Friday, October 05, 2012

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please check out our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

"Pure piffle, wrapped in fiddle-faddle and enshrouded in claptrap"

Daniel Ruth on the political partisan posing as Florida's governor: "In a hand-wringing letter that hit mailboxes this week, Gov. Haw-Haw was appalled. He was annoyed. And just a tad miffed. Foul-voter-fraud-play was afoot, he wrote, by sneaky Democrats, aided and abetted by nefarious (remove the children from the room) liberals. Oh dear."

Scott took pen in hand to issue a manifesto of phooey, decrying what he perceived to be efforts by the party opposite and its comrades to subvert the election process by allowing noncitizens to vote. . . .

But for pure piffle, wrapped in fiddle-faddle and enshrouded in claptrap, even Scott managed to top himself when it comes to hypocrisy by insisting, "I don't view the world through a partisan lens." . . .

This odd burst of faux nonpartisanship rings a bit hollow for a pol who has practically relocated the governor's mansion to the Villages.

"Yet, while Scott's letter was waxing ridiculous about the sanctity of the voting booth, his own party was busily at work trying to cook the books."
[W]hen his own party is up to its ascots engaging in vote fraud, Scott's missionary zeal comes off flatter than a bucket of warm beer. Rather than vigorously condemn the GOP vote fraud and the baseless, politically motivated campaign against the Florida justices, the governor has turned into the Marcel Marceau of elective ethics.

Scott's letter isn't a statement of principles, but of principal. To fight against his imaginary foes, Scott asks recipients of his note to contribute to the Republican Party of Florida. Any amount will do, but $1,000 would be simply swell.

To be fair, considering the legal bills likely to be associated with a FDLE criminal investigation into the tainted voter registration forms, it's understandable why Scott would be shilling for the party.

The governor concludes his three-card monte solicitation by fretting over how the voter fraud debate has turned into "circus sideshow." He's quite right about that. Ringmaster Rick Scott has the uncomfortable role of having to clean up the mess after the GOP elephant parade.

"Florida partisan posing as governor"..

Hispanic voters in Florida heavily favor Obama

"Hispanic voters in Florida heavily favor President Obama, strongly back his immigration positions and are highly enthusiastic about voting, according to a new poll [conducted by Latino Decisions for America’s Voice] released Thursday."

Obama pulls 61 percent Hispanic support compared to 31 percent for Republican Mitt Romney, the poll showed. The Hispanic support measured in the poll mirrors other Florida surveys that show Obama with a large lead among this crucial and growing segment of the Florida electorate. Hispanics comprise about 14 percent of the active voter rolls. Still, this 30-point margin is the largest Obama lead to date.
"Poll: Hispanics in Florida favor President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney, 61-31".

West called out for for "extremism"

"Congressional candidate Murphy calls out rival West for 'extremism'; West says he’s guided by founding fathers".

Country clubbers converge on St. Pete

"Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is headed to St. Petersburg on Friday for a rally. Romney’s visit comes roughly two weeks after he went to Sarasota for a rally that drew about 4,000 people." "Mitt Romney to hold rally in St. Petersburg on Friday".

"A blatant attempt to use public money to finance private religious institutions"

The Miami Herald editors write that "school boards rightly oppose Amendment 8, as it would open the door wide for a student voucher program, where state taxpayers’ money would be used to pay for tuition at private religious schools."

Supporters insist the amendment is needed because pending lawsuits threaten the ability of religiously affiliated organizations to provide services to the needy under government contracts. Yet the courts have made clear that contracting services with such groups as Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity or Jewish Community Services to feed the poor, house the homeless or help immigrants would not be imperiled. These organizations already are eligible for — and receive — federal and state dollars to operate many such programs. We find this amendment still disingenuously worded. The proposal is not about religious freedom at all, but rather a blatant attempt to use public money to finance private religious institutions.
"Amendment 8: Vote No on this blatant attempt to fund religious schools". See also "Voters to decide on state aid to religious groups".

Teabaggers in a dither as unemployment falls again

"U.S. jobless rate falls to 7.8%, 44-month low".

"Romney stuck with the fantasy that everything can be made right with tax cuts"

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Americans heard two starkly different approaches to fixing the economy and cutting the federal deficit on Wednesday night in the first presidential debate."

President Barack Obama offered the realistic approach of mixing spending cuts with new revenue. Republican nominee Mitt Romney stuck with the fantasy that everything can be made right with tax cuts and spending reductions. The first debate broke no new ground and had no clear winner, but it reaffirmed the clear differences between the candidates in a tight race with few undecided voters left.
"Romney on style; Obama on facts". The Palm Beach Post editors: "Obama, Romney held ‘Star Trek’ debate". Meanwhile, "Presidential debate impact ripples through Florida".

"Florida Republicans revel"

"A day after GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney turned national media coverage from the verge of writing his campaign obit to watching him hurl a zestless President Barack Obama against the ropes, Florida Republicans reveled." "Romney Debate Performance Spices Up RPOF Victory Dinner in Orlando". And the wingnuts a running wild: "Allen West: Romney Took Obama 'Behind the Woodshed'".

"Measure would gut women’s reproductive rights"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "Amendment 6: Measure would gut women’s reproductive rights". See also "Florida Abortion Amendment: Protecting Parents' Rights or Intruding on Women?".

Unlike ACORN, Florida's Republican fraudsters tried to keep the fraud under wraps

"As criminal investigators sift through hundreds of questionable voter-registration forms filed by the Republican Party of Florida, it’s hard not to see parallels with a case four years ago that made election fraud the campaign issue it is today."

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — ACORN — became conservative shorthand for systemic voter fraud and threatened to undermine confidence in elections throughout the nation. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said as much during his final debate with Barack Obama in 2008, declaring that ACORN was “destroying the fabric of democracy.”

The offense — filling out hundreds of fraudulent voter-registration forms — is strikingly similar to what a vendor hired by Republicans is accused of doing in what has now prompted a criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

But in the only statewide ACORN investigation that led to arrests, the group blew the whistle on itself.
In June 2008, ACORN’s Florida organizer alerted Miami-Dade County law enforcement that 1,400 registration forms that had not been turned in appeared to be problematic. Of that total, 888 were found to be fraudulent, in some cases registering the likes of actor Paul Newman and singer James Taylor.

“To their credit, they brought the forms to us,” said Joseph Centorino, who successfully prosecuted that case against 11 ACORN workers in Miami-Dade. “They turned over a whole box of forms that they thought had been done fraudulently. As far as I know, these forms were never filed at the elections offices.”

That level of cooperation has not been exhibited by Strategic Allied Consulting, the vendor hired by the Republican Party of Florida in July. No company official alerted state elections officials about problematic forms until they had already been detected by elections workers. On Sept. 17, an elections worker in Palm Beach County flagged questionable forms after spotting obvious irregularities.

It was not until that discovery was reported by the Palm Beach Post on Sept. 25 that state Republicans say they knew about problems with forms the firm was filing on behalf of the party. After firing the company last week, the state GOP filed an election-fraud complaint against it.

But in late August, an elections worker in Lee County found problematic forms filed by Strategic Allied Consulting. Although company officials on Sept. 10 fired the employee who filled out the 11 forms, they left officials hanging about what to do after their only meeting.

“I never heard back,” said Cheryl Johnson, Lee County’s voter registration director.

"Probe of GOP vendor’s registrations has echoes of ACORN".

"Single mothers like you don’t deserve to make as much"

"When Boca Raton resident Christina Going asked her boss at Walmart what she could do to snare a higher-paying position, the answer sounded like it was designed to give her ammunition for a discrimination lawsuit."

“Single mothers like you don’t deserve to make as much. You should be in a two-income household,” Going remembers being told. On Thursday, Going joined 10 other Florida women in a federal lawsuit, accusing the retail behemoth of intentionally discriminating against women in pay and promotions. The women who lent their names to the lawsuit hope it will help hundreds of thousands of other women who they say were victims of Walmart’s discriminatory employment practices at hundreds of Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs in Florida and along the eastern seaboard. “Walmart is definitely a man’s club,” said Going, 59, who worked at the Walmart in Clewiston from 1999 to 2003. “Women were almost like second-class citizens.”
"Female ex-Walmart employees file federal discrimination suit over promotions".

