Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Please consider becoming a site fan on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Scott asleep at the wheel when it comes to GOP fraud

"With less than a week before the deadline to register to vote in the November election, Republican state leaders who had made voter fraud a top issue are offering little insight into how they are handling the increasing numbers of suspicious registration forms being found throughout Florida."

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said she is getting no direction from state officials as to how to proceed in checking the other forms filed by Strategic Allied Consulting, which was fired last week.

In the past 45 days, Palm Beach County has logged 15,000 new voters. Since Aug. 1, more than 60,000 registration forms were filed, many for changes of address or updating signatures. Bucher said she doesn’t know how many of those forms, now stored in a warehouse, were filled out by Strategic Allied Consulting.

“We’re not sure if we need to go back and check,” Bucher said Monday. “Obviously, it causes us great concern.”

Bucher was hoping to find out Monday if the state was going to instruct the counties with questionable forms to adopt a uniform method to review all forms filed by the firm.

"Detzner, has yet to speak publicly on the issue. On Monday, Detzner was in St. Augustine attending a meeting on Florida’s 500th anniversary, which is next year. Gov. Rick Scott has yet to speak publicly on the matter either. He was in New York on Monday appearing on Fox News with Neil Cavuto, where the subject of the firm didn’t come up. When his office was asked by the Times/Herald why he hadn’t spoken about the case, a spokeswoman replied by email."
“The Republican Party of Florida did the right thing by quickly firing the company connected to faulty voter registration forms in Florida and other states across the country,” said the email from Jackie Schutz. “That company has also been referred to FDLE for a criminal investigation. We have zero tolerance for any illegal voting activity in Florida.”

When asked if Scott actually said this, Schutz emailed back: “Please attribute to the governor.”

"State GOP slow to react on charges of voter fraud".

"A perversion of a retention system"

Fred Grimm explains why Florida has merit retention, and bemoans that the "campaign to oust Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince has been bankrolled by right-wing activists offended by a court decision to throw out a piece of anti-Obamacare legislation. It’s all about politics. And a perversion of a retention system designed to get rid of the corrupt and inept. Not to punish judges who fail to reckon with the political winds." "Keep politics out of justices’ retention". Meanwhile, even the traditionally conservative "Police and fire unions blast GOP attack on Supreme Court". See also "Unions Attack RPOF Opposition to Retention".


"Political ads will ramp up during your favorite TV shows".


Joe Henderson: "Think about the amendments: health care, lower taxes, religious freedom. They all are sponsored by the Republican-led Legislature and could drive voter turnout in what should be a tight election for Florida's electoral votes for president." "GOP-themed ballot issues may boost voting".

"Further proof that the state’s economy has finally recouped"

"Led by a resurgent building industry, Florida businesses’ sales jumped 9 percent in July. . . . Overall, Florida’s $70.4 billion in total sales surpassed an old record of $68.6 billion set in July 2008, providing further proof that the state’s economy has finally recouped what it lost during the downturn." "Florida business sales have record July".

The Week Ahead

"The Week Ahead for Oct. 1 to Oct. 5".

CD 22

"If Adam Hasner is to defeat Lois Frankel and head to Washington, he’ll have to do what Allen West wouldn’t attempt — win as a Republican in a congressional district with a significant Democratic advantage." "Frankel, Hasner run for Congress on experience, philosophical divide".

Purge litigation

"U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch said he will likely rule later this week on whether the state can purge suspected noncitizens from the voter rolls 90 days before Election Day." "Fort Lauderdale judge hears arguments in voter-purge case".

Amendment 5

"The Florida Supreme Court is looming high over the state’s upcoming November election. Not only are three of the high court's justices up for merit retention, but voters are being asked to weigh in on a measure that would radically change how their successors are appointed."

If passed by 60 percent of those headed to the polls, the Florida Supreme Court Amendment – or Amendment 5 – would alter Article V of the Florida Constitution in at least three key respects.

