Debbie Wasserman Schultz Gets Rebuke from Medical Marijuana Donor John Morgan

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Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
Wasserman Schultz celebrating at Charlie Crist's primary victory celebration.
Last year, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz took a decidedly un-progressive stance against Florida's medical marijuana amendment. In a statement she said that Amendment 2 was "too broad" and borrowed talking-points from noted anti-medical marijuana voices such as Attorney General Pam Bondi, comparing the legalization of medical cannabis to the pill-mill epidemic.

This drew criticism from within her own part as well as John Morgan, the Orland-based lawyer that has donated big money to the cause of medical marijuana and has been United for Care's biggest benefactor.

But earlier this week, Wasserman Schultz reportedly sent Morgan an email, telling him she would change her mind about medical marijuana if he publicly took back the criticism he's lobbed her way. Morgan not only said no, he leaked the email to Politico. And he's calling her out on Twitter.

See also: Debbie Wasserman Schultz Calls Medical Marijuana Initiative "Too Broad"

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Is Lauren Book's Charity Being Used for Political Gain?

Categories: Politics

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Photo by Omar Vega / Courtesy of Lauren's Kids

As she climbed the hill leading to Florida's State Capitol last spring, Lauren Book broke from a walk into a run. The 29-year-old blond with a pink ribbon wrapped around her ponytail raised both arms in triumph and flashed a huge smile as she crossed the finish line of the Walk in My Shoes charity event. Her father, Ron Book, perhaps the most influential lobbyist in Florida, trotted beside her in running shorts.

Lauren had walked 1,500 miles, having started in Key West 42 days earlier on a mission to bring attention to childhood sexual abuse. When she trekked through South Florida, Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra called her an "angel." When she was in Orlando, abuse survivors fought back tears as they joined her. During a postwalk news conference on the Capitol steps, Fort Walton Beach Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz bragged about freshly passed legal reforms that would crack down on sex offenders -- ideas "that were on Lauren's mind, that ended up on my legal pad, that are now in the laws of Florida." When it was Gov. Rick Scott's turn to speak, he called them laws "I had the honor to sign."


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Florida Cops Might Get Body Cams, but That Doesn't Mean You'll Get to See the Footage

Categories: Crime, Politics

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Photo via taserbranding.com
Miami Beach Police will be using cameras manufactured by Taser.
Every patrolling police officer in Florida may soon be required to have a body camera, but the ACLU says proposed restrictions on how footage can be released to the public does more to protect police misconduct than fight it.

For weeks, Rep. Shevrin Jones has been pushing House Bill 47, which would require cops to wear body cams while on patrol. It has so far gained widespread approval from state reps, but there has also been a lot of pushback over details, such as when the cameras should be turned on and what footage can be released to the public. And Fort Lauderdale's Sen. Chris Smith is cosponsoring a bill that does the latter with SB 248, dubbed the "Police and Citizen Protection Act," a state bill that places restrictions on how footage can be released to the public. That bill passed committee Monday night, and some are criticizing it for amounting to a "watering down" of police accountability measures.


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Haitian Police Are Using PBSO Riot Gear on Protesters

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Ansel/Flickr
Tear gas is fired on protesters in 2011. PBSO has donarted gas masks since 2010.
In Haiti, anti-goverment protests have rocked the island nation over the past two months as thousands of people have taken to the streets over a wide range of issues, including delayed elections and high fuel prices. Often, Haitian police have fired tear gas to suppress the crowds, which gives the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office a direct link to the unrest in Haiti, because it donated some of the gas masks police wear when firing tear gas on protesters.

PBSO has been donating police supplies to the Haitian police force since 2010, when the Caribbean nation was devastated by a massive earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people. With the country ravaged by poverty and insecurity, free equipment and training was welcomed by locals. Since the first trip, PBSO deputies have returned three times, including this past November, to donate more equipment. In addition to gas masks, donations include riot shields, bulletproof vests, and even two police cars. PBSO has also conducted "leadership seminars" in which they apparently teach leadership skills.

