Wednesday, March 04, 2015

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

"A disaster in Florida"

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Today the future of the Affordable Care Act is on the line once again at the U.S. Supreme Court. So is health care for millions of Americans, including 1.6 million Floridians."

Florida would be hit hardest. The state's 1.6 million sign-ups through the federal exchange are the most of any state, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The 756,000 sign-ups in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties are the highest of any metro area. Greater Orlando, with about 193,000 sign-ups, ranks eighth.
"Florida has no backup plan if the high court strikes down the tax credits. Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature's Republican leaders have shown no interest in crafting one."
Legally, the court has no reason to gut the law. Practically, a ruling for the plaintiffs would be a disaster in Florida and across the nation.
"Ruling against health law would hurt state."

"Problems in the state's prison system"

"The head of a Senate committee probing problems in the state's prison system has received a stream of unsolicited letters from current and former employees describing poor working conditions and a reluctance to root out corruption." "Prison employees detail troubles in letters to lawmaker."

Florida Supreme Court to hear Fair District arguments today

"The Florida Supreme Court is taking up a legal challenge to the state’s congressional districts. The high court will hear arguments Wednesday in a long-running legal battle over whether the Florida Legislature followed voter-approved standards for drawing the boundaries for the state’s 27 congressional seats." "Florida Supreme Court takes up challenge to new districts."

"Devoid of depth, leadership."

The Miami Herald editors: "Gov. Scott’s speech devoid of depth, leadership." "How about some specifics?." See also "Gov. Rick Scott gives upbeat State of the State address, avoids pressing issues."

"All but Medicaid"

"Hundreds of people gathered in the Capitol on Tuesday to hear speeches from Gov. Rick Scott and top lawmakers underlying their policy priorities at the start of the 2015 legislative session." "Session opens with broad agreement on all but Medicaid." Related: "House, Senate Leaders Show Signs of Agreement, Differences."

Scott Cheerleaders

The Scott cheerleaders at the Tampa Trib write that "Four years in office have not greatly sharpened Gov. Rick Scott’s oratorical skills, which even he poked fun at during his State of the State Address on Tuesday. But his tenure has sharpened his understanding of his adopted state." "A boost for Florida and Scott."

Meanwhile, "Democrats Respond to Scott's State of the State By Going on the Attack."

"We hold ribbon-cuttings for convenience marts"

"For decades, this state has cultivated and celebrated low-wage jobs. We offer tax breaks and incentive deals to theme parks and grocery stores. We hold ribbon-cuttings for convenience marts." "Orlando growth must get beyond low-wage jobs, government projects."


"Medical Marijuana, Gambling Both No-Shows on First Day of Session."

Cuba the new normal

Michael Putney: "While many Cuban Americans denounce establishing diplomatic relations with the devil, others are preparing to do business with him." "Cuba and the new normal."

Grubbing for wingnuts

"At a gathering of the nation’s conservative political activists last week, Sen. Marco Rubio won back at least some of the trust he’d lost in 2013, when he helped broker a bipartisan immigration plan." "For Sen. Marco Rubio, immigration shift could win the right but hurt elsewhere."

About those private emails

"News that Hillary Clinton used a private email account during her time as Secretary of State draws contrasts and similarities to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current Gov. Rick Scott, both of whom have drawn criticism for using private email." "Clinton email controversy raises questions about Jeb Bush, Rick Scott."

Rubio strives for relevance

"Sen. Marco Rubio is teaming up with another conservative senator to release a tax overhaul bill that would reduce the number of tax brackets for individuals and drop corporate tax rates, all in an attempt to boost economic growth." "Sens. Rubio, Lee float tax plan to cut corporate rates, individual brackets."

Monday, March 02, 2015

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

"This is the time to be in Tallahassee"

Bill Cotterell: "Here’s what the 2015 legislative session looks like, by the numbers."

There were 1,666 lobbyists registered as of late last week. That’s more than 10 for every lawmaker in the House and Senate.

There were 1,183 pieces of legislation on file — counting resolutions, memorials to Congress and actual proposed laws — of which a few hundred, at best, are likely to reach the governor’s desk.

And they’ve got 60 days to do it starting Tuesday. There’s always a late-session scare about going into overtime, but somehow they work it out.

That means a two-month ban on political fundraising for 88 House members who have already signed up for re-election in 2016. So have 13 state senators, along with six current or former House members hoping to move up to the Senate.

