell said.

“But we’re not talking about doing this at a park with a lake and picnic tables. Some parks are huge and this kind of activity may be just good land management,” he said.

Caldwell, who said he will bring back the legislation for the session opening Jan. 12, said the opposition has been “hyperbolic.”

“The narrative here really has been hijacked. There’s a political element in all this,” he said.

Full story here:  http://bit.ly/1NMFkUD

Jeb Bush offers selfie tips during stop in West Palm Beach | Photos

Jeb Bush — king of the campaign trail selfie? (Getty Images)
Jeb Bush — king of the campaign trail selfie? (Getty Images)

Jeb Bush, at a stop in West Palm Beach to speak to the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches on Monday, took time to discuss one of the hottest issues on the 2016 campaign trail: selfies.

Bush, who got standing ovations at both ends of his talk, took on a question about the ubiquitous “selfie,” saying it’s “now the 11th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. It’s inspired by our framers and founders, apparently. It’s a requirement that you take one. And I do it with great joy in my heart.”

He gave a tutorial, showing that a diagonal angle is better than a horizontal one, and that high is better than low because “you look skinnier.”

Bush’s comments almost immediately went viral.

CNN posted an article titled “Jeb Bush’s guide to selfies on the 2016 trail.

The New York Times headline on Bush’s time in West Palm Beach said “Jeb Bush Succumbs to Selfie Craze and Offers Tips on Selfie Etiquette.”

Bush even tweeted video of what he called “a master class” on taking a selfie.

For what it’s worth, Bush isn’t the only candidate rocking the selfie on the campaign trail. As supporters have more access to social media than in any presidential campaign before, candidates have latched onto the concept.

A few examples from the past year:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush takes a selfie with an Iowa resident after speaking at a Pizza Ranch restaurant on March 7, 2015 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush takes a selfie with an Iowa resident after speaking at a Pizza Ranch restaurant on March 7, 2015 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

 

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes a selfie with a supporter during the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention at the Verizon Wireless Center on September 19, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes a selfie with a supporter during the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention at the Verizon Wireless Center on September 19, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

 

Former business executive Carly Fiorina, right, poses for a selfie with Joe Koberna at the Johnson County Republicans Spaghetti Dinner at Clear Creek Amana High School on April 24, 2015 in Tiffin, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former business executive Carly Fiorina, right, poses for a selfie with Joe Koberna at the Johnson County Republicans Spaghetti Dinner at Clear Creek Amana High School on April 24, 2015 in Tiffin, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

 

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, center, takes a selfie in front of the Butter Cow with his children, Grace and William, during the Iowa State Fair on August 13, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, center, takes a selfie in front of the Butter Cow with his children, Grace and William, during the Iowa State Fair on August 13, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

 

Republican presidential candidate Ohio Governor John Kasich, left, poses for a selfie during a campaign stop at Portiillo's restaurant on September 29, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Ohio Governor John Kasich, left, poses for a selfie during a campaign stop at Portiillo’s restaurant on September 29, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

 

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, right, takes a selfie as he greets guests outside the Alpha Gamma Rho house during a campaign stop at Iowa State University on October 24, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, right, takes a selfie as he greets guests outside the Alpha Gamma Rho house during a campaign stop at Iowa State University on October 24, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

 

A supporter takes a selfie with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) after a watch party for the second Democratic presidential debate November 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
A supporter takes a selfie with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) after a watch party for the second Democratic presidential debate November 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

 

A supporter of Donald Trump takes a selfie with the Republican presidential candidate at a rally in front of the USS Wisconsin on October 31, 2015 in Norfolk, Virginia. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
A supporter of Donald Trump takes a selfie with the Republican presidential candidate at a rally in front of the USS Wisconsin on October 31, 2015 in Norfolk, Virginia. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

Read more on Bush’s appearance in West Palm Beach, and his challenge to Donald Trump.

Jeb: I’ll debate Trump one-on-one

IMG_0498In a combined 36 minutes of remarks and answering questions, former Florida governor, and current presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, managed to avoid saying the name of you-know-who. Until the end.

Asked what he’d say if Republican front-runner, and part-time Palm Beach resident, Donald Trump, walked into the ballroom at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, Bush responded, “I’d say, ‘Donald, I’ll take you on one-on-one in a debate. Any time. Any place.’”

Cornered later by a reporter, and asked if he was serious and if he thought Trump would agree to it, Bush paused, then shrugged, then said, “I don’t know. Ask him.”

There was no immediate response from the Trump camp.

Bush, who trails Trump, and much of the rest of the GOP field, was both feisty and reasoned at Monday’s talk to the Forum of the Palm Beaches.

He subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, offered up sharp contrasts to the front-runner.

Repeating his dig at Trump at a recent debates that “you can’t insult your way to the presidency,” Bush said Monday, “I’m sick and tired of the politics of divide, the politics of destruction, the politics of anger.”

Repeating his stance that the government needs to control immigration but that it still can sympathize with immigrants’ motives, Bush praised America’s love of diversity by mentioning his new granddaughter is a “Mexican, Texan, Iraqi, Canadian, American,” but that when she reaches 21 and fills out a census form, “she’ll say, ‘not applicable.’ I’m an American.”

