Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

Jebbie "a 'moderate'? Don't be silly"

Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell touches on some - only a handful - of the reasons Jeb Bush is no "moderate," not even close. He begins with the usual list:

Jeb Bush is a union-busting, school-voucher-promoting, tax-cutting, gun-loving, Terri Schiavo-interfering, hard-core conservative.
He continues:
As governor, Jeb Bush was pro-guns and anti-unions.

He pushed tax cuts for investors and opposed equal rights for gays.

He expanded school vouchers and hatched "devious plans" to fight voters' calls for smaller class sizes.

Jeb Bush isn't conservative in the libertarian get-government-out-of-your-life kinda way. He's conservative in the I-want-government-to-impose-my-values kinda way.

He embraces the death penalty, opposes choice for women and fought embryonic stem-cell research.

When Terri Schiavo lay in a permanent vegetative state and her husband wanted to honor her wishes to let her die, Jeb tried to force a feeding tube back inside her body — until a court told him it was none of his business.

Moderate? Please.He also champions Common Core — which hard-liners won't tolerate either.

"Jeb Bush a 'moderate'? Don't be silly."

Maxwell only scratches the surface - over the next few weeks, we at this website will be reminding readers of some of the reasons Jebbie will be a wonderful candidate, at least for Dems: let's start with Jeb's Bushy tendency for gaffes: e.g., "When Jeb Bush speaks, people cringe" and "Jeb Bush slips on Spanish history" (Jeb "also pronounced "Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's name incorrectly.")

"Jeb Bush Steals a March"

"By announcing he was 'actively exploring' running for president, Jeb Bush stole a march on other Republicans looking at 2016." "Jeb Bush Steals a March on the Other 2016 GOP Hopefuls."

More: "Saying He Will 'Actively Explore' Running, Jeb Bush Nears the Starting Block for 2016," "Jeb Bush says he’ll ‘actively explore’ presidential run," " Jeb Bush's announcement to 'explore possibility' of presidential run shakes up political maneuvering," "'Onward': What Jeb Bush's campaign message says about 2016," and "Jeb Bush's long campaign begins?"

The Jeb! cheerleaders comprising the Tampa Trib editorial board are harder to take than usual this morning in "Bush eases toward the starting line."

"Jeb Bush, who is seriously considering a 2016 presidential bid, has sprinted to the front of the Republican field in a new McClatchy-Marist Poll." "Poll: Jeb Bush, Romney lead GOP field for 2016 presidential bid."

Run, Marco, run!

"Marco Rubio shares many of the same political supporters and financial donors in Florida as Jeb Bush. But Rubio says Bush’s decision to explore a 2016 presidential bid won’t influence his own plans." "What will Marco Rubio do? Jeb Bush’s 2016 announcement puts pressure on Rubio."

Fact-checking Jeb Bush

"PolitiFact Florida has fact-checked Jeb Bush 20 times on our Truth-O-Meter. We’ve rated five statements True, seven Mostly True, two Half True, four Mostly False, one False and one Pants on Fire." "Fact-checking Jeb Bush, possible 2016 presidential contender."

Will clerks be arrested for issuing marriage licenses?

"Lawyers for Florida’s 67 clerks of court are warning that those who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples will be 'subject to criminal penalties,' including arrest and imprisonment."

The Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers on Tuesday released the revised legal opinion from its attorneys.

Some clerks had been preparing for same-sex unions after a federal judge in Tallahassee declared the state’s ban on those marriages unconstitutional.

"Clerks association warns against issuing gay marriage licenses."

Scott basks in the sunshine of Obomanomics

"Florida economists now say they expect the state surplus to more than double next year — from $366 million to almost $1 billion." "Economists project nearly $1 billion surplus for Florida budget."

Usual suspects

"Gov. Rick Scott continues to flesh out his team for a second term, relying on familiar faces in his administration as he readies for the next four years." "Rick Scott Turns to Familiar Faces for Second Term."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

All of them?

