Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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


Suppression Florida style: Our voters wait far longer than in other states

"Voters in Florida waited far longer than those in other states to cast their votes in the 2012 election, hampered by long ballots and cutbacks in early voting options, according to a new report by congressional auditors."

Voters in the state stood in line more than 34 minutes on average, significantly longer than ballot-casters did in any other state reviewed by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ watchdog.
"The shortest waits? Alaska, at just 1.4 minutes. Three others states had wait times about 25 or more minutes: Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. But most of the others fell somewhere between five minutes and 20 minutes, on average."
In Florida, the GAO estimated, 16 percent of voters waited 61 minutes or more to cast their ballots — tops among the states surveyed. . . .

The voting-time analysis comparing Florida voters with those in other states was based on a massive survey of more than 50,000 adults, conducted by the Cooperative Congressional Election Study. It included 36 states; the others were excluded because they were vote-by-mail states or because of sample-size issues.

"Report: Fla. voters had country’s longest waits to cast ballots" See also "Sen. Nelson aims to cut wait times on election day." And this is hardly a fix: "Early-voting sites increase; but hours, days drop."


Here's an idea . . . let's give them vouchers

"Wealthier parents have been stepping up education spending so aggressively that they're widening the nation's wealth gap. When the Great Recession struck in late 2007 and squeezed most family budgets, the top 10 percent of earners — with incomes averaging $253,146 — went in a different direction: They doubled down on their kids' futures."

The trend emerged gradually over the past three decades but accelerated during the worst economic slump since the 1930s. Now, enrollments at pricier private schools are climbing. Parents are bidding up home prices in top public school districts. Pay is surging for SAT tutors, who now average twice the median U.S. hourly wage of $24.45. The patterns suggest that the wealth gap could widen in coming years, analysts say.
"School spending by affluent is widening wealth gap." Did you know that gutting the public school system is to help out regular folks: "Florida Parents: Please, Don't Take Voucher Program Away."


SOE runs wild

"The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking into whether [Flagler County] Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks secretly recorded two county officials on the periphery of a Flagler County Canvassing Board meeting last month. It is not an investigation. But it is the first step toward one, should an investigation into potential law-breaking be warranted. " "FDLE Looking Into Alleged Secret Taping and Sunshine Violation by Elections Supervisor."


"Kitchen table tour"

"Former Gov. Charlie Crist is launching a 'kitchen table' tour in the final days of the governor’s race." "Charlie Crist launches ‘kitchen table’ tour."


O noes . . . she's a "librul!"

Kevin Derby: "Looking to protect U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., from a serious challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) unleashed a new TV ad on Tuesday which brings up her past work for a liberal presidential candidate." "National Parties Battle in North Florida Congressional Race."


Desperation

"To Beat Crist, Scott's Ready to Turn to Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio."


The Latest Scott Scandal

"When Gov. Rick Scott announced last week that GE Oil & Gas would open a $50 million manufacturing facility in Jacksonville, he talked about how it would create 500 new jobs for Florida."

GE Oil & Gas’s official welcome package: up to $15.4 million in financial incentives, including $10 million from the city and $5.4 million from the state.

Not mentioned in the hoopla was how another division of General Electric, GE Energy Financial Services, has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in publicly traded oil and natural gas partnerships in which Scott had a financial interest.

Financial disclosure records made public by Scott in June show that, as of Dec. 31, he was heavily invested in more than two dozen oil and gas ventures. One was Spectra Energy, which is currently working with Florida Power & Light to build the contentious $3 billion Sabal Trail pipeline in North Florida.

As BrowardBulldog.org reported in July, Scott and his appointees at the Public Service Commission backed construction of Sabal Trail despite state ethics laws that generally prohibit public officials from owning stock in businesses subject to their regulation. Scott acquired his Spectra shares via a controversial “qualified blind trust,” which by law allows politicians to hide their investment activity and also affords them immunity from prohibited conflicts of interest.

"Gov. Rick Scott heavily invested in oil and gas ventures."


"Broward elections fiasco"

"Brenda Snipes faces court in Broward elections fiasco."


"Already breaking the law"

"A mailer sent out by a non-profit, independent Election Communications Organization supporting Republican state house candidate Rene Plasencia is leading Democrats to cry foul because the organization is not registered with the state as law requires."

Carlos Smith, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party and legislative assistant to Saunders, was unconvinced, and blamed Plasencia.

"It's shameful that Republican Rene Plasencia and his supporters are already breaking the law to communicate with voters and prop up his campaign," Smith said.

"Committee errs with Plasencia mailer in HD49 race."


"Bogus Atlantic City scare story"

Nancy Smith: "Amid the uproar of looming November elections, casino gambling policy in Florida has so gone off the boil. But you wouldn't know that by gambling opponent No Casinos (NC) -- still out there, still flogging its bogus Atlantic City scare story." "We Interrupt This Election Program for a Word about Gambling ...."


