Friday, July 03, 2015

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


"Bush essentially is an employee of his wealthy donors"

From Washington Post: Shortly after Jeb Bush left the Florida governor’s office in 2007, he established his own firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, designed to maximize his earning potential as one of the country’s more prominent politicians."

Shortly after Jeb Bush left the Florida governor’s office in 2007, he established his own firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, designed to maximize his earning potential as one of the country’s more prominent politicians.

Tax returns disclosed this week by the Republican’s presidential campaign revealed that the business not only made him rich but also provided a steady income for his wife and one of his sons. . . .

The returns show that the company set up a generous and well-funded pension plan now rare in corporate America, allowing Bush to take large tax deductions while he and his wife built up their retirement portfolio. . . .

[A] review of the filings shows that more than a third of his company’s income was from sources that his campaign has largely declined to disclose. . . .

The full scope of Bush’s clientele remains shielded from public view.

"How Jeb Bush’s firm made him rich — and created a nest egg for his family."

The Sun Sentinel's Jac Wilder VerSteeg writes that Jeb Bush "released tax records showing that he has earned about $29 million since leaving office, mostly from speaking and consulting fees."

Wilder VerSteeg points out that "Bush is neither a scintillating speaker nor a business genius. Bush commands those high fees because of his family's longtime links to government — federal and state."

"Wealthy and privileged folks didn't pay to hear and consult with Bush, they paid to stroke the president's son, the president's brother and a potential presidential candidate."

As he released his tax returns, Bush attempted to compare his situation with that of a regular taxpayer. "I paid the government more than one in three dollars that I earned in my career," he said. "Astounding. I think I speak for everyone, no matter your tax rate: We need to get more money back in your pocket and less in the federal kitty."

Poor Jeb. The government only let Bush keep about $19 million that very rich and privileged people paid him. And he vows to overturn the policies of President Obama, who used government to save jobs during the Great Recession and now wants to use government [via changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act] to literally put more overtime money into exploited workers' pockets.

You'd think Bush would be grateful to government for the leg up it has given him. But Bush essentially is an employee of his wealthy donors. They — not middle class Americans — will command his loyalty and gratitude.

"Bush's paymasters will command his loyalty and gratitude."


Scott continues to get wealthier

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a multimillionaire former businessman who dipped into his own fortune last year to help his re-election campaign, continues to get wealthier." "Gov. Rick Scott's net worth grows to $147 million."


"Bruising political battle split GOP-led House, Senate and Scott"

"After a bruising political battle that split the GOP-led House, Senate and Gov. Rick Scott, lawmakers are back home, with a government shutdown averted, tax cuts passed and hospitals avoiding deep funding cuts."

But bitter resentment remains, and the feud could affect Florida residents in many ways, as lawmakers next year again consider slashing taxes, expanding health coverage and increasing education and environmental funding.
"The fight over health care for low-income Floridians is almost certain to arise again."
The $1 billion approved by Washington for the Low Income Pool, a voluntary Medicaid program paying hospitals for care for the poor and uninsured, is a more than a 50 percent cut of what was projected, and it will fall to $600 million next year.

That means lawmakers will look for more state funds to prevent steep cuts to hospitals, making it harder to boost education spending and cut taxes — two perennial priorities of Scott.

"GOP feud in Tallahassee likely to flare up again."


Scott's Position on Cuba could Poison Tampa Area for GOP

"President Barack Obama is steaming ahead with his plan to normalize relations with Cuba after announcing Wednesday his plan for the United States and Cuba to open embassies in each other's capital. But hold on -- don't for a minute expect Florida Gov. Rick Scott to climb on board." "Could Gov. Scott's Position on Cuba Poison Tampa Area for GOP?."


Really?

"Rubio to Obama: Walk away from Iran talks."


"Words of wisdom"

The Tampa Trib editors "wish Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican leaders in the Florida House would consider the words of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a conservative who opposed Obamacare and who, much like Scott, has focused on tax cuts and creating a business-friendly environment." "Words of wisdom from Ohio about health-care expansion."


