Saturday, November 28, 2015

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider "Liking" our Facebook Page and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

FlaGOP whines about "opponents 'operating in the shadows' to help Democrats"

Mary Ellen Klas: "The knock-down fight over the political future of the Florida Senate entered its third round this week as lawyers for the coalition of voting groups accused Republican lawmakers of conspiring again to protect incumbents, while the Legislature’s lawyers accused opponents of 'operating in the shadows' to help Democrats."

The Senate’s map “smacks of partisan intent” because it failed to maximize population and respect political boundaries, “while offering unmistakable benefits for the Republican Party and incumbents,” wrote the lawyers for the coalition plaintiffs, led by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Florida.
"But the lawyers for the Republican-led Senate and House blasted the plaintiffs for relying on map drawing experts who had ties to Democrats and therefore drew maps that 'systematically' benefited Democrats."
The sparring legal briefs, filed late in the evening Wednesday, offered a glimpse at the arguments in the Senate redistricting trial scheduled Dec. 14-18, before Leon County Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds. . . .

After Senate leaders conceded that the 2012 map it adopted was gerrymandered to protect incumbents and Republicans, the Florida Supreme Court declared that the burden had shifted from the plaintiffs to the Legislature, which had to defend its map.

But while the Legislature argues in its brief that its Senate map should be given preference, its lawyers do not defend how they drew it or why, instead focusing their argument on attacking the plaintiffs’ map, its map drawers and the process. . . .

This is the third time the court has reviewed the Senate map. The first time was in 2012, when the Florida Supreme Court rejected the map and ordered changes. The second time came in July, when the Legislature conceded it broke the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the state constitution when it enacted the 2012 map and agreed to meet in special session.

Now, after failing to agree upon a map in special session, both sides must present their arguments for how it wants the court to complete the map-drawing in time to establish Senate districts for the 2016 elections.

One of the main obstacles for the Legislature has been the shift of the burden of proof from the plaintiffs — who previously had to show that the Legislature’s maps were gerrymandered — to the Legislature, which now must defend its map as legitimate.

"Both sides make conspiracy accusations in Florida’s redistricting fight."

Friendly territory

"Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is in Sarasota today for a campaign event." "Trump holds campaign event in Sarasota today."

Tally swells pad Jeb's pockets

"Tallahassee may not be known as GOP territory, but it’s giving big to former Gov. Jeb Bush and the super PAC supporting him."

His biggest local donors — including those giving large amounts to the Right to Rise super PAC — are some of the Capital City’s most influential movers and shakers.

About $344,000 from Tallahassee and the surrounding area has flowed into Bush’s campaign, according to the latest Federal Election Commission reports. And about twice that amount — roughly $681,000 — has gone into the coffers of Right to Rise, which can’t coordinate with his campaign but can spend millions on TV ads designed to boost his sagging poll numbers.

"Tallahassee giving big to Jeb Bush."

Batista's last laff

"Lawsuits muddle U.S.-Cuba thaw; nation still owes Florida man $3.2B."

Rubio's attendance excuses are "terribly misleading"

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Rubio's voting record gets worse. Between July and September, he missed 28 of 52 votes, or 54 percent. So far this quarter, he has missed 30 of 37 votes, or 81 percent."

Moreover, The Times reported that because of fundraising demands, Rubio has missed a slew of Foreign Relations hearings and classified briefings.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos told the Sun Sentinel this week that the senator had been briefed on the Paris attacks last week during a classified meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He also said some campaign events have been canceled so that the senator could return to the Senate, including a vote to defund Planned Parenthood. And, he said, Rubio "has not missed a vote where his vote would have been decisive."

The part about not missing a decisive vote may be correct, but it is terribly misleading. How a senator votes is part of his record. Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq war. She is criticized for that, even though her vote wasn't decisive. How a senator votes tells people plenty — whether he casts the swing vote or not.

"Fla. deserves better effort from Rubio."

