Saturday, November 17, 2012

Please consider giving a newspaper subscription as a holiday gift and/or buying one or more subscriptions for delivery to your workplace. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Crist aims nose at Jeb's derrière ... misses

"In his attempt to portray Scott as more concerned about politics than voters, Crist argued that even [Jebbie] Bush, a popular Republican, extended early voting as governor."

Well, not exactly. In 2002, Bush extended regular voting by two hours because of malfunctioning voting machines -- not early voting. And in 2004, he gave supervisors a handful of counties more flexibility in starting early voting days after a devastating hurricane.

It’s important to note that both events were primary elections. Crist made it sound like Bush issued early voting extensions during a presidential election, as Crist did, to accommodate large turn-out.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

"Charlie Crist says Jeb Bush extended early voting".

Scott pumps up Federalist Society whiners

"Rick Scott urged conservative activists Friday not to point fingers and assign blame for President Barack Obama's re-election -- but to "get in the ring" and fight for continued tax reduction, cuts in government regulation and fiscal policies that hold down the cost of living for working families. . . . Scott, a Republican who started his own political career in 2009 with a campaign against national healthcare, said at a Washington meeting of the Federalist Society." "Scott tells conservative group to 'get in the ring'".

"Scott ready to take his medicine?"

The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "As a private citizen, Gov. Rick Scott campaigned against President Barack Obama’s attempt to pass health care reform. As governor, Rick Scott has refused to let Florida implement any key part of the law, even after the Supreme Court in June declared the law constitutional."

This week, however, the governor declared that he finally may be dropping his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which he told The Palm Beach Post a year ago would “never become the law of the land.” . . .

Like other Republican governors, Gov. Scott has refused to create an exchange on its own. The state missed Friday’s deadline, set by the federal government, to create its own exchange. Tallahassee’s new Senate and House leaders have expressed interest in a state-federal exchange. The deadline to submit plans for such an exchange is Feb. 15. The exchange is supposed to open in January 2014, when all the other major provisions of the law take effect.

"Florida has lost valuable time because Gov. Scott and legislative leaders continued to insist that the Supreme Court would strike down the health care law. Now, the state has to rush, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services must make sure that a state-federal exchange offers health plans with adequate coverage."
Since the Affordable Care Act became law in March 2010, The Post has advocated improvement of the law, not repeal. Gov. Scott and other Republicans, though, have offered no alternative during their many months of putting politics over helping Floridians obtain health insurance. Given the results on Nov. 6, Gov. Scott now believes that he has no political alternative but to make nice. But will be make good on his promise of cooperation?
"Is Rick Scott really ready to take his medicine?". See also "Scott asks for health care meeting".

Teabaggers run wild in St. Lucie County

"A divided St. Lucie County canvassing board decided Friday night to recount all 37,379 ballots from early voting in the tight congressional race between Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West and Democrat Patrick Murphy."

The recount will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The canvassing board’s decision came hours after Treasure Coast Circuit Judge Dan Vaughn declined to intervene in the case and denied a request from the West campaign that he order a recount of all the early votes. In his ruling, Vaughn noted that the canvassing board would be meeting later in the day to discuss the issue.

After Vaughn’s ruling, the canvassing board held a lengthy and at times heated meeting in which elections officials revealed that 306 ballots had gone uncounted and the attorney for St. Lucie County Elections Supervisor Gertrude Walker announced that the elections chief was in the hospital.

"St. Lucie will recount early votes in Murphy-West race Saturday morning at 9 a.m." See also "St. Lucie County canvassing board orders recount of early West-Murphy ballots" and "Early-ballot recount ordered in Allen West race".

FlaGOP banks nearly $1M from unopposed candidates

"Re-elected without opposition this summer, Rep. Dana Young had the strange but fortunate problem of having $200,000 in her campaign bank account and nothing to spend it on."

Young, a Tampa Republican, is one of about 50 lawmakers who — with no rival to bury in signs or television ads — poured their leftover political donations this year into the coffers of political parties and committees affiliated with the state’s most powerful lawmakers. The GOP-led Legislature in 2011 lifted a $10,000 cap on political contributions for excess campaign money, making the transactions possible.