Jeb's one percenter blues

"Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush earned $7.4 million in 2013 and has paid an average federal income tax rate of 36 percent over the past three decades, according to tax returns released by his campaign on Tuesday. . . . Bush's average federal tax rate puts him in the top 1 percent of taxpayers, who paid an average of 30.2 percent between 1981 and 2011, according to figures from the Congressional Budget Office." "Since 1981, Jeb Bush paid an average tax rate of 36 percent."

To which, Jeb whinges, "I paid the government more than one in three dollars that I earned in my career," he said. "Astounding. I think I speak for everyone, no matter your tax rate: We need to get more money back in your pocket and less in the federal kitty."


Teacher runs for State House

"Orange County teacher Sean Ashby, a Democrat, has opened a campaign account to challenge freshman state House Republican Rep. Rene "Coach P" Plasencia, who is seeking to swap Central Florida seats next year." "Orange County teacher to run for state House."


Stars and bars

"On many fronts, Hillsborough seeks to put Confederacy behind it."


Need for independent redistricting panel

The Palm Beach Post editors: "Partisan gerrymandering is an ever-growing stain on congressional and legislative maps. The U.S. Supreme Court, according to its 5-4 decision Monday upholding an Arizona law creating an independent redistricting commission with the power to draw lines for congressional districts, would appear to agree." "Redistricting ruling affirms need for independent panel."


"Bush "rising nationally" in new poll"

"A new CNN poll of the 2016 presidential race has former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) "rising nationally," the news station reported Wednesday." "Jeb Bush is surging in a new GOP poll."


A "Turkey" to one person . . .

"Tax watchdog: Gov. Scott’s budget vetoes let some ‘turkeys’ slip through cracks."


Castor leads renewal of relations with Cuba

The Tampa Trib editors argue that "President Barack Obama is justified in trying to thaw relations and bolster U.S. influence in the island nation. The latest step in that effort came Wednesday when Obama announced a deal had been reached to open embassies in each other’s capitals, perhaps as early as July 20."

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, who has pushed for renewed Cuban relations, says, “An embassy in Havana will enable us to effectively promote American interests, protect and assist American citizens traveling to Cuba, and increase engagement with the Cuban people. An embassy is not a gift to a foreign country, but represents a sign that two countries are committed to deepening bilateral relations.”
"Another step toward Cuba."


To replace Murphy

Kevin Derby: "On Thursday, attorney Jonathan Chane joined the Democratic field running in the crowded race to replace U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., in Congress. Murphy is running for the U.S. Senate in 2016." "Attorney Jonathan Chane Joins the Democratic Field Running to Replace Patrick Murphy in Congress."


Oops?

Joe Henderson: "Florida’s total of 25 overturned death sentences leads the nation since executions resumed in 1973."

Paul Hildwin, for instance, was sentenced to die in 1986 for the murder in Hernando County of Vronzettie Cox. He was released about a year ago after almost 30 years on death row. The Florida Supreme Court said new DNA evidence “completely” discredited the state’s case against him.

Hildwin’s was the fourth death sentence overturned by the state’s highest court in little more than a year after new evidence surfaced. Nationwide, there have been more than 150 death row reversals.

Lots of people argue that the state needs to kill these guys faster to reduce the population. If the death penalty is administered quickly, maybe the reality of what can happen will sink in more quickly.

That’s certainly an argument Bondi would make. Part of me agrees with her.

But the better half of me wonders about the ones prosecutors and juries got wrong.

Most people assume everyone sentenced to die is guilty, but the numbers show that isn’t true.

Unless prison workers start slipping hacksaw blades and power tools to death row inmates, they aren’t going anywhere. So, frustrating as it can be, we simply have to be sure.

What does the state say if it’s wrong?

Oops?

"Sometimes juries get it wrong in death penalty cases, and then what?."


