Wednesday, September 02, 2015

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


So much for that "joyful" campaign

Kevin Derby: "It’s easy to dismiss the Bushes as patrician, prep school kids but the nice guy images serve to hide the fact that all of them are political brawlers with a killer instinct. That’s something to keep in mind as Jeb Bush gets ready to turn up the heat on Trump in the weeks to come."

Jeb Bush has followed the family legacy. In 1994, he showed no problem in throwing inside on Lawton Chiles and, in 2002, had no problem dismantling Bill McBride. When he threw his hat in the ring, the former Florida governor said he hoped for a “joyful” campaign. But now, way behind Trump in the polls at the national level and in key states, Bush is planning to go on the attack.
"Following Family Tradition, Jeb Bush Gets Ready to Go All Out Against Donald Trump."

More: "Jeb Bush escalates war of words with GOP front-runner Donald Trump."


"Hot, crazy or shady"

Marc Caputo: "Scott’s admin scrubbed press release clearing Planned Parenthood; high-energy Jeb v. Trump; Biden’s mini-Miami tour; Murphy gives back fraudsters contribs." "Florida Playbook." See also "Grayson calls on Murphy to return contributions from fraudsters." More: "Alan Grayson Calls on Patrick Murphy to Return Contributions."


Medical MJ

"Petitions are hitting the streets soon for a new proposed constitutional amendment that would fully legalize marijuana use, possession and cultivation by adults in Florida." "Group seeks to legalize marijuana in Florida."


"Environmental fight looms"

"Scott, cabinet update land buy list as environmental fight looms."


Scott’s scrubbed PP press release

"Regulators found ‘no evidence of the mishandling of fetal remains’" "Scott’s office scrubbed release that cleared Planned Parenthood."


"Another meager year for state employees"

The Orlando Sentinel editors: "It's another meager year for state employees in Florida. The average full-timer represented by AFSCME in the state earns less than $35,000 a year, according to the union. Yet state legislators failed to include an across-the-board raise for state employees in the 2015-16 budget, despite having a surplus of more than $1 billion to work with."

For a lucky few employees at a pair of public-private agencies, however, it's another bountiful year. In recent weeks, boards overseeing Enterprise Florida and Space Florida, two economic-development organizations, green-lighted bonuses for their executives and other staff members.

Under any notion of fairness, those bonuses are difficult to defend. Why single out a couple of agencies and ignore the rest?

"State agencies' bonuses defy fairness, rationale."


Dunn agin' Graham

Kevin Derby: "Former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford announced on Wednesday he was backing Dr. Neal Dunn to run against U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla." "Will Weatherford Backs Neal Dunn to Take on Gwen Graham."


"Like vultures on road kill"

Nancy Smith: "If just-announced state Senate candidate Lauren Book was anybody but the daughter of one of the most influential lobbyists in Tallahassee, the media would be over her like vultures on road kill." "Senator Lauren Book: How Will She Serve in Daddy's Shadow?."


"Cynthia did a good job"

"Gov. Rick Scott ignored questions Tuesday about Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia O’Connell, who is resigning after reports about missed work and excessive travel bills. 'Cynthia did a good job,' Scott said after a Cabinet meeting in St. Augustine." "Scott: Resigning lottery secretary did a ‘good job’."


Top brass must reapply for jobs

"The move is part of an effort to realign the agency and may result in layoffs." "Prison chief makes top brass reapply for jobs."


"Emasculating" Jeb

"Donald Trump is "emasculating" former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with his attacks and his performance in state and national polling, prominent Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said Monday." "Steve Schmidt: Donald Trump 'emasculating' Jeb Bush."


"Not gonna happen"

Michael Putney: "The two times Rick Scott ran for governor he made one key promise: To put people to work and run the state like a business. "

He's had more success with the former — although he takes more credit than he deserves — than the latter. And he’s had no success at all at making himself a beloved or even likeable figure in Florida politics. To do that, Scott would have to take some risks, stand firm on some tough issues and explain why. As Bush 41 would say, not gonna happen.
"Rick Scott, man of mystery."


Tuesday, September 01, 2015

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


Murphy Supports Iran deal

"Calling it the toughest decision he's made in Congress, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy announced Monday he is supporting the proposed Iran nuclear deal, making the Jupiter Democrat the first U.S. Senate candidate in Florida to do so."

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando remains undecided on the agreement, while "all four Republican U.S. Senate candidates, U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and David Jolly of St. Petersburg, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox, came out strongly in opposition." "Murphy's 'toughest decision:' Support Iran deal." See also "Senate Candidate Patrick Murphy Draws Fire from the Right for Backing Obama's Deal With Iran."


