Mitch Perry - 2/282 - SaintPetersBlog

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

Financial report says St. Petersburg is most fiscally healthy city in Florida

St. Petersburg is the most fiscally healthy large city in Florida, according to a new report.

The online Fiscal Times has put out a list of America’s large cities ranked by their fiscal stability — and the ‘Burg came out tops in the Sunshine State, and 23rd in the nation.

The report was written by Marc Joffe, director of policy research at the California Policy Center. He compiled the list using some a number of statistical tests.

A full 40 percent of the rating is based on the ratio of a city’s general fund balance to its expenditures, and another 30 percent goes to how much a city owes and how much it can pay (excluding its pension obligations). The other 30 percent is broken down in 10 percent increments on A) the ratio of actuarially determined pension contributions to total government wide-revenues, B) a change in the local unemployment rate, and C) a change in property values in 2015.

The announcement is a nice boost for Mayor Rick Kriseman, who is running for re-election this year.

“We are thrilled to be highlighted, but it comes as no surprise to us,” said Ben Kirby, a spokesman for the mayor. “It’s a reflection of our team’s talent and hard work and our focus on getting St. Petersburg’s finances back on track following the Great Recession.”

The report lists 116 cities in all, with Miami the next city from Florida on the list, coming in at 38.

Tampa is considered by the Fiscal Times as Florida’s third most fiscally healthy city, coming in at 60.

The Fiscal Times said that in order for a city to get a perfect score of 100, a city would have to have a general fund balance of at least 32 percent of general fund expenditures; long-term obligations (excluding pensions) no greater than 40 percent of total revenue; actuarially required pension contributions equal to no more than 5 percent of total revenue; stable or declining unemployment; and home price appreciation of at least 3 percent.

Orlando (72), Hialeah (93) and Jacksonville (102) complete the list of Florida cities in the report.

The nation’s most fiscally healthy city, according to the Fiscal Times, is Irvine, California. The two worst? Chicago is considered the worst, with New York City right behind them.

 

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Dennis Ross re-files bill telling DHS to build a wall

Donald Trump says he wants Congress to immediately authorize funding to construct a wall on the U.S. Southern border with Mexico, and Dennis Ross wants to help him do it.

The Polk County Republican announced on Thursday that he’s reintroducing legislation on the Finish the Fence Act, which amends the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to complete the required 700-mile Southwest border fencing by Dec. 31, 2017:

“I reintroduced the Finish the Fence Act because finishing the construction of the fence along our Southwest border is the first incremental step in securing our border, providing for our national security, and halting the massive influx of illegal entry into our country,” Ross said in a statement.

Ross notes that more than a decade ago, Congress mandated that a 700-mile fence be built along the border, but nothing has been done to accomplish that. “There is no excuse for this delay because our Republican-led Congress recently provided DHS with $11 billion to finish construction and better secure our borders,” he says.

Trump’s tough talk on illegal immigration and his call for Mexico to pay for the construction of a wall helped catapult his early surge in popularity amongst Republican primary voters last year.

Despite Trump’s promises, Mexican leaders have steadfastly maintained that their country won’t provide funding for a border wall. At his press conference in New York City on Wednesday, Trump said that he wants to begin construction of the wall immediately.

“We’re going to build a wall,” he said. “I could wait about a year and a half until we finish our negotiations with Mexico, which we’ll start immediately after we get to office, but I don’t want to wait.”

Trump argued that the use of US tax dollars to pay for construction of the wall would be temporary and done in the interest of speed. He promised that he would eventually be able to get Mexico to “reimburse us” for it.

“I don’t feel like waiting a year or year and a half. We’re going to start building. Mexico in some form and there are many different forms, will reimburse us and they will reimburse us for the cost of the wall. That will happen. Whether it’s a tax or whether it’s a payment,” he said.

Trump continued, “Reports went out last week, ‘oh, Mexico is not going to pay for the wall because of a reimbursement.’ What’s the difference? I want to get the wall started. I don’t want to wait a year and a half until I make my deal with Mexico. We probably will have a deal sooner than that.”

In his statement, Ross said American lives are on the line in arguing for construction of a wall to begin immediately.

