Sunday, July 08, 2012

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

Scott and the Legislature "have trampled on the rights of Floridians"

The Saint Petersburg Times editors write that, "If Gov. Rick Scott were a ballplayer, he would be a pretty weak hitter. In the early innings of his administration, the governor has struck out often and hit few homers in the courts. Fortunately, the judicial branch has acted as a check on the executive and legislative branches when they have trampled on the rights of Floridians or challenged the federal government for stepping in where the state has failed." The editors give us the detailed "scorecard" here: "Scott has more strikeouts than hits".

Romney and friends picking up the pace in Florida ad-wars

"Crossroads GPS launches $6.5 million anti-Obama ads in Florida".

"Campaigns already have bought more than $3.1 million worth of commercial time this month, with most of the ads scheduled to run during the first two weeks of July, according to numbers gathered by the Orlando Sentinel Friday from just three Orlando broadcast stations: WFTV-Channel 9, WESH-Channel 2 and WKMG-Channel 6."

For the third month in a row, Obama For America is making the single biggest buy. The Democratic president's re-election campaign has spent $1.2 million so far for more than 1,177 commercials in July, just on Orlando's three leading stations.

And after five months off the air, his Republican challenger is answering. In late June, Romney spent $886,000 to put up his first Florida commercials since the Jan. 31 Republican primary. He placed 899 commercials on Orlando's three largest stations, through July 10. More are likely in the last three weeks of the month.

Three political committees supporting Romney – and which also are opposing Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson – also have bought big in July. Crossroads GPS has spent $995,000 in Orlando on 575 commercials through mid-July. Americans for Prosperity, funded by the billionaire David Koch, spent $282,000 on 213 ads.

And a new group, American Commitment – an apparent offshoot of Americans for Prosperity -- spent $144,000 on 121 ads running early in the month, the first part of its announced $1.1 million statewide effort to attack Nelson.
"Recent onslaught of political ads in Orlando was just the beginning".

17% shift away from Dems in Century Village

"At Century Village in Pembroke Pines, where the Democratic roots run decades deep, residents are seeing a change that once would have been unthinkable."

In the past 10 years, as the original condo dwellers, mostly northeastern Jews, passed away or moved out, the over-55 community that routinely delivered a Democratic voting bloc is becoming increasingly Republican and independent.
"Century Village — the largest condo development in Broward County — is now 60 percent Democratic, down from 77 percent in 2002. Meanwhile, registered Republicans have jumped from about 18 percent to 23.6 percent. But it’s the independent and no-party-affiliation voters who can claim the prize: They grew from 5 percent in 2002 to a hefty 16.3 percent today, according to voter registration records from the county’s Supervisor of Elections." "Century Village, long a Democratic stronghold, is changing".

"Spending would have happened without the tax incentive"

"CSX is one of five businesses currently seeking the year-old tax break, according to state officials. Known as the "single sales factor," it allows companies that spend at least $250 million on capital projects in Florida during two years to use a more favorable formula when calculating their state corporate-income taxes. In each case, the company's capital spending would have happened without the tax incentive." "Florida's tax break often helps companies do already-planned work".


"Palm Beach County’s supervisor of elections wants to become the first returned to office in the 21st century, but a sitting mayor with a background in technology says continuing snafus cry out for change."

Incumbent Susan Bucher, 53, says she has the office on the right track, turning a $1.3 million deficit she inherited into money back for the county. ...

Wrong winners announced in Wellington in 2010, county results lagging hours behind others in a closely watched governor’s race and a $1 million order for unsuitable analog modems make it tough to argue things are going well, says challenger Woodie McDuffie, 65.

He says his 42 years of experience with technology, including a long run as information technology manager for the county Property Appraiser’s office, will help him take the office out of the headlines.

McDuffie, Delray Beach’s mayor, said that when he met the mayor of Kyoto, Japan, he learned that Palm Beach County’s reputation for election foul-ups went all the way around the world. “Oh, that’s the place where people can’t add,” the Kyoto mayor said, according to McDuffie.

McDuffie said he is running for the post “because I have witnessed 13 years of failure in that office.”

