Frank Torres, Orlando Freelance Reporter

Posts Tagged ‘orange county commission’

Rubio pushes Immigration deal on every Sunday Morning Talker, Scott signs Internet Cafe Ban, Orange Commission greenlights Universal Bridge – WIR

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2013 at 11:04 pm

It’s your Week in Review and the big news was Florida Senator Marco Rubio‘s media blitz this morning on all of the Sunday talk Shows. He was on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week, State of the Union, Fox News Sunday, and Al Punto.

His main message was aimed at fellow Conservatives. That message? This is not amenesty and will be the toughest immigration laws we’ve seen.

He also talked gun control and plans for 2016. An effective slew of appearances for Rubio, who many believe is the future of the party.

We’ve also got Rick Scott and Tim Tebow and the Orange County Commission gives Universal Studios their pedestrian bridge.

This is your Week in Review

Video Transcript:

Florida Politics with Frank Torres. This is your Week in Review. Now normally, we start from the beginning of the week and move forward to Sunday but this week we’re doing it in reverse. That is because the big new took place this morning. I’m talking about Florida Senator Marco Rubio making his big immigration media blitz, hitting every Sunday morning talker discussing the agreement on sweeping immigration reform from the bi-partisan “Gang of Eight”. Rubio appeared on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week, State of the Union,…Am I missing any? Fox News Sunday and Al Punto on Univision. Rubio’s big message was that this was not amnesty. This talking point was to try to calm some of the more Conservative opinion leaders that any path to citizenship that did not require the undocument or illegal immigrant to return to his country was amnesty.

Immigration wasn’t the only issue Rubio discussed. He was asked several times about Gun Control and the push behind the legislature for mandatory background checks. This was complicated, several of the moderators stretched back to Rubio’s time in the Florida House when he supported background checks. Rubio had to differentiate the two circumstances before moving on. He stressed that Violence was the problem, not the procedure so many Americans go through to purchase firearms.

He was also asked several times about 2016. Rubio deflected by saying that he was in Washinton to solve problems and that’s where his head was. This was similar to what he did last year when he was getting the same kind of questions.

All in all a good round of appearances for the junior Senator from Florida. Not as strong as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who did the same a few weeks back but, Rubio was talking about gun control and specific immigration points. Bush was promoting a book and the only obstacle he had was his changing mindsets on the path to citizenship.

One problem Rubio had was the lighting at his location. His people need to learn how to handle the lighting. It looked at times like Rubio was melting and was about 3 shades redder than he had to be. He literally was in the hot seat. For a second, I thought we were going to get a repeat of the State of the Union Republican response.

We move on to Florida Governor Rick Scott. Scott quietly signed the bill banning internet cafes this week. Those are illegal, although some are being defiant and staying open until being asked to close. This could have been a bright photo op for the Governor. He could has sent a message by saying he wasn’t going to tolerate companies like this one stealing millions from veterans. He could have had the department of law enforcement, maybe AG Pam Bondi, but instead he chose to sign the bill without any cameras present. This could be because of the connections of former Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeniffer Carroll had with one of the companies that forced her to resign.

Also earlier this week. The Orange County Commission approved the Universal Studios pedestrian bridge that would link the park to one of it’s resorts. This bridge will be payed for entirely with tax payer dollars. The “Yes” votes were Scott Boyd, Fred Brummer, Tiffany Moore-Russell, and Jennifer Thompson. All of those commissioners except Thompson are termed out. The “No’s” were Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Ted Edwards, and Pete Clarke. Those commissioners questioned why they couldn’t split the tab of 9 million dollars with the park that will seen increased profits. Advocates for the bridge will argue that, the more successful the park is, the stronger the profits will be for the surrounding smaller businesses.

Finally, we return to Governor Scott. Scott appeared with Tim Tebow this weekend. It benefits Scott greatly to stand next to a guy like Tebow. As popular as Tebow is, that’s how unpopular Rick Scott is. It certainly doesn’t hurt. Right now Scott at odds with the legislature, this delay additional dents his reputation might have to endure.

That’s your Week in Review, I’ll see you next time.

