Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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

Florida's Hispanic population rose 62 percent from 2000 to 2011

"A new national survey shows that the Hispanic population in the U.S. rose 47 percent from 2000 to 2011 and that the rate of growth in Florida was even higher — 62 percent."

The Pew Research Hispanic Center in Washington, a respected demographic research institute, found that the Hispanic population in the U.S. during those 11 years swelled from 35.2 million to 51.9 million. The total U.S. population as of 2011 was 311.6 million, meaning that 16.7 percent of people living in the U.S. were Hispanic, compared to 12.5 percent in 2000.

And that percentage is expected to increase. Of all births in the U.S. in 2011, 23.1 percent were to Hispanic women.

"Study: Hispanics a growing slice of the American pie chart".

The Dean Cannon amendment

"The proposed sweeping ethics changes that would expand the prohibition on legislators lobbying for the first two years out of office won’t take effect until after the 2014 election."

An amendment added to the bill expands the ban to include the executive branch of the state government, a rule some have tied to former House Speaker Dean Cannon who quickly built a Tallahassee-based lobbying firm, Capitol Insight LLC, after he left office last fall.
"Lobbying Ban Expansion Won’t Impact Current Legislature".

Close ties to Jeb Bush pay off

Fred Grimm: "The FIU deal was like so much else in Florida. It’s like those hinky contracts awarded to providers of mandatory online high school classes. Or the private for-profit companies hired to run the publicly funded charter schools. It’s the same explanation behind the rush to privatize prisons. Or why a certain company gets to erect electronic billboards on public land."

Randy Best, the Texas business man behind Academic Partnerships, has something far more compelling in Florida than mere business expertise. He has political juice.

Best, who was a major fundraiser for the presidential campaign of George W. Bush, scored big with contracts spawned by Bush’s No Child Left Behind. And when congressional investigators charged that his company’s contracts were based on politics and financial ties rather than merit, it hardly affected his business plan.

And what matters in Florida are Best’s close ties to the Bush family, particularly former Gov. Jeb Bush and the Republican establishment. FIU may have plenty of expertise around campus. But Randy’s got the juice.

"FIU deal benefits connected exec".

Just what Florida needs: "melding the business and education communities"

"The Senate President urges the business community to get behind a proposal melding the business and education communities into a joint venture that will prepare students for a job and career. Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg had his panel Tuesday 'dot the i's and cross the t's' on the bill he said he would file Wednesday." "Gaetz says education bill is 'going to make history'".

Legislature loves that stimulus

"The state plans to increase transportation spending to boost jobs, build more roads, and get the state’s ports ready for the Panama Canal expansion." "More state spending on roads, ports".

"Another real estate bubble"?

"Hedge funds and investment firms are buying up Florida foreclosures, beating out homebuyers and local flippers, while steering the state into what some fear is another real estate bubble." "Investment firms buying up Florida foreclosures".

"It was all a big fraud"

The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Last year Florida lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott made a mockery of Florida's higher education system when they created a 12th university while cutting the existing universities' budgets by $300 million."

Supporters insisted that transforming the University of South Florida's Polytechnic branch campus in Lakeland into an independent university would not cost any additional dollars or harm other universities.

It was all a big fraud, as is abundantly apparent now.

As the Tribune's Jerome Stockfisch reports, Florida Polytechnic University's trustees are asking for an additional $25 million this year, though it has about $109 million to get the university running by 2014. Most of that money was left by USF.

But now the trustees of the unaccredited school with no students say they need more for infrastructure, including landscaping, roads and furniture.

"the Florida Polytechnic fraud".

Smart Justice?

"Prison Unions Skeptical as Bipartisan 'Smart Justice Bill' Filed in Legislature". Here's some not so smart "justice": "Wrongly jailed at 15, Broward man finally gets his day in court" ("He was swiftly convicted by a jury and sentenced to life in prison by a judge who told him that he would have sentenced the juvenile to death — which was allowed at the time — if the jury had recommended his execution.")

Florida for sale

"Florida Atlantic University’s announcement to change the name of its football stadium to that of a private prison corporation accused of human rights violation has surprised and outraged students as well as South Florida’s pro-immigrant activists." "Boca Raton firm that runs prisons gets naming rights to FAU stadium; it’ll be called GEO Group Stadium".

"Session Outlook: Transportation"

"2013 Session Outlook: Transportation".

Domestic partnership bill faces long odds

"Vowing not to give up, Democratic state Sen. Eleanor Sobel delayed a committee vote of a domestic partnership bill that looked unlikely to pass and still faces long odds."

"Domestic partnership bill on hold for now". See also "Domestic partnership bill stalls in committee".