Earlier this week, Haitian police force leaders visited PBSO headquarters to honor the sheriff's department for its continued assistance in providing equipment and training to the country's police forces.

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Here Are the Florida Congressional Reps Who Voted for the Keystone Pipeline

Categories: Politics

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Shadyart87 via Wikimedia Commons
Congress: Your reps hard at work.
With little fanfare this week, the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress went ahead and passed legislation that would move ahead with the controversial Keystone Pipeline project. This tees up a showdown with President Obama, who's already said there's fat chance he'd sign it. But the good thing about congressional votes: They give you a tally of what your Florida representatives are doing up there.

Because, let's say this 1,179-mile mistake actually gets built and then someday it takes a huge fossil-fuel piss all over the American heartland via some ecological disaster. Well, when that happens, you'll remember which Florida congressional dipsticks with zero understanding of the world oil market are to blame.

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Florida Lynched More Black People Per Capita Than Any Other State, According to Report

Categories: Crime, Politics

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A photograph of the Reuben Stacy lynching in Fort Lauderdale.
Reuben Stacy, a 37-year-old black man, hangs from a tree on Old Davie Road in Fort Lauderdale, blood trickling down his body and dripping off his toes. Behind him, a white girl, about 7 years old, looks on, a strange smile on her face as she takes in the sight of the "strange fruit" her elders had just created that hot day in July 1935.

Stacy was accused of attempting to assault a white woman in her home after first asking for a glass of water. According to a 1993 telling of the story, he was arrested three days later 25 miles from the scene. But no trial was ever conducted, and mere hours after his arrest, Stacy was hanged and shot.

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Jack Seiler Wins Reelection as Fort Lauderdale Mayor

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Sunday Williams
Jack Seiler has won reelection as Fort Lauderdale mayor for a third straight term. With polls closing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, New Times is reporting that Seiler has won a decisive victory over opponents Earl Rynerson and Chris Brennen, getting 70.85 percent of the votes.

Robert L. McKinzie, meanwhile, has been declared the winner for the open commission seat in District III.

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Fort Lauderdale Primary Election Is Tuesday

Categories: Politics

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Could Arnold Abbott be the reason Seiler is ousted as Mayor?
Fort Lauderdale's Municipal Primary Election is going down this Tuesday, February 10, which will have residents hitting up the polls to decide if they've had enough of Jack Seiler and want a fresh face representing them or if they're going to stick with the establishment and let it ride. It's a race that will be closely monitored thanks mostly to the City of Fort Lauderdale having had a rough patch recently with all the negative national press on the homeless feeding ordinance fiasco.

But there are also a couple of other races Fort Lauderdalians will be deciding on. Namely, District III Commissioner, which has three candidates battling it out for an open seat.

Here's a closer look at the candidates to help you figure which way you can vote.

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Feds Train South Florida Cops to "Protect" Activists Who Protest Police Brutality

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Wikimedia/CZmarlin
Don't worry that local police departments are getting special training from the federal government to deal with "civil disturbances" -- it's merely to protect your freedom of speech.

That's what BSO and several other police departments are saying about a program they're participating in that is offered by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Emergency Preparedness (formerly known as FEMA). The program is said to involve training local police in special techniques to deal with protesters who engage in peaceful civil disobedience. And BSO spokesperson Dani Moschella tells New Times that the last time DHS-associated employees came to train BSO deputies in civil disturbance techniques was in 2012.

Local TV news reports say that "understanding free speech" is a central factor in this training.

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Colleges Should Pay Administrators Like They Pay Adjuncts: Short-Term Contracts, Competition for Jobs

Categories: Politics

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401(k) 2012 via Flickr creative commons
Evan Rowe is a former professor of history at Broward College. He frequently writes critiques of higher education management.

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