Sunday, April 24, 2016

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


Lobbyists, gift bans and free trips

Gary Fineout reminds us that, "right before she was elected to a second term into office, a series of stories by the New York Times detailed the practice of law firms who were skilled at developing contacts and relationships with the top lawyers of various states - including Attorney General Pam Bondi."

"These firms helped out corporate clients whose businesses had been targeted by some states, but not others."

One of the stories also pointed out that Bondi allowed a lawyer from one of the firms to recuperate from surgery at Bondi's house
"Now 16 months later the matter has come to a quiet close - at least as it concerns Florida's ethics laws."
The Florida Commission on Ethics voted last week there was no probable cause to conclude that the now-defunct law firm Dickstein Shapiro - or one the lawyers who used to work at the firm, Bernard Nash - had broken the state's ethics laws.
Fineout describes "several interesting highlights" from the investigation here: "Bondi's silence amid questions about lobbying, the gift ban and free trips."


"Developers target panther land"

"Any hope that South Florida's endangered panthers will eventually spread hundreds of miles north to as far as the Orlando area and beyond may hinge on a proposal for immense development near Naples."

A growth plan by nine Collier County landowners encompasses 152,124 acres, an area that spans important panther territory and is nearly as big as some counties in the state. . . .

The land belongs to prominent sugar, citrus and cattle enterprises, including a ranch owned by Aliese Priddy. In 2012, Gov. Rick Scott appointed her as a member of the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"South Florida developers target panther land."


Red tape

"Police investigate a fatal industrial accident."


DWS "wrong on payday loans"

"Florida's congressional delegation is in rare bipartisan support on an issue. Unfortunately, it's the wrong issue. The issue is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's plan to regulate payday loans." "Wasserman Schultz wrong on payday loans."


"Indian River Lagoon failures"

"Scorecard shows Indian River Lagoon failures."


Saturday, April 23, 2016

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


Trump could have a profound impact on Florida's down-ballot races

"Donald Trump's controversial views on immigration have taken their toll on Latino support for the Republican Party in Florida and could have a profound impact on down-ballot candidates this fall, according to a poll of 400 registered Latino voters released on Friday by Latino Decisions, a public opinion research group." "Poll: Trump a big turn off for Florida Latino voters, including Cubans."

More: "Immigration Is Top Issue for President and Congress, Say Florida Latinos."


Weekly Roundup

"Ever since the departure of the Pork Chop Gang --- a cadre of North Florida lawmakers who ruled state government through the middle part of the 20th Century --- the northern reaches of the state have sometimes seemed like second-tier parts of Florida." "Weekly Roundup: The North Rises Again."


Don't do us any favors, Mr. Rubio

"Rubio says he’s not interested in being vice president."


Airbnb's tax games

"The Florida Department of Revenue and tax collectors in Pinellas and four other counties have signed agreements with online home-booking agency Airbnb to collect and remit potentially millions of dollars in tourist-tax revenue that until four months ago went unpaid."

Those agreements mean that people seeking a break through Airbnb on the rising cost of hotel and motel rooms will be paying more per night because state and local tourist taxes will be tacked onto their bills.

But on the other side of the ledger, how much the online home-booking agency will be collecting and turning in each month remains an open question because of Airbnb’s insistence that the names of people renting out property on its platform be kept secret.

Airbnb even insists that its agreements with government agencies remain secret. And it wants the state and counties to forfeit any potential taxes owed prior to executing the agreements. - See more at: http://www.tbo.com/news/politics/airbnb-starts-paying-florida-taxes-but-still-plays-by-different-rules-20160422/#sthash.rls4kKGy.dpuf

"Airbnb starts paying Florida taxes but still plays by different rules.."


Learn Tampa-Cuba history

"A trail through Tampa-Cuba history."


"Work isn’t over for presidential hopefuls in the Sunshine State"

"Donald Trump may have won the Florida primary, but the work isn’t over for presidential hopefuls in the Sunshine State." "Florida GOP Heads to Final Stretch of Delegate Selection."


