Trump speech: Republicans Rubio, Mast encouraged; Dems criticize

Palm Beach County's U.S. House delegation for the 115th Congress, clockwise from top left: Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City; Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach; Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.
Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation for the 115th Congress, clockwise from top left: Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City; Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach; Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.

Palm Beach County’s congressional delegation was divided along partisan lines on President Donald Trump‘s Tuesday night speech to a joint session of Congress.

 

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, hailed the prime-time address as “a vision of bipartisanship to try to bridge differences that exist.”

 

Mast lauded Trump’s calls for strengthening the military.

 

But Mast, who made improving water quality in the Treasure Coast a top campaign priority last year, said he is “deeply alarmed by reports of severe, across-the-board cuts to the EPA and other agencies that are critical to our quality of life in Florida.  On behalf of our community, I will continue working to hold the Administration accountable for any actions that threaten our environment and our way of life.”

 

Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio applauded President Donald Trump's speech.
Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio applauded President Donald Trump’s speech.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio also said he was “encouraged” by the speech.

In a Facebook post, Rubio said: “For the first time since I’ve been in the Senate, Republicans are poised to enact real, meaningful and lasting reforms to protect Americans, rebuild our military, grow our economy, boost workers’ paychecks, replace ObamaCare with a better system, and remove the roadblocks to prosperity created by bureaucrats in Washington. The president has partners in both the House and Senate to pursue this bold agenda, and I was encouraged to see him make his case to the American people and urge Democrats to stop standing in the way of progress.”

 

The three Democrats in the county’s delegation criticized Trump.

 

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, said that “the only thing tonight’s speech accomplished was to illustrate just how little the President understands about America.”

 

Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, used their Twitter accounts to express criticism or skepticism of Trump’s remarks throughout the speech.

 

“If we really want to help people battling addiction, we cannot repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Deutch tweeted at one point during Trump’s remarks. Three minutes later, he added: “Great, great wall?  And a deportation force?  Quick reminder that tearing families apart is inconsistent with our values.”

 

Frankel was one of several Democratic women to wear white to the speech, an evocation of the women’s suffrage movement “to oppose Republican attempts to roll back women’s progress.”

 

“Actions speak louder than words, @POTUS. Putting #WallStreetFirst doesn’t create jobs or help hard-working families,” Frankel tweeted at one point during Trump’s speech.

 

“Another bait & switch speech from @POTUS! Will @realDonaldTrump ever disclose his tax returns?” Frankel tweeted when it was over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Mast: Dems boycotting Trump inauguration should give seats to wounded vets

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, says wounded vets would gladly accept the tickets of Democrats boycotting Donald Trump's inauguration.
Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, says wounded vets would gladly accept the tickets of Democrats boycotting Donald Trump’s inauguration.

WASHINGTON — With dozens of congressional Democrats — including U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach — boycotting Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump, freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast has an idea for their tickets.

 

“I know well more than 50 wounded veterans – men and women who sacrificed tremendously to protect the democracy that allows for this peaceful transfer of power – who would love seats,” said Mast, R-Palm City, an Army combat vet who lost his legs after a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

 

“If these members of Congress do not want to go themselves, I hope they will find it in their hearts to give their seat to a veteran who has risked their life to make it possible for the rest of us to choose whether or not to go.”

 

Click here for the complete story on who’s going and who isn’t from the Palm Beach County delegation.

Rep. Alcee Hastings to skip Donald Trump’s inauguration

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, will skip Friday's inauguration.
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, will skip Friday’s inauguration.

WASHINGTON — Add U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, to the list of congressional Democrats shunning Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president.

 

About 50 Democrats have said they’ll skip the inauguration, many of them announcing so after Trump blasted U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a hero of the civil rights movement who said he did not consider Trump a “legitimate” president.

 

“Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!” Trump said on his Twitter account Saturday.

 

Lewis suffered a fractured skull during the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march to Selma, so calling him all talk and no action was particularly galling to many Democrats and others.

 

“President-elect Trump has made it clear that when given the choice, he stands with Vladimir Putin. I choose to stand with Rep. John Lewis, and every American that expects our President to serve with compassion and humility,” Hastings said in a statement released this afternoon.

 

The two other Democrats in Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation — Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Rep. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach — plan to attend the inauguration. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson also plans to attend.

 

“I’ve had a lot of my constituents reach out urging me not to go,” said Frankel, whose congressional district includes Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.

 

“My own belief is that with this new government, with this transition, that I have a responsibility to reach out in a cooperative manner to the extent possible…I will be fighting as hard as anybody to resist the actions by the Congress and by the new president if they try to devalue or strip people of important rights. But I think you want to start out with an open hand. If the president rejects it, that’s up to him,” Frankel said.

