Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Today's Florida Political News and Punditry

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

"Scott and Romney on different paths in Florida"

"A day after being tapped for a speaking role at the Republican National Convention, Florida Gov. Rick Scott continued Tuesday to march to his own drummer on the state’s economy — putting him out of step with presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney."

Scott and Romney, though, have been clearly on different paths in Florida.

The two have not campaigned together and a Romney pre-convention bus tour of the state planned for Monday makes no mention of Florida’s chief executive.

Still, Scott and the Romney campaign pushed back earlier this summer against a media report that the governor had been warned to tone-down his talk of the state’s economic recovery because it clashed with the anti-Obama message.
"Gov. Scott’s view on Florida jobs and taxes contrasts with Romney’s".

Frank Cerabino: "Scott will deliver a speech at this summer’s Republican National Convention. Scott is expected to say how (wonderful / horrible) the economy has been in Florida under (his / President Obama’s) administration." "Gov. Scott will do balancing act describing Florida economy to GOP faithful". Related: "Rick Scott: GOP Convention Speech to Focus on Florida as 'Model for the Country'" and "Rick Scott to talk jobs at GOP convention".

"A contest between legacies"

"The race for the Democratic nominee for Senate District 39 has come down to a contest between legacies."

Dwight Bullard, a member of the House of Representatives and son of the current state senator in the post, hopes to continue carrying the family mantle while Ron Saunders, currently the House Democratic leader, is hoping to become the first senator from the Keys in 40 years.

The race is a rematch of sorts. In 2004, Saunders lost the race against Dwight’s mother, Larcenia Bullard. Dwight Bullard had served as her campaign manager.

But there’s one more major change this time around: Redistricting has condensed District 39 from six to four counties: Monroe, Miami-Dade, Collier and Hendry. It still remains one of the largest districts in the state.

Also on the ballot is James Bush III, a former state representative who has served two terms in the Florida House; Sal Gutierrez, who formerly lived in Key Largo and now lives near Tampa (he would have to relocate if elected); and John “JJ” Johnson of Miami.

The winner of the Aug. 14 primary will face Republican Scott Hopes of Homestead in the general election.
"State Senate race becomes a rematch between the Bullards and Saunders".

"South Florida’s cesspool"

The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "For decades, Lake Okeechobee was South Florida’s cesspool. In the 1970s and 1980s, great quantities of pollution-laden farm runoff were back-pumped from the south while great quantities of pollution-laden farm runoff flowed in from the north. Cleaning the lake is key to restoring the Everglades. After that decision in 2007 came another by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2008 not to keep the lake artificially high. Since then, back-pumping has taken place only occasionally, much to the displeasure of sugar growers." "Keep more polluted water out of Lake Okeechobee".

"Bondi is adamant that there is no feud"

"Attorney General Pam Bondi is adamant that there is no feud between her and legislators over Florida’s share of a national mortgage servicing settlement. But the two sides don’t appear to be budging over how the money, totaling around $334 million, should be spent." "‘No Feud,’ but No Agreement with Legislators on Mortgage Settlement Money".

Power of Democrats is diminished by simple GOP technique

The Tampa Tribune editors: "The way the Florida Senate drew its new districts technically meets the legal definition of 'fair,' even though the new boundaries will help keep Hillsborough Democrats underrepresented."

In a county with 51,600 more Democrats than Republicans, four of the five districts give Republican candidates a partisan edge.

The voting power of Democratic voters is diminished by one simple technique. So many Democrats are packed into one urban district that Republicans have a great chance at winning everywhere else. This built-in favoritism diminishes competition and thus discourages broad participation. District 19 is itself an example.

In the central-city precincts — part of the district that snakes across the bay to include similar neighborhoods in Pinellas and Manatee counties — no one can vote for senator because no one is running against incumbent Democrat Arthenia Joyner.

Setting up a safe seat for minorities is a legal requirement and has bipartisan support. But anyone who thinks the oddly shaped district is a good idea also must concede how impossible it would be to defend the racially segregated boundaries if they were for, say, a school district.

The shoo-in for one powerful Democrat in one district creates an uphill battle for the party everywhere else, and no territory for moderates. Here's the story, district by district ...
"Senate districts make Democrats disappear".

Teabaggers line up

"With a week to go until the primary, the fight between congressional colleagues U.S. Rep. John Mica and U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams continues to intensify -- and Florida Republicans are taking sides. On Tuesday, Adams unveiled the support of two fellow congressional freshmen from the Sunshine State -- U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent and U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross. After serving eight years in the Florida House of Representatives in Tallahassee, Adams won a congressional seat in 2010. Mica was first elected to the U.S. House in 1992."