Under state law, candidates can steer that money to political parties, to charity or return it to their donors. They also can steer money to their state office accounts, or if they’re feeling generous, donate the money to the state treasury.

In years past, lawmakers used nearly all of the money — which comes from lobbyists and private donors — to contribute to their favorite charities.

But this year the Republican Party of Florida banked nearly $1 million in donations from unopposed candidates. Few Democrats ran unopposed, and the few who did donated little to their party.

"Leftover political donations went to Florida GOP".

"Persona non canape"

Daniel Ruth: "Regarding the Khawam/Kelley axis of hubris as 'socialites' is a bit like thinking of Richard Nixon as a Chippendale dancer. And now that Jill Kelley has had her access to MacDill Air Force Base yanked, she has become persona non canape with her former military pals." "After the laughter, a serious scandal".

Florida's jobless rate dips

"Florida unemployment rate dips to 8.5 percent for October". See also "Tampa Bay area leads state in job creation", "Florida's jobless rate dips to 8.5 percent" and "West Palm Beach News - Breaking News, Local Headlines & Weather |".

Will Weatherford ... the best they can do?

Tampa Bay area leads state in job creation "Reform Will Weatherford-Style: Campaign Finance, Education and Pension Overhauls".

How Florida campaign cash flows

"After a campaign season of torrential political spending, political consulting firm Contribution Link has produced an interactive graphic illustrating the relationship between the various committees that raised and spent money to influence voters. Researchers employed software used to track interaction within social media networks to plot the number of cash transfers among political committees." "An interactive graphic produced by the Contribution Link consulting firm groups political committees by relationships." "Chart tracks how campaign cash flows".

Week in Review

"Week in Review for Nov. 12 to Nov. 16". See also "Weekly Roundup: Election Fallout Shakes Up Capitol".

"Rejection of the 'Republican agenda'"

Lloyd Dunkelberger: "The defeat of eight of the 11 amendments was hailed by Democrats as a rejection of the 'Republican agenda' from the Legislature."

Former state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, was among those making that case in a recent opinion piece in Florida Voices, an on-line forum.

“Those long amendments were, for the most part, the entire platform of the Republican Party of Florida,” Gelber wrote. “I guess they expected voters to reflexively support their attacks on Obamacare (Amendment 1), their opposition to reproductive rights (Amendment 6), their support of vouchers (Amendment 8), their antipathy toward an independent Supreme Court (Amendment 5) and their love of draconian revenue limits (Amendment 3).”

But incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said that criticism is obviously a partisan critique from Gelber and misses a larger problem with the growth of amendments on the statewide ballot.

"Lessons from voter rejection of constitutional amendments".

Exploring election reforms

"Following more than a week of criticism, Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes agreed Friday to explore ways to avoid long lines, misplaced ballots and other problems that plagued last week's election." "Snipes agrees to explore election reforms".

"Florida's grades for infrastructure have fallen"

"Florida's grades for infrastructure have fallen since 2008; the society gives the state a D for energy, flood control and coastal management and C's for most road and water projects. The lack of investment in roads, bridges, ports and airports led the World Economic Forum in its latest competitiveness report to place the U.S. infrastructure 14th among 144 nations, behind much of Europe and Asia." "Crumbling infrastructure's heavy toll".

"Drunken disrobing"

"The corporate watchdogs who were recently fired from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. had uncovered evidence of favoritism, improper compensation and poorly handled investigations at the highest levels of the state-run company."

A report reviewed Friday by Citizens’ Audit Committee shows that one of the final investigations conducted by Citizens’ Office of Corporate Integrity targeted top senior officials at the company. The four corporate watchdogs were investigating how Citizens had handled previous allegations of sexual harassment, drunken disrobing, irregular severance payments, falsified documents and other improprieties by employees.
"Fired investigators uncovered evidence of misconduct at Citizens’ top levels".