Might wanna talk to Senator Rubio about that one

"South Florida has $366 billion worth of real estate at risk from flooding." "Report: Miami could lose billions from coastal flooding by 2050."

Meanwhile, "preening patriots" are "worried about a Syrian grandmother moving to Florida"

Daniel Ruth asks, "Would you call this a loophole? Or just loopy?"

If we had a quirk in the law that permitted people on the FBI's terror watch list to legally purchase weapons, those preening patriots in Congress would be tripping over themselves to quickly amend a deeply flawed statute.

After all, we must protect the homeland, just like we did after 9/11 when Washington's fawning politicians boldly adopted the term "Freedom Fries" in the congressional dining room just to show the terrorists we meant business. And let us not forget it's called the FBI's "Terror Watch List." That suggests those who wish to do the nation harm could find a weapon a useful tool. Too subtle?

In the wake of the horrific Paris terror attacks, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and New York Republican Rep. Peter King revived long-stalled efforts to address a gaping hole in the nation's gun laws, which still permit someone who has been added to the "Terror Watch List" to legally obtain a firearm.

Consider: If someone is on the list, he or she can be prevented from boarding an airplane but can still buy an assault rifle.

It would seem the concerns of Feinstein and King are well founded. Between 2004 and 2014, the Government Accountability Office estimates suspected terrorists on the "Terror Watch List" have been able to buy weapons 2,043 times. And yet, Gov. Rick Scott is worried about a Syrian grandmother moving to Florida?

"Fix federal loophole in gun laws."

Friday, November 27, 2015

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

"The Republican-dominated Legislature’s last hurrah"

The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Thanks to the Legislature, it’s hard to keep the doors open when it comes to voting in Florida. Another chunk of the fallout from legislators’ redistricting debacle is the quagmire facing Florida’s elections supervisors who, with myriad elections looming, are stuck in administrative quicksand."

Enough. Rather than continue coddling lawmakers and their obvious politically motivated subterfuge, the courts should protect voters and the integrity of the elections system. Above all, they should not risk another election catastrophe in Florida.
"The recent special session debacle was the Republican-dominated Legislature’s last hurrah. Finally, given one more chance, they had to redraw the congressional and Senate districts as part of the once-in-a-decade redistricting process. And they didn’t."
It was a blatant refusal to respect the anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” constitutional amendments passed by 63 percent of Florida voters in 2010. How arrogant that lawmakers trust voters to vote for them but don’t trust voters to specify rules for how to fairly redistrict.

Sure, voters passed some laws, but lawmakers didn’t like them. So they ignored them. They also got caught having partisan political operatives slip gerrymandered district maps into the redistricting process. And they’re really mad that they got caught, and were reprimanded by the Florida Supreme Court. But there’s no evidence that they’ve changed.

After a hearing set for Dec. 14-18, Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds will recommend, from proposals by the Senate leaders and nonpartisan groups, a map for Florida’s Senate districts that ultimately would go to the Supreme Court. By all indications there’s likely to be a federal lawsuit over the congressional districts, as well.

Meanwhile the state Association of Supervisors of Elections has indicated to the courts that they need to have both Senate and congressional maps to the supervisors by Tuesday in order get their redistricting work done. That would give them three weeks to get military and overseas ballots ready by Dec. 28 — process that, particularly in large counties such as Palm Beach, usually takes months.

Obviously, a hearing that begins Dec. 14 will already have shot past the date the information is needed by the supervisors who are on the ground dealing with logistics rather than politics. . . .

This all points up the fact that the courts have given lawmakers all the chances they need. How about giving the voters a chance. At some point they should come first. The courts should stop showing concern for lawmakers who repeatedly have shown little concern for voter rights.

"Elections at greater risk after latest redistricting fail."

"Trump widens lead, returns campaign to Florida"

"Despite controversies, Trump widens lead, returns campaign to Florida."