"Epic duel"

"Like a prize fight between two political heavyweights, the election race between Ken Keechl and Chip LaMarca is an epic duel." "LaMarca-Keechl a rematch between enemies."


The best they can do

"With five weeks to go until the general election, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., and his Republican challenger former state Rep. Carl Domino continue to try to win over Treasure Coast voters with their latest rounds of television ads."

At the end of last week, Murphy released his latest TV ad, his eighth of the general election. The new ad plays up Murphy’s work in the district including opposing All Aboard Florida’s efforts to build high-speed rail in the area.
"More Ads in CD 18 from Patrick Murphy and Carl Domino."


Never mind

"The law, which Charlie Crist sponsored when he was in the state Senate, requires Florida prisoners to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences, and it continues to affect thousands of people today." "Charlie Crist’s signature accomplishment is one he never mentions." Meanwhile, "Charlie Crist sells himself as regular guy."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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


Are Rick Scott’s state funded letters to Floridians an improper use of state dollars?

"The pro-Scott letters [at state expense] began in earnest in 2013. In various forms, they have been mailed to thousands of Floridians who have children who did well on tests; children who recently graduated from college or attend college; people who received new business licenses; and law school graduates who passed the Florida Bar. Each time, the governor’s office denied Scott was campaigning on the state dime because cheering on citizens is part of the governor’s job."

A governor who leverages his office for maximum political benefit is nothing new, but the scope and scale of the Scott-touting notes from agencies and boards under the governor differs from those of his predecessors, Crist and Jeb Bush.
"Some of the language used in the letters is almost identical to what Scott says today on the campaign trail." "Are Rick Scott’s letters to Floridians part of his reelection campaign or part of his job?"


School districts overwhelmed by testing

"Florida school superintendents say their districts are being overwhelmed by state-required testing, and on Monday, they asked the Board of Education for help." "Florida school superintendents ask for relief in testing."


"Best-kept secret in elections"

"The easiest solution is voting by mail. Traditionally referred to as absentee voting, voting by mail no longer requires you be "absent" from your community. It is the most convenient, private, secure and peaceful (more on that in a moment) way to vote."

How it works: Call the Supervisor of Elections office at 352-374-5252 and tell them you want to request an absentee ballot. It will be mailed to you within days and up to 30 days prior to Election Day. You have plenty of time to research the issues and candidates before making your decision. Then, in the privacy of your own home, mark your ballot and mail it back in the return envelope provided.
"The best-kept secret in elections."


Road show

There were "several stops in September where Scott was joined on the campaign trail by members of the Florida Cabinet. All four Republicans — Scott, Bondi, Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater — are up for re-election this year." "GOP incumbents travel as a team."


"Florida became a national punch line"

"A year after far-reaching election reform, Florida's election supervisors are deploying more early-voting sites but fewer total hours and days than in the last nonpresidential-year election, an analysis shows."

Florida's massive election-law rewrite happened last year in the wake of the chaos that ensued after the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott reduced early voting in 2011.

After Florida became a national punch line over its hours-long lines at the polls during the 2012 presidential contest, lawmakers scrambled to lengthen the days, hours and locations for early voting. But they also provided more flexibility for counties to reduce early voting if they wanted to do so.

"Early-voting sites increase; but hours, days drop."

Meanwhile the Supreme Court charmers have issued an "order staying [a] district court’s order preventing various cutbacks in early voting (including a cutback from 35 to 28 days, and elimination of one of the two early voting days on a Sunday, a day African-American churches had been using for “Souls to the Polls” voter drives)." "Breaking: Supreme Court, 5-4, Blocks Extension of Early Voting in Ohio: Analysis."


Voucher madness

"Florida Parents: Please, Don't Take Voucher Program Away."


Ugly visual: "Rubio Muscles Up"

"Marco Rubio Muscles Up, Taking a Page from Newt Gingrich's Playbook."


Weatherford's legacy: 1 million Floridians without health insurance

Weatherford's "legacy will be as the man who said ‘no’ to Medicaid expansion. Two years in a row, Weatherford successfully blocked the state from taking federal money under the Affordable Care Act to insure about 1 million Floridians — those still considered poor but making enough to put them over the poverty line." "Power brokers see bright future for departing house speaker Weatherford."


Jeb not "a genuine contender"

Jeb Bush drew a pathetic 180 supporters at a Kansas fundraiser for struggling Sen. Pat Roberts. "Jeb Bush says GOP would 'fix a few big things'." Meanwhile, even the Jebbites on the Miami Herald editorial board agree that Jebbie is not a genuine contender: "Republican elites want a champion. But in Jeb Bush, they don’t have a fighter, they have a Fred Thompson. For a genuine contender, they'll have to look elsewhere." "Jeb Bush’s struggle to win over GOP’s conservatives."


