Thursday, June 26, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
Help Joe Garcia Beat the Bush/Diaz-Balart Fundraising Machine from Joe Garcia for Congress on Vimeo.
Good crowd came out on the McArthur Causeway Friday morning and all Miami TV stations covered this lively demo.
Kudos to the Florida Democratic Party for jumping on John McCain’s Florida trip and digging up some dirt.
You’ll note that I posted here with the FDP’s new ad ripping McCain for failing to support catastrophe insurance. That ad had wonderful footage of Republicans saying, Nope, McCain’s no good for Florida, doesn’t have Florida interests at heart, out of touch. Thank you, Research Department, for holding onto stuff from the Republican primary trail.
Now on Friday the FDP and Miami-Dade Democrats and the AFL-CIO combined on a vigorous demo outside Parrot Jungle, where McCain was doing a fundraiser in the morning. And to mark his Everglades trip in the afternoon, out comes an FDP news release revealing how he’s in thrall to a big developer who’s on record wanting to pave over the Everglades.
I call this energetic action. The FDP has taken a lot of lumps this year but isn’t sulking in a corner. Now is the time to be striding out in fact-based actions and demanding to be heard, like a healthy political party.
On top of the McCain critique, we got in a swipe at beleaguered U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) who seems uncertain whether he’s for or against saving the Everglades. Come on, Mario, we know you’re against it. It’s the environmental jewel of your district – spanning from Miami’s western suburbs across to the outskirts of Naples on the Gulf Coast – but you’ve done nada in leading the way to the bipartisan goal of restoring the Everglades.
More detail on that below, but first the skinny on McCain and “trailblazer” Alfred Hoffman Jr.To quote the FDP news release:
Only one thing could be more damaging to the Everglades and the future of Florida than a major storm - Hurricane McCain and his dirty developers.
John McCain visits the Everglades today on a trip paid for by his campaign, which has accepted thousands of dollars bundled for him by an extremely controversial developer named Alfred Hoffman Jr. - a major fundraiser for the Bush family.
"Does John McCain want to protect the Everglades or destroy them? McCain should be ashamed of himself for accepting money from developers who want to steamroll the state of Florida, without regard for its people or its environment," Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen L. Thurman said. "If he is serious about the Everglades, McCain must return, at a minimum, the $100,000 raised by Hoffman and others who profit from irresponsible, sprawling developments."
Hoffman, former CEO of WCI Communities, is a $100,000 bundler ("Trailblazer") for McCain's campaign. In 2004, Hoffman led efforts to coerce then-Gov. Jeb Bush into blocking a vital restoration project. [Washington Post, 12/10/07; Public Citizen, 5/10/08] Hoffman's group, the Association of Florida Community Developers, "filed a legal challenge against the state Department of Environmental Protection, which had proposed a rule governing the water protections." [Palm Beach Post, 4/26/04]
"You can't stop it... There's no power on Earth that can stop it!" Hoffman told the Washington Post in 2003, describing his intent to expand development from southwest Florida toward the Everglades. [Washington Post, 12/10/07]
In 2004, Hoffman was national co-chairman and Florida finance chairman for President Bush's re-election campaign. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/19/05]
I call that pretty convincing. If I were McCain I’d be ponying up that $100,000 and bowing my head in shame.
Now, what about Mario Diaz-Balart? To quote another FDP release, soon echoed by Joe Garcia’s campaign to unseat MD-B:
On a conference call today, Mario Diaz-Balart said he "held his nose" to vote for the Everglades funding bill, echoing the McCain campaign's misleading talking points.
But a Miami Herald report yesterday said Diaz Balart "vigorously supported" the Everglades bill McCain voted against. So how can Diaz Balart be trusted, and how can voters possibly be asked to hold their noses to vote for him or John McCain who brags about standing against Florida's best interests?
Everglades Bill Was Strongly Supported By Florida Republicans, Including Diaz-Balart, Crist and Martinez. The Miami Herald wrote, John McCain "opposed spending $2 billion on restoring the national park, siding with President Bush against Florida's political establishment -- including top Republican supporters Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez... In South Florida, three of McCain's key supporters in the House -- Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- vigorously supported the Water Development Resources Act. 'Congress has not passed a WRDA bill in the last seven years, creating a serious backlog of infrastructure projects throughout the country,' Lincoln Diaz-Balart said in a statement issued after the vote overriding the president's veto." [Miami Herald, 6/5/08]
"It's well known that these developers attempted, and in some cases, succeeded in buying off the Bushes and other Republicans," Florida Democratic Party spokesman Mark Bubriski said. "Is it not within reason for McCain to return the dirty money if it would help assure Florida voters that he is serious about his 'desire' to preserve the Everglades?"