Caneste Succe, a former employee of the supervisor of elections office and a former Lantana mayoral candidate, also has his hat in the ring.
"Bucher aims to return as PBC elections chief".

Will God deliver them from the evils of politicians?

Stephen Goldstein: "This year, the Florida Legislature did something for which everyone should thank God: It passed a bill making it legal for students to deliver "inspirational messages" (aka prayers) at public school events. And Gov. Rick Scott promptly signed it into law."


Last Sunday, the law went into effect. And I welcome it, because it comes at a crucial time in Florida history, when our elected leaders are failing to live up to their oaths of office, the public has lost faith in them, and perhaps only divine or "out-there" intervention can save us. No doubt the legislature and governor feel the same way and a special concern for students. These days, young people can't expect much from secular authorities. So perhaps, now that they may pray in school, God will deliver them from the evils of politicians.
"Pray our officials don't mess up".

Weekly Roundup

Michael Peltier: "Weekly Roundup: Are These Truths Self-Evident?"

"Write-in ploy"

The Miami Herald's Myriam Marquez: "Write-in ploy cheats the voters".

"And then they came for me"

Fred Grimm reminds us that "The Miami Herald was not among the newspapers implicated in the outsourcing scandal that erupted last week after This American Life (Public Radio International) reported that a contractor content provider called Journatic has been cranking out 'local' stories for the Chicago Tribune, the Houston Chronicle, the Chicago Sun-Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and other American newspapers."

Grimm points out, however,

that outsourcing news content would be all that novel. American companies have been shipping so many jobs overseas that the term “corporate America” has become an oxymoron. Last year, the Wall Street Journal surveyed employment data from a number of the nation’s heftier corporations — General Electric, Caterpillar, Microsoft, Walmart, Chevron, Cisco, Intel, Stanley Works, Merck, United Technologies and Oracle — and found that while they were cutting their domestic workforces by 2.9 million over the last decade, they had hired 2.4 million people overseas.

Apple, a company that once boasted how nearly all of its gadgets were assembled in the United States, has pretty much dispensed with the American factory worker. Last year, some 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other items stamped with the Apple logo were made overseas. About 700,000 foreign workers make iStuff. Meanwhile, Apple, our most admired American corporation, employs a relatively piddling 43,000 workers back home. American companies, in search of profits, have gone global, untethered to the national interest.

It’s not just manufacturing gone overseas. Cut-rate accountants abroad now do Americans’ income taxes, cheapo radiologists read their X-rays, bargain-priced architects draw plans for their new homes, low-paid loan officers ponder their mortgage applications. Manufacturing, medicine, the service industry — chunks of it have been outsourced. And now journalism.
He continues:
It’s like a modern variation of that famous Martin Niemöller lament from pre-World War II Germany. First they outsourced the factory jobs, and I didn’t speak out. Then they shipped out the service jobs and I didn’t speak out. Then the docs. And then they came for me.
"This column was assembled in Mumbai".

"Florida's springs are dying ... to feed the development beast"

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Springs are among Florida's most renowned environmental treasures — fonts of crystal clear water, oases for animals and plants, year-round playgrounds for swimmers and divers from across the state and around the world. But Florida's springs are dying. Less water is flowing, due in part to overpumping from their underground water supply to feed the development beast." "Will Florida save its springs or let them die?".

Scott "can have his own opinion, but not his own facts"

Robyn E. Blumner points out that, "Throughout Rick Scott's governorship he has had a tenuous relationship with the truth."

Maybe this penchant started as a businessman when he led the Columbia/HCA hospital chain while it engaged in massive Medicare and Medicaid fraud; the company later pleaded guilty to at least 14 corporate felonies. Scott maintains that he didn't know what was going on.

Maybe he broke ranks with the truth after invoking his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination 75 times during a deposition that otherwise requires the subject to be honest.

But whenever Scott decided that the truth is just not his cup of tediousness, his predilection for making stuff up has been on full display since the federal health care law was largely upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last month. ...

