Tuesday, September 17, 2013

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

"Jeb!", Rubio grubbing for wingnuts

"Two Florida Republicans with their eyes on the White House are keeping busy in the 2013 election cycle by helping a GOP candidate in Virginia. Both Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are helping out conservative Ken Cuccinelli, the state attorney general, who is the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia. Rubio hit Richmond on Monday, campaigning alongside Cuccinelli. Bush will be at a fundraiser on Tuesday hosted by longtime Republican politico Spencer Abraham who served in the U.S. Senate and in George W. Bush’s Cabinet as energy secretary." "Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush Face Many Rewards, Little Risk in Helping Ken Cuccinelli in Va.".

Tax cut games

"On Monday, the Florida Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) exchanged shots over Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to slash $500 million in taxes from the state budget. With Scott gearing up to run for a second term next year, the Florida Democrats launched a Web ad on Monday in which they attack the governor’s proposal to cut taxes." "Florida Democrats and RPOF Exchange Shots Over Rick Scott's Proposed Tax Cuts".

Hiding under their desks

"Should legislators be forced to testify under oath about whether they drew maps to protect themselves and other incumbents? The answer from the state Supreme Court will set precedent in Florida." "Supreme court weighs putting legislators under oath on redistricting". See also "Supreme Court to decide whether legislators have to testify" and "Justices Wrestle with Legislative Privileges".

The Miami Herald editors: "Under the veil of ‘legislative privilege’".


Lloyd Brown whines about the "major pushback brewing against public school reform."

The reform effort has centered around standards and accountability, and Florida has been a leader, beginning with Gov. Jeb Bush in 1998. Grading schools is part of the process.

The efforts continue and Gov. Rick Scott noted, responding to a poorly-reasoned editorial in an Ocala newspaper recently, that Florida jumped from 11th to sixth in the nation for educational quality in 2013.

Anti-reformers insist that it is impossible to grade teachers or schools – in other words, make any assessment that would indicate whether schools are doing what they are supposed to do.

It is sheer absurdity. One wonders whether the teachers' union bosses would dispute the National Council on Teacher Quality's ranking of Florida teachers as No. 1 two years in succession. But it is an education myth that is not confined to K-12 schools.

Recently, Washington Monthly published a ranking of community colleges. The media rank things all the time. Certainly, such comparisons should be taken with a grain of salt, as all involve assumptions.

In the case of the magazine's rankings, readers immediately jumped on the story. None disclosed their interest, but it seems doubtful that any of the complaints were from those affiliated with colleges that scored high in the ranking.

"School Rankings Are No Good, Unless You Finish High".

We look forward to Brown's review of Dian Ravitch's "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools". See "Ravitch to the Rescue. Here's an excerpt: "Diane Ravitch: School privatization is a hoax, 'reformers' aim to destroy public schools".

Hialeah typos

"Hialeah firefighters union leader, ex-mayor criticize city budget for typos".

"With House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale facing term limits in 2014, a new Democratic candidate filed paperwork to launch a bid to replace him in representing parts of Broward County." "Eric Fowler Jumps Into Broward County Battle for Perry Thurston's House Seat".

Miami-Dade knuckle-draggers go after union reps

"A Miami-Dade commissioner began a push Monday to have the county end its practice of excusing dozens of public employees from their work duties to serve as full-time labor union representatives." "Commissioner wants to reduce or eliminate practice of paying union reps".


Fred Grimm: "Tamarac’s solution to its Patte Atkins-Grad problem was the political equivalent to the strategy a few South Florida cities employ to rid their streets of homeless vagrants. They pay the cost of one-way bus tickets out of town and call it a bargain."

Tamarac acceded to a shakedown from its nuisance commissioner last week and agreed to pay her $8,000 to just go away. The deal might have reeked of extortion but it was an irrefutable bargain.

The city commissioner had been arrested on bribery charges back in 2010, accused of taking some $6,300 in “unlawful compensation” from Broward County’s infamous political corruptors, Bruce and Shawn Chait. The father and son developers had been seeking city commission approval for a controversial project to convert a pair of Tamarac golf courses into housing tracts.

At her trial in December, rather than deny the particulars in the bribery allegations, Atkins-Grad adopted the novel defense strategy that she had been too dense to know what was up. “There’s a quantum leap between being incompetent and being corrupt,” Kenneth Malnik, her attorney, argued.

"A novel way to get rid of bad pols".

"Crist clearly wants to run for governor"

The Gainesville Sun editors: "Announced or not, Crist clearly wants to run for governor — run against Scott." "Crist's challenge".

Bondi must have been at a fundraiser

"The office of Florida’s attorney general has declined to offer an opinion on whether the Florida National Guard can process benefits enrollment for the spouses of gay troops on state property. Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw Jr., Florida’s adjutant general, wrote Attorney General Pam Bondi seeking the opinion on Sept. 6, essentially asking whether processing gay Guard members’ spouses for benefits would conflict with the state’s constitution, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman." "Florida attorney general doesn’t answer National Guard question about gay-spouse benefits".

The week ahead

"The Week Ahead for Sept. 16 to Sept. 20, 2013".

Who will Jeb appoint next?

"The state Board of Education will hold an in-person meeting Tuesday – its first since state Education Commissioner Tony Bennett resigned and parent groups called for an overhaul of the school grading system. The board plans to discuss the “next steps” in naming Bennett’s permanent replacement, as well as next year’s education budget." "State education board to discuss commissioner vacancy".