Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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

Another fine education Jebacy

"Florida's high school graduation rate is among the lowest in the nation."

A report released Monday at the Building a GradNation Summit in Washington found Florida's 75 percent graduation rate is about five percentage points lower than the nationwide average. . . .

Florida is tied with four others states for having the fifth lowest graduation rate.

"Florida's high school graduation rate among lowest".

"Polishing off the details"

"Florida lawmakers buttoned up a $75 billion budget Monday that boosts spending on classrooms, charter-school construction and has $10 million for projects expanding the University of Central Florida. With $1.3 billion in tax revenue to spare, Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford still have to polish off the details of $500 million in tax cuts before the session adjourns Friday." "Lawmakers wrap up $75B state budget".

See also "Fla. legislators reach deal on most spending items", "House, Senate reach deal on budget" and "Florida legislators reach deal on most spending items".

Hosing state workers

"Major parts of budget finalized without state worker pay raises".

"Prominent Democrats are starting to wade into the Florida waters"

"Prominent national Democrats are starting to wade into the Florida waters as the gubernatorial race starts to take center stage."

On Monday, the state Democrats announced that former President Bill Clinton will be heading to Florida in June. Clinton, who carried Florida over Bob Dole in 1996 after losing it to George H.W. Bush in 1992, will be the keynote speaker at this year's Leadership Blue -- formerly the Jefferson-Jackson -- dinner in Hollywood on June 28.
"Bill Clinton and Other National Democrats Wade Into Florida's Governor Race". See also "Possible Dem 2016 Hopeful Martin O'Malley Backs Crist".

"Rothstein operated in a wallow of complicity"

Fred Grimm: "Two more of Scott Rothstein’s enablers surrendered at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Monday. Two out of so many. Rothstein operated in a wallow of complicity."

Broward Sheriff’s Lt. David Benjamin and detective Jeff Poole provided law enforcement gravitas for the convicted mastermind of a $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme. Of course, cops from all over town had been happy to provide “security” for the flamboyant crook. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department provided around-the-clock guard details for Rothstein’s gaudy waterfront mansion. He of the gold-plated toilet seats paid out some $400,000 a year for his personal police force. Of course, like everything else purchased by the fabulous Rothstein, he paid his protectors with stolen loot. He paid them with money any police officer in his vicinity should have suspected was dirty.

Benjamin is accused of helping Rothstein load $500,000 and heaps of jewelry onto a private jet in 2009, when the fraudster was absconding to Morocco just ahead of the FBI. He and Poole are accused of employing “force and threats of force” to protect Rothstein's former law partner, Stuart Rosenfeldt, from a hired escort who was intimating she might reveal her relationship with the lawyer.

They are charged also with engineering the false arrest of Rothstein buddy Douglas Bates’ ex-wife. Rothstein wanted his pet cops to help Bates out with his child custody dispute. Because when your co-conspirator owns the local police, child custody disputes can be settled with trumped-up drug charges. Bates pleaded guilty to wire fraud in February, the 14th of Rothstein’s cronies convicted.

But there were so many more who knew, who should have known, that they were associating with a billion dollar fraudster.

"Fred Grimm: Rothstein fraud case had many enablers".

Textbook politics

"Fla. House passes rival school textbook bill". More: "Florida House bill give school districts choice of texts reviewed by state or their own process; other state news". See also "School textbook bill passes House but retains provisions for concerned parents".

"Government schools"

As Lloyd Brown, a former editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville and speech writer for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush shows, you are not going to get a lot of deep thinking from people who use the term, "government schools": "Another Outbreak of Animal Cruelty".

Weatherford ducks criticism from environmentalists

"SB 1576 dealing with springs is on the Senate special order calendar for Wednesday. Some environmentalists have criticized the House for not acting on the companion bill, HB 1313." "Weatherford deflects criticism of House inaction on springs while movement underway on other bills". See also "Budget deal disappoints groups seeking money for conservation lands and springs".

Rand Paul Cultivates Florida

"Ron Paul Shuns Florida, Rand Paul Cultivates It".

House OKs gun-toting teachers

"The Florida House passed a bill that would allow designated teachers to carry concealed weapons on campus." "Florida House OKs bill allowing gun-toting teachers". See also "House Passes Bill to Allow Guns in Schools" and "Florida House passes bill to allow guns in schools".

Courageous legislators fight Shariah law

"Florida is moving one step closer to becoming the eighth state to enact a bill prohibiting the use of foreign law by the state's court. The measure (SB 386) passed the Senate on Monday with a 24 to 14 vote. Some opponents of the bill feel the action is aimed at preventing the applicability of Shariah law, which is used to govern in courts of Muslim countries, although the measure's language does not single out any individual form of foreign law." "Bill would prohibit foreign law in courts".

Gay marriage lawsuit

"The ACLU of Florida has asked a federal judge to force Florida to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere." "ACLU: Order Florida to recognize gay marriages".