Deportation dead enders

"GOP presidential candidates may want to temper the hard-line stance toward immigration reform embraced by the far right if they want to make it to the top of the ticket next year, according to a recent poll touted by a variety of current and former Hispanic elected officials from Miami on Thursday."

A recent survey of voters in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina found that, at most, one in five GOP voters supported deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Support for the issue drops even more among likely general-election voters in 10 key battleground states, including Florida, according to the poll conducted by Burning Glass Consulting and The Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan group of business leaders and mayors who support immigration reform.

"Kinder, Gentler Approach to Immigration, but not Cuba."


Monday, June 29, 2015

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


"In each case, Bush said he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing"

A lengthy article in the Washington Post reminds us that, "as he works toward his run at the White House, Bush touts his business experience as a strength that gives him the skills and savvy to serve as the nation’s chief executive.

He has said he 'worked my tail off' to succeed. As an announced candidate, Bush soon will be making financial disclosures that will reveal recent business successes and show a substantial increase in his wealth since he left office as Florida governor in 2007, individuals close to the candidate told The Post."

But records, lawsuits, interviews and newspaper accounts stretching back more than three decades present a picture of a man who, before he was elected Florida governor in 1998, often benefited from his family connections and repeatedly put himself in situations that raised questions about his judgment and exposed him to reputational risk.
"Five of his business associates have been convicted of crimes; one remains an international fugitive on fraud charges. In each case, Bush said he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing and said some of the people he met as a businessman in Florida took advantage of his naiveté."
He has been involved in myriad business ventures dating back to the early 1980s, taking time out to run for governor three times, winning the first of two terms in 1998. He has brokered real estate deals in Florida, arranged bank loans in Venezuela, marketed industrial pumps in Thailand, wholesaled shoes in Panama, promoted a building-materials company to Mexican interests and advised transnational financial services firms. He sat on more than a half dozen corporate boards. Since leaving office in 2007, Bush’s income has soared from speeches, service on corporate boards, consulting and managing investments for others. . . .

“The only documented allegations come down to the fact that he did business with people that later turned out to be deadbeats and crooks,” said Tom Feeney, who was on the ticket as lieutenant governor during Bush’s 1994 campaign.

Bush’s business activities and missteps have been widely covered over the years, by the Miami Herald, the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times, the Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones magazine and other publications, along with books by political scientists and journalists.

Bush declined to be interviewed for this article.

"Much more here: Jeb Bush dogged by decades of questions about business deals."


"Miller Ready for a Senate Run?"

Jeff Henderson: "Is Longtime Congressman Jeff Miller Ready for a Senate Run?"


Amendment 1 supporters shouldn't get hopes up

Nancy Smith: "Environmental groups looking for Amendment 1 redemption from the courts probably shouldn't get their hopes up." "Amendment 1 Lawsuit Has History Against It."


"Floridians will be able to keep their Obamacare"

Nice to know that "more than 100,000 Central Floridians will be able to keep their Obamacare health insurance, because their subsidies aren't going away." "Local providers 'relieved' after SCOTUS ruling on subsidies."


Fracking

The Tampa Trib editors: "The real dirt on fracking."


130 new laws

"The state’s record-setting budget goes into effect on Wednesday, along with 130 other new laws that were produced by the Legislature this year in the regular and special sessions and signed by Gov. Rick Scott." "New Laws Kick In This Week: Body Cameras, Drones, Abortion, Traffic Tickets, Secret Recordings, Flags."


Jeb! grubs for wingnuts

Kevin Derby: "Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., turned to former Gov. Luis Fortuño, R-PR, to rally the troops for his presidential campaign this weekend and go after former U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, the favorite for the Democratic nomination." "Jeb Bush Turns to Luis Fortuño to Go After Hillary."


Trump's latest wife stands with Jeb!

"Donald Trump's wife wants him to lay off Jeb Bush."


Sunday, June 28, 2015

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


"Rick Scott is a curious man"

Joe Henderson: "It’s a thing called payback."

