Frank Torres, Orlando Freelance Reporter

Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

Marco Rubio on Good Morning America, Nightline, Hannity

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm

When you’re good, people find you.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been about a year since, Florida Senator Marco Rubio took the lead from then, Florida Governor Charlie Crist and forced him to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent. Yet, he’s only been in office three months.

Some want him to run for President, there is even more chatter naming him as a VP candidate and he’s not even done unpacking in Washington.

Senator Rubio has been busy making the rounds on television. He is under demand and if he wasn’t doing such a great job representing the state, I might have a problem with it. Still, he’s got the right conservative/center message to everything.

Obama’s birth certificate? Rubio: That’s not the reason America is broke.

Rubio for VP? Rubio: You can’t run for VP. I want to be the best Senator Florida has ever had

Marco Rubio on Good Morning America

Marco Rubio on Nightline

Marco Rubio on Hannity

and his poll numbers are strong from PPP, which has been described as a Democratic Pollster.

Marco Rubio is on a major media blitz

Orange County Commission fumbles Board Appointments

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Last week, I wrote about one of the largest groups in Orange County being ignored for appointment to the county redistricting board.

It’s apparent that the exclusion of Puerto Ricans from the county redistricting board is a drop in the ocean, when it comes to questionable county appointments and,that the whole process altogether is broken.

What I witnessed this morning when I tuned into the Orange County Commission meeting on Orange TV (a wonderful service by the way) was a spotlight shined on one of the ugliest problems that I thought we had taken a step away from, with the past elections.

Board appointments used to gain favor with special interests and used as social calls to hang out with buddies.

As expected several members from the Puerto Rican community appeared before the Orange County Commission. They’re concerns were heartfelt, points valid, and they produced facts that really bothered me and lowered my confidence in Orange County Government.

Everyone on the commission had something to say. If not out of genuine concern, definitely for political survival. It’s best to go right down the line.

Mayor Teresa Jacobs:Announced that she was forming an oversight task force and that there was a Puerto Rican on that board and that one of her redistricting appointees was married to one. She brought up her campaign promises and that she wanted to work with all members of Orange County.

District 1 Commissioner Scott Boyd: He was actually prepared to move on but, had a short statement voicing his concern on the topic.

District 2 Commissioner Fred Brummer: He mentioned that it’s pretty hard to live in District 2 and not get appointed. He gave out his personal email and the name of his contacts and said that anyone that was interested would be able to serve.

This simply isn’t true.

I applied to serve, when I lived in Brummer’s district. Communication is difficult with his office. I called his office to asked about the possibility of saving a shelter, that assists battered women and his assistant didn’t take down any of my information and couldn’t sound less interested.

District 3 Commissioner Lui Damiani:The Governor Charlie Crist appointee didn’t comfort many of his constituents, providing excuses instead of solutions. “I like to work with people I know” he announced.

If you’re working with the same people all of the time, aren’t you shutting out the new voices that want to serve? Do we need to start looking at term limits, when it comes to volunteering at county government?!

District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Thompson:Someone, who I have defended on this blog before, was behind the most disturbing mistake of this entire process. District 4, which has the largest Hispanic population in Orange County had the most questionable appointees.

Not Puerto Rican? Fine, but from the largest Hispanic district in Orange, they are from the culture right?

No? Okay, well I understand. They are everyday, concerned citizens who want to make the county better right? No!? Then who are they?

Commissioner Jennifer Thompson appointed a chamber of commerce colleague and an attorney who is employed, from a major advocate of developers.

Absolute non-sense.

Commissioner District 5 Ted Edwards:My experience with Commissioner Edwards is that he can be very blunt and straight forward. He was actually quite concerned and touted his work with a diverse group.

Commissioner District 6 Tiffany Moore-Russell:Confessed that her appointees were African-American but was very receptive to the concerns of the speakers appearing before the board.

Mayor Jacobs closed on the issue stating that the group in attendance “should not walk away” from the process.

Well, when everyday, concerned citizens, want to serve and get pushed aside for developers and golfing buddies, that’s what they do. Good people are discouraged and ideas that make a community stronger are lost.

When they say they are concerned, I don’t believe them. Perhaps, I was naive to believe them in the first place. I hope they can prove me wrong.