 

 

Bill Clinton makes case for Hillary’s candidacy on Belle Glade stop

With US Congressman Alcee Hastings at his side, former President Bill Clinton speaks on the campaign trail for his wife Hillary Clinton Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center in Belle Glade. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post
With US Congressman Alcee Hastings at his side, former President Bill Clinton speaks on the campaign trail for his wife Hillary Clinton Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center in Belle Glade. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post

Former President Bill Clinton spent his 41st wedding anniversary campaigning for his wife in Belle Glade Tuesday, making the case for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as the best way to get the education and infrastructure improvements he said the country desperately needs.

“She’s the best change-maker I’ve ever known,” Bill Clinton said. “I’ve known her a long time.”

The trip, Bill Clinton’s first to Belle Glade, was part of his wife’s ongoing and relentless effort to win the Sunshine State. About 440 people came to the hear him speak, according to estimates from Belle Glade’s mayor, Steve Wilson.

Clinton’s appearance came as Donald Trump has sought to tar the Clinton campaign with allegations of the former president’s inappropriate conduct with women.

President Clinton made no mention of those allegations, nor did he reference the firestorm scorching the Trump campaign in the aftermath of recently released video where the celebrity real estate mogul is boasting about his own misconduct with women.

Indeed, Bill Clinton did not utter Trump’s name. The closest he came was in reminding his wife’s supporters that many foreign policy experts have already rendered their verdict on the election.

“Dozens and dozens of them said they couldn’t be for her opponent,” Bill Clinton said.

Hundreds enthusiastically greeted the former president at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center at Palm Beach State College.

Bill Clinton’s appearance in Belle Glade was the first of three he’s scheduled to make in Florida today. He is expected to make other stops in Lee County and in Pinellas County.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton will campaign in Miami with former vice president Al Gore.

Excited Belle Glade community members cheer as former President Bill Clinton speaks on campaign trail for his wife Hillary Clinton Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post
Excited Belle Glade community members cheer as former President Bill Clinton speaks on campaign trail for his wife Hillary Clinton Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post

Before the former president took the stage, several elected officials took the stage to tout Hillary Clinton and blast Trump.

Wilson noted that the prospect of “the history of the first female president of the United States of America” should be enough to spur people to register and vote.

McKinlay, whose district includes Belle Glade, ripped Trump for his comments about women.

Telling the crowd that she has two daughters, McKinlay said: “If any man in this country thinks it OK to refer to them as a piece of…I won’t say it because there are too many pastors in the room. That is not the message that we need to send to the country and to the rest of the world.”

 

 

 

Alcee Hastings says Hillary Clinton needs less TV, more ground game in Florida

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, at Thursday night's Palm Beach County Democratic Party meeting.
U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, at Thursday night’s Palm Beach County Democratic Party meeting.

Donald Trump‘s campaign has yet to open field offices in Florida while Hillary Clinton has dozens, but Democratic U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach told party activists Thursday night the Clinton camp and its allies need to invest more in “ground game” activities in the Sunshine State rather than pouring money into TV ads.

 

Hastings held forth in fiery fashion on a variety of topics at a Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee meeting Thursday night west of Delray Beach.

 

Democratic Reps. Lois Frankel and Alcee Hastings at Thursday night's Palm Beach County Democratic Party meeting.
Democratic Reps. Lois Frankel and Alcee Hastings at Thursday night’s Palm Beach County Democratic Party meeting.

“I hope 10 Zika mosquitoes bite Rick Scott,” Hastings said at one point of Florida’s Republican governor.

 

He blasted Republican Sen. Marco Rubio for not returning his calls about getting a congressional medal to honor Lena Horne and said “I will go all over this state and talk about his ass as a result.”

 

Hastings noted approvingly that a local Democratic activist had spoken earlier in the evening about increasing absentee ballot efforts.

 

“To date, the Clinton campaign has spent $22.3 million on television (in Florida) — $22.3 million,” Hastings said. “You give me and Terri (Rizzo, the county Democratic chairwoman) and the Democratic Executive Committee of Palm Beach County and the other DECs around the state – you give us $22 million and I’ll produce more votes for you than a damn television ad.”

 

Hastings, who turns 80 this month, said TV doesn’t reach young voters.

 

“What’s wrong with us people?” Hastings said. “We got that big old beach over there. And all you have to do is get some liquor and some punk rockers and some rappers and you’ll have all the kids you ever needed. But our old fogy behinds, we continue to not do the things that are necessary. Most of you in here don’t even know what Pandora is. That’s where kids can be found. They hunker down on weekends on social media. They don’t look at MSNBC and Fox and ABC. They don’t get their news that way. What does it take to get that across to all of these candidates and campaigns?