“He promised that he would punish the constituents of those legislators who disagreed with him, and he kept his promise,” Okaloosa County Republican Sen. Don Gaetz told the News Service of Florida.

Scott gutted $15 million for a new downtown Orlando campus for the University of Central Florida, a project vital to Senate President Andy Gardiner, who opposed the governor on the issue of Medicaid expansion. He also vetoed $2 million Gardiner sought to improve water quality in Winter Park.

“It is unfortunate that the messaging strategy needed to achieve the governor’s political agenda comes at the expense of the most vulnerable people in our state,” Gardiner wrote in a statement.

Scott infuriated Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam by slicing $1.6 million budgeted to raise the salaries of workers who fight forest fires, while leaving raises for some other state workers in place. That includes, as Putnam wryly noted to reporters, “... the helpful people who take your driver’s license photo.”

Putnam, remember, publicly challenged how Scott handled the firing of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement head Gerald Bailey.

And don’t invite state Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, to the same party as the governor.

“Thirteen sessions in the Florida Senate. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Latvala wrote on Twitter.

"Going after your own party when you’re going to need their help for the next three years is a curious strategy, but Rick Scott is a curious man." "Battle lines are drawn and Rick Scott drew first blood."


Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Not So Lazy Days of Summer."


Jeb's bad week

"Trump gains on Bush in New Hampshire among Republicans, poll finds." And he's shooting himself in the foot with this: "Jeb Bush rejects post-Charleston calls for stricter gun control laws."


Curbelo one of a handful of Republicans to applaud same-sex marriage decision

"In a swing district in South Florida, a freshman congressman and his Democratic challenger expressed support on Friday for the Supreme Court’s decision making same sex marriage the law of the land."

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., will be a top Democratic target in 2016 and the freshman congressman was one of a handful of congressional Republicans to applaud the decision. Along with U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who has been a key ally to his 2014 and 2016 efforts, Curbelo was one of the rare Florida Republicans who backed the ruling.

“I am pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality,” Curbelo said on Friday. “This decision illustrates a significant shift towards creating a more accepting and understanding future. This decision is a celebration of freedom and reaffirms the very rights in which our nation was founded.”

"Same Sex Marriage Not Much of a Dividing Line in South Florida Congressional Race."


Florida’s fight over uninsured continues

"The Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare reduces pressure on Florida lawmakers to create a state exchange." "Florida’s feud over the uninsured to continue after ruling."


"Miami journalists grovel before the entrenched power of the Cuban-American right"

Arturo Lopez Levy: "The Washington Post revealed what would have been old news if Miami journalists didn't grovel every day before the entrenched power of the Cuban-American right. In Florida, and especially in Miami, Rubio has twisted the truth for decades without anyone questioning him." "Why Senator Rubio's Lies Matter."


Expect "a 'ferocious and expensive' Republican primary" to replace Rubio

"Marco Rubio’s presidential aspirations are energizing the Florida political scene, sparking a scramble for his U.S. Senate seat that, in one analyst’s words, will produce a 'ferocious and expensive' Republican primary."

For now, things are relatively quiet on the Democratic side. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter has formally launched a campaign and is picking up some heavyweight endorsements — among them former Gov. Charlie Crist, former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Pam Keith, an attorney and former judge advocate in the U.S. Navy from North Palm Beach, also has filed on the Democratic side but is a political newcomer.

Others whose names have surfaced as possible Democratic candidates include Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, former Florida House Minority Leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando. . . .

Only U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach has declared he is a candidate on the Republican side, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami said he will make a campaign announcement July 15.

But the list of those considering joining the fray or being urged to is substantial.

It includes U.S. Reps. Curt Clawson of Bonita Springs, David Jolly of Indian Shores, John Mica of Winter Park, Jeff Miller of Chumuckla and Dennis Ross of Lakeland; former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker; State Sens. Anitere Flores of Miami and Don Gaetz of Niceville; former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos of Melbourne; former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV of Fort Myers; former Florida Attorney General and U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum of Longwood; and Commissioner of Agriculture and former U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow.

