Wednesday, October 09, 2013

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

"Crist Makes Nice to Democrats"

Kevin Derby: "Former Gov. Charlie Crist is out front and center in backing Democrats for higher office as he looks to woo over his new party with a second gubernatorial bid in mind."

Crist has been ramping up for Florida Democrats in recent days. On Monday, Crist offered his support to former Rep. Rick Kriseman who is running for mayor of St. Petersburg, the former governor’s home turf.
"Kriseman is not the only Democrat who has gained Crist’s endorsement in recent days."
Last week, Crist backed Amanda Murphy, the Democratic running in a special election for a House seat representing parts of Pasco County. Murphy takes on Republican candidate Bill Gunter in the special election on October 15.

Crist sent out a message to supporters on Sunday asking for them to back Murphy. “I endorsed my friend Amanda Murphy for the state House in Pasco County,” Crist posted on Facebook before asking supporters to back her. “Her election is in just a few days and she needs our help. Can you help her out?”

With his recent spat of activity for Florida Democrats, Crist looks to put his political past behind him. First elected to the Florida Senate as a Republican back in 1992, Crist moved up the GOP ranks, running against U.S. Sen. Bob Graham in 1998 and becoming state education commissioner in 2000. Stressing his conservative credentials, Crist continued to ascend, becoming state attorney general in 2002 and governor in 2006.

With the exception of running for a second term for the state Senate, Crist made a habit of seeking new offices and it came back and haunted him in 2010. After endorsing President Barack Obama’s federal stimulus, Crist once again set his sites on the U.S. Senate, running for an open seat in 2010. But Marco Rubio caught Crist in the polls for the Republican nomination leading the former governor to leave the GOP and continue his ambitions with no party affiliation. Rubio easily routed Crist in the general election. After endorsing Obama in 2012, Crist joined the Democrats after the presidential election.

"Charlie Crist Makes Nice to Democrats as He Looks Ahead to 2014".

Parade of empty suits

"The field of Republicans looking to defeat U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., next year expanded as former Tequesta Vice Mayor Calvin Turnquest entered the race." "Patrick Murphy Faces Increasingly Crowded Field of GOP Foes".

Stand Your Ground

Update: "Stand Your Ground revisions win early approval". More: "Committee approves 'Stand Your Ground' changes" and "'Stand your ground' revisions OK'd by Senate panel".

"For the first time since George Zimmerman’s acquittal, state lawmakers will consider revisions to the Stand Your Ground self-defense law." "Senate panel to consider Stand Your Ground revisions". But see "'Stand Your Ground' Tweak Remains a Long Shot".

A Miami Thing

"Two weeks after a tussle between a developer and City Manager Joe Carollo made headlines, an old charge of Carollo’s who is now the city’s police chief, ordered Juan Carlos Tovar to turn himself in for allegedly faslifying a police report." "The drama of City Hall feud escalates with arrest due".

Scott pal gets hefty raise, golden parachute and $70,000 bonus

"For the second time in two months, Gov. Rick Scott’s top jobs recruiter is in line for a hefty raise, in addition to a new six-figure golden parachute if Scott does not win reelection next year. Gray Swoope, CEO of Enterprise Florida, could soon earn $375,000 a year, with a new base salary of $275,000 and incentives worth $100,000 more if he meets dozens of performance standards in his contract. Swoope now earns $230,000 a year. He received a $70,000 bonus in August." "Gov. Rick Scott’s jobs czar in line for big raise".

Florida Senate attacks entrepreneural "freedom" to abuse elderly

"A Senate committee on Tuesday vowed to put an end to unlicensed assisted living facilities after a Miami Herald story revealed that homes have been using loopholes to escape state scrutiny. The Herald story uncovered facilities that billed themselves as shelters, rooming houses or 'sober homes', but in actuality operated as ALFs. Many had deplorable conditions and at least one owner had a criminal history." "Senate panel wants end to unlicensed ALF’s". See also "ALF reform measure back for another try".

State solution

"Simmons wants state solution on flood rates if Congress doesn't act".