Can't blame this one on the Union

"School leaders: Orange school-building rules favor charters."


"Scott in better shape with Florida voters"

"Another poll shows Gov. Rick Scott in better shape with Florida voters. Last week, Quinnipiac released a poll showing Scott above water with 45 percent of voters approving of him and 44 percent of voters disapproving of him, the first time in more than four years he was right side up in a Q-poll."

"On Monday afternoon, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which supported Scott’s efforts for re-election last year and continues to back him, released a poll taken on its behalf by Cherry Communications showing 48 percent of Florida voters approve of the governor while 44 percent disapprove of him." "Florida Voters Approve of Rick Scott, Think State Headed on Right Path in New Poll."


Legislative Efficiency

Lloyd Brown: "Is the 'Legislative Process' Really More Efficient Today?"


Yee Haw!

"Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced on Monday that Floridians will be able to apply and renew their applications for concealed weapons permits at participating tax collectors’ offices across the Sunshine State." "Adam Putnam Teams With Tax Collectors on Concealed Weapons Permits."


Entrepreneurs in action

"Miami developers, contractor plead guilty in $36 million affordable-housing scam."


Map Battles

"The legal arguments about Florida's political maps continue to mushroom. While the Florida Supreme Court and the Legislature grapple with how congressional districts will be drawn, more legal fights are building in federal courts." "Battles over Political Maps Brew in Federal Courts."


Trib pushes GOP line

"Faceoff: Tribune columnists debate Hillary Clinton’s future."


Consulate Games

"Tampa may have a centuries-old connection to Cuba through its cigar industry and freedom fighter José Martí, but St. Petersburg has a mayor willing to travel there. Hanging in the balance may be where Cuba decides to locate the consulate that many Tampa leaders have coveted since the announcement in December diplomatic relations would be restored between the United States and Cuba." "Kriseman, seeking consulate, got high-level meetings in Cuba."


The best Jeb can do?

Bereft of ideas, "Jeb Bush fires back with video calling Donald Trump 'liberal'."


"Hot, crazy or shady"

Marc Caputo: "What Sen. Galvano ‘won’t abide;’ Iran-deal Democrat divide; Lt. Gov. throws shade at Murphy; Palm Beachers surge; nonpols beating GOP pols; testing D-Day; shooting drones?" "Florida Playbook."


CD10 Jamboree

Val Demings is not the only Democrat in the CD 10 race against Webster. "Florida Sen. Geri Thompson, D-Orlando, also launched a bid against Webster earlier this month. Now he could be facing two other Democratic challengers. Politico Florida reported at the end of last week that two other well-known Democrats are looking at the race: former Florida Democratic Party Chairman Bob Poe and former state Sen. Gary Siplin." "More Democrats Gunning for Dan Webster's Hide."


Monday, August 31, 2015

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


FlaDems want independent commission

"With the Legislature having trouble redrawing new political districts, the job should be given to an independent commission as other states have done, Democrats argue." "Democrats push independent commission amid redistricting mess."


Party Switchers

Ed Dean: "Politicians switching parties to run for office in Florida is nothing new -- generally, they survive the backlash -- and a Jacksonville Republican is the latest political hopeful counting on that survival. The success stories include former Gov. Bob Martinez, who was elected mayor of Tampa as a Democrat before heading to Tallahassee in 1986 as a Republican. Jim Smith was a Democrat when he was elected attorney general, but after losing the 1986 Democratic primary, he joined the GOP and served as secretary of state. Florida State Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady served in the Florida House as a Democrat before winning a U.S. House seat in 1992 as a Republican." "Party Switching Could Hurt GOP House Candidate Donnie Horner in Jacksonville."


Outa his league

"NLRB Decision on Contract Employment Draws Carlos Curbelo's Fire."


Grayson "Don't Give a Damn 'Bout [His] Bad Reputation"

Adam Smith can't "decide which is more interesting:"

That the great Joan Jett co-hosted a fundraiser for Alan "Don't Give a Damn 'Bout my Bad Reputation' Grayson in New York last week, or that the Aug. 27 reception was also co-hosted by three Wall Streeters on the same day Grayson sent a fundraising email boasting that "Wall Street bankers hate me."

At least three of the listed co-hosts - Avery Byrd, Lawrence Hui, and Mary Namorato - are in the investment business. Grayson, himself a hedge fund operator, has been hammering Democratic U.S. Senate rival Patrick Murphy for receiving money from Wall Street, especially Goldman Sachs.