"Politicians lining up for Rubio’s seat." Related: "Lieutenant governor may fill calendar with Senate run."


Pay to play

"The Florida State Board of Trustees on Friday learned FSU scholarship athletes will start receiving $4,500 to $6,000 apiece annually, as part of the NCAA-allowed 'cost of attendance' stipend."

The athlete stipends were among the highlights of the trustees’ wide-ranging quarterly meeting at FSU’s Turnbull Center.
"FSU’s 457 athletes will be paid $4,500 to $6,000."


Saturday, June 27, 2015

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


Jeb! Dancing as Fast as He Can; Media Let's Him Hide in "States' Rights" Sewer

"For the second time in two days, the Supreme Court struck at the heart of the Republican Party platform." "GOP offers tepid response on same sex marriage."

"In a week of painstakingly drafted Supreme Court decisions, no literary effort was crafted more gingerly than Jeb Bush’s statement following the high court’s 5-to-4 endorsement of same-sex marriage rights on Friday."

The court did the GOP a big favor, though, by disposing of the gay marriage (and Obamacare rulings) six months before the first primary ballots are cast, giving the Republican camps time to sort out their differences. For the moment, the most unifying default position for Republicans is to blame the Roberts Court for the Obamacare and marriage decisions, even though evangelicals played a critical role in winning the appointments of its ostensibly conservative majority.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s response to the marriage decision was dour enough, but his disappointment was directed more at the court than at backers of the marriage equality movement. “We live in a republic and must abide by the law,” the Florida senator said in a more-in-sorrow-than-anger statement. “As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.”

But no serious candidate has steered as close to the center on gay marriage as Bush. He supported Indiana’s anti-gay-marriage religious freedom law, then [suggested he didn't really mean it when he] subsequently told donors he wanted to avoid all “the yelling and screaming” of the debate.

"GOP 2016 hopefuls seek footing on marriage ruling."

Bush, in fact, is not has playing "close to the center" on this issue: Jeb! has directly repudiated the Supreme Court's explicit finding - the essence of the decision - that there is a federally protected right to marry. Instead of issuing this substantive ruling, Bush instead sidesteps the issue, complaining that

the court should have left the decision up to the states.
"Jeb Bush: Same-sex marriage should have been decided by states."

Notwithstanding Bush's out-and-out rejection of the Supreme Court's holding, the chattering classes are letting Jeb! dance around the issue, and ironically allowing him to hide in the sewer of states' rights to do so. See "Dog-Whistling Dixie".

Seeing that the media is giving Jeb! a pass, Rubio is now claiming "States Should Decide Same-Sex Marriage."


Tampa Mayor a "prospective Democratic statewide candidate"

"Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn traveled 280 miles to speak for 44 minutes without actually answering The Question: Will he or won’t he run for governor? On Friday, Buckhorn was the featured speaker at Capital Tiger Bay, a monthly political forum. It’s an open secret he’s been eyeing a run to be the state’s chief executive. The two-term mayor gave what sounded like a stump speech on Tampa’s successes that could have played anywhere in the state." "Buckhorn charms Tallahassee elite, but won’t commit to governor run."


Grubbing for Wingnuts

Apparently worried that he is dancing too "close to the center," Jeb Bush is now calling "for Religious Protection after Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage."


A West-central Florida Thing

"Scores take part in rally supporting Confederate flag."


"Penance for representing Anita Bryant"

"The legal battle over same-sex marriage was waged in Tampa more than 10 years ago with results starkly different from the U.S. Supreme Court’s declaration Friday that gay couples have a fundamental right to wed. . . . Ruben, who said he waged the battle as penance for representing entertainer Anita Bryant in her fight against gay rights, died in 2006." "Fight on same-sex unions in 2005 ended differently."


Good luck with that

Nancy Smith says "Conservatives Should Embrace Same-Sex Marriage Decision."