PBC School Board member resigns

"Palm Beach County School Board member Mike Murgio resigned Friday following a federal indictment accusing him of bribery."

His departure creates a vacancy on the seven-person board. His District 1 seat was up for re-election and before his arrest, Murgio planned to run as an incumbent. Instead, in a letter sent to school board chairman Chuck Shaw, Murgio wrote he was stepping down because his "personal situation" may create a distraction for the board and the school district.
"Indicted Palm Beach school board member Mike Murgio steps down."


Opt out "slow to grow" in Miami-Dade

"While thousands across the country boycott standardized tests in schools, the Opt Out movement has struggled to gain traction in Miami-Dade." "Movement to ‘opt out’ of standardized testing slow to grow in Miami-Dade schools."


Friday, April 22, 2016

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


Graham eyes running for governor in 2018

"Redrawn congressional lines that plunked U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham’s seat into Republican territory prompted the congresswoman to announce she won’t seek re-election this year and instead will gear up for a possible run for governor in 2018."

Graham, a Democrat from Tallahassee who unseated two-term Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, in 2014, announced her potential gubernatorial bid Thursday morning in a slick YouTube video emailed to supporters.
"While not entirely a surprise, her announcement promised to shake up a potential field of Governor’s Mansion hopefuls including Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat."
“Our state government is just dysfunctional,” she said. “And this causes me to rethink how I can best serve the people of North Florida and our state. Floridians are hungry for new leadership, and I’m so excited to tell your first that I’m seriously considering running for governor in 2018.”

Graham, a pragmatist who has upset some in her party for siding with the GOP on issues from the Keystone XL pipeline to President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, touted her accomplishments in Congress.

"Gwen Graham might run for governor."

See also "Another Graham for Florida governor? U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham announces potential run," "Another Graham for governor? U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham announces potential run" and "Florida Rep. Gwen Graham announces possible run for governor."


RPOF wigs out

"Cruise giant Carnival Corp. on Friday said it had been cleared by the Cuban government to bring Cuban-born travelers to the country, ending a controversy that threatened to upend its plans to launch the first USA to Cuba voyages in more than 50 years." "Cuban-born travelers cleared to cruise to Cuba." See also "Cuba will allow Cuban-born to arrive on Carnival cruise ship."


All about Trump

"It’s all about Donald Trump at GOP meeting, even without him there."


"What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

Marc Caputo: "The RNC’s Florida takeaway – Wasserman Schultz goes after Canova – DCCC’s marital-rape attack v. Rep. Mica – Feds indict South Florida school board member." "Florida Playbook."


"Something a little off at GOP gala"

Tom Jackson: "By all outward signs, the annual Pasco Republican Reagan Day dinner was business as usual: Every ticket (all 450) was sold, filling Spartan Manor’s main ballroom; the opening ceremonies were reverently observed; the prime rib entree and carrot cake chaser were enthusiastically received; the live auction (involving mostly firearms) was ardently contested; and the whole thing wrapped up in time to get the attendees home in time for Hannity."

There was, nonetheless, something ... off. Something unsettling. Something atmospheric. Something just beyond the grasp.
"Something a little off at GOP gala."


Can't stop . . .

"U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw’s campaign was raising large sums of money and paying political consultants until just before he decided to retire after eight terms in Congress." "Crenshaw continued raising funds until retirement announcement."


Soto gets support

"The Florida Senate Democratic Caucus endorsed their colleague Darren Soto for Congress Thursday. State Sen. Soto, D-Kissimmee, received the backing of 11 of his 13 fellow state Senate Democrats in his race for the party nomination in the 9th U.S. congressional district including including former Senate President Gwen Margolis, Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner and Minority Leader-elect Oscar Braynon." "Democratic state Senate caucus endorses Soto for Congress."


"He really is a member of the Angry Party"

"He looked and sounded like someone who wanted to pick a fight. Maybe he does. He said his name is Carlos Beruff."

I suspect he is just using the Republican Party as a place holder because he really is a member of the Angry Party. His message seems to be that we should vote for him because we’re all angry too. Anger is the fastest-growing political movement in the country, and Beruff sure speaks the language.

