Tuesday, July 28, 2015

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


"McCollum would shake up U.S. Senate race"

Anthony Man on yesterday's Mason-Dixon Polling & Research polling on Florida's primary races to replace Rubio:

On the Republican side, the front runner is Bill McCollum, who has high name recognition after holding several elected offices and running unsuccessful campaigns for other posts.

McCollum isn't a declared candidate, but the former congressman, former state attorney general, and past unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate and governor has the support of 22 percent of registered Republicans.

If McCollum is in the race, second place goes to U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, who entered the race last week. He has 11 percent, followed by U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, 8 percent; Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, 7 percent, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Chumuckla, 6 percent; and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox, 1 percent.

Undecided was way ahead with 45 percent of Republicans.

If McCollum isn't in the race, Jolly is in first place with 16 percent, followed by Lopez-Cantera, 10 percent, DeSantis, 9 percent; Miller 8 percent, and Wilcox 2 percent.

Without McCollum, 55 percent of Republicans are undecided.

On the Dem side,
In a hypothetical three-way race, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has 26 percent, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson has 24 percent, Graham has 11 percent, and 39 percent are undecided.

When Democrats were asked about a Graham-less contest, Murphy and Grayson were tied, with 33 percent for Grayson and 32 percent for Murphy, and 35 percent undecided.

"Bill McCollum would shake up U.S. Senate race, but Gwen Graham might not."


How convenient

"On his first official foray into Central Florida as a presidential candidate, Jeb Bush called Monday for debt relief for Puerto Rico, while declaring himself the positive Republican choice for the nation's top job." "Jeb Bush calls for financial help for Puerto Rico."


He's Back

"Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., now the president and the CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), slammed the U.S. Senate for reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank in a piece at Townhall.com published on Tuesday." "Allen West Takes Aim at Export-Import Bank Reauthorization."


RPOF works to conceal its Teabagger underbelly

There will be no RPOF straw poll, and who can blame them: these polls tend to expose the Teabagger underbelly of the state party: remember when "Herman Cain, a favorite of the tea party movement, claimed victory, taking 37 percent after Rick Perry stumbled badly in a televised debate. Perry placed second with 15 percent but his campaign never quite got back on track and he bowed out after poor performances in Iowa and New Hampshire. Mitt Romney, who would win the Florida primary and the nomination, took third with 14 percent." "RPOF Not Holding Presidential Straw Poll for 2016 After Some Big Wins and One Tea Party Stunner."


Foriduh: Teacher bonuses based on their HS test scores

"Teachers and school districts now have official guidance from the state on the controversial teacher bonus based on ACT and SAT scores."

The law gives teachers a bonus of up to $10,000 if they are rated highly effective on their evaluations and scored high on their SAT or ACT, which most take in high school.

[T]eachers can retake the test. The problem is the next SAT isn't given until after the Oct. 1 deadline. The ACT will be given Sept. 12, but there's no guarantee resuts will be back in time.

"State releases guidelines for teacher SAT, ACT bonus."


He's not angry

"Jeb Bush in Orlando says he is not an ‘angry’ conservative."


Fracking the River of Grass

Michael Mayo: "Is there black gold in them there swamps? Will drilling or fracking soon come near our precious River of Grass?" "The Everglades and oil drills shouldn't mix."


Blackjack battle gets hotter

"The battle over blackjack between the state and the Seminole Tribe got a little hotter after dueling demand letters on Monday." "Battle over blackjack at Seminole casinos heats up."


"Microwaved Republican proposals"

"'Mount Washington' much higher than Jeb's 'Mount Tallahassee'."


Monday, July 27, 2015

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


FlaGOP Splintered in advance of 2016 Campaigns

"Just six months ago, Gov. Rick Scott stood onstage outside the state Capitol basking in his hard-fought victory as he began his second term."