My heart goes out to the speakers of that meeting today. They fought the good fight, but when the special interests pull out the checkbooks and start making lunch reservations…Well.. The battle was lost before it began.

Orlando Sentinel Reporter confined to storage room, during Biden visit.

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I spend a lot of time communicating with reporters and I certainly don’t envy them.

Long hours.

Criss-crossing the country looking for work.

Constantly being ridiculed on their writing, speech, and appearance.

and in this one particular example, getting thrown into a closet like an adolescent Harry Potter, by his evil aunt and uncle.

Last week, during a visit by Vice-President Joe Biden at a fundraiser for Senator Bill Nelson, Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott Powers was escorted into “a room used for storage”, while serving as a pool reporter for the VP’s visit. This was done to prevent him from mingling with the other people at the party, because let’s face it, when your dropping $500 bucks for an overcooked chicken breast and a canned fundraising speech, you don’t want your friends to find out.

When he was escorted into “the room used for storage”. They set up a small folding table, offered him food and water and left him inside with the door closed.

The only thing missing was a one way mirror.

There was a staffer waiting on the other side of the door and kept telling the Sentinel reporter he couldn’t come out yet. I’ve met staffers like these and they make you want to give them the Heisman and stiff arm them out of your way, but I suppose the secret service would have frowned on that.

They let him out for the speeches, back into the closet for until Biden left (You kidding me!!!), then out to his car.

Apologies from everyone were eventually issued, Powers handled the whole ordeal with a remarkable amount of class. His write-up can be found here.

Biden’s speech? I don’t know, something about, if Senator Nelson doesn’t get re-elected, then neither would President Obama.

Biden’s press secretary apologized and said the room selected was a mix-up and it wouldn’t happen again (next time, they’ll throw Scott in a guest bedroom). Alan “Uncle Dursley” Ginsberg was also very upset about it and he should be. This is one of the biggest political PR goofs of the year.

What a mess and people think Florida Governor Rick Scott’s red velvet rope is a nuisance. Don’t let him catch word of this.

He’ll have Tallahassee looking like Azkaban.

Powers' accomodations, photo taken by his phone. It's still bigger than my apartment.

Potter's closet.

Puerto Rican representation missing from Orange County redistricting board

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I’m a proud Puerto Rican.

On a lot of weekends and holidays, I’ll travel to see family and enjoy the food, music, and environment from my culture and it’s a inspirational reminder of what it’s all about. I’ll talk to family from Humboldt Park in Chicago, where they’ll be celebrating in a similar fashion. We debate sports and politics, and enjoy each others company. It’s a great thing to be a part of and I’m blessed.

I go to a lot of political events and unfortunately, I might be the only Puerto Rican there and it’s stories like Mildred Fernandez and the one I’m about to write about that frustrate the heck out of me.

It was reported by El Sentinel and WFTV Channel 9 that there will be no Puerto Ricans on the Orange County redistricting board.

300,000 Hispanics in Orange County and not one Puerto Rican. There were 3 non-Puerto Rican, Hispanic appointees. 300,000 Hispanics and not one voice from it’s largest group, that will advise in redistricting?

I’m not angry, anger does nothing. I’m disappointed and as a resident who has spent 25 years in Orange County, ashamed.

The WFTV report had video from County Commissioners Jennifer Thompson and Fred Brummer.

Commissioner Thompson gets a pass, I’ve seen her urge application to county boards through social media. The largest hispanic population in Orange, and she selects a chamber of commerce contact, and a developer darling. Very disappointing.

I honestly believe Commissioner Brummer could care less. His district has a small amount of Hispanic voters, so his political career isn’t affected; but as a conservative, he is part of the problem with minority outreach in the Republican party, here in Central Florida.

I’ve applied to Orange County advisory boards and all I got in return, was an automated reply stating that I would be considered, when a position opened up. Never mind, the fact that those were openings advertised on the website. If I can’t get a position advising on roadkill pick up, I definitely won’t be appointed to help draw district lines!

I don’t want anyone to step down from the selected board. It wouldn’t be appropriate or fair to the existing board member. Here is what I would like to see.

I would like to hear a board announcement that is louder than a whisper, mandatory qualifications integrated into the application process and a phone call follow up to each inquiry. I would also like to see mandatory notices sent out from each county commissioner to constituents on their email lists and social media networks for each opening that becomes available on a board. After this, it will be up to the public to step up and serve and there will be no excuses.

