Wednesday, October 24, 2012

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

Early voting in Florida begins Saturday

"Early voting in Florida begins Saturday, nearly a week later than past years — and with wide variations in hours from county to county."

The majority of voters will have access to the maximum possible hours of 96, spread over eight straight 12-hour days. That's because supervisors of elections in all large counties chose that schedule, seeking to maximize turnout and reduce chances of long lines on Election Day and confusion from the change in early voting days.

The Legislature last year reduced the number of days from 14 to eight, ending on a Saturday, three days before the Nov. 6 election. The state had required 96 hours of early voting but the law was changed to allow at least 48 hours and a maximum of 96, while eliminating early voting on the last Sunday before Election Day.

"Early voting starts Saturday". Background: "Florida early voting starts Saturday, with wide variations in hours across the state".

Obama campaign appearance in Tampa on Thursday

"Tickets are still available for President Barack Obama's campaign appearance in Tampa on Thursday, campaign officials said today." "Tickets still available for Obama campaign appearance".

Grayson seeks to bury foe

"In Congress or on the campaign trail, it's often not enough for Alan Grayson to win. He has to win big. For proof, look no further than his campaign for Florida's 9th Congressional District." "Pugnacious Grayson seeks to bury little-known foe".

"Ingenious scheme hatched by Team Obama"

"Tom Jackson": "requests by Florida Democrats for mail-in ballots have surpassed 1 million for the first time. (Sunshine State Republicans routinely top 1 million, the report states.) It may have something to do with the ingenious scheme hatched by Team Obama, in which voters visit elections offices, request mail-in ballots and fill them in on the spot: early voting by other means." "Obsessively seeking clues from mail-in ballots".

Bondi says "no" to state employees

"Attorney General Pam Bondi is adamant that a $334 million mortgage settlement sitting in escrow since February will go to distressed Florida homeowners, not to state employees for pay raises. . . . State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkle Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, had proposed Monday that some of the money go to state employee pay raises." "Pam Bondi: Mortgage Settlement Money Isn't for State Employee Pay Raises".


"Scott to announce education package this week".

Never mind conservation

"Asked after the Cabinet meeting about whether the state should buy more [] land, [Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam] said the state needs to take better care of what it has now. 'I don't think you walk away from the program,' he said. 'But I don't think you maintain the program at the record highs it operated at several years ago.' . . . . Environmental groups have launched a petition drive to place a constitutional amendment on the 2014 ballot to increase spending on land." "Putnam urges closer scrutiny of state land management assignments, raises doubts about land-buying".

False Flag Operation?

"The Florida Division of Elections and state law enforcement officials are investigating reports from at least 24 counties — including Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas — that eligible voters have received bogus letters saying they have been flagged as suspected noncitizen voters."

The letters inform recipients they have 15 days to fill out a voter eligibility form and return it to the county elections office. If they don't, they'll be removed from the voter rolls, the letter warns.

Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, blames Gov. Rick Scott's push to purge noncitizens from the voter rolls.unlimited money in political races

"The state has created a lot of confusion about citizenship and eligibility," Simon said. "No one can be reasonably surprised that people have stepped in to take advantage of the confusion."

Guerra, who said he never misses a vote and contributed $100 to John McCain's 2008 presidential bid, recently re-registered to vote and called Pasco County's Supervisor of Elections Office on Tuesday after he got his letter. They put out an alert.

"Bogus letters target Fla. GOP voters". See also "Threats questioning eligibility mailed to Hillsborough voters", "Bogus letter sent to voters in Palm Beach, other Florida counties claiming citizenship questions imperil ability to vote", "Voters receiving fraudulent letters" and "Bogus letters question Florida voters' citizenship".

Rumor has it that these letters - sent to folks that would never miss the opportunity to vote (and certainly won't because of these bogus letters) - may be part of a larger False Flag operation: these letters, in tandem with the bogus fraud charges filed against the Florida Democratic Party, as well the Florida New Majority Education Fund and the National Council of La Raza/Democracia USA. "Voter fraud complaint filed against Fla. Democrats", would support GOP claims that the Dems are trying to "steal" the election in Florida. A rallying cry for Fla-baggers to flock to the polls and harass voters.

Voucher madness

"Rick Scott to Propose More School Choice, No Funding Cuts".

"Jewish voters will stick with Obama"

"Former South Florida Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler of Boca Raton, now president of the Washington-based S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, disputes GOP claims that many Jews who voted for President Obama will not vote him this time due to rocky relations with Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other missteps."

But Wexler, who attended the third and last presidential debate Monday night at Lynn University, also claimed that exit poll numbers cited by the media after the 2008 election inflated Obama’s success with Florida Jews. The exit polls said Obama won 78 percent of that vote, while Wexler said he thought it was “more like 73 to 74 percent.”

