Friday, May 10, 2013

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

Fed policies, not Rick Scott, hastening Florida's economic recovery

"An economic forecast from Wells Fargo released Wednesday says Florida's economic recovery is for real, but it's just not very exciting."

The report says the state's convalescence is moving along two separate – but ultimately connected – paths. One is being driven by Federal Reserve policies that have kept interest rates at historically low levels for the past few years.
"That has allowed homeowners to refinance – freeing up more spending money – and encouraged investors to swoop in, buy homes and fix them up for rentals or sales."
The Fed's policies have also lowered the value of the dollar abroad, boosting international tourism.
"Florida economy's bounce-back is real, report says".

Despite his merely "being there", Rick Scott nevertheless claims that he had something to do with the recovery:

Scott has been on a "victory tour" of schools this week to tout the $480 million in merit-based raises for teachers that lawmakers agreed to fund in their $74.5 billion budget passed last week.

And speaking with Enterprise Florida's board of directors at Disney World Thursday, he again touted the investment as one of the catalysts for Florida's economic turn-around. But he also claimed the recovery was thanks to his targeting some 2,300 regulations for repeal, the some 300 economic-incentive projects his office has announced over the last two years -- most of which have yet to create jobs -- and the "business first" attitudes of lawmakers.

"Rick Scott touts rule repeal, end of teacher tenure, for economic rebound".

Company founded by Senate President Gaetz accused of Medicaid fraud

"The U.S. Department of Justice has sued the hospice company founded by Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, accusing the company of engaging in Medicare fraud for more than 11 years, including during the time Gaetz was vice chairman." "Lawsuit accuses Senate President Don Gaetz's former company of Medicaid fraud ".

Crist is on the move

"Former Gov. Charlie Crist, now the front-runner to be the Democratic challenger to Gov. Rick Scott next year, is on the move, increasing his visibility as he works to endear himself to his new party." "Enter Stage Left, Ever so Gently -- Charlie Crist".

Republicans argue that Fair Districts is toothless

"For more than a year, a quiet legal battle over the partisan intentions of Florida's Legislature and Fair Districts backers has been playing out over whether the state's re-drawn legislative and congressional district maps were designed to protect ruling Republicans."

On Thursday, the fight – which is playing out in a trio of separate lawsuits -- returned to the Florida Supreme Court, which last year forced lawmakers to redraw their state Senate districts after a brief, 30-day review of how they might perform in elections.
"State high court hears clash over redistricting plans". See also "Florida Supreme Court hears redistricting case". More: "Redistricting: Will Justices Open Door to Endless Litigation?".

Rubio embarrasses himself (again)

"2016 presidential preview? Marco Rubio criticizes Hillary Clinton on Benghazi".

Right winger cage match

"In a major setback to the rising libertarian wing of the Miami-Dade County Republican Executive Committee (REC), lifelong conservative Republican Byran Avila was elected vice chairman of the local party on Thursday evening." "Libertarians Lose No. 2 Leadership Spot at Miami-Dade GOP". Background: "Young Republicans Battle It Out for Future of Miami-Dade GOP".

Session summary

"2013 Session Summary: State and Local Administration". See also "2013 Session Summary: Economic Development".

Budget blues

"Legislature sends budget to governor".

"Veto Gun Bill" pleas

"'Veto Gun Bill' Pleas Dominate Rick Scott's Post-Session Inbox".

Geniuses in legislature lose $115 million

"That's because the Florida Legislature changed the state's property-tax laws two years ago so Habitat for Humanity and similar nonprofit organizations would not face large property-tax bills when they built apartments or other multifamily-housing projects, officials at Florida Housing Finance Corp. said."

According to Florida Housing Finance Corp., Orange County lost about $16 million in taxable-property value last year because of the exemption, out of an estimated $115 million that was shaved from property-tax rolls statewide.
"Developers to lose tax break".

Union lawsuit

The Palm Beach Post editors: "Delay Florida’s teacher evaluation system until federal judge rules on union lawsuit".

"Rick Scott Begged"

"Lobbyist: Rick Scott Begged Will Weatherford to Pass Sun Life Stadium Funding".

Trib editors join conspiracy theory crowd

"The Tampa Trib editors: "Truth catching up with Obama administration".

RPOF vice chair and House candidate forgot to pay taxes

"Tax Collector Sally Daniel was one of several well-known Hernando County Republicans who stood behind Blaise Ingoglia on Wednesday when he announced he was running for the state House of Representatives. At the time, Ingoglia owed Daniel's office $11,864.75 for two years' worth of delinquent property taxes on his Spring Hill home, records show. He also has been late paying taxes on the property several previous years."

Ingoglia, who serves as vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and chairman of the Hernando Republican Executive Committee, paid the outstanding amount on Thursday, the same day the Tampa Bay Times sent him an email asking about the debt.
"Candidate for state House owed nearly $12,000 in unpaid taxes".

Rivera caught on tape

"A friend of former U.S. Rep. David Rivera who’s implicated in a federal corruption investigation made a recording of the Republican last year — and now prosecutors have the evidence, The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald have learned."

Ana Alliegro made the recording, perhaps secretly, months before the FBI raided her home and seized her computer last year. She later skipped town and was last seen in Nicaragua.
"David Rivera caught on tape, but what did he say?"

"If Florida's U.S. House Republicans are any guide"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "If Florida's U.S. House Republicans are any guide, the debate will be bleak if the immigration bill proposed by the Senate's bipartisan Gang of 8 ever makes it to the House floor. This legislation would affect the fate of 11 million illegal residents already here and would be central to Florida's economy. Florida's congressional delegation should understand, more than most, that it deserves a fair and honest hearing." "".

Another Crist flip flop

"Former Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist has declared his support for gay marriage."

The statement marks a shift in Crist's views on gay marriage. He once supported Florida's constitutional ban on gay marriage, but also later said he wouldn't support a similar federal ban.
"Crist announces support for gay marriage". See also "Charlie Crist, reversing course, comes out for gay marriage".

Entrepreneurs in action

"Nine charged with unlicensed contracting".