Adams has also been endorsed by fellow freshman U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., and former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.
"CD 7: John Mica and Sandy Adams Attack Each Other and Add GOP Support".

"Quit whining"

"CFO Jeff Atwater on Tuesday told auto insurers resistant to rate reductions to 'quit whining.' Some insurers urged caution despite a draft report showing a new law aimed at reducing personal injury protection fraud would bring 12 to 20 percent savings to policyholders." "Atwater to auto insurers: Quit whining".

"Proxy fight for future Senate leadership"

"Two Pinellas County House members are fighting lawn by lawn for an open Senate seat. And because no Democrat entered the race, the contest between representatives Jeff Brandes and Jim Frishe will most likely decide who represents District 22. Alan Raymond Baker qualified as a write-in candidate." "Primary Profile: District 22 shapes up as proxy fight for future Senate leadership".

"Greene lives in fear of populist revolt"

"Billionaire Jeff Greene is a different kind of rich Democrat."

The man who made his fortune hedging against the real estate market -- and since 2009 accumulating mortgage-backed securities -- still wants to represent the poor, improve their lot, convince his rich friends they should pay more taxes.

But is his political ideology built on compassion? On a sense of social justice and social order?

Not exactly, says Joel Endelman, "Jeff is definitely not about compassion."

Endelman is a political consultant who for a time during 2010 worked with Greene's campaign for U.S. Senate.

"Jeff isn't one of the patrician class of Democrats like the Kennedys," he told Sunshine State News. "Kennedy Democrats are wealthy intellectuals who generally inherited their money but feel a deep sense of responsibility toward those less privileged. I'm not saying there's anything phony about Jeff Greene because there isn't. But his concern for the underclass is all about self-protection."

Why are Greene's political motives popping up now? Because Jessica Pressler of New York Magazine interviewed Greene at his Sag Harbor estate. Her story on page 14, "The Other Barbarians at the Gates" -- called "jaw-dropping" by members of his own party -- has been political talk-show fodder ever since it appeared in last week's edition.

Pressler draws a picture of Greene, 57, worth an estimated $2.1 billion, as a man who lives in fear of a populist revolt, a plundering uprising of America's "poor people." As a member of the country's richest 1 percent, Greene claims the nation's wealthiest people, people like himself, should pay more in taxes willingly -- "buy a little democracy insurance" -- because one day, "if you have 50,000 angry people coming across the river, you think you're safe?"
"Billionaire Palm Beach Democrat Jeff Greene Fears Revolt of the Poor".

"Robinson endeared himself to virtually no one"

The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Gerard Robinson did the Florida Board of Education and Gov. Rick Scott a favor by resigning as Florida's education commissioner. The cocksure Robinson endeared himself to virtually no one during his year on the job. The next commissioner should be someone who is a veteran of Florida schools and is committed to making classroom improvements, not defending the political status quo." "Go local for education chief".

Ethics complaint against Lee

"Two Carrollwood residents have filed an ethics complaint against Tom Lee, a state Senate candidate from east Hillsborough County, alleging Lee omitted assets from his personal financial disclosure form." "2 residents file ethics complaint against senate candidate Tom Lee".

Pelosi preaches to the choir

"The top Democrat in Congress, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, sought Monday to shore up support from one of her party's most critical constituencies — senior voters — by portraying Republicans as scheming to destroy Medicare."

Speaking to a crowd of more than 100 at the Veranda Club senior community, Pelosi asserted that Republican policies would leave older Americans to fend for themselves against insurance companies or turn to their children for help paying their medical bills.

"We cannot have our seniors be at the mercy of the health insurance industry," she said. "We cannot turn it into a gamble for seniors.''

Pelosi was preaching to the choir at Veranda Club, where board vice president Sam Topaz estimated 90 to 95 percent of the residents are Democrats.

The California lawmaker said her comments were neither political nor a scare tactic. It's the Republicans who are scary, she said.
"Pelosi visits Boca, goes after GOP on Medicare".

HD 34

"HD 34: Jimmie Smith and Nancy Argenziano Await Democrat Primary Winner".

ALF industry representatives show their stuff

"The panel consisting of bureaucrats and industry representatives met six times as part of a negotiated rulemaking process. The public will get a chance to comment on proposed rule changes in November and December." "Panel finishes its work on new regulations for ALFs".