“This is not just an issue of illegal immigrants crossing our porous border,” he says. “This is also an issue of national security. ISIS is looking for every possible opportunity and weakness within our security systems to infiltrate and radicalize individuals to join its jihadist regimes to kill Americans, including recruiting and training those illegally crossing our border and entering our country. We cannot waste any more time on this, and I call on my colleagues to join me in demanding that this fence be finished.”

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Randi Weingarten doesn’t share Jeb Bush embrace of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary

Though education was rarely discussed by Donald Trump on the campaign trail, at the top of his list of priorities was to spend $20 million on school choice, which would come from “reprioritizing federal dollars.” In picking Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos to serve as his Education Secretary, he made it clear that intended to make school choice and voucher plans for low-income families a focal point of his education agenda.

And Jeb Bush has been effusive in praising the selection every step of the way.

In November, the former Florida Governor described DeVos as an “outstanding pick” for to lead the Department of Education. In December, he said he was “so excited” when talking about her at the National Summit on Education Reform, sponsored by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which he founded and chairs and on which DeVos serves as a board member.

Now, just before her confirmation hearing was set to take place (since postponed until next week), Bush is back again, penning a letter to the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where DeVos will appear next week. In the note, he praises her as a “champion of families, not institutions.”

“For her, local control of education decisions means local control,” he wrote. “She trusts parents to choose what is in their unique child’s best interests, and she believes in providing every parent with the resources to pursue those decisions.”

DeVos is a leader in the movement to privatize the U.S. public-education system but has quickly become a lightning rod in the education world since her nomination by the president-elect.

One of her biggest critics is Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the one-million-member-plus union that endorsed Hillary Clinton in November’s presidential election. She says that DeVos simply doesn’t believe in public education.

“These are the schools that 90 percent of children go to,” Weingarten told FloridaPolitics on Monday afternoon. “The job of an education secretary, not a lobbyist, but an education secretary, is to strengthen and improve public schools. Her entire ideology, her zealousness, her lobbying for the last two-to-three decades has been to undermine public education.”

Weingarten said that was most evident in the past year in Michigan, where she says DeVos “fought aggressively against the consensus” that the establishment in Detroit had envisioned recreating a public school system.

One of DeVos’ various groups, the Great Lakes Education Project, supported an A-F accountability system that the state created for Detroit. But POLITICO reports that the group fought back hard against a proposed Detroit commission focused on improving both charters and traditional schools, contending it would be beholden to the city’s mayor and school district officials.

“Her antipathy towards public schools is something that she has worn proudly on her sleeve,” says Weingarten.

Bush’s embracing of DeVos isn’t just turning off officials with the teacher’s unions. As quickly became apparent on the campaign trail in early 2015, the one-time presidential candidate’s support for federal Common Core standards was a big turnoff for some conservative groups.

Jane Robbins, a senior fellow with the American Principles Project in Washington, penned a column on the Townhall website calling DeVos selection “Jeb’s Revenge.”

“Jeb Bush and his ideological compatriots, including DeVos, advance what could be called a “government-foundation cartel” model of educational policy-making,” Robbins wrote. “Private foundations funded by wealthy individuals (who themselves may be dilettantes with no real experience in education) contribute ideas, and frequently personnel, to the government to achieve their policy goals.”

Robbins went on to say Bush “surely believes she’ll use the stratagems the cartel has employed for so long to impose its own vision of what American education should be. DeVos must instead assure the grassroots that she’ll use her new position to eliminate federal interference and truly return education policy to the states. Trump was elected to achieve that goal, not to install Jeb’s agenda. He should make sure DeVos understands that.”

Weingarten criticizes Bush’s education policies in Florida, saying he became obsessed with high stakes testing.

“Look at what Jeb Bush did, and all the work that was promised, by Jeb Bush, by George W. Bush, to have funding going into reading or any kind of investment to actually ensure that high standards were realized,” she says. “None of that materialized in Florida.”

Weingarten adds: “What happened instead was this competition amongst schools, this corporatization among schools, and this disruption which created huge anxieties amongst parents, teachers and children which cut the funding in so many different places and which created these restaurant-like reports cards from A to E or F that reduced everything to testing. Teachers were subjected to test based evaluation as opposed to other kinds of evaluation, and you see fewer people going into teaching and lack of joy in schools throughout Florida, and where superintendents rose up against it, parents rose up against it, and people have been fighting it, tooth and nail.”

