Frank Torres, Orlando Freelance Reporter

Archive for February, 2013|Monthly archive page

Buddy Dyer made right choice Passing on Florida Governor Run

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Today, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced he would not run for Florida Governor in 2014. Much like he did with his re-election campaign last year, he used his State of the City Address to springboard into the announcement using the progress he’s made with the city over the previous year

Buddy Dyer not running for Governor

The rumors that he was considering a run started well over a year ago, before election year politics made 2014 seem like an eternity away. Throughout the year, the media observed his behavior to see if the signs were there. We watched how he interacted and campaigned with President Barack Obama in the important I4 corridor, we watched any unusual fundraising activity, when Dyer took verbal shots at current Governor Rick Scott, we tried to find a trend. There wasn’t one. Our interest returned when the Mayor of the City Beautiful, said he was still considering a run at the Democratic National Convention.

Today, he put an end to all speculation. The answer is no.

It was the right call. Buddy Dyer made the right decision passing on a run to be the next Governor of Florida. Why was it the right decision? Let’s break it down.

He was Invisible in early polling: He’s the Mayor of one of the most visited Cities on the planet, but he wasn’t registering in early polling against potential opponents in a Democratic primary. I say not registering which means his Name ID wasn’t even high enough to even make him relevant in the decision portion of the poll. He won re-election by a landslide here in Orlando but, he’s still widely unknown to casual voters across the state.

He’s Kinda Busy: Sunrail, DPAC, Citrus Bowl renovations, Creative Village, More condos downtown, and the paint hasn’t even dried on the Amway center yet. Now, he’s blessed the idea of a new soccer stadium (with weak numbers but that’s another post). These are all projects, he’s been “outfront” on and if he hits the campaign trail and leaves these behind, there’s no telling what direction they’d go.

Charlie Crist officially became a Democrat: When the former Republican Governor made it official by switching parties during the holidays, he essentially ended not only Dyer’s chances at a run, but many of the others taking a long look at challenging Rick Scott. Right now it’s Charlie and Alex Sink unless something changes.

It’s great to be the Mayor of Orlando: This is a pretty good job to have. This is a dynamic city with a lot of moving parts and a lot of room to grow. He’s been here for a decade and there are no serious political challengers on the horizon. He’s got the big city vision in his mind and a canvas with enough space to make it happen.

So, Buddy says no. I thought he would go the other way, until Crist switched parties. Now, with plenty of time until his next next re-election campaign, Dyer will continue push to make Orlando a major City that will influence the way the country moves.

Here is Mayor Dyer’s State of the City Address. The announcement comes at the 30:40 mark.

Why the Rick Scott Push towards the middle isn’t working Part II

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2013 at 1:31 am

Yesterday, we talked about Florida Governor Rick Scott‘s push to appeal to moderates wasn’t working.

We broke down the reasons why. Like his sincerity, track record, and timing on key decisions, but now we’re going to break down what he actually has to do to get the GOP back on his side after flipping on The President’s Health Care Plan, and how to put together a real plan to win over moderates that don’t plan on voting for him in 2014.

Read from the Book of Jeb: If there is one guy that can bring the party back to Scott’s side, it’s the Governor who preceded the Governor, who is probably going to run against Scott for Governor in 2014. I’m talking about Jeb Bush. The reason people still talk about Jeb even though he’s been out of office for 7 years, and the reason he’s still a GOP favorite to run for President in 2016, is that he’s capable of communicating above the typical Anti-Obama, Big Spending, Democrats are Destroying this country, kind of rhetoric and make a more complicated, educated, argument against current policies. He delivers the party’s platform with an elegance and sophistication that brings Republicans together and gets the moderates thinking.

This might be a tall order for Scott, who ran on the same five Tea Party Talking points for only 6 months in 2010.

He needs to evolve on the stump with some really groundbreaking ideas, that gets him on the path where the party is heading.

Then maybe Adam Putnam can get off his back on social media.

