Sunday, October 20, 2013

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider becoming a site fan on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

"Marco Rubio Rewrites History"

"Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday attempted to distance himself from the government shutdown strategy he and other potential GOP presidential candidates in the Senate pursued for much of the summer, arguing that blame for the shutdown rests with President Barack Obama."

"I was never in favor of shutting down the government or of defunding the government. I was in favor of voting to fund the government fully," Rubio said on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace. "The only thing I didn't want to see is us wasting any more money on Obamacare, which is already a disaster."

Rubio, along with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), led the Senate-side GOP push for the government shutdown strategy. Over the summer, Rubio refused to back any funding package for the federal government that would allow the health care law to go into effect. Absent a funding bill, the government would be forced to shut down.

"On this issue we’re willing to fight no matter what the consequences, politically or otherwise [are]. If that issue is not Obamacare, I can’t understand what issue it would be," Rubio told conservative talk radio host Mark Levin in August. "You cannot say you are against Obamacare if you are willing to vote for a law that funds it."

At the time, Rubio took heat from conservative strategists who said he was joining the "Suicide Caucus" of Republicans seeking to force a politically damaging government shutdown.

Later in the "Fox News Sunday" interview, Rubio tacitly acknowledged his earlier stance on the issue.

"Marco Rubio Rewrites Government Shutdown History".

Jeremy Wallace: "After the vote, two different roads for Rubio, Nelson".

After Young

"The death Friday of U.S. Congressman C.W. Bill Young stunned those still contemplating the 22-term lawmaker's announcement days earlier that he would retire at the end of his term — in December 2014."

The U.S. Constitution, though, requires his now vacated seat be occupied, and fairly soon.

That means prospective candidates for Young's post in the U.S. House of Representatives, widely considered a swing seat in the Republican/Democratic balance of power, face a dilemma.

Stepping in quickly might appear insensitive to Young's 13th Congressional District constituents and party operatives on both sides of the aisle who are mourning the death the leader widely revered for his effect on the Tampa Bay area and beyond during nearly 43 years in office. But waiting too long to announce their candidacies could cost hopefuls dearly — both in raising money and in face-time in an election cycle dramatically shortened by the congressman's death.

"Death will test hopefuls for Young's seat".

Small town, big mouth

"Three years before he was arrested on federal corruption charges, Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi met a political ally in the parking lot of Shula’s Steak House."

The topic of conversation: getting rid of Pizzi’s nemesis on the town council. What Pizzi did not know was that his ally, Tom McGrath, wore a bug and was secretly working with Miami-Dade County detectives.

The men spoke about planting cocaine on then-Councilman Richard Pulido, a plot intended to get the man arrested. Pizzi, spewing F-bombs, said he was open to other schemes, promising $100,000 in cash to get Pulido off the council.

“I don’t care what you do. Rig the f------- brakes on his car. F------ take him out. I don’t want to see him anymore,” said Pizzi in the July 30, 2010, undercover recording obtained by the Miami Herald through a public records request.

"Pizzi, in a statement on Friday, said he categorically denied 'intending personal or political harm to Richard Pulido or anyone else,' saying he had a bit too much to drink that evening and was goaded by McGrath into 'meaningless, over the top, silly, ridiculous drinking talk.' He amended his statement Saturday, saying he was actually “humoring” McGrath, a man who he said engaged in “Oliver Stone conspiracy lunacies.”"
Pizzi’s attorneys also dismissed the probe as a non-story that they say never should have been made public, noting that detectives quickly found there wasn’t evidence to support allegations that the now-suspended Miami Lakes mayor would harm Pulido. They called McGrath an unreliable informant who targeted Pizzi at Shula’s after an evening of drinking — though McGrath told detectives that Pizzi had only two beers. They also argued that McGrath’s recording doesn’t show sinister intent but simply a passionate, drunken politician venting about an opponent. “This was never a real ‘hit’ investigation,” said attorney Ben Kuehne, who is representing Pizzi with attorney Ed Shohat. “And therein lies the problem with the story,” said Shohat.
"Suspended Miami Lakes mayor Pizzi: Plot against rival just ‘silly talk’".

"Scott’s Common Core meddling"

The Tampa Trib editorial board: "It’s hard to imagine the state’s governance of public education could get any more chaotic. But leave it to Gov. Rick Scott to find a way. His ham-handed intrusion into the implementation of Common Core State Standards, three years after their adoption in Florida, has cast a shadow over the progress already made." "Scott’s Common Core meddling threatens progress".