"Jeb Bush to release 250k emails." See also "Why Jeb Bush Is Releasing a Giant Batch of E-Mails From His Years as Florida Governor." The reporter aptly points out that Jebbie was a "very conservative governor," but Jebbie of course sidesteps the observation.

Money rolling in

"When St. Augustine Republican John Thrasher left the Senate last month to become president of Florida State University, his departure created a domino effect that will lead to three special legislative elections in early 2015."

But it hasn’t taken long for campaign donors in Northeast Florida and Tallahassee to start pouring money into the races, newly filed finance reports show.
"Perhaps the best example is Palm Coast Republican Paul Renner, who moved to Flagler County after barely losing a Republican primary in August for a Jacksonville House seat. Renner is now running in another House district as he seeks to replace Rep. Travis Hutson, an Elkton Republican who is bidding for Thrasher’s Senate seat."
From Nov. 10 to Nov. 30, Renner collected $76,500 in contributions for the special election in House District 24, which includes Flagler and parts of St. Johns and Volusia counties. The new reports show Renner received money from some of the most-prominent donors from Jacksonville to Daytona Beach, including businessman Tom Petway, developer John Rood, lobbyist Marty Fiorentino and companies headed by developer Mori Hosseini.
"Special Election for House: Renner Hauls In $76,500. His Three Opponents Combined: $355".

Putting aside the massive disparity in this race, does money matter? "Who Wants to Buy a Politician?" But see: "The New York Times Downplays The Influence Of Money In Politics."

Will the Seminoles Unionize?

"Will the Seminoles Unionize their Florida Hard Rocks?."

Florida Reps In a Walk in 2016

"Pundits Don't Think Florida Congressional Reps Will Be Sweating in 2016."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

A North-South FlaDem schism?

Adam C. Smith: "As Florida Democrats continue their perennial soul searching over how they lost another critical election, most of the talk from the Charlie Crist camp has been about how Rick Scott and the Republicans outspent them by nearly two-to-one." Former state Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith of Alachua points out that,

In the five TV markets north of Orlando — Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tallahassee, Pensacola, and Panama City — Scott beat Crist by nearly 250,000 votes.

"We simply cannot write off a quarter of a million votes, and have a chance," said Smith.

Translation: For all the talk by Democratic strategists about the importance of driving up turnout among Democrats in South Florida — especially minorities — Democrats will never be successful if they don't also improve their standing among voters in North Florida, especially white voters.

We heard a remarkably similar assessment from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who may already be the frontrunner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2018. He appears today on Political Connections on Bay News 9, and along with questions about a Tampa Bay Rays stadium in Tampa, we asked him why he did zero to help Crist this year and what Democrats need to do next time.

"Democrats have to have a candidate that can compete in areas other than the traditional Democratic areas. If you cannot compete, and if you don't have a compelling message, and if you aren't looked upon as someone who is pro-business, who is centrist, who is all about getting things done, north of Orlando you don't stand a chance," Buckhorn said.

"The Democrats wrote off everything north of Orlando. I think as a mayor, that pragmatic, practical approach that's focused on results and less concerned about partisan politics potentially could be a winning message, whether it's me or (Orlando Mayor) Buddy Dyer or (Fort Lauderdale Mayor) Jack Seiler.''

"Big losses in North Florida in the governor's race catch the attention of Democrat strategists."

"A dead man sniveling"

Daniel Ruth: "Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Jonathan Gruber, who earned a Ph.D in mea culpas during his appearance before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Larry and Curly didn't get slapped around by Moe with anywhere near the vigor directed at Gruber, a health care economist who served as a consultant to the Obama administration during the drafting of the Affordable Care Act."

We've seen this Kabuki dance of contrition countless times before. Public official says or does something dopey. Congressmen go into full high dudgeon of outraged frothing. Public official is compelled to appear in the dock of the Capitol to grovel in humiliation. And an indignant time is had by all.

Still, there was a parallel universe feeling as Gruber, a dead man sniveling, began his Beltway bootlicking tour. Consider that Gruber was compelled to testify under oath that he was indeed a shameless, arrogant, self-promoting, thoughtless huckster who had inflated his own sense of self-importance and belittled the American public as a bunch of morons in an inexcusable spasm of hubris.