Get Back in the Truck, and Get Back to Work!: You guys remember those terrific “getting to know you” ads from Scott’s 2010 campaign?

Those ads (and the millions to play them) are what made Scott so popular, so quickly, this unknown came out of nowhere to beat Bill McCullom with this confident, well spoken personality that got people on his side.

Why can’t Scott communicate with this image to the voters now? We talk about the “Lets Get to Work” sequel, well start a media tour in one of those gimmicks and spend more time talking to the voters. Scott spent all of last year in hiding after his negative numbers were considered a risk to the Romney campaign. You can come out now Governor. Get in the truck and let’s get going.

Don’t Jump off the Bridge with your friends: Scott likes to believe he’s got the political equity to act like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker or Ohio Governor John Kasich. He doesn’t. Still, when these Governors with better approval numbers take these hard line stances against Washington, he follows suit and alienates an electorate that’s gone blue for Obama twice. This doesn’t mean he can’t stick to his guns regarding the issues, he just can’t go on morning cable TV and say it.

Listen, we know that the Scott’s popularity problem can’t be diagnosed and solved in two blog posts, but he’s got to do something. He’s got two years and a lot of runway left. If he can fix the obvious problems like uniting the party behind him, and chipping away at the moderates, then maybe, just maybe, he won’t get throttled on election night in 2014.

Why the Rick Scott Push towards the middle isn’t working Part I

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm

When we officially turned the the calendar to 2013, we saw a new attitude from Florida Governor Rick Scott. A more moderate leader of the state. In fact, if you took a sample from his administration that stretch over the first two months of 2013 and put it to a blind political taste test in front of a casual politico, they would tell you it’s the agenda of a Democrat running a state, not the Tea Party Republican narrowly elected in 2010.

More money for education, pay raises for teachers, a slightly (OK very slightly) cautious approach to granting tax breaks for companies, and last week finally agreeing to expand the state’s medicaid program to accommodate the President’s Health Care Plan or “Obamacare” in a story that got national attention and is being considered a major “caving in” by fellow Republicans. It even prompted this response from a member of his cabinet. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.

FireShot Screen Capture #145 - 'Facebook' - www_facebook_com

A reply that is not to be taken lightly. Especially, since many would like to see Rick Scott face a Primary Challenger. Tea Party Activists have already started looking at alternatives like Putnam, and CFO Jeff Atwater.

All of this to try to and raise his popularity with moderates from both sides and Independent voters, and it’s not working. Now, he’s upset his base and there is the sentiment of betrayal among some of his supporters.

Why isn’t this working? What is Governor Scott doing wrong?

His timing on the Medicaid expansion was off: He was one of the big talkers after the SCOTUS ruling came down last year. He was going to stand with his fellow Republican Governors and do everything to fight the Affordable Care Act at the state level. Instead, he folded in the middle of the week with a weak message and didn’t anticipate that he was going to be all alone on this. He’s not popular enough to do that.

His Education push lacks sincerity: No one is buying that this is anything but a re-election tactic, and since he’s made the announcement about “Making Florida the number 1 place to find a job and get an education” he’s been silent on the topic. Teachers are going to take the money but they’re not convinced he’s going to keep his promises if re-elected.

He has no Bi-Partisan Street Cred: Quick, before this year, name 2 strong examples of Bi-Partisanship by Rick Scott? There might be some “Cupcake Legislation” that might have led to a photo op that I’m sure an Democratic lawmaker regrets taking, but no hard stuff.

It’s easy to just sit back and diss the Governor’s approach to widen his appeal, and most bloggers would be content with doing just that. Not me. Tomorrow, I’m going to tell you what I would do fix Rick Scott’s problems with the moderates.