But their parties and various political front committees can still pass the hat for the campaign season that never really ends

"From the session-eve Associated Industries of Florida reception, an annual party that draws nearly 2,000 big and small Capitol denizens, to the final handkerchief drop in the fourth floor rotunda on May Day, this is the time to be in Tallahassee."Political prime time: Capital comes to life for session."

"Rubio looks increasingly like a candidate"

Jeff Henderson writes that "Rubio looks increasingly like a candidate who will run in 2016, [but] he needs badly to get some daylight between himself and Bush. At the very least, Rubio’s comments at CPAC were a good start in that direction." "Marco Rubio Uses Common Core to Distance Himself from Jeb."

"The latest screwball idea making its way through the Legislature"

Carl Hiaasen: "The latest screwball idea making its way through the Legislature: Allowing guns to be carried on college campuses." "Lawmakers cooking up recipe for a bloodbath."

"Better pay, less testing"

"Volusia teachers rally for better pay, less testing."

"Looming flood insurance crisis"

The Tampa Tribune editors believe the "best way to fix the state’s looming flood insurance crisis is to create a marketplace that makes it easier for private companies to sell policies. State Sen. Jeff Brandes, who pushed last year to create a private market, is back this year with another proposal that would give private companies and customers a range of coverage options while at the same time giving assurances to lenders that the policies meet or exceed those offered by the federal government." "A legislative session with key decisions for Florida’s future, and Tampa’s, too."

"Five lawmakers and five key issues to watch"

"With the Florida Legislature set to open the 2015 session, here are five lawmakers and five key issues to watch this spring in Florida’s capital." "Five people, five issues to watch in Florida’s 2015 session." See also "Gov. Scott faces big hurdles to push his legislative agenda." See also "Florida's hot legislative issues: Guns, gambling, pot."

Sunday, March 01, 2015

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

Jeb skirts rules, chases unlimited amounts of cash

"As an actual candidate, Jeb Bush’s direct source of funds would be limited to $2,700 per person per election. But because he’s not officially running, his legal advisers contend he can chase unlimited amounts for his Right to Rise Super PAC." "Jeb Bush exploits non-candidate status to rewrite campaign finance playbook."

Meanwhile, "Walker scores with conservatives; Bush still has work to do."

"Capital comes to life"

"Political prime time: Capital comes to life for session."

"Massive gambling overhaul"

"A massive gambling overhaul bill will hit lawmakers’ desks on the first day of the legislative session, but its sponsor is holding back on exactly what’s in it." "GOP leader’s gambling bill heads to Florida lawmakers." See also "Expansion of casino gambling draws dire warnings, praise."

No-bid contract

"Ocoee hires state rep as consultant in no-bid contract."

"Flood of tests"

"Florida’s largest teaching union, the Florida Education Association, thinks Gov. Rick Scott’s order suspending the standardized 11th grade English test this year falls too short to address the flood of tests faced by students and teachers." "Teachers union: Scott testing order not enough."

Taxpayers on hook for legal bill of disgraced Speaker

"Florida taxpayers should foot most of the nearly $1 million legal bill of disgraced former House Speaker Ray Sansom, a Florida judge said Friday." "Judge: Taxpayers should pay legal bills for Ray Sansom."

Florida overtakes California with the most people on Obamacare

"The Senate has supported health care expansion for the last couple of years, even passing its own version two years ago. The more conservative House, now led by Speaker Steve Crisafulli, has been staunchly opposed."

Republican Gov. Rick Scott previously has voiced support, though he retreated from the issue during last year’s re-election campaign.

Last weekend, however, the Senate’s Republican leader called on the state to expand Medicaid in a speech to a business-friendly civic group.

Sen. Bill Galvano of Bradenton said funding health care for the working poor is a problem that “cannot be ignored,” according to news reports.

"Darryl Paulson, a Republican and retired professor of government at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, said he doesn’t expect House leadership to reverse itself."
“It’s like many things in politics,” he said. “They don’t want to do it unless they absolutely have to do it, and they don’t see that they absolutely have to do anything about it.”

At the same time, Paulson notes that Florida has overtaken California as the state with the most people — 1.6 million enrollees —signing up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“That in itself is interesting because clearly there’s been no support from the Republican leadership, from the governor,” Paulson said. “It’s ironic at the very least."