Scott boldly proclaimed in his inaugural address that the campaign was over, and while there would be "robust debates on the best direction for Florida" that "we should not let partisan politics, or any politics for that matter, get in our way."

But that's not been the case for the Republican governor who has grown isolated from many other Republicans in the GOP-dominated Sunshine State.

He's not actively helping the Republican Party of Florida, his recent budget vetoes angered already fragile relations with Senate Republicans, and he's at odds with other statewide elected officials such as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. There are questions about his relationship with Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera after Scott didn't rely on the former legislator to help push his agenda in the Legislature this past spring.

"Florida Gov. Scott at odds again with fellow Republicans."


Runnin' Gub'mint Like a Bidness

"A program that would have erected miniature billboards on state trails has ended, with the company hired to find potential sponsors having found no takers." "Effort to put billboards on state trails ends with no takers."


"Murphy bolts to the left"

"During his two terms in Congress, Patrick Murphy built up the reputation as a moderate who would work both sides of the aisle for his district. But now that he's running for the Democratic Senate nomination and needs the approval of party-first-district-second, Murphy is starting to bolt to the left." "Patrick Murphy Goes Left Before Primary With Alan Grayson."


After All, There's Money Involved

The Tampa Trib editors write that "Florida’s leaders should consider why the left-leaning president and the conservative activists believe the nation is imprisoning too many people, particularly nonviolent offenders."

The nation spends $80 billion a year keeping 2.2 million people behind bars. Florida spends more than $2.2 billion a year imprisoning 100,000 people.

We agree with Charles Koch when he says it’s time the nation focuses on ensuring that the punishment fits the crime and we stop imprisoning people promiscuously, wasting tax dollars and people’s lives.

This must be done with caution. We don’t want to go back to the days when Florida prisoners served but a fraction of their sentences and criminals ran amok. Nor do we want to see penalties for certain offenses, including environmental abuses, become so slight that they become meaningless.

"Right time for prison reform."


Environmental Group Hit with IRS Complaint

"The former mayor of Pahokee has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service against the litigation arm of perhaps the largest environmental group on Florida's Treasure Coast." "Treasure Coast Environmental Group Slapped with IRS Deceptive Practices Complaint."


Sunday, July 26, 2015

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


"They’re going to hate it"

Bill Cotterell: "The Florida Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Florida don’t agree on much, but they will be united on a new ballot proposal that aims to increase voter turnout, pull candidates away from the political fringes and keep pace with registration trends."

They’re going to hate it. . . .

A bipartisan group of very experienced political operators last week filed a constitutional amendment petition that will be known as “All Voters Vote.”

If they can round up nearly 700,000 voter signatures by next February, and get 60 percent of the voters to support it, their constitutional amendment would open the state’s “closed” primaries. The way it is now, only registered Republicans can vote in GOP primaries, only Democrats in Democratic heats, and all the rest have to wait until November – when we pretty much get to choose from what the parties offer us.

There is one little exception in current law. If only Democrats or only Republicans seek an office, everyone can vote in that race because the primary is going to determine who serves in the office. But if an unknown, unserious write-in candidate signs up, the primary is closed, under a legal interpretation by the Division of Elections.

Under an All Voters Vote arrangement, all of us — even independents or minor-party amendments — could vote in the first round. If somebody gets more than 50 percent, they’re home free. If not, the top two contenders would duke it out in November.

"If parties don’t like ‘All Voters Vote,’ it must be OK."


"Closed-door spending spree"

The Sun Sentinel editors: "Gov. Rick Scott shocked and outraged many state lawmakers last month when he vetoed $461 million in programs and projects from the budget they passed. But he also did them a favor." "End closed-door spending spree with state budget."


"Lay off Florida’s parks"

"Governor, lay off Florida’s state parks."


Open primaries?

"With 55 percent of new voters choosing not to register as Republican or Democrat, a new group is seeking signatures to transform the way primary elections are run in Florida." "Group proposes amendment to open Florida’s primaries to all voters."