"Joan Jett and the Wall Streeters pony up for Wall Street-bashing Alan Grayson."


About Jose Oliva

"Rep. Jose Oliva kept an icy cool as he verbally sparred with his Senate counterpart Bill Galvano over the redistricting map that would force the Legislature's special session to end in stalemate." "Miami Lakes legislator rises swiftly, holds fast to 'free market' ideals


Jeb's Planned Parenthood cheap shot

"Bush's Planned Parenthood jab unfounded."


Sunday, August 30, 2015

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


Rubio proposes "Indentured Regression"

Pierre Tristam writes that, "One Rubio idea stands out for its apparent radicalism. It attempts to deal with a problem that’s pricing out millions of students from a proper education. That’s the rising cost of college and a crushing loan system that’s leaving graduates with an average of $35,000 to pay back. That’s more than triple the amount students carried into the work force in 1993. College tuition has also more than doubled–at private and public colleges."

Florida is not helping. Four years ago the Florida University Board of Governors allowed our universities to increase tuition by 15 percent every year. They’re doing so because the Legislature cut its funding, and, in a twisted bit of reasoning, to make Florida universities more competitive by attracting more reputable faculty. The message to Floridian students: we’re looking past you for deeper pockets. Once-exemplary state scholarship programs such as Bright Futures have lost half their value in a student’s aid package, with no interest from the Legislature to make up the difference. Students make up differences in loans. Or by foregoing college.

Rubio’s idea is provocative. But it’s also slightly dehumanizing. It turns students into something like equity shares. We live in a strange age when the supreme court thinks nothing of equating corporations with persons. So it may seem natural to equate persons with corporations.

In Rubio’s financial scheme, a student needing $10,000 to afford tuition would sell herself to investors. They would look at her major, decide whether to give her the money, and set the terms of paying it back. She’d have to pay a percentage of her salary for five, 10 or more years, whatever salary she’s making to the investors. Rubio says she’d be under no obligation to pay back the loan over the life of the contract. But since the investors set the terms, it’s difficult to imagine that the result won’t be like a casino where the house always wins.

Much more here: "Indentured Regression: Marco Rubio Thinks College Students Should Be Sharecroppers."


Jebites saddened

The Bush fans that populate the Tampa Trib's editorial board are saddened that "Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, to put it mildly, has had a troubled summer. " "Jeb’s stumbling start."

Meanwhile, "Trump mocks Jeb for losing fundraisers."

But Jeb can take comfort in Rubio's deep thinking about foreign affairs, as Marco calls "Vladimir Putin a 'gangster,' Kim Jong Un a 'lunatic'"


Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Looking for a Direction." More: "The audience got to hear first-hand from [Plant City] area lawmakers about what’s happening in Tallahassee at the annual Eggs n’ Issues Legislative Wrap-Up Breakfast." "State lawmakers tout successes, vent frustrations at annual breakfast."


Flabaggers can't figure out the part about the judges

Scott Maxwell: "Imagine that you were getting repeatedly punched in the face, and the only thing protecting you was a face mask."

Well, Florida legislators want to rip that mask right off your face.

See, the legislators are the ones who keep swinging at you, trying to violate the constitution and your desire for things such as Fair Districts.

The only thing stopping them is the court system — judges appointed by both Republican and Democratic governors who keep (correctly) ruling that legislators are out of line.

If you were a normal person, you might try to start following the rules.

In recent weeks, GOP leaders of both the House and Senate judiciary committees have said they want to start talking about how they might be able to "reform" (which means "weaken") the courts.

State Rep. Mike Hill, a tea-party Republican from Pensacola, penned a mini-manifesto that said legislators must "reassert our primacy on legislative matters."

"Petulant legislators attack courts for righting their wrongs."


Scott runs gub'mint like a bidness

"Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia O’Connell is resigning amid questions about her travel, spending and work habits. . . . O’Connell’s abrupt resignation came days after a [Palm Beach Post] news report that she had taken nearly nine weeks of vacation last year and racked up nearly $30,000 in travel bills." "Florida Lottery secretary resigns; Scott appoints interim." More: "Florida Lottery Secretary resigns after investigation into travel bills."


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

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


"Florida Republicans Whiff"

Russell Berman, senior associate editor at The Atlantic: "When the Florida legislature convened for a special summer session earlier this month, lawmakers had, literally, one job: to redraw the state’s congressional districts after a court had thrown out the last map they came up with."

