Sunday, October 13, 2013

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

"First Democratic campaign rally of the 2014 gubernatorial race"

Adam C. Smith: "Charlie Crist spoke Saturday morning to hundreds of educators at a Florida Education Association gathering in Orlando, in what amounted to the first Democratic campaign rally of the 2014 gubernatorial race. Teachers union members roared as the former Republican governor and likely soon-to-be Democratic gubernatorial candidate took the stage." "Crist's speech seen as first Democratic rally for 2014 gubernatorial campaign".

Sorry Ricky, "It’s not working"

"Republican Gov. Rick Scott, whose catchphrase “It’s working” is the theme for his re-election, has been willing to try just about anything to get Floridians to like him."

It’s not working.

Since the day he was elected, polls have shown that more Floridians dislike him than like him. Not that he hasn’t made efforts to win them over. He tried social media outreach, then gave it up. He tried dressing casual, then gave it up. He tried doing “Let’s Get to Work Days” but seems to have abandoned those, too.

While Scott has said policy and not popularity is what’s important, it’s clear his staff and his party are trying hard to make him more likable. That could be especially important, with the prospect of opposing one of the state’s most likable politicians, former Gov. Charlie Crist, as he seeks re-election.

“They keep trying to grab at straws in trying to get his name out there, and they just need to let him be who he is,” said Jamie Miller, a Republican political consultant. “They don’t need to change who he is, they just need to portray him as who he is.”

Scott once said in an interview that polls don’t matter. “People think that being governor is a popularity contest. No. Your job is to be the governor,” Scott said during an interview with The Associated Press his first year in office. His office said he wasn’t available for an interview Thursday and Friday.

"Scott's likability low despite efforts".

FlaGOPers ready to flip flop on shutdown

Florida GOPers are hiding under their desks, and expressing "resentment . . . against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other tea-party hardliners involved in the shutdown." "Some local GOP Congress members reconsider shutdown goal".

"Boehner and his tea party posers"

Carl Hiaasen: "So they’ve shut down the national parks. No big deal, right?"

Evidently the parks are considered a minor, low-profile casualty in the Republicans’ war on Obamacare.
"Except to the thousands of workers around the country who depend on a thriving park system for a paycheck — and not just the rangers."
In the Florida Keys last Wednesday, about 150 boats filled with fishing guides and their families gathered at Cowpens Channel to protest the closing of Everglades National Park.

It’s unique among our 401 national parks because so much of it is water — more than 800 square miles accessible by boat, canoe or kayak.

ENP is a live tapestry of mangrove islets, flats and snaking channels stretching from Everglades City on the west coast almost all the way to Long Key, encompassing the Ten Thousand Islands and most of Florida Bay.

Since the days of Zane Grey, the area has been one of the world’s legendary sportfishing destinations. Now the guides who go there every day have been ordered to stay out. They’re losing customers, losing money and losing faith. . . .

Twice before the ENP and other parks were padlocked during a budget standoff. It happened in 1995 and 1996, back when House Republicans were trying to stick it to Bill Clinton.

The shutdowns were an epic failure sparking bitter political backlash, yet here we are again. . . .

OK, so a couple hundred fishing guides from Naples to Marathon have to suck it up while the political stalemate festers for a while longer. Hey, it’s better than closing down the Defense Department or the VA, right?

But here’s who else is getting screwed while the parks are shut down and the tourists stay away: Owners of all the nearby hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, bars, marinas, grocery stores, tackle shops and gas stations, and everybody employed by them.

Mechanics, maids, bartenders, waiters, cooks, checkout clerks — ordinary folks who’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve this. They don’t work for the government but they’ve effectively been downgraded to “non-essential.”

Ironically, no place has been spanked harder by the parks shutdown than Washington, D.C., where the economy depends on millions of tourists coming to the national monuments and free museums, now closed to the public.

The pain being suffered by the capital’s idle taxi drivers and tour bus operators isn’t enough to move House Speaker John Boehner and his tea party posers, nor is the distant plight of South Florida’s fishing guides.

"D.C. slugfest takes a toll back home".

And in the "stupid is . . ." category, we have this from Ted Yoho: "House Republicans being reasonable in shutdown debate"

"Parties spending heavily in Gunter-Murphy race"

"The special election for former Rep. Mike Fasano's House District 36 seat is to be held on Tuesday." "Parties spending heavily in Gunter-Murphy race".

A low bid world

"Contractor defaults — companies failing to perform the work they’re hired to do — are becoming a problem for the city of Tampa, Hillsborough County and the Department of Transportation. All three have seen contracts go bust this year because a low bidder failed to perform." "Broken contracts burden county, city, officials say".

"Las Vegas-style casinos in Florida?"

"Florida lawmakers will soon have to show their cards in a high-stakes game. Do they expand gambling by allowing Las Vegas-style casinos in Florida? And if they do, how will the Seminole Tribe of Florida react?" "Lawmakers to weigh Seminole gambling deal".

"Knowingly destroying our environment"

Bill Maxwell: "In Florida, environmentalists have their unique definition of insanity: knowingly destroying our environment — one of our major economic resources — while blocking efforts to slow or stop the destruction."

This brand of insanity plays out daily and has for decades, from the moment business owners, their political supporters and lobbyists learned that the abuse of our precious wild places can bring huge profits.

Here on the southeast coast, the Indian River Lagoon, the St. Lucie River and its estuary are being polluted like never before — perhaps irreversibly — by an algae slime that proliferates from excess manure, sewage and fertilizer released by municipalities and, of course, from Lake Okeechobee.

Research clearly shows that most of the nutrients flowing into Lake Okeechobee come from tributaries in the northern Everglades. This is Big Sugar country, the Everglades Agricultural Area, where most of the nation's sugarcane is grown. Adjacent regions also are affected by discharges from the lake.

Elected officials and others have known for more than 30 years about our nutrient-rich water problems, but they consistently have put business interests ahead of eliminating the sources of the pollution. The discharge of dirty water from Lake Okeechobee is not new. It has been going on since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the dike around the lake decades ago and created a reservoir system that enabled the sugar industry to operate without major interruptions or effective regulation.

That is a clear sign of the insanity.

"Fouling Florida's environment? Simply insane".

Charter madness

"Under the large apple logo of the Charter Schools USA chain, uniformed children walk single-file down the tidy halls at Renaissance Charter School at Chickasaw Trail. Despite the school's F grade from the state, the K-7 school has a waiting list. Eager parents drop by in a steady stream, asking how to enroll their kids. And despite the Orange County School Board's determination to stop it, the school chain hopes to be expanding here soon." "Embattled charter chain fights to add schools in Orange County".

Meanwhile, "students and families are leaving a brand new Pinellas charter school by the dozens amid concerns of bullying and missing textbooks."