Wednesday, February 27, 2013

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

Sink calls Crist run against Scott "a disaster"

"There are only two top-tier Democrats considering a run for governor, Charlie Crist and Alex Sink, and Sink sounds unlikely to do it."

"Without a husband, without the person that I relied on the most to shore me up and give me good advice. That's changed. That's changed everything," Sink told the Associated Press, referring to the death of her husband just before Christmas, former gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride.

"Right this minute, if you're asking me, it's off the table. I'm not prepared to say, 'No I'm not,' but I'm much further away from a run today than I was three months ago," said Sink, 64.

But Sink
hears loads of encouragement from voters disgusted with Republican Gov. Rick Scott. The idea of lifelong Republican Crist as the Democratic nominee sounds like it could be a motivator as well.

"It'll be a disaster," she said of a potential Crist run against Scott.

"Alex Sink says she's unlikely to run for governor in 2014". See also "" and "".

"Move afoot to name voting rights act after Desiline Victor"

Frank Cerabino: "There’s a move afoot to name a Florida voting rights act after Desiline Victor, the 102-year-old North Miami woman who waited for hours in line to cast her ballot during November’s presidential election." "No new voter rights law needed, just send 102-year-old Broward woman to front of the line".

Weatherford gets crazy

"Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is getting noticed. The 33-year-old Wesley Chapel Republican is among nine "rising elected leaders" invited to speak to conservative activists and opinion leaders at the American Conservative Union's CPAC convention in Washington March 14-16." "Weatherford to CPAC".

Rubio's agriculture claim "mostly false"

Politifact says Rubio's claim that "agriculture has always required a significant workforce from abroad" is

Mostly False.
"Fact check: Sen. Marco Rubio says we’ve always needed foreign workers for farming".


"Sen. Jim DeMint Among Conservative Celebs Set for JMI's 25th Anniversary Gala".

DCCC Targets Webster, Southerland and Young

"Three Florida Republicans in potential tossup districts are among the targets of a national Democratic ad campaign over their stance to oppose the Obama administration on sequestration. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched an online ad that takes on 27 House Republicans, including Dan Webster, R-Orlando, Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, and Bill Young, R-Indian." "DCCC Targets Three Florida Republicans, Tea Party for Opposing Obama on Sequestration".

Medical-marijuana plan may affect governor’s race

"As many as seven in 10 Florida voters support a state constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana — more than enough to ensure passage and possibly affect the governor’s race — according to a new poll from a group trying to put the measure on the 2014 ballot." "Poll: 7 in 10 back Florida medical-marijuana plan, enough to possibly affect governor’s race" ("Medical pot’s sky-high approval cuts across party and demographic lines, with Republican support the lowest at a still-strong 56 percent, the poll conducted for People United for Medical Marijuana, or PUFMM, shows.")

Session Outlook

"2013 Session Outlook: Environment and Natural Resources".


"Rick Scott Tells Obama, Congress to ‘Stop Playing Chicken’ on Sequestration". See also "Federal sequestration cuts loom over state budget". Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel editorial board warns that "Florida loses at least $276M in year one".

Your tax dollars at work

"Gov. Rick Scott's long legal battle to keep a campaign promise and make welfare recipients take drug tests received a second federal-court setback Tuesday, but the governor said he will fight on to the U.S. Supreme Court." "Federal court rejects Florida's welfare drug-testing". See also "State Loses Another Round on Welfare Drug Tests", "Federal court blocks Florida drug-test law, but Gov. Scott vows appeal to Supreme Court" and "Temporary ban on Fla. welfare drug testing upheld".

"Welcome to Owlcatraz"

Fred Grimm: "Such a bland, generic, corporate name. For $6 million, a private prison conglomerate ought to get more out of Florida Atlantic University than 'Geo Group' atop the entrance to a football stadium."

Obviously, the Geo known, if not very well, as America’s second-largest private jailer needs to extract something more from FAU so the company can distinguish its naming rights from all those other Geos. For another million or so, the university could change its nickname, making it plain what kind of outfit just purchased FAU’s dignity. Players could be known as the “convicts” or “inmates” or “lifers” or “the fighting felons,” decked out in prison stripes. Me, I prefer “jailbirds,” which retains the ornithological bent of the team now known as the Owls. The ACLU website devoted a page disparaging the Geo deal under the banner, “Welcome to Owlcatraz.”