"Fragile peace keeps Medicaid expansion off Legislature’s agenda."

A poverty thing

"Why Almost 1 in 4 Floridian Driver Has No Car Insurance: Poverty."

"State’s auditor general issues scathing audit"

"The state’s auditor general issued a scathing audit about lapses of many kinds on Florida’s unemployment website." "Auditor: Florida’s jobless claims website in disarray."

Scott missed that press conference

"Harris leaving Brevard for Virginia?"

Fact-checking the Legislature

"When the Florida Legislature convenes Tuesday, it will kick off a 60-day session during which legislators and Republican Gov. Rick Scott will fashion a budget and set policies on topics including K-12 tests, guns on college campus and whether to allow online voter registration." "Fact-checking some claims tied to bills so far."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Shamed Speaker Redeemed; Other Court Battles Focus on Sunshine."

Privatization "at any cost"

Paula Dockery: "Generally when a crisis occurs in a large organization, the CEO is expected to acknowledge and address the problem, keep stakeholders up to date on progress and be held accountable for the problems that occurred."

Why is it then that Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott has been AWOL on the crisis within our prison system?
"Here are some of the problems: A record number of inmate deaths, suspicious deaths not reported as such, claims of widespread prisoner abuse, drugs and contraband, investigator reports ignored, investigators intimidated and silenced, potential inspector general retaliation and cover-ups, four Department of Corrections (DOC) secretaries in as many years, crumbling buildings, leaky roofs, dilapidated vehicles, dangerously low staffing levels, excessive overtime costs, and questionable contracts for privatized services such as medical care."
And yet when disturbing reports started surfacing — about a mentally ill prisoner who was scalded to death at Dade Correctional or a nonviolent offender seeking medical treatment who was punished and gassed to death instead — there was a shocking lack of concern from the governor. The silent indifference was so unsettling that former DOC Chief Jim McDonough exclaimed, “Where is the outrage?”

To date, the governor has not directly acknowledged the problems, answered questions nor communicated a plan of action. Instead he let his third DOC secretary, Mike Crews, take the heat. Crews resigned amid the growing scandal.

Crews admitted that during the re-election campaign, the governor’s then chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, told him he needed to take a bullet for the governor. Crews expressed frustration that the governor and his staff were more concerned with crafting news releases than with doing what needed to be done to keep the institutions safe and secure.

This behavior came from the very administration that touts accountability, transparency and business acumen. . . .

The cynic in me is starting to believe that the Scott administration doesn’t want to fix the problems at the department and doesn’t want to fully investigate the abuse that has been and still is occurring. In the meantime, people in state supervision are dying and the state is exposed to costly litigation and liability.

Perhaps this is the means to an end and Scott’s true mission is to fully privatize Florida’s prisons — at any cost.

"Privatizing prisons could be Scott’s end game."

Goosestepping in lockstep

"Dean Cannon: Better Florida Economy Means Fewer Fights in Session."

"Like a wolf howling in the middle of the Tundra"

Nancy Smith: "The outlook might get brighter next week for the Everglades Foundation and its allies, but for now their voice crying out to buy U.S. Sugar Corp. land is like a wolf howling in the middle of the Tundra." "Not a Single Legislative Delegation Makes Buying U.S. Sugar Land a Priority."

"Failed Republicans who are playing politics"

"This week, mailers from a newly formed political committee called Moving Tampa Forward described [Jackie] Toledo’s opponents as failed Republicans who are playing politics and stated that Toledo was the “target of vicious personal attacks.”" "Accusations fly in heated District 6 race."

Monday, February 23, 2015

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

Rubio to New Hampshire

"U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is heading to New Hampshire to interact directly with voters who will help determine his presidential fate." "Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to Meet With New Hampshire Voters."

Meanwhile, "Rubio heckled at Florida book signing."

Clown car comes to Florida

"Ted Cruz came to Jacksonville Friday night and called out Jeb Bush on Common Core. More so than most of the other Republicans testing the waters for 2016, Cruz has taken shots at Bush over Common Core. But this time Cruz fired away at Bush in his own backyard." "Ted Cruz Comes to Florida to Attack Jeb Bush on Common Core."

Early voting trends in Tampa

"Election officials expect this year’s election will continue a trend that began in 2012 of more votes being cast before Election Day." "Early voting for Tampa elections begins today."

