Archive for the ‘Florida’ Category

DeSantis Refugee Trafficking: Contracting Fraud?

October 4, 2022

DeSantis Refugee Trafficking: Contracting Fraud?
As you may recall, Florida MAGA/GOP governor Ron DeSantis used newly-arrived Venezuelan refugees (including women and children) in a political stunt, flying them to the rural island of Martha’s Vineyard. He couldn’t find enough unauthorized migrants in Florida, so he flew 48 of them from Texas in two state-funded charter jets at a cost of $1200 per passenger. DeSantis paid for the migrant flights with CARES Act federal COVID stimulus money (actually with the interest accrued from the $8 billion in federal COVID-relief funding he banked instead of using it to help Floridians, so there’s that).

Besides possible federal COVID fund fraud charges and fraud suits by the refugees themselves, the airlift excerise raises other legal red flags:

  • The flights and two future missons (cost: over $1.5 millon) were paid out of $12 million budgeted with the Florida Department of Transportation for “a program to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state consistent with federal law.” But the migrants were in Texas, not Florida. There’s a lawsuit about that.

More:

“Doubts rise over whether DeSantis had budget authority to fly migrants,” Gary Fineout, Politico

“DeSantis violated law with Martha’s Vineyard flights, Florida Democrats say,” Anna Ceballos, Tampa Bay Times

“Florida migrant-moving company gave GOP cash, has ties to DeSantis’ immigration ‘czar’ and Rep. Matt Gaetz,” Marc Caputo, NBC News

“DeSantis Chartered Planes From GOP-Allied Donor To Fly Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard,” Ken Klippenstein, The Intercept

Funding for furture flights might dry up faster than post-Ian Florida, as the governor is likely to use the pot of federal CARES Act money to augment other hurricane relief funds. That shouldn’t let him off the hook for his Vineyard stunt.

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DeSantis: Cheap Trafficking In Human Misery

September 19, 2022

Florida MAGA/GOP governor Ron DeSantis is using newly-arrived refugees — many of them women and children — as hostages, political pawns in a cheap stunt, flying them to the rural island of Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, he couldn’t find enough unauthorized migrants in his own state of Florida, so he imported 48 of them — by two state-funded charter jets — from Texas. DeSantis paid for the migrant flights with federal COVID stimulus money he didn’t spend on the needs of Florida citizens.

Bear in mind that the migrants, refugees from failed petro-socialist Venuzuela, are registered with DHS as Asylum Seekers; they are not the criminals DeSantis implies they are. Martha’s Vineyard has no immigration court or ICE center, so the migrants can’t check-in or recieve adjudication, which could jeopardize their status if they don’t get to a major city soon.

In this cruel Republican game, DeSantis is playing catch-up. MAGA governors Greg Abbot (Texas) and Doug Ducey (Arizona) have been sending migrants to New York, Chicago, and DC by chartered bus, often mis-representing where they are going and falsely promising migrants jobs when they arrive. A similar federal strategy was suggested in 2019 by Trump creature Stephen Miller. He threated to cut ICE funding if the federal agency didn’t send migrants to Democratic jurisdictions (it didn’t happen).

And where did lizard-person Stephen Miller get the idea? From short-lived stunts by the racist White Citizens’ Councils of the 1960s, so-called “Reverse Freedom Rides,” which bused Black Americans from the South to Northern cities. Like today’s people-traffickers DeSantis, Ducey, and Abbot, the racist Councils promised that jobs awaited the travelers at their destinations. One bus went to Hyannis, Massachusetts in 1962, where the Kennedy family had a summer home. This past July 26th, Fox News host Tucker Carlson publicly floated the idea of sending refugees to Martha’s Vineyard, pointing out that the Obama’s own a vacation home there.

In 1962, editors of the New York Times called the racist “Reverse Freedom Rides” a “cheap trafficking in human misery.” That’s certainly true for the stunts of MAGA migrant traffickers DeSantis, Abbot, and Ducey.

More:

“Planeloads of Venezuelan Migrants Arrive at Martha’s Vineyard Airport,” Brooke Kushwaha, Vineyard Gazette

“Migrants stranded in Martha’s Vineyard say they were lied to,”Bianca Padró Ocasio, Tampa Bay Times

“Martha’s Vineyard Migrants Leave Island as Outrage at DeSantis Grows,” Chas Danner, New York Magazine

“DeSantis gave GOP donors a glimpse of plans for migrant flights,” Josh Dawsey, Michael Scherer, and Isaac Arnsdorf, Washington Post

“DeSantis Flying Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard May Have Violated Federal Law, Experts Say,” Nikki McCann Ramirez, Rolling Stone

“Surprise is key part of migrant travel from Florida, Texas,” Rodrique Ngowi, Gisela Salomon, and Claudia Torrens, Associated Press

Related:

“Ron DeSantis Flew Immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Echoing a Racist Stunt From Exactly 60 Years Ago,” Kate Storey, Esquire