 

Scenes from a sit-in: Palm Beach County’s House Democrats post gun protest pics

Palm Beach County Democratic U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings, Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel occupy the House floor with other Democratic colleagues Wednesday in a picture posted by Deutch on Twitter.
Palm Beach County Democratic U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings, Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel occupy the House floor with other Democratic colleagues Wednesday in a picture posted by Deutch on Twitter.

The revolution might not be televised — CSPAN cameras are turned off when the U.S. House is not in session — but the Democratic sit-in to demand a vote on gun-control legislation is all over social media.

 

Leather chair sit-in pic tweeted by Rep. Lois Frankel on Wednesday morning.
Leather chair sit-in pic tweeted by Rep. Lois Frankel on Wednesday morning.

And members of Palm Beach County’s all-Democratic House delegation are doing their part to fill the Twittersphere and Facebook with sit-in selfies and other pics.

 

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, appears to have been the first local member of Congress to post a sit-in picture from the House floor, tweeting one at 11:07 a.m. Wednesday.

 

Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, and Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, have also documented the sit-in on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

 

Rep. Ted Deutch speaks during the sit-in.
Rep. Ted Deutch speaks during the sit-in.
Rep. Patrick Murphy, who's running for Senate, logs some carpet time during the sit-in.
Rep. Patrick Murphy, who’s running for Senate, logs some carpet time during the sit-in.
Rep. Alcee Hastings in a sit-in selfie with Reps. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., and Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y.
Rep. Alcee Hastings in a sit-in selfie with Reps. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., and Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y.

Rep. Alcee Hastings, county lawmakers introduce ‘Corey Jones Act’ in Congress

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach.
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach.

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, and the three other members of Palm Beach County’s congressional delegation today introduced a bill — named for local shooting victim Corey Jones — to withhold federal grant money from police departments that allow plainclothes officers in unmarked cars to make routine traffic stops.

Jones was shot and killed Oct. 18 by a Palm Beach Gardens police officer who was not in uniform and drove an unmarked vehicle and encountered Jones after Jones’ vehicle broke down along an Interstate 95 exit ramp. Officer Nouman Raja, who was fired by the department in November, said he shot Jones after seeing that Jones had a gun.

Jones “would not have had any reasonable reason to believe that the person in plainclothes driving the unmarked vehicle was a law enforcement officer,” the preamble to Hastings’ bill says.

“Any confusion as to the nature of the law enforcement officer’s interaction with Mr. Jones could likely have been avoided had a uniformed officer in a marked vehicle been called to the scene. Tragic incidents like the death of Mr. Jones can easily be avoided by prohibiting law enforcement officers in plainclothes or law enforcement officers in plainclothes and unmarked vehicles from engaging in routine traffic stops.”

The Hastings bill — cosponsored by Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, and Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach — would bar federal Community Oriented Policing Services grants from going to a law enforcement agency that “allows law enforcement officers to engage in routine traffic stops while in plainclothes or while in plainclothes and in a police vehicle that is unmarked or that otherwise is not clearly identified as a police vehicle.’’

Hastings called the bill “common-sense legislation will help keep both law enforcement and the citizens they police safe. Tragic incidents like the death of Corey Jones can easily be avoided by prohibiting plainclothes law enforcement officials driving unmarked vehicles from making traffic stops. These situations lead to confusion and even confrontation…I believe that imposing this requirement on COPS grant recipients will make our communities safer.”

Said Murphy, who has invited Jones family attorney Daryl Parks to next week’s State of the Union address: “I am proud to join Congressman Hastings in introducing the Corey Jones Act of 2016. I also applaud the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department for enacting changes to their plainclothes officers policy and approving the start of a body camera program this week. We honor Corey’s memory by taking actions such as these to increase public safety and improve trust between law enforcement and their communities.”

Running in new territory, Deutch gets endorsements from fellow Broward Democrats

Rep. Ted Deutch, running in a new district, gets endorsements from fellow Democrats
Rep. Ted Deutch, running in a new district, gets endorsements from fellow Democrats

In a move that may be aimed at defusing potential opponents in his re-tooled congressional district, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch was endorsed Tuesday by a handful of prominent Democrats.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, was joined by U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach and Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach in backing Boca Raton’s Deutch in his bid for the 22nd District, which now stretches deep into Broward County.

All four lawmakers currently represent parts of Broward County. But new congressional boundaries approved last week by the Florida Supreme Court make the 22nd District a Broward-dominated seat, stretching from Fort Lauderdale to Boca Raton.