." "In Congress, it takes one twit to know one."

Runnin' Gub'mint like a bidness

"Rick Scott’s choice to run Florida prisons, one of the toughest jobs in state government, will be receiving nearly $10,000 in monthly taxpayer-funded pension payments on top of her $160,000 annual state salary, according to state records." "Taxpayers will pay prison chief twice."

Primary games

"Republican party leaders in Florida are signaling they are content for the state to share the spotlight with several other states on what is likely to be a “Super Tuesday” primary day on March 1, 2016." "Florida GOP unlikely to flout RNC orders on 2016’s presidential primary."

Frack this

"The drilling process known as fracking holds promise in helping the United States achieve energy independence, but it has also drawn concern for its potential to cause widespread pollution of underground water supplies." "Fracking: State utilities want you to pay."

Yee haw!

"Florida gun dealers saw a sharp increase in sales as shoppers flooded stores the day after Thanksgiving."

As of Nov. 30, there were 1.337 million concealed-weapon or firearm licenses issued in Florida, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The state went over the 1 million mark in December 2012, becoming the first state in the nation to surpass that figure.
"Gun sales soar in Florida on Black Friday."

Entrepreneurs in action

"The Florida Department of Revenue is in a legal battle with hospital giant HCA over claims it owes the state more than $10 million in back taxes."

"The company is also a big player in Florida politics, giving more than $2 million to candidates and committees during the 2014 election."

The company in 1994 was known as Columbia/HCA and led by Gov. Rick Scott, who served as CEO before entering politics. A Medicare fraud scandal that led to a $1.7 billion fine forced Scott out of the company in 1997.
"HCA goes toe-to-toe with Fla. revenue department."

Where was the Gub'ner?

"SeaWorld CEO stepping aside as company announces layoffs."

"Scott's failed promise"

The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Gov. Scott's failed promise of transparency."

Buying access on layaway

"The Florida GOP says it will release the names of donors to Gov. Rick Scott's inauguration activities weekly. The first to step up? U.S. Sugar Corp., $15,000; Allstate Insurance, $5,000; FCCI Insurance Group of Sarasota, $25,000; Calder Race Course of Miami, $15,000." "Early inaugural donors."

Jebbie "running as the second coming of Mitt Romney"?

"As Jeb Bush looks more and more like a soon-to-be presidential candidate,"

last week ran a tough article about Bush's recent private equity ventures, including offshore tax havens and funds relying on Chinese investors. "Running as the second coming of Mitt Romney is not a credential that's going to play anywhere, with Republicans or Democrats," Republican consultant John Brabender told Bloomberg. "Not only would this be problematic on the campaign trail, I think it also signals someone who isn't seriously looking at the presidency or he wouldn't have gone down this path."
"Bush's business." See also "Jeb Bush's business dealings come under scrutiny."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

How can Scott cut a billion in taxes while spending more? He can't

Randy Schultz asks "You might have heard Gov. Rick Scott's pledge to cut $1 billion in taxes over the next two years and thought, 'Great! What's in it for me?'"

For most Floridians, the best-case answer would be, "Not much." The worst-case answer would be, "Actually, you're paying more, chump."
"To understand why, let's look at how Florida pays for services and what the budget numbers really mean. . . ."
How . . . can Scott and the Legislature give a billion in tax breaks while spending more? They can't — if they use honest numbers.

If not, they might use tricks. When Scott and the Legislature touted nearly $500 million more for education this year, they didn't say the money came mostly from higher local property taxes.

Tallahassee sets the larger of two rates on your tax bill that finance public schools. They could have lowered this rate but didn't. Next year, with property values still rising, Scott and the Legislature could raise that rate a little and get that added $700 million for education through a tax increase they hope no one will notice.

In that case, most Floridians would be paying more than whatever Scott and the Legislature might claim to be saving them through lower vehicle registration fees, sales-tax holidays and whatever Tallahassee might do next year. Behind Scott's $500 million tax-cut campaign theme was much creative math. To hit $1 billion, the math could get twice as creative.

