Friday, July 05, 2013

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

Rivera connection haunts Rubio

Adam Smith's take on Dan Balz' new book, Collision 2012, insofar as it concerns Rubio:

Rubio was talented but untested. But he had another issue. As a Florida legislator he had brushed up against a financial scandal involving the Florida Republican party. In addition, then-representative David Rivera, a close friend and fellow office-holder, was under federal investigation for for campaign irregularities. There was no evidence of wrongdoing by Rubio, but among at least some Romney advisers there was concern that Rivera would be indicted before the election, and if that were to happen the story would become a major distraction.
"Balz Book: David Rivera helped sink Rubio's VP prospects".

Look for the same "distraction", among many others, to carry forward to Rubio's premature interjection into the 2016 preznit conversation. Meanwhile, "Ad praises Rubio, immigration bill".

Report: Gambling benefits Florida

"Florida has one of the most competitive gambling markets in the country, bringing in more state tax dollars than all but two other gambling states, a new report concludes." "State report: Gambling does have economic benefits". See also "State study: Florida already one of nation's top gambling locations".

"Battle to Replace Will Weatherford"

"The Battle to Replace Will Weatherford Begins in Pasco County".

"The purely nosy are going to be disappointed"

Paul Flemming warns that "the purely nosy are going to be disappointed with a less detailed financial disclosure from Gov. Scott. On the plus side, it’s much easier to see the less-detailed form. This year, for the first time, everybody can find elected officials’ financial disclosures online at Be patient. The actual forms are appropriately redacted for exempt material before they’re published on the web, so many are in process following Monday’s deadline to file." "Paul Flemming: Governor's disclosure form is less than titillating".

Privatization follies

"Last year, the Florida Department of Children and Families signed a $42 million contract with the Philadelphia-based company privatizing housekeeping and grounds-keeping services at the State Hospital in Chattahoochee. The contract included jobs held by 110 employees who made up the hospital housekeeping staff, according to DCF records."

Those working under the Aramark contract now pay as much as 90 percent more for health insurance. Records show the company offers health insurance options starting at $124.15 a month for individual coverage and $223.60 a month for an employee and a dependent. State health insurance starts at $8.34 a month for individual coverage and $30 a month for a family.
"Aramark kept on half the state workers".

Murphy treads carefully

"Scraping out victory in the country's most expensive and vicious House race of 2012, and ending the career of tea party hero Allen West in the process, Murphy faces another high-profile campaign that will test the delicate line he walks in a quintessential swing district."

In a bitter twist, the loss of a polarizing, donation-attracting opponent may make it harder for Murphy, one of just nine Democrats in the country to win a district that went for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama. "His prospects of winning a second term are almost entirely dependent on Republicans nominating someone who is unpalatable to independent voters," said Wasserman, who gives Murphy no more than a 35 percent chance of besting any generic Republican.

The GOP began targeting Murphy immediately after he won the District 18 seat, which touches Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin counties, confident their voter registration advantage will benefit a less controversial candidate. Republicans make up about 38 percent of the electorate; Democrats, 36 percent; independents, 26 percent.

Most districts in the country are far more one-sided, the result of gerrymandering. It has pushed Democrats to the left and Republicans to the right, resulting in a Congress that rarely cooperates. "I'm lucky I'm in a seat where I can be myself," said Murphy, a Republican until 2011.

"In swing district, Rep. Patrick Murphy has to tread carefully".

DWS was right

"Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was correct in saying South Florida has 'had nine inches of sea-level rise since the 1920s'" "Debbie Wasserman Schultz says in South Florida, 'we’ve had nine inches of sea-level rise since the 1920s'".

Lobbyists deciding what to do next

"The Obama administration's decision to delay the Affordable Care Act health insurance mandate on employers has lessened some of the leverage advocates of expanding Medicaid in Florida had on lawmakers, but it won't end the debate."

On Wednesday, House Republicans cast the one-year delay as proof that lawmakers are right to worry about the consequences of the law, which they say is deeply flawed. Supporters of Medicaid expansion, meanwhile, said the decision of the federal government shouldn't affect deliberations in Florida.
"Employer mandate delay propels Florida's health care debate". Related: "Mixed Reaction by Florida Business Community to Obamacare Mandate Delay".

"Only 'half of the story'"

"A Big Sugar ad campaign has struck a sour note with environmentalists."

In fliers mailed to thousands of South Florida homes and in a television spot, the sugar industry touts legislation signed by Gov. Rick Scott in May — which extends a $25-an-acre tax on cane fields to help pay for an $880 million expansion of projects to reduce the flow of farm pollution flowing in the Everglades — as a “historic partnership” with environmentalists and the state that will “put the final phase of restoration into place.”

The ad boasts that “smart farming techniques" have helped preserve the Everglades and proclaims farmers the “largest private funders of Everglades restoration” with some $400 million invested in the effort to date. . . .

“It’s not uncommon for coalitions and businesses to reach out in whatever media form to make sure people understand the facts,’’ said Hughes. “The sugar farmers are proud of the work they have put in to be part of the solution.’’

But two environmental leaders quoted in the flier supporting the legislation — Eric Draper of Florida Audubon and Eric Eikenberg of the Everglades Foundation — aren’t exactly on board with its message.

Both groups caught some flak during the legislative session from other activists who wanted the industry to pay more of the massive clean-up costs. The state has already spend some $1.2 billion constructing sprawling pollution-scrubbing artificial marshes that have not yet met strict water-quality standards for the Everglades.

Under pressure from federal judges overseeing two long-running environmental lawsuits, Scott championed an expanded clean-up plan expected to take several decades to construct. The law, aimed at raising $32 million a year, adds 10 years to a $25-per-acre tax that Everglades sugar growers pay, extending it to 2026. After that, the tax declines to $20 and then, in 2036, to $10 per acre.

Draper said the flier tells only “half of the story.”

"Big Sugar ad touting role in preserving Everglades irks environmentalists".