Entrepreneurs in action

"Ripping off your refunds: One little number fuels South Florida’s tax-fraud explosion." You can check out "a ZIP Code to see how many electronic filing identification numbers were issued by the IRS, and whether your neighborhood may fall into a hot spot for tax fraud." "Investigate Florida's tax fraud hot spots by ZIP Code."

Jeb's family tree

Huffington Post is "ranking the branches of an old family tree according to their respective helpfulness for the 2016 election." "Trail To The Chief: Bush Family, Ranked Edition."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

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

Jeb not ready for prime time

Dana Milbank points out that when Jeb recently "addressed the Chicago Council on Global Affairs luncheon at the Fairmont, he combined his father's awkward oratory with his brother's mangled syntax and malapropisms. Like his brother, he said 'nucular' instead of 'nuclear,' and he hunched over the lectern with both hands on it — but instead of exuding folksiness, as his brother does, he oozed discomfort."

A top priority, he explained, is "reforming a broken immigration system and turning it into an economic — a catalytic converter for sustained economic growth."

Presumably, he was reaching for "catalyst," but instead came up with an automotive emissions-control device.

"As we grow our presence by growing our ability to produce oil and gas," Bush went on, "we also make it possible to lessen the dependency that Russia now has on top of Europe."

Russia's dependency on top of Europe? It was, in addition to being backward, a delightful echo of his brother's belief that it is hard "to put food on your family."

At another point, discussing NATO's aggressive stance in the Baltics, Jeb explained that "I don't know what the effect has been, because, you know, it's really kind of hard to be out on the road, and I'm just a gladiator these days, so I don't follow every little detail."

Asked about the weakening of nation states in the Middle East, he admitted: "I don't have a solution. I mean, I… I… I've read articles, you know, about whether the 1915 kind of breakout of the Middle East and how that no longer is a viable deal."

Bush, eschewing teleprompter, read his speech quickly and, during the question time that followed, leaned forward in a chair, jacket buttoned and legs spread, swigging water with Marco Rubio's gusto.

The former Florida governor recited his foreign policy credentials, such as opening a bank office in Venezuela. He touted a Latin American free-trade agreement and noted that "where Columba and I live is going to be right in the center of the universe of that free-trade agreement."

He can see Cuba from his house!

Much more here: "Is Jeb Bush ready for prime time?"

And then there's the slimy business stuff. See e.g., "Jeb Bush’s private investments in fracking dovetail with public advocacy ("The intersection between Jeb Bush’s private and public life — calls for fracking have been a part of his speeches and came as recently as last month in San Francisco — triggers questions of disclosure.")

Indeed, when it comes to foreign relations, all Jeb, "like most of the other Republicans who may run for president, has are muscular-sounding bromides that substitute for understanding."

Good luck with that

"After years of neglect, Florida's "dysfunctional" mental-health system is likely to be a top priority for lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session, with both advocates and politicians calling for major reform." "Florida lawmakers to tackle troubled mental-health system."

The best they can do

"Former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford signaled his intentions to remain politically active Friday as he joined the board of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC)." "Will Weatherford Named by Bill McCollum to Board of GOP Group."

"Jeb courts GOP’s economic charlatans"

Paul Krugman: "Cranking up for 2016: Jeb Bush courts the GOP’s economic charlatans."

"Now it looks even worse"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "The rejection of federal funds for Medicaid expansion by leaders in Tallahassee was never a smart decision. Now it looks even worse as the feds prepare to shut down a healthcare pipeline that pours about $1.3 billion into a statewide program that aids hospitals that care for Florida’s neediest." "Another Florida healthcare crisis."

"Lying witnesses, junk science, bogus experts, faulty memories, misidentifications and sometimes good intentions gone astray"

Scott Maxwell is required to yet again state the obvious: "Wrongful convictions are a result of lying witnesses, junk science, bogus experts, faulty memories, misidentifications and sometimes good intentions gone astray. It's time for Florida to join the other states that have recognized this — instead of hosting more debates about the most humane way to kill people." "Change the debate: Errors show we must end the death penalty."

It must be something other than the OUR Walmart

If you can stomach Bloomberg's take on Walmart's recent flop on wages, here it is: "Why Walmart is increasing its everyday low wages."

"Jeb's Brainless Trust"

Always nice to read that "Jeb isn’t doing terribly well in the polls." More: "The numbers involving former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush are both shocking and pedestrian . . . ." Or, as James Carville puts it, they are "not very impressive . . . ."

