Friday, February 28, 2014

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

Rubio bleats from the sidelines

Florida's kinda, sorta, nearly, almost the son of an "exile" bleats from the sidelines in what he hopes will foreshadow a presidential debate: "Sen. Marco Rubio accused former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of espousing a ‘muddled position’ on Venezuelan democracy during a speech in Miami." "Rubio proposes Venezuela sanctions, excoriates Clinton over ‘democracy’ remarks".

CD13 Laff Riot: "Jolly accuses Sink of bigotry"

The Tampa Tribune's Steve Otto: "So, if you are to believe the candidates, they have either lost control of or never did have control over their own campaigns."

Already a key race around here, the special election has become an event of national interest and more importantly, national money. Like the “I-4 corridor” theory of our importance, this race is being pushed as a bellwether for the elections later this year.

The numbers I saw the other day added up to close to $10 million, mostly from out of town. It is an astonishing amount of money until you hear that expectations are for more than $200 million to be spent on the gubernatorial race in Florida, where it is going to take at least that much to make either candidate look appealing.

What should be more disturbing to local voters was the admission a few days ago by both candidates — Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly — that they didn't like negative campaigning but either had no control or could do nothing to stop it.

Oh, that's great. We're counting on the winner of this thing to be able to make global decisions involving war and peace or figuring out how to get half the country off food stamps and they can't control their own campaigns?

"Negative campaigns roll out of control in District 13".

Jolly can't blame this bit 'o stupid on outsiders: "Sink had said she favored a Senate immigration reform bill because, among other things, Pinellas County’s tourism industry has a demand for housekeepers and landscapers, many of whom tend to be immigrants. Republicans, including Jolly, were quick to paint her as a bigot."

“I think Alex Sink’s comments reflect a bigotry that should disqualify her from representing the people of this community, and should disqualify her from serving in the United States Congress,” Jolly said, speaking at a news conference at which he received an endorsement from Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala.

“She offended immigrants throughout this community. She offended nonimmigrant workers. She offended business owners. She offended every American that believes in the equality of opportunity regardless of one’s race, creed or color. I think it was a disgusting comment,” Jolly said.

When you've recovered from those remarks from the MLK of CD 13, the laff riot continues with Jolly running sideways as fast as he can:
Although Jolly was accepting Latvala’s endorsement at the news conference, he declined to say whether he supported Latvala’s legislative proposal that would, among other things, grant in-state tuition to students brought to Florida as children without legal permission.
"Jolly accuses Sink of bigotry for comment".

More: "Jack Latvala's David Jolly Endorsement Turns Up the Heat in CD 19".

Privatization Madness

"A federal inquiry into how GEO Group Inc. handled safety at a single Mississippi prison wrapped up today with a nationwide settlement, 'the first of its kind in the corrections industry,' said [an] OSHA regional administrator." "GEO Group agrees to nationwide settlement over private prison violence" (subscription required).

Kewl . . . Now let's slash firefighter pensions

"Two Jacksonville firefighters are hospitalized after being injured while battling a house fire. Fire and Rescue Department spokesman Tom Francis tells The Florida Times-Union that one firefighter jumped from a second-floor window during the fire Thursday night. Francis says the firefighter jumped because there was no other way out. . . . That firefighter was transferred from UF Jacksonville Health to the hospital’s burn unit in Gainesville for treatment of primary burns to his arms, a fire official said."

Firefighters rescued five people from the Northwest Jacksonville home shortly before 10 p.m., but the woman died at the hospital, police said Investigators believe the blaze was caused by a candle.
"2 firefighters hospitalized after house fire". More: "Jacksonville fires kill 1, critically injure 2".

FlaBaggers Ascendant

"Medicaid expansion support waning in Fla. Senate".

Stop the presses! "Ignoring the water-pollution threat is no solution"

The Tampa Trib editors recognize that although "the costs to local governments are a concern, simply ignoring the water-pollution threat is no solution."

This is the sort of short-sighted thinking that has compromised the state’s drinking water sources and created the need to spend millions on cleanup efforts.

Politicians love to rail against regulations, but the reality is sensible regulations prevent costly problems and save tax dollars.