Libertarian laff riot

"He wants to cut the state budget by 30 percent; abolish environmental regulations, marriage licenses and property taxes on homesteads; fully legalize marijuana; and convert the state to a kind of gold standard. Florida, he says, should pay all its bills with gold or silver coins." "Libertarian in governor’s race fears totalitarian state."


Even the Herald sees it

The Miami Herald editorial board:"World leaders came together at the United Nations last week to plan for climate change around the globe. Now it’s South Florida’s turn to get ready." "Climate change is now."

Saturday, September 27, 2014

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


"Splattering the voters while they wrestle in the swamp"

The Miami Herald editors: "Remember the python in the Everglades that tried to swallow a gator? They wound up killing each other. Which brings us to the race for governor of the great state of Florida."

A Census Bureau report released last week found that the poverty level in Florida is 17 percent, and the median income is 40th in the nation, worse than when Mr. Scott took over. The Tampa/St Petersburg and Miami/Fort Lauderdale regions were among the worst metro areas in the country in terms of income.

Also, the report says that 20 percent of Floridians don’t have health insurance, the third worst rate in the nation after Nevada and Texas.

"Have a defense, Mr. Scott? What’s your solution, Mr. Crist?"
And how do they plan to rebuild the trust voters have lost? It’s not a state problem, it’s a nationwide pity. In Florida, Mr. Scott’s Office of Transparency has existed in name only, given his secret hunting trips and hiding the public’s business using personal e-mail accounts. For Mr. Crist’s part, his shift from Republican to independent to true-blue Democrat still looks to many like the politics of expedience rather than a deep and abiding evolution.

These are the real issues that the candidates aren’t addressing. Slinging mud is far easier — and so is, to their shame, splattering the voters while they wrestle in the swamp.

"Holding our noses in race for governor."


"Democrats are facing some monumental problems"

Aaron Deslatte: "Democrats are facing some monumental problems this fall. Turnout in the Aug. 26 primary was abysmal, particularly in the Democratic stronghold of Broward County, where only 10.8 percent of voters showed up — the second-worst voter performance in the state." "Despite reforms, Democrats plagued by low turnout."


The latest Scott Scandal

"Gov. Rick Scott’s top investigator was alerted to allegations of deadly abuse of inmates, but neither she nor the governor nor the corrections department acted."

Yet "another sign that the governor’s chief investigator, her assistant, Dawn Case, and DOC Inspector General Jeffery Beasley knew there was possible wrongdoing in connection with the deaths, yet did nothing."

In March of this year, Miguel refused to give DOC investigators whistle-blower protection after they told her that Beasley was pressuring them not to charge anyone in the Jordan-Aparo case. She also refused to give whistle-blower protection to a DOC probation officer who, in 2011, told her about suspicious aspects of Jordan-Aparo’s death. That officer, Cristina Bullins, was subsequently fired, though the department said that was over taking unapproved leave time.
"Told of prison cover-up, Gov. Scott’s inspector failed to act."

More: "Read the anonymous letter" and "Behind bars, a brutal and unexplained death."


Q Poll

"Poll: Rick Scott edges Charlie Crist, 44-42, but voters dislike both candidates."


Nan Goes After Scott

Kevin Derby: "Despite not being able to debate former Gov. Charlie Crist in their primary contest, former Florida Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich is increasingly becoming an active campaigner for Democrats. In last month’s primary, Crist won with 74 percent of the vote." "Nan Rich Goes After Rick Scott, Ignores Charlie Crist as She Rallies Democrats."


Mica cruising

"Democrat Neuman lying low in congressional race against Mica." See also "Krulick: I'm 'only alternative' to Mica."


FlaBaggers dance over technicality

"Leon County Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis ruled that the plaintiff in the challenge, teacher Tom Faasse, doesn’t have the legal right to file suit against a law containing the expansion of the voucher program along with several other education provisions. However, the judge gave opponents of the law 15 days to try to amend their complaint and come up with another way to challenge the legislation." "Judge Throws Out Union’s Challenge of School Voucher Expansion, But Only on Technicality."


NRCC raises stakes in SoFla

"The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) announced this week it was raising the stakes in South Florida, with plans to spend $2.6 million in TV ads as the GOP looks to defeat freshman U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., in November. Facing a major challenge from Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, Garcia is one of the most vulnerable congressional Democrats in the nation." "NRCC Targets Joe Garcia With TV Blitz in South Florida."


Public records in the cloud

"Group sues Jacobs, accuses her of violating records law."


"Consultants" at work

"The controversial and at-times muddled search for a new president of Florida State University includes an expected tab of about $160,000 for consultants." "Consultants’ Cost in FSU Presidential Search That Led to Thrasher Anyway: $160,000."


Jeb learns a lesson

"Jeb Bush learned a lesson this week as he continues to kick around running for president in 2016: it’s not his father’s Republican Party anymore and it’s also not his brother’s." "Jeb Finding Common Core, Immigration Reform Tough Sell to Conservatives."


