Friday, October 11, 2013

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

Scott on the heels of former Gov. Charlie Crist?

Kevin Derby: "A new poll released Thursday finds Gov. Rick Scott at the heels of former Gov. Charlie Crist, the front-runner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, in a possible 2014 match-up."

The University of North Florida (UNF) released a poll showing Crist taking 44 percent while Scott follows with 40 percent -- within the margin of error. "Other candidates" take 2 percent while 14 percent of those surveyed are undecided.
"Charlie Crist? Not So Fast".

Here's the poll: "University of North Florida Poll Reveals Crist leads Scott" (.pdf).

Scott plays shutdown politics

"Ten days into a partial shutdown of the federal government that has no signs of easing, Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of staff ordered that no state funds will be used to offset any federal programs that run out of cash as a result of the federal gridlock."

In a draft letter directed to the governor’s agencies, Adam Hollingsworth, Scott’s chief of staff, said that absent a federal resolution, “it is important that we ensure that state funds are not committed as a temporary backfill to federal programs as a matter of course.”

A day after more than 100 fishing guides, kayakers and paddle board operators held a rally to protest the closure of the Everglades National Park, the governor also rejected calls to use state funds to open closed federal parks in Florida.

"The federal government said Thursday it will allow states to use their own money to reopen some national parks. Governors in Utah, South Dakota, Arizona and Colorado have suggested they will do that, even though it is uncertain whether they will get reimbursed."
Hollingsworth did not address what might happen to a handful of federal programs administered by the state that are expected to run out of money in the next four to seven days. Federal assistance programs that serve foster children, veterans programs, and small to medium-sized school districts are all expected to be short of cash, beginning Oct. 14, state documents show.

In addition, two state agencies that manage federal programs are in jeopardy of losing funding. Records show that 274 employees at the Department of Military Affairs are being furloughed and that the Florida Department of State Department next week will run out of money to pay the rent on some of its buildings.

The Department of Juvenile Justice had planned to use cash in its trust funds to make payments for its adoption and foster care programs, but Hollingsworth’s directive appears to prevent it.

For his part, Scott, a Republican who is seeking re-election, would not answer reporters’ questions about what impact the shutdown is having on the state. Instead, he repeatedly blamed President Barack Obama, a Democrat, for the gridlock in Washington.

"Meanwhile, an analysis of the impact of an unresolved federal government shutdown on state programs, prepared by the Legislature’s budget staff, concluded the following:"
• Small to medium-sized school districts using bi-weekly pay periods may start to have problems meeting payroll

• Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services programs will not meet payroll

• Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the supplemental food program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) will run out of funds by the end of the month

• School lunch, school breakfast and child and adult care food programs could also run out of money in the next week.

"Gov. Rick Scott orders agencies not to keep federal programs afloat".

Meanwhile, "Shutdown cost to Miami-Dade federal workers: $31 million per week".

Scott will no doubt make an exception, accompanied by a solemn press conference, for this: "Veterans cemeteries in line of political fire".

Another Young in the mix?

"Two top potential Republican contenders to replace Rep. C.W. Bill Young — state Sens. Jack Latvala and Jeff Brandes — apparently won’t enter the race, but another unexpected, big-name candidate is considering a run: Young’s wife, Beverly Young. Meantime, the field of potential Democratic contenders may include another prominent name: former state House Speaker Peter Rudy Wallace." "Young’s House seat drawing interest, including from wife".


"PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website of the Tampa Bay Times, will soon launch PunditFact, a site dedicated to checking claims by pundits, columnists, bloggers and the hosts and guests of talk shows." "PolitiFact to launch PunditFact, checking pundits and media figures".

"American dream" in an empty suit

"Rubio took to the floor of the U.S. Senate on Thursday to speak on the American dream and the looming battle over raising the debt ceiling. Earlier in the month, Rubio invoked the American dream in a Senate speech on the shutdown." "Marco Rubio and Debbie Wasserman Schultz Exchange Fire Over Government Shutdown". More vacuity: "Marco Rubio: 'We Cannot Give Up on the American Dream'".

Meanwhile, "Dems blame Rubio for government shutdown -- in Spanish".

Bucher speaks

"Susan Bucher: Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections".

Men and women with pensions at work

"Firefighters rescue family’s dogs trapped Jupiter Farms house fire" ("Firefighters were able to rescue the family pets and attack the fire").

Water wars

The Sarasota Herald Tribune editors: "Florida is suing Georgia over consuming too much of the fresh water that should be flowing to the estuaries and oyster beds of the Panhandle. It is a lawsuit that has been a long time coming, as the two states have argued over the flow of water to Apalachicola Bay for years." "Florida's water wars".

Atwater gets new Dem challenger

"Florida CFO Jeff Atwater posted impressive third-quarter fundraising numbers on Thursday, even as a new Democratic challenger lines up to run against him in 2014."

On Wednesday, businessman and Army veteran William Rankin filed to run against Atwater in 2014. During his time in the Army, Rankin was a special agent for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation (CID) Command, investigating fraud and white-collar crime. Rankin also served as the director of asset management for the Ohio state treasury, overseeing public funds and assets.

Rankin moved to South Florida in 2000 and was active with the federal census. He served as outreach director for the Congressional Census Monitoring Board during the 2000 Census and headed up the Florida State Census Committee. Since that time, he has worked in the private sector.

Speaking with Sunshine State News on Thursday, Rankin pointed to his background as one of the reasons he is running for CFO and said his position with the Ohio government gives him great insight in how to save money in the public sector. “I have a very diverse background,” he said. “I’m more qualified to be CFO than Jeff Atwater.”

Noting there is an “overwhelming Republican majority in Tallahassee,” Rankin said he is running to give Florida voters “an alternative, a choice.”

"Jeff Atwater has Big Fundraising Quarter as New Democrat Challenger Emerges".

Ricky's $500 million tax cut

"The chairman of the House subcommittee overseeing the state's tax laws said Thursday the panel isn't necessarily bound by the $500 million cut in taxes and fees that Gov. Rick Scott has proposed." "Ritch Workman: Tax Cut Might Not Be $500 Million". More: "House panel keeps options open on tax cuts".

Scott, Bondi, Atwater brain trust

"Scott, Bondi, Atwater blast federal flood inaction". See also "Policy Note: Flood Insurance".