A qualified, diverse and strong body of government should be the goal.

In the end, I see this as being a good thing for the Puerto Rican community. This should be a wake up call, and ultimately bring everyone together to keep Orange County great.

There are at least 3 Hispanics on the board, and that’s what keeps this from becoming a ridiculous oversight of Orange County Government, to just plain sad.

Phil Diamond to run for Orlando Mayor

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Yesterday, City Commissioner Phil Diamond joined the race for Orlando Mayor in 2012 and I had the chance to go on television and talk about it.

It’s no secret that Dyer’s policies and decisions aren’t well liked by the more conservative group of Orlando constituents, in fact he gets on their nerves quite a bit. Commissioner Diamond was one of the more vocal opponents to Mayor Dyer’s decisions. I suppose the real question is, now that Diamond is in the race can he actually beat our smiling, fund-raising, globe trotting Mayor? That was one of the questions I was asked last night and I think he can. Let me tell you why, and these are all recent events.

1. Being taken to task over the lack of visibility of the performing arts center budget:Yeah, this is an easy one and it’s gotten a lot of coverage. Mayor Dyer fell asleep at the switch, with spending for the performing arts center and it wasn’t until an audit by Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, that the project was brought back on track, at least on the planning aspects

2. He was on the losing side of high-speed rail and he’s probably going to lose Sunrail too: A lot of my frequent readers are ant-rail, so they might not see this as a bad thing. Still, Governor Scott’s decision to derail the 2.7 billion dollar project will be seen as a failure to influence for Dyer loyalists.

3. 500K to promote Amway Center:Really? This is probably the silliest gig on Dyer over the last year. To spend large amounts of tax payer dollars to promote a state of the art arena that would have promoted it self through the NBA, AFL, Lady Ga Ga and the combined hours of earned media coverage.

and the Christmas tree fell over at Lake Eola.

We can spend 500k to promote the arena, but can't spend a 100 bucks on some 45 pound weights?

We’ll see how well Diamond can raise money and if his message will be strong enough to be the next Mayor of the City Beautiful.

Orlando Mayoral Candidate Phil Diamond

Rick Scott’s Facebook Townhall

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Stay with me for a second. Have you ever paid $10.50 for a movie ticket, $20 more dollars for popcorn, candy, and soda, walk into the theater and have just a dreadful experience?

Light from the cellphones of kids texting, sound missing from the first two previews shown, and after all of this a really, really, bad movie.

Are you going to go back to see the sequel?

This is where I’m going. Florida Governor Rick Scott held a Twitter Townhall in January, and the thing was a mess. We had Rick Scott impostors, insults, and silly questions.

Perhaps, the most frustrating thing was that we didn’t get answers from, who is still one of the biggest question marks in Florida politics.

It became apparent that the Governor’s staff didn’t know social media or were more in love with the idea of being able to say they were trying constituent outreach on a new, popular platform.

So, what’s a Guv gonna do? Try it again.

Tuesday night Rick Scott had another townhall, this time on Facebook and let me tell you, Mark Zuckerberg might have thrown our governor off the site if he saw how poor of a job was done.

What we had was a landfill of insults, questions soaked in sarcasm, technical difficulties and again, no answers.

The most successful back and forth of the night was between the political friends and foes of the Governor, who stretched out comment threads that made seeing other questions difficult.

Still, we’re almost certain to hear the administration bragging about how they’re leading the way with social media and politics.

and that film sequel I was mentioning? Ghost Rider. A sequel to that? You can’t be serious!?

Oh yeah, part two is coming.

Tim Pawlenty launches exploratory committee for 2012

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Earlier this week, in a pretty impressive ad, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced that he was launching an exploratory committee to run for President in 2012. It had “hero” shots at every turn, beautiful landscape footage of “The land of a thousand lakes”; Factories, school children, and every other aspect of blue collar, mid-western Americana.

Pawlenty, with the northern skyline behind him made his announcement and the ad closed with a clean, and slick “Pawlenty 2012” graphic.

That’s as exiting as Tim Pawlenty is going to get folks.

Pawlenty is a fine candidate, but his environmental record dating back to 2007 will hurt him a close primary with a popular, more conservative alternative.

