Gov. Scott adds Lee and Palm Beach counties to state of emergency over algae

Gov. Rick Scott has expanded a state of emergency already issued for Martin and St. Lucie counties because of an algae bloom to include Lee and Palm Beach counties.

In a news release, Scott said he was extending the state of emergency to two more counties to drive “every available resource to address the needs of these communities following yesterday’s emergency declaration.”

Boats at Central Marine in Stuart sit surrounded by algae Thursday afternoon June 30, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Boats at Central Marine in Stuart sit surrounded by algae Thursday afternoon June 30, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

A massive blue-green algae bloom in recent weeks has expanded from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River in Martin County and extended along the county’s oceanfront, leading officials to temporarily close some beaches where the algae was reported. A blog about the size of two fists was found earlier this week on a Jupiter beach, and blue-green algae also has been reported at other locations in Palm Beach County.

Scott also announced that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is activating a virtual emergency operations center to determine the effect the algae bloom is having on local businesses.

The DEO’s program will survey any businesses that are affected the algae bloom and share the results with local and state agencies to implement any assistance needed. Scott asked that any businesses that have been affected by the algae complete a survey that will be used to determine which support programs might be most helpful. Click here for that survey. Under “Event/Incident,” choose “Lake Okeechobee Discharge – Algal Blooms.”

» Complete coverage of the algae bloom

 

Democrat Randy Perkins launches TV ad in race for Patrick Murphy House seat

Democratic congressional candidate Randy Perkins has launched the TV phase of his campaign with a 30-second spot highlighting his rags-to-riches biography.

 

Democrat Randy Perkins in his new TV ad.
Democrat Randy Perkins in his new TV ad.

Perkins has drawn fire from Democratic primary foe Jonathan Chane for not appearing at candidate forums in Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18. But he’ll be on TV sets in the swing district, where three Democrats, six Republicans and an independent are hoping to replace Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, who’s running for Senate.

 

Perkins built a lawn mowing business into a multimillion-dollar disaster recovery enterprise.

 

I am so tired of hearing politicians say ‘If you work hard you can achieve the American dream.’ What are we telling the American people — that they’re not working hard enough? It’s Congress, that’s who’s not working hard enough. I’m going to get Congress working hard for the American people,” Perkins says in the ad.

 

 

 

 

Rick Kozell slams Rebecca Negron’s ‘sweetheart’ deal 7 times in 90 seconds

Rick Kozell and Rebecca Negron at a League of Women Voters forum on Wednesday.
Rick Kozell and Rebecca Negron at a League of Women Voters forum on Wednesday.

For the second time in three days, Republican congressional candidate Rick Kozell used a candidate forum to blast GOP primary rival Rebecca Negron for accepting more than $86,000 from contributors linked to a company that benefitted from legislation pushed by her husband in Tallahassee.

 

Kozell called it a “sweetheart deal.”

 

In fact, in a virtuoso display of message discipline, Kozell used “sweetheart” as an adjective seven times in 90 seconds during a St. Lucie County League of Women Voters forum on Wednesday. (The spree begins around the 1:05:00 mark on the video.)

 

 

Kozell mentioned “sweetheart dealmaking,” “sweetheart deals,” “sweetheart deal,” “sweetheart legislation,” “sweetheart deal proceeds,” “sweetheart dealmaking” and “sweetheart deal proceeds” to describe the $86,200 Negron received at the end of March from contributors linked to MCNA Dental. The checks rolled in after her husband, state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, sponsored a bill — favored by dentists and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support — that opens the door for Florida to implement a Medicaid prepaid dental health program for children in 2019.

 

Kozell made similar accusations at a news conference last week and at a forum on Monday night in Stuart.

 

Rebecca Negron dismissed Kozell’s accusations.

 

“I am honored to have the support of people in my community and the people who have contributed to my campaign…I’m very honored to have a grass-roots support,” she said.

 

As to all the “sweetheart” accusations, she said, “I am also a very principled conservative, will not be beholden to anyone and have made no promises to anyone.”

