Saturday, March 01, 2014

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

Scott "uses a public records exemption to tighten the cloak of secrecy"

"By using his personal jet for public business, Florida Gov. Rick Scott can shield his itinerary from websites that track flights, and when his plane lands, he uses a public records exemption to tighten the cloak of secrecy." "Top secret: Gov. Scott cloaks travel details".

"The Biggest target for Democrats in Florida"

"Democrats have little chance of taking control of the U.S. House this year but there are a handful of Republican incumbents they hope to defeat come November. The biggest target for Democrats in Florida is Steve Southerland and he can expect a real battle for a third term." "Steve Southerland and Gwen Graham Get Ready to Battle in CD 2".

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was the conservative "Sunshine State News' fourth birthday. A blink in history, granted. But in Tallahassee, in this cliquish, who-you-know town of rumors and bluster, conflict and contradictions -- and occasionally something truly extraordinary ... well, four years really is something." "Happy Birthday to Us!".

"Ten Issues to Watch"

"Ten Issues to Watch as Florida’s Legislative Session Starts".

As Florida burns

"Some Florida Congress members, led by Sen. Marco Rubio and accompanied by Gov. Rick Scott, are calling for action by the U.S. government on the crisis in Venezuela." "Rubio, Scott call for U.S. action on Venezuela".

"Gov. Scott: Obama ‘doing the wrong thing’ by not pushing for Venezuela sanctions".

And your position on this, Mr. Scott?

"Civic groups, educators push for in-state tuition".

"Top-down tuition"

The Gainesville Sun editors: "Gov. Rick Scott and Republican leaders who typically oppose top-down, centralized government control are quick to embrace the concept when dealing with state universities." "Top-down tuition".

"Lock and Load"

"Bills dealing with toaster pastries and insurance policies are just two of more than a dozen gun-related measures lined up for the 2014 legislative session that starts Tuesday." "Lock and Load: NRA-Willing, Florida Legislature Takes On Slew of New Gun Legislation".

Week in Review

"Week in Review for Feb. 28, 2014". See also "Weekly Roundup: Avalanche of Bills Before Session Begins", "Political Bits and Pieces" and "Arrivals & Departures for Feb. 28, 2014".

"Dem rules prohibit corporate money being used for convention"

The Tampa Trib editors point out that "Democratic Party rules prohibit corporate money being used for a convention, making the task even more daunting."

That was one reason the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., badly missed its $35.6 million fundraising target, leaving Duke Energy on the hook for a $10 million line of credit it guaranteed the event.

This contrasted markedly with the Tampa Bay Host Committee’s success. It raised more than $55 million in private contributions and had money left over to give to local charities.

The Democrats, of course, could drop the corporate ban, which was a requirement of President Obama’s re-election campaign.

But even if they did, there doesn’t look to be any major local Democratic fundraisers ready to lead the charge.

In fact, there had been no local campaign for the DNC until the party asked the city to make a bid.

In contrast, local Republican powerhouses such as Al Austin eagerly pursued the GOP convention and aggressively raised money for it once it was awarded to Tampa

"Not the right time for Democratic National Convention".

Meanwhile, "Miami in the hunt for 2016 Democratic convention".

Ya' gotta problem wit' dat?

"After more than two years of legal and political wrangling in the hospital industry, a Senate proposal would overhaul the way Florida approves trauma centers and could ensure that three disputed trauma facilities remain open."

The proposal, filed this week by Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, could short-circuit a debate about how the Florida Department of Health determines where new trauma centers should be allowed to open.

It also would allow trauma centers in operation on July 1 to remain open — a proposal that likely would ensure the continued operation of trauma facilities at Blake Medical Center in Manatee County, Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco County and Ocala Regional Medical Center in Marion County. Those hospitals have been at the center of the ongoing legal battles.

The proposal (SB 1276), filed a week before the start of the annual legislative session, could touch off a fierce lobbying battle.

The changes would help the HCA health-care chain, which has opened the trauma facilities at Blake Medical Center, Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point and Ocala Regional Medical Center and has sought to open trauma centers elsewhere.

(HCA, the largest private hospital chain in the country, is the corporation formerly headed by Gov. Rick Scott, a position he resigned in 1997 when the company was under a fraud investigation. HCA was later to plead guilty to 14 felonies subsequent to findings that HCA had defrauded the federal government through Medicare over-billing and engaged in kick-back schemes in some markets, pushing doctors to refer patients to its hospitals. The company settled suits at a cost approaching $2 billion. Though Scott was the chief executive of the company during the period investigated by the Justice Department, he was never charged with any wrongdoing.)

"Lawmaker Files Bill Favoring Trauma Centers Run by HCA, Gov. Scott’s Former Company".

Trump to speak at Allen West event

Kevin Derby: "Businessman Donald Trump, libertarian media figure Greg Gutfeld and others will be reaching out to conservatives next month at an event at Palm Beach Island hosted by former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla." "Donald Trump and Conservatives Speaking at Allen West Event".

And so it begins

"With a week and a half to go and early voting starting on Saturday, Democratic former state CFO Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly start their closing pitches to win over Pinellas County voters in the special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., in Congress. Sink, Jolly and Libertarian Lucas Overby meet in the March 11 election." "CD 13 Candidates Start to Make Closing Pitches as Early Voting Begins". See also "CD 13 Candidates Start to Make Closing Pitches as Early Voting Begins".