Friday, August 16, 2013

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

"Rubio is all about what's best for Rubio, not what's best for Florida"

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Sen. Marco Rubio has it backward. As he toured Florida this week, the Republican ripped the Affordable Care Act in public and defended immigration reform in private to his upset supporters. It would have been more useful to publicly embrace immigration reform and privately explain to conservatives why it would be foolish to force a government shutdown over the health care law. But Rubio is all about what's best for Rubio, not what's best for Florida."

Does Rubio represent all of Florida in the U.S. Senate, or only the tea party followers who helped him get there?
"Rubio plays politics, doesn't lead".

Fiery leader of the AFT attacks Jeb Bush

"With the architects of Florida’s education system on the defensive, the fiery leader of the country’s second-largest teachers union launched another round of attacks on former governor Jeb Bush and the state’s recently resigned education chief during a visit to South Florida."

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called Florida “ground zero for every single market-based experiment that has been done to our children” during a speech before hundreds of teachers at a back-to-school event at Sun Life Stadium.
"[E]mails, unearthed by the Associated Press, sparked national controversy and prompted an investigation into the grading system in Indiana at a time when Florida’s own A through F rankings have been heavily questioned. Some believe the flap also damaged Bush, who built a national education reform platform off his successes as governor in Florida and remains one of Bennett’s most-ardent supporters."
Weingarten’s union has pounced, and on Monday announced the filing of a request with the state for all communications between Bennett and other former Florida education chiefs, and Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education and the American Legislative Exchange Council. The union’s request, similar to one they made in Indiana last week, included communications with for-profit companies that fund the organizations, and specifically mentions a charter school company that the union says employs Bennett’s wife.
"In South Florida, AFT President Weingarten targets Bush, Bennett". See also "In Post-Jeb Bush Education Era, Uncertainty, Urgency".

"Disney dishing big bucks in Tallahassee"

"Walt Disney World officials apparently are pumping vast sums of money into a new campaign to kill enabling legislation for destination-resort casinos in 2014. And they're doing it by enlisting the services of a small army of traditional lobbyist firms, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and No Casinos Inc." "Disney Said to Be Dishing Big Bucks in Tallahassee, Preparing for Destination Casino Fight".

Scott grovels for fed assistance

"Gov. Rick Scott requested the declaration in September 2012 because the fishery was near collapse. U. S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will conduct a field hearing Tuesday in Apalachicola. Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio also are scheduled to tour the area." "Feds issue fishery disaster declaration on eve of US Senate hearing in Apalachicola". See also "Disaster declaration announced for Florida Gulf Coast fishery" and "Feds declare disaster for Florida oyster industry".

Not so "Outstanding Florida Waters"

"The Suwannee River, shown here near Ellaville, is a designated "Outstanding Florida Water." Photo by Bruce Ritchie. There are 309 designated 'Outstanding Florida Waters,' including the Apalachicola and Suwannee Rivers, the Florida Keys and Hillsborough River. The lawsuit says the federal Environmental Protection Agency has failed to enforce a Clean Water Act anti-degradation policy, including the enforcement of the Outstanding Florida Waters designation where water quality must be maintained." "Florida Wildlife Federation sues over "Outstanding Florida Waters" designation".

"Scott also remains upside down in the polls"

"As his poll numbers go up, Rick Scott is starting to appear alongside his fellow Republicans more, just in time for the 2014 elections. In the lead-up to the Florida presidential primary last year, Florida Democrats mocked Scott for being a nonfactor in the heated contest between Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and the other candidates. Scott, suggested the Democrats, was so unpopular that Republicans didn’t want to be seen alongside the governor."

But, as the economy has improved in Florida, Scott’s poll numbers have risen, though he is still behind to the likes of Charlie Crist, Bill Nelson and Alex Sink in hypothetical 2014 match-ups. Scott also remains upside down in the polls with more Floridians seeing him as unfavorable and disapproving of his job performance than approving him and his work in Tallahassee. Still, Scott’s numbers are inching up from where they have been from his first two and a half years in office.
"Marco Rubio and Allen West Start Out on Different Paths for 2016".