Castro once delivered anti-Batista speech a Tampa union hall

Patrick Manteiga, the third-generation owner of the La Gaceta newspaper, has "a photo of his grandfather and publication founder Victoriano Manteiga sitting with Castro at a Tampa union hall in November 1955 for a fundraiser for the future Cuban president’s revolution." . . .

"Fulgencio Batista, the Cuban president who Castro ultimately overthrew, seized office through a military coup in 1952 and retained power through force that included torture and assassinations."

Castro began by saying that Cuba had historically been governed by corrupt politicians who used their power to enrich themselves while doing nothing to improve the standard of living of others.

He reminded the crowd that Batista took power by force and said force was again needed to free Cuba.

To form the necessary militia, money was needed, he continued. He said his revolution would end political corruption and give the Cuban people the work, education and medical care they deserved.

His closing remark was, “We will be free or martyrs. Long live a free Cuba.”

Rhonda Villamia said her father remembers that Castro received a standing ovation.

"Fidel Castro delivered pivotal speech in Ybor City 60 years ago."

Rubio's attendance record getting worse

"For a moment there, it looked as though U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio had refocused on his day job." "Sadly, Marco Rubio's attendance record is getting worse."

FlaDem Muslim-American outreach

Anthony Man - Sun Sentinel: "Democratic Party outreach to Muslim-Americans aims to register voters."

Don't Bogart that Bill

"There is a verb from the Psychedelic '60s that describes a particular kind of selfish act: bogart. Floridians can slightly adapt the derisive term to describe the behavior of agribusinesses and politicians who are rigging the state's medical marijuana law for the benefit of a few influential people." "Insiders win while patients lose on medical marijuana."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

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

"Scott has mastered the art of payback"

Joe Henderson: "Rick Scott never held political office before he ran for governor. After five years as Florida’s top politician, though, it’s clear he has mastered the art of payback."

The target of his ire this time is Adam Putnam — agriculture commissioner, fellow Republican and frequent irritant, but in settling a political score, Scott really hurt the state’s forestry firefighters. He couldn’t/wouldn’t find room in a proposed $79.3 billion state spending plan to give firefighters the $2,000 raise Putnam has requested, despite a budget surplus that Scott estimates at $1.3 billion.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks. Here’s an extra heaping of petty to go with your pumpkin pie.

"Of course, Scott could have risen above the bickering and given those firefighters a little money. Even with a raise, they wouldn’t be getting rich."
He might even have looked like a leader, helping these state workers in the way he approved raises last summer for workers in the drivers license department and some state troopers. For reasons I think we can all guess, he vetoed the firefighter raises last summer while letting the others go through.

Now he’s at it again.

Putnam has vowed to work through the Legislature again next year to get those folks some money. Scott would probably veto it again.

I guess it doesn’t matter to the governor that he’s not really hurting Adam Putnam.

As long as someone gets hurt though, that seems to be good enough.

"Gov. Scott’s feud with Putnam hurts forestry firefighters the worst."

Senate President Andy Gardiner looks ahead

"Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, looks ahead to the start of the 2016 session in January, his last in the Legislature, he talks about the dysfunction with the House, pushing for more education options for students with disabilities and other issues ranging from gambling to guns that are likely to be addressed by lawmakers." "Gardiner talks House dispute, 2016 session, gambling and guns."

Rivera investigation on hold as Rubio campaigns

"Prosecutors have circled David Rivera for three years, trying to build a strong enough criminal case to prove the former Miami Republican congressman propped up a ringer candidate in the 2012 election."

They got the ringer, Justin Lamar Sternad, to confess, and sent him to prison. They chased the woman who secretly funneled more than $81,000 to Sternad — Ana Alliegro, Rivera’s ex-girlfriend — to her Nicaragua hideout, and sent her to prison, too. They even got Alliegro, once out of prison, to testify to a grand jury that it was Rivera who had plotted the illegal campaign-finance scheme.

That was almost a year ago. To date, the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami has filed no charges against Rivera — or closed the investigation against him.