"If TV ads decided the governor’s race, Scott would win in a landslide"

Marc Caputo: "Florida’s governor’s race is now a $50 million-plus commercial spectacle, with more than 71 percent of that spending from Gov. Rick Scott."

During the week that ended Friday, Scott dropped an additional $8 million for current and future ad buys. That’s about a 23 percent increase for the Republican, dwarfing Democrat Charlie Crist’s ad-buy increase of 17 percent, or almost $2.5 million.

If TV ads decided the governor’s race, Scott would win in a landslide.

"With $50 million in TV ad spending, Rick Scott-Charlie Crist race is one big marketing campaign."


Weekly Roundup

Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces." See also "Arrivals and Departures, Sept. 26, 2014" and "Weekly Roundup: Mercury Drops, but Politics Heat Up."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

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


Scott attacks "are overstated and in some areas outright false"

"Former Gov. Charlie Crist’s close relationship with convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein is creating a vulnerability for Crist in the Florida governor’s race, but ads by Gov. Rick Scott exploiting the issue are overstated and in some areas outright false."

In one ad sponsored by the Republican Party, a Scott backer and victim of the Rothstein scam falsely charges he was “swindled” by Crist. The party and Scott himself refused to identify the speaker in that ad, so independent fact-checkers couldn’t check his story until the Miami Herald discovered his identity.
"The ad also charges that Crist sold appointments to judgeships in return for political contributions as governor — an accusation backed by no specifics, for which there is no evidence except an unsubstantiated claim by Rothstein’s made while he was seeking a lighter sentence for racketeering and fraud."
Crist, meanwhile, says he was deceived by Rothstein, as were many sports celebrities, religious and civic leaders and other politicians — mostly Republican — whom Rothstein showered with money. Crist, then a Republican, and others ultimately had to pay back much of the money.

Crist charges that Scott is using the issue to distract from Scott’s own history as head of a hospital chain that perpetrated the largest health care fraud in history against government programs that serve the elderly, the military and the poor.

"Ad Watch: Scott falsely tars Crist over Rothstein scandal."


"Very early voting starts"

"More than six weeks before Election Day, some voters are already casting ballots and helping elect Florida’s next governor. County elections supervisors have until Saturday to mail hundreds of thousands of ballots to Floridians living overseas, many of whom are active-duty military personnel." "Very early voting starts as wave of Florida ballots go overseas."


Sink Fade-Out

Jeff Henderson "Political Stage Fade-Out for Alex Sink."


Dems stand by DWS

"After being criticized for having a rocky, distant relationship with the Obama White House, Democrats stood by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz." "White House, Democrats defend Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston." Meanwhile, Nancy Smith writes that "Now Debbie Does the Doghouse (Does She Ever!)"


Scott told to fix DCF

"A month after Javon Dade was fatally mauled by his father’s dogs, county commissioners are calling on the governor to fix the state’s child protection system." "Miami-Dade commissioners to Gov. Scott: Fix DCF."


False

"PolitiFact Florida found Joe Garcia’s statement about his Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo to be false." "Joe Garcia says Carlos Curbelo supports raising flood insurance rates."


Never mind

"Gov. Rick Scott focused Friday on private-sector growth with the release of Florida's latest jobless numbers, which ticked up in August from 6.2 percent to 6.3 percent." "Scott touts private jobs as unemployment ticks up."


Dems dismiss Domino's campaign as "flop"

"On Thursday, former state Rep. Carl Domino, the Republican challenger taking on U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., in November, invoked the legacy of the man his opponent beat in 2012: former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla. Democrats, meanwhile, dismissed Domino's campaign as a 'flop.'" "Vietnam Vet Domino: I Have Allen West's Back."


Tuff Grrrl

"Attorney General Pam Bondi said she 'will not be bullied by the press' for her defense of Florida’s ban on gay marriage as she made two campaign stops on the Treasure Coast this week." "Bondi ‘won’t be bullied’ on campaign trail."


Complaint against Curbelo

"Florida’s 26th Congressional District has been plagued with political scandals since its inception four years ago. Now it may add another to its record."

Florida Democratic Chairwoman Allison Tant is asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate GOP candidate Carlos Curbelo for not publicly disclosing the clients of his public relations, media and lobbying firm Capitol Gains.
"Florida’s 26th Congressional District Has a Short, but Jaded, Past."


Weekly Roundup

Kevin Derby"Political Bits and Pieces." See also "Weekly Roundup: Old Faces in New Places."


All Aboard

Nancy Smith: "All Aboard Florida Environmental Impact Study Released to Mixed Reviews."


Scott hack tapped

"Looking to a political ally to fill the job, Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday named state Rep. Jimmy Patronis to a seat on the Florida Public Service Commission."

