Friday, June 07, 2013

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

Political intervention by private industry at DEP

"A Department of Environmental Protection attorney who caused a stir on Facebook last month by posting about his departure now says he and other attorneys were forced out they aggressively enforced laws contrary to the policy initiatives of a deputy secretary."

On May 22, General Counsel Matthew Z. Leopold sent letters to attorneys Christopher T. Byrd and Kelly L. Russell, saying, "We believe the objectives of the office will be accomplished more effectively by removing you from your position." Attorneys Teresa Mussetto and Christopher McGuire resigned, although McGuire's letter indicated his resignation after 26 years with the department was requested.
"Byrd said last month on Facebook that DEP is moving 'not in the direction of environmental protection,' but he said little more in an interview. On Thursday, he said he is now free to talk after his last official day with the department was Wednesday."
"I am confident I was let go because I aggressively enforced Florida environmental laws and gave legal opinions that were contrary to the policy initiatives that Jeff Littlejohn (deputy secretary for regulatory programs) was pushing," Byrd said.

He said Littlejohn has intervened in cases and argued for law violators in an effort to help private industry. Department lawyers, Byrd said, would have to go to DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard to overrule Littlejohn on his legal opinions.

"Ousted DEP attorney says deputy secretary intervened in cases".

GOPers to convene circular firing squad

The Miami Herald editors: "The comprehensive immigration-reform bill that the Senate will debate throughout June is by no means ideal, lacking fairness for same-sex couples and too onerous on citizenship waiting periods, among other flaws. But even so, it offers a long-delayed pathway to citizenship for many of the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants and deserves to win approval. . . . Why the change? Conventional political wisdom holds that Republicans woke up when their presidential candidate in 2012 lost the Hispanic vote by 44 percentage points. They have to get this right for the sake of their party’s future. Doubtless, the lopsided vote got the GOP’s attention and has given Republicans who support reform some running room." "Closer to reform

Meanwhile, "Rubio vows to press hard for immigration reform".

Where's Marco?

"Same-Sex Marriage Debate Headed to 2016 GOP Primaries".

Right wingers go after Gwen Graham

Doin' what they do best, name calling: "While most eyes in the Big Bend were on Tropical Storm Andrea, GOP political operatives in the region were busy defining congressional hopeful Gwen Graham as an all-out liberal Democrat, as far to the left as Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean." "Gwen Graham: A Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean-Style Democrat If Ever the GOP Saw One".

Scott, Gaetz and Weatherford hypocrisy laff riot

"As the first tropical storm of the season bore down on Florida Thursday, Republican state officials seized the moment to blast Washington and warn that the required budget cuts to federal programs could impede the state's ability to respond to hurricanes or floods."

Now, Scott, Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford have written to Congress and the Department of Defense asking them to exempt National Guard staff from the mandatory cuts because of Florida's hurricane season. . . .

"This is a disproportionately Florida issue because the furloughs are coming just at the time that hurricane season is starting,'' Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said in an interview. "It seems to me this is one of the reasons why across-the-board cuts or the kinds of cuts expressed in sequestration are nonsensical."

"Florida officials use onset of storm season to blast Washington".

Perhaps the letter ought to be directed to the GOP leadership in Washington. Or, does the RPOF think sequestration is awesome for every state except Florida? More: "State leaders look to feds to prevent National Guard furloughs" and "Scott asks for help in avoiding Guard cuts during hurricane season".

"Scott's partisan veto"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Once again, Gov. Rick Scott has refused to accept public policy established by the Obama administration that benefits Florida. And once again, the state will suffer because of his partisan gamesmanship. The Republican governor's veto of legislation that would have allowed undocumented immigrants with a new temporary status to obtain a driver's license ignores reality and common sense. Now tens of thousands of younger undocumented immigrants who live in our neighborhoods and attend our schools are just more collateral damage in Scott's war with Washington."

Yet Scott vetoed the bill and resorted to tortured logic. He criticized the federal government for failing to enforce immigration laws and dismissed deferred action status as an Obama administration policy not approved by Congress. This is a governor whose disdain for the Democratic president and disregard of the federal executive branch knows no bounds.
"Scott's partisan veto on licenses".

One trick pony

"Gov. Rick Scott Criticizing ‘Obamacare,’ Again".

"Scott can make history"

"By simply picking up the telephone, Gov. Rick Scott can make history as the governor who saved the Florida Everglades. If he blows it, history won't be so kind. It's his call, literally." "Gov. Rick Scott can make history by making timely call on Everglades".

"Health Choices"

"Florida Health Choices' debut 'imminent'".

Rubio desperate for attention

"Marco Rubio Lends Conservative Power in Race for John Kerry's Seat". More: "Sen. Marco Rubio Offers Constitutional Amendment Invalidating Part Of ‘Obamacare’" ("The individual mandate was among the most criticized aspects of the Affordable Care Act. The GOP made this provision among its loudest complaints about the law, even though the provision was first touted years ago by right-wing think tanks.")