Rick Scott Approval rating

National Journal Rankings Mica and Posey Most Conservative in Central Florida, Nelson Middle of Dem Pack

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2013 at 1:30 am

Every year the National Journal Releases their most Conservative/Liberal Rankings of all of the members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Most of the time the behaivior you see in the media pretty much syncs with the Journal’s rankings but when you see them scored side by side there are a few surprises. Let’s break it down by member of the 2012 Congress.

Rep. Sandy Adams 88th Most Conservative in the House with a score of 79.5: She never missed during her term before being defeated by fellow Rep. John Mica in their redistricting showdown. 88th is a fine ranking but Mica actually scored slightly higher. This could have been because Adams voted “no” on proposals that weren’t Conservative enough. Higher than? Allen West Ranked 110th Scored 74.7. Wow. In fact all of our local Reps. scored higher than the Tea Party favorite.

Corrine Brown 92nd Most Liberal in the House with a score of 79: The longtime Rep of the third district easily won re-election last year. Nancy Pelosi? 79.2 coming in at 90th. Brown votes with her leader.

John Mica 82nd Most Conservative in the House with a score of 79.8. Tied with Fellow Rep. Bill Posey who also scored 79.8: The Winter Park Republican and fellow local Congressman Bill Posey will have to share the title of the “Most Conservative Congressman” in the Area. Compared with Paul Ryan? The Wisconsin House Rep and former Romney Running mate is 127th with a score of 71.3 but he was on a Presidential ticket.

Daniel Webster the Most Liberal Republican in Central Florida? Scores 75: This isn’t knock on Webster’s Conservative Cred. Locals know better. It’s just hard to believe that this Winter Garden Grandpa is the Tea Party Radical that the DCCC and other targeting his seat in 2014, want us to believe. Compared with someone like Michelle Bachmann? She scored an 80 coming at 80.

Your Senators:

Bill Nelson is 28th Most Liberal in Senate with a 75.3: His Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scored an 87.5. and one of the President’s biggest allies Chuck Schumer from NY scored a 79.2. Nelson’s score leans firmly left but he gets just enough leverage to call himself a moderate…barely.

Marco Rubio is 17th Most Conservative in Senate with a Score of 82.8: John McCain? 73.2. Lindsey Graham? 71.5. 28th and 33rd respectively. Rubio is not only emerging as a leader within this group of Republican leaders but can say his record is more conservative than theirs. His recent “Frenemy” and SOTU night fellow speaker? Rand Paul from Kentucky is 6th with a score of 90.8. There is a quick 2016 GOP Primary Snapshot.

These rankings are fascinating and are sometimes badges of honor or marks of embarrassment. We’ll see if these rankings effect any of our officials behavior.

Both Mica and Posey rank high in the latest rankings

Both Mica and Posey rank high in the latest rankings

Want a Soccer Stadium in Orlando? Use a renovated Citrus Bowl.

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Building a Soccer Stadium in Orlando is a generally bad idea. We can’t afford it.

So was renovating the Citrus Bowl when funds weren’t there.

However, in the latest column by the Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell, he makes a strong case for trying to lure an MLS franchise to the City Beautiful. Use a freshly renovated Citrus bowl and not only bring a revenue generating franchise that plays the world’s most popular sport, in the world’s biggest tourist destination, but save the tax payers millions.

Wait. We can do that? Let’s go!

He uses as an example the MLS Seattle Sounders as an example that lures 40K per game in an existing sports complex (the one the Seahawks play at). The new Soccer stadium here would only seat 20K, and be a Soccer only venue. The Citrus Bowl would not only seat more. but also raise the profile of the refreshed location, that won’t just secure our College Bowl Games and special events like Wrestlemainia, but with the help of a successful MLS Soccer franchise, bring us back into the conversation for hosting the World Cup again.

It might also make us eligible for the new tax incentives being kicked around Tallahassee for any venues hosting a Soccer franchise.

We say we love Soccer but we can’t fill 20,000 seats. We also don’t have anywhere to put a new stadium and unlike the Citrus Bowl, a Soccer only stadium would sit empty most of the time.