DeVos confirmation is now scheduled to take place January 17.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Blaise Ingoglia, Christian Ziegler introduce new plans as Florida GOP chair race approaches

As the race for Republican Party of Florida chair heads into its final days, Blaise Ingoglia and Christian Ziegler are proposing new plans to try to persuade fellow executive members to vote for them this Saturday.

Ziegler is the 34-year-old Sarasota County Committeeman challenging Ingoglia’s re-election bid. He introduced a new website called The GOPExchange, a place Ziegler says where County Republican Party leaders can securely browse and download previously developed resources and used by other county parties to help support their efforts to fundraise, communicate, get out the vote and promote elected officials after they’ve taken office.

Ziegler says if elected to lead the party, he’ll lead a team of individuals who can field custom design requests from counties and help execute these materials to fit their individual county best.

“The goal of this cost-cutting and time-saving resource isn’t just to help strengthen our county parties, but to also free up our County Party Leaders by taking them away from the computer and putting them in the most valuable place they can be — in their community,” he wrote in an email statement to committee members Tuesday.

Last week Ziegler announced that, as chair, he would institute the Florida GOP Republican Party Platform Educational Series” during its Quarterly Meetings to help educate and “give us the tools necessary to become experts on the official principles & policies of the Republican Party.”

Ziegler says that he would welcome guests from conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the CATO Institute, the American Enterprise Institute and others to take a deep dive into issues regarding the constitution, immigration, education, health care, national security and other matters.

“The goal would be to read through the platform, listen to an expert explain the importance of that portion of the platform, host a Q/A & debate session at the end of the class and leave that session with a deep understanding and talking points about a portion of the platform,” he writes.

Meanwhile, Ingoglia has offered up his own series of proposals and proposed four different programs Wednesday. They are:

1 — Trump Republican Clubs — Noting how many new voters who jumped on the “Trump Train” and registered as Republican back in the spring, Ingoglia says the job of the RPOF is to keep them involved with the party by forming these clubs. “If we can keep these new voters engaged and voting each election cycle, we will be an unstoppable force,” he says.

2 — Florida GOP University — Ingoglia says that while he’s expanded training over the past two years, there are some Republicans who can’t attend the quarterly meetings where they’ve taken place. That’s why he’s proposing what he calls “Florida GOP University” to bring that training to local Republican Executive Committee members in their individual counties.

3 — RPOF Enhanced Training — Ingoglia says he’ll have at least 7 training seminars planned for the RPOF’s first quarterly meeting.

4 — Republican Business Council — This is a plan to get more small business people involved with local REC’s. “The RPOF will encourage and help local parties set up “Republican Business Councils” in your counties under a club charter,” Ingoglia writes. “These “luncheon clubs” will be a good resource for future local fundraising,” he writes in bold italics.

The two men will face each other in the election slated for this Saturday at the Rosen Centre in Orlando.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Cross-Bay Ferry sells more than 5,400 tickets in December

More than 5,400 tickets were sold for the Cross-Bay Ferry between Tampa and St. Petersburg in December, organizers said on Wednesday. That’s up from the 4,700 tickets sold in its inaugural month of November.

The six-month pilot project is a collaboration between four local governments: the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, along with Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. All four contributed $350,000 to pay for the cost of the pilot, which was spearheaded by former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik, and later by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

“We are learning the lessons that only a real-life test can provide, which is why we wanted to run this six-month pilot project,”  said Kriseman in a statement. “So far, people are voting with their feet to ride it. That’s a great sign for developing a better future around our Tampa Bay waterfront.”

Officials say that weekday ticket sales (Monday – Thursday) started out slow in December, but ticket sales doubled in the third week of the month and tripled during the fourth week, with more than 1,700 weekday tickets sold.  Weekend ticket sales totaled 3,734.

“Those results show strong community interest in the ferry, especially given the ferry did not run during two holiday ‘blackout’ days, and during several days when weather closed Port Tampa Bay to all commercial vessel traffic, including cruise ships,” officials said on Wednesday.