"103 privately sponsored trips in 2014"

"Florida’s federal lawmakers and their staffs took 103 privately sponsored trips in 2014 valued at more than $350,000.."


Loser

"Gov. Scott drops Medicaid lawsuit with federal government."


Another loser

"Same-sex marriage became legal in Florida on Jan. 6 after U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee ruled that the state's ban was unconstitutional."

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi then began a series of unsuccessful appeals, hoping to forestall its implementation.
"U.S. Supreme Court: Same-sex marriage is law of the land."

And this is mighty big of Bondi: "Pam Bondi on Same Sex Marriage: 'The Court has Spoken'."


Friday, June 26, 2015

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


Florida dodges bullet with Obamacare decision

"The Supreme Court's decision was a relief to roughly 1.3 million Floridians — more than in any other state — who stood to lose the tax credits that helped them pay premiums. Nationally, 6.4 million would have been affected. " "Ruling brings sigh of relief to Florida’s Obamacare patients."

Here's the decision.

This morning we read that "Rubio slams Obamacare ruling," apparently weighing in on the raging jurisprudential debate over the return of interpretive pragmatism in statutory interpretation. Or not.

Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel editors write that "Florida dodged a bullet with Thursday's decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act," with "High court ruling offsets leadership failures in Fla."


Talk-radio host looking to replace Murphy

"Conservative talk-radio host K.C. Ingram-Traylor, one of the most vocal opponents of All Aboard Florida (AAF), is looking at running for Congress in the wide open race to replace U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2016. " "All Aboard Florida Critic K.C. Ingram-Traylor Nears Decision on Congressional Bid."


Florida's "sons" are not all that "favorite"

Michael Putney writes that "Miami’s two favorite sons racing out of the gate."

Funny to see Rubio and Jeb! called "favorite sons," when they trail Clinton (albeit within the margin of error) in their own states; in the most recent Q Poll, "Secretary Clinton gets 47 percent to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's 44 percent. She gets 46 percent to former Gov. Jeb Bush's 42 percent."


Florida's Confederate apologists

"Some historians say the red cross on Florida’s state flag is a tribute to the Confederacy — others say the evidence isn’t there." "Historians differ on whether Florida flag echoes Confederate banner."


"Scott bludgeoned the budget in a fit of revenge Tuesday"

Nancy Smith: "Many Floridians are grieving over one cut or another after Gov. Rick Scott bludgeoned the budget in a fit of revenge Tuesday. I am no different."

The cut I'm feeling as deeply as any is the failure to fund a joint project by the University of Florida and IFAS, the Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences.
"Death of Outstanding Agricultural Program Is What Scott's Vengeance Has Wrought."


Obamacare reduces pressure on lazy legislature

"The Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare reduces pressure on Florida lawmakers to create a state exchange." "Florida’s feud over the uninsured to continue after ruling." See also "Supreme Court rules Obamacare subsidies OK, 1.3 million Floridians keep financial aid."


Dem strongholds hit by Scott vetoes

"The record budget cuts are most evident in Florida’s most populous counties — Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Duval, Orange and Pinellas — which together will absorb more than $164 million in cuts to programs and infrastructure specifically intended for those counties." "Gov. Rick Scott’s budget vetoes hit largest cities hardest."

Scott Maxwell: "Rick Scott vetoes: Some good, bad, 'unconscionable'." Mores: ""Budget process tells a tale; the story continues."."


Thursday, June 25, 2015

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


Scott's Retaliatory, Americans for Prosperity Budget

The Orlando Sentinel editors say there's a "plausible" explanation for the Governor's vetoes: "politics." Consider the projects

backed by Senate President Andy Gardiner, the Orlando Republican who led his chamber's effort to use federal funds to provide private health insurance to 800,000 low-income Floridians. Scott was so opposed to the idea that he summoned senators for private meetings and threatened to veto their legislative priorities.

"He promised that he would punish the constituents of those legislators who disagreed with him, and he kept his promise," Sen. Don Gaetz, an Okaloosa County Republican and former Senate president, told the News Service of Florida.

