Monday, December 24, 2012

You might, ought consider giving a newspaper subscription as a holiday gift. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Off to the fringe they go

"Former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, are among the announced featured speakers for the American Conservative Union’s 2013 CPAC March 14-16 in Washington, D.C. It's an event lined up for a potential preview of the GOP’s 2016 presidential field." "Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio Headline List of Potential Presidential Candidates at 2013 CPAC".

"PolitiFact Florida: Crist has taken both sides on abortion"

"Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's evolution from Republican to independent to Democrat has led to sharp criticism from Republicans."

You know the GOPers are getting desperate when they start drawing comparisons between Crist and one of their own:

Republican Party of Florida chairman Lenny Curry tried to link Crist with U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican from Missouri known for his comment that "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy.
To be sure, Crist has been ... flexible ... on the issue of choice, as he has been with most other things:
Crist's stance on abortion throughout his career is too complex to boil down to a sound bite. He has called himself "pro-choice" and "pro-life."

In 1992 when he was running for the state Legislature, the Miami Herald wrote that Crist said he was "pro-choice," but opposed state-funded abortion.

When he was running for the U.S. Senate in 1998, Crist wrote in a questionnaire: "I am pro-choice, but not pro-abortion. I believe that a woman has the right to choose, but would prefer only after careful consideration and consultation with her family, her physician and her clergy; not her government."

In 2006, when he was running for governor, Crist said: "I'm pro-life on this issue, but I also understand that it's very important to respect the views of others, and I do. I don't think it's important to change the law. What I do believe is important is that we change hearts and not the law."

During the 2006 campaign, he told a priest that if elected he'd sign an abortion ban similar to South Dakota's, which included an exception only for the life of the mother. But later Crist told the Associated Press that he'd only sign such a ban if it included exceptions for rape and incest.

He repeated that summary of his views — only accepting a ban that included exceptions for life of the mother, rape and incest —at other times that year.

In 2010, after leaving the Republican Party, Crist vetoed a bill that would have required women seeking abortions to get an ultrasound.

In August 2012, Crist endorsed President Barack Obama in an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times and complained about growing Republican extremism.

"Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims," he wrote.

So, is the Republican Party of Florida's mouthpiece correct when he says Crist adheres to that most curious of Republican positions on rape, to wit: that "'legitimate rape' rarely results in pregnancy"?

PolitiFact Florida has a muddled response:

Crist has taken both sides on abortion, so it's possible to attack his view and be partially correct. But Curry ignores Crist's words and actions that conflict with Akin's stances. We rate this claim Mostly False.
"PolitiFact Florida: On Charlie Crist, Todd Akin and abortion".

But the regressive sales taxes keep on coming

"For the third year in a row, Florida is giving up on collecting more than $100 million in taxes, fees and fines owed the state. . . . A large portion written off by state officials was unpaid taxes, including sales taxes, corporate income taxes and unemployment taxes." "Florida forgave $124.2 million in taxes and fines".

Sad day

"Former gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride dies".

Falling up

"Just elected as Manatee County's election chief, former state senator Mike Bennett is eyeing another public office. Bennett is one of four applicants vying to fill two vacant seats on State College of Florida's Board of Trustees. After ending his time as a state senator because of term limits, Bennett is scheduled to be sworn in as Manatee County supervisor of elections on Jan 8." "Bennett seeks to be State College of Florida trustee".

"Florida's wading bird population suffered during 2012"

"South Florida's wading bird population suffered during 2012, with nesting on the decline due to the return of too much water too fast for herons, wood wtorks, ibises and egrets. The 2012 wading bird nest total was a 39 percent decline compared to the average over the past decade, according to the South Florida Water Management District." "Decline of wading birds raises environmental concerns".

Longshoremen may throw down their tools, Scott in a dither

"Dade and Broward county leaders are watching negotiations as unionized port workers threaten to strike on Saturday." "Miami-Dade and Broward ports on edge as union strike looms". Background: "Gov. Scott urges Obama to take action to prevent ports strike".