Orange Commission greenlights Universal Bridge, Scott to signs cafe ban quietly, and Rubio and Gang of 8 to announce immigration deal soon

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Big day involving the Theme Parks and local politics. The Orange County Commission greenlit the tax dollars to build the Universal Pedestrian Bridge that would connect the resorts to it’s park. The vote went 4-3 in favor of the 9 million dollar project.

Today, it was announced that Florida Governor Rick Scott will not have any public signing of the internet cafe ban bill. This is due to the connections between an investigation that found one of the cafes allegedly funneling non-profit dollars into for profit companies which resulted in almost 60 arrests. Former Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll resigned because of ties her old PR firm had with the company.

Finally, it was also announced that the “Gang of 8” Senators would announce a deal on immigration next week. The bi-partisan panel including Florida Senator Marco Rubio have been working on a solution for one of the year’s biggest issues on the hill.

This is your daily wrap up

Transcript of Video:

Florida Politics with Frank Torres and this is your daily wrap for Tuesday, April 9th 2013. The big news today was the Orange County Commission approving the pedestrian bridge that would connect the Universal Studios park to the resort. 5 million dollars on the bridge 9 million dollars on the entire package. The vote passed 4 to 3, your “Yes” votes were Commissioner Thompson, Scott Boyd, Tiffany Moore-Russell, and Fred Brummer, those were the votes in favor of the Tax Payers picking up the tab for this bridge for the park. Your “no” votes were Mayor Teresa Jacobs and commissioners Ted Edwards and Pete Clarke. We’re always looking at elections here and the political equity involved and those 4 commissioners with the exception of Jennifer Thompson are termed out. Moore-Russell, Scott Boyd, and Fred Brummer are termed out. Very little to be gained from opposing Universal on this. Jennifer Thompson, we spoke about her new opponent yesterday in Sean Ashby. She’ll be on the ballot next year. Still, very little involved when you add up the reasons to oppose it. Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Ted Edwards and Pete Clarke questioned why the taxpayers should have to pick up the entire tab but, the vote passed and the vote will be passed entirely with taxpayer money. Wow! What a victory for Universal, whoever worked out this bill really did well. This bridge will increase the overall satisfaction of their guests and increase the chances for repeat business. Which have had a big couple of years with the Harry Potter expansion and other attractions. They’ve done really well in the region over the last few years and when they do well. The revenue trickles down to the smaller businesses.

Other news, it was announced that Governor Rick Scott would not have a big public signing of the bill that would ban internet cafes. It was a curious move over why they wouldn’t want to make a signing out of this, it would have been a great photo op for him and State Attorney General Pam Bondi and sent the message that they weren’t going to put up with it. Most recently the group Allied Veterans of the World which allegedly was caught stealing millions. Reasons almost definitely relating to Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll who’s old PR company did business with Allied. It was recently revealed over the weekend that she didn’t volunteer to resign. She was asked to. So, a complicated situation for the Governor. I think the Publicity would have done him well. A public signing would have sent a message that Florida will not put up with this kind of operation. But, there are positives and negatives to both choices.

Finally, late this afternoon Politico broke the news that the Bi-Partisan Gang of 8 will announce a deal at the beginning of next week for sweeping immigration reform. Of Course Florida Senator Marco Rubio has been strongly featured in this group of lawmakers from both sides including John McCain, Chuck Schumer, and Lindsey Graham. It also means that the deal might include tougher rules on worker visas and border security. We’ll see.

Another big day in Florida Politics and we’ll keep rolling along. I’m Frank Torres and I’ll see you next time.

Orlando Political Yearbook 2013 – State Rep. Linda Stewart

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Linda Stewart, the former two-term Orange County Commissioner heads to Tallahassee to make the jump from municipal to state level politics. Will we see some of the same policies from the new Representative from district 47?

Video Transcript:

Florida Politics with Frank Torres and this is your 2013 Political Yearbook profile on State Representative Linda Stewart. Stewart had a very interesting 2012, she actually started the year by declaring a run for State Senate, she took some time to think about and after having a colleague drop out of the race for State House, she decided to make a run for State House 47.