The local governments are working with Seattle-based HMS Ferries on the Cross-Bay Ferry service. The company reported $64,213 in net revenue in November, with tickets sales recovering 46 percent of operating costs. “That is the highest recovery of operating costs of any transit operation on the west coast of Florida,” said Turanchik, who is working as a consultant to HMS. “This single vessel with limited operation is recovering two or four time more of its operating costs than our existing bus systems and lines in the Tampa Bay region.”

Turanchik and HMS Ferries first began working together several years ago on a project that would connect from the south shore area near Apollo Beach to MacDill Air Force Base.  That project is on hold before environmental impact studies are completed.

Once the Cross-Bay Ferry pilot project ends in April, local officials will analyze the numbers and discuss whether they want to continue the project.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Kathy Castor says Rick Scott is spreading misleading and inaccurate information about the ACA

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor says that a letter that Governor Rick Scott recently sent to House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy regarding the Affordable Care Act contains “misleading and inaccurate information.”

The two Florida politicians have always been on opposing sides regarding President Obama’s signature domestic achievement. As a former health care executive, Scott was criticizing what is often called “ObamaCare” before he ever ran for governor, while Castor has been a champion of the law since it was signed into law in 2010.

“For far too long, it has been fashionable in Washington to say Obamacare can only be tweaked,” Scott wrote to McCarthy. “The impact of Obamacare has been devastating in Florida and our nation. Obamacare was sold on a lie from the very start. Costs are skyrocketing, people have not been able to keep their doctors and many people have fewer doctors to choose from. The increases in health care costs are at a 32-year high and are expected to continue increasing in the coming months. Recent news of Obamacare rates rising 25 percent is absurd and families simply cannot afford it. We can do better and the families and businesses footing the bill deserve better.”

Scott also called for giving Florida the “flexibility to run our own Medicaid program that uses the states managed care model,” and that be given the ability to enact reforms such as charging Medicaid beneficiaries a fee for using the emergency room in “non-emergency room situations.” And he advocated for realigning the methodology for calculating Medicare Part B premium cost of living adjustments. The current methodology, he says, is resulting in a disproportionate on state Medicaid programs, including Florida, where he says it has an estimated $82 million inpact over the past two years.

On Tuesday, Castor rebutted Scott, writing her own letter to McCarthy.

In the letter, she says that Scott neglected to mention that 1.7 million Floridians now have health care coverage due to the ACA. She also says that the ACA’s consumer protections (such as banning insurance companies from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions, removing lifetime caps on coverage and allowing people under 26 to stay on their parents plans) have benefited the nearly 9 million Floridians who have employer backed insurance.

Castor writes that Scott has also overlooked the fact that the rate of growth of private insurance plans “has been held in check” in recent years.

“Governor Scott failed to mention significant cost savings to Floridians in his letter,” writes Castor. “Florida families with employer coverage saw their premiums grow by only 1.3 percent per year from 2010 to 2015, compared with 8.2 percent over the previous decade. If premiums grow in line with the national average in 2016, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that premiums in Florida will be $7,600 lower today than if grown matched the increase pre-ACA.”

Castor also says that plans to offer Medicaid block grants to the states “is a ruse to institute draconian cuts.”

The governor was in Tampa on Tuesday making an announcement about his proposals for higher education. When asked about his letter to McCarthy, he said, “I know it’s really important that everybody has access to high quality health care, but if you can’t afford it it doesn’t matter how good the quality is. That’s not something that we want for our society. What’s important to me is that we have a national plan that works, that controls costs….you have to focus on costs, you have to focus on quality,  you have to focus on service, and the ACA didn’t do those things.”

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Hillsborough County PTC seeks law firm to investigate former executive director

The Hillsborough County Public Transportation has issued a request for proposal to hire a law firm to conduct an investigation into former executive director Kyle Cockream’s performance as the head of the agency.

The board originally voted to do so last October, following a series of media reports that showed he had used off-duty taxicab drivers in PTC ridesharing stings and made unauthorized trips to speak to the Palm Beach County Commission with officials of the cab and limo industry, among other revelations. The move was led by then PTC chairman Victor Crist, who said that the agency’s integrity had been compromised from the top down.

“The public have lost trust in our agency.” he said at the time, adding that the best way to move forward would be an independent investigation the 12,000 emails that were recently released and have been the source for multiple news agencies (including SaintPetersBlog) depicting Cockream in a negative light. He said it was “imperative that these allegations be addressed on an urgent basis.”