He also took on the incumbent, saying President Obama had no strategy to defeat the terrorist group ISIS or how to create a unified international force to establish a government when Syrian President Assad is gone, He said Obama had “gutted” the military, and described as “shameful” the fact that only three people were fired in the wake of the uncovering of massive problems at Veterans Affairs.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Pafford’s bid to make scrub jay the state bird facing a long flight

Florida scrub jay
Florida scrub jay

House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford’s bid to have the scrub jay designated as Florida’s official bird faces a long flight.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, is requiring that Pafford’s bill (HB 843) clear four committees on its way to the House floor — increasing the odds that it won’t survive the two-month legislative session.

The scrub jay bill is opposed by Marion Hammer, longtime lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, who managed to sidetrack similar efforts on behalf of the bird in 1999 and 2000.

“For me to get through every hoop, basically, it’s impossible,” said Pafford, of West Palm Beach.

While Pafford’s bill has drawn four committee assignments, by contrast proposed legislation (HB 865) that would outlaw most abortions in Florida has only been sent to three committees for hearings.

Another major lifestyle-changing measure that would put the state permanently on daylight savings time (HB 893) also has been directed to three committees.

“It does illustrate the issue of who gets their priorities met in this process,” Pafford said.

Hammer says she is a fan of the mockingbird, which was named Florida’s official bird by the 1927 Senate. She also worries that switching to the scrub jay would increase environmental efforts to protect the threatened bird’s habitat, mostly coastal and interior scrub across Central Florida.

 

 

With religious wars gone silent, Festivus pole stands tall at Florida’s Capitol

A Festivus pole is the Florida Capitol's signature holiday display
A Festivus pole is the Florida Capitol’s signature holiday display

At a Florida Capitol quieting as Christmas nears, a rainbow striped Festivus pole based on the fictional holiday from TV’s Seinfeld show has emerged as the most visible sign of the season.

After three years of wrangling between groups supporting a Nativity scene, atheists, Satanists and those who believe in something called a flying spaghetti monster, the Capitol’s religious wars have mostly gone silent.

But in a scene reflecting some kind of mash-up of themes from O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi and those seen on the twitter feed Florida Man, the only display standing this week is the Festivus pole.

“Celebrate diversity. Celebrate inclusiveness. Celebrate the fact that it is religious freedom for all and not religious freedom for some,” said Chaz Stevens, a blogger and software writer from Deerfield Beach, who put up the Festivus pole Monday at the Capitol.

“This is an ode to the separation of church and state,” he added.

But from its humble origins — built from Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans — just down the hall from Gov. Rick Scott’s office, Stevens’ Festivus pole has evolved and is now getting wider attention.

The six-foot pole wrapped in the rainbow, gay pride colors and topped with a disco ball is going to be displayed  in Oklahoma, while Stevens said he expects them also to go up in

 

 

Florida polls: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz top home-staters Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush

Another poll, another big lead for Donald Trump.
Another poll, another big lead for Donald Trump.

Remember when Florida’s March 15 winner-take-all primary was supposed to gift-wrap 99 delegates for former Gov. Jeb Bush or, perhaps, Sen. Marco Rubio?

A new Associated Industries of Florida poll shows part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump continuing to hold a wide lead in the Sunshine State. And surging Texas Sen. Ted Cruz places second, albeit in a virtual tie with Rubio.

Two other Florida polls this month — by The Florida Times-Union and St. Pete Polls — also show Trump ahead and Cruz in second place.

The AIF poll shows Trump getting 29 percent support from Florida Republican voters, with Cruz at 18 percent and Rubio at 17 percent. Given the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error, Cruz and Rubio are virtually tied. Bush is fourth at 10 percent.

Republican voters view all the leading candidates favorably, but Trump and Bush have the highest negatives — 34 percent for Trump and 36 percent for Bush.

Did Jeb Bush’s biotech bonanza in Florida go as planned?

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, seated, grabs a pen while being congratulated by State Rep. Ron Klein, left, as state and local officials gather to sign legislation providing funds for Scripps' move to Florida on Nov. 3, 2003. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, seated, grabs a pen while being congratulated by State Rep. Ron Klein, left, as state and local officials gather to sign legislation providing funds for Scripps’ move to Florida on Nov. 3, 2003. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

moving van at VGTI Florida’s lab served as a stark reminder of the risky nature of Florida taxpayers’ $1.5 billion bet on biotech, a wager that was Jeb Bush’s signature economic policy.

Bush announced in October 2003 that he would pay Scripps $310 million to open a Florida lab. Palm Beach County sweetened the pot with $269 million.

Then a popular and powerful second-term governor whose brother was in the White House, Bush envisioned a biotech bonanza — 50,000 jobs in 15 years, demand for millions of square feet of biotech space in northern Palm Beach County, a flood of donations from Palm Beach’s wealthy philanthropists.

But none of those promises has materialized.

Read the Palm Beach Post’s article from this summer on Bush’s plans — and why they didn’t go exactly as planned.

Donald Trump and Palm Beach: A complicated relationship

Donald Trump sits at a 2004 Palm Beach Town Council meeting, where the officials voted on his proposals for the Mar-a-Lago Club. (Palm Beach Daily News file photo)
Donald Trump sits at a 2004 Palm Beach Town Council meeting, where the officials voted on his proposals for the Mar-a-Lago Club. (Palm Beach Daily News file photo)

Donald Trump burst onto the scene with all the bluster for which he’s so well-known.

He took on the establishment, fighting to restore a prized institution to what he thought it could be.

And, eventually, he won.

No, this isn’t the story of Trump’s race for the White House. But the tale of how Trump took on detractors on the island of Palm Beach could be a model for his path to a possible Republican presidential nomination.

Read more about Trump’s history with Palm Beach, from his purchase of the famed Mar-a-Lago estate to legal battles over flight paths above his home.