Sunday, June 09, 2013

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

Florida "a mango republic before we were a banana republic"

Fred Grimm: "After Miami Herald stories exposing corruption in Miami-Dade County, a familiar disparagement has become inevitable in the e-mail reaction and readers’ comments. 'Nothing but a damn banana republic,' they complain, implying an ethnic superiority, as if local government was a pristine enterprise before an influx of Cuban exiles ruined South Florida’s fine Anglo ethic."

Smiling Jimmy Sullivan, the sheriff of Dade County excoriated by the 1950 Kefauver Commission for his lucrative ties to mobsters, would have been amused.
" The tired, familiar references showed up in my e-mail in-box after last week’s column about election-rigging allegations against the campaign organizations of both U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia and his predecessor David Rivera. Not that jobbing the vote should be a forgivable transgression, but compared to the days when Smiling Jimmy was banking $75,000 a year off his $12,000 salary, this was tepid stuff. In the 1930s and ’40s and ’50s, Miami-Dade College history professor Paul George reminds us, the Dade County Courthouse was widely known as the 'steal' courthouse."
Sen. Estes Kefauver’s commission, during those explosive hearings into organized crime, discovered that legions of our local government officials were hired toadies for the likes of mobsters like Joe Adonis, Frank Erickson, Vincent Jimmy “Blue Eyes” Alo, “Trigger Mike” Coppola, Sammy “Game Boy” Miller and Willie “Lefty” Bischoff, not to mention the casino kingpin brothers, Meyer and Jake Lansky. Al Capone, who owned a palace on Star Island and a throng of Miami politicians, had died, else he would have headed the list.

Not that the Kefauver findings were big news in Miami. A 1949 Dade County Grand Jury panel complained, "We could not see any purpose in repeating the work of our predecessor juries to discover officially and at great length that crime and corruption do exist here. Conditions have apparently not changed since the writing of the 1944 grand jury report. There is present in our community a large number of individuals of unsavory reputation. These persons are criminals of national stature. All forms of gambling are flourishing and there appeared to be little effort to curb them, although they were being carried on right under the eyes of the police."

"I guess we were a mango republic before we were a banana republic," said Paul George, who, as official historian of the Historical Association of Southern Florida, ought to know. Off the top of his head, he rattled off a long list of elected officials in Miami and Dade County nabbed for kickbacks and bribery and other malfeasances, long before the great Latin influx.

"Florida’s corruption knows no ethnicity".

Another fine Jebacy

"Scores Show FCAT Results Largely Stagnant or in Decline".

"Medicaid expansion mulligan?"

"The Florida Legislature might take a mulligan on Medicaid expansion. Golf purists frown on the practice of replaying a stroke following an errant shot, but Floridians should welcome the potential for a political do-over on Medicaid." "Medicaid expansion do-over?". The Sun Sentinel editors: "Rejecting Medicaid funds was costly decision".

More Scott flip-floppery

The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Rick Scott is campaigning for reelection by campaigning for low university tuition, but he is part of the higher education problem in Florida." "Rick Scott opposes the tuition increases he once supported.".

"Garcia’s fall from grace"

"At least one thing remained the same last year for Miami Democrat Joe Garcia as he shifted from candidate to congressman: his most trusted political adviser. Jeffrey Garcia, who had shaped the newly elected congressman’s run for office and managed his failed campaign two years earlier, made the move from political operative to congressional chief of staff."

Garcia’s fall from grace was striking for a political operative who had a reputation for befriending the candidates who hired him — often long-shots for victory.
"Rep. Joe Garcia’s disgraced chief of staff has longstanding ties to the Miami congressman".

Allow travel to Cuba

The Tampa Trib editors: "There is a quick way for our nation to help overwhelm Cuba's censorship and propaganda. Simply allow Americans - the most effective ambassadors for democracy and free enterprise - to travel more easily to Cuba." "Ease travel restrictions to Cuba to boost freedom".

Rubio "forever ineligible to speak the language of limited government"

Even a broken clock is right twice a day: George will writes that "sugar protectionism is government planning. It is industrial policy — government picking winners and losers — applied to agriculture. It is politics supplanting the market in allocating wealth and opportunity. And it is perfectly all right with 20 of the 45 Republican senators."

That many voted against modest reforms, thereby rendering themselves forever ineligible to speak the language of limited government. One of them is known as tea-party-favorite (this compound word is his first name, judging by the way he is constantly identified by the media) Marco Rubio. He is fluent in that language, but he represents Florida. Actually, he represents the state’s sugar cane growers better than he does its 19.3 million sugar consumers, or his own tea party expostulations.
"Sugar producers reap benefits of sweet deals".

Curry urges full on whining

"Lenny Curry, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, sent a memo last week to GOP members of Congress up for re-election next year: Use the IRS scandal, early and often." "Opportunity knocks".

Rick Scott, "Loser of the week"

"Rick Scott. The governor vetoed a bill that would help children of illegal immigrants who received legal status under an Obama administration policy get driver's licenses. The bill got support from all but two lawmakers. Scott seemed to be trying to appease conservatives but he stirred fierce reaction among Hispanics and underscored the GOP's problems broadening its base. As Republican strategist Ana Navarro asked on Twitter, 'Jeeze, Rick. Was this necessary?'" "Losers of the week".

Darryl Rouson, "Loser of the week"

"Darryl Rouson. The Democratic state rep from St. Petersburg was in the news for not paying three years of taxes on a Tallahassee townhome (he paid up after the story) and there were questions about a budget earmark that, had Scott not vetoed it, would have benefited a group overseen by Rouson's wife." "Losers of the week".

Rubio hedges

"A member of the Intelligence Committee, Rubio hedged when asked if the phone monitoring program was being misused." "Marco Rubio cites Boston bombing in defense of phone monitoring".