Sunday, June 23, 2013

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

"Scott should clean house before Vinyard does even more damage"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "It's a sad reflection on the state of environmental protection in Florida when a state agency's lawyer fears for his job merely for enforcing the law. But the firing of Chris Byrd and several other attorneys has exposed more trouble within the Department of Environmental Protection under the leadership of Secretary Herschel Vinyard. Gov. Rick Scott should clean house before Vinyard does even more damage to the agency and to the environment."

Byrd told Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman this month that he had a sinking feeling after winning a trial victory against a Marion County couple whom a jury found had illegally filled in wetlands along the Rainbow River. Rather than celebrate, Byrd thought: "When (Deputy Secretary) Jeff Littlejohn hears about this, I'm probably going to lose my job." And sure enough, he did — after Littlejohn met with the defendants to hear their complaints. Byrd was one of four DEP lawyers ousted from their jobs. His colleague, Kelly Russell, told the Times they were fired because their legal advice "was not well received by" Littlejohn, his aides or "outside influences."
"DEP's failure to serve and protect".

After climate change deniers like Scott are gone, Florida will be inundated by rising seas

Fred Grimm: "Because I’ll be dead."

Not the most forward looking credo, kicking the coffin down the road, but it’s the unspoken subtext when politicians refuse to acknowledge a disastrous inevitability. Last week, when U.S. House Speaker John Boehner called White House initiatives to curb carbon dioxide emissions “absolutely crazy,” he was really saying that short-term sacrifices to stave off global warming aren’t worth contemplating for a political strategist looking no further than the next election. Because he and his climate-denying colleagues, most of them of a certain crotchety generation, will be dead before their progeny face the consequences.

When Rick Scott said, “I’ve not been convinced that there’s any man-made climate change. Nothing’s convinced me that there is,” the 60-year-old Florida governor was really just suggesting he can muddle through the next few years as a climate denier pol because by the time South Florida is inundated by rising seas, he’ll be buried and forgotten.

But maybe not. The current issue of Rolling Stone, in an article entitled, Goodbye Miami, suggests that the ruinous effects of sea level changes will be plenty obvious by the time Scott turns 75.

The article draws on a number of recent studies warning that the thermal expansion of the oceans, together with the melting of glaciers and polar ice sheets, will bring havoc to Miami and environs much sooner than climate scientists thought just five years ago.

"Rising seas? Geezer pols will be dead...".

No fee increases

"University board sides with Rick Scott, says no to fee increases".

"A vengeful state that lacks respect for the solemn business of capital punishment"

The Tampa Trib editorial board: "Flippant remarks by the bill's legislative sponsor, state Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Fort Walton Beach, that the law's critics are 'zealots' and that 'only God can judge, but we sure can set up the meeting,' only serve to advance Florida's image as a vengeful state that lacks respect for the solemn business of capital punishment." "Death penalty law not the answer".

"Sons of powerful politicians"

"Ever since he turned 16, people have been asking Bill Young II the same question: When are you going to run for office?"

Until now, Young, son of U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, has left the politicos guessing. But the answer is likely 2014, an election season that could be the year of dynastic politics in Pinellas. At the same time that Young, 29, is seriously contemplating a run for the District 68 seat in Florida's House, state Sen. Jack Latvala's son, Chris Latvala, 31, is thinking of making a bid for the District 67 House seat.

In other words, the sons of two of the most powerful politicians in the Tampa Bay area are preparing to extend their fathers' legacies.

"For C.W. Bill Young, Jack Latvala it's like father, like son".

"Privacy and civil rights"

The Sarasota Herald Tribune editors: "The lifesaving value of Florida's database for controlled-substance prescriptions is real. But with this monitoring tool comes an obligation to protect patients' privacy and civil rights. That cause suffered a significant setback recently, when several prosecutors and defense attorneys around Volusia County were given the confidential prescription records of more than 3,000 people." "Drug database flaw".

"Twist on Florida's usual gun control debate"

"In a twist on Florida's usual gun control debate, the nation's pre-eminent gun rights group is defending a bill aimed at keeping firearms from some people with mental illness." "NRA faces a Florida challenge".

Florida awaits gay marriage decision

"Florida waits on SCOTUS decision that may impact gay marriage".

"Sorry, Charlie"

Randy Schultz: "Remember how in August 2009 Charlie Crist was so certain of being elected to the U.S. Senate that he named a friend and former chief of staff to keep the seat warm for him?"

For that and many other reasons, Democrats should not buy the idea that the former governor and former Republican could win easily against Gov. Rick Scott. Democrats are strutting after the 2012 election. President Barack Obama won the state for the second time. The party gained seats in Congress and the Legislature. Last weekend’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner set records for attendance and fund-raising. Realistic Democrats, though, surely understand that the 2014 election will be different.
"Crist a sure thing over Scott? Sorry, Charlie".

Crist "lovefest"

"Charlie Crist entered the Pasco County banquet hall of Democrats to a standing ovation and open arms, the earliest sign Saturday's luncheon featuring the once Republican governor would be a lovefest."

Crist sounded like he wants to be the Florida Democratic Party's gubernatorial nominee but stopped short of saying he's in the race. He praised President Barack Obama's "leadership and grace" and dissed Republican Gov. Rick Scott on immigration and voting, without using his name.
"Ex-GOP Gov. Charlie Crist welcomed by Pasco Democrats".