Monday, August 20, 2012

Today's Florida Political News and Punditry

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

Wrapping the Ryan budget plan around Florida incumbents' necks

"In a sign of what we're likely to see a lot of over the next three months, Democratic congressional candidates Jessica Ehrlich, challenging U.S. Rep C.W. Bill Young in Pinellas, and Keith Fitzgerald, challenging U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in the Sarasota area, held a conference call Friday aiming to wrap the Ryan budget plan around the incumbents' necks." "Ryan ties played up".

"Prostitution sting before Republican National Convention"

"Like a giddy debutante, the city of Tampa is spruced up in anticipation of what Mayor Bob Buckhorn calls his city’s 'coming-out party' as the Republican National Convention begins next week."

But while the city is putting on its party clothes, it’s also preparing for a disaster.

Local officials have set up security cameras throughout the city, set aside 1,700 beds at the local jail, created a video court system for first hearings and put extra shifts of public defenders on call to quickly process troublemakers.

They’ve even called in the cavalry. Forty-eight police officers on horseback outfitted with riot gear will be on patrol at the event, which will begin Aug. 27 and end with presidential candidate Mitt Romney officially receiving the GOP nomination on Aug. 30.
"Tampa prepares for best and worst with Republican convention".

Related: "16 women arrested in Tampa prostitution sting before Republican National Convention". See also "Tampa's strip club king weighs in on RNC".

Ryan no help to GOP in Florida

The Tampa Bay Times' "latest Florida Insider Poll surveyed 117 of the state's most plugged-in and experienced political minds — campaign consultants, fundraisers, lobbyists, activists — and found nine out of 10 Democrats see Ryan hurting Romney in Florida, and one in three Republicans agree." "Political insiders' take on Paul Ryan's Florida effect".

"Scrutinize charter schools"

The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "This is a boom period of charter schools, but without strict rules that are strictly adhered to, the inevitable bust is going to be more damaging." "Scrutinize charter schools; it’s the public’s money".

"Florida more concealed weapons permits than any other state"

Scott recently "stated an amazing, if true, statistic about gun ownership in the state."

"I mean, I think we have more concealed weapons permits than any other state because Floridians care about their right to bear arms."

With 19 million residents, Florida is the fourth-most populous state in the country so it's no surprise it would be high on a concealed permit list.
"But is it No. 1 ahead of Perry's Texas, which has 6 million more residents, and California, which is nearly double the size?"
The top 10 of valid permits by state breaks down like this:

1. Florida: 887,000;

2. Pennsylvania: 786,000;

3. Georgia: 600,000;

4. Texas: 519,000;

5. Indiana: 406,000;

6. Washington: 351,000;

7. Utah: 347,000;

8. Tennessee: 341,000;

9. Michigan: 296,000;

10. Virginia: 279,000. ...

Scott said Florida has "more concealed weapons permits than any other state." A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office study backs Scott up. The state has about 887,000 valid concealed weapons permits, about 100,000 more than the next closest state, Pennsylvania.
"PolitiFact Florida: Rick Scott says Florida is No. 1 in concealed permits".

Oh ... the horror

Them librul Tampa Bay Times editors are outraged that "hands leverage to the firefighters union, already one of the city's most politically influential special interests." "Regressive fire fee should go".

Firefighters, a "special interest"?

Another pro-voucher Dem bites the dust

"After recount, Clemens defeats Bernard by 17 votes in Florida Senate District 27" Related: "Nonpartisan website accuses anti-Clemens political committee of ID theft".

Ryan raises $1 million at Treasure Island

"After the Villages, Ryan's SUV took him and his mother two hours south to the Club at Treasure Island, where people paid between $2,500 to $50,000 to attend a Romney-Ryan private fundraiser that raised an estimated $1 million."

About 100 people stood outside in the drizzle and midafternoon heat, evenly split between Romney supporters and opponents.

"Yay, yay, that's him, he waved right at me!" said Bette LaPlatney, a Treasure Island resident and Romney supporter. "He's a good guy."

State Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, said the people pulling into the fundraiser in luxury cars "are the big names, but they also won't be the folks affected by his plan to cut Medicare."

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus introduced Ryan at the fundraiser. Ryan touted Romney's record of leadership in Massachusetts and at the Salt Lake City Olympics, and suggested another Obama term would lead America to become more like Europe.

"We can dodge the European bullet, but our opportunity is beginning to shrink," he said. "Now is the moment to make sure we do what we need to do to get us back on growth, back on opportunity."
"Paul Ryan talks entitlement reform during campaign stop in the Villages".

Mack declines debate with Nelson

"Republican U.S. Senate nominee Connie Mack IV, who has complained about the Tampa Bay Times' coverage of his campaign and about an editorial endorsement of primary rival Dave Weldon, has turned down an invitation to participate in a nationally televised Times debate against Sen. Bill Nelson." "Saying no to invite".

Not ready for international spotlight

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: Tampa claims it "is ready for the international spotlight. But the city's transportation system? Not so much."

The broader issue here is not the police or the Secret Service. It's decades of bad planning and the refusal to acknowledge that mass transit plays a role in every desirable city.
"Planning reveals transport shortfall".

Meanwhile, as the The Miami Herald editors point out, "The Metrorail Orange Line and [Miami International Airport] station debuted recently after a 28-year long wait. The new route connects the airport to the transit network in less than five minutes — an overdue service that has been a missing link in Metro Miami’s public transportation circuit. The project cost $506 million, with most of the funds raised from the half-cent sales tax approved in 2002, and took three years to complete." "From train to plane".

Entrepreneurs in action

"Not a single drop of the massive British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico touched the land-locked city of Homestead or the Keys peninsula to the south."

But a Homestead businessman saw the April 2010 oil-rig explosion and subsequent environmental disaster as an opportunity to cash in, authorities say. Jean Mari Lindor filed about $15 million in BP damage claims for himself and others for wages purportedly lost due to the spill’s economic hit on the region’s tourism industry.

Lindor submitted as many as 700 suspicious claims, mostly for low-income workers who each paid him a processing fee of $300, a prosecutor said in federal court last week. As a result, Lindor and the other South Florida claimants were paid about $3 million from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which was established by British Petroleum after the protracted Deepwater Horizon spill.

Lindor, arrested earlier this month, is among nearly 110 people nationwide — and 18 in Florida — who have been charged with defrauding the BP oil-spill fund program over the past two years, according to the Department of Justice. The majority of the offenders have been charged in Alabama.
"Fraud pollutes BP oil-spill compensation fund for Gulf Coast victims from Florida to Louisiana".

Fraud pollution

"Fraud pollutes BP oil-spill compensation fund for Gulf Coast victims from Florida to Louisiana".