Look at that face. Listen to that voice. Imagine a father waiting on the front porch two hours after his daughter was supposed to be home from a date — except this time the father wants to be a senator.

His website describes him as “a businessman who is fed up with the status quo in Washington.” He is a successful home builder and developer who has served on a few boards in Manatee County. He’s a budget hawk, vowing to eliminate waste wherever he sees it — and he sees it a lot.

But here’s the punch line: Beruff says we need “to take the country back.” I didn’t know it had gone anywhere, but the candidate obviously believes it has taken the first handbasket south to Hades. Because of that, Beruff says we need to send him to the Senate because he’ll straighten that whole thing out.

Maybe Beruff’s message resonates with enough Floridians to get elected, or maybe not. The bigger message leaders of both major parties better receive in a hurry is that the anger isn’t going away. It’s all about fighting back against a system fueled by big money from a knighted few. Everyone else feels excluded, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re liberal, conservative or a little of both.

"Say hello to the latest “outsider” candidate from the Angry Party." See also "Backroom Briefing: Carlos Beruff, Unplugged."


The best they could do?

"Rick Scott pushes Donald Trump at national meeting."


"Talking about medical marijuana. OMG"

Nancy Smith: "Las Vegas has changed, folks. I couldn't believe how much since I last visited. And I'm not talking about the glitzy hotels or the towering slot machines or the raving nightlife. I'm talking about changes you can see on the airport concourse two minutes after you deplane. I'm talking about medical marijuana. OMG." "Does Medical Marijuana Have a 'Visit Florida' Future? Check Out the New Las Vegas."


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

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


"'Jeb! An American Disappointment!"

"'Jeb! An American Disappointment! Please Clap', the musical's full title, opens with a song called 'Jeb! Bush, Exclamation Point.'" "http://bit.ly/1qDjKL7">http://bit.ly/1qDjKL7."

"‘Jeb! The Musical’ parody of ‘Hamilton’ mocks the Bush campaign, by The Orlando Sentinel's Steven Lemongello: ''Jeb! The Musical' is available online for anyone’s enjoyment, with two acts and 46 songs parodying both the failed presidential campaign of the former Florida governor and the musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton." "http://bit.ly/1qDjKL7."


Florida election gives rise to Twitter regulation dispute

"A 2014 complaint filed by a [Florida] congressional write-in candidate who received fewer than 10 votes sparked a more than two year review of how much — if any — federal regulation should be placed on political speech through social media outlets like Twitter."

The issue split the Federal Election Commission, which in February deadlocked on a 3-3 vote before deciding to close the case. The commission needs a majority vote to take any action.
"Three Republican members of the commission said further regulation by the FEC over the messages would “hamper free communication.” The panel’s two Democrats and one independent member said greater transparency should be put in place."
The complaint was filed in January 2014 by Raymond Schamis, a write-in candidate from Delray Beach who was challenging West Palm Beach Democrat Lois Frankel in the 22nd Congressional District. In the complaint, Schamis said Frankel, Republican challenger Paul Spain and the Democratic and Republican national committees violated election law because Twitter accounts they used for their campaigns didn't include disclaimers saying who paid for the accounts and the individual tweets.
"Write-in candidate prompts FEC split over regulating Twitter messages."


Even the Miami Herald

It's over: "Miami Herald Calls for Repeal of Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966."


Will Brown do Orlando?

"Florida’s redistricting saga continued Monday when a group of federal judges rejected a lawsuit to throw out the current congressional boundaries from U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville."

"Court Rejects Corrine Brown Lawsuit to Throw Out New Congressional Districts." Here's the 26-page order".

Brown has hinted that she might run in the newly created district in Orlando. We'll know soon enough.


"What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

Marc Caputo: "Medical marijuana refugees flee Florida – Beruff’s Cuban confusion -- Ayotte to Foley: Thanks but no thanks."

More: "The Beruff identity: Candidate’s conflicting claims about his birthplace" and "Beruff releases third TV ad."