"Tolls, tolls and more tolls"

Scott Maxwell: "In recent years, Florida leaders have developed a three-pronged approach to road congestion: tolls, tolls and more tolls." "Florida is addicted to tolls — at commuters' expense."


Lawmakers land big pensions

"Florida legislators keep finding ways to dodge the career-ending trap of term limits, often with richly rewarding results — paid for by taxpayers." "Lawmakers dodge term limits, land big pensions through local politics."


Saturday, July 25, 2015

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


Biochemist romantically linked to Grayson has filed to run for his seat

"Dr. Dena Marie Minning, a biochemist and medical doctor who has been romantically linked for months to U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, filed paperwork late Friday to run for election to his seat in Congress."

Minning, 44, has no political campaign background. But she does have a medical doctor's degree and a PhD in biochemistry from Washington University in St. Louis. She is president and founder of MedExpert Consulting Inc., according to her LinkedIn page. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida.
"Dr. Dena Minning - romantically linked to Alan Grayson - files to run for his Congress seat."

More on her campaign Twitter account.


"Cuba may drill for oil"

"The U.S. embargo has stymied Cuba’s search for oil off its shores." "Cuba may drill for oil using U.S. equipment."


"When Public Officials Abuse Florida’s Sunshine Law"

"A “health district” run by public officials closes a public meeting under a bogus exemption to the Sunshine law, and gets a blank check to secretly talk about whatever it wishes, though it affects public policy. " "Reporter Kicked Out: When Public Officials Abuse Florida’s Sunshine Law, With Lawmakers’ Blessing."


Really?

"Jeb Bush’s best weapon on campaign trail is opponent Donald Trump."


Curbelo hears footsteps

"On Thursday, in a party lines vote, the U.S. House passed a measure cutting off federal funds from the U.S. Department of Justice to states and cities that refuse to enforce current immigration laws. The 'Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act' from U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr., R-Calif., passed the House on 241-179 votes. Six Democrats joined the Republican majority in supporting the measure while five Republicans voted against it." "Carlos Curbelo Only Florida Rep Breaking From Party Lines Vote on Sanctuary City Funding."


With Charters, fewer public school teaching jobs

"Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho likes to say the county doesn’t lay off teachers to balance its budget." "Charter school growth means fewer public school teaching jobs in Miami-Dade."


Hill Still Ahead

"Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to hold a commanding lead in the Florida Democratic presidential primary, a new poll shows." "Hillary Clinton Still Ahead of the Democratic Field in Florida." See also "Jeb Bush Leads, Donald Trump Upside Down in Florida Primary Poll." See also "Florida poll: Jeb Bush takes big lead over Marco Rubio."


Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Battle Lines and Power Lines."


"Fallout of redistricting"

"State Senate races likely to face fallout of redistricting."


Walmart Wants Out of Florida’s Conservation Program

"Opponents say such a one-sided proposal would shift costs to small businesses and residential customers and jeopardize the viability of the 35-year-old conservation program." "Walmart And Other Big Energy Users Want Out of Florida’s Conservation Program, Claiming They Can Do Better."


Scott's top donor

"Tampa Bay Lighting owner Jeff Vinik becomes top donor to Gov. Rick Scott."


Seminoles want blackjack mediation

"An agreement to give the Seminoles exclusive rights to blackjack and other banked card games expires July 31, and renewal talks went nowhere earlier this year." "Seminole Tribe prepares to demand mediation over blackjack."


Grubbing for wingnuts

"The Republican primary to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in the Senate in 2016 is on with the leading candidates trying to claim the right-of-center ground." "GOP Senate Hopefuls Stress Conservative Credentials in the Race to Replace Marco Rubio."


The drama's over for Carroll

"The drama over Florida’s former lieutenant governor, who was forced to resign more than two years ago, may be finally over." "Ex-lieutenant governor Carroll to pay fine, admit ethics violation." See also "Former Lt. Gov. Carroll admits breaking ethics laws."