Cockream is no longer affiliated with the organization. His last day on the job was on December 31.

At that October meeting, Cockream vehemently disputed Crist’s comments and called the request for an investigation a “witch hunt” and a “circus.”

Chief Assistant County Attorney Jennie Tarr came before the PTC at that meeting and recommended five different law firms that could investigate the charges, offering different rates the respective firms or individuals attorneys would charge.  But resistance from PTC members Frank Reddick and Dave Pogolorich precluded the agency from going ahead at the time to investigate Cockream.

Meanwhile, there is the likelihood that this will be the last year that the PTC remains in existence. Last month, the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation voted unanimously for a local bill that would eliminate the agency on December 31, 2017. “The public has lost complete faith in the ability of this agency to regulate credibly, equitably and efficiently,” said bill sponsor James Grant said before the entire delegation voted in support of his bill.

Not only is Cockream no longer part of the seemingly endless drama that the PTC has produced over the years. Crist has also stepped down from his duties,  after nearly six years on the job, and has been succeeded by County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, who did not immediately return a request for comment.

The PTC was scheduled to meet for the first time this year on Wednesday. That meeting has now been canceled.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Bill Nelson and Hillsborough County DEC Steering Committee now backing Stephen Bittel for FDP Chair

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson has made it clear what had been strongly rumored for the past month now – he’s firmly behind Coconut Grove real estate developer and Democratic party donor Stephen Bittel in the race for the Florida Democratic Party Chair position.

“I have known Stephen Bittel for over 30 years and believe he will be an extraordinary Chair of the Florida Democratic Party,” Nelson said on Tuesday, just four days before the state’s executive committee votes on a new leader. “Stephen has been a dedicated advocate for the principles of the Democratic Party for many years and is a leader who has the smarts and heart to unite the party in addition to implementing plans that will help rebuild the party from the ground up. While there are several qualified candidates in this race, I am convinced that Stephen is the right person to chair the Florida Democratic Party,  he has my full support and I ask that you join me in this effort.”

Nelson told this reporter on December 15 that while he did not want to put his considerable influence in the race just yet, he said it was “time for us to get a very professionally run Democratic Party that has a chance of standing up against a very organized and very well-funded Republican Party,” adding that, “I think Stephen Bittle would bring that type of professionalism to the organization.”

Momentum has been going Bittel’s way to lead the party before he was even eligible to compete for the position. In fact, the circumstances allowing him to first be named a precinct captain with the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee and then state committeeman is now the source of a lawsuit (as reported today in the Miami New Times).

Bittel also received good news Monday night in the form of a formal declaration of support from the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Steering Committee.

“We decided that we would back Bittel as long as he was in running,” said Hillsborough DEC Chair Ione Townsend, who said of all the candidates that “at this point they all have the same platform, they’ve all adopted all  the same language and all the same ideas and the platforms are basically the same, so it boils down for us who we thought had the best chance of executing that plan, and we thought that Mr. Bittel had the best chance of executing that plan.”

When asked how the steering committee came to that conclusion, Townsend noted Bittel’s “proven record for fundraising and as a CEO.”

“We think that the FDP needs to be run more professionally and more business like,” she added.

The Hillsborough support for Bittel is another seeming blow to the chances of Alan Clendenin, the South Tampa based longtime DNC committeeman who lost a bid for state committee in his own DEC last month, and ultimately relocated to Bradford County to make himself eligible in the race this Saturday. When asked if there was any support among the 20 or so members of the steering committee on Monday night, Townsend diplomatically replied, “Let’s just say we decided we would back Mr Bittel.”

The race for FDP chair takes place this Saturday in Orlando. Along with Bittel and Clendenin, former state Senator Dwight Bullard, Duval County committeewoman Lisa King and Osceola County DEC Chair Leah Carius are on the ballot.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

In wake of Orlando shooting, Vern Buchanan renews call to pass bill imposing death penalty for cop killers

One day after Debra Clayton was shot and killed, Sarasota area Republican Vern Buchanan is once again calling Congress to pass his bill making it easier to sentence cop killers to death.