Tracking immigrants like "tracking livestock"

"Congressional candidate Pat Mooney is drawing fire from a Republican rival for making an analogy between monitoring immigrants and tracking livestock with microchips." "Congressional candidate criticized for remarks about monitoring immigrants."


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Today's political news and punditry.


Wasserman Schultz, Sanders fight heating up

Update: Nancy Smith: "Democratic National Committee Chairwoman DWS tries to block voters' access to Sanders by limiting primary presidential debates; Sanders lends his formula for fundraising success and campaign charisma to Tim Canova, DWS' CD 23 challenger." "For Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Payback's a Witch."

Update 2: "Support for Tim Canova's congressional campaign is coming from the same frothing section of the populace that's pulling for Bernie Sanders. In March, two major unions — the Communication Workers of America and National Nurses United — both endorsed Canova after also throwing their support behind Sanders. (Nurses United has even been driving 'Bernie Buses' around, canvassing on foot for the frozen warlock of a presidential candidate.) Veterans for Bernie Sanders too has thrown its support behind Canova ... Today, Canova picked up yet another big endorsement, this time from the Transportation Workers United 538, which represents the 2,500 Miami International Airport employees." "Miami Airport Workers' Union Endorses Tim Canova."

"If the Bernie Sanders movement is trying to take down the Democratic political establishment, there’s probably no better place to start than Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee."

Even before Wasserman Schultz was accused of trying to rig the primary process for Hillary Clinton, her perch atop the party apparatus and failure to meet some liberal purity tests made her a target of some on the left.
"Now, Wasserman Schultz is facing her first real primary fight since she was elected to Congress from Florida in 2004. Her challenger is Tim Canova, a progressive law professor fueled by the Sanders movement."

"It’s a longshot, but Canova has some key actors from the Sanders coalition behind him."

Wasserman Schultz has found herself on the wrong side the left on a range of fronts, from her alleged softness on the payday lending industry, to her opposition of medical marijuana, to her perceived reluctance to back President Obama’s Iran deal, to her support for so-called fast-track trade authority opposed by critics of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal.
"The Bernie Sanders proxy war in Florida."

"Actress Rosario Dawson spoke out against Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz Tuesday before introducing Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in San Diego, California." "Rosario Dawson Bashes DNC's Wasserman Schultz at Sanders' Rally."

DWS strikes back, claiming that "that Bernie Sanders’ supporters tactics of getting the attention of superdelegates 'border on harassment and feel like stalking.'" "Wasserman Schultz: Sanders Supporters’ Tactics ‘Border On Harassment’"


"What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

Marc Caputo: "Patrick Murphy’s SEVEN political committees – Tim Tebow for Congress? – Wasserman Schultz and Bernie Bros’ ‘borderline harassment." "Florida Playbook."


Just ask Marco

Democratic Rep. Reggie Fullwood "from Jacksonville has been indicted on charges he used more than $65,000 in campaign contributions on personal expenses like liquor, jewelry, flowers and groceries, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Jacksonville announced Friday." "Florida lawmaker faces fraud charges over campaign cash."

Little Marco skated on similar behavior: "New questions raised about Marco Rubio’s GOP credit card expenses" ("Rubio made the most of the ample leeway and little oversight party leaders gave employees and lawmakers to spend the party’s cash.")


Republicans court Tebow, liken' that homeschoolin'

"Tim Tebow has a likable, wholesome image and hasn’t ruled out running for political office one day. Now Republicans (who have courted him in the past) are hoping to have the home-schooler-turned-Heisman-winner run for Crenshaw’s seat. Don’t be surprised if Tebow doesn’t do it. He’s smart enough to know Congress isn’t a place to accomplish much these days except be a politician, take bad votes, spend most of your time fundraising for your next election or plan to run for another seat. But if he’s bitten by the political bug, watch out." "Tebow for Congress."

More: "Tim Tebow eyed for open Florida House seat, 'a shoo-in'."