 

She also pointed to her service on the Martin County school board.

 

“You can ask anybody who has observed those meetings, they know I am a principled conservative and stand for what is right,” Negron said.

 

 

 

Federal judge wary of new Florida abortion law

Planned Parenthood leaders join attorney Carrie Flaxman outside Tallahassee's federal court following hearing.
Planned Parenthood leaders join attorney Carrie Flaxman outside Tallahassee’s federal court following hearing.

Planned Parenthood officials were buoyed Wednesday after a federal district judge sharply questioned a new Florida law that bars abortion providers from receiving taxpayer dollars.

The law – set to take effect Friday – does not impose new limits on abortion.

Instead, it would eliminate about $700,000 of federal, state and local funds flowing to Planned Parenthood for women’s health services and other programs because the organization provides abortions at its Florida clinics.

The biggest share of those dollars is $204,231 from the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County that has flowed annually to Planned Parenthood for a teen outreach program it runs through a subcontract with the Urban League.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle likened the state law to such action as firing someone based on race, or the state voiding a contract with individuals because they spoke out against a political party.

“You cannot impose an unconstitutional condition on someone,” said Hinkle, who seemed inclined to meet Planned Parenthood’s request for an injunction to stop the law from taking effect.

Attorney Carrie Flaxman, representing the two Planned Parenthood affiliates which cover the state of Florida, said, “the law is quite clear.

“You cannot deprive an entity of funds because of constitutionally protected conduct they engage in,” Flaxman said. “That’s exactly what this law does.”

Beruff stings Rubio on (no) Zika virus funding

carlos beruff announcement

Carlos Beruff

With Gov. Rick Scott in West Palm Beach today talking with experts about the Zika virus, his friend, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff, also has a few ideas.

About rival Marco Rubio. And why Congress still has not settled on funding for states like Florida looking to combat Zika’s spread.

“Marco’s had a lot to say on the subject – giving floor speeches and reiterating talking points during interviews – and yet Floridians still haven’t seen a dime from the federal government to help combat this threat,” Beruff’s campaign said in a statement.

Gov. Scott to spend state dollars on zika virus
Gov. Scott to spend state dollars on zika virus

New York and Florida are the states leading the nation with the most cases of the Zika virus, all travel-related.

While Florida has more than 200 cases, on Tuesday state health officials reported the first baby born with microencephaly, an abnormally small head and developmental issues that can occur when a pregnant woman becomes infected with the virus.

The child’s mother contracted the illness in Haiti, said officials, who have not identified where the family lives in Florida.

Scott last week approved spending $26.2 million of state funds on fighting Zika, while the state awaits federal action.

“Carlos commends Gov. Scott’s efforts to step in and provide funding that will protect Florida families and unborn children who are most vulnerable to Zika, but Floridians are sick of Washington not doing its part,” said Joanna Rodriguez, a Beruff spokeswoman.

Beruff’s blast at Rubio, though, contrasts with what he said in a May 11 press release — more than a month before the Republican senator reversed and announced he was running for re-election.

Rubio, at the time, was pushing for Congress to support President Obama’s $1.9 billion proposal to finance Zika-fighting efforts.

“Congress must listen to Gov. Scott and Sen. Rubio and act
immediately to ensure that Florida has the resources it needs to
prevent and treat this disease,” Beruff said last month.

Grayson ties Murphy to Benghazi report, calling it “smear campaign” against Clinton

Democratic Senate rivals Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy
Democratic Senate rivals Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy

Orlando Democrat Alan Grayson looked to drive a wedge Tuesday between rival Patrick Murphy and his establishment supporters by linking the Jupiter Democrat to the newly released Benghazi report that some view as clouding Hillary Clinton’s leadership.

Murphy was one of only seven House Democrats who supported the Republican majority’s push two years ago to form a select committee to investigate the 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya.

“This was a costly, wasteful, premeditated smear campaign against Secretary Clinton,” said Grayson campaign manager Michael Ceraso.

