Sunday, December 29, 2013

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

"Shame, tragedy, scandal"

Fred Grimm: they brought SoFla "glory, shame, tragedy, scandal, indignation, pride, horror." "The names that made South Florida’s year — for good or ill".

"In for a fight"

"Three Republicans looking to win the District 13 Congressional seat vacated with October’s passing of 21-term Congressman C.W. 'Bill' Young are in for a fight as the Jan. 14 primary approaches."

National media and political analysts have been tuned in from the beginning as the special election will fill an open seat in an increasingly Democrat-leaning swing district. Some see it as bellwether to the Democrats’ chances of taking control of the House in November; others see it as a public litmus test on President Obama’s health care overhaul.
"Bitter primary looms for District 13 GOP hopefuls".

Getting the "centrism" thing on

Aaron Deslatte gets his "centrism" thing on: "Floridians may want to brace themselves gastronomically for a factually overcooked 2014 gubernatorial fight centered on the trajectory of the economy. So here's a double dose of antacid."

Gov. Rick Scott's campaign, the Republican Party of Florida and surrogates already have revealed their ingredients: claiming credit for Florida's economic turnaround and blaming former governor-turned-Democratic challenger Charlie Crist for digging the hole.

Crist and veterans of President Barack Obama's national political machine will argue Florida's situation would have been worse if Crist had not made hard budgetary decisions — accepting billions of dollars in stimulus cash to keep teachers employed, for example.

Both narratives take liberties with economic theory and recent history.

"Florida governor's race will be tale of 2 economies". We look forward to Deslatte cutting through both sides' spin, and giving it to us straight down the middle.

For more on the media's "centrism" thing, see "Traditional journalist reminds colleagues: 'Political centrism is not objectivity'".

Here's an idea: slash pensions . . .

"A global retirement crisis is bearing down on workers of all ages."

Spawned years before the Great Recession and the financial meltdown in 2008, the crisis was significantly worsened by those twin traumas. It will play out for decades, and its consequences will be far-reaching.

Many people will be forced to work well past the traditional retirement age of 65 — to 70 or even longer. Living standards will fall, and poverty rates will rise for the elderly in wealthy countries that built safety nets for seniors after World War II. In developing countries, people's rising expectations will be frustrated if governments can't afford retirement systems to replace the tradition of children caring for aging parents.

"Bracing for a global retirement crisis".

. . . and unemployment comp, while we're at it

"High stakes for U.S. families losing jobless benefit".

Record numbers of manatees and dolphin deaths

The Miami Herald editors: "Two beloved sea mammals — manatees and bottlenose dolphins — suffered record numbers of deaths this year, baffling scientists and rightly raising concerns about the health of the waters surrounding Florida. Surely, what we humans dump into our waters must share the blame along with natural causes."

So far, 803 manatees have died in 2013, well above the 392 deaths in 2012. The 800 deaths are about 16 percent of the state's estimated population of 5,000 manatees total. A massive bloom of Red Tide algae along the southwest coast killed 276 manatees early in 2013 — the worst Red Tide toll on sea cows ever recorded. But an unidentified illness is killing manatees in the Indian River Lagoon on Florida's Gold Coast. So far, 117 have died there since July 2012.
"Bad year for manatees, dolphins".

Advertisements on state trails

"Florida looks to a private company to sell advertisements on state trails".

Floridians suck up federal grant cash

So much for Florida's - we don' need no federal help - political claptrap: "The number of state-university students receiving Pell grants has soared in recent years — an indication that more Floridians are having trouble affording rising education costs."

Almost 40 percent of public-university undergraduate students got Pell grants last year, according to the most recent data available from the university system. That's up from 22 percent six years earlier. Florida's community colleges also saw a similar spike in recent years.

Federal Pell grants are based on financial need and course load. They generally pay for only a portion of school.

"More Florida college students receive Pell grants as education costs rise".

A Sweetwater thing

"It was not an explicit directive nor was it written in any official documents."

However, Sweetwater police officers knew what was expected of them when they patrolled the streets of this small city in west Miami-Dade.

They were to arrest the highest number possible of suspects in order to tow their vehicles, even if the towing had no connection to the alleged crime.

Towing represented a lucrative business for the city.

Sweetwater depended on the $500 administrative fine it collected from people recovering their vehicles. In fact, the city had set a yearly goal of $168,000 of these fines under the category of “miscellaneous revenue” in its police budget.

And then, ther's . . . 'ya know, this:
And the company, Southland The Towing Company, was partly owned by [recently arrested] former Mayor Manuel “Manny” MaroƱo for quite awhile — although many officers apparently had no knowledge of that.
"Towing was unjustified but lucrative in Sweetwater".