Orlando retread wants to go back to Congress

"Former U.S. Rep. Ric Keller announced Thursday that he is seeking a return to Congress after 8 years. Keller, an Orlando attorney, told Fox 35 that he would be running in the 6th District for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach. DeSantis is running for U.S. Senate. . . . Keller also said he was "for the wall before it was cool" when asked about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's call for a border wall with Mexico." "Former U.S. Rep. Ric Keller announces another run for Congress."


Garcia posts impressive fundraising numbers

"Former Congressman Joe Garcia, challenging Annette Taddeo in the CD 26 Democratic primary, has posted impressive fundraising numbers, bringing his total more than $325,000 in just weeks." "Joe Garcia, Fighting for CD 26, Has His Foot on the Fundraising Gas."


"Murphy Replenishes Daddy’s Cash Stash"

"They are called joint fundraising agreements, and they allow committees and members of Congress to join forces to raise campaign cash. [Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick] Murphy’s campaign committee has agreements with seven different committees, two of which have transferred a total of $57,741 to his campaign, according to campaign finance records."

The biggest transfer to Murphy’s official campaign from a joint fundraising committee has come from Justice 2016, which has given $51,490.

That committee is affiliated with a handful of Democrats, including Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Jason Kader of Missouri, Ted Strickland of Ohio, and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, each of whom is running for Senate, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, both of whom are members of the House running for Senate seats.

Another joint fundraising committee Murphy has with Bennet, called Peaks and Palms Senate Victory, has transferred $6,250 to his campaign. The committee has raised $40,000 from six Illinois donors who work predominantly in the finance industry.

Several other joint fundraising committees tied to Murphy’s campaign have not yet been active, while some have raised money but not transferred it directly to his campaign.

One of those joint fundraising committees, the Murphy Victory Fund, has its own fundraising agreement with the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida, which is the federal arm of the Florida Democratic Party.

The Murphy Victory Fund has raised $76,600 and transferred $56,800 to the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida.

"Joint fundraising committees are a long-standing way for campaigns to pool resources with other groups to ensure progressive candidates across Florida and the country are in the best possible position to win,” said Joshua Karp, Murphy’s communications director.

"Murphy’s Senate bid boosted by network of fundraising agreements."

"Privileged Patrick Murphy Replenishes Daddy’s Cash Stash." See "Patrick Murphy Raises $2 Million in First Quarter."

Amelia Chassé asks: "How does Murphy explain his professed 'disgust' with money in politics with his scramble for outside cash? Apparently by lashing out at reporters, as the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith found out in March."


Rubio fading into irrelevance

"When he suspended his campaign, Marco Rubio said he wasn’t running for president but urged local GOP officials to let him keep his delegates. ... The Florida senator’s strategy is hitting some turbulence, NBC News has learned, because several state parties have determined Rubio does not get to hold onto all his delegates." "Lapsed Rubio Delegates Are Up for Grabs on Convention’s First Ballot."


Saturday, April 09, 2016

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


"Latest chapter in a mushrooming scandal"

"New details are emerging on the embattled Broward Health board's political ties to contractors and its involvement in doctors' contracts, as one former commissioner's constitutional power struggle with one-time ally Gov. Rick Scott spills into a Broward County courtroom Friday."

A judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on the governor’s executive order last month to suspend two of his hand-picked Broward Health commissioners after Scott’s inspector general alleged that the commissioners, David Di Pietro and Darryl Wright, were interfering with an ongoing state probe into a number of recently approved contracts.
" Di Pietro, a rising star in Broward County Republican circles and husband of County Judge Nina Weatherly Di Pietro, immediately challenged Scott’s move, calling into question the governor’s legal authority to remove him from board, which oversees five hospitals, three outpatient centers and three urgent care facilities."
This is just the latest chapter in a mushrooming scandal that has included the January suicide of the Broward Health CEO, questionable contracts and a deepening investigation by authorities that Di Pietro in the court filings said now includes the FBI.
"Court fight over Broward Health board highlights contracts, campaign cash."


Scott denies he's corrupt

"Scott’s political committee hits back after Starbucks confrontation."


