Thursday, October 10, 2013

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

11 term Congressman and shutdown proponent, John Mica "unspecific" as to his goals

"It's been 10 days since the start of the government shutdown, and resolution appears as distant as ever. Neither Republicans in Congress nor President Barack Obama has given an inch."

In the meantime, thousands of federal workers in Central Florida — ranging from Internal Revenue Service employees in Maitland to engineers at Kennedy Space Center and immigration-court employees in Orlando — remain furloughed. And federal courts locally are about to run out of money to pay their 300 employees.

But to U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, the temporary pain is worth it.

"He is one of three GOP House members from Central Florida — along with Daniel Webster of Winter Garden and Bill Posey of Rockledge — who Obama says are part of a conservative bloc that has taken the government "hostage" to demands that are amorphous and changeable."
Mica said the hardball tactics are necessary to win concessions from the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House on issues ranging from defunding the Affordable Care Act — a demand the Republicans have largely abandoned — to unspecified cuts in Social Security, Medicare and other spending.

"What [other] leverage do you have?" Mica asked.

Though he said Republicans likely overreached in trying to defund "Obamacare" — "maybe that was unrealistic," he says — the 11-term lawmaker dismissed Obama's suggestion that the two sides negotiate only after reopening federal offices and increasing the nation's debt limit, which is set to hit its cap next week.

"Ronald Reagan said, 'Trust but verify,'" Mica said. "Republicans would not have a chance [of getting what they wanted] once you get past next Wednesday or Thursday" — the debt-ceiling deadline.

But when asked what he wanted, Mica was unspecific — other than some measure "to bring spending under control."

"Local GOP congressmen defend government shutdown".

Never mind the no choice part

"Rep. Larry Ahern and Sen. Kelli Stargel contend their proposals is not an abortion bill but an effort to protect pregnant women and their unborn babies." "Legislators call for 'unborn victims of violence' law". Background: "Policy Note: Fetal Injury".

'Glades shutdown

"About 200 employees were furloughed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Oct. 9, 2013, some of whom were working on an Everglades restoration project." "Policy Note: The Everglades".

And they expect pensions?

While the rest of us were sleeping, "A fire is sweeping through a Kissimmee townhouse complex as firefighters work to contain the flames." "Fire sweeping through townhouse complex".

Kiss of death

"Allen West Offers First Round of Endorsements for 2013 and 2014 Elections".

"Bipartisan moves to amend Florida's self-defense law"

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune editors: "A Florida Senate committee has taken the first steps toward making much-needed changes to the controversial 'stand your ground' law. More steps lie ahead -- in both the Senate and the Florida House -- but a bipartisan approach embraced so far offers hope for amending the flawed self-defense statute." "Standing on common ground".

"The chairman of the House Select Committee on Gaming likened the study to an inkblot test, with each interest group drawing their preconceived conclusions from the numbers." "House panel looks at gambling study, finds few conclusions".

Trib endorses a Dem

The Tampa Trib editorial board: "endorses Amanda Murphy for state House District 36 in Tuesday’s special election" to replace Republican Mike Fasano. "Murphy for west Pasco House seat".

Young leaves district that recently "has leaned Democratic"

"Moments before having to go through another procedure to help alleviate decades of pain in his back, Rep. C.W. Bill Young said that his decision not to seek re-election had been percolating for years." "Rep. Young on retirement: ‘I knew it was time’".

"Young's retirement will spark a competitive race for the seat in a district that has leaned Democratic in the past several elections, but where prominent Republicans could be strong candidates."

On the Democratic side, St. Petersburg lawyer Jessica Ehrlich, who ran unsuccessfully against Young in 2012, has launched another campaign for 2014 and vows that with an earlier start, she'll be a stronger candidate than in 2012.

But with the formidable Young no longer looming in the general election, Ehrlich may see a challenge for the Democratic nomination.

On the Republican side, the most-talked about candidate is former Mayor Rick Baker, but other big names also may be interested.

State Sen. Jack Latvala, long a dominant force in Pinellas County Republican politics, is considered another likely possibility, but didn't want to discuss the question Wednesday.

“Out of deference to Congressman Young, today is his day and I don't have any comment, other than to say he's a wonderful public servant whom I try to emulate and I'm just proud to be his friend.”

State Sen. Jeff Brandes has told friends he'd be interested in running for the seat if Young retired, local GOP insiders say; former Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbert and Pinellas County Commissioners John Morroni and Karen Seel are also subjects of speculation about the race.

Pinellas County is considered the birthplace of the modern Republican Party in Florida and has traditionally been dominated by Republicans, but with a comparatively moderate political posture.

In recent years, it has become more and more Democratic.

"Storied congressman Young to retire in 2014". More: "Bill Young's Retirement Puts a Congressional Seat in Play".

See also "U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young to retire, won’t seek re-election in 2014".

"Florida isn't giving up on the purge"

Bill Cotterell: "How did 'Chicago election' become synonymous with ballot fraud, while the term 'Florida election' makes people think of well-intended incompetency? Maybe Chicago got first choice." "Florida isn't giving up on the purge". "Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s mea culpa tour to tout the state’s revamped noncitizen voter purge led to a tense exchange Wednesday with an election supervisor miffed about the state’s botched efforts last year."

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher peppered Detzner and his staff with questions about the process and the accuracy of the data to be used in the purge.

“Where does that data come from, how often is it updated: every 10 years or every 10 minutes? ... I have a lot of concern that the people we got the database from are saying this is not comprehensive and definitive,” Bucher said during a meeting at Broward County’s Voting Equipment Center in Lauderhill.

Bucher’s questions revolved around the federal SAVE database that the state will use this time to search for non-citizen voters.

Detzner explained that state agencies currently use SAVE data to verify that Floridians are eligible for millions of dollars in entitlements.

“This is the best database we have to deal with,” he said. “This is important to get it right...It can be done and it will be done correctly.”

But Bucher wasn’t satisfied, nor were voting activists who egged her on at times in the audience. A Democrat elected to a nonpartisan office, Bucher continued to ask multiple questions.

Detzner, appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott, tried to cut her off: “you are interrupting and going to take time away from public questions.”

"Many questions, few answers on state’s voter purge plan".

Gator's change strategy

"The University of Florida is targeting nearly 25 percent of its preeminent money at 'the emerging field of 'big data.'' Lawmakers gave the school an additional $75 million over five years for the school to enhance its standing among public universities. Wednesday it announced 16 projects and plans for new hires as part of a push towards a Top 10 academic ranking." "UF hiring up to 100 professors in pursuit of Top 10 status". More: "Policy Note: Higher Education".

Scott laff riot

"Rick Scott's Team Trumpets Study Giving Florida's Tax Climate High Marks".

"Agenda 21's Baby Cousin in Florida"

Nancy Smith: "The folks behind Seven50 swear up and down their "blueprint for growing a more prosperous, more desirable Southeast Florida during the next 50 years" is no reincarnation of widely reviled Agenda 21."

Maybe. But it sure walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.

Remember Agenda 21? By its authors' definition, it was "a nonbinding, voluntarily implemented global action plan to bring about sustainable development."

"Seven50: It's Agenda 21's Baby Cousin in Florida" (link original).

Second amendment stoopid

"Third-grader brings loaded pistol to Sarasota school".