Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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

Jeb! 2.0 re-imagineers himself

This really takes the cake. After "trading on the famous family name" to gain, "entry to exclusive business ventures courtesy of wealthy Republicans", Jebbie Bush announces that it is time to "End 'crony capitalism'".

Like father, like son: he was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.

"Make it up Marco"

Marc Caputo: "Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio, have called both Obamacare and the website a failure."

Rubio said the law — which would eventually penalize many of those who don’t buy health insurance next year — should be delayed until the website is fixed.

“It’s not fair to punish anyone for not buying ObamaCare when the website they are supposed to buy it on doesn’t work,” Rubio said last week in a written statement. He intends to submit a bill Monday.

"Rubio’s fellow Florida senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, said he and the Republican are friends. But he doesn’t back the effort to delay the Affordable Care Act."
“No, no, no, no. I don’t want to delay the ACA,” Nelson said.

But until it’s fixed?

“Oh forget it,” he said. “That’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous, ridiculous.”

Nelson, echoing Wasserman Schultz, said Obamacare is working and that the sign-up website is just one part of the act.

However, he said, those responsible for the website’s failures should eventually be fired or held accountable.

Asked twice whether she agreed with Nelson, Wasserman Schultz wouldn’t say.

But she made sure to comment on Rubio, whom she bashed throughout the weekend as “make it up Marco.”

Wasserman Schultz said Republicans are “transparent” in their efforts to undermine Obamacare and that Rubio’s measure is more of the same.

“That’s just baloney,” she said.

"Delay Obamacare? No way, say Florida Democrats". The empty suits are on fire: "Marco Rubio, Trey Radel: Delay Individual Mandate Amid Health Care Website Struggles".

Meanwhile, the "entrepreneurs" spring into action: "As Obamacare site stalls, consumers get dubious pitches".

"Efforts even resembling a new tax are politically unpopular"

"For the sixth time, a North Florida lawmaker has filed a bill aimed at capturing some of the Florida sales tax lost to online retailers. Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, filed the 153-page bill (HB 217) on Friday."

But the reason for the measure’s failure to gain traction in Florida is that efforts even resembling a new tax are politically unpopular, especially now with Gov. Rick Scott’s drive to cut $500 million in state taxes and fees. Florida’s sales tax is 6 percent.
"Florida bill aims to nab revenue from online sales tax".

Sink moving closer to run for Young's seat

"During the Florida Democratic Party's conference this weekend, Alex Sink appeared to move closer to running for the District 13 seat left empty by the death of Bill Young — not in her own words but in words spoken about her." "Dems push Sink for Young's vacated House seat".

Statewide walkoffs

"No Democratic Foes Yet for Jeff Atwater, Adam Putnam".

Congress retreats in water war

"A massive water infrastructure bill close to winning final congressional approval won’t include something Florida and Alabama want — a requirement that Georgia get Congress’ permission before pulling water from river basins feeding both states, including Apalachicola Bay." "Congress opts not to wade into water war between three states".

The best he can do?

Lloyd Brown thinks gerrymandering is perfectly fine because, you know . . . "during the decades Democrats ran the Legislature they always sought to give Republicans equal opportunity in getting elected and never, never, never tried to ensure that an incumbent was protected." "In Politics, Fair Is Fair, Except When It's Unfair".

Murphy's victory official

"Secretary of State Ken Detzner and the elections canvassing board today made state Rep.-elect Amanda Murphy's victory official. In a teleconference with Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, Florida's chief elections officer officially recorded that Murphy, a Democrat, polled 9,615 votes to 9,293 for Republican Bill Gunter in the Oct. 15 special House District 36 election." "Democrat Murphy's victory becomes official".

75 times

"Gov. Rick Scott, seeking to bring the court system more in line with his conservative outlook, has repeatedly rejected lists recommended to him by the Florida Bar of lawyers, screening candidates for judgeships."

Scott has rejected dozens of attorneys whom the Bar has nominated to serve on judicial nominating commissions, created decades ago to professionalize the bench and make merit and qualifications at least as important as political connections.

“He wants people with humility,” said Scott’s chief counsel, Pete Antonacci, “and he wants judges who will follow the law and not make it up as they go along.”

The Bar said Scott’s two predecessors, Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush, never rejected any of its nominees.

All 26 nominating commissions for the trial and appellate courts and the Supreme Court are composed of nine members. Scott appoints five members of his choosing and must appoint four others from lists provided by the Bar’s Board of Governors, some of whom are liberal Democrats who did not support Scott’s election.

The governor has rejected the lists 16 times and has never publicly given a reason and is not required to do so.

Scott has sent back so many Bar-recommended names that the group keeps a five-page spreadsheet to track them.

Lawyers who are registered Democrats, who are aligned with left-leaning groups or who promote themselves as trial lawyers appear to have little hope of gaining the governor’s favor.

Scott’s list of rejections includes:

• Benjamin Crump of Tallahassee, a criminal defense lawyer honored by the NAACP for his legal advocacy and who is best known for his firm’s representation of the family of Trayvon Martin.