The dynamics of the race were really interesting. The dynamics of the race were against her, the district leaned Republican, she was the underdog but, thanks to some positive name ID from her time on the County Commission and a little…okay a lot of help from President Obama, she was able to be victorious.

This leads us to 2013. It’s all about taking that time on the commission, two terms, 8 years and transferring that into the much bigger political body of the state house. Is she going to stay “green”? What is off-shore drilling comes up? Are we going to see the same Linda Stewart that prevented developments from the Econ? Will she do things along those lines? What about Jobs? That is the ultimate demonstration of political success these days. How many jobs you can bring to the district. She was successful in doing that on the commission, the question now is whether she will do it in Tallahassee. Like I said before, the district is Republican leaning, she’ll have a couple of opponents gunning for her in 2014 but 2013 is all about jobs, and using her experience from the time on the commission. A very interesting transition for the commission. You hear about Reps coming down and serving here in the county, not as much county lawmakers going to Tallahassee. I’m Frank Torres, I’ll see you next time.

Linda Stewart makes the jump from Rosalind Ave to Tallahassee

Linda Stewart makes the jump from Rosalind Ave to Tallahassee

Brummer’s Bashing of Jacobs Text Plan Hurts Entire Orange Commission

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2013 at 11:51 pm

The Orange County Commission has had a tough couple of months. Several of the county commissioners have been targeted by activists and the subject of electronic communications during meetings has come up. Orange County Teresa Jacobs has vowed to crackdown on communications between the board and lobbyists during the meeting. District 2 Commissioner Fred Brummer had feed back that hurt his fellow commissioners.

Video Transcript:

Florida Politics with Frank Torres, and today we are talking about Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ crack down on the use of electronic devices during meetings. This has been a hot topic over the last couple of months. What should the rules be when using these devices during meetings? Who should they be communicating with? What should be the rules for reporting it? What should the guidelines be? Mayor Jacobs came up with a set of guidelines in response to the controversy, trying to solve the problem, and trying to offer more transparency, and a field of vision over how the commission communicates. That’s very good, that’s a step in the right direction. Trying to solve the problem and directly addressing her critics. Unfortunately, it got a very poor response from one of her peers. One of her termed out peers. who has been in office apparently too long, and just no longer cares. That would be commissioner Brummer, Commissioner of District 2. Who called this crackdown, this push, this plan for a more ethical government, crap. He called it pandering.

Are you serious Commissioner?

Are you really, really criticizing, your Mayor’s push to bring more honesty to county Government. I find this absolutely difficult to believe. It’s an absolutely wrong move. If he disagreed with it, he should have been more professional about it. But no, we got this snide remark, from a commissioner who is constantly seen with reflection of a laptop screen bouncing off his glasses, while ignoring issues that matter to the county.

I know this a very edgy political commentary but, you look at the political math here. Fred Brummer has nothing to lose, even if he wasn’t termed out, he would still be safe in that conservative district. He’s the most conservative member on that board, and to address a potential solution to the problem this way is childish and unprofessional.

There are other solutions brought forward. I agree with the suggestion from Commissioner Ted Edwards who said devices should be banned altogether. I think that’s a step in the right direction. You should paying attention to public comment, you should be paying attention to citizens, not what’s on your laptop at the moment.

Decades have lawmakers have done it before, this group can do it now.

A very positive move by Mayor Jacobs, adding transparency, and more disclosure of information during these meetings, but a terrible, terrible response by commissioner Brummer one her peers, that probably set the process back and opens another avenue for opponents of the commission to enter. Hopefully we can move forward towards a solution everyone can be happy with. I’m Frank Torres, I’ll see you next time.

Brummer Bashing solutions hurts all of his peers

Brummer Bashing solutions hurts all of his peers

Orange County approves extra funds for higher Police presence in schools. State Government to follow next year?

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2012 at 10:52 pm

This afternoon the Orange County Commission approved 3 million dollars for an increased Deputy presence in the county’s elementary school system. This action follows the tragic shootings in Newtown, CT last Friday.

Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Sheriff Jerry Demings, and Orange County School Chair Bill Sublette led the talks leading up to the unanimous “yes” vote. There were many concerns over the sustainability of the increased presence in the schools. Sheriff Demings broke down the existing level of strength in the schools (2 per high school, 1 per middle school, 1 officer per 4 or 5 elementary schools), and the different duties involved on each level of the school system, with deputies teaching anti-bullying and drug lessons in elementary schools, leading up to the more traditional law enforcement duties that are occasionally required at the High School level. He stressed an improvement of infrastructure as a more permanent solution and that existing deputies would be working overtime to fill the requests. Jacobs agreed that this measure was to “bridge the gap” until other plans were made.

Commissioners Tiffany Moore-Russell and Scott Boyd also stressed the need for longer term plans, citing that residents will insist on this becoming the standard moving forward.

With the current security conditions in schools being reviewed all over the country, can we expect action in Tallahassee next session? Or in 2014?

If the recent past is any indication, action at the state level is a strong possibility.

Unlike “Caylee’s law”, which made it illegal for a parent to ignore reporting a missing child, a state level solution would have to be a fiscally oriented one. A plan that would avoid the same obstacles the County Commission had to deal with today. The state legislature has been touting a surplus, no doubt there will be debate over existing projects or programs that would have to be cancelled or delayed to fund any improvements for school security.

The county commission approved funds for more deputies in Orange County Schools

The county commission approved funds for more deputies in Orange County Schools

Orlando’s Top Ten Political Rivalries 2012: #6 Orange County Commission vs. Orange County Paid Sick Time Activists

In Uncategorized on December 7, 2012 at 2:31 am

A very bitter Orange County Issue brings us to #6 in your Top Ten Political Rivalries for 2012. It’s the Orange County Board of County Commissioners vs. The Orange County Paid Sick Time Activists. We had the daily protests, questionable text messages, and even had playing out a fake funeral throwing roses at the commission like some sort of Goth Bullfight. It was as tough as county politics gets.

And it’s number six


Florida Politics with Frank Torres. We are continuing the Top Ten Political Rivalries in Orlando and today we’re bringing it back down to the county level. At number 6, the Orange County Commission against the activists of the sick time initiative. One of the most controversial issues to come up this year even in an election year, This still managed to get headlines. To break it down to you, the Sick Time Initiative would have made it mandatory for employers with more than 15 workers to provide paid to sick time. It didn’t matter if it was the flu that made a person bed-ridden or a 4 alarm hangover due to crazy partying. Those workers could not be held accountable, for taking that sick time even if they didn’t accumulate the hours. It sounds very innocent, that employers should be required to give sick time their workers but this is not the case. This is a measured that would have hurt hiring and lead to many, many lawsuits. It did go before the commission and because it’s a toxic law, big business jumped in.

This is where the commission sort of went wrong. There were unauthorized text between lobbyists and the commission as well as some legal jockeying to keep the measure off the ballot. So what you’ve got are activists who are being manipulated by the leader of their group, a commission who is being manipulated by special interests and in the middle, your everyday Orange County resident. Both groups were compromised. So what happened is the commission did find a way to keep it off the ballot. They did what I would call hustle the activists. To keep it off the ballot. It wasn’t completely clean governing by the commission. It was a toxic measure but the argument you’re hearing from the other side was, it should have gone to the ballot, let both sided duke it out and let the people decide. Now, the commission’s reputation has been bruised. How are they going to recover from all of this? How are they going to earn the trust of the public back? The activists went completely nuts after this thing was held off of the ballot. They held a fake funeral during one of the commission meetings, throwing roses at the commission during the hearing and giving animated public comment, which agitated the commission even more, very destructive local politics. I think both sides are at fault. You have the commission that did some legal wrangling. They were the texts in question. Then you have the leaders of this initiative. I hate to break it to you (the activists) twice, but you got hosed twice. Including the very leaders you were taking your orders from, because this was never about the orange county sick time initiative, this was about flipping seats for 2014. That’s all this was about guys.