It's another piece of irony from a governor who campaigned for office touting his nonpolitical background.

"Politics trumped jobs, economy in Scott vetoes."

Paula Dockery on Scott's political payback: "Just four days after the Florida Legislature passed the $78.7 billion state budget, Gov. Rick Scott, with no advanced notice, fanfare or public appearance quietly signed the budget behind closed doors. He didn’t confer with his partners in the process — fellow Cabinet members, legislative leaders and senators and representatives. Even his lieutenant governor was left in the dark."

Nor did he communicate with those who found themselves on the receiving end of his veto pen. Mayors, commissioners, university presidents and healthcare administrators were among those learning their fate online, through the news media or by word of mouth.

Scott vetoed $461 million of legislative spending, a personal record, or less than one percent of the budget.

There was mixed reaction to Scott’s vetoes and to the odd manner in which he performed what is arguably the governor’s most significant responsibility. Individual legislators were surprised to learn that he had completed the job without reaching out to them, as most governors traditionally do.

In the meantime, Scott's funders, like the Koch brothers'

Americans for Prosperity and Associated Industries joined Scott-appointed agency heads in singing his praises — state employees, the developmentally disabled and the uninsured working poor continue to be ignored.
"Gov. Scott wields his veto pen for political payback."


Florida's growth driven by Hispanics

"Hispanic residents made up almost half of Florida’s population growth last year, and the age gap between Florida’s white and minority residents continued to widen, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau."

Florida grew by more than 290,000 residents from July 2013 to July 2014, and more than 141,000 of those new residents were Hispanic.
"Census data: Florida growth last year driven by Hispanics."


Disney luvin' the Scott

"Disney makes big donation to Rick Scott PAC."


Nancy Pelosi Surfaces in SoFla race

"Running against U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., former Miami-Dade Democratic Chairwoman Annette Taddeo turned to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Monday. Pelosi sent out a fundraising email on Taddeo’s behalf." "Nancy Pelosi Surfaces in South Florida Congressional Race."


Saint Scott

Rick Scott apologist Nancy Smith, goes after Senate President Andy Gardiner and Senator Jack Latvala for their criticism of Saint Scott, whinging that "it was the Senate that declared war on Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida House, and it did so the minute it took up Medicaid expansion." "Who Declared War on Whom? Let's Get It Straight."


Yee haw!

"Florida's first bear hunt in 21 years approved over critics' uproar."


Challenge to 24-Hour Waiting Period

"Only days before a new Florida law would start requiring 24-hour waits before women can have abortions, a Leon County circuit judge is considering whether to place a hold on the law while a constitutional challenge goes forward." "Judge Considering Temporary Block of Florida’s New 24-Hour Abortion Waiting Period."


Even wingers acknowledge (some of) Scott's vetoes were sloppy

Even right-wingers concede that Scott flubbed many of his vetoes, including cutting "a pay raise for forestry firefighters, employees who put their lives on the line yet earn an average $27,475 a year."

Meanwhile, the governor left alone pay raises for driver's license examiners and state troopers in six counties [as he should have]. Poorly thought out, damaging to Floridians when it needn't have been, damaging to the governor, damaging to the party in power in Tallahassee
Oh, and then there's the part where the veto is damaging to firefighters and their families.


Kathy Castor has led the normalization with Cuba efforts

"Tampa was chosen because it has sounded the call for normalization."

The Tampa City Council passed resolutions seeking to host a Cuban consulate and the signing of any documents restoring relations. The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce supports trade with Cuba.

And U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, has led the normalization efforts.

"Cuban activist’s daughter in Tampa pushing for referendum."


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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


Scott vetos wage increases for state wildfire firefighters who qualify for Medicaid

"The governor signed the budget in secrecy, surrounded only by staff members." "Florida Gov. Rick Scott vetoes $461.4 million in state budget."