“JFK Library compares DeSantis migrants move to historic ‘Reverse Freedom Rides,’” Graeme Massie, The Independent, via Yahoo News

“This Isn’t the First Time White Racists Have Sent Migrants North on Buses (Though Using Planes Is New),” Kali Holloway, Daily Beast

“The Cruel Story Behind The ‘Reverse Freedom Rides,'” Gabrielle Emanuel, NPR Code Switch

“Biden officials to discuss ‘litigation options’ over migrant buses,” Stef W. Kight, Axios 

“Why Belarus is using migrants as a political weapon,” Ellen Ioanes, Vox

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Florida Health Official Suspended for Urging Employee Vaccinations

January 20, 2022

Florida Health Official Suspended for Urging Employee Vaccinations

The Medical Director of Orange County, Florida, has been put on leave for encouraging his staff to get vaccinated. Dr. Raul Pino, an epidemiologist, emailed his staff on January 6th, noting that only 77 of 568 employees had been fully vaccinated and boosted, and another 219 had received two shots:

“I am sorry but in the absence of reasonable and real reasons it is irresponsible not to be vaccinated. We have been at this for two years, we were the first to give vaccines to the masses, we have done more than 300,000 and we are not even at 50% pathetic. I have a hard time understanding how we can be in public health and not practice it.”

Orange County includes Orlando and Disney World, home to a famous cartoon mouse. Florida’s Department of Health includes cartoonishly anti-vax Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, appointed by infamous pro-virus Governor Ron DeSantis, a cartoonishly libertarian Republican.

Orange County has reported a large increase in COVID-19 cases, with 40% of residents testing positive. That doesn’t include tourists and travelers at busy Orlando International Airport.

More:

“Florida Department of Health confirms Dr. Raul Pino put on leave for encouraging Orange County Department of Health employees to get vaccinated,” Danielle Prieur, WMFE

“Florida health official placed on leave after encouraging employees to get vaccinated,” Timothy Bella, Washington Post

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7 Doctors at Florida Anti-Vax Summit Get COVID

November 24, 2021

7 Doctors at Florida Anti-Vax Summit Get COVID

Days after anti-vax doctors met in Florida, seven of them came down with COVID-19. The fringe medicos met on November 6th at Ocala’s World Equestrian Center, so naturally they pushed ivermectin horse de-wormer as a coronavirus cure. As the Daily Beast points out, the Equestrian Center requires all participating ponies to be vaccinated against Equine Herpes Virus and Equine Influenza. Florida law prevents vaccine mandates for two-legged participants.

“Florida Summit on Covid” participants listened to the 9 panel “experts” and lunched together, and $250 VIP admission tickets included a private reception and photo opportunity, a likely virus incubator.

More:

“Seven doctors contract Covid after attending Florida anti-vaccine summit,” Maya Yang, The Guardian

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Florida Police: To Serve & Infect

October 27, 2021

Florida Police: To Serve & Infect

Florida’s pro-virus governor Ron DeSantis has invited vaccination-resisting cops fleeing vaccine mandates in other states to come and infect his state’s surviving citizens. He’s offered to pay unvacinated officers a $5,000 signing bonus. 58,933 Floridians have died of COVID while Ron DeSantis has been in office. So far.

This year, the number one cause of police deaths is COVID-19, not firearms.

In other Florida Man news, Florida’s surgeon general nominee won’t share his Covid-19 vaccine status.

More:

“As some police fight vaccine rules, DeSantis says Florida will pay them $5,000 to relocate: ‘We’ll treat you better,’” Andrea Salcedo, Washington Post

“Ron DeSantis Goes All In on Vaccine Skepticism,” Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

“Covid has killed more active-duty police officers than 9/11 did,” Phillip Bump, Washington Post

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Trump’s New Job

May 10, 2021

Trump's New Job

According to the Palm Beach Town Attorney, Donald J. Trump is live-in help at the Mar-a-Lago Club.

In 1993 Mr. Trump signed a “Declaration of Use” agreement with the town, assuring that when he converted the historic Mar-a-Lago property into a private club, he wouldn’t live there permanently. In October of 2019, however, Donald Trump changed his official residence from New York to Florida, specifically 1100 South Ocean Boulevard, Mar-a-Lago.

Neighbors weren’t happy, even less so after Mr. Trump lost the 2020 election and fomented the Capitol insurgency. They cited the 1993 agreement, as if they could trust the word of a man who told 30,573 lies in the 4 years he was president.

The attorney for Palm Beach, John “Skip” Randolph, cited a loophole in the town’s zoning code allowing private clubs to provide living quarters to a “bona fide employee.”

He lives at the club, ergo Donald J. Trump is live-in help at Mar-a-Lago. with so many of his fellow employees out due to COVID-19, maybe he can bus tables or clean the pool in his free time.

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Trump Palm Beach International Airport? Flight Canceled.