Anyways, you throw all of those ingredients into the equation and what you have is one of the most intense rivalries in Central Florida Politics. So, number 6, the Orange County Commission vs. The Sick Time Activists. For Florida Politics with Frank Torres, I’ll see you next time.

The worst part? This was just the beginning.

The worst part? This was just the beginning.

Relocating Orange Tax Collector, Property Appraiser Office could be first step in rebuilding trust for County Commission.

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm

We’ve all got a vision of how our lawmakers live. Lavish parties and fundraisers, power lunches with lobbyists, posh offices, and getting constant faux praise from everyone they come in daily contact with.

That vision would be mostly correct. That’s why elected officials deal with political headaches of running for office?

With the Orange County commission however, there reputation has been under attack over the previous months. There was the political wrangling that irked activists involved with the Orange Sick Time Initiative. The majority of opinion leaders agreed the initiative was a toxic idea, but the Commission hustled the activist to avoid getting it on the ballot. Then there was the static over text messages exchanged during those meetings, involving the controversial measure. Bad press for days, all with political power players using those activists like pawns on a chessboard to flip seats in 2014. The real goal.

The Commission has a chance to start to “Right the ship”. Starting with those high end offices.

The Orlando Sentinel reported this morning that the commission was considering moving County Tax Collector and Property Appraiser’s offices from the Suntrust building which dominates the downtown skyline, to perhaps a county owned building that provides easier access for customers and could conceivably save the residents some money.

Make county services easier to reach for residents and save them money? Is that what they call a win-win?

The Property Appraiser, which the memo attached to the Sentinel article agrees to the change, and the Tax Collector, an office many feel shouldn’t even exist, and should be merged into the comptroller’s office.

This is the kind of initiative the commission should be taking all of the time. I think back to 2010 when county politics played a bigger role in the election landscape, and consolidation and efficiency were two of the biggest buzzwords used on the campaign trail.

It’s time to bring those kind of ideas back and this would be a terrific start.

Relocating those offices to easier, fiscally responsible locations would be a great move for the County Commission to help residents.

Thursday Morning Political Headlines: Fight Night, Biden vs. Ryan, Text Reform coming to OC Commission?

In Uncategorized on October 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm

It’s a fight night!

Tonight, the country will watch as Vice President Joe Biden takes on Wisconsin Congressman and GOP VP nominee Paul Ryan. The debate is in Kentucky, has an unproven moderator, and the two participants could not be more apart on style, the issues, and backgrounds.

It going to be a wild time in the Bluegrass state tonight.

We’ve also possible communications reform coming the Orange County Commission. Mayor Teresa Jacobs has called for changes in the policy during public meetings to avoid anymore event like the Sick Time Hearings controversy where registered lobbyists against the measures exchanged texts with the commissioners during the actual hearings. Whether the texts were about the Sick Time Initiative itself remains up in the air.

Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards suggested banning devices altogether. This was a suggestion I had shortly after the allegations started surfacing. Let’s hope they take my advice and put a stop to the attacks that aren’t meant to cause change in the interests of Orange County residents but to flip seats on the commission.

Those stories and don’t call any phone numbers the Governor gives you. Especially from a work phone.

See you tonight!

CF News 13: Double Play!

Text policies to change for Orange County commissioners

Expert: Vice presidential debate is all about branding

Orlando Sentinel: Jacobs calls for phone-text reforms

WFTV 9 Eyewitness News: Team Obama hopes veep debate halts GOP momentum

WKMG Local 6: (Video) David Siegel: Anti-Obama email wasn’t a threat to employees

WESH 2: Gov. Scott accidentally gives out naughty number instead of help line

Paul Ryan tries to keep the momentum going for the GOP tonight

Orange County Commission shouldn’t use electronics during meetings.

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm

These are dark days at the Orange County Commission.

Still recovering from the bumps and bruises from the Orange County sick time initiative battle last month, the commission successfully kept the measure off of the ballot. They were blasted by the media and activists for “outhustling” advocates in favor of the act, that would make it mandatory for employers to grant paid sick time to their workers and could not hold them accountable for sick time taken whether it be a bad case of the flu, or a really nice day at the beach.