Schultz explains here: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott using creative math as he pledges tax cut."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Everything Old is New Again."

Jebbie sending strong signals he'll run

"Jeb Bush and his emissaries are sending increasingly strong signals that the former Florida governor is gearing up for a 2016 presidential campaign, with associates saying he could announce his intentions within a month." "Jeb Bush sending signals that he may be getting ready for 2016 presidential run." See also "George W. Bush Looms Over Jeb's 2016 Decision."

Crossing the line

"There are several Democrats who work well with the Republican majority in the Florida Senate but Bill Montford is increasingly standing out from the pack."

"Despite his background in education, Montford does have connections to the business community. He’s a favorite Democrat for the likes of the Florida Retail Federation, AIF and the Florida Chamber and he has longstanding ties to the Tallahassee Chamber."

That’s not to say he’s a [total FlaBagger] conservative. Montford has no problem standing against the Republicans on issues ranging from prison privatization to moving state employee pensions in line with the private sector [read: no pensions].
"Bill Montford: the GOP's Favorite Democrat in Tallahassee."

FlaBaggers "debate" minimum wage. Really?

"Minimum Wage to Top $8, but Debate Continues."

In a remarkably odd response, our Governor seems to think the market should set the minimum wage:

In an Oct. 21 gubernatorial debate in Jacksonville, Scott supported the idea of a minimum wage, but wouldn't say what the number should be.

"How would I know? I mean, the private sector decides wages," Scott said during the debate.

If he wants the market should set the minimum wage, Scott obviously doesn't "support the idea of a minimum wage" as he claims. Those silly FlaBaggers.

Harvard study finds corruption in the Florida Legislature to be "very common"

Bill Cotterell: "Two researchers at the Harvard University Center for Ethics rated the states on both 'legal corruption' and 'illegal corruption.'"

They defined illegal corruption as giving money or gifts to a public official “in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups.” Legal corruption is a payoff “in the form of campaign contributions or endorsements by a government official … be it by explicit or implicit understanding.” That’s a more highbrow description than Tammany Hall politician George Washingon Plunkitt used more than 100 years ago for “honest graft.” That meant simply using your connections to get favors from your powerful friends. “Dishonest graft” meant using bribes or blackmail.
"On a scale of 1 to 5 — from “not at all common” to “extremely common”"
Our Legislature was rated a 4, “very common,” for the illegal kind of kickback.

For legal corruption, what is called “campaign contributions” — often with a straight face — Florida reporters said it was “very common” in both legislative and executive branches of government. But reporters tend to be cynical and disillusioned, especially those who’ve been around the Capitol a day or two.

No matter how many times the lobbyists say they’re only “participating in the system” by giving money to legislators, no matter how solemnly legislators insist that their votes are never swayed by political contributions, nobody believes them. Candidates for governor promise openness and transparency, legislators periodically go through paroxysms of reform, but the numbers just keep getting bigger.

Hardly a legislative session goes by that legislators don’t make another run at ethics reforms – tightening reporting requirements, changing the caps on contributions, curbing donations from some sources. They even imposed a “gift ban” on themselves, so a lobbyist can go to lunch with a legislator and deliver stacks of campaign checks from clients – but not pick up the tab for a hamburger.

"Study ranks Fla. government corruption."

"Early allies get plum jobs"

Paula Dockery: "Both Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner released their committee structures shortly after being officially sworn in. There were no real surprises at the top."

Their colleagues who were most instrumental in their leadership races tend to become their top lieutenants.
"Early allies get plum jobs"

"Back-to-back miscues by notaries"

"Paperwork errors have opened the door to a possible gain for school-choice proponents who are supporting a challenger to former state Rep. Reggie Fullwood, D-Jacksonville, in a special Democratic primary on Tuesday."

Back-to-back miscues by notaries public kept Fullwood, who represented Jacksonville’s House District 13 until last month, from easily winning a third term. His re-election had appeared so certain that he had drawn no opponents by the end of the candidate qualifying period in June.
"Paperwork errors fuel special-election fight."