“And worse, it was aided and abetted by Patrick Murphy, who voted to form this farcical effort,” he added.

Clinton, who was Secretary of State when Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others were killed on Sept. 11, 2012 was planning to visit Libya later that year. The report finds her anticipated visit contributed to pressure on diplomats to stay at a poorly guarded outpost despite security threats in the region.

The report also supports previous conclusions that the military failed to respond quickly enough to perform a rescue.

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who announced plans last week to seek re-election to the Senate seat — immediately vaulting to front-runner status — condemned Clinton and the Obama administration’s response to the attack.

“Today’s report by the House Select Committee on Benghazi is a reminder of the extraordinary failure on the part of officials at the State Department, including Secretary Hillary Clinton, to grasp the security risks in Libya and Benghazi in particular, and take the appropriate action to protect Americans stationed in that country,” Rubio said.

Florida Democrats continue push for special session on no-fly, no-buy

Florida Democrats seeking special session on no-fly, no-buy
Florida Democrats seeking special session on no-fly, no-buy

Florida Democratic lawmakers continued to push Tuesday for a special legislative session in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre to ban people on the federal “no-fly” or terrorist watch list from obtaining weapons.

Sen. Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat campaigning for Congress, and Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, said that 46 Democratic members of the House and Senate have certified the need for a special session, a procedural move that sets in motion a poll of all member, conducted by the Florida Secretary of State’s office.

If 60 percent of each chamber agrees, a special session would be set. It’s a longshot, though. Republicans have overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate and so far, leaders have shown no interest in a special session.

The U.S. Senate recently rejected a similar no-fly, no-buy proposal — just as they did last December. Omar Mateen, the ISIS-supporting shooter in the Orlando massacre, formerly was on the terrorist watch list.

“Nothing would change for one single law-abiding citizen or NRA member who wants to buy a gun,” Moskowitz said.

“They would be able to do so without any change in the way that happens now so long as they are not a suspected terrorist. But for the safety of this nation, for the safety of our people in Florida, we have to close this breach in our nation’s security, shut this loophole that threatens our safety, with or without Washington’s help,” he added.

 

Carl Domino says he’s the Kevin Durant of GOP congressional race

Carl Domino (left, Palm Beach Daily News photo) and Kevin Durant (Getty Images)
Carl Domino (left, Palm Beach Daily News photo) and Kevin Durant (Getty Images)

STUART — Republican congressional candidate Carl Domino wants voters to think of seven-time NBA All-Star and unrestricted free agent Kevin Durant when they choose a candidate in the six-candidate GOP primary on Aug. 30.

 

With a career as a nationally known investment manager, Navy service in Vietnam and eight years of experience in the Florida state House, Domino says his resumé stands out among the Republicans running for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 congressional seat.

 

The six Republicans agree on most issues. At a candidate forum Monday night, Domino likened the election to a job interview with several candidates who make similar presentations.

 

“How do you decide which one you’re going to hire? Well it’s really easy — who’s done the things already they said they’re  going to? Are you going to hire Kevin Durant that’s made 27 points a game, or some guy that’s a rookie that’s made no points a game, or 2. I’ve done the things that we’re all talking about,” Domino said.

 

Durant has averaged 27.4 points per game in his nine-year NBA career.

 

 

 

 

Mark Freeman seeks coalition to counter ‘women, minorities, young people and people on welfare’

Republican congressional District 18 candidates (from left) Rebecca Negron, Brian Mast, Rick Kozell, Mark Freeman and Carl Domino at a forum in Stuart on Monday.
Republican congressional District 18 candidates (from left) Rebecca Negron, Brian Mast, Rick Kozell, Mark Freeman and Carl Domino at a forum in Stuart on Monday.

STUART  — Republican congressional candidate Mark Freeman says the GOP needs to take a lesson from Donald Trump and assemble a “counter coalition” of angry voters to compete with the Democratic coalition of “women, minorities, young people and people on welfare.”

 

Mark Freeman
Mark Freeman

Freeman is one of six Republicans running for the nationally watched Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 congressional seat. The self-financing physician has already begun airing TV ads in the race to replace Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, who is running for Senate.