Now, there have been concerns over text messages exchanged during those hearings. Messages from between the lobbyists and the commissioners. There have been fights over what texts should be released and what information should and should not be relevant in the public domain.

The easy way to earn back the trust of the public? To prevent future problems like these from stealing away attention from the good work that the commission is doing?

Ban electronics during meetings. No cellphones. No laptops. No tablets. Leave them in your office. If there is an emergency, staff can interrupt the meeting and the commissioner can take action. No electronic screens bouncing off the eyeglasses of commissioners during public comment, or suspicions of dirty politics. And yes, this would include breaks.

Want to earn back the trust of the public? This is how you do it.

I know it’s not easy. I’ve got 4 internet ready devices on my person at all times. It’s going to be agony to sit through hours of meetings without being “in the loop” and it means more phone calls and follow ups later.

There is a saying in the Army “Adapt and Overcome”

Banning electronics during meetings would go a long way in repairing the reputation damage the commission has sustained over the last 45 days and would quiet “the haters” that don’t care about the measures being argued, but just want to flip commission seats in their favor.

After all commissioners are there to listen to the concerns of the public and do business in the sunshine. Put the electronics away. It would be a great demonstration of faith and eliminate one more avenue of attack from those that want them to fail.

No electronics, no drama

Orange Sick Time Battle about Political Objectives, not Workers

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm

In about an hour, legions of supporters and opponents of the Orange County Employer Sick Time Initiative will fill the Administrative building to take turns behind the podium giving their opinions to the Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the rest of the Orange County Commission.

The latest county level war is waged by partisan and money-aimed organizations that apparently have nothing better to do… in an election year.

The measure would require businesses that have more than 15 workers to pay for sick time, when their employees work a certain amount of hours. Businesses with less than 15 workers wouldn’t have to pay but couldn’t penalize for time off. It sounds innocent and fair enough but let’s be honest, this is just another round in the grudge match that will gunk up the political engine we need running the cleanest at all times. County government. The level of government where the rubber hits the road. The most visited region in the world and it’s county government doesn’t have the time.

There are the groups pushing for the initiative who, didn’t meet the original petition deadline and only after granted an extension by Mayor Jacobs met the required number of signatures. They’ve been representative by attorney Scott Randoloph who was the biggest Tallahassee bomb thrower the Democrats had in the legislature, and might be seeking their State Chairman position instead of re-election to the Florida House. He’s flanked by Organized Now an activist group that champions issues that lean left. They’re goal is to get Democrats elected and prop up any cause to get that done.

Then there is the business, Chamber of Commerce type folks They’re Republicans and Democrats but don’t let that fool you, they’ve got loyalty to the dollar, the bottom line, and it doesn’t matter who or what stands in their way, they’re going to get their money. The County Commission has a stout Republican majority and those Republicans will be taking the hits in front of the cameras but, make no mistake, the opposition to this initiative is a bi-partisan one with money on their mind, and if their opponents are Democrat, Republican, or Independents, they must be dealt with.

Let’s talk about what the commission is doing. They’ll be discussing competing ballot measures, altering language, and an array of other things that could be done to halt the initiative. Save Commissioner Jennifer Thompson, who has been voicing her concerns on social media for months, the rest of the commission might not have realized how big this fight could get, and how much damage could be done. While we’re talking about damage let’s clarify.

This initiative would be bad, and would hurt hiring. Make no mistake about it.

Advocates in favor of this bill (with no ulterior political motives) forget about the measures businesses will take to preserve their bottom line. Oh, They’re gonna get their money and if it means hiring freezes, cutting back other benefits or leaving Orange County, they’ll do it. Don’t get me started on the possible frivolous lawsuits that could stem from this. They’re gonna get their money and it will be all of us that suffer from it.

Still, we can’t lose perspective over what the real goal of both sides are. On one side it’s about causing unrest to hurt Republicans in future elections and on the other side it’s about raising profits. You think it’s about supporting workers? You’re wrong.

High drama will be in store for the County Commission with the Sick Time Initiative becoming a hot issue.