Friday, December 12, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

Alligator tears shed, time to gut their pensions . . .

"A key feature of the memorial will be the names of all the firefighters in the state who have died in the line of duty, including six from 2014." "State breaks ground on Fallen Firefighter Memorial."

Now that that's over, time for the pols to get back to work: "Fla. Retirement System in fine fettle, still likely a target of legislative change."

Florida Chamber fights minimum wage increase

"Florida’s lowest-paid workers will get a raise Jan. 1, but a higher minimum wage sought by state and national Democrats doesn’t appear on the immediate legislative horizon. . . . Business groups like the Florida Chamber of Commerce have argued against such proposals, saying the $10.10 proposal will be a problem for small employers forced to absorb added labor costs." "Florida’s Minimum Wage Going Up to $8.05 as Obama’s Push For $10.10 Remains Elusive."

"Dougher is paying the price"

Jeff Henderson: "Leslie Dougher is paying the price for Jim Greer’s mistakes as she tries to keep her job leading the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF)."

Republicans still remember Greer’s run at the RPOF. Hand-picked by Charlie Crist, then a Republican, Greer was the governor’s man at the RPOF but his record there was a disaster with party finances out of control and too many elected officials relying on party issued credit cards for spending. Greer ended up going to jail on theft and money laundering charges after he sent RPOF money to his Victory Strategies firm.
"Rick Scott and his team, including Melissa Sellers, his new chief of staff, are behind keeping Dougher at RPOF."
But RPOF delegates and Republican leaders across the state remember Greer only too well. Nobody thinks Dougher is breaking the law like Greer did but having someone too close to the governor leading the RPOF led to some major problems. Now there are concerns of history repeating itself.

Dougher faces some top-notch challengers as she tries to stay as RPOF chair. Blaise Ingoglia, now a Florida House member after his time as vice chair of the RPOF, is looking to knock Dougher off. So is Eric Miller who Dougher beat earlier this year to lead the RPOF. Kurt Kelly, who has been pretty quiet after losing to Dan Webster in a congressional primary back in 2010, is also in the hunt.

"Jim Greer Specter Haunts Leslie Dougher's RPOF Job."

"Treating the South like the rest of the country"

"Treating the South like the rest of the country makes the most sense for Democrats going forward. A return to presidential cycle turnout patterns should, in any close election, again make Florida, North Carolina and Virginia winnable for Democrats." "It's Time For Democrats To Stop Agonizing Over The South."

In lockstep with Scott

"Hillsborough lawmakers’ priorities in the March-April legislative session largely reflect those of Gov. Rick Scott — jobs and economic development, education funding, implementing a constitutional amendment requiring the state to invest in land and water conservation." "Hillsborough lawmakers hear marching orders for Tallahassee."

Bright Futures

"Florida did not violate anti-discrimination laws by using standardized test scores to award Bright Futures scholarships, the U.S. Department of Education has found." "Feds: Florida scholarship program does not violate anti-discrimination laws."

Jebbie merely edges Hillary in Florida

"The latest proof that Jeb Bush is Hillary Clinton’s top foe in the 2016 presidential fight arrived Wednesday in a new Florida poll that showed only he would beat her in the state he once governed. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute found that in a statewide poll, Bush would top Clinton 43 percent to 42 percent. No other potential GOP candidate comes as close, the institute told Secrets." "Jeb Bush tops Florida 2016 poll, only one to beat Hillary Clinton [in Florida]." More: "Jeb Bush Still the Favorite Son of Florida GOP Despite Common Core, Immigration."

"Jeb Bush says he's close to making a decision on 2016.""

"CIA ‘torture’ report complicates prospect of Jeb Bush presidential run."

See also "Jeb Bush Has a Mitt Romney Problem," "Jeb Bush likened to Mitt Romney over private equity." and "Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush: Which do millionaires prefer for 2016?"