“I think he’ll do low 70s again this time,” Wexler said.

In other words, Obama will not have to win as many Jewish votes in the state as some people think he will need in order to match his 2008 performance.

"Former Congressman Wexler says Jewish voters will stick with Obama".

Sink in the mix

"Alex Sink speaks at PB Business Group’s season-opening breakfast".

"Florida Debt to Decline Again"

"Florida will report in December that it has significantly reduced its outstanding debt for the second year in a row, and that continued refinancing of outstanding debt will save more than $1 billion on future interest payments, the state's top bond finance official said Tuesday. A second year of lower debt appears to portend a reversal of a long trend. Two years of reductions follow about a decade of increasing debt loads and represent the first year-over-year drops in 20 years." "Florida Debt to Decline Again This Year, Trend Now Going Down".

"Two trial attorneys are vying for the Senate District 14 seat in Central Florida that snakes from eastern Orlando south through Kissimmee and into Haines City."

The district was drawn as a Hispanic access district during the redistricting process, and both Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, and Republican William McBride are playing up their Latin roots in an appeal to voters.
"Campaign Profile: Attorneys battle for SD 14 seat".

Mack demands UN be "kicked off of American soil"

In a sign of growing desperation, "U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, who's running for the U.S. Senate, said the United Nations 'should be kicked off of American soil.'" "Mack calls for defunding the United Nations". Meanwhile, "Sen. Bill Nelson stumps for votes on Rep. Connie Mack’s turf".

Florida Columnist worries about "Soviet-Style Assassins"

Nancy Smith actually penned this yesterday: "Obama's Latest Brilliant Idea: Soviet-Style Assassins to Supervise November Elections".

"Obama stays in Florida"

Zac Anderson: "President Barack Obama stayed in Florida for his first post-debate campaign appearance Tuesday, continuing his aggressive critique of Republican challenger Mitt Romney from the night before and repeating his assertion that Romney is 'all over the map' on foreign policy and many other issues." "Obama stays in Florida and attacks Romney".

"Unpleasant details"

The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board: "When election laws stretch over 172 pages -- as Florida's do -- unpleasant details are bound to lurk in the fine print. One such example comes courtesy of statute 101.68:"

"After an absentee ballot is received by the supervisor, the ballot is deemed to have been cast, and changes or additions may not be made to the voter's certificate."

That little-mentioned restriction has become important to more than 100 Sarasota County citizens who failed to sign their absentee ballot certificates before turning them in.

Under Florida law, the lack of a signature invalidates those ballots, as the Herald-Tribune's Tom Lyons explained in a recent column. If the error is caught before the ballot is handed in, it can be corrected. But under 101.68, no remedy exists once the supervisor of elections office receives the ballot. Thus, there is no point in notifying those unfortunate voters until after Election Day.

"Absentee and uncounted".

Legislator considering party switch

"Just days after a trial court judge dismissed his suit challenging his razor-thin August primary election defeat, sources close to Democratic Rep. John Patrick Julien tell Sunshine State News the legislator is 'considering a party switch.'" "Democratic Rep. John Patrick Julien Defends School Choice, Pro-Life; 'Considers Party Switch'".

Partisan disconnect

In Orange County Democrats "outnumber Republicans 43 percent to 30 percent in voter registration. Yet Democrats are outnumbered 6-1 on the county's non-partisan elected board, where GOP Mayor Teresa Jacobs and five Republicans control the agenda."

Former Mayor Linda Chapin, a Democrat who was part of the 1992 push to make county elections nonpartisan, said that she still believes that's the ideal choice.

"But here's what has changed," said Chapin, who won't oppose a move back. "With the new element of unlimited money in political races, I can't expect my Democratic colleagues to give up any advantage they have in real voters."

"Democrats want Orange races partisan again".

No Cuba

Fabiola Santiago points out that "not even as a follow-up to the historical reference of the anniversary made by moderator Bob Schieffer did U.S. policies toward the Cuban dictatorship get a mention Monday night."

It was a surprising omission given the subject’s role in other presidential elections and the unprecedented longevity in the hemisphere of a repressive regime only 90 miles from Florida, where the debate took place.

And Cuba wasn’t the only snub. All of the Caribbean and Latin America were neglected despite the economic relevance of a region that represents millions of trade jobs to Americans.

"Where was Cuba in the presidential debate?".

Not enough red tape

"A St. Petersburg man is dead and a co-worker was badly hurt after a load of steel pipes fell on them onboard a ship in the Port of Tampa Tuesday afternoon. . . . crews were moving the pipes in 1-ton bundles at the time." "St. Pete man dead after pipes fall on ship at Port of Tampa".