"Prancing lapdog for Tea Party crazies cleverly positioning himself to fill intellectual void left by Michelle Bachmann"

Carl Hiaasen: "After 16 wasted days and billions of dollars in economic damage, the Republicans finally folded their tattered circus tent and voted to re-open our government last week."

Moderates in the party lamented that the ending was predictable, the political wreckage immeasurable and absolutely nothing was gained by the shutdown. National polls showed approval ratings for Congress ranging from only 8 to 10 percent.

From Oct. 4-6, Public Policy Polling surveyed 502 registered voters, Democrats, Republicans and independents. Disgust and revulsion prevailed across the board.

Toenail fungus, hemorrhoids, cockroaches and dog poop all scored higher in popularity than Congress. Miley Cyrus, Honey Boo Boo and Vladimir Putin scored lower.

Undeterred by their dismal standing with the public, 18 senators and 144 House members — all Republicans — still voted against ending the shutdown and raising the debt ceiling to prevent a catastrophic default.

The losing contingent included Sen. Marco Rubio, who has cemented his status as a prancing lapdog for the Tea Party crazies. He is cleverly positioning himself to fill the intellectual void left by Michelle Bachmann, who’s retiring from the House.

"Despite such rancid numbers, a cluster of Toe Fungus Republicans in the Florida delegation voted to continue the government shutdown and initiate a national default. You’ll want to hang on to this list, in case any of these geniuses ever decide to run for statewide office:"
Jeff Miller, a real-estate agent in Chumuckla; Steve Southerland from Panama City; Ron DeSantis from Ponte Vedra Beach; Dennis Ross, a Lakeland lawyer; and Ted Yoho, a Gainesville large-animal veterinarian and Tea Party tool who’s been in Washington 10 whole months.

Then there’s John Mica from Winter Park; Bill Posey, an anti-Obama birther from Rockledge; Tom Rooney, from Tequesta; Richard Nugent, a former sheriff of Hernando County; and Trey Radel, an ex-TV reporter and improv comedian from Fort Myers.

At least Radel admits to being a comedian. The others have no excuse.

"What’s worse than fungus? Read on."

. . .Therefore law enforcement officers should be stripped of pensions

"Special report: Ken Pruitt scores six-figure lifetime pension payments with St. Lucie County property appraiser post, investigation finds".

Florida environmental groups flex fundraising muscle

Aaron Deslatte: "Who says Florida environmental groups are outgunned in the political world? A signature-petition group trying to place 20-year, $20 billion conservation amendment on the ballot is flexing some fundraising muscle to get the question to voters next fall." "Green groups giving big to put conservation question on the ballot".

Entrepreneurs in action

"A New York City investor, stealing from retirees and a German bank in the summer of 2008, needed $10 million to keep his scam going."

So he asked a Sarasota bank for financial help.

The deal made Century Bank’s top officials queasy.

The chief executive and chief financial officer both said they did not trust the investor. A board member wondered if the loans were even legal. But at least one Century official wanted that assistance to happen.

And Barry Florescue usually gets his way.

With the world financial crisis in full bloom and banks failing across America, Florescue convinced Century’s board to approve two $5 million lines of credit for William Landberg’s companies.

Florescue had a personal interest in making the deal, because he’d invested money in Landberg’s companies and would be hurt if the funds — later revealed to be part of a Ponzi scheme — collapsed.

Within a year, Landberg was indicted amid accusations of securities fraud and Century was taken over by the federal government. Yet Florescue emerged from the mess with much of his wealth and his reputation intact.

Century was one of 69 banks to fail in Florida since the beginning of the Great Recession, a string of collapses examined by the Herald-Tribune during a yearlong investigation that found top executives were responsible for their own demise.

Though the government sued Florescue and four other directors in civil court over their management of the bank, authorities say there is no evidence to charge anyone from Century with a crime.

"Behind failed Century Bank, one powerful man".

House District 61

"Sean Shaw, an attorney and former state insurance consumer advocate, has passed the $100,000 mark in campaign contributions in his bid for state Rep. Betty Reed’s House seat representing Tampa. Shaw, a Democrat, raised $36,551 in the third fundraising quarter of this year, bringing his total to $101,126, according to records accessed Friday on the Division of Elections’ website. That includes a $500 check from Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor and would-be Democratic challenger to Gov. Rick Scott in 2014." "Shaw campaign tops $100,000 in bid to replace Rep. Reed" ("No Republicans have yet entered the race in the heavily Democratic district that includes East Tampa, Seminole Heights, West Tampa and Ybor City.")