• Lynn Drysdale, a consumer-protection lawyer with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid who has testified before Congress in opposition to state laws that allow payday lenders to target military personnel.

• W.C. Gentry, a high-profile trial lawyer in Jacksonville who was a member of the legal “dream team” that successfully sued the tobacco industry in the 1990s. A former county school board member, he has generously contributed to Democratic candidates and has given money to Republicans, too.

• Tiffany Faddis, a trial lawyer, board member of the trial bar’s statewide lobbying arm, the Florida Justice Association, incoming president of the Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida and a registered Republican.

Antonacci said that lawyers with such backgrounds are more likely to have a “living constitution” view of the law as evolving and ever-changing, which he said is at odds with Scott’s views.
"Nominating commission candidates don’t get past Scott".

This from the guy who was "condemn[ed]" by Talbot “Sandy” D'Alemberte, a past president of the American Bar Association, and William P. Cervone a state attorney of the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida, for "statements"

in which he admits to engaging in manipulation of the legal system in a manner that likely constitutes obstruction of justice, perjury and contempt of court.

As a lawyer, officer of the court, and candidate for governor, Scott has an obligation to uphold the rule of law, and to act in conformance with the legal system's requirements. So when Rick Scott invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege 75 times in a deposition, he did so and could have only done so for one reason: to avoid incriminating himself for criminal conduct. He had that right, as does everyone protected by our legal system in the United States.

"Why Scott took the Fifth".

Detzner promises a better voter purge

"Secretary of State Ken Detzner said Monday the coming purge of noncitizens from Florida voter-registration rolls will be "case-management work," double-checked by at least two Division of Elections workers before verification with a federal database."

Detzner told reporters at the Capitol he has no starting date for the statewide search for ineligible voters -- which has drawn harsh criticism from Florida Democrats, who call it a thinly disguised attempt at "suppressing" minority voters. An attempt at purging the rolls last year, directed by Gov. Rick Scott, fizzled amid the same partisan accusations.
"Detzner says voter-rolls purge will be done right this time".

Reid not exactly quivering in his boots

Kevin Derby: "U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., is going after some big Democratic game -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev." "Harry Reid in Tom Rooney's Crosshairs".

"Battle between Crist and Nan Rich has begun"

"Former governor and former Republican Charlie Crist is expected to announce his 2014 candidacy for governor as a Democrat on Monday in St. Petersburg, but a primary battle between Crist and Nan Rich already has begun." "Crist, Rich already battling for Democrats' support". More: "Charlie Crist Draws Fire From Left and Right".

$10 million in public funds for Broward charter school

"Peter Deutsch, the driving force behind South Florida’s controversial Ben Gamla charter schools, is a six-term former Democratic congressman with a unique status: He lives more than 6,000 miles away in Israel as an expatriate."

Even so, Deutsch’s Ben Gamla schools have racked up hefty public funding — more than $10 million for nearly 1,800 students last school year alone.

In Broward, where the English-Hebrew charter schools have stirred the most controversy, Ben Gamla raked in $7.2 million from the state for five charter schools that operate at two sites, in Hollywood and Plantation. Those schools served more than 1,200 students.

A Ben Gamla school in the Kendall area of Miami-Dade received approximately $1.4 million from the state for 241 students last school year. Another Ben Gamla charter school in Palm Beach County received $1.7 million in state funds for 280 students.

"Deutsch’s plans for Ben Gamla stirred controversy over issues involving separation of church and state when he sought to establish its first charter school in Hollywood in 2007. The School Board, however, found no conflict and approved the school."
A few years later, Deutsch’s plans to build another school in Hallandale Beach hit a wall when neighborhood residents successfully opposed his push to get the city commission to approve the deal.

The latest flare-up again involves neighbors. Ben Gamla wants a zoning exception from Hollywood to build a 600-student high school on Van Buren Street near City Hall that upset residents say is already choked with traffic from Ben Gamla’s existing, adjacent K-8 school.

Under the state’s current allocation of $6,800 per Broward student, those 600 new students would net an additional $4 million-a-year for Ben Gamla, which is partnering on the project with Miami-Dade’s Doral Academy.

"Ben Gamla charter schools take in millions in public funds as founder lives half a world away".

Rubio's empty suit lacks a spine

"Marco Rubio Backs Away From Own Immigration Bill Becoming Law". See also "Marco Rubio’s Flip-Flop on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Explained".

Big of 'em

"A Florida Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association representative said Monday his group likely will not challenge proposed state rules that would allow competitive bidding for petroleum contamination site cleanups. "

The comments by Randy Miller, lobbyist for the association and executive vice president of the Florida Retail Federation, would appear to clear the way for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to adopt new cleanup rules before a Jan. 1 deadline.
"Petroleum marketers: Challenge unlikely to proposed site cleanup rules".

Miami cash

"Two women who have done work for the Rev. Richard P. Dunn’s campaign say they were paid in cash — a violation of state election law if true — and that they were not paid as many times as the front-runner for Miami’s District 5 seat claims on his most recent campaign finance report." "Dunn campaign workers: We were paid in cash".