Perhaps that's because, as Margaret Carlson reminds us, "Jeb Bush is asking us to do the impossible — forget that he’s the son of one president and the brother of another." "The unbearable burden of being Jeb Bush."

But is Jeb really any different? Maureen Dowd thinks not, at least when it comes to his advisors: "Jeb Bush’s Brainless Trust." Or, as the Boston Globe reports:

Boston Globe profile revealed Bush was pot-smoking bully in prep school. New York Times found many letters to father’s White House urging help for friends. Advice to women on welfare: “Get your life together and find a husband.” Helped brother W. win presidency in Florida by 537 votes. Husband of brain-dead Terri Schiavo called Jeb “vindictive, untrustworthy coward” who put him “through hell” by interfering in her case. Miami Herald asked what he’d do specifically for black people if elected governor. Answer: “Probably nothing.” Wants path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Wife is Mexican-American whose peasant father entered United States illegally.
"Democrats’ guide to Republicans for president."

So much for that states rights schlock

"The top lobbying group for Florida’s seaports wants the state to establish a marketing campaign to help lure cargo-shipping companies from major ports in other areas of the country." "Florida Ports Want Government Help Luring Shipping From New York, Georgia and Texas."

"Fracking a Jeb Bush family affair"

No surprise that "fracking is not just a Jeb Bush investment, but also a Jeb Bush family affair."

Son George P. Bush, 38, was elected Texas land commissioner last year, two years after helping found Fort Worth-based FracStar Logistics, providing sand for fracking. One of FracStar's managing partners is Coral Gables-based De Soto Partners, which is co-owned by Jeb Bush and 31-year-old Jeb Bush Jr. FracStar has been renamed Proforce Energy Services.

Jeb Bush's private equity group, Britton Hill Holdings, was established in May 2013, but his entry into the fracking boom and private equity business wasn't publicly revealed until June 2014, when it triggered a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing for managing more than $100 million.

By then, Bush was looking increasingly like he would run for president.

The filing showed that the pooled investment fund had raised $40.4 million from 37 investors. Bush is chairman of Britton Hill, named after the highest point in Florida and based out of his office at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. His partners include former Lehman Brothers banker Amar Bajpai, former natural gas trader David Savett and private equity executive Ross Rodrigues. Bajpai is now on the board of Inflection Energy, the Denver company he and Bush invested in.

Bush and his partners "had more than five years consulting across various sectors, and a move into making direct investments was a natural extension," said Campbell, Bush's spokeswoman.

"Bush's fracking investments are not the only time his private business life has overlapped with his public policy advocacy."
His work as an education reformer coincided with his financial stake in Academic Partnerships, an online higher education company. Bush severed ties with the company late last year and his team has noted he did not invest in K-12, which has been his policy focus.

The former governor already has resigned from various corporate boards, including Tenet Healthcare, which has a bottom-line interest in the success of Obamacare, and he ended consulting contracts as he moved fully into the presidential fray in December.

But pulling out of ventures in which he is a partner or owner, including his fracking investments, is far trickier because Bush's name and involvement presumably is part of what drew investors.

"Jeb Bush's private investments in fracking dovetail with public advocacy."

Saturday, February 21, 2015

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

"Good luck getting Scott to ask for an investigation of himself"

Tom Nickens writes: "Citizens, good government groups and news media organizations should not have to file a lawsuit to force someone to examine whether Florida's highest elected officials violated the Sunshine Law."

The lawsuit is a last resort, and the [Tampa Bay] Times joined as a plaintiff with some reluctance and after much discussion among top editors. There are more direct ways to determine whether the state's top leaders violated their oath to uphold the Florida Constitution and ignored the fundamental principle of open government. But no one else will do what has to be done.

Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs won't investigate whether there was a public meetings violation in the way Gov. Rick Scott abruptly ousted Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey. Never mind that Bailey reported to the governor and Cabinet — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Never mind that the governor cannot hire or fire the head of FDLE by himself. Never mind that there was no public discussion, no public vote, no nothing.

Bondi, who ought to be interested in enforcing the Sunshine Law, won't investigate. She hasn't asked the statewide prosecutor to look into it. She hasn't even responded to a letter from the First Amendment Foundation suggesting that she ask her good friend the governor to appoint a special prosecutor. (Full disclosure: [Nickens is a] member of the First Amendment Foundation's board.)