"Gov. Rick Scott vetoed $461.4 million in spending Tuesday from the $78.7 billion state budget approved by the Legislature last week, erasing dozens of hometown programs and projects sought by top lawmakers."

The volume of cuts was the largest for Scott since he erased $615.3 million in spending his first year as governor.
"Scott cuts millions for local projects from budget." See also "Florida Gov. Rick Scott vetoes $461.4 million in state budget."

Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, fired away at Scott, accusing him of putting his “political agenda” over the need of Floridians. "Scott and Gardiner stood on opposing sides in the debate over Medicaid expansion which undermined the budgetary process during the regular session and prompted the special legislative session that ended last week. The House stood with Scott in opposing Medicaid expansion."

“While Gov. Scott will undoubtedly spend the next several weeks traveling the state touting his record number of vetoes as a win for Florida’s families, there are many families across Florida who have seen their dreams shattered by his decisions today,” Gardiner said on Tuesday. “Families who had hoped their children born with unique abilities would have the opportunity to attend a post-secondary program, receive specialized job training and take part in the college experience, will see that dream postponed another year.

“The governor refused to support the Senate’s efforts to help the working poor in our state purchase private health insurance, yet vetoed nearly $10 million in funding for free and charitable clinics, again depriving these families of the chance for proactive primary care and pushing more and more Floridians without health insurance towards hospital emergency rooms when they are at their sickest and most vulnerable,” Gardiner added. “He also vetoed funding for primary-care residency programs and faculty to train physicians who work in rural and underserved areas.

“Nurses, pediatric physicians, and those serving the developmentally disabled in intermediate care facilities will not see the modest rate increase authorized by the Legislature,” Gardiner continued.

And this is a particularly offensive kick in the teeth:
"Members of the Florida State Fire Service, who put their lives on the line every day to protect our forests, will not see a $2,000 pay increase. With one line of the governor’s veto pen, these dedicated public servants, many of whom would qualify for Medicaid, will continue to earn approximately $24,000 per year.
Meanwhile, the
Americans for Prosperity’s (AFP) Florida chapter cheered Scott . . . .
"Senate and House Leadership Split on Rick Scott's Vetoing of $461 Million in the Budget." See also "Rick Scott signs state budget, vetoes nearly $500 million."


Jeb removed Confederate flag 14 years ago

"Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush faced a similar decision as South Carolina officials — whether to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds — more than a decade ago." "14 years ago, Jeb Bush removed Confederate flag in Florida."


Castor calls for removal of Confederate statue

"In the wake of last week’s massacre at a South Carolina black church, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is calling for a statue of a Florida Confederate general to be removed from the U.S. Capitol." "Fla. Confederate general statue should be removed from U.S. Capitol, Castor says."


Another dead worker

"Worker killed while unloading vehicle from car hauler."


Former Tampa councilwoman Mulhern to challenge Jolly

"One day after a St. Petersburg councilwoman [Darden Rice] announced she might run for Congress, former Tampa City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern has announced she definitely is running for the same seat." "Former Tampa councilwoman Mulhern to run for Jolly’s Congressional seat."


Florida's giant Confederate battle flag

The Tampa Tribune editorial board argues, as it did in 2008 when it was first unfurled,

the giant Confederate battle flag flying at the junction of Interstate 4 and Interstate 75 is an affront to our sensibilities as a community. The Sons of Confederate Veterans can talk all they want about what the flag represents to them — and we don’t question their sincerity — but to most people it’s a symbol of intolerance and hate. For fresh proof, look to the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, and the killer’s embrace of the Confederate flag.
"Tribune editorial: Local Confederate flag needs to come down."


Florida to scale back panther recovery plan

"The proposal to scale back a recovery plan for the endangered iconic predator drew objections from environmental groups." "Florida wildlife managers agree to rework panther policy."


"The More Things Change"

Lloyd Brown: "Another session of the Florida Legislature is history. After decades of watching them roll by, you begin to wonder if anything ever changes." "The Florida Legislature: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same."