For a man who is among cable television's go-to opponents of "Obamacare," Scott's objections suggest that he has only a vague idea of what the law actually does.
"Debate is welcome, even valuable as long as the old Daniel Patrick Moynihan caveat stands: Everyone can have his own opinion, but not his own facts."
Scott is the anti-Moynihan who makes rhetorical points by ignoring inconvenient holes in his argument. For instance, Scott complains that the law will lead to rationed care like that found in Canada and the United Kingdom (again, ruled "False" by PolitiFact) but he fails to mention how care is currently rationed in the United States.

Insurers ration care by denying coverage, rejecting claims and deciding which doctors and hospitals to accept. Sufferers of chronic conditions worry about reaching their policy's annual or lifetime limits. People without any insurance face the ultimate rationing.

Scott complains that health reform will put American businesses at an "unbelievable disadvantage" compared with international competitors. But he doesn't mention the anticompetitive environment American businesses face now by being saddled with health insurance costs not similarly borne by competitors from nations with universal health care. And if competitive disadvantage were Scott's primary concern, he should support Medicare for all, which he doesn't.

Scott wants to leave health care to the free market and let people buy any kind of policy they want (and can afford), essentially the system we have now but with fewer limits on insurers. It's no wonder he has trouble defending his stance with facts.

As a former health care executive Scott could have helped lead an intelligent conversation on health reform. Scott chose instead to speak alarmist nonsense, leaving Florida's uninsured and the truth behind.
"Give this man a truth tonic".

Related: "Scott: A 'no' on exchanges" and "Checking Scott on health care law".

"'The Senatocracy,' powerful puppetmasters seeking compliant legislators"

"Florida state Senate leaders are taking sides in two local Republican primary races, hoping to make sure Tom Lee of Brandon and Pasco County state Rep. John Legg win state Senate seats in districts that border Tampa."

In a Florida legislative race, backing from powerful legislative leaders can make a candidate a near shoo-in.

Their opponents say that raises the specter of local election outcomes dictated by what one called "the Senatocracy," powerful puppetmasters seeking compliant legislators.

State Rep. Rachel Burgin of Riverview is running against Lee for the District 24 seat representing most of East Hillsborough County.

Legg faces former state Rep. Rob Wallace of Carrollwood along with John Korsak of Tampa, a Marine retiree and security consultant, for the District 17 seat representing northwest Hillsborough and southern Pasco counties.

Democrats have filed in both districts, Wes Johnson in District 17 and Elizabeth Belcher in District 24. Both are little-known dark horses, however, making it likely the GOP primaries will choose the senators.

If those primaries were decided by the backing of powerful Republicans, they'd be over already.

Legg's backers include former governors Jeb Bush and Bob Martinez and incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford.

Lee's include Bush and a roster of top local Republican Congress members, county commissioners, constitutional officers and state Cabinet members.

Both also have been endorsed by the most powerful people already in the state Senate: incoming Senate President Don Gaetz of Niceville; his likely successor as president, Andy Gardiner of Orlando; and Jack Latvala of Clearwater, a possible successor to Gardiner.

In Florida, leaders of the state Legislature, including the Senate president and House speaker, and the allies they appoint to top legislative posts, have the ability to advance or stall almost any legislation.
"GOP leadership shaping key Florida Senate races".

What's wrong with Hillsborough?

"A committee formed to foster economic prosperity in Hillsborough County is poised to reopen debate over the historically controversial subject of wetlands conservation. County commissioners formed the 21-member Economic Prosperity Stakeholder Committee to ease regulatory obstacles to economic development. The committee was to focus primarily on land development rules, but now, some members want to rewrite wetlands protections." "New fight on horizon over wetlands rules".

And just down the road in Sarasota County, a "Conservation funding proposal worries slow-growth camp".

"Nomadic politicians"

Jac Wilder VerSteeg: "Term limits create nomadic politicians".

Maxwell's Malarkey Meter

Scott Maxwell: "With campaign season heating up, the Malarkey Meter is getting back to its roots — vetting some of the claims, attacks and hogwash you're hearing. We're kicking things off by looking at some of the bombs being thrown in the testy GOP primary between John Mica andSandy Adams — and then by looking at some of the malarkey in the ads run by Barack Obama andMitt Romney." "Mica, Adams, Obama, Romney all set off Malarkey Meter".

Lake County Yawner

"Former Gov. Jeb Bush endorses Carey Baker for property appraiser".