In his application for a seat on the commission, Patronis pointed to his experience in helping run the restaurant, which he described as “one of the largest-grossing, family-owned, independent restaurants in the state of Florida.” He also cited his work in the Legislature, though he did not point to particular experience on utility-related issues.

Patronis has been part of the conservative leadership of the House, and his Twitter feed includes numerous postings in support of Scott. On Thursday morning, he tweeted that it was “dress your own way” day at his son’s school. The posting was accompanied by a picture of his son wearing a “Rick Scott” campaign T-shirt.

"Scott taps close supporters for board that regulates utilities." See also "Jimmy Patronis Stays on the Tallahassee Stage at PSC."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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


The Truth Behind Scott's Latest Ad

The Miami Herald exposes that the shill (Dean Kretschmar) featured in a massive anti-Crist ad buy attempting to tie Crist to Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein fails to mention that, before heading off to prison, Rothstein showered

mostly Republicans, with tainted money that almost all of them returned after the scheme was exposed in 2009. Rothstein used his close relationships with Crist, other politicians, sports stars, and area religious and charitable leaders as an advertising tool to dupe investors.

None of that context is in the ad cut by the 41-year-old Kretschmar. Repeating a disputed Rothstein claim that Crist sold judgeships, Kretschmar makes a series of omissions. . . .

Kretschmar fails to mention that his Fort Lauderdale lawyer is William R. Scherer, a Scott donor and GOP operative. Rothstein once called Scherer a “mentor.” And Scherer also tried to help get a lenient sentence for Rothstein — the very man Scherer’s client trashes in the ad, which has run about 4,000 times in Florida at a cost of at least $2 million. . . .

Scherer and his law firm have contributed at least $23,000 to Scott’s campaigns since 2010. Scott appointed Scherer to a JNC post in 2011. The next year, Scott appointed Scherer’s daughter, Elizabeth Ann Scherer, to a circuit court bench.

Much more here: "Mystery man in Rick Scott attack ad unveiled, misleads about Charlie Crist and Ponzi scheme." See also "" and "".


"Scott losing with women voters"

"Facing potential problems among women voters, Gov. Rick Scott held a campaign event in Tampa on Tuesday aimed squarely at women, particularly women business owners." "Scott, losing with women voters, courts them in Tampa." See also "Scott lauds women's rally."


"Big promises"

"Contenders for governor keep making big promises."


West's comeback

"Having opened the door to an electoral comeback attempt in 2016, former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., a favorite of the tea party movement and conservatives, is supporting Republican campaigns across the nation and drawing fire from Democrats as a result." "Fighting for Conservatives, Allen West Just Loves that Democratic Flak."


Brain Trust

"Florida Delegation Still Debating the Merits of Obamacare."


Who's Worse?

Kevin Derby: "Less than 50 days to go until the general election, both Gov. Rick Scott and his Democratic challenger former Gov. Charlie Crist are hitting Florida’s airwaves as they exchange shots on education and other issues." "Who's Worse for Education, Rick Scott or Charlie Crist? TV Attack Ads Fly." From the right: "Take a Closer Look at School Spending 'Cuts'."


"Bondi fights to prevent lesbians’ divorce"

"Attorney General Pam Bondi may be fighting to prevent same-sex couples from marrying in Florida, but she is also taking a legal position that has the effect of forcing gay couples who married elsewhere to stay married, lawyers in a Tampa case say." "Bondi fights to prevent lesbians’ divorce." See also "Democrats attack Bondi over gay-marriage fight."


"Chicken Littles at the Florida Chamber of Commerce"

Scott Maxwell worries that "the Chicken Littles at the Florida Chamber of Commerce have already begun fear-mongering" over amendment 1. "Florida's environmental Amendment 1 is popular — for good reason"


Sorry Rick, but "employment in Florida tracks national conditions"

Even the GOP dead enders on the Tampa Trib editorial board recognize that "State politicians are masters at taking credit for creating jobs and blaming rivals for losing them, so it’s easy to overlook how closely employment in Florida tracks national conditions." "Editorial: Seeing sunny sides of dreary economy."


DWS

"Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Disastrous Summer."


Scott's Appointment record is "shameful"

The Miami Herald editors write that Scott has a "shamefully low" number minority appointments to the bench. The editors write that Scott's rationale is "insulting:"

“What I’m focused on is making sure that the people I appoint understand that there are three branches of government and that they don’t get to legislate. They don’t get to pass laws, just like I don’t get to pass laws.”

Really? Is he assuming black judicial candidates are deficient in that regard?

"Filling the bench."


Rubio struggles for relevancy

"Eyeing 2016, Rubio pushes American strength abroad."


"Too much testing"

The Gainesville Sun editors: "With all the state-mandated tests being taken by Florida students, it is a miracle that there is any time left to teach." "Too much testing."


Florida ranked behind only 2 states in rate of uninured residents

"Twenty percent of Floridians lacked health insurance last year, down slightly from a rate of 20.1 percent in 2012. But the change was within the margin of error, rendering it insignificant."

