News Clips March 1, 2010

Take the power to draw new political districts away from the Florida Legislature

As two Floridians who have been working on both sides of the partisan aisle to improve Florida government, we are thrilled that voters will have the opportunity to vote this Nov. 2 on two constitutional amendments to stop what amounts to a legalized conflict of interest in our state. One newspaper called it “Florida’s dirty little secret.” It comes up every 10 years when legislators are charged with the awesome responsibility of redrawing their own district boundaries as well as those of the congressional districts….

…..It is not surprising that the two amendments have the support of groups like the League of Women Voters, the Florida League of Cities, Florida League of Mayors, Legislative Black Caucus, Florida NAACP, Florida Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials and Democracia Ahora. Newspaper editorial boards across the state unanimously support these important changes. That is because, as this newspaper elegantly said, “The amendments make sense.”

Thousands of Floridians – Republicans, Democrats and independents – are working for passage of these “FairDistricts” Amendments 5 and 6.

Pelosi Says She’ll Get Votes Needed for Health Bill

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is confident she will be able to get the votes needed to pass sweeping health care legislation in the House, even if it threatens the political careers of some members of her party.

In an interview carried Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Ms. Pelosi said she was working on changes to a Senate-passed bill that would make it acceptable to the House.

Ms. Pelosi was asked what she would say to House Democrats who were “in real fear of losing their seats in November if they support you now.”

“Our members, every one of them, wants health care,” Ms. Pelosi said. “They know that this will take courage. It took courage to pass Social Security. It took courage to pass Medicare. And many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill.”

GOP governor’s campaign is more texting than talking

Rick Perry’s campaign has a radical approach that eschews traditional voter turnout efforts in favor of extensive use of social media networks to win Tuesday’s GOP primary.

Haven’t seen a Perry yard sign? There aren’t any, and Perry has no local office to house them. Dreading yet another phone call from a political candidate? Don’t worry; Perry has no phone banks. And you probably won’t see supporters with T-shirts knocking at the door.

But you may get a Facebook message from a friend in your social circle. You’re more likely to find Perry campaign appeals on Twitter, even craigslist, than to see his mug on a highway billboard.

Combine that with a broad and sometimes problematic program that pays supporters to sign up followers, and Perry’s campaign for re-election is bringing an entirely new approach – a largely untested one – to the ever-evolving area of getting out the vote.

To be counted, here’s what counts with the 2010 census

Census Bureau hopes shorter form, which should take 10 minutes to complete, will increase response rate
The Census Bureau hopes the shorter form, which should take 10 minutes to complete, will increase the response rate of Americans. In 2000, 67 percent of Americans returned their census questionnaires by April 1. In Florida, the response rate was slightly lower — 63 percent. The Census Bureau contends that it saves $85 million in follow-up costs to non-responding households for every one percent increase in the response rates.,0,2544346.story

Democrats try cozying up to Latino community

Workshops focus on getting Hispanics involved in campaigning

In an effort to court Latino voters, The Massachusetts Democratic Party held several Spanish-language workshops on Saturday for community leaders interested in becoming part of the electoral process.

The workshops are part of an outreach effort aimed at Latino communities throughout the state that were largely neglected by Attorney General Martha Coakley’s U.S. Senate campaign.

“We are saying, hey we know you’re here. You live in areas we represent and we want to give you the tools and skills to organize and become part of the process,” said Gloribell Mota, Education and Training Director for the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
Held at the Waltham Westin Hotel, the workshops focused on grassroots organizing and campaign strategies.
Jorge Poueriet, a Dominican resident of Worchester and a participant in Saturday’s workshops, had never been involved in politics before.

Democratic primary will put to test power of Hispanic surnames

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Political prognosticators and demographers alike figure that Hispanics are the growth industry in Texas politics.

The rapidly expanding Hispanic population tends to vote for Democrats. And there’s also substantial evidence that Hispanics often vote for Hispanics.

Judith Zaffirini, the longtime Democratic state senator from Laredo, has said that if voters know something about the candidates, they vote based on qualifications and issues.

If they don’t, they often vote on ethnicity based on the candidates’ names.

In Tuesday’s Democratic primary, that idea will be put to the test in a few races — though there are other factors than surnames.

Protests, grand jury challenge Sheriff Joe Arpaio

PHOENIX — With a sheriff’s helicopter beating overhead, the man known as “Sheriff Joe” stood behind a line of officers as 10,000 people marched past — but this was not the usual show of affection and support for Joe Arpaio.

“Joe must go! Joe must go,” whole families chanted, as they rounded the corner in front of the county jail complex run by the five-term Maricopa County sheriff famed for his confrontational tactics, his harsh jail policies and a gift for publicity. The parade of mostly brown-skinned people wanted to show they hated his trademark immigration patrols.

For years, Arpaio has been the rare politician whose popularity remained rock solid no matter the criticism. He was the self-proclaimed “America’s toughest sheriff,” unbeatable at the polls.

Today, however, some indicators have changed for the 77-year-old lawman — and it’s not just the marching in the streets.

His soaring approval ratings dropped to 39 percent in one recent poll. Critics are emboldened by a federal grand jury that’s examining abuse-of-power allegations against him and a second federal investigation that he says focuses on his immigration enforcement.

Pro-immigration forces gird for battle

WASHINGTON — A coalition of pro-immigration groups is preparing for a renewed congressional battle over reform legislation — and this time they have money to spend.

A reform bill was blocked in 2007 by Senate Republicans opposed to legalizing the status of the nation’s roughly 11 million unauthorized immigrants. But those who want immigrants to be able to earn legal status or citizenship say they are better funded and more organized this time.

A reform bill has been filed in the House, and one is expected to be introduced in the Senate soon.

Deepak Bhargava with the Center for Community Change said conservative activists were able to use talk radio to “create a groundswell of anger and hate in the country that brought the bill down.”

“Our effort this time has been targeted to make sure that we out-match them at every level and in every facet of the game,” he said.

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