Judge blocks state law capping contributions by minors

"A tenacious Boca Raton 17-year-old has helped other kids gain equal footing with adults in the political arena, after a federal judge sided with her and blocked a state law capping political contributions by minors at $100. U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams on Monday issued a temporary injunction blocking officials from enforcing the decades-old cap, saying the law 'had a chilling effect on the free speech and associational rights' of Julie Towbin and other teenagers." "Boca Raton teen wins battle for campaign contribution rights".

Dems remain the state’s largest political party

"Republicans have seen their rank and file numbers grow this year in Florida by a near 3-to-1 clip against the Democrats, which remains the state’s largest political party in terms of overall registered voters. While Republicans dominate the state Legislature, there are now 4,581,056 registered Democrats eligible to vote in the Aug. 14 primary in Florida and 4,137,890 Republicans, according to the state Division of Elections." "GOP Narrows Gap Among Florida's Registered Voters".

GOTV Sharpton style

"Rev. Al Sharpton urges ‘action’ to get South Florida’s black voters to vote".

Another deep thinker

"The governor cited cost-of-living concerns when he discussed renewable energy legislation heading into the 2012 legislative session. But on Tuesday, he said his concerns about cost of living are a separate issue from the $690 million rate hike request being considered by the Public Service Commission." "Scott avoids wading into FPL rate hike request".

"Requiring the Florida Legislature to keep its paws out"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "Tough economic times and a penchant in Tallahassee for 'easy solutions' to close budget gaps have left the state’s environmental treasures and wildlife programs in the dumps. What these recreation and conservation lands need is a stable, dedicated source of funding."

Enter the Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign, a coalition that includes the Trust for Public Land, Audubon Florida, the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, 1000 Friends of Florida, Defenders of Wildlife and other groups that want to preserve Florida’s natural beauty — and its clean water — for generations to come.

The campaign will be gathering signatures of registered voters — it will need at minimum 676,811 certified signatures — to put the issue on the ballot in 2014. If voters agree, and there are many reasons they should, the program would raise about $10 billion over 20 years — without any new tax or a tax increase.

It would simply require the Florida Legislature to keep its paws out of the trust funds meant for environmental and parks programs — guaranteeing at the very least that one-third of the revenues from the existing excise tax on documents during the sale of property goes toward designated environmental programs. That tax is now collected, but it’s not being used for its intended purpose.
"A way to protect Florida’s treasures". See also "Environmental Groups Want Guaranteed $10 Billion Expenditure in State Constitution" and "Environmental groups seek state constitutional amendment for $20 billion in land purchases".

"Suit to kick Florida justices off ballot"

"A trial judge is hearing argument in a lawsuit aimed at throwing three of his seven bosses — Florida Supreme Court justices — off the Nov. 6 ballot." "Suit to kick Florida justices off ballot gets hearing".

GOPers go to court

"The legislative campaign between Rep. Eddy Gonzalez of Hialeah and his challenger in the Republican primary, Maykel 'Miguel' Balboa, has moved into the courts, with Gonzalez filing a wide-ranging complaint Monday seeking to have Balboa kicked off the ballot and an allied political group dissolved."

The complaint, which amends a lawsuit Gonzalez filed last week, accuses Balboa, along with a Miami political operative and an electioneering communications organization (ECO), of orchestrating a smear campaign against Gonzalez through allegedly illegal robo-calls and television ads about Gonzalez’s ties to other Miami-area politicians.

It centers on a complicated web of connections between Balboa; G&R Strategies LLC, listed on Balboa’s disclosure as his sole source of income; Sasha Tirador, a political consultant listed as owner of G&R Strategies; and Citizens for a Reality Check, an ECO.

Balboa has challenged Gonzalez in House District 111, which runs from Hialeah into parts of Miami.

Gonzalez, whose lawyer is former Rep. J.C. Planas, alleges in the lawsuit that Balboa and the others illegally coordinated a campaign that included a television ad claiming Gonzalez had endorsed former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez, a Democrat, and a recorded phone call saying Gonzalez was linked to absentee ballot fraud and was lying about support from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Gonzalez denies the charges in the ad and the robo-call.
"Fight between House GOP hopefuls heads to court".

That's a yawner

"Jeb Bush to speak at GOP convention". See also "Second Round of GOP Convention Speakers Includes Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum and Rand Paul" and "Jeb Bush joins list of convention speakers".