This is going to be a hot summer, with McCain making repeated visits to Florida and the Democratic Party repeatedly calling him to task.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
This sort of stuff is why Raul Martinez and Joe Garcia are running strongly against, respectively, Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart.
Joe Garcia’s campaign issued a statement saying:
“These are the politics of corruption that have plagued South Florida for far too long. People with disabilities shouldn’t have to wait for the Diaz-Balarts to receive $10,000 in campaign contributions in order to receive the medical care they deserve. Unfortunately, our veterans and troops didn’t enjoy the luxury of big corporate PAC’s and lobbyists pushing for them when Mario Diaz-Balart voted twice against the new GI Bill.”
Raul Martinez reacted powerfully Monday night in a speech to the Miami-Dade Democratic Party monthly meeting. He said that Lincoln Diaz-Balart had acted oddly a few days earlier when asked about corruption in Washington. “He knew there was a reporter looking into a bill he put up three days after he got a donation,” Martinez said.
This affair made me think of the Diaz-Balarts’ explanation for voting against the SCHIP bill expanding children’s health insurance coverage. They weren’t against children’s health, they said, they were just opposed to the way the bill was to be financed through increased taxes on tobacco products, which would hurt little cigar rollers in Florida. They failed to mention their fat campaign donations from Big Tobacco.
In that case campaign donations led to the Diaz-Balarts’ voting against a bill, while in this case of the Maryland prosthetics company, campaign donations led to proposing a bill.
A strong argument for getting money out of politics.
Don’t neglect to read the Herald’s sidebar story about the company in this case: under investigation for Medicare fraud in Brooklyn, NY, plus a “parallel inquiry” by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
The photo shows the bravery – lack of it, I mean – in our Republican congressional incumbents. They assert willingness to talk, set a date, ask to change the date, agree to a new date, and finally cancel. It’s a little dirty trick, taken, no doubt, from the Richard Nixon political playbook.
Some choice words of reaction from Annette Taddeo, whose date with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in the AFL-CIO arena last week was a bust: “Her not being here is inexcusable. … I really believe you have been ignored. … On Saturday she’s to be at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, but she didn’t have time for you.”
It was a fine display of temper from the Democratic challenger in District 18, which spans the beaches to Key West. Her event on Thursday marked three days in a row that the Republican incumbents blew off the Democratic candidates: Joe Garcia vs. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) on Tuesday and Raul Martinez vs. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21) on Wednesday.
And over at Raul Martinez' website, they're accusing Lincoln Diaz-Balart of "elitist tendencies" for refusing to appear with Martinez at the labor forum. Dee-licious!
Fred Frost, who heads the union grouping, introduced Taddeo to a crowd of about 50 by noting that there are 14,000 union members in District 18. “I truly believe she (Ros-Lehtinen) has disrespected the South Florida AFL-CIO for the last time,” Frost said.
We will see. And this is not only a race for us in South Florida. The Sunday NY Times had us under the lens again. “Democrats see Cuba travel limits as a campaign issue in Florida,” was the headline.
That may be a little out of date already. Listen to Joe Garcia talking with people at last week’s naturalization ceremonies, and health care and gas prices are the first topics he pounds. But anyway, it’s at least interesting to see the national media paying attention to Cuba policy and the nuances of SoFla democraphics.
The Times article devotes a lot of space to the view that Cuba travel restrictions are on the way out. But at the end it quotes a contrary view from pollster Sergio Bendixen, who ventures that the Democratic challengers may be mistaken if they focus on Cuba policy.
“What do you gain by focusing your campaign on travel restrictions and remittance restrictions?” Mr. Bendixen said. “I don’t get it. It’s turning off more than half the electorate that’s not Cuban, and the people who would benefit from a change are a very small slice of the Cuban electorate. It’s a mistaken strategy.”
Having listened to all the challengers (repeatedly), I have to say that they are not focusing on Cuba the way Bendixen seems to think. Yes, two of them (Garcia and Martinez) are Cuban Americans, and Cuba policy is part of their stump speeches. But they know their districts and just how much is Cuban. Taddeo told her union audience last week that District 18 is “under 30 percent Cuban” and it’s far from the makeup that sent Ros-Lehtinen to Congress 18 years ago. Voters, including Cuban Americans, now have health care at the top of their priorities, she said.
Her speech opened with a telling anecdote from her background as a business leader who would travel to Washington to lobby Ros-Lehtinen on what the business community saw as top legislative priorities. Health care, for instance. “Our list of priorities was getting longer,” she said. “We are being represented by someone who does not vote in the best interest of our community.”
And, she pointed out, it was a business delegation asking for a yes vote on children’s health insurance, not a labor delegation.
Taddeo also thought it was noteworthy that Ros-Lehtinen now is changing some of her votes and talking to the Chamber of Commerce. “They all know me,” she said of the Chamber. “She doesn’t have the labor community. She doesn’t have the business community. Who does she have?”