Deutch agreed to run in the 22nd District, currently held by Frankel, while the West Palm Beach lawmaker seeks re-election in the 21st District, contained in Palm Beach County.

“Over the years, Ted has proven himself to be a consummate advocate for his South Florida constituents and a strong voice for Israel and Middle East peace, and his voice will be critically important in the 115th Congress,” Wasserman Schultz said. “He has represented Broward well and we are fortunate to have him.”

 

Supreme Court ruling sets congressional boundaries with big changes in Palm Beach County

Justice Barbara Pariente wrote the court's majority opinion
Justice Barbara Pariente wrote the court’s majority opinion

The Florida Supreme Court set new boundaries for the state’s 27 congressional districts Wednesday, upholding a map drawn by a voters’ coalition in a setback to the Republican-ruled Legislature.

The 5-2 ruling endorses a recommendation from Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis who held a three-day trial in September to review maps submitted by lawmakers and the voters’ groups, led by the Florida League of Women Voters and the state’s Common Cause.

“We remain “cognizant that this Court’s role is not to select a redistricting map that performs better for one political party or another, but is instead to uphold the purposes of the constitutional provision approved by Florida voters to outlaw partisan intent in redistricting,” Justice Barbara Pariente wrote for the majority.

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, has already vowed to challenge the justices’ ruling in federal court, claiming the recommended map converts her Jacksonville to Orlando district into one stretching west past Tallahassee.

Brown said the change disenfranchises minority voters in the Orlando area and she contends it violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

In Palm Beach County, the proposal recommended by Lewis dramatically changes three of the four congressional districts which course through the county.

Districts held by U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, and Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, would undergo the most revision.

Frankel’s District 22 would become Broward County-based, and include only Boca Raton and Highland Beach in the former West Palm Beach mayor’s home county. Deutch’s two-county, District 21 — which like Frankel’s, runs north-to-south — would instead be contained completely in Palm Beach County.

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, would lose Hendry County from his District 20, in exchange for gaining a larger portion of Broward. The district would continue to include a majority of black voters, but also lose a section that splits six Palm Beach County cities, mostly along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks.

While a number of Palm Beach County officials earlier testified before lawmakers, urging that Frankel-Deutch districts remain two-county and continue stretching north-south, that had little effect on the mapmaking.

The battle over the once-a-decade task of redrawing congressional boundaries has proved epic in Florida, a legislative and courtroom brawl that began calmly enough four years ago, with public hearings around the state.

The Legislature’s first approved map was declared unconstitutional by Lewis in 2013, who ruled that interference by Republican consultants had “made a mockery” of voter-approved anti-gerrymandering constitutional standards.

After lawmakers redrew the map last year, that plan was tossed out by justices.

When the Legislature held a special session in August to attempt a third try, the House and Senate clashed bitterly and failed to reach consensus – leaving it to the courts to craft boundaries.

Justices to review congressional map that includes big changes for Palm Beach County

A plan for Florida's congressional districts heads today to the state Supreme Court.
A plan for Florida’s congressional districts heads today to the state Supreme Court.

Just days after the Florida Legislature failed to approve new Senate district boundaries, the state Supreme Court today will hear arguments on a congressional redistricting plan sent to them by a Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis.

Lawyers for the House, Senate and a pair of voting groups will have 20 minutes each to make their case this afternoon to the state’s seven justices. They are positioned to decide what boundaries are in place for the state’s 27 congressional districts for next year’s elections.

The congressional map has gone to justices after the House and Senate failed to agree during an August special session on setting new boundaries.

Two earlier efforts by the Legislature to draw the map had been thrown out by the courts for violating anti-gerrymandering provisions in the state constitution.

Leon Circuit Judge Terry Lewis recommended a plan to the Supreme Court last month, following a three-day hearing.

In Palm Beach County, the proposal recommended by Lewis dramatically changes three of the four congressional districts which course through the county.

Districts now held by U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, and Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, would undergo the most revision.

Frankel’s District 22 would become Broward County-based, and include only Boca Raton and Highland Beach in the former West Palm Beach mayor’s home county. Deutch’s current, two-county district — which like Frankel’s, runs north-to-south — would instead be contained completely in Palm Beach County.

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, would lose Hendry County from his District 20, in exchange for gaining a larger portion of Broward. The district would continue to include a majority of black voters, but also lose a section that splits six Palm Beach County cities, mostly along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks.

The district held by U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, remains largely unchanged in the proposal before justices.

The Legislature’s failed effort to redraw state Senate boundaries means justices will likely be asked to approve new district lines for that chamber in coming weeks.