Sunday, July 28, 2013

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

Repeal of SYG not a winning political proposition in Florida?

Marc Caputo writes that "a new poll released last week showed 50 percent of Floridians support keeping the law intact, 31 percent want it changed and only 13 percent want a full repeal."

Though the poll was conducted by a Republican-led firm, Viewpoint Florida, the findings jibe with four other nonpartisan Florida surveys that have shown even greater support for the self-defense law, which gives a person more rights to use deadly force without having to retreat first in a confrontation.

The three Democrats who have the best shot at facing Scott in next year’s election say the law should be modified — not repealed — but they aren’t making Stand Your Ground a top issue, either.

"Gov. Scott on safe ground with Stand Your Ground, polls show". But see "Democrat Rich to join protesters at Capitol". Related: "Nan Rich: Stand Your Ground allows ‘murder’ but wasn’t ‘determinant’ in Trayvon Martin case".

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Times editors complain that "Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature's Republican leaders continue to defend the indefensible 'stand your ground' law. That is not a winning strategy for Florida's national image, its economy or the safety of its residents." "'Stand your ground' can't be yanked soon enough".

Sea Cows get a reprieve

The Tampa Trib editorial board thinks it is "fortunate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put off possibly 'upgrading' the West Indian Manatee from endangered to threatened." "Protecting the manatee and other wildlife". Related: "Activists protest at SeaWorld after release of killer whale documentary".

Executive decision: whether to starve or "throw their asses out"?

"The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was inundated with hundreds of phone calls Saturday after a group of protesters outside Gov. Rick Scott's office tweeted that Capitol Police were denying them food and water and urged people to call the agency in protest." "FDLE gets barrage of calls after protest group says food is denied".

Strange how the media has largely ignored any comparison between Rick Scott's sit-in problem with Jebbie's

response to an impromptu sit-in by two African-American state legislators, state Sen. Kendrick Meek and Rep. Tony Hill, who in 2000 were protesting the implementation of Bush’s One Florida plan repealing affirmative action in state contracting and higher education. Irritated by the legislators’ refusal to leave his offices following a failed attempt at renegotiating the plan, Bush admonished staff — within earshot of a television reporter — to “throw their asses out.” Bush’s staff later tried to “convince” the reporter not to air the remarks, but they were splashed across the airwaves anyway, forcing the governor to backpedal into a cover story that he was actually referring to the media’s asses, not the lawmakers’.
"When Jeb Bush speaks, people cringe".

"Mr. Scott failed to lift a finger"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "Not only does Florida refuse to take federal funds to expand Medicaid — spurning $51 billion over the next decade — but it now turns out that it also trails nearly every other state when it comes to accepting federal grants from Washington for healthcare reform."

A report from Health News Florida says state agencies usually refuse to compete for grants, which other states eagerly snatch up. Even worse: Some agencies have on occasion won grants from the feds — and then given the money back! One recent instance involved a $2.3 million grant for a toll-free consumer health information line, which a state agency won but then decided not to take.

It defies logic and common sense for any state to act against the interests of its own residents in this way, particularly in Florida. The state consistently ranks near the bottom in health statistics and has one of the largest medically needy populations in the country, but that apparently counts little in the face of ideological opposition to the healthcare reform law that opponents in Tallahassee scornfully label “Obamacare.”

The refusal to accept federal grants tied to ACA is part and parcel of this anti-Washington political strategy. But as federal officials publicly declared last week, it’s not too late for Florida to accept Medicaid expansion, and as the deadline for full implementation of ACA draws near, the case for acceptance becomes stronger.

Gov. Rick Scott came out in favor of Medicaid expansion after winning federal permission for a special plan to let Floridians obtain insurance through a state-subsidized system. But then Mr. Scott failed to lift a finger to support this action during the legislative session after the House of Representatives under Speaker Will Weatherford signaled that it would reject the idea as a matter of “conservative” principle.

The expansion plan died — and with it the hopes of 1 million or more people in Florida who will be left without coverage.

"Florida’s Medicaid debacle requires special session of the Legislature".

"Comeback of U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is complete"

Mark K. Matthews: "Want proof that the comeback of U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is complete? Just look at his fundraising."