They failed. After two weeks of bickering, the Republicans running the House and Senate gave up and sent their members home, tossing the hot potato of redistricting—for the moment—back to the judiciary. This being Florida, the legislative whiff was not entirely a surprise: Despite one-party rule, Republican leaders in the Sunshine State have gotten along no better than Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid do in Washington. The Senate even sued the House earlier this year in a health care dispute.
"Florida Republicans Whiff in Bid to Draw New Congressional Map." See also "Legislative friction sends redistricting case back to Supreme Court."


When it comes to ideas, the RPOF files for bankruptcy

"State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, the chairman of the RPOF, promised Republicans across Florida was ready to hit Clinton on ethics as the presidential race continues." "RPOF Chairman Promises to Hold 'Hillary Accountable to her Record'."


Teacher shortage

Joe Henderson: "Many districts in Florida and around the country report significant shortages in qualified teachers." "Retaining, hiring teachers big challenge in Hillsborough and all over."


Blame the unions

Lloyd Brown has all the answers: "Big Revelation in Pinellas Is an Epic Fail." Here's another genius.


GOPer laff riot: Trump mocks Jeb!

"Donald Trump mocked Jeb Bush on Twitter on Tuesday morning after the former Florida governor dug himself into a deeper hole explaining his 'anchor babies' comment."

"In a clumsy move to get out of his 'anchor babies' dilemma, where he signed that he would not use the term and now uses it, he blamed ASIANS," Trump wrote.
"Trump slams Bush for tying Asians to 'anchor babies'."


Monday, August 24, 2015

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


"Good old days?"

Nancy Smith responds to a recent "back-and-forth with a pair of Tallahassee's most celebrated 'lions' -- liberal Democratic attorney Sandy d'Alemberte, 81, and conservative Republican lobbyist Van Poole, 80." "Tallahassee's 'Good Old Days' Mostly Good for Good Ol' Boys."


"Clock is Ticking for Politicians"

"Court-drawn districts have led to sweeping shifts in Florida’s political landscape in the past. Will it happen again?" "Move to let court draw maps could reshape Florida politics — again."

"Florida politics got a whole lot more interesting last week as the Legislature ended a special session without agreeing on new congressional districts. The next few days should offer some clarity on where things go from here. Rick Scott could call a special session and have the Legislature try again. The Florida Supreme Court, which ruled against the old districts and mandated the special session, could wind up creating the new districts." "Clock is Ticking for Politicians Even as Redistricting's Still Up in the Air."


"There’s a fine line between mild-mannered and wimpy"

Carl Hiassen shares his "plan to energize Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign," which includes the recommendation that he

Get mad. Or at least pretend to be mad.

Waiting for Trump to flame out might seem like a sound strategy, but in the meantime you’d better lock up second place. Would it hurt to fight back a little harder?

The jerk slurred your wife’s national heritage, yet you never braced him about it during the first debate, when he’s standing right beside you.

Sometimes there’s a fine line between mild-mannered and wimpy. No one’s expecting you to morph into an electrifying personality at age 62, but they do expect evidence of a pulse.

"Jeb Bush needs some razzle-dazzle."


Relentless

"Controversial political committee Relentless for Progress has bought its first attack ad, but it’s not directed at any candidates." "Miami Beach commissioner slams Michael Putney in full-page ad by Relentless for Progress."


CD 5 Redistricting

The Orlando Sentinel editors: "The Florida House and Senate lapsed back into their maddening pattern of skirmish and stalemate last week, deadlocking over the details of congressional redistricting. It's not clear who will end up drawing the maps. But even the two dueling chambers could agree on a Florida Supreme Court-dictated redesign of the state's most indefensible district."

District 5, represented by Democrat Corrine Brown, meanders from Jacksonville to Orlando, cutting through eight counties. It belongs in the dictionary to illustrate the term "gerrymandered."
"Redo of Brown's district won't hurt blacks."


That's our Jeb!

"As a presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush hasn’t said much about the environmental issues facing America."

He’s waffled on climate change, and supported approval of the Keystone pipeline and drilling in the Arctic, and that’s been about it.
"Jeb Bush said he loved manatees, but sided with boaters, anti-tax crowd as governor."


Sunday, August 23, 2015

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


Possibly "the most pathetic year in the history of Florida politics"

John Romano believes that there is "the distinct possibility that we may soon be able to proclaim 2015 as the most pathetic year in the history of Florida politics."

After all, this is a state that single-handedly held up a presidential election in 2000. It bungled the 1876 presidential election, too. For crying out loud, this is a state that elected Rick Scott as governor. Twice!

