Darryl Rouson and LGBT Issues

Since Dave Trotter published this 2005 video the other day much discussion has permeated Florida Democratic circles about Darryl Rouson and LGBT issues. Rouson is considered the runaway front runner to be the next House Democratic leader. I have already editorialized that I feel the next leader should be if possible a woman as the House Democratic Caucus has a woeful record of promoting women into leadership positions over the past decade.  However, let me state that it is important to pick the best possible leader and with the discussion of Rouson becoming poisoned recently, I sought out a few reliable sources on this issue.

It appears Rouson has “evolved” on the issue of LGBT rights from advocating outright discrimination in 2005 to being a supporter and some have told me even a champion of these rights in 2013. In fact his “evolution” while perhaps more pronounced than many progressives does mirror to an extent what has happened on the left and in general throughout American society over the past decade.

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Guest Column: The Battle For Big Water

By Elroy John

Well before Florida earned notoriety as the poster child for how not to administer a free election, it was the state’s natural beauty that most indelibly shaped her image within the view of outsiders. And while her pristine beaches remain a chief allure, for true nature lovers the crown jewel of the Sunshine State is the great marshy waterways and wetlands that comprise the Florida Everglades. The “River of Grass,” as the late writer and activist, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, called it in her treatise about the arterial water system, once flowed freely over a vast region. More than a century of industrialization and development, however, has decimated the land area of the Everglades and wreaked havoc on the system’s complex hydrology, including that of Lake Okeechobee, a major source of clean water for businesses and municipalities throughout South Florida. One might be led to believe that the implications of that fact alone would be enough to spur a herculean response on the part of state leaders. But this is Florida and we do things different. In 2014, voters must take matters into their own hands and pass a constitutional amendment ensuring that environmental preservation is a priority in this state.

The mission to protect and restore Florida’s unique natural beauty is multi-faceted. A major component of that effort is the acquisition and maintenance of conservation areas like those within the Everglades. The state maintains a number of area leases, but in many cases, it has not provided the funds necessary to adequately manage them. In fact, over the last several legislative cycles, a consistent commitment to environmental funding has been non-existent. In 2011 for example, Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led legislature slashed the budgets of all five of Florida’s water management districts. These entities bear primary responsibility for spearheading conservation and restoration efforts in their respective regions. The result is clear in reports such as the biennial study released by The National Research Council on the progress of Everglades restoration, which noted in its most recent edition that, “…12 years into the [effort], little progress has been made on restoring the hydrology of the historical Everglades ecosystem…”

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Florida 500: Anniversary of the Lifting of the Siege of St Augustine

We don’t officially begin our Florida 500 series until January 1st, but since today is the 310th anniversary of the end of the British Siege of St Augustine, we decided to give a brief narrative of the event.

The War of Spanish Succession had a North American theater which in time has been distinguished from the European hostilities by using the name Queen Anne’s War. Governor James Moore of the Province of Carolina (a British American colony; was split in to North and South Carolina in 1729) had determined to attack Spanish St Augustine irrespective of European hostilities. In mid October, Moore with about 1,200 men (this number has been disputed) and 14 ships set sail from Charles Town (now Charleston, SC).

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Democratic Environmental Caucus Endorses Alan Clendenin for FDP Chair


The Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida (DECF) proudly announces its full support and endorsement of Alan Clendenin for the position of Chair of the Florida Democratic Party.

Mr. Clendenin has demonstrated his deep concern and support for protecting Florida’s environment and resources, and building an ever-stronger Democratic Party presence within the State of Florida.

Accordingly the DECF board and membership looks forward to working closely with him to elect legislators who are effective environmentalists at all levels of government throughout the state.


Florida Take Your Gun to Work Vote in 2008

In 2008 the Florida Legislature passed the infamous “Take Your Gun to Work” legislation which was signed by Governor Charlie Crist. While most of the votes were party line thanks to the growing NRA control over the Florida Legislature a few members on both sides crossed over. Just 14 years earlier several Republicans from Florida had supported Bill Clinton’s Assault Weapons Ban  but by 2008 the NRA had complete control over Florida Republicans. In the 1994 vote (and the 1993 Brady Law vote which the Times did not run,) several Republicans from urban areas like E. Clay Shaw of Fort Lauderdale, Bill Young of Pinellas County, Dan Miller of Sarasota and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami voted to ban assault weapons against the wishes of their party leadership and the NRA. At the same time, Democrats still held several rural oriented seats throughout the south including three in Florida: All three of those representatives voted against the Assault Weapons Ban.