First, it would require the governor’s appointees to the Supreme Court be confirmed by state Senate, just as at the federal level all of the president’s judicial appointees are confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Currently in Florida, the Constitution provides that the governor appoints all judges to the state Supreme Court and district courts of appeal, from lists of nominees submitted to him by the Judicial Nominating Commission. Under Amendment 5, Supreme Court appointees would face the additional crucible of Senate confirmation: the Senate may vote to confirm or reject the appointment; the appointment will also be deemed confirmed if the Senate neglects to vote on it within 90 days.

Second, Amendment 5 provides for greater legislative input in formulating rules of civil and criminal procedure -- i.e., the procedural regulations courts follow when they adjudicate disputes. Under current Florida law, the Supreme Court establishes these rules, and they may only be overturned by the Legislature by a two-thirds vote of the membership of the House and the Senate; the Supreme Court is free to re-adopt the rule if it wishes. Amendment 5 would allow the Legislature to repeal a rule by a simple majority vote of both houses of the Legislature; if the Legislature finds that a rule has been re-adopted, it may (again, by a majority vote in both houses) repeal the re-adopted rule and prevent the Supreme Court from re-adopting it a second time.

Finally, and least controversially, Amendment 5 provides that the state House of Representatives shall have access to all documents of the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC), at the request of the speaker of the House. (The JQC investigates judges accused of misconduct and can recommend they be disciplined.)

"Florida Supreme Court Amendment: Reform Overdue, or Legislative Intrusion on Judiciary?".

Never mind

"The payoff for one of Gov. Rick Scott’s top legislative priorities in 2012 was supposed to be lower auto insurance rates after sharp reductions in Personal Injury Protection benefits, but early returns show PIP rates increasing in at least half the cases." "PIP rates go up for some insurers despite promised savings under state law". See also "Early returns show mixed results for PIP law as chiropractors sue".

Pension haters cross their fingers

"State pension's assumptions may change".

Brilliant mistake

"On Monday, U.S. congressional candidate Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, announced the firing of new communications director Ana Maria Rosato barely 90 minutes after Sunshine State News brought to light a string of recent pornographic and anti-Catholic tirades on her blog." "Democratic Candidate Keith Fitzgerald Fires Spokeswoman After X-Rated, Anti-Catholic Rants Exposed". See also "Sexually explicit rants cost Fitzgerald spokeswoman her job".

"Back in the day?"

Myriam Marquez: "Corruption now in Miami-Dade? How about back in the day?".

Prostitution client list supposedly included "unidentified 'Congressman' from the 'West coast'"

"About 50 pages of evidence released on Monday provide new details about a complex prostitution bust that led to the arrest of an alleged brothel owner who listed State Rep. Mike Horner of Kissimmee as a client. . . . The list also references another unidentified "Congressman" from the "West coast of Florida," with no contact information. That client, the document states, canceled his appointment." "New evidence released in busted brothel that listed Horner as client".

The best they could do?

"The idea to limit state revenue is facing opposition from church groups. About 50 protestors, including clergy, marched on the Old Capitol in Tallahassee to say it's a bad idea." "Preachers say no on Amendment 3".

"Out-of-state donors"

"Out-of-state donors pour cash into Mack Senate race".

"It's safe to just vote no"

The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Near the end of a long, complex November ballot, Florida voters will come to one more little puzzle called Amendment 12. If you have to that point managed to make sense of the impenetrable verbiage in some of the other amendments, you might want to take on the challenge of trying to figure out how you feel about this minor one. Otherwise, it's safe to just vote no. " "Flunking Amendment 12".

Amendment 6 battle

"A battle among religious groups, abortion providers and conservative politicians over taxpayer support of abortions is drawing big checks this election season — despite the fact that Florida doesn't spend tax dollars on abortion services now."

Amendment 6 would restrict public dollars from funding abortions or health insurance that covers abortions, except in areas covered by federal law. Perhaps more important, it also overrides Florida court decisions that have upheld broader privacy rights than the U.S. Constitution affords.
"Abortion amendment attracts big-dollar opposition".