Florida ranked behind only Texas and Nevada in having the highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation. Texas had a rate of 22.1 percent and Nevada’s was 20.7 percent, but both those states showed improvement in lowering their rates year-over-year, unlike Florida. . . .

Massachusetts had the nation’s lowest rate at 3.7 percent.

Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature last year decided against expanding Medicaid coverage to an estimated 1 million low-income Floridians under the federal health law.

"Uninsured rate remains unchanged in Florida."


Lazy? Really?

"Faceoff: Is early voting convenient or just lazy?."


False

"PolitiFact Florida found Joe Garcia’s statement about his Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo to be false." "Joe Garcia says Carlos Curbelo supports raising flood insurance rates."


Crist may use executive orders to bypass Legislature

"Charlie Crist says he believes there is 'a good argument' that a Florida governor could expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act through an executive order, without approval by the Legislature, and he might seek to do so if he’s elected governor." "Crist would consider bypassing lawmakers to expand Medicaid."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Today's Florida political news and punditry.


Another Scott scandal

William March: "Rick Scott won the Florida governor’s office in 2010 despite his history as head of a hospital chain that paid the biggest health care fraud fine in history, $1.7 billion, for cheating government programs that serve the elderly, the military and the poor."

Democrats are trying to make that an issue again in the 2014 election.
"But the 1990s scandal involving Scott’s company, Columbia/HCA, overshadowed another investigation, one into whether Scott and Columbia/HCA sought to rig the purchase of what then was the county-owned Tampa General Hospital."
No charges were filed in the case despite a 1½-year investigation that involved a federal grand jury in Tampa. But that outcome never satisfied the man whose suspicions brought about the investigation, one of Florida’s most respected political and civic leaders, the late Fred Karl.
"Scott’s Columbia/HCA case overshadowed TGH probe."


Scott confident

"Florida Republicans say that a victory by Gov. Rick Scott in November is within their grasp." "Florida GOP optimism grows as election approaches." See also "GOP Optimism Growing as Election Approaches." Meanwhile, "With early lead gone, Crist campaign tries to rebound."


Rubio strives for relevancy

"Sen. Rubio stresses border security."


Poll shows Putnam only 5 points ahead

"More than a few eyebrows across the state went up last week when Democrat pollster PPP released a poll showing Adam Putnam only 5 percent ahead of Democrat Thad Hamilton in the agriculture commissioner race. But, despite that slim lead, Putnam really isn’t in much peril against Hamilton."

To be sure, Hamilton is a more serious candidate for Democrats than William Rankin who is running against Jeff Atwater in the CFO contest. Democrats like Charlie Crist, George Sheldon and Allison Tant have no problem featuring Hamilton at campaign events. That stands in sharp contrast with Rankin whose background is, at best, questionable. Hamilton served in the Army and worked for the federal Agriculture Department for years. He also chaired the Broward Soil and Water Commission. Hamilton is also the only African-American candidate running for statewide office in Florida this year.
"Adam Putnam Needs a Big Win Over Thad Hamilton in November."


Paradox of pot

Marc Caputo: "Tallahassee’s conservative political establishment is about to embark on a multi-million ad campaign to kill a popular, proposed constitutional amendment for medical marijuana." "The politics, paradoxes and polling of pot in Florida." See also "Medical Marijuana Entrepreneur Taps Doctors, Including First in Florida."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

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


Scott pushes "inequitable tax plans"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "In election season, tax break promises are as predictable as campaign signs. But the details of Gov. Rick Scott's $1 billion tax cut proposal are more piecemeal than most, and the measures could contribute to inequities in Florida property taxes and further tie the hands of local governments that most closely serve residents. Voters should not be fooled by vague promises of unrealistic tax cuts that would do more harm than good."

Scott promised a potpourri of tax breaks on the campaign trail: a $120 million cut in the communication services tax; a $120 break on the $225 initial registration fee for cars; $200 million in sales tax holidays, which require families to spend money to save money; and a trio of breaks for Florida businesses — elimination of the manufacturing sales tax and the phase-out of both the business income tax and the sales tax on commercial leases.

But most troubling is Scott's plan to ask the Legislature to seek voter approval to eliminate one of the tools local governments were able to rely upon to make it through the economic recession. Scott is calling for the elimination of the state's "recapture rule." That ensures that property owners who enjoy extraordinary breaks under the state's homestead or commercial property assessment caps don't forever have significantly lower property tax bills than neighbors who bought more recently. It's the one mechanism that makes a system that treats property owners differently based on when they buy a bit fairer.

"Scott's inequitable tax plans."


"Scott seldom appoints black judges"

"After nearly four years, Gov. Rick Scott has appointed fewer African-Americans to Florida judgeships than either Charlie Crist or Jeb Bush did in the same period of time."