Pinellas County Republicans have  had a strong tradition of supporting gun control legislation. On the below vote, Reps. Jim Frishe, and Ed Hooper both voted no on this bill. Interestingly, Rep,. Darren Soto a Democrat who represents an urbanized area in central Florida voted for the legislation. With these exceptions and a few others these were basically straight party line votes in both chambers, further evidence of the base politics of our generation.

Full votes are below.

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Latest From FDP Chair Race: Numbers Stable

Yesterday, Annette Taddeo dropped out of the race for FDP Chair and endorsed Allison Tant. Despite our initial reaction that this may move the race irrevocably in Tant’s favor, after re-canvassing many activists and members of the State Committee throughout Florida yesterday afternoon and evening, we see little movement in the contest between Tant and Alan Clendenin.

In fact, despite the public momentum for Tant, the race itself is incredibly static from a pure numbers standpoint. While we saw much movement in Tant’s first week after announcing her candidacy, including the decision of Jon Ausman to allow Tant to take the Leon Chair without opposition, little has changed mathematically in the race since early last week.

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Poor Democratic Performance in SW Florida & Treasure Coast: Need to Stress Green Issues

Despite recent progress, Democrats suffered some serious backsliding in growing southwest Florida and the Treasure Coast (minus St Lucie County which has acted more as an appendage of southeast Florida, than like northern Palm Beach, Martin or Indian River counties in recent elections) on Tuesday. My explanation is simple: when Democrats have done well in this area, the party has been strongly identified with environmental protection, promotion of green technology, restoration of the Everglades and clean water. Both regions are very conservative economically but understand maintenance of a sustainable Florida is critical to positive economic growth.

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Bob Graham Putting Environmental Protection Back on the Agenda

Today, former Governor/Senator Bob Graham launched what might be one of the most important ballot initiatives in recent memory.  Graham announced an effort for a 2014 amendment to the Florida Constitution that will provide funding for land conservation and protection of water resources for twenty years.

“Approaching this in a long-term, multi-decade basis… allows you to do good—and not political—project planning, said Senator Graham.

Keeping Florida sustainable  and livable. will not happen if left to the control of this Governor and Legislature. Florida’s water supply is in critical condition yet the legislature continues to cut funding for environmental protection and land preservation.  The Florida Democratic Party have been reluctant to embrace these issues over the past decade. For whatever reason more and more Democrats seem to be aligning themselves with developers, polluters and those who favor short-term business interests over protecting Florida fragile ecosystem.

Florida’s environment is one of the greatest drivers of the state’s economy. Eco-tourism highlighting Florida’s unique natural features including (bit not limited) to the Everglades, mangrove areas, springs, and coastline wildlife attract business, tourists and new residents each and every year. As Florida’s environment becomes more polluted, and its  clean water supply compromised, the state’s prospects for economic growth are limited.

The effort will be headed by former DCA Secretary Colleen Castle and former Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan.

Effective FDP Ads In Two Critical Central Florida Races

The FDP has done a number of things wrong this election cycle, but these recently released TV ads are effective and could move the needle in both races.

Scott Plakon is quite possibly the most endangered Republican incumbent this cycle. Plakon’s voting record and bombastic statements are completely out of sync with his newly drawn district. His opponent Karen Castor Dentel the sister of Congresswoman Kathy Castor and Palm Beach County Judge Frank Castor (and the daughter of former Commissioner of Education Betty Castor).

Frank Bruno is the Democratic nominee in Senate District 8, which is the most highly contested Senate race in the state. This district whose performance numbers are essentially 50-50 was the seat cited by two justices in their dissenting opinion on the Senate Redistricting plan.

Conservative Groups Flooding Democratic Primaries With Mail

As Primary Day approaches more and more Republican aligned conservative interest groups are playing in Democratic Primaries looking to get the most business-friendly potential legislators elected in seats without serious Republican opposition. In other seats where the Republicans have an incumbent or serious chance of victory these organizations are attempting to nominate the perceived weaker Democrat in order to ensure GOP victory in November.

The above mail piece sent on behalf of Katie Edwards in the House District 98 Primary was sent by an ECO, whose money was initially raised from the US Chamber of Commerce, Florida Chamber, US Sugar, Charter Schools USA and Florida Justice PAC. Edwards, who is the only Democrat running for the State House in an August Primary to be endorsed by the NRA, will surely benefit from this piece that looks innocent enough. The Political Hurricane has strongly endorsed Edwards’ opponent Louis Reinstein who will provide a strong progressive voice in Tallahassee.

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