"Lumping all of the Republican Party leaders together" with an alleged crook

Jeremy Wallace: "It did not take long for Sarasota Republican Party chairman Joe Gruters to distance the party from former leader Robert Waechter, who was charged with a felony for allegedly stealing a political rival’s identity to make donations to Democrats in her name."

Since Waechter was charged earlier this month, Gruters has been sending word to the media and the local Republican Party faithful that he knew nothing of Waechter’s alleged behavior.

“Whether factual or not, it is important you know that the RPOS had no awareness of, nor involvement with the alleged activities,” Gruters said in the statement to party followers. “There is no place in our party for illicit campaign tactics or disreputable behavior.”

Waechter turned himself in to authorities on Dec. 14 after Sarasota County sheriff’s deputies said they found evidence that showed Waechter used a prepaid debit card to make a $200 campaign donation to a Democratic candidate for Congress in the name of Lourdes Ramirez, a Republican considering running for the County Commission against one of Waechter’s favored candidates in 2014. They also reported that Waechter made a $35 donation in Ramirez’s name to a Democratic state legislative candidate.

In theory, the donations could have been used against Ramirez, a community activist from Siesta Key, in a Republican primary to raise suspicions about her party credentials.

Waechter, who has already given up his seat on the governor-appointed Sarasota-Bradenton Airport Authority, has refused to comment since his arrest.

Gruters, who himself is considering running for another County Commission seat, said he was forced to respond because too many people in the community were suggesting that he or other party leaders had something to do with the effort to discredit Ramirez.

“People were lumping all of the Republican Party leaders together because he is a former leader,” Gruters said.

The State Attorney’s Office is expected to decide in the next two weeks whether to pursue charges against the politically connected Waechter, who played a key role in helping four of five Sarasota County commissioners win elections.

"Sarasota GOP chairman Gruters disavows Waechter's actions".

When can I have my "surplus value" back?

Lloyd Brown whines that the "liberal media are chock full of end-of-the-world doom and gloom", but in the same breath says "America is in decline, descending into socialism." "Seekers of Good News Don't Have to Leave Florida".

"America is descending into socialism". Really?

This John Bircher dead ender, who once graced the pages of the Florida Times-Union before a predictable stint as speech writer for Jeb Bush, plainly spent too much of his college time in those science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes Rick Scott so loves. Brown probably believes the silly stuff he writes.

To avoid further embarrassment, we recommend that the geezer brush up on the proper usage of complicated words - like "socialism" - by taking a look at this oldie but goodie: "Facts on Communism: Volume 1 the Communist Ideology - Committee on Un- American Activities house of Representative Eighty-Sixth Congress First Session December 1959".

Brown has got his pejoratives wrong, even by Tail Gunner Joe's lax standards.

"A rich assist from Florida taxpayers"

"With a rich assist from Florida taxpayers, Walt Disney World and local sports promoters are hoping to make Orlando a magnet for soccer fans this February. Disney and the Central Florida Sports Commission have organized the region's first formal "Soccer Spring Training" program, which will feature six Major League Soccer teams holding preseason camps across Central Florida for 18 days in February." "Disney at center of state-subsidized plan to draw pro-soccer fans here".

Florida's LGBT 600,000 population second in size only to California

"At the first meeting of a new state House education subcommittee this month, a dramatic moment in Florida history passed virtually unnoticed."

Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, saw that as a good sign.

When lawmakers were asked to introduce themselves and provide a little background, some mentioned careers as educators. Others talked of steering their kids through public schools.

When it was Saunders’ turn, he spoke about having lobbied for anti-bullying legislation, approved in 2008. He added, “My partner is also a high school drama teacher, so that helps in my perspective as well.”

Saunders, 29, is one of two openly gay Florida House members elected this year, the first in state history.

In a legislature where milestones passed in recent years include the election of the first Haitian-American lawmaker, and a Cuban-American House speaker, Saunders and Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, also see themselves as pioneers.

“You’ve got to be sitting at the table,” Richardson, 55, said of the importance of their election. “This is not my quote, but someone has said, ‘if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’”

With a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population estimated at more than 600,000 people, second in size only to California, Florida had been the nation’s largest state without any openly gay legislators, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Victory Fund, a political advocacy organization.

"Florida’s first openly gay state lawmakers say equality just part of their priority list".