Kansas, Georgia and Alabama get blessing to to make motor voter registration harder

"The federal Election Assistance Commission was formed after the disputed 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore and given an innocuous name and a seemingly inoffensive mission: to help state election officials make it easier to vote."

In this ideologically riven election season, it turns out, that is not easy at all.

The election commission is in federal court this month, essentially accused of trying to suppress voter turnout in this November’s election. The Justice Department, its nominal legal counsel, has declined to defend it. Its case instead is being pleaded by one of the nation’s leading advocates of voting restrictions. The agency’s chairman has disavowed its actions.

"The quarrel exemplifies how the mere act of voting has become enmeshed in volatile partisan politics. Seventeen states will impose new voting restrictions for November’s presidential election. Many are the object of disputes between those who say they are rooting out voter fraud and those who say the real goal is to keep Democratic-leaning voters from casting ballots."
The lawsuit’s origin is straightforward. The agency’s executive director, Brian D. Newby, had been in his job less than three months in January when he unilaterally reversed a policy that the body’s commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans, had endorsed since the agency’s creation in 2002: that people registering to vote need offer no proof, beyond swearing an oath, that they are American citizens.

That decision gave Kansas, Georgia and Alabama officials a blessing to alter the federal voter registration applications handed out in motor vehicle offices and many other state agencies, replacing the oath with something stiffer: a demand for proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.

"The Voter Support Agency Accused of Suppressing Votes."


Hispanic voter registration drive in Florida

"The nation's largest Hispanic civil rights organization has launched a major voter-registration drive in the battleground state of Florida to identify and sign up hundreds of thousands of potential Hispanic voters." "National Hispanic group launches voter registration drive in Florida."


Private pre-ks get another pass

"For the second year in a row, the state will not be rating the 6,220 preschools collecting cash through Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten program. And lawmakers have dictated that scores won’t be calculated for next year either."

Ever since Florida lawmakers saw fit to invest millions to cover the cost of prekindergarten for the state’s 4-year-olds more than a decade ago, they also required those schools, most of them private, to be rated based on how well their students were prepared once they got to kindergarten.

But that rating system was derailed in the fall of 2014 by a new computer-based test.

What was supposed to be a better way to gauge how much a kindergartner knew about letters, their sounds and how they combine to make words, proved to be an epic technological and logistical failure that unraveled on Facebook.

"Pre-K rating halted after 1 test failed, another too good to be true."


"What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

Marc Caputo: "Politics, posturing in Trump aide’s prosecution – Grayson v. Beruff in border-wall money fight – Audit: FAMU broke state laws, school policies -- Scott signs Everglades law -- Carnival Cruise’s Castro kowtow." "Florida Playbook."


Trump fires "warning shot" at Florida prosecutor

"When Donald Trump suggests he could file battery charges against the reporter who accused his campaign manager of a crime, he isn’t whining or simply threatening retaliation."

Trump is effectively firing a warning shot at the Florida prosecutor in the case against Corey Lewandowski, who was cited for misdemeanor battery last week by police for allegedly forcefully yanking reporter Michelle Fields away from the presidential candidate during a campaign event in Jupiter.
"Trump test-drives top aide’s defense in battery case."


FlaDems convene circular firing squad

"As Murphy attacked Grayson,"

Murphy was forced to defend himself against allegations of impropriety by the Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee dedicated to maintaining Republican Senate control.

The Senate Leadership Fund said in February that Murphy had pushed legislation to strengthen the federal EB-5 visa program used by developers to gain foreign investment and bring workers from other countries to the United States. It said the measure would benefit a company, Coastal Construction, owned by Murphy’s father in which the congressman holds a large stake.

That company, the Senate Leadership Fund said, is one of two main contractors on a mega-project called SkyRise Miami, whose developer, Jeffrey Berkowitz, is a major employer of EB-5 workers and wants to use them to help build his planned 1,000-foot-high tower overlooking Biscayne Bay.

The bill died in the last session of Congress, but it remains an issue. Murphy denied that his support for the measure had anything to do with the family business.

"In race to replace Rubio, Democrats open fire in Florida."