He’s a cap and trader, that is about as exiting as a glass of warm milk and I can’t see him beating Palin or Gingrich, let alone a frontrunner like Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee.

I wish him luck, but I don’t think it’s going to do him any good in such a crowded field.

In a crowded field, Pawlenty is a second tier candidate

Rick Scott booed at Yankee’s game.

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Have you ever been booed as an individual? Not as a part of a visiting sports squad in high school or anything like that. Have you ever walked on to a stage or field, by yourself and have a group of people “boo” you, and only you? A loud audible sign of displeasure at your very presence.

It happen to Florida Governor Rick Scott this weekend.

The New York Yankees were taking on the Toronto Blue Jays in a spring game exhibition on Saturday and our Governor was on hand to throw out the first pitch.

Decked out in a dark Yankee jacket and baseball cap, and resembling a slimmed down version of Don Zimmer. Scott marched out to the mound to a chorus of boos. He kept his head down, like a relief pitcher who had blown a 4 run lead the night before and threw a solid pitch from the mound that might have been a strike on a tall batter (Ok, maybe a power forward, but a great pitch for a governor). Yankee great Jorge Posada walked up to the mound and handed him the ball along with some encouraging words.

Then came the uncomfortable walk back to the dugout. The boos kept coming he kept his head down for a minute and then started the obligatory wave. He had to be asking himself “Why am I waving to these people that are booing me, like I play for the Red Sox?”. He finally made it back to the dugout, where he got a hug from our lovely as always, Attorney General Pam Bondi.

The full story, along with video can be found here

I encourage you to read some of the comments, it’s fascinating to hear people from out of the state, encounter our Governor for the first time.

What can I say? We have an unpopular Governor. I’m more concerned about him creating jobs, and if he throws this pitch 3 years from now and Florida is a better place to live, I’ll be clapping.

He still throws a better first pitch than Charlie Crist

Attorney General Pam Bondi and Florida Governor Rick Scott

March Madness Challenge: President Obama’s Bracket vs. Frank Torres’ Bracket

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm

FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA’S 2013 NCAA MARCH MADNESS BRACKET CLICK HERE!

Happy St. Patrick’s day! In what could be considered the perfect storm of anti-productivity scenarios, it runs smack into the beginning of March Madness.

Green beer and championship college basketball. It just can’t get any better, can’t it?

Yesterday, President Obama released his NCAA Tournament bracket and well, he picked all of the number one seeds.

There are some upsets. He sent the Gators a lot of love. He’s got them beating BYU and making it to the Elite 8.

He’s also shown fondness for the state of Kansas. He’s got the Jayhawks winning it all and Kansas St. making a deep run. I will post both of our brackets right here, for comparison and ridicule.

Try to escape from work early today. Especially if you’re from Orlando. It’s going to be a beautiful day!

President Obama's Bracket

Frank Torres' NCAA Tournament Bracket

How are they doing? Part I: Congresswoman Sandy Adams

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Welcome to the first part in the “How are they doing?” series that I’ll be running over the next couple of weeks. Today we’re gonna start with a lawmaker that has quietly been working hard for the people in her district. She hasn’t been on television much, but she has been busy.

Congresswoman Sandy Adams (R) FL-D24

The thing that was probably the most frustrating about her predecessor was her availability. I’m at a lot of political events and I only saw Suzanne Kosmas once. Once! That hasn’t been the case with Rep. Adams. Since she was elected back in November, I’ve seen Sandy Adams addressing constituents 4 times. In person. I say that because a lot of politicians hide behind telephone and twitter townhalls. That’s not good constituent outreach.

Sandy Adams has stood with the party on all fiscal and judiciary legislation, while still addressing concerns on issues that effect all Floridians such as NASA, and the fishing industry.

She participated in the State of the Union “Date Night” following the tragedy in Tuscon, demonstrating unity during difficult time.

I suppose the only gripe I can come up with Rep. Adams so far, is that her website isn’t updated and there is some frustration that you can feel through news releases put out by her staff. She’s only been there two months but, down the line I would like to see her sponsor some hard legislation. If that’s all I have to complain about, then she’s doing a pretty decent job.

Grade: B

Rep. Adams has remained visible in the community since taking office.