Saturday, September 15, 2012

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

Scott's handling of purge has been so inept and its motives so suspect that it cannot be trusted

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "180,506. 2,625. 207. The difference in those three numbers reflects how recklessly Gov. Rick Scott's administration went about purging the voter rolls and suppressing the vote of minorities and the poor."

What initially appeared to be a flood of illegal voters has become a trickle at most. A settlement with a coalition of voting rights groups announced this week will protect the rights of thousands of Floridians who were misidentified by the state as potential illegal voters. But county elections supervisors should proceed with caution before they remove from the rolls even those the state now claims it is absolutely, positively certain are illegal. This governor has been wrong before, and his credibility remains suspect.
"Now little more than seven weeks from the general election, the Scott administration is determined to keep going to prove a point and save face."
It is sending to county elections supervisors the names of 207 registered voters that it claims have been confirmed as noncitizens by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security database. The supervisors are being trained to use the federal database, and they should verify the information themselves before beginning the process of removing any of these individuals from the voting rolls. The Scott administration's handling of this entire purge has been so inept and its motives so suspect that it cannot be trusted as it tries to regain some measure of credibility.
"Stay vigilant on voter lists".

"Terry Jones’ hub of hate"

Fabiola Santiago: "Preacher Terry Jones’ hub of hate sits on vast green grounds in the northwest fringe of this otherwise progressive college town."

His so-called “church” — the bizarre compound from where he spews anti-Muslim messages that fuel hatred for America around the world and has cost lives — is a stone’s throw from the Devil’s Millhopper, a geological state park built from the steep slope of a limestone sinkhole lush with vegetation and flowing creeks.
Much more here: "Phony holy man runs a hub of hatred".

Ryan surfaces in Oldsmar

"Three weeks after his nomination, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan returns to the Tampa area for a rally today in Oldsmar." "Paul Ryan to rally in Oldsmar today".

"Who's fooling whom?"

Darryl E. Owens: "The GOP blasts Obama for Balkanizing America along economic lines, even as it embraces a similar racial strategy. To paraphrase that social critic, Aretha Franklin, who's fooling whom?" "Why Mitt Romney and the Republican Party don't have support from black Americans".

"Ironically, the United States still has millions of slaves"

Bill Maxwell: "Ironically, in 2012, the United States still has millions of slaves. They are not of African descent on Southern plantations but from all points of the globe: prostitutes, domestic cleaners, restaurant and hotel workers, agricultural laborers and drug and gun carriers."

The United States, of course, is not alone in human trafficking, which is defined as denying a person the freedom to leave, the inability to obtain another job and being held through some type of coercive force.

Last spring, the International Labor Organization released a study estimating that at least 21 million people are in bondage worldwide. Other estimates put the number at 27 million.

This is no small matter. The study shows that the total world market value of human trafficking is in excess of $32 billion. A lot of that money flows to U.S. companies and individuals.

"Even after 150 years, human slavery persists".

Teabaggers outraged

"Minutes after meeting with teachers union representatives for the first time since taking office, Gov. Rick Scott announced tonight that he will not support any cuts in education funding in the next budget. Scott's office issued a press release that included the new edict shortly after he finished a press conference standing side-by-side with Florida Education Association president Andy Ford. That would be the teachers union that opposed his bid for governor and has several lawsuits pending against the state. Ford and other teachers union leaders had a two-hour dinner with Scott at the governor's mansion, and a follow-up meeting is scheduled for next week." "Scott vows not to cut school funding". See also "Governor says he won't cut school funding in the 2013 session".

"Artiles lashes out at Citizens"

"The frequent critic of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. also made a public records request for all correspondence between Citizens officials and two private companies looking to participate in the incentive loan program." "Rep. Artiles lashes out at Citizens, calls for audit of companies involved in loan program".


"The state is expected to pay off debt for the former Preservation 2000 program. Environmental groups are asking the governor to shift that $257 million per year over to the Florida Forever land-buying program and to Everglades restoration." "Coalition asks Scott to put money toward conservation after debt is retired".

Week in Review

"Week in Review for Sept. 10 to Sept. 14".

"A cabal of the weird"

Fred Grimm: "Rising sea levels are already a measurable phenomenon in South Florida. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that we’ve got more — much more — to come."

