Wednesday, November 28, 2012

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

Dorworth, loser of "one of shocking legislative defeats in Florida history", lands in Ballard's lap

"Chris Dorworth was supposed to become speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in two years. Instead, he will be lobbying his former colleagues."

A prominent Tallahassee-based lobbying firm announced Tuesday that it has hired Dorworth, the controversial Lake Mary Republican who lost his seat in the state House earlier this month in one of the most shocking legislative defeats in Florida history.

Dorworth, 36, will manage a new Orlando office for Ballard Partners, which earned more than $1 million in fees during the last quarter alone from clients that include, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Florida Power & Light and gambling giant Genting.

"Obviously, everyone was shocked by the election results," said Brian Ballard, the firm's president and one of the state's top Republican fundraisers. "But there's nobody that has left the House of Representatives in my memory, really since [former House Speaker] Allan Bense, that has had the love of the membership as much as Chris Dorworth."

Dorworth, who lost his Seminole County-based House seat to Democrat Mike Clelland of Lake Mary, called the move "an incredible beginning to the next chapter in my career.

"I chose to work with Ballard because I've seen that over my tenure in government, it seems that on every major battle that plays out in Tallahassee, Brian Ballard has been right in the middle of it advocating for his clients," he said.

By law, lawmakers can't lobby the Legislature for two years after they leave office. Dorworth said he expects to spend that time "setting strategy and establishing a strong presence here in Central Florida" for Ballard Partners, as well as lobbying the Governor's Office and executive agencies.

He then plans to begin legislative lobbying.

"Dorworth has a new career – as a lobbyist". See also "Dorworth lands at Ballard Partners".

"Bipartisan spirit is already receding"

"The bipartisan spirit is already receding from last week's swearing-in ceremony and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford looked more like a typical conservative Republican with the unveiling of his committee assignments on Monday." "Florida House leadership assignments will test bipartisanship".

"Group tasked with making recommendations to improve Miami-Dade elections"

"A group tasked with making recommendations to improve Miami-Dade elections will begin meeting Tuesday morning, three weeks after Election Day was marked by long lines and a surge of absentee ballots that took several days to count." "Group to begin reviewing Miami-Dade’s elections practices". See also "Why you spent hours in line at the polls" and "Miami-Dade mayor names election advisory group members".

"Nine-ballot discrepancy"

"Audits of the voting systems used in the Nov. 6 election reflect none of the ballot-counting turmoil in Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties, where misplaced, misprinted and machine-munched ballots made Florida — once again — the target of wisecracks and lawsuits."

In St. Lucie County, where angry voters demanded a recount after learning that machines could not read some cartridges in the testy congressional race between Allen West and Patrick Murphy, the audit found 100 percent accuracy in two randomly selected precincts.

In Palm Beach County, where 27,000 ballots had to be hand-copied onto new ballots because a printing error prevented machines from tallying the ballots, the difference between election night totals and the audit of more than 3,200 ballots in four precincts found a nine-ballot discrepancy. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher attributed the difference to “little anomalies,” such as a poll worker who double-counted write-in ballots in one precinct and another who allowed provisional ballots to be scanned.

Although more than 700,000 voters cast ballots in Palm Beach County, the nine-ballot discrepancy bothered Bucher, who said she will review reported problems and decide how to improve the process.

"Voting audit finds discrepancy".

"Laundry list of scandals"

"Beleaguered by allegations of corporate misconduct and exorbitant executive spending, leaders at Citizens Property Insurance Corp. expressed outrage — at the media. During a special hearing on Tuesday to address several corporate improprieties first reported by the Times/Herald, Citizens CEO Barry Gilway reserved some of his harshest criticism for news outlets that uncovered the laundry list of scandals at the state-run company." "Citizens leader criticize media coverage of firm’s problems". See also "NSF Video: Citizens Insurance Hearing".

"A gimmick pretending to be a policy used as a sound bite"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "Florida colleges and universities are among the most affordable, and there has been a brain drain of top professors in their fields leaving for other states that pay them more. Florida Board of Education member Roberto 'Bob' Martinez of Miami noted in a letter to the governor last week that Scott’s proposal 'will be perceived as a gimmick pretending to be a policy used as a sound bite, and merely copying the plan announced last year by Gov. Perry of Texas.' Mr. Martinez, a Republican appointee, is telling it straight." "Invest in Florida’s public colleges".

"There's some singular backbone for you"

Daniel Ruth: "A few days ago, Sen. Marco Rubio hedged on this whole silly science thing by claiming he has no clue about the age of the planet."

"It's one of the great mysteries," said the man who wakes up every morning practicing the crisp salute upon debarking from Marine One on the White House lawn.
"But if you are on the hunt for a real mystery, you don't need to go much further than that demagogue Grover Norquist, Washington's Torquemada of Taxes."
Congress, of course, is populated by figures who pride themselves — at least before microphones — as fiercely independent-minded pillars of courage ever ready to stand up to the forces of evil bent on destroying America. Inspiring is what it is.

And yet, going into the November elections, 279 congressional incumbents along with another 286 challengers eager to become part of the Capitol Crazy Buffet line all happily signed a pledge to Norquist promising to never, ever raise taxes by so much as a bus token.

Say, there's some singular backbone for you.

Among those rolling over like a Shih Tzu eager to get its tummy rubbed for a Snausage treat were Rubio, Reps. Vern Buchanan of Sarasota, C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores and the recently defeated Allen West of Palm Beach Gardens.

"Republicans start to ask, "Grover who?"".

"Atwater will have to answer questions"

"Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater will have to answer questions under oath in a lawsuit filed by the owner of a Tallahassee art gallery that was never paid for framed photographs valued at more than $357,000 for the new 1st District Court of Appeal." "Florida CFO Jeff Atwater must testify in 'Taj Mahal' case".

Stand-your-ground gun laws have a troubling racial component

Frank Cerabino: The Stand Your Ground numbers are not a mystery:

They’re just inconvenient to the supporters of the law. David Hemenway, the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, wrote a piece that summed up the findings of multiple studies showing that stand-your-ground gun laws don’t deter crime and have a troubling racial component in the way they are prosecuted. “In the Stand Your Ground states, when white shooters kill black victims, 34 percent of the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable, while only 3 percent of deaths are ruled justifiable when the shooter is black and the victim is white,” Hemenway wrote.
"Stand Your Ground panel does just that".

"Focus on growth management fades"

"Growth management issues have been moved from the former Community & Military Affairs Subcommittee to the Economic Development & Tourism Subcommittee. 'We think growth has a more prominent role than just kind of being a secondary issue for economic development,' Charles Pattison, president of 1000 Friends of Florida, said in response." "'Community Affairs' disappears from subcommittee name as focus on growth management fades".

Dems defeated Republican who fell for Teabagger scare tactics

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Tuesday's 6-1 vote to add fluoride back into the drinking water caps a long public controversy that reaffirms the centrist judgment of Pinellas voters and their embrace of sound science and sensible government. New commissioners Charlie Justice and Janet Long decided to run for office in part because the commission voted 4-3 to stop adding fluoride in January. The Democrats defeated two Republican incumbents who fell for the scare tactics and the tea party political pressure, and they pledged to reverse the decision upon taking office." "Welcome reversal on fluoride". See also "Citizens CEO on Dismantled I-Team: ‘The Bad Decision Was How We Did It’", "Citizens defends investigator firings, wants to move on" and "Pinellas to put fluoride back in water".