“The judge had them name David Rivera as ‘Co-Conspirator A,’ and David Rivera has not been charged,” lamented Alliegro’s father, Anselmo Alliegro. “Nothing seems to be moving in that direction.”

As 2015 draws to a close, prosecutors might choose to wait even longer to resolve the case.

"They have until 2017 to file charges, under the federal statute of limitations. And if Rivera’s friend and former housemate Marco Rubio continues to rise in the 2016 Republican presidential race, prosecutors might want to steer clear of the politically charged case, to avoid the appearance of meddling with an election."
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer, a Democrat, declined to comment for this story. Rivera, whose cellphone voice mail said he is out of the country, did not respond to emailed questions. A Miami Herald reporter asked him at a Republican Party of Florida fundraiser in Orlando last week if he had heard anything from prosecutors. Rivera, who has disputed he’s the target of the investigation, laughed off the question and said no.

It’s Rivera’s continued involvement on the margins of politics, while Rubio’s national profile has grown, that has renewed media attention on the former congressman. Rubio and Rivera served together in the Florida House and for years owned a Tallahassee home together, which they sold in June.

Rivera’s presence at two GOP primary debates, including in Milwaukee two weeks ago, made headlines and forced Rubio’s campaign to deny on both occasions that it had given Rivera a ticket. (Rivera wouldn’t reveal the source either, saying only that he’s cultivated many friends in nearly three decades in politics.)

His presence at the last week’s Florida GOP Statesman’s Dinner, which featured Rubio, did not go unnoticed.

Much more here: "David Rivera investigation remains stalled."

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

Marc Caputo: "NELSON blasts fuzzy intel – RUBIO backers attack Cruz – SPACE FLORIDA looks to 2016." "Florida Playbook."

Scott helps bury EPA report

"Gov. Rick Scott’s top environmental agency helped block a scathing federal report outlining environmental concerns from being submitted as part of a challenge to a controversial natural gas pipeline that would run across some of Florida’s most 'environmentally sensitive areas.'"

The Sabal Trail pipeline, a joint venture of Spectra Energy, Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light Co.'s parent company, would extend 515 miles from central Alabama to Osceola County. The project, which covers more than 260 miles in Florida, faces a legal challenge to a state permit in Florida from an environmental group named the WWALS Watershed Coalition.

On Oct. 26, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, saying it had "very significant concerns" about the process of choosing a route because of the threat of pollution to the Floridan Aquifer and the impact on conservation areas.

Four days later, the WWALS Watershed Coalition asked Administrative Law Judge Bram D.E. Canter to take judicial notice of the EPA objections.

But the Florida Department of Environmental Protection joined Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC in objecting, and Canter refused the request.

A spokeswoman for the DEP, which is overseen by Scott’s office, was twice asked whether the permit should be re-evaluated in light of the EPA comments. Each time, she answered with a statement that neither acknowledged nor addressed the EPA concerns.

"Scott administration helped keep scathing EPA pipeline report out of legal challenge."

Meanwhile, the Tampa Trib editors give Scott a pass, writing that, with "his proposed $79.8 billion budget, Gov. Rick Scott shows far more environmental enlightenment than he did when he was first elected and cut conservation programs indiscriminately." "Scott’s environmental budget."

Obamacare is imperfect, but it’s working

Paul Krugman: "To the right’s dismay, scare tactics — remember death panels? — and spurious legal challenges failed to protect the nation from the scourge of guaranteed health coverage. Still, Obamacare’s opponents insisted that it would implode in a “death spiral” of low enrollment and rising costs."

But the law’s first two years of full implementation went remarkably well. Opponents could have reconsidered their position — but that hardly ever happens in modern politics. Instead, they doubled down on their forecasts of doom, and hyped every hint of bad news.
"Yes, Obamacare has hit a few rough patches lately. But they’re much less significant than a lot of the reporting, let alone the right-wing reaction, would have you believe. Health reform is still a huge success story."
Obamacare seeks to cover the uninsured through two channels. Lower-income Americans are covered via a federally funded expansion of Medicaid, which was supposed to be nationwide but has been rejected in many Republican-controlled states. Everyone else has access to policies sold by private insurers who cannot discriminate based on medical history; these policies are supposed to be made affordable by subsidies that depend on your income.