Good luck getting Scott to ask for an investigation of himself. This governor has less regard for open government than any governor in the modern era.

"Why the Times joined the lawsuit against the governor and Cabinet."

"Pleasing developers and farmers"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "The Florida House is moving to quickly change how the state manages and preserves water that is more about pleasing developers and farmers than protecting the environment. The legislation delays the cleanup of the Everglades and puts new pressure on the water supply in fast-growing Central Florida." "House takes wrong approach on water."

The elephant in the room

The Tampa Trib editors look at the plans for "Shoring up Florida’s corrections system." Of course the elephant in the room is the GOP's privatization fetish.

"Shift-based care"

"Bill targets shift work at foster group homes."

"The governor and lawmakers are ignoring the greatest public concern"

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board writes that "the governor and state lawmakers still are ignoring the greatest public concern: Students, teachers and school districts simply aren't ready for next month's new assessments for the Common Core-aligned Florida Standards."

While the governor and state lawmakers nibble around the edges, the new standardized tests are barreling toward students in a couple of weeks. Yet there has not been nearly enough careful consideration and preparation for these new assessments. Scott foolishly dropped out of the multistate consortium developing the tests and demanded that Florida obtain its own assessments in an unsuccessful attempt to silence critics of Common Core.
"Cutting one test is not testing reform."

Meanwhile, "Who's fringe now? Moms' testing position now mainstream."

Scott admin gives privateers a billion dollar do-over

"Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones announced Friday she intends to rebid contracts worth about $1.4 billion with private companies to provide health care services to the state’s 100,000 inmates." "Prisons boss aims to rebid health care contracts."

"The announcement came amid increased scrutiny of Florida’s prison system, the nation’s third-largest, after reports of guards abusing inmates, a rising number of unexplained inmate deaths and lawsuits from investigators who claim they were retaliated against after exposing wrongdoing." "Prison chief seeks overhaul of prison health contracts."

"Beer battle comes to head"

"Beer battle comes to head again in Tallahassee."

"It didn't have to be this way"

Daniel Ruth: "For the past several weeks, as disclosures have mounted over Gov. Rick Scott's abrupt dismissal of Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey, questions have popped up about whether there is any way for voters to remove a Florida governor from office."

The answer to that question is no.

The issue is particularly intriguing since Attorney General Pam Bondi appears to be uninterested in pursuing allegations that the sacking of Bailey was either: A) related to the FDLE chief's steadfast refusal to allow the governor to politicize the agency; and/or B) whether Scott's actions violated the state's government-in-the-open Sunshine Laws.

Given Bondi's Officer Krupke-esque indifference to, you know, actually performing her duties as the state's chief legal officer, it would appear Scott is going to get away with thumbing his nose at proper protocols and legal niceties.

It didn't have to be this way.

"Florida voters have no way to recall Gov. Rick Scott, Cabinet."

Run, Marco run!

"Sen. Marco Rubio is in the midst of a comeback, fueled by a self-assured stand against easing relations with Cuba, some savvy campaigning in Iowa and a meeting that impressed well-heeled donors." "As a White House hopeful, Sen. Marco Rubio on the comeback trail."

Meanwhile, "Rubio faces stiff odds in reversing Obama’s policy toward Cuba."

"A raw, public tussle"

Jeff Henderson: "Just when things can’t get any worse for Democrats in Florida, two of their leading figures are going at each other in a fight that won’t help them keep the state in their column come 2016." "Hillary Clinton Needs to Step In as DWS and John Morgan Bicker."

This "raw, public tussle between U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and trial attorney John Morgan over a medical marijuana ballot initiative prompted the Florida Democratic Party chairwoman to declare herself 'disappointed.'" "Feud between Wasserman Schultz and millionaire donor exposes Democratic fault lines over medical pot."

Jeb staggering around within the margin of error in Florida

It is no secret that Florida's claptrap media desperately to prop up dear Jeb; after all, it would be far more interesting - at least for Florida's chattering classes - if Jebbie became the GOPer nominee. Consider this stretch of a column: "Jeb could ruin Hillary’s political run."

That's of course true . . .