It is hardly conservative government to recklessly create a mess and leave the bill for others.

"Don’t delay springs protections".

FCAT Follies

"School superintendents, district school board members, parents and teachers have all called for a suspension in awarding letter grades to public schools while the state transitions to new standards and tests. Thursday Sen. Montford filed a bill which would stop the practice for at least three years." "Montford files a time out bill for school grades".

Company goes after OSHA investigator

"SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. on Thursday filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, asking the agency to examine the conduct of an investigator who led the probe into SeaWorld's safety practices following the death of an Orlando trainer killed by a park killer whale in 2010." "SeaWorld files complaint against OSHA investigator".

AIF surprises no one

"With the Florida Legislature convening next week, the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) unveiled its 2014 legislative priorities on Thursday." "AIF Lines Up Behind Rick Scott's Tax Cuts and Lowering CST". See also "AIF issues its session priorities".

Rick Scott's "Smaller Ambitions"

"Rick Scott Hopes Smaller Ambitions Propel His Re-election Bid".

Oh noes . . . not again

"Tampa among cities invited to host Democratic convention".

"Arguably the worst bill of the 2014 legislative session"

The Gainesville Sun editors: "Back in 2011, when Gov. Rick Scott and his Republican legislative colleagues recklessly decided Florida’s growth planning and permitting process needed streamlining, one of their core arguments was that city and county governments had matured enough to handle the tedious and technical work involved. So when the Community Development Act gutted a quarter-century of state-driven growth management process and progress, it not only affirmed but elevated the importance of home rule on growth matters."

Now comes state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, with arguably the worst bill of the 2014 legislative session. Patronis’ bill, HB 703, would effectively strip local governments of much of the growth management powers bequeathed to them in 2011 with the dismantling of the Department of Community Affairs, which once held sway over most big growth decisions in the state.

HB 703 is an affront to home rule and community-based growth management. It is also an assault on water supply protection that would essentially allow some large landholders to privatize big chunks of Florida’s water supply.

"A horrible bill".

Value added heat

"The publication of teacher performance scores this week resonated in Leon County Schools, drawing criticism from school board members and fueling recruitment efforts by the local teachers union."

The value-added numbers are based on the growth in FCAT scores from one year to the next. They compare students’ actual results to their expected performance, based on factors including attendance and previous scores.

The Leon Classroom Teachers Association sent a message to its campus representatives Tuesday afternoon — with membership forms enclosed — saying it is “inappropriate” to judge teachers using value-added calculations alone.

“Want to change a system set up to blame teachers and (support staff)?” the union’s message said. “Then we need to change the Legislature!”

School board members also raised concerns during their meeting Tuesday. Board member Dee Dee Rasmussen said afterward that the data “can be misleading if it is taken out of context.” For example, she said, under the first two years of the state’s evaluation system, a history teacher could receive a value-added score based on students’ FCAT reading results.

"Teacher value-added score release draws criticism".

The owners speak

"HB 1077 and SB 1310 were filed this week and appear to have backing from property rights supporters. The bills would prohibit local governments from placing permitting requirements on a proposed development beyond the 'direct impact' of that development." "Bills would expand on U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Florida property 'takings' case".

From the "values" crowd

"Senate GOP blocks bill enhancing veterans benefits".

Common Core

"The State Board of Education may have unanimously passed nearly 100 proposed changes to Common Core State Standards last week, but Florida legislators in both chambers have bills that would stop the implementation of the new standards entirely." "Twin Bills in Florida Legislature Attempt to Halt Common Core".

"Two things — both impossible"

Bill Cotterell writes that Tallahassee Democrat "Associate Editor Byron Dobson posed a good question in his column last Sunday:"

“What will it take for Florida’s elected leaders such as Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senate President Don Gaetz and Attorney General Pam Bondi to publicly speak out about Florida’s troubling racial climate?”

Well, there’s always divine intervention. Short of that, what possibly could make Florida’s Republican political leadership change course on things such as the “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law, expanding Medicaid for the working poor, restoring voting rights of felons, purging voter rolls of ineligible people or raising the minimum wage?

Two things — both impossible — could do that.

"GOP feels little reason to change".