The ACLU and other civil rights, human rights, and immigrant rights groups have intimated that when FAU hawked naming rights to a prison outfit dogged by allegations of neglect, abuse and general chintziness, the university was, indeed, selling more than the sign fixed to the football stadium. But a soul seems a tough commodity to monetize.

Carl Takei, staff attorney at the National Prison Project for the ACLU, complained to reporters last week that FAU’s sugar daddy was a “terrible company with a well-publicized track record of abuse and neglect and FAU should be ashamed to be associated with them.”

FAU president Mary Jane Saunders called Geo “a wonderful company.” Perhaps her estimation was influenced by an acute need for money. Tainted or not. No questions asked.

"The $500,000 a year going to FAU will be less than the company spent on Tallahassee lobbyists in 2011 ($645,000). The company has given out $1.2 million in political contributions to the Florida Republican Party over the last three years, in a failed attempt to get legislative approval to let private operators take over 30 state lockups in 18 southern Florida counties."
But maybe the news that the Geo Group has lavished a few million on FAU will nudge state lawmakers into finally embracing a prison privatization binge.

Of course, there’s a more direct method. Plenty state legislators, for enough money, would happily sell the naming rights to their own children.

"FAU has a questionable sugar daddy". See also "FAU president agrees to discussion of naming stadium for GEO Group".

"Like a third-grade classroom of teachers' pets"

Nancy Smith writes that "the 8th Florida Gaming Congress is like a third-grade classroom of teachers' pets, all with hands folded and legs crossed." "Five Things That Surprised the Heck Out of Me at the Florida Gaming Congress". See also "Florida Gaming Congress Wide Open for All Stakeholders, All Ideas". Related: "Gambling revenues: Florida tribes trump the US average".

Florida shows why nation still needs Voting Rights Act

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "The last election cycle demonstrated that if given a chance, lawmakers will manipulate rules for voting and elections for partisan advantage. Florida's 2011 election law was an overt attempt to make it harder to register and vote, with the subtext being to discourage minority voters and give Republican candidates a boost. It took federal judges acting under the preclearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to force at least some adjustments. The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments today over whether to continue preclearance requirements, and if it overturns those requirements, it will harm voting equality and the fairness of the nation's elections."

The court's conservative majority is likely to rule against Section 5. That would willfully ignore the recent efforts made by Republican-controlled states to manipulate elections by infringing on minority voting rights. Think about the swath of strict voter ID laws in some preclearance states with rules that disproportionately harm poorer residents who tend to be minorities. Preclearance jurisdictions still draw more than 80 percent of the lawsuits where voting discrimination has been proved.

Florida's experience is an example of the benefits of Section 5. After state lawmakers cut early-voting days from as many as 14 to eight, a federal panel refused to approve that change unless early-voting sites in the preclearance counties were open for the maximum number of hours. African-American voters tend to rely more heavily on early voting.

"Keep sharp watch on voting rights".

The Palm Beach Post editorial board "The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today about whether the nation still needs two key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The answer is yes, and Florida shows why." "Florida shows why nation still need key part of Voting Rights Act".

FlaDems gear up

"Newly elected Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant announced the appointment of four top deputies Tuesday, including a specialist in political social media, drawn from important constituencies in different parts of the state as the party prepares for next year's race against Gov. Rick Scott." "Tant names 4 party captains".

Charter madness

"County issues $10.5 million in bonds for charter school".

"Florida notorious for human trafficking"

The Tampa Trib editorial board: "Florida is one of the most notorious states for human trafficking activity, with the Tampa Bay region serving as a central hub. Child sex trafficking makes up a large part of this underground industry." "Human trafficking, a growing threat to Florida's children".

"A more congenial front"?

"Unlike in past sessions, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, believe they will be able to offer a more congenial front when the anticipated annual discord and bill wrangling gets underway. - See more at:" "Don Gaetz, Will Weatherford Envision Session of Amicable Tension".