Wednesday, September 12, 2012

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

Clinton slams the GOP during speech at FIU

"From Medicare to education to the national debt, former President Clinton praised President Barack Obama and slammed the GOP during a speech at Florida International University." "Clinton, Obama’s go-to Democrat, fires up crowd at FIU".

"Stand your ground" review

"A task force reviewing Florida's so-called 'stand your ground' law is meeting in West Palm Beach." "Fla. task force holds meeting on self-defense law".

Democrats see it as scheme to discourage minority voters

The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Recent sensible federal decisions should douse much of the firestorm over the Florida Legislature's voting revisions, which Democrats see as a scheme to discourage minority voters."

A U.S. district court judge earlier this month permanently blocked the onerous deadline the 2011 law imposed on third-party groups that register voters.

Last week the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would accept a compromise with Florida, permitting the state to reduce the number of early voting days from 14 to eight in five counties, including Hillsborough, that must be pre-cleared by Washington for compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

Other counties already were following the reduced schedule.

A federal court earlier had found the change would hurt black voters because more than half of black voters cast their ballots early.

But the judicial panel indicated the adverse effects could be mitigated by opening the polls 12 hours a day. The 96 hours of voting would be the same as the minimum that was required under the old 14-day law.

So the Department of Justice gave the go-ahead to Florida's plan for an eight-day, 12-hour-a-day schedule of early voting in all 67 counties.

No compromise could have salvaged the onerous registration mandate, which required groups to submit voter-registration forms within 48 hours or face $1,000 in fines. The law had previously allowed 10 days.

There was no reason for the change, other than to intimidate groups, including the League of Women Voters and the NAACP, that conduct voter registration drives. The law did indeed put an end to many registration drives, as groups feared harsh punishment should a volunteer miss the deadline.

"Respecting the right to vote".

'Glades cleanup deadlines pushed back to 2025

"Florida formally signed off on an $880-million slate of Everglades cleanup projects on Tuesday."

Though most environmental groups have applauded the plan, the Miccosukee Tribe and Friends of the Everglades have been critical, arguing it will push back cleanup deadlines to 2025 — almost two decades beyond an original 2006 target — and questioning whether the state has a firm plan to pay for the work.
"State formally approves Glades clean-up plan".

"Governor pretended he had 'increased' funding"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "Voters have good reason to be upset after more than $1 billion in education funding was gutted during Gov. Scott’s first year in office. Then, after part of the money was restored in his second year, the governor pretended he had 'increased' funding." "The governor’s listening tour".

Ann Romney to Largo

"Ann Romney headlining Largo rally".

Rivera tied to Digital Domain scam

"The governor’s office is looking into a $20 million business deal pushed by former Gov. Charlie Crist for a leading visual effects company that on Tuesday filed for voluntary bankruptcy protection."

After the deal was approved, Textor bundled $5,000 into a Republican Party of Florida account to assist Crist as he was running for U.S. Senate as a Republican at that time, according to the Palm Beach Post. Another $3,500 was donated to the campaigns of state Reps. Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa, and now U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, who backed the legislative change sought by Crist.

Textor professed at the time that the donations were a show of thanks.

"Florida Seeks to Recoup Money Charlie Crist Approved for Digital Domain". Related: "PSL mulls renting, selling Digital Domain building". Nancy Smith sees a double standard: "Picture, if you will, the screaming headlines, the cries of negligence and/or corruption if it had been Rick Scott who handed 90 million taxpayer dollars to a company that went belly up three years later." "Thou Shalt Not Blame Charlie Crist for Digital Domain".

Water, water everywhere

"Pointing to 'devastating costs,' Florida mayors are backing state efforts to sway Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to replace federal freshwater quality standards with one overseen by the state." "Florida's Water Standard Request Continues to Tread Water at EPA". Related: "Despite revenue caps being lifted, water districts hold the line against tax increases".

Court to decide if lawmakers are adequately funding public education

"A trial court will decide whether state lawmakers are adequately funding public education after the Florida Supreme Court turned aside a last-ditch effort by Senate President Mike Haridopolos to block the suit." "Court: School Lawsuit Can Go Forward". See also "Justices decline to hear school funding dispute".

Florida pastor promotes film criticizing Islam

"Florida pastor Terry Jones' support and promotion of a film criticizing Islam that has sparked worldwide outrage from Muslims, including violent protests in Libya where a U.S. ambassador was killed in a firebomb attack on the embassy Tuesday." "Terry Jones: Florida pastor linked to Libya bombing protests".

Privatization follies

"As Florida’s Joint Legislative Budget Commission (LBC) prepares to meet Wednesday to consider a proposal to privatize prison health services, an attorney representing public-sector unions vows the state should be prepared for another lawsuit if approval of the proposal is forthcoming." "Unions Ready to Sue as Florida Budget Commission Considers Prison Health Privatization". See also "Legislative Budget Commission takes up prison health care privatization".

Graham calls for reopening of 9/11 investigation

"Former U.S. Senator Bob Graham called for reopening the 9/11 investigation yesterday. Graham was formerly the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and he co-chaired the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11 about a decade ago."

This is not the first time Graham asked for the investigation be re-opened. However, this time, his pleas follow a complaint filed in an U.S. District Court against the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department.

The complaint, filed by Broward Bulldog editor Dan Christensen, accuses these federal agencies of improperly withholding records of an investigation from Congress, the 9/11 Commission and the American public that show a link between a Saudi family in Sarasota and the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2011.

"Former Senator: Reopen 9/11 Investigation".

9/11 Hypocrites

Scott honors "emergency personnel for their quick and selfless actions", yet guts their pensions. "Floridians Remember 9/11". The libruls on The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board think the pension haters should better time their anti-firefighter sentiments (which the editors gleefully share): "Janet Long gets points for candor and a deduction for insensitive timing. The Pinellas County Commission candidate accurately described this week how firefighters' unions often play on emotions to protect lucrative pensions and other benefits that are out of step with today's economic realities. But she framed her argument poorly, and making that mistake on the eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks compounded the error." "Candor is marred by insensitivity".

Privatization flop

"The Department of Economic Opportunity threatened to terminate Deloitte Consulting's contract to replace the state's 30-year-old mainframe unemployment compensation system, but is asking lawmakers for more money after the company pledged to devote more resources to the project in order to meet the contract deadlines." "After delays, vendor to get more time, money to revamp unemployment mainframe".

Now the work begins

"Delegates to the national convention are a campaign's worker bees. That is they knock on the doors and make the phone calls to get the votes. " "With conventions over, delegates' work begins".

"Without taking sides on merits of keeping Pariente, Lewis and Quince, the Florida Bar offers volunteer lawyers as speakers on how retention works." "Top Florida lawyers rally around challenged Supreme Court justices".

EV fight heads to Jax courtroom

"Florida's fight over early voting is moving to a new venue — a courtroom in Jacksonville. Eight weeks before Election Day, as the state seeks federal approval of its new eight-day, 96-hour early voting timetable, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, wants a federal judge to return early voting to its old 14-day schedule." "Fight heading back to court".

FPL rate case settlement

The Palm Beach Post editors: "Reject settlement of FPL rate case".

Virtual education scam

"Online educator K12 under investigation". See also "Read the Documents Behind the Department of Education’s Investigation of K12" and "K12 Responds to Report As Stock Price Falls".