Sunday, April 03, 2016

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


"What’s wrong with the public-petition method of making law"

Bill Cotterell: "If we don’t adopt Amendment 1 on the November ballot, we won’t be able to … uh, no, that’s not it."

Well, the “Smart Solar” constitutional amendment assures we can put solar panels on our roofs and… umm, no, that’s not it, either. We can already do that.
"OK, now I’ve got it – this is long-awaited constitutional affirmation that Florida is, truly, the 'Sunshine State.' Well, except that we always have been."
Actually, the proposal approved last week by the Florida Supreme Court simply illustrates what’s wrong with the public-petition method of making law. It shows that, if you have enough money, you can put just about anything up for a statewide referendum – and, if you run a good campaign, you can carve your idea into the foundation of our government.
"Do-it-yourself amendments are not grassroots democracy."


"Florida's continuing attempt to restrict a woman's right to legal abortion"

The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott loves to say we need less government regulation — and less government intrusion — in our lives. That is his mantra. Yet there he was recently, signing a bill into law that imposes dramatic new regulations over abortion clinics and likely will intrude on women's abilities to find a provider." "Anti-regulation governor regulates abortion."


"Lobbying firms are taking stock of their personnel rosters"

Peter Schorsch: "With the 2016 Legislative Session in the rearview mirror, many top lobbying firms are taking stock of their personnel rosters to determine if it’s time to upgrade their talent level." "Who’s who of power players."


"Closed cases let state staffers get away with murder"

The Miami Herald editors: "Families are left in the dark as to how imprisoned relatives died. Questionable autopsies and closed cases let state staffers get away with murder." "State still clams up on prison deaths."


"You can bank on it"

The Tallahassee Democrat editors write that, "the more politicians insist they’re doing something for us, not themselves, you can bank on it: They’re looking out their own political preservation."

So it was that U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown brought three busloads of constituents late last month to hear arguments before a three-judge federal panel in Tallahassee’s U.S. District Court, in her long-running challenge to keep her meandering congressional district. Since 1992, the Jacksonville Democrat has represented an oddly configured tract that runs through Gainesville to Orlando, with little catchments reaching out here and there to embrace pockets of black voters.

Brown’s attorneys argued against a redrawn congressional map, imposed by the Florida Supreme Court, which moves Congressional District 5 from its north-south axis to a horizontal configuration hugging the Georgia border from Jacksonville to Chattahoochee. It splits Leon and Jefferson Counties — more about that in a minute — and reduces the black voting-age population represented by Brown from about 50.1 percent, in her old turf, to about 46 percent in the east-west district.

"Brown could probably get re-elected in either district, although the Jacksonville-Gainesville-Orlando one is safer for her. But the new map could result in four black Congress members from Florida, rather than the current three."
It would be easier to believe Brown is gallantly pursuing justice if the outcome she seeks were not so self-serving. Despite what she called “a perfect storm to get rid of Corrine Brown,” the Legislature and the courts are not conspiring to stop having a minority-access district in North Florida.

This paper opposed splitting Leon and Jefferson Counties between Brown’s district and a new tract that bends from about Panama City to near Ocala. But, as they say around the Capitol, that train has left the station (by the way, isn’t it about time somebody thought up a metaphor that doesn’t make us think of Harry Truman?). The state Supreme Court chose the east-west configuration as more compliant with the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the state Constitution.

"Brown’s arguments self-serving."


"Congressional races will be hot"

"Congressional races will be hot this year."


"The Ivy League school quickly refused"

Michael Mayo: "Gov. Rick Scott made Yale University an offer the Ivy League school quickly refused last week: Ditch more than 300 years of history and move to Florida."

On its face it seemed silly, a craven political stunt in response to Connecticut's possible taxation of the school's large endowment fund. And it appears a bad match since Yale has produced some of the world's top scientists, intellectuals and innovators and Scott refuses to acknowledge, or say the words, 'global warming' or 'climate change.'
"Mayo: No Yale in Florida, but how about Trump to Jupiter (the planet)?."