Taxpayers on the hook for Scott's political stunt

"Taxpayers are on the hook for at least $307,000 — and perhaps much more — to cover legal expenses in Gov. Rick Scott’s repeated failed efforts to convince courts that a onetime campaign pledge to drug-test welfare recipients is constitutional." "Taxpayers’ Bill for Rick Scott’s Losing Battle to Drug-Test Welfare Recipients: $307,000 and Rising."

Meanwhile, Carl Hiaasen reports about

another case arising from the governor's urine crusade, the 11th Circuit also struck down his initiative to randomly drug-test state employees for pot, meth, coke, opiates and PCP.

Among those who would have been excluded from that dope screen were Scott himself and all 160 elected members of the House and Senate. Several times I've offered to pay the cost for each of them to pee in a cup and send it to a lab, yet there's no enthusiasm in Tallahassee for that proposal.

Why not? An impaired public official can do way more harm than an impaired unemployed person.

If the governor and legislators are so worried about drug use by others, they should stand up (or sit down) and do the right thing.

Set an example by giving a sample.

If you can't prove that you're smart, at least prove that you're clean.

"Gov. Scott's drug tests fizzle."

Oh noes, another self-proclaimed "entrepreneur"

"Former state Rep. Jamie Grant of Tampa is one step closer to regaining his old seat now that he has turned in enough valid signatures to get on a special election ballot."

The state’s Division of Elections website on Wednesday showed that Grant, a Republican and tech entrepreneur, had 476 valid signatures on his petition to run. He needed a minimum of 287.
"Grant has enough signatures to qualify for Tampa House seat."

Must kiss up to gubernatorial contenders

Aaron Deslatte makes nice with Adam Putnam: "While environmentalists have long viewed Florida's agriculture commissioner position as a mouthpiece for Big Sugar and agriculture interests, the current occupant is well-respected and an all-but-declared serious gubernatorial contender." "Putnam set for leadership role in conservation debate."

Chickenhawk blues

"U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, blasted Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for releasing its 518-page report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program. In a lengthy written statement, Rubio called the report partisan, one-sided and 'unconscionable.'" "Rubio blasts Senate Dems' CIA report."

Bright futures

"Feds: Florida scholarship program does not violate anti-discrimination laws."

Former League of Cities Lobbyist selected to run DEP

"Steverson has prior experience with environmental regulation, and more. He has been a Tallahassee lobbyist, representing the Florida League of Cities . . . He was hired as environmental policy coordinator for the governor’s office , and then went into private practice, where he represented clients “in the areas of water policy, growth and environmental planning, as well as agriculture, transportation and economic development,” according to his official biography. . . . Then Vinyard hired him to be a DEP special counsel, where among other duties he spelled out for the state’s five water management districts just how to slash their budgets to the bone." "Scott appoints new chief for environmental agency" More: "Scott picks 1st woman to lead prisons agency."

Yee haw!

"State lawmaker files bill to allow guns on college campuses."

Monday, December 08, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

Scott's Chief of Staff “quick on the draw with both her smile and middle finger”

"She ran a Texas state House campaign at 19, served as a media coordinator for President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in her early 20s, and was a top aide to Gov. Bobby Jindal by age 25."

Now Melissa Sellers can add another top job to her resume at a relatively early age — chief of staff.

Sellers just completed her first week as Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of staff. The 32-year-old Texas native replaces Adam Hollingsworth and becomes one of the youngest people in Florida to serve in the role.

Sellers has spent much of her career working in communications or on the campaign trail. She had a reputation in Louisiana as a hard-nosed spokeswoman and was described as someone who was “quick on the draw with both her smile and middle finger” in a 2008 profile of Jindal in Esquire magazine.

"Scott’s new chief of staff known for hard-nosed approach."

Never mind

"Gov. Rick Scott pledged if voters rewarded him with a second term, he would return the favor with $1 billion in tax cuts and more spending on schools and conservation. Now, Scott and lawmakers are sorting out priorities for a dwindling supply of extra tax dollars expected to be available next year." "Scott's $1 billion tax-cut plan may take time."

Maps? What maps?

