Friday, August 17, 2012

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

"Romney risks a total debacle among Hispanic voters"

Andres Oppenheimer: "Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was already polling at historically low numbers among Hispanic voters before his decision to name Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate. Now, Romney risks a total debacle among Hispanic voters that could cost him the election."

There are five major reasons why Ryan, a darling of the Tea Party who is known for his budget-cutting proposals and hard-line stands on immigration in recent years, will have a hard time helping Romney solve his Latino vote problem. ...

My opinion: Romney’s pick for vice-presidential nominee, coming shortly after Romney’s foreign policy tour in which he traveled to Europe and Israel without even making a symbolic stop in Mexico, will make a bad situation worse for the Republican campaign. It suggests that Romney has thrown in the towel on the Hispanic vote. That may turn out to be the biggest mistake of his campaign — and a godsend for Obama.
"Romney risks 'Hispanic debacle' in November".

Voter purge resumes

"Florida has reached an agreement -- in principle -- with the federal government so efforts can be restarted to clear noncitizens from the county lists of registered voters."

The Division of Elections announced Thursday that an agreement has been reached with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that will grant the state access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) database.

State leaders have contended that the database will provide the state election supervisors with more reliable information so they can conduct further background checks on voters whose residency remains in question. ...

Detzner had announced on Tuesday that he expected the review to be restarted soon so supervisors could complete their tasks before the Nov. 6 election.

The state had come under fire earlier this year for asking supervisors to review about 2,600 voters for their residency, while holding back on another 180,000 other names.

The state release on Thursday noted that elections employees are now being trained to use the federal database.
"Florida, Feds Reach Agreement so Search can Resume for Noncitizen Voters". See also "Voter purge to continue after feds, state finalize agreement".

Luv 4 Sale

"Four major Tallahassee firms top $1 million in client fees -- and that's only a general range of influence costs." "In session or out, lobbying remains a big business".

They got theirs

"The Villages, an adult community in Central Florida with 41,000 voters, has become a key piece in the Republican campaign effort."

As the sun goes down at the Villages, a 55-and-up retirement community, a crowd slathered in sunscreen ambles about, tossing back vodka and gin-and-tonics (easy on the tonic).

“Most everyone worked 40 to 45 years to get here,” says Mike Mittal, a 69-year-old retired corporate pilot from Cincinnati who moved to town four years ago. “And they just want to have fun now.”

Their playground is a five-square-mile area about 90 miles northeast of Tampa Bay that once was rolling cow pasture and ripe watermelon fields. Disneyland for Adults or The Bubble is what residents call it now. ...

Drawing retirees from the Northeast and Midwest, this planned community is one of the most crucial — and dependable — voting blocs in the nation. The development’s 61,000 registered voters reside in a battleground region that Republicans need to dominate if they are to defeat President Barack Obama in Novem- ber.

Twice as many Republicans as Democrats live here. The independents tilt rightward, too. With a voter turnout averaging 80 percent, it has become a fixed stop on the campaign trail for Mitt Romney, who has visited twice in the past year.

One man is credited with molding this constituency.

The creator of the Villages, H. Gary Morse, inherited his father’s development business and turned it into one of the most lucrative residential projects in the United States, ushering him into the ranks of the world’s richest. Morse and his family have contributed $1.8 million to the cause of removing Obama from the White House.

His biggest contribution, however, will be the Villages’ vote on Election Day. Morse, now 75, controls just about every facet of life here. And that includes politics ...

Morse seems to be everywhere in the Villages — and nowhere.
"‘Disneyland for adults’ — The Villages is a coveted cache of GOP voters".

Greenwood goes geriatric

"Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan will make a stop Saturday at The Villages, the sprawling retirement community northwest of Orlando. One week after being chosen as Mitt Romney's running mate, Ryan will headline the campaign event at Lake Sumter Landing, which will include an appearance by country music artist Lee Greenwood." "Paul Ryan to campaign at The Villages on Saturday". See also "Paul Ryan's mom to hit campaign trail with v.p. candidate son".

The real cost to Florida of extending Medicaid coverage "would be little to nothing"

The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy: "Although the extension of the Medicaid safety net is now the law, some governors and others opposed to the Affordable Care Act have taken to describing it as optional. Because it has become clear that Medicaid expansion would increase the state's share of Medicaid costs by a negligible amount, opponents have been forced to try to shift the focus."

In defending his intent to reject the opportunity to extend coverage to more than a million uninsured, low-income Floridians for pennies on the dollar, Governor Rick Scott has insisted that the burden of the current Medicaid program is already too onerous. One particular claim used by the Governor is that "Medicaid [spending] has been growing three and a half times as fast as General Revenue."

[The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy analyzes] the "statistic" behind this claim and explain[s] how it is misleading and so inapplicable to current conditions that updating the underlying data used to derive it would yield a conclusion opposite to the one advanced by the Governor and others.

The net cost to the state of extending Medicaid coverage to more than a million of the lowest-income, uninsured Floridians would be little to nothing, particularly after factoring in reductions in the cost of the delivery of "uncompensated care" in settings such as hospital emergency rooms.
"Medicaid Spending Trends Do NOT Justify Opposition to Its Expansion".

The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board: "Scott's opposition to expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act was already unfortunate from a humanitarian standpoint. To abruptly reject health care coverage for more than a million Florida residents as Scott did -- without consulting the Legislature or considering funding options -- was shortsighted. But even from a cold, hard economic view, Scott's stance looks increasingly questionable and demands careful scrutiny by the Legislature." "Revisit Medicaid expansion".