Buyin' jobs

"Gov. Scott unveils plans for nearly 500 jobs in Central Florida".

Hager forgot voting for pregnancy ultrasound bill

"Since Florida Rep. Bill Hager was elected in 2010, no fewer than 25 bills that would restrict abortions have been filed by state lawmakers."

While most of the bills went nowhere, Hager joined the GOP-controlled legislature in approving hotly contested legislation that requires women to get ultrasounds before they have abortions. He also gave a thumbs-up to “Choose Life” license plates and agreed to put a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot that would restrict public funding of abortions and give opponents new tools to fight legalized abortion in court.

Still, when a Delray Beach area retiree on Thursday asked if the legislature “votes on pro-life issues” and wanted to know where Hager and his opponent in the upcoming District 89 State House race stand, Hager said such legislation hadn’t been considered during his two-year tenure.

His Democratic opponent, Tom Gustafson, quickly took the microphone, reminding the roughly 50 people at the Voter’s Coalition meeting that the legislature in 2011 approved the ultrasound bill.

"State House candidate forgets voting for controversial pregnancy ultrasound bill".

Reagan appointee green lights purge

"A federal judge in Fort Lauderdale ruled Thursday that Florida's purge of potential noncitizens on the voter rolls can go on."

U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch [and Reagan appointee] said federal law does not prohibit the state from removing voters who were never lawfully eligible to register in the first place. Florida has identified 198 voters as potential noncitizens — among an estimated 11.4 million registered voters — and sent the names to independent county elections supervisors for their review.

A coalition of liberal-leaning voting-rights groups had asked the court to halt the purge, arguing in a hearing Monday that federal law prohibits purging the voter rolls 90 days before an election. Attorneys for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner countered that the state could purge noncitizens at any time because they should have never been on the voter rolls.

"We're very pleased another federal court has ruled that Florida's efforts to remove noncitizens from the voter rolls are lawful and in the best interest of Florida voters," Detzner said in a statement Thursday. "Ensuring ineligible voters can't cast a ballot is a fundamental aspect of conducting fair elections."

Zloch's ruling follows one issued by a Tallahassee federal judge in June in a separate case filed by the U.S. Justice Department. That judge also opined that the 90-day purge prohibition in the 1993 National Voter Registration Act applies to people lawfully registered to vote, such as felons, and is silent as to noncitizens.

"Judge: Florida voter purge can go on". See also "Judge allowing state to remove 200 from voter rolls".

Dawson to prison

"An eleventh-hour bid by former state lawmaker Mandy Dawson to delay going to federal prison has failed and she must turn herself in and start serving her prison sentence in Tallahassee on Friday." "Former senator's last-ditch effort to delay prison sentence fails".

Butterworth might have taken advantage of holes in the state law

"Former Department of Children & Families Secretary Bob Butterworth lobbied heavily this year to persuade his former agency to award his nonprofit company — and its for-profit partner — a $44 million-a-year state management contract."

Butterworth, however, is not registered in Tallahassee to lobby state officials. . . .

One state ethics expert said Butterworth, a Democrat and also a former judge and prosecutor, might have taken advantage of holes in the state law regulating lobbyists.

“It’s like Swiss cheese,” said Philip Claypool, the retired executive director and general counsel for the Florida ethics commission.

Florida law broadly defines lobbying as “seeking, on behalf of another person, to influence an agency with respect to a decision of the agency in the area of policy or procurement.”

But its definition of a lobbyist is narrower, turning on questions of a person’s employment, pay and job description.

“I think there is an argument on both sides,” said Claypool. “The question would have to be determined by knowing who paid whom, for what, and when, as well as what communications were made, when and under what circumstances.”

"Butterworth skirts state lobbying laws to land $44 million-a-year contract in Broward".