January 29, 2021

Trump Palm Beach International Airport? Flight Canceled.

“Former President Donald Trump won’t see his name on the airport in his home turf of Palm Beach County — and it also might be difficult to engrave it anywhere else in South Florida.

A majority of Palm Beach County commissioners told the South Florida Sun Sentinel this week that they won’t support renaming the local airport, Palm Beach International, after him.”

— “An airport named after Donald Trump? Palm Beach County says ‘no’ to that,” Wells Dusenbury, South Florida Sun Sentinel via Yahoo News

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The G7 Summit May Meet at Trump’s Doral Golf Club

August 8, 2019

The G7 Summit May Meet at Trump's Doral Golf Club

President Trump wants the 2020 G7 meeting to take place at the Trump National Doral resort in Florida. He might think the “G” stands for “golf,” but it’s the Group of Seven finance summit. Speaking of finance, the Doral could use the money. During the Trump presidency its net operating income fell 69%. And the Doral’s debts are international, since it was financed through loans from Deutsche Bank. Note to finance ministers: the swimming pools haven’t been inspected in the past year.

More:

“Trump resort in mix to host G7,” Jonathan Swan, Axios

“Trump’s prized Doral resort is in steep decline, according to company documents, showing his business problems are mounting,” David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell, Washington Post

Updates:

“Trump sings the praises of his resort in Florida as possible G-7 host for 2020,” Josh Dawsey and David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post

“Trump Has Just the Place for the Next G7 Meeting: His Own Golf Resort,” Patricia Mazzei, Michael D. Shear and Eric Lipton, New York Times

“Donald Trump pitches his own Miami resort as next G7 venue – video,” The Guardian

“Trump Plan To Host G7 At Own Property Raises ‘Monumental’ Emoluments Issues,” Josh Kovensky, TPM Muckraker

“Trump Pitches Luxury Miami Property for Next G-7: His Own,” Jennifer Jacobs, Josh Wingrove, and Jonathan Levin, Bloomberg

“‘Fox & Friends’ Hosts Love The Idea Of Trump Hosting G7 At His Golf Resort,” Summer Concepcion, Talkin, gPointsMemo

“Trump’s push to hold the G7 at a resort he still owns and profits from, explained,” Aaron Rupar, Vox

“Trump says ‘no bedbugs’ at his Doral resort. But inspectors have found a host of other problems.” Michael Brice-Saddler, Washington Post

“Trump’s ‘perfectly located’ Doral resort sees value decline again, Miami-Dade says,” Douglas Hanks and Taylor Dolven, Miami Herald

“Trump’s Doral resort was added as possible G-7 site at last minute, secret service email reveals,” Eileen AJ Connelly, New York Post

“RNC to hold winter meetings at Trump resort that was considered for G-7 summit,” David A. Fahrenthold and Michael Scherer,  Washington Post

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Cash-Strapped Palm Beach Considers ‘Mar-a-Lago Tax’

April 20, 2017

Cash-Strapped Palm Beach Considers 'Mar-a-Lago Tax'

Palm Beach County gave Donald Trump tax breaks when he bought Mar-a-Lago, but his weekend trips to the “Winter White House” are breaking the county’s budget. A typical Donald Trump visit costs the county more than $60,000 a day for police overtime, and the county estimated its costs for Trump’s visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at over $250,000. That’s why County Commissioner Dave Kerner is proposing a tax on Mar-a-Lago to cover the costs. It’s that or increased taxes for local residents, whose lives are already disrupted by the president’s weekend golf jaunts.

Of course the Trump Administration could reimburse the county and add that to the $3 million in federal tax dollars each Mar-a-Lago trip costs all of us.

More:

“‘He’s baaaack!’: Trump’s visits to Mar-a-Lago are stretching Palm Beach’s budget and locals’ patience,” Abby Phillip and Lori Rozsa, Washington Post

“Palm Beach official proposes Mar-a-Lago tax to pay for Trump visits,” Brooke Seipe, The Hill

Related:

“Trump has spent one out of every five minutes of his presidency in Palm Beach,” Philip Bump, Washington Post

“GOP Senator: ‘I Do Wish’ Trump Would Host State Visits In DC, Not Mar-A-Lago,” Esme Cribb, TPM Livewire

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Mar-a-Lago Kitchens Cited for 13 Health Code Violations

April 14, 2017

13 Health Code Violations in Mar-a-Lago Kitchens

In Florida this month, members of President Trump’s pricy Mar-a-Lago club got some extras in the dining room‘s kitchen: Fish parasites, unrefrigerated raw meats, and more. Mar-a-Lago was cited for a total of 13 health code violations.

But Palm Beach is no Las Vegas. The Trump steakhouse there, DJT,  was cited for 51 health code violations in 2012.

More:

“Undercooled meat. Dangerous fish. Health inspectors ding Trump’s Mar-a-Lago kitchen,” José Lambiet, Miami Herald

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