. . . except for the polling part. Consider the latest Q poll:

- FLORIDA: Clinton 44 - Bush 43

OHIO: Clinton 47 - Bush 36

PENNSYLVANIA: Clinton 50 - Christie 39

A first look at three critical swing states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, for the 2016 presidential election is good news for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who tops possible Republican contenders in every matchup, except Florida, where she ties former Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ohio, where she ties Gov. John Kasich [who of course is not a declared candidate], according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today [2/3/2015].

Overall, Gov. Bush runs best of any Republican listed against Clinton, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. The Swing State Poll focuses on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because since 1960 no candidate has won the presidential race without taking at least two of these three states.

Clinton's favorability rating tops 50 percent in each state, while Republican ratings range from negative to mixed to slightly positive, except for Bush in Florida and Kasich in Ohio.

Of three "Native Son" candidates, measured against Clinton only in their home states, only Ohio Gov. John Kasich gives the Democrat a good run, getting 43 percent to her 44 percent. . . . [with Clinton ahead] 49 - 39 percent over U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the Native Son.

"Clinton Leads In Pennsylvania, Ohio; Ties Bush In Florida, Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll Finds."

Jeb is staggering around within the margin of error? In the latest version of his home state? And after years of Florida's traditional media telling Floridians how popular Jeb is.

So, Jeb will have to fight to even hold his own in his "home" state, while at the same time "Bush does not do well in either Ohio or Pennsylvania. In Ohio, he trails Clinton 36 percent to 47 percent, and in Pennsylvania he trails her 35 percent to 50 percent." "Q Poll: Hillary, Jeb tied in Florida."

NRA "gins up faux hysteria"

Daniel Ruth: "Leave it to the National Rifle Association's Marion Hammer, the Martha Stewart of Smith & Wesson, to gin up faux hysteria over the debate to allow concealed weapons on the state's college campuses by suggesting ISIS is practically advancing on the gates of Florida State University's Doak Campbell Stadium." "College campuses no place for concealed weapons."

"Storm clouds gathering"

Nancy Smith writes that, if "DOE Commissioner Pam Stewart doesn't see storm clouds gathering, she isn't looking up." "Nearly Duck-and-Cover Time for DOE's Pam Stewart."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Legislature Gets Moving as Session Approaches."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

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

"Jeb storms Tallahassee"

"Supposedly, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was in Tallahassee this week for a summit on education."

But between the fundraiser he held in town, another fundraiser later in the week in New York City and the release of the first chapter of a book chronicling his time as governor through emails he sent and received, it looked a lot like the soft launch of a presidential campaign.
"Jeb Bush, the 'non-candidate' for president, storms Tallahassee."

"Pie in the sky"

"Sending water south from Lake Okeechobee to meander naturally through the Everglades -- the 'flowway' endorsed by the Everglades Foundation as the only way -- 'will never happen, it's pie in the sky,' admitted one of Florida's leading voices on environmental policy." "Eric Draper: Lake Okeechobee to Everglades Flowway 'Will Never Happen'."


"Legislators roll out bill to snuff damages for tobacco victims."

Good to know: "Who's who in the tobacco wars? Chapter One."

Testing run wild

"Florida should scrap a new 11th-grade standardized test and reduce the number of other exams it gives students, the state's education commissioner said Thursday — a move that critics of testing said doesn't go far enough. Gov. Rick Scott said he would work with the Legislature to enact needed laws to cut back on state-mandated testing." "Education chief, governor agree to pare back school testing." See also "Florida Education Saturated in Tests, Say Rick Scott and Pam Stewart."

Feed 'em enough liquor

"A wide-ranging alcohol measure that would allow shoppers to pick up fifths of Jack Daniel's in the same stores where they buy groceries passed its first House test Wednesday over the objection of Florida's largest grocer."

Members of the House Business & Professions Subcommittee voted 9-4 to advance the measure (HB 107), which would remove an 80-year-old state law that requires liquor stores to be stand-alone facilities.

The bill has drawn opposition from independent liquor stores, some county sheriffs and Lakeland-based Publix. Meanwhile, support for the measure has come from retailers including Wal-Mart and Target.

"Publix, Wal-Mart at Odds over Separating Liquor, Groceries."

Florida political targets

"The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) unveiled its top targets for 2016 on Wednesday with two members of the Florida delegation on the list. . . . The DCCC is targeting two Florida Republicans -- U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and David Jolly -- in the early stages of the 2016 election cycle." "NRCC Going After Gwen Graham and Patrick Murphy in Florida."