Sooner or later, of course, there were bound to be some negative surprises. And we’re now, finally, getting a bit of bad, or at least not-great, news about health reform. . . .

The reality is that Obamacare is an imperfect system, but it’s workable — and it’s working.

"Spate of bad news can’t hide fact that Obamacare has succeeded."

Sunday, November 22, 2015

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider "Liking" us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

"Scott remains one of the least popular governors in the nation"

"A year after winning re-election Gov. Rick Scott remains one of the least popular governors in the nation. According to a Morning Consult poll released Friday, 44 percent of respondents approve of Scott’s performance and 47 percent disapprove. The survey comes a little over a month before the start of the 2016 Legislative Session."

Scott leads a Republican Party firmly in control of state government but sharp divisions have emerged between the House and Senate on issues like health care and taxation while the two chambers have also waged a three-year battle over redistricting. Three legislative sessions descended into chaos during 2015, delaying passage of a state budget and resolution of two lawsuits over the redistricting maps lawmakers approved three years ago.
"Political observers say Scott’s low public standing does not help the situation."

Scott is the eighth least popular governor in the nation. The list is led by Kansas’s Sam Brownback whose performance is met with approval by 26 percent of Kansan voters. Also less popular than Scott is Connecticut’s Dan Malloy at 36 percent, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Maine’s Paul LePage, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bruce Rauner of Illinois, who has approval of 40 percent of Illini voters. . . .

The surveyed included 5,886 Floridians and has a margin of error of 1.3 percent.

"Rick Scott, America's eighth least popular Governor."

Contractors quick to object to corruption bill

Matt Reed: "Quick to object were the road contractors. Tougher still were some misinformed representatives." "Corruption bill meets capitol critics."

Map quest

"Just when we thought the state redistricting process couldn’t get any more fouled up, the judge trying to sort out the mess last week received yet another version of the map that draws election districts for the Florida Senate." "Map quest demands unbiased panel."

"Its bark is its bite"

Bill Cotterell: "Suppose you were looking for a watch dog."

The one thing that you’re sure not going to do is, you’re not going to want any dog that might bite you. That is, you’d want something like the Florida Commission on Ethics.

The Ethics Commission is neither lap dog nor pit bull. Its bark, however, is not worse that its bite; its bark is its bite.

And state legislators like it that way.

"Let the reliable ethics watchdog choose whom to investigate."

About Jeb

Here’s how the GOP race stands nationally:

Trump remains in the top spot with a record 28 percent support from Republican primary voters. He was at 26 percent in the last Fox poll, which was completed before the last debate and the Paris attacks (November 1-3, 2015).

Carson drops from 23 percent to 18 percent in the new poll. Cruz and Rubio are both up three points and garner 14 percent each.

All others are in the low single digits: Jeb Bush gets 5 percent, while Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee each get 3 percent. John Kasich and Rand Paul receive 2 percent a piece.

"FOX News Poll."

A Suffolk University/Boston Globe Poll released Sunday: "In the wake of the Paris attacks, terrorism has become the top issue among Republican voters in New Hampshire, and Donald Trump has maintained a 2 to 1 lead over a crowded field of competitors. . . . Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who led the Suffolk New Hampshire poll taken in June, is now sixth, at 8%." "N.H. GOP poll: Terrorism the top issue, Trump the leader."

Uninformed slackers "a sleeping giant"

In The Tampa Bay Times today, a slacker valiantly asserts the right to remain uninformed:

"I reserve my right to register to vote. But I won't be forced to make an uninformed decision."
Really? This person reserves the right to remain "uninformed," and let others - uninformed or otherwise - make decisions for her? Steve Bousquet explains: "The letters are NPA. It's short for no party affiliation, for voters who refuse to label themselves Republicans or Democrats because they do not identify with either party."
They are deserting the two major parties in droves, mostly in South Florida and in greater Orlando, and many are young and Hispanic.