Mike Fasano Breaks With GOP

"Mike Fasano promised he would not endorse fellow Republican Bill Gunter or Democrat Amanda Murphy in next week’s special election to replace him in the Florida House. So far, Fasano has kept his word and hasn’t endorsed either. But he said he voted for Murphy by absentee ballot and has campaigned at her side. Fasano warned both Gunter and Murphy to leave him out of their campaign literature. When Republican-aligned groups cited Fasano, he went on the attack. When Florida Democrats and Charlie Crist did the same, Fasano went silent." "Mike Fasano Breaks With GOP Again in Pasco County House Race".

Cuba embargo supporters alarmed

"Alarming supporters of the embargo, South Florida Congressman Joe Garcia has thrown his support behind an effort to allow testing and marketing of a Cuban diabetes treatment in the United States." "Rep. Garcia’s push for Cuba drug trial tests support for embargo".

Eye scanning and electronic fingerprinting

"Once considered science fiction, eye scanning and electronic fingerprinting devices are becoming more and more commonplace -- even in Florida’s public schools. . . . State Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, is having none of it." "Sen. Dorothy Hukill Wants to Stop Electronic Scanning of K-12 Students".

"Another voter purge from Gov. Scott"

Fabiola Santiago: "Here’s a gem from the Gov. Rick Scott voter-purge files:"

“We believe this is a very big step in the right direction, and we hope our success paves the way for other states.”

Those were the words of Chris Cate, spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, celebrating a GOP win in the fight with the federal government over access to a citizenship database that would lead the way to a wildly triumphant purge of the Florida voter rolls.

That was then, the summer of 2012, when Scott’s administration was doing everything possible to make it difficult for minorities — basically, Hispanics and African Americans suspected of being Democrats — to vote by curtailing voting hours and cleansing voter rolls in a misguided effort to help Republicans score a presidential win.

"The state obtained the federal SAVE database — the same one election officials and civil rights leaders told them was flawed — but they went ahead with an infamous purge that ended up harassing legitimate citizens and uncovered little fraud."
The state came up with a list that embarrassingly went from 182,000 suspected non-U.S. citizens to 2,600 to 198 before the busy county supervisors of elections called off the waste of time and taxpayer resources.
"But what a difference a colossal presidential election loss makes — and the looming prospect of a tough reelection bid for Scott, when the clever bumper stickers are already surfacing: 'Scott Free' — with a picture of the state of Florida."
Listen to Detzner change his office’s tune now that the boss is running in 2014: . . .

“It could have been better,” Detzner says. “It should have been better.”

But does that acknowledgement mean Detzner and Scott are done trying to get Democrats off the voter rolls?

Are you dreaming? . . .

This time, the state is using the same ominous-sounding — and incomplete — federal database SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements). Only the procedures for following through on verification of a voter’s legal status are vaguer, and it’s up to county election supervisors to make the final determinations.

So this time, if the purge goes awry, if naturalized citizens feel harassed and disenfranchised, they can spare the governor and his Cabinet and blame the faceless local bureaucrat.

But they’re not fooling anyone.

As Scott likes to boast, the buck stops with him. Detzner might be issuing the contrition, but he’s only a fashionista debuting Scott’s fall creations.

Read it all here: "Another election, another voter purge from Gov. Scott".

"Florida can easily absorb more gambling"

Nancy Smith: "Why the 'No Casinos' Viewpoint Isn't Mine".

Meanwhile, "Gambling is so widespread and universally accepted that expanding it will have few economic or social consequences, a report concludes." "Report: Florida can easily absorb more gambling". See also "Gambling Study Raises Doubts". Related: "Policy Note: Large Casinos".

"Big Bucks to Push Legislation in Tallahassee"

Sunshine State News' continues its review of Florida lobbyists: "Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky, Abate & Webb PLC Leads Clients to Legislative Success" and "Southern Strategy Group Gets Big Bucks to Push Legislation in Tallahassee".

Curbelo looks to topple Garcia

"GOP congressional hopeful Carlos Curbelo is off to an early start and it could pay dividends in 2014 as he looks to topple Joe Garcia. Curbelo’s team announced on Monday that they had raised more than $450,000 in the third quarter of 2013 and had around $420,000 on hand. It’s an impressive sum and it should keep some of the other Republicans, whose names surfaced as possible candidates, out of the race. Curbelo has also won the backing of many prominent Republicans which will help ensure other prominent GOP leaders stay out of the contest. That’s no small thing since Republicans outnumber Democrats in this South Florida district." "Carlos Curbelo Picks Up Steam as GOP Looks to Beat Joe Garcia".