Meanwhile, "Five Months Later, No Hurry from Rick Scott on LG Position". Perhaps Scott can't find any takers?

Playing pretend

"Gov. Rick Scott was in Orlando highlighting job growth and a push to cut taxes. He also sought to avoid criticism from Democrats about a series of scandals ensnaring his administration this summer." "Scott pushes jobs message, Dems bash administration's revolving door".

Bribery allegations

"Former state lawmaker arrested in bribery case".

Scott flip-flops

"The $5 million that state lawmakers set aside in 2011 for a Sarasota rowing center was deemed to have no statewide purpose, and Scott vetoed it. Dubbed a 'turkey' by Florida TaxWatch, the rowing center stood out amid $615 million in spending that Scott axed that year. It was a defining moment for the new governor, a grand gesture to his tea party base and discontent with government spending. . . . Fast forward to Thursday. Scott stood at Regatta Island at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota under a tent teeming with local officials, rowing enthusiasts, business leaders and ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, who thanked him for coming around to support the $40 million rowing center." "What changed? Gov. Rick Scott toasts rowing center he once vetoed".

The Klan speaks in Southwest Florida

"The Ku Klux Klan has weighed in on the NAACP's request to remove a portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee from a Florida county building."

Frank Ancona, a spokesman for the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, said that the group's national leadership was notified recently by local members because the Lee County NAACP said it wants to hold demonstrations because the county refuses to take down Lee's portrait that hangs in the county commission chambers.
"Controversy over Confederate portrait brewing".

Raw political courage

"Senior Fraud Bill From Vern Buchanan and Ted Deutch Gets Momentum in the Senate".

Unions sue

"The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the Florida AFL-CIO are suing to reverse the award of a bid for the construction of SunRail, the central Florida commuter rail. They say the state broke its agreement with them to award the project to a contractor that has federally certified signalmen." "Unions file suit over SunRail bid".


"With less than 50 days until Floridians are able to go online and shop for private health insurance under a new federal law, U.S. Health and Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday the state will receive nearly $8 million in federal funds so organizations can hire staff to walk people through the new health care system." "Fla. groups get $7.8M to sign up uninsured".

"Million-Dollar Club

"Six Lobbying Firms in the Million-Dollar Club".

Atwater draws opponent

"Central Florida Urban League President Allie Braswell Jr. announced he is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a Republican." "Democrat seeks to challenge Fla. CFO Atwater". See also "Allie Braswell, New CFO Candidate, Plays Down His Prominence After Trayvon Death".

Political points

"Rick Scott Can't Score Many Political Points in Supreme Court Case With Georgia".

Petition drive slows

"Petition organizers will temporarily suspend its drive until the court rules on the constitutionality of the proposal, which can’t be misleading or cover multiple subjects." "Medical marijuana slows petition drive until high court rules".

"'Dream Defenders' declare victory"

"Dream Defenders end sit-in protest at Capitol in Tallahassee". See also ""Dream Defenders" declare victory, leave Capitol" and "After 31 Days, It's Over: Dream Defenders End Sit-In".

Not to mention a disdain for public school teachers

"The pay’s good, and the title of the job sounds nice enough — chancellor of the state university system. But Florida’s next leader in higher education will inherit a job that requires a soft touch, keen political savvy and the dexterity to manage many bosses." "State higher education job requires political savvy, soft touch".

How will Scott take credit for this?

"Florida Tourism Off to Record Start in 2013".

More on the FBI sting

"Suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi says he 'accepted no money inappropriately or illegally from anyone,' suggesting any funds he received during an FBI undercover sting were above board. Yet, if he took $6,000 in cash — whether for kickbacks as alleged, or for any other reason — he did not publicly disclose a penny of it on campaign finance reports."

Pizzi’s mayoral campaign report shows he accepted three checks totaling $750 from two Chicago consultants and a businessman named “Steve Phillips.” In reality, all three donors were fictitious creations of a two-year FBI undercover operation. But none of the $6,000 in cash that a criminal complaint accuses Pizzi of pocketing was reported by his mayoral campaign or a Miami Lakes political action committee he supported.
"Campaign reports don’t support suspended mayor Pizzi’s accounts".