Saturday, June 22, 2013

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

Defining Mr. Crist

Adam C. Smith: "Every day the Florida Republican Party blasts out 'This Day in CRISTory' emails, reminding people how its former standard-bearer, who is expected to run for governor as a Democrat, used to hail Jeb Bush's expansion of vouchers, once supported offshore drilling, bashed former Sen. Bob Graham as a tax-raiser, campaigned as a prolifer, and so forth."

It's an easy target, questioning the Democratic credentials of a fellow who used to call himself a prolife, progun, antitax Ronald Reagan Republican. But trying to convince Democratic primary voters, let alone general election voters, that Charlie Crist was a right-wing Republican before he became a Democrat won't work. Crist has tried to do that himself with little success in at least a couple of Republican primaries. If Florida's most conservative activists believed Crist's claims that he was one of them in 2010, the former governor would be living in Washington as Florida's Republican junior senator.
"The real Charlie Crist". Meanwhile, a
new group launched a Facebook site this week called “Floridians for Charlie Crist” and encouraging Democrats to support the former governor. The group’s Facebook page features Crist with former President Bill Clinton and sporting a Barack Obama button. After leaving the GOP in 2010 to run for the Senate with no party affiliation, Crist endorsed Obama in 2012 and joined the Democrats in December.
"Friends and Foes Look to Define Charlie Crist".

Rich confident

"Former state Sen. Nan Rich, the only prominent Democrat who has declared as a candidate for governor in 2014, told a Tampa audience Friday she thinks she can win the governor's race despite being a lesser-known, dark horse candidate." "Rich says she's confident she can win governor's race".

Legislators coordinated with GOP operatives in redistricting

"New records in a court fight over Florida's redrawn congressional and legislative maps show an aide to former House Speaker Dean Cannon released congressional maps to a Republican operative two weeks before they were made public." "Records show GOP consultant got political maps before public did". Related: "Judge grants continuance in redistricting case".

"Erring on the side of a 19th century Dickensian workhouse"

Nancy Smith: "Steve Southerland's Farm Bill amendment might have erred on the side of a 19th century Dickensian workhouse, but give the Panama City Republican credit: SNAP, America's food stamp program, is eating the national budget alive, reforms are desperately needed -- and Southerland called it. " "SNAP Is a Beast, Steve Southerland Is Right".

Despite Scott's big talk, Florida is losing jobs

"Florida's May unemployment report offered a mixed bag of news Friday, with the jobless rate falling to 7.1 percent – down a bit from April – even as the state lost 6,200 jobs over the month. . . . Florida still has 137,000 fewer jobs than it did in September 2008, said Rollins College economist Bill Seyfried. It has 500,000 fewer jobs than it did at the start of the recession in late 2007." "Florida jobless rate dips to 7.1 percent".

LeMieux as Lt. Gov?

"George LeMieux Makes Sense for Rick Scott as Lieutenant Governor".

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Tres Bien Fait, Monsieur le Gouverneur". See also "Week in Review for June 21, 2013".

UNITE HERE pressures Rubio

"About 15-20 children of Walt Disney World workers gathered outside Orlando's federal detention center Thursday to show U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio that they are the face of those seeking immigration reform from Washington. The children, whose parents are members of Disney's largest union, UNITE HERE Locals 737 and 362, were part of an effort to send a message to Rubio that he should stand firm behind his Immigration Modernization Act of 2013." "Disney workers' children urge Rubio: Push immigration plan".

Weatherford's morality

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Leadership matters. In Arizona, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer set aside her opposition to health care reform, called the legislature into special session and forced it to approve Medicaid expansion. In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott had a similar epiphany but hardly lobbied Republican lawmakers who refused to expand Medicaid. Now that he has signed into law or vetoed most legislation, Scott should refocus on the most important issue facing Florida and demand action."

There are moral and medical arguments for expanding Medicaid in Florida. It would cover nearly a million uninsured adults earning $15,856 or less and create a healthier state. But that is not persuasive to House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who believes poor people could get health coverage if they just worked harder and got better jobs that offered insurance. So Scott and the business community should hammer home the hard-nosed, economic reasons Florida should expand Medicaid:
"Editorial: Expanded Medicaid makes economic sense".

Florida leads nation in vacated foreclosures

"Florida has 55,503 housing units in foreclosure that have been left vacant -- one-third of all such properties in the country and more than the next five-highest states combined, according to a RealtyTrac report released Thursday." "Florida leads nation in vacated foreclosures -- and it's not even close".

"Gun lobby warns of 'misinformation'"

Bill Cotterell: "Gun lobby warns of 'misinformation' being spread against the bill (HB 1355) that would keep mentally ill people from buying guns in Florida." "NRA urges Scott to sign gun bill". See also "Bill on Gov. Rick Scott's desk divides gun rights activists".

"That perennially loathed lot that comes to work in this steamy, backwoods armpit"

Aaron Deslatte: "Here's a toast to the Florida Legislature, that perennially loathed lot that comes to work in this steamy, backwoods armpit of an otherwise scenic, celebrity-filled and entertainment-abundant megastate."

No one in their right mind would construct a state Capitol here today.

That's what outsiders think, those people who avoid Tally in the muggiest of summer months when no one can stomach the thought of hopscotching through airports to get here — unless they're a lobbyist, paid an ungodly sum of cash to put their contacts and campaign checks to work.

A Quinnipiac University poll last week found the Legislature's approval rating with voters resting at a lowly 32 percent — though not as bottomed-out as March, when only 25 percent of voters thought legislators were doing a good job. That was its lowest approval rating in the past decade.

So maybe it's apropos that such a collection of the unloved has to come to work in a town such as this, disproportionately populated by the equally unappreciated ranks of journalists, PR people, lawyers and lobbyists.

The point is, the people who live here year-round are a rare breed who relish — and feed off —political conflict. And even though it's summer — you can tell because so few college kids are in the bars — lawmakers have given us enough work to get our minds off the filthy heat.

"It's summer, but lots is going on in Tallahassee".

"Liberal education" under attack by Scott

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "The humanities and social sciences have been under attack by Gov. Rick Scott and other politicians who are insisting on a more direct connection between university studies and specific jobs. Now an encouraging new report to Congress provides a path to promoting the humanities, such as philosophy and literature, as critical components in higher education and in creating well-rounded citizens."

Humanities complement the STEM fields, and in today's fast-paced world, it's more crucial than ever to have the broad knowledge base they provide. The report says more than half of employers call a liberal education very important. Scott and other politicians so intent on linking higher education directly to jobs should keep that in mind the next time they question the value of an anthropology course.
"A complete education includes humanities".

"Medical marijuana battle"

"Medical marijuana battle coming to Florida".

Scott panders for Jesus

"FAU re-hires instructor in ‘Jesus’ controversy, faculty union head says". More: "Florida governor wants probe of FAU ‘step on Jesus’ exercise".

Pammy holds a press conference

The Tampa Trib editors: "Bondi says Bank of America failing to live up to national mortgage settlement terms".