Far outpacing both parties, they are the fastest-growing segment of Florida's electorate, but they are a sleeping giant.

Many of them don't vote, and some are so turned off by the negative tone and extreme partisanship of politics that they have no interest in voting.

"More than one of every five no-party voters in Florida is listed as Hispanic. The actual figure is probably much higher because voters do not have to list race or ethnicity on a registration form, and many don't."
The 3.2 million people who avoid both major parties now are 27 percent of all Florida voters as Republicans and Democrats continue to lose political ground in America's biggest battleground state.

Two decades ago, 47 percent of Florida voters were Democrats and 41 percent were Republicans.

When NPAs are combined with a much smaller pool of minor-party voters, they outnumber Republicans in the three most populous counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, along with Orange and Osceola on the I-4 corridor in Central Florida. They eclipse Democrats in seven counties: Clay, Collier, Lee, Martin, Okaloosa, St. Johns and Santa Rosa.

"As they track the explosive growth in NPA voters, political experts in both parties are troubled by the implications."
One reason is that Florida is a "closed primary" state where only Republicans and Democrats can vote in most party primary contests, including a presidential preference primary next March 15. As a result, NPA voters find themselves walled off from the political system, effectively disenfranchised in primary elections.

"A group that is already passive has even less incentive to vote," said Matthew Isbell, a Democratic political consultant. . . .

In Florida, all voters can vote in a primary if only one party has candidates, but a persistent loophole allows a write-in candidate on the ballot to "close" a primary, again shutting out NPA voters.

Much more here: "Dramatic rise of renegade 'no party' voters is reshaping state politics."

Latvala says "no"

"Latvala: No need for independent redistricting commission."

"The last thing Florida needs"

The Tampa Trib editorial board: "Opening the door to more abuses of the state’s 'stand your ground' law is the last thing Florida needs."

Yet that didn’t stop a number of state lawmakers and the National Rifle Association from backing bills that would make it easier for defendants to invoke the law when trying to avoid prosecution for deadly shootings.
"Thankfully, the measure failed to pass in a 6-6 vote during a House committee meeting last week. But it passed 5-1 in a subsequent Senate committee meeting, keeping its chances alive for the session that starts in January."
NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer reacted to the House committee’s vote with typical outrage.

She suggested a Republican lawmaker who voted against the bill, Carlos Trujillo, a former prosecutor from Miami and chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee, shouldn’t be in the Legislature because his experiences color his judgment on “stand your ground.”

Actually, Hammer has it backward.

"Fix, don’t expand, ‘stand your ground’."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: High Noon at the Capitol Corral."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

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

FlaNRA in full-on whine

"A House committee killed off a bill to shift the burden of proof in Stand Your Ground cases earlier this week and the National Rifle Association isn’t too pleased with the committee, calling the 6-6 tie vote a “betrayal” to law-abiding gun owners. "

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, would shift the “burden of proof” for Stand Your Ground cases, and give defendants more protection from prosecution by requiring prosecutors to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” whether a defendant is entitled to immunity at a pretrial hearing in order to disprove a claim of self-defense immunity.

The bill’s swift death in the House committee drew fire from the NRA, which slammed several Republican state representatives for voting against the bill.

In an email sent to members, longtime lobbyist and former NRA president Marion Hammer singled out House Criminal Justice Committee chair Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, for orchestrating a betrayal to gun owners, Rep. Baxley, and the legislative process itself. - See more at:

"NRA: Republican Reps Killing Stand Your Ground Bill 'Betrayal' to Florida Gun Owners."

"Gun-rights advocates are targeting the chairman of a House committee and some of its Republican members after a bill intended to broaden the state’s controversial 'stand your ground' law was scuttled."

