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Two federal government agencies are teaming up with Amtrak to fight human trafficking.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman announced the new partnership Thursday.

How To Drink To A Presidential Debate

Oct 3, 2012
Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Key West's "Smallest Bar" is 72-square-feet of cash-only drinks and customer abuse. "No, I'm not from here," says bartender Dean Humfleet, "I have all my teeth."

HAM guy/flickr

The effort to shrink the number of homes insured by the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance is accelerating into high gear.

The Office of Insurance Regulation approved the company’s rate hike request this week.

At the same time, more than 200,000 Citizens customers are being contacted by private insurance companies that want their business.

We discovered a fresh take of what's really happening down in Coconut Grove—City Hall is trapped in a death spiral of inertia and bad mistakes and some are pointing to worker compensation.

Images_of_Money / Flickr

Florida has one of the strictest rules in the country for lobbyist gift-giving: an absolute ban.

And the state has one of toughest laws for campaign contributions: a $500 limit.

And yet, there’s a contradiction that everyone in Tallahassee seems to know about.

A lobbyist cannot buy a legislator dinner, or a cup of coffee, or a bottle of water. But a lobbyist can hand over a check for hundreds of thousands of dollars in a “CCE.”

TooFarNorth / Flickr

Florida has a national reputation for its Public Records Law. But a new study by the Center for Public Integrity and Public Radio International has given the Sunshine State a D in “Public Access to Information.”

The State Integrity Investigation is the first attempt to look across all states at how good the system is for preventing political corruption.

The investigation graded each state on more than 300 indicators of accountability, transparency, and corruption risk. The indicators are divided into 14 categories, which appear on the report card.

State Integrity Investigation Day Two: A Method

Oct 3, 2012

The State Integrity Investigation – a collaboration of Public Radio International, the Center for Public Integrity and WLRN in Miami – is the first comprehensive look at state government  for every state in the country. What’s working? What’s not working? How susceptible is the process to corruption? 

Florida's government, overall, was given a C-minus for its integrity – not great, but still the 18th best in the country.

Powerful businessman Norman Braman is casting a long shadow over the Miami-Dade County Commission election. He's backing a slate of four candidates against four incumbents, ostensibly in the name of reform and good government.

Braman, a civic activist,  car dealer and former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles football team,  was the prime mover in the recall of former county mayor Carlos Alvarez. He was also a bitter but unsuccessful opponent of the Miami Marlins stadium deal. Braman favors reforms that would limit spending and commissioners' political power.

Dtobias / Wikipedia

Experts say the city of Miami will face ‘a battle every year’ unless its leaders address structural problems with the budget. Hobbled by unimaginative leadership, passive management and petty political gamesmanship , the city careens from one budget shortfall to the next without fixing its fundamental fiscal problems.

Among the city’s chief issues, according to experts: spending beyond its means, ballooning pension costs and failing to generate new revenue.  Policy analysts say politics and poor decisions have made matters worse.

Rick Stone / WLRN

Mitt Romey made a stop at El Palacio de los Jugos, or the Palace of Juice, to reach out to Republican Latinos.

El Palacio is a popular Latino spot located on Coral Way in Miami.

Romney was met with an excited crowd at the event. However, experts will probably tell you that this isn't exactly a sign that Romney has a lock on the Hispanic vote.

In fact, polling shows that he doesn’t. With Latinos as a whole, Romney is doing best with South Florida's Cuban Republicans.

MyFloridaHouse.gov

One of the ugliest primary races in the state is going on here in South Florida.

Gus Barreiro and Alex De la Portilla, both former Republican state lawmakers, are battling it out for a Florida House seat in Miami.

Their race has become a messy fight with a series of slurs against each man’s moral character.

They also have quite a bit in common.

Both men come from political families, as well as a past as state lawmakers in the Florida Legislature. 

Florida Starts Early Voting With Dual Election Laws

Sep 19, 2012
digitalshaman/flickr

Monroe County, and four other Florida counties,  have begun early voting for the August 14th primary. All five are protected by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This means that any new voting law there must be cleared by the federal government.

Last year, state lawmakers passed a law reducing the number of early voting days.

“Until this year, the state has refrained from implementing those changes statewide until it had pre-clearance to do so in the five covered counties,” explains Michael Masinter, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University.

Gina Jordan

Even as events were cancelled because of the weather, Florida’s delegates to the Republican National Convention managed to stay busy Monday.

The Florida delegation started the party Sunday night with a convention kickoff at Tropicana Field. Then, buses brought them back to their hotel for another reception.

Steve Zieman from Gulf Breeze in the Panhandle drank a beer and smiled after getting an update on Isaac. He almost didn’t make it.

“I had to decide whether or not the storm was really going to go on that course,” Zieman said. “But I wanted to support America.”

Chavez Faces Toughest Test In Venezuela Election

Aug 15, 2012
http://www.flickr.com/photos/www_ukberri_net/7644910450/
cc-by Valter Campanato - Agencia Brasil.

Forget the US election. 

There may be an even more important presidential vote taking place in Venezuela this fall. 

Miami Herald South America bureau chief Jim Wyss updates WLRN's Phil Latzman on Hugo Chavez's fight to keep his job against upstart opponent Henrique Capriles. Also discussed: political strife in Colombia and Latin American countries tasting rare Olympic glory during the Summer Games in London.  

Kristin Jacobs Loses Congressional Primary

Aug 14, 2012
Sarah Gonzalez / WLRN-Miami Herald

Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs lost last night in the Congressional primary. 

She was hoping to become the Democratic nominee for District 22, which covers Broward and Palm Beach counties. The seat was  left vacant when Republican Rep. Allen West changed districts.

During her concession speech, Jacobs thanked the crowd of about 50 for believing in her. 

"I'm so blessed to have been a part of it," Jacobs said. "I think it was the most wonderful thing I've ever tried to do, and I'm sad about not winning but energized by the future."

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