 

“Now we Republicans have a chance in this campaign to bring our hard-working middle class into our party,” Freeman said at a candidate forum Monday. “We know their coalition – women, minorities, young people and people on welfare. Against that we must form a counter-coalition from the anger in our hard-working middle class.”

 

Freeman made a similar call in an April forum in which he also said blacks are being stirred to envy and hatred by President Barack Obama and have been given “free stuff” by the president. (“We know what we’re against, the coalition on the other side — women and minorities, young people, welfare people. We need to form our own coalition, a coalition based on this anger in the middle class,” Freeman said at that forum.)

 

After Monday’s event, Freeman said his coalition remarks are based on Trump’s success.

 

“The Republicans have to construct a counter coalition based on the anger in the middle class. I think that’s what Donald Trump has done. That’s why he won the primary,” Freeman said.

 

Freeman said there’s room for more than just the angry middle class in the counter coalition he’s hoping to build.

 

“That’s what I’m saying: A counter coalition based on the anger in the middle class — and to some extent in the upper middle class,” Freeman said.

 

At Democratic congressional forum, Jonathan Chane says absent Randy Perkins ‘afraid’ of voters

Democratic congressional candidate Jonathan Chane, right, talks to a voter at a candidate forum in Stuart today.
Democratic congressional candidate Jonathan Chane, right, talks to a voter at a candidate forum in Stuart today.

STUART — Democratic congressional candidate Jonathan Chane accused one of his primary rivals, businessman Randy Perkins, of being afraid to face Democratic primary voters after Perkins did not attend a District 18 candidate forum in Stuart this afternoon.

 

Democratic congressional candidate John (Juan) Xuna (left) talks to a voter at today's candidate forum.
Democratic congressional candidate John (Juan) Xuna (left) talks to a voter at today’s candidate forum.

Attorney Chane and John (Juan) Xuna, an engineer and self-described “social Democrat,” answered questions for about an hour from Martin County activist and radio show host K.C. Ingram. The Democrats, six Republicans and an independent are running to replace Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, who is running for Senate. Republican candidates appeared together beginning at 5:30 p.m.

 

Both Chane and Xuna called for buying land south of Lake Okeechobee to store water and prevent harmful discharges into the Indian River Lagoon. Both oppose the All Aboard Florida train and are against cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Both favor more gun control measures than are on the books now. Both said they support decriminalizing marijuana.

 

Xuna twice criticized AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, and on another occasion said “We need to protect people (in the Middle East), like Israel, right, but we shouldn’t be also the shield of David, going to war because Israel is not doing enough for peace in the area and everything they touch becomes in flame.”

 

Chane used his closing remarks to take aim at Perkins, the millionaire founder of a disaster cleanup firm who is the favorite of the Washington Democratic establishment for the District 18 seat. Perkins has not agreed to attend any debates or candidate forums before the Aug. 30 Democratic primary, but his campaign has said he will debate Chane before the primary.

 

Democratic congressional candidate Randy Perkins will participate in a debate or forum before the primary, his campaign pledges, but no date has been set.
Democratic congressional candidate Randy Perkins will participate in a debate or forum before the primary, his campaign pledges, but no date has been set.

Said Chane: “He’s afraid to answer these same questions or answer Democratic voters about the serious questions that have been raised about him and they deserve to have answers from him.”

 

Perkins switched his registration from no party to Democrat in November shortly before entering the race. Chane said Perkins needs to explain to Democrats why he made large contributions to Republican candidates in the past, including $200,000 to help Republican Rick Scott’s 2010 election as governor.

 

Perkins campaign manager Isaiah Nelson said Perkins had a longstanding scheduling conflict and could not attend today’s forum. He pledged that Perkins would participate in at least one forum or debate before the primary, though no specific event has been scheduled. As for being “afraid” of primary voters, Nelson said, “Randy’s been out and held hundreds of meetings across the district in the last seven months” and has answered any questions put to him by voters.