Clayton, a 17-year veteran of the Orlando Police Department, died Monday morning while attempting to arrest a murder suspect. Hours later, an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy also died in an auto accident during the pursuit of the alleged killer wanted in the slaying of his pregnant former girlfriend.

“These vicious attacks against police must end,” Buchanan said. “My legislation sends a strong message to those who target police — you will be held accountable.”

Buchanan’s “Thin Blue Line Act” (H.R. 115), would make the murder or attempted murder of a police officer, firefighter or other first responders an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations.

Former Pinellas County Congressman David Jolly sponsored a similar bill in 2015.

Deadly shootings and ambush attacks contributed to a five-year high in U.S. law-enforcement fatalities in 2016, according to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C.

There were 135 officers killed on the job last year, and gun-related incidents were the leading cause of death, a report released last month indicated.

William J. Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), praised Buchanan’s bill in a statement issued out by the congressman’s office, saying assaults against police have increased sharply in recent years. In 2016 alone, ambush-style killings of law enforcement officers increased by 167 percent, according to NAPO.

“Establishing stricter penalties for those who harm or target law enforcement officers will deter crime,” Johnson said. “Any persons contemplating harming an officer must know that they will face serious punishments.”

The legislation would be applicable when a murdered individual is on duty, in the performance of their duty, or because of their status as a public official.

The proposal covers federal, state, and local police officers, firefighters and first responders. The only requirement is that the homicide involves federal jurisdiction, such as an interstate homicide of an officer, one killed on federal land, or while serving as part of a joint task force.

Buchanan’s press staff said it is unclear at this time if the Thin Blue Line Act would apply in the case of the incident Monday in Orlando.

“We owe a great debt to police officers and first responders across the country,” Buchanan said. “Just as we recently witnessed during the Fort Lauderdale airport attack, these brave individuals put their lives on the line to keep us safe.”

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Rick Scott is non-committal whether he would sign a bill allowing Floridians to carry guns in airport terminals

Rick Scott says he doesn’t have an opinion on whether or not he’d support a law that would allow licensed gun owners to carry guns in airport terminals.

The question came to him on Tuesday, four days after 26-year-old Army Veteran Esteban Santiago, who is accused of killing five people at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday after he recovered his gun that he had picked in his suitcase and then retrieved at the baggage claim area.

A proposal by Sarasota Republican Greg Steube that would allow a licensed gun owner to carry a gun in airports throughout the state is on the agenda for the Florida Legislature when they begin their session in March. The Steube bill (SB 140) does more than just allow for guns in airports – it would also allow the 1.7 million concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns on college campuses and in government meetings as well as carry openly in public.

“We’re in the middle of an investigation, and I’m looking forward to what happens at the end of that investigation,” Scott told reporters in New Tampa on Tuesday morning. “Right now my goal is to mourn with those who lost their lives, for those who are still in the hospital, and there will be time for politics once we finish this.”

Scott was asked twice more about the bill by reporters who wanted to get his general sense of the bill. He initially responded by again repeating the fact that there is an ongoing investigation into Santiago, as well as an ongoing manhunt for Markeith Lloyd, who Orlando Police say killed Master Sgt. Debra Clayton as she tried to confront him outside a Walmart.

“So my goal is to just finish these,” Scott said, referring to both cases.

But a television reporter asked again straight up – would he support the Steube bill if it landed on his desk?

“We have a legislative session that begins in the first part of March, so I know there will be a lot of legislation about a lot of different things. If it makes it to my desk I’ll review it,” he said.

Fort Lauderdale Democratic state Senator Gary Farmer was planning on announcing a gun control bill on Tuesday in response to the Fort Lauderdale killings.

Scott has had to contend with the killings in both Fort Lauderdale and Orlando in the past week.

“My heart goes out to the families impacted,” he said on Tuesday. “I went and visited many of them at the hospital at Broward Health and there was one family who just found out that they lost their mother and I talked to one who was active Air Force….Your heart goes out to them.”

Steube isn’t backing down from his bill in the wake of the airport shootings. If anything, he’s doubling down, telling the Orlando Sentinel that another armed person could have mowed down Santiago.”Had a licensed permit holder been one of those people standing right behind him, he’d have gotten one shot off and somebody would’ve pulled a gun out and shot him,” Steube said.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons