Tuesday, October 16, 2012

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

"Republican early vote limitations have black voters fired up — and ready to vote"

"When Republicans shortened early voting days in Florida, black leaders say it was like handing voters a lemon."

"So we're going to make lemonade," Victor T. Curry, senior minister at New Birth Baptist Church, told 150 black pastors from South Florida on Monday.

Thus began Operation Lemonade, a massive vote-turnout operation scheduled to start before the first early in-person voting polls open Saturday, Oct. 27.

The effort is technically nonpartisan. The name "President Barack Obama" was notably absent from the ministers' gathering.

But it didn't need to be said.

"Black voters overwhelmingly support the president, who needs their vote more than ever now that he's slipping in the polls to Mitt Romney in Florida and nationwide."
At the same time, Republicans are making a big push to bank early votes by absentee ballots. . . .

Relatively few of the absentee ballot voters, though, are black.

By and large, black voters don't trust the mail-in ballot system. And they prefer to head to the polls to personally hand their ballot to a local election official.

In 2008, black voters swamped the early voting polls, leading then-Gov. Charlie Crist to issue an executive order to keep the stations open longer. In all, early voting lasted a total of 120 hours over 14 days in 2008. Obama carried Florida — a must-win for his Republican opponents — and therefore won the presidency.

The GOP-controlled Legislature responded by capping early voting hours to a maximum 96 hours over eight days. It also eliminated early voting the Sunday before Election Day, when African-Americans would vote in droves as part of their "souls to the polls" turnout tradition that began with the advent of early voting in 2002.

The Republican early vote limitations have black voters fired up — and ready to vote, Curry said.

"'Operation Lemonade' started by black clergy: Will it get 'souls to the polls' for Obama?".

"South Florida's key Jewish vote"

"Even though Jews make up only 3.4 percent of the state's population, they're critical in elections because they're far more likely to be registered and show up at the polls than the general population, said Ira Sheskin, professor of geography at the University of Miami and director of the Jewish Demography Project. Sheskin estimates 6 percent of the state's voters are Jewish." "Parties woo South Florida's key Jewish vote".

"Mixing politics and work"

"Be careful about mixing politics and work".

"12 million Latinas and Latinos expected to cast ballots this year, up from 10 million in 2008"

"Teresa Rey is one of the millions of mothers across the nation who carefully watched the first presidential debate of 2012. It is fair to say that Rey felt frustrated with the moderator’s lack of questions around family economic-security issues."

Questions about unfair wages for mothers, the high price of childcare and the lack of paid leave to care for children and the elderly were left off the table. The moderator also failed to ask the candidates about the contributions of immigrant families to the overall economy of our country. For Rey, who lives in Tampa, paying close attention to the candidates’ position on issues such as these is vital to ensuring that our communities thrive.

Rey will be among an estimated 12 million Latinas and Latinos expected to cast ballots this year, up from 10 million in 2008, according to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. Moreover, the size of the Latino constituency specifically in states expected to be very competitive in 2012 — such as Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Virginia — means that the Latino vote is critical to choosing our next president.

"Latina moms leading their families to the voting booth".

"Jeb picked a bad time to engage in freelance gloating"

Frank Cerabino: "Jeb Bush picked a bad time to engage in some freelance gloating."

The former governor wrote an op-ed piece last month for [Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church right-wing newspaper] The Washington Times to point out how his educational reforms in Florida have led to such impressive gains by minority students that the state hasn’t had to resort to redefining success.
"A few weeks after Bush’s piece was published, Florida abandoned that approach. Like I said, bad timing."
Bush held out Florida as an example of a state that didn’t need to adjust its expectations for minority achievement because of the annual testing he brought to the state.

“Traditionally, low-performing schools that produce strong learning gains are rewarded,” he wrote. “Florida’s A schools are represented in both the suburbs and inner cities. This policy rewards achievement and progress, without lowering the bar for students based on skin color, national origin or a parent’s salary level.”