Scott has appointed nine black attorneys to judgeships in nearly four years, according to data from his office. They include reappointments of three judges who hear job-related injury claims and four county judges who decide small claims and traffic cases.

Only twice has Scott appointed black judges to the more prestigious trial court or circuit court, and both are in Miami-Dade: Eric Hendon and Rodney Smith in 2012. Thirteen of Scott's 14 choices for district courts of appeal judges are white and the other is Hispanic.

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott seldom appoints black judges."


Oops! Bondi, like Crist, is a Party-Switcher

Will George Sheldon mimic the FlaGOP's attacks on Crist by attacking Bondi for being a party-switcher? Perhaps he should.

Pam Bondi,

Florida’s first female attorney general, a Republican, was a Democrat from 1984 to 2000, when Democrats controlled power in Tampa. Her late father, Dr. Joseph Bondi, a former mayor of Temple Terrace, was a Democrat until 2004. As an assistant state attorney in Hillsborough, Pam Bondi changed parties soon after her boss, Democrat Harry Lee Coe III, took his own life. “I have always been conservative,” Bondi said during the 2010 campaign when it emerged she had once been a Democrat.
"Charlie Crist’s party-switch is not unusual in Fla. politics."


Weekly Roundup

Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces." See also "Weekly Roundup: Garnet, Gold and Green" and "Arrivals and Departures, Sept. 12, 2014."


Really? Hunters can now use silencers

"The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Wednesday advanced a proposal that would remove a ban on silencers for rifles and pistols when hunting deer, gray squirrels, rabbits, wild turkeys, quail and crows." "State panel backs gun silencers for hunting."


"Bondi has been an embarrassment to this state"

Scott Maxwell: "Since her election, Bondi has been caught taking money from a wealthy celebrity she had been asked to investigate."

She postponed an execution so that she could throw herself a fundraising party.

She ousted two of her top foreclosure-fraud investigators.

And she broke her word when she vowed to investigate a string of wrongful convictions.

Basically, Pam Bondi has been an embarrassment to this state.

And in Florida, that's really saying something.

"Bondi played games with executions, convictions and donations."


Bought and paid for

"The company that paid for Texas hunting trips for Florida Republican leaders has a deal in the works to turn 67 square miles of agricultural land on the northwest edge of the Everglades into housing and businesses." "U.S. Sugar seeks OK for huge development after news it paid for GOP leaders’ trips."


"Jobs and the economy the most important issues facing Florida"

"Jobs and the economy remain the most important issues facing Florida, though they’re declining dramatically as the economy improves, according to a new survey of adults by the University of South Florida." "Job concerns linger in Florida, USF survey finds."


A bit much

"Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson mentioned woman-punching football player Ray Rice Friday night while criticizing Gov. Rick Scott‘s policies as “an abuse to women” during a campaign rally for Democrat Charlie Crist." "Democrat Aaronson plays Ray Rice card to attack Scott on women."


Half true"

"NextGen ad says Rick Scott trying to ‘hide from’ donation related to drilling project."


Charter madness

"The Southwest Ranches suit said Pembroke Pines improperly approved the school, but Judge Thomas Lynch rejected the argument. The school was one of 19 new charter schools approved last fall." "Judge dismisses city's suit vs charter school."


Going vegan

"Going vegan was winning move for South Florida congressman."


You gotta problem wit' dat?

"The Citizens Property Insurance Corp. inspector general found no improprieties in how three former executives left for employment with private firms that have ties to the state-backed insurer." "Inspector General: former Citizens executives did not violate ethics rules."


Grubbing for Flabaggers

"Bondi appeals gay-marriage rulings."


Flagler SOE kerfuffle continues

"Kimberle Weeks knows how to play to an audience."

The supervisor of elections had one at Friday’s much-anticipated Flagler County Canvassing Board meeting, of which she is a member. Twenty three people turned up–not including two cops, two attorneys, the four members of the board and five reporters–for what would normally not get an audience of more than one or two, if that.

Weeks spent more time addressing the audience than conferring with her fellow-board members: Board Chairwoman Milissa Moore-Stens, George Hanns and Charlie Ericksen sat, stone-faced, through speech after speech that Weeks delivered, facing the audience, to repeat accusations of “interference” and lack of “respect” from Palm Coast and that the city was no complying with an agreement worked out before the election.

"Elections Supervisor Weeks Scuttles Latest Attempt to Resolve Elections Conflicts in Heated Meeting."


Yaaawwnnn

"Presidential Hopefuls Flock to Florida to Help Rick Scott and Charlie Crist."


"Big promises"

Aaron Deslatte reports that "state economists are cautioning Florida's housing-market failure still has some humps to get over. The state remains the national leader in 2014 for both the number of foreclosure filings and the rate of foreclosure."