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

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


1 in 4 kids in poverty, and more "grim" Florida economic news

The Florida Legislature in action: "the number of children living in poverty here grew from 18 percent to 24 percent in recent years, a new national report finds."

The numbers — from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count Data Book, released today — showed an increasingly grim financial picture for the youngest Floridians from 2008 to 2013, the most recent year for which research is available.
"In 2013, the official poverty threshold was $23,624 for a family of two adults and two children — though the state has also seen a troubling rise in the number of kids raised by single parents during those same five years, from 36 percent to 40 percent."
Florida also fared worse than the national average in the number of children whose parents lack "secure" employment, as opposed to seasonal or labor-pool jobs, with a third of kids now falling into that category — up from 28 percent.

And 42 percent of kids now live in households that spend too much of their income on rent, putting them at risk for homelessness.

"Report: 1 in 4 Florida kids in poverty."


"The Dean's List"

Conservative Ed Dean's look at who Florida's political achievers were (and weren't) in the last seven days." "Florida Carry Gets Cheers, Allison Tant Gets Jeers."


Expect Rick Scott at the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

"Work starts on new 'World's largest entertainment McDonald's'."


Loser of the week?

"Winner and losers of the week in Fla politics." Kevin Derby disagrees: "Carlos Curbelo Not Exactly 'Loser of the Week' After Moving Into Leadership; Annette Taddeo Struggling."


Crist says he will run for Jolly's House seat

"U.S Rep. David Jolly, the Indian Shores Republican, announced he will give up his seat to run for the Senate, and former Gov. Charlie Crist declared on Twitter that he will run for Jolly's seat if, as expected, the redrawn district encompasses his St. Pete home." "Jolly seeking Rubio's Senate seat; Crist eyes House."


Conservatives Don't Like Jolly

"Conservatives are starting to take aim at new U.S. Senate candidate U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla. On Monday, Jolly entered the race to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in 2016." "Conservatives Take Aim at New Senate Candidate David Jolly."


"Conducting the people’s business in the shadows"

The Tampa Trib's editorial board writes that Scott exhibits "a disappointing pattern of conducting the people’s business in the shadows." "Gov. Scott ‘bends over backwards’ to operate in secret."


"Special session on congressional map"

"Legislators are urged to refrain from all communications about redistricting while staff drafts a new congressional map." "Lawmakers set special session on congressional map."


Wingnuts in a tizzy

"The research and watchdog group Integrity Florida released a report Monday calling it a myth that a higher minimum wage results in job losses." "Study: Minimum wage increase doesn’t result in fewer jobs."


Scott strides world stage

"Rick Scott Opposes Reopening Embassies with Cuba."

Sunday, July 19, 2015

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


FlaGOP Congressman and Jeb supporter claims Trump is a Dem Plant

"Miami is a hotbed for phantom candidates, complete with four federal criminal convictions in two separate cases to prove it. So perhaps it's no surprise that a local Republican congressman thinks Donald Trump's bid for the GOP presidential nomination could be a similar ploy."

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo, whose district saw two phony candidates run in a pair of elections before he took office, has taken to Spanish-language media to suggest that Trump's campaign could be a Democratic scheme to hurt the Republican Party.
"A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment regarding Curbelo's remarks. But the Florida Democratic Party, which had chastised Curbelo in a statement before the interviews took place, did."
"The only thing more absurd than Donald Trump's conspiracy theories is Congressman Carlos Curbelo's theory that he is some secret Democratic plant," Communications Director Max Steele said.

"Curbelo's bizarre claim is an insult to the intelligence of his constituents and goes to show just how much damage Trump is doing to the Republican Party's brand. Unfortunately for Curbelo, Trump is only gaining in the polls.

"Miami Republican congressman posits Donald Trump candidacy may be Democratic plot."

Curbelo forgets that "Donald Trump Isn’t the Exception. He’s the Republican Prototype."


Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Redistricting, Elections Heat Up."


"'Pastor Protection Act' Weds Spurious Scenarios With Homophobia"

"The proposal is aimed at safeguarding clergy members from being forced to perform gay-marriage ceremonies even though they're categorically protected from doing so by the First Amendment." "Florida’s Impending 'Pastor Protection Act' Weds Spurious Scenarios With Homophobia."


To Replace Murphy

"Carla Spalding Enters Crowded GOP Primary to Replace Patrick Murphy."


"Lawmakers hiding information from Floridians"

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The Florida First Amendment Foundation has issued a score card that stamps a red, frowning face on bad bills the Legislature approved during this year's regular session. The score card contains four of those scarlet visages — each denoting a new instance of lawmakers hiding information from Floridians about their government." "Time for Scott, Cabinet to commit to sunshine."


"Kissing Latino vote good-bye"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "If Republicans don’t reject anti-immigrant rhetoric, they can kiss Latino vote good-bye" "Set the record straight."


"Florida Loses 47,000 Jobs"

"Florida Loses 47,000 Jobs, But Shrinking Labor Force Lowers Unemployment."


Bush "woefully misinformed"

"Jeb Bush has created a flap with another statement about American workers. In an appearance in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Tuesday, he said Barack Obama’s proposal to expand overtime pay to millions more managers and white-collar workers would result in 'less overtime pay' and 'less wages earned'."

Numerous economists attacked Bush’s statement, calling him woefully misinformed. And several studies on the rule contradict Bush’s assertion that the overtime rules would “lessen the number of people working”.
"Jeb Bush 'should be embarrassed' by his overtime pay claims, economists say."


Jeb closing in on Trump

"Mr. Bush’s support has jumped by about four percentage points in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, rising to 15.5%. Mr. Trump’s support has bumped up more than 10 points since mid-June, to 15% as of Friday." "Trump Surge Leaves All but Jeb Bush in Donald’s Dust."


Robert E. Lee loses another one

"A sign that depicted Gen. Robert E. Lee has been taken off his namesake middle school in Orlando at the direction of the Orange County school superintendent. Superintendent Barbara Jenkins also plans to ask the Orange County School Board whether Lee Middle School should be renamed, with the Confederate general's moniker retired, said board member Nancy Robbinson on Saturday."

Lee Middle opened in 1956, with its sports teams nicknamed the Rebels.

It was one of a number of schools across the South named for Confederate leaders by white-run school boards after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1954 school desegregation case.

They were part of a "resurgence of Confederate identity" that emerged as part of the South's resistance to the Brown v. Board of Education, said Bill Link, a history professor at the University of Florida, during a 2013 interview with the Orlando Sentinel.

Stonewall Jackson Middle in east Orlando, named for another Confederate general, could face the same discussion about whether its name should change, Robbinson added.

"Robert E. Lee mascot sign taken off Orange's Lee Middle School."


Perhaps Florida should form an independent commission to draw districts

Paula Dockery: "In news that shook the political world, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that the Legislature needed to reconvene to redraw congressional districts before the 2016 elections. Specifically, the court gave them 100 days to redraw eight congressional seats in a manner consistent with the Fair District Amendments."

Does this sound familiar? It should. Last August, the Legislature held a special session to change two congressional districts at the directive of Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis. Lewis wrote a scathing opinion on the role of political operatives in drawing the tainted maps and chastised the Legislature for deleting redistricting emails.

The Legislature will meet, at taxpayer expense, to try for the third time to meet the criteria set forth in the Fair District Amendments.

Meanwhile, a challenge to Florida Senate districts is working its way through the courts. Subpoenas are being issued to senators, staff and political operatives in preparation for a September court date.

On the federal level, another important redistricting milestone was taking place. Overshadowed by eagerly awaited decisions on marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona's independent redistricting commission — and by implication those in other state — were constitutional.