But the numbers in this month’s strategic plan from the State Board of Education show a far less rosy picture.

After more than a decade of testing-based education reform in Florida’s public schools, only 38 percent of black students are reading at grade level. That’s far below Asian students (76 percent), white students (69 percent) and Hispanic students (51 percent).

So coming up with a goal of getting 74 percent of Florida’s black students to be on reading level would nearly double the success rate for those students in just six years. That’s not racial profiling. That’s magic.

And announcing that plan is less of an insult to those students and more of a belief in the existence of a transformative post-FCAT educational system yet to be unveiled.

"Jeb Bush gloats about Florida education reforms looks ill-timed". Related: "Report questions whether FCAT progress bona fide" ("The FCAT was developed under the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, and over the years expanded for a variety of uses – including now evaluating teachers - under Governors Jeb Bush and Rick Scott. But pushback is growing from dissatisifed educators and parents who question the FCAT’s validity and worth.")

Business shills

The Employment Policies Institute, a "front group" created by a lobbyist for the restaurant and hotel industries, declares Florida's minimum wage a bad thing. "DC Think Tank: Florida's Minimum Wage Hike Hits Teens, Adds Unemployment Barrier".

Data breach

"Thousands of past Florida college and university students have not yet been notified that hackers may have accessed their sensitive identifying information, including dates of birth and Social Security numbers." "Students not yet notified of Bright Futures data breach".

"Florida's left-wing 'community' is up in arms"

Lloyd Brown: "Florida's left-wing 'community' is up in arms, opposed to every amendment to the state Constitution that will be on the ballot in November."

The gist of their arguments is that the sacred document (we know how liberals revere constitutions) should not be cluttered with extraneous matter.

Roll the tape:

In 1998, liberals were excited, eager to jam into the state Constitution a provision concerning public schools.

"Amending the Constitution Can Be a Tricky Business".

Political stunt

"Leon County Sheriff candidate Lisa Sprague has filed a complaint with the state Elections Commission against incumbent Sheriff Larry Campbell, alleging he’s lied about his education and military background. Campbell, a Democrat, denied the allegations, saying that his five decades in law enforcement included several extensive federal and background investigations that verified his experience." "Sprague files elections complaint on Campbell in sheriff race". More Tallahassee follies: "Is Tallahassee Police Department Violating City Watchdog's Free Speech?".

Never mind the "increased recidivism rates"

"A 2004 study by Yale economists Patrick Bayer and David Pozen on privately-run juvenile facilities in Florida found a trade off in the results. Their cost-benefit analysis implied that the short-run savings offered by privatization would be reversed by increased recidivism rates." "DJJ to privatize five facilities".

Federalist Society Hoedown

"Regardless whether three state Supreme Court justices survive their challenges at the polls next month, politics has become a permanent part of judicial elections in Florida as voters react to 'judicial activism,' a former circuit judge with long experience in Republican politics told a panel of other forensic experts Monday night during a law school forum."

"The barn door is open," Allison DeFoor, former vice-chairman of the Republican Party, said in an interview after speaking at the Federalist Society panel discussion on the state's system of merit appointment and retention of appeals court jurists. "You have a system now where everybody seems to be unhappy with it, which tells me it's probably crying out for being reformed."
"Legal experts weigh judicial retention system".

"Insurance regulators outline cuts"

"The Office of Insurance Regulation has already seen sharp cuts since the onset of the recession, but included cuts to travel and administrative expenses as part of a budget exercise." "Insurance regulators outline cuts, hope they won't come".

CD 12

Joe Henderson: "The bigger the race, the more daunting the challenge. But it hasn't stopped Paul Elliott, 69-year-old NPA candidate for Congress, from trying to win the new 12th district that covers Pasco County and parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas. He is actually one of two unaffiliated candidates in the race; acute care nurse John Russell is the other. Jonathan Michael Snow, 25, is running as a Democrat." "Unaffiliated candidate eyes new congressional seat".