Considering such an inglorious history, how could 2015 possibly be in the running as the worst of the bunch?

"Simple. It is the consistent stupidity. The relentless undermining and backstabbing. It is the utter dedication to self-interest in the guise of public service. Truly, it has been a remarkable eight-month run in Tallahassee. Scandal followed by embarrassment followed by ineptness. And all of it without a hint of shame or remorse." Some of his many observations include the following:
[1] We began with a bang in early January when Scott kept insisting that Florida Department of Law Enforcement chief Gerald Bailey had resigned a month earlier. Turns out, that was a crock. Bailey told the Tampa Bay Times that he had refused to politicize investigations at the behest of the governor's office, and Scott later sent a henchman to force him to resign or be fired.

The problem with that scenario is the governor doesn't have that power. He needed someone from the Cabinet to sign off on it. Except Cabinet members were under the impression, fostered by Scott, that Bailey was resigning on his own.

So the governor lied to cover up the fact he was defying the Constitution to fire a law enforcement official who was guilty of having too much integrity. . . .

[2] The state House followed by ending the legislative session early — technically, another constitutional no-no — because it refused to accept billions of dollars in federal money so poverty-level residents could buy private health insurance. . . .

[3] As if one special session weren't enough, the state Supreme Court sent legislators back to Tallahassee this month to redraw congressional maps that had been influenced by political consultants in violation of the Constitution. Noticing a trend here? . . .

[4] Then there was Attorney General Pam Bondi refusing to back off a same-sex marriage lawsuit that even a first-year law student knew was a loser. . . .

[5] Finally, there is the governor sticking taxpayers with a $700,000 bill because he got caught violating the state's open government laws.

Much more here: "2015 in the running for most pathetic year in Florida politics history."


"Bush is abruptly shifting strategy"

"Bush is abruptly shifting strategy, going after Trump head-on and repeatedly launching some of his toughest shots yet at Trump over the past few days."

It's a risky strategy — dueling with Trump has only plunged candidates like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).

Some Republican strategists consider it necessary for Bush, the candidate who has yet to dominate in the way many thought he could and would, to light a spark in his campaign. He trails Trump by double digits in national polls and in New Hampshire. And in the Granite State, he's getting squeezed by candidates like Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R).

"Jeb Bush is drastically changing his strategy for dealing with Donald Trump — and it could have significant ramifications." See also "Jeb Bush has finally decided to firebomb Donald Trump."


"An insult to everyone’s intelligence"

The Gainesville Sun editors: "A bonus intended to reward the brightest teachers is an insult to everyone’s intelligence. The program rewards teachers who received top ACT or SAT scores — tests that most took as high school students. It has sent teachers on a scramble to find their scores, in some cases from decades ago, to qualify for bonuses of up to $10,000." "Teacher bonus not a bright idea."


Swells speak

"Florida Insiders say Trump's candidacy will last until Florida primary in March and Jeb Bush will win it."


"Jeb Goes Full Dolezal?"

This is a laff riot: "Is it getting this bad? Flailing in the polls and struggling to find a rationale for his candidacy, is Jeb Bush suggesting he may be black?" "Desperate Jeb Goes Full Dolezal?" See also "Jeb Bush super PAC admits to Photoshop 'fail' in mailer to 86,000 Iowans after one of candidate's hands appeared to be someone else's." This isn't the first time Jebbie has been associated with a campaign misprint: "Fate of 25,000 Votes in Seminole and Martin Counties Is Now in Judges' Hands ("The Seminole and Martin cases stem from an unusual get-out-the-vote effort and a printer's error.")"


"Epic failure"

"The epic failure of the Florida House and Senate to agree on a new congressional district map last week isn’t bad news for Palm Beach County." "Legislature’s redistricting failure may be good for Palm Beach County."


"Lawmakers arrogantly ignored voters"

The Tampa Trib editors: "The group that successfully pushed the constitutional amendment mandating land conservation is restructuring itself into a political action group that can work on individual elections, and we hope it is successful in holding lawmakers accountable for their betrayal of Florida voters."

"[L]awmakers arrogantly ignored voters, using Amendment 1 dollars to fund salaries and other ongoing expenses, instead of bolstering land preservation. It was a shameful episode and one that underscored how lawmakers, mostly in safely drawn districts, feel little responsibility to voters." "Holding arrogant lawmakers responsible for failing to deliver on Amendment 1."


Jeb burnishes his extremist bona fides

"Newcomer to Koch scene, Jeb Bush competes for tea party support."