Since his comeback in a newly drawn district last year, Grayson is moving to expand his influence within the Democratic Party by using his fundraising prowess — along with a string of legislative efforts — to push his party to the left.

"For an elected official to spend so much time raising money for others, it is usually indicative of one of two scenarios," explained Screven Watson, a Democratic strategist.

"Either the elected official has an incredibly safe seat for themselves … which allows them to spend more time raising for others than for themselves. Or they are prolific fundraisers who can spend time doing both. In this instance, both of these scenarios probably apply to Alan Grayson," he said.

That Grayson has a safe seat is undeniable.

His district, which includes Osceola County and parts of Orange and Polk, is overwhelmingly Democratic — a factor in his landslide victory last year against Republican Todd Long.

He's also one of Florida's best fundraisers, having netted more than $9.3 million in contributions during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles, according to federal election records. Most of that cash comes from a national donor base — heavily courted by Grayson's web-savvy campaign and stoked by his appearances on television talk shows — that backs his fiery brand of liberalism. "We have the largest donor base of any Democratic House member. We have more individual donors than [Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi," Grayson said. He estimated that roughly 200,000 supporters receive his fundraising emails, which Grayson said he writes himself with the same gusto — and much of the snark — that thrust him on the national stage in 2009, when he said the Republican health-care plan was for sick patients to "die quickly."

"Grayson, feeling secure in his seat, looks to elect others".

"Race, justice issues issues stacking up"

Byron Dobson: "The news alert brought a certain sense of urgency and then a sense of disbelief, the kind of reaction that causes one to ponder the next explosive bit of information regarding the George Zimmerman trial and how Florida will deal with it." "Race, justice among issues stacking up in Florida" (subscription required).

Meanwhile, "Overnight protest crowd grows for 10th night of sit-in".

What the RPOF calls "red tape"

"Restaurant inspectors who search for vermin and unsafe food handling practices may cut back or increase surprise visits to Florida's restaurants, caterers and food trucks to comply with a new state law that takes effect next year." "Restaurants may face revised inspection schedules under new law".

"On a bigger mission"

Gerald Ensley: "About 20 men, women and children are crammed onto the couches, chairs and floor of the reception area of the Governor's Office in the Capitol. Another half-dozen sprawl around the desk of the governor's secretary." "At the Capitol, on a bigger mission" (subscription required). See also "Committed and Candid: 'Stand Your Ground' Protesters in Florida Capitol Speak Their Minds".

"Why no interest from local cops? Probably because the client list"

Fred Grimm: "According to whistleblower Porter Fischer, Biogenesis of America was doping children. Injecting high school kids with illegal and dangerous amalgamations of anabolic steroids and human growth hormones. Along with professional and college athletes, the “patient” list at the storefront clinic included Miami-Dade high school ball players, come to emulate their pro heroes and cheat their way to stardom."

But as Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown reported last week, these felonies were simply shrugged off by local law enforcement. Brown interviewed Fischer, the former employee and investor in Biogenesis turned whistleblower who, armed with incriminating documents filched from the clinic, ignited this latest pro baseball scandal.

But Fischer also offered up evidence of criminal medical procedures involving children. He told Brown that he had notified authorities that young athletes, mostly baseball players, from Gulliver, Columbus, St. Brendan, South Miami and other South Florida high schools had also been juiced at Biogenesis by Anthony Bosch, the clinic’s counterfeit doctor, who prescribed his pharmaceutical concoctions without the bother of a medical degree.

You want the stuff of outrage? Consider this quote from Fischer’s lawyer: “I don’t know why law enforcement hasn’t gotten involved, to be honest,” Raymond Rafool told Brown. “We really can’t figure it out. Porter is very upset. You’re talking about high school kids getting this stuff from this clinic. For kids who haven’t even given their bodies the opportunity to grow to be doing this was really disturbing to him.”

"Disturbing to him. Not to law enforcement. Not to the Miami-Dade state attorney."
Why no interest from local cops? Probably because the client list, as Brown reported, also included local cops (along with some lawyers and at least one judge.)
"Focus on pro baseball ignores real doping crime: Kids on steroids".