Let’s get political. A lot of developers and contractors would rather build the stadium. It gives them access to tax payer dollars. Pro-Stadium advocates would say MLS won’t let us in without one and they’ll give the franchise to Miami (where they can’t get anyone to watch the Marlins in a new stadium). Early last year, a Mayoral Candidate said Soccer on that level needed to be played in a smaller more intimate environment like the proposed stadium.

It’s not worth the financial risk. Soccer still isn’t a top 5 American sport (behind NASCAR and NHL Hockey) and MLS already failed down the road in Tampa.

Should we have MLS Soccer in Orlando? Of course. Should we build a new stadium for it? Absolutely not.

But, if we can reduce the risks by making the Citrus Bowl the home for a new MLS franchise, then we should make that happen.

Using a newly renovated Citrus Bowl is a far better idea for Soccer in Orlando

Using a newly renovated Citrus Bowl is a far better idea for Soccer in Orlando

WIR- Jim Greer Trial, Rubio Drinking Response, Verizon to Lake Mary

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Here is your video Week in Review. We talk about the Jim Greer that would have been, the drink Florida Senator Marco Rubio took during his Republican Response and 750 jobs heading to Lake Mary.

Here we go.

Video Transcript:

Florida Politics with Frank Torres, I’m Frank Torres. We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get right to it. Let’s start with Monday and the Jim Greer trial or what many thought would be the Jim Greer Trial. The former RPOF boss accused of money laundering and fraud took a plea deal and along with the possibility of the most powerful political entities taking the stand with him, that’s not going to happen. He pleaded guilty and cut all the drama short, you almost heard a collective “Awwww” coming from the media in the state. That they weren’t going to see high drama in Florida Politics during that trial. Who won or loss in this thing? Obviously, RPOF won. It’s not going to drag this thing out any longer. Former Governor Charlie Crist, he comes out a winner in all this, he hand picked Greer and now we’ll never know if Charlie knew what Greer was doing while it actually happened. You know that Charlie is thinking about going after his old job, no trial he won’t have to take the stand. There won’t be any mudslinging his way so he can continue his merge with the Democratic party on his way to what many believe will be his comeback campaign. Who lost? Current Governor Rick Scott. Who could face Crist, would have loved to have seen a long trial, Scott has a lot of work to do with his approval numbers, although he was able to announce 750 jobs coming to the Lake Mary area from Verizon. That was a sub story in what was a very busy week in politics but overall he lost in this, Crist will continue to gain momentum and become a potentially dangerous opponent should he decide to run. Also Alex Sink who could potentially face Crist in a primary, she would have liked to see Crist take some bumps and bruises during this Jim Greer trial, that will not happen. So, what many people believed what was going to be high drama, involving the politically powerful will not happen.

We move on to Tuesday and the State of the Union. President Barack Obama addressing the nation and talking about the big issues facing the country. From a Florida angle though the story was Senator Marco Rubio, what turned out to be the main story of the evening was his Republican response. You know they’re calling it Watergate. I’m sure you’ve seen it. If you haven’t here is the footage here.

RUBIO video.

You know, nobody will remember that response it was a great response. It’s unfortunate that, that had to happen to Senator Rubio, but it’s hot in here, it’s hot in here right now, I’ve got lights in here a sensitive microphone, you probably hear me smacking all the time, I want to take a drink but I soldier on. It’s unfortunate that Rubio will be hearing about this for the immediate future. The real tragedy was the going for the water but it was a missed opportunity, I think it was the main take away from the flub. He was doing fine whenever he wasn’t sweating or going for the water but the American public isn’t going to remember that. They’re going to focus on that drink of water and it will hurt him politically and it will be a crucial mark against him.