The National Rifle Association and Unified Sportsmen of Florida sent an email to their members on Thursday calling the actions by House Criminal Justice Chairman Carlos Trujillo an “orchestrated” betrayal of “law-abiding gun owners,” as the measure (HB 169) failed to pass in a 6-6 vote two days earlier.
"Gun groups target GOP ‘betrayers’ of ‘stand your ground’ bill."

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

Marc Caputo: "Jeb hits Marco, Ted for Syria inaction – Grover bashes Rubio’s sweet tooth – Trump coming to FL – Rick Scott ‘transparency’ – Cop fired for death metal singalong, monkey hit, cobra owner fined." "Florida Playbook."

Trump crushing his Florida competition

"Florida Atlantic University's poll of Florida voters shows Donald Trump crushing the competition, with 36 percent favoring the loquacious businessman and 18 percent for Marco Rubio. That's also a significant change for Rubio, who has bypassed Ben Carson for the number two spot in this and many other polls in the last two days. The Sun Sentinel's man in Washington, William E. Gibson, has analysis of the poll, which also looked at the Democratic presidential race in Florida and the matchups of Democratic and Republican candidates for the state's U.S. Senate race." "Trump triumphant in latest poll."

"Bush calls out Rubio"

"Jeb Bush, continuing to press his case as a strong commander in chief in the wake of last week’s ISIL attack in Paris, singled out Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz for opposing the authorization of force against Syria in 2013." "Bush calls out Rubio, Cruz for opposing authorizing force in Syria."

More: "We Asked Marco Rubio to Lay Out His ISIL Strategy. Here It Is."

Some FlaGOPers say say Scott not telling taxpayers the whole truth

"When Gov. Rick Scott rolls out his budget proposal Monday, he’ll talk about spending more money on schools, but some fellow Republicans say he’s not telling taxpayers the whole truth." "Lawmakers want to advertise ‘truth’ about rising property taxes paying for higher education spending."

Scott strides world stage

"Scott, GOP governors ask Obama to ‘suspend’ Syrian refugee plans." See also "Rick Scott, GOP govs ask for no more Syrian refugees in letter to Obama."

Meanwhile, a "Cuban migrant surge"

"Miami congressman presses Obama on Cuban migrant surge."

"You may wonder: Who is this stooge?"

Carl Hiaasen writes that "Gov. Rick Scott is one boot-step closer to denaturizing Florida’s state parks."

A Senate committee last week voted 7-1 to confirm Jon Steverson as Scott’s hand-picked choice to lead the shriveled and demoralized Department of Environmental Protection.

One of Steverson’s missions is to fulfill the governor’s dream of opening state parks to hunting, cattle grazing and commercial timber harvesting. The second part of Steverson’s job is to take the heat for this obscene idea, and he’s getting plenty.

Environmental leaders and citizen groups have blasted the scheme, ostensibly designed to make parks pay for themselves. The full Senate refused to confirm Steverson’s nomination last spring, so he remains “interim” head of DEP for now.

"You may wonder: Who is this stooge? At least on paper, Steverson looked more qualified for the top environmental job than his predecessor, shipping executive Herschel Vinyard Jr., who quit a year ago. A lawyer and lobbyist from North Florida, Steverson was executive director of the Northwest Florida Water Management District."
The move was vintage Scott, who’s been trying to weaken the water agencies and seize more control. He prefers to wage his war on the environment from behind the curtain, letting others get the blame for his extreme agenda. He won’t admit it’s his idea to rape the parks, just as he never admits his role in other blunders, like Attorney General Pam Bondi’s embarrassing intervention on behalf of polluters to block the faraway cleanup of Chesapeake Bay.

Despite opposition from even some Republican legislators, Steverson hasn’t backed away from the governor’s plan to open our parks to activities that have been banned since 1935. . . .

Maybe he’s not a terrible person, but he’s got a terrible boss. Send them both a message.

"Scott’s plan would ruin our state parks."

Prosecutors yet to decide whether to charge Rubio's pal

"Federal prosecutors in Miami have yet to decide whether to charge ex-U.S. Rep. David Rivera in a criminal campaign-finance scheme." "David Rivera investigation remains stalled."