"Careful scrutiny by the Legislature"? Good luck with that.

"The self-made man myth needs to be exploded"

The courageous Robyn Blumner: "Joan Didion wrote, 'We tell ourselves stories in order to live.' I'd modify that slightly for this presidential election year and say, we tell ourselves stories in order to vote. Which is why Mitt Romney maintains a huge lead in the polls among blue-collar white men."

"White men have been fed the myth of the rags-to-riches, self-made man, the quintessential American narrative that says hard work and perseverance will equate to success. The idea cemented in the male cerebral cortex is that people who start from nothing can work themselves from the Horatio Alger mailroom to the corner office."

Actually, here's the story of today's economy that blue-collar workers should take to the voting booth: Our striving Horatio Alger hero watches helplessly as his company is bought out by a private equity firm that then saddles it with debt, cuts wages and worker benefits, outsources jobs overseas and leaves the company foundering after having made a fortune for investors.

Americans are all about hard work. We've increased productivity by 80 percent since 1979, but with almost no corresponding income gains for average workers. It nearly all flowed to the top 1 percent. Shhh, don't tell the working stiffs.

Obama does better among white women and minority voters because they never bought into the self-made-man myth. ...

The self-made man myth needs to be exploded. It dangerously serves the interests of the top 1 percent. Hard work is an important component of success, but it's not the only one. Government plays a pivotal role, from making college affordable to protecting workers from exploitation.

Today there is less social mobility in America than in hidebound Europe. But America's rags-to-riches narrative smothers the American reality, resulting in powerless workers voting for politicians who will keep them that way. It's a story with a very bad ending.
"Stories white guys tell themselves".

Meanwhile, "Florida tourism still on record pace".

Debating where to debate

"Nelson, Mack debate where to debate".

"Force-placed" insurance

"Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott thinks 'force-placed' or 'lender-placed' insurance is impeding Florida’s economic recovery and wants a national insurance group to tackle the issue. She sent a letter Tuesday to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners asking for greater transparency in the little-known market." "Consumer advocate fears for insurance of troubled homes".

"Use of swastikas ... a growing trend"

"Robert Tanen with the Anti-Defamation League in Boca Raton said the use of swastikas to deface religious institutions has become a growing trend." "Synagogue's bus defaced with painted swastika, symbols".

Another soiled career

"Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday that his legislative affairs director, Jon Costello, is resigning effective Sept. 7. Costello told The Florida Current that his departure was entirely voluntary. He said he hasn't talked to potential employers yet because he thought it was appropriate first to make public his intention to leave." "Jon Costello, legislative affairs director to Gov. Rick Scott, is leaving effective Sept. 7". See also "Rick Scott Losing 'Invaluable' Legislative Affairs Director, Jon Costello".

Bring on the Medicare debate

The Miami Herald editorial board: "GOP VP choice makes Medicare, spending focal points of the campaign". "Enter Mr. Ryan".

Putnam talks "unleashing"

On the heels of GOPer outrage over Biden using the word "chains", Adam Putnam steps into dangerous territory: "Adam Putnam: 'Mitt Romney Wants to Unleash America's Energy Potential'".

Entrepreneurs in action

"Seven doctors among 11 charged in latest pill mill crackdown".

But ... it's a private school

"The single mother of a 12-year-old autistic boy who police said was roughed up by a teacher at a private Davie school broke into tears Thursday evening as she described the episode's effect on her son." "Teacher hurt other students, lawyer says".

Ten Commandments kerfuffle

"Federal appellate judges this week ordered a lower court in Florida to plunge back into a dispute about whether a Ten Commandments statue outside the Dixie County courthouse is unconstitutional." "Legal fight over religious statue at Florida courthouse sent back to lower court".

Recount it is

"Nail-biter Florida Senate race between Bernard and Clemens gets recount".

"Old guard Republican leaders fall"

"Primary voters this week ousted two Republican Party veterans — Broward state committeeman Ed Kennedy and Palm Beach County state committeewoman Fran Hancock — from their leadership roles."

The only big winner was Sharon Day, the Broward state committeewoman, with 74.5 percent. A Day defeat would have been hugely embarrassing for Republicans, because she's the No. 2 official at the national Republican Party.
"Old guard Republican leaders fall".

Scott appointments

"Scott makes 9th Circuit nominating commission appointments".

Never mind

"Florida lawmakers Thursday changed their minds about a $30 million cut to the budget for Florida’s court clerks. The Joint Legislative Budget Commission approved a request by Gov. Rick Scott to restore $29.5 million to this year’s spending plan for clerks, which has been in effect seven weeks." "More funding filed for court clerks".

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Clerks of court get budget boost".

Yee Haw!

"The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is proposing shooting ranges at the Triple N Ranch Wildlife Management Area in Osceola County. Audubon Florida says the proposal represents continuing pressure to use state lands for purposes other than conservation. Allied Sportsmen's Associations of Florida says 'we think there is no better place' than in an area where hunting is allowed." "Hunting supporters fire back at criticism of 350-acre shooting park on conservation land".

FPL settlement proposal draws criticism

"Florida Power and Light’s offer to settle its rate increase request by giving commercial users a break and raising fees for others got a thumbs down from the state’s consumer advocate." "FPL offers to settle rate case, state’s consumer advocate rejects it". See also "Consumers irate about FPL's deal with big power users" and "FPL rate settlement proposal continues to draw criticism".