Moving forward politically as we move towards session, a lot of lawmakers already in meetings, you’ll remember, I mentioned earlier Rick Scott announcing 750 jobs, from Verizon would be moving towards the Lake Mary area, each paying about 55 thousand dollars. Job creation has sorta come in singles and doubles, relating it to baseball terms, 75 here, 100 there, 150 there. But these well paying jobs will be heading to Lake Mary. Those were the main stories this week. Much more drama coming as we march towards session and see what the lawmakers have planned for our money. I’m Frank Torres and I’ll see you next time.

A Florida Political Valentines Day – Drama, Divorces, Bromances, and later sunsets

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm

It’s Valentines Day here in the Sunshine state and tens of thousands will be celebrating the holiday with dinner, flowers, chick-flicks, and chocolates. If you’re one of those people have a great evening.

You know, this holiday has political ties as well, Ok, maybe not direct political ties but the drama is definitely there. Let’s kick-off your Florida Political Valentines Day.

“The Unhappy Political Marriage that makes it work”- Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs: These two have to work together. The two most powerful people in Central Florida have their responsibilities so intertwined that they can’t afford not to. They’ve publicly criticized one another in the media and clash during initial talks for any big projects.

But they eventually find a way to make it work. For the kids or in this case, Central Florida Residents.

Whether its balancing the books to make the Performing Arts Center Work, finding the money to renovate the Citrus bowl, or even to take a gamble with Tourist Taxes that eventually paid off, the two Mayors continue to get it done.

“The Bromance”- Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio: Despite being on opposite sides of the political ideological spectrum, Florida’s two Senators are often seen working together on issues that affect Florida. When other states try to poach what space coast jobs are left, Rubio and Nelson will often join forces to keep that from happening. Nelson has also supported Rubio’s recent Bi-partisan, Senate Immigration bill.

As Rubio’s star continues to rise (despite missed opportunities) and Nelson enters the twilight of his political career, expect more collaboration.

“The Awkward Couple” Charlie Crist and Florida Democrats:: Now that a “Tell All” Jim Greer trial is out of the picture. Florida Democrats can fully embrace the former Republican Governor, turned Independent Senate Candidate, turned defiant Democrat, in front of “the Ex” (RPOF) and try to take back the Governors Mansion in 2014.

“Setting the Mood” State Senator Darren Soto wants later Sunsets: The local lawmaker recently sponsored the “Sunshine Protection Act”, a Bill that would keep Florida on Daylight Savings time all year. The bill has gotten some good publicity and the idea of keeping the tourists in the parks and at the beaches, spending their money is appealing. We’ll see if it goes anywhere.

So yes, none of these are tradition romances and their isn’t even a fondness involved in some of these match-ups but these lawmakers show their affection in different ways. Happy Valentines Day!

The Bill could help tourism and lead to longer, later walks on the beach.

The Bill could help tourism and lead to longer, later walks on the beach.

Water aside, Rubio Delivered with Republican Response

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Alright, first things first. Last night when Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave the Republican response following President Barack Obama‘s State of the Union Address, he got a little thirsty.

What’s an elected official going to do? He’s gonna get a drink of water. He’s human, he had just taped a Spanish version of the response a minute earlier. It happens.

Still, in the Twitter blasting, Facebook fueled, Meme generating society we live in, this was the story last night. A human being consuming a fluid which makes up a large majority of our bodies.

We do plenty of television in this business and you know that you’re not suppose to touch your face or take a drink when talking to a television audience. In this case he couldn’t help it and even though he’s tried his best to stay out in front of this story, he’s going to catch a lot of static for it.

That’s unfortunate because if it wasn’t for that moment of vulnerability, we’d be talking about how he made a real connection with the middle class and made some of the President’s talking points look uninformed.

We’d be talking about how he created some space between the affluent stereotypes linked to the Republican party, how he reminded the country of where he’s from and that everyone in the GOP is not wealthy, and does value important entitlement programs. We’d also be talking about how he made the opening arguments to support the bi-partisan immigration plan, or a respectful call to protect the 2nd amendment.

He delivered and did a great job doing it.