FlaDems hope to "retake a toehold" in Tally

"A coalition of voting-rights groups has unveiled six possible maps for the Florida Senate’s 40 districts, setting up a court battle that could boost Democrats’ hopes of retaking a toehold in state government now dominated by Republicans." "Voting-rights groups file maps friendly to Democrats."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider "liking" us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Stand 'yer Ground takes hit

"A House committee killed off a bill which would make it easier for Floridians to claim self defense in Stand Your Ground cases on Tuesday, leaving the bill’s future up in the air. - See more at:" "House Committee Kills 'Stand Your Ground' Bill."

See also: "Changes to ‘Stand Your Ground’ halted in Florida House."

"It all going wrong for Jeb"

"Why is it all going wrong for Jeb Bush?"

Wingers say "no" to refugees

"Dennis Ross Brings Out Bill Stopping Federal Funds to Bring in Syrian Refugees." See also "Florida Liberal Compares Rick Scott's Opposition to Syrian Immigrants to Turning Back on Jews Fleeing Nazi Germany."

The Tampa Trib editors: "Be cautious but help refugees."

The best they can do?

"State Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, endorsed Tallahassee attorney Mary Thomas on Tuesday as she looks to unseat U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla., in 2016. " "Charles Van Zant Backs Mary Thomas to Challenge Gwen Graham."

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

"NRA’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ stopped (for now) – Rubio v. Cruz continues – FLORIDA MAN: John Boehner – Rep. Moskowitz for FL Senate or US House? – Florida Man bites shark." "Florida Playbook."

Who’s who on Hill's list

Marc Caputo: "One number shows why Florida is Hillary Clinton country in the Democratic race for president: 152."

That’s how many top Florida Democrats — from current and former members of Congress to mayors to state and local party leaders and fundraisers — were announced Tuesday as members of Clinton’s Florida Leadership Council. The list is so big it took her campaign weeks to assemble it.
"Who’s who on Hillary Clinton’s massive Florida campaign."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

When you're shopping for gifts, please consider newspaper subscriptions and/or buying one or more subscriptions for delivery to your workplace; whenever you visit a newspaper site online, please click on one or more of the advertisements and make an effort to patronize newspaper advertisers. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Team Hillary Announced

"Hillary Clinton has lined up more than 150 elected officials and community leaders in Florida to promote her 2016 presidential candidacy."

Her campaign said late Monday it has launched a “Florida Leadership Council” to organize events and volunteers ahead of the March 15 state primary. The group includes U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the only Democrat elected statewide, and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a longtime Clinton friend.
"Clinton’s state support includes Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant as well as every Florida Democratic member of Congress except Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, and Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee. Her father, former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, is on Clinton’s list."
So are eight state senators and 28 state representatives, and the mayors of Tampa and Orlando and, in South Florida, of North Miami, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, Hallandale Beach, Weston and Wilton Manors. Clinton’s team also includes county commissioners, school board members, city council members, former elected officials, activists and fundraisers.
"Hillary Clinton rolls out Florida support."

Crime dropping in Florida

"Mid-year stats show crime continuing to drop in Florida."

FlaGOP Stand Against Obama

"After Paris Terrorist Attacks, Florida GOP Leaders Stand Against Obama Letting Syrian Refugees In."

Scott finds an ally

"Facing criticism from some fellow Republicans over his plan to spend $250 million to attract more companies to the state, Gov. Rick Scott found a new ally Monday in Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn[, a Democrat]." "Buckhorn backs Scott plan for millions more to lure businesses."

He never served

"On Sunday’s edition of “Meet the Press,” Jeb Bush said that it was time for the United States to go to war with ISIS, and to put together an international coalition to rout the jihadis from their strongholds in Syria and Iraq." "Jeb Bush’s Call for War." See also "Jeb Bush Says U.S. ‘Should Declare War’ in Fight Against Islamic State."