Perhaps Florida should readdress forming an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative districts.

"Is it time for an independent redistricting commission"


Florida Standards Assessment flop

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Widespread problems with the [Florida Standards Assessment] led lawmakers this year to require that the tests be evaluated before results get released. That will delay scores from going out until at least September, three months behind schedule. The evaluation will add another $600,000 to the $220 million that the state is spending over six years on the FSA." "Use cheaper, more reliable school tests."


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Josh Marshall: "It goes without saying that it's probably not good politics to say your plan to move the country forward is that everyone needs to work longer hours. It approaches 47% level toxicity. Even more damning is that it makes zero sense in policy terms."

"Indeed, Jeb's 'work harder' prescription provides harrowing look at the level of derp that can be produced when you take a guy who isn't all that bright and push him to the head of the national leadership line without ever having put in an honest day's work or support himself in his life." "We've Met the Doofus. And He is Jeb"

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


Special redistricting session and trial to be finished by Sept. 25

"Pointing to a time crunch, a Leon County circuit judge Wednesday gave the Florida Legislature little more than two months to draw new congressional districts and to defend them in court."

Judge George S. Reynolds III issued an order that said a special legislative session to redraw districts and a subsequent trial must be finished by Sept. 25. The order came after the Florida Supreme Court last week tossed out eight congressional districts because it found that lawmakers violated a 2010 constitutional amendment aimed at preventing gerrymandering.

Reynolds' order said Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, who has presided over the long-running case, will be assigned to continue hearing it. A conference will be held July 27 to resolve issues such as scheduling.

Reynolds also requested that the parties in the case try to reach agreement on the time needed for the Legislature to redraw the districts and for the subsequent court review.

"Judge Orders Redistricting Wrapped up by Sept. 25."

The Sun Sentinel editors: "New chance to get truly fair districts."


"On the taxpayers' dime"

Nancy Smith: "It's a time-honored political tradition -- officeholders flying around the country and farther than that even -- on the taxpayers' dime." "Legal Corruption: Campaign Travel on the Taxpayers' Dime."


"From relative obscurity"

"Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a former state lawmaker who rose from relative obscurity as Miami-Dade County property appraiser to become next-in-line to the Florida governor, will pursue the U.S. Senate seat now filled by one of his close friends, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio." "Running on Florida’s record, Carlos Lopez-Cantera launches campaign for Marco Rubio’s Senate seat." See also "Carlos Lopez-Cantera: I'm Your All-Florida, Non-Beltway Senate Candidate." See also "Lopez-Cantera seeks Senate seat friend Rubio is leaving" and "Taking Aim at Washington, Carlos Lopez-Cantera Enters Senate Race."


Rubio has 70% attendance rate

"On average, senators miss about 3 percent of their votes, or have an attendance rate of 97 percent. But Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, has a 70 percent attendance rate this year, meaning that for the 30 percent of the days he was out, he missed 69 votes." "Marco Rubio Has Missed Most Votes This Year of Senators Running for President."


Curbelo moves into House leadership

"Even as he ramps up the rhetoric against Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., moved into the U.S. House leadership on Wednesday as U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., named him to the Republican whip team." "Donald Trump Critic Carlos Curbelo Moves Up Into the House Leadership."


"Crisis for clerks of court"

The Orlando Sentinel editors: "The Florida Legislature has created a crisis for clerks of court statewide that is resulting in layoffs, furloughs and service cutbacks." "Florida's clerks of court need a legislative lifeline."


Yoho

"Ted Yoho Takes Aim at Sanctuary Cities, Backs Kate's Law."


Hillsborough rejects privatization (for now)

"A private probation company accused of human rights violations in Georgia and poor performance in California was eliminated Wednesday from consideration for a Hillsborough County contract worth $2.4 million." "Hillsborough rejects recommendation to privatize probation."


Say what?

The Tampa Trib editors think "Jolly would be appealing Senate candidate."