"In his first two years in the Senate, Galvano was put in charge of redistricting after a Tallahassee judge ruled the maps violated the Fair Districts Amendments. Galvano efficiently and effectively helped guide the new maps through the Senate during a special session back in August. What could have been a major disaster for Republicans during election season turned into a yawner and the new maps were approved by the judge. Galvano has to get some of the credit for that." "Bill Galvano's Star Rises in the Florida Senate."

Florida "House Republicans are politically homogeneous"

"Dana Young has worked as an attorney, taken time off to be a stay-at-home mom and then was elected a state representative for Tampa. She plans to advocate for the Tampa area this session."

Some political experts had predicted that after the November election the Legislature would start asserting its independence, at least from lockstep with the governor.

But with exactly two-thirds of the House in his hands, it’s hard to imagine how Crisafulli’s agenda could go off the rails among his own team, said Lance DeHaven-Smith, a public policy professor at Florida State University.

Unlike the Senate’s GOP contingent, the House Republicans are politically homogeneous.

"Tampa’s Young says she’ll lead House GOP but protect home town."

Has Dubya fallen off the wagon?

"George W. Bush says that he badly wants his brother Jeb to run for president -- and that if he were to face off against Hillary Clinton, he would 'absolutely' beat her in a 2016 matchup." " href="" More: "George W Bush on brother's 2016 presidential aspirations: 'Run, Jeb'."

""Could there be a bigger political pariah?"

Nancy Smith asks, "Could there be a bigger political pariah in corporate Florida than Duke Energy?" "Duke Energy's New Hire Has His Work Cut Out to Rehab the Company Image."

"Jeb!" depending on the "failure of the American people’s collective memory"

"Without this failure of the American people’s collective memory, there would be no premise upon which a three-president Bush dynasty could be built. If Jeb Bush were to actually succeed in getting elected two years hence as a “healing” president, America would need to seriously reexamine the political conditions that made that possible. The Bushes, though not among the progenitors of the New Right, have already become its most direct political beneficiaries." "Jeb continues a Bush tradition: Capitalizing on GOP obstruction."

Illegal immigrants flock to Florida

"While opponents of President Obama’s Nov. 20 executive action are decrying the plan’s legal consequence and calling attention to the scourge [sic] of illegal immigrants in the country, the numbers are saying the problem is actually not as severe as in years past."

Florida, however, is one of only two states to show increased numbers.
"Illegal Immigrants (Except in Florida) Are Going Home in Record Numbers."

Somehow appropriate

"Satanic Temple display approved for Florida Capitol."

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Trust Us, He's a Knuckle Dragger

Florida Republicans are getting in the way of Jebbie's makeover: they want the Teabaggers to know that Jeb Bush can drag his knuckles with the best of 'em. "Florida politicians say Jeb Bush is a true conservative."

Respected Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley told the Washington Examiner recently that Jeb Bush is the latest in a line of Bushes who oppose Reaganism. Radio host Mark Levin has dismissed Florida’s former governor as “a very good moderate Democrat,” while pioneering conservative activist Richard Viguerie for at least two years has been trashing Bush as a dangerous, big government Republican.

Meanwhile, much of the speculation about the 2016 presidential race lately centers on whether a moderate is a viable contender for the Republican nomination.

"Jeb Bush, a moderate squish?"
The governor who treated trial lawyers and teachers union leaders as enemies of the state? Who stripped job protections from civil servants? Who slashed taxes? Whose passion for privatization included enacting the nation’s first statewide private school voucher program and extended to privatizing health care for the poor, prisons and child protection services?

This “very good moderate Democrat” defied court after court to try and force the reinsertion of feeding tubes for brain-damaged Terri Schiavo and consistently backed more restrictions on abortions and fewer on gun ownership. He fought for reduced entitlement spending and, deriding nanny-state impulses, repealed the helmet law for motorcyclists in Florida and vetoed a GOP-backed bill requiring booster seats for kids in cars.