Thanks in part to over-construction of housing in the heat of the bubble, construction and financial services employment remains off its pre-recession peak. Housing construction this year is also off the 2013 pace so far.
"Meantime, Scott has been on a two-week campaign barrage to tout an amorphous, $1 billion tax-cutting plan he says he'll unveil in more detail after the election."
The cuts would appear to heavily tilt toward companies, cutting business and communications services taxes yet again. Scott has also pledged major dollars for environmental spending and increased classroom money.
"Contenders for governor keep making big promises."


Even Hillsborough

"Hillsborough commission to revisit domestic partner registry."


Southerland opens mouth . . .

"Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) was criticized last week for hosting a male-only fundraiser in March, with his opponent Gwen Graham's campaign calling the event 'offensive.' But Southerland laughed off the criticism to the Tampa Bay Times on Friday, comparing the event to a 'lingerie party.'" "Rep. Steve Southerland Wonders If His Female Opponent Has 'Ever Been To A Lingerie Shower'." "More: Finally! Steve Southerland Lobs 'Beltway Background' at Gwen Graham."


Crist has principles . . . sides against clergy in charter school litigation

"Charlie Crist is siding with the teachers union — not African-American ministers — over a new lawsuit that seeks to dismantle the state’s major school-choice program." "Charlie Crist sides with teachers union over black clergy in school choice program lawsuit."

Meanwhile, the wingers whinge: "‘Bumper Crop of Litigation’ Threatens School Choice in Florida."


"The whole thing is a crock."

Nancy Smith: "Smart move by All Aboard Florida: Announce you've got a builder for billions of dollars in new "train sets," then watch how fast your business pals buddy-up and your opponents deflate like a Bazooka bubble. . . . But read the PR statement carefully. Plain as the nose on your face, the whole Siemens selection thing is a crock." "Siemens Announcement: Real or Ruse?."


Will the haters picket a military base?

"Obama to visit Centcom in Tampa on Wednesday."


"Switching parties is a time-honored tradition"

Crist haters overlook the fact that party switching is common in Florida:

Govs. Claude Kirk and Bob Martinez; Attorneys General Jim Smith and Pam Bondi; U.S. Reps. Andy Ireland, Bill Grant, Charles Canady, Tillie Fowler and Tim Mahoney; and a very long list of state legislators, including Senate President Don Gaetz and former House Speaker Allan Bense, have all switched parties.
"Crist isn’t Florida’s only party switcher; it’s pretty common." Steve Bousquet argues the GOP's case on this issue: "Switching parties is a time-honored tradition in Florida politics, but Charlie Crist is doing it at a time, at a level and in a way never before attempted. Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/09/14/4347301/charlie-crists-party-switch-is.html#storylink=cpy."


Rivera ethically challenged

"An ethics panel found former congressman David Rivera in violation of seven instances of ethics violations while he served as a state lawmaker in Tallahassee." "Panel rejects delay in Rivera case, asks judge to set penalties for ethics violation."


Desperate GOPers try to make Morgan the issue

"Republicans have tried to make Morgan, who hired Crist to join his law firm after Crist's first turn as governor, into an issue for the Democratic nominee." "Backroom Briefing: In Trouble with the Boss."


The best Scott can do?

Does Rick Scott really think this creep will appeal to Panhandle voters? "Chris Christie offered a morning crowd of Panhandle Republicans a taste of his and New Jersey’s in-your-face style." "N.J. Gov. Chris Christie catches Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign bus, slams Charlie Crist." See also "Christie stumps with Scott in conservative North Florida."


"Act like a man"

"Before David Rivera’s confidante was sentenced in a campaign-finance scheme on Wednesday, a federal judge had some advice from the bench for the former Miami congressman: Act like a man." "Federal judge calls out David Rivera, sentences Ana Alliegro to six months of house arrest."


Libertarian may "swing the outcome"

"Wyllie, 44, a former radio host and IT consultant from Palm Harbor, is taking the longest of long shots by running on the Libertarian Party ticket. But by virtue of a Florida's scorched-earth gubernatorial contest, he may just have a chance to swing the outcome." "Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie tries to get noticed."


Jindal offers to throw in a free exorcism

"Louisiana Gov. Jindal helping out Florida GOP."

You remember "Bobby Jindal, the Exorcist." See also "Bobby Jindal’s Secret Past,."


GOPers run wild

"Buoyed by a significant cash advantage and polls that show Gov. Rick Scott either tied or leading, Florida Republicans on Saturday contended they are focused and ready for the November election."

Members of the Republican Party of Florida met at one of World Disney World's most expensive resorts for their annual fundraising dinner. The sellout event that attracted roughly 800 GOP activists as well as prominent donors and lobbyists featured Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
"Cash-rich GOP poised for November elections." See also "Florida GOP optimism grows as election approaches" and "Florida GOP makes final push for Gov. Rick Scott."


Lobbyist inserts nose . . .

"Ivory Tower Professors' Opposition to John Thrasher Is Why He Must Be FSU’s Next President."