But on Tuesday, as Broward County commissioners considered the effects of climate change in county planning, they faced something quite apart from reality.

A cabal of the weird showed up to warn that the county had been sucked into a United Nations conspiracy. That global warming was a hoax, part of the U.N.’s secret plan to impose "one world order." The conspiracy theory evolved from a 1992 U.N. resolution, known as Agenda 21, that encouraged nations to use fewer resources and conserve open land.

"They truly believe that we’re under siege by some U.N. force seeking world domination,” said Commissioner Stacy Ritter. “They believe that the slogan, ‘Think globally, act locally,’ comes out of some one world government conspiracy."

"Rising-seas chat brings out the nuts".

Campaign Roundup

"Campaign Roundup: Ads, more ads and ballots".

Scott desperate

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has been shifting his attention to education during his second year in office, is reaching out to tens of thousands of teachers, high school seniors and incoming college students across the state." "Gov. Scott sends letters to thousands of students".

"Audit faults water district for loose management"

"The South Florida Water Management District — the largest public landowner in Florida — has no detailed inventory of the 1.4 million acres it owns and no formal process to sell or lease land it no longer needs, according to an audit by the district’s inspector general. . . . Other issues uncovered include claims that the agency’s second-in-command, Assistant Executive Director Bob Brown, was too cozy with landowners and ranchers regulated by the district." "Audit faults water district for loose management of its vast land holdings".

Will politicians, or courts decide if Florida is fulfilling its "paramount duty"?

The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "If Florida has been unconstitutionally cheating public school students out of money, the Legislature has been able to continue the illegal practice for three years while various courts chewed over the issue."

This week, though, the Florida Supreme Court cleared the way for a trial in Leon County that will delve into the allegations by several parents and pro-education groups that the state is falling short of the amendment voters added to the state constitution in 1998. It says that providing “a uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system of free public schools” is a "paramount duty."
"Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford — the same judge who struck down the law requiring teachers and state workers to fork over 3 percent of pay to the retirement system — ruled that the constitutional 'paramount duty' provision is specific enough for courts to decide whether the state is living up to its school-financing requirements."
The 1st District Court of Appeal upheld her, 8-7, in a tangle of opinions. The Supreme Court this week denied the request by Sen. Haridopolos to kill the lawsuit on the grounds that it asks courts to meddle in politics.

It will be beneficial for the lower court to hear the full arguments. Not only do plaintiffs say money is inadequate, they argue that chronically misused high-stakes tests keep Florida from providing a high-quality education. If the parents win at trial, the issue of the courts’ authority to dictate a remedy likely will come back to the State Supreme Court.

"Lawsuit a poor subtitute for politicians who believe in public education".

Long leaves DEP

"Long's last day with the Division of State Lands was Friday as he told co-workers the time had come for him to move into retirement." "Mike Long leaves DEP ahead of Division Director Clay Smallwood". Other "Arrivals and Departures".

Entrepreneurs in action

"Dramatic hike in cases makes South Florida 'identity theft capital'".

Senators block Scott's attempt to have his own agency monitor millions in corporate welfare

Aaron Deslatte: "On the heels of another major economic incentive deal gone bust, two top Florida senators are blocking an attempt by Gov. Rick Scott's job-creation agency to take over monitoring of the millions paid out to companies for creating jobs." "Pressure grows to police economic-incentive grants".

Task force urged to repeal Stand Your Ground

"Local activists and families urge state task force to repeal Stand Your Ground".

"Free trade" for thee

"Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says President Obama is dragging his feet to help Florida and American tomato farmers. In an editorial published this week, Putnam continued his efforts to get the federal government to accept the tomato industry’s request to void a failed trade agreement that has allowed cheaper produce to be imported from Mexico." "Adam Putnam Continues Call for Feds to Lift Anti-Tomato Deal".

Buchanan supporter "outraged"

"A board member for Manatee County Habitat for Humanity is outraged at what she says is a twisting of her words, by Democratic candidate for Congress Keith Fitzgerald, in an effort to smear opponent U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota." "Misquoted Board Member: Fitzgerald 'Dishonest' About Rep. Buchanan, Habitat for Humanity Deal".

Details, details

"Nelson and his challenger for re-election, Rep. Connie Mack IV, will have at least one and possibly two televised debates before Election Day." "Nelson, Mack still working out debate details".