This isn’t going to do any serious damage to the GOP favorite. They’ll be some jokes on late night TV, maybe an SNL skit, and constant reminders from his “haters” but, the future is still bright for the Junior Senator from Florida.

It was a missed opportunity for a national audience to really see why GOP believes in him so much, and who knows when he’ll get another chance.

Rubio had a little fun with his flub last night after the Response

Rubio had a little fun with his flub last night after the Response

Winners and Losers from the Jim Greer Plea Deal

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2013 at 12:56 am

This morning, former RPOF Chairman Jim Greer cut a deal with the State and pled guilty to theft and money laundering charges. This move instantly shut down what was suppose to be a political event that could send shockwaves across the state.

Instead, we got a 20 minute court hearing and the sound of state politicians taking a deep sigh of relief from all over the state.

Greer could have aired the dirty laundry of everyone he believe had knowledge of his illegal use of donor money, and put them on blast in front of the state media. We could have had news footage of former Governors, Senators, and Congressman wading past local media with flash bulbs popping and lenses clicking on their way in and out of the Orange County Courthouse.

Instead the mysteries of what really took place with Jim Greer and party leaders in the state will remain just that… a mystery.

So who wins? Who loses? Who should be drinking tonight for two entirely different reasons? Let’s break down our Winners and Losers from the Jim Greer Plea Deal.

Winners:

Former Governor Charlie Crist: Could you have imagined Charlie testifying at this trial? The former Governor would have had to answer tough questions about his relationship with the man he put in power and supported. Greer seemed to be the most confident when talking about Crist’s role in this entire ordeal.

We’ll never know now.

RPOF Leadership: Greer is still probably going to do some time and the party can begin to put this behind them. The task of picking up the pieces after a rough November would be even more difficult with the party’s former Chairman taking shots at it’s leaders on every afternoon newscast.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio: He wasn’t on the witness list and he made sure whatever looked wrong was made right way back in 2010, but his name would have come up a few times if this trial would have run it’s course. He’s got enough on his plate with Immigration, his rise to GOP Superstar status, and thoughts of running in 2016.

Honorable Mention Florida Democratic Party: They’re number one hope to take back the Governor’s mansion in 2014, will remain unscathed and what might have been a damaging couple of weeks for Charlie Crist will never be.

Losers:

Florida Governor Rick Scott: No one could have benefited more from watching Crist squirm on the stand, than the man who trails him in early polling for 2014. Not just that, but a dramatic trial would complimented Scott’s recent run to the center and that could have possibly improved his popularity. Now, with this deal getting done and no other big political events on the state level this year, this brings everyone’s attention back to Scott and legislative session in Tallahassee.

Alex Sink, Nan Rich, and the field: If their Gubernatorial aspirations are for real then they would have been cheering for Crist, Greer, and everyone else involved to go down in flames. Now they’ll continue to be the second option for a party looking to keep it’s momentum going next year.

Greer himself: RPOF spike the football not long after he left court and now Greer who felt betrayed by his old friends will have to serve his sentence without any payback.

That’s where we’re at.

Everyone expected more drama, more anger, and most importantly, more information. It’s been almost 3 years, which might as well be ancient history in Florida politics but with all the important names implicated in this scandal, we’ll always be asking “What really happened?”

Will we ever really know what happened between the two former friends?

Will we ever really know what happened between the two former friends?

CF News 13: Jim Greer trial set to begin Monday

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2013 at 12:57 am

Recently, analyzed the upcoming Jim Greer trial with Central Florida News 13. Here is what I had to say.

*COMPLETE STORY HERE*

“This is one point that everybody watching this case needs to remember, Jim Greer feels betrayed, he feels like the world turned against him, in the matter of a few weeks. You’re going to see a lot of that anger, a lot of that frustration come out in the trial and he’s going to be naming names and if he’s going to go down, he’s going to take as many of the people, a lot of them in Central Florida down with him,” explained News 13 Republican political analyst Frank Torres.

*COMPLETE STORY HERE*