“For us who live in Florida, who experienced the eight-year Jeb Bush governorship, it’s almost laughable and maybe even hysterical for people who live outside of Florida to claim that he’s a moderate,” said former House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, himself a conservative Republican who led the opposition to Florida accepting federal money to expand Medicaid to more than 800,000 people.

"Florida politicians say Jeb Bush is a true conservative."

Poor "Jeb!," even the wingers say he "is more about big government crony capitalism than concern for children’s education."

Powerful new documentary exposes Publix greed

Scott Maxwell reminds us that Publix

is one of the big holdouts in the corporate movement to ensure that tomato pickers get decent wages and working conditions.

[Even] Wal-Mart has agreed to pay an extra penny a pound to lift these impoverished wages.

So has McDonald's, Chipotle, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Taco Bell and others.

All of these companies agreed to pay a tiny amount extra — voluntarily — because they thought it was the right thing to do.

"Publix, however, refuses, and is now the focus of a powerful new documentary called 'Food Chains.'"
Narrated by Forest Whitaker and produced by "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria, the movie takes place in Florida's sun-baked tomato fields — and in front of Publix's Lakeland headquarters, where executives refused to speak with farmworkers.

The movie lays bare this country's long record of shoddy treatment of farmworkers, particularly immigrants. It shows a segment of Edward R. Murrow's famous "Harvest of Shame" report aired by CBS way back in 1960.

Things have gotten better. But sorry working conditions — and even crimes — persist.

The Coalition for Immokalee Workers says farmworkers make about 50 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they harvest. That means a worker who harvests 2 tons of tomatoes in a single day — 125 buckets, or 4,000 pounds — would make about $62.

Florida's fields also are littered with cases of abuse. They range from the criminal (workers being beaten) to workplace problems such as sexual harassment and insufficient shade, water or breaks.

The Fair Food Program changes all that — through voluntary cooperation.

Companies agree to pay an extra penny a pound. That money — which costs the average tomato-buying family about 40 cents a year — then goes into an audited fund that makes sure pickers get raises and that workplace-safety practices are in place.

Many companies decided it's simply the right thing to do. Florida's largest grocery chain, however, refuses.

Publix says none of this is the chain's concern. It says suppliers are free to charge them more for tomatoes, which Publix would gladly pay.
But the movie calls baloney on that. So does common sense.

If Publix would happily pay more money, the suppliers would happily take it.

"Publix remains a holdout in fair-wage farm debate."

"Hard to tell what the Florida Legislature has the most disregard for"

The Miami Herald editors: "It’s hard to tell what leaders in the Florida Legislature have the most disregard for: the environment or the voters who overwhelmingly told them in November that they wanted the state’s natural resources to be protected and preserved." "The voters spoke on Amendment 1."

Except for the part it won't be a mid-term election

Bill Cotterell: "Florida Republican Party leaders happily celebrated their sweep of state elections and gains in Congress Saturday, then turned their attention to expanding GOP majorities and winning back the White House in two years."

“The 2016 campaign begins today,” state GOP Chairwoman Leslie Dougher said at the first quarterly board meeting since the elections. “The preparation must start now.”

She and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Democrat Hillary Clinton will probably run a tough, well-financed campaign with the online and volunteer forces President Obama organized to win Florida’s 29 electoral votes twice. They said 2014 “was a great year” for Republicans, with the re-election of Gov. Rick Scott and all three Cabinet officers, a gain of six seats in the Florida Legislature and winning control of the U.S. Senate — as well as electing governors in such heavily Democratic states as Massachusetts and Illinois — but that turnout will be much heavier for the presidential election in 2016.

Scott said “there is no reason” his state party can’t duplicate, in a presidential year, the off-year turnout efforts that won for him and the state legislators in 2010 and this year.

"Republican Party leaders celebrate wins, look ahead."

Except, Rick, for the part it won't be a mid-term election.

Solar power

The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "It seems only natural that solar power will play a meaningful role in providing for Florida’s future energy needs. The price to produce solar power is dropping as the